Body + Brain

05
Apr

How to Follow News About H7N9, the New Bird Flu

Maryn McKenna offers some great advice on her blog Superbug about how to follow the news relating to the influenza strain H7N9, recently discovered to have spilled over from birds to humans in China.

I have been writing about flu and possible pandemics since 1997 — for what it’s worth, I wrote the first story in the US in 1997 about that first H5N1 case in Hong Kong — and so at this early point, what I most want to say is this: We all love scary diseases. (If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be reading this blog.) But there is a fog of war in disease emergencies, just as there is in military ones, and it is very easy to get lost in it.

It will take a while for this story to become more clear. Anticipating that, I want to suggest some things to think about as you follow the news.

Well worth a read. McKenna shares her sources for the latest updates along with a cheatsheet for how to interpret news from the various outlets (helpful, given the fast developing nature of this story). Also, don’t forget to follow McKenna herself—she’s a well-respected name on the infectious disease beat.