Notifiable disease

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A notifiable disease is any disease that is required by law to be reported to government authorities. The collation of information allows the authorities to monitor the disease, and provides early warning of possible outbreaks. In the case of livestock diseases, there may also be the legal requirement to destroy the infected livestock upon notification. Many governments have enacted regulations for reporting of both human and animal (generally livestock) diseases.




The World Health Organization's International Health Regulations 1969 require disease reporting to the organization in order to help with its global surveillance and advisory role. The current (1969) regulations are rather limited with a focus on reporting of three main diseases: cholera, yellow fever and plague. [1]

World Health Organization Specialised agency of the United Nations

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. It was established on 7 April 1948, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHO is a member of the United Nations Development Group. Its predecessor, the Health Organisation, was an agency of the League of Nations.

Cholera Bacterial infection of the small intestine

Cholera is an infection of the small intestine by some strains of the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Symptoms may range from none, to mild, to severe. The classic symptom is large amounts of watery diarrhea that lasts a few days. Vomiting and muscle cramps may also occur. Diarrhea can be so severe that it leads within hours to severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. This may result in sunken eyes, cold skin, decreased skin elasticity, and wrinkling of the hands and feet. Dehydration can cause the skin to turn bluish. Symptoms start two hours to five days after exposure.

Yellow fever viral disease

Yellow fever is a viral disease of typically short duration. In most cases, symptoms include fever, chills, loss of appetite, nausea, muscle pains particularly in the back, and headaches. Symptoms typically improve within five days. In about 15% of people, within a day of improving the fever comes back, abdominal pain occurs, and liver damage begins causing yellow skin. If this occurs, the risk of bleeding and kidney problems is also increased.

The revised International Health Regulations 2005 broadens this scope and is no longer limited to the notification of specific diseases. Whilst it does identify a number of specific diseases, it also defines a limited set of criteria to assist in deciding whether an event is notifiable to WHO. [2] [3]


The OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) monitors specific animal diseases on a global scale.

World Organisation for Animal Health

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) is an intergovernmental organization coordinating, supporting and promoting animal disease control.



The National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS) was established in 1990. Notifications are made to the States or Territory health authority and computerised, de-identified records are then supplied to the Department of Health and Ageing for collation, analysis and publication. [4] The Australian national notifiable diseases list and case definitions are available online.


Within Australia the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry regulates the notification of infectious animal diseases.

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (Australia)

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) was an Australian government department that existed between 1998 and 2013, when it was renamed as the Department of Agriculture. DAFF's role was to develop and implement policies and programs that ensure Australia's agricultural, fisheries, food and forestry industries remained competitive, profitable and sustainable.



Notification is regulated under Brazilian Ministry of Health Ordinance number 1.271 of June 6, 2014.





The first policies of mandatory notifiable disease originated a long time ago in France, while exact times are unclear we know that at the end of the 18th century Plague was a highly enforced notifiable disease. [5]

The current list of notifiable diseases is written in the Code de la santé publique Article D3113-6 and Article D3113-7 (last revision has been made in 2012), it contains 33 diseases : 31 infectious ones and 2 non-infectious disease directly linked to the environment (Lead poisoning and Mesothelioma). Notifications of both the disease and the distribution of specific medicine are made to a regional desk governmental agency called Agence régionale de santé by :

Anonymous records are then used by the government health-insurance system.

Ill people must cure them and in many case are put in quarantine.


Only infectious diseases are notifiable to the authorities. The complete list can be found in the Article L. 223-22 du code rural, it is updated with every new entry on World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) lists A and B and with European Union mandatory lists.

New Zealand


Notification is regulated under the Health Act 1956, except for tuberculosis which is regulated under the Tuberculosis Act 1948. All diseases

United Kingdom


Requirement for the notification of infectious diseases originated near the end of the 19th century. The list started with a few select diseases and has since grown to 31. Currently disease notification for humans in the UK is regulated under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 and Public Health (Infectious Diseases) Regulations 1988. The governing body is Public Health England [6] List of Notifiable Diseases can be found here .


There are also requirements for notification specific to children in the National standards for under 8s day care and childminding that state:

"Office for Standards in Education should be notified of any food poisoning affecting two or more children looked after on the premises, any child having meningitis or the outbreak on the premises of any notifiable disease identified as such in the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 or because the notification requirement has been applied to them by regulations (the relevant regulations are the Public Health (Infectious Diseases) Regulations 1988).



In the UK notification of diseases in animals is regulated by the Animal Health Act 1981, as well as the Specified Diseases (Notification and Slaughter) Order 1992 (as amended) and Specified Diseases (Notification) Order 1996 (as amended). The act states that a police constable should be notified, however in practice a Defra divisional veterinary manager is notified and Defra will investigate. [8]

United States

In the past, notifiable diseases in the United States varied according to the laws of individual states. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) also produced a list of nationally notifiable diseases that health officials should report to the CDC's National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS). [9] A uniform criterion for reporting diseases to the NNDSS was introduced in 1990. [10]

See also

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The UK statutory notification system for infectious diseases is a system whereby doctors are required to notify a "Proper Officer" of the local authority if they are presented with a case of a serious infectious disease such as diphtheria or measles. The Proper Officer then sends a report to the Centre for Infections of the Health Protection Agency (HPA) in Colindale, north London.

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The National Animal Health Reporting System (NAHRS) is a joint effort of the U.S. Animal Health Association (USAHA), American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD), and USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). NAHRS was designed to provide data from chief state animal health officials on the presence of confirmed Office International des Epizooties (OIE) LIST A and B clinical diseases in specific commercial livestock, poultry, and aquaculture species in the United States. It is intended to be one part of a comprehensive and integrated animal-health surveillance system.

The Infectious Disease (Notification) Act first appeared on the UK national statute books in 1889. It was compulsory in London and optional in the rest of the country. It later became a mandatory law with the Infectious Diseases Notification (Extension) Act, 1899. These acts required householders and/or general practitioners to report cases of infectious disease to the local sanitary authority. The following diseases were covered by the acts: smallpox, cholera, diphtheria, membranous croup. erysipelas, scarlatina or scarlet fever, typhus fever, typhoid fever, enteric fever, relapsing fever, continued fever and puerperal fever. Householders or general practitioners who failed to notify a case of one of these diseases was liable to a fine of up to forty shillings.

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The Norwegian Institute of Public Health is responsible for maintaining and revising the list of notifiable diseases in Norway and participates in the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization's surveillance of infectious diseases. The notifiable diseases are classified into Group A, Group B and Group C diseases, depending on the procedure for reporting the disease.

A notifiable disease is one which that has to be reported to the government authorities as required by law. In the United Kingdom, notification of infectious diseases is a statutory duty for registered medical practitioners and laboratories, under the Public Health Act 1984 and the Health Protection (Notification) Regulations 2010. The registered medical practitioners shall notify such diseases in a proper form within 3 days, or notify verbally via phone within 24 hours depending on the urgency of the situation.


  1. International Health Regulations Review - background
  2. WHO | International Health Regulations
  3. WHO | Frequently asked questions about the International Health Regulations
  4. Introduction to the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System
  5. Archives militaires de Vincennes,A 1 516 91 sc.
  6. | [General Information]
  7. HPA | NOIDS | Day Care and Child Minding (National Standards)
  8. Defra, UK - Disease surveillance and control - Notifiable diseases
  9. History and Background | NNDSS
  10. "Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Case definitions for public health surveillance" (PDF). MMWR. 39(No. RR-13). 1990.