Irresponsible Reporting

Asthma

Two of my three children have asthma, and although I tend to be fairly laid-back, this is one condition that has always worried me. When my daughters were very young, I became well acquainted with the symptoms and treatments of this disease and monitored any slight cough or wheeze with extreme trepidation. My daughter, Mary-Kate, was hospitalized for several days in 2007 because she could not breathe, and consequently, my fear of asthma has bordered on excessive. The girls, now young adults, rarely tell me about any breathing issue until it has passed and they are feeling better.

Scrolling through my Facebook feed today, I saw a headline that screamed “Children Are Falling Ill Across America — But Doctors Are Baffled at What’s Causing It.” Before I clicked on the article, I knew the subject: Enterovirus 68 (EV-68). I have followed this story for weeks, worried this virus would reach our state. My husband told me not to worry, that it was out West and only hitting young children. Since then, enterovirus 68 has arrived in forty states and several children have been hospitalized. Schools are taking precautions and my girls know to pay particular attention to any cough or sniffle.

I’m trying not to buy into the panic some media outlets are cultivating. The opening line of the article read “The news: Forget your fears of Ebola coming to America — there’s already a major virus sweeping the nation.” I recognize that something like this is a cause for concern, but as a parent of asthmatic children, it irritates me that the media sensationalizes what should be news delivered in a responsible manner.

A Google search of the disease revealed many articles, most of which were informative pieces without the attention grabbing headline. A piece by The Journal News provided useful tips and solid facts for parents, without trying to send them into a panic. They recommended that parents of asthmatic children pay particular attention to cold symptoms and seek medical attention immediately for respiratory issues. This was presented in a clear, professional manner. The intent was to inform rather than frighten.

I just spoke to my daughter. Her asthma is bothering her, and she’s using her inhaler more often than usual. We’ll definitely keep an eye on this, but to compare enterovirus 68 to the recent ebola outbreak? That’s just irresponsible reporting.

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