Fact Check

Swine Flu Advice

E-mails provide helpful advice about swine flu?

Published Sept. 14, 2009


Claim:   E-mails provide helpful advice about swine flu.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, August 2009]

Swine Flu Advice

If you wake up looking like this, don't go to work!



Origins:   We've received a fair number of "Is this real?" inquiries from readers about the e-mail reproduced above, and it's one of those items that leaves us scratching our heads and asking ourselves, "Is what real?"

Swine flu is a real malady, and those who contract it might experience a variety of symptoms

(e.g., unusual tiredness, headache, runny nose, sore throat, shortness of breath, coughing, loss of appetite, aching muscles, diarrhea, vomiting), but actually turning into a human-porcine hybrid is not among them.

Presumably, most of our correspondents are questioning the reality of whatever is pictured in the accompanying photograph. The picture is, in effect, a real photograph of an imaginary object — it's the work of artist Patricia Piccinini, a piece identified as "Surrogate (for the Northern Hairynosed Wombat)." Ms. Piccinini's genetic manipulation-themed sculptures have perplexed many viewers to the extent that her work is the subject of a separate article on our site.

We've also received quite a few inquiries about a similar item:

Subject: Warning about canned meat

If you receive an email from the Department of Health,

Telling you not to eat pork from cans,

Because of swine flu......

Ignore it.

It's just spam.


This item, too, is mere humor — porcine punnery playing on the duality of the word "spam" carrying a meaning of both "unwanted, intrusive e-mail" and "a canned food product made from pork."

Last updated:   15 September 2009

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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