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Twitter and Swine Flu

Twitter and Swine Flu

Picture of Barbara Feder Ostrov

There's plenty of Twitter traffic on swine flu right now, and much of it is hysterical fearmongering, a story in itself. However, if you check out #swineflu on Twitter, amid the twaddle you'll see some interesting real-time posts about surgical masks on janitors at the Atlanta airport, a cruise line's decision to avoid Mexican ports in favor of Nicaraguan ones, and rumors about the U.S. Centers for Disease Control renaming swine flu.

Here is an excellent guide to navigating the extraordinary volume of swine flu tweets. There are a few Twitterers worth following as you report on swine flu. One of them is Helen Branswell (@diseasegeek), a Canadian wire service reporter whom journalist Maryn McKenna on her blog calls the "most connected flu reporter on the planet." Check out Branswell's latest story detailing how an experimental diagnostic test for flu happened to find the first U.S. case of swine flu.

The CDC (@cdcemergency), which, as of April 29, had more than 46,000 followers,is tweeting official announcements and case counts.

And HealthMap (@healthmap) offers frequently updated case count and links to news stories. HealthMap is a free website, funded by, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and other institutes, that aggregates various data sources to map disease outbreaks worldwide.

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