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Social media can help decrease rates of infectious diseases

Category: Infectious Diseases

A recent study conducted by researchers at Kansas State University (KSU) found that social media sites can help stop the spread of infectious diseases like influenza by increasing the awareness of preventative measures like vaccines and hygiene, reported Medical News Today.

"Infectious diseases are a serious problem and historically have been a major cause of death," said study author Faryad Sahneh, a doctoral candidate at KSU, as quoted by the news source. "During the last decade there has been a huge advancement in medication and vaccination, which has helped save many people's lives. But now there also has been a revolution in communication and information technology that we think could be used to develop an even more robust preventative society against infectious disease."

During the study, Gary Brase, Ph.D., an associate professor at KSU,  surveyed students on their perspectives on social media as well as what they did to prevent themselves from getting sick. According to Medical News Today, he found that one preventative measure that people were not in favor, was reducing their interaction with family and friends, which is one of the main ways that diseases spread.

Caterina Scoglio, an electrical computer engineering associate professor at KSU, found that in order to increase the effectiveness of social media's role in preventing disease, it's important to reach the right audiences, notably teachers and public officials who regularly interact with a broad audience and can subsequently infect a large group of people.

Scoglio also noted that she and her colleagues are trying to figure out who would be the best spokesman for infectious disease prevention and whether it should be someone familiar, like a friend or a professor, or an official, like someone from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Influenza prevention
According to the CDC, one of the best ways to reduce the chance of contracting influenza, which can be detected with a lab test, is for everyone older than six months to get an annual flu vaccine. The source also suggests that people regularly wash their hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitizer if necessary. Other preventative measures include staying away from people who are sick, not touching the eyes, nose or mouth and to sneeze into and immediately dispose of tissues.

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