Tip Sheets

Resources for covering H1N1 flu, pandemics and preparedness

The latest

IOM reviews recent studies and workshops on pandemic flu

In the past several years, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has gathered experts to consider major policy issues related to pandemic influenza and other infectious disease threats similar to the current spread of H1N1 (SO) influenza. The products of these activities discuss many dimensions of pandemic planning and response. This guide highlights action and information that could be useful for near-term implementation of pandemic planning and response in the following areas:

  • Communicating with and engaging the public
  • Use of masks and personal protective equipment
  • Use of antiviral drugs and vaccines
  • Outbreak mitigation (e.g., social distancing, school closures)
  • Surveillance, research, and evaluation during a pandemic

The guide is available online or for download as a PDF. For more information, contact Christine Stencel at cstencel@nas.edu or 202-334-2138.

CDC expert answers H1N1 questions submitted by AHCJ members

Listen to AHCJ on BlogTalkRadio talk radioDr. Carolyn Bridges, associate director of epidemiologic science, Influenza Division, NCIRD, CDC, answered questions from AHCJ members during a live interview hosted by journalist and author Maryn McKenna. An archive of that interview is now available.

Survey Finds Nearly Half of Americans Concerned They or Their Family May Get Sick from Swine Flu - This survey was mentioned during the interview.

As journalists may be preparing to cover the outbreak of H1N1, also known as swine flu, that has been identified in Mexico and the United States, AHCJ has a number of resources to offer. In addition, we have gathered links to other organizations, relevant hearings and press briefings and some expert sources.

Avian and pandemic flu resources: Includes conference presentations by health experts about flu and preparing for disasters, as well as many sources and links for information about pandemics and preparedness.

Animal-to-human contact key to emerging diseases: Mike Sherry of the Kansas City Business Journal wrote about the "Tracking animal-borne diseases" panel at Health Journalism 2009. (Includes contact information for the speakers.)

Reporters' preparation would decrease chaos in covering disasters: Disasters are a time of chaos and uncertainty. To perhaps lessen this chaos for reporters, a panel of experts at Health Journalism 2009 in Seattle discussed how journalists might cover and survive disasters as well as understand the medical systems in place to handle them. The panelists offered insight into the many wheels set in motion when a disaster strikes and how journalists can prepare for and understand what might happen should one hit their community.

Avian and pandemic influenza tip sheet: This tip sheet has important information about controlling and preparing for pandemic flu.

The Next Big (Health) Crisis - And How to Cover It: AHCJ cosponsored a 2006 conference at Harvard about news coverage of the next big health crisis, with a focus on the emergence of the next influenza pandemic. The event, presented by the Nieman Foundation and sponsored by the Dart Foundation, AHCJ and the National Center for Critical Incident Analysis, brought journalists together with scientists, public health officials, medical experts, academic researchers, law enforcement officers, public policy experts, and Homeland Security officials to talk about how best to prepare for the possible arrival of pandemic flu. Some transcripts of interest:
Interactions of journalists and sources
Reacting to the crisis
Press lessons from the 1918 pandemic flu
Preparing for pandemic flu
Reporting from the frontlines
The many dimensions of the avian flu story
Communicating news of an outbreak
Preparing for the crisis
Books about influenza

Preparing your community for pandemics: See the speaker presentations from this panel at AHCJ's 2006 conference. Speakers were:
• Luis Ostrosky-Zeichner, M.D., F.A.C.P.; assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology, UTHSCH; medical director for epidemiology, MHHS
• Herminia Palacio, Harris County (Texas) Department of Public Health and Environmental Services
• Georges Benjamin, American Public Health Association

How prepared is your city for health disasters? This was a panel at the 2007 Urban Health Journalism Workshop. Speakers were:
• Moderator Karl Stark, pharmaceuticals reporter, The Philadelphia Inquirer
• Brian Currie, senior medical director, Montefiore Medical Center
• Kim Elliott, deputy director, Trust for America's Health
• Mike Stobbe, The Associated Press, Atlanta

Other organizations' resources

The Science and Development Network (SciDev.net) has resources about the H1N1 flu, including a round-up of articles about progress with a swine flu vaccine, the need for diagnostic capability in Africa and free online research. Also included is a guide to communicating statistics and risk.

Maryn McKenna, who has covered pandemic flu extensively, points to some useful resources on her blog.

John Pope, health reporter for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, wrote a tip sheet about reporting on the outbreak for the Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma.

CDC resources
Online newsroom
Human H1N1 investigation
Information about H1N1
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, April 24, Swine Influenza A (H1N1) Infections, California and Texas
State health departments

PandemicFlu.gov: One-stop access to U.S. Government H1N1 and pandemic flu information. A number of recent webcasts are on the site:
Mental Health Services and Their Role in Pandemic Planning, Response and Recovery
Medical Countermeasures and Pandemic Preparedness Status
Antiviral Drug Use and Employer Stockpiling
Secretary Leavitt's Discussion on Pandemic Planning and Preparedness
Individual Preparedness

World Health Organization
Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Response page about H1N1
April 25 statement by WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan.
Outbreak Communication Guidelines (PDF)
• The WHO raised the alert level to 5. See this chart of alert phases. "Phase 5 is characterized by human-to-human spread of the virus into at least two countries in one WHO region. While most countries will not be affected at this stage, the declaration of Phase 5 is a strong signal that a pandemic is imminent and that the time to finalize the organization, communication, and implementation of the planned mitigation measures is short."

Food and Drug Administration's H1N1 information and patient fact sheets on Relenza and Tamiflu. FDA and CDC information on potential “spot shortages” of supplies for treating and preventing novel influenza A (H1N1)

American Public Health Association's resources on influenza, animal disease:
• Read the chapter on influenza from the 19th edition of APHA's Control of Communicable Diseases Manual, with information on identification, mode of transmission and more. CCDM flu chapter (PDF)
Animal diseases: How much of a concern are they to our health?: Q&A with Lonnie King, D.V.M., with APHA's Get Ready campaign. Learn about diseases that pass from animals to humans, and what you can do to protect yourself.
Preventing pandemic flu and infectious diseases in children: Q&A with Jonathan Kotch, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.P., with APHA's Get Ready campaign. APHA member Jonathan Kotch offers advice on keeping kids safe from flu and other diseases, from child care settings to college campuses.
Ready or Not? John M. Colmers, M.P.H., then the secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, wrote an editorial in April 2007 for the American Journal of Public Health about whether the United States is prepared for a public health disaster. (AHCJ members get free access to the AJPH.)

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials is nonprofit membership organization for the chiefs of state and territorial health agencies and the 120,000 individuals who work for them.

The Cochrane Library has reviews on the prevention and treatment of influenza and there are podcasts and presentations available.

GAO report
Influenza Pandemic:  Continued Focus on the Nation's Planning and Preparedness Efforts Remains Essential, by Bernice Steinhardt, director, strategic issues, before the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on State, Local, and Private Sector Preparedness and Integration, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.  GAO-09-760T, June 3. [Report | Highlights]

Publications from the National Academies Press:
The Swine Flu Affair: Decision-Making on a Slippery Disease
The Impact of Globalization on Infectious Disease Emergence and Control: Exploring the Consequences and Opportunities: Workshop Summary (Forum on Microbial Threats)
Ethical and Legal Considerations in Mitigating Pandemic Disease: Workshop Summary
Vector-Borne Diseases: Understanding the Environmental, Human Health, and Ecological Connections: Workshop Summary (Forum on Microbial Threats)
Global Infectious Disease Surveillance and Detection: Assessing the Challenges -- Finding Solutions: Workshop Summary
The Threat of Pandemic Influenza: Are We Ready?: Workshop Summary
Learning from SARS: Preparing for the Next Disease Outbreak: Workshop Summary
Reusability of Facemasks During an Influenza Pandemic: Facing the Flu
Preparing for an Influenza Pandemic: Personal Protective Equipment for Healthcare Workers
Dispensing Medical Countermeasures for Public Health Emergencies: Workshop Summary
Antivirals for Pandemic Influenza: Guidance on Developing a Distribution and Dispensing Program
Research Priorities in Emergency Preparedness and Response for Public Health Systems, January 2008

Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy: This University of Minnesota-based organization has lots of information and links about swine flu and pandemics. Its "Promising Practices" section has peer-reviewed preparedness practices. CIDRAP's overview has updated, in-depth information and background on the swine-origin flu threat. Includes the science, history, clinical information, pandemic potential, testing information and more.

The New England Journal of Medicine has launched an H1N1 Influenza Center for the latest NEJM Online First research and commentary on the emergence of the virus, including an interactive map that illustrates the extent of the outbreak. The H1N1 Influenza Center contains additional updates and policy implications for dealing with pandemics, with select health care news and article summaries from other medical publications.

Science's continuing coverage of swine flu: Science reporters are following the swine flu epidemic with breaking news and exclusive analysis, coordinated and edited by Leslie Roberts. You can follow our coverage on Science's policy blog, ScienceInsider, here.

Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases

ProMED-mail, the Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases, is a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases.

Pan American Health Organization

Global Incident Outbreaks map

HealthMap: Global disease alert map. Wired does a good job of explaining how it works.

Google map of H1N1 cases

Trust for America's Health offers brochures about pandemic flu for several audiences:
Individuals and Families
Health Care Professionals
Faith-Based and Community Organizations

Military monitors H1N1 outbreak: Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman says the military is preparing itself to respond to the outbreak if needed and that Relenza and Tamiflu are standard stock at U.S. military treatment facilities, with larger quantities stockpiled at several sites.

The Harvard Opinion Research Program at the Harvard School of Public Health conducted a poll about how concerned Americans are about the outbreak, how they are responding and what they believe about transmission, prevention and treatment. Survey Finds Nearly Half of Americans Concerned They or Their Family May Get Sick from Swine Flu - This survey was mentioned during AHCJ's live online interview with the CDC's Dr. Caroline Bridges.

The British Broadcasting Corp. has an editorial policy guidance note with a checklist about reporting risk (PDF): "The reporting of issues of risk, such as health scares and crime, can have an impact on the public perception of that risk."

The Canadian Journalism Project has some tips from experienced health journalists:
• Journalist Maureen Taylor, who covered health as the national medical reporter for CBC Television News until last September, offers a list of dos and don'ts for reporters covering H1N1.
• Fred Vallance-Jones of University of King's College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, posts several sources of health data, mainly for Canada.
• Candace Gibson, an associate professor of journalism at the University of Western Ontario who specializes in medical and science reporting, reviews some lessons learned from media coverage of SARS and how to apply them to H1N1 coverage.

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists released a statement on April 29 reminding the media to be fair and prudent when covering the spread of H1N1 in the U.S. and around the world, and resist the portrayal of Mexican immigrants as scapegoats for the possible pandemic.

Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide has gathered some "expert views" about the H1N1 outbreak. Its "dashboard" has links to government information sources as well as a feed from Google news for swine flu articles.

National Public Radio has launched "Flu Shots," a blog about H1N1.

Alltop.com has created a page to aggregate H1N1 news from the CDC, WHO and a variety of news outlets.

Foreign language resources: The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has information about preparedness and pandemic flu available in a number of languages.







The Refugee Health Information Network provides multilingual health information for an international audience and their health care providers. You can find H1N1 (swine flu) health advisories in multiple languages including Arabic, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese here.

Vaccine news

The World Health Organization has issued an FAQ about vaccines for the new influenza A(H1N1).

The Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy reports that the WHO "will convene a group of experts May 14 to advise the agency on whether to pull the trigger on production of a vaccine for the novel H1N1 swine influenza virus." Listen to an update on vaccine development (MP3, 52 Mb) from Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO director of the Initiative for Vaccine Research or read the transcript of the briefing (PDF).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new manufacturing facility used to produce influenza virus vaccines. The facility is approved for seasonal influenza vaccine production and could be used for the production of vaccine against the new 2009 H1N1 influenza strain. The facility, located in the United States, is owned and operated by sanofi pasteur, which manufactures Fluzone Influenza Virus Vaccine. This new facility will greatly increase sanofi pasteur’s production capability.

Hearings and press conferences

CDC press conference, April 25

Dr. Joe Bresee, with the CDC Influenza Division, describes H1N1: signs and symptoms, transmission, treatment, steps people can take to protect themselves from it and what people should do if they become ill. Transcript also available.

White House briefing, April 26

The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations held a hearing on Tuesday, April 28, about the "Public Health Response to Swine Flu." Witnesses included Rear Admiral Anne Schuchat, M.D., interim deputy director of the CDC's science and public health program; Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Paul Jarris, M.D., executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials; and John R. Clifford, M.D., deputy administrator of the USDA's National Animal Health and Policy Program. Watch the webcast.

During the CDC's April 28 press briefing, acting director Richard Besser said , "I fully expect we will see deaths from this infection," as swine flu cases are investigated.

New Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius held a news conference about the H1N1 flu situation on April 29.

World Health Organization's April 29 press briefing with Keiji Fukuda, M.D., M.P.H, assistant director-general ad interim of the WHO's Health Security and Environment.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held a hearing, "Swine Flu: Coordinating the Federal Response," on Wednesday, April 29. Homeland Security Secretary Janet A. Napolitano [see testimony] and Rear Admiral Anne Schuchat, M.D., interim deputy director of the CDC's science and public health program [see testimony], appeared.

President Obama's remarks about H1N1 during his April 29 address.

CDC press briefing, April 30

Officials host webcast, answer questions
HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Dr. Rich Besser, acting director of the CDC, hosted a webcast to answer questions and provide information directly to the American people. 

The U.S. House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing on "Swine Flu Outbreak and the U.S. Federal Response " at 10 a.m. (EDT) on Thursday, April 30. The hearing was expected to examine the recent outbreak of swine flu and the next steps for a federal response at the Department of Health and Human Services. Invited witnesses include Rear Admiral Anne Schuchat, M.D., interim deputy director of the CDC's Science and Public Health Program; Joshua M. Sharfstein, M.D., acting commissioner of the FDA; and Rear Admiral W. Craig Vanderwagen, M.D., assistant secretary for preparedness and response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The World Health Organization held a press briefing on April 30  [mp3 31 Mb] with Dr Keiji Fukuda, assistant director-general ai, Health Security and Environment. 

CDC press briefing to discuss an update in the investigation of cases of H1N1 flu with Anne Schuchat, M.D., interim deputy director for science and public health program, and Nancy Cox, Ph.D., chief, influenza division, NCIRD [Audio | Transcript]

President Obama addresses the H1N1 outbreak in his weekly address. (May 2) 

CDC briefing: Acting director Richard Besser, M.D., says the agency is seeing H1N1 spread across the United States and that it is learning much more each day abou the outbreak. Besser updates the numbers of confirmed (286) and probable (more than 700) cases in the United States.

WHO update: Twenty-one countries have officially reported 1085 cases of influenza A (H1N1) infection. (May 4)

Sebelius addresses Council on Foundations
Sec. Kathleen Sebelius gave the keynote address to the Council on Foundations in Atlanta on May 5. She addressed the importance of public-private partnerships in handling critical challenges, such as the rising cost of health care and the recent H1N1 flu outbreak. Sebelius also outlined the administration's key principles of health reform.

Sebelius, Besser discuss H1N1
On May 5, Sebelius visited the CDC to meet with senior leadership to discuss the novel H1N1 influenza outbreak, tour the Emergency Operations Center and thank the CDC staff. She also took part in the daily CDC press briefing with acting director Richard Besser, M.D. [Unedited transcript]

Homeland Security's response
Janet Napolitano, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and Dr. Jon Krohmer, acting assistant secretary, Office of Health Affairs, held a May 5 briefing on that department's response to the H1N1 flu. 

CDC press briefing: Acting Director Dr. Richard Besser provides an update on the H1N1 outbreak. An audio feed is available online. (May 7)

May 9 CDC briefing: Telephone-only briefing with Anne Schuchat, M.D., interim deputy director for science and public health program. [CDC Press Briefing Transcript | Audio recording (MP3)]

May 11 CDC briefing: Anne Schuchat, M.D., interim deputy director for science and public health program, will be on a telephone-only briefing to discuss an update in the investigation of cases of H1N1 flu. [Transcript | Audio recording (MPEG)]

May 12 CDC briefing: Anne Schuchat, M.D., interim deputy director for science and public health program, and Nancy Cox, Ph.D., chief, Influenza Division, NCIRD, held a telephone-only briefing to discuss an update in the investigation of cases of H1N1 flu. [Transcript | Audio recording (MPEG)

CDC lifts travel advisory for Mexico
The recommendation against nonessential travel to Mexico, in effect since April 27 has been downgraded to a Travel Health Precaution for Mexico. (May 15)

May 15 CDC briefing: The CDC hosted a briefing with Daniel Jernigan, M.D., Ph.D., Medical Epidemiology, Influenza Division, to discuss the investigation of cases of H1N1 flu.

WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan addressed the 62nd session of the World Health Assembly on May 18. She said the world is rightly concerned about a pandemic. [Transcript]

May 18 CDC briefing [Transcript | Audio recording (MP3)

May 19 CDC briefing [Transcript]

May 20 CDC briefing with Anne Schuchat, M.D., interim deputy director for Science and Public Health Program [Transcript | Audio recording (MP3)]

May 21 CDC briefing [Transcript | Audio recording (MPEG)]

May 22 CDC briefing: Overall update on the novel Influenza A H1N1 virus and discussion about a recently published article in the journal Science. People on the call were Anne Schuchat, M.D., interim deputy director for Science and Public Health Program; and Nancy Cox, Ph.D., chief, Influenza Division, NCIRD. [Transcript |Audio (MP3)


The Hastings Center has resources and experts available on the ethical issues involved if measures such as quarantine, school closures, and transportation restrictions are considered.

Purdue University has a list of experts who are available to comment on a range of topics related to H1N1 and pandemics.

University of Texas at Houston experts are available to comment about H1N1 and pandemics.

Newswise features experts, research and stories related to the H1N1 outbreak.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations is mobilizing its teams of experts and is deploying a team of experts of the FAO OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) Crisis Management Centre - Animal Health (CMC-AH), to Mexico this week to help the government assess the epidemiologic situation in the pig production sector.

A "Just in Time" lecture about swine flu, with global experts in the area, has been made available by Supercourse, a repository of lectures on global health and prevention that is produced at the WHO Collaborating Center University of Pittsburgh. You can download the PowerPoint file. The lecture will be updated so that the latest materials are available.

The Université de Montréal offers these experts to provide insight to media:
• Carl Gagnon, a professor in the Department of Pathology and Microbiology of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, is an expert in virology and zoonosis - infectious diseases that can be transmitted from wild or domestic animals to humans or from humans to animals. Contact: 514-343-6111, ext. 1-8681; carl.a.gagnon@umontreal.ca.
Diane Lamarre, a Faculty of Pharmacy professor, can provide lay commentary on the swine flu for the general public and expertise on antiviral drugs. Contact: 514-343-6111, ext. 1-3200; diane.lamarre@umontreal.ca.
Sylvain Quessy, director and professor of the Department of Pathology and Microbiology of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, is an expert on pig breeding and pork meat safety. Contact information: 514-343-6111 ext 1-8398; sylvain.quessy@umontreal.ca.
Daniel Thirion, a Faculty of Pharmacy professor, can comment on pharmacotherapy and infectious diseases. Contact: 514-343-6111, ext. 1-5207; pager: 514-406-2726; daniel.thirion@umontreal.ca.
Jean-Pierre Vaillancourt, a professor at the Department of Clinical Sciences of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, is an expert in epidemiology, the relation between avian flu and swine flu and biosecurity in pig breeding. Contact: 514-343-6111 ext. 1-8678; jean-pierre.vaillancourt@umontreal.ca.