Controlling the spread of infectious diseases
Community and Public Health is responsible for investigating cases of infectious diseases, as well as controlling their spread within our community. The goal is to reduce future occurrences of infectious disease.
Community and Public Health compiles and reports data on infectious disease trends for our region (disease surveillance).
Staff are also prepared to deal with large local, regional or national outbreaks or health emergencies. Examples include a national flu pandemic or the threat of water-borne diseases after natural disasters or other emergency situations.
Help stop RSV from spreading
A common winter virus called Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is currently spreading across New Zealand. The virus affects all age groups but is especially severe for babies/ pēpi and infants less than one year old. It is very infectious and can easily pass from person to person through coughing and sneezing.
RSV has very similar symptoms to a bad cold or flu. These include:
- a runny nose;
- decrease in appetite;
- a fever – usually mid; and
- wheezing or noisy breathing.
Please look out for the symptoms in children under the age of one especially, and contact your GP team or healthcare provider for advice if you are concerned.
Some infectious diseases must be reported
The Health Act 1956 requires medical practices and other agencies or institutions, to report the following notifiable disease types to the local Medical Officer of Health:
- Common enterics (such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Yersinia);
- Serious enteric (such as Typhoid, Shigella, Cholera, Paratyphoid, Listeria, Hepatitis A);
- Vaccine preventable (such as Measles, Mumps, Pertussis/Whooping Cough, Rubella); and
- Other Serious (such as Meningitis, Legionella, Mosquito borne diseases, Avian Influenza, Hepatitis B and C).
Response to a disease notification
The Communicable Disease Team’s response to a notification depends on the urgency and potential severity of the disease, and may involve:
- an investigation into the source of the infection to protect those possibly exposed and to prevent its recurrence;
- offering preventive medication or vaccination to people who have been in contact with an infected person;
- arranging or taking samples/specimens from an infected person or close contacts to confirm the diagnosis or confirm if a person is still infectious; and
- finding out more information through a questionnaire, hospital visit or interview.
Prevention is better than cure
Infectious disease prevention is also a big priority for Community and Public Health. The National Immunisation Programme for children is important in protecting against diseases such as measles. Another valuable vaccination programme is the annual influenza vaccination for vulnerable groups such as the elderly and chronically ill.
Medical Officers of Health are responsible for authorising vaccinators, and Communicable Disease staff can provide advice on immunisation issues.
Contact the Communicable Disease staff at your local office for further information:
Ph: +64 3 364 1777
Fax: +64 3 379 6484
Ph: +64 3 687 2600
Fax: +64 3 688 6091
Ph: +64 3 768 1160
Fax: +64 3 768 1169
Become an Authorised Vaccinator
Community and Public Health deals with applications and renewals for authorised vaccinators and vaccination centres.
Signage for organisers of A&P Shows
The following signs were developed by Community and Public Health for use in areas at A&P Shows where people (especially children) have close contact with animals – such as petting areas or stock display pens.
These signs encourage not eating or drinking in these areas and washing or sanitising hands after touching animals. Print and laminate these signs for your next A&P Show.
Contact your local office about borrowing hand sanitiser stands for your upcoming A&P Show.
Travel Health and Vaccination
Community and Public Health no longer provides information on vaccinations for overseas travel.
Contact your local medical practice or a specialist travel medicine clinic (as listed in the Medical section of the White Pages) for more information.