Bird flu outbreak spurs flurry of reports about vaccines

Of all disease areas, UK journalists wrote most about immunology in the first two months of the year, according to PRWeek's second Health Watch.

The figures highlight the extent of last month's blanket coverage of the bird flu outbreak at a Bernard Matthews turkey farm.

The dangers of the H5N1 strain were widely reported, with stories about the infection of birds accounting for almost 49 per cent of references to immunology and anti-virals.

Reports also focused on isolated deaths from the virus in Indonesia, and EU officials' warning of the need for more planning in the face of a potential pandemic.

Another story that helped boost mentions in this area was February's announcement by Body Shop founder Dame Anita Roddick that she had hepatitis C. This, along with her launch of a disease awareness drive, accounted for 19 per cent of references to immunology.

ancer was the next most written-about therapy area over January and February. Again, 49 per cent of mentions revolved around a single topic - breast cancer. Most reports focused on ‘postcode lottery' claims over NHS patient access to aromatase inhibitors such as Pfizer's Aromasin.

Lung cancer also featured strongly, accounting for 15 per cent of cancer mentions, most of which referred to NICE's refusal to recommend Roche's Tarceva.

Cardiovascular and mental health were the third and fourth most mentioned disease areas respectively.

Health Watch is compiled by Presswatch Media from articles across national newspapers and 300 magazines, including periodicals.

The next Health Watch will be published by PRWeek in May.

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