Friday, April 3, 2015

New e-cigarette campaign

In the coming months, youth and young adults will see something they have already been seeing on TV, in magazines, and certainly on the internet: electronic cigarettes. This time, though, it will not be glamorous images and messages portrayed by an industry which has seen tremendous growth in the past few years.
In 2014, the Monitoring the Future Study showed more teens used e-cigarettes than traditional, tobacco cigarettes or any other tobacco product – the first time a U.S. national study showed that teen use of e-cigarettes surpassed use of tobacco cigarettes.
Maine CDC is getting ready to launch a new campaign which will educate youth and young adults about the vastly unregulated, untested e-cigarette industry and encourage them to question what they are NOT being told. 
Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Suicide Prevention Conference

The Maine Suicide Prevention Program will sponsor Beyond the Basics of Suicide Prevention 2015: Pathway to Prevention: Working Toward Zero Suicide in Maine on from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. May 7 at the Abromson Center at the University of Southern Maine in Portland.
This event serves as a best practices conference offering participants in-depth and progressive information and the latest research in the field of suicide and suicide prevention. It is designed for an adult audience who has attained basic training and knowledge in suicide and suicide prevention, and wishes to expand its knowledge and ability to engage in suicide prevention in Maine. 
The program includes the most up-to-date research on suicidology and evidence-based tools and provides participants with information to use in everyday practical applications. 
The target audience for this conference is primary care physicians, physician assistants, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health professionals, alcohol and drug counselors, social workers, public safety professionals, military personnel, public health professionals, educators, families, and community members.
For more information and to register: 

Monday, March 23, 2015


Research shows that for every month a baby is breastfed there is a 4 percent lifetime risk reduction for obesity. Breastfed babies also have a lower risk of chronic disease, specifically Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and asthma over their lifespan. The Maine CDC maternal and child health and chronic disease programs are working together to prevent obesity and the subsequent health complications by increasing breastfeeding rates in Maine. 
6 for ME is an educational quality improvement initiative focused on supporting Maine birth hospitals to adopt at least six of the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding”. The Ten Steps are internationally recognized breastfeeding best practices that improve breastfeeding outcomes.  To learn more about the 10 steps, visit
The intent is that mothers and babies in Maine will have experienced at least six of the ten breastfeeding best practices by 2018. The goal is that breastfeeding outcomes, duration and exclusivity rates will improve for Maine mothers and babies moving Maine breastfeeding rates closer to the Healthy People 2020 objectives for breastfeeding.
Maine birth hospitals are encouraged to attend the 6 for ME Breastfeeding Learning Collaborative training on March 27, 2015, at Eastern Maine Health System, Professional Center, Cianchette Building in Brewer.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Cancer documentary

An educational three-part documentary about the history of cancer, produced and directed by legendary filmmaker Ken Burns, will begin airing on the public broadcasting network on Monday, March 30, at 9 p.m. The documentary is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book:  Cancer: The Emperor of all Maladies by Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee.   More information on this film can be found at:
Although cancer remains the leading cause of death in Maine and the burden of cancer remains high, cancer death rates have declined steadily since 2000 across the nation.  Here in Maine, incidence rates are declining at a faster pace than the United States.  Continued promotion of cancer screening according to guidelines, collective efforts to reduce high-risk health behaviors such as tobacco and alcohol use, and promotion of a healthy diet and regular exercise are some of the steps that have been taken to decrease the rate of cancer. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

New communication tool

Maine CDC is streamlining its newsletters and listservs through GovDelivery, a communication tool used by numerous Federal and State government offices. 
Those who receive these Public Health Updates have automatically been subscribed through GovDelivery. 
By managing your GovDelivery online account, you can select what news you’d like to receive by topic area.  You can select as many subscriber options as you want! To subscribe and manage your areas of interest, click here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Updated carbon monoxide poisoning data

The Maine Tracking Network, Maine CDC's online, queryable data portal, now includes updated carbon monoxide poisoning data for hospitalizations, emergency department visits, mortality, and homes with detectors.

The new data show that as of 2013, 65% of Maine homes have a carbon monoxide detector-that's up from 35% in 2004. Driving this upward trend is a dramatic increase among rental units with a detector, which rose from 34% in 2009, to 69% in 2013. This is most likely due to a 2009 State law requiring detectors in all rental units.

Using interactive query tools, you can explore these trends, as well as data for 11 other public health topics, including Lyme disease, private well water quality, cancer, asthma, and childhood lead poisoning. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

SIM Annual Meeting Progress Report

The annual meeting for the State Innovation Model (SIM) grant was held in Augusta this week.  Maine SIM Partners, SIM evaluator, and Maine's federal project officer from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation were in attendance to share results and successes during year one of the three-year grant. Maine CDC provided an update on initiatives it is leading: National Diabetes Prevention Program, Community Health Workers, and State Population Health Plan. 

National Diabetes Prevention Program is based on a research study that demonstrated adults at high risk for type 2 diabetes can prevent or delay the disease by 58 percent (71 percent if over age 60) by making modest lifestyle changes through a structured program. Maine CDC held a lifestyle coach training in May 2014 and a forum that engaged providers, payers, and businesses in November 2014. 

Community Health Workers (CHWs) provide culturally appropriate information and outreach to vulnerable patients. This initiative is two pronged - looking at both infrastructure and pilot sites.  SIM funding is supporting four CHW pilot projects, which have hired nine CHWs. Trainings were held in November 2014 for both CHWs and CHW supervisors.  Pilots are focusing on individuals out of care/in need of medical home and individuals with chronic conditions.

A State Population Health Plan will be developed by September 2016.  The State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) is the cornerstone for the population health plan.  Maine will utilize the annual review and update of the existing SHIP as an opportunity to engage leadership as well as stakeholders in the enhancement of the SHIP to support the population health plan.  Enhancement of the SHIP will support work to improve the health of the entire state population; improve the quality of health care across the state and, reduce health care costs.   

The Maine SIM intends to achieve the Triple Aim goals of improving the health of Maine's population, improving the experience Maine patients have with their care, and reducing the total cost of care. The work extends across a broad spectrum of public and private health partners.  For more information, visit 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Changes to pediatric blood lead testing guidelines

Maine CDC has updated its pediatric blood lead testing guidelines and services. Effective March 2015, for children less than 6 years old, providers should:
  • confirm all capillary blood lead levels > 5 µg/dL with venous samples, and
  • follow-up on all venous blood lead levels > 5 µg/dL.
These changes align Maine CDC's recommendations with the reference value for pediatric blood lead of 5 µg/dL set by the U.S. CDC in 2012. The reference value is the 97.5th percentile of the blood lead distribution in children 1-5 years of age in the U.S., which is currently 5 µg/dL. 

Maine CDC initiates a tiered response on all venous blood lead levels > 5 µg/dL. Services range from providing free home lead dust testing, to comprehensive, professional environmental lead investigations.

Providers are reminded that Maine law requires children who are covered by MaineCare be tested for lead at ages 1 and 2 years. All other children less than 6 years old should be tested unless an annual risk assessment for lead exposure is negative.

Visit to get the complete updated confirmation, follow-up and screening guidelines, including the annual risk assessment questionnaire. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

New Director Appointed at Maine CDC; Department Names Chief Health Officer

On February 25, 2015, Kenneth Albert was appointed to the position of Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention by Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Commissioner Mary Mayhew. Ken joined State government in March 2012 as the Director of the Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services.  Before joining DHHS, he practiced law for several years, specializing in health law, regulatory and compliance law, and professional licensing.  In addition, he led compliance efforts in a large health care organization, developing a new compliance program for several business lines.

Ken's healthcare career began as a traveling nurse before moving on to a variety of management positions, including time as the Manager of Emergency Services at Central Maine Medical Center (CMMC); as the Administrator of a Health Center; and as the Lewiston Site Manager for LifeFlight of Maine.  Ken earned a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing at the University of Southern Maine and a law degree at the University of Maine School of Law.

Kenneth Albert

Dr. Sheila Pinette has been named the Department's Chief Health Officer, a position entirely focused on clinical outcomes in various populations through engagement of key public and private health system participants across the state. Dr. Pinette will continue to build upon her established relationship with the media and the public, providing expert information about various diseases and other public health concerns. In addition, Dr. Pinette will work across the provider community to support the Department's vision of integrated physical and behavioral health care.

Rare Disease Day

In the U.S., any disease affecting fewer than 200,000 people is considered rare. There are nearly 7,000 rare diseases affecting nearly 30 million Americans. In other words, almost one in ten Americans are suffering from rare diseases. 

Recognized annually on the last day of February, Rare Disease Day was established to raise awareness with the public about rare diseases, the challenges encountered by those affected, the importance of research to develop diagnostics and treatments, and the impact of these diseases on patients' lives.
For more information, visit or 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Strep throat and rapid strep tests

People often get sore throats this time of year. Many sore throats are caused by viruses, but it is wise to determine if a sore throat is caused by bacteria. 

The most common bacteria that can cause a sore throat is Group A strep.  Strep throat can lead to inflamed kidneys, neurologic symptoms, scarlet fever, or rheumatic heart disease if left untreated (i.e. painful, inflamed joints, a rash, bloody urine, abnormal involuntary movements, and possible damage to the heart valves). 

Health care providers should consider the following clinical questions:
  1. Is there a fever (typically greater than 102)?
  2. Does the patient have tender anterior cervical adenopathy?
  3. Does the patient have no cough or a dry cough and/or mild upper respiratory symptoms?
  4. Does the patient have a red, painful throat, with enlarged tonsils with or without white exudates or red spots on the roof of the mouth?
  5. Has the patient been exposed to anyone known to be positive for strep throat?
Physical exam and history alone are not enough to determine if a sore throat is caused by a bacteria or a virus.  While a rapid strep test administered at the point of care can detect Group A strep in 5 minutes, rapid tests do not detect every case of Group A strep or other strains of strep throat. A negative rapid strep test does not guarantee strep throat is not present.  

A throat culture should be the next step, which will take approximately 48 hours for a result.  In the meantime, health care providers may choose to treat empirically with antibiotics for those who have more than 3 out of 5 risk factors or to monitor until the culture returns for those who have 2 or fewer risk factors. If the culture returns negative, then antibiotics can be stopped.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Heart attack and stroke: Do you know what to do?

A heart attack or a stroke can happen to anyone at any time.  1,145 Maine people died from a heart attack and stroke in 2011.  The best thing you can do for someone having a heart attack or stroke is call 911 immediately.

Heart Attack 
A heart attack happens when the blood flow to the heart is greatly reduced or completely blocked.  On average, there is a death caused by heart attack about every minute in the United States.  Most people do not know the symptoms of a heart attack and know to call 911.  These symptoms include:
  • Pain or discomfort in the chest, jaw, neck, back, arms or shoulders
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling weak, lightheaded, faint or sweaty
A stroke happens when the blood flow to a part of the brain is blocked.  This year almost 800,000 Americans of all ages will suffer stroke, which is the fourth leading cause of death in the country.  Most people do not know the symptoms of a stroke and to call 911.  These symptoms include sudden:
  • Numbness in the face, arm or leg
  • Slurred speech
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Severe headache
Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)
SCA happens when the heart stops beating without any warning.  When this happens, blood flow stops to the brain and other body organs.  If not treated within minutes, the person will die. 

The best way to get the heart pumping again quickly before help arrives is to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).  It works by sending an electric shock to the heart to try and restore its normal rhythm.  They are safe, easy to use, and can be lifesaving. 

Be Prepared
Only skilled medical professionals can determine if someone is having a heart attack, stroke or sudden cardiac arrest.  Your responsibility is to recognize the symptoms and act quickly.  You can help to prepare yourself by taking a CPR/AED course that can teach you critical skills needed to respond and manage these medical emergencies until emergency medical services arrive.  These courses are offered by Maine Adult EducationAmerican Heart Association, and American Red Cross.

For more information about heart attack and stroke visit:

Monday, February 9, 2015

Public health workforce

Maine CDC and the Hanley Center for Health Leadership have been working together and with many organizations statewide and across the New England region to focus on improving the capacity, knowledge, and performance of Maine's current and future public health workforce. The goal is to develop highly engaged and skilled workforce to lead Maine's efforts to accomplish its public health goals.

Shifting priorities in public health, changes in the delivery of health care, and rapidly evolving technology have driven the need for workforce and capacity development. A comprehensive Public Health Workforce Development Plan has been drafted for Maine CDC. The final version of the plan is expected to be available by April 2015. One element of this plan is the creation and sharing of a series of online educational training sessions. The first four trainings are now available; the topics are: Foundations of Public Health,Bedbugs; Drinking Water and Public Wells; and Lyme Disease. Many additional trainings will be made available over the next year and ongoing.

Public health and other health professionals are encouraged to participate in this program. To access the trainings, go to, choose Create a New Account and follow the simple instructions on how to register. Along with the presentation and quiz questions, an evaluation form and certificate of completion are also available online. Feedback is welcome and encouraged, as it will be used to inform future trainings and to ensure that all trainings are as useful and as effective as possible.

For more information about this program, please e-mail We look forward to your participation and feedback.

Thursday, February 5, 2015


The United States is currently experiencing a large, multi-state outbreak of measles linked to an amusement park in California. The last confirmed case of measles in Maine was in 1997. 

On January 23, 2015, US CDC issued a Health Advisory to notify public health departments and healthcare facilities about the multi-state outbreak and to provide guidance for healthcare providers nationwide (

Measles is highly contagious and spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Measles can cause serious health complications, such as pneumonia or encephalitis, and even death. Children younger than 5 years of age and adults older than 20 years of age are at high risk of getting a serious case of measles. About 1 in 4 unvaccinated people in the U.S. who get measles will be hospitalized; about 1 in 500 may die.

Guidance for healthcare providers
  • Ensure all patients are up to date on measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine.
  • Consider measles in patients presenting with febrile rash illness and clinically compatible measles symptoms (cough, coryza, and conjunctivitis), and ask patients about recent travel internationally or to domestic venues frequented by international travelers, as well as a history of measles exposures in their communities.
  • Promptly isolate patients with suspected measles to avoid disease transmission and immediately report the suspect measles case to the health department.
  • Obtain specimens for testing from patients with suspected measles, including viral specimens for genotyping, which can help determine the source of the virus. Contact the local health department with questions about submitting specimens for testing.
For more information, go to 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Routine Pap Tests Can Prevent Cervical Cancer

Maine CDC reminds women of the importance of regular screenings to prevent cervical cancer as it recognizes January as National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month.

“As many as 93 percent of cervical cancers could be prevented by screening and HPV vaccination’’ said Dr. Sheila Pinette, Director of the Maine CDC. “If a woman has never had a Pap test or it has been more than three years since her last test, it may be time for her to speak with a healthcare provider and schedule a test.”

Before the development of the Pap test, cervical cancer was one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. As an available, accepted, and cost-effective screening test, the Pap test can detect cervical cell changes before they become cancerous. Governor Paul LePage and First Lady Ann LePage encourage Maine women to take this important preventative measure because of its effectiveness.

Starting at age 21, routine Pap tests for women can find potentially cancerous cells growing in the cervix. As the Human papillomavirus (HPV) is associated with most cervical cancers, current cervical cancer screening recommendations include the high-risk HPV DNA test along with the Pap test for women age 30-65. Women should talk with their doctors, as screening recommendations can vary for each individual.

The Maine CDC Breast and Cervical Health Program can provide information about screening tests, as well as limited resources for free cancer screening services for women over age 35 who have never had a Pap test and meet financial eligibility requirements. Those interested can call 1-800-350-5180 or 1-207-287-8068. TTY users can call Maine Relay at 711.

More details can also be found at:

Friday, November 21, 2014

Vaccine guidelines for adults and children

Easy-to-read guidelines are available on the Maine CDC and US CDC websites:
In addition, US CDC has developed a fact sheet that addresses common questions about pneumococcal vaccination for adults, including the difference between PCV13 and PPSV23 vaccines:
  • PCV13 (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) protects against 13 of the approximately 90 types of pneumococcal bacteria that can cause pneumococcal disease, including pneumonia, meningitis, and bacteremia.
  • PPSV23 (pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine)protects against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria. This vaccine helps prevent invasive infections like meningitis and bacteremia, but only offers low levels of protection against pneumonia. 
The full fact sheet is available at

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Maine is experiencing an increase in reported cases of shigellosis. Transmission of shigellosis is due to direct or indirect contact with contaminated surfaces, individuals with symptoms or asymptomatic carriers of the bacteria, and consumption of contaminated water or food.

The best way to prevent transmission is to wash hands well and frequently. Symptoms of shigellosis include diarrhea, which can be bloody, fever, and abdominal cramps or pain.

To prevent the spread of Shigellosis:
  • Wash hands with soap and water carefully and frequently.
  • People with diarrheal illness should contact their health care provider and request testing.
  • People with diarrhea should not go to work, school, or participate in any activities.
  • People employed in high-risk settings (handle food, provide patient care, work in a daycare) must have two negative stool specimens before they can return to work. These stool specimens must be collected 48 hours after antibiotics end and collected 24 hours apart.
For health care providers:
  • If prescribing antibiotics: resistance to first-line drugs like ampicillin and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole is common, and resistance to other drugs is increasing; determine antibiotic susceptibilities prior to prescribing antibiotics.
  • Health care providers with patients with diarrheal illness should order bacterial stool cultures and antibiotic resistance testing.
  • Providers should remind patients to stay out of school, work, and other activities while they have diarrhea or follow exclusions for individuals in high risk settings.
  • Remind patients to wash hands with soap and water carefully and frequently, especially after using the bathroom.
All suspect cases and positive laboratory reports should be reported to the 24/7 disease reporting and consultation line at 1-800-821-5821 or by fax to 1-800-293-7534.

For More Information:

Monday, November 3, 2014

Be smart about your heart: Control the ABCS of Diabetes

It is estimated that 87,232 Mainers have diabetes and an additional 32,264 have it but do not know they have it.  If left undiagnosed and untreated diabetes can lead to serious health problems like heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, amputation, or death.

November is National Diabetes Month.  This year's theme highlights the critical link between diabetes and heart disease.  Adults with diabetes are nearly twice as likely to be hospitalized for a heart attack or die of heart disease and are 1.5 times more likely to be hospitalized for a stroke than adults without diabetes.

Control the ABCS of Diabetes:

  • A1c Blood Glucose Level
    • An A1c test shows what your blood glucose (blood sugar) level has been for the last 3 months
    • High blood glucose levels can harm your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, eyes, and feet
  • Blood Pressure
    • High blood pressure makes your heart work too hard
    • It can cause heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease
  • Cholesterol
    • Bad cholesterol (LDL) can build up and clog your blood vessels
    • Can cause a heart attack or stroke
  • Smoking
    • Stop smoking
    • Call the Maine Tobacco Helpline: 1-800-207-1230
Heart disease can be a serious health problem for people with diabetes.  Taking care of your diabetes means you have less chance of having a heart attack or stroke.  Here is what you can do:
  • Eat well
  • Be active
  • Learn how to cope with stress
  • Take your medicine
  • Stop smoking
  • Attend Diabetes Self-Management Training (DSMT).  Ask your doctor or visit the Maine Diabetes Prevention and Control Program website to find a DSMT in your area
The Maine CDC Diabetes Prevention and Control Program(DPCP) focuses on promoting excellence in diabetes care; increasing access to care; promoting and supporting diabetes self-management education; preventing and reducing diabetes risk factors; and eliminating disparities related to diabetes prevention and control.

For more information, Maine DPCP recommends: 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Breast cancer

During 2014, it is estimated that more than 1,200 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 190 women will die from the disease. As National Breast Cancer Awareness month winds down, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reminds women that regular screening mammograms are critical in diagnosing and beginning treatment of the disease.

Not all breast cancer is accompanied by a lump that is discovered during a breast exam, which is why a regular mammogram is so important.  Women should enter into a personal discussion regarding their screening with their primary care physicians and decisions should be individualized.

A screening mammogram can detect breast cancer early, even before symptoms arise.  Women between ages 50 to 74 should have a screening mammogram every two years, while women age 40 to 49 should talk to their doctor about when and how often to have this screening.

The Maine CDC Breast and Cervical Health and Colorectal Cancer Control Programs can provide information about cancer screening tests and has some resources available for free cancer screenings.

Women must be age 40 or older and meet financial and other program criteria.  Interested women are encouraged to call 1-800-350-5180 or 1-207-287-8068; TTY users call Maine Relay 711.

More details can also be found at: 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Flu update 10/29/14

The flu has officially arrived in Maine for the 2014-2015 season. For more information, see the Oct. 17 health alert at: 

Maine CDC reminds everyone to take everyday preventive measures against the flu:
  • Wash your hands frequently;
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or shoulder;
  • Stay home when you feel sick;
  • Get vaccinated. 
If you have the flu:
  • Stay home if you are sick, until you are fever-free for a full 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medicine.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or into a tissue. Throw the tissue away.
  • Although most people can stay home to recover without seeing a health care provider, it is possible for healthy people to develop severe illness from the flu. Anyone with the flu should seek medical attention for:
    • Dehydration
    • Trouble breathing
    • Getting better, then suddenly getting a lot worse
    • Any major change in condition 

Flu Activity

 Maine CDC reported sporadic flu activity for the week ending Oct. 25. Weekly updates are available online:

Flu Vaccination

US CDC recommends yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. It takes about two weeks after vaccination to develop full immunity. To find a flu vaccine in your area, call 211, search or, or contact your health care provider.

For more information about flu vaccine: 

For more information, go or