April 27, 2009

Flu Fear

Officers from the health ministry, soldiers and police wearing protective suits take part in a joint bird flu prevention drill in Jakarta December 16, 2008. Bird flu in Indonesia has killed 113 people since 2003, according to the United Nations health agency.  REUTERS/Dadang Tri  (INDONESIA)

I was struck by this photo from today’s newswire. It shows soldiers and police in Indonesia, dressed in special suits, taking part in a flu prevention drill.

More than the contents of the photo itself, however, what took me aback — when I finally read the caption, more closely, a second time — is that the photo isn’t contemporary to the current swine flu outbreak. Instead, it’s a file photo taken last year as part of a bird flu prevention drill.

Knowing that, the photo — a terrifying one, to be sure, with this apocalyptic-looking scene on a dirt road — helps demonstrate how quickly distinctions can disappear between fact and assumption, and between worry, fear and hysteria.

(image: Dadang Tri /Reuters. Jakarta December 16, 2008)

Post By

Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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