Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Sort of Headline That Riles Me

"Sleepy Village Awakes to Bird Flu"

There has, so far, been a grand total of one animal in the United Kingdom to have died from bird flu. Across the world, I am as yet unaware of human deaths from bird flu that have not been caused by people living in extreme close proximity to animals - that is to say, it has not yet developed into a human-to-human transmissible disease.

Yet the news coverage of the Scottish swan that died from H5N1, typified by the headline I quote above, makes it out to be a huge threat. There is, rightly, concern about Britain's preparedness for a pandemic. But that is not what is being brought up here - it is pure and simple fearmongering. Short of one swan, the village is pretty much unaffected by bird flu at the moment, and I suspect that its human inhabitants at least will be pretty safe.

Why the need to be so alarmist?