[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Health of the Town of Dalton 4-1-2002. Amendments noted where applicable.]
The purpose of these rules is to provide a guideline for the legal reporting of communicable diseases as required by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH).
These rules shall be applicable to the Board of Health staff.
Infectious diseases designated as dangerous to the public health must be reported directly to the local Board of Health. Local Boards or their designees are authorized to accept, investigate and submit reportable disease information to the MDPH, Bureau of Communicable Control. In Massachusetts, reporting of communicable disease is required under the General Laws and implemented by regulation under CMR Chapter 105 Section 300.
Reports mailed to the local Boards of Health shall be opened by a designated person and faxed to the BVNA PHN (public health nurse) immediately. A telephone call to notify the BVNA that confidential material has been sent should be made. All possible precautions to maintain confidentially should be followed.
Upon receipt of report the PHN will notify MDPH immediately by telephone as required, if the reported disease is designated as a top priority threat to public health. If the reported disease is not listed as a top priority the MDPH is notified by mail within 24 hours on the MDPH form provided. The top-priority disease should also be reported as soon as possible to the local Select Board or Board of Health.
The PHN then contacts the case's MD to confirm diagnosis and to obtain necessary laboratory documentation or other facts required for the completion of the report form.
The case (or guardian) is then contacted by telephone to collect required information. A home visit is made only when deemed appropriate by the PHN or the MDPH epidemiologist. The case and/or family are given information at this time regarding the cause and prevention of the communicable disease. Often information is also sent in the mail to provide further education.
If the case or a household contact of the case attends or is employed by a day-care center, or is a food handler, isolation and quarantine requirements are enforced. The employer or the day-care center is notified by the PHN.
The report form provided by MDPH for the specific disease is completed and mailed to MDPH as soon as necessary information has been obtained. Timeliness of reporting is always a priority.
Collaboration with school nurses or Town health agents is done as appropriate. School nurse supervisors should be notified as soon as possible of a communicable disease of a student. The Town health agent is notified when more than one case of food-borne illness occurs related to specific restaurant or deli in that Town. The health agent would be notified if more than one case appears to have contracted communicable disease at a local day-care or assisted living/nursing home in that Town. Other possible events requiring notification of the health agent would be reports of waterborne illness in Town, post-exposure rabies treatment or swimming facilities that may require inspection relating to communicable disease threat.
Regular reports of all communicable diseases investigated are made to the Board of Health and/or Select Board quarterly in writing by the PHN at BVNA.