Information for the Public

The Epidemiology team of Southwest Utah Public Health Department investigates a wide variety of conditions that occur in the community, from STDs, to vaccine preventable diseases, to foodborne illness. Here you will find an overview of what we do, along with what we do not do, here at the Southwest Utah Public Health Department.


Disease Reporting Requirements

Utah law requires that certain diseases be reported by healthcare providers in a timely manner.  The following section is taken directly out of the Utah State Health Code.  Reporting communicable disease is a requirement that bypasses HIPAA regulations.  

For the complete list of reportable diseases and details click here.

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act)

The HIPAA Privacy Act permits physicians, their office staff, and other covered entities to disclose protected health information to public health authorities without the patient’s written authorization for the purpose of preventing or controlling disease. This includes conducting public health surveillance, investigations, and/or interventions.

For more information about privacy rule and public health see:


Foodborne Illness

In conjunction with the State Health Department and Environmental Health at Southwest, the Epidemiology team looks for patterns and outbreaks of foodborne illness in the community. This would include such diseases as salmonella, campylobacter, E. coli, cryptosporidium, giardia, and shigella. In the event of an outbreak, we would:

  • Inspect implicated food establishments.
  • Interview infected persons.
  • Require food workers to submit stool samples to ensure that they are not infected with a communicable disease.

For more information about food service, please visit the Environmental Health page here.


Vaccine Preventable Disease (VPD)

Many reportable diseases can be prevented through the utilization of routine vaccination. Southwest investigates single cases, and all outbreaks, of vaccine preventable disease. This includes pertussis, mumps, hepatitis A, influenza, and varicella, among others. One of the most important functions of epidemiology in Southwest is to ensure contacts exposed to vaccine preventable disease receive what is called “post-exposure prophylaxis,” either in the form of a vaccine, immunoglobin, or oral antibiotics, to prevent further spread of disease in our community. Our nursing services provide the immunizations necessary to prevent disease on a walk-in basis. For clinic hours, please click here.

STDs

Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV are all reportable conditions in the state of Utah. Southwest is notified when a patient tests positive for any of these conditions, and will then interview the patient to determine how they may have been infected, how to prevent spreading the disease and/or becoming re-infected. Furthermore, the Health Department will help educate the patient’s intimate partners, and help facilitate testing and treatment for at-risk partners. The Health Department is responsible for follow up on all reportable STDs and contact tracing with referral to treatment for those contacts.

Expedited Partner Therapy (EPT) may be utilized, in which a doctor may provide treatment for the infected patient’s partner(s), without the partner needing to be seen by the healthcare provider. For more information, click here.

Please note, Southwest Utah Public Health Department does not currently offer any testing or treatment for STDs. We typically refer patients to their primary care physician, Planned Parenthood, Family Healthcare, or the Doctors Volunteer Clinic. Please feel free to give the Health Department, or your doctor, a call with any questions regarding STD transmission, testing, or treatment.

Tuberculosis (TB)

Southwest’s TB control nurse helps educate and guide clinicians regarding treatment and testing of tuberculosis, and works directly with active TB clients and their doctor through completion of treatment. To facilitate this, the nurse performs Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) and case management for active TB patients to ensure they receive appropriate treatment and avoid spreading disease in the community. The Southwest Health Department offers TB skin testing through our nursing services, which must be read between 48 and 72 hours after being placed.

Quantiferon TB Gold (QFT) and T-SPOT testing are not performed by the Health Department. Please speak with your healthcare provider to receive a lab requisition to have this testing completed through any laboratory services, or contact WorkMed.

Please note, Southwest Utah Public Health Department does not currently offer any treatment for Tuberculosis. Southwest does not treat any latent TB (LTBI) cases, but does work in conjunction with healthcare providers to guide treatment and testing options.

Miscellaneous

Southwest investigates a multitude of other diseases, including various types of Strep, Coccidioiodmycosis, tick-borne diseases, West Nile Virus, and many others. For a full list of reportable diseases in Utah, please click here. These diseases get reported electronically, or by healthcare providers. A member of the surveillance team will interview infected patients to discuss their illness, how they may have been infected, and how they can prevent the spread of disease in the community. We are happy to answer questions, provide education, and deliver community presentations as requested.