Disease Outbreak Reporting


An outbreak is defined by CDC as an occurrence of cases of disease that is more than expected, or cases clustered by time, space, or common behaviors. Washington Administrative Code (WAC)246-101 includes a number of responsibilities related to reporting outbreaks.

For more information regarding outbreaks associated with food, water, or a specific disease, please refer to the notifiable condition involved.

Reporting Responsibilities

All outbreaks or suspected outbreaks of a disease are immediately notifiable to the local health jurisdiction in which the patients reside.

Health Care Providers and Facilities

Outbreaks or suspected outbreaks of a disease that occur in a health care facility or are treated by a health care provider are notifiable to the local health jurisdiction. These include, but are not limited to, suspected or confirmed outbreaks of chickenpox, influenza, viral meningitis, nosocomial infection suspected due to contaminated food products or devices, or environmentally related disease. Individual cases of a notifiable condition are reported separately.

Child Day Care Facilities and Schools

Notify the local health jurisdiction of outbreaks and suspected outbreaks of notifiable conditions that may be associated with the child day care facility or school. Other reporting may also be required (e.g. to a licensing agency).

Food Service Establishments

Report any recognized outbreaks to the local health jurisdiction.

Purpose of Reporting and Surveillance

  • To identify sources of transmission (e.g., a medical product or restaurant) and to prevent further transmission from such sources.
  • To assure the adequate treatment of infected individuals in order to curtail infectiousness and prevent complications from infection.
  • To document disease trends in Washington State

Reporting Requirements

  • Local health jurisdictions must immediately notify DOH of all suspected or confirmed outbreaks, with case investigation completion or summary information required within 7 days.