Public health risk communication by text message in response to a cluster of invasive meningococcal infection in a primary school

Declan T Bradley, Jillian Johnston, Brian Smyth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Public health risk communication during emergencies should be rapid and accurate in order to allow the audience to take steps to prevent adverse outcomes. Delays to official communications may cause unnecessary anxiety due to uncertainty or inaccurate information circulating within the at-risk group. Modern electronic communications present opportunities for rapid, targeted public health risk communication. We present a case report of a cluster of invasive meningococcal disease in a primary school in which we used the school's mass short message service (SMS) text message system to inform parents and guardians of pupils about the incident, to tell them that chemoprophylaxis would be offered to all pupils and staff, and to advise them when to attend the school to obtain further information and antibiotics. Following notification to public health on a Saturday, an incident team met on Sunday, sent the SMS messages that afternoon, and administered chemoprophyaxis to 93% of 404 pupils on Monday. The use of mass SMS messages enabled rapid communication from an official source and greatly aided the public health response to the cluster.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
JournalPLoS Currents: Outbreaks
Volume6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2014

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