State Level Departments of Health

State health departments do a number of things to control infectious disease. State health departments have certain roles and responsibilities in protecting the health of their state.

  • – They need to provide surveillance and reporting.
    • – One thing they are required to do is report the number of diseases. This can help track disease transmission and levels of disease. One example of this mandatory reporting is the National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS). NORS was launched in 2009 and is used to report enteric disease outbreaks. One aspect that is nice about state health departments is that they can easily be contacted by the general public in order to report outbreaks. NORS collects data on specific types of outbreaks including:
      • – Waterborne outbreaks
      • – Foodborne outbreaks
      • – Outbreaks caused by contact with animals
      • – Outbreaks caused by person-to-person contact
      • – Outbreaks caused by environmental contamination
      • – Other enteric outbreaks (CDC, 2018)


  • – Disease detection and control
    • – Be able to conduct multiple investigations of outbreaks at once
    • – Monitor reporting, laboratory testing, and investigation of notifiable diseases
    • – Be able to contain disease whenever possible
    • – Have written protocols for emergencies
  • – Educate the public
    • – Provide information to the public
      • – Healthy behaviors
      • – Disease risk factors
      • – Prevention of disease
    • – Create Public Health Policy
      • – Educate government officials and the public of impacts from proposed or enacted public health policies

New York State Health Department, as well as many others, have policies in place to ensure infectious disease reporting. In New York State, there are a number of infectious diseases that are required to be reported to the state. Below is a copy of the New York State Department of Health’s infectious disease reporting form. The duty to report is important to anyone in a healthcare setting, such as a school nurse, ER physicians, nurses in a long-term care facility, or any other location that provides health services.

Unfortunately, state health departments are having challenges with funding. They have to make hard choices about what services can and should be continued. The limited resources that are available to state health departments must be used wisely and in a cost-effective manner. Even though there are budgetary constrictions, it is important that human health is not adversely affected.