Infections caused by novel influenza A subtypes, which can cause pandemic flu, now have a place on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention´s list of reportable diseases -- falling alphabetically between mumps and pertussis.
Although this latest addition doesn´t signal a major change in physicians´ ongoing role as lookouts for an incipient pandemic, it does add emphasis and importance to a potential emerging disease threat, said Kathleen F. Gensheimer, MD, MPH, state epidemiologist with the Maine Dept. of Public Health.
The list of reportable diseases, published by the CDC´s National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System, now totals more than 60, ranging from AIDS to yellow fever. The number reportable in each state varies according to state laws and regulations.
This early warning system is intended to give the nation´s medical community time to prepare for outbreaks and, while it seems to be working well -- the detection of monkeypox and anthrax cases in recent years are among its successes -- some public health physicians are concerned that not all of the reportable diseases are, in fact, reported.
And they aren´t. As a matter of fact, only about one in seven diseases that should be reported actually is, said Jonathan L. Temte, MD, PhD, associate professor of family medicine at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.