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

Infectious Disease Update

CDC's Annual Sexually Transmitted Disease Report

CDC’s Annual Sexually Transmitted Disease Report from 2018 was released on Oct. 8. Alaska's ongoing syphilis outbreak is again compounded with the highest per capita rate of chlamydia infection and the second highest per capita rate of gonorrhea infection in the nation. Please talk to your patients about Alaska’s high STD rates and screen and test per CDC guidelines. As you continue to help your patients and help us address Alaska’s high STD rates, we’d like to hear from providers about what is going well and what barriers or difficulties you’re experiencing. Please feel free to contact our HIV/STD program manager Susan Jones, susan.jones@alaska.gov.

Flu News

Thank you to all of you who are encouraging your patients to get flu shot and to the health care facilities, pharmacies, and local businesses who are making it easy for Alaskans to get their annual flu shot through free clinics, drive-through clinics, and more. Our public health nurses are also hosting flu clinics that double as public health emergency exercises in some communities including Fairbanks, Dillingham, and Valdez.

Please know that our Section of Epidemiology maintains flu surveillance data. Visit our website to learn more. You can also sign up to receive our weekly Flu Snapshot updates.

U.S. flu activity is currently low, but flu season is approaching. The CDC recommends everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine by the end of October. It’s good to remind patients that it takes about two weeks after vaccination for the body to build up protection against the flu, so they should get vaccinated before flu begins spreading in Alaska’s communities. If your patients are wondering why it’s important to get a flu shot every year, the CDC has helpful materials for providers.

Please let us know how we can help support you as a provider to help you get your patients vaccinated.

HIV cluster in Fairbanks

Last month, the Alaska Section of Epidemiology sent a letter to Fairbanks health care providers alerting them to a new cluster of HIV cases in the area. The case count is now up to seven new case reports since May 2019. Because a majority of the cases involve military members or civilians who have sex with someone in the military, DHSS is coordinating closely with Fairbanks-area military health care providers. DHSS recommends providers obtain a complete sexual history to identify HIV and STD risk factors and screen for patients with HIV risk factors, including MSM, every 3-6 months. Other patients aged 13-64 years should be screened for HIV at least once. Providers and laboratories are required to report all confirmed or suspected cases of HIV and STDs to the Alaska Section of Epidemiology within two working days via fax (907) 561-4239, phone (907) 269-8000, or electronically. For more information or to receive a copy of the provider letter that provides more recommendations, please contact our HIV/STD Program Manager Susan Jones, (907) 269-8000, susan.jones@alaska.gov.

Infection prevention week

 

International Infection Prevention Week (IIPW) is Oct. 13-19. This annual awareness event highlights ways to stop the spread of health care-associated infections (HAIs). This year, IIPW is focusing on raising awareness about the importance of vaccination. Visit the IIPW website for more information, graphics, and a promotional toolkit.

 

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