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BMJ. 2007 June 9; 334(7605): 1189.
PMCID: PMC1889942
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BMJ press release led to increase in mumps notification

In May 2005 a BMJ press release, quoted in many media outlets, highlighted two papers describing a UK mumps epidemic in adolescents and young adults in the previous year. Notifications of mumps to the Health Protection Agency rose from 28.3 (95% confidence interval 26.5 to 30.1) per 100 000 population in the week before 13 newspapers reported the BMJ's findings to 42.8 (40.6 to 45.0) per 100 000 two weeks later. The Royal College of General Practitioners' weekly return service showed a similar rise—from 9.8 (7.4 to 12.1) per 100 000 population to 21.2 (17.7 to 24.6) per 100 000 population.

UK doctors are known to under-report communicable disease, and increased media reporting seems to have sharpened their awareness, increased diagnostic suspicion, and therefore voluntary reporting. The investigators state that their findings have important implications for the analysis and interpretation of disease reporting and for any subsequent action related to public health.

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