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Communicable Disease and Immunization Updates

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Keeping providers informed of public health trends

Our staff provide information about important public health trends. One of the ways we do this is with our Communicable Disease and Immunization Update. This report has information on vaccination, outbreaks, emerging conditions and more.

Check out our latest issue

April 2019

  • Measles Outbreak
  • New Perinatal Hepatitis C Effort
  • Acute Flaccid Myelitis
  • Hepatitis A: Outbreaks & New Recommendations
  • Selected Notifiable Conditions Data

Check out our past issues

April 2017

  • Syphilis Update
  • Tuberculosis Screening Recommendations 
  • HPV Vaccine - New Recommendations

May 2016

  • Zika Virus Outbreak
  • Congenital Syphilis Update
  • Pertussis in Pierce County and Tdap During Pregnancy
  • Reported Cases of Selected Diseases

September 2015

  • Flu Season 2015-2016
  • Antibiotic Prescriptions for Diarrhea in Pierce County
  • Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV-PrEP
  • Reported Cases of Selected Diseases

March 2015

  • Tdap Recommendations for Pregnant Women
  • Acellular Pertussis Vaccine—Duration of Immunity
  • 2015 Measles Outbreak
  • Reported Cases of Selected Diseases for January 2015

September 2014

  • Flu Vaccine Recommendations 2014-2015
  • Chikungunya Virus
  • Ebola Hemorragic Fever Outbreak
  • 2014 Measles Update
  • Reported Cases of Selected Diseases for July 2014

October 2013

  • Preparing for the 2013–2014 Influenza Season
  • 2012–2013 Influenza Season Recap
  • Vibrio parahaemolyticus
  • Reported Cases of Selected Diseases for August 2013

August 2013

  • Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
  • Chronic Hepatitis C Among Baby Boomers
  • H3N2v Influenza
  • August is National Immunization Awareness Month
  • Reported Cases of Selected Diseases for July 2013

October 2012

  • Pertussis Update
  • Preparing for the Influenza Season 2012-2013
  • Novel Influenza A Virus Associated with Swine
  • Reported Cases of Selected Notifiable Diseases

January 2012

  • STEC Infections
  • Pertussis Update
  • Immunization Educational Events and Trainings
  • Reported Cases of Selected Diseases--December 201


Related communicable disease articles for providers:

Health Advisory: Increase Testing to Prevent HIV

April 23, 2019

In King County, newly diagnosed HIV infections are increasing among people who inject drugs.

Pierce County data does not show this trend. Between 2014 and 2018, Pierce County had, on average, 6 newly diagnosed HIV infections each year among people who inject drugs. It is too early to evaluate 2019 data.

Healthcare providers should increase HIV testing among patients who recently injected drugs. Vigilant testing will help determine if transmission is spreading outside of King County.

Requested Actions

Detecting and treating acute HIV infection early reduces transmission and safeguards the health of people living with HIV. You don’t need special consent or counseling to perform HIV testing.

  1. Assess and evaluate patients for HIV risk factors.
    • Gather behavioral risk history, including injection drug use, transactional sex, methamphetamine use, unstable housing or homelessness. Take a comprehensive sexual history and drug use history.
    • Test asymptomatic people who inject drugs for HIV, hepatitis C and syphilis at least annually.
    • Test people who inject drugs and present with symptoms consistent with acute HIV infection (fever, fatigue, myalgia, headache, pharyngitis, adenopathy) for HIV.
  2. Promptly report new HIV infections to Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. Provide risk history, clinical and demographic data.
  3. Connect to care those recently diagnosed or living with untreated HIV for evaluation, follow up and antiretroviral therapy. Help patients stay on treatment and remain in care. Washington Department of Health administers programs to help people at risk for HIV or living with HIV. For more information, call (877) 376-9316.
  4. Offer HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to people who inject drugs or exchange sex.
  5. The Health Department can help notify HIV partners and refer to support services and insurance. Call us at (253) 798-3805.
  6. Help people who inject drugs get sterile injection equipment. See Tacoma Needle Exchange for locations.
  7. Provide information about substance misuse treatment programs, including medication-assisted treatment, to patients who are ready to reduce or stop drug use. Call Washington Recovery Help Hotline, (866) 789-1511, 24 hours a day.
  8. Educate people who inject drugs about the availability of naloxone to prevent overdose death. Naloxone can prevent death from opioid overdose. See Stop Overdose for more information, including where people can access Naloxone.


In King County, newly diagnosed HIV infections among heterosexual people who inject drugs increased from 7 in 2017 to 30 in 2018—a 328% increase. This appears to be like recent outbreaks in other areas of the United States. A similar increase in Snohomish County raises the concern that increases may occur in other parts of Washington.

To date, Washington Department of Health has not seen similar increases in other regions of the state. However, surveillance and analysis of the risk environment leads us to expect additional cases will occur. We are concerned that areas outside of King County are vulnerable to increases in HIV transmission among people who inject drugs.


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