|The first ever GOES satellite image taken in October, 1975|
|Epidemiologists study the spread of infectious diseases|
Is there reason to be concerned about diseases even in the 21st century? You bet. Believe it or not, arguably the deadliest pandemic in human history happened just shy of a century ago. At the end of World War I, the Spanish Flu pandemic spread like wildfire, infecting nearly half a billion people and killing between 50 and 100 million.
|Soldiers near Fort Riley, Kansas, ill with the flu|
Many of us are not public health PIOs - we may be working for the local fire or law enforcement agency. Maybe the local county, city or school board. Maybe the transit authority or a hospital. So, we may not be the lead agency when it comes to handling things such as pandemic infections.
But, that doesn't mean we get a free pass. The people we work with are counting on us to give accurate, timely information - and repeat that information as many times as necessary - to ensure they know the right steps to take to keep themselves and their families safe.
|Information on steps to prevent the spread of illness - such as obtaining flu shots - can be beneficial|
Most importantly, be sure to keep each other in the loop. That should be a given for any type of disaster, but even more so when it comes to something unseen like an illness. By doing this, you can keep up on the latest information and also forward the rumors you are hearing to the people who have the right answers.
Just like a virus, bad information and rumor are contagious. The best inoculation is good, actionable information.
Tom Iovino, Public Information Specialist
Pinellas County, Florida