A “public health emergency” may be defined as an event, either natural or manmade, that creates a health risk to the public.

What could be considered a public health emergency?

Natural disasters

  • Severe weather (storms heavy rains, lightning strikes)
  • Tornado
  • Blizzard
  • Flood
  • Hurricane

Disease Outbreaks

  • Influenza outbreak
  • Botulism
  • Salmonella
  • West Nile Virus
  • SARS

Contaminated Drinking Water

  • Biological Threat (deliberate or accidental)
  • Anthrax
  • Small Pox
  • Cholera
  • Pneumonic Plague
  • Others

Chemical Threat (deliberate or accidental)

  • May be in the form of a gas, solid, or liquid
  • Household chemical
  • Hazardous materials waste

Radiological Threat

  • Nuclear power plant emergency
  • Bomb

What does my county health department do in case of public health emergency?

The Marion County Health Department detects and responds to public health emergencies to keep your family safe by:

  • Surveillance or monitoring any health-related changes or patterns
  • Investigating underlying causes
  • Responding as part of a team
  • Providing recovery
  • Planning ahead for emergency situations
  • Educating citizens about emergency preparedness


“Surveillance” or the tracking or health-related changes or patterns by the Marion County Health Department team is the foundation of preparedness for a public health emergency. This means health care specialists collect, analyze, and interpret data in order to predict health events.


The Marion County Health Department investigates reported illnesses and disease outbreaks and personally interviews victims in order to collect and document illness signs and symptoms. This information helps to develop case definitions so that others suffering from the same infection/contamination can be identified and treated.


The Marion County Health Department is ready to respond immediately with the staff,
medications, and action plans needed to keep your family safe during a public health
emergency. In the event of a public health emergency, your health department team:

  • Responds as part of a county-wide team
  • Follows a County Emergency Operations Plan
  • Communicates with the local media to keep you informed


The Marion County Health Department provides help and recovery in the aftermath of an emergency or disaster as a partner with other emergency responders. How does your health department team assist?

  • Making sure the food and water supply are safe
  • Ensuring appropriate sanitation practices are followed
  • Following up on surveillance issues for infectious disease or radiation exposure
  • Linking people to community resources

Planning Ahead

The Marion County Health Department has the staff, medications, and action plans in place to keep you and your family safe.


The Marion County Health Department educates you and your family about emergency preparedness.