State health officials have released a report which shows fewer Iowans are contracting diseases that can be prevented with the proper vaccinations. In fact, Iowa Department of Public Health Medical Director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk says some diseases have almost completely disappeared from the state.
“There’s a disease called Haemophilus influenza type-B that’s almost gone and we very seldom have any Hepatitis type-A anymore,” Quinlisk says. “It’s all because children are getting vaccinated for these diseases and since they often acted as the sort of the reservoir of these diseases in their communities, not only are children not getting them, but even the adults and senior citizens in our communities are no longer getting them.” The 2012 Iowa Surveillance of Notifiable and Other Diseases Report shows more than 79,000 reports of infectious diseases were submitted to the state health department last year.
Quinlisk says there were 1,736 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, reported to state officials in 2012. That marked a 344-percent increase over the three-year average of 391 cases. “This year, one of the things we’ve changed is now children are getting a (whooping cough) booster when they’re 11 or 12 years of age, before they start junior high school,” Quinlisk says. “We’re hoping that will really take down this disease.”
There were 165 cases of Lyme disease reported to the health department in 2012, a 68 percent increase over the previous three-year average, and the highest number of cases recorded since 2002. Lyme disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tick.
“Probably about 10 years ago, it was primarily only found up in the northeast corner of Iowa. As the deer and mice that carry (the ticks) move into Iowa, (Lyme Disease) is spreading from the northeast corner down to the southwest corner. As that happens, we are seeing more people getting sick with this disease,” Quinlisk says. Iowa Department of Public Health officials also investigated 53 food-related outbreaks that affected more than 800 people in 2012. The most common outbreak cause was norovirus.