Tuesday, January 17, 2017

News from the districts - Central

An important role of the Central District Coordinating Council (DCC) - and all DCCs - is to develop and implement a district public health improvement plan. District public health improvement plans have three purposes: (1) improve health of district residents, (2) improve the district public health system, and (3) inform the State Health Improvement Plan.
The Central DCC has worked this fall to review data and choose priorities for the 2016-19 plan and asked the hospitals and health systems in the district to present their newly-chosen strategic priorities to see where we can work together.
Priorities selected for 2016-19 are substance use/mental health, adverse childhood experiences, obesity, and oral health.  We are currently forming workgroups for each of these priority areas to review the evidence base for district improvement action and recommend strategies that will make a difference in the health of district residents.
Contact Paula Thomson at paula.thomson@maine.gov with questions or for more information.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month

Birth defects affect one in every 33 babies born in the United States and are a leading cause of infant mortality. Babies who survive and live with birth defects are at an increased risk for developing many lifelong physical, cognitive, and social challenges. 
Although not all birth defects can be prevented, all women who could become pregnant or are pregnant can lower their risk of having babies with birth defects by following some basic health guidelines throughout their reproductive years, such as:
  • Do not eat raw or runny eggs or raw sprouts.
  • Avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk and cheese and other foods made from them.
  • Talk to your health care provider about what you can do to prevent infections like Zika virus.
  • Make sure that you are up-to-date with vaccinations before getting pregnant.
  • Talk to your health care provider about vaccinations that you should receive during pregnancy.
  • Stay away from wild or pet rodents, live poultry, lizards and turtles, and do not clean cat litter boxes while pregnant.
  • When mosquitoes and ticks are active, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outside.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
The United States Public Health Service recommends that all women of childbearing age consume 400 micrograms (400mcg or .4mg) of folic acid daily to prevent up to 50-70 percent of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly.
For more information, visit http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/population-health/mch/cshn/birth-defects/index.html

Monday, November 21, 2016

Know the Risk Factors and Signs of Diabetes

Maine CDC has estimated that 7.8 percent of the adult population in Maine is living with pre-diabetes and 9.5 percent is living with diabetes. November is Diabetes Awareness Month, which serves as a reminder to everyone about the risk factors and cautions related to pre-diabetes and diabetes.

What is Pre-diabetes?
Pre-diabetes is when a person’s blood glucose (blood sugar) levels are higher than normal, but are not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. One in three adults in the U.S. has pre-diabetes and most of them don’t know it. Some of the risk factors for developing pre-diabetes are: adults who are over the age of 45, adults who are not physically active and adults with high blood pressure. Without making lifestyle changes, 15-30 percent will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years. Making some simple lifestyle changes, including: eating healthier, losing weight and being more active make it possible to prevent or delay pre-diabetes from progressing into type 2 diabetes.
For more information visit the Maine National Diabetes Prevention Program information portal at: www.ReThinkDiabetes.org or speak to your doctor to see if you are at risk of pre-diabetes.

What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that causes high levels of glucose in the blood because insulin is not functioning correctly in the body.
  • Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in youth and young adults. The cause is unknown and cannot be prevented, but it can be managed through insulin therapy and living a healthy lifestyle.
  • Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90-95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can be controlled with healthy eating and exercise. 

Steps to Encourage Diabetes Management
  1. Managing diabetes is not easy, but it can be done with proper education and support. Take small steps to stay healthy. You don’t have to make big lifestyle changes all at once. Set realistic goals on what’s important to you.
  2. Early self-management education and support is important to prevent diabetes-related health problems.  When blood glucose is not in control, it can lead to serious complications.  
  3. Managing diabetes is a team effort. Diabetes can be overwhelming. Having a network of support from family, friends and your health care team, can help you stay on track.
To find a Diabetes Self-Management Training program in Maine to help support you in your self-management planning visit:

For More Information

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

News from the Districts - Western

The Western District Coordinating Council recently brought together district partners from a variety of sectors (law enforcement, legislature, health care, community providers, etc.) to share ideas and solutions to address this growing opioid problem.

One of the highlights of this forum was a back to work program that has been implemented in Oxford County. A significant part of the Western Maine Addiction Recovery Initiative is Project Save ME, where people who are in active substance use can go to any police department in Oxford County and ask for help.

Many aspects of Project Save ME have contributed to its success, including trained recovery coaches, area social service agencies and a partnership with C.N. Brown. Early on, C.N. Brown noticed that substance use disorder was affecting their business and employees and decided to be a part of the solution. Those who enter into Project Save ME and get into recovery have the potential to be an employee of C. N. Brown. Individuals who have reached six months of recovery and received a letter of recommendation from their counseling can get help with getting a job at a local Big Apple store.

The liaison between the Western Maine Addiction Recovery Initiative and C. N. Brown has talked about how positive the partnership has been and a willingness to reach out to other businesses to bring more potential employment options to Project Save ME. The Western DCC is looking forward to extending the project to the other two counties in the district as well.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Changes to Maine's Childhood Lead Poisoning Law

In September, Maine CDC began implementing changes to Maine’s law that requires lead hazard inspections in the homes of children with lead poisoning. The amendments changed the State’s definition of lead poisoning to a blood lead level of five micrograms per deciliter (5 ug/dL) or higher for children younger than age six, which is also U.S. CDC’s definition of an elevated blood lead level.
With the changes, Maine CDC expects to inspect about 500 rental units for lead hazards each year—a five-fold increase in the number of units over previous years. These inspections, along with a primary prevention strategy underway in Maine communities with the highest burdens of lead poisoning, make up Maine CDC’s efforts to eradicate childhood lead poisoning.
What can you do to prevent lead poisoning?
  • Public Health Professionals: Learn about lead poisoning in your community on the Maine Tracking Network. Work with municipalities to address lead hazards in rental properties through code enforcement or outreach to property owners. Promote screening and home lead dust testing among parents.
  • Providers: Make sure your practice is following Maine CDC’s screening and confirmation testing guidelines – Maine CDC initiates an inspection of a child’s home environment for venous blood lead test results of 5 ug/dL or higher.
  • Property Owners: Regularly maintain painted surfaces in properties built before 1978 – find out more.
  • Parents: Talk to your child’s doctor about a blood lead test and find out if you have lead dust in your home with a free kit from the Maine CDC – order online at maine.gov/healthyhomes.
FYI: October 23-29 is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week – see our webpage for resources you can use to promote lead poisoning prevention.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

News from the Districts - Cumberland

Whether it’s about levels of lead in drinking water at Yarmouth schools or concerns about well water levels on Long Island, Local Health Officers in Cumberland Public Health District are fielding questions about water quality and safety in their communities. Cumberland County was also recently included in the areas in Maine affected by drought, according to assessments of the State Drought Task Force.

Maine CDC and the Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency partnered to organize an information and outreach session on water issues for Local Health Officers on Tuesday. David Braley, Senior Environmental Hydrogeologist with the Maine CDC Drinking Water Program, and Mike Koza from the Portland Water District, presented.

The event was the first in a series of information and networking meetings aimed at strengthening relationships and support between Maine CDC, Cumberland Emergency Management Agency and Local Health Officers in Cumberland, many of whom are volunteers.

Monday, September 19, 2016

News from the Districts - York

Public Health Emergency Preparedness has been a focus of the York District Coordinating Council, District Liaison and other interested parties for some time. Over the course of the last few years, events designed to recruit Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) members and tabletop exercises to showcase, educate and enhance overall preparedness have been led by this group.
Beginning in late 2015, stakeholders from across York Public Health District have been planning a full- scale public health emergency preparedness exercise. The culmination of this planning will be a Point of Dispensing exercise, also known as a POD. The term POD refers to an organized method to distribute medicine to the public during an emergency. This exercise will take place on October 19 at the University of New England’s Harold Alfond Forum.
This event will feature two POD distribution models. One will be administering “live” flu vaccine; the other will be handing out the mock bottles of ciprofloxacin or doxycycline needed to provide “post-exposure” medication based on the circumstances of the individuals presenting for triage. This multifaceted event has an overall objective of exercising and evaluating the University of New England as a new POD location as well as determining the capacity to deliver public health services on a challenging scale.

This collaboration has yielded additional benefit for Maine CDC, district stakeholders and the University of New England.  For example, the University of New England has incorporated aspects of planning and staffing the event into their established curriculum for public health and medical students. This opportunity provides tangible, real-world experience for students to participate and understand an emergency response within the Maine Public Health structure.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Maine CDC Coordinator Honored at Patient Safety Academy

ritaRita Owsiak, Maine CDC’s Healthcare Associated Infections Coordinator, was recently recognized as a recipient of the Rising Tide Award for 2016.  The award was presented at the annual Patient Safety Academy at the University of Southern Maine in Portland on September 8.
The Rising Tide Award is presented to individuals or organizations who are demonstrating outstanding achievement and commitment to best practices in patient safety in Maine. 
Oswiak was also a presenter at the Patient Safety Academy, which brings together healthcare professionals for knowledge- and skill-building workshops. Public health, physician practices, pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities, advocates and other agencies participate in the annual event. 
Congratulations, Rita.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

National Cholesterol Month

September is a good time to get your cholesterol checked and take steps to get it under control.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a type of fat found in blood and is found in foods we eat including eggs, meats, fish and whole-fat dairy products. Foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain none. Our body also makes cholesterol.  Risk factors that can lead to high cholesterol include being overweight/obese, poor eating habits, family history, age or gender.
Know your numbers:

U.S. CDC recommends that adults age 20 or older have their cholesterol checked every five years.  This can be done with a simple blood test.
cholesterol
Reduce your risk:
By living a healthy lifestyle, you can help keep your cholesterol in a healthy range and lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.  A healthy lifestyle includes:
  • Eating a healthy diet. Avoid saturated fats and trans fats. Polyunsaturated fats can actually lower cholesterol levels. Eating fiber also can help lower cholesterol.
  • Exercising regularly. The Surgeon General recommends that adults engage in moderate-intensity exercise for two hours and 30 minutes every week.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight. 
  • Not smoking. If you smoke, quit as soon as possible.
For more information on cholesterol:

Monday, September 5, 2016

Suicide Prevention Month

Each year, Maine joins the United States and the international community in recognizing World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10. Suicide continues to be a public health concern, with 689 deaths by suicide between 2011 and 2013 in Maine. In addition, between 2011 and 2013, suicide was the first leading cause of death for Maine adolescents between the ages of 10 and 14, second among Maine residents between 15 and 34 years of age, and fourth among Maine residents between the ages of 35 and 54. Suicide is preventable and knowledge, understanding and support can save lives
If you suspect someone you know may be at risk of suicide, follow these steps:
  1. Show you care by listening carefully and without judgment.
  2. Ask them if they are thinking about suicide. Be direct and empathetic. (Asking about suicide does not increase the risk of suicide.)
  3. Stay with them (or have another caring person stay with them) while you locate help.
  4. Call the Maine Crisis Hotline (1-888-568-1112) or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).
  5. If the person is at immediate risk of harming themselves, call 911.
For more information on how you can help prevent suicide in your community or workplace, contact Amy Ouellette at the Maine Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI Maine), 622-5767, extension 2318. NAMI Maine hosts many training opportunities throughout the year.
Remember: Suicide is preventable.  Knowledge, understanding, and support can save lives.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Antimicrobial-resistant Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported notifiable disease in the United States. National concerns about increasing rates of gonorrhea and increasing antimicrobial resistant strains of N. gonorrhoeae are prompting increased efforts to ensure adherence to the revised 2015 Sexually Transmitted Disease Treatment Guidelines.
U.S. CDC now recommends treating gonorrhea with ceftriaxone 250 mg as a single intramuscular dose and azithromycin 1 g orally.
Clinicians need to use dual therapy and stay up to date with treatment recommendations: 
  • Data show that resistance decreases when the correct dual therapy is used.
  • Using azithromycin as a monotherapy to treat gonorrhea might promote the emergence of azithromycin resistance.
  • Patients with cephalosporin allergies should be treated with azithromycin 2 g plus either gentamicin or gemifloxacin.

There has been a steady increase in the number of reported gonorrhea cases in Maine. As of June 30, 2016, 251 cases of gonorrhea have been reported to the Maine CDC. The five-year median for this time period is 116 cases. The increase in gonorrhea in Maine mirrors a national trend reported by U.S. CDC. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Tick-borne Diseases Update

Reports of multiple tick-borne diseases to Maine CDC are indicating an increase in all tick-borne diseases. Physicians have already reported more anaplasmosis cases so far this year than all of last year, and babesiosis and Lyme numbers are steadily increasing as well. Providers should be aware of the risk and prevalence of these diseases and consider them in their diagnoses.
Anaplasmosis:
  • 228 cases reported to date in 2016, compared to 186 in all of 2015
  • 116 cases reported from the Mid Coast region (Knox 49, Lincoln 43, Sagadahoc 18 and Waldo six)
Babesiosis:
  • 49 cases have been reported to date in 2016, compared to 55 in all of 2015
  • 13 cases reported from York county, ten cases from Knox county
Lyme disease:
  • Lyme disease cases take several months to be entered and classified, so current numbers are not available at this time
Powassan:
  • No cases have been reported to date in 2016, compared to one in all of 2015
Co-infections: 
Because all of these diseases are carried by the same tick (Ixodes scapularis), a person may be infected with more than one disease.
  • To date, 11 co-infections have been reported: four co-infections with anaplasmosis and Lyme disease, two co-infections with babesiosis and Lyme disease and five co-infections with anaplasmosis and babesiosis.
  • In 2015, 22 co-infections were reported: ten co-infections of Lyme disease and anaplasmosis; eight co-infections of Lyme disease and babesiosis; one co-infection of anaplasmosis and babesiosis; one co-infection of Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and babesiosis; one co-infection of Lyme disease and ehrlichiosis; and one co-infection of babesiosis and ehrlichiosis.
Recommendations for Providers:
  • Consider tick-borne illnesses in your differential, particularly for individuals with “summer flu” symptoms
  • Submit samples for testing
  • Treat patients appropriately – recommendations for treatment are available from http://www.idsociety.org/uploadedfiles/idsa/guidelines-patient_care/pdf_library/lyme%20disease.pdf
  • Report cases. All tick-borne illnesses are reportable in Maine, including the erythema migrans rash which is confirmatory. All cases should be reported by phone to 1-800-821-5821 or by fax to 1-800-293-7534.
For more information:


Monday, August 1, 2016

National Breastfeeding Awareness Month

Breastfeeding is one of the most effective steps a mother can take to protect the health of her baby. All major medical authorities recommend that mothers breastfeed exclusively for six months. In 2013, 87 percent of Maine infants were ever breastfed, similar to the national average. More Maine infants were exclusively breastfed for six months, 32 percent, than compared to the U.S., 22 percent.
Maine’s efforts to protect, promote and support breastfeeding include:


Friday, July 22, 2016

State Lab Improves Foodborne Illness Surveillance

Maine CDC's Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory (HETL) is a member of PulseNet, a national laboratory network that connects foodborne illness cases to detect outbreaks from people eating contaminated food. Since the network began in 1996, PulseNet has improved food safety systems in Maine by identifying outbreaks early and identifying the source of the contaminated food. This network is changing the test methods used to identify outbreaks. 

Through two U.S. CDC grants, the HETL has been able to upgrade its equipment and protocols to allow for the lab to conduct this next-generation DNA fingerprinting, known as ‘whole genome sequencing.’  This method allows the HETL to increase surveillance of antibiotic and antiviral resistance mechanisms, identify rare bacteria and viruses and increase foodborne illness surveillance.  

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Keep Cool, Drink Fluids and Reduce Activity to Prevent Heat-Related Illness

During these hot summer days we can all use a reminder to keep cool, drink fluids and lie low to prevent heat-related illness.
Older adults, infants, pregnant women, people who have chronic diseases and those who work outside or in hot environments are most at risk for heat-related illnesses. On hot days, people need access to air conditioning or shade and those who are working outside should be sure to drink more fluids to stay hydrated. 
It is also a good idea to check on the elderly and relatives who live alone to make sure they are able to stay cool.
For more on how to recognize and prevent heat illness: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/environmental-health/heat/index.html
Use the Maine Tracking Network to find data about heat illness in Maine: https://data.mainepublichealth.gov/tracking


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Cancer Registry Recognized

Maine CDC's cancer registry has been recognized by U.S. CDC's National Program of Cancer Registries (NPCR) as a Registry of Excellence for 2015.
Maine is one of 22 states to achieve this designation, which reflects the submission of high quality data for cancer prevention and control activities. The data met all of NPCR's standards for data completeness and quality.

In addition, the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries has recognized Maine CDC's cancer registry for meeting its Gold Standard on quality, completeness and timeliness of 2013 data.

Friday, July 1, 2016

National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month

July is National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month. U.S. CDC estimates that about 7,000 babies will be born with a cleft in the United States this year, a condition created when tissue in the baby’s upper lip or the roof of the mouth does not join together completely during pregnancy, leaving an opening in the roof of the mouth.
Clefts are usually repaired surgically in the first year of life, though many children require additional surgeries and treatments through adolescence to correct challenges to breathing, eating, or speech development. Individuals born with cleft lip or palate often need specialized dental or orthodontic care throughout their lives.
For more information, visit http://www.nccapm.org/ 
 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Nutrition Label Changes

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized the new nutrition facts label for packaged foods to reflect new scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. Among the changes to help consumers is the addition of grams of added sugars below "Total Sugars." Manufacturers will need to use the new label by July 26, 2018, although manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year.

For more information, go to http://go.usa.gov/xqZzA

Monday, June 27, 2016

Maine Immunization Champion Announced

U.S. CDC has named Jeri Greenwell of Bethel as Maine’s 2016 Childhood Immunization Champion for her outstanding efforts to promote childhood immunizations.
Greenwell has made it her life’s mission to improve awareness about vaccine-preventable diseases. She has developed relationships with political leaders from both sides of the aisle, spoken with many about the importance of vaccination and has met with various groups and individuals to provide education.  In addition, Greenwell has coordinated school-based activities with school nurses, students and parents to support on-time immunizations.
Greenwell’s passion and commitment to children’s health is driven by her family’s personal tragedy.  In 2003, her son, Jerry, awoke with flu-like symptoms and by evening, he was admitted to the hospital in critical condition.  Despite aggressive, round-the-clock care, Jerry died from meningococcal meningitis with this family by his side.  This disease is preventable through immunization.
“Only those who have experienced their child or loved one suffering from the devastating consequences of a vaccine-preventable disease can truly comprehend the impact it has on a family or parent,’’ said Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew. “Jeri has been a tireless advocate for childhood immunization and has turned her grief into positive action.”
Each year during National Infant Immunization Week, the U.S. CDC and its CDC Foundation honor health professionals and community leaders from around the country with the CDC Childhood Immunization Champion awards. These awards acknowledge the outstanding efforts of those individuals who strive to ensure that children in their communities are fully immunized against 14 preventable diseases before age two.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Maine CDC Earns National Public Health Accreditation

Maine CDC has earned public health accreditation from the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB).  Maine CDC joins 18 other state health departments that have achieved this distinction.  Fewer than 200 health departments across the nation are accredited.
The PHAB’s goal is to improve and protect public health by transforming the quality and performance of public health departments.  This national program, jointly supported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation establishes rigorous standards that foster continuous quality improvement and excellence.  To earn accreditation, a health department must undergo a multi-faceted, peer-reviewed assessment process to ensure it meets or exceeds these quality standards and measures.   Maine CDC has been working toward accreditation over the last several years.
The PHAB standards cover a dozen different domains including public health assessments, investigation and surveillance, communication and education, community collaboration, policies and planning, enforcement of public health laws, workforce capacity, leadership and process improvement.  A full list of the domains and the multiple standards associated with them can be found at http://www.phaboard.org/wp-content/uploads/PHABSM_WEB_LR1.pdf.
Maine’s accreditation is in effect for five years.