The Communicable Disease (CD) Program is responsible for the epidemiological
investigation, prevention, and surveillance of all reportable communicable diseases in
Ionia County (see attachment for list).

Communicable diseases can be transmitted directly from person to person or animal to

person, by ingesting contaminated food, water, or exposure to contaminated soil.
Communicable diseases are a continuing and significant threat to populations. Many
strides have been made in eliminating diseases , however, new bacteria and viruses are

emerging or remerging in multi-drug resistant forms.

The role of the Communicable Disease Nurse is to control and prevent the occurrence
of infectious diseases in a community through surveillance, investigation, detection,
identification of pathogens and facilitating compliance of primary care providers in
reporting unusual case presentations or clusters of like symptoms to the State of
Michigan. The early identification of infectious diseases and the control of these
illnesses is the role of the primary care provider. Physicians and laboratories are
required to report over 70 communicable diseases to local health departments.

Schools, childcare centers and infection control and prevention staff at hospitals are
also required to report communicable disease to the local health department.

This is the link for schools to report weekly

Sources of Infection

Communicable diseases are caused by germs, such as bacteria, viruses, or parasites
and are spread by an infected person, animal, or object. The following are four

principles sources of Infection:

  • Fecal-Oral. These diseases are generally characterized by upset stomach,
    nausea, and vomiting. Examples include infections with giardia, rotavirus,
    hepatitis A, salmonella, norovirus, and campylobacter.
  • Airborne. Diseases spread by droplets from the nose, throat, and mouth.
    Examples include the
    common cold, chicken pox, influenza, measles, and pertussis.
  • Body Fluids. Diseases spread by direct contact with body fluids, such as blood,
    urine, saliva, or vomit. Examples include hepatitis B, HIV, and other sexually
    transmitted diseases.
  • Person-to-person contact or contact with contaminated items. Disease
    spread by direct contact with infected skin or contact with contaminated objects
    such as toys, clothing, bedding, etc. Examples include ringworm, scabies, and
Foodborne Disease

A fifth possible source of infection/ illness is Foodborne disease. The bacteria or
viruses that can cause fool-borne illness can come from a variety of sources, e.g., the environment, the food item or from an ill food-handler.

  • Symptoms of foodborne illness include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, possibly a fever and a feeling of fatigue. How long before the symptoms of foodborne illness appear after eating a suspect food depends on what type of bacteria, virus, parasite, or chemical contamination is responsible for the symptoms. Commonly the incubation period ranges from ½ hour to 72 hours.
  • If you suspect a foodborne illness, call your physician, the health department cannot diagnose or treat your illness.
  • If you suspect that something you ate has caused your illness, report it to the Communicable Disease Program at 616-527-5341. This information is important for surveillance purposes. All information provided to the Health Department is confidential.
Animal Bites:

Following an animal bite, clean the wound with soap and water, apply pressure for excessive bleeding and seek medical attention. Consultation with a healthcare provider is advised anytime a bite wound breaks the skin. The medical provider will determine the need for a tetanus booster, antibiotics and if rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (rPEP) is indicated. Animal bites are required to be reported to the Ionia County Health Department (616-527-5341) AND Ionia County Animal Control (616-527-9040).

Ionia County Animal Control will contact the victim of an animal bite or exposure to collect information regarding the circumstances of the bite. This will include: whether the animal was provoked or unprovoked, the victim’s name, address, phone number, address of bite incident, animal owner’s name, address, phone number (if different), description of the animal, description of the incident, and any other pertinent information.

In the United States, rabies vaccine is licensed for dogs, cats, ferrets, sheep, cattle, and horses. An animal that is up to date on its rabies vaccination is considered protected against rabies and unlikely to infect a bite victim. All animals, despite their rabies vaccine status, are required to be quarantined for 10 days. If the animal completes quarantine without exhibiting symptoms of rabies, a victim may forego rPEP.

If you own an animal that you suspect has been exposed to rabies, please contact your


If a bat is found in your home and a human had contact to the bat, the following are situations when  a bat needs to be tested:

      1. A bat was found in the room of a sleeping child.
      2. A bat in the room of an adult who may be inebriated, takes sleeping pills or is a heavy sleeper.
      3. A person wakes up and finds a bat landed on him/her.
      4. An actual bite or licking from a bat.

    Unusual exposure circumstances do occur.  Please call  the ICHD Communicable Diseases nurse at 616-527-5341 and they will assist you in determining the correct actions to take.

How to safely capture a live bat:
  1. Wear thick leather work gloves.
  2.  Place a box or a plastic container slowly and carefully over the top of the bat when it lands.
  3. Slide a sheet of cardboard under the container to trap the bat inside.
  4. Tape the cardboard to the container and punch small holes in the cardboard to allow the bat to breathe.
  5. Keep it in a cool, dry area.
If the bat is dead:
  1. Wear thick leather work gloves, just in case it IS still alive.
  2. Put it in a zip lock bag or other container with a lid.
  3. Refrigerate (do not freeze) until you can plan for the bat to be tested.
Testing of bats for rabies:
  1. Call the Ionia County Health Department at 616-527-5341
  2. Bring the bat to the Ionia County Health Department 175 E Adams St, Ionia, MI 48846. It is preferred if the bat is dead, but not required (See below)
  3. The communicable diseases nurse will prepare the specimen for overnight shipping to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Bureau of Laboratories for testing.
  4. Generally, testing is completed the next business day.  Results may take 1-3 business days.
  5. Important note:  live bats are humanely euthanized by a veterinarian before being sent to the lab.
  6. Circumstances that may prevent a bat specimen from being tested are head/spine destroyed or decomposition. The head must be intact to be tested.
Important points:
  1. Information about rabies Postexposure Prophylaxis (rPEP) can be found at this link.
  2. It is usually acceptable to wait for completion of biting animal quarantine or lab results before initiating rPEP.  A physician may determine circumstances that require immediate rPEP
  3. If the bat is not able to be tested, rPEP will be recommended.
  4. If a bat is not able to be located, escapes or is let go, rPEP will be recommended.
  5. rPEP is not available through ICHD, you will be referred to the emergency department and/or a hospital infusion clinic for treatment.
  6. Wild animals, except for bats, will not be sent by ICHD for testing.  If you are bitten by a wild animal that is high risk to carry rabies (e.g. raccoons, skunks, foxes), emergency room treatment and rPEP is advised.
  7. Which animal is least likely to carry rabies? Small rodents (like squirrels, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, chipmunks, rats, and mice) and lagomorphs (including rabbits and hares) are almost never found to be infected with rabies and have not been known to transmit rabies to humans.
  8. For additional information about rabies, click on this link.
Sexually transmitted infections

(STI) rates are increasing, especially among people ages 15-24 years of age. Ionia County Health Department has focused its efforts to prevent HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. Ionia County Health Department STI/HIV Counseling, Testing and Referral Clinic provides FREE confidential testing and treatment for chlamydia and gonorrhea with a urine specimen.  Results take 3 to 5 business days.  Expedited Partner Treatment (EPT) is also FREE.  FREE Rapid HIV testing requires a capillary blood specimen (finger poke) and results take 20 minutes. If the rapid screening test is reactive, additional testing will be required. Referral to a specialist for treatment will be arranged.  After treatment, it is advised to get retested 3 months after treatment.  A referral for testing of other STIs (syphilis, HPV, HSV, Hepatitis B & C , Mgen, PID, Trichomoniasis) will be provided.

HIV Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PREP) is advised for high-risk individuals. Please go
to this link for more information about PREP and programs to access PREP.

Our RNs can also provide resources for access.  Please call for any questions 616-527-5341.

At our STI/HIV Clinic, our trained and experienced STI/HIV CTR nurses will:

  • Provide a thorough health & risk assessment and confidential counseling services- Health education is an essential part of a visit to the STI/HIV CTR Clinic. Clients will learn about their risks, how these infections can cause lifelong health problems, and steps that can be taken to prevent future infections.
  • Collect urine for Chlamydia & Gonorrhea testing (results available in 3-5 days)
  • Collect blood (from finger-poke) for Rapid HIV testing (results available in 15 min- only done upon request and consent)
  • Assess other needs and provide referrals and resources as indicated.
  • Offer and provide prophylactic treatment for Chlamydia & Gonorrhea as determined necessary; offer EPT for client’s partners upon request.
  • Review client’s immunization record: counsel about any needed/missing vaccines- particularly Hep A, Hep B and HPV, and assist client to obtain these vaccines through our Immunization clinic.
  • Provide free condoms, dental dams, and lubricant through the “The Wear One Campaign.” The Wear One Campaign was developed to increase free condom availability, create awareness, and promote acceptance of condom use in individuals 18-24 years of age. The goal is to decrease STIs and unplanned pregnancies by removing barriers such as cost, embarrassment, and lack of access.

And, also through the Wear One campaign, condoms are available at the Health Department via dispensers in our public restrooms, distributed to local providers on a quarterly basis, and via a vending machine on our 2 nd floor that has condoms, Narcan, and drug disposal kits, all at NO COST to the public. These are available during normal building business hours:  Monday through Friday 8am – 4 pm. Clients may call the Health Department at 616-527-5341 for an appointment, anytime Monday through Friday 8am – 3 pm.

Additional information about STI and HIV can be found here.

Health Department

175 E. Adams Street
Ionia, MI 48846

(616) 527-5341

(616) 527-5361

Children’s Special Health Care Services
Phone: (800) 359-3722
TDD: (800) 788-7889

Community Health
Phone: (616) 527-5341

Environmental Health
Phone:(616) 527-5341
Fax: (616) 527-8202
Mon-Fri 8am-4:00pm

Personal Health
Phone: (616) 527-5341
Fax: (616) 527-8208

Phone: (616) 527-5341
Monday – Thursday
8:30am – 11:30am & 12:30pm – 3:00pm

Immunization Late Clinics: 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month from 10:00am – 5:00pm

TB tests can be done Monday – Wednesday 8:30am – 3pm

Substance Abuse Prevention
Phone: (616) 527-5341

Woman, Infants, & Children (WIC)
Phone: (616) 527-5337
Mon – Fri: 8:00am – 4:00pm
WIC Late Clinics: 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month from 10:00am – 5:30pm

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