The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) mandate that a number of illnesses be reported to them by the health departments of the various states. On a weekly basis the CDC publishes the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) containing the data from the states. The numbers are not final, changes can be and are made. Final numbers take nearly two years to arrive.
New York State has the distinction of reporting some of the highest case counts for many of the illnesses tracked. New York is one of the most populated states, and it is also a transit hub and tourist destination for millions from around the world. That means higher case counts and diagnosing unusual diseases.
The MMWR for week 37, the latest report, reveals some of the data that makes New York State stand out.
- Babesiosis: 7 cases this week in NY of this potentially fatal illness contracted through a tick bite. This is the first year this disease has been required to be reported to the CDC. New York is one of the major loci for babesiosis. The illness has attracted attention because it is transmittable through blood transfusions and blood is not tested for it.
- Chlamydia: New York trails only California and Texas in cases of this sexually transmitted disease. The state has reported 7 percent of the 924,000 cases in the United States this year. The CDC suggests yearly testing for sexually active women age 25 and older.
- Anaplasmosis: another illness transmitted though tick bites. Just over 400 cases have been reported nationally this year and fifty percent are from New York.
- Giardiasis: This is a diarrheal illness caused by a parasite that lives in feces. The most common way of becoming infected is by drinking or swallowing untreated water. New York reports 1,339 cases in 2011, 14 percent of the national total. Only Florida has reported more cases.
- Gonorrhea: New York ranks fourth nationally in reported cases of this sexually transmitted disease. Six percent of all U.S. cases have been reported from New York with two thirds of those cases from New York City.
- Malaria: 139 cases of malaria have been reported from New York State in 2011, the most in the nation. None were acquired in the United States, a condition the CDC calls “airport malaria”. New York does, however, host a number of mosquito varieties that could transmit the illness.
- Pertussis (Whooping cough): Despite requiring the vaccine series for entry into school, New York ranks fourth in the nation in 2011 with reported cases of pertussis. Ohio, Texas and Arizona rank first to third, respectively. Seven percent of the whooping cough cases nationwide have been in New York.
- Tuberculosis: Thirteen percent of the TB cases reported in 2011 are from New York. Only California has seen more cases. While the number of cases nationally is less than 3,000, the concern with this infectious disease is its increasing resistance to drug treaments.
New York State ranks near the top for many unusual as well as common infectious diseases. Vaccination, avoiding tick bites and using condoms would prevent nearly all of these illnesses. New Yorkers lead the nation in many ways but being sick does not have to be one of them.