NBC 17 reports that the medical staff of Wake County Human Services is charged with monitoring all communicable diseases, but for the past few weeks, it has worked full time chasing down the E. coli outbreak.
“We get phone calls from physicians’ offices; we can get phone calls from hospitals,” said Ruth Lassiter, one of three county public health nurses. “We work closely with all the hospitals here in the infection control and the emergency rooms who will report to us any unusual findings.”
They take those unusual findings and turn each suspected case of E. coli upside down. They ask questions about a victim’s recent eating habits and social activity until they can conclude whether the person should be added to the growing statewide outbreak of the infectious bacterium.
“You may never know those people,” Lassiter said. “You may never meet them, but talking over the phone with them you can give them a little bit of extra support and let them know that everything possible is being done to find out where this might have come from and how we can help them with that.”
Health officials statewide are investigating 115 suspected cases of E. coli, including 43 that have been confirmed. Officials have identified the North Carolina State Fair as the source of the outbreak, although they haven’t pinpointed the venue at the fair that is to blame.