Monday, March 11, 2013


Salmonella infections don’t just come from contaminated food—they can come from contact with animals, too. Many Salmonella infections occur in people who have contact with certain types of animals. In 2012, there were two records involving outbreaks of human Salmonella infections linked to live poultry: 
  1. Eight outbreaks were reported which was more than any year in history and these outbreaks resulted in more than 450 illnesses –and-
  2. The largest outbreak of human Salmonella infections linked to backyard flocks in a single year occurred.
Chicks, ducklings, and other poultry can carry Salmonella. Live poultry may have Salmonella germs in their droppings and on their bodies (feathers, feet, and beaks) even when they appear healthy and clean.
While it usually doesn't make the birds sick, Salmonella can cause serious illness when it is passed to people. Salmonella germs can cause a diarrheal illness in people that can be mild, severe, or even life threatening. Infants, seniors, and those with weakened immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness. These simple steps will help protect yourself and others from getting sick:
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
  • Clean any equipment or materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry outside the house, such as cages or feed or water containers.
  • Never bring live poultry inside the house, in bathrooms, or especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens, or outdoor patios.
Learn more about the risk of human Salmonella Infections from live poultry here.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Groundwater: Out of sight, but not out of mind

National Groundwater Awareness Week, March 10-16, 2013, is a good time for the owners of household drinking water wells to test their water as managers of their own, personal drinking water system. 
The Maine CDC recommends that private well owners test their water annually for bacteria, nitrate, and nitrite and every three to five years for arsenic, radon, uranium, lead, and fluoride.  
Well owners should check their water more often than annually if:
  • There is a change in the taste, odor, or appearance of the water
  • A problem occurs such as a broken well cap or a new contamination source
  • Family members or houseguests have recurrent incidents of gastrointestinal illness
  • An infant is living in the home
  • There is a need to monitor the efficiency and performance of home water treatment equipment.
For a list of certified drinking water testing laboratories in Maine, see: Maine Certified Commercial Laboratories.  
If your drinking water is supplied by a public water system, you can be assured that the water you receive is regularly monitored and tested to ensure that it meets federal and state drinking water standards and is safe to drink.   
Whether you have your own private well or are supplied by a public water system, there are several things you can do to protect 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. There are several law enforcement agencies throughout the state that will accept unused prescription drugs for proper and safe disposal. For more information, visit: Maine State Map of Law Enforcement Agencies Accepting Unused, Unwanted Consumer Prescription Drugs for Disposal
For more information about private wells, visit For information about public water systems, visit

Friday, March 1, 2013

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

We know that colorectal cancer is one of the few cancers that can be prevented as well as detected early with screening. Colon cancer starts as a polyp, or small collection of abnormal cells. Colon polyps become more common as we age. The recommendation for screening at age 50 is based upon this science. Don’t delay your screening appointment if you are turning 50 – and consult your doctor about screening if you are younger than 50 but have a family history of colon cancer or precancerous polyps.

Colon cancer is most treatable when found in the earliest stages. Often, people have few symptoms until polyps have progressed to cancer.
Screening saves lives, so get screened and encourage others to be screened as well.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force and the American Cancer Society recommend three types of tests as options for people without a family history of colon cancer:
  • High-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing or fecal immunochemical testing (FIT) every year: This can be obtained from your doctor’s office and can be done in the privacy of your home.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years combined with a high-sensitivity stool test or FIT every 3 years
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years
For more information about colon cancer prevention visit the Maine CDC Colorectal Cancer Control Program.