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Communicable Disease Prevention

Communicable Disease Prevention

One of the roles of the Ross County Health District’s Community Health Division is to prevent and control the spread of disease. The Ohio Revised Code directs physicians, laboratories and hospitals to report certain diseases to the local health department where the patient lives.

This patient information is shared with the Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This information is reviewed to determine disease trends, risk factors and the effectiveness of various vaccines and medications. The information is kept confidential and the patient’s name is not released to the public.
The Ross County Health District is allowed to release information to the public and media about specific diseases reported and number of cases. This is done to encourage protective measures (such as hand washing or vaccination), and to alert the medical community on current trends.

Communicable Disease Investigations

RCHD’s Public Health Nurses are responsible for monitoring, studying, and investigating communicable diseases that occur in Ross County.  Our Public Health Nurses study the factors and relationships that determine the presence, numbers, trends and distribution of diseases in communities and specific populations.  Our Public Health Nurses conduct the following to help prevent and control communicable diseases within our county:

  • Provides information on disease prevention and control
  • Performs surveillance
  • Reviews health data and performs health trend analysis
  • Consults with community partners on local health issues
  • Creates surveys to study health behaviors and program effectiveness then tabulates and analyzes the responses
  • Works with staff in all areas to evaluate programs, investigate disease outbreaks and provide statistical analysis on collected data.
  • Works with our Regional Epidemiologist for assistance in surveillance, analysis, and outbreak investigations concerning communicable diseases that occur in Ross County.

What diseases are reportable by law?

Healthcare providers are required by law to report certain communicable diseases to the health department. They are required to provide the patient’s name, address, birth date, sex, phone number and diagnosis (Ohio Administrative Code 3701-3-03). The list of reportable diseases may vary slightly from state to state.

Ohio’s Communicable Disease Reporting Laws (OAC 3701-3-03)

Why would the Health Department contact me if I have a communicable disease?

When a (reportable) disease report is received by the health department, our public health nurses may call the patient to ask questions about the reported disease. Information such as onset date, symptoms, treatment, and information on any other persons who are ill or have been exposed may be gathered. Information about the disease will be explained. Questions you may have will be answered.

RCHD staff will look for common sources which may cause the disease to spread. This may involve interviewing many of the affected persons if there is a large confirmed outbreak of a disease. Information such as onset date, symptoms, treatment and information on any other persons who are ill or have been exposed may be gathered. Information about the disease will be explained and questions you may have will be answered.

How can communicable disease be reported to the health department?

Reports of suspected and confirmed cases of disease are made to the local health department where the patient lives. Follow-up will be based on whether the communicable disease is suspected or lab-confirmed, number of people ill, and if the disease is on the Reportable Disease List for Ohio.  To report a communicable disease, use the form below:

Ohio Confidential Reportable Disease Form Fillable

You can notify the RCHD of a reportable disease one of several ways:

Mail the report or form to 150 E Second Street, Chillicothe, OH 45601
Fax the lab result or form to 740-779-0428
Call the RCHD, 740-775-1146, and ask to speak with our public health nurses.
Contact the after-hour emergency line at 740-779-9652 for details how to report disease after normal business hours.

Who will you tell about my illness?

The Health District keeps disease reports confidential. We do not release your name to the media. We do not release your name to your co-workers, or even discuss your case with your family members without your permission. (We will speak with parents about their child’s illness except in cases of sexually transmitted diseases for which a minor can legally seek treatment without parental consent.)

We verify information on cases with the physician involved and possibly other health departments if the report involves an outbreak with patients living in multiple jurisdictions.

Why does the health department ask about foods I recently ate?

Some diseases can be spread by food or water. The Health District asks for specific information from you depending on your illness so the source of the illness can be identified.  With some illnesses, we look at food or water as a potential source, and by asking questions about your food history, we can determine if the illness is food or water related.   By finding the source of the illness, we can help prevent future outbreaks or additional illnesses to occur.