Responding Rapidly to Public Health Emergencies Using New Media: Swine Flu


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As many of you know, this week, HHS declared swine flu to be a national public health emergency. At we’re particularly concerned about this issue because people with compromised immune systems, including those living with HIV/AIDS, are more likely to become ill from diseases like the flu.

New media tools can help support our efforts to deliver public health messages quickly and broadly. We are using those tools to spread the word about the swine flu outbreak and to support the public health community’s response to it. We ask you to join us in this important mission.

A Few Ways to Help

  • Retweet messages Exit Disclaimer coming from the @CDCemergency conversation Exit Disclaimer on Twitter. If you Tweet or Retweet about swine flu, please use the following hash tag: #swineflu Exit Disclaimer.
  • Embed a widget on your website which provides three primary categories of information (general, news about the investigation, and what people can do). This is the English version. A Spanish version will be available soon.
  • Visit the CDC’s frequently asked questions and answers––share them with your colleagues, friends, and family.
  • Subscribe to’s News Release RSS feed.

This situation challenges those of us working on HIV/AIDS issues to ensure that we understand what these new media tools are and how they can effectively fit into our regular communication and emergency response planning.

Given the importance of our working with the broader public health community on this emergency, we have rescheduled our planned blog post on Personal Health Records (PHRs) for Tuesday, May 5. We hope you’ll join us then for a conversation with Chitra Mohla, from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, to learn more about PHRs and their importance in the HIV community.

Do you have other suggestions of new media resources and/or ways new media could help us communicate information about this (and other) public health emergencies?

Note: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the swine flu virus is transmitted the same way other flu viruses are spread and can be prevented by taking similar precautions, like washing your hands and covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze.


  1. I really think you hit the nail on the head. Twitter is the most powerful tool currently. With the help of your followers and re-tweets, its pretty easy to spread the message faster than any other social network.

  2. Swine Flue affects the whole nation. I really feel bad about this issue. I hope government can find the best solution to this problem. You have good idea to use media for spreading the words about it.

  3. The importance of vaccine and preparedness has become more obvious in wake of the “swine flu virus”. The CDC has developed a healthcare hand book to help combat a variety of Vaccine Preventable Diseases.
    The CDC’s Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases, 11th Edition (The Pink Book) – Just Released!
    The new, 11th edition of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine Preventable Diseases (The Pink Book) is now available from the Public Health Foundation (PHF). “The Pink Book” provides physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, and others with comprehensive information on vaccine-preventable diseases. The new 11th edition contains the latest information and updates on immunization, including:
    Revised principles of vaccination
    Updated recommendations on immunization
    New immunization strategies for healthcare practices and providers
    Guidelines on vaccine safety
    This essential resource is now available for ordering online by visiting the PHF online store at Ordering via mail, phone, fax, and purchase order is also available by calling PHF toll-free at (877)252-1200 for full instructions.

  4. as far as i know, transmission of swine influenza virus from pigs to humans is not common and properly cooked pork poses no risk of infection. When transmitted, the virus does not always cause human influenza and often the only sign of infection is the presence of antibodies in the blood, detectable only by laboratory tests. When transmission results in influenza in a human, it is called zoonotic swine flu. People who work with pigs, especially people with intense exposures, are at risk of catching swine flu.

  5. So long as you realize that new media’s ability to communicate is the same ability to fuel hysteria, and that clarity in communications is necessary, this is all correct.
    Of course information about AIDS should be spread as much as possible to combat ignorance. But misinformation IS another form of ignorance after all.

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