Ebola Infographics

A  friend from Down Under responded to my hand wringing about the unnecessary difficulty of the CDC’s explanation of Ebola on its website.

She kindly shared an ABC News (AU) piece that does a far better job explaining some of the basic information about Ebola to the public.

      Above visual “Ebola Transmission Visual” 

The overall lay out of the information is user friendly –  much less crowded and intimidating than the CDC page.
What really caught my eye were the visuals ( Infographics ) about Transmission , and interactive Affects on the Body, and for those inclined to read charts, a chart.

The language used on the site is not anywhere close to the high barrier grade 13-14 reading level the CDC language uses.  But I couldn’t help from fiddling with it a bit.  A few tweaks here and there would make this an even more accessible piece.

A Rewrite for more universal comprehension
What is Ebola, and how does this highly contagious and deadly disease spread?
What is Ebola and how does this very contagious and deadly disease spread?
First discovered in 1976, the virus has periodically spread through parts of Africa, killing thousands in the process.
[activate the verb and flip the order of info]
The virus was discovered in 1976 in Africa.  From time to time Ebola starts and spread in parts of Africa and kills thousands of people as it spreads.
There is currently no vaccine, and due to its fast onset and horrific symptoms it has become one of the world’s most feared diseases.
[clarify the reference(Ebola); unpack an overly complex sentence into 2 sent.]
There is no vaccine for Ebola virus. It makes a person sick very quickly and the sick person suffers very horrible symptoms.  For these reasons Ebola is one of the world’s most feared diseases.
How does it spread?
There are five strains of Ebola: Zaire, Sudan, Tai Forest, Bundibugyo and Reston. The Zaire strain, which is involved in the latest outbreak, is the most lethal with a fatality rate of up to 90 per cent.
How does it spread?
There are five strains of Ebola: Zaire, Sudan, Tai Forest, Bundibugyo and Reston.
[simplify sentence by losing the embedded clause (which is involved…..]
The current outbreak (or the outbreak that is happening now) is the Zaire strain of the Ebola virus.  Zaire is the most lethal (deadly) strain and 90% of the people who get sick with this strain die.
Humans can catch the virus from animals through close contact with infected animals’ blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids.
The virus is thought to reside within the region’s fruit bat population, with the bats carriers of Ebola, but unaffected by it.
[Voc; activate verbs]
Scientists think the virus lives in the fruit bats.  And even though the bats carry the virus they do not become sick.
The bushmeat trade (the catching and eating of wild animals, including primates such as gorillas and chimpanzees) is thought to play a role in outbreaks of the disease.
[avoid nominalized verbs – “the catching”; activate]
Some people in the region catch and eat wild animals, including gorillas and chimpanzees (called “bushmeat”).  Experts believe this is part of the way the virus spreads

From what I’ve always read and found in my own research most people are not offended when they are presented with clearly written information so long as they can easily take a deeper dive if they choose to – find more elaborated or technical information if that’s what they want.

Has this been your experience? 

 Do you think health communicators know some of the basic rules – for example, using more active verbs, and unpacking multipli-embedded sentences? If they do, why don’t    they use them? 

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