Thursday, September 18, 2014

Flu update 9/18/14

Weekly updates on flu activity in Maine will resume in October. Maine CDC reminds everyone to take everyday preventive measures against the flu:
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbow or shoulder
  • Stay home when you feel sick
  • Get vaccinated

Conference Call

Maine CDC is hosting a "Start of the 2014-15 Influenza Season" conference call from 2-3 p.m. September 24

The intent of this call is to provide updates for the season, outline resources available, and remind facilities what the requirements are for the influenza season. 

This call is particularly relevant for: Infection practitioners, providers, laboratorians, employee health, emergency preparedness, hospital administration, and long term care facilities. Talking points will be distributed after the call, as well as questions and information highlighted on the call. 

The call-in number will be 877-455-0244, code 668-182-0529

Vaccine recommendations

US CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. While there are many different flu viruses, the seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the top three or four flu viruses that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. Medical providers should be vaccinated and begin vaccinating patients soon after flu vaccine becomes available, ideally by October, to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before flu season begins.

Starting this season, US CDC recommends use of the nasal spray vaccine in healthy children ages 2 to 8 when it is immediately available and if the child has no contraindications or precautions to that vaccine. Recent studies suggest that the nasal spray flu vaccine may work better than the flu shot in younger children. However, if the nasal spray vaccine is not immediately available and the flu shot is, children age 2 to 8 years should get the flu shot. Don't delay vaccination to find the nasal spray flu vaccine.

Vaccine is already available in some locations. It takes about two weeks after vaccination to develop full immunity. 

For more information: 

For more information, go to 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Enterovirus D68

US CDC is working closely with hospitals and local and state health departments to investigate recent increases in hospitalizations of patients with severe respiratory illness. From mid-August to September 17, a total of 140 people in 16 states (AL, CT, CO, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, MO, MT, NY, NE, OK, PA, and VA) were confirmed to have respiratory illness caused by Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68).

Investigations into suspected clusters in other jurisdictions are ongoing. Many states are likely affected by respiratory illnesses caused by EV-D68, but it is too soon to know how widespread it is in the United States. As investigations progress, we will have a better understanding of the whether the trends for EV-D68 infections are going up or down.

Maine CDC issued a health alert on Sept. 15 to provide awareness of EV-D68 as a possible cause of acute unexplained respiratory illness and to provide guidance to health care providers.

No confirmed cases have been identified in Maine, but Maine CDC has sent samples for further typing.  Maine CDC is encouraging providers to consider this illness in their diagnosis and to report any suspect cases or clusters of severe illness. 

For more information, see the health alert at

Thursday, September 11, 2014

National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

About 1 of every 5 (17%) children in the United States has obesity, and certain groups of children are more affected than others. Childhood obesity puts America's children at early risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease -conditions usually associated with adulthood.

Self-reported data from the 2013 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey show that more than 20% of fifth graders, more than 14% of students in 7th and 8th grades, and nearly 13% of high school students in Maine are obese.

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

For more information, go to

Thursday, September 4, 2014

National Preparedness Month

September 2014 marks the eleventh annual National Preparedness Month, which is being supported by more than 3,000 public and private organizations all across the country. One goal of Maine CDC's Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program is to help educate individuals about how to prepare for emergencies, including natural disasters, mass casualties, biological and chemical threats, radiation emergencies, and terrorist attacks. Would you be prepared if there was an emergency today?

Follow these four steps to join Maine CDC's emergency preparedness efforts:
During September, Maine CDC is focusing our emergency preparedness communication efforts on: 
The Emergency Preparedness and Response offers additional information and resources under topics such as hurricane preparedness, extreme heat, and bioterrorism.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

World Rabies Day

Maine will recognized the eighth annual World Rabies Day on September 28.

Rabies is a virus found in the saliva, brain and spinal cord of infected mammals. Rabies is spread most commonly through a bite from an infected animal. Rabies can also be spread from transfer of infected tissue or saliva into an open wound or mucous membrane, such as eyes, nose and mouth. Rabies is not transmitted through urine, feces, blood or any bodily fluid other than spinal cord fluid and saliva.

Rabies is a very serious and fatal disease if not treated. Rabies kills approximately 55,000 people each year worldwide. Though the last human case of rabies in Maine was documented in 1937, rabies is still a public health concern in Maine. Due to the availability of rabies post-exposure treatment, many potential human rabies deaths have been avoided. In Maine, 81 people were recommended for post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) in 2013. The best way to stay rabies-free is to avoid wildlife and any animal that you don’t know. Report all exposures to your healthcare provider or Maine CDC right away.

In 2013, the State of Maine diagnosed 51 cases of animal rabies at the Health Environmental Testing Laboratory (HETL). As of August 15, 2014, there were 26 animal rabies cases in 2014 diagnosed in the following species: raccoon, skunk, fox, cat, cow, and woodchuck. Rabies is endemic in wildlife in Maine. The majority of animal rabies cases occur in wildlife, including in raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats.

All Mainers are encouraged to consider ways in which they can prevent the spread of rabies. These include:
  • 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. 

In 2006, the Alliance for Rabies Control, a U.K. charity, formed to promote rabies prevention worldwide. The Alliance, along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, declared September 28 World Rabies Day. All partners, including international health organizations, national, state and local public health partners, professional organizations, commercial pharmaceutical companies and foundations are called upon to plan events throughout the world to increase awareness about rabies and to raise support and funding towards its control and prevention.

For more information, visit our website at