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TMCNet:  Davis Health Department explains rise in disease reports

[February 13, 2013]

Davis Health Department explains rise in disease reports

CLEARFIELD, Feb 13, 2013 (Standard-Examiner - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Health screenings for incoming Davis County Jail inmates, a national pertussis outbreak and the steady climb of sexually transmitted diseases significantly raised the number of communicable disease cases reported in Davis County in 2012.

The number of cases is 27 percent more than the 2011 figures.

The county recorded 363 more cases in 2012 than in 2011, with 315 of those associated with STDs, pertussis and hepatitis C, said Davis County Health Department Epidemiologist Brian Hatch.

Hatch revealed the findings Tuesday at a Davis County Board of Health meeting.

The county health department in 2012 received 1,732 communicable disease reports, with chlamydia the No. 1 reported disease with 862 cases, Hatch said.

The county in 2011 received 1,369 disease reports, with chlamydia responsible for 739 of the cases.

As a result of the high chlamydia count, STDs made up nearly 54 percent of all cases reported in 2012, with gonorrhea cases more than doubling from the year before, Hatch said.

Gonorrhea cases jumped to 40 cases reported in 2012, from 18 cases in 2011.

"Half of our time is spent on STDs here," Hatch said, "and we are chasing our tails." When it comes to reaching the demographic that predominantly contracts and spreads STDs -- young adults between ages 18 and 29 -- there is a lack of public education addressing disease prevention, Hatch said.

In Utah, STDs are something that is generally not talked about, he said.

This year's communicable disease case numbers are also on the rise as the result of a pertussis outbreak and some hepatitis C cases discovered through health screenings for incoming jail inmates.

Using a grant awarded to the county in 2012, Hatch said, HCV testing was conducted in the jail for inmates entering the correctional facility.

There were 753 inmates screened for HCV, with 60 testing positive, he said.

"Most of those who tested positive were at high risk for infection, yet were unaware of their infection," Hatch said in his report.

Those testing positive received counseling, were encouraged to seek confirmatory testing and were provided with resources within the community upon their release from jail, he said.

In 2012 the county health department also experienced a significant increase in the number of pertussis cases reported, with the department going from investigating an average of 25 cases per year, based on a five-year average, to investigating 139 cases in 2012.

This elevated trend was noted across the state and country, with 1,450 cases of pertussis reported in Utah, resulting in one death, and a 3 percent hospitalization rate, Hatch said.

The full county health's communicable disease report for 2012 can be found at under the communicable disease heading.

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