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The Rumor Mill


After David Freddoso raised the alarm earlier today about “new” cases of leprosy in Arkansas, Mark Krikorian quickly lept in to tease out the proper lesson and offer a meaningless gesture of piety:

[T]he appearance of leprosy [in Arkansas] is not because of L’il [sic] Abner and Daisy Mae: “It’s from the Marshall islands; that’s why we’re seeing it,” according to a local doctor. See, Springdale, Ark., has the largest population of Marshallese outside their home islands, brought to America to pluck chickens for Tyson Foods. Oh, this too: “Springdale is also reporting over 100 cases of tuberculosis.”

Any discussion of immigration and disease is potentially inflammatory and needs to be careful and sober. But that doesn’t mean you can simply avert your eyes, which is what we’ve been doing for too long.

What Krikorian means, I’m sure, is that “careful and sober” discussion merely requires that one of the discussants asks that the conversation be “careful and sober.” Here, for instance, are the “careful and sober” words of the physician and political candidate who squealed about the alleged outbreak.

[Dr. Jennifer] Bingham says without cooperation, leprosy, which has no vaccine, and is transmitted through the air, will spread, and could easily become an epidemic. “People absolutely should be concerned. What I’m afraid of, is when people start thinking about it enough, it will already be out of control.”

So now, Bingham, and others like Mayoral candidate Nancy Jenkins, say government help is the next step. Jenkins says she’s angered the federal government has been so lax with border patrol. She says, “We’ve just opened the borders and said, ‘Come on in! Bring your diseases! Bring ’em!’ Why are we doing that? Those who have it need to be quarantined and treated, or sent back to their country.”

Dr. Bingham is requesting the public take action, and write everyone from legislators, and presidential candidates, to Congress, and the Health Department. She says, “the only way to truly protect our community and our economic growth, is to think of this as a very important, panic-mode attempt to treat leprosy: before it gets out of hand.”

The original story — from which that passage was drawn — has been removed from the KFSM website, prompting all sorts of “careful and sober” speculation about government coverups. As for the heavyweights at The Corner, we might note that actual sobriety and care might have included a quick trip to Google, where Freddoso or Krikorian would have discovered that the original story had been declared complete bullshit a full two days earlier. Whoops!

The Arkansas Department of Health in Little Rock says some Northwest Arkansas doctors have wrong information that’s leading them to fears of leprosy cases.

The health department tells 5News because leprosy is such a rare disease, some Arkansas doctors often don’t have the most up-to-date information on it.

The health department says some doctors have incorrect information to begin with.

Thursday, Springdale Doctor Jennifer Bingham told 5News there were nine cases of leprosy in the Springdale Marshallese population.

Those cases are not new. In fact, the health department has been tracking them for the last two to three years.

Dr. Bingham contends people should be very concerned about contracting the disease. But the Arkansas Department of Health says: not true.

Officials argue there should be no cause for concern about a leprosy outrbreak or epidemic in Northwest Arkansas.

Dr. James Phillips, an infectious disease expert with the Arkansas Department of Health, says only five percent of the population is susceptible to the disease. He says leprosy is not as contagious as a lot of people think it is.

Oh, well. Perhaps Freddoso and Krikorian will warn us next about the swarms of bedbugs and head lice that David Duke’s people have been investigating this month.

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