Veterinary Responsibilities in Disease Reporting
Public health agencies are charged with preventing disease and injury in humans. One of the keystones of disease prevention is the reporting of certain diseases by physicians, veterinarians, and other health professionals.
According to state law, (Texas Health & Safety Code Chapter 81.042), Texas veterinarians shall report, after the first professional encounter, an animal examined that has or is suspected of having a reportable disease. Many of the communicable diseases that affect humans are zoonotic; therefore, the role of the veterinarian in disease reporting cannot be overemphasized.
Community-level disease surveillance and prevention activities are placed under the domain of government because private enterprises often do not see these functions as being cost effective. The agency assigned with these responsibilities is the Texas Department of State Health Services. Within this public health purview, the Department tries to be cognizant of the time and resource constraints of private practitioners and is committed to making the reporting of noticeable diseases in animals as accessible as possible.
According to Section 97.3(b) of the Texas Administrative Code, Communicable Diseases:
“(1) Clinically diagnosed or laboratory-confirmed animal cases of the following diseases are reportable: anthrax, arboviral encephalitis, tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex) in animals other than those housed in research facilities, and plague. Also, all non-negative rabies tests performed on animals from Texas at laboratories located outside of Texas shall be reported; all non-negative rabies tests performed in Texas will be reported by the laboratory conducting the testing. In addition to individual case reports, any outbreak, exotic disease, or unusual group expression of disease which may be of public health concern should be reported by the most expeditious means.
(2) The minimal information that shall be reported for each disease includes species and number of animals affected, disease or condition, name and phone number of the veterinarian or other person in attendance, and the animal(s) owner's name, address, and phone number. Other information may be required as part of an investigation in accordance with Texas Health and Safety Code, §81.061.”
How do I report to the Texas Department of State Health Services?
- Call your Regional Veterinarian, or call (800) 252-8239 and ask for the Zoonosis Control Branch.
- Fax the Report of Zoonotic Disease in Animals form to your Regional Zoonosis Control office or to the Zoonosis Control Branch in Austin at (512) 776-7454.
- Mail a completed Report of Zoonotic Disease in Animals form to your Regional Zoonosis Control office or mail to the Zoonosis Control Branch, Mail Code 1956, PO Box 149347 Austin, TX 78714-9347.
- E-MAIL the information requested on the Report of Zoonotic Disease in Animals form to your Regional Zoonosis Control office or email the information @ The.Vet@dshs.texas.gov.