Monday, March 24, 2014

WHO Twitter Messaging On Ebola


Credit World Health Organization 


# 8397


The news regarding the Ebola outbreak in the West African nation of Guinea continues to come in fast and furiously, and as often happens in these situations, we are seeing some inconsistencies.  


Yesterday, the BBC’s headline read Deadly Ebola virus reaches Guinea capital Conakry – UN.  Only to be replaced, a short time ago by:


Virus in Guinea capital Conakry not Ebola

24 March 2014 Last updated at 08:05 ET

Tests on suspected cases of deadly Ebola virus in Guinea's capital Conakry are negative, health officials say.

On Sunday, UN officials said that the virus had spread to the capital, a port city of up to two million, from remote forests in the south, where some 59 people have died.

But a World Health Organization spokesman told the BBC the Conakry tests had come back negative.

Ebola is spread by close contact and kills between 25% and 90% of victims.


Such are pitfalls of reporting from a remote location, and on a rapidly evolving situation. 

Attempting to keep all of this straight, and to correct the record when need be, has been Gregory Hartl – official spokesperson for the World Health Organization – and the @WHO twitter account. 


From Hartl’s twitter account this morning we get the following clarification, which no doubt inspired the above revised news alert.



Meanwhile, the @WHO twitter account is updating the Ebola situation as news become available, and is answering questions posed using the hashtag #AskEbola.




With more than 1 million followers, the WHO has recognized the value (and immediacy) of Twitter, and now routinely spenses breaking news and information first from their twitter account. To give you an idea of some of the social Media messaging the WHO is generating on Twitter, here a small excerpt from this morning.



With the instant news cycle of the Internet, the use and mastery of social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube are essential if agencies and organizations hope to get their message out to the public before it becomes `old news’.


The World Health Organization’s announcement a year ago that they would post updates on twitter first, and then post extended information on their website, is an acknowledgement that time, and the Internet, waits for no press release.


To keep current on the latest infectious disease news, in addition to following @WHO and @HaertlG, I would heartily recommend you add  @CDCgov, @CDCFlu, @CIDRAP, @FluTrackers , @HelenBranswell, @Crof, @maggiemfox, @MackayIM (and my own humble account @Fla_Medic ) to your twitter feed as well.