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The Putnam County Health Department is contracted with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to investigate and report communicable diseases.
Communicable disease refers to those diseases that can be passed or spread from person to person. As a public health agency, our primary goal is to assist the citizens of our communities in achieving their fullest health potential. Part of this goal is accomplished through the surveillance and investigation of communicable disease incidents reported to our department.
The law mandates the reporting of selected communicable diseases to local health departments and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
The challenge of identifying, preventing and controlling the spread of infectious or communicable diseases is a cooperative effort of our agency, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, local hospitals and physicians, schools, laboratories and others. The Putnam County Health Department uses both passive and active surveillance to determine the incidence rate of selected communicable diseases in our communities. Passive surveillance refers to reports of selected diseases submitted to the health department by hospitals, physicians, schools and the like. Active surveillance involves the health department contacting various “sentinel sites” on a weekly basis to collect information on disease occurrence. Hospitals, schools, clinics, daycares, etc can be designated as sentinel sites.
When notification of a reportable communicable disease case is received, our department’s infectious control nurse begins an investigation. Part of the investigative process involves the notification of personal contacts. These are typically individuals who live, work or otherwise closely interact with the identified case. Contacts can also include healthcare workers, identified facilities or establishments or entire communities depending on the circumstances surrounding the case. The goal of the investigative phase is to determine if a potential public health threat exists, and if so, what measures will be required to address it. During this process, our staff works closely with Epidemiology Specialists and others employed by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. We also serve as an information resource for health professionals, media and the general public.
Following the investigative and notification phases, testing and treatment of identified cases and contacts begins. Testing and treatment are performed in accordance with guidelines set forth by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An important goal at this stage is to prevent further progression of the disease from the index case or any secondary cases to other individuals. During normal working hours (8-4 Monday through Friday), cases of reportable diseases and conditions should be reported promptly to our department at (660) 947-2429. Reporting forms can be obtained upon request. When a reportable disease presents an emergency situation that requires immediate public health action, you can reach the Missouri Department of Health duty officer after hours, weekends or holidays at (573) 751-4674.