Moffat County health officials see increase in certain sexual diseases
Moffat County is showing a sharp increase in gonorrhea cases after years of declining incidents of the sexually transmitted disease.
According to data presented by public health officials to Moffat County Commissioners at a special meeting Monday, June 17, there were 12 cases of gonorrhea, a spike from zero cases last year and about a handful in each of the three years prior to 2017.
The county also continues to battle chlamydia, having reported 30 cases in 2018. The total is up from 21 cases in 2017 and about 30 cases in each of the three years prior to 2017.
Moffat County had one case of syphilis and one case of HIV in 2018, according to the data.
Flu comprises much of the work done by public health nurses in the three-county area of Moffat, Routt and Jackson Counties. Farrah Smilanich, public health and nurse manager for Northwest Colorado Health, offers 34 off-site flu clinics to keep the population vaccinated in the three-county area.
“How often is that used?” asked Commissioner Don Cook of the flu clinics.
“When school starts… and in flu season it’s really busy,” Smilanich said.
Moffat County regularly sees flu spikes in mid-December and late February, and each is often a different strain of the virus. The data show some 300 hospitalizations for the flu across the state during each spike.
Smilanich said there were seven hospitalizations reported in Moffat County related to the flu for the 2018-2019 season.
Smilanich also updated commissioners on rabies and tuberculosis. She said this last quarter there were three suspected cases of TB in the three-county region she serves. She warned residents against taking in wild animals like raccoons or bats to avoid exposure to rabies and the need for expensive shots to cure it. She said a woman in Routt County caused a stir after at least 20 people had to be found and tested when a woman took several seemingly abandoned baby raccoons into her home.
She said residents who come into contact with bats could catch rabies.
“If you cannot catch that bat and have it tested for rabies, you need to be vaccinated for rabies,” Smilanich said.
Measles was also on Smilanich’s list. She said Colorado’s lone measles case in 2018 is one too many and can usually be prevented when a population achieves a 90% vaccination rate. While Moffat County has an official measles vaccination rate higher than 90%, Smilanich said when the state’s personal exemptions allowing someone to opt out of vaccinations are accounted for, Moffat County’s measles vaccination rate is lower.
“When you really dig into it, I think when last I looked it was around 80%,” Smilanich said, adding the county needs to achieve that 90 percent vaccination rate to have herd immunity.
“If 90% of us are immune, then the chances of us passing something along to someone can’t be vaccinated, like some infants and immuno-compromised people, are lower,” Smilanich said. “So, our rates are getting better. We’re working on that.”