Swine Flu: Beware the Hype
The news about the combination swine/human/avian flu confirmed in Mexico, the United States and Canada is at the top of every front page today. The public is very concerned, and photos published in the media show many people wearing face masks. The United States has declared it a Public Health Emergency in order to ready supplies in the case it reaches a pandemic level. This will likely cause concern for many of your patients, and may send some patients to see you for screening. Officials are encouraging that no one overreact: There have been only 20 confirmed cases so far in the United States, and symptoms of this illness are much like any flu.
I read an article last night (Twitter's Power to Misinform) that noted that social networking, in cases where people are talking about very "popular" topics, can cause misinformation like a giant game of "telephone." While social networking sites are great for relaying information and connecting with a community, NPs must be even more careful to take time to educate patients in cases like this where millions of people are sending out information about an illness and potentially causing misinformation. Read the most recent updates about the swine flu at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site: Swine Flu.