Communicable Disease

The main objectives for Catawba County Public Health's Communicable Disease staff, under the direction of and in collaboration with the NC General Communicable Disease Control Branch, are:

  • To promptly investigate disease outbreaks and unusual situations, and to implement control measures to minimize further transmission of disease
  • To monitor disease reporting by physicians and laboratories in order to detect trends
  • To provide a channel of communication between Catawba County Public Health, private physicians, and hospital and occupational infection control personnel, as an essential part of disease control efforts
  • To explain public health interventions and disseminate health education messages to the community in order to enhance disease control efforts.

There are 96 different diseases mandated by law as reportable to the State of NC Communicable Disease Branch. These diseases include foodborne, airborne, blood borne, waterborne or vector borne (e.g., insect bites). In addition to legally reportable diseases, Catawba County Communicable Disease nurses assist with other public health concerns such as MRSA, lice, dog bites, and others to ensure the affected persons and their contacts are receiving proper health care.

Health care providers should report communicable diseases using the Reporting Form for Health Care Providers. Some diseases must be reported within 24 hours, while others have as many as 7 days to report. Questions and referrals can be sent to our Communicable Disease staff.

For more information on communicable diseases in North Carolina, please visit the North Carolina Communicable Disease Branch.

A goal of Catawba County Public Health is to control the human risk of exposure and offer prophylaxis to people who have potentially been exposed to the deadly rabies virus, which attacks the nervous system of its victims.

Tuberculosis (TB) is a communicable, potentially deadly disease that usually affects the lungs but can attack other parts of the body as well. It is spread when a person with an active case of TB breathes out disease-causing bacteria, which are then inhaled by another person. TB is treatable and usually curable, although new drug-resistant strains are appearing that are very difficult to treat. It is vital that TB patients faithfully follow their treatment regimen and take all medications as directed, for as long as directed, or the disease can recur in a drug-resistant form.

Catawba County Public Health providesTB skin tests and risk assessments, access to chest X-rays, and preventive medication therapy.

The Communicable Disease team supports providers by answering questions regarding the administration and interpretation of tests. Medical providers who interpret a test as potentially positive should refer the patient to Catawba County Public Health for follow up.

Questions and referrals can be sent to our Communicable Disease nurses. For more information, visit the North Carolina Epidemiology page.

Seasonal influenza is an illness that can cause serious health complications, including pneumonia and death. The best defense against the flu is vaccination. Each year, Catawba County Public Health offers appointments in our immunization clinic for flu shots.

For information about the flu shot, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s flu shot page.

For more information on this year’s seasonal flu vaccine or to schedule a flu shot, call (828) 695-5881.

Hepatitis A, B and C are diseases of concern that can have lasting health effects if left untreated. Hecause this family of diseases is an issue of growing concern in Catawba County, a multidisciplinary group is working to increase awareness of the disease, increase screening and testing, increase vaccination, and coordinate treatment among health care providers. The group includes representatives from Catawba County Public Health and other health agencies throughout the county.

Catawba County Public Health helps coordinate the coalition's work, and provides free testing and immunizations for former or current drug users, patients who are HIV positive, individuals experiencing homelessness, and Baby Boomers born between 1945 and 1965. Patients must set up an appointment and be screened in the Adult Health Clinic before testing is ordered.