Frequently Asked Questions

The following questions include some of the most frequently asked questions received by the Bureau of Epidemiology. These questions are not intended to be comprehensive. If you do not find information on the topic for which you are looking in these questions or on the Bureau of Epidemiology website, contact the Bureau at 801-538-6191 or email us at

  1. What can I do if I think I got food poisoning from a restaurant?
    First, contact your healthcare provider if you have severe symptoms such as diahrrea and vomiting. You can also contact your state or local health department to report where you ate. You may have contracted a foodborne illness that is reportable. The local health department will follow-up to determine if the restaurant has any food safety violations, if there is an outbreak and if others have become ill. You can also go to igotsick website to make an anonymous foodborne complaint.
  2. How do I get rid of bed bugs?
    Bed bugs can be extremely difficult to get rid of because they are small, very elusive, and feed at night. They are very hardy. They can live for a year or more without feeding, and can withstand a wide range of temperatures from nearly freezing to more that 112℉. Because of how difficult bed bugs are to exterminate, a bed bug infestation is best handled by a professional pest control company. They use special tools, equipment, and insecticides, and will know how to completely eliminate them from your home. For more information, visit our bed bugs page.
  3. What should I do if I have bitten by a bat or dog who may have rabies?
    The amount of time that animals can spread rabies varies by animal. For specific recommendations following an exposure, contact your healthcare provider or public health department. If you are exposed to a rabid animal, immediately wash all bite wounds and scratches with soap and water. See a doctor as soon as possible. After an exposure to a proven or suspected rabid animal, rabies shots should be started as recommended by your healthcare provider. For more information, visit our Rabies page.
  4. Where can I go to get an immunization exemption?
    There are three types of exemptions allowed in Utah: medical, personal and religious. You can obtain a medical exemtpion from your healthcare provider. You can obtain a personal or religious exemption from any Utah public health department. For more information, visit the Utah Immunization Program website.
  5. Who should I call if I’m concerned about the number of people in my community who have cancer?
    Contact Environment Health at 801-538-6191 or visit the Environmental Health website.
  6. How do I get an Food Handler’s permit?
    Contact your local health department or Environmental Sanitation at 801-538-6191 or visit our Environmental Sanitation page.
  7. Where can I go to get tested for a sexually tranmitted disease (STD)?
    There are several testing sites throughout Utah that test for STDs. Visit our Testing page or call the STD Program at 801-538-6191 for more information. You can also visit the National HIV and STD Testing Resources website to find a testing site near you.
  8. Can a person get AIDS from oral sex?
    Yes, HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) can be transmitted during oral sex. HIV is transmitted through four fluids, blood, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk. One of these four fluids from an infected person needs to get into the bloodstream of another person for HIV to be transmitted. It is possible for these fluids to be exchanged during oral sex.
  9. Can Human Papillomavirus (HPV) be spread when a person has no symptoms?
    Yes. HPV is easily passed from one partner to another through skin-to-skin sexual contact. HPV can be passed on between partners even when the infected partner has no signs or symptoms.
  10. Can herpes be cured?
    Herpes is spread by having oral, vaginal, or anal sex with someone who has the disease. Fluids found in the blisters caused by herpes carry the virus, and contact with those fluids can cause infection or from an infected sex partner who does not have a visible sore or who may not know he or she is infected. There is no cure for herpes. However, there are medicines that can prevent or shorten outbreaks. One of these herpes medicines can be taken daily, and makes it less likely that you will pass the infection on to your sex partner(s).
  11. Can a person get chlamydia or gonorrhea from a toilet or from kissing?
    Gonorrhea and chlamydia are transmitted in bodily fluids during vaginal, anal, or oral sex; any sexually active person can be infected with chlamydia or gonorrhea. Gonorrhea can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby during vaginal childbirth. Both chlamydia and gonorrhea can infect the throat; however, they cannot be transmitted from one infected throat to another through kissing. Bodily fluids containing chlamydia and/or gonorrhea must be transmitted from person to person for an infection to occur. Therefore, infected fluids on a toilet seat cannot transmit chlamydia and/or gonorrhea to other toilet users.
  12. Can a person get hepatitis C by getting a tattoo or body piercing?
    Hepatitis C is spread when a person comes in contact with blood contaminated with the hepatitis C virus. Activities that can transmit hepatitis C may include sharing needles/equipment to inject drugs; needlestick injuries in healthcare settings; being born to a mother infected with hepatitis C; sharing personal care items such as razors or toothbrushes; having sex with a person infected with hepatitis C. Transmission of hepatitis C (and other infectious diseases) is possible when poor infection-control practices are used during tattooing or piercing.