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With a background in nursing, I suppose I have a quirky interest in diseases. ;-)

However, all of us as emergency managers and business continuity professionals should know which diseases are reportable.  You will be surprised how often they show up in your company.

A client recently called me in a huge panic when a tenant in their building reported a case of bacterial meningitis in their employees. Meningitis is a bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord (meninges). Two other people from the same department also came down with it.  From that other employee? Not clear but likely.

What if that occurred in one of your mission critical departments and now you have to isolate them or keep them home? How would you respond?  Would your plans work? What about the panic now spreading amongst other employees? Lots to think about.

What is a reportable (notifiable) disease? A notifiable disease is one for which regular, frequent, and timely information regarding individual cases is considered necessary for the prevention and control of the disease. In 1961, CDC assumed responsibility for the collection and publication of data on nationally notifiable diseases.

Notifiable disease reporting at the local level protects the public’s health by ensuring the proper identification and follow-up of cases. Public health workers ensure that persons who are already ill receive appropriate treatment; trace contacts who need vaccines, treatment, quarantine, or education; investigate and halt outbreaks; eliminate environmental hazards; and close premises where spread has occurred. Surveillance of notifiable conditions helps public health authorities to monitor the effect of notifiable conditions, measure disease trends, assess the effectiveness of control and prevention measures, identify populations or geographic areas at high risk, allocate resources appropriately, formulate prevention strategies, and develop public health policies. Monitoring surveillance data enables public health authorities to detect sudden changes in disease occurrence and distribution, identify changes in agents and host factors, and detect changes in health-care practices.

Happy reading!