Thursday, July 28, 2011

World Hepatitis Day

Today is World Hepatitis Day. This day was established to increase the awareness and understanding of viral hepatitis and the diseases that it causes. It provides an opportunity to focus on specific actions such as:

  • strengthening prevention, screening and control of viral hepatitis and its related diseases;
  • increasing hepatitis B vaccine coverage and integration into national immunization programmes; and
  • coordinating a global response to hepatitis.

Hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D and E can cause acute and chronic infection and inflammation of the liver leading to cirrhosis and liver cancer.

For more information:

Increase in pertussis

Between Jan. 1 and July 22, 72 pertussis cases were reported to Maine CDC, compared to 20 cases reported for the same period in 2010. Clusters of pertussis cases have been reported in schools, camps, sport teams, and workplaces with the largest number of clusters identified in Penobscot county. Cases range in age from 1 month to 79 years. One infant has recently been hospitalized with life-threatening symptoms.

Pertussis is a highly communicable, vaccine-preventable disease that can last for many weeks. It is transmitted through direct contact with the respiratory secretions of infected people. Symptoms include cough, paroxysms, whoop, and post-tussive vomiting. 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.

For more information and clinical guidance, please see this Health Alert.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Influenza Update 7/21/11

Maine CDC has issued a letter to health care providers who have registered with the Maine Immunization Program to offer state-supplied flu vaccine regarding vaccine availability.

For the 2011-12 season, Maine CDC plans to provide seasonal influenza vaccine for:

  • All Maine children ages 6 months to 18 years-old
  • Employees of schools that provide onsite vaccine clinics on school days
  • Pregnant women and their partners (through health care providers who routinely care for pregnant women)
  • Nursing home employees and residents
  • Any underinsured or uninsured adult in any setting (for patients who do not have insurance or whose insurance does not cover vaccines)
  • All individuals served by Tribal health centers and Municipal Health Departments

Information on the vaccine ordering process will be posted at in August. Tools and resources for those conducting school-located vaccine clinics (SLVC) will also be updated in August.

FDA has approved the 2011-12 influenza vaccine formulation for all six manufacturers licensed to produce and distribute flu vaccine for the US.

US CDC has updated its online flu information, including:

Stay cool the next couple of days

Maine CDC issued a heat advisory yesterday due to high temperatures forecast for today and tomorrow.

High temperatures are more common toward the end of July and into August in Maine. Everyone should take some simple measures to prevent heat-related illness. Some people are more likely to experience illness from heat and should take extra precautions to keep cool. These people include:

  • Older adults (age 65 and older)
  • Infants and young children
  • People with a mental illness or who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • People who work outside
  • People with heart conditions, kidney disease, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure
  • People with mobility restrictions
  • People living in poverty and who are homeless

More information on heat-related illness and ways to prevent it can be found at:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Colorectal cancer

In Maine’s total population, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of new cancer cases and deaths. In 2009, almost 900 Mainers were diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and approximately 260 died from this disease.

This month’s US CDC Vital Signs and related MMWR focus on colorectal cancer.

The Maine Colorectal Cancer Control Program hopes to lessen the number of Mainers that are diagnosed with, or die from, colorectal cancer each year. The program focuses on helping all Mainers understand how important it is to be screened for colon cancer when they are age 50 and older, providing no-cost screening services for Mainers who do not have health insurance (or who have health insurance that does not pay for the costs of this important test), and connecting Mainers with the resources they need to prevent, detect, and survive colon cancer.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lyme disease

Maine CDC held its second annual poster contest in conjunction with Lyme Disease Awareness Month in May. The winning posters by Jacob Carroll, Chloe Lawrence, Casey Pine, and Carrigan Eyrolles are now available at

Posters represented at least one of four ways to prevent Lyme disease:

  1. Wear protective clothing
  2. Use insect repellent
  3. Perform a daily tick check
  4. Use caution in tick infested areas

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 – find out more steps you can take Linkto avoid tick-borne diseases.

Maine Medical Center Research Institute, in partnership with Maine CDC, is expanding its efforts in northern and western Maine to track the spread of the ticks that may carry Lyme disease.