COMMUNICABLE DISEASE – FAQ

WHAT IS A COMMUNICABLE DISEASE?

A communicable, or infectious, disease is an illness spread by coming into contact with an infected human, animal, or environment. Bacteria, viruses, and parasites are the most common organisms that cause communicable disease in humans. These illnesses can be passed from person (or animal) to person through direct contact with body fluids, ingesting contaminated food or water, breathing contaminated air, or by the bite of an infected animal.

WHAT DISEASES ARE REPORTED?

In Ohio, there are over 80 different diseases that are reportable to public health. Reportable diseases are categorized into three classes:

  • Class A: Diseases of major public health concern because of the severity of disease or potential for disease spread.
  • Class B: Disease of public health concern needing timely response because of potential for epidemic spread.
  • Class C: Any outbreak, unusual incident, or epidemic of disease.

The entire list of reportable diseases can be found here: Know Your ABCs: A Quick Guide to Reportable Infectious Diseases in Ohio | Ohio Department of Health

WHO REPORTS COMMUNICABLE DISEASE?

According to Chapter 3701-3 – Ohio Administrative Code | Ohio Laws, any occurrence of cases or suspected cases of reportable infectious disease are reported by healthcare providers and laboratories to the local health department where the patient resides. This includes positive laboratory results as well as clinical diagnosis of a reportable infectious disease. All information reported to public health is kept confidential.

WHAT DOES THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT DO WHEN A DISEASE IS REPORTED?

All cases of reportable infectious disease are reviewed by the Office of Epidemiology and Surveillance. Some reported diseases only require collection of data for statistics. Other reported diseases may require a case interview and education about the reported illness.

WHAT INFORMATION DOES THE HEALTH DEPARTMENT COLLECT AND WHY?

Specific information regarding the history of the disease (symptom onset, treatment, recent travel history and activities) is helpful to the Office of Epidemiology and Surveillance in understanding disease impact to the patient and the community. Analysis of collected information can help in identifying links between disease outbreaks and potential sources of infection. Investigations of reportable disease provide opportunities for public health experts to educate those infected and those at-risk for illness on disease transmission and prevention strategies.