Pandemic urban legend update from Dr. Puls

The friend who sent me the original “Pandemic” e-mail pointed me to this site, which appears to have a response from Dr. Susan Puls:

Several months ago, there was a probably well intentioned but totally misleading and false email spread around the “LDS internet” network to thousands of people from someone who had been to one of my talks. Unfortunately, it was full of misquotes, half truths and just plain falsehoods. It supported a fear based preparedness which is not a true and correct principle as you are aware. And it spread like wildfire. For 6 weeks I dealt with the fall out from this email until it finally reached the Presidency of the Seventy and then the Presiding Bishopric. That was the end of the talks in order to end the controversy and falsehoods.

No one knows when there will be a pandemic or how severe it will be. The world health experts agree there will be a pandemic but no one knows when. It will be like a hurricane in category. It can be from a mild one (category I) or severe (category V). That is also unknown. The specific disease that will cause it is also unknown.

Please help by having anyone you know who sent that email around, send this disclaimer forward and help stop that email. Be a cause for truth by sending this note instead.

Please refer to the pandemic fact sheets on the provident living website ( These were created specifically to provide information on pandemic preparedness. If you need a presentation on the subject of pandemic, may I suggest that you have someone from your local health department give you a presentation and keep current with for correct information.


Susan Puls M.D.

It is a profound shame that Dr. Puls appears to have had to deal personally, professionally and ecclesiastically with the aftermath of what some idiots (and I use the word cheerfully — well-meaning or deliberate, they were idiots) have done in spreading what Dr. Puls (if this posting is legit) rightly calls “misquotes, half truths and just plain falsehoods”.  The sad part is that the e-mail will likely continue to circulate for weeks, if not longer.   ..bruce..

8 thoughts on “Pandemic urban legend update from Dr. Puls

  1. It’s too bad so many people either promote emails like this or blindly except them. I end up getting a number of emails from people, and I end up – with about 99% of them having to reply back with a link disproving, or proving specific references to show them the email is fake.

    It’s even worse when they are LDS based chainmails…
    Though I haven’t seen this email make the rounds, I’ll keep an eye out for it…

    Thanks for the heads up!

  2. Thanks, Bruce, for posting this. People are so gullible – and forwarding mass distribution e-mails is stupid.

    As my oldest son would say, “There are no stupid mass e-mails – only stupid people who forward mass e-mails.”

  3. I forgot to add: This is the height of irony, btw – a mass e-mail distribution to combat misinformation in a different mass e-mailing.

    True or bogus – ya’ gotta love it.

  4. Well, I appreciated getting the “false” email, or “misleading” It got my food supply in short order. I did some searching on the Internet from other sites and I do think there is cause for concern. First, having the Prophet and First Presidency commission Dr. Puls for this problem has my attention. WHO is concerned. I read about a governor’s conference about planning for it. I watched a video of BYU-Idaho about how they have prepared for it. Before you dismiss this pandemic idea, I think you should read some more on the internet about it. I believe it is better to be prepared and have nothing happen, than to not be prepared and have it happen.

  5. As I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t dismiss the idea of a pandemic — the subject itself is one that I’ve tracked for over 30 years, which is exactly why the e-mail sounded false (or at least highly distorted). The Church has plenty of good, rational, and reasonable preparation advice for a pandemic at

    However, to take patently false information (e.g., mandatory 3 month quarantine for non-infected people, 20% of the world’s population dying) and to pass it off under the Church’s name is a slander upon the Church and damages its very professional approach to personal and family preparedness. It is also professionally (and I suspect personally) embarrassing for Dr. Puls to put such wild statements into her mouth. ..bruce..

  6. I had never heard this until today. It sounded fishy, so I researched for really only a few minutes and found this letter. I do think calling people idiots is a bit much. With what’s going on in the world (e.g., politics, economy, etc.), people are a bit jumpy and paranoid. The internet is a two-edged sword–information can travel like wildfire (or like a pandemic that kills 20% of the world, I suppose), but you can also use it to quickly find out if there’s any truth to what you see. In this case, there is a bit of truth, but greatly exaggerated.

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