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) (PDF), 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:
"Clinically diagnosed or laboratory-confirmed animal cases of the following diseases are reportable: anthrax, arboviral encephalitis, Chagas disease, Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in animals other than those housed in research facilities, plague, and psittacosis. 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."
How do I report to the Texas Department of State Health Services?