Media Wrong Again: Bird Flu Not Coming Home to Roost

Bird flu, fodder for a Chicken Little disaster movie on ABC last week, is not ruffling feathers at the United Nations as areas previously hit hard have contained the virus.

"In Thailand and Vietnam we’ve had the most fabulous success stories," U.N. pandemic flu coordinator Dr. David Nabarro was quoted in the May 14 New York Times.

Vietnam "has not seen a single case in humans or a single outbreak in poultry" in 2006, while Thailand "has not had a human case in nearly a year or one in poultry in six months," reported the Times’ Donald G. McNeil.

While the experts McNeil consulted for his article warned that it’s premature to say the bird flu is "wiped out," the Times writer noted that "this success in the former epicenter of the epidemic" proves that "aggressive measures" to contain avian flu can work "even in very poor countries."

On May 9 ABC aired "Fatal Contact," a sweeps month disaster movie which ended with an ominous note: a 100-percent lethal mutation of the avian flu wiping out an Angolan village.

While that evening’s "Nightline" attempted to weed out "fact from fiction" by dissecting the bird flu movie, the Business & Media Institute pointed out that previous attempts at solid reporting by the network had fallen flat.

The Business & Media Institute (BMI) has previously documented the media’s pandemic of hype in covering bird flu. Dr. Elizabeth Whelan of the American Council on Science and Health, an adviser to BMI, also warned the public not to panic in an editorial.

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