The Ohio Revised Code 3701-3-02 directs physicians and labs to report certain diseases to the local health department where the patient lives. The information is kept confidential and the patient’s name is not released to the public. The patient information is sent to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and sometimes on to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
This information is reviewed to determine things such as disease trends, risk factors, and the effectiveness of various vaccines and medications. The Health District is allowed, however, to release information to the public and media about the specific diseases reported and number of cases reported.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How does the Health District nurse find out I am sick?
When your doctor makes or suspects the diagnosis or the lab test comes back positive, your doctor or the lab is required by law to report your illness to the Health District. They may do this by phone, fax, or through the Ohio Department of Health Disease Report System (ODRS), which is a protected web-based computerized database.
Why does the Health District need to know about my illness?
There can be several reasons. The illness may be of scientific 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. The illness may be one that you can specifically identify the person who gave it to you. The Health District can offer contact notification in these instances so that person as well can seek treatment. This is done in a manner in which your name is not used. 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 contagion and eliminate them.
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, for instance. The Health District asks for specific information from you depending on your illness so that contacts who may become sick can be identified. We also look at possible food or water sources so that a potential outbreak can be controlled.
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 other 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 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 a widespread outbreak.
Who can I talk to if I have more questions?
If you have questions about the communicable disease program, the reporting process, or diseases in general, you can call the Health District at (419) 562-5871, ext. 1209 and ask to speak with a nurse. Our staff will be happy to answer your questions, but the nurses will not diagnosis illnesses. You will be referred to your doctor for specific questions about your symptoms and/or treatment options.
Know Your ABC’s: A Quick Guide to Reportable Infectious Diseases in Ohio
Centers for Disease Control: Health Topics from A – Z: