I did not watch the presidential debate last week. Wild horses couldn’t drag me away from my most favorite publication from the Minnesota Department of Health:
The Annual Summary of Communicable Diseases Reported to the Minnesota Department of Health, 2015.
Folks, this is pleasure reading at its best, full of pestilence, suspense, and SEX.
I’ve culled this riveting report into a tiny list of takeaway messages. For you. From me. xoxo.
1) The numbers reflect reported cases, not the actual incidence of disease. 21,238 cases of Chlamydia were reported in 2015. That’s like all of Golden Valley. Or half of Edina. As you may know, chlamydia can lurk around, relatively asymptomatic until it wreaks havoc. So 21k is certainly a lowball number. Plan accordingly.
2) Health disparities continue. People of Color are disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS, malaria, measles, chlamydia, carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae, gonorrhea, tuberculosis, and Hepatitis A, B, & C. This is an opportunity for meaningful improvement! Let’s get to work!
3) Many of the reported communicable diseases are vaccine preventable. I will list them for you:
- Haemophilus influenza (104 cases, 18 deaths)
- Influenza, “The Flu” (1501 cases, 3 pediatric deaths)
- Measles (2 cases)
- Meningococcal Disease (7 cases)
- Mumps (6 cases)
- Pertussis, “Whooping Cough” (594 cases)
- Rabies (No human cases! Keep vaccinating your pets!)
- Streptococcus pneumoniae Invasive Disease (534 cases, 56 deaths)
- Varicella, “Chicken Pox” & “Shingles” (361 cases)
- Viral Hepatitis A (21 cases)
- Viral Hepatitis B (19 acute cases, 165 newly identified chronic cases)
4) Food prep is no joke. Wash your hands. Check internal temps. Don’t eat raw meat. Travel carefully and choose restaurants wisely. (bloody diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, bloody diarrhea)
5) Tiny mosquitoes make big trouble. West Nile Virus (9 cases), LaCrosse encephalitis (1 case), Western equine encephalitis, and Jamestown Canyon virus can all be transmitted by Minnesota mosquitoes. My friend’s mother contracted West Nile Virus and is now wheelchair bound due to neurologic and cognitive impairment. Chikungunya, dengue, malaria, and Zika are also transmitted by mosquitoes, but all Minnesota cases of these diseases were acquired internationally in warmer climes.
Here is some helpful information about DEET from the Environmental Protection Agency.
6) There is no need to travel internationally to acquire tick-borne illness. Our very own Minnesota ticks can give you anaplasmosis (613 cases), Lyme disease (1176 cases), babesiosis (45 cases), Powassan virus, and ehrlichiosis. There have also been rare Minnesota cases of tick-borne Tularemia and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Chester, our yellow labrador retriever, kindly collected 16 deer ticks in a 24-hour period in Otter Tail County.
Once again, here is some helpful information about DEET from the Environmental Protection Agency.
7) Let’s talk about sex. The rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea in Minnesota are increasing, disproportionately impacting adolescents, young adults, and People of Color. Syphilis is also on the rise, particularly among men who have sex with men. Meanwhile, antibiotic resistance is (no shock) increasing.
The number of new Minnesota HIV diagnoses per year (228 cases in 2015) has remained relatively stable over the past ten years and continues to be associated with poverty and high population density (the Twin Cities). Females and adolescents make up an increasing percentage of new HIV diagnoses. According to the MDH, in 2014 Minnesota ranked 16th lowest HIV diagnosed infection rate at 7 cases per 100,000 people. Louisiana had 36.6 cases per 100,000 people. Coincidentally, Minnesota ranks 7th lowest for poverty, while Louisiana ranks 49th.
Start talking. Silence = death.
8) I love public health. Thank you to all the people who spend their lives trying to protect the rest of us.
You can read the full The Annual Summary of Communicable Diseases Reported to the Minnesota Department of Health, 2015 HERE. I strongly recommend reading it with a bowl of popcorn and beverage of your choice.