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Linking PH with the Medical Community: Commissioner Communicates Directly with State's Physician's and Physician Assistants

December 13, 2013

Originally published Feb. 27, 2012

In her second such email to nearly 32,000 physicians and physician's assistants across the state of Georgia, Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., emphasized the importance of disease reporting for the health of our state. 

"I'm familiar with the provisions outlined in OCGA 31-12-2, which require reporting of patients with certain conditions to the Department of Public Health," Fitzgerald wrote.  "Like you, my compliance was rooted in the desire to protect against disease." 
 
Georgia law provides that both lab-confirmed and clinical diagnoses are reportable within specified time frames, depending on condition.  Disease reporting enables appropriate public health follow-up for patients, helps identify outbreaks, and provides a better understanding of disease trends in Georgia.  
 
Since July 1, 2011, DPH detected, investigated and mitigated more than 50 reported disease outbreaks, including a rare outbreak of Cyclospora infections associated with several catered events, a large outbreak of Salmonella serotype Infantis infections associated with "Thanksgiving dinners" served at a restaurant, and an outbreak of severe invasive Group A Streptococcus infections among residents of a nursing home facility.  This would not have been possible without routine disease reports from physicians.  
 
Dr. Fitzgerald thanked the physicians and physician's assistants for their help with Public Health's variety of supplementary and adjunct surveillance systems, particularly for conditions of importance like influenza.  Data from influenza surveillance systems are used to determine how well this season's flu vaccine matches circulating strains of influenza, to inform programs and policies (such as targeted influenza vaccination campaigns), and are the backbone of surveillance for novel or potential pandemic strains of influenza  
 
"Your work in reporting conditions to the Department of Public Health is essential to what we do," Dr. Fitzgerald wrote.  "Quite simply, with your dedication we protect lives."

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