Monday, March 26, 2012

New immunization recommendations

In early February 2012, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) published the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended childhood, adolescent, and adult immunization schedules for 2012.  Childhood, adolescent and teen, and adult schedules are available online at

Maine Immunization Program advises health care providers to use these schedules for 2012.  The program has mailed childhood and adolescent schedules in poster size, which are the most popular, to all pediatric and family medicine providers in the state. Providers may order additional wall size or wallet size childhood immunization schedules by clicking the link “Order Brochures, Pamphlets, VIS, and More” at

Due to funding limits, the program will not provide the catch-up schedule for children ages 4 months through 18 years and the adult schedule available.  Instead, the program asks providers to print these from the US CDC link above.

If you have any questions regarding any vaccine schedules, please call 1-800-867-4775 and ask for a health educator to help you.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lyme Disease Awareness Contests

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month and Maine CDC is offering a series of events with a focus on prevention. This year’s theme is “Know ticks, no Lyme.”

Young people are at high risk of contracting Lyme disease, especially if they spend time outdoors. Maine CDC is proud to sponsor two awareness campaigns focusing on Lyme disease prevention messages. For kids in grades K-8 there is poster competition. The challenge is to design a fun and colorful poster demonstrating at least one of the four measures to help prevent Lyme disease. High school and college students are encouraged to participate in the audio contest to produce an audio clip that in 30 seconds or less, addresses one of four personal prevention measures for Lyme disease.

These contests represent opportunities to educate students on the importance of being tick free. You can check out educational materials and past poster winners on our website. Here you will also find the guidelines for both contests, in case you know a classroom that should get involved!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ground Water Awareness Week

This week (March 11-17) is National Ground Water Awareness Week.  Just as you check your furnace or smoke detector batteries seasonally, spring is a good season to have an annual drinking water well checkup before the peak water use season begins.  Every household well owner is urged to check his or her well cap to make sure it is in good condition to protect their water supply from contamination.  A damaged or unsecured well cap can allow the entry of bacteria or other contaminants into the well. It is one of the easiest things to check, and any well owner can do it.  Other things you can do to protect your well and drinking water supply:
  • Properly maintain your septic system: make sure to have your septic tank pumped every 3 to 5 years and check for signs that your septic system is not working
  •  Handle gasoline, motor oil, fertilizers, pesticides and other hazardous chemicals with care, making sure not to dump them on the ground or pour them down the sink.  When you’re done with them, dispose of them properly at a recycling center
  • Inspect your heating oil tank and its piping to make sure it’s not leaking, starting to corrode or rust, or in danger of tipping over
  • Don’t throw away or flush unused or unwanted medications down the drain.  Instead, properly and safely dispose of them by using Maine’s Safe Medicine Disposal for ME free medication mailback program
To learn more about how you can protect your well water, visit or  To learn more about public water systems in Maine, visit

Youth smoking

On Thursday, the Surgeon General today released the report Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults, which details the scope, health consequences, and influences that lead to youth tobacco use and proven strategies that prevent its use.

The Surgeon General also unveiled a guide with practical information on addressing tobacco use in young people, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: We Can Make the Next Generation Tobacco-Free.

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable and premature death, killing more than 1,200 Americans every day.  For every tobacco-related death, two new young people under the age of 26 become regular smokers.  Nearly 90 percent of these replacement smokers try their first cigarette by age 18.  Approximately 3 out of 4 high school smokers continue to smoke well into adulthood.

For more information, visit

Copies of the full Report, executive summary, and the easy-to-read guide may be downloaded at To order printed copies of these documents go to and click on the Publications Catalog link under Tools & Resources.

For access to quitting resources visit or

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Every 35 minutes, a woman tests positive for HIV in the U.S. Women make up a quarter of all new HIV infections in Maine and account for about 16% of people living with HIV in Maine.

Women have unique issues and special challenges that make it harder for them to prevent HIV or take care of themselves if they have HIV:
  • Women's bodies are different. A woman is twice as likely as a man to get HIV infection during vaginal sex (because the lining of the vagina provides a large area of potential exposure to HIV-infected semen). Some diseases or disorders unique to women make HIV more serious.
  • Women can give HIV to their babies. Women who have HIV can give it to their babies during pregnancy, delivery, or breast-feeding.
  • Women may lack control in relationships: they may be scared to refuse sex or insist that their partner use a condom, or can’t talk to their partner about abstinence, faithfulness, or using condoms.
  • Women may not know if their partner is doing things that put him (and therefore her) at risk for HIV.
  • Women may not earn much money, which makes it hard for them to pay doctors or even get a ride to their doctor appointments. In extreme instances, some women even end up trading sex for money or drugs.
  • Women may be caregivers for others and not feel they have the time to take care of themselves or are unable to find someone to take care of their loved ones when they want to access services.

HIV testing should be a routine part of health care. For local testing resources and information, visit:

For more information: or

Friday, March 9, 2012

More on norovirus

There have been 38 reports in 2012 of outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness. Ten of these are confirmed norovirus; more than half are still pending investigation. The majority (20) of these reports have come from long-term care facilities, with 12 reports in daycare/school settings, and 6 in other types of facilities/events/unknown. All public health districts have seen at least one report of GI illness.

Norovirus infections typically increase during the winter months, and Maine CDC routinely receives reports of suspected and confirmed norovirus outbreaks each year. Public health partners are encouraged to consider norovirus when assessing clusters of gastroenteritis and to act promptly to prevent the spread of illness.

Noroviruses spread easily, causing more than 20 million gastroenteritis cases each year in the U.S. There's no vaccine to prevent norovirus infection and no drug to treat it. Wash your hands often and follow simple tips to stay virus-free.

For more information, see this health alert ( or this US CDC feature (

In addition, the 2011 Norovirus surveillance report is now available at:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

National Nutrition Month

March is a time to set healthy eating goals. Physical activity and proper nutrition are key components in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and their risk factors, including high blood pressure and obesity. National Nutrition Month focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

Make sure you are eating the recommended amounts of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy each day – guidelines, recipes, and other tools are available at Additional information on healthy eating and physical activity is also available at

Maine CDC’s Physical Activity and Nutrition Program focuses on increased physical activity, increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, increased duration of breastfeeding, improved caloric balance and expenditure, food safety, and food security. For more information, visit

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Colorectal Cancer: One of the few malignancies that can be prevented or detected early through screening

March is the National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and a great opportunity to share Maine-specific data on colorectal cancer.
  1. According to the Maine Cancer Registry, 2004-2008 data, only 46% of the colorectal cancers in Maine are detected at an early stage
  2. Studies show that when providers recommend screening directly to their patients, they are significantly more likely to comply with screening 
  3. Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) and FOBT are options for early cancer detection that can be used in patients who have average risk for colon cancer BUT
    • should not be used as an office-based test (i.e., as part of rectal exam).
    • If positive, should be followed up with a colonoscopy (and not repeated for confirmation)

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in Maine.  In the past few decades we have seen reduced incidence of, and mortality from, colorectal cancer, likely due to increased screening, especially utilization of colonoscopy (which can prevent cancer by removing pre-cancerous polyps and detect cancer early so it is more easily and successfully treated).  Among those who develop colorectal cancer in our state, 55% of people under age 65 and 45% of people over age 65 are diagnosed at a later stage, despite availability of a variety of screening tests for early detection.

Maine CDC’s Colorectal Cancer Control Program (MCRCCP) is a statewide program funded through a cooperative agreement by the US CDC. The purpose of the MCRCCP is to
  • Increase the colorectal cancer screening rate of Maine residents age 50 and older from 74.3% [2010 BRFSS] to 80% by 2014 (Adults aged 50+ who have ever had a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy)
  • Help reduce financial barriers to screening (specifically by colonoscopy or FIT) for low income uninsured Maine residents age 50 and older

For more information about the MCRCCP or for patients who may need assistance, call 877-320-6800 or visit our website at