Crisis Communication

Crisis in the News: Swine flu

Posted on: April 26, 2009

Mexico warns no kissing as 81 dead in swine flu outbreak

To date, there have been about 81 deaths linked to the swine flu. It has made its way into the US, infecting several people including students in New York. Schools and universities in Mexico City have been closed and airlines are asking people to not travel to Mexico.

The World Health Organization needs to handle communication about this outbreak, but there also are many other smaller organizations that will need to be quick to communicate.

For example, hospitals need to communicate with people in the communities about what the symptoms are, but also not scare them into thinking they have the swine flu if it is something else.

Schools and universities also will need to have communication in place. What will they do if a student contracts the swine flu? What if a student dies? How will they let parents and the community know that they are handling the problem appropriately.

Doctor’s offices also need to have a plan in place. What if a person comes in feeling sick and they are diagnosed with the swine flu? How will they inform their other patients that they may have been infected?

I recall coming across a flu epidemic plan for CMU during an internet search for an interview I was doing for a class. Although it seemed a little morbid to have a plan on what they would do if many students died, I think their plan was well thought out. I imagine that CMU and other schools are probably reviewing these crisis plans in case there is a large-scale epidemic.

There was a swine flu scare in 1976 as well.

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