Monday, October 27, 2014

Ebola Transmission: Can we explain it better?

Two Doorman on the upper east side late one recent night, talking about Ebola:

Miguel:      It gets passed from bodily fluids – blood, sweat, saliva, I think.
Hal:           So if I get a sick person’s saliva on my ankle can I get it?
Miguel:    Let’s say you had a cut, then the germs can go into your body through the cut.
Hal:       So, if I touch my ear with my hand and the saliva is on my hand, can I get it?
Miguel:  I don’t know.  I don’t think so.  Can it seep right through your skin? 
Hal:       Geeeee.  That's creepy.  Right through your skin! 

Communicating and educating the public about Ebola transmission is critical to keeping the virus controlled and in controlling panic.  Amidst seas of misinformation the NYCDOHMH has tried to bring reason and an evidence-base to its Ebola communications. 
However given that 50% of the US public is low health literate/ and 50% have trouble reading, we would like to add our expertise to suggesting readable and health literacy appropriate clarifications.   Here's an example.

Excerpt from “Ebola Frequently Asked Questions”
[Second Q/A listed]

How does Ebola spread?
Ebola is spread by direct contact (through broken skin or your mouth, eyes or nose) with
       Body fluids (such as blood, vomit, urine, feces and sweat) of a person sick with Ebola. People only become contagious after they begin to have symptoms, such as fever.
       Objects soiled with the body fluids of a person sick with Ebola.
       The body of a person who died from Ebola.
Ebola is not spread through the air or simply by being near someone who is infected.
During outbreaks, the disease can spread within health care settings if workers do not wear protective gear and take proper precautions.

Health Literacy Load Analysis: (where we identifcomplex language and health/science concepts that need to be clarified for the general public / 50% of whom are low health literate/50% have difficulty reading)

 While the word/syntax reading level hovers at about 7th grade key concepts require more sophisticated understandings and are not adequately explained in the text itself/

       What are bodily fluids
 Where these bodily fluids can remain dangerous – on sheets, clothing, on dead bodies
 Concept of sick versus contagious
Rewrite Attempts
I've started it off here but could use some help: 

10/27/14 - [explaining contact with bodily fluids]
Ebola spreads from one person to another when a healthy person comes into contact with a sick person's bodily fluids.  
Bodily fluids are saliva,sweat, semen, urine, feces (poop).

                                                                                  to be continued...

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