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Health Alerts

The Snohomish Health District Health Officer Dr. Gary Goldbaum sends alerts via email to local health care providers. Alerts cover current local, regional or national health threats and important updates on medical care and protocols. Alerts are written as needed to cover urgent or emergent health issues.

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Gastrointestinal illness & Educational opportunities

Today’s topics:

  • Gastrointestinal illness
  • Educational opportunities


Diarrheal Disease

Action requested: Be aware that Snohomish and Whatcom Counties have experienced significant gastrointestinal illness recently.

Background & Recommendations

In Snohomish County, we have received reports of gastrointestinal illness clusters that sound like norovirus.  One preschool, two elementary schools, and a long term care facility have reported students or residents ill with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.  Norovirus illness is highly infectious, spreads rapidly, and is shed for long periods (up to 2 weeks).  Dehydration is the most common complication, but generally no specific treatment is needed.  Please call the Communicable Disease Program at 424-339-5278 if you have questions.

In Whatcom County, an outbreak of shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) appears to be associated with the Milk Makers Fest held 4/21-23/15 at the Northwest Fairgrounds in Lynden.  As of May 4, 17 cases had been confirmed (7 hospitalized) and 23 more had symptoms and consistent exposure histories.  The investigation is ongoing.  Because secondary cases are common among household members, health care providers should be alert for bloody diarrhea, often without fever.  STEC infection can result in hemolytic-uremic syndrome.  Maintaining hydration can reduce the risk of complications, while antibiotics and antimotility medicines can increase the risk.

Please remind patients that careful hand washing is the most effective way to prevent transmission of any gastrointestinal disease.

Educational Opportunities

The Washington State Agency Medical Directors’ Group is sponsoring a conference on Evidence-Based Primary Pain Care to be held June 12, 2015, from 8 am – 5 pm at Bell Harbor International Conference Center (Seattle Waterfront, Pier 66) in Seattle. The conference will feature the new Agency Medical Directors’ Group’s 2015 Interagency Guideline on Prescribing Opioids for Pain (available in June). Designed for primary-care physicians and clinicians, this one-day conference will share emerging understanding about pain care. The conference fee of $50 includes breakfast, lunch, refreshments, free parking, and 7.5 AMA PRA Category 1 continuing education credits. Details are available at  Register at


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Communicable Disease


Did you know?

Health alerts include information about diseases or other health risks or issues that affect Snohomish County.