Thursday, June 04, 2009

 Reliable Sources In Flublogia

 (Updated 02/13/10)

# 3287

One of the remarkable things about Flublogia (our little corner of the internet concerned with flu and other infectious diseases), is just how darned good, and dedicated, the people are who contribute to it.

The Internet is a vast trove of information on pandemic influenza and other emerging infectious diseases, but not all sources are reliable or reasonable.

Some `fringe sites’ put out suspect, even dangerous information.  Others are using scare tactics to sell products or push some political agenda.

Knowing who you can trust is important, and so I try - from time to time - to highlight those sources that I trust.

This is, admittedly, a subjective list and by no means complete.

As a blogger, I’m extremely fortunate to be surrounded by class acts like Crof at Crofsblog, the Reveres at Effect MeasureScott McPherson, SophiaZoe at A Pandemic Chronicle, Joel at Preparedness and Response, DemfromCt on Daily Kos, Maryn McKenna at Superbug, Vincent Racaniello at the Virology Blog, Ian York at Mystery Rays, Ida at the Bird Flu Information Corner, Tara Smith at Aetiology  who give so much to Flublogia.

Their expertise and insights are truly inspiring. There are others, of course, many of whom you can find listed in my sidebar.

While we all cover the same beat, we’ve each a different focus. Among us are doctors, scientists, healthcare workers, and first responders.  

We continually hope that other responsible bloggers will join the ranks, particularly from underrepresented regions of the world.  If you are interested, but unsure how to begin, contact Crof or myself.

No one blogger could possibly cover Flublogia adequately, and all of these bloggers bring important insight into the infectious disease/preparedness arena.

You might wonder if there isn’t some rivalry between the flu bloggers. There isn’t. I can happily report that we are an extremely friendly and supportive group.  

When one of us does well, the rest of us are genuinely thrilled. 

Another blogger you’ve probably never heard of but who updates her fellow nurses and Health Care Professionals on the Allnurses forum, is Indigo Girl. With more than 350,000 members, her reading audience is no doubt larger than mine.

The Flu Forums, like Flu Wiki and Flutrackers (among others) are a product of the volunteer efforts of hundreds of people, and are funded for the most part by the forum owners.

There are other flu forums, including some in French such as  Francophones des FluTrackers.

The monthly costs to run these forums are not insignificant, but that pales in comparison to the amount of work that the forum owners put into running these entities.  They couldn’t do it without the volunteer efforts of scores of moderators and advisors.

Some of these forums are set up as non-profit organizations, and could use your financial support (hint  . . hint).

And then there are the newshounds, many of whom contribute dozens of hours each week in their hunt for news and information about influenza and emerging infectious diseases.  They’ve learned how to search foreign language news sources, and how to translate articles.

More importantly, they’ve developed a keen sense and ability to interpret these stories.  You can read about how they go about this important work in Newshounds: They Cover The Pandemic Front, it is truly a fascinating story.

One of our newer newshounds, and worth of special note, is Paul at the Chen Qi blog.  Think of Chen Qi as your daily newspaper on emerging infectious diseases from around the world.


Simply put, if you aren’t reading Chen Qi, you should be.

The mainstream press has a number of terrific science and health reporters.

Some of the names who stand out are Helen Branswell of the Canadian Press, Maggie Fox of ReutersJason Gale of Bloomberg, Patrick Thibodeau of ComputerWorld, Robin McDowell of the AP, and Emmy Fitri of the Jakarta Post.

To that impressive group, you’d have to add the considerable talents of Maryn McKenna, Lisa Schnirring, and Robert Roos who all write for CIDRAP News.   Infectious disease reporting just doesn’t get much better than what they produce.

Less obvious, but no less important, are the people working behind the scenes at CIDRAP, reviewing promising practices, producing important papers, and analyzing data.

Dr. Michael Osterholm, and the University of Minnesota, have put together an impressive team and a vital resource, and has been both gracious and supportive of Flublogia.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the following sites, all of which should be required reading for anyone following the pandemic flu story.

  • Dr. Grattan Woodson's Home Treatment of Influenza

  • Dr. Michael Greger's Bird Flu Book

  • Peter Sandman - Risk Communications

  • And of course, the resources of the CDC and the HHS provide much of the backbone for what we do in Flublogia.  The HHS’s remains the best single resource for our governments pandemic planning on the Internet.

    Both agencies have been very supportive of our little grassroots efforts.  In recent months, they have extended their outreach via social media tools like Twitter, and Facebook.  If you are on Twitter, consider adding the following people/agencies:

  • APHA GetReady

  • FEMA

  • HHS Social Media



  • Red Cross

  • WHO News

  • Fla_Medic (Me)

  • AIDigest

  • FluTrackers

  • Often overlooked, but no less important, are the efforts of NGOs and other agencies and organizations around the world.   They range from the familiar American Red Cross to the far less well known STEPS Centre and the grassroots GetPandemicReady.Org.

    Other important resources include:

    I haven’t covered them all, obviously, and my apologies to anyone I’ve left out.  You can find even more resources on my side bar.  None of the sites that I’ve mentioned here are trying to sell anything.

    They are run by people genuinely interested in spreading good, solid, and potentially life saving information.

    The number of good resources out there are truly amazing and are growing over time, but unfortunately, are still badly outnumbered by the thousands of fringe websites using pandemic flu as a vehicle to push their agendas or sell their products.

    As the X-Files reminded us: The Truth Is Out There.

    You just have to know where to look.