The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Media hyping swine flu out of proportion

Every year, it seems like our mass media publicizes a new disease to the point that seasonal health scares have become predictable. Mad-cow disease, SARS, the West-Nile Virus, bird flu and the recent swine flu are just a handful of viruses that have petrified the ears of Americans as they’ve been instilled with
fears of these diseases.

After last spring’s coverage of the H1N1 swine flu the mass media has succeeded in spooking us yet again. News agency have flooded their Web sites with swine flu updates and TV networks have consistently reported unorganized reactions from the medical industry.

Throughout last year’s flu season, news reports on swine flu flooded the media as the death toll from the disease rose, affecting major metropolitan areas such as New York and Mexico City.

However, many doctors have reported that H1N1 is simply another form of influenza. The difference between the flu and swine flu is that our bodies have yet to become immune to the newer strains of Swine flu.

Chronic disease epidemiologist Dr. David Ozonoff also reported on a New York Times blog that the common flu accounts for an estimated 40,000
U.S. deaths each year.

Even though the symptoms of the ordinary flu and Swine flu are almost identical, the hysteria that has been created over the virus continues to scare people.

It’s interesting that heart disease remains at the top of the list of the most deadly ailments in the U.S. and yet swine Flu, which hasn’t had a nearly comparable death toll to heart disease, has had far more news coverage than any other sickness over the
past year.

One major characteristic of H1Na that has the public concerned is the low available amounts of vaccine. Though these concerns are legitimate, it will only be a matter of time until more immunity is available for the recently discovered strand of flu that comes with the swine flue virus.

So although the swine flu remains a legitimate health concern because of its relatively new flu strains, the media’s portrayal of disease has been irresponsible. It’s time we come to the realization that swine flu is just another seasonal sickness and that its publicity will pass just as it has with other viruses.

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