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Burkle F.M.,Harvard University | Burkle F.M.,The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars | Hanfling D.,University of Pittsburgh | Hanfling D.,George Washington University
PLoS Currents | Year: 2015

Long before the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the United States was already experiencing a failure of confidence between politicians and scientists, primarily focused on differences of opinion on climate extremes. This ongoing clash has culminated in an environment where politicians most often no longer listen to scientists. Importation of Ebola virus to the United States prompted an immediate political fervor over travel bans, sealing off borders and disputes over the reliability of both quarantine and treatment protocol. This demonstrated that evidenced- based scientific discourse risks taking a back seat to political hyperbole and fear. The role of public health and medical expertise should be to ensure that cogent response strategies, based upon good science and accumulated knowledge and experience, are put in place to help inform the development of sound public policy. But in times of crisis, such reasoned expertise and experience are too often overlooked in favor of the partisan press “sound bite”, where fear and insecurity have proved to be severely counterproductive. While scientists recognize that science cannot be entirely apolitical, the lessons from the impact of Ebola on political discourse shows that there is need for stronger engagement of the scientific community in crafting messages required for response to such events. This includes the creation of moral and ethical standards for the press, politicians and scientists, a partnership of confidence between the three that does not now exist and an “elected officials” toolbox that helps to translate scientific evidence and experience into readily acceptable policy and public communication. © 2015, Public Library of Science. All Rights Reserved. Source


Cooper G.P.,William Carey University | Yeager V.,William Carey University | Burkle F.M.,Harvard University | Burkle F.M.,The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars | Subbarao I.,William Carey University
PLoS Currents | Year: 2015

Background: This article describes a novel triangulation methodological approach for identifying twitter activity of regional active twitter users during the 2013 Hattiesburg EF-4 Tornado.Methodology: A data extraction and geographically centered filtration approach was utilized to generate Twitter data for 48 hrs pre- and post-Tornado. The data was further validated using six sigma approach utilizing GPS data. Results: The regional analysis revealed a total of 81,441 tweets, 10,646 Twitter users, 27,309 retweets and 2637 tweets with GPS coordinates.Conclusions: Twitter tweet activity increased 5 fold during the response to the Hattiesburg Tornado. Retweeting activity increased 2.2 fold. Tweets with a hashtag increased 1.4 fold. Twitter was an effective disaster risk reduction tool for the Hattiesburg EF-4 Tornado 2013. © 2015, Public Library of Science. All Rights Reserved. Source


Cooper G.P.,William Carey University | Yeager V.,William Carey University | Burkle F.M.,Harvard University | Burkle F.M.,The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars | Subbarao I.,William Carey University
PLoS Currents | Year: 2015

Introduction: Study goals attempt to identify the variables most commonly associated with successful tweeted messages and determine which variables have the most influence in promoting exponential dissemination of information (viral spreading of the message) and trending (becoming popular) in the given disaster affected region. Methods: Part II describes the detailed extraction and triangulation filtration methodological approach to acquiring twitter data for the 2013 Hattiesburg Tornado. The data was then divided into two 48 hour windows before and after the tornado impact with a 2 hour pre-tornado buffer to capture tweets just prior to impact. Criteria-based analysis was completed for Tweets and users. The top 100 pre-Tornado and post-Tornado retweeted users were compared to establish the variability among the top retweeted users during the 4 day span. Results: Pre-Tornado variables that were correlated to higher retweeted rates include total user tweets (0.324), and total times message retweeted (0.530). Post-Tornado variables that were correlated to higher retweeted rates include total hashtags in a retweet (0.538) and hashtags #Tornado (0.378) and #Hattiesburg (0.254). Overall hashtags usage significantly increased during the storm. Pre-storm there were 5,763 tweets with a hashtag and post-storm there was 13,598 using hashtags. Conclusions: Twitter’s unique features allow it to be considered a unique social media tool applicable for emergency managers and public health officials for rapid and accurate two way communication. Additionally, understanding how variables can be properly manipulated plays a key role in understanding how to use this social media platform for effective, accurate, and rapid mass information communication. © 2015, Public Library of Science. All Rights Reserved. Source


Ryan B.,James Cook University | Franklin R.C.,James Cook University | Burkle F.M.,Harvard University | Burkle F.M.,The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars | And 6 more authors.
PLoS Currents | Year: 2015

Introduction: Over the last quarter of a century the frequency of natural disasters and the burden of non-communicable diseases (NCD) across the globe have been increasing. For individuals susceptible to, or chronically experiencing, NCDs this has become a significant risk. Disasters jeopardize access to essential treatment, care, equipment, water and food, which can result in an exacerbation of existing conditions or even preventable death. Consequently, there is a need to expand the public health focus of disaster management to include NCDs. To provide a platform for this to occur, this article presents the results from a systematic review that identifies and describes the impact of cyclone, flood and storm related disasters on those susceptible to, or experiencing, NCDs. The NCDs researched were: cardiovascular diseases; cancers; chronic respiratory diseases; and diabetes.Methods: Four electronic publication databases were searched with a date limit of 31 December 2014. The data was analyzed through an aggregation of individual papers to create an overall data description. The data was then grouped by disease to describe the impact of a disaster on treatment management, exacerbation, and health care of people with NCDs. The PRISMA checklist was used to guide presentation of the research. Results: The review identified 48 relevant articles. All studies represented developed country data. Disasters interrupt treatment management and overall care for people with NCDs, which results in an increased risk of exacerbation of their illness or even death. The interruption may be caused by a range of factors, such as damaged transport routes, reduced health services, loss of power and evacuations. The health impact varied according to the NCD. For people with chronic respiratory diseases, a disaster increases the risk of acute exacerbation. Meanwhile, for people with cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes there is an increased risk of their illness exacerbating, which can result in death. Conclusion: Cyclone, flood and storm related disasters impact on treatment management and care for people with NCDs. Possible consequences include exacerbation of illness, complications or even death. There is now a need to expand traditional disaster approaches by public health to incorporate NCDs. This must be guided by the major NCDs identified by the World Health Organization and implemented in-line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction: 2015-2030. This includes understanding all the factors that influence both direct and indirect (preventable) morbidity and mortality related to NCDs during and after disasters. Once achieved, disaster planners and public health professionals will be in a position to develop and implement effective mitigation strategies. © 2015, Public Library of Science. All Rights Reserved. Source


Yeager V.,William Carey University | Cooper G.P.,William Carey University | Burkle F.M.,Harvard University | Burkle F.M.,The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars | Subbarao I.,William Carey University
PLoS Currents | Year: 2015

Twitter can be an effective tool for disaster risk reduction but gaps in education and training exist in current public health and disaster management educational competency standards. Eleven core public health and disaster management competencies are proposed that incorporate Twitter as a tool for effective disaster risk reduction. Greater funding is required to promote the education and training of this tool for those in professional schools and in the current public health and disaster management workforce. © 2015, Public Library of Science. All Rights Reserved. Source

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