Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 05.28.09
Stanstead, Quebec


Who knows how the flu flows?

Now that it seems the swine flu won't be the apocalyptic event they warned us it would be, I guess we can all breathe a sigh of relief -- mind you, not in anyone's face and preferably through a gauze mask.

Apart from the unexplained severity of the virus in Mexico, the swine flu has turned out to be no more dire than your average seasonal flu. In fact, the worst that came out of this panic-demic were a few really bad jokes, including some positively scandalous ones about Miss Piggy.

In the wake of the flu frenzy, fingers are now being pointed this way and that to explain how H1N1 was so misread and what this will mean for reporting future pandemics. Will the public, for example, now consider the World Health Organization to be the boy who coughed wolf?

The only certainty is that there will be another flu outbreak and the next one could be the biggie health officials have been anticipating. Unfortunately, no one knows where it will come from. Birds? Swine? The Jonas Brothers? Who's to know?

What we do know is that these new viruses emerge when they pass from animals to humans, usually from animals that people have a lot of contact with. Which is why I'm predicting that the next flu mutation will occur closer to home:

Get ready for the feline flu.

It makes sense. You can't get much closer animal-human contact than waking up with a cat on your face. Plus, they're always coughing up something. And, let's be honest, they secretly hate us.

Symptoms of feline flu might include fever, laziness, and severe aloofness. Victims will find themselves easily distracted by shiny objects and lint. Patients will have to be restrained from wandering outside at night and doing nasty things in their neighbours' gardens.

The flu, however, is nothing if not unpredictable. For example consider the following scenario, which occurred to me at four in the morning, the usual time for absolutely brilliant ideas to come to mind. (There are exceptions, of course; my scheme to construct a trans-Canada cappuccino pipeline never quite panned out.) My theory's a little gross, but bear with me.

When my 13-year-old son gets a cold, he tends to lie in bed and ping his used tissues across the room into his waste basket. He's a good basketball player, lousy Kleenex launcher. The result is that the floor of his room looks like a toilet paper roll exploded.

At the same time, we have a dog that loves to eat tissues, preferably used ones.

So here's my theory. 13-year-old virus gets passed on to the dog. The dog in turn passes it back to humans. The result: Canine13 flu. Can you think of a more horrible viral combination than teenage boy and dog?

Consider the possible symptoms of Canine13:

- Fever

- Voracious appetite, particularly for potato chips and those napkin things they use to line Styrofoam meat trays

- Digging holes in the front yard and then denying doing so

- Hostile behaviour such as barking, growling, listening to rap music

- Alternately wearing and chewing ball caps

- Excessive mouth-breathing

- Chasing cars and then just staring at them

- Prevailing stupidity

- A gruesome combination of runny nose, shedding, and hair gel

This is all theory, of course, brilliant though it may be. Who knows where the next flu will come from? It could be the flamingo flu or the flea flu, maybe the gnu flu or Dr. Seuss's McGrew flu.

All I know is that when it does come around again, I hope it's not the you flu. And definitely not the me flu.