Thursday, January 13, 2011

Combat cervical cancer through regular screening

Early detection continues to be the best way to combat breast and cervical cancer. The Maine Breast and Cervical Health Program (MBCHP) is a comprehensive breast and cervical cancer early detection program housed within Maine CDC’s Division of Chronic Disease. The program’s mission is to help low-income, uninsured and underinsured women gain access to breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to support and enhance breast and cervical cancer control activities statewide.

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month. To date, more than 318 breast cancers and 86 cervical cancer/pre-cancerous conditions have been detected because of the quality and timely services delivered by MBCHP providers statewide.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What do you know about radon?

January is National Radon Action Month. Radon is a radioactive gas that is formed from naturally occurring elements in rocks and soil. It can filter through soil and enter the basement of a home. It can also dissolve in the water and be released to the air in the home as you use the water. Radium and uranium, the naturally occurring elements that produce radon, can also dissolve in well water. These elements emit a type of radiation known as alpha radiation. Some people who drink water with high levels of alpha emitters over many years may have an increased risk of getting cancer and other health problems.

Radon and other alpha emitters can be detected through laboratory tests. These test kits are available at the Maine Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory and at private laboratories.

Maine CDC’s Radiation Control Program provides free information packets on different aspects of radon.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month

Birth defects affect approximately one in 33 newborns and are a leading cause of infant mortality in the United States. Congenital heart defects affect nearly 1% of all babies born in the US.

This year, National Birth Defects Prevention Month focuses on medication use before, during, and after pregnancy. This includes over-the-counter or prescription medications and herbal or dietary products, such as folic acid. Below you will find links that provide further information and materials to have a healthy pregnancy.

The Maine Birth Defects Program (MBDP) was established by law in 1999 and is designed to be a central source of information on the occurrence of birth defects in Maine. Check out these additional resources.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Stay safe and healthy this winter

Winter storms and cold temperatures can be hazardous, but if you plan ahead, you can stay safe and healthy. Maine CDC has updated its Winter Health web site with current information on safe wood burning, carbon monoxide poisoning prevention, and hypothermia prevention.

Additional Information and Resources

Friday, January 7, 2011

Food safety

About 48 million people (1 in 6 Americans) get sick; 128,000 are hospitalized; and 3,000 die each year from foodborne diseases, according to new estimates from US CDC. The Food Safety Modernization Act brings sweeping improvements to the security and safety of our nation’s food supply.

For more information, see this Q&A from from the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Increase in pertussis

Since November 1, 2010, there have been 14 cases of pertussis (whooping cough) reported to Maine CDC. Cases have been reported in Cumberland, Aroostook, Androscoggin, and Hancock counties with an identified cluster of cases in Penobscot county. Cases range in age from 7 years to 60 years. For the same time frame in 2009, 7 cases of pertussis were reported.

Coughing fits due to pertussis infection can last for up to 10 weeks or more; sometimes known as the “100 day cough.” Pertussis can cause serious illness in infants, children and adults and can even be life-threatening, especially in infants. More than half of infants less than 1 year of age who get pertussis must be hospitalized.

The most effective way to prevent pertussis is through vaccination with DTaP for infants and children and with Tdap for pre-teens, teens and adults — protection from the childhood vaccine fades over time. Pertussis is generally treated with antibiotics, which are used to control the symptoms and to prevent infected people from spreading the disease.

For more information, see this Health Alert.

Influenza Update

A report detailing Maine CDC’s response to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and recommendations for similar events is now available on our web site. The 2009 H1N1 Influenza Pandemic After Action Summary includes a discussion of events and actions, findings from evaluation activities and debriefings, recommendations, and current progress.

Sporadic seasonal flu activity has been reported in Maine for the past week. Weekly updates on flu activity in Maine are available at

Weekly updates for the US are available at and international updates are available at

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New acting director at Maine CDC

Stephen D. Sears, MD, MPH is the Acting Director of Maine CDC. Dr. Sears has been the State Epidemiologist for almost a year. A well-known infectious disease physician, Dr. Sears joined Maine CDC after being Vice President for Medical Administration and Chief Quality Officer at Mercy Hospital. He had previously been the Chief Medical Officer at MaineGeneral Health.

Dr. Dora Anne Mills has resigned after 14 and a half years as Maine’s public health director. She has joined the Office of MaineCare Services as Medical Director.