How does the Monroe County Health Department respond to disease outbreaks?

 

Contributed by the Monroe County Health Department

With COVID-19 (coronavirus) spreading worldwide, many people are concerned about their health and wellbeing. The Monroe County Health Department is working closely with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (WI DHS) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to monitor COVID-19.

It is the responsibility of local health departments, under the direction of the health officer, to prevent disease, promote health, and protect the health of the public. The health officer has legal authority to enforce laws and regulations that protect the health and safety of the public. The Monroe County Health Department has more than 99 years of experience in protecting the health of the public.

How does Monroe County Health Department protect the health of the public?

We continually monitor disease activity in Monroe County. During off-hours, public health staff are on call 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year in the event that an urgent disease needs to be reported.

Every day, we are checking the Wisconsin Electronic Disease Surveillance System (WEDSS), following up on reports of disease and receiving reports from local healthcare providers.

WI DHS requires that certain diseases be reported to local health departments. Category 1 diseases are urgent, and healthcare providers must report them immediately to the health department via phone call. COVID-19 is a Category 1 disease; therefore, any cases would be immediately reported to the health department. Other Category 1 diseases include anthrax, Ebola, hepatitis A, meningitis, polio, smallpox, rabies, tuberculosis, and others.

Category 2 diseases are required to be reported to the local health department within 72 hours. Category 2 diseases include tickborne illnesses (Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, babesiosis), chlamydia, E. coli, influenza A and influenza hospitalizations, chickenpox, mumps, and many others. For a full list of reportable diseases in Wisconsin, visit www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/disease/diseasereporting.htm.

Once a disease is reported, public health staff immediately begins follow-up. Depending on the disease, this may include interviewing patients, finding out where they’ve been and who they’ve come in contact with, and communicating with healthcare providers to make sure they’ve been treated. It may also include providing immunizations, setting up mass vaccine clinics, providing treatment, or requiring that people are quarantined (assuring that persons who may have a disease are kept away from others to prevent disease spread). We also would work closely with the state health department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and health departments in surrounding counties.

In the event of a disease epidemic, Monroe County Health Department (and all health departments) have emergency plans in place. We continually work with healthcare providers, emergency management, law enforcement, EMS, 911-dispatch, schools, and other community partners.

If you have any questions related to the current COVID-19 situation, influenza, or how public health responds to disease outbreaks, we highly encourage you to contact Monroe County Health Department at 269-8666. For up-to-date resources and information on COVID-19 and flu, visit our website at www.co.monroe.wi.us/departments/health-department/.

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