Infectious Disease Reporting

Importance of Public Health Reporting

The Vermont Department of Health depends on health care providers to identify and report certain infectious diseases. Health care providers may be the first to see a case of public health significance or a potential outbreak, and their prompt notification enables us to investigate and begin disease control activities quickly.

Disease reporting enables public health officials to perform surveillance—the collection, analysis, and distribution of data about illness and death. Surveillance helps us describe disease trends, identify outbreaks and control the sources of infection, and identify and treat exposed contacts. Surveillance data helps public health officials plan disease prevention activities and educate both the health care community and the public.

Health care providers and laboratories are required by law to notify the Health Department regarding patients with certain suspected or confirmed reportable diseases. Both laboratory confirmed and clinical diagnoses are reportable within 24 hours. Immediate reporting is essential for a limited number of conditions that require prompt public health follow-up (like measles and meningococcal disease), and for diseases that might indicate a bioterrorism incident. Reportable and Communicable Diseases Rule

What is reportable?

Who must report?
  • Health care providers
  • Nurses
  • Infection preventionists
  • Physician assistants
  • Laboratory directors
  • Physicians
  • Nurse practitioners
  • School health officials
  • Administrators of long-term care and assisted living facilities
How to Report a Disease or Laboratory Finding

Health care providers

To report a suspected or confirmed case of disease, please contact the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Program at 802-863-7240 or 800-640-4374 (within Vermont only) from 7:45 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. on business days. An epidemiologist is available 24/7 for diseases that require prompt public health follow-up. In addition, providers can fax paper reports to the Epidemiology Program’s confidential fax machine at 802-951-4061.

Laboratories

Laboratories can report results electronically or on paper. Electronic reporting using HL7 messages is part of public health Meaningful Use. See the Electronic Laboratory Reporting HL7 2.5.1 Implementation Guide for more information. Laboratories that are not ready to report electronically can report using a weekly lab report form that is mailed or faxed to the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Program. An epidemiologist is available 24/7 at 802-863-7240 or 800-640-4374 (within Vermont only) for diseases that require prompt public health follow-up.

Isolates of certain organisms must be sent to the Health Department Laboratory. Contact the Health Department Laboratory at 802-338-4724 or 800-660-9997 (within Vermont only) for information about how to submit cultures and specimens.