Notification Procedures

Notification of specified infectious diseases is a legal requirement under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 and the Public Health (Infectious Diseases) Regulations 1988.

Clinically suspicious cases of a notifiable disease must be notified, although notification can be changed later if the initial diagnosis proves incorrect. The primary purpose of notification is to identify potential outbreaks and epidemics rapidly.

At the time of writing, there are 30 notifiable diseases. A fully up-to-date list is published on the Health Protection Agency website. Depending in which devolved region of the United Kingdom you work, please consult guidance from your local public health authority as some variances exist in what diseases require notification.

Table 1

Table 1: Notifiable diseases
Acute encephalitis Paratyphoid fever
Acute poliomyelitis Plague
Anthrax Rabies
Cholera Relapsing fever
Diphtheria Rubella
Dysentery Scarlet fever
Food poisoning Smallpox
Leprosy Tetanus
Leptospirosis Tuberculosis
Malaria Typhoid fever
Measles Typhus fever
Meningitis Viral haemorrhagic fever
Meningococcal septicaemia Viral hepatitis
Mumps Whooping cough
Ophthalmia neonatorum Yellow fever

Several of the diseases referred to in this session are notifiable infectious diseases.

Table 2

Table 2: Notification status of diseases referred to in this session
Name of Disease Status
Measles Notifiable
Scarlet fever Notifiable
Rubella Notifiable
Erythema infectiosum Non-notifiable
Exanthem subitum Non-notifiable
Chicken pox Non-notifiable
Gianotti-Crosti syndrome Non-notifiable
COVID-19 Notifiable

Notification procedures may vary locally but are based on a number of common key points.

Table 3

Table 3: Notification procedures
Question Response
Who is responsible for notification? The doctor attending the patient when diagnosed
What should I notify? Any clinical manifestation of a notifiable disease
When should I notify? On suspicion or diagnosis of clinical disease
How do I notify? On a form available from the proper officer of the local authority; also by telephone or fax if urgent action is likely to be required
Why should I notify? So that the proper officer or Consultant in Communicable Disease Control can take appropriate action to investigate and control spread, and to provide data for local and national surveillance