§ 32.1-39

Surveillance and investigation

A. The Board shall provide for the surveillance of and investigation into all preventable diseases and epidemics in this Commonwealth and into the means for the prevention of such diseases and epidemics. Surveillance and investigation may include contact tracing in accordance with the regulations of the Board. When any outbreak or unusual occurrence of a preventable disease shall be identified through reports required pursuant to Article 1 (§ 32.1-35 et seq.) of this chapter, the Commissioner or his designee shall investigate the disease in cooperation with the local health director or directors in the area of the disease. If in the judgment of the Commissioner the resources of the locality are insufficient to provide for adequate investigation, he may assume direct responsibility and exclusive control of the investigation, applying such resources as he may have at his disposal. The Board may issue emergency regulations and orders to accomplish the investigation.

B. When an investigation of any outbreak or occurrence of a disease identified through reports required pursuant to Article 1 (§ 32.1-35 et seq.) of this chapter indicates the reasonable possibility that the outbreak or occurrence was the result of exposure to an agent or substance used as a weapon, the Commissioner or his designee shall immediately report such finding to the Department of State Police for investigation. Reports, records, materials or other data reported to the Department of State Police pursuant to this section shall remain confidential and shall not be subject to the provisions of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.). The Department of State Police, and any local law enforcement official, may release all or part of any report made or other information obtained pursuant to this section (i) where the release of such report or information may assist in the prevention of imminent harm to public health or safety, or (ii) where the release of such report or information, with patient identifying information removed, may be useful for education of the public on health, safety or homeland defense issues. Reports required by this section shall be maintained in the central repository established by the Department of State Police pursuant to the provisions of § 52-8.5. The Department of State Police shall immediately transmit the report to the local chief of police or sheriff with law-enforcement responsibilities both where the patient resides and where he sought the medical treatment that resulted in the report. In addition, the Department of State Police may transmit the report to federal and military law-enforcement authorities. The Department of State Police and local law-enforcement authorities shall immediately determine and implement the appropriate law-enforcement response to such reports, in accordance with their jurisdiction.

History

Code 1950, §§ 32-10, 32-42; 1979, c. 711; 1989, c. 613; 2002, c. 768.

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