Underreporting of Infectious Diseases

Recent outbreaks of viral meningitis and salmonella in Louisiana have the state’s Infectious disease epidemiology department concerned about the underreporting of certain infectious diseases.  While many of these conditions do get reported to them from labs or the infection control department of hospitals, we would like to remind health practitioners of their individual responsibility in this matter. 

Dr. Raoult Ratard, the state epidemiologist realizes that physicians and others are busy professionals and will not report every case of infectious disease.  However, he and his associates in the department of infectious disease epidemiology do hope that health professionals use their common sense.  If, for example, a physician, nurse or PA sees a child with diarrhea and bloody stool and it is mentioned that various children in the class are suffering from the same condition, a call to the hotline is in order.  The faster the department is made aware of a potential problem, the faster it can operate to locate the source of a food borne illness or a dangerous respiratory or other condition and prevent further morbidity and/or mortality.

For further information on what diseases are reportable under the Sanitary Code and how soon they must be reported after diagnoses, go to http://dhh.louisiana.gov/assets/oph/Center-PHCH/Center-CH/infectious-epi/EpiManual/sancode042513.pdf and download this helpful information.  (You may want to post this one page document in your office.) The 24 hour hotline number to report infectious diseases or suspected outbreaks is 800-256-2748.