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Disclosure of Infectious Disease to Law Enforcement

posted on Tue, Mar 17 2015 3:17 pm by Western Region

An Arizona county public health administrator recently contacted the Network with a question regarding law enforcement and communicable diseases. Specifically, does a law enforcement agent interacting with an individual have a statutory right to know if that person poses a risk for disease transmission?

The Network found that there is no statute in Arizona mandating an individual disclose communicable disease information to law enforcement officials prior to exposure. There are, however, procedures prescribed under state law A.R.S. § 36-664(A)(2) for first responders and health care providers to obtain information about a communicable disease post-exposure if they experienced an “occupational significant exposure risk” to the person’s blood or bodily fluids.

Research also turned up an infectious disease exposure control plan from another Arizona police department. The manual notes that Department members should consider any individual with whom they come into contact a potential carrier of a communicable disease and suggests taking “universal precautions” -- specifically, the use of the appropriate personal protective equipment when an officer may come into contact with blood or other bodily fluids.

Furthermore, the Network identified two Texas statutes that deal with post-exposure disclosure of communicable disease status to potentially exposed peace officers that the requestor found to be helpful:

Texas Health and Safety Code § 81.048 provides that peace officers, along with firefighters, emergency personnel, county jailers, and detention officers, must be notified if someone that they transported to a hospital tested positive for certain reportable diseases and the hospital believes that person had the disease before arriving at the hospital, and the officer demonstrates that he was exposed to the reportable disease during transport to the hospital or while providing emergency care.

Additionally, Texas Health and Safety Code § 81.066 makes it a class B misdemeanor for a person to "knowingly conceal or attempt to conceal” from a peace officer during an investigation “that the person has, has been exposed to or is the carrier of a communicable disease that is a threat to the public health or that a minor child or incompetent adult of whom the person is a parent, managing conservator, or guardian has, has been exposed to, or is the carrier of a communicable disease that is a threat to the public health.”

 

Note: Other statutes, regulations, or case law may impact similar situations involving law enforcement officers and disclosure of communicable disease exposures, but were outside the scope of this technical assistance request.

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