North American Journal of Medical Sciences

LETTER TO EDITOR
Year
: 2015  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 297-

Ebola paranoia in the age of the internet and social media


Ranjan Pathak1, Smith Giri2, Nabin Shrestha3,  
1 Department of Medicine, Reading Health System, Reading, Pennsylvania, USA
2 Department of Medicine, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, Tennessee, USA
3 Department of Infectious Disease, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Correspondence Address:
Ranjan Pathak
Department of Medicine, Reading Health System, Reading, Pennsylvania
USA




How to cite this article:
Pathak R, Giri S, Shrestha N. Ebola paranoia in the age of the internet and social media.North Am J Med Sci 2015;7:297-297


How to cite this URL:
Pathak R, Giri S, Shrestha N. Ebola paranoia in the age of the internet and social media. North Am J Med Sci [serial online] 2015 [cited 2019 Dec 10 ];7:297-297
Available from: http://www.najms.org/text.asp?2015/7/6/297/159343


Full Text

Dear Editor,

Concerns have been raised regarding the difficulties of communicating uncertainty without increasing fear and paranoia by citing the recent events related to the Ebola virus disease. [1] In today's age, the Internet and social media have become important sources of information for the general public. Concerns have been raised about undue public panic and hysteria being spread through the Internet and social media. [2] Using Google Trends (Google Inc., Mountain View, CA, USA), [3] we examined the temporal trend of search volume for the term "Ebola" from September 1, 2014 to November 6, 2014. We observed four distinct peaks in the search volumes surrounding the news of four cases of Ebola diagnosis in the US [Figure 1]. [4] Analysis of the location of the search query revealed that four of the top five cities being monitored for Ebola were from the US. With the rise of the Internet and social media as the go-to sources of information, it is important for public health agencies to have greater Internet and social media presence, so as to properly disseminate the information (or the lack of it) and prevent undue fear and paranoia.

References

1Rosenbaum L. Communicating uncertainty - Ebola, public health, and the scientific process. N Engl J Med 2015;372:7-9.
2BFN. Social Media and Twitter Promotes Ebola Outbreak Fears, Conspiracies. 2014. (Accessed November 9, 2014, at http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ebola-outbreak-social-media-facebook-twitter-instagram-promotes-fears-conspiracies/ ).
3Google Inc. Google Trends. (Accessed November 15, 2014, at http://www.google.com/trends/ ).
4Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cases of Ebola Diagnosed in the United States. (Accessed November 9, 2014, at http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/2014-west-africa/united-states-imported-case.html ).