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Phony News Story Leads to 'Squirrel AIDS' Scare in Lacey

Made-up squirrel disease causes uproar, but officials say Lacey's squirrels are okay

The website 'The Lacey Reporter' promoted a story about Squaids, or 'squirrel AIDS' on its website this week. (Screenshot: Facebook)
The website 'The Lacey Reporter' promoted a story about Squaids, or 'squirrel AIDS' on its website this week. (Screenshot: Facebook)
County health officials are saying loud and clear that Lacey Township's squirrel population is not at risk of a fictitious disease called "Squaids," a portmanteau of the words "squirrel" and "AIDS."

A website claiming to cover Lacey Township news, The Lacey Reporter, featured a story on its website earlier this week claiming a case of the phony squirrel disease was "confirmed" in the township by the Ocean County Health Department. However no such disease exists and there are no issues with Lacey's squirrel population, the health department said.

"County health officials and Lacey Township officials have been in communication since these reports were published," said Daniel Regenye, OCHD Public Health Coordinator, in a statement. "The OCHD has never reported or confirmed any cases of illness transmitted to a human from a squirrel. It is important that we put a stop to these unfounded reports."

The Lacey Reporter website initially promoted its story on its website and linked to it from its Facebook page. But in a later post to Facebook, a person named Charlie Johnson, claiming to be the website's owner, said the story was posted by a "malicious third party" who "hacked" in.

On Wednesday, The Lacey Reporter's website was down and its Facebook page had apparently been removed.
James M. Ofsanko January 15, 2014 at 06:29 PM
Lol really people in lacey really believed this. No wonder we have a drug problem.
Silver dollar January 15, 2014 at 08:46 PM
Patch find out who did this. Hire them. They know how to get a picture to match the headlines
Resident of Lacey January 16, 2014 at 09:54 AM
Yeah, this is the first story where there are details and the photo matched the story.
Bailey Thompson January 16, 2014 at 10:46 AM
Sorry to say but, the person who wrote that article has more talent and is smarter than every lacey patch writer combined. It was an ingenious piece of satire that was a perfect combination of blatantly obviously fake and funny but highly believable at the same time. It brought a large amount of publicity to their site negative or not and the knowledge and specific knowledge and facts they cited in the original article were on the same level as an actual doctor. Its embarrassing and unfortunate you don't have a writer of that caliber on your staff. Plus they had a picture that matched the story! Wow! I agree hire this kid...
Daniel Nee (Editor) January 16, 2014 at 11:30 AM
^ I'm counting this post as satire as well. ;)

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