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 simple steps you can take to help stop the spread of diseases like COVID-19

Avoid close contact with people are unwell. This includes kissing, sharing cups or food with sick people.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects such as doorknobs.

Wash hands with soap for at least 20 seconds with water and soap and dry them thoroughly:

  • before eating or handling food;
  • after using the toilet;
  • after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or wiping children’s noses; and
  • after caring for sick people.

Cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing. Put used tissues in a bin or bag immediately.
Cough or sneeze into your elbow if you don’t have tissues.

Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

Call Healthline (0800 358 5453) or phone your medical practice if you have COVID-19 symptoms.

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).

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.


Previous measles outbreak in Canterbury

Canterbury health authorities declared the measles outbreak that started in the region on 16th February officially over on Thursday 16th May 2019.

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.



Download or order resources from the Community Health Information Centre.


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.

Simple tips to safer and healthier gardening

Gardening lets people enjoy nature and grow their own produce. However there are some risks involved.

Here are some simple steps you can take help reduce these risks and get even more enjoyment from your garden.

  • Wear gloves when working with soil, mulch, compost or potting mix.
  • Wear a mask when working with compost or potting mix.
  • Keep cuts, scratches and grazes covered while gardening.
  • Use your knees when lifting, kneeling or bending to protect your back.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and a shirt with sleeves when outdoors. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to any exposed skin.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after working in the garden.

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: 26/03/2020

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