Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Lead concerns

Public drinking water has been in the news recently due to the crisis in Flint, Michigan. It is important for the people of Maine to know that their public drinking water is well-regulated and safe to drink. Kenneth Albert, Director and Chief Operating Officer of Maine CDC, recently wrote an op ed about lead in Maine. Read it at https://www.centralmaine.com/2016/03/28/maine-is-not-flint-michigan/

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Maine CDC is investigating several cases of mumps in two college campuses:  University of Southern Maine and University of New England.  Other New England states are seeing similar clusters on college campuses.  As of March 17, Maine has two confirmed and one probable case of mumps.  Maine CDC is working closely with both schools to identify cases and provide recommendations for control. 
Maine CDC issued a Public Health Advisory on March 21 to remind health care providers to test patients who have clinically compatible symptoms for mumps and to encourage vaccination. 
For more information:

Monday, March 21, 2016

Free Continuing Education, Workforce Development Available

Did you know that you can use MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) to further your education or to learn more about areas of interest?   
A list of the courses available can be found at https://www.coursera.org.  You can take a course for free or enroll and pay a nominal fee for a certificate.   Most courses can be completed in four to six weeks at your own pace, and you can enroll at any time.  Two examples of public health courses are psychological first aid (https://www.coursera.org/learn/psychological-first-aid) and systems thinking in public health (https://www.coursera.org/learn/systems-thinking), both offered by Johns Hopkins University.

Take some time to browse the course offerings and check back periodically as new courses are added regularly.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Preparing for a Cyber Attack

Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA); Data, Research and Vital Statistics (DRVS); Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP); the Office of Information Technology (OIT) and the Department of Education (DOE), along with key public information, law enforcement and other officials, participated in Cyber Storm V, an exercise that tests Maine’s ability to respond to an attack on its computer systems and information contained within the system.  

Representing the nation’s most extensive cybersecurity exercise effort, Cyber Storm V supports strategy to assess cybersecurity preparedness; examine incident response processes, procedures and information sharing mechanisms; and identify areas for improvement.  Maine’s customized scenario included data breaches of Vital Records and other issues related to security impacting Maine’s students.  Members of the planning team from Maine CDC included Patrick Furey from PHEP and Sarah Hicks and Marty Henson from DRVS. Other planning team members were: Bruce Fitzgerald, Kevin Rousseau, Cameron Wellman, Mark Hyland and Kathleen Rusley from MEMA; Pat Hinkley from DOE and  Victor Chakravarty from OIT.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Flu update 3/17/16

U.S. CDC reports that the flu vaccine has been 59 percent effective so far in the current 2015-16 season. That's more than twice the effectiveness of the 2014-15 season, which was found to be only 23 percent effective. 
Flu activity in Maine is still increasing and is expected to continue.  Diagnostic testing is available for influenza-like illness (defined as fever greater than 100° F with cough or sore throat, in the absence of another known cause). Treatment with antiviral medication can decrease the duration and severity of illness but should be started as soon as possible. 

Flu is preventable, so always follow the “No Flu 4 You” guidelines (wash your hands, cover your cough, stay home when you’re sick and get vaccinated) to stay healthy.  For more information visit www.maineflu.gov 

Friday, March 4, 2016

March is National Nutrition Month

The theme for National Nutrition Month 2016 is "Savor the Flavor of Eating Right," which encourages everyone to take time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to our lives. How, when, why and where we eat are just as important as what we eat. Develop a mindful eating pattern that includes nutritious and flavorful foods. That's the best way to savor the flavor of eating right!
Try some of these tips to introduce mindful eating into your routine.
  • Ask yourself why you are eating
  • Eat more slowly
  • Savor the silence and focus on the food
  • Pay attention to flavor and texture
  • Reconnect to food by knowing how was it grown, where it came from and how it got here
National Nutrition Month is a nutrition education and information campaign created to focus America’s attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.
For more information:

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Maine CDC, DEP Lead Training Exercise to Respond to Chemical Spill Impacting Drinking Water

In early February, 43 people participated in a full-scale tabletop training exercise where the scenario was a chemical spill Into the Androscoggin River. The event took place at the Topsham Public Safety Building. 
Participants included: Maine CDC Drinking Water Program; Maine Department of Environmental Protection; Maine Emergency Management Agency; Cumberland and Sagadahoc County Emergency Management Agencies; the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection; the Brunswick/Topsham Water District; the Maine Rural Water Association; the Brunswick and Topsham Fire Departments; the Brunswick Sewer Department; Topsham Public Works; the Bath Water District; the Topsham Police Department; the U.S. Coast Guard and Mid Coast Hospital.
In this scenario, a fuel tanker and a truck containing compressed natural gas cylinders were involved in a traffic accident and spilled diesel fuel into a small stream near water supply wells of the Brunswick/Topsham Water District, threatening the wells and the nearby Androscoggin River.  Release of propane gas created a dangerous situation at the crash scene, delaying cleanup of the spilled fuel.  Later in the day, another hypothetical traffic accident occurred in a different part of town, which resulted in a water main break near Mid Coast Hospital.  This combination of unexpected events created challenges to protect public safety, maintain service to water customers and mitigate impacts to the environment.
The origin and planning of these exercises resulted from collaboration between the Maine CDC Drinking Water Program and Maine DEP’s Division of Technical Services and Division of Response Services following the January 9, 2014 Elk River chemical spill in West Virginia.  The recent Flint, Michigan water supply lead contamination incident was also highlighted at the training to emphasize the importance of risk communications during any incident that may threaten drinking water quality.

For more information on this training, contact Michael.Abbott@maine.gov or Erika.Bonenfant@maine.gov.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Zika virus

Maine CDC announced last week that a mature adult (age 65 or older) from Hancock County has tested positive for the Zika virus. The individual traveled to a Zika-affected country and experienced symptoms after returning home. Hospitalization was not required and recovery continues at home. 
Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. Though less common, Zika can be transmitted through sexual contact from a male to his partner. The World Health Organization and U.S. CDC are investigating a potential link between Zika virus and an increase in microcephaly, a birth defect in which the size of a baby’s head is smaller than expected. This link is not well understood, and out of an abundance of caution Maine CDC is recommending that all pregnant women and men who are sexually active with a woman who is pregnant or trying to become pregnant who have traveled to a Zika-affected area be tested for the virus.
Only one in five people infected with Zika show symptoms, which include fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. Illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. 
U.S. CDC has issued travel alerts for people traveling to regions and certain countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. The most recent guidance and guidelines are available at: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/whats-new.html