Flu: The flu is now in full swing in Alaska and continuing to increase. Influenza B is the predominant circulating strain, as reported in the most recent Flu Snapshot from the week of Dec. 8-14.  DHSS’ Section of Epidemiology maintains flu surveillance data; visit their website to learn more. You can also sign up to receive our weekly Flu Snapshot updates. 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 support you to help you get your patients vaccinated. It’s also good to let patients know that it’s not too late to get vaccinated. Even if they do get the flu, they will likely get a milder case and be at lower risk for hospitalization if they do get vaccinated.

Congratulations to the nurses at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API) who were able to administer flu vaccine this year to nearly all API patients. Thank you, API nurses for making this happen!

Rogers Park Elementary: In late November, Rogers Park Elementary in Anchorage reported an unusually large number of students and staff out sick due to respiratory illness; about half of the school called in absent. To help determine the cause of the illness, DHSS and the Anchorage Health Department provided an online epidemiologic survey to parents. Some nasal swab testing for common respiratory illnesses was also done at the school. Most test results were positive for influenza B virus, with at least one positive result for adenovirus. Most students experienced fever, headache, nausea, and respiratory symptoms.

We want to especially thank Rogers Park Elementary and the Anchorage School District for working so closely with our epidemiologists and the Anchorage Health Department, for cleaning the school so thoroughly each night after students went home, and communicating health information in a timely and responsive manner to Rogers Park Elementary families. Thank you to all involved!

Measles: You probably heard the news that five U.S. airports had travelers pass through with measles this month. This could result in further infection among unvaccinated travelers. Please encourage your patients to be fully vaccinated with the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, the flu vaccine, and all other routine vaccines at least two weeks before they travel. Measles outbreaks are occurring worldwide, including in some European countries, the Philippines, New Zealand, and Pacific island nations (Samoa, Fiji, Tonga and American Samoa). Some vaccines may be required before you travel to certain countries. Please let patients know they can check for any health concerns and vaccine requirements before they travel at wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel.

Syphilis: In 2019, syphilis case counts continued to rise dramatically.  The epidemiology of the ongoing syphilis outbreak continues to change over time, with increasing numbers of cases occurring through heterosexual transmission, among those who use drugs, and among the homeless population. We strongly urge health care providers to obtain sexual histories and conduct risk assessments on patients and screen according to national guidance:

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Syphilis Screening Guidance for Non-Pregnant Adults and Adolescents: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening for syphilis infection in persons who are at increased risk for infection (Grade A). USPSTF information on assessment of risk is available here

CDC Syphilis Screening Guidance

Pregnant Women

  • All pregnant women at the first prenatal visit
  • Retest early in the third trimester and at delivery if at high risk

Men Who have Sex With Men (MSM)

  • At least annually for sexually active MSM
  • Every 3 to 6 months if at increased risk

Persons with HIV

  • For sexually active individuals, screen at first HIV evaluation, and at least annually thereafter
  • More frequent screening might be appropriate depending on individual risk behaviors and the local epidemiology



From Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink, MD, FACEP

Medication Assisted Treatment Guide

EVALI Update

Healthy Alaskans

Infectious Disease Updates

Medicaid Updates

Behavioral Health Updates

Explaining the Regulatory Process

Response Resources: Support Opioid/Substance Use Disorder

Podcasts, Books, Journal Articles and Resources

DHSS Highlight: Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Webinars

DHSS Online Public Notices

Upcoming Conferences, Webinars, Trainings and Events

Recent DHSS News and Publications


State of Alaska
Department of Health and Social Services
Website: http://dhss.alaska.gov/
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