DHSS News Promoting the health and well-being of Alaskans. June 2019

Infectious Disease Update

  • A single measles case was confirmed on the Kenai Peninsula in mid-July.  Thanks to the community of Kenai and the hard work of our Public Health team and local providers, no secondary transmission occurred in the community. Continued vigilance and strong immunization coverage rates will be needed to prevent future measles outbreaks in Alaska.

  • A DHSS Section of Epidemiology Bulletin published in early August provided data on vaccine hesitancy in Alaska. Based on 2015–2017 data from the Alaska Childhood Understanding Behaviors Survey (CUBS), over 17% of the mothers surveyed were “vaccine resistant.”  Vaccine hesitancy was more than three times higher among mothers who gave birth at a birth center or at home compared to those who gave birth at a hospital. Knowing this information can help direct educational efforts.

  • Thankfully, the continuation of the Alaska Vaccine Assessment Program (AVAP) has been secured. This private-public partnership saves money and gives Alaskans improved access to vaccines. Senate Bill 37, passed during this last legislative session, reauthorizes this program.

  • Alaska is still experiencing a statewide syphilis outbreak. Cases have occurred primarily in gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in urban communities; however, cases are also increasing among women, men who have sex with women, and persons living outside of urban centers. A Section of Epidemiology Bulletin published in May 2019 provides recommendations for providers. The critical role that clinicians play in controlling syphilis outbreaks cannot be overstated. A Public Health Advisory,  Increase in Syphilis Among Women and Non-Gay-Identified Men, was published on Thursday (9/5/19), updating providers with the latest information on the outbreak.

  • Controlling the spread of hepatitis C in Alaska continues to be a challenge. Hepatitis C kills more Americans than any other infectious disease. In recent years in Alaska and in the United States, rates are increasing -- particularly among younger adults. We need your help to increase hepatitis C screening and treatment. Learn more in this new Section of Epidemiology Bulletin that provides an overview and treatment update for hepatitis C.  



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