Monday, February 8, 2016

Lyme disease prevention poster contest

This year will be the 7th annual statewide Lyme disease prevention poster contest in schools for students K-8. Children this age have high rates of Lyme disease, which is why increasing their knowledge of prevention is important.

The topic of this year’s contest is “Tick Watch” to emphasize awareness and prevention of ticks. Posters should be creative, colorful and express the importance of being informed about ticks and mindful of good prevention habits. Along with this theme, students should try to illustrate at least one specific preventative method on the poster, such as:  use an EPA-approved repellent, wearing protective clothing, performing daily tick checks or using caution in tick infested areas.

Two more examples of last year’s winning designs and general Lyme disease information are available at:

For questions about the poster contest, email the Public Health Corps at

Friday, January 29, 2016

Go Red for Women: Well-woman visit

February 5 is National Wear Red Day, a national public awareness day to bring attention to the leading killers of women - heart disease and stroke.  Heart disease is the second and stroke is the fourth leading cause of death for Maine women.
The American Heart Association states that 80 percent of all cardiovascular disease may be preventable.  The best way to prevent it or catch it before it becomes life threatening is by having a well-woman visit (also known as an annual physical).  These visits are tailored to your age, family history and past health history.  The visits often include preventive screenings such as cholesterol, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure and other assessments designed to evaluate your heart health.  This will help to identify any serious health risks, such as heart disease or stroke, before they become life threatening.    
Well-woman visits should be scheduled every year.  If you go several years between visits, you run the risk of a health problem going undetected and causing damage to your body.  Medicare and most private health insurance plans are now required to cover preventive services at no added cost to you. 
To learn more about the well-woman visit:

To learn more about risk factors for cardiovascular disease:

Thursday, January 21, 2016

HHS and USDA release new dietary guidelines

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Healthy Americans provide science-based recommendations on food and nutrition so people can make decisions that may help keep their weight under control and prevent chronic conditions, like type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. The newly released guidelines recognize the importance of not focusing on individual nutrients or foods in isolation but on healthy eating patterns as a whole to bring about lasting improvements in individual and population health.
There are five overarching guidelines:
  1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan.
  2. Focus on variety, nutrient density and amount.
  3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake.
  4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.
  5. Support healthy eating patterns for all.
People should be encouraged to:
  • Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, lean protein and healthy oils
  • Consume less than 10% percent of calories per day from added sugars
  • Consume less than 10% of calories from saturated fat
  • Limit sodium to 2,300 milligrams per day or less for people over age 14 and less for those younger

To learn more about the new Dietary Guidelines and how to use them go to

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Routine Pap Tests Can Prevent Cervical Cancer

Maine CDC reminds women of the importance of regular screenings to prevent cervical cancer. January is designated National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, and according to DHHS Chief Health Officer Dr. Christopher Pezzullo, as many as 93 percent of cervical cancers could be prevented by screening and HPV vaccination.
“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” said Dr. Pezzullo.

Before the development of the Pap test, cervical cancer was one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. The Pap test is an available, accepted and cost-effective screening test that can detect cervical cell changes before they become cancerous.

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 resources for free cancer screening services and follow-up testing if screening results are abnormal for those who meet program guidelines. Those interested in learning more 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, January 8, 2016

New diagnostic tests available at HETL

The Clinical Microbiology section at Maine CDC's Health and Environmental Testing Lab (HETL) validated 10 molecular biology assays in three infectious disease categories in 2015. They include: vectorborne (anaplasma, ehrlichia, babesia, Powassan, deer tick), antibiotic resistance (VRE genotyping, MRSA genotyping) and respiratory (adenovirus, RSV, rhinovirus).  
These new tests complement HETL’s testing menu for such as infectious agents as West Nile virus and Chikungunya, carbapenemase genotyping, influenza and pertussis.  U.S. CDC, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have all stated in the past year that the fastest growing threat to public health is the globalization of antibiotic resistance and vectorborne disease. The addition of these tests to HETL’s menu highlights these statements.  

Laboratory Information Submission Sheets (LSIS) are available on HETL’s website:

Thursday, January 7, 2016

DHHS Employee of the Year

Nate Morse and Troy Fullmer
Nate Morse (left) being congratulated by his supervisor Troy Fullmer for being named DHHS Employee of the Year.

Nate Morse, a comprehensive health planner in Maine CDC’s Division of Population Health, was named the 2015 Employee of the Year for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services.
One example of how Nate’s work ethic, leadership and initiative is his work establishing the U.S. CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP) in Maine. Adults in Maine with prediabetes are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The NDPP is an evidence-based lifestyle change program. Data show that individuals completing the program reduce the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. The NDPP is currently being offered statewide through 21 agencies. In 2014, more than 815 adults in Maine completed the NDPP, significantly reducing their chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

Monday, January 4, 2016

National Birth Defects Prevention Month

Birth defects are common, costly and critical.  In the United States, a baby is born with a birth defect every 4 ½ minutes. All women can make a PACT for birth defects prevention by Planning ahead, Avoiding harmful substances, Choosing a healthy lifestyle and Talking to your healthcare provider. Learn more:

Friday, December 18, 2015

Twelve ways to have a healthy holiday season

US CDC offers 12 simple tips for staying health this holiday season and all year long:

  1. Wash hands often to help prevent the spread of germs. It's flu season. Wash your hands with soap and clean running water for at least 20 seconds.
  2. Manage stress. Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out, overwhelmed, and out of control. Some of the best ways to manage stress are to find support, connect socially and get plenty of sleep.
  3. Don't drink and drive or let others drink and drive. Whenever anyone drives drunk, they put everyone on the road in danger. Choose not to drink and drive and help others do the same.
  4. Bundle up to stay dry and warm. Wear appropriate outdoor clothing: light, warm layers, gloves, hats, scarves and waterproof boots.
  5. Be smoke-free. Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke. Smokers have greater health risks because of their tobacco use, but nonsmokers also are at risk when exposed to tobacco smoke.
  6. Fasten seat belts while driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Always buckle your children in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat or seat belt according to their height, weight, and age. Buckle up every time, no matter how short the trip and encourage passengers to do the same.
  7. Get exams and screenings. Ask your health care provider what exams you need and when to get them. Update your personal and family history. Get insurance from the Health Insurance Marketplace if you are not insured.
  8. Get your vaccinations. Vaccinations help prevent diseases and save lives. Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year.
  9. Monitor children. Keep potentially dangerous toys, food, drinks, household items and other objects out of children's reach. Protect them from drowning, burns, falls and other potential accidents.
  10. Practice fire safety. Most residential fires occur during the winter months, so don't leave fireplaces, space heaters, food cooking on stoves or candles unattended. Have an emergency plan and practice it regularly.
  11. Prepare food safely. Remember these simple steps: Wash hands and surfaces often, avoid cross-contamination, cook foods to proper temperatures and refrigerate foods promptly.
  12. Eat healthy, stay active. Eat fruits and vegetables which pack nutrients and help lower the risk for certain diseases. Limit your portion sizes and foods high in fat, salt and sugar. Also, be active for at least 2½ hours a week and help kids and teens be active for at least 1 hour a day.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Youth fitness reduces middle age death risk

A recently-published study in the JAMA Internal Medicine shows that fitness in youth may reduce the risk of heart-related death in middle age.
The study included nearly 5,000 adults who were between 18 and 30 in the mid-1980s when they completed baseline treadmill tests. Over 26 years, data showed that higher levels of fitness and improvement in fitness early in adulthood are associated with lower risks for heart disease and mortality.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Maine ranked 15th healthiest state

The United Health Foundation released America's Health Rankings last week. Maine ranked 15th overall, up five spots from last year. 
Highlights noted by the foundation include:
  • In the past year, immunizations among children aged 19 to 35 months increased 25 percent from 68.0 percent to 84.7 percent.
  • In the past year, physical inactivity decreased 15 percent from 23.3 percent to 19.7 percent of adults.
  • In the past five years, low birthweight increased 13 percent from 6.3 percent to 7.1 percent of live births.
  • In the past 20 years, infant mortality increased 13 percent from 6.2 to 7.0 deaths per 1,000 live births.
  • Since 1990, cardiovascular deaths decreased 46 percent from 408.0 to 218.7 per 100,000 population.

For more information, visit

Monday, November 2, 2015

Environmental health staff recognized

Maine law and rules require that before a Health Inspection license to operate can be issued, all restaurants, hotels, inns, B&Bs, campgrounds, youth camps and fairs and festivals must show that they have safe drinking water and proper wastewater disposal. Maine CDC’s Health Inspection, Drinking Water and Subsurface Wastewater programs are co-located within the Division of Environmental Health, which allows for fast turn-arounds for routine applications.  For complicated business proposals, technical teams representing all three programs can be assembled quickly to find solutions for difficult drinking water or wastewater challenges.
Governor LePage recently received a letter from a business owner opening a new restaurant in rural Maine.  This business person wrote that he expected that the process would be equivalent to “…pushing a boulder uphill.”  He went on to say that “… to the contrary, these people bent over backwards to help us get the forms complete, inspect the water source, wastewater system, and the building to get us open as quickly as possible.”

As a result, Governor LePage invited the three staff named in the letter, Haig Brochu from the Drinking Water Program, Sandi Clark from the Health Inspection Program and Jim Jacobsen from the Subsurface Wastewater Unit, to his office to personally thank them for their work. They were joined by DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew, Maine CDC Director and Chief Operating Officer Kenneth Albert and Health Inspection Supervisor Rebecca Walsh. Governor LePage presented each staff member with a Governor’s coin and thanked them for their assistance.

Friday, October 30, 2015

HETL chemist presents paper at national meeting

Jamie Foss, Chemist II with the Forensic Chemistry Section at Maine CDC's Health and Environmental Testing Lab (HETL), recently presented a paper  at the Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientist’s Annual Meeting on his research related to the analysis of drugs by Time of Flight (TOF) Mass Spectroscopy.

Maine has seen an increase in heroin use and overdose over the past three years, resulting in an increase in heroin samples submitted to the lab for identification. To meet this challenge, HETL has been working with Perkin Elmer Health Sciences to beta-test their direct sample analysis. The sensitivity and quality of the data generated by this instrument, allows HETL to rapidly identify drugs and help its partners gain a better understanding of the types of drugs encountered on the streets as well as improve analysis turn-around time needed to meet the demands of the judicial system.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Maine CDC receives prematurity campaign award

Maine CDC staff receives the March of Dimes Virginia Apgar Prematurity Campaign Leadership award

Maine CDC has been awarded the March of Dimes Virginia Apgar Prematurity Campaign Leadership award in recognition of a more than 8% reduction in pre-term births based on 2014 data compared to 2009 baseline data. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

People with pre-diabetes can stop type 2 diabetes

Pre-diabetes is when blood sugar levels are higher than normal and puts a person at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.  According to the U.S. CDC and the American Diabetes Association an estimated:
  • 86 million adults in the U.S. have pre-diabetes
  • 386,000 adults in Maine have pre-diabetes
  • $243 million in medical costs contributes to Maine’s economic burden
If pre-diabetes is left undiagnosed and untreated it can progress to type 2 diabetes.  This can lead to serious health problems like heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease, amputation or death if steps are not taken to self-manage this disease.  There are steps people can take to prevent developing type 2 diabetes.  Lifestyle and behavior changes related to eating and physical activity can decrease a person’s chance of developing type 2 diabetes.
Maine has the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP) available in many communities across Maine.  NDPP classes typically last for one hour, once a week for 16 weeks then meets monthly for six months.  It helps participants make real lifestyle changes such as healthy eating, daily physical activity and improving problem-solving and coping skills to help prevent type 2 diabetes.  Many people who complete the program stay in touch with their group for support.  In 2014 alone, over 800 adults in Maine completed the NDPP curriculum.  To find a program and class near you visit  
For more information:

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Breastfeeding support improves in Maine hospitals

Hospital support for breastfeeding has improved since 2007, according to the latest U.S. CDC Vital Signs report released early October. The percentage of U.S. hospitals using a majority of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, the global standard for hospital care to support breastfeeding, increased from approximately 29 percent in 2007 to 54 percent in 2013, a nearly two-fold increase over six years. Hospitals in Maine that have implemented the majority of the Ten Steps increased from 72 percent in 2007 to 83 percent in 2013. 
Improved hospital care could increase rates of breastfeeding both in Maine and nationally, contributing to healthier children. According to U.S. CDC’s 2014 Breastfeeding Report Card, approximately 28 percent of babies in Maine were born in baby-friendly hospitals, a rate topped only by New Hampshire and Connecticut.  The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) was established by the World Health Organization and UNICEF and endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The core of the BFHI is the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, which include:
  • Educating all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  • Helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  • Keeping mothers and babies together throughout the entire hospital stay.
  • Providing mothers with information about breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to these groups upon discharge from the hospital.
Maine has implemented “6 for ME,” a health care and quality improvement initiative focused on providing assistance and support to health care professionals, focusing on six of the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding.  Maine CDC, Let's Go!, MaineHealth and the Maine State Breastfeeding Coalition all link resources to offer technical assistance and educational opportunities to health care professionals caring for mothers and babies.

For more information about U.S. CDC’s work to improve hospital practices to support breastfeeding, visit or Maine’s 6 for ME: Maine takes 6 steps to improve breastfeeding.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

State epidemiologist speaks at conference

On October 6, Maine State Epidemiologist Dr. Siiri Bennett participated in a four-person panel at the Maine Public Health Association’s annual fall conference in Augusta. The session served as an informal introduction to many public health partners, since Dr. Bennett has been in Maine for around five weeks.

The session was titled: Voices of Public Health: Sharing Visions for the Future. Each panelist was asked to share their vision for the future of public health. Dr. Bennett identified four areas that she believes are crucial to the success of Maine CDC’s mission to preserve, promote and protect the health, safety and well-being of all Maine people. Those four areas are disease surveillance, collaboration, education and communication.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Maine CDC seeks feedback

According to the Institute of Medicine, one of the core functions of public health is assessment: the systematic collection, assembly, analysis and sharing of information on the health of the community. As such, Maine CDC provides a great deal of data on its website. We are working to improve the organization, accessibility and usability of that data and seek your feedback. Please follow this link to access an outline survey by September 15 to assist us:

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Shared health needs assessment & planning

The Maine Shared Health Needs Assessment & Planning Process (SHNAPP) Project - a collaborative of Central Maine Healthcare, Eastern Maine Healthcare System, MaineGeneral Health, MaineHealth and the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention - works to improve the health status of Maine residents and track results.
The goal is to create a framework and approach for a Shared Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) that can:
  • Address community benefit reporting needs of hospitals,
  • Support state and local public health accreditation efforts, and
  • Provide valuable population health assessment data for various organizations concerned with the health of Maine’s communities and citizens.

SHNAPP has DRAFT Shared CHNA reports that are available now for review and input.  Drafts of the State report and the Kennebec County report can be downloaded and comments submitted to us from this site.  We appreciate all of your feedback.

Monday, August 31, 2015


Although most influenza activity occurs from October to May in the U.S., flu viruses are detected year round.  Providers in Maine have reported positive rapid influenza and serology tests in the last month.  Summer and early fall are also the prime time for agricultural fairs, which provides an increased risk for flu associated with swine contact. 
Maine CDC requests that all rapid positive influenza samples during the summer months be forwarded to Maine’s Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory (HETL) for confirmation and typing.  This will allow us to monitor the circulating strains, and identify any variants if present.
If a provider sees a patient with flu-like symptoms who has swine or bird exposures; samples should be sent to HETL for testing.  Rapid tests may not pick up variant strains, and only the state lab is capable of determining if a strain is a variant.
Reporting requirements
  • Suspected novel or variant cases should be reported immediately by phone to 800-821-5821.
  • Outbreaks and pediatric deaths are required to be reported
  • We appreciate all positive lab tests, reported by fax (207-287-6865 or 800-293-7534) or by phone (800-821-5821) but this is not required
Additional Information

Friday, August 28, 2015

Child immunization rates

A recent U.S. CDC report shows that Maine’s vaccination rates for 19-35-month-olds are the best in the nation. 

These results are a cause for celebration and reflect an effective partnership that has been built across the state to address this important health issue. Our success can be attributed to the hard work of clinicians, partners, educators and funders who have collectively made the vaccination of Maine’s children a public health priority.

Maine CDC is proud of this accomplishment and looks forward to working with our partners to build upon this success in the coming year.

Additional information is available in these PowerPoint slides.