Our Role / FAQs
One of the roles of Delaware General Health District 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. The patient information is sent to the Ohio Department of Health and sometimes on to 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 Health District is allowed, however, to release information to the public and media about the specific diseases reported and number of cases reported. This is done to encourage protective measures (such as hand washing or vaccination) and to alert the medical community on trends being identified.
The illness may be of interest because the bacteria causing it are becoming more resistant to the medications used to treat it. The illness may be one that can easily be spread to other family members or the public. The Health District can provide you with information to prevent this from happening or will work with you and your employer to make sure that you do not come in contact with others until you are no longer contagious. Or, the illness may be one that can be rapidly spread in a community by food, water, or animals (such as mosquitoes and bats) with deadly consequences. The Health District works with you and your doctor to identify methods to control the spread of the specific disease.
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 (3701-3-03 OAC). The list of reportable diseases may vary slightly from state to state. Follow up testing for some diseases and workplace or school restrictions are also addressed (3701-3-13 OAC).
How do I report a communicable disease?
Reports of suspected and confirmed cases of disease are made to the local health department where the patient lives. Delaware General Health District will then determine if further follow up is needed. 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.
You can notify the DGHD of a reportable disease one of three ways:
Why is the Health Department calling me?
When a (reportable) disease report is received, a member of the Communicable Disease Team may call the patient. 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.
The Delaware General Health District nurse or epidemiologist 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.
Who will you tell about my illness?
The Health District keeps communicable 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 express permission. (We will talk to 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 do not verify information on cases to anyone except the physician involved and possibly to other health departments should there be an outbreak with patients living in multiple jurisdictions.
A patient’s name would be released by the health department to the media only in very rare circumstances, e.g. the patient was non-compliant and putting the health of the community at grave risk of serious illness.
Why does the Health District need to know where I went or where I ate?
Some diseases can be spread by food, water or even coughing. The Health District asks for specific information from you depending on your illness so that contacts that may become sick can be identified. We also look at possible food or water sources so that a potential outbreak can be controlled.