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Current Trends National Notifiable Diseases Reporting -- United States, 1994

CDC has recently published the Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 1993 (1). A notifiable disease is one for which regular, frequent, and timely information on individual cases is considered necessary for the prevention and control of the disease. As of January 1, 1994, a total of 49 infectious diseases were designated as notifiable at the national level Table_1. Reported by: Div of Surveillance and Epidemiology, Epidemiology Program Office, CDC.

Editorial Note

Editorial Note: In 1878, Congress authorized the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) to collect morbidity reports on cholera, smallpox, plague, and yellow fever from U.S. consuls overseas; this information was to be used for instituting quarantine measures to prevent the introduction and spread of these diseases into the United States. In 1879, a specific Congressional appropriation was made for the collection and publication of reports of these notifiable diseases. The authority for weekly reporting and publication was expanded by Congress in 1893 to include data from states and municipal authorities. To increase the uniformity of the data, Congress enacted a law in 1902 directing the Surgeon General to provide forms for the collection and compilation of data and for the publication of reports at the national level. In 1912, state and territorial health authorities -- in conjunction with the PHS -- recommended weekly telegraphic reporting of five infectious diseases and monthly reporting by letter of 10 additional diseases. The first annual summary of The Notifiable Diseases in 1912 included reports of 10 diseases from 19 states, the District of Columbia, and Hawaii. By 1928, all states, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico were participating in national reporting of nearly 30 specified conditions. At their meeting in 1950, the State and Territorial Health Officers authorized a conference of state epidemiologists for the purpose of determining what diseases should be reported to the PHS. CDC assumed responsibility for the collection and publication of data on nationally notifiable diseases in 1961.

Public health officials at state health departments and CDC continue to collaborate in determining which diseases should be nationally notifiable; during its annual meeting, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) makes recommendations for additions and deletions to the national notifiable disease list on the basis of CDC suggestions. However, reporting of nationally notifiable diseases to CDC by the states is voluntary. Reporting is mandated only at the state level. The list of diseases that are considered notifiable, therefore, varies by state. All states generally report the internationally quarantinable diseases (cholera, plague, and yellow fever) in compliance with the World Health Organization's International Health Regulations.

The list of nationally notifiable diseases is revised periodically. Diseases are added to the list as new pathogens emerge; diseases are deleted as their incidence declines. Of the 49 nationally notifiable infectious diseases reported to CDC in 1993, 41 were reported on a weekly basis, and eight were reported monthly. CSTE will review the principles of notifiable disease reporting in late fall of 1994.


  1. CDC. Summary of notifiable diseases, United States, 1993. MMWR 1994;42(no. 53).

+------------------------------------------------------------------- ------+ |             | | Erratum: Vol. 43, No. 43 | |             | | SOURCE: MMWR 43(49);923 DATE: Dec 16, 1994 | |             | | In the article "National Notifiable Diseases Reporting -- United | | States, 1994," the year of publication listed in the reference | | should have been MMWR 1993 instead of MMWR 1994. | |             | +------------------------------------------------------------------- ------+
Note: To print large tables and graphs users may have to change their printer settings to landscape and use a small font size.

TABLE 1. Infectious diseases designated as notifiable at the national level -- United States, 1994
AIDS                                      Malaria
Amebiasis *                               Measles
Anthrax                                   Meningococcal infection
Aseptic meningitis                        Mumps
Botulism                                  Pertussis
Brucellosis                               Plague
Chancroid *                               Poliomyelitis
Cholera                                   Psittacosis
Congenital rubella syndrome               Rabies, animal
Diphtheria                                Rabies, human
Encephalitis                              Rheumatic fever *
Escherichia coli O157:H7 *                Rocky mountain spotted fever
Gonorrhea                                   (Typhus fever, tickborne)
Granuloma inguinale                       Rubella
Haemophilus influenzae                    Salmonellosis *
Hepatitis A                               Shigellois *
Hepatitis B                               Syphilis
Hepatitis, non-A, non-B                   Tetanus
Hepatitis, unspecified                    Toxic-shock syndrome
Legionellosis                             Trichinosis
Leprosy (Hansen disease)                  Tuberculosis
Leptospirosis                             Tularemia
Lyme disease                              Typhoid fever
Lymphogranuloma venereum *                Varicella (chickenpox) * +
                                          Yellow fever *
* Reports of these diseases are not printed weekly in Table I or Table II of the MMWR.
+ Although varicella is not officially a nationally notifiable disease, the Council of State and Territorial
  Epidemiologists encourage transmission of information about cases of varicella to CDC.

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