Photo: CDCAedes aegypti
The news media, for the most part, played a helpful role in communicating the known health risks of the Zika virus to the public during the 2015-16 outbreak, in comparison to the Ebola outbreak two years earlier, according to a set of studies that were published in a special December 2018 issue of the journal “Risk Analysis.”
The group of studies, titled “Communicating Zika,” looked at how the understanding of Zika developed, how Zika risks were translated to the media and how the media’s coverage shaped public perceptions of the virus. Continue reading
Deadly infectious disease outbreaks are occurring more often around the world.
Influenza virus circulated in the southern hemisphere and then spread to the U.S., killing about 80,000 people during this past flu season – the most in decades. Monkeypox, a rare disease outside of Africa, was found in three people in the United Kingdom for the first time. Ebola has broken out once again in Africa.
HuffPost’s Lauren Weber says this trend is the reason why infectious diseases is a mainstay of her beat as a public health reporter and why she has been able to cover the Ebola outbreak from Washington, D.C. Continue reading
Photo: DFID-UK Department for International Development via Wikimedia
During an infectious disease outbreak, how does a journalist provide accurate information about risks to the public as the event is unfolding?
Explain what is known and unknown at the time about the threat, and put the risk in context to risks that people assume daily, suggests Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Continue reading
As health officials in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo race to stop the spread of Ebola, one of many factors that could hinder their efforts is a so-called “outbreak culture” — a situation described in a new book co-authored by health journalist Lara Salahi.
Salahi and co-author Pardis Sabeti define outbreak culture as a collective mindset that develops among responders and communities in the initial response to disease outbreaks which can inhibit initial action and worsen the severity of an epidemic. Continue reading
When the Atlantic’s Ed Yong began thinking about a story on health security, he realized he needed a basic definition for a core point of the story — what is emergency health preparedness?
“Something dawned on me,” Yong said. “I didn’t really understand what exactly preparedness meant. I had been writing the word for a long time and doing stories on it, but it felt a bit abstract and nebulous.” Continue reading
While the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo was declared over by the World Health Organization in late July, Peter Halfmann, University of Wisconsin Influenza Research Institute associate professor and Ebola researcher, says journalists should keep covering the story in terms of its long-term impact on survivors. Continue reading