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Clearfield • Communicable diseases reported in Davis County increased by 27 percent last year, a rise caused in part by an outbreak of whooping cough, according to health officials.

"Our rate just exploded there," Brian Hatch, director of Davis County Health Department's Communicable Disease & Epidemiology Division, said of the 456 percent jump in incidences of the highly contagious disease, officially called pertussis.

Sexually transmitted diseases and cryptosporidiosis, a gastrointestinal illness that causes diarrhea, also helped push up the number of reported communicable diseases in 2012.

Chlamydia topped the list of reported communicable diseases, at 862 cases. Hepatitis C, at 196, was the next most-reported disease, due in part to increased screening of jail inmates, followed by 139 pertussis cases.

The numbers are summarized in the health department's annual report on communicable diseases, which Hatch presented earlier this month to the Davis County Board of Health.

Total reported 2012 cases in Davis County were 1,732, compared to 1,369 reports received in 2011. Last year, 53.9 percent of the occurrences were sexually transmitted diseases, including chlamydia, with the number of cases rising 17 percent over 2011, from 739 to 862. Gonorrhea cases jumped to 40 from 18 the previous year.

Vaccine-preventable diseases — including pertussis, influenza that required hospitalization, chickenpox and hepatitis — totaled 13.9 percent of the 2012 reports.

Enteric diseases, which are caused by bacterial, viral or parasitic organisms, made up 9.3 percent of all reports. Cryptosporidiosis, which falls in that category, jumped from 19 cases in 2011 to 46 last year.

The report described a pertussis outbreak across the nation, including in Utah, as "the most notable disease event in 2012."

Hatch said 41,000 pertussis cases were reported in the United States last year, with 1,450 of them in Utah and 139 of those in Davis County. In 2011, 618 cases were reported in the state and 25 in the county.

Eighteen children died nationwide from pertussis in 2012, most of them infants. None of them were Utah children, although a child from Idaho passed away at Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City.

The risk factors of whooping cough include not being vaccinated or being under-vaccinated, waning immunity and exposure to mass gatherings at schools, workplaces, churches and other places.

"Vaccination is still the best prevention of pertussis we have," Hatch said.

The health department also is working to prevent sexually transmitted diseases through screening and education. In addition to testing inmates at the Davis County Jail, the department gave 45 presentations last year about STDs, including HIV and AIDS. And the department partnered with the Davis School District and two local Job Corps Centers to give presentations to about 1,300 young people.

Amy Carter, a communicable disease nurse for the Weber-Morgan Health Department, said chlamydia also was the No. 1 reported disease there, followed by Hepatitis C. Pertussis reports rose from 25 in 2011 to 150 in 2012 in Weber and Morgan counties, she said.

Increases in reported cases of some of the communicable diseases can be attributed to a growing population and better reporting, Carter said. And pertussis reports, which are up throughout the nation, come in waves and peak every six or seven years, she said.

Twitter: @PamelaMansonSLC —

Annual survey

Visit to read the Davis County Health Department's report on communicable disease in 2012.