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4. The public health officer

A few days later, still pondering antimicrobial resistance mechanisms, Jeff received a phone call from a county public health officer, Dr. Lange, to discuss his illness.

After introducing herself, Dr. Lange said, “I’d like to talk to you about your multi-drug resistant Salmonella Typhimurium infection and ask you a few questions."

She proceeded to tell Jeff how the public health department monitored important infections, such as Salmonella. Human clinical diagnostic laboratories report all isolations of Salmonella to the public health department because Salmonella infection is a nationally notifiable disease. When an apparent cluster of Salmonella or another important infectious disease is identified by the public health department, someone from the health department usually interviews the infected person(s) to help determine how and where they may have acquired the infection.

"I would be more than happy to help. I’ve been rather curious as to the origin of this infection myself,” Jeff replied.


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Nationally Notifiable Diseases

Many nationally notifiable diseases are zoonotic. To see the list of nationally notifiable diseases and conditions from the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists, click the link above

The “Surveillance Pyramid” below illustrates the steps between a person becoming exposed to a pathogen, and the laboratory-confirmed case being reported to the health department.