CDC prepares for media swell as swine flu outbreak continues

ATLANTA: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) plans to bring in additional press officers and to allow "limited embedment" for media outlets as the federal agency deals with a swine flu outbreak, said a CDC official.

ATLANTA: The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) plans to bring in additional press officers and to allow "limited embedment" for media outlets as the federal agency deals with a swine flu outbreak, said a CDC official.

Health officials declared the outbreak a public health emergency on Sunday, April 26, at a White House press briefing. The strain of swine flu, which is reportedly responsible for killing more than 80 people in Mexico and infecting at least 20 people in the US, is feared as a possible pandemic.

Dave Daigle, deputy director of media relations for the CDC, told PRWeek that the agency's media team is preparing to staff for the “long-haul.” It is currently receiving up to 300 media calls per day.

The CDC, which is investigating the outbreak, is also carrying over a successful media tactic from the recent salmonella outbreak by adding all reporters to a distribution list that sends out a “heads-up” before the agency announces any events or news, said Daigle.

The media team has been holding daily briefings for reporters since April 22 and is developing a "limited" embedding strategy to allow reporters to access the lab and the emergency operations center, according to Daigle.

“You still need the visuals to tell the story,” he said. “So it's something we're [working on] with our security and the demands of the operation but we still want to meet the needs of the media.”

The agency launched a Web site that provided educational information, advice for clinicians, travel notices, the latest diagnostic news, and information about which antiviral drugs work against swine flu.

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