Media overreacts to Swine Flu, scaring all

Meredith Gallagher

Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu. Swine flu! It’s impossible to turn on the TV or log onto the Internet or even walk down the hallway without hearing some mention of the spreading sickness.
Yes, it is a serious issue, but people need to get their facts straight before they start overreacting.

The swine flu, or H1N1 influenza type A, is a routine sickness in pigs that can cause serious illness but has a relatively low death rate. Ocassionally, a strain of this flu will develop that can be passed from pig to human and vise versa. This is what we are dealing with now.

Since the possibility of a swine flu pandemic was first brought to our attention in late April, the media and the rest of the world threw themselves into a frenzy. People wouldn’t leave their houses without a mask, officials seriously considered closing the borders, and talks of massive pig slaughters were echoed by many. Basically, our already slightly irrational world lost it.

Though this was due largely in part to the Mexican government’s inability to get out verified information, the media’s constant warnings of impending doom didn’t help much either.

Reports of swine flu deaths and pandemic alert levels only threw the rest of the world into an irrational panic. The Egyptian government ordered that hundreds of thousands of pigs be killed before there was even one reported case of the swine flu in their country, and quiet rumblings of an international trade and travel freeze got louder.

In a global economy that’s already dangling by a thread, the added strain of irrational actions like these could be disastrous.
Before anyone takes more impulsive actions, they need to take a step back and process the information. This is not the first time something like this has happened.

A swine flu outbreak in 1976 killed four previously healthy men, and another in 1988 took the life of a 38-year-old woman. There is always a new sickness out there just on the verge of mutating into a mass killer: SARS, bird flu, mad cow disease, hoof-and-mouth disease, West Nile virus. All were predicted to have disastrous effects, and all have been contained.

The media needs to find a balance between reporting us the news and sending us into a world-wide panic attack. Get the facts and give them to us, but don’t scare us just to fill your 30-minute news report and get loads of views and attention.
The threat of the swine flu needs to be taken seriously,, but people need to stop overreacting and making irrational decisions until they know for sure what they are dealing with.