Online discourse about bird flu spikes in the U.S. and globally

In early April, online discourse about the ongoing bird flu (H5N1) outbreak rose sharply following the first recorded case of a human contracting the virus from a cow. Reports of the virus being detected in cow’s milk have kept the outbreak in the news and social media conversations. Much of the content is focused on information sharing and concern about the growing outbreak. However, the topic has also drawn anti-vaccine ire, including conspiracy theories about global health entities and the upcoming election, false claims that bird flu is “100 times worse than the COVID-19 pandemic,” and general opposition to bird flu vaccines and outbreak protections.

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The Public Health Communications Collaborative (PHCC) was formed in 2020 to coordinate and amplify public health messaging on COVID-19 and increase Americans’ confidence in guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local public health officials.

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