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Swine Flu: How the Experts Are Preparing Their Families

Swine Flu: How the Experts Are Preparing Their Families

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The always provocative New Scientist magazine has a fascinating, if unscientific, story asking epidemiologists and other public health officials what they're personally doing to prepare themselves and their families for swine flu. (Hat tip to the always-useful Knight Science Journalism Tracker, which is a must-read for health and science journalists.)

About half of those responding to New Scientist's informal survey are doing nothing, expressing confidence that there will be enough antiviral medications for everyone, writes reporter Vian Azzu.

"I am not planning to stockpile. I have every confidence in the availability of stocks of antivirals," Robert Dingwall, director of the Institute for Science and Society at the University of Nottingham, told Azzu.

The other half of those surveyed, Azzu writes, "are taking at least one precaution in anticipation of a severe swine flu outbreak. These include acquiring antivirals such as Tamiflu, or antibiotics for them and their families. Some have had the pneumococcal vaccine to protect against pneumonia, which can occur as a secondary infection. A few have even stockpiled food and water in their homes in case civic services, such as transport networks and food supplies, break down."

Considering that in the United States, at least, public health officials consistently warn against stockpiling antivirals to prevent viruses from becoming resistant to them, this is a pretty striking result.

What are physicians, scientists and public health officials in your community doing to personally prepare themselves for swine flu? This is an easy story to localize for your community. And what are you doing to prepare yourself? Share your thoughts in the comments below. You need to be a registered member of Center for Health Journalism Digital to leave a comment, so if you haven't joined yet, click here. It's easy, quick and free.

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