I was doing a search the other day here on wordpress for bird flu. I was amazed at the number of times bird flu was mentioned: over 7,000 times, much of it outdated. A very small number were actually bird flu blogs.
I ran across this blog:
If you have just read it, you see why I’m about to have a little rant.
First of all, out of due respect to the blogger, they are entitled to their opinion, and that is their opinion.
Media creating fear?
Keep in mind that post was made April 28, 06. At that time, the news media was showing the situation with the poultry. Human infections and deaths were rare at that time. This truely was a bird problem.
So the media shows the public this very bad situation, and the now infamous comment “scientists fear H5N1 could mutate and go pandemic,” was splashed in the headlines. I remember at that time, what the media was showing, was very little on the BF situation. While I wasn’t concerned about a bird disease,(at the time I knew nothing about H5N1), that comment was in everything I read or watched in the media. Then, there was no more reporting on bird flu. It had totally dried up. I did listen to a radio talk show who’s guest was an expert and doctors, who assured the public that society was in no way in any danger from “bird flu.” The way they said that was almost in a mocking way as if they wondered why they agreed to do this interview. Lots of people and media got on the “there’s nothing to worry about folks. Move along,” bandwagon. We were being told with very little research and information at the time, that we were in no danger. I wonder if they were also talking about the people of Indonesia as well.
So this blogger took offense:”The news media have hyped the threat of an avian flu pandemic in the U.S. beyond any resemblance to scientific reality.”
First of all, at that time, scientific news in the media was almost non existant(not the internet mind you. The regular news medias.) And when something was mentioned about BF, the threat risk was always downplayed. I found nothing in the regular news media that seriously questioned H5N1 going pandemic. So after time, I forgot about bird flu. It was pretty much yesterday’s news.
One day, I was doing some research on somthing, and bird flu popped into my head. I had wondered what had become of the situation. so I googled bird flu and was totally amazed at the info out there. “So that’s where they’ve been hiding the news and talk.” I researched, read the good news and the bad news. Read everybody’s opinions, “proof” that supported a pandemic or no pandemic from H5N1. “These people say it can go pandemic, these people say it can’t.” So I start reading about flu viruses, namely H5N1. I didn’t know about the 1918 pandemic and after reading that, it pretty much drew me in to study and investigate this further.
Another issue with this blogger:”They have been and are creating anxiety and fear in Americans by repeatedly presenting this “news” to gullible, uncritical viewers.” I will admit that what I found was overwhelming. That got worse when I found and joined Fluwiki(old forum) that fall of ’06. We are so use to our soft, pampered way of like, that anything “bad” that could potientally threathen our pamered butts, throws us in a state of de-nil-al!
Another issue this blogger had:”Now, as if this weren’t bad enough, ABC plans to air a made-for-tv disaster movie — “Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America” — during the May ratings sweeps. Shades of Orson Welles! Shame on ABC. This is fear-mongering of the worst kind and totally irresponsible. Pander to panic and hope to profit via ratings and advertising income.”
See, our pampered butts de-ny that anything could bear down on us, and turn our lives upside down. However, that statement has a double edge to it: fear can motivate people to take positive action as I have witnessed, and it can motivate people to take negative action, as with the latest “rice shortage” ordeal. Basically, the unprepared, uneducated (lack of info), will cause people to panic, big time.
another issue with this blogger:”Those concerned about bird flu should get their facts directly from the Centers for Disease Control, and The World Health Organization. The facts are that since January 2004, when bird flu first appeared, there have been just 113 laboratory-confirmed bird flu deaths reported to WHO.” As if you read anything else, your being lied too. Sorry, use those two organsations in addition to the other research you find. But this blogger was under the same inpression I was at that time:WHO and CDC were it. They were the best. Sadly, over time, I realized they were not.
This blogger wrapps it up by saying:”
“Don’t be duped. If you are concerned about bird flu, or any other news story, look behind the headlines. Get the facts from some reliable sources. Make sure your information is correct. Don’t trust the media to do it for you.”
Well, there again a double edge. I found back then that reliable sources were few. It was maddening to sort through all the stuff on the internet, and it was hard to figure out just what to believe and think. There will always be de-bunkers, and diehards who believe it to be true, but even the de-bunkers and diehards can be wrong. What got me going on this blogger’s post, is that they were just as un-informed as the rest of the people who read that post. This blogger showed they had not even attempted to dig deep in the huge pot of info, sort through it, and base an informed opinion on H5N1. And that takes time. Lots of time. H5N1 can’t be assed in a month or two. It’s something you have to say with, and somewhere along the way you can make a better informed opinion as to H5N1. But to state in a few sentences that H5N1 is being hyped and fear mongers are out to get you, is very irresponsible. I encounter that alot. People who summed up the H5N1 situation in a few sentences and they wanted to be right. There is no right or wrong when dealing with viruses. They have a mind all their own, and we are at their mercy. In writing a few sentences that puts us in control of the virues and mandate our wishes and will, is petty, and typically human. We do not and can not control viruses.
Alot has happened since that bloggers April 06 post. H5N1 has gotten meaner and taken more people. It’s turned more to H2N than 2 years ago, and the death toll is rising. There is a very serious problem in China and Indonesia, and Egypt, that’s gotten worse since 06. And that makes my point: watching H5N1 is an ongoing process. You either stay with it or you don’t. There is no way we can know that H5N1 will cause the next pandemic.
It’s easy to say the media is fear mongering people with bird flu. But we could say that about alot of stuff the media reports. Some people will use information as a positive tool and some won’t. We can’t change that. Even with a pandemic bearing down on us and we see it, we’re still going to have that same situation. So let’s stop focusing on “the media and fear mongering” and let’s start to educate ourself to the best of our knowedge. Have an open mind, because no one is right and no one is wrong. Let’s stop focusing on who’s right and who’s wrong. That isn’t our problem with H5N1. Our problem is coming up with an effective vaccine that can help keep this under control, educating people about H5N1, escpecially in poorer countries. Remember, what goes on over there, ultimately ends up in our back yard! One way or another!