Dilemma: flu data vs. privacy

The Associated Press has an article about balancing privacy against the desire for information about flu.  They compare how different areas are handling it and the implications of each type of approach.  They do not mention the case of Andrew Speaker, the lawyer who became infamous in 2007 when unnamed officials released his name as having treatment-resistant tuberculosis.  Speaker sued the CDC this week for the effect of that action on his livelihood and marriage.

So how much information does the public really need and how much information are we entitled to?  If you are a parent, is it enough to know that there have been  confirmed cases in your child’s school, or do you also need to know whether the cases were immediate classmates or school personnel with whom your child came into contact?  Isn’t just knowing that it was in the building enough to put you on alert to monitor your child’s health and take the child to the doctor if there are any symptoms?

But what if the cases are not in your child’s school but in another school in your child’s district?  Do you need to know whether the affected children have siblings who might be in your child’s school?

Let’s not erode privacy unless it’s really absolutely necessary to protect public health.

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