States and Ontario to share infectious disease informationby Stephanie Hemphill, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Several states and the province of Ontario have formally agreed to share information about infectious diseases.
The agreement was prompted by the anthrax scare after 9/11, and by SARS and other fast-traveling diseases.
It gives public health officials contact information, and a protocol for how quickly to call, when a disease shows up that might affect people in different places.
The Minnesota Department of Health's Steve Shakman says if a person gets sick while they're away from home, they'll have a better chance of getting quick and effective treatment.
"It will be much easier when that person shows up at their doctor, if this kind of information has been put out on a health alert, to get diagnosed correctly and treated quickly," he says. "As opposed to a situation where the doctor would just be guessing at one of many things that might have those symptoms."
In addition to Minnesota and Ontario, the agreement covers Wisconsin, Michigan, and New York.
Shakman says formal agreements don't exist with other states bordering Minnesota, but officials are still good at sharing information.