Monday, March 13, 2006
On Bird Flu and the Media Circus
I just read a February 6, 2006 broadcast covering Dr. Marc Siegel's book, "Bird Flu."
What I find interesting is that Dr. Siegel is one of a minority of cautious common sense regarding the bird flu craze. His major point is that worrying about the bird flu will most likely cause more harm than the flu itself. His advice for preventing infection? Eat well and exercise. This sounds like my kind of doctor.
Siegel also points a finger at public officials who are feeding the media bird flu frenzy. Often, he claims, public officials attempt to gain support and funding for health-related projects by citing the worst-case scenarios.
Public health officials must learn a new language for communicating risk. It is crucial to learn how to correctly convey to the public that a threat over a given period of time is very small but worth taking seriously because the worst case is devastating.Good advice indeed.
Proper preparation can be accomplished without panicking the public. It should not be necessary to alarm the public as a ploy to get funding for disaster planning. This strategy frequently backfires, as money gets wasted on only the worst case and there is little left for the more likely threats. Since we can't worry or prepare for everything, we should expend our national resources rationally.