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 http://www.health.gob.mx/.
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