It is spring season and although cities like Bangalore are ridiculously pretty at this time of the year, with all the trees in bloom, it is also the time for all concerned citizens to be on alert against seasonal diseases. One such disease that may creep up on your loved ones without warning, is the dreaded whine flu. Dubbed the silent disease because many of symptoms are mental and not physical, it is spread through contaminated food, unclean water and hot air. It is important to wash your hands frequently and reduce your exposure to dust, pollen, and noise. You may want to wear ear plugs while watching TV news debates, and wear a surgical mask when near large groups of people, especially politicians.
In the interests of public health, we have outlined the major symptoms of whine flu below.
Multiple mental blocks
This symptom becomes manifested whenever someone raises an issue or offers an opinion, usually a criticism. The diseased person’s brain, overtaken completely by the deadly H8Db8 virus, immediately goes into overdrive. For example, let’s say that someone talks about the deteriorating quality of bananas in the country. Immediately, the victim’s brain creates a mental block around bananas, and substitutes it with something else. Therefore, their response would be to whine about unrelated things. They may say, “Why are you always picking on bananas? Is it because they are soft targets? Why not talk about coconuts? I demand an immediate televised national debate and parliamentary enquiry into the state of coconuts!”
Notice that their brain spontaneously rejects all discussion of the issue at hand, viz. bananas. Many Twitter users fell victim to this recently. They became too ill to understand the idea that a person may be responsible for his own actions. Their brain immediately shifted focus to the next person available, his girlfriend. One hopes they are now under treatment.
Thinning of the skin
This is the only known physical symptom of whine flu. The person’s skin epidermal cells shrink in size so that they become ultra-sensitive. They may also revert to childlike behaviour. Incidents have been reported across the country of cases being filed by whine-flu patients against others for simply laughing at jokes. Sick people may also take offence on behalf of other celebrities or Gods, even if the celebrities or Gods themselves appears unconcerned. One laboratory, for instance, uses very mild criticism of Sachin Tendulkar as a diagnostic test (since he is both a celebrity and a God). When whine flu takes over, patients react to the criticism by flaring their nostrils and turning red at the ears.
It is important to rush such patients immediately to the nearest medical facility so that they can be transplanted with a thicker skin and also be given counselling. Counsellors retrain their minds with things that the rest of us learnt in childhood—how to play nicely with other children, how to write in your own book quietly without interfering with others’ work, etc.
Misunderstanding of context
The flu appears to affect the brain’s understanding of scale and context, and impairs the ability to compare and contrast. In one study conducted by researchers, a group of people were presented with data on both endangered and common species of birds. Later, when asked to analyse the data, those affected by whine-flu insisted that it was the common birds that were in danger. This particular study has fascinated researchers, and they are still trying to understand what kind of impairment may lead to this.
Hallucinations about foreign hands
Some people may become obsessed with foreigners and may begin to hallucinate about seeing them and/or their severed hands everywhere. They may fantasise that all problems in their immediate environment, city or country are caused by them. For example, if the drainpipe in the bathroom is blocked, affected people will insist that it is because a foreign hand is stuck in the pipe. They will resist all attempts to call a plumber. Sometimes, this is further complicated with symptom #1. They may say, “This is a conspiracy to discredit the plumbing in my flat. Why doesn’t someone write about foreigners using toilet paper to clean their bums? Is that hygienic? Eh? Eh?”
In such extreme cases, please call the plumber first, and then the doctor. One cannot be too careful.
[This is the unedited version of <a href=”http://www.asianage.com/columnists/whine-flu-outbreak-936″>my column</a> that appeared in Asian Age on 29 March, 2015. ]