The Florida Department of Health in Hardee County strives to promote the health of Hardee County residents and visitors by working with community partners to limit the spread of infectious diseases such as Salmonella, E-coli, Chickenpox, Rabies and more. Epidemiology programs are responsible for investigating infectious disease occurrences, tracking disease trends, providing screening and treatment options, and developing outreach and educational activities to increase awareness about disease prevention efforts.
What is Epidemiology?
Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of health and illness in a population. It is a core public health science. Epidemiologists monitor health trends and statistics to identify groups of people who are affected by various diseases. In addition, epidemiologists investigate cases of disease to determine the source, modes of transmission, and risk factors for disease. This information is then used to implement control measures to prevent the spread of disease.
Case Investigation & Disease Surveillance
The Epidemiology Program is responsible for investigating cases of reportable diseases and conditions in Hardee County. These diseases include enteric illnesses, vaccine-preventable diseases, invasive bacterial infections, zoonotic diseases, viral hepatitis, and other conditions. We receive reports from the hospital, doctors’ offices, laboratories, clinics and facilities such as daycares, schools, nursing homes and jails. Investigations generally involve interviews with patients to identify the source of the infection and providing education about disease transmission and prevention. Cases are then reported to the Florida Bureau of Epidemiology.
Infectious diseases may be spread from person-to-person. When this happens, outbreaks can occur. The Epidemiology Program investigates outbreaks in various settings including, schools, daycares, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, correctional institutions and other community settings. Through the investigative process, we collect data to identify affected individuals, the source of infection, modes of disease transmission, and risk factors related to the outbreak. The data is then used to control and prevent further spread of illness.
Hardee County participates in the Sentinel Provider Influenza Surveillance Program to monitor influenza trends during flu season (October to May). Some providers in the county submit valuable data to identify populations at highest risk for infection as well as the types of influenza circulating in the county.
Rabies Prevention Program
Rabies is a neurological disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans. The Epidemiology Program and Environmental Health work closely with Hardee County Animal Control to investigate animal exposures that may result in rabies infection. If prophylactic treatment is recommended, shots can be administered through the Florida Department of Health in Hardee County.