Thursday, May 31, 2012

Immunization Program Regional Trainings

Registration is now open for the Maine Immunization Program’s regional trainings, which will occur in July and August.

The trainings are open to all health professionals responsible for managing and supporting childhood vaccine programs including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and practice managers. Note: These trainings are not intended for pharmaceutical company representatives.

Space is limited. All cancellations must be received one week prior to the event. There will be a $25 fee for people who register for the training but fail to cancel and/or do not attend. Special accommodation requests must be received a week prior to the event.

For more information and to register:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Maine CDC WIC Nutrition Program Recognized

The Maine CDC WIC Nutrition Program was recognized on May 30 by USDA Food and Nutrition Services for its work to implement the new WIC data system called SPIRIT. The system will allow more effective services to the people of Maine, will provide better data regarding program use and benefits, and is ready for the implementation of Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT). The first pilot and rollout of the system was at HealthReach Network, a program of Maine General Health. USDA Food and Nutrition Services also recognized HealthReach staff for their hard work on this project. A statewide rollout is in progress with all clinics to be online by September 30.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

State Fluoridation Quality Award

Maine is one of nine states to receive the 2011 State Fluoridation Quality Award, jointly awarded May 1 by the Association of State & Territorial Dental Directors, the American Dental Association, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The award is in recognition of maintaining the quality of fluoridation as determined by the ability of fluoridating systems to conduct monitoring and consistently maintain optimal fluoride levels.  To meet the standard for this award, more than 90% of Maine’s fluoridating systems documented that they maintained their levels for at least nine months in 2011.  Maine has 66 public water systems that provide fluoridated water to 133 communities throughout the state, serving 80% of people who use public water supplies.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Childhood lead poisoning prevention

US CDC has issued its response to their Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention’s recommendations presented in its report:  Low Level Lead Exposure Harms Children: A Renewed Call of Primary Prevention (

The most notable response is that for the first time in 20 years, US CDC will revise the blood lead level considered to be elevated.  The Advisory Committee recommended adopting a new reference value of 5 micrograms per deciliter (5 ug/dL) for identifying children with an elevated blood lead level, and US CDC has announced that it concurs with the use of this value.   The new reference value replaces the value of 10 ug/dL, which has been used as the benchmark for identifying children having an elevated blood lead level since 1991.

This change was motivated by a growing body of studies concluding that blood lead levels (BLLs) <10 μg/dL harm children, resulted in decreased IQ and other behavioral deficits such as attention-related behaviors and academic achievement.  Since no safe blood level in children has been identified, the Advisory Committee recommended the reference level be set at a value that represents a high level of exposure in the U.S. population – a level present in no more than 2.5 percent of young children.

Maine has tracked the number of children with a blood lead level of 10 ug/dL and higher for years, with the number of children above this benchmark dropping from over 200 in 2003 to about 100 children in 2010.   Maine estimates that there about 400 children under age 6 years were identified as having a blood lead level above 5 ug/dL in 2010.

Since no safe blood level in children has been identified, US CDC also concurred in principle with the Advisory Committee’s  recommendation  for an increased focus on primary prevention.  Fortunately for Maine children, a shift to primary prevention has already occurred because of action by the Maine Legislature to establish the Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund to support primary prevention efforts.  Maine CDC’s Childhood Lead Prevention Program already mails primary prevention information to all families in Maine with a 1- or 2-year-old.  In addition, the program will soon be offering free lead dust test kits to all families with a child with a blood lead level of 5 ug/dL lead or more.

US CDC also concurred with the Advisory Committee’s recommendation that clinicians should monitor children with a confirmed BLL ≥ 5 μg/dL for subsequent changes in blood lead levels until all recommended environmental investigations and mitigation strategies have been completed. US CDC plans to assist with provider training and develop guidance for implementing this recommendation. 

For more information about childhood lead poisoning, visit

Friday, May 18, 2012

Weight of the Nation

Obesity is common, serious, and costly. Behavior and environment play a large role causing people to be overweight and obese. These are the greatest areas for prevention and treatment actions.  Weight of the Nation brings together public health researchers and practitioners, policy makers, and national partners devoted to obesity prevention and control to raise awareness across the country as well as share approaches that show promise or demonstrated success for improving healthy eating and active living.

Over 1,200 people gathered in Washington, D.C. on May 7-9 for the Weight of the Nation 2012 conference. The Weight of the Nation is also a documentary series and public health campaign. Three years in the making, the campaign is an unprecedented collaboration of HBO and the Institute of Medicine, is association with CDC, the National Institutes of Health, made in partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Kaiser Permanente.  The core of The Weight of the Nation campaign are four feature films that take an unflinching look at the severity of the obesity epidemic and its crippling effects on our health care system. The films are available to stream free of charge at

For more information, visit

Thursday, May 17, 2012

National High Blood Pressure Education Month

May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month.  About 1 in 3 Mainers is diagnosed with high blood pressure, which is also called hypertension.  High blood pressure usually has no symptoms but it can cause serious problems such as stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and blindness.  Since there are usually no symptoms, many people have high blood pressure and do not know it.

You are more likely to have high blood pressure if you…
·         Are over 55 years old
·         Have a family history of high blood pressure
·         Are overweight
·         Eat foods high in salt/sodium
·         Do not exercise regularly
·         Smoke
·         Drink alcohol regularly

You can prevent and control high blood pressure
·         Get your blood pressure checked at least every year and encourage friends and family to do the same
·         If you have medicine for high blood pressure, use it as directed
·         Talk with your doctor to learn more about your blood pressure and staying healthy
·         If you have any of the risks mentioned above, make changes to reduce the risks you can
o        Stop smoking: Get free help to quit at the Maine Tobacco Helpline 1-800-207-1230
o        Maintain a healthy weight: Eat healthy, limit portion sizes, eat more fruits and vegetables, and be physically active
o        Be physically active: Try to get at least 30 minutes of activity every day.
Find a walking route near you at

Remember anyone can develop high blood pressure and there usually are no symptoms.  Get your blood pressure checked regularly and do what you can to live a healthy life.

For more information visit the Maine CDC Cardiovascular Health Program Website or contact David Pied, Public Health Educator at

Help us prevent one million heart attacks and strokes nationally over five years, visit

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Maine, like many other states, has been experiencing an increasing number of pertussis cases over the past year. Between January 1 and May 11 of this year, 55 pertussis cases have been reported to Maine CDC from nine Maine counties.

More than 200 cases of pertussis were reported to Maine CDC in 2011, far exceeding the 53 reported cases in 2010 and the 10-year average of 82 cases per year.

Clusters of pertussis have occurred in schools, child care centers, camps, sport teams, and workplaces. Pertussis is a highly communicable, vaccine-preventable disease that can last for many weeks. It is transmitted through direct contact with respiratory secretions of infected persons. Classic pertussis symptoms include paroxysmal cough, whoop, and posttussive vomiting. Pertussis can cause serious illness 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, see Maine CDC’s May 15 Health Alert ( or visit

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


May is Viral Hepatitis Awareness Month. Maine CDC issued a Health Alert on May 14 ( urging clinicians to understand the burden of viral hepatitis in Maine and to follow key recommendations for testing and prevention. Viral hepatitis is a leading cause of liver cancer and the most common reason for liver transplantation among adults in the U.S.

May 19 will be recognized as the first ever Hepatitis Testing Day in the United States ( The “Know More Hepatitis” campaign encourages Americans to talk to their doctor and get tested. Viral hepatitis is a silent epidemic in the United States, because more than 4 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis B or chronic hepatitis C, and up to 75% don’t know they are infected. Visit for more information.

An online Hepatitis Risk Assessment has been developed to determine a person’s hepatitis testing and vaccination recommendations. The tool allows individuals to answer questions privately, either in their home or a health care setting, and then print tailored recommendations based on US CDC’s guidelines to discuss with their doctor. It is available at:

For information about where to get tested and/or vaccinated in Maine, visit

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Women's Health Week

National Women’s Health Week is a nationwide observance that begins on Mother’s Day. During the week of May 13 through May 19, individuals, families, communities, and others work to help women learn how to achieve longer, healthier, and safer lives.

This year’s theme is “It’s Your Time!” and encourages women to take simple steps to improve their physical and mental health and lower their risks of certain diseases. Some of these steps include: visiting a health care professional for regular checkups and preventive screenings; getting active; eating healthy; paying attention to mental health, including getting enough sleep and managing stress; and avoiding unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking or not wearing a seatbelt or bicycle helmet.

For more information, visit

Friday, May 11, 2012

Health equity

DHHS Commissioner Mary Mayhew and our legal counsel have approved the change in name of the Office of Minority Health to the Office of Health Equity.   This is a national trend to recognize all groups that experience health disparities and the move toward the integration of health equity as a framework for the work we do. Our goal is to have equality for all.  With that said, we also recognize the need to work on data integrity for populations that experience health disparities. Of particular importance for this name change is to better reflect the work that the Office is currently involved with.  With the Maine CDC reorganization in the Fall of 2011 we brought the Women's Health Program under the jurisdiction of the Office, as we provide services to underserved women across the state. Additionally, we are well aware of disparities that impact women disproportionately. We will also be adding a child wellness liaison to the Office of Health Equity.  We will have a more deliberate focus on our most vulnerable population.  By working with Therese Cahill Lowe, the director of the Office of Child and Family Services, we developed a plan for Maine CDC’s Office of Health Equity to gain capacity to address issues related to children who are at risk.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Drinking Water Week

This week is National Drinking Water Week– a time to highlight the importance of a safe, reliable drinking water supply to our overall quality of life – from public health protection and fire suppression to the critical role it plays in supporting the economy.  

It’s easy to take our drinking water for granted, but every day around the world, thousands of people die from lack of access to clean water.  Maine has abundant and safe sources of drinking water and we all work hard to keep it this way.  

To learn more about what you can do to protect your drinking water visit:    

To learn more about public drinking water systems in Maine, visit

Friday, May 4, 2012


 May is Asthma Awareness Month. As of 2010, about 10% of Maine adults had asthma – Maine continues to have some of the highest adult asthma rates in the country. Half of Maine adults with asthma report that their asthma is not well or very poorly controlled. Almost 27% of Maine adults with asthma report being unable to work or carry out usual activities for one or more days in the past year because of their asthma.

As of 2010, about 8.5% of Maine children had asthma; 29% of these children have asthma that is not well or very poorly controlled. More than one-third (39%) of Maine school-aged children with asthma missed one or more days of school in the past year because of their asthma.

With proper self-management, including regular doctor’s visits, proper medication use, and physical activity, combined with avoiding triggers, people with asthma can live a healthy, productive life with little to no disruption due to asthma. Asthma cannot be cured, but it can be managed.

Visit Maine CDC’s Asthma Prevention and Control Program at

For more information, visit

Statement by US Health and Human Services’ Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Asthma Awareness Month:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lyme disease

Lyme disease is the most common vectorborne disease in Maine. Ticks are already out and we expect the number of Lyme disease cases to increase as the weather continues to get warmer. May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month.

Maine CDC issued an advisory on May 1 to provide general information regarding ticks and Lyme disease; remind providers to report cases of Lyme disease, including those diagnosed by erythema migrans; provide resources on diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease; and remind providers that Anaplasma, Babesia and other tickborne disease are also increasing in Maine. The full health alert is available at

The 2011 Lyme disease surveillance report is now available on the Maine CDC website.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Stroke Awareness Month (2012)

May is National Stroke Awareness Month.  Nearly 75% of strokes occur in people who are 65 years and older.  It is important for you to know the symptoms so you can react quickly if someone has a stroke. 
Know the Symptoms, it could save a life
Early recognition of stroke symptoms is critical – time lost is brain lost.
Stroke symptoms include SUDDEN
·        Numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg
·        Slurred speech
·        Blurred vision
·        Dizziness or loss of balance
·        Severe headache
Rapid treatment by emergency medical providers is important to survival and recovery. 
At any sign of stroke: Call 911 immediately
Lower your risk of having a Stroke
You can help protect yourself and loved ones from stroke by knowing the risks and taking these steps
·         Know your ABCS
o        Ask your doctor if you should take Aspirin every day
o        Find out if you have high Blood Pressure or Cholesterol, if you do, work with your doctor to treat it
o        If you Smoke, get help to quit   
·         Be physically active at least 30 minutes on most days
·         Eat more fruits, vegetables and other foods low in sodium and transfat
·         Take medicine as prescribed by your doctor
For more information visit the Maine CDC Cardiovascular Health Program Website or contact
Help us prevent one million heart attacks and strokes over five years