Ron Seybold's Viral Times

A story to inject hearts with insight, hope and health

Let’s blame it on the children

with one comment

NPRstoryA story appeared on the NPR Web site this morning that reports pigs in Iowa might have caught H1N1 from schoolchildren. That’s right, pigs might have caught swine flu from people.

But the reporting is so bad, it’s as if some journalist looked up and saw the clock and thought, “Holy crap. I gotta file my daily swine flu story.” So we get the following:

Pigs in Minnesota may have tested positive for the H1N1 virus… officials cautioned that further tests are needed to confirm that the pigs have been infected with H1N1. The pigs did not exhibit signs of sickness and may have been infected by a group of children with the virus, they said. Officials said a group of children staying at dormitory near the Minnesota State Fair contracted the H1N1 virus at the same time that samples were taken from the pigs. However, officials said no direct link between the pigs and the outbreak among the children has been made.

This is just bad journalism. No test results, just a group of researchers from Iowa and Minnesota Universities “documenting instances of influenza viruses where humans and pigs regularly interact, such as state fairs.”

You can already guess who’s most worried about this. America’s pig farmers, with one more rumor to grind down their sales of pork products. This is how rumors grow: from stories about children staying in a “nearby” dorm who “might have” infected pigs. But we don’t know anything for certain until the test results come back from from the apparently-healthy pigs.

So instead of worrying about the children, let’s blame it on the children. Or their parents. Gad, what half-baked work passes for news now. The headline on the NPR site is “H1N1 Flu Claiming a Rising Toll.” 86 dead so far, twice the number in a usual year. This news influences the spread of the flu; worry and dread reduce the immunity in your body. What might be healthier: reading an article in the Atlantic Monthly that will have you questioning every “flu killed that child” statistic used in such poor reporting.

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Written by Ron Seybold

October 17, 2009 at 7:09 pm

One Response

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  1. Hi, Ron. Glad to see you’re rolling your book out and starting the look for an agent. Me, too! My website is cmorganbook.com.

    Cindy Antolik

    October 17, 2009 at 7:29 pm


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