Utilizing technology to stay informed on Swine Flu


I have quietly watched and waited to see how the new Swine Flu scare plays out.  More than anything I have found the role that technology is playing in this to be fascinating.  I’m sure by now you’ve all seen the role Twitter has managed to play.  After Swine Flu started to hit, Twitter of course lit up with people who knew very little blowing the whole mess out of proportion.  Not only that but giving false information on occasion.  Telling people to stop eating pork and causing far more panic than necessary.  My favorite genius post being this one, “In the pandemic Spanish Flu of 1918-19, my Grandfather said bodies were piled like wood in our local town….SWINE FLU = DANGER”.  Truly brilliant.

Then there has been the interesting role that Google Maps has played.  Using Google Maps, you can hop online and view a map showing where the outbreak has hit, when someone was killed (without a dot) and when it was just a rumored (pink marker) or confirmed case (purple marker).   So the role of technology is far from being all bad.  It also means that those of us that frequent the internet know far before those that watch TV news when something new has happened.  You just have to be careful about where your information is coming from (Hint: Don’t listen to Twitter).  You can keep an eye on the World Health Organization, who have recently raised the alert level to phase 4.

The latest use of technology as far as this flu goes is now you can receive texts updating you on the Swine Flu.  You can text PIGFLU to 41411 and receive updates on any new developments with the flu.  It only costs the normal rate that texting would cost you, no extra fees are added.  They come from the CDC/WHO, they intend to send out between 1-3 updates a day.  You’ll get information on the outbreak, travel warnings and messages from health authorities.  The way you know that this isn’t a hoax, is that this information is posted directly on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

Look for those type things before you put any weight in what’s being said.  Technology is fantastic, but it leaves a great deal of opportunity to send out misinformation.  Myself, I’ve found the best news source during this to be Treehugger.  I say this because they typically link back to reliable sources such as the CDC or World Health Organization.  Sometimes places like Yahoo News don’t bother with providing links like that, so you have to hunt down your own before you can be reassured that the new information isn’t all bull.

Update:  You can check out this site to see if your symptoms resemble those of Swine Flu.