Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Yo Ho or not Yo Ho

Crikey, we haven't even left yet and I'm ranting.

Read, very carefully, this article about the hantavirus issues in Yosemite. Then look at the pretty picture.

The tent cabins in the picture aren't the new ones cited in the article, in between the new and breathlessly panicked statements from the Centers for Disease Control. The new ones, which are connected by evidence with hantavirus, are built more like houses, with inner and outer sheathing, creating nice homes for mice.* The old ones, in the picture, built like the GAR encampments of a century ago, have only outer sheathing and no shelter for mice. The Tuolumne Meadows tent cabins are actual tents, over steel frames, on concrete slabs.

But let's tar everything with the same brush, shall we? Let's succumb to the curse of the file photo and run something that is sort of like the affected units, instead of putting someone on the scene to take pictures of exactly the housing that is connected by evidence to the outbreak. While we're at it, let's also succumb to "if it bleeds, it leads" and not trouble ourselves with facts any more than we can help.

We were, and still are, going to Yosemite. It took some fast talking on my part, as the only family member with an acquired immunity to this dangerous outbreak of media-induced panic. I ran the numbers: at this moment one chance in two million of acquiring hantavirus if one is a Yosemite visitor who has not been in the affected tent cabins. I influenced my daughter to exercise some clinical due diligence, bone up on the epidemiology, and consider the risks after disclosure and countermeasures, against the risks she ran in numerous Yosemite visits before the hantavirus was noted. In a lax moment my spouse left the go or no-go decision in the family medical hands.

I never had to use my trump card: If I went out and bought lottery tickets with those odds with the same money we've already spent on this trip, they'd put me away.

Nevertheless it was a near-run thing. Not because there was any evidence-based risk: one chance in two million of death. Fear, even among thinking people, spread chiefly because journalism is dead to its changed impact in a digital age. In a time when a fake report of a celebrity death can circle the earth in five minutes, a report of disease in Yosemite, however slim the odds, will generate panic far out of proportion to the risk.

When Em confirmed our reservations, she noted that the park accommodations, normally full up in September, had developed numerous vacancies. If that's the worst that happens, fine. But how long will it be before this excuse for news is equated with shouting fire in a crowded theatre?

* There is something piquant in the idea that Curry Village's 90 new up-market "tents," presumably made to defend occupants from the great outdoors, turned into incubators for a heretofore obscure virus.



Blogger massmarrier said...

Mouse Piss...another good name for a rock band.

How are the odds for injury or death from motoring to and from the airport, flying, and tooling around the steep places?

Mushroom, mushroom. Badger, badger, badger, badger...a snake! (or mouse).

2:47 pm  
Blogger Uncle said...

Now that I have returned more or less intact from the Sierra wilds, there will be more on this very topic, as well as other, saner items.

1:04 am  

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