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News From The Health Officer

Updated November 21, 2014

 

EBOLA outbreak in Africa

Island County Public Health continues to work with State and Federal experts as well as our local health care providers, hospital, and emergency responders to assure timely sharing of guidelines and monitoring of any potential Ebola virus exposure.  The risk for any members of our community is extremely low. 

 Here is a link to the CDC guidelines for hospitalized patients with known or suspected Ebola Virus Disease.  Please note, this only applies to patients within the healthcare setting. 

Here is a general link for explanation about the Ebola Virus itself.  This website has a lot of good links for people involved with airline travel including industry workers, working and living abroad, and health care workers.

There is a lot of ongoing communication at the federal, state, and local levels, and local providers are encouraged to review the information as it comes out from the CDC and Washington State DOH.

 

Enterovirus D68 Outbreak


This fall, there was a cluster of children hospitalized from several Washington counties at Seattle Children's Hospital with severe respiratory illness consistent with Enterovirus D68.  Subsequently, some of these children developed neurological complications.  Other states were more widely and severly affected.

There is no vaccine for enteroviral infections, but to decrease the risk of infection:

  • wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, alcohol hand gel is not as effective as washing.
  • avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • avoid contact with people who are ill
  • do not go to day care, school, or work if ill.
  • avoid kissing, hugging, sharing cups or utensils with people who are ill
  • adults, but especially children with asthma should be sure to have their symptoms under control and see their health care provider if they develop respiratory symptoms or their asthma worsens.

here is a link to the CDC website for ongoing developments regarding Enterovirus D68

 

SHELLFISH SAFETY

Washington State Department of Health has just established an online map with up-to-date look at biotoxins, pollution, and bacterial levels at public beaches. Here is a link to this excellent resource.  You can also contact Island County Public Health for local beach information.  Here is a link to general shellfish safety.

 

RABIES PREVENTION 

Who knew there were so many bats in Island County?  Bats are benficial to our environment both as pollinators and excellent bug exterminators.  Unfortunately, they are also the only reservoir of rabies in Washington State.  We have had one bat test positive for rabies so far this summer in Island County. If you think you have had an exposure to put you at risk, if at all possible, please capture the bat (safely, wearing thick gloves, put the bat in something like a tupperware container) and store in the refrigerator (not the freezer) and contact Island County Public Health, 360.679.7350, for information about whether the bat needs to be brought in for testing.  The most common reason for needing to test the bat is if you wake up in the morning to find a bat in your bedroom.  Their teeth are so tiny you may not feel a bite.  Also if the bat is found in a room with an impaired/intoxicated/mentally incapacitated person or child, the bat may need to be tested.  Please also make sure your pets are vaccinated (dogs, cats, ferrets) as they may be exposed, particularly if they are outside.  If necessary, we will work with your physician to arrange for vaccination.

 

SKIN CANCER PREVENTION

Just because it's a little cloudy doesn't mean you don't need sun block!  Here's a link to some good information from the Washington State Department of Health

 

HEAD INJURY/CONCUSSION APP

Did your kid "get his/her bell's rung"?  Now what to do?  Here's a link to downloadable apps for your android or apple device.

  

PERTUSSIS

Again, there are some cases of both laboratory confirmed and clinically suspect cases of Pertussis in the community.  This is especially important if you are around or care for infants or are pregnant!  (Also grand-parents or others who may be care-givers.)  Vaccination can help minimize the illness and early treatment with antibiotics may help at least reduce the rate of infecting others if not reduce your own illness.  Here is a link to the CDC information about Pertussis.   CDC Pertussis info      For the latest alert, click here.    

     (Distinguish the sounds of various coughs)
             Pertussis Billboard (English) ( En Español)
                    Surround Your Baby With Protection
 
 

HEPATITIS C SCREENING AND BABY-BOOMERS

If you've watched TV lately, you've likely seen ads for Hepatits C screening.   Here's the background, and why it's pretty darn exciting:  It's estimated that 3.2 million people in the US have chronic Hepatitis C and most of them do not know it.  And it's not just folks traditionally considered to be at high risk.  Prior to 1992 (when Hep C was discovered and preventive measures were put in place) baby-boomers (born 1945-65) were young adults and may have been exposed through blood transfusions, in health care settings, through drug use, or sexual activity. 

WHAT HAS CHANGED?:  There is now a comfortable, effective, short course treatment available with oral medication, which allows treatment of the illness and previnting progressive liver disease and liver cancer.  Best of all, since this screening has been recommended by governmental groups, there is a good chance private health insurance may cover this as a no cost preventative program.  It's estimated that if everyone was screened appropriately it could prevent 120,000 premature deaths!    Here's a link to the CDC web site:  CDC Viral Hepatitis C  Consider asking your health care provider if this is appropriate for you!

 

MERS now in the United States

The Center for Disease Control has confirmed MERS in the US.  Details are here:  CDC Link to MERS


Chicken and Poultry Safety

Raising poultry can be fun and profitable (and good eatin')... just make sure you don't get more than eggs and joy out of the proposition:  Washing hands after handling poultry can go a long way toward staying safe.

Poultry Safety Link

 

Drug Take Back Programs

Oak Harbor Police Department has a drug take back station which is open 24/7.   There are often drug take back days through out the year at facilities that may be closer to you.  This is an excellent way to keep drugs, particularly narcotics or pain killers, anti-anxiety or other popular drugs of abuse from being used inappropriately and putting folks/kids at risk for accidental or intentional overdose.

 

FLU SEASON, 2014 Winding Down

Flu season is about to begin again.  Hopefully, like last year, it will be a mild season and you and family and friends will miss it.  But it is still a miserable way to spend a week or more feeling like every molecule in your body is staging a minor coup.   Flu Shots can help. This year's flu vaccine may have been about 61% effective against this years predominant flu strain.  This same vaccine will be recommended for the 2014-15 flu season as well.   And don't forget what grandma told you as well:  Cover Your Cough, Stay Home When You Are Sick, Wash Your Hands.  And here is a link to the Washington State Health Department about flu shots:  Flu Prevention News Release     The CDC reminds us that flu shots are recommended for everyone over the age of six months, and they can be particularly beneficial for pregnant women and young children.

Health Department Flu Shot Access

 CDC weekly update  (Current Influenza status)

Washington State and Local .

 

Antibiotic Resistance

is becoming increasingly a problem, especially for certain at risk populations, hospitalized patients, and patients with artificial joints.  Here's a CDC site which discusses the "bad old days" before antibiotics, the magic era of antibiotics, and the unfortunate potential for a world of infection post antibiotic effectiveness.

 Emerging Antibiotic Resistance

 

West Nile Virus…

Hmmm… Doesn’t  sound like something to mess with.  Here’s some tips on how to avoid being one of our state’s (luckily small) statistics:

west nile virus prevention tips

 West Nile Virus in Washington
(annual reports accumulated daily since 2002)

 

 

Vaccinations help prevent illness!  What is your status?   A lot of adults forget about the benefits of keeping current with vaccines. Tdap, yearly influenza, Zoster "shingles" shot, if over age 60 are worth considering.  There are also special situations where other vaccines may be of benefit.  CDC.gov has an excellent travel page for vaccinations that may be recommended for travel outside the US, as well as other travel tips for staying healthy.  Health Tips for Travellers

       For more information regarding all vaccines, click here

      Do you know which vaccines you may need?
               Read more about Communicable Disease
                        State-wide Data and Statistical Reports

 

Healthy Families / Healthy Communities

  
  Region 1 Communicable Disease 2014 Monthly Report
              Pertussis status statewide through 22 June 2013  
                      State Department of Health Newsroom  
                               County Health Ranking  

 

Health Status Indicators
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services maintains data on Island County Health Status Indicators. All said, we're doing fairly well, but regular exercise is the best medicine. Just do it! 
      Click here for Island County data.  
            Washington State County Health Rankings

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