Thursday, February 4, 2010

Maine Public Health Update 2/4/10

Maine CDC/DHHS Public Health Update
February 4, 2010

Dr. Stephen Sears is our new State Epidemiologist
We at Maine CDC are extremely pleased to announce the arrival of Dr. Stephen Sears as our new State Epidemiologist. A well-known infectious disease physician with a master degree in public health, Dr. Sears is from Maine and comes to us after a career that involves hospital administration (MaineGeneral and Mercy Hospitals) as well as infectious disease and public health work. More information can be found at:

Influenza Activity in Maine and the US
There has been another death due to H1N1, bringing the total to 19 reported since August. This death occurred in an adult in the 25-49 age group in southern Maine. All deaths related to H1N1 in Maine have occurred among people with underlying health conditions. A total of 11 people in Maine have been hospitalized the past month with H1N1, including 4 children. Of these hospitalizations, 4 included an admission to an intensive care unit, including 1 child and 2 young adults. Only 1 of the 11 had been vaccinated at least a few days prior to illness and only 2 had received early antiviral medicines.

Nationally, influenza activity is reported to be sporadic in most states, with no states reporting widespread activity. Almost all of the influenza viruses identified so far continue to be 2009 H1N1 influenza A viruses. These viruses remain similar to the virus chosen for the 2009 H1N1 vaccine, and remain susceptible to the antiviral drugs oseltamivir and zanamivir with rare exception. More information can be obtained at:

With over 900,000 doses of vaccine distributed in Maine to about 500 health care providers and a variety of free flu clinic settings throughout the state, everyone should consider getting vaccinated with the H1N1 pandemic strain of influenza. Even those not at high-risk for complications from influenza should consider vaccine because either they can suffer complications or can become infect those who are at higher risk for complications.

Health care providers who treat people at high risk for complications from influenza (such as those with underlying conditions, pregnant women, young children, and those older than 64) are urged to vaccinate those patients and to treat with antiviral medicines at the onset of symptoms.

Vaccine can still be found in a number of public clinics, including many that are offering it for free. These can be located by calling 211 or by visiting The free clinics are in bold font.

Group A Strep Update
Maine CDC has now received 11 reports of cases of invasive Group A Streptococcal (GAS) infections seen in January in Maine. Four of these have resulted in Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome (STSS), of which three have died. Although GAS is a common bacteria in the throat and skin, often causing strep throat or impetigo, invasive GAS disease is rare, with the five-year median in Maine being 19 cases per year. There is no reported increase in cases in nearby states, and these patients in Maine do not appear to be associated with a specific area of the state, or with influenza or with health care facilities. More information, including recommendations, can be found in last week’s health advisory at: or at

Earthquakes and Public Health
There are many public health concerns as a result from earthquakes, including those related to victims of the disaster and those related to people traveling to post earthquake zones such as Haiti to assist in recovery efforts. The US CDC’s earthquake website has helpful information for those who may be involved with the Haiti relief efforts or who are interested in improving their preparations here at home.

Feb. 7 is National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This article from the Black AIDS Institute describes the HIV/AIDS infrastructure in Haiti after the earthquake: For more information on HIV/AIDS in Maine, become a fan of Maine CDC’s HIV, STD, and Viral Hepatitis program on Facebook:

Updates from Federal Partners
US CDC updated this Q&A about the 2009-2010 flu season:
This MMWR discusses H1N1 outbreaks in long term care facilities. There have been 11 such outbreaks in Maine, including one described in this report:
A non-safety, voluntary recall of some .5 mL Sanofi Pasteur pre-filled syringe doses of H1N1 vaccine has been announced. US CDC answers common questions about the recall here: Maine health care providers with this vaccine are being notified.

Check Out Our Partners on Facebook
Maine CDC:
Maine HIV, STD, Viral Hepatitis Program: Maine WIC Nutrition Program:
Portland Public Health:

Read the full update at :

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