Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 20582307
PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2010 Jun;4(6):e723
BACKGROUND: Imported cases threaten rabies reemergence in rabies-free areas. During 2000-2005, five dog and one human rabies cases were imported into France, a rabies-free country since 2001. The Summer 2004 event led to unprecedented media warnings by the French Public Health Director. We investigated medical practice evolution following the official elimination of rabies in 2001; impact of subsequent episodic rabies importations and national newspaper coverage on demand for and delivery of antirabies prophylaxis; regular transmission of epidemiological developments within the French Antirabies Medical Center (ARMC) network; and ARMC discussions on indications of rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (RPEP).
METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Annual data collected by the National Reference Center for Rabies NRCR (1989-2006) and the exhaustive database (2000-2005) of 56 ARMC were analyzed. Weekly numbers of patients consulting at ARMC and their RPEP- and antirabies-immunoglobulin (ARIG) prescription rates were determined. Autoregressive integrated moving-average modeling and regression with autocorrelated errors were applied to examine how 2000-2005 episodic rabies events and their related national newspaper coverage affected demand for and delivery of RPEP. A slight, continuous decline of rabies-dedicated public health facility attendance was observed from 2000 to 2004. Then, during the Summer 2004 event, patient consultations and RPEP and ARIG prescriptions increased by 84%, 19.7% and 43.4%, respectively. Moreover, elevated medical resource use persisted in 2005, despite communication efforts, without any secondary human or animal case.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrated appropriate responsiveness to reemerging rabies cases and effective newspaper reporting, as no secondary case occurred. However, the ensuing demand on medical resources had immediate and long-lasting effects on rabies-related public health resources and expenses. Henceforth, when facing such an event, decision-makers must anticipate the broad impact of their media communications to counter the emerging risk on maintaining an optimal public health organization and implement a post-crisis communication strategy.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20582307