What do we assume the phrase ‘fit and healthy’ actually means? Do we assume it is a pretty general phrase used by people who, by and large, consider themselves fairly healthy, or do we take it to mean someone who has been medically verified as having no established health problems and is essentially a model specimen? I ask this because the Daily Mail and Daily Express have picked up the story about the ‘fit and healthy’ 25 year old female Louis Jones who has died as a result of contracting Swine Flu and I wonder if there is anything more to the story.
Naturally the first suspicious thing is that the Daily Mail headline puts ‘fit and healthy’ into inverted commas (the Express doesn’t bother, but probably because the concept is too complex for its readers), implying that this statement might not be entirely true. Reading the Mail article it soon becomes clear that there was an underlying medical condition: she had been diagnosed with Asthma as a child and doctors said that she was more vulnerable to the virus because of this – she died from a blood clot in the lung. The Express also state this in their article, whilst making the link a bit vaguer by adding that it ‘may’ have made her more vulnerable.
So, she wasn’t entirely ‘fit and healthy’ then. In fact, the only reference to her overall physical health prior to contracting Swine Flu is made by her parents, who, whilst they may have know their daughter extremely well, doesn’t make them medical experts to be quoted in the Mail and Express headlines. There is an important message here that cannot be overlooked – and it is the message that the parents are trying to get across to the public – is that even if you think you are relatively ‘fit and healthy’ if you think you have the symptoms of Swine Flu then do contact your doctor because you may not be as fit and healthy as you like to think you are.
A final point on the story and how the Daily Mail reporter works is looking at this article in the Manchester Evening News (which also puts ‘fit and healthy’ into the headline) which was published the day before the Mail article and then try to spot the difference between it and the Daily Mail article. It seems that working for Daily Mail you soon wear out the ctrl-c and ctrl-v on your keyboard.