Thursday, July 24, 2008

Seattle - King County: No Ordinary Flu

Note: Edited 12/10/08 to fix changed URLS

# 2174

Public Health Seattle-King County has been on the forefront of pandemic education and preparedness for years. I've highlighted some of their efforts in the past, including this excellent video:

Business Not As Usual: Preparing for a Pandemic Flu (streaming video in Windows Media format.)

Business Not As Usual:
Preparing for a Pandemic Flu

Watch a streaming video by Public Health - Seattle & King County and download resources. Free DVD copies available.

Today they have launched something truly unique, a 12-page comic book on the 1918 Spanish Flu, with several pages of preparedness information for the next pandemic.

Screenshot of preparedness comic book, "No Ordinary Flu"

This comic book is freely available for download in different 12 languages. Residents of King County can order these comic books at no charge.

A hat tip to Big Critter on the Flu Wiki for posting this link.

No Ordinary Flu

To promote pandemic flu preparedness, Public Health - Seattle & King County has developed a 12-page comic book on pandemic flu.

Targeting readers of all ages, this story tells the tale of a family's experience of the 1918 influenza pandemic. It also explains the threat of pandemic flu today, illustrates what to expect during a pandemic (such as school closures), and offers tips to help households prepare.

View comic book in 12 languages.

In a press release today, hosted on the website, we learn the story behind the creation of this comic book.

Local comic book artist tells the story of 1918 pandemic Comic book illustrates new way to reach immigrants and youth about pandemic flu

Thursday, July 24, 2008

KING COUNTY, WASHINGTON - A local comics artist with a personal connection to the great influenza pandemic of 1918 has teamed up with public health officials on an vivid new comic book about pandemic flu. The comic book No Ordinary Flu reaches out to immigrants and young people with information about the pandemic threat, then and now. Starting today, Public Health – Seattle & King County is making No Ordinary Flu available to order for free through the Public Health website.

The comic book follows the fictional account of a young World War I veteran and his family as their world is transformed overnight by the arrival of the deadly flu virus. No Ordinary Flu also describes the current threat of a flu pandemic and includes information on how to prepare.

Artist David Lasky brings a personal connection to his work on the comic, as his great-grandmother died during the 1918 pandemic that killed over 675,000 Americans. Her grieving husband left three of his children to be raised in an orphanage, including Lasky’s grandmother.

“The 1918 pandemic left such a mark on my family, but until this project, I never really knew much about the pandemic itself,” commented Lasky. “I was completely surprised to learn how deadly it was, and how quickly it had spread.”

“A severe pandemic would affect the lives of everyone in our community, and this comic book helps people to visualize pandemic flu’s speed and impact, which can be difficult to grasp,” explained Dr. David Fleming, Director and Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “Everyone needs to prepare for the health and economic impacts of a pandemic, so we’re delivering the message in a way that reaches diverse communities.”

The idea for No Ordinary Flu came from requests from local immigrant groups for emergency preparedness materials that use pictures to communicate. Public Health educators chose the comic book format because comics are widely read by people of all ages in parts of Latin America and Asia. The comic book has been translated into 11 languages to make it accessible to many of King County’s immigrant populations. All language versions are available from the Public Health – Seattle & King County website.

(Continue . . .)

Frankly, this is the kind of innovative thinking (and action) we need more of in order to get the word out to the public about the pandemic threat.

Hopefully other health departments, civic groups, schools, churches, and even private businesses will see the value in this sort of outreach and make copies available in their communities.

As for the Seattle-King County Health Department, Kudos once again for going the extra mile.