Kiwi Polemicist

May 4, 2009

• Swine flu: NZ Herald says it’s mutating but it’s not

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The NZ Herald has published an article entitled “Swine flu mutates as human gives virus to pigs“. The article begins thus:

A pig farm in Canada has seen the first documented instance of swine flu being transmitted from humans back into animals, raising concerns that the H1N1 virus at the centre of the outbreak may mutate into a more virulent form as it passes between pigs and humans.

My bull-dung warning system went from yellow alert to red alert when I read this (it’s always at yellow or red when reading the NZ Herald), because I’d earlier read a WHO update which covered this same incident and said that

There is no indication of virus adaptation through transfer from human to pigs at this time.

Sure enough, if you read the NZ Herald article carefully there’s no actual evidence of mutation of the H1N1 virus to be found. Moreover, the Herald attributes this article to The Independent, whose title is “Mutation fears grow after human gives virus to pig“. This title is bad enough, making an unsubstantiated statement that fears of viral mutation are growing as a result of this incident (it is reasonable to assume that the “scientists” referred to do not have increased fears as a result of this incident: the risk is nothing new), but the Herald’s statement the virus has mutated in utterly incorrect and utterly inexcusable. A supposedly respectable paper is telling pork pies.

Basically someone at the Herald has taken an article from the Independent and slapped a sensational and false title on it. The NZ Herald regurgitates a lot of other people’s writing these days: see my earlier post The NZ Herald delivers state propaganda for an excellent example of this.

The moral of the story: don’t believe everything you read in the media.




  1. […] is quite simply a lie (click here to see another lie from the […]

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  2. […] If you want to see an example of “radical sweeping statements unsubstantiated with evidence” from a newspaper see my post Swine flu: NZ Herald says it’s mutating but it’s not. […]

    Pingback by • The arrogance of News Ltd regarding bloggers « Kiwi Polemicist — July 4, 2009 @ 1:33 pm

  3. […] Swine flu: NZ Herald says it’s mutating but it’s not […]

    Pingback by Junk Journalism: Clinics struggle to cope with swine flu rush « Kiwi Polemicist — July 8, 2009 @ 1:25 pm

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