Wyoming: Hepatitis Cases Still Rising
July 15, 2003
Hepatitis cases in Natrona County, Wyo., climbed to 72 Monday, and health officials are trying to determine which transmission routes to target their prevention efforts. State Department of Health officials announced two weeks ago that 57 cases of hepatitis B and hepatitis C had been confirmed since February. Test results take two weeks, and in the past 14 days, 15 more cases were confirmed, according to state hepatitis coordinator Clay Van Houten.
Almost as many hepatitis cases have been reported in Natrona County in the last five months as between 1999 and 2002, Health Department data show.
A nine-page confidential survey from CDC is being administered to those being tested for the liver disease. City of Casper-Natrona County Health Department spokesperson Marty Thone said he believes the confidentiality provision will enable honest answers about possible transmission routes. But Casper infectious disease specialist Mark Dowell, M.D., is dubious. "They think that they will be identified as someone who uses drugs. We are not out to police, though, we just want to help -- that's what we're here for," said Dowell.
"The first three questions have to do with drug use, especially injected drug use, and with multiple sex partners," Thone said. "If people answer no to the first two questions then we don't typically test them since they wouldn't be at a high risk."
Those tested are asked to list the people with whom they had sexual contact or shared needles. Using the list, CDC tracks down potential carriers and informs them of potential transmission. Dowell said that "although it comes as more of a shock to some than others, in the end they typically want to know."
Officials suspect the increase in hepatitis cases is the result of a spike in IV methamphetamine use, State Epidemiologist Carl Musgrave said.
Casper Star Tribune
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.