What made me sick in 2013?

Staff Writer
Story City Herald

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) issued the 2013 Iowa Surveillance of Notifiable and Other Diseases Report last fall. The annual report provides a yearly snapshot of what, how, and when events impact the public’s health. In 2013, more than 71,000 laboratory results of infectious diseases and conditions were submitted to IDPH disease surveillance programs.

In general, the number of reported cases of vaccine-preventable diseases decreased when compared to the previous three-year average (2010-2012); however, the number of reported Hepatitis A cases increased.

Diseases spread via insects continue to impact Iowans. In 2013, there was a notable number of these diseases reported to IDPH including Dengue fever, Lyme disease, malaria, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and West Nile virus. Of these diseases, Lyme disease and West Nile virus increased when compared to the previous three-year average. “We expect to see an increase in imported insect-borne diseases in the future,” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne disease that has become common in the Caribbean and Iowans who vacation and are bit by an infected mosquito there can come home and become ill. If you’re traveling to areas outside the U.S., it’s important to know what diseases are circulating there and how to protect yourself against them.”

During the summer of 2013, 136 Iowans from 35 counties were diagnosed with Cyclosporiasis as part of a multi-state outbreak linked to consumption of a bagged salad mix. Cyclospora is a rare parasite that can cause prolonged, watery diarrhea, which, if left untreated, can last weeks to months. Only 10 cases of Cyclospora had been reported in Iowa prior to 2013. Cases increased by nearly 315 percent last year. In addition to the Cyclospora outbreak, 59 other outbreaks affecting more than 1,100 people were reported and investigated in 2013. The most common implicated pathogen was norovirus and outbreaks occurred most frequently in restaurants, long-term care/assisted living facilities, schools/child care facilities, and homes.

Other significant elements of the 2013 report include an increase in enteric or diarrheal diseases, which are typically associated with contaminated food or water. For instance, there were 342 cases of Shigellosis reported to IDPH last year, an increase of 518 percent from 2012, when 91 cases were reported.

For the complete IDPH 2013 Iowa Surveillance of Notifiable and Other Diseases Report, visit http://bit.ly/1uZMudv.