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West Nile Virus More Deadly than Meteors, Magnets
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SANTA ANA, California - Scouring records at the CDC, graduate students from the University of California, Berkeley, have concluded a ground-breaking study showing that the death toll from West Nile Virus is greater than that of meteor strikes and refrigerator-magnet accidents combined. "We knew this was a disease to be reckoned with, what with the constant media attention and ads about bug spray," said one student researcher, "But we had no idea of the sheer numbers involved." CDC records going back two decades show that this year the United States will likely see its 300th death from West Nile Virus.

"We're extremely proud to make our living saving lives."
-- Margarite Myer, OFF! Representative
"It's a scourge, no doubt about it," said OFF! mosquito-repellant company representative Margarite Myer, "But with proper protection people can still enjoy summertime activities with their families. I can tell you that all of us here at OFF! take our responsibility very seriously. We're extremely proud to make our living saving lives."

Some, though, feel the outcry over West Nile is out of proportion. "Folks, we're talking about a couple of hundred people dead over twenty years," said Professor Miguel Aldrigua, one of the review panel members for the UC Berkeley study, "More people are being killed driving to and from the drug store to buy bug spray than would ever be killed by the virus. See, what you need is a bird that happens to have the virus to get bitten by a bug, then that bug has to just happen to bite you. And even then there's only a slim chance you'll contract the disease. And if you do contract it, it's little more deadly than a normal flu."

Despite the low probability of contracting the virus, many people feel compelled to protect themselves from it. "Yesterday, I went golfing. You better believe I put on DEET-containing bug repellant," said one man, recalling his precautions taken, "I wore long sleeves, the whole bit. In fact, it was thunder and lightning out, so I brought a spray can of OFF! with me, in case I got wet and needed to reapply it." Another man pointed out extra benefits of bug spray, "When I do extreme rock-climbing, sometimes my hands get so sore from hanging from my fingers. I use the bug spray like a muscle rub. I've almost fallen before, I can only imagine what would've happened without DEET."

The authors of the study maintain that West Nile is a growing medical crisis. "Some people may not take it seriously, but the numbers don't lie. Unless we do something now, it will overtake ballpoint pen accidents as the number 262nd most likely cause of death in America," intoned Gerald Meinland, co-author of the study.
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