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Watertown, Rapid City Women Honored For Disease Intervention Work

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  Monday, October 24, 2016
CONTACT:  Bonnie Jameson, (605) 773-3737  

                               Watertown, Rapid City Women Honored For Disease Intervention Work

PIERRE, S.D. – Ashley Klatt, Watertown, and Summer Gillaspie, Rapid City, have been named 2016 distinguished disease intervention specialists (DIS) by the South Dakota Department of Health. The awards were given in conjunction with the annual National Disease Intervention Specialist Recognition Day, an annual observance recognizing the important role disease intervention specialists play in preventing and controlling public health threats.

Gillaspie has been with the department’s office of disease prevention for seven years, the last three as a DIS. She is a leader in childhood immunization efforts and is skilled at creating informational materials and forms. A DIS for six years, Klatt also serves as the tuberculosis (TB) nurse consultant for the office, working closely with the TB program on grant writing, policies and case consultations. The two were selected for the honor by their colleagues in the office.

They are just two of the 23 disease intervention specialists working out of department field offices in Aberdeen, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls and Watertown. Each one is trained to investigate over 60 reportable diseases including sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, influenza, E. coli, tuberculosis and pertussis. Disease intervention specialists work to educate patients on how to prevent disease and also help respond to public health outbreaks.

“Disease intervention specialists do the legwork of interviewing people infected with communicable diseases, identifying contacts and informing them of their exposure so they can be tested and treated,” said Colleen Winter, director of family and community health for the Department of Health. “This critical work breaks the chain of disease transmission and protects the public.”

Preventing and controlling infectious disease is one objective of the Department of Health’s 2015-2020 strategic plan, http://doh.sd.gov/strategicplan.

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Photo caption:  Ashley Klatt (far left) and Summer Gillaspie (far right) accept their Distinguished DIS Awards from East Regional Supervisor Katelyn Strasser (2nd from left) and West Regional Supervisor Amy Fink (2nd from right).