Importance of Public Health Reporting
The Vermont Department of Health depends on health care providers to identify and report certain infectious diseases. Health care providers may be the first to see a case of public health significance or a potential outbreak, and their prompt notification enables us to investigate and begin disease control activities quickly.
Disease reporting enables public health officials to perform surveillance—the collection, analysis, and distribution of data about illness and death. Surveillance helps us describe disease trends, identify outbreaks and control the sources of infection, and identify and treat exposed contacts. Surveillance data helps public health officials plan disease prevention activities and educate both the health care community and the public.
Health care providers and laboratories are required by law to notify the Health Department regarding patients with certain suspected or confirmed reportable diseases. Both laboratory confirmed and clinical diagnoses are reportable within 24 hours. Immediate reporting is essential for a limited number of conditions that require prompt public health follow-up (like measles and meningococcal disease), and for diseases that might indicate a bioterrorism incident.