Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Some tips for safely enjoying Memorial Day Weekend

Temperatures have been in the 80s in Augusta this week, and the forecast is calling for more warm, sunny weather over the long weekend.

Although it's not officially summer, it feels like it.

Keep some of these things in mind as you enjoy the weather and celebrate the holiday:

USDA has several tips for using food thermometers, to avoid under cooking meat. Be careful when you barbecue to prevent foodborne illness.

Having a salad with your barbecue? Remember to check those alfalfa sprouts.

Remember to stay in the shade or take other steps to protect yourself from sunburns and eventual skin cancer.

Going swimming? Think about what you can do to protect yourself and others from recreational water illnesses. And while you're at it, check out

Take care and enjoy the weather while it lasts!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Update on health reform

This Kaiser Health Tracking Poll indicates that many Americans are still confused about health reform and what it means to them.

This Health Reform Implementation Brief describes the Prevention and Public Health Fund:

The Internal Revenue Service has released guidance on the health reform law’s health care tax credit for small businesses. More information is available here:

The National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems has developed this simple tool to help determine what health reform means to an individual, based on insurance status and age.

National Recreational Water Illness Prevention Week

Just in time for the warm weather, it's National Recreational Water Illness Prevention Week.

Recreational water illnesses (RWIs) are caused by germs spread by swallowing, breathing in mists or aerosols of, or having contact with contaminated water in swimming pools, hot tubs, water parks, water play areas, interactive fountains, lakes, rivers, or oceans. RWIs can be a wide variety of infections, including stomach, skin, ear, respiratory, eye, neurologic and wound infections. The most commonly reported RWI is diarrhea.

Staying healthy while enjoying summer activities is important. Keeping our recreational water sources clean is also important. Here are some very simple steps you can take to keep yourself and others safe:

  • Don’t swim when you have diarrhea
  • Don’t swallow water when swimming
  • Shower with soap before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers
  • Take kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often
  • Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area and not at poolside
  • Wash children thoroughly (especially the rear end) with soap and water before they go swimming

For more information, check out:

Friday, May 21, 2010

What's new with the flu?

Flu Activity. Flu activity decreased nationally last week. Read the full national report here. There was no reported influenza activity in Maine last week. Maine’s weekly influenza surveillance report can be found here.

School-based Vaccine Clinics. Maine CDC’s school-based vaccine clinics web page has been updated to include a letter to school nurses and instructions for completing the Maine Immunization Program’s Provider Agreement for schools.

The web page also includes an order form for some of the equipment and supplies schools may need to hold vaccine clinics in the fall, which will be provided by Maine CDC at no charge. Any school that intends to hold a flu vaccine clinic in the fall may now place an order for a small vaccine refrigerator (34” high, 23 7/8” wide, 24 3/8” deep); a cold chain transportation and storage kit, which will include a cooler, ice packs, and related items required to maintain the temperature of the vaccine when transporting it between locations and during clinics; and a vaccine clinic go-kit, which includes the medical and administrative supplies necessary to hold a vaccine clinic.

Health care providers working with schools to store and administer vaccine are also eligible to place an order for these items.

Once received, Maine CDC is not responsible for maintaining the refrigerator. Please contact the manufacturer with any problems, particularly during the one-year warranty period. Refrigerators this size can store more than 1,000 doses of vaccine for school-based clinics. Thermometers, and information related to vaccine storage, will be shipped separately.

A representative from Maine CDC will call to confirm orders prior to shipment. This order process is not the vaccine order. Vaccine order forms will be sent to all providers who have been assigned four-digit PINs by the Maine Immunization Program. Completed order forms should be sent to or faxed to 287-4612 by Tuesday, May 25.

Revised recommendations for rotavirus vaccines

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has revised its recommendations for rotavirus vaccines and has determined that it is appropriate for clinicians and health care professionals to resume the use of Rotarix and to continue the use of RotaTeq.

In March, FDA recommended temporary suspension of Rotarix after learning that DNA material from porcine circovirus type 1 (PCV1) was present in the vaccine.

The agency reached its decision to recommend resumed use of Rotarix based on a careful evaluation of information from laboratory results from the manufacturers and the FDA’s own laboratories, a thorough review of the scientific literature, and input from scientific and public health experts.

Rotavirus vaccines are given by mouth to young infants to prevent rotavirus disease, which can cause severe diarrhea and dehydration. Rotavirus disease causes the deaths of more than 500,000 infants around the world each year, primarily in low- and middle-income countries. Before the introduction of vaccination, the disease caused more than 50,000 hospitalizations and several dozen deaths in the U.S. each year.

More information for parents and caregivers:

More information for health care providers:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

State Public Health System Assessment

National Public Health Performance Standards Program (NPHPSP) is a partnership among six national public health organizations with the goal of improving the quality of public health practice and the performance of public health systems. Stakeholders from a variety of agencies in the public and private sectors came together at the Augusta Civic Center on May 13 for a day-long assessment of the public health system in Maine. The assessment was based on the ten Essential Public Health Services and will be a helpful guide in improving the state’s public health infrastructure. The report out meeting will be held from 9 a.m. to noon June 17 at the Augusta Civic Center.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Stroke Awareness Month: Learn the Symptoms and Act Quickly

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked or bursts, and part of the brain begins to die. A person experiencing a stroke may not realize it is occurring, but bystanders can recognize the symptoms and act immediately.

Chances of survival and recovery are improved if immediate medical attention is given; the sooner a stroke patient receives treatment, the more likely that long-term brain damage and disability may be avoided.

Stroke symptoms include SUDDEN:
> Numbness in the face, arm, or leg
> Slurred speech
> Blurred vision
> Dizziness or loss of balance
> Severe headaches

Any ONE of these symptoms is a reason to take action. At the first sign of stroke, Call 911 immediately.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in Maine.

To help increase the number of stroke victims who receive timely treatment, the Maine CDC/DHHS Cardiovascular Health Program (MCVHP) is working with several statewide partners, including the Maine Affiliate of the American Stroke Association, to raise awareness of stroke symptoms and to help improve health care for stroke patients. You can play a key role too, learn the symptoms and at the first sign of stroke call 911.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Drinking Water Week

This week is National Drinking Water Week-– a time to recognize the important role that safe, reliable drinking water plays in our everyday lives. It’s easy to take our drinking water for granted, but every day around the world, thousands of people die from lack of access to clean water. Maine has abundant and safe sources of drinking water and we all work hard to keep it this way.

Three things you can do to help keep your drinking water clean:

  1. Handle gasoline, motor oil, fertilizers, pesticides and other hazardous chemicals with care, making sure not to dump them on the ground or pour them down the sink. When you’re done with them, dispose of them properly at a recycling center.
  2. Maintain your septic system and make sure it is in good working condition. Failing septic systems are one of the major sources of nitrates in surface water supplies.
  3. Encourage your neighbors to take care of their septic tanks, petroleum, and chemicals with as much care as you do
For more information, see this press release.

Women's Health Week coming up

The 11th annual National Women’s Health Week will kick off on Mother’s Day, May 9, 2010 and will be celebrated until May 15, 2010. National Women’s Checkup Day will be Monday, May 10, 2010.

National Women’s Health Week is a week-long health observance coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women's Health (OWH). National Women’s Health Week empowers women to make their health a top priority. With the theme “It’s Your Time,” the nationwide initiative encourages women to take simple steps for a longer, healthier, and happier life. Important steps include:
  • Getting at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity, or a combination of both each week
  • Eating a nutritious diet
  • Visiting a health care professional to receive regular checkups and preventive screenings
  • Avoiding risky behaviors, such as smoking and not wearing a seatbelt
  • Paying attention to mental health, including getting enough sleep and managing stress

Learn more about National Women's Health Week.