Communicable Disease

Communicable diseases were the leading causes of death in the U.S. up through the 1950s. Public Health is largely responsible for controlling the spread of communicable diseases, which spread from one person to another through the air, or by direct or indirect contact.

North Carolina law requires certain communicable diseases and conditions to be reported to the local health director in the county where the disease occurs. Physicians, school principals, day care centers, medical facilities, operators of restaurants and other food and drink establishments, and persons in charge of laboratories are required to report specific communicable diseases or conditions.

Program Goals & Strategies

The goal of the Communicable Disease Program is to ensure proper reporting of communicable diseases, investigate suspected outbreaks and put into place disease control and prevention measures. Our strategies include:
  • Monitoring case reports from a variety of sources in the community
  • Setting systems into place to identify emerging diseases, including bioterrorism events
  • Enforcing public health laws in order to control diseases and other hazards, which may be harmful to the public health
  • Collaborating with other health agencies and community partners to design and implement measures to prevent outbreak of disease in the community
Tuberculosis (TB) is a communicable disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but can also attack any other part of the body such as kidneys, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal. TB disease was once the leading cause of death in the United States.

TB spreads through the air from one person to another. The bacteria are put into the air when a person with active TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs or sneezes. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.

Goals & Strategies of the TB Control Program
Our goal is to eliminate tuberculosis disease in our community. Our strategies are:
  • Early identification of TB disease
  • Provide appropriate disease treatment
  • Minimize number of new infections
  • Preventive treatment for infected individuals
Services include:
  • Tuberculosis (TB) skin testing using PPD to identify infection
  • Chest X-rays to rule out active TB for first time PPD positive person
  • Screening for TB for employment
  • Clinical evaluation and TB medications at no charge
  • Case followup and home visits to assure adequate treatment
Differences Between TB Infection & Disease
TB Infection
  • Tubercle bacilli in the body
  • TB skin test reaction usually positive
  • Chest x-ray usually normal
  • Sputum smears and cultures negative
  • No symptoms
  • Not infectious
  • Not a case of TB
  • Preventive treatment optional / may be recommended

TB Disease
  • Tubercle bacilli in the body
  • TB skin test reaction usually positive
  • Chest x-ray usually abnormal
  • Sputum smears and cultures positive
  • Symptoms such as cough, fever, weight loss
  • Often infectious before treatment
  • A case of TB
  • Treatment mandated by law