Communicable Disease Program


Communicable (or infectious, or transmissible) diseases are illnesses spread through air (uncovered sneezes, coughs), food, water, interpersonal contact, and animal bites.  The diseases can be caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, worms, and abnormal proteins called prions. 

Because some of these communicable diseases spread rapidly or can cause serious complications or even death (such as meningitis), Jefferson County Public Health investigates and reports them to the State of Oregon Public Health Division.   Preventing the spread of disease is a primary responsibility of public health, and monitoring patterns of diseases helps local, state, and national health departments prevent outbreaks and epidemics.  Examples of the more than 50 reportable diseases are Chlamydia, Clostridium difficile, Hanta virus, hepatitis (A, B, C, and D), HIV, influenza, meningitis, Pertussis (whooping cough), rabies, Salmonella, and tetanus. 

All health care providers (doctors, nurses, laboratory technologists) are required by law to submit reportable disease information to the public health department within a disease-specific time.  This timely reporting enables appropriate public health intervention and follow-up to stop the spread of the illness.

Personal information is kept confidential by the public health department according to HIPAA.  HIPAA, however, does not prohibit health care providers from reporting protected health information to public health authorities for the purpose of preventing or controlling diseases. These reports should include the person’s full name, date of birth, address, phone number, and suspected disease.   State law also addresses the requirement that the reporting individuals and agencies cooperate with the public health department in the investigation and control of communicable diseases.

Interpreter services for Spanish speaking clients are available.                                  



All Oregon physicians, other health care providers and laboratorians are required by law to report certain diseases and conditions to local health departments (pdf). Some cases are subject to restrictions (OAR Division 19) on school attendance, day care attendance, patient care, and food handling. Reporting enables appropriate public health follow-up for patients, helps identify outbreaks, and provides a better understanding of Oregon morbidity patterns. In 2007, the Oregon Legislative Assembly passed HB 2524 (pdf)authorizing the Health Care Acquired Infection Advisory Committee, a statutorily mandated committee, to advise Oregon Health Policy and Research (OHPR) on the development of a health care acquired infections reporting program in Oregon.




The Oregon Laboratory Compliance Section contracts with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to carry out the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) in Oregon. Clinical laboratory regulations ensure laboratories follow state and federal regulations for clinical laboratory testing performed on human specimens, as well as non-medical (employment) substance of abuse testing, and health screening or health fair testing.



A healthcare-associated infection (HAI) is an infection that a patient gets in a health care facility, including hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, outpatient dialysis centers, nursing homes, and other long-term care facilities. 

HAIs are caused by a wide variety of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, and are often associated with medical devices. Some of the bacteria are multidrug-resistant organisms (MDRO).

Many HAIs cause significant morbidity and mortality, particularly among immunocompromised, elderly, or vulnerable populations. Oregon Public Health is working with healthcare facilities to improve patient safety by improving infection prevention knowledge and practice.




Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) are an emerging threat to global health. Fortunately, these organisms remain rare in Oregon. However, the potential for rapid spread and the difficulties confronted when treating CRE infections make it critically important for public health to maintain aggressive infection control measures. 

Flu Season Word Cloud

The Central Oregon Public Health Partnership (Crook, Deschutes, and Jefferson County Public Health Department) updates the Central Oregon Weekly flu surveillance report by Friday every week during flu season. The flu report includes flu test data and ER visit data from the previous week.

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