Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer health

Most people get Lyme disease between the months of May and August. The best way to prevent Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses is to avoid contact with ticks:

· Wear long sleeve shirts and pants. Light colored clothing makes it easier to spot ticks.

· Tuck your pants into your socks and tuck your shirt into your pants.

· Use insect repellent (with DEET) on your skin and apply permethrin to your clothes.

· Check your clothing and skin carefully after being outdoors and remove ticks immediately.

· If bitten by a tick, wash area of bite thoroughly with soap and water and apply an antiseptic to area of the bite.

· Mark on a calendar the date that you were bitten, and then watch for any changes in your health every day for the next month.

· Keep your lawn mowed, cut overgrown brush, and clear away leaf litter from your home.

· Inspect any pets daily and remove any ticks found.

Water, bugs, and the sun, are a few of the things kids experience more of in the summertime. See this US CDC feature on keeping kids safe and healthy this summer.

We’ve already experienced some severe weather. Know how to protect yourself in the event of thunderstorms and lightning. Power failures are common in severe summer storms. Check out this food safety video from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension to make sure you keep food safe after a power failure.

The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has established important new rules about sunscreen labels to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

This Cornell University video has helpful information about safe grilling practices.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

National Prevention Strategy

U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin and members of the National Prevention Council have released the first ever National Prevention Strategy, a comprehensive plan that will help increase the number of Americans who are healthy at every stage of life.

The National Prevention Strategy recognizes that good health comes not just from receiving quality medical care, but also from clean air and water, safe outdoor spaces for physical activity, safe worksites, healthy foods, violence-free environments and healthy homes.

The National Prevention Strategy includes actions that public and private partners can take to help Americans stay healthy and fit and improve our nation’s prosperity. The strategy outlines four strategic directions that, together, are fundamental to improving the nation’s health. Those four strategic directions are:

  • Building Healthy and Safe Community Environments: Prevention of disease starts in our communities and at home; not just in the doctor’s office.
  • Expanding Quality Preventive Services in Both Clinical and Community Settings: When people receive preventive care, such as immunizations and cancer screenings, they have better health and lower health care costs.
  • Empowering People to Make Healthy Choices: When people have access to actionable and easy-to-understand information and resources, they are empowered to make healthier choices.
  • Eliminating Health Disparities: By eliminating disparities in achieving and maintaining health, we can help improve quality of life for all Americans.

An overview of the strategy is available at

Friday, June 10, 2011

Influenza update

The June 3 MMWR summarized influenza activity in the US for the 2010-11 season. The report also included FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee recommendation that there be no change to any of the three components from the 2010-11 flu vaccine formulation in the US for the 2011-12 flu season. The full report is available at:

US CDC published a special supplement on influenza and pregnant women in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology – available at Among the key findings in the supplement are clear and consistent evidence that pregnant women are at risk for severe complications (including admission to an intensive care unit and death) from influenza.

Maine CDC has issued a letter to all schools and health care providers that participated in school-located vaccine clinics (SLVC) during the 2010-11 school year with basic guidance and a timeline for those who wish to participate in SLVC for the coming school year. The letter is available at

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Worried about E. coli and other foodborne illness?

US CDC’s Vital Signs for June focuses on foodborne illness. Each year, roughly 1 in 6 people in the US gets sick from eating contaminated food. The 1,000 or more reported outbreaks that happen each year reveal familiar culprits—Salmonella and other common germs. We know that reducing contamination works. During the past 15 years, a dangerous type of E. coli infection, responsible for the recall of millions of pounds of ground beef, has been cut almost in half.

For more information on Vital Signs, see this MMWR.

A large outbreak of shiga toxin-producing E. coli O104 is occurring in Germany, with cases identified in travelers to Germany. This strain of E. coli is very rare and has not been seen in the United States prior to this outbreak.

Maine CDC issued a Health Alert on Monday, asking health care providers to report any suspect cases of STEC in Maine residents with a history of travel to Germany immediately to our disease reporting line: 1-800-821-5821.

US CDC has issued the following travel notice:

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is posting related updates at: