Friday, February 26, 2016

It Has Nothing to Do with the Flu, Star Tribune

Why doesn't the Star-Tribune know better than to refer to a 24-hour illness as "flu-like"?

The flu (influenza) is not a 24-hour affliction, and the common usage of "stomach flu" is something I thought a newspaper -- with copy editors and people who are supposed to know something about facts -- would know to avoid as well.

The story in question tells us that 50 staff and residents at the Hennepin County workhouse "became sick from a flu-like virus." The symptoms are described as chills, diarrhea, and cramps without a fever. Sounds like a norovirus to me. It's not the flu and it's not flu-like, either, between the intestinal involvement and the 24-hour time frame.

This misuse of terms drives public health professionals nuts. It's bad enough that the general population can't get it straight, but it doesn't seem unreasonable to expect newspapers to get it right.

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