Thursday, September 29, 2011

Influenza Update 9/29/11

Maine CDC has already distributed almost 154,000 doses of state-supplied influenza vaccine to registered providers for the 2011-2012 season.

Information about second doses for children under 9, school-located vaccine clinic (SLVC) registration forms, and other related materials are available in our SLVC toolkit.

Almost 160 clinics at 49 school districts have already been registered for this season. Maine CDC is pleased to announce that certain vaccine clinic supplies will be available for free to schools offering SLVC this year. Schools that have the supplies they need for clinics can still order items that may help in the prevention and control of influenza in the school. For more information:

US CDC has posted a study on 115 influenza-associated pediatric deaths from September 2010 through August 2011 and highlights the importance of both annual vaccination and rapid antiviral treatment.

A searchable county listing of flu clinics is available at

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

The 14th Annual Silver Tea to kick off Breast Cancer Awareness Month was held Sept. 28. The tea was sponsored by Maine First Lady Ann LePage and the member organizations of the Breast Health Cooperative:

American Cancer Society, Maine CDC’s Breast and Cervical Health program, Maine Breast Cancer Coalition, Maine Breast Nurse Network, Maine Cancer Foundation, and the Maine affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Mrs. LePage read the 2011 Governor’s Proclamation designating October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Robert J. Ferguson, PhD, from the Maine Outpatient Rehabilitation Center at Eastern Maine Medical Center, spoke about the association between adjuvant chemotherapy and mild cognitive decline among breast cancer survivors.

Donna Green, RN, BSN, OCN, Clinical Manager of Oncology Administration at Maine Medical Center, was honored with the 2011 Breast Health Leadership Award among professionals.

Patco Construction Company, a family-owned construction business in Sanford, received the 2011 Breast Health Leadership Award among volunteers. The company annually sponsors breast cancer awareness activities, and this year coordinated the production of a two-CD collection that brings together more than two dozen of Maine’s most talented female performers.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

World Rabies Day

On September 28, Maine CDC will celebrate the fifth annual World Rabies Day. Established in 2007 by U.S. CDC and the Alliance for Rabies Control, a U.K. charity, this day is dedicated to raise awareness about rabies. Worldwide, more than 50,000 people die from rabies each year.

Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus. Rabies is 100% preventable by avoiding wild animals and any animal that you do not know, or by getting rabies shots if an exposure already occurred. A rabies exposure happens when a person or animal comes into contact with the saliva or tissue from the nervous system (brain or spinal cord) of a rabid animal. This contact can be from a bite or scratch, or if the animal’s saliva gets into a cut in the skin or in the eyes, nose, or mouth.

Rabies in people is very rare in the United States, with only one to two cases each year. The last human case of rabies in Maine was in 1937, but this does not mean that rabies is not a problem. Rabies in animals, especially wildlife, is common in most parts of the country, including Maine. The most commonly infected animals in Maine are raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. To date in 2011, 51 animals tested positive for rabies.

If you think that you have been exposed to rabies, wash the wound right away with soap and water. Then, call your doctor and the Maine CDC at 1-800-821-5821 to evaluate the need for animal testing and rabies shots. In addition, if you or your pet is exposed to a suspect rabid animal, call your veterinarian and local Animal Control Officer. If you or your pet is exposed to a wild animal, call your local Game Warden.

Follow these steps to prevent rabies:

  • Vaccinate your pet cats and dogs against rabies; it is the law.
  • Avoid contact with wild animals or other animals that you do not know.
  • Bat-proof your home. Wildlife biologists can provide tips on how to bat proof your home without harming bats but preventing them from entering your home.

For more information about rabies, visit the Maine CDC website at

Friday, September 16, 2011


In the last two years, US CDC has sent scientists and doctors out more than 750 times to respond to health threats.

A new movie called Contagion is showing on screens nationwide. Although Contagion is a work of fiction, US CDC scientists were consulted for their help in making the movie as scientifically accurate as possible.

However, the film doesn’t provide a complete picture of the extensive role that state and local public health agencies would play in responding to a major disease pandemic. Over the last ten years, a major effort has been underway to strengthen the emergency response capabilities of state and local public health.

A quick overview of disease outbreak investigation is available from this Public Health Matters blog

Thursday, September 15, 2011


There has been publicity recently over the amount of arsenic in the apple juice that many children drink. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a statement that there is no evidence of any public health risk from drinking these juices and that FDA has been testing them for years.

Arsenic is a naturally occurring element found in water, air, food, and soil in organic and inorganic forms. Inorganic arsenic compounds can be harmful at high and long-term levels of exposure. Organic arsenic compounds are essentially harmless. Because both forms of arsenic have been found in soil and ground water, small amounts may be found in certain food and beverage products, including fruit juices and juice concentrates.

FDA has been tracking total arsenic contamination in apple and other juices for about six years, since foreign producers started gaining an increasing share of the juice market.

Most people ingest small amounts of arsenic each day from various foods, including rice products and shellfish. One of the big sources of arsenic exposure to be on the lookout for in Maine is arsenic in private well water. Half of Maine families get their drinking water from private wells, and 10% of these wells have arsenic levels above the current drinking water standard of 10 micrograms per liter. Only about 45% of families with wells have tested their well water for arsenic -- if you have a well, make sure you have tested it for arsenic.

For more information about arsenic, see this US CDC fact sheet.

National Newborn Screening Awareness Month

Newborn Screening saves lives, prevents disabilities and saves money. In the last five decades, newborn screening has become a well-defined, nationwide early identification program. Every year, 4 million infants born in the United States are screened shortly after birth for hearing loss and certain genetic, endocrine, and metabolic disorders. Each year, approximately 12,000 infants will be identified with one of these disorders.

The goal of newborn screening is to identify infants who appear healthy at birth, but who may have one of these disorders which can cause severe illness or death. Through early identification and treatment, newborn screening provides an opportunity for significant reductions in morbidity and mortality while reducing health care costs associated with treatment of lifelong debilitating conditions.

Phenylketonuria, or “PKU” as it is commonly referred to, was the first newborn screening test ever developed using dried bloodspots. Screening for PKU has been in place since the 1960s. Screening programs are now testing for 30 disorders, and this number is expected to increase in the future as science and technology continue to advance. The majority of disorders identified through newborn screening require lifelong treatment. The most commonly detected disorders are cystic fibrosis (CF), congenital hypothyroidism (CH), and congenital hearing loss.

For more information about newborn screening in Maine, visit the Maine Newborn Bloodspot Screening Program