Why Would the Health Department Send Me a Letter?
The health department is a public body that has a responsibility to protect and promote the health of the population. It performs various functions, including food inspections, vaccination programs, free STD and HIV tests, tobacco enforcement and cessation programs, and medical assistance. They also compile statistics about the health situation in their area.
In the United States, each state operates a health department and in most areas, subnational entities such as counties, cities, and consolidated municipalities operate their own local health departments. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services has a health department which provides national guidance on many issues.
How Can I Contact My Local Health Department?
Your health department is a leader in protecting you from disease, working to ensure safe tap water, restaurant food and air, and responding to public health emergencies like bioterrorism, Ebola or West Nile Virus. They also educate you and your neighbors about how to make healthy choices, such as eating right and quitting smoking.
It is very important that you report communicable diseases to your health department as soon as possible. This can make the difference between a case and an outbreak, and can prevent patients from being exposed to potentially life-threatening infections. The health department can then determine which laboratory should provide testing for each patient, whether it is the facility where the exposure occurred, the patients’ individual healthcare providers, or an independent laboratory.