The Bureau of Epidemiology and Disease Control within the Division of Public Health plays a central role in the Health Department’s mission to prevent the occurrence and spread of communicable disease. The New York Sanitary Code designates over 70 communicable diseases as reportable. The Bureau maintains surveillance for each disease through investigation performed by experienced epidemiological staff. Surveillance activities include identifying patterns and clusters to find common source outbreaks and tracing chains of infection to their origin. Outbreak control measures are instituted in some cases to prevent further spread of disease, such as contact tracing, vaccination of susceptibles, providing prophylactic (preventive) medication or treatment, and notifying and educating individuals or groups of their potential exposure. Occasionally, food handlers, vendors, wholesale suppliers or restaurateurs are identified as the point source of infection and immediate actions are taken to ensure the safety of the public. The Bureau’s Nurse Epidemiologists maintain close contact with area hospital Infection Control Practitioners in order to ascertain suspect patient presentations, unexpected illness, unusual clusters that may indicate a biological terrorist event or unusual occurrence of a communicable disease in the community. Clinical staff are available 24 hours, seven days a week to respond to urgent public health disease inquiries or issues.
The Bureau encourages recommended adult immunizations and provides regular MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccination clinics for college students
The Bureau operates a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Control Unit, investigating reported cases of Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV/AIDS. The Unit initiates disease intervention strategies which include interview of the index patient, counseling and referrals as needed, contacts & partner notification and follow-up and investigation of possible clusters. Medical providers are contacted to ensure treatment is completed.