The Government's Chief Medical Officer has ordered that a section of Fleet Street, London, be cordoned off as laboratory tests show an outbreak of election fever.
Journalists at one newspaper are believed to have shown signs of the disease over the past two days and doctors are concerned that it may spread. Election fever is known to spread by sound waves, developing a frightening momentum of its own as more and more reporters talk about elections and eventually the Government calls one. Other symptoms of the disease include needlessly interviewing innocent members of the public about whom they will vote for and foaming at the mouth.
Junior Health Minister Tim Burr said:
"Staff at the newspaper office were tested positive for election fever. We've set a 1 kilometre control zone around the office in question. At this stage, we are randomly testing other journalists and we should know by lunchtime whether the disease has spread. We have no plans to introduce forced cullings yet, but we will review this later today."
Opposition MPs have criticised the Government for doing too little too late, though there is little consensus about what steps should have been taken. Tory MPs are demanding mass slaughterings at the Guardian offices, while Liberal Democrats have asked for Sun Newspaper journalists to be put down.
The news of election fever comes as a blow to Prime Minister Gordon Brown as the Labour Party conference opens at Bournemouth. Stewards have introduced new health measures at the hotel, where all members of the press will be tested for election fever before they are allowed into the building. Any who test positive will be slaughtered on the spot. Tests will include asking the question:
"Do you think Gordon Brown should remain Prime Minister?"
A negative answer will be treated as a symptom of the disease.
Meanwhile, doctors reassured the public that there has been no outbreak of election fever at the Sky News office. Senior Government doctor Ben Anas said:
"Sky News staff tested positive for swine fever but that's a totally different disease, and we've known about it for quite some time."