SMS text messaging for contact follow-up in invasive meningococcal disease

Johanne E Cochrane, Chris Lowbridge, Patrick Maywood and Stephen J Conaty
Med J Aust 2009; 190 (5): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2009.tb02399.x
Published online: 2 March 2009

To the Editor: We evaluated follow-up by SMS (short message service) text messaging of contacts of a patient with meningococcal disease. An 18-year-old woman from south-western Sydney was diagnosed with invasive meningococcal disease in July 2008 after presenting to hospital with a rash that appeared after a 2-day prodromal illness. The Sydney South West Public Health Unit identified the patient’s household and similar contacts, and arranged for these individuals to be treated with clearance antibiotics. The patient had visited a bar with friends 3 days before symptom onset. The extent of contact with people in this social network did not warrant treating them with clearance antibiotics. However, it was appropriate to warn them about meningococcal disease as recommended by national guidelines.1 A list of mobile phone numbers of 14 people who visited the bar with the patient was compiled by one of her friends. A text message was sent 2 days after the patient’s diagnosis to everyone on the list via a broadcast messaging service:

  • Public Health Unit, Sydney South West Area Health Service, Sydney, NSW.

  • 1. Communicable Diseases Network Australia. Guidelines for the early clinical and public health management of meningococcal disease in Australia — revised edition 2007. Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, 2007. (accessed Jan 2009).
  • 2. Buxton JA, Smythe MS, Salzman JR. The use of the internet to inform young international travellers of contact with a case of meningococcal meningitis. Can Commun Dis Rep 2002; 28: 37-40.
  • 3. Downer SR, Meara JG, Da Costa AC. Use of SMS text messaging to improve outpatient attendance. Med J Aust 2005; 183: 366-368. <eMJA full text> <MJA full text>
  • 4. Warwick Z, Dean G, Carter P. B safe, B sorted: results of a hepatitis B vaccination outreach programme. Int J STI AIDS 2007; 18: 335-337.
  • 5. Wangberg SC, Arsand E, Andersson N. Diabetes education via mobile text messaging. J Telemed Telecare 2006; 12 Suppl 1: 55-56.


remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article

Online responses are no longer available. Please refer to our instructions for authors page for more information.