Current Community Outbreaks
What you should know!
Southwest Idaho is currently experiencing an outbreak of syphilis. Syphilis is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection that has been affecting our community dramatically since Fall of 2020. Syphilis is spread through oral, genital, or anal sex with an infected person and can increase your risk of contracting or spreading HIV. If left untreated, syphilis can cause serious health problems such as blindness, neurological damage, organ damage and can be fatal.
Luckily, syphilis can easily be cured with antibiotics and if it is treated early, it can prevent long-standing health complications that can occur when it goes untreated. Since the fall of 2020, we have seen two congenital syphilis cases: when a mother passes the syphilis infection on to her baby during pregnancy. This can be very serious as it may lead to very serious health issues including stillbirth, neonatal death, or severe chronic health conditions. If you are pregnant, you should be tested at least once during pregnancy
Everyone should be tested at least once in their life! Those that should be tested every 6 months are those who:
- Have anonymous sex partners
- Have multiple sex partners
- Have had sex with someone known to have tested positive for syphilis
- Have had a past STI and are sexually active
- Have sex while intoxicated or high
- Are a man who has sex with men
- Are living with HIV and are sexually active
- Are taking PREP for HIV prevention
To prevent infection, wear a condom or get tested frequently to stay on top of your health!
Check out these videos to learn more about syphilis and testing.
Free syphilis and HIV rapid testing available at Southwest District Health. Call 208-455-5300 to book an appointment.
Learn more about free at-home HIV tests, STI tests, and PrEP panel tests at TakeMeHome.org.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Full PDF of the Syphilis FAQ (Revised June 2021)
PDF completo de las preguntas frecuentes sobre sífilis (revisado en junio de 2021)
The epidemiologists at Southwest District Health investigate reportable diseases and implements measures to prevent the spread of diseases. Healthcare providers, labs, and hospitals report communicable diseases via a dedicated, confidential reporting line.
Hot topics in SW Idaho
Summer season brings an increase in mosquito and tick activity in Idaho. This increase in activity also brings an increase in vector-borne disease transmission. Common symptoms of arboviral diseases include fever, headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and lethargy. In cases of severe arboviral infections, neurological symptoms of encephalitis, seizures, coma and paralysis can occur.
If you are experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms talk with your doctor about testing.
To help prevent exposures to arboviral diseases from mosquito and tick bites, use insect repellents with DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), Para-menthane-diol (PMD) or 2-undecanone. For more information about which insect repellent may be right for you, check out the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) site on repellents: https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents
Other prevention methods include wearing long pants and shirts that are pre-treated with permethrin. Do not use permethrin products directly on your skin.
Always check yourself and pets for ticks after being outdoors, especially under arms, in and around ears, inside belly button, back of the knees, in and around the hair, between legs and around the waist. Showering within two hour of being outside also helps wash off unattached ticks. See more information on tick bites at https://www.cdc.gov/ticks/avoid/on_people.html.
Lastly, take steps at home by using screens on doors and windows, repairing any holes, and turning over any items that may have standing water (i.e. tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots or trash containers). Check these weekly!
For information on West Nile Virus visit the following:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at www.cdc.gov/westnile
- Idaho West Nile virus information and surveillance summary at http://www.westnile.idaho.gov/
- Canyon County Mosquito Abatement District at https://canyoncountymosquito.com/
See the below press release regarding West Nile Virus positive mosquitoes in Canyon County:
Links for more information
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What We Do
There are over 70 reportable diseases and conditions in Idaho. When one of these conditions is reported, Southwest District Health (SWDH) Epidemiologists (Epis) will investigate the illness and work to establish the source of the infection, determine whether others have been exposed, and if an outbreak has occurred. Epis may make recommendations to restrict people from daycare, school, or work while they are infectious to prevent further spread. Epis sometimes make recommendations for those who have been exposed to an infectious disease to receive an immunization, test, or treatment to prevent them from becoming ill. SWDH Epis also offer case management for active tuberculosis (TB) which includes a way to help clients to take their TB medications called Directly Observed Therapy or DOT.
If you need to get in touch with an Epi, please call 208-455-5442.
Idaho Reportable Diseases
In Idaho, licensed physicians, hospital or health care facility administrators, laboratory directors, physician assistants, certified nurse practitioners, registered nurses, school health nurses, infection surveillance staff, public health officials and coroners are required to report all reportable diseases and conditions.
School administrators must report the closure of any public, parochial, charter, or private school within one (1) working day when, in his or her opinion, such a closing is related to communicable disease.
To report a communicable disease or condition to Southwest District Health Communicable Disease / Epidemiology Program:
- Call SWDH Epi Confidential Phone Reporting Line: 208-455-5442
- Fax SWDH Epi Confidential Fax Reporting Line: 208-455-5350
- E-mail SWDH to talk to an Epi email@example.com
*Do not send Protected Health Information (PHI) via email.
- SWDH – Reportable Disease Reporting Form
- Idaho Reportable Disease List
- Extended GC Questionnaire for Providers (fillable PDF)
- Southwest District Health Info Card (English)
- Southwest District Health Info Card (Spanish)
- Idaho Health Alert Network (HAN)
- The Idaho HAN system is an automated system designed to rapidly deliver time-critical, health-related information to designated health partners.
- Idaho Health Alert Network Welcome Page
- HAN registration: https://health.dhw.idaho.gov/IDHAN/Form/User/register_user.aspx
HIPAA and Public Health
In accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the privacy rule expressly permits protected health information (PHI) to be shared for specified public health purposes. For example, covered entities (providers, nurses, health facilities, labs, etc.) may disclose PHI, without individual authorization to a public health authority legally authorized to collect or receive the information for the purposes of preventing or controlling disease, injury, or disability. See 45 CFR 164.512(b)((1)(i).