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A quantitative content analysis of the CDC and USDA websites for available information on zoonotic disease
Zoonotic diseases are a significant threat to human and animal health with the effects of a widespread epidemic impacting agricultural producers and consumers alike. Online information sources have the opportunity to widely distribute information, but, with a topic as complex as zoonotic disease, information sharing should be managed carefully. Risk communication and prepared responses for zoonotic disease can help communicate messages effectively. This study looked at how two federal websites, CDC and USDA, were communicating about zoonotic disease. The quantitative content analysis methodology was guided by the research objectives of 1) determine availability of information related to zoonotic disease, 2) describe the zoonotic diseases, impacts, and messages 3) determine the use of prepared responses in articles related to zoonotic disease, and 4) determine connectivity with other online resources on zoonotic disease. Results indicate information is difficult to find on both websites, and there is a lack of connectivity with other online resources. Prepared responses were used to varying degrees. Implications and recommendations from this work are that agricultural communicators and those with influence over federal communication on zoonotic disease should actively integrate prepared responses in communication and seek opportunities to connect to a larger network of those working in zoonotic disease.
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