Wrapping up the news this week is a story on the West Nile Virus. Now we’ve heard a lot of scuttlebutt about the West Nile Virus in recent weeks saying it’s the worst or the most horrible outbreak we’ve ever had since West Nile Virus first showed up in the U.S. in 1999. They catalog the number of deaths, the widespread nature of the outbreak and everything else in this CNN article.

Media Hype and Epidemics

I take some issue with this. I’ve looked at the CDC figures over at CDC.gov. They have information on West Nile Virus right there on the front page. You can click and go through and look at the same material I looked at. From what I can see this is not the largest outbreak. There have been worse years of West Nile Virus outbreaks. Maybe it’s just a slow news cycle, but regardless of the fact, the public reading this doesn’t necessarily know to follow up on these details and they believe the news and everything they say.

I wonder because some of the people will believe the news like this about some medical issue but they don’t believe the same reporters on political issues because their own part of the opposing party. I just understand that a lot of the media gets it wrong most of the time. Even I get it wrong sometimes, but I do try back up everything I say with researching links and things like that to to give you some additional resources to see if I’m right or wrong. A lot of times the news articles don’t do that.

West Nile Virus Epidemic is Widespread

They do report 48 states with human infections at the timing of this article. At the time I recorded this particular episode there’ve been 1,500 reported cases of West Nile Virus in the U.S. and 66 deaths. West Nile Virus has become a seasonal virus in the United States. It crops up every summer and it runs its course and starts to die out usually around the end of August beginning of September as the weather temperatures start to decrease again. We’ll discuss that more later on in this episode as we get into our interview with Dr. Vince Racaniello and Dr. Dickson Despommier.

In the meantime, what do you do when you see a headline that catches your eye? Do you read the whole article to see if it was correct or just something to get you to stop and read? Responsible reading of things like this is part of your job as a medical professional.

What do you think? Leave a comment below or shoot me an email at Podmedic@mac.com. I want to hear from you!

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Find the links for this article and the rest of this week’s show at – West Nile Virus Interview and Episode 298.

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