WASHINGTON, DCResponding to a dramatic increase in cases of starry-eyed gazing and spontaneous poetry, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a general health warning Tuesday for hazardous levels of atmospheric romance across the entire North American continent.
"Early indications of romantic exposure include a flushing of the skin around the face, neck, and chest, accelerated heartbeat, rapid eyelash batting, and sighs," EPA administrator Steven Johnson said at a morning press conference. "Left untreated, the ailment progresses rapidly, leading to aimless strolls, floral purchases, and a form of acute and regressive aphasia in which the victim's speech degenerates into that of a young child."
According to Johnson, teens, recently married couples, and people who have not yet had all of the hope drained out of them by bitter life experience are at the greatest risk.
"We recommend that members of high-risk groups minimize their exposure by staying indoors, covering up, and avoiding old flames, which can react with even trace elements of sexual chemistry to ignite free-floating passions," Johnson said. "Those living in scenic parts of the country are at an especially high risk, and are strongly urged to avoid dazzling sunsets, mountain vistas, fields of wildflowers, and sun-dappled lakes."
In an attempt to control the spread of romance, police and sheriff's departments across the country have blockaded intimate bed and breakfasts, ivy-covered inns, and five-star restaurants.
To stem further contamination, hundreds of municipal-park swans have been shot.
Epidemiological studies have found that individuals in picturesque surroundings are eight times more likely to suffer sudden swoonings, sweepings-off of the feet, and, in some extreme cases, prolonged confinement to bed with other romance sufferers.
Those who consider themselves immune to heightened romance levels should take precautions, as well.
"Jaded urbanites and self-styled 'commitment-phobes' should evacuate the continent if possible, as this group is especially susceptible to ill-advised rebound-type pairings and impulsive phone calls and e-mails that they are likely to later regret," Johnson said.
If romance levels cannot be stabilized, experts are not ruling out the possibility of an "airborne erotic event"a massive nationwide outbreak of lovesickness.
"This type of sickness comes from ground-level xoxozone, which occasionally causes distortion to the lower frequencies of the visual field, or 'rose tinting,'" Hallmark scientist Dr. Susan McMurrough said. "It is nearly impossible to detect, as it is generally odorless and colorless. However, in high concentrations, it has an odor like that of Wind Song bath splash."
"Despite centuries of desperate, impassioned research, modern science has found no cure for the periodic springtime scourge commonly known as romance," McMurrough said. "Only three years ago, we were able to isolate an xoxozone sample, but it was lost when all of our scientists abandoned their research duties and eloped."