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Communicable Disease

A communicable disease is an illness or infection that can be spread from person to person, animal to person, animal to animal or person to animal. Communicable disease is the leading cause of sickness and death worldwide and is the third leading cause of death in the United States.  Many communicable diseases can be prevented with immunizations.  Please see the Immunization page for more information.

Physicians, laboratories, school nurses, day care center directors, nursing homes/hospitals, and state institutions or other healthcare facilities are required by New York State law to report suspected or confirmed communicable diseases to the local health department. 

Hamilton County Public Health conducts follow-up investigations based on communicable disease reports received in accordance with New York State Code Rules and Regulations, Public Health Law, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.  All information is confidential. 


 Flu refers to illnesses caused by a number of different influenza viruses. Flu can cause a range of symptoms and effects, from mild to lethal. Symptoms may include fever, coughing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills and fatigue.

 Most healthy people recover from the flu without problems, but certain people are at high risk for serious complications.

 Annual outbreaks of the seasonal flu usually occur during the late fall through early spring. A seasonal flu vaccine is available. In a typical year, approximately 5 to 20 percent of the population gets the seasonal flu.

All people 6 months and older are recommended to receive an influenza vaccination each year.

Children aged 6 months through 8 years of age who have never received a seasonal flu vaccine need to get two doses of vaccine spaced at least 4 weeks apart. This season, other children in this age group may need two doses as well.

Certain people are at "high risk" of serious complications from seasonal influenza. These include people 65 years and older, children younger than five years old, pregnant women, and people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions.

 The best time to get vaccinated is as soon as the vaccine is available. You can still get a flu shot or the flu spray vaccine through the fall, winter or spring, since flu season usually peaks in February but continues through May. Many physicians' offices and pharmacies have received supplies of flu vaccine. Individuals who lack health insurance should contact their county health department to inquire about free flu vaccine clinics.

Call Hamilton County Public Health at 518-648-6497 to make an appointment today.

HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus. You may hear that someone is "HIV infected", "has HIV infection", or "has HIV disease." These are all terms that mean the person has HIV in his or her body and can pass the virus to other people.

HIV attacks the body's immune system. The immune system protects the body from infections and disease, but has no clear way to protect it from HIV. Over time, most people infected with HIV become less able to fight off the germs that we are all exposed to every day. Many of these germs do not usually make a healthy person sick, but they can cause life-threatening infections and cancers in a person whose immune system has been weakened by HIV.

People infected with HIV may have no symptoms for 10 or more years. They may not know they are infected. An HIV test is the only way to find out if you have HIV. See HIV Counseling and Testing (below) for information and resources.

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a late stage of HIV disease. Medications can help people living with HIV or AIDS live longer, healthier lives. Some people have lived for more than 20 years and have taken medicines for more than 10 years. Not everyone's disease progresses or responds to medications in the same way. AIDS has serious health consequences, it can interfere with quality of life and there is no cure.

The term sexually transmitted disease is used to cover the more than 25-30 infectious organisms that are spread through sexual activity. STDs are almost always spread from person to person by sexual activity. These infections are most easily spread by vaginal or anal intercourse, and sometimes by oral sex. Some STDs can also be spread through blood, particularly among intravenous (IV) drug users who may be sharing drug equipment (needles, syringes, or "works"). In addition, pregnant women with STDs may pass their infection to infants in the uterus (womb), during birth, or through breast-feeding.

Most people with STDs have no symptoms. Without treatment these diseases can lead to major health problems such as not being able to get pregnant (infertility), permanent brain damage, heart disease, cancer, and even death. If you think you have been exposed to a sexually transmitted disease, you and your sex partner(s) should visit a health clinic, hospital or doctor for testing and treatment. 

Hamilton County Residents can obtain free and confidential STD and HIV/AIDS testing and counseling at the following location. HIV/AIDS testing can also be done at HCPHNS. Call for further information. 

St. Mary's Hospital Amsterdam Memorial Campus

Occupational Health Department

4988 St. Hwy 30

Amsterdam, NY12010

Call: 518-841-3413

Warren County Health Services

Warren County Municipal Center
1340 State Route 9
Lake George, NY 12845

For More Information:

Information regarding further specific communicable diseases can be found at the following: Communicable Disease Fact Sheets 

Information for Providers

Communicable Disease Reporting Requirements

Communicable Disease Policies, Laws, and Regulations 

Infection Control