Disease Control

The Bureau of Disease Surveillance and Control’s mission is to protect Mobile County residents through disease monitoring, investigation, and public health response. Our program areas include animal bite surveillance and rabies control, data science, infectious diseases and outbreaks, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, and vaccine preventable diseases. We employ a diverse team of nurses, disease intervention specialists, epidemiologists, data analysts, administrators, and support staff. The entire team works to respond to disease threats by:

  • Conducting case investigations on infectious disease outbreaks
  • Implementing strategies to reduce disease burden and the occurrence of infectious diseases
  • Improving access to disease testing and vaccinations 
  • Providing education and technical expertise to health care providers, community organizations and the public on the importance of disease reporting
  • Utilizing the National Epidemiology Disease Surveillance System (NEDSS) for electronic reporting, tracking, and monitoring of communicable diseases 

If you have other questions Monday through Friday, 8:00 – 4:30 please call Disease Surveillance and Control at 251-690-8868 or email us at diseasesurveillance@mchd.org. 

Animal Bite Surveillance and Rabies Control is responsible for managing the animal bite investigation and quarantine program for Mobile County. All animal bites involving physician care or law enforcement investigation are reported and investigated by the Mobile County Health Department. Victims or offending animal owners may also report animal bites and scratches for investigation (Animal Bite Report Form).

Title 3, Chapter 7A requires a yearly vaccination for dogs, cats, and ferrets by a licensed veterinarian. Regardless of vaccination status, any dog or cat that bites a human must be quarantined for a 10-day observation period. This ensures that the animal has not contracted the virus and exposed the human.

If a human is exposed to a wild or exotic animal bite, the quarantine process may not be sufficient to determine the exposure to rabies. In these situations, the animal may be resistant to the rabies virus or harbor the virus longer than the designated quarantine time. Generally, these animals must be sacrificed for laboratory testing as the virus can only be detected within the brain stem. If the animal is not sacrificed, MCHD recommends clients consult their physician regarding post-bite rabies treatment.

Please follow MCHD’s news releases to see when we host low-cost rabies vaccination clinics throughout Mobile County. For more information about potential exposures, call 251-690-8175 or 251-690-8868. Additional information can also be found at the CDC or the Alabama Department of Public Health. 

Stray Animals Complaints

The City and County Animal Control Office is responsible for stray animal complaints. 

City Animal Control: 251-208-2800

County Animal Control: 251-574-3230

Public Health Laws of Alabama

Title 3, Chapter 7A requires that dogs, cats and ferrets be vaccinated against the rabies virus, every year, by a licensed veterinarian. In the event that a human is bitten or scratched by a dog or cat, vaccinated or not, the offending animal must be quarantined during an observation period of 10 days. This ensures that the animal has not contracted the virus and exposed the human.

Animal Bite Reports

All animal bites involving physician care or law enforcement investigation are reported to the Mobile County Health Department. Victims or offending animal owners may also report animal bites and scratches. Once a report is generated, the Health Department is responsible for investigating the situation.

Animal Bite Report Form

Wild/Exotic Animal Bites

If a human is exposed to a wild or exotic animal bite, the quarantine process may not be sufficient to determine the exposure to rabies. In these situations, the offending animal may be resistant to the rabies virus or harbor the virus longer than the designated quarantine time for domestic dogs and cats. Generally, animals have to be sacrificed for laboratory testing since the virus can only be detected within the brain stem. If the animal is not sacrificed, the Health Department recommends that these victims consult their physician regarding post-bite rabies treatment.

Quick Tips and Facts About Rabies

  • Be cautious with stray or wild animals!
  • Avoid direct contact — even if the animal is dead.
  • Don’t keep food, including pet food, outside… it attracts wild animals.
  • Do not feed wild animals.
  • Beware of ALL wild animals (friendly, sick or abnormal) — animals may have the rabies virus even if they don’t show visible signs.

Physical Signs of Animals with Rabies

  • Changes in behavior — animals become easily confused with minor illnesses.
  • Animals may stop eating or drinking.
  • Minor nervous disorders will progress to severe paralysis or furious form with excessive salivation — known as “Mad Dog” syndrome.
  • Animals will die within 10 days of showing symptoms.

Physical Signs of Humans with Rabies

  • Humans may exhibit the same signs as animals with rabies.
  • Once symptomatic, humans cannot be treated.

Safety Tips Against the Spread of Rabies

  • Vaccinate pets annually.
  • Be cautious of your pet if it has been in contact with a wild animal.
  • Consider unprovoked attacks a high risk.
  • Seek medical attention immediately if bitten or scratched by any animal.
  • Take animals to a veterinarian for quarantine if it has been involved in a bite.
  • Avoid bare hand contact when removing dead or injured animals.

Infectious Diseases

  • Appointments: Call 251.690.8889 to schedule.
  • Hours: Monday – Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. until noon.

Note: All patients will have a health exam by the provider prior to receiving dispensing medication.

All patients are treated with the utmost respect while maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of all medical and epidemiological related information. It is the goal of the DIS personnel to work with the patient and local providers to provide the best possible medical and epidemiological services possible, to enhance the health of our community

Following definitions and guidance put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), the IDO program conducts surveillance for enteric diseases, vector-borne infectious diseases, emerging diseases or novel pathogens, agents of bioterrorism, and potential rabies exposures. Under state law, diseases and events of public health importance are reported to ADPH and investigated by IDO. This includes outbreaks of illness or injuries, natural or man-made. During investigations, IDO conducts patient interviews, identifies common exposures and risk factors, collects specimens for state testing, and provides education, guidance, and training to minimize the spread of disease.  

DETECT, TEST, REPORT

IDO works to increase awareness of health care providers’ responsibility to detect, test, and report notifiable diseases and events to public health authorities. Reporting allows for data collection, which helps us identify disease trends to control future outbreaks. All healthcare professionals, lab directors, school principals and daycare directors are responsible for reporting specific diseases and conditions in Alabama.

  • Alabama Notifiable Disease Rules, Chapter 420-4-1 specifies the diseases and conditions which require notification, the time frame, and methods for notification.
  • The Alabama Department of Public Health and MCHD are authorized to collect or receive protected health information for the purpose of surveillance, investigations, and interventions of notifiable diseases, without authorization of the patient [HIPAA, 45 CFR §164.501]. 

Emerging Diseases and Outbreaks

Current novel or emergent diseases of concern include monkeypox and COVID-19.

Monkeypox

Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. In the current outbreak, monkeypox has been transmitted primarily through sexual contact. However, it can also spread through respiratory secretions with close, face-to-face contact and through contaminated surfaces and fabrics. Transmission is possible from the time symptoms start until the rash has completely healed. Symptoms usually start within three weeks of exposure to the virus. Symptoms include a rash located on or near the genitals or anus and other areas (ex: hands, feet, chest, or face). The rash can initially look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy. Individuals may also develop flu-like symptoms. If an infected person has flu-like symptoms, they will usually develop a rash 1-4 days later. 

Individuals can sign up for a vaccine using our Vaccine Sign-Up Sheet. Appointments are determined by availability and eligibility. Other prevention measures include using condoms and other safe sex practices, minimizing skin-to-skin contact at social gatherings, not sharing fabrics, and social distancing.

More information about monkeypox can be found at the CDC or the Alabama Department of Public Health. Additional data is also available through the CDC Monkeypox Data Tracker and the ADPH Monkeypox Data Tracker.

If you believe you have been exposed or have an active monkeypox infection, please contact your primary healthcare provider to inquire about testing. Anyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, who has been in close, personal contact with an infected individual is at risk.

COVID-19

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The virus can spread from an infected person’s mouth or nose in small liquid particles when they cough, sneeze, speak, sing, or breathe. The infectious stage begins up to two days before causing symptoms, and people can remain infectious for 10 days after. People are at higher risk of exposure if they are within six feet of a person with COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes without a mask or other standard transmission precautions. General symptoms include fever, chills, shortness of breath, new loss of taste or smell, or runny nose. Prevention practices include respiratory etiquette, hand hygiene, social distancing, and public masking. Individuals feeling unwell should stay home and self-isolate until their symptoms improve. Vaccinations are also available to reduce severe symptoms and transmission of COVID-19. 

Free, walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations are available Mondays through Fridays 8:30 – 4:00 pm at two MCHD locations.  Not able to get to a clinic?  Submit a request to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in your home.

   

Free, rapid testing for COVID-19 is also available at these clinic locations by appointment https://appointments.mchd.org/

More information about COVID-19 can be found at the CDC or the Alabama Department of Public Health. Additional data is also available through MCHD’s Weekly Expanded COVID-19 Report and COVID-19 Data Tracker. Other data trackers include the ADPH COVID-19 Data Tracker and CDC COVID-19 Data Tracker.

If you have questions pertaining to infectious diseases or reportable diseases, please call Infectious Disease and Outbreaks at 251-690-8175 or 251-690-8868. Additional information about can also be found at the CDC or the Alabama Department of Public Health.  

Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial disease that usually affects the lungs. A TB infection means that someone has been infected, but the bacteria are dormant and not causing illness. TB disease means the bacteria are active and causing illness. TB is spread from person to person through the air (i.e., coughing, laughing, sneezing, singing, or talking). TB spreads more easily in closed spaces over a long period of time, such as in shared spaces with family members, close friends, and coworkers. Symptoms of TB disease usually include cough, weight loss, night sweats, and fever.

Our TB staff provide consultation, directly observed therapy (DOT), case management and clinical services for patients with a TB infection or disease. Staff also educate healthcare providers, patients, and their families on the importance of isolation, wearing a mask, reducing respiratory droplets, and the need to test close contacts as soon as possible.

If you have questions pertaining to TB disease or infection, please call 251-690-8910 or 251-690-8868. Additional information can also be found at the CDC and the Alabama Department of Public Health.

The Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) program is dedicated to promoting, improving, and protecting the wellness of residents in Mobile County. Team members work to identify, locate, and notify STD patients and partners of their need for testing or treatment to reduce the spread of chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV in our community.

STD Testing

Take charge of your sexual health by getting regular STD tests, building positive relationships, and practicing safer sex. Full health screening and STD testing, evaluation, and treatment is available by appointments at Family Health, MCHD clinical services division, by calling 251-690-8889.  No appointments are for walk in STD testing and treatment at our Southwest Public Health Center (SPHC).  Wait times are sometimes lengthy since this is a walk-in clinic.  

MCHD Southwest Public Health Center

5580 Inn Road, Mobile, AL

Entrance in the back of the building

251-410-4393

Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:00pm

Individuals can sign up for a MonkeyPox vaccine using our Vaccine Sign-Up Sheet. Appointments are determined by availability and eligibility.

If you have questions pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases, please call the MCHD Sexually Transmitted Diseases program at 251-690-8831 or 251-690-8868. Additional information can also be found at the CDC websites below or at the Alabama Department of Public Health.  

Information on Common STDs/STIs:

Comprised of epidemiologists, data analysts, and geographical information system analysts, the Data Science team collects and assimilates data types and information to produce visualizations and reports. These documents provide insights on public health activities and additional community needs. Reports are developed and distributed with the assistance of partner organizations.  

If you have other questions pertaining to notifiable (reportable) disease data and reporting, please call Disease Surveillance and Control at 251-690-8868. Additional information can also be found on the CDC or Alabama Department of Public Health.

Select Disease Reports and Dashboards

A VPD is an infectious disease for which an effective preventive vaccine exists. This includes Chickenpox, Diphtheria, Meningitis, Measles, and Pneumoniae. VPD staff work to reduce the incidence of new disease and help infected patients receive treatment. The team educates the community on the importance of vaccines and provide exemptions for school-aged children whose parents object to vaccine mandates. Immunizations are not just for children. Adults may also be at risk due to age, job, lifestyle, or health conditions. Vaccination is one of the best ways to protect yourself from diseases that can cause serious illness, which may lead to hospitalization or death.

If you have questions pertaining to Vaccine Preventable Diseases, please call 251-690-8167 or 251-690-8868.  Additional information can also be found at the CDC and the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Routine Immunizations and Religious Exemptions for School-aged Children

Alabama’s School Immunization Law states each student enrolled in daycare, head start, and public or private schools have a valid Certificate of Immunization (COI) — previously known as “blue cards” — or a Religious Exemption Form on file at the facility they attend.  All required or recommended vaccinations are offered free or at low-cost, based on eligibility, at MCHD’s Family Health centers. Please call 251-690-8889 to make an appointment.

Religious Exemptions are provided located at:

MCHD @ Festival Center

3725 Airport Blvd Suite 101-A

Mobile AL

251-690-8923

There is a fee for service per child.  Parents or Guardians must provide a written letter requesting exemption for the student, including date of birth in the body of the letter, along with a photo ID of the parent/guardian. Children do not need to be present. By State School Immunization Law, a Religious Exemption can only be issued to kindergarten through 12th grade.