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Flu from A to Z

Urban myths (or contemporary legends) is a manifestation of modern folklore, a folk narrative, which is an apocryphal and second-hand story, emerging spontaneously in the community and can rarely be traced to a single point of origin. Folk narratives exist in various other forms, such as rumours, riddles, gossips, children’s rhymes and life-cycle rituals, which all share common attributes with urban myths. Urban myths frequently make an appearance during infectious disease outbreaks, evoking feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, panic and fear among the public, while also giving rise to conspiracy theories. The urban myth is presented as fact or a true story, with certain elements that make it plausible enough to be perceived as real, while its “success” is determined by its usefulness or relevance as a story. In contemporary times, the urban myth can be transmitted by word of mouth (verbal) and chain letters or emails (written), the print media, new social media and other online resources, as well as through visual arts, such as theatre, films, photography and painting. The Information and Communication Technologies revolution and cultural homogenisation has made possible for urban myths to reach out to a wider audience, making the stories feel directly relevant to a great proportion of the population.

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