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SARS vs. SWINE FLU – Comparisons and Differences

As I’m writing, the European Health Commissioner has recommended that unless it is “essential,” that Europeans should avoid traveling to Mexico or the US.

Not since SARS have we seen a public health concern and watch that matches the focus on Swine Flu. While the outbreak started in Mexico, confirmed cases have reportedly been seen in the U.S. and in Canada.

I was privileged to be able to help Health Canada and the Canadian Government during the 2003 outbreak. Here are some initial thoughts on what public health officials should do:

Develop a web site as a central place for information. Information should be in English and Spanish. The English site for Mexico we have found is

Many U.S. news sites have information as does the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Here are a few recommendations that came out of SARS:

  • Use the web site and update it often
  • Health officials in any city, town or national organization should set up a war room
  • Health officials should hold frequent meeting to decide on messages of the day
  • Hold briefings and post to the web as necessary
  • Ask for technical medical and health experts to hold briefings
  • Don’t speculate on information you don’t know