Friday, October 28, 2011

Have a safe and healthy weekend

Forecasts are calling for snow in various parts of the state this weekend. Make sure you know how to stay safe and healthy in winter weather.

Many people will be celebrating Halloween this weekend. Below are some tips to make sure it's a healthy, fun holiday.

This Fact Sheet from the American Academy of Pediatrics has a lot of great safety information -- from pumpkin carving to costumes to actual trick-or-treating activities -- in simple bullet points. US CDC and FDA have similar advice.

Check out these resources for additional information:


When purchasing a costume, masks, beards, and wigs, look for the label Flame Resistant. Although this label does not mean these items won't catch fire, it does indicate the items will resist burning and should extinguish quickly once removed from the ignition source. To minimize the risk of contact with candles or other sources of ignition, avoid costumes made with flimsy materials and outfits with big, baggy sleeves or billowing skirts. For more safety information, read this US Consumer Product Safety Commission's Halloween Safety Alert.

Does your costume involve face paint or other makeup? Make sure you check out FDA's website on novelty makeup before you apply it.

Candy and Treats

These Halloween Food Safety Tips for Parents include basic information about inspecting your children's candy and not accepting anything that isn't commercially packaged. It also describes how to avoid bacteria from apple cider and if you go bobbing for apples.

Do you want to provide more nutritious treats? Here are some excellent ideas from Clemson University Cooperative Extension in South Carolina.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Influenza Update 10/27/11

Maine CDC reminds everyone to take everyday preventive measures against influenza:
•           Wash your hands
•           Cover your cough
•           Stay home when ill
•           Get vaccinated - a searchable county listing of flu clinics is available at


Maine CDC reported no flu activity for the week ending Oct. 22. Weekly updates on flu activity in Maine are available at

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

Maine CDC issued a health alert on Oct. 19 about a human case of novel influenza virus of swine origin.  US CDC confirmed the novel strain in a child from Cumberland County.  A primary care provider evaluated the child, and provided treatment.  The child was not hospitalized. 

Maine CDC recommends the following for healthcare providers:
•           Maintain a heightened awareness for influenza-like illness (ILI) defined as fever greater than 100° with cough or sore throat, in the absence of another known cause.
•           Consider influenza testing by PCR for:
o          patients with ILI with recent exposure to pigs
o          patients with ILI who are hospitalized
o          patients with ILI who have died
o          patients where a diagnosis of influenza would affect clinical care, infection control, or management of contacts
•           Consider use of antivirals to quickly limit potential human transmission
•           Vaccinate patients and healthcare workers as a primary strategy to prevent influenza

Please report any cases of laboratory positive influenza to Maine CDC by fax (1-800-293-7534) or by phone through our 24-hour Disease Reporting and Consultation Hotline (1-800-821-5821).  All influenza A rapid positive tests should be confirmed by PCR.


Maine CDC has already distributed almost 190,000 doses of state-supplied influenza vaccine to registered providers for the 2011-2012 season.

Nearly 80 school districts are offering school-located flu vaccine clinics (SLVC) again this year. Almost 270 clinics are registered. A list of participating schools is posted at

Schools offering vaccine to students may also provide state-supplied flu vaccine to staff and their dependents to make school clinics more simple, sustainable, and consistent with past practices.  Maine CDC will be evaluating the sustainability of this approach for future years. Schools wishing to provide state-supplied flu vaccine to staff and their dependents must be registered through the SLVC process and report vaccine usage through ImmPact2.  The letter regarding roster billing for staff vaccinations at school clinics and the roster form are both available in the SLVC toolkit at

US CDC updates

US CDC has updated the following information on its website:
•           vaccineeffectiveness
•           seasonalflu vaccine dosage and administration Q&A 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lead-free kids for a healthy future – National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

Nearly a quarter of a million children living in the United States have blood lead levels high enough to cause significant damage to their health, estimates the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based on data from a 2003–2004 national survey. If high blood lead levels are not detected early, children with such high levels of lead in their bodies can suffer from damage to the brain and nervous system. They can develop behavior and learning problems (such as hyperactivity), slowed growth, hearing problems, and aggressive patterns of behavior.

To raise awareness of the consequences of lead poisoning among parents and pregnant women who live in homes built before 1978, Maine CDC is participating in National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW) October 23–29. Maine CDC joins US CDC, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in encouraging parents to learn more about how to prevent lead poisoning.

This year's NLPPW theme, "Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future," underscores the importance of testing your home, testing your child, and learning how to prevent lead poisoning’s serious health effects.

Established in 1999 by the US Senate, National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week occurs every year during the last week in October. To mark the week, Maine CDC is offering parents of all children born in Maine in 2010 a free home lead dust test kit.

The offers for free tests come with an educational brochure that is being mailed to more than 11,000 families as part of Maine’s effort to eliminate childhood lead poisoning. Instructions on how to schedule a test are included in the mailer.

"The goal of the mailing is to prevent lead poisoning. The test kits we are offering can help parents find out if their home has a lead dust problem," said Dr. Sheila Pinette, Director of Maine CDC. "Then they can address any problems and keep their children safe from lead."

Exposure to dust that comes from lead paint in homes built before 1950 is the most common way children are poisoned by lead in Maine. Lead paint is often found in homes built before 1950 and sometimes in homes built before 1978. Lead poisoning can cause behavior problems, learning disabilities, speech and language delays, and lower intelligence.

Made possible by the Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund, this is the second annual mailing of its kind. Nearly 300 families in Maine took advantage of the prior mailing and tested their homes for lead dust. About one quarter of those families identified lead dust problems in their homes and received education to properly address the problems.

"We hope parents who live in older homes will take advantage of the offer for a free lead dust test kit, especially if they live in a house or apartment built before 1950," said Dr. Pinette.
For more information, go to

Friday, October 14, 2011

Physical activity and nutrition

Dr. Sheila Pinette, Director of Maine CDC, presented Richmond Area Health Center with a certificate of recognition on Oct. 11 for their work as leaders in combating obesity and helping to decrease chronic disease and health care costs in Maine.

Over the past year, 700 patients at the health center have lost weight totaling more than 2 tons (4,000 pounds). The health center's incentive program didn't cost any money, but helped reduce health care costs because many patients were able to cut back or completely eliminate medications for chronic diseases as a result of their weight loss.

Under the direction of Tom Bartol, NP, and the assistance of Healthy Communities of the Capital Area, the health center encouraged patients through a simple system of positive reinforcement. Patients who has lost weight from one appointment to the next would write their names and the amount lost on paper stars posted on the health center wall. After hanging up their stars, patients rang a bell announcing to everyone they has lost weight. Staff would hear the bell and applaud to congratulate them.

Richmond Area Health Center is a practice of the HealthReach Community Health Centers, a system of eleven federally-qualified health centers and two dental practices in central and western Maine.

This announcement comes during National School Lunch Week. This USDA press release explains how more schools are providing healthier meal options for our children. USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion also launched a new website with information for eating healthy on a budget.

For more information about healthy eating, visit Maine CDC’s Physical Activity and Nutrition Program.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Public Health Update 10/13/11

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

US CDC has a special Q&A feature about breast cancer and mammograms available at

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. Early detection continues to be the best way to combat breast and cervical cancer. 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.

World Arthritis Day

Physical activity is beneficial for the management of arthritis, yet data show that 44% of people with arthritis are physically inactive. In recognition of World Arthritis Day on Oct. 12, adults with arthritis are encouraged to engage in regular physical activity to better manage their arthritis each and every day.

For more information about arthritis and physical activity, see this US CDC feature:

For more information about World Arthritis Day, see this MMWR:

Drinking and driving

Alcohol-impaired driving crashes account for nearly 11,000 crash fatalities, or about one third of all crash fatalities in the United States. US CDC’s monthly Vital Signs feature has important information about drinking and driving:

For more information, see this MMWR:

HIV/STD update

The monthly HIV/STD update for September has been posted at

US CDC has made popular STD fact sheets available for smart phones and other mobile devices:

Influenza update

Maine CDC has already distributed almost 174,000 doses of state-supplied influenza vaccine to registered providers for the 2011-2012 season.

Almost 240 clinics at 70 school districts have already been registered for this season. A list of schools with registered school-located vaccine clinics is available at

If you still need your flu shot, a searchable county listing of flu clinics is available at or you can search by zipcode at

Infectious disease conference

Maine CDC’s Division of Infectious Disease will hold its annual conference from 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Augusta Civic Center. Issues presented will include challenges in controlling infectious diseases, information on responding to new disease threats, and clinical updates and approaches. Cost: $35 before Oct. 24 and $50 after. Space is limited. For more information and to register:

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