Sunday, May 3, 2009

Swine flu (what else?)

The H1N1 virus
I’m confident there isn’t a biology class anywhere that hasn’t already talked about the swine flu. Or any biology blog either. But the flu and its fallout are going to be with us for a while, so I thought I’d post some links that might be helpful. Please comment with other good resources that you’ve found worthwhile.

Swine flu
  • The CDC’s H1N1 Flu page has the latest information on the current outbreak. Press releases, maps, prevention and treatment information, twitter updates, and photos.

  • Wired Science covers speculation on possible links between the virus and factory farms and the search for the ‘smoking pig.’

  • Reuters Swine Flu section is an archive of news articles, videos, and photographs of the current flu outbreak. It’s a good source for examining media coverage and public sentiment about the flu situation

  • The U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health have a very thorough review of influenza in general. It includes fact sheets, Q&A’s, tutorials, images, and links to almost everything you’d ever need to say about flu.

  • The pages on Flu Wiki aren’t consistent in quality but it does have a lot of information and is quite accessible to non-biologists.

  • describes how government agencies plan for influenza outbreaks and monitor national and international flu trends.

  • This World Health Organization chart describes the Pandemic Alert Levels being used internationally to characterize the stages of this and other pandemics.

  • The Great Pandemic is a Dept. of Health and Human Services site with terrific information on the social and medical context of the 1918-1919 influenza outbreak. Many of today’s swine flu worries draw on this event.

Every health scare is accompanied by a rash of unscientific, often flat-out crackpot, ideas as to its cause and cure. Bloggers are often the first line of defense against pseudoscience – independent scientists and health professionals, and even well-informed laymen can respond with a speed and vigor that government employees can rarely match.

  • Beyond the Short Coat takes on the notion that enemas can prevent swine flu.

  • Repectful Insolence addresses the enema claim too, and includes a particularly nice video on pseudoscience in general.

  • is a good place to search for analyses of swine flu claims and coverage, but I’d be careful about directing students there because the commentary can get a bit rough.

Photo credit CDC/ C. S. Goldsmith and A. Balish

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