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The World in Medicine
July 12, 2000

Public Health Meets the Streets

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JAMA. 2000;284(2):169. doi:10.1001/jama.284.2.169-JWM00005-4-1

A door-to-door education campaign in New Zealand appears to have been effective in raising public awareness about the severity of meningococcal disease.

Since 1991, the island nation has been in the grip of a serogroup B meningococcal disease epidemic that has disproportiontely affected children from Pacific Islander and Maori families. The disease rate in Pacific Island children is nearly 10 times that in European children.

The education program, directed by the Auckland Public Health Department, dispatched trained lay educators to more than 11,000 homes in high-risk communities in Auckland in 1998. Lay educators received training in how to describe rapidly advancing symptoms that include high fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, and confusion.

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