Experience with the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) has reinforced the importance of a multipronged approach to preventing disease transmission. Timely health communication, along with surveillance, quarantine, isolation, and travel restrictions, figured prominently among the tools the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used to help contain the outbreak. During the SARS response, health communication was shown to be an integral element by ensuring that knowledge about prevention measures reached the public, healthcare providers, the media, and other stakeholders. Disseminating information and educational materials is a key element of CDC's response to disease outbreaks that affect international travelers. Electronic media greatly expedite the process of dissemination and enable prevention messages to reach an expanded audience. The SARS response may be compared with a situation approximately 10 years before, when an outbreak of plague occurred in India. This document examines the challenge in today's situation; controlling a disease outbreak that has potential for rapid international spread; and provides guidance tailored for specific audiences.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov
Emerging Infectious Diseases (February 2004), v.10, no.2, p. 377-380