Communicable Diseases

Communicable diseases are infectious diseases that are spread from person to person (e.g., E. coli, Salmonella, chickenpox) or from animals to people (e.g., rabies, H1N1). There are 70 communicable diseases that are reportable to the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) so we can prevent the spread. To download the CCDPH Reportable Diseases poster, please click here. To download a pocket size version of the CCDPH Reportable Diseases list, please click here.

In addition, we prevent the spread of infectious diseases through disease surveillance, community education, outbreak response and by providing recommendations to control the spread of communicable diseases in suburban Cook County.

Current Topics of Interest in suburban Cook County

  • Tick Prevention

    Prevent against tick bites while outdoors enjoying the warm weather. Ticks are found in and near wooded areas, tall grass and brush. Infected ticks can transmit diseases including ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia and Lyme disease through their bites.

    When brushed by a moving body, ticks quickly let loose of the plant on which they are resting and attach to an animal or human. The only way to prevent the transmission of diseases ticks may be carrying is to avoid being bitten by one.

    To avoid tick bites, health officials suggest:

    • When in heavily wooded areas, stay on well traveled paths and walk in the center of the trail to avoid brushing up against bushes and weeds.
    • When returning from heavily wooded areas, check yourself and children carefully for ticks - especially in their hair.
    • Apply insect repellent containing DEET (30 percent or less) to clothes or exposed skin (except the face). Be sure to wash treated skin after coming indoors. Always follow label directions and supervise children while using repellents.
    • Wear clothes that will help to shield you from ticks. Light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants are best. Tuck your pants into the top of yoursocks or boots, to create a “tick barrier.”
    • Remove ticks slowly with tweezers. Do not use nail polish remover or burning matches - they aren’t safe or effective.
    • Keep your grass mowed and keep weeds cut around your home.
    • If ticks are found on pets, contact your veterinarian for information about appropriate tick treatment removal.

    Recognize the signs and symptoms of tickborne diseases to receive the appropriate medical care. If a person experiences a tick bite accompanied by a rash or an unexplained illness with a fever, he or she should seek medical attention. In some cases, if not treated, some tickborne disease can cause severe illness and may be fatal.

  • West Nile Virus
  • Rabies/Animal Bites
    • Rabies is transmitted through the saliva of an infected mammal, most commonly bats. Animals such as birds and amphibians (turtles, frogs, etc.) do not get or transmit rabies.
    • If you have a bat in your home or if you see a dead bat, DO NOT TOUCH IT. Call Animal Control in your area so the bat can be tested for rabies.
    • If you were bitten by a bat, wake up with a bat in your room or house, or if you suspect you or a family member was exposed to rabies, call your doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.
    • Rabies is preventable with a series of injections.
    • For answers to any questions you have about animal bites or rabies, call the Communicable Disease Control Unit at 708-633-8030.
  • MRSA
    • MRSA stands for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus. S. aureus is a bacterium that is present on the skin of some people and can also be present in the nose. MRSA is the same bacterium but is resistant to some antibiotics. About 1 in 4 people have S. aureus; in those with S. aureus about 1 in 100 have MRSA.
    • Most people with MRSA in their nose do not have any symptoms. However, in some, MRSA can cause skin or soft-tissue infections. Most of these types of infections can be treated with appropriate medical care.
    • MRSA is transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or through personal items such as towels. To reduce the risk of getting or spreading MRSA, take the following steps:
      • Practice good personal hygiene. Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
      • Avoid sharing personal items such as clothing, towels or razors.
      • If you have MRSA, keep any open or draining wounds covered. If you are unable to keep wounds covered, avoid direct contact with others until your wound has healed.
    • For more information:
  • Food-borne Illness
  • Norovirus
  • Bedbugs
    • Bedbugs are not a communicable disease. For more information, please click here.