MEDICAL MYTHS: CDC Creates Web Site to Dispel Internet Hoaxes
At the peak email fueled of medical scares, the CDC may receive up to 250 phone calls and 500 e-mail inquiries a week, the Cox News Service/Washington Times reports. To cope with the flood of inquiries, the CDC has set up a Web site and automated systems to provide recorded messages and e-mail responses to address concerns. "So many of the hoaxes used the CDC as a supporting voice of authority in their messages, so we decided to make a formal response," CDC spokesperson Tom Skinner said. Unfortunately, no one has been able to target the sources of these e-mail hoaxes. Dr. James Watt of the CDC said, "That would be a mission ... for the FBI, and I assume they already have their hands full with hackers and computer viruses." Barbara Mikkelson, who runs a Web site that debunks the myths, said that many of the "legends are a reflection of current societal concerns or a search for excitement. People have always been worried about their health. So today you hear lots of things about needles in play areas and toxic products because we worry about AIDS and cancer." Jeff Stier, associate director of the not-for-profit American Council on Science and Health, added, "These stories are also dangerous because they distract us from the real health concerns like smoking and bad diets" (Kicklighter, 7/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.