Presentation Title

Chinese Social Media Reaction to Information About 42 Notifiable Infectious Diseases

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Abstract or Description

Background: Social media are increasingly used in health communication and digital epidemiology. We intend to identify what news or information trigger social media users’ response regarding infectious diseases.

Methods: Weibo contents in 2012 regarding 42 infectious diseases were obtained through a keyword search in the Weiboscope database (University of Hong Kong). Keywords were specified for each notifiable disease in China. Qualitative content analysis was performed for Weibo data of the highest peak (daily count). Similar posts were grouped and coded.

Results: We identified five categories of information that increased Weibo traffic pertaining to infectious diseases: news of an outbreak (cholera, hepatitis C, influenza A(H1N1) and anthrax) or a case (human infection of avian influenza, epidemic hemorrhagic fever, epidemic encephalitis B, scarlet fever, malaria, echinococciosis and diarrhea); health education / information (HIV/AIDS, hepatitis A, hepatitis E, poliomyelitis, measles, typhoid, pertussis, diphtheria, tetanus, scarlet fever, brucellosis, leptospirosis, mumps, rubella, conjunctivitis and filariasis); alternative health information / Traditional Chinese Medicine (dysentery); commercial advertisement / entertainment (plague, dengue, influenza and leprosy); and social issues (SARS, hepatitis B, epidemic meningitis, gonorrhea, syphilis, schistosomiasis and hand-foot-and-mouth disease). News unrelated to the specified infectious diseases (rabies and tuberculosis) also led to elevated Weibo traffic.

Conclusions: Our study showcases the diverse contexts from which increased social media traffic occur. Apart from outbreak news, Weibo users shared a variety of health information and discussed social issues. Our results will facilitate better health communication and advance digital epidemiology as causes underlying increased social media traffic are revealed.


International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases (ICEID)


Atlanta, GA