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CAHAN Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the California Health Alert Network (CAHAN) San Diego?
What is the alerting capability of CAHAN San Diego?
Who are CAHAN San Diego participants?
What information is sent in an alert?
How are CAHAN San Diego alerts sent?
Are CAHAN San Diego alerts confidential?
How does Community Epidemiology ensure the accuracy of information distributed by CAHAN San Diego?
It’s confusing to me that CAHAN San Diego has two websites. What’s the difference between the two?
How do I apply for CAHAN San Diego?
What software does the CAHAN San Diego system use?
How do I report legally reportable and/or unusual diseases?
Who is the contact for CAHAN San Diego?

What is the California Health Alert Network (CAHAN) San Diego?

CAHAN San Diego is a local public health emergency communication system dedicated to facilitating rapid, confidential communication between San Diego County medical and public health professionals to ensure rapid identification of and response to unusual disease events and public health emergencies. CAHAN is the State's system that we share with other counties. It is similar to other public health alerting systems used throughout the United States as part of the national Health Alert Network program.

CAHAN San Diego is administered by the Emergency Medical Services Branch of the County of San Diego’s Health and Human Service Agency (HHSA). Each local hospital can administer their own hospital participants.

Log on to CAHAN portal at cahan.ca.gov

What is the alerting capability of CAHAN San Diego?

For a significant public health threat, CAHAN San Diego alerts may be sent using a “real-time” alerting feature. This “find-me-follow-me” technology can rapidly contact CAHAN San Diego participants using multiple communications devices. Participants may receive these medium- or high-priority alerts via e-mail, telephone, fax, alphanumeric pagers, and cell phones.

Who are CAHAN San Diego participants?

CAHAN San Diego participants include public health and medical professionals in San Diego County. Examples of current CAHAN San Diego participants include public health and safety officials, physicians and nurses (especially those with specialties in infectious disease, emergency medicine and primary care), infection control practitioners, laboratory and pharmacy directors and managers, and other medical professionals approved by HHSA.

What information is sent in an alert?

CAHAN San Diego participants receive periodic alerts containing information on rare or unusual communicable diseases reported to HHSA, recommendations on communicable disease identification, prevention, infection control, specimen submission and laboratory testing.

CAHAN San Diego participants are encouraged to report similar disease occurrence as observed in their profession or area of expertise.

How are CAHAN San Diego alerts sent?

Standard CAHAN San Diego alerts are sent via e-mail 1-3 times per month as unusual communicable disease of public health significance is reported to the Community Epidemiology Branch.

CAHAN San Diego alerts are categorized by their level of urgency; low, medium or high. Standard CAHAN San Diego alerts are categorized as low priority. A medium-priority alert would be sent for a relatively large disease outbreak or occurrence of a rare disease. A high-priority alert would be sent for a public health emergency, such as a smallpox outbreak. Medium- and high-priority alerts can be sent via pager, phone and /or fax, according to the alerting preferences indicated by individual CAHAN participants.

An individual user name and password are required to access alerts. Once alert receipt is confirmed, participants are directed to a secure CAHAN web portal at cahan.ca.gov, to access the alert.

Are CAHAN San Diego alerts confidential?

CAHAN San Diego alerts may contain information on investigations in progress. These confidential alerts are intended for local medical and public health professionals only and should not be distributed further. Access to CAHAN San Diego alerts is restricted to appropriate personnel as defined by Community Epidemiology. Reporting sources for unusual disease occurrence, unless otherwise requested, are also kept confidential.

Interested medical and public health professionals are encouraged to submit an CAHAN San Diego application at www.cahansandiego.com.

How does Community Epidemiology ensure the accuracy of information distributed by CAHAN San Diego?

Disease reports received by the Community Epidemiology Branch are reviewed by the Chief of Community Epidemiology before relevant information is sent to CAHAN San Diego participants. Every effort is made to verify information provided by reporting sources.

It’s confusing to me that CAHAN San Diego has two websites. What’s the difference between the two?

San Diego has both a secure web portal and a public-access website. The secure CAHAN web portal, located at cahan.ca.gov, is where CAHAN San Diego alerts and other important information are stored in a secure location on the Internet for authorized San Diego County public health and medical professionals. Information on the CAHAN San Diego portal includes current and archived CAHAN San Diego alerts, communicable disease information, bioterrorism resources, Physicians’ Bulletins and disease reporting information.

The public-access CAHAN San Diego website at www.cahansandiego.com includes an overview of CAHAN San Diego, a CAHAN San Diego online application, CAHAN San Diego brochure, and web links to public health programs.

How do I apply for CAHAN San Diego?

CAHAN San Diego application may be submitted online by clicking “Subscribe to CAHAN San Diego” at www.cahansandiego.com. An application must be submitted and approved prior to CAHAN San Diego participation.

Personal information provided on the CAHAN San Diego application is confidential and will not be shared or distributed. Personal contact information cannot be viewed by other CAHAN San Diego participants.

What software does the CAHAN San Diego system use?

The upgraded CAHAN San Diego system is based on software called Response Manager which was developed by Global Secure Corporation. The upgraded system includes many features not available on the old system, such as “real-time” alerting and a secure web portal. 

How do I report legally reportable and/or unusual diseases?

Report unusual disease occurrence and legally reportable diseases to the Community Epidemiology Branch at (619) 515-6620. For urgent reports after hours, please call (858) 565-5255 and ask for on-call Epidemiology staff.  Click here to access the Community Epidemiology website for disease reporting requirements for health care providers and laboratorians. 

Who is the contact for CAHAN San Diego?

If you have questions about CAHAN San Diego, please contact the CAHAN San Diego Manager at (619) 285-6429 or by Email.

Report unusual disease occurrence and legally reportable diseases to the Community Epidemiology Branch at (619) 515-6620. For urgent reports after hours, please call (858) 565-5255 and ask for on-call Epidemiology staff.  Click here to access the Community Epidemiology website for disease reporting requirements for health care providers and laboratorians.