Wash your hands! Remember that one? The year was 2009. Even the local library was swept up in the craze: Suddenly, free hand-washing gear was unavoidable at the entrance. The terror? The H1N1 virus.
“U.S. health officials announced an outbreak notice to travelers, urging caution and frequent handwashing, but stopping short of telling Americans to avoid Mexico.” 
H1N1 is also called Swine Flu. The H1N1 flu virus caused a world-wide pandemic in 2009. It is now a human seasonal flu virus that also circulates in pigs. 
Ah, the memories. “We were all supposed to be in the graveyard by now,” wrote Wesley Pruden, “done in by AIDS, SARS, bird flu, poisoned peanut butter, Hong Kong flu, killer tomatoes, global warming and strangulation by kudzu. But here we are, proof that there really is life after death.” 
There was “a new panic du jour.” Wesley Pruden culled the Drudge Report for sample scary headlines:
- Two flu cases confirmed in Scotland. Has globalization made us more catastrophe-prone?
- Swine flu sweeps the globe.
- Swine flu closes football stadiums.
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the London Telegraph weighed in with his usual scary analysis. There was danger to the markets! So far, they had “been remarkably relaxed about the rise in the World health Organization pandemic alert Phase 4 (sustained human to human transmission) – and tonight perhaps to Phase 5.” But the market players were clueless about science and so, wrote Evans-Pritchard, “they seem not to realize that the world’s virologists and flu experts are in a state of nail-biting, ashen-faced, fear.” 
Egypt wasn’t taking any chances. It ordered all 300,000 pigs in the country to be slaughtered, and banned kissing. Britain was trying to buy 32 million masks. “And in the United States, President Barack Obama said more of the country’s 132,000 schools may have to be shuttered.” 
Be afraid… Be very afraid.
“At airports from Japan to South Korea to Greece and Turkey, thermal cameras were trained on airline passengers to see if any were feverish.” 
Pondering the hyperbole at the time, Ersjdamoo turned to Coleridge and mangled his Rime of the Ancient Mariner:
It is an ancient influenza, and it stoppeth one of three.
By thy long, gray weird and unending news, now wherefore stopp’st thou me?
It holds him with its government tape, “There was an outbreak,” quoth he.
“Hold off! unhand me, bureaucrat loon!”
Eftsoons his hand dropt he.
This was serious stuff, and Ersjdamoo was laughing his ass off!
However, meanwhile, the serious sober people were focused on the shock, the horror, the pathos. A “Tidal Wave Of Death” was on its way, warned Sorcha Faal. The Amazing Faal has deep secret sources in the far-off enchanted land of Russia who had confided to her that then-President Dmitry Medvedev had been told by Russian Health Ministry Officials about a “tidal wave of death” of “unprecedented dimension” due to the H1N1 swine flu pandemic would be “sweeping across the Globe at frightening speed.” 
There were “conspiracy theories about terrorists and drug lords being the viral source.” Or maybe it was “evil factory farms in Mexico” which were the cause of the outbreak of “deadly swine flu.” Did common houseflies carry the H1N1? 
Back in 2009, a singing sensation, Susan Boyle, was tongue-in-cheek blamed by a British junior minister for the swine flu pandemic. “I’m not saying Susan Boyle caused swine flu. I’m just saying that nobody had swine flu, she sang on TV, people got swine flu,” the junior minister was quoted as having said. Tories were horrified by what were seen as “insensitive” remarks. 
In 1841 a book by Scottish journalist Charles Mackay was first published. The book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, chronicled “National Delusions”, “Peculiar Follies”, and “Philosophical Delusions”. Among the manias covered were the Dutch tulip mania of the early seventeenth century, the Crusades, and Witch trials in 16th and 17th century Western Europe. In later editions Mackay added a footnote referencing the Railway Mania of the 1840s.  Were he alive today, Mackay might have added a chapter on recurrent health scare manias. We seem to be experiencing now another of these periodic mass manias, this time concerning Ebola. This Ebola mania, coinciding with the upcoming November 4th elections in the United States, has the troubling aspect of having become politicized. Whom do you believe? One side says “Danger due to Obama’s ineptitude”, thereby tarnishing congressional candidates from the Democrat Party. The other side, on the defensive, says, “Relax… No need to panic”, thereby removing some of the tarnish. Good God! Is it over yet!? Wait until after the November 4th elections.
——- Sources ——-
 “Mexico swine flu deaths spur global epidemic fears”, by Mark Stevenson. Associated Press, April 25, 2009
 “H1N1 (originally referred to as Swine Flu)”, http://www.flu.gov/about_the_flu/h1n1/
 “A pandemic of panic — are we dead yet?”, by Wesley Pruden. Washington Times (online), April 28, 2009
 “Swine flu deflation”, by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. London Telegraph (online), April 28, 2009
 “World takes drastic steps to contain swine flu”, by William J. Kole And Maria Cheng. Associated Press, April 30, 2009
 “Unprecedented ‘Tidal Wave Of Death’ Set To Overtake World, Warns Russia”, by Sorcha Faal. April 29, 2009. http://www.whatdoesitmean.com/index1229.htm
 “Reuters Mangles Flu Story and Blasts ‘Wild Theories’ About ‘Evil Factory Farms'”, by David Kirby. Huffington Post, April 30, 2009
 “Anger as junior minister blames ‘Hairy Angel’ Susan Boyle for swine flu pandemic”, Daily Mail (UK), April 30, 2009
 “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds”, Wikipedia, October 27, 2014.