Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The H5N1s are coming! The H5N1s are coming!

Why do I do this to myself? I go places like and tune in to the Sean Hannity show, I sometimes check out DailyKos and listen in on Randi Rhoads. It's all to get a grasp on what the lunatic fringe is thinking, since they seem to be in charge of everything now.

But then there's Bird Flu. I've said before that it's a bunch of bullshit, and that's a belief I still hold -- especially since the "killer pandemic" has yet to materialize.

People are still scared, though. Witness this Drudge headline: Health Secretary: Bird flu is coming.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The lethal avian flu that is spreading rapidly around the world could soon infect wild birds and domesticated flocks in the United States, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt said on Wednesday.

Emphasis is mine, and here's why.

"Lethal" might be technically correct. But so far, everyone in developed nations who's contracted the virus has been "treated and released."

But when you combine "lethal" and "spreading rapidly," readers tend to get images of Dustin Hoffman in HAZMAT gear or monkeys infected with "rage" chomping on the necks of hapless British animal rights activists (a la 28 Days Later).

To date, bird flu has killed 94 people. In the whole world. That's in the story, too... just not in the lede. Instead, it's buried in the fourth graf.

I've said it before. I'm more afraid of the impending zombie apocalypse, or being assaulted by midget gang members, or being run over by a blind unicyclist, than I am the "killer" avian flu.