Infection Prevention & Control Program (IPC)

The IPC Program is required by Maryland state law to monitor cases of known and suspected infectious diseases in Howard County to prevent and control disease outbreaks. Infectious diseases like COVID-19, Lyme disease, Meningitis, Tuberculosis, Zika, sexually transmitted infections like syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV/AIDS, foodborne illnesses like Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) and Salmonella, and many others are required to be reported so that appropriate action can be taken to prevent and control potential outbreaks and educate members of the public.

Stack of health books

If you are concerned that you may have been exposed to an infectious disease, please call 410-313-1412 for assistance during normal business hours. After hours, please call 410-313-2200. For medical emergencies, please call 9-1-1.

Infectious Disease Education & Resource Materials
Reportable Illnesses

Laboratories and Healthcare Providers are required by law to report certain diseases to the local health department. Some diseases are recorded to become a part of the Local, State and National statistics. Other diseases require public health measures, or interventions. These diseases include, but are not limited to:

  • Foodborne illnesses
  • Hepatitis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Lyme disease
  • Meningitis
  • Polio
  • Outbreaks

The Howard County Health Department may contact you for information that will assist in the investigation, and help to prevent others from getting sick.

See Maryland's Infectious Disease Bureau or for specific disease information.

Foodborne Illness

The most common symptoms of food poisoning are diarrhea, stomach pain or cramps, nausea, vomiting and fever. If you have diarrhea or vomiting, be sure to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration (not having enough water in your body).

If you are pregnant and experience any food poisoning symptoms, have a fever, and other flu-like symptoms, please see your doctor.  Some mild infections can cause problems with pregnancy.

The five signs of severe food poisoning are*:

  • bloody diarrhea
  • diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days
  • high fever (temperature over 102°F)
  • frequent vomiting (unable to keep any liquids down)
  • signs of dehydration, which include not urinating (peeing) much, a dry mouth and throat, feeling dizzy when standing up.

*Contact a medical provider if you have any of these symptoms.

Additional resources for common Foodborne illnesses:

Food Safety: Bacteria & Viruses

Preventing Foodborne Illness

USDA Safe Food Handling and Preparation 4 Steps to Food Safety

If you believe you have gotten sick as a result of food eaten at a food service facility in Howard County, please contact our Food Protection Program and let us know.


Measles starts with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat. It’s followed by a rash that spreads over the body. Measles is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing. Make sure you and your child are protected with measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.



Resources for preventing mosquito bites and protecting yourself from the harmful diseases they carry.


Respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory illness that can affect anyone. RSV typically causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can cause serious illness in infants and older adults. RSV typically occurs during the fall and winter months and is the most common cause of inflammation or infection of the lungs in children younger than one year of age. 

People at highest risk for severe disease include

  • Premature infants
  • Young children with congenital (from birth) heart or chronic lung disease
  • Young children with compromised (weakened) immune systems due to a medical condition or medical treatment
  • Children with neuromuscular disorders
  • Adults with compromised immune systems
  • Older adults, especially those with underlying heart or lung disease

Lyme Disease is a bacteria transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected Blacklegged tick (or deer tick). Symptoms may include headache, fever, and the characteristic "bulls-eye" skin rash (erythema migrans). If not treated, the infection can spread to joints, heart and nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (like the rash) and the possibility of exposure to ticks.

Seasonal Flu

The Health Department encourages people of all ages to get a seasonal flu shot from a healthcare provider, local pharmacy, retailer or big box store. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school (even virtual school) due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.

Information for Healthcare Providers

Howard County Healthcare Providers who need to submit a reportable illness case to the Health Department should call 410-313-1412. Providers may also email for assistance.

MDH Letter: Clinical Consideration for Providers Caring for Ukrainians (May 18, 2022)

Pediatric Hepatitis Clinician Letter (April 2022)

Maryland Department of Health launches RSV resource webpage, urges Marylanders to take precautions, get flu and COVID vaccines (November 2022)

Maryland Department of Health releases RSV hospitalization data dashboard, urges Marylanders to wash hands, take precautions (November 2022)


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