Health Manager Orientation Guide

Reporting Illness to Local Public Health Authorities

Staff member placing a telephone call.Some infectious diseases need to be reported to local public health authorities. Each state, tribe, or territory sets local laws and rules for which diseases must be reported. Local health authorities, in turn, report to federal health authorities. HSPPS 45 CFR §1302(7)(iii) requires  programs to make appropriate notifications of any reportable illnesses. Licensing agencies may also have rules about reporting illnesses.

Local health departments collect information and report on many illnesses and conditions. The list of reportable illnesses and conditions can change every year. The information that programs report may be used to find the source of an outbreak, control exposure, and prevent spread. An example of a reportable infectious disease is a vector-borne disease (like Zika), which means that it is transmitted by a living organism like an insect. There are also foodborne illnesses like E. coli, and vaccine-preventable diseases like measles or pertussis. Reporting infectious diseases helps public health officials keep people safe.

An outbreak is usually considered two or more cases in the same group, from different households, in a week. The common cold or other mild illnesses do not need to be reported. If in doubt about whether to report, programs can contact their local health department for guidance.

Tips and Strategies Related to Reporting Illnesses to Local Public Health Jurisdictions

  • Find out which infectious diseases are reportable in your area by contacting your local public health department and licensing agency.
  • Contact your local health department if:
    • A child, staff, or family member has a reportable disease that has been reported to the Head Start program.
    • Your program has an outbreak of an infectious disease.
  • Invite a representative from your local public health department to join your HSAC. Keep in touch with them and foster this important relationship.
  • Tell families when their child may have been exposed to a reportable infectious disease so they can watch for symptoms. Keep the child’s and the family’s information private.
  • Your local health department can tell you if the child needs laboratory clearance or a note from a health care provider before returning.
  • Train staff on their responsibility to report diseases to the local health authorities.

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