Communities face threats to its health from many sources. Loss of control over toxic substances, pollution of our water and air, accidents within our transportation system, among others, all represent threats. No threat, however, is of greater concern than that of a disease organism that is out of control and affecting people. The health center offers services to prevent disease and investigate disease outbreaks to protect the citizens of Livingston County. It is the job of the health center to investigate any reports of communicable disease in our county to determine their origin and prevent the spread to others in the community.
Communicable disease surveillance is a legal requirement of the health center. By law, local public health agencies are one of several mandated reporters that collect specific data and forward it to the Department of Health. This is done through the collection of disease reports from local physicians, hospitals, schools, nursing homes and day cares. Reports also come by word of mouth from residents who have experienced a communicable disease, like chicken pox or mumps, in their family.
By keeping aware of the “normal” amount of illnesses in particular age groups, ongoing surveillance alerts us to disease outbreaks and helps prevent others from getting sick. Information gathered through weekly disease surveillance is then forwarded to the District Office of the Missouri Department of Health. To report a communicable disease, call Lori Murray at 646-5506 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Controlling disease is not a simple matter, as any practitioner of public health will tell you. It involves simple, yet complex organisms that can impact the human body in many ways and from many paths. To prevent the potential spread of disease through the community, the health center follows guidelines from the Missouri Department of Health to investigate reports of communicable diseases.
When the health center is notified of a reportable disease, a staff nurse or sanitarian will investigate. Depending on the disease involved, there may be large scale preventive measures taken by the health center. The investigation process also allows statistical data to be collected and evaluated by agencies like the Centers for Disease Control, who use the information to learn more about how a particular disease is spread, who is at high risk and how to prevent the disease from spreading.
If you’re contacted by the health center requesting information for a disease investigation, rest assured that any information you give is handled within strict confidentiality guidelines. Although your name and other personal information are required with any disease investigation, any data forwarded to the Centers for Disease Control and Department of Health is only in the form of age, sex, race and risk factors. So, if you’re involved in a disease investigation or hear of an outbreak of a communicable disease in Livingston County, feel good about the fact you have people working in your community to protect your health and the health of our residents from serious outbreaks of devastating illnesses.
Confidential HIV/AIDS Testing
AIDS is a fatal disease caused by the HIV virus. Currently, available tests look for HIV antibodies, not the virus itself. If you think you may have been exposed, you might want to consider being tested.
The client who wishes to be tested must supply identification, address and telephone number. Persons of any age can be tested for HIV. Parental consent is not required for minors. If the client wishes to remain anonymous, he must use mandated anonymous testing sites in Kansas City, St. Louis or Springfield.
The Department of Health and Senior Services does provide assistance to infected persons through the HIV/AIDS Service Coordination Program. HIV Testing will be done by appointment only and no walk-ins will be tested. All results and discussions are kept confidential. Call 646-5506 to set up an appointment for testing.