The Indiana Administrative Code 410 IAC 1-2.5; directs physicians, hospitals 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 Indiana State Department of Health and sometimes on to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This information is reviewed to determine things such as disease trends, risk factors, and the effectiveness of various vaccines and medications. The Health Department 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 Department find out I am sick?
When your healthcare provider or hospital makes the diagnosis or the lab test comes back positive, your healthcare provider, hospital or the lab is required by law to report your illness to the Health Department. They may do this by phone, fax, or through the Indiana National Electronic Disease Surveillance System, which is a computerized database.
Why does the Health Department need to know about my illness?
There can be several reasons. The illness may be of interest because the bacteria or virus 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 Department 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 Department works with you and your healthcare provider to identify ways diseases are spread and eliminate them.
Why does the Health Department need to know where I went or where I ate?
Some diseases can be spread by food, water, or even coughing. The Health Department 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.
Who will you tell about my illness?
The Health Department 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 family members. 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.
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 Vanderburgh County Health Department at 812-435-5692 and ask to speak with a Communicable Disease Team Member. Our staff will be happy to answer your questions, but will not diagnose illnesses. You will be referred to your healthcare provider for specific questions about your symptoms and/or treatment options.