The Grand Island Central District Health Department is adding sexually transmitted infection (STI) surveillance to its services.
CDHD received about $100,000 through the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention for the new program, said CDHD senior community health nurse Joanna Mangeot.
“We will be working directly with the Department of Health and Human Services and supporting some of the case investigations, contact tracing, partner notifications, that sort of thing, as well as public education about STDs. and STIs, especially gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV, AIDS. and syphilis.
CDHD staff have undergone training and plan to start testing and reaching out to customers next week.
Three members of the CDHD team will lead the program, Mangeot said.
Under Title 173, health care providers and laboratories are required by law to report certain communicable diseases.
“We get these labs and then if someone is positive for salmonella or syphilis we call that person and try to figure out where they ate, if it’s salmonella, and for syphilis we look at their partners that they might have exposed and where they might have been exposed and make sure everyone gets treatment,” Mangeot said.
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Except in Douglas and Lancaster counties, these services were provided exclusively by DHHS.
“They offered it to several other health departments to pick up on that and start doing this kind of surveillance in our area,” Mangeot said.
CDHD’s three-county coverage area includes Hall, Hamilton and Merrick counties.
“I think it’s good when it’s local, when you can stay local and connect with people in the community and know what the community has to offer,” Mangeot said.
The incidence of STIs is increasing in Nebraska.
Two cases of congenital syphilis were reported last year, meaning babies were born with the disease.
Syphilis cases in general have also increased, Mangeot said.
A key component of the grant is prevention through community education.
CDHD will disseminate information through public events, health fairs and social media, among others.
“We will first identify the needs of the community,” Mangeot said. “Right now I think the age is 15 to 25, that’s where our highest number of cases are. We will definitely want to look at that and target that age group for education and prevention.
She added: “We hope to come out and be seen and ensure good follow-up and treatment.”
CDHD is “excited to take on new things,” Mangeot said.
“Certainly if our numbers go up, we have to help as public health,” she said. “It’s our job to go out there and try to bring those numbers down. There are people who are infected who could have been avoided if we went out and did education and that kind of stuff.
She added: “We are delighted and hope that by doing this locally we can bring those numbers down.”
For help with STD and STI treatment and for information about other services, visit the Central District Health Department website at www.cdhd.ne.gov.