Whidbey's pertussis 'epidemic': Whoop, there it is | Column

Pertussis, not to be confused with percussion although that particular “drum” has about been beaten to death by the media in the past couple of weeks, got some folks on Whidbey Island all shook up.

Fancy words describing the situation ranging from outbreak to epidemic were bandied about on television and in print, almost to the point were it made a person feel reporters, particularly those on television, were employing tactics ala The National Enquirer or The Sun in an effort to attract viewers.

Reporters from the Whidbey News-Times were more responsible using terminology such as “fears seen as unfounded” in published articles but elsewhere, reports were circulating about flyers being handed out at the Mukilteo ferry dock warning people not to venture on to island because of the epidemic.

Epidemic? There were 43 reported cases of pertussis as of mid-week and folks, that ain’t an epidemic.

The Spanish flu that killed 20 million people after World War I ended — now there was an epidemic!

I expected at any moment to see people on television wearing those white painter’s masks that cover the nose and mouth like the Japanese do during smog alerts. Rumors were also going around that some of the Seattle TV stations weren’t going to send reporters up this way lest they get sick and spread the disease back to the Emerald City.

Fears of a “major outbreak” wrecked havoc with a lot of activities already in progress or being planned on Whidbey Island and elsewhere in the area, in particular the District 11 Little League All-Star tournaments.

South Whidbey’s all-star teams in the 9 and 10-year-old division, the 10 and 11-year-olds and the 11 and 12-year-old players were “removed” from their respective tournaments, but Little League officials gave the juniors team a well-deserved break.

The juniors tournament played in Oak Harbor was nearly completed when the scare hit the media, and the team from down south was undefeated and set to play for the championship against a group they had previously beaten 10-0.

Officials immediately began “negotiations” for the championship game to be played and Little League International, having more sense than a lot other people, allowed the tournament to continue.

The title game was played in Mount Vernon (having nothing to do with the so-called epidemic but due to a fence having to be moved for the state tournament) and South Whidbey was a 9-1 winner. Way to go!

Young players remember tournaments from past years when they get old and geezerly, and this year’s one will definitely be a hard one to forget for the players on the South Whidbey teams.

Another All-Star challenge

Did everybody enjoy the 2008 version of Major League Baseball’s all-star gala?

Anybody who enjoys watching the big names in baseball got their fill, seeing the game went 15 innings.

Thankfully they stretch the festivities out over a couple of days, unlike the Super Bowl where the television broadcast begins around midnight and kickoff isn’t until 5:30 p.m. the next day.

What about that home run derby? Wasn’t that exciting.

Me, I was thrilled with all the statistics on players entered in the competition. Hey, a guy who has played nine years in the big leagues and has hit 123 home runs is a real slugger. Man, he sure can break those seats in left field.


Here’s an idea. Why doesn’t some smart advertiser put up like $250,000 and a new Cadillac Escalade in a winner-take-all event pitting Barry Bonds against the home run derby winner.

Oh, yeah, and let Don King promote it.

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