Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Friday is World Rabies Day

On September 28, the State of Maine will celebrate the sixth annual World Rabies Day. Although Maine has not had a case of human rabies since 1937 due to reporting and effective control measures, the threat of rabies remains.

Last month, Maine CDC was notified of a domestic dog that tested positive for rabies. This is the first case of rabies in a domestic dog in Maine since 2003. This case reminds us of the importance of keeping pets up-to-date on rabies vaccine and avoiding contact with wild animals to prevent the spread of rabies. The dog was infected with a variant of the rabies virus that circulates most commonly in raccoons and is predominant in the eastern United States.

Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals. The virus is spread when infected animals bite or scratch a person or another animal. The virus can also be spread if saliva or tissue from the brain or spinal cord of a rabid animal touches broken skin or gets into the mouth, nose or eyes of a person or another animal.

All mammals are susceptible to rabies infection, but only a few wildlife species are important reservoirs for the disease, including raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. While wildlife are more likely to be rabid than are domestic animals in the United States, domestic animals can be infected when they are bitten by wild animals.
Rabies in humans is preventable through prompt appropriate medical care. If you or someone you know is bitten or scratched by an animal, wash the wound with soap and water right away, and contact your healthcare provider to find out if you need to be treated for a rabies exposure. Usually, medical care can be delayed if rabies can be ruled out in the biting animal either through a confinement period for domestic animals or rabies testing for wild animals.

All Mainers are encouraged to consider ways in which they can prevent the spread of rabies including:
  • 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, contact your local animal control officer or Maine CDC at 1-800-821-5821. Stop by at our World Rabies Day Table in the lobby of KeyBank Plaza on Water Street in Augusta from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, September 27.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Universal childhood immunizations

Public Law 2009-595 went into effect on January 1. This law reinstated the universal status of childhood immunizations in Maine. As part of this legislation the Maine Vaccine Board (MVB) was formed to help the State of Maine reinstate its universal purchase of vaccines for children under age 19. The MVB assures the necessary flow of vaccine purchase funds by collecting payments from health plans, insurance companies, and other payers and remitting the funds to the state. Through the Maine CDC's Childhood Vaccine Program, the State purchases vaccines at favorable rates and distributes them to providers at no charge.

This means that all Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended vaccines are now available to all Maine children under age 19 at no cost to the child’s family or to providers in the State of Maine.

This program has many benefits for Maine citizens:
  • reduces out-of-pocket vaccine costs for parents
  • improves vaccination rates in Maine children
  • lowers costs of vaccines through a public-private partnerships
  • lowers vaccine costs in provider offices
  • improves vaccine access by creating a single-tier system in provider offices
  • most importantly, will improve vaccine rates by offering combination vaccines to reduce missed opportunities.
For more information:

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Protect Your Groundwater Day

Nearly 2/3 of Maine people get their drinking water from groundwater, so we have a large stake in protecting our groundwater quality and quantity in Maine. We can all use this day to begin doing our part for protecting one of our most important natural resources — our groundwater!

Some things you can do to help protect our groundwater:
  • 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
Public drinking water systems regularly monitor and test the drinking water they provide, but if you have your own well, you should have your water tested every year for bacteria, nitrates and nitrites, and every 3-5 years for naturally occurring arsenic, radon, and uranium.
For more information on Protect Your Groundwater Day, or to learn more ways you can protect groundwater, visit For information on public water systems visit the Drinking Water Program website at For more information on private wells, visit

Monday, September 10, 2012

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.

For more information, visit or get information on newborn screening in Maine.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Suicide prevention

There are numerous efforts being to recognize and support World Suicide Prevention Day. In Maine, a number of events are planned:

The Maine Suicide Prevention Program, a statewide suicide prevention initiative led by Maine CDC, in collaboration with the Departments of Education, Labor, Corrections, and Public Safety, is hosting a free training, “The Assessment and Management of Suicidal Clients,” from 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 10 at the University of Southern Maine in Portland. The goal of this workshop is to provide participants with the essential tools needed to assess suicide risks accurately and manage challenging scenarios effectively. The presenter is Dr. David Rudd, PhD, Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Utah and Scientific Director for the National Center for Veterans Studies. Dr. Rudd is widely published and was recently elected a Distinguished Practitioner and Scholar of the National Academies of Practice in Psychology. In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Rudd is an active researcher with more than 170 publications. Registration is required at

Visit to view the complete schedule of Suicide Prevention trainings for 2012-2013 and to register for these trainings.

The Maine Suicide Prevention Program is also organizing its annual event to raise awareness of suicide prevention activities statewide and to recognize people and organizations that are making a difference through “Caring About Lives in Maine” awards. The event will be held from 1:30-3:30 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Blaine House in Augusta. Registration is required. To register, please email Vincent Bryant at and include your email address and phone number.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Healthy eating

September is both National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and National Fruit and Veggies - More Matters Month.

Childhood obesity is a major public health problem. There is no single or simple solution to childhood obesity. It is influenced by many different factors, including a lack of access to healthy food and drinks, as well as limited opportunities for physical activity in the places where children live, play, and learn. Working together, states, communities, and parents can help make the healthy choice the easy choice for children and adolescents.

Maine CDC is proud to highlight Maine’s annual Harvest Lunch Week and Farm to School efforts this month. These programs succeed in getting Maine youth to enjoy eating more fruits and veggies, which is important since only 1 in 4 Maine youth eat the recommended number of veggies and fruits each day. Studies show that fruit and vegetables are important to support growth, good health, and a healthy weight. Eating the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables can also help protect against high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, bone loss, and some cancers.

Maine Harvest Lunch is a Farm to School activity that introduces students to local Maine grown veggies and fruits in their natural form. US CDC supports Farm to School as an obesity prevention strategy because it engages youth in learning about, preparing, and eating more veggies and fruits. Eating fruits and veggies prepared without added fat in place of higher calorie foods can help maintain a healthy weight. About 26% of Maine youth are overweight or obese. Fortunately, Maine has nearly 200 Farm to School programs with Maine farmers, teachers, and school food service personnel working together to improve the wellbeing of Maine’s youth and communities.

Maine CDC’s Division of Population Health staff is part of the Maine Farm to School Workgroup that provides technical assistance, best practice guidelines, and support to local schools, farmers, and teachers working on Farm to School. The workgroup is made of partners from state agencies and nongovernment organizations. The Healthy Maine Partnerships have been working on Farm to School and Maine Harvest Lunch Week in their local service areas for years, which helps support Maine CDC’s efforts to reach the Healthy Maine 2020 goal of increasing Maine youth’s fruit and veggie consumption.

To find out how many servings of fruits and veggies you need, go to

For more information about how to eat more fruits and veggies, check out this PDF