It's a text message nobody wants to receive.

But doctors at an Australian hospital say SMS text messaging is the best way of alerting people who may have come into contact with a deadly infectious disease.

In a letter to the Medical Journal of Australia Sunday, doctors from Sydney's South West Public Health Unit revealed they sent a group text message to friends of an 18-year-old woman diagnosed with meningococcal disease.

The text, to 14 friends who had visited a bar with the patient hours before she was admitted to hospital in July last year, read: "Message from public health. A friend of yours has meningococcal disease. Watch out for symptoms" and gave a phone number and web address of a fact sheet.

Medical officer Johanne Cochrane said in the letter the SMS warning was a success.

"SMS communication appeared highly acceptable to these young people and provided useful information," Cochrane said.

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