ARCHIVED - 9.0 Communications
In general, it is not necessary to inform the general public of a sporadic case, even if it involves a fatality. However, it is important that a communication strategy be prepared in advance in order to address any questions that may arise among those concerned with the control measures or if approached by the media. Details of the communication strategy need to be tailored to the context of the sporadic case (e.g. liaison with school authorities is important when a case is a student). This could include information on the disease and its characteristics, local epidemiology of GAS and recommended treatment and prophylactic measures.
It is essential that a communication strategy be in place to provide timely information to the public or local community when a cluster or outbreak occurs. A communication strategy aimed at the health care community should also be developed. This should include the criteria and the process for reporting to public health, timely surveillance reports and updates, guidelines on early diagnosis (including signs and symptoms) and recommended treatment and prophylactic measures. It is important to involve the health care community as early as possible after the recognition of an outbreak. The need for an outbreak advisory committee comprising public health representatives, clinicians and medical laboratory personnel should be evaluated.
In addition to the principles previously described, essential elements of a communication strategy include the following:
- Wide consultation, including public health representatives, clinicians and laboratory personnel, before any decision is made;
- Clearly designated responsibilities. A designated lead organization should be identified. Messages should be coordinated and consistent. The lead organization should be responsible for the announcement of the decision and the management of communications with respect to the operation of a control program;
- Within each organization, one spokesperson should be responsible for communicating with the media.
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