Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Panicked over the bird flu? It could be worse..."We could have a tsunami"

Panicked Leominster residents flee flu-ridden birds, despite mayor's plea for calm.

That was all I was planning to add today to the absurd notion that the mayor of Leominster called a press conference to tell residents not to panic in response to last night's made-for-TV movie, Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America. But thanks to the Sentinel and Enterprise--whose reporters I sincerely hope penned today's article with tongues planted firmly in their cheeks--the bird flu is the gift that keeps on giving:

Many locals feel bird flu TV movie goes too far
By Marisa Donelan

Leominster resident Dali Morales says a made-for-television movie about a fictional avian flu pandemic in the United States, which aired last night on ABC, is too over-the-top.

"When I first heard about it, I thought the ideawas kind of cool," she said Tuesday afternoon. "I've enjoyed disaster movies in the past. (Bird flu) is something that could happen, though. (But) I think the people who made the movie went too far."

The film, "Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America," featured corpses heaped upon each other and whole neighborhoods under quarantine, according to a report by the Associated Press.


I don't think people are going to go out and prepare for anything," [Morales] said."They'll see it as a fiction movie, that's taken something that might happen and made a big exaggeration."

See that was my point yesterday: nobody was going to panic about the bird flu based on a TV movie because it was obviously fiction....what, you mean someone might?

But other local residents disagreed, saying the movie might stir up some anxiety over bird flu, a disease some doctors have said could create the world's next pandemic.

"I think the movie will start some hysteria unnecessarily," Leominster resident Donna Erickson said. "We should be leery of the disease, definitely. But I think the movie could potential spark some mass hysteria over something that hasn't happened yet."


Leominster Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella held a press conference on Monday to inform the public that city officials have a plan in place to deal with the bird flu, should a pandemic occur.

The mayor said on Tuesday that he didn't plan to watch the movie.

"No, I don't watch TV," he said.

Mazzarella said he doesn't think people will panic after watching the film, but it might raise awareness about the potential problem.

Wait, wait, wait. Now, the mayor does not think people will panic? Do you think he might have spoken up when Leominster Health Director Christopher J. Knuth said "I just don't want people to panic" at the press conference the mayor called to discuss the bird flu?

Guba Belanger, a Bedford resident who works in the Fitchburg Schools Central Office, was undecided Tuesday afternoon whether she would watch the movie....

The film may frighten some viewers who confuse television with reality, Belanger said.

"Everything on TV seems so real," she said. "It could really give someone a scare if they turned on the movie in the middle."

Again, I'm not concerned. My whole point all along is that my fellow citizens of Leominster are grounded in reality and...oh no...

Regardless of whether the movie is realistic or not, Erickson said viewers should remember that disaster hasn't yet struck.

"I think the filmmakers are taking advantage of the possibility of the flu," she said. "We'll deal with it when and if it comes. We could have a tsunami. Are we going to sit around and worry about that all the time?"

"We could have a tsunami"??!! Looks like the mayor has the topic for his next press conference. Perhps he can use the forum to remind my frazzled neighbors that Leominster is 404 feet above sea level and a tsunami is probably the least of our problems.

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