The primary objective of the Epidemiologist at the Ottawa County Health Department is to study the frequency and patterns of health related states or events in Ottawa County and search for the causes and other factors that influence the occurrence of these events. Furthermore, our Epidemiologist analyzes this health related information and works with the team at the Ottawa County Health Department to help prevent and control health problems in Ottawa County. Health related states or events can include communicable diseases like COVID-19 and Influenza, or chronic illnesses such as cancer and diabetes. It can also include occupational and environmental health hazards.
What Are Communicable Diseases?
A communicable disease is defined as an illness or infection that can be spread from person to person, animal to person, animal to animal or person to animal. These infections can be spread through direct contact with infected skin and bodily fluids, or through indirect contact with insects such as mosquitos and ticks, by breathing in contaminated air, or by ingesting contaminated food or water. Communicable, or infectious, diseases are the leading cause of sickness and death worldwide and the third leading cause of death in the United States. Therefore, a large responsibility of our Epidemiologist is communicable disease investigation in Ottawa County.
Communicable Disease Investigation
Certain communicable diseases are required by law to be reported to the local health department. Our Epidemiologist contacts the healthcare provider, patient and/or family to determine how the disease was contracted and also instructs how to prevent further spread of the disease. Information gathered largely depends on the disease and can include things like basic demographic and identifying information, signs and symptoms and travel and food history. Information about reportable diseases and how the health department manages them can be found in the Infectious Disease Control Manual (IDCM) here.
As needed, the Ottawa County Health Department uses the Ohio Department of Health Laboratory for testing in relation to certain communicable diseases. The ODH Lab is available 24 hours a day and can be called upon in an emergency situation in which testing must be completed quickly.