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.

Some infectious diseases must be reported

Virus particles in the bloodstream.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).

Public health advice on monkeypox

Ministry of Health media release: 12th July 2022

There are two confirmed cases of monkeypox in New Zealand – both having recently travelled overseas. The cases are not linked to each other and there is no evidence of any community transmission of monkeypox.

Monkeypox does not easily spread between people so the risk of transmission to the general public is low. Person to person spread may occur through:

  • intimate contact with an infected person (including kissing);
  • direct contact with a person’s infected lesions;
  • contact with contaminated bed linen or clothes; and
  • respiratory droplets from an individual with monkeypox.

Anyone who’s been overseas and attended events connected with the spread of Monkeypox needs to be aware of any symptoms. Seek advice from your GP, Healthline (0800 611 116) or a local sexual health clinic if you are concerned.

Government outlines plans for future COVID-19 variants

Beehive media release: 22nd June 2022

“The Government has undertaken preparatory work to combat new and more dangerous variants of COVID-19,” COVID-19 Response Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall set out today.

“This is about being ready to adapt our response, especially knowing that new variants will likely continue to appear. We have undertaken a piece of work to look at possible scenarios for the evolution of the pandemic. This is to ensure there is more certainty for New Zealanders for how we would respond to future variants. ”

“I want to be clear that lockdowns and other strict measures will be a last resort. Our starting position will be more target measures aimed to protect the most vulnerable while also avoiding wider societal disruption.

“We already have a much stronger base of protection measures in place such as access to vaccinations and anti-viral drugs, our PCR testing capacity, contact tracing system and an integrated surveillance system. These reduce our need to use more stringent measures.”

“Preparedness planning doesn’t commit us to following a set path should a different variant of COVID-19 emerge. It is about maintaining the capabilities to respond to a range of possible scenarios. New Zealand’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic to date has been based on strong public health advice and characterised by a willingness to adapt and learn in response to the evolving nature of the virus.”

Our ongoing surveillance for new variants, especially at the border keep us in a good position to identify future variants.

“Based on public health advice Ministers will continue to make decisions about how to respond in the event of new variants. This process is well established and has served our country well,” Dr Verrall said.

Independent review of the Ministry of Health’s response to the Delta outbreak

An independent Delta Response Rapid Review has been released by the Ministry of Health. It provides an overview of the perspective of key stakeholders on the Incident Management response by the Ministry of Health to the Delta outbreak, in the period August to December 2021.

It draws on feedback from the across the health sector and makes a number of recommendations to guide the response to future outbreaks. The review also includes Ministry of Health data on COVID responses and international data on COVID trends up to December 2021.

The three main areas identified for improvement were:

  • an equity first approach for Māori, Pacific peoples and the disabled community;
  • being more coordinated in our response; and
  • maintaining the COVID workforce into the future.

The Ministry thanks the interviewees and authors for their recommendations and is pleased to outline what’s been done in many areas to address the recommendations and learn from the Delta outbreak to help strengthen and improve future responses.

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.


Documents

Downloads

Download or order resources from the Community Health Information Centre.

Links

Contact the Communicable Disease staff at your local office for further information:

CANTERBURY
Ph: +64 3 364 1777

SOUTH CANTERBURY
Ph: +64 3 687 2600

WEST COAST
Ph: +64 3 768 1160


Feel unwell? Get a test.


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.


Page last updated: 12/07/2022

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