In each issue of the Epigram, we are pleased to introduce you to a member of the Disease Prevention and Response team at SRHD. In this issue we feature Disease Intervention Specialist (DIS), Kirsten Duncan, MPH. Kirsten works in our HIV/STD Prevention program where she focuses largely on syphilis investigation, treatment, and contact tracing.
U = U, Undetectable=Untransmittable, is the new hot slogan aimed at reducing the stigma of having HIV. The campaign is focused on educating others that viral suppression of HIV (defined as less than 200 copies/mL or undetectable levels) achieved through antiretroviral therapy (ART) prevents sexual HIV transmission. Formally recognized by CDC in a Dear Colleague statement last fall, scientific advances have validated this benefit, in addition to preserving the health of people living with HIV.
The latest Five-Year Communicable Diseases Report for Healthcare Providers from SRHD for 2012-16 (the most recent years for which complete data are available) was published last month. Data are organized by disease type, and include new spotlight features on recent diseases that have had local impact, including mumps, the 2016 norovirus outbreak at House of Charity, and Zika virus. Also new this year are comparison figures with US population data.
Valley fever, also called coccidioidomycosis, is an infection caused by the soil-dwelling fungus Coccidioides. The fungus is commonly found in the arid soil in the southwestern US and parts of Central and South America, as it is dependent on both weather patterns and soil composition for growth. It has also recently been found in south-central Washington. Humans and animals contract the infection by breathing the fungal spores from the air, often after disturbance of contaminated soil. In the US, highly endemic areas include southern Arizona and California’s southern San Joaquin Valley. Notably in Washington, 12 human cases with suspected exposure in Washington have been reported since 2010, all from south-central Washington.