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Pennsylvania Health Expert Disputes Marcellus Shale-STD Link Assertion

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (CBS) - A state health expert is disputing the contention of a Pennsylvania lawmaker whose recent e-mail created a firestorm of controversy by indicating a correlation between Marcellus Shale oil drilling and an increase in sexually transmitted diseases.

"In our experience we have not seen any hard and fast data that can support or deny claims that rates of STDs have increased in communities where there is an influx of workers associated with Marcellus Shale drilling," says Lisa Davis, director of the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health at Penn State University.

Pennsylvania state representative Mike Sturla (D-Lancaster County) raised lots of eyebrows when he wondered in an e-mail whether Marcellus shale oil workers were spreading STDs in the communities where they worked (see related story).

(Lisa Davis. Photo provided)

Davis (right) says the information she hears is anecdotal from health care systems and those who provide care but there is no actual data to support it.

"When an individual presents for treatment, especially for issues like STDs, it's very hard to say to them, 'Are you working in the Marcellus shale industry?' and then be able to click a button and be able to identify that person as having an STD and being associated with the industry," Davis asserts.

She says that when you look at data across time, you can make inferences as to where changes are occurring but it is very difficult to say specifically that we are seeing increases based on a particular issue such as this.

Reported by Michelle Durham, KYW Newsradio 1060

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