Friday, May 27, 2016

Zika virus update

Earlier this month, the Surgeon General’s Office issued a video on the three ways to protect yourself from the Zika virus.  The video clearly illustrates the steps that people can take to protect themselves and their loved ones from Zika.
The video, produced by the media company Attn:, can be found at:
Zika virus is primarily spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes. The types of mosquitoes that can transmit Zika virus are not found in Maine.
Maine CDC is issuing biweekly reports on Zika, which are available at
Health care providers may consider testing for the following individuals for Zika:
  • Symptomatic individuals with travel history to a Zika affected country
  • Pregnant women with travel history to a Zika affected country
  • Partners of pregnant women with travel history to a Zika affected country
If the patient does not meet the submission guidelines above, the sample will be rejected. Testing is not recommended to determine when a couple can begin trying for pregnancy. Couples should consult with their health care providers and follow the updated U.S. CDC guidance on preventing sexual transmission.
For more information:

Thursday, May 26, 2016


May is asthma awareness month.  Asthma is one of the most common lifelong chronic diseases. Asthma affects the lungs, causing repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing. There are 146,000 Mainers who currently have asthma and in severe cases, asthma can be deadly.
In Maine, almost 50 percent of adults and 30 percent of children with asthma report their asthma is not well or very poorly controlled. Although asthma cannot be cured, it is possible to manage the disease successfully. Regular medical monitoring, two visits per year with the treating physician, taking asthma medicine as prescribed and avoiding things that may trigger an attack are all successful management strategies.
Common asthma “triggers” include tobacco and wood smoke, household pets, dust mites and pollen. Limit or avoid exposure to these and other triggers whenever possible.  Many physicians recommend patients with asthma get a seasonal flu shot every year.

For more information about asthma, please visit Maine CDC's Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Program - Asthma Unit’s webpage at:

Monday, May 16, 2016

Acute Hepatitis B Outbreak in Maine

Maine CDC has noted a sharp increase in the number of acute hepatitis B cases reported so far in 2016.  There were 15 confirmed cases of acute hepatitis B cases confirmed in Maine between January 1 and May 16, a rate of 1.1 cases per 100,000 persons.  There were no cases of acute hepatitis B during the same time period in 2015.  Maine CDC urges people who are at risk to be vaccinated for hepatitis B, and practice preventative measures to decrease risk of transmission.
The primary risk factor for new cases of acute hepatitis B in Maine in 2016 is injection drug use. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is 100 times more infectious than HIV and 10 times more infectious than hepatitis C virus.  In addition, HBV can survive on open air surfaces for up to seven days and in sealed containers for up to three months.  If individuals are injecting drugs, it is important that they maintain their own injection kit and do not:
  • Share injection equipment
  • Inject others and then inject self
  • Inject on contaminated surfaces
Other persons at risk are:
  • Infants born to infected mothers
  • Sex partners of infected persons
  • Sexually active persons who are not in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship (e.g., more than one sex partner during the previous 6 months)
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Household contacts of persons with chronic hepatitis B health care and public safety workers at risk for occupational exposure to blood or blood-contaminated body fluids
  • Hemodialysis patients
  • Residents and staff of facilities for developmentally disabled persons
  • Travelers to countries with intermediate or high prevalence of hepatitis B
  1. Persons at high risk for hepatitis B should be screened and vaccinated for hepatitis A and hepatitis B, if susceptible.
  2. Patients diagnosed with hepatitis C should be vaccinated for hepatitis A and B.
Vaccine resources:  
No cost hepatitis A and B vaccine is available for high risk patients through the Maine CDC Adult Viral Hepatitis Program in 13 counties.  Please contact the Viral Hepatitis Coordinator for more information: 207-287-3817.
Health care providers should report all cases of acute hepatitis B to Maine CDC at 1-800-821-5821 immediately on recognition or strong suspicion of disease. Cases of chronic hepatitis B (conventional and rapid tests) should be reported within 48 hours of recognition or strong suspicion of disease.
For more information

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Tick Watch

Lyme disease:
Lyme disease is transmitted to people when infected deer ticks bite them. The bacterium that causes Lyme disease is called Borrelia burgdorferi, and causes flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, and fatigue, as well as a skin rash. Often a bulls-eye rash is noticed somewhere on an infected person’s body. Doctors will diagnose the disease and prescribe antibiotics. If left untreated there could be more serious symptoms from Lyme disease, affecting the nervous system, heart, or joints.

·         Wear EPA approved repellent
·         Perform daily tick checks
·         Use caution in tick infested areas
·         Wear protective clothing

Lyme disease awareness month:
The month of May is Lyme disease awareness month in Maine. Throughout May, Maine CDC hosts informational tables, presentations, provides information on ticks and diseases for newsletters, and records a tick-borne disease webinar.
See our Lyme Disease Awareness Month page for a list of activities:

Kids in school:
Maine CDC launched a curriculum for children in the 3rd-5th grades to educate them on ticks and mosquitoes. This curriculum highlights these vectors and the diseases they carry and how to avoid them and prevent disease.

Tick-Free ME:
As a part of Lyme Disease Awareness Month, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is launching our second annual Tick-Free ME Challenge. This is a month long challenge during t July, where participants monitor their preventive behaviors. The goal of the challenge is to prevent tick-borne diseases through the prevention of tick bites. Enrollment in the challenge began May 1st and continues through June 22ndat participating libraries around the state. The challenge is designed for adults aged 45 years and older as this age group has among the highest rates of Lyme disease in Maine. For a list of libraries and more information visit:

Monday, May 2, 2016

MPHA Call for Abstracts

Maine Public Health Association (MPHA) will hold its annual conference October 18 at the University of Southern Maine in Portland. Abstracts from all areas of public health are now being accepted for breakout sessions during the conference. MPHA encourages abstracts focusing on the conference theme of population, environment and policy.

All abstract and poster forms must be submitted using the 2016 MPHA abstract application form no later than June 10.