Communicable Disease & Epidemiology

Resources for Health Care Providers

Department of Community Health Updates

Reporting Rules

The Michigan Department of Community Health has updated its Communicable Disease Reporting Rules. This Emergency Rule was adopted in December 2004 for the purpose of adding the following to the list of notifiable diseases:

  • Arboviral disease (i.e. West Nile, St. Louis Encephalitis)
  • Avian influenza
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)
  • Monkeypox
  • Smallpox
  • SARS
  • Staphylococcus aureus (vancomycin - intermediate or resistant)
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae (invasive or resistant)

Please be aware that these diseases are required by law to be reported to the local health department by physicians. If you suspect any of these conditions in a patient, please contact the Kent County communicable disease unit at (616) 632-7228 or by fax at (616) 632-7085.

The reporting form may be faxed to the Kent County Health Department at (616) 632-7085 or you may call in the report to (616) 632-7228.

Why Report? ¹

  1. To identify outbreaks and epidemics.
  2. To enable preventive treatment and/or education to be provided.
  3. To help target prevention programs, identify care needs, and use scarce prevention resources efficiently.
  4. To evaluate the success of long term control efforts.
  5. To facilitate epidemiologic research to uncover a preventable cause.
  6. To assist with national and international disease surveillance efforts.

Laboratory Testing

The Michigan Department of Community Health Bureau of Laboratories (MDCH BOL) accepts clinical specimens sent from health care providers for testing of many communicable diseases that affect public health. The Kent County Health Department Laboratory is part of the MDCH BOL network and provides limited testing of common pathogens, such as enteric bacteria. Specimen collection kits and requisitions can be ordered from MDCH. For information on ordering supplies, pathogen specific testing, specimen requirements, shipping instructions and the most up-to-date requisitions visit the MDCH BOL website.

¹ Michigan Department of Community Health

Rabies: Frequently Asked Questions

Rabies is one of the most common reasons physicians call the Kent County Health Department (KCHD). Here is a list of the most commonly asked questions:

1. How common is rabies in Kent County?

On average, there is one case per year of animal rabies detected. The last case of human rabies was in 1983.

2. What animals are at risk for rabies in Kent County?

In 2004, the only animals testing positive for rabies in Kent County were bats. Nevertheless, exposures to skunks, raccoons, woodchucks and foxes are also considered high risk. These can be tested through the Michigan Department of Community Health. The following animals are not likely to carry rabies and are not tested unless symptoms suggest rabies: chipmunks, gerbils, gophers, guinea pigs, hamsters, moles, mice, muskrats, prairie dogs, rabbits, rats, shrews, squirrels and voles.

3. When is bat season?

Expect to see an increase in exposures during May through October.

4. Is Post Exposure Prophylaxis recommended after all bat exposures?

Between 1990 and 2004, 46 cases of human rabies were reported in the U.S. ; 34 (74%) were due to a bat strain. Only four of these had a history of a known bite. Therefore, in addition to obvious bites, the CDC suggests that PEP be considered when contact with a bat may have occurred (e.g., wake up to a bat in the room, exposure of a bat to previously unattended child, mentally disabled person or intoxicated individual) and the bat is unavailable for testing.

5. Does KCHD administer rabies vaccine?

Not for treatment after an exposure. Pre-exposure rabies vaccine is available through the Kent County Health Department for a fee. Appointments can be made by calling (616) 632-7200.

6. Where does one get rabies immune globulin (RIG) and vaccine administered?

RIG and vaccine are typically only available through hospital emergency departments. Physician's offices may order vaccine for administration in the office. However, it is crucial not to alter the vaccine schedule. Vaccine can be ordered through Novartis at (800) 244-7668 or Sanofi Pasteur at (800) 822-2463.

7. What animal bites are reportable?

A bite from any mammal capable of transmitting rabies is reportable to the Kent County Animal Shelter by phone at (616) 632-7300 and fax at (616) 632-7324.

8. How do I get an animal tested?

Bats and other high risk animal should be brought to the Animal Shelter. The brain must be intact. If the animal is dead, keep it cool, but don’t freeze it.