AP to staff: Exercise caution over reports of suspected Ebola cases

Associated Press

The AP has issued guidance to its staff on how to report on and refer to two viruses in the news: Ebola and enterovirus.

Regarding Ebola, the AP explains:

Often the fact of an unconfirmed case isn’t worth a story at all. On several occasions already, in the U.S. and abroad, we have decided not to report suspected cases. We’ve just stayed in touch with authorities to monitor the situation.

Many news outlets today are reporting on a patient in Washington, D.C., who is "presenting symptoms that could be associated with Ebola." But the AP notes:

In the United States, the CDC has — as of now — received about 100 inquiries from states about illnesses that initially were suspected to be Ebola, but after taking travel histories and doing some other work, were determined not to be. Of 15 people who actually underwent testing, only one — the Dallas patient — has tested positive.

Meanwhile, enterovirus is "not a disease that must be reported, and only very sick patients may be tested for it."

The AP's post also explains why "enterovirus" isn't capitalized, but "Ebola virus" is. Poynter's Kristen Hare addressed that style point on Wednesday — and explained how to pronounce "Ebola," too.

Related: Why is Ebola capitalized? And how do you say it? | How journalists covering the Ebola outbreak try to stay safe | The readers’ quick guide for understanding a medical crisis

  • Sam Kirkland

    Sam Kirkland is Poynter's digital media fellow, focusing on mobile and social media trends. Previously, he worked at the Chicago Sun-Times as a digital editor, where he helped launch digital magazines and ebooks in addition to other web duties.

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