By Lorilyn C. Lirio
The Thurston County Public Health Department has investigated 125 confirmed and probable cases of various communicable diseases in the past month, reported a county official.
Thurston County Health officer Dr. Dimyana Abdelmalek was at the Board of Health meeting on Tuesday, November 8, and reported on the county’s health situation.
Abdelmalek said they had been closely watching the case trends of campylobacter, chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis C, highly antibiotic-resistant organisms, monkeypox, measles, pertussis, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, and syphilis.
“We are watching these case trends closely month on month,” Abdelmalek told the health board members.
In terms of COVID-19, she said the community levels of the virus are in the low range based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. “We are at approximately 35.4 per 100,000 [people] over the past seven days.”
According to the CDC data, Abdelmalek said the county has more than three cases of people diagnosed with COVID-19 and admitted to the hospital in the past seven days.
Abdelmalek noted lower levels of COVID-19 and influenza cases in the county and no reported outbreaks in long-term facilities.
“Not all influenza is reported to us, but outbreaks and influenza-related deaths or novel influenza gets reported to us at the Public Health, Abdelmalek said. “
In Washington, Abdelmalek added, significant respiratory illnesses have been observed, resulting in hospital strain, especially in pediatric hospitals.
“We at the Public Health Department have acknowledged that multiple viral respiratory pathogens are circulating. We have been planning on outbreak mitigation and have had some messaging on vaccination,” the public health official said.
Abdelmalek reminded the public that there is a bivalent COVID-19 booster available. She also recommended that community members should take a flu shot too. “Based on our preliminary talks with state and federal partners, it looks like the influenza vaccine is a good match for what is currently circulating [respiratory diseases].”
On a state level, Abdelmalek said, they have seen a significant slowing rate in new monkeypox cases.
To date, Washington State has 627 total cases and 18 hospitalizations of people with monkeypox.
Two cases so far in Thurston County, according to the health official.
“This is the disease that is spread predominantly through close contact with folks during their infectious period,” Abdelmalek said, adding, “there is a vaccine [available] that is effective at preventing monkeypox.”
Thurston County had administered 283 doses of the vaccine, according to Abdelmalek.
“In terms of spread, the community most affected is the community of men who have sex with men as well as folks who are engaged in sex work,” she said, adding that they are providing the vaccine for people who fall into high-risk categories.
They also arrange for a vaccine for people in close contact with someone who has had monkeypox.
“If folks can get vaccinated within the first four days, that is your best chance of preventing the disease. If within the first 14 days [you get vaccinated], you have a good chance of reducing symptoms if you did become infected,” Abdelmalek explained.
She encouraged people to call Thurston County Public Health at 360-867-2610 to make an appointment.