Thursday, May 29, 2014

Public health accreditation

Maine CDC submitted an application to become accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) on May 28. Several Maine CDC staff were present to celebrate this milestone. The application for Public Health Accreditation is the formal notification to PHAB of a health department's official commitment to initiate the accreditation process.

Public Health Accreditation is the measurement of Maine CDC's performance against a set of nationally recognized, practice-focused and evidence-based standards. These standards emphasize process improvements, quality assurance, and effective stewardship of public health resources. Currently, two state health departments and 29 local health departments have achieved accreditation.

Throughout the summer, Maine CDC staff will continue preparations, and will receive training from PHAB. This fall, the Maine CDC will begin to finalize the documents that will serve as evidence to the Accreditation Board that the agency is meeting the national standards. Stay tuned for more updates as we continue to move through this process!

Dr. Sheila Pinette, surrounded by some Accreditation champions and staff, electronically submitted the Maine CDC's application for Public Health Accreditation

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Know your numbers: Blood pressure

About 1 in 3 Mainers are told they have high blood pressure, also called hypertension.  Many people do not know they have it because there are usually no symptoms.  High blood pressure is like having high pressure in a pipe.  It damages the pipe, but you often don't see a problem until it bursts.

What is a normal blood pressure?

A normal blood pressure is less than 120 (top number) over 80 (bottom number).  After that, the higher the numbers, the more at risk you are for health problems.

Blood Pressure Category
Top Number
Bottom Number


Less than 120


Less than 80






140 or higher


90 or higher

What can you do to prevent high blood pressure?

There are risk factors that you cannot change like age and family history.  Below are risk factors that you can control:
  • Have your blood pressure checked.  It should be checked at least every two years since there are often no symptoms. Talk with your health care provider to see if you need to have it checked more often. 
  • Prevent and manage diabetes.  60% of people with diabetes also have high blood pressure.
  • Eat a healthy diet.  Add lots of fruits and vegetables.  Limit foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
  • Avoid sodium (salt).  Limit the amount of salt you add to your food.  Many processed foods/restaurant meals are high in sodium.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.  Being overweight can raise your blood pressure.
  • Be physically active.  Exercise for 30 minutes each day.
  • Do not use tobacco products.  It injures blood vessels and speeds up hardening of the arteries.
  • Limit alcohol use.  If you drink alcohol, try to consume less.
  • If you have high blood pressure, treat it.  Your healthcare provider can make a plan that is right for you.

Million Hearts Initiative

Million Hearts® is a national effort to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. Million Hearts® brings together communities, health systems, nonprofit organizations, federal agencies, and private-sector partners from across the country to fight heart disease and stroke.  To learn more about the initiative or to make the commitment visit:

For more information about heart disease visit:

Monday, May 19, 2014

May is Asthma Awareness Month

Maine continues to have some of the highest asthma rates in the nation. Emergency departments deal with almost 8,500 visits a year for asthma, and there are more than 1,100 hospitalizations annually. These visits can be avoided, and while asthma cannot be cured, it can be managed. Proper medication, avoiding triggers, and seeing a medical provider on a routine basis, are simple steps that anyone can take to avoid costly visits to the ER or hospital.

Here at the Maine CDC, the Asthma Prevention and Control Program works to raise awareness about the dangers and costs associated with asthma, and also to provide resources that can help Maine people manage their condition and live happy and productive lives.

For more information on asthma and the Maine CDC Asthma Prevention and Control Program click here.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Hepatitis B

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month. One in in 12 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has Hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B is common worldwide, especially in many parts of Asia and the Pacific Islands. In the US, Hepatitis B disproportionately affects Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). While AAPIs make up less than 5% of the U.S. population, they account for more than 50% of Americans living with Hepatitis B. 

Hepatitis B is serious, but treatments are available.

Left untreated, nearly 1 in 4 people living with hepatitis B develop serious liver problems, even liver cancer. In fact, Hepatitis B-related liver cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths among Asian Americans. Getting tested for Hepatitis B can help many people access lifesaving treatments that can prevent serious liver damage.

Two in three Asian Americans with Hepatitis B don't know they are infected.

People can live with Hepatitis B for decades without having any symptoms or feeling sick. Hepatitis B is spread when blood or other body fluid infected with the Hepatitis B virus enters the body of a person who is not infected. This can happen through multiple ways, including getting Hepatitis B from an infected mother at birth or from a family member as a young child. Many AAPIs living with Hepatitis B got infected as infants or young children. Testing is the only way to know if someone has Hepatitis B.

Who should get tested for Hepatitis B?
  • Anyone born in Asia or the Pacific Islands (except New Zealand and Australia)
  • Anyone born in the United States, who was not vaccinated at birth, and has at least one parent born in East or Southeast Asia (except Japan) or the Pacific Islands (except New Zealand and Australia).
Hepatitis B testing identifies people living with Hepatitis B so they can get medical care to help prevent serious liver damage. Talk to a health care provider about getting tested for Hepatitis B. 

For more information, see: or 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

American Stroke Month

A stroke happens when part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs and starts to die.  This is due to a blocked or ruptured blood vessel leading to or in the brain.  Stroke is the 4th leading cause of death in Maine and is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in Maine and the U.S. 

What can you do to prevent a stroke?

You cannot control risk factors like age and family history.  Here are steps you can take for the risk factors you can control:
  • Know Your ABCS:
    • Ask your doctor if you should take Aspirin every day.
    • Find out if you have high Blood Pressure or Cholesterol.  If you do, work with your doctor to treat it.
    • If you Smoke, get help to quit.  Call the Maine Tobacco Help Line at 1-800-207-1230.
  • Be physically active at least 30 minutes on most days
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Be sure other foods are low in sodium and trans fat
  • Take medication as prescribed by your doctor
What are the warning signs of stroke?

F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of stroke:

Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is numb?  Ask the person to smile.  Is the smile uneven?
Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb?  Ask the person to raise both arms.  Does one arm drift downward?
Speech Difficulty: Is speech slurred?  Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand?  Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.  Is it repeated correctly?
Time to Call 9-1-1: If someone shows any of these signs, even if the signs go away, call 9-1-1.  Check the time so you will know when the first signs appeared.

Other warning signs of stroke include blurred vision, dizziness or loss of balance, and severe headache.

Million Hearts Initiative

Million Hearts® is a national effort to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. Million Hearts® brings together communities, health systems, nonprofit organizations, federal agencies, and private-sector partners from across the country to fight heart disease and stroke.  To learn more about the initiative or to make the commitment
For more information about heart disease visit:

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Lyme Disease Awareness Month

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Lyme disease is the most common vectorborne disease in Maine. Cases have already been reported in 2014, and the number will rise as the weather continues to get warmer.

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection carried by the deer tick. Cases have been increasing each year in Maine, and occur in all 16 counties. More than 1,375 cases of Lyme disease were reported statewide in 2013, a record high for Maine. Lyme disease is most common among school age children and adults older than 65. Most infections occur during the summer months.

The most common early symptom of Lyme disease is an expanding red rash that occurs 3-30 days after being bitten. Fever, headache, joint and muscle pains, and fatigue are also common during the first several weeks. Later features of Lyme disease can include arthritis in one or more joints (often the knee), Bell's palsy and other cranial nerve palsies, meningitis, and carditis (AV block). Lyme disease is treatable, and the majority of patients recover after receiving appropriate therapy.

What to do after a tick bite:
  • Remove the tick properly, ideally using tweezers or a tick spoon. 
  • Clean the area around the bite, and watch for signs and symptoms for 30 days. 
  • Testing of the tick is not routinely recommended. 
  • Prophylactic treatment after a tick bite is not routinely recommended, but can be considered under specific circumstances including. 
  • If you suspect Lyme disease, contact your health care provider for laboratory testing. The IDSA guidelines for assessment, treatment, and prevention of Lyme disease are available at

Other tickborne diseases:
Other diseases that are carried by ticks in Maine include Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis and Powassan. Symptoms of Anaplasma include: fever, headache, malaise, and body aches. Symptoms of Babesia include: extreme fatigue, aches, fever, chills, sweating, dark urine, and possibly anemia. Symptoms of Powassan include: fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, loss of coordination, speech difficulties, seizures, and encephalitis and meningitis.

In 2013, providers reported 94 cases of Anaplasmosis, 36 cases of Babesiosis, and 1 case of Powassan. Five anaplasmosis cases and two babesiosis cases have already been reported in 2014.

For more information: