It’s All Too Easy For Disease Scares To Decimate Travel Unnecessarily

May 20, 2009 at 2:41 pm | Posted in travel and health | Leave a comment
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disease scares and travel

Run for your lives!

Am I the only one who thought this whole swine flu thing got just a wee bit hysterical?  At the risk of being accused of a spot of Monday-morning quarterbacking, I confess that’s what was running through my head just recently as I perused a piece on Foreign Policy magazine’s Web site called “Five Disease Outbreaks That Are Worse Than Swine Flu.”  True, for the most part things like cholera and ebola aren’t nearly as easily communicable as the flu or are more dependent on specific local conditions.  But what it underscored for me was that the public and especially the media need a sense of perspective on these kinds of things (flu always kills thousands of people every year regardless), and that has been sorely lacking. Instead, we get panic, knee-jerk reactions that create more problems than they solve. The UN World Tourism Organization is with me on this one. We’ve seen plenty of this kind of thing before, from BSE (aka mad cow disease) to SARS to avian flu. The travel industry might consider lending a hand to a campaign to this effect, since disease scares like this can decimate entire destinations unnecessarily (paging Mexico and its airlines!). I’m not saying pooh-pooh the matter, just provide some common-sense perspective. But unfortunately, that’s just not how we roll in modern society — instead, we lurch from scare to scare and never seem to learn.

–David Paul Appell

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