Reporting on Emerging Infectious Diseases
To the Editor— The recent NCMJ article by Tom Linden is very interesting. In his sidebar on the role of journalists in reporting on emerging infectious diseases, Linden noted, “Journalists might counter that improving literacy, scientific or otherwise, is not their job and that they need to meet readers and viewers at their level, by translating scientific jargon and cutting through media relations hype from government, academic, and private sources” . In fact, the journalist is an important person who carries information about any new problem to the general public. There is no doubt that the data in the early phase of an emerging infectious disease might be vague, and a nonmedical journalist might have a chance of gathering and further spreading incorrect information. Nevertheless, lack of reliable information is also a problem for medical personnel. In the early period of a new emerging disease, lack of knowledge is common even among medical personnel who have to care for infected patients [2, 3]. Hence, there is no doubt that data provision by journalists is very important in the early phase of any new disease. The governmental public health agency also plays an important role in providing data and controlling panic. Finally, the role of medical journals in reporting on a new emerging disease should be mentioned. Normally, eyewitness descriptions of the situation or case reports are the main primary sources for the medical society to learn about the new disease .
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