Community reaction to bioterrorism: Prospective study of simulated outbreak

Cleto DiGiovanni, Barbara Reynolds, Robert Harwell, Elliott B. Stonecipher, Frederick M. Burkle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


To assess community needs for public information during a bioterrorism-related crisis, we simulated an intentional Rift Valley fever outbreak in a community in the southern part of the United States. We videotaped a series of simulated print and television "news reports" over a fictional 9-day crisis period and invited various groups (e.g., first-responders and their spouses or partners, journalists) within the selected community to view the videotape and respond to questions about their reactions. All responses were given anonymously. First-responders and their spouses or partners varied in their reactions about how the crisis affected family harmony and job performance. Local journalists exhibited considerable personal fear and confusion. All groups demanded, and put more trust in, information from local sources. These findings may have implications for risk communication during bioterrorism-related outbreaks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)708-712
Number of pages5
JournalEmerging Infectious Diseases
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2003


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)

Cite this

DiGiovanni, C., Reynolds, B., Harwell, R., Stonecipher, E. B., & Burkle, F. M. (2003). Community reaction to bioterrorism: Prospective study of simulated outbreak. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 9(6), 708-712.