The widespread fear that various pandemics are set to devastate the human race has led to another kind of outbreak: a rash of models predicting how various diseases will spread through society. These models are valuable. They allow governments to estimate how badly their society will be influenced and to make emergency plans accordingly. Now students at Marshall University and Howard Weiss at Georgia Tech examine the effectiveness of another tool: the media. To test their hypothesis, they simulated the effect of an outbreak of Ebola fever in the West Virginia town of Huntington which has a population of 50,000. They used a standard model which counts the number of susceptible and infected individuals and the number of “removed” individuals, those that either die or recover and become immune, and models the rate at which people jump from one pool to another. They also add one additional assumption to this model: that the number of individuals who self-isolate increases with the number of infections reported by the media. So the idea is that public health agencies constantly update the media about the number of infections, which then immediately pass on the information to the general population. When that happens, the result is a dramatic decrease in the severity of the outbreak. The more up-to-date the information, the greater this effect.