back to article Pig plague 2.0: Can't spell 'pandemic' without 'panic'

The internet has responded to the absolutely positively inevitable pandemic of swine flu with typical restraint and a decent sense of proportion, providing everything from context-sensitive maps to an iPhone application for those preparing to flee for the hills. The irksome fact that the majority of people who contract the new …

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  1. dreadful scathe
    Pirate

    thanks

    i just want to say thank you for some wonderful reporting over the years. Now all I can do is sit in the office waiting for the end. Damn you pigs, Damn you all to hell!

  2. Eddie Edwards
    Dead Vulture

    Ah balance at last

    Given the hysteria on the other side, obviously we need to balance that with the opposite - complete dismissiveness.

    It wouldn't do just to write an objective summary of the facts. It's not a journalists job to report facts! He's there to get ad revenue via eyeballs!

    Your analysis is pat and lazy anyway. It is reported that all the deaths have been people aged 20-50, which kind of rules out the idea that the deaths can be handwaved off because of course old people die of flu. Sorry, none of them were old. But why let the facts get in the way of a lazy hack getting his liquid lunch early?

    Head over to the BBC's Have Your Say; at least they do some analysis of the deaths (e.g. suggesting they may be more due to Mexico's poor standard of living rather than the deadliness of the flu per se).

    People were right. The media is going to die, and be replaced by user discussion. That's the only place any intelligent ideas are being discussed about swine flu right now. Oh yes, 95% of discussion posts are moronic, but the other 5% contain more insight than the entire mainstream media combined.

    BTW, flu "even kills the healthy when combined with other diseases", does it?

    I might suggest that someone with "other diseases" hardly counts as "healthy".

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Actually I'm more worried about the super flu

    Seems the symptoms are that you feel perfectly fine....

    Hey I feel perfectly fine NOW!!!

    Nurse!

  4. Openminded Cynic
    Happy

    I think the real issue here we can all agree is...

    Does it turn people into zombies?

  5. Onionman
    Stop

    Unwarranted Cynicism

    Your cynical tone over this surprises me. This is a serious risk to health which urgently needs a government database and draconian new laws if they are to keep us, sorry "it", under control.

    O

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please, please please.... !

    Swine Flu....

    Please can we have "Piggin contagious" ?

    http://www.xystos.co.uk/Piggin/browse.aspx?category=10

  7. D@v3

    artistic comment

    http://xkcd.com/574/

  8. pctechxp
    Thumb Up

    lightened my day

    Very amusing, good show

    "coughs" "splutters"

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Shut...Down...Everything

    I'll be just fine here in Madagascar.

  10. Peter Ford
    Paris Hilton

    No lasting harm

    I got Pig Flu - didn't do much harm to me, just made my tail go curly...

    Paris, 'cos she's a simple remedy...

  11. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    I say...

    ...pigs arse!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    May I be the first to say...

    W'ALL GON' DIE!!

  13. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Very good!

    Yep sounds about right, the sheeple will panic because the various Daily Mail like media agencies around the world are telling them to.

    The thing to bear in mind is who is dead and what was their health like when they died, prior to catching this infection? Were they immune from things like flu? If you live in a country with relatively poor health care and you have very little experience with flu/cold like diseases and infections surely these are big factors in what is happening?

    Sitting here with a stinking cold, but then again I spent last week riding my bike 15 miles a day in ever increasingly cold weather, sweating like crazy so I am not at all surprises, definatley not bothering my GP, I have asthma too which makes any cold a major pain the wotnot!

    Two cases in Scotland a pandemic does not make!

  14. David

    Blog

    The Grauniad even has a SwineFluBlog: http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/blog/2009/apr/27/swine-flu

  15. 4a$$Monkey
    Thumb Up

    Great article

    I was wondering how long it would take for a scathing article from El Reg and this does not disappoint.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    I for one ...

    ... welcome our new viral, swine-flu overlords.

    (Well, someone had to!)

  17. Dalek13
    Coat

    Fear-branding

    While the Meeja(tm) continue to push this out as an apolcalyptic SWINE FLU MURDER DEATH KILL scenario, fear and panic (and unit sales) will increase.

    Let's re-brand it the 'Wiggy-sniffles' - see how much interest that generates...

    Mine's the one with the Tamiflu blister-pack in the pocket.

  18. Cucumber C Face
    Joke

    Only kills young Mexicans?

    Makes one wonder whether the drug cartels are using this as cover...

    "Never mind the bullet hole in the back of their head Mr Policeman - there's a used Kleenex in their hand."

  19. Ian Hunter
    Joke

    Pig?

    So does this mean the flu is being spread to non-muslims only? Or can they catch it too?

    We need to contact The Sun so they can run an exposé on Mr Hook Hand, cos it's bound to all be down to him.

    The headline could read: Hooky's Ham Fisted Attempt To Infect The World.

    Also, See Page 3 Idol Contestants in their surgical masks!

  20. Sergie Kaponitovicz
    Boffin

    It's OK, Broon says so!

    From the Grauniad RSS:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/28/swine-flu-mexico1

    "Swine flu 'can no longer be contained'"

    "The prime minister, Gordon Brown, who will join a meeting of the government's Cobra emergency committee chaired by health secretary Alan Johnson today, said he would take "all urgent action necessary" to try to halt the virus,

    Brown said he understood the "very real concern" of Britons but added that the UK was among the best prepared countries in the world."

    So just like the UK being best positioned to weather the recession, we are reassured by our totally trustworthy and believable Prime Mentalist.

    Time to stock up on Beechams and Hemlock as plan B, merthinks.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From one of the fora I frequent

    The guts of a comment was:

    There actually is a very, very small chance that this virus could cause severe illness and whenever this occurs hospitalization and even fatalities are reported. The likelihood of a pandemic is miniscule, but newspapers, governments agencies and the manufacturers of pharmaceuticals do their best work and make their biggest sales when people are scared.

    Tamiflu is recommended for treatment and prevention of this influenza virus. The company which gets the drug's royalties (Gilead) has as a major stockholder--previously Chairman--one Donald Rumsfeld. Local pharmacies are already running low on Tamiflu. Connect the dots.

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/governmentFilingsNews/idUKN2445216420090424

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/medical/tamiflu.asp

    http://money.cnn.com/2005/10/31/news/newsmakers/fortune_rumsfeld/

    http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSTRE53O17O20090425

    http://www.nasdaq.com/aspx/stock-market-news-story.aspx?storyid=200904251215dowjonesdjonline000319

    And watch out for this:

    http://health.howstuffworks.com/health-illness/treatment/medicine/medications/tamiflu-psych.htm

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Hmmm

    So, what kind of DPS does this disease do? I need to know what kind of level of regen to cast in prep.

    /kills self

  23. Andrew Moore Silver badge
    Coat

    I remember...

    The last time we had Swine Flu in Ireland it was called Blue Flu...

  24. IndianaJ
    Thumb Up

    Hooray

    For the sensible voice of reason. I thought the (other) media were told off for scare mongering over bird flu? Seems they haven't learnt their lesson.

    Meanwhile, back at Whitehall bad news is being buried....

  25. Yorkshirepudding
    Alert

    its the end of the world as we know it

    and i feel fine...

    i think, cough hack splutter

  26. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Twixt two stools

    Okay there's no need for hysteria - yet (possibly). But...

    It's worth remembering that this is the virus that caused the 1918-19 pandemic and it has shown itself to be capable of human -> human transmission. What is absolutely crucial is finding out how deadly it is. At the moment the figures from Mexico City suggest a relatively high level of mortality, whereas it's produced relatively minor symptoms elsewhere. What we need to know is how many infections there have been in Mexico and if the deaths are in excess to normal 'flu. Of course there's an outside possibility there are two forms going around.

    And even if this is a relatively benign virus, it is clearly capable of spreading through the human population. It will continue to mutate and reassort as it passes through humans and pigs (and possibly birds), which means we're getting yet another warning that pandemic 'flu is a real threat - how many more warnings do we need before we start planning for them?

    BTW. Whales can catch the 'flu virus - can you imagine how much snot they produce???

  27. Juan Inamillion
    Joke

    @No lasting harm

    Errr I misread that as "No lasting ham..."

  28. A J Stiles
    Coat

    But .....

    Has anyone studied the difference between boars and sows with the pig 'flu?

  29. Roberto Panacek

    there is a known cure

    simply a matter of applying the correct oinkment

  30. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    Speaking of the Twitts

    xkcd got there yesterday...

    http://www.xkcd.org/574/

  31. david

    I beleive the expert on PM on Monday...

    ..it will either get worse or it will get better, that is if it doesn't stay the same.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Summat odd about this one

    I heard on the news that it's killed only relatively fit people between 25 and 45.

    Not the usual youngsters, oldies and those with respiratory complaints.

    Woohoo - I'm in the clear! That'll show you fit young bu66ers!

    Film/Book to watch/read whilst you wait for the end of civilisation as we know it.

    The Stand - Stephen King

    you'll find it on Amazon.

    That is all.

  33. Thomas
    Thumb Up

    @The Fuzzy Wotnot

    "sheeple"

    I normally abhor internet contractions but this one is really good. I suspect in many sheeple's pockets, you will find a copy of the Daily Fail.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Media over hyping isn't helpful

    but neither are articles like this.

    Even if it isn't fatal in small numbers in western nations with decent health systems, it's still airborne, highly infectious and a very nasty flu.

  35. Richard Tobin

    But....

    ... how is it going to affect house prices?

  36. Mark Wills

    Gordon to the rescue

    "The prime minister, Gordon Brown, who will join a meeting of the government's Cobra emergency committee chaired by health secretary Alan Johnson today, said he would take "all urgent action necessary" to try to halt the virus,"

    Just like you took all action necessary to halt the banking 'crises', by spending 3 generations worth of tax contributions.

    Ah yes, well done Gordon. Your plan is brilliant. Deflect attention from the recession. Gordon's coming to save us from certain death.

    You're my hero Gordon.

    Not.

    Fail.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That was quick

    And Oz doesn't even have any confirmed cases yet!

    http://www.smh.com.au/world/new-powers-to-tackle-swine-flu-20090428-akuk.html

    How long before police and "health authorities" get sweeping new powers to inspect a person's home to see if sick people are being secretly harboured?

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1918 pandemic?

    I seem to remember a suggestion on a TV documentary that the 1918 pandemic had been proceded by a milder version of the same strain.

    The suggestion being that the milder strain had primed the immune response increasing the chance for the Cytokine storm and hence been instrumental in increasing the fatality rate.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Beware...

    Those that survive will have to stay indoors at night,

    lest they be killed by the brain-eating chair-throwing Pigmen.

    -------

    Pigmen Jerry! Pigmen!

  40. Steve Evans

    Watch...

    For HM Govt to try sneaking some bad news out whilst everyone is running about in a flu panic...

    Oh no, I just sneezed....I DON'T WANNA DIE!

    Oh hang on, it's hay fever...

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Gonna buy a dinghy...

    Gonna sail her to Madagascar before they shut...down...everything.

    Can hold a couple more, BYOB.

  42. not sure
    Joke

    Someone has to say it

    YOU DIRTY SWINE!!!

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    OK, so what if ...

    ... it kills 10% or more of the world's population over the next couple of years? Would that be such a bad thing after it's all over? I mean, we'd achieve emissions reduction targets for sure. Houses would be cheaper. Buses and the Tube wouldn't be as crowded. Less need to elbow your way to the bar at the pub. And the queue for the ladies would be a bit shorter. There's always a bright side.

    (/me Briefly wonders what it would be like if Sarah and I were the last two people on Earth ....)

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    RE: Ah balance at last

    "I might suggest that someone with "other diseases" hardly counts as "healthy"."

    I disagree with this - I think when used, the word 'disease' creates the image of someone struggling their way through normal life, like an unfortunate, leprosy-ridden soul preparing to succumb to their fate. Perhaps if the correct terminology was used, such as the word 'condition' instead, it would be more true to fact.

    Having been an insulin-dependent diabetic for 21 years, I am completely 'healthy', although my 'condition' means that , were I to catch flu, I would be more at risk of complications.

  45. Peyton
    Heart

    Have to admit

    This sounds like a useful purpose for Twitter. Just write an infinite loop to post to their feed: "Don't panic"

    Once the message is in tweet form, I'm sure people will pay attention. Gotta love web 2.0 - it beats the heck out of thinking.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    er...

    Much as the cynicism in this snoutbreak is probably justified it's also worth keeping an eye on the quality news sources (not Twatter) for information about pigageddon. If this does turn out to be the aporkalypse then you will feel pretty silly having pignored the warning signs.

    Jokes aside these things take a while to develop so let's not dismiss it yet, but let's not panic either.

  47. pctechxp

    @IndianaJ

    Very true.

    Wonder what tax we're going to be hit with to keep the bankers in the lifestyle they have become accustomed to while robbing us blind both before and after banks sunk and had to be bailed out by you and I

  48. Edward Miles
    Joke

    But...

    ...what happens when ManBearPig gets the swine flu?

  49. David Ralston

    Pan (dem) ic

    Pan (dem) ic .. Odd.. Those dem's are in the middle of a panic.

  50. mittfh

    The Playmobil angle...

    Just spotted in a comment on Radio 4's PM Blog (author: RxKaren):

    Periodically throughout the past 5 years health and social care providers (PCTs, Hospitals, Social Services, Councils, etc) have got together for tabletop exercises where they pretend that there's been a disaster and shuffle the Playmobil figures around to cope with the crisis to see where the gaps in the current provision are. I've been told that it's a bit like Time Commanders without the fancy graphics and satellite view. Apparently they're quite good fun (I've never been on one).

    (Additionally, since there's been discussion of potential new comment icons, how about a Playmobil one?)

  51. Colin Barfoot
    Alien

    it's only an alien invasion

    65 million years ago their ancestors crashed their spaceship into the Yucatan Peninsula and now that their numbers are sufficient their supremacy is imminent.

    Let me be the second to welcome our 6-point-licence-owning, alien, viral, swine-flu overlords.

  52. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: it's only an alien invasion

    >Yucatan

    And that's given me a nice Blockheads earworm. Ah, that's better.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    I'll tell you some good news

    I now know how to empty a single decker bus

    Sneeze and cough a bit, then turn to the wife and say

    I wish we were in Mexico it was much warmer there last week

    I've already got my coat, cause it's warmer in Mexico

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Quick..

    ..call me a hambulance!

  55. Pierre Silver badge

    Meh

    Looks like some big pharma already wasted the huge pile of cash they made from selling craploads of useless drugs to various goverments -tinfoil-hat citizens- with the avian "pandemics" stuff, and are in need of another mammoth cash injection...

    Watch out for our next PR-fuelled "pandemics": the Rat Flu (2011), Cockroach Flu (2012), Earthworm Flu (2014), Giant Jellyfish Flu (2017), Laser-equipped Shark Flu (2018), Philodendron Flu (TBA)...

    Looks like you only need a few tens of unconfirmed cases to use the word "pandemic" these days. The last one didn't even qualify for the more moderate "epidemic" FFS.

  56. Andy Bright
    Thumb Up

    Mad Max XXIV?

    After the Flu Apocalypse is done.. and all those that live in squalor, don't have access to basic medical supplies like aspirin, don't have clean drinking water, don't have access to healthy food, don't have doctors and hospitals that will accept sick patients and are probably already seriously ill from the kinds of diseases that hang around places like this.. when they're all dead and only last vestiges of humanity survive (around 6 billion or so) I hope that you all remembered to keep a journal of your trials.

    Record every can of dog food you ate, every flu-plague mutant you dispatched and every sexy blonde damsel you rescued from cannibals. Because the best one is a dead cert for the next Mad Max movie, and I've got a head start on all of you by switching to a canned dog food diet..

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    mass hysteria

    All this panic from focusing on the wrong figures

    The most widespread recent flu outbreak was in 1918, the figures break down that 28% of the population became infected and of the infected 2.5% died from the disease/complications.

    If that was repeated then you'd have a 3 in 10 chance of catching it and then 3 in a hundred chance of dieing so overall 0.7%.

    Don't get me wrong that's still a lot of people and at an individual level a tragedy for families

    It would though create slightly less panic than the reporting along the lines of x hundred people dead.

    And these numbers were before the advent of modern healthcare systems and disease control procedures so you'd hope that even though the infection rate was still high the death rate would be lower.

    The biggest problem in the US is that people with no or limited healthcare don't go to the doctor and you miss the early stages on the spread which makes containing it and treating it harder.

  58. Thomas Baker

    It is surprising...

    ...that the various western gubmints haven't seized the opportunity to blame it on Iran or Al Qaeda or the Taliban. Very odd. If anything, it lends it more credence but ultimately I agree with Pierre, it's probably a big pharma false flag mission. It's like every kid has ADHD now or some other condition that 20 years ago would've been treated with a clip 'round the ear but now needs copious quantities of meds, and everyone's depressed and needs useless anti-depressants that only induce side-effects but no relief from misery, and they've even got an obesity pill which is truly staggering; can't you just stop eating pie? Cut down on the cake perhaps? More meds, more meds.

    There's no news like sensational news, it's the new truth you know. Well done El Reg for showing a bit of restraint and cynicism in a Diogenes kinda-way. Let's wait and see shall we and as someone else said, the human race could do with a bit of a cull and I don't mind dying as long as it's not too painful and is relatively quick.

    I have a snotty cold right now too, bugger.

  59. juan
    Coat

    Famous last words?

    da-dee-a-da-dee-a, that's all folks!

  60. LaeMi Qian Silver badge
    Alert

    Was in China for SARS

    Bit of a non-event. In the end, CARS still killed two orders of magnitude more people during the 'epidemic'.

    It was pleasant to walk around without the usual crowds, though. And always getting a seat on the bus.

  61. Paul
    Thumb Up

    @David Ralston

    "Pan (dem) ic .. Odd.. Those dem's are in the middle of a panic."

    Dem from demos, people, pan all. In this case its got to be so apt. People in panic.

  62. elderlybloke
    Thumb Up

    Look on the Sunny Side

    Ordinary flu kills between 250,000 and 500,000 annually.

    Must check up on Pneumonia as well.

    Stay well.

  63. a
    Coat

    Ahh , Before Web 2.0

    In the days before Web 2.0 , didn't we have other terms for "User Generated Content", like:

    Hearsay, Rumour, Scaremongering, Old Wives Tale

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    I like the odds...BUT

    Your still FAR more likely to be killed by the NHS' filthy wards. C.Diff and MRSA kill more EVERY year than RTA's and Swine flu combined 10,000+ v 3000 every year.

    Yet the politico's only rabbit about speeding. Just cleaning the wards WILL definitely save more people than lowering the speed limit to one mph and putting camera's on everyones head.

    Yet they wont clean up the NHS wards because that costs money. They would rather make cash from sCamera's and fines etc.

    This isn't a maybe save lives like sCamera's, this is a provable sure thing. Hospital Aquired Infections are 100% preventable with just basic common sense hygeine.

    Makes you wonder the REAL reason why HMG does things doesn't it.

  65. Roberto Panacek

    If Susan Boyle catches swine flu...

    ...then presumably the whole media circus will implode. At least until the next Big Thing comes along. Next week.

  66. C Ridley
    Linux

    Title

    Does anyone remember that time we all died from avian flu? Good times.

  67. Alice Andretti

    U.S. no paid sick-leave a problem

    AC wrote: "The biggest problem in the US is that people with no or limited healthcare don't go to the doctor and you miss the early stages on the spread which makes containing it and treating it harder."

    The other thing is, many of the millions of low-income or minimum-wage workers keep on GOING TO WORK every day for as long as they possibly can in the early stages of things, because they have *NO* PAID SICK-LEAVE and they can't afford to miss any pay by taking time off from work just because they felt a little woosy or what they thought was just a cold (to *start* with, before it gets worse).

    But from what I understand (generally speaking) they can still be CONTAGIOUS to everyone around them since those viruses are airborne and harder to avoid (as in, breathing).

    The worker pops some cheap generic "cold medicine" (kept on hand for such occasions) to help mask the initial symptoms, you go to work and try not to let on that you feel like crap even though you're about ready to fall over, and do your best to make sure the boss doesn't notice, because you don't want to get sent home and lose a day's pay. You might be able to pull that off for some time. So you spread contagious *airborne* viruses to your CUSTOMERS and the rest of the general public - thinking of restaurant jobs, hotel/motel workers, some cashiers and the many other low-paid or minimum-wage "service" jobs that typically don't have any benefits such as paid sick-leave. It's common.

    It could become a problem if a nasty enough airborne-contagious virus was involved. You'd just have to breathe a few whiffs of the same air as one of those early-stage sick workers, then you take the virus/disease home with you and spread it to your own family, friends, neighbors, your own coworkers, etc., and it goes on from there.

    In the case of some new quickly-spreading highly-contagious airborne virus, seems like it could be a problem. The government tells sick people to stay home, but they go to work anyway (as far as possible) because they need the money.

    I also wonder about the more urban tightly-packed populations we have now, which would speed up transmission, compared to (at least in the U.S.) the still comparatively less-urbanized populations at the time of the 1917/18 flu. You'd think we modern humans, as descendents of survivors of the 1918 flu (I lost some ancestors to that), would have some built-in genetic immunity, but maybe it doesn't quite work so neat and tidy like that, who knows.

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