In This Section . . .
Below is a list of current topics of health concerns in our community. Please check back often, as events warrant it, we will post more information here.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has been notified of two cases of invasive Enterobacter sakazakii infection in newborns treated in Missouri hospitals within the last month. The most recent case notification occurred yesterday. Of these two cases, one was an out-of-state resident who recovered, and the most recent case was a Missouri resident who has died. Both infants were fed powdered infant formula. Clusters of E. sakazakii infections have previously been reported around the world among infants fed milk-based powdered formula from various manufacturers. Testing of all baby formulas involved, as well as all other products given to the babies reported in Missouri is on-going.
Enterobacter sakazakii is a gram-negative rod-shaped bacterium within the family Enterobacteriaceae. Recently, E. sakazakii has been reclassified as a Cronobacter sakazakii; the genus Cronobacter is synonymous with Enterobacter sakazakii. The natural habitat of E. sakazakii is not well understood. The bacterium can be detected in the gut of healthy humans, most probably as an intermittent guest. It can also be found in the gut of animals, as well as in the environment.
The majority of cases of E. sakazakii infection reported in the literature have been described in newborns with sepsis, meningitis, or necrotizing enterocolitis as a consequence of the infection, and the case-fatality rate among infected neonates has been reported to be as high as 33% - 80%. The pathogen is also a rare cause of bacteremia and osteomyelitis in adults, but the outcomes related to adult disease seem to be significantly milder.
The scientific literature suggests that premature infants and those with underlying medical conditions are at highest risk for developing E. sakazakii infection. Several outbreaks have occurred in neonatal intensive care units worldwide. However, an apparently healthy full-term newborn infant who suffered permanent neurological sequelae has also been previously reported.
Although the reservoir of the organism is unknown, a growing number of outbreaks of infection among newborns has provided compelling evidence that milk-based powdered infant formulas have served as the source of infection. One study tested milk-based powdered infant formula products obtained from a number of different countries and found that E. sakazakii could be recovered from 14% of samples. The results of another investigation suggest that even low levels of E. sakazakii in milk-based powdered infant formula can lead to development of infection. E. sakazakii has been detected in other types of food, but only powdered infant formula has been linked to outbreaks of disease. No exclusively breastfed infants have been reported to have E. sakazakii infections.
There are at least three routes by which E. sakazakii can enter infant formula:
It is important to remember that powdered infant formulas are not commercially sterile products. Powdered milk-based infant formulas are heat-treated during processing, but unlike liquid formula products they are not subjected to high temperatures for sufficient time to make the final packaged product commercially sterile. FDA has noted that infant formulas nutritionally designed for consumption by premature or low birth weight infants are available only in commercially sterile liquid form. However, so-called "transition" infant formulas that are generally used for premature or low birth weight infants after hospital discharge are available in both non-commercially available sterile powder form and commercially sterile liquid form. Some other specialty infant formulas are only available in non-sterile powder form.
In light of the epidemiological findings and the fact that powdered infant formulas are not commercially sterile products, FDA recommends that powdered infant formulas not be used in neonatal intensive care settings unless there is no alternative available. If the only option available to address the nutritional needs of a particular infant is a powdered formula, risks of infection in healthy and sick newborn babies can be reduced by:
The World Health Organization guidelines on safe preparation of powdered infant formula are available at: http://www.fao.org/ag/agn/agns/files/pif_guidelines.pdf.
DHSS urges health care providers to report cases of E. sakazakii infections in infants to your local public health agency, or to DHSS at 800/392-0272 (24/7).
A new national multimedia public-service campaign called Food Safe Families was launched today with the goal of reducing food-related illnesses in homes. The campaign, which coincides with the summer grilling and outdoor-eating season, is a joint effort of the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Ad Council. Aimed at making consumers pay attention to their food-handling practices, a series of actions called "Check Your Steps" urges them to focus on four key precautions: clean, separate, cook, and chill.
Visit the Check Your Steps Web page
The Phelps/Maries County Health Department has been working with local retail food outlets and food service operations from the onset of the nationwide recall involving peanut products processed and manufactured by Peanut Corporation of America to ensure that all recalled items are being removed from commerce. Each day our office continues to receive additional listings of products that have the potential of containing tainted peanut products as ingredients. The list of affected products is extensive. If you are uncertain whether a product is under recall, you are advised to contact the company through the “800” number on the package and inquire as to its inclusion among recalled products. You may also call 1-800-CDC-INFO where staff can assist you in determining the wholesomeness of a product containing peanuts. Listed below are two websites that have been provided to us by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The first website listed is from the FDA and includes a searchable database that lists peanut containing products currently under recall. The second website is a listing by companies of products containing peanuts that are NOT under recall.
The safest advice is not to consume a product containing peanut butter, peanut paste, peanut granules or peanut meal if it cannot be determined whether or not the product contains peanut ingredients from Peanut Corporation of America. If you are unsure about the safety of a product please visit the websites listed above or contact Center for Disease Control at (800) 232-4636 for assistance.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and the Missouri State Milk Board together are warning Missourians that drinking raw goat or cow milk, or eating products made from raw milk, can lead to very serious illness and even death. Among several types of bacteria that can cause illness, raw milk can be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, a strain that can produce toxins that cause a condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
HUS is a serious, life–threatening complication that can cause severe, bloody diarrhea, injury to the kidneys and kidney failure. Half of all people with HUS–related diarrhea require dialysis, and three to five percent of these people die. Overall, HUS occurs in about 10 percent of those infected with E. coli O157:H7 or other toxin–producing E. coli. This condition can be especially serious in young children, senior adults and people with weakened immune systems.
The bacteria that cause illness are found in the feces of cows and goats and can contaminate milk during the milking process. Using standard hygiene practices during milking, such as washing hands, keeping equipment clean, and keeping the milking area separated from other areas, are important, but will not completely eliminate the risk for milk contamination. Therefore, consumers should not assume that raw milk purchased at a farmers' market or grocery store is free of bacteria and safe to drink.
Raw milk and products made with it are those that have not gone through the pasteurization process, which kills harmful organisms by heating the milk to a specific temperature for a set length of time.
Although many people are aware that raw milk can contain bacteria that cause disease, some believe that it has potential benefits over pasteurized milk, such as greater nutritional value, vitamins that are present naturally rather than added, and even protection against tooth decay. However, research has not shown any benefit of raw milk over pasteurized milk. To assure that the milk product being purchased is safe to consume, look for a label that says the product is made from pasteurized milk.
Raw milk products that should be considered unsafe include soft cheeses such as Brie and Camembert, and Mexican–style soft cheeses such as Queso Fresco, Panela, Asadero and Queso Blanco, unless they are made from pasteurized milk. Other products that could be considered unsafe if made from unpasteurized milk include cream, yogurt, pudding, ice cream and frozen yogurt.
It is legal for farmers to sell raw milk products directly to the people who will consume it. Missouri statutes specifically allow a farmer to sell raw milk or cream, at the farm where it originated, or deliver it to the customer for the customer's own use. However, if a producer wishes to sell retail raw milk or cream at a farmers' market or any other retail venue, the producer must first obtain a permit with the Missouri State Milk Board. If the producer obtains a permit, he or she also must comply with the regulations pertaining to the proper bottling, capping and labeling of raw milk products as specified in the state statutes. Compliance with these regulations does not ensure raw milk is free of harmful bacteria. No producers currently have a retail permit to sell raw milk or cream in Missouri.
Raw milk products can also carry Listeria bacteria that put pregnant women and their unborn or newborn children at risk. Listeria can cause miscarriage, fetal death or illness or death of a newborn. These bacteria can also put the unborn baby at risk even if the mother does not feel ill.
In addition to E. coli O157:H7, raw milk can also carry bacteria that cause diseases such as typhoid fever, tuberculosis, diphtheria and brucellosis.
For more information contact The Missouri State Milk Board.
As many families are shopping for Christmas gifts for children, the Phelps/Maries County Health Department wants them to have information about unsafe toys. Some recalled toys may still be available, especially at home sales, small stores or re–sale shops.
Toys that have been made in other countries and then imported into the U.S. or antique toys and collectibles passed down through generations put children at risk for lead exposure. To reduce these risks, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issues recalls of toys that could potentially expose children to lead.
LEAD MAY BE USED IN TWO ASPECTS OF TOY MANUFACTURING:
Paint: Lead may be found in the paint on toys. It was banned in house paint, on products marketed to children, and in dishes or cookware in the United States in 1978; however, it is still widely used in other countries and therefore can still be found on imported toys. It may also be found on older toys made in the United States before the ban.
Plastic: The use of lead in plastics has not been banned. It softens the plastic and makes it more flexible so that it can go back to its original shape. It may also be used in plastic toys to stabilize molecules from heat. When the plastic is exposed to substances such as sunlight, air, and detergents the chemical bond between the lead and plastics breaks down and forms a dust.
How your child may be exposed
How to test a toy for lead
What to do if you are concerned about your child's exposure
How to obtain more information about recalls
Each year more and more people are traveling internationally. Tourism, education, business, visiting friends and relatives, mission trips, responding to international disasters − all are reasons people are now taking trips to parts of the world seldom visited before.
As a traveler, your risk of becoming ill overseas depends on where you are going, how long you’ll be staying there, what activities you have planned and how healthy you are before you leave.
At least four to six weeks before you are scheduled to leave, make an appointment with your healthcare provider to talk about your risks, and what immunizations or other steps may help protect you from illness.
Many vaccines take time to become effective and some must be given in a series over a period of days or weeks. If you will be traveling in less than four weeks, go ahead and visit with your healthcare provider. You may still be able to be vaccinated and receive information about how to prevent illness and stay healthy while you are traveling.
The three types of immunizations to consider when you are traveling are routine, recommended and required.
Routine immunizations are generally given after a child is born, and throughout his childhood and adolescence. These immunizations protect against diseases such as polio, measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus (DPT), hepatitis A, hepatitis B, chickenpox and other diseases. Childhood diseases such as measles rarely occur in the United States, but they are still common in many parts of the world.
There are also routine adult vaccinations, such as a tetanus diphtheria (Td) booster that should be received every 10 years. Adults should get these vaccinations in order to stay healthy while living in the United States.
Recommended vaccinations are suggested to protect travelers from illnesses that are present in other parts of the world, and to prevent people from bringing infectious diseases back into the United States.
Required immunizations are those that a country's government requires a traveler to present formal proof of vaccination in order to enter the country. Under International Health Regulations, governments may require visitors to show proof of yellow fever vaccination. There are also vaccination requirements for people traveling to Mecca for the annual Hajj.
For information on recommended and required vaccinations for international travel, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention online and contact your health care provider or your Phelps−Maries Health Department to learn where you can be vaccinated.
Plan ahead to protect yourself while you travel − it all adds up to better health!
Root beer, corn dogs, animals and rides − for many of us the highlight of the summer is the county fair. We look forward to bringing home prizes, pictures and great memories, not an illness caused by germs or unsafe food. Take some simple steps this year to be sure your fair experience is a safe and healthy one.
To protect yourself against illness, be sure to wash your hands with soap and running water several times throughout the day, especially after visiting the restroom, after changing a diaper, or before eating. Common surfaces such as rides, railings and door handles will be touched by hundreds of hands − many of them unclean. Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to keep from introducing any germs you may have on your hands into your body. If soap and water are not available, carry a small container of hand sanitizer with you and use it frequently.
While petting zoos and animal displays are enjoyable, they, too, carry risk of disease. Stay safe by washing your hands after you pet the animals. Don't share your food or drink with them, and don't kiss them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children under 5 years old not visit petting zoos, as they are more at risk than adults for contracting diseases from animals.
Finally, be sure the food you eat is safe. Food at the fair should be cooked thoroughly, in a clean environment and stored at the proper temperature. Check to make sure the booth is clean. Vendors who are handling ready−to−eat food, such as fresh fruit, sandwiches and hot dogs, should wear gloves. Hot foods should be kept hot and cold foods cold. Your local public health department works with fair vendors to ensure their food is safe, but you can be vigilant, too.
Follow these safety guidelines to ensure the only thing you take away from the fair this year is happy memories.
For more information, contact your Phelps−Maries Health Department.
The 4th of July holiday means American flags, hot dogs, watermelon and fireworks. While they are truly spectacular, fireworks can quickly turn a happy celebration into a tragedy when someone is injured.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that in 2006, an estimated 9,200 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for firework related injuries. The majority of those injuries — about 6,400 — occurred during the month around the 4th of July.
The CPSC states, "Although legal consumer fireworks that comply with the CPSC regulations can be relatively safe, all fireworks are hazardous and can cause injury. Fireworks should be used only with extreme caution. Older children should be closely supervised, and younger children should not be allowed to play with fireworks."
If you choose to use fireworks, please treat them with respect. Read the cautions and warnings on the package, and use common sense. Never light fireworks indoors, throw them from a moving car or light multiple fireworks at once. Be sure to follow local laws regarding the use of fireworks.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission also recommends these safety measures:
Are you ready to safely celebrate the 4th of July? Take this quiz from the National Council on Fireworks Safety to test your knowledge.
For more information on fireworks safety, contact your Phelps−Maries Health Department.
With temperatures predicted to climb near 90 this week, it is definitely time to get out the sunscreen, hats and sunglasses. Sun Safety Week runs June 3rd through 9th and reminds us of the importance of protecting our skin against the damaging rays of the sun.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), the most common form of cancer in the United States is skin cancer. Experts believe exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays plays a large role in the development of skin cancer. In fact, most skin cancers are caused by unprotected sun exposure in childhood and adolescence, as 80% of a person's sun exposure occurs before age 21.
Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun's UV rays in as little as 15 minutes. Yet it can take up to 12 hours for skin to show the full effect of sun exposure. So skin that looks "a little pink" today, may be burned tomorrow morning.
The best way to prevent sun damage is to protect your skin with these tips from the CDC:
Using sunscreen regularly on children can reduce their risk of skin cancer by almost 78%. Be sure to choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 and both UVA and UVB protection. Apply it at least 30 minutes before going outdoors, even when it's cloudy, and reapply it every 2 hours or after swimming.
While everyone is at risk for skin damage, some people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop skin cancer, especially those with:
For more information about sun safety, contact your Phelps−Maries Health Department.
Poison control centers across the nation receive more than 2 million calls each year about potential exposure to poisons.
Children are more likely to suffer serious consequences from poisoning than adults are, because they are smaller. Their bodies have faster metabolic rates and are less able to handle toxic chemicals. In fact, more than half of all poisonings occur in children under age 6.
Statistics show that 92% of poisonings happen at home. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reports that most poisonings involve everyday household items such as cleaning supplies, cosmetics, personal care items and medicines.
To prevent accidental poisonings:
Cleaning supplies, cosmetics, art supplies, certain plants, alcohol and other items can also pose a poisoning risk to children. Do a risk assessment of your home to identify which poisons are present and where they are located. Be sure to store all hazardous chemicals in locked cabinets out of a child's reach.
For more information about preventing poisonings, contact your local public health department or the National Poison Control Center website at www.poison.org.
“Practice makes perfect.” You’ve heard the saying before. You’ve admitted you are at risk for emergencies. You’ve created a plan. Now you need to practice that plan. Uncover its weaknesses now, before the disaster strikes.
Famous dancer and choreographer Martha Graham said “We learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same.”
If your emergency plan calls for you to evacuate your home out of a second story window, do you have a ladder ready?
If your plan calls for you to stay in your home for 10 days during an influenza pandemic, do you have 10 days worth of food and water in your emergency supplies kit? Do you have medical supplies such as a thermometer, latex gloves and fluids in case someone in your home gets ill?
Practice your plan. This is the only way to discover its weaknesses. Choose unusual times during the day to practice. Remember, disasters don’t follow our schedules. Test to see whether your children wake up during the night if the fire alarm goes off. Check to see how your family reacts by practicing when you are separated. Interrupt family meals, early morning showers or bedtime snuggles with a practice tornado warning.
After running your practice drills, evaluate yourself and your family. How did you do? Did everyone follow the plan? Did the plan work? Are there parts of the plan that need to be adjusted? It is much better to reveal the weaknesses in your plan during a practice run, than during an actual disaster.
You’ve admitted you are at risk. You’ve planned ahead. You’ve practiced. Don’t stop there.
Football coach Vince Lombardi said “Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.” Start practicing today and keep it up until your family is comfortable responding to any disaster – perfectly.
Learn the signs of a heart attack and the steps to take if one happens to you.
If you or someone else is having heart attack warning signs; MINUTES MATTER! Call 9-1-1 immediately. Don’t wait more than a few minutes – five minutes at most to call 9-1-1. If symptoms stop completely in less than five minutes, you should still call your health care provider. Minutes do matter when you or someone else is having a heart attack, learn the heart attack signs.
For more information visit www.americanheart.org or contact your local public health department.
The Bureau of Communicable Disease Control and Prevention (BCDCP) has developed two educational posters to help raise awareness about safety issues related to the handling of baby chicks and ducks, and eggs. These issues become increasingly important with Easter right around the corner. The poster "Safety Tips for Handling Chicks and Ducklings" promotes safe handling of baby birds to reduce the risk of Salmonella in children who receive them as Easter gifts. A second poster, "Food Safety Tips for Handling Eggs at Easter", is designed to 'egg-ucate' on safe handling during Easter egg hunts to reduce the chance of food borne illness. For more information, contact BCDCP at 573-751-6113 or contact your Phelps−Maries County Health Department.
Each year a bacterial disease called tuberculosis infects 8 million people worldwide and kills 3 million. This contagious disease is spread from person-to-person on airborne droplets that are expelled from the lungs of an infected person when he coughs, sneezes or talks. The bacteria usually take root in the air sacs of the lungs. In a healthy person, the bacteria are quickly surrounded by a wall of cells, which limits their spread. This enclosed infection is called latent TB and can last throughout a person’s life without ever causing medical symptoms or being spread to other people.
However, if a person infected with latent TB develops a weakened immune system – through HIV infection, malnutrition, aging or other causes – the TB can become active again and spread throughout the lungs or other tissues. This person now has active TB and can infect other people.
Tuberculosis has been around since ancient times. Egyptian mummies from 2400 BC show signs of tuberculosis. In 460 BC Hippocrates talked about tuberculosis as the most widespread disease of the times and said that is was almost always fatal.
In 1679 Sylvius wrote about the disease as a consistent and characteristic change in the lungs. In 1699 Italian literature identified tuberculosis as contagious, and in 1720 an English physician theorized that tuberculosis was caused by tiny living creatures. He stated that TB could be passed from person-to-person by sharing a bed or a meal, but not necessarily by sharing a simple conservation.
The first treatment for TB began in 1850s with a regimen of fresh air and good nutrition at sanatoriums. It wasn’t until 1943 that antibiotics were first successfully used against TB. With research showing that the bacteria develop mutant strains that are resistant to some antibiotics, a regimen of four antibiotics given consistently for a period of six months was soon adopted as the standard treatment for tuberculosis.
Today this antibiotic regimen is administered through direct observed therapy – which means a medical professional observes the patient as he takes the medication. This encourages patients to complete the entire course of antibiotics. Those who do not risk developing an antibiotic resistant strain of TB that is much harder to treat.
The World Health Organization estimates that 95% of the 8 million people with tuberculosis live in developing countries. Wealthy industrialized countries with good public health care systems should be able to keep TB under control. However, the emergence of multi-drug resistant TB and the increase in HIV infection mean that even the United States must focus on developing better tools to fight TB.
Currently experts are working to create a blood test for TB, as well as a rapid diagnostic test. Epidemiology and surveillance of TB are becoming more sophisticated. New drugs are being researched that could simplify the course of therapy or combine all four antibiotics into one pill. A host of new potential vaccines are being developed. And the entire DNA sequence for the TB bacteria has been mapped, giving researchers a complete blueprint to work from.
Many people think that tuberculosis (TB) is a disease of the past and no longer threatens us, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate there are currently 9 to 14 million people in the U.S. infected with TB. About 10% of those people will develop active TB at some point in their lives.
The fact that this number is an all-time low for the U.S. may encourage some people to become complacent. But now is the time for action! We must continue working diligently to control and eliminate tuberculosis, in the United States and around the world.
For more information on tuberculosis, contact your Phelps−Maries County Health Department.
While more than half of all adults know they should eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day, more than 90 percent of Americans do not consume the recommended amount.
To encourage Missourians to consume more fruits and vegetables, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is joining the Produce for Better Health Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to unveil a new public health initiative: Fruits & Veggies- More Matters.
The new initiative is being launched during March, National Nutrition Month.
"March is a great time to urge Missourians to eat more fruits and vegetables to maintain good health," said Donna Mehrle, manager of the state health department's Nutrition and Physical Activity Program to Prevent Obesity and Other Chronic Diseases. When it comes to fruits and vegetables, more really does matter.
Research shows that increased daily consumption of fruits and vegetables may help prevent many chronic diseases.
In order to meet the recommended dietary guidelines, most Americans need to at least double the amount of fruits and vegetables they are currently eating. Health experts suggest eating fruits and vegetables in all forms: fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100 percent juice. They also recommend consuming fruits and vegetables at every meal and for snacks.
"This new call for a healthier America is attainable and easy for people to understand. The message is intentionally simple: to increase consumption, eat more fruits and veggies at every eating occasion," said Elizabeth Pivonka, president of the Produce for Better Health Foundation.
Consumers will see the Fruits & Veggies − More Matters message in stores, on packaging, at home and on-line. The initiative includes an interactive consumer-targeted web site designed to give Americans the tools and information they need to make better food choices. The web site − www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org - offers recipes, serving ideas and shopping advice.
The web site also includes activities and tips for getting children involved and exploring the different varieties of fruits and vegetables. In addition, consumers have the opportunity to share their own serving ideas by submitting them online.
Fruits & Veggies − More Matters replaces the national 5 − A − Day awareness program and will build upon the success of the 5 − A − Day program to encourage consumers to eat more fruits and vegetables.
The development of the new initiative is being led by the Produce for Better Health Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in partnership with The Culinary Institute of America and other organizations committed to achieving increased daily consumption of fruits and vegetables. For more information visit www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org and www.cdc.gov/fruitsandveggies (website launching soon).
The theme of this year's National Nutrition Month is "100% Fad Free" and emphasizes the importance of avoiding diet fads in favor of making healthy food choices. Created by the American Dietetic Association, National Nutrition Month encourages people to learn about the new food pyramid and Dietary Guidelines for Americans and use them as a guide to healthy eating. The guidelines can be found at http://www.mypyramid.gov/.
What would it be worth to you to know your daughter, your mother, your sister, or your aunt was protected against cervical cancer? The American Cancer Society estimates that last year more 9,700 women in the United States were diagnosed with cervical cancer and 3,700 women died of the disease. Yet, now a simple vaccination can protect girls and women against cervical cancer.
Gardasil vaccine was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June 2006. It is given in a three dose series over a period of six months, and is designed to offer protection before a girl or woman becomes sexually active. It is licensed for use in girls and women age 9 to 26 years old.
The vaccine protects against four types of HPV, or human papilloma virus, that are responsible for 70% of all cervical cancers and 90% of all cases of genital warts.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the U.S. Approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected, and each year there are 6.2 million new infections. Half of those new infections will be found in adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 24.
The symptoms of HPV vary from mild to severe. Some people will not develop any symptoms. Others will develop warts in the area of exposure, which may require medical treatment. The most serious symptom is cervical cancer, caused by some types of HPV.
The Gardasil vaccine is now available at no cost through Missouri’s VFC program for girls on Medicaid, or without medical insurance. For those who do not qualify for the VFC program, the vaccine can also be purchased from area physicians and many local public health departments.
While Gardasil is an important step forward in the fight against cervical cancer, women should also continue to receive regular screenings and Pap tests.
For more information on Gardasil vaccine, contact your health care provider or your local public health department.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is currently investigating reports of 30 cases of intussusception (bowel obstruction) in infants vaccinated with RotaTeq®.
These cases were detected through routine monitoring of a new vaccine using the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)
Intussusception is an uncommon type of bowel obstruction that occurs most often in young children
The symptoms of intussusception are abdominal pain, vomiting and bloody mucus in the stool
Rotavirus is a virus that causes severe diarrhea, vomiting, fever and dehydration
RotaTeq® vaccine is the best way to protect children against rotavirus
For further information contact your physician or local public health department.
Each year millions of Americans come down with colds, the flu and other respiratory illnesses. The symptoms of these illnesses can be very similar, so how can you know if you have a cold, the flu or something else?
A cold is normally a relatively mild illness that often starts with tiredness, sneezing, coughing and a runny nose. It may cause a fever of one or two degrees higher than normal. Other symptoms may include muscle aches, a scratchy or sore throat, watery eyes and a headache.
Influenza (the flu) usually starts suddenly and hits hard. It may cause tiredness, weakness, fever, dry cough, runny nose, chills, muscle aches, severe headache, eye pain and a sore throat. It generally takes longer to recover from the flu than from a cold.
If you do have a cold or the flu, there are steps you can take to recover more quickly.
You can also take simple steps to avoid colds and the flu.
Disease symptoms vary from person to person, so contact your health care provider for a specific diagnosis.
Each year in the United States up to 20%, of the population contract seasonal influenza, or "the flu". More than 200,000 people are hospitalized and about 36,000 die. The "traditional" flu season begins in October and usually lasts through March. Symptoms, which include fever, headache, sniffles and a cough come on suddenly and can strike anyone.
People wanting to protect their health and the health of their loved ones should consider getting a flu shot each year in October or November. Vaccinations are available at the health department as well as some physician´s offices and other locations in the community. Usually within about two weeks of getting a flu shot, your body develops antibodies that will help fight off the flu if you are exposed.
Without a vaccination to protect you, you may get sick after being exposed to the flu virus. Exposure can occur from breathing in the virus when someone near you coughs or sneezes or by touching a doorknob, keyboard or flush handle that a sick person has touched before you. The flu is very contagious, and a person can spread the virus a full day before they even feel sick from it. Other people may have such a mild case of the flu that they don´t even feel ill, but they can still spread germs to others.
If you suddenly develop a fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, dry cough, sore throat or runny or stuffy nose, you may have influenza. Most people recover from the flu with no major complications, but people considered "high risk" such as those over age 65, young children, those with chronic health conditions and pregnant women are more at risk for developing serious complications from the flu. These people should contact a health care provider if they begin to have flu symptoms.
Besides getting an annual flu shot, there are other ways people can protect themselves from the flu. These include washing hands often with soap and water, avoiding close contact with people who are sick and not sharing personal items like drinks, tableware and toothbrushes. Eating right, getting plenty of rest, drinking water and staying active are also great ways to keep a body´s immune system strong.
If people get the flu, they should get plenty of rest, drink fluids and avoid alcohol or tobacco products. They need to cough or sneeze into a tissue and stay home to avoid spreading illness to others. If symptoms become severe, the family physician or other health care provider should be contacted immediately.
The "Bird flu"
While some wild birds carry avian influenza virus, it does not usually make them sick. Domestic birds like chickens, ducks, and turkeys can also carry it, but they may get sick or die. Other animals such as cats and pigs can also carry avian influenza, but this is not common. There have been only sixteen (16) documented cases of avian influenza in poultry in this country since 1997. The H5N1 virus caused none of these cases.
There have only been a few cases where avian influenza has spread from birds to humans since 1997. These cases likely occurred because people were in contact with infected birds, their feces or their remains. Scientists do not believe you can get avian influenza from eating infected poultry or eggs. The H5N1 strain of avian influenza currently circulating in Asia is not easily passed from person-to-person. There have been only a few cases of a person catching H5N1 avian influenza from another person. In these instances, the second person to become ill did not appear to pass the virus on to anyone else.
The symptoms of avian influenza may include a fever, body aches, cough and tiredness.
While companies are working to develop one, there is no approved vaccine for H5N1 avian influenza at this time. The flu shot you receive each year for seasonal influenza would probably not protect you against avian influenza, as it is a different strain than what is included in the annual vaccine.
A pandemic flu can occur when a new or novel strain of Influenza A virus appears that is easily transmitted from person-to-person. Because the virus is new, most everyone is susceptible, or subject to infection and the virus can spread rapidly all around the world in a short period of time. It is estimated that 15% to 35% of the world´s population could become ill in the event of a pandemic, and a substantial fraction of those people could die. This would severely overwhelm our hospital and healthcare systems. High rates of absenteeism in the workforce could lead to shortages of food and other commodities as well as cutbacks in essential services.
Three documented flu pandemics occurred during the 20th century. The most catastrophic was the pandemic of 1918-1919 that killed an estimated 20 million people worldwide, with over 500,000 people dying in the United States alone. Far less severe pandemics occurred in 1957-1958 and in 1968-1969. We know pandemics have been occurring at irregular intervals for at least the past 300 years. With influenza viruses continually changing or mutating, there is no reason to believe another pandemic will not occur at some point in the future. Unfortunately, there is no way to predict when this might occur or how severe it will be when it does.
When an influenza pandemic does occur, there will likely be no vaccine available before people start getting sick. Antiviral drugs currently used to treat the flu will likely be in limited supply. For these reasons, it will be very important for people to know how to protect themselves from becoming ill.
Many of the same precautions used to prevent seasonal flu would need to be adhered to in the event of a pandemic. These include washing hands often with soap and water, avoiding close contact with people who are sick and not sharing personal items. Eating right, getting plenty of rest, drinking water and staying active are also great ways to keep a body´s immune system strong. The health department would provide additional information releases to the public related to risks, risk avoidance and hygiene.
Another important step in preparing for a pandemic or any large-scale disaster or emergency is having a family plan and preparing a disaster kit. It is important to formulate family action plans in advance of an emergency, rather than in the midst of what could be chaos. Home disaster kits should include a two to three weeks supply of things like food, water, flashlight batteries, prescription medications, etc.
For more information about pandemic flu, visit http://www.pandemicflu.gov/.
When planning for emergencies or disasters it is important to remember that during or immediately following an event, essential services may be cut off and first responders may not be able to reach you right away. Even if they could, knowing what to do to protect yourself and your family is essential.
During a crisis situation, you may have to evacuate your home at a moment´s notice or remain confined there for your safety. Either way, you may not have the opportunity to shop or search for the supplies you´ll need. For this reason, it is essential to plan for disaster before it strikes. The following information is provided to assist you with these preparations.
Creating a Disaster Plan
Disaster Supply Kits
Your home kit should ideally have supplies for sheltering or in-home confinement for up to two weeks and include a "grab and go" package containing three days worth of supplies in case you have to evacuate your residence on short notice. Your workplace kit should also be a "grab and go" package, and the car kits should remain in your vehicles.
Ideally, your disaster supply kits should contain potable water, food, clothing, bedding, first aid supplies as well as simple tools and other emergency items.
Store water in thoroughly washed plastic, fiberglass or enamel-lined metal containers. Never use a container that has held toxic substances. Plastic containers, such as soft drink bottles, are best. You can also purchase food-grade plastic buckets or drums. Containers for water should be rinsed with a diluted bleach solution (one part bleach to ten parts water) before use. If your water is treated commercially with chlorine by a water utility, you do not need to treat it before storing. If you have a well or public water supply that is not treated, add eight drops (1/8 teaspoon) of unscented chlorine bleach per gallon. Seal your water containers tightly, label them and store in a cool, dark place. For best quality, replace stored water supplies every six months.
Clothes and Bedding
First Aid Supplies
It may be difficult to obtain prescription medications during a disaster because pharmacies may be closed or supplies may be limited. Ask your physician or pharmacist about storing prescription medications. The following nonprescription drugs should be included in your kit: aspirin and non-aspirin pain reliever, anti-diarrhea medication, antacid, syrup of ipecac (used to induce vomiting if advised by the poison control center), laxative and vitamins. Also, include an extra pair of prescription glasses or contact lens, if possible.
Simple Tools and Other Emergency Items
As colder weather approaches, many people are beginning to close up their houses and turn on the heat in preparation for the winter season. Furnaces, fireplaces, heaters and wood stoves are being fired up after months of down time. While these heat sources keep us comfortable during the cold Missouri winters, an incorrectly vented or malfunctioning unit can pose a grave danger, allowing deadly carbon monoxide to escape into living quarters.
Carbon monoxide poisoning kills hundreds of people each year in the United States and may be the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, tasteless and colorless gas created when fuels such as wood, propane, natural gas, kerosene or gasoline are burned. Improperly installed, used or maintained gas-fired appliances, kerosene heaters, fireplaces, and wood stoves can cause the poisonous gas to rise to dangerous, even lethal levels in a house or other structure. Allowing a vehicle to run in an attached garage, even with the door opened, can allow deadly amounts of carbon monoxide to enter a house.
Early symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure include headaches, dizziness, weakness, sleepiness, nausea, and vomiting. People with heart disease may develop an irregular heartbeat. Exposure to higher concentrations of the gas can cause disorientation, coma, convulsions, and death.
Anyone who suspects they are suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning should immediately open doors and windows, turn off fuel-burning appliances and go outside for fresh air. Be sure anyone else who might have been exposed also gets out to fresh air. Immediate medical attention should be sought for cases of severe carbon monoxide poisoning.
The following are some precautions to help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:
The Phelps/Maries County Health Department would like to urge everyone with gas-burning appliances, fireplaces or wood stoves, kerosene space heaters or gas generators to install carbon monoxide detectors in their home, especially near bedrooms. Carbon monoxide detectors look similar to smoke detectors and can be purchased at most hardware and department stores. Be sure to follow instructions regarding installation and placement to ensure proper operation. If your unit is battery operated, test the detector weekly and replace the battery at least once a year.
Approximately three to four thousand babies die every year in the United States and no one knows why. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or "SIDS" is the sudden, unexpected death of an apparently healthy infant, usually less than twelve months old.
According to SIDS Alliance, SIDS is the leading cause of death in infants between the ages of one and 12 months. They also report death occurs very quickly, usually while the child is sleeping and cannot be predicted.
SIDS affects babies of all races and ethnic groups and occurs at a rate of 1 in 700. SIDS occurs more often in low birth weight babies, infants whose mothers smoked during and after pregnancy, multiple birth babies, infants of younger mothers and infants born within eighteen months of a sibling. More SIDS deaths occur during fall and winter.
Current research points to a malfunction in the lower part of the infant’s brain, but physicians and scientists truly do not know what causes SIDS. According to SIDS Resources, different theories suggest SIDS could be caused by an infant’s inability to:
To protect infants from SIDS, experts make the following recommendations:
Following these steps may help to prevent SIDS. Since 1992, SIDS rates have decreased by 50% as more babies are being put to sleep on their backs.
For more information on sudden infant death syndrome, contact your health department, or visit SIDS Resources online at www.sidsresources.org.
|Site Credit: Nexus Communications Group|