Tazewell County Health Dept.

Planning Emergency Planning Public Health Emergencies

Public Health Emergencies

What is a public health emergency?

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

What are examples of a public health emergency?

Natural disasters

  • Severe weather: storms, heavy rains, lightning strikes
  • Tornado
  • Blizzard
  • Flood

Disease Outbreaks

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

Contaminated Drinking Water

Biological Threat (deliberate or accidental)

  • Anthrax
  • Small pox
  • Cholera
  • Pneumonic plague

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 a public health emergency?

Your 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 of health-related changes or patterns by your local 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.


Your 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.


Your 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 countywide team
  • Follows a County Emergency Operations Plan
  • Communicates with the local media to keep you informed


Your 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

Your county health department has the staff, medications, and action plans in place to keep you and your family safe.


Your county health department educates you and your family about emergency preparedness.