39 New Giant Hamster Flu Deaths Reported in Midwest

Sioux City, Iowa, October 12, 2030 -- The recently-formed Midwest Commission on Giant Hamster Flu (MCGHF) reported yesterday that an additional 39 men and women have succumbed in the past month to the latest outbreak of Giant Hamster Flu, or GHF. This brings the total GHF-linked death toll to over 400 for the first three quarters of the year, a 49 percent increase over 2029.

Officials of the MCGHF are now characterizing the outbreak as a serious pandemic with the potential for widespread contagion, although no cases of GHF spreading from human to human have yet been reported.

The first cases of Giant Hamster Flu, a previously unknown disease, were reported in Iowa in August, 2024, mere months following FDA approval of genetically engineered giant hamsters for human consumption.

Hamsters, which have long been revered in Peru and other South American countries as a culinary delicacy, were until recently bred in the United States only as pets. Following a decade-long development project co-sponsored by an industrial consortium including research arms of DuPont and Monsanto, the first genetically engineered giant hamsters achieved sufficient stature and stability to be bred for meat content.

"It's absolutely delicious," said Herman Wibble, Deputy Taster for Monsanto e-Meats and one of the only employees of the commodities conglomerate to acknowledge a link between giant hamster meat and GHF. "The flesh of a giant hamster is juicier and more tender than the finest Kobe steak, and it's lower in calories and saturated fats. Plus, giant hamsters will eat just about anything – trees, orange rinds, whatever – and don't require anything like the grazing acreage of a steer. We thought we had found the Holy Grail of red meats here. Too bad about the disease."

Mr. Wibble, who died some days following this interview, reportedly bestowed his entire collection of antique jerky, valued at over $200, to the MCGHF Widows and Orphans Fund.

Giant Hamster Flu, or GHF, is an unusually virulent disease of the central nervous system for which there is as yet no known cure. Early symptoms of the disease include uncontrollable drooling and flatulence, Tourettes Syndrome and spontaneous line dancing, followed within 48 hours by complete cardiovascular system shutdown. The disease is fatal in 98.5% of instances.

Dale Umbrage, Media Relations Officer at Monsanto, refused to acknowledge a link between the company's genetically modified hamsters and GHF.

"Our researchers have explored the data extensively and have as yet discovered no connection whatsoever between so-called GHF and our giant hamster products," said Mr. Umbrage. "We firmly believe the Dusanto giant hamster provides a safe, economical, and delicious alternative to traditional meat products. To help prove my point, I am prepared to eat a hamburger made of giant hamster meat every day for the next thirty days."

Mr. Umbrage could not be reached for comment at time of writing, having died of GHF two weeks into his experiment.

Giant hamsters, now a familiar feature on the Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas and Iowa praries, are descended from strains of traditional hamsters, which are small Eurasian rodents of the subfamily Cricetinae, especially Mesocricetus auratus, generally weighing less than two pounds. Original hamsters were genetically engineered to increase their size by a factor of over 1,000. The current giant hamster strain, code-named Dusanto by the DuPont/Monsanto industrial partnership that was responsible for their development, weighs in at between 2,000 and 2,800 pounds.

The Food and Drug Administration, which has long been accused of bending to pressure from industrial lobbyists in the pay of food giants like Monsanto, has been perceived by food safety activists as being slow to react to the threat of the disease.

"We've been looking into any connection between GHF and giant hamsters, two or three of our guys several hours a month, but so far we haven't found one," said Roger Weimer, a spokesman for the FDA. "The only thing we know so far, and which is really just speculation, is that all the people who contracted GHF had apparently eaten large quantities of giant hamster meat, and that no one who didn't eat the meat came down with GHF. But we're going to need some hard data, not just hearsay, before we can take any regulatory action."

By Ion Zwitter, Avant News Editor

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