As part of the national surveillance programme, certain communicable diseases are notifiable (see Notifiable Diseases Regulations
) by medical practitioners to the public health medicine specialists under the Health Act 1956. The notification process is listed below.
The notification process
Medical practitioners are required by law to notify the public health medicine specialist of cases of disease as specified in the Notifiable Diseases Regulations
under the Health Act 1956.
Notification is made to the Health Protection Unit:
During office Hours (8am – 4.30pm)
- Waikato Hospital - Extensions 22065 or 22020
- In Hamilton (07) 838 2569 - Extensions 2065 or 2020
- From outside Hamilton 0800 800 977
- Fax (07) 838 2382
After hours and weekends
Please ring Waikato Hospital operators and ask for the public health medicine specialist (urgent cases only please).
The notifier calls the Health Protection Unit and provides information for each case, including:
- demographic details (name, date of birth, gender, contact details)
- key dates including date of onset of illness
- information regarding the clinical disease and action taken.
It is important to note the occupation
of cases especially where food handling, childcare and health care work are involved.
For children, attendance at pre-school care, school
and immunisation status
are important. This is required for exclusion and follow up purposes. Additionally occupational exposure maybe responsible for the case’s illness.
As not all notified diseases are routinely followed up, the following valuable information is requested:
- food history and food premises visited, and particularly where food safety issues are identified e.g. meal served cold
- drinking water supply, particularly high risk sources e.g. roof collected rainwater
- animal contact, particularly contact with sick animals.
On identification of such risk factors referrals are made to either health protection officers or environmental health officers for follow up, if the notification is not already being investigated.
This information helps to identify patterns, trends, emerging illnesses and the effectiveness of prevention programmes. Additionally, this information is used to identify a source of illness, particularly when a premise is identified as high risk e.g. an early childcare centre, food premise or a workplace.
Information is entered into a national database to allow for local, regional and national surveillance.
Where appropriate information regarding possible contacts is also required. Contacts may include those who are household members, have close personal contact with the case or share personal items with the case. Contacts may be traced where education, preventive action and care can be offered.
Contacts are traced to investigate possible sources of disease, as well as possible cases of illness acquired from a known case. Preventive measures include; isolation of cases, strict personal hygiene, prophylaxis with antibiotics or immunoglobulin and exclusion from work or school/pre-school.
The health protection unit is involved in health education and health promotion. This includes information regarding a specific disease, awareness of signs and symptoms, seeking treatment early and how spread of the disease can be prevented.
Resources are available from the Waikato DHB Education Resource Centre
, selected resources are given below.
Common communicable diseases
Communicable disease notification bulletins
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Notifiable diseasesExclusion and Stool Clearance Criteria - A guide for cases and contacts of food and waterborne illness
Diseases notifiable in New Zealand (include suspected cases)*
|Notifiable infectious diseases under the Health Act 1956|
|Section A – Infectious diseases notifiable to a Public Health Medicine Specialist and Local Authority|
|Meningoencephalitis – primary amoebic
||Typhoid and paratyphoid fever|
|Section B – Infectious diseases notifiable to a Public Health Medicine Specialist|
|Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
|Creutzfelt Jakob Disease and other spongiform encephalopathics
|Enterobacter sakazakii invasive disease
||Haemophilus influenzae b|
|Hepatitis (viral) - not otherwise stated
||HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza)|
|Neisseria meningitidis invasive disease
|SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)
|Viral haemorrhagic fevers
|| Yellow fever|
|Diseases notifiable to Public Health Medicine Specialist (other than notifiable infectious diseases)|
|Notifiable to a Public Health Medicine Specialist|
|Lead absorption equal to or in excess of 15µg/dl (0.72µ mol/l) ***
|Poisoning arising from chemical contamination of the environment.
|Notifiable diseases under Tuberculosis Act 1948|
|Notifiable to a Medical Officer of Health |
|Tuberculosis (all forms)|
|* During times of increased incidence practitioners may be requested to notify their local public health medicine specialist of cases of other communicable disease not on this list.|
|** Not every case of acute gastroenteritis is necessarily notifiable – only those where there is a suspected common source or from a person in a high risk category, (eg food handler, child care worker, etc) or single cases of chemical, bacterial, or toxic food poisoning such as botulism, toxic shellfish poisoning (any type) and disease caused by verocytotoxic E. coli.|
|*** Blood lead levels to be reported to the public health medicine specialist (15µg/dl (0.72µ mol/l) are for environmental exposure. Where occupational exposure is suspected, please notify OSH through NODS network (Updated July 2005).|