I gotta hand it to you, media. You did a grand ol' job mentioning swine flu as often as possible. And whoever came up with the idea to localize the madness in Mexico? Bravo!
Nobody is certain of the origin, or the cause, and few even know what the hell it is, but cases are confirmed all over the world. This, along with the nomenclature of the pandemic, is the key to scaring the healthy shit out of everyone.
The question is, what will be the next scary disease? And when will it be?
Looking back, bird flu was an utter failure. True, birds are everywhere, but they're not notorious for spreading disease. Pigs, on the other hand, are dirty little critters. Calling them "swine" adds that boorish (boarish?) touch that makes the disease sound deadly.
Monkeypox was a thing of beauty. Poxes date back to historic eras, and monkeys ... well, they're known for flinging excrement and dining on the crumbs within their neighbor's hair. I hope the guy who coined that one got promoted.
West Nile Virus was a solid day at the office. The Nile is in Africa, and although it didn't really invoke any thoughts of rabid or wild animals, it's a foreign place and therefore increases the xenophobic propensity of society. (Which is the point, I'm fairly certain.)
Using what we already know, I've deduced that in a couple of years the new pandemic will be Panda AIDS.
First of all, pandas — while seemingly cuddly — will tear your goddamn head off if given the opportunity. They're primarily found in China, a country that gave us both bird flu and the lead poisoning scare. And while pandas may not roam around your backyard*, they have been at your local zoo recently. And YOU DRANK FROM THE FOUNTAIN!
* - I was tinkering with "chipmunk fever," but instead of a viral disease, it ended up resembling a viral marketing ploy for a Alvin, Simon & Theodore reunion.
Now why AIDS? Simple. It's been a while since we've been left in the dark about this disease. (A Different World was, what, 20 years ago?) We now know that needles, strange bedfellows, and blood transfusions from Magic Johnson will probably result in this disease, so we think we're in the clear and can focus efforts on everyman syndromes, like heart disease, lung cancer, and erectile dysfunction.
But! Suppose AIDS was discovered to be transmittable by other methods, such as the water you drink, or by breaking open a fortune cookie. Now you've got yourself a freakin' pandemic.
Or, should I say, panda-emic. (Feel free to use that one, New York Post. You know you will.)