A virus by any other name…

International Clean Hands Week, sponsored by the Clean Hands Coalition, may have a bit more relevance in this day and age with the spread of the H1N1 virus. Which reminds me of a curious factoid that I pulled from an NPR post:
T. Bissman and buddy visit emergency room

T. Bissman and buddy visit emergency room for H1N1 immunization

“In testing the questions on others, Parker realized that a lot of people don’t know that the new H1N1 and swine flu are one and the same. If she didn’t call it swine flu, a lot of people didn’t know what she was talking about.”

The observation came from health literacy expert Ruth Parker of Emory University.  She’s been working on a creating a series of questions that people can answer about their own health to determine whether or not they should go to the emergency room. 

It’s an interesting observation about how, with all the announcements about calling the Swine Flu virus “H1N1,” medical personnel and news media need to ensure that they refer to both appelations to ensure that their audience knows that the heck they’re talking about.  

Mr. Chapman, the assistant professor of family and consumer sciences at North Carolina University also found that scientific jargon clouds the overall message health officials are trying to disseminate:

“For example,” he says, “don’t refer to something as a ‘gastrointestinal illness.’  Instead tell them, ‘This could make you puke,’ or ‘Dude, wash your hands.'”

Which perhaps explains the artistic and cartoon elements of the germ-fighting poster put forth by Georgia Pacific.  The image of a person washing hands may only go so far.
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