Why has a large Legionnaires’ disease outbreak been absent from public debate?

2018-02-14T02:40:54Z (GMT) by Felisbela Lopes Rita Araújo

The Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that hit Portugal in November 2014 was the third largest worldwide and was declared a “great public health emergency”. Nonetheless, the Portuguese outbreak, despite killing 12 people and infecting 375 others did not promote extensive media coverage, nor did it make it into the political debate. We conducted a quantitative analysis of 83 news pieces on Legionella published in four national newspapers, and interviewed the journalists who covered this outbreak. The communication process was controlled by a small group of official sources and the outbreak was pushed away from news lineups due to two political scandals. The production of another news wave made the outbreak’s news wave to break prematurely.