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Reportable Communicable Diseases

Certain diseases represent a threat to public safety because they can spread from person-to-person and can cause serious health problems or even death. The law requires certain action to be taken when someone is diagnosed with one of these diseases.

Under The Public Health Act, 1994, communicable diseases are treated somewhat differently, depending on whether they are classified as a category I or II communicable disease.

Category I

Category I includes diseases such as...

  • meningitis
  • influenza
  • chickenpox
  • Covid-19
  • food poisoning
  • mumps
  • hepatitis A
  • West Nile virus
  • Lyme Disease

Persons such as doctors, nurses, teachers, medical laboratory personnel and food operators must generally report suspected cases of these diseases to Public Health within 48 hours. Parents who think their children may have a communicable disease should contact Public Health to ensure proper follow-up and help control the spread of disease.

Category II

Category II includes diseases such as...

  • hepatitis B, C and D
  • tuberculosis
  • syphilis
  • human immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV), including acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)

If you are aware or suspect that you may have been exposed or infected with a category II disease, it is your responsibility to consult a doctor or clinic nurse without delay, generally no later than 72 hours of becoming aware or suspecting exposure.

If you are diagnosed with a category II disease, you are responsible to take treatment and remain under treatment as long as necessary to control the spread of the disease.

If no treatment is available, it is your responsibility to take all reasonable steps to reduce the risk of infecting others.

If you are infected with, or are a carrier of, a category II disease, it is your responsibility to answer any questions that a doctor or clinic nurse may have.

You must also provide information about people you have had contact with and, in most cases, either advise them of your diagnosis or request that the doctor or clinic nurse do so for you. If you have been diagnosed with tuberculosis, however, you must request that a doctor, clinic nurse or designated coordinator of communicable disease control communicate with your contacts for you. In most cases, public health officers cannot name the source of the exposure.

Anonymous HIV Testing Clinics

If you want to be tested for HIV, you can go to an anonymous testing clinic. Anonymous testing takes place in special clinics where you are not asked for your name or proof of identity. You will be assigned an anonymous number and only you will know the results of your test. Your test number, but not your name, will be reported if you test positive for HIV.

Decreasing the Risk

Public Health officers may order people to do or not do certain things in order to decrease or eliminate the health risks communicable diseases pose. A person may be required to...

  • isolate themselves from other persons
  • undergo testing
  • attend counselling to learn about effective measures for dealing with the disease, reducing risk behaviours and reducing the spread of the disease
  • not behave in any manner that would expose another person to infection
  • receive treatment or counselling until the person no longer poses a public health risk
  • do anything necessary to give effect to an order under The Public Health Act, 1994

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