First it was mad cow disease, then bird flu and now swine flu. If we human beings didn’t have enough health fears of our own, the animal kingdom comes along and provides a few more, reminding us yet again that when it comes to examining cells under a microscope we are all more or less the same.
The difference is that we clever human beings invented globalisation, intercontinental travel, high speed transport and massive social gatherings so when we catch one of these ‘flu variations we spread it around the world in no time at all.
The problem now lies with the authorities. If they show concern they are in danger of being labelled alarmist and responsible for mass hysteria when there was really no need. If they tell people there is nothing to worry about they could be responsible for not taking enough precautions and for more people being taken ill. And it’s not just what the Health Minister (in Spain’s case a brand new one) says in a press conference but how she says it; a variation in her tone of voice could be enough to have everyone rushing out to the chemist to buy a mask.
When everyone was worried about mad cow disease the then Health Minister and former Mayor of Malaga, Celia Villalobos, got into trouble (and eventually lost her job) for telling everyone to go out and buy their bones from the butcher and make a good stew.
At the moment the Government is advising us not to travel to Mexico. The now 20 people possibly affected in this country have all returned from that country in the last few days. How much this will cost travel agents, and the Mexican tourism industry, I don’t know.
When cows, birds or swine catch infectious diseases they can be isolated and even destroyed and fellow pigs on the other side of the world, or on the next farm for that matter, are none the wiser. Human beings however can carry infections across the planet in no time. But the news, and the alarm, spreads even faster.
Let’s hope that this scare dies out as quickly as the others did, remaining only as fuel for the opposition to use in their criticism of the government’s action, which will inevitably be either too much or too little.
Filed under: General by Rachel Haynes