Disease Investigation & Surveillance

Investigation & Surveillance Steps
Local health care providers, laboratories and hospitals are required by Washington State Law to report certain diseases to the Whatcom County Health Department. Once a report has been made, our staff members then investigate to ensure that diseases that can be transmitted from person to person are controlled in our community.

Communicable Disease staff members conduct interviews with people who have been diagnosed with an infectious disease to identify where the disease may have come from, to offer assistance in accessing care, to answer questions about transmission and treatment, and to ensure that other people are protected from the disease.

If a source of an infection is identified that puts people at risk for the disease, the Communicable Disease staff work closely with other agencies and Health Department divisions to prevent exposure to this source. This may include working with the Environmental Health Division regarding food or water exposures, the childcare providers of children who have been diagnosed with something infectious, or school nurses if an outbreak is identified in a school setting.

Working with the Community
Communicable Disease staff work with schools and long term care facilities to actively monitor seasonal influenza in Whatcom County and assist the State Department of Health in the surveillance of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS.

Communicable Disease staff members also answer calls from the general public about infectious diseases and are available to consult with health care providers about testing and treatment of reportable conditions.

Mandated Reporting
The Whatcom County Health Department is mandated to report certain diseases to the Washington State Department of Health. This allows for the compilation of cases to assist in the surveillance of infectious diseases both at the State and local level. Trends of diseases and comparisons are available at DOH Data and Statistical Reports.