The boy who cried bird

Whatever happened to the really scary diseases? The Ebola Virus was good, The Spanish Influenza had the Latin thing going for it and then of course there was the Puff Daddy of viruses, The Bubonic “Can’t stop, won’t stop” Plague.

Historically speaking, humans have faced some pretty nasty diseases and somehow always pulled through. But despite all the advances in modern medicine, it appears that our species might ultimately be wiped out by one of the sillliest named viruses in human history: the bird flu.

“I’m sorry sir, you have the bird flu.”

“What is thatis it like chicken pox?”

“Noactually it’s like the Black Death.”

If you’re a little rusty on your medieval history, the Black Death was one of the worst natural disasters in human history. Similar to the musical group the Black Eyed Peas, the Black Death swept through Europe, ravagingcities and causingwidespreadpanicand death. Also like the Black Eyed Peas, it killed nearly one third of Europe’s population.

Scientists say we are actually overdue for a pandemic of global proportions. Overdue for a disease that kills millions? That’s like saying Vin Diesel is overdue for an Academy Award.

“And the Oscar goes to…Vin Diesel.”

“I would like to thank God, my muscles and the bird flu.”

Why are we constantly being threatened by new diseases that never amount to anything? Don’t get me wrong, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), do a fantastic job controlling new outbreaks but think about my poor grandmother.

Every so often, the media releases leaks news on a disease that can possibly destroy mankind, and whenever they do, it just scares the crap out of my dear old granny.

“Scientists believe this new disease is carried by roaches and it makes your eyes melt.”

“Oh my Jesus, we gotta move.”

The bird flu is real, make no mistake. But this isn’t the first case of disease-hype run amuck. Here are a few throwback epidemics that may never hit it big:

Mad Cow Disease: Word to the wisenever piss off British cows. They get angry and create a lot of global hype that upset beef prices. To this day, there has been only one suspected case of Mad Cow Disease in the U.S.; it was later determined that the suspectedcow wasn’t even mad; he was just having a bad afternoon.

West Nile Virus: Egyptian cotton wasn’t selling too well back in early 2000, so Africa began exporting this virus to the U.S. When dead birds starting falling on New Yorkers, Americans got scared. The media told us to prepare for a national outbreak. But by the end of that year, of the 21 reported cases of WNV, only two were fatal; in fact, less than 1 percent of those who become infected with West Nile Virus will develop severe illness and most people who get infected do not develop any disease at all.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS): SARS was first recognized as a global threat in March 2003 but how a disease can be both severe and acute simultaneously still confuses me. It must have confused scientists as well because by July of that same year, the World Health Organization declared the global threat over.

There are some that would argue that the bird flu is in an entirely different category. It may mutate and become a strain more dangerous than anything we’ve ever seen before. Who knows, maybe then it’ll get a cool name like The Notorious F.L.U. But let’s not jump the gun on this one; after all, it may not be the end of the world. To the media, keep us informed, but responsibly. And stop scaring my granny.

–Jamaal Bachelor

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