CDC Swine FluI’ve been getting most of my news on swine flu from either the WHO or the US Center for Disease Control (CDC).  Both are easily accessible, informative, reliable. 

It’s worth noting the  various forms of social media CDC is using to spread the word:

  1. Updates from the H1N1 page haven an RSS feed.
  2. Frequent updates are spread using Twitter.
  3. Video updates are posted using podcasts.
  4. Image sharing on the CDCs Flickr site.
  5. Buttons for your website.
  6. Information sharing on MySpace‘s e-health page and daily strength group.
  7. Updates can be shared using several different services (Google Reader, Bookmarks, Delicious, Facebook, Digg, etc.).
  8. e-Cards to send by email to family members and friends to remind people to wash their hands.
  9. Agencies can embed a flu widget on their page.

Now that’s soft power.  Nice, informative site, too, with maps, Spanish translation available, guidance, lots of links targeting different groups and concerns.

Health EmergencyIt occurred to me I’d not seen an equivalent Australian government site.  I wasn’t even sure where to look: Federal Department of Health perhaps; PM&C, given its national security role, or even the Animal Health Laboratory, even though it’s not a animal health problem.  Health, it turns out, has a link on its page to a special Health Emergency site (above). 

The Government has some way to go on this internet thing.

By comparison, incidentally, the Queensland Department of Health–a much more informative and friendly site–uses Twitter.

Update:

According to the Pew Research Center 49 per cent of the US public turn to the internet for information on swine flu.  So Pew has been looking to see where people are going to get that information online.  Google, it seems, is the top ‘health’ site.  Eliminating search, the CDC is the number one source of information. Pew notes the deliberate effort made by the US government to use the internet to disseminate information. 

Reference

Mergel, I. (2009). CDC is fighting the spread of swine flu with viral technologies. Complexity and Social Networks Blog. 1 May 2009.

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