The CDC Is Using Twitter to Explain Ebola to the Masses

The health organization is condensing warnings and guidelines into 140-character snippets in a Monday chat.

People read an information sign about Ebola set on a wall of a public health center on July 31 in Monrovia, Liberia.
National Journal
Marina Koren
Aug. 4, 2014, 12:51 p.m.

When Kent Brantly, an Amer­ic­an doc­tor suf­fer­ing from Ebola, was flown from Liber­ia to At­lanta last week, he be­came the first per­son to be treated for the vir­us in the United States.

His ar­rival made many people nervous. After all, the Ebola vir­us, one of the dead­li­est patho­gens known to man, has nev­er been re­por­ted on Amer­ic­an soil. Are we risk­ing a stateside out­break by bring­ing the doc­tor here?

No, says the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion. While it’s im­possible to say that no one in the U.S. will be­come in­fec­ted with the vir­us, the risk of an epi­dem­ic is ex­tremely low, the CDC says, and the gen­er­al pub­lic shouldn’t be wor­ried. To drive that point home, the pub­lic health in­sti­tute launched an hour-long dis­cus­sion on Twit­ter at 4 p.m. Monday us­ing the hasht­ag #CD­Cchat. The ques­tions have been pour­ing in every second since.

So far, Ebola ex­perts tweet­ing from sev­er­al CDC Twit­ter ac­counts have answered ques­tions about how the dis­ease spreads, what its symp­toms are, what pre­cau­tions people should take, and more — all in 140-char­ac­ter snip­pets. Here’s a sampling:

Scroll through the fast-mov­ing con­ver­sa­tion here.

Shortly after the Twit­ter chat began, the loc­al ABC News af­fil­i­ate in New York re­por­ted that a pa­tient at Mount Sinai Hos­pit­al who had re­cently traveled to West Africa is be­ing tested for Ebola. The man had ar­rived in the hos­pit­al’s emer­gency room on Monday morn­ing with a high fever and gastrointest­in­al symp­toms, and has been placed in isol­a­tion.

There will only be more ques­tions.

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