Communicable diseases, also known as infectious diseases, are caused by microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi, and are spread in a number of ways, including direct contact with body fluids, ingestion of contaminated food or water, inhalation of contaminated air, or the bite of an infected insect. Examples of communicable diseases are Hepatitis B, Salmonellosis, Measles, and West Nile Virus.
Monitoring, controlling, and preventing communicable disease is a primary function of local health departments, and we do this to protect the health of the communities we serve. Local and State public health officials monitor cases of communicable disease in a statewide database, with mandatory reporting from physicians, hospitals and labs for over 80 different conditions.
Why Track this Information?
Health care providers are required to report communicable disease for several reasons. The most common reasons are listed as follows:
- To identify outbreaks and epidemics. If an unusual number of cases occur, local health authorities must investigate to control the spread of the disease.
- To enable preventive treatment and/or education to be provided.
- To help target prevention programs, identify care needs, and use scarce prevention resources efficiently.
- To evaluate the success of long term control efforts.
- To facilitate epidemiologic research to uncover a preventable cause.
- To assist with national and international disease surveillance efforts.