A new study published in BMC Public Health sheds light on the politicization of disease outbreaks. The research examined thousands of messages sent on the social media platform Twitter shortly after the outbreak of the Ebola virus in the United States.
“One of my areas of focus in my work is public health communication as an important component of outbreak response. I’ve studied risk communication around the Ebola and Zika outbreaks and while it’s clear that public health communicators are trying their hardest, there still seem to be issues in getting the right messages to the public,” explained study author Tara Kirk Sell, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
“One of the problems here is misinformation and so I was drawn to studying it because it is so important to understand and manage misinformation during effective disease outbreaks. If you can’t successfully manage misinformation, then it’s very difficult to win the battle against the virus.”