Communicable Diseases

Communicable Diseases

The purpose of this program is to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. The State of Ohio requires certain diseases of public health concern be reported to the local health department of the county the person with the disease lives in. These reports are used to protect the public’s health by quickly identifying outbreaks, tracking  disease numbers and trends, and offering a snapshot of the community’s health. Examples of some the illnesses spread person-to-person include mumps, 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 at The regulations for disease reporting appear in the Ohio Administrative Code at

What starts this process?

There are several ways a disease gets reported to the health department:

  • a lab test your doctor orders when you’re sick comes back positive
  • certain blood tests done for screening (donating blood, routine check-ups) come back positive
  • a health professional (doctor, school nurse) suspects you have a reportable disease
  •  you can report illness yourself, especially if you share symptoms with a group of ill persons (food or water-related illness or other disease outbreak)


What's next?

By law, once a reportable disease is suspected or confirmed with a positive lab test, your doctor, the hospital, or the laboratory where the testing was performed must contact the local health department within a certain timeframe to report it.

 When we receive the report, the information is entered by computer into a secure database at the Ohio Department of Health. Sometimes that’s it, but certain illnesses require more information.

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 others
  • You may need to stay home from work (especially if you work in food service, childcare, or healthcare) or school until you get better.
  • Your illness may be part of a larger disease outbreak.
  • Your information may help us determine how or where you got sick, and help prevent others from getting sick.
  • In some cases, it’s the law – we are required to try to contact you.

Some of these illnesses might require treatment not only for you, but for family, friends, and close contacts also. Interviews and questionnaires that we sometimes use are important tools for keeping you and your community healthy. It is important that calls from the health department be 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, we usually won’t need to talk to you again. Some diseases, like TB (tuberculosis), may require regular follow-ups during treatment, 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 number of cases of certain diseases, but the health department will not release any information which could personally identify you or your family.

Questions about communicable diseases can be emailed to , or call
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