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Infectious Disease Reporting
The State of Ohio requires certain diseases of public health concern be reported to their local health department. These reports are used to protect the public’s health by quickly identifying outbreaks, developing policies to promote wellness, and offering a snapshot of the community’s health. Examples of some the illnesses spread person-to-person include; measles, whooping cough, and chicken pox. This list also includes food related illnesses from organisms like Salmonella and E. coli. A complete list of reportable diseases can be found by clicking here, while the regulations appear in the Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 3701-3.
What starts this process?
There are several ways a disease gets reported to the health department:
- When you’re sick and your doctor or the hospital orders a lab test
- During certain screening procedures when you’re healthy (donating blood, routine check-ups)
- When you share symptoms with a documented group of known ill persons (food or water-related illness).
A this point most people are receiving some type of medical care from their doctor. This could be an antibiotic, a shot, or simply, bed rest. In some cases, a person may be asked to stay home from work or school until the feel better. It really depends on the illness and how easily it can make other people sick. By law, your doctor, the hospital, or the laboratory where the testing was performed will contact the local health department for any disease or illness that's in the Know Your ABC's: A Quick Guide to Reportable Infectious Diseases in Ohio document.
What we do!
Your local health department receives a reportable disease form or phone call and enters the information by computer into a secure database at the Ohio Department of Health. Most of the time that’s it, but occasionally certain illnesses require more information.
Besides reporting diseases, the health department can download disease information from the State. These types of data are used to check the health of our county’s residents. If certain illnesses are above average, we can design health and wellness programs to address those issues. Other times the information is used to detect outbreaks from foods, water, people or animals.
Why do you need to talk to me?
Some diseases have extra reporting requirements. This is information we can only get by contacting you—not your doctor. The following is a short list of reasons for speaking with you:
- You may have an illness that’s easily spread to family to members
- The illness could be spread to neighbors, friends, or co-workers.
- You may need to stay home from work or school until you get better.
- We need information on how and what made you got sick
- The events of your illness may prevent others from getting sick.
- We have to, it’s the law.
Some of these illnesses require treatment not only for you, but to family, friends, and close contacts. Interviews and questionnaires are important tools for keeping you and your community healthy. It is important that calls from the health department are returned in a timely fashion.
Will I hear from you again?
Hopefully not! Once the disease has been reported, you and any other persons requiring medication are treated, and the health department has finished with any follow-up calls; that’s about it for most illnesses. Some diseases, like TB or tuberculosis, may require regular follow-ups during the treatment of the illness but few reportable diseases need this much attention.
Is my personal information safe?
Absolutely, all infectious disease reporting is confidential. Your private information is protected with many of the same laws followed by doctors and hospitals. Some information is available to the public such as the total cases of certain diseases but nothing is ever released which could personally identify you or your family.
For questions regarding disease reporting in Erie County, please contact:
Erie County General Health District
Office of Epidemiology and Surveillance
Telephone: (419) 626-5623 ext 141
For questions regarding disease reporting in Ohio, please see the Ohio Department of Health’s website "Contact Us" page.