I just got off the phone with the Department of Public Health. The conversation went like this:
Woman with a Heavy Asian Accent: Hi, this is mumble mumble from mumble mumble. I need to ask you some questions about C. Peevie. He was seen in the ER recently and was diagnosed with varicella?
Me: Yes, he had chicken pox. Wait a minute, who is this?
WHAA: This is mumble mumble from the Department of Public Health. We have to make a report when we get notified that someone has had chicken pox. Can I ask you some questions?
Me: Um, OK.
WHAA: Mumble mumble varicella mumble mumble General Hospital mumble.
Me: Yes, that's correct. He was seen in the ER at Lutheran General Hospital.
WHAA: Does he still have fever? Does he still have spots? Did he go back to school?
Me: No, he hasn't had any fever for about a week. Yes, he has spots, but they are scabbed over. And yes, he went back to school yesterday.
WHAA: Does anyone else at the school have chicken pox?
Me: How would I know?
WHAA: What school does he go to?
WHAA: Do you have the phone number?
Me: No, but I'm sure you could look it up.
WHAA: So you don't know if anyone else at the school has chicken pox?
WHAA: Do you know where he was exposed to chicken pox? Do any of his friends have it?
Me: No, I don't know where he got it from, and as far as I know, his friends do not have it.
WHAA: Did your son hang out with his friends after he got chicken pox? Where did he go? What did he do?
Me: Yes, we took him to several restaurants and had him cough on the salad bar; and then we went to a day care center and had him hug all the children and rub his arms all over the stuffed animals.
Me: No, he did not go out after he was diagnosed. But the day before he was diagnosed, he went to church.
WHAA: Does anyone at church show symptoms?
Me: I don't know.
The WHAA asked me a bunch more questions about our household and vaccination status, and then said
WHAA: OK, thank you. We'll call you back if we have more questions for our report.
Me: OK! Because clearly, this conversation will go a long way to stopping the spread of disease and keeping the Public safe and healthy.
Here's what the Department of Public Health should have asked:
When did he start showing symptoms?
When did he get diagnosed?
Where did he go and who did he have contact with in the three days prior to showing symptoms and before getting diagnosed? And then she should have tried to obtain contact information for those people and places.
That would give them information that they could actually use to protect public health.
But, hey, what do I know?