Public health argues for broad coverage

Published 9:41 pm Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The past few months have been extremely interesting when it comes to viruses, bugs and medical issues.

Just weeks ago, it seemed we were all in full-fledged panic with the onset of the swine flu. News outlets tracked the spread of the virus from county-to-county, state-to-state, reporting on the total number of cases and the unfortunate deaths tied to the illness.

And while those media reports have calmed, the recent news of Eastern Equine Encephalitis infecting Suffolk area horses — and today’s news of confirmed West Nile cases in the city — only go to potentially stir the post of public concern.

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During the rush of information with the swine flu outbreak, the media as a whole was criticized for inciting panic with the number of stories and in-depth coverage produced on the virus outbreak.

But, the information shared provided the public an opportunity to be prepared and take needed precautions to prevent themselves or their families from catching the virus.

Today’s news is another opportunity for the media – regardless of medium – to fulfill its basic mission of informing the community it serves. The West Nile Virus is nothing new, but it is newsworthy, as are the precautions listed to slow the spread of such a disease.

When it comes to the public health, no amount of coverage is too much.