Infectious Diseases

One of the primary goals of Public Health professionals at both the local and state level is the control and prevention of disease. The ability of local and state Public Health professionals and private health professionals to work as a team is critical in deterring potential public health threats due to communicable diseases. An effective surveillance system and prompt evaluation and response by the "team" is essential to the control of disease.

The Iowa State Board of Health has adopted rules to establish certain diseases as being 'reportable'. Health care professionals such as physicians, laboratories, infection control practitioners, school nurses, and local health department personnel are required to report these diseases to the Iowa Department of Public Health. Infectious diseases are designated as reportable to identify any potential threats to the health of specific groups in the community or the population at large. Reporting of these diseases helps to ensure that thorough investigations can be performed and appropriate control measures can be taken. Surveillance of reportable diseases can indicate when and if interventions such as immunizations, vector control, or education are needed to prevent or control diseases. It also allows disease trends to be watched and information collected on the distribution of various diseases in Iowa. This data is used in health planning and education of health care professionals and the communities affected.

When diseases requiring public health follow-up are reported, the diagnosis is confirmed with the appropriate physician, laboratory or both. The case is then investigated: to determine the possible sources of the person's infection; to assess the likelihood the individual will transmit the infection to others; and to provide education regarding prevention to the ill person and their contacts. The goal is always to slow or stop the occurrence of the disease. Information about individual patients is kept confidential. 

The following links provide more information about infectious diseases.