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NC Department of Health and Human Services
NC Division of Public Health
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About Us

Medical Consultation Unit

The mission of the Medical Consultation Unit (MCU) of the Communicable Disease Branch is to reduce morbidity and mortality resulting from communicable diseases that are a significant threat to the public health for the benefit of all people living in North Carolina, through disease detection, tracking, investigation, control, education and care activities.

The MCU consists of a team of public health professionals including physicians, nurses, veterinarians and epidemiologists who provide 24//7 coverage to local health departments, healthcare providers and other partners dealing with communicable disease issues.

Program areas with specific emphasis and dedicated staff include Foodborne Diseases, Respiratory Diseases, Vectorborne Diseases and Veterinary Public Health, Healthcare-Associated Infections, and the Technical Assistance and Training Program (TATP). TATP nurse consultants monitor clinical issues and reporting of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) by local health departments on behalf of the Communicable Disease Branch. The North Carolina Tuberculosis Control Program is also housed within the Unit.

The unit monitors more than 70 communicable diseases through physician and laboratory reports. Hospital Emergency Department data and Poison Center data are also used for near-real time disease surveillance.

More than 3,000 cases of foodborne disease and more than 3,000 cases of other non-STI reportable diseases are reported to the Communicable Disease Branch annually. STIs account for an additional 65,000 reportable events. (Learn more about STIs and HIV/AIDS.) The unit's Public Health veterinarians handle another 3,000-plus calls each year, mostly for assessment of rabies exposure situations. Every case of reportable disease or potential exposure is investigated in order to detect the potential source, identify related cases or outbreaks, and to prevent or limit the risk of illness and further transmission. Outbreak response may also involve partner agencies such as the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, N.C. Emergency Management, or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as local health departments.

Internal surge capacity may also be activated within the N.C. Epidemiology Section or the Division of Public Health for large-scale responses to disease outbreaks and emerging diseases, such as the 2009 Influenza Pandemic or the 2003 SARS worldwide outbreak.