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Posted: Wed, 18 Sep 2013 10:55 CDT
Category: Infectious Disease Prevention

What Makes Iowans Sick?

The Iowa Department of Public Health’s (IDPH) 2012 Iowa Surveillance of Notifiable and Other Diseases Report has been completed. The annual report provides a yearly snapshot of what, how, and when events impact the public’s health.

In 2012, more than 79,000 reports of infectious disease were submitted to the IDPH disease surveillance programs and approximately 100,000 blood lead test results were reported to IDPH last year. IDPH also investigates conditions related to lead, occupational, and environmental hazards like carbon monoxide.

The number of vaccine-preventable diseases decreased compared to the three-year average; however, the number of pertussis cases increased significantly. There were 1,736 cases of pertussis (whooping cough) reported to IDPH in 2012, a 344 percent increase over the three-year average of 391 cases.

"The actual number of pertussis cases is probably much higher since most adults with pertussis typically do not seek medical care and therefore are not diagnosed. Most adults haven’t had a pertussis vaccination since childhood so they probably have very little or no immunity left to pertussis. When they get the disease, they often just have a cough that lasts a long time; thus, they spread the disease to others without knowing they are spreading whooping cough,” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “The good news is that today there is a pertussis booster vaccine that adults can get. In addition, beginning this year, Iowa students enrolling in 7th grade are required to have a tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine booster.”

Other significant elements of the 2012 report include an increase in cases of Lyme disease, which is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tick. There were 165 cases of Lyme disease reported to IDPH in 2012, a 68 percent increase over the previous three-year average, and the highest number of cases recorded since 2002. IDPH investigated 53 food-related outbreaks that affected more than 800 people in 2012. The most common outbreak cause was norovirus.

For the complete IDPH 2012 Iowa Surveillance of Notifiable and Other Diseases Report, visit

Contact Information: Polly Carver-Kimm at (515) 281-6693

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