Friday, October 31, 2014

Guidance Gone, But Not Forgotten



Updated:  The new version of this poster has now been uploaded to the CDC site (see The Return Of The CDC’s `How Ebola Spreads’ Infographic).

# 9269



Generally speaking, I’m very supportive of the CDC in this blog. Like most Americans, I recognize that they have a tough job to do, and have consistently viewed them more favorably than any other Federal agency.


While I’ve occasionally been critical of their messaging, I’ve always tried to convey my concerns with respect – not scorn.  

Last Saturday, when the CDC released the following infographic (see CDC: Ebola May Be Spread By Droplets, But Is Not Airborne), I praised them for replacing the tired (and less than entirely believable) `You can’t get Ebola Through Air’  meme, for something far more reasonable.


The idea that large droplets from coughs or sneezes pose a potential Ebola infection risk isn’t a new admission, but it has been largely downplayed by the CDC over the past few months.  This new poster was, in my opinion, a major step forward in improving the messaging. 


Inevitably,some in the media used this infographic to beat the CDC up over their earlier messaging.  A not unexpected reaction, and one I believe would likely have blown over in a couple of days. 

Regrettably, late yesterday this infographic was abruptly removed from the CDC website. Overnight the Daily Mail, Huffington Post, and others have been having a field day, as now when you hit the link you get this message:


The What’s the difference between infections spread through air or by droplets? Fact sheet is being updated and is currently unavailable. Please visit for up-to-date information on Ebola.


Frankly, if you were looking for the best way to re-energize the conspiracy theorists, nut cases, and agency haters out there – I can’t envision a more successful ploy.  Even those of us who aren’t completely certifiable are likely to see this action and go, `hmmmm’.


I can only hope someone will do a minor edit (free suggestion: change `pee & poop’ to `urine and feces’) and have it uploaded back onto your site in short order. 


Whether they have `poster’s regret’  over putting this infographic out or not (and they shouldn’t, it is the best one they’ve produced on Ebola transmission to date), pulling it off  their site after 5 days just makes the CDC look indecisive …  or worse.