Of Swine & Alfalfa

Is it an emergency or not? The U.S. government declared a public health emergency to deal with the swine flu outbreak as five states reported 20 confirmed cases of the disease. An emergency sounds pretty serious and having the government declare one is even more serious, right? Or is it? President Obama said it is no cause for alarm. Okay. A government declared emergency is not serious, so why do it? “This is obviously a cause for concern… but it is not a cause for alarm.” Mixed signals, eh… But wait, there’s more cause for health concern among US citizens. The Food and Drug Administration is recommending consumers not eat raw alfalfa sprouts until further notice because the popular crunchy greens have been linked to a salmonella saintpaul outbreak in six states. And now… Europeans “should avoid traveling to Mexico or the United States of America unless it is very urgent for them.”

I don’t know if the pig/avian/human genetic spliced flu monster is a big deal or not and I cannot have my tasty kitchen sink salad and Europeans are being told not to come here. It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine… (And the fact that the song is 20+ years old and that the singer, Michael Stipe, is almost 50 makes me feel damn old.)

But wait, there’s more! Apparently, there is room for silliness in this situation. We shouldn’t be calling this “swine” flu. Israeli Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman said the reference to pigs is offensive to both religions [Muslim and Jewish] and “we should call this Mexican flu and not swine flu,” he told a news conference at a hospital in central Israel.


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