Can the deadly F14 virus (commonly known as Valentine flu) be passed on from chocolates to humans? Scientists say there is no immediate cause for alarm but the next ten days will be crucial in seeing if the virus can be contained. In the worst case scenario 75% of the country could be infected with a pandemic of swooning, extreme soppiness and a certain queasiness.
One theory is that the virus entered this country in a consignment of coffee crème chocolate filling from Bulgaria. That consignment is now being analysed by scientists, but this could take several weeks. Meanwhile, panic-stricken shoppers who dumped millions of tons of Turkish Delight into the sea at Lyme Regis have been denounced as unduly alarmist by the Department of Health.
A spokesman for the Confectionery Safety Authority says that the risk of contacting Valentine flu from a chocolate is minuscule, but, as a precaution, people should avoid feeding hazelnut whirls to small dogs. Young women in a fragile emotional state are advised to avoid heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, especially those tied with red ribbon.
A greeting-card factory in Northamptonshire has been isolated while a 120-strong team of poetry experts in protective suits has been working 24 hours a day to read every single line of verse printed in the cards. “It’s possible that the F14 virus could be spread through a dodgy rhyme,” explained said their Deputy Director of Lyrical Resources. “This is very arduous work and the poets involved run a serious risk of catching doggerel fever.”
In a nationwide television broadcast today, the poet laureate urged the public to continue to read poetry and simply avoid undue exposure to words that rhymed with “blue”. Yesterday a 27-year-old librarian was forced off a bus in Exeter after a woman thought she overheard him saying something about “a heart so true”.
The Postal Safety Council has decided that it is safe to continue to send greetings cards but the sender should make a point of signing the card, so that, if it does contain some tainted rhyme, it can be traced back to its source.
The Home Office warns that terrorists may attempt to spread the deadly F14 virus through deliberately infected messages in newspaper Personal columns. It is sending out a reminder that all silly pet-names used in these messages must be registered (plus a full explanation of their origin) with the Home Office before 12th February.
The current scare could have a disastrous effect on Britain’s rose-growing industry, which has issued statements pointing out that no link between roses and the virus has been established and that every single rose sent out will be checked and disinfected. Members of the public have been told it is their patriotic duty to buy extra roses this year.
Campaigners are arguing that the possibility of a Valentine flu epidemic is the direct result of the rose-growers’ methods of intensive cultivation. With roses forced together in bunches, they say, it’s not surprising that the virus gets passed from stem to stem. The Campaigns Co-ordinator of the militant group Friends of the Greenfly posted a message on the group’s website saying “the murderous junta of rose-growers have had this coming to them for years”. The Cellophane Board is launching a massive advertising campaign on the theme “cellophane protects your loved ones” to counteract rumours that the virus is spread through the wrappers on bunches of roses.
Can candlelit dinners help to spread the virus? The head of the Wax Studies Department at the University of Lochboisdale says there is no evidence that the virus is spread by candle fumes. But it is possible that the candle could set up a reaction with nearby pink cocktails to create swooning, temporary blurring of the vision, rapid heartbeat, heavy breathing and impaired judgment – which are similar to the symptoms of Valentine flu. Should couples refrain from holding hands across a candlelit table? “In my view,” she says, “it is reasonably safe to hold hands, but it would be sensible for both parties to wear surgical gloves.”
Keep your eyes peeled until 15th February and should you notice anything amiss you won’t be able to say that you weren’t warned in advance.