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Journalists Participate in Influenza Workshop in India

Journalists explored ways media can provide information about the prevention and treatment of swine and avian influenzas

Kolkata, India, July 31, 2009 – Indian journalists participated in a workshop on “Reporting Avian and Pandemic Influenzas” this week, exploring ways media can provide information about the prevention and treatment of swine and avian influenzas.

“We need you to do your job right…we want to make sure we give you good information to inform the public,” said Dan Rutz of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). “Misleading information can endanger life.”

The two-day workshop, a partnership of the U.S. Consulate, the Voice of America (VOA) and the CDC, was designed to educate journalists about swine flu (H1N1) and avian influenza (H5N1).

“Media has an important role in providing the access to information,” said Douglas Kelly, the Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Consulate. More than 30 journalists attended the workshop, representing news outlets in six languages. Several journalists came from northeast Indian states, including Assam, Sikkim and Manipour.

Dr. Mamta Chawla Sarkar of the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases told the journalists that the swine flu, which the World Health Organization terms a pandemic, is a disease which is transmitted between humans. The disease, which is spreading worldwide, has killed more than 400 people.

Avian influenza is much rarer in humans, although it is more lethal. Of the more than 400 cases reported over the past several years, more than half have died. But avian influenza has resulted in the death and destruction of millions of chickens worldwide, causing economic turmoil in many countries.

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 134 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.

For more information, please call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail