Category Archives: Oklahoma

Oklahoma # | Additional contacts added to #measles exposure

Continuing investigation by the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) into a confirmed case of measles has prompted notification of additional persons who may have been exposed.

Information  obtained through the investigation indicates that persons who were in Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City on Thursday, March 12, between 9:30 p.m. and midnight may also have been exposed to measles, especially those persons in the lower level of the airport. These individuals should take precautions to ensure they are protected against measles, either by having documentation of 2 doses of measles-containing vaccine OR being born prior to 1957.  This is the only time period of possible exposure at the airport.

Measles was identified in an international traveler to Oklahoma. The individual is a spouse of an Oklahoma State University student who lives off campus. OSDH and Oklahoma City County Health Department (OCCHD) are working with the Payne County Health Department, Oklahoma State University,  and local medical facilities in the investigation.

Anyone who thinks they may have been at risk of exposure should review their immunization records and contact their local county health department with any additional questions. Persons are protected if they are immunized with two doses of a measles-containing vaccine after the first birthday, or if they were born  before 1957.

Persons who are susceptible to measles usually develop symptoms about 10 days after exposure with a range of 7-18 days. Symptoms of measles begin with a mild to moderate fever, runny nose, red eyes, and cough. A few days later, a rash appears starting on the face spreading to the rest of the body accompanied by a fever that can reach up to 105 degrees. Measles can lead to pneumonia and other complications, especially in young children and adults over 20. The disease can also cause serious problems in pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease. People with measles can spread the virus up to four days before the onset of the rash and until four days after the rash starts. Measles can be prevented with the measles vaccine (usually given in combination with rubella and mumps, called MMR vaccine), and is recommended for all children at 12 to 15 months of age and again at four to six years of age. If a person has not received a second dose of the vaccine between four to six years of age, the booster dose may be given at any age thereafter. Two doses of vaccine normally provide lifelong immunity.

Oklahoma #OK | Confirmed #measles case in #Stillwater

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is investigating a confirmed case of measles in Stillwater located in Payne County.  This is the first confirmed case in Oklahoma since 1997.

Measles was identified in an international traveler to Oklahoma.  The individual is a spouse of an Oklahoma State University student who lives off campus. OSDH is working with the Payne County Health Department, Oklahoma State University and local medical facilities in the investigation.

Persons who visited the following locations in Stillwater may have been exposed to the measles virus:

o Aldi (1188 N Perkins Rd) March 13
o Crepe Myrtle Market  (613 S Lewis) March 13
o Food Pyramid (421 N Main St) March 13
o Boba Fusion Café (211 N Perkins Rd) March 13
o China Wok (917 N Perkins Rd) – March 14
o Jimmy’s Egg (811 W 6th Ave)  March 16
o University Health Services on March 17 or 19

Anyone who thinks they may have been at risk of exposure should review their immunization records and contact their local county health department with any additional questions. Persons are protected if they are immunized with two doses of a measles-containing vaccine after the first birthday, or if they were born before 1957.

Persons who are susceptible to measles usually develop symptoms about 10 days after exposure with a range of 7-18 days. Symptoms of measles begin with a mild to moderate fever, runny nose, red eyes, and cough.  A few days later, a rash appears starting on the face spreading to the rest of the body accompanied by a fever that can reach up to 105 degrees. Measles can lead to pneumonia and other complications, especially in young children and adults over 20. The disease can also cause serious problems in pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems.

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease. People with measles can spread the virus up to four days before the onset of the rash and until four days after the rash starts. Measles can be prevented with the measles vaccine (usually given in combination with rubella and mumps, called MMR vaccine), and is recommended for all children at 12 to 15 months of age and again at four to six years of age.  If a person has not received a second dose of the vaccine between four to six years of age, the booster dose may be given at any age thereafter.  Two doses of vaccine normally provide lifelong immunity.

Oklahoma | Flu activity increasing – First two deaths of the season reported

New influenza statistics released today by the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) indicate 94 persons have been hospitalized and two persons have died in Oklahoma since reporting for the current flu season began Sept. 28.  Influenza-associated hospitalizations have been reported statewide while two influenza-related deaths have occurred among residents of Carter and Oklahoma counties.

The OSDH continues to emphasize the single best way to protect against flu and its consequences is to get the flu vaccine. It’s not too late.  Many local county health departments, pharmacies and health care providers still have vaccine and health officials urge all persons 6 months of age and older to get the vaccine to protect themselves and those around them from influenza, especially babies too young to receive a vaccination.

Persons who already have the flu can spread it to others even before they feel sick. A person may have the flu if they have some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever (although not everyone with flu will have a fever)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue

Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. Those who get sick with flu symptoms, in most cases, should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care.  If, however, they have flu-like symptoms and are sick or worried about their illness, they should contact a health care provider.

Certain people are at greater risk of serious flu-related complications. Young children, elderly persons, pregnant women and people with some long-term medical conditions are reminded to contact their health care provider as soon as they develop flu symptoms

Health care providers will determine whether influenza testing and possible treatment are needed. A provider may prescribe antiviral drugs to treat the flu. These drugs work better for treatment when started within 48 hours of noticing symptoms. Antiviral drugs may be indicated as a prevention measure to prevent especially vulnerable persons such as infants less than 6 months old, or persons of any age with a medical condition which severely suppresses their immune system.

OSDH recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone. Avoid going to work, school, social events and public gatherings as well as traveling and shopping. The fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, such as acetaminophen before returning to a regular routine. To prevent the spread of the flu, the public is reminded to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and wash hands often.

For more information about influenza and activity updates, visit the Ok Flu View at www.ok.gov/health and select the Ok Flu View link.

Oklahoma | OSDH preparedness videos available to deaf and Spanish-speaking communities

Disasters can have an impact on anyone. But for a person who is Deaf, or doesn’t speak English as their primary language, accessing important information to prepare for emergencies can be difficult. The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has released videos in American Sign Language and also in Spanish to ensure the message of preparedness is available to various populations.

OSDH contracted with Deaf Link, Inc. to produce these videos using federal funds available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Hospital Preparedness Program. They cover topics such as having a family emergency plan, packing a go bag and winter storm preparedness. Each video features American Sign Language, audio English, audio Spanish and highlighted text. These videos will assist people who are Deaf, people who are hard-of-hearing, people who have low vision and people who are blind. They will also assist people who have low literacy with the video capabilities of being able to stop and review information on their selected topic of emergency preparedness. Some of the videos provide step-by-step instructions on emergency preparedness.

Glenda Ford-Lee, statewide at-risk populations coordinator, said the videos help close the gap in providing accessible education in preparedness for the state of Oklahoma. They address the three most commonly used languages in United States: English, Spanish and American Sign Language.

“These videos will be accessible to the whole community, which is what our emergency planning is focusing on for the state and the nation,” said Ford-Lee. “Everyone should have accessible information. Emergency preparedness information is very important and can save lives.”

She said the videos are just the beginning of products being developed to get information available in everyone’s primary language.

To access the videos, click here

Find more tips for preparing your family for a disaster at www.ready.gov and like the OSDH Emergency Preparedness Response Service page on Facebook.

Oklahoma | State Dept of Health designates high level Ebola treatment facility

Commissioner of Health Dr. Terry Cline has announced that a specialized unit is being developed for any confirmed patients with Ebola Virus Disease in Oklahoma. The unit will be operated by OU Medical Center. The decision came as a result of a collaborative planning effort with the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), the Oklahoma Hospital Association (OHA), OU Medical Center management and metropolitan hospitals in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

Oklahoma’s designated patient care unit will be located in a decommissioned hospital building on the Oklahoma Health Center campus. The building is separate from existing patient care facilities, and there will be no other clinical operations in the building. The unit will contain adjacent isolation and biohazard areas along with laboratory space in a negative airflow environment so that Ebola or other infectious disease patients can be safely isolated and treated. The isolated unit will be staffed by a specially trained infectious disease response team in order to allow OU Medical Center to continue to care for patients needing critical services such as Level One trauma care, cancer care, pediatric treatment and all other specialties they are relied upon to provide. The hospital is assembling an all-volunteer readiness team to staff the unit Construction of the unit will take three to four weeks.

“We are proud of OU Medical Center’s willingness to serve as a Center of Excellence,” said Dr. Cline. “While our Oklahoma hospitals have each been preparing for weeks and are capable of treating an Ebola patient, this collaborative effort with OU Medical Center taking the lead will better prepare our state and healthcare system should the need arise.”

New guidelines for monitoring of returning passengers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and the hospitalization of a patient in Tulsa County who is identified as a low risk for Ebola, have highlighted the importance of next level preparedness.

“It may never be necessary to call this facility into action, but if needed OU Medical Center stands ready meet the needs of our state,” Dr. Cline said.

Governor Mary Fallin praised the collaborative effort to protect Oklahoma citizens.

“The state of Oklahoma is working overtime with medical providers and hospitals to ensure we are doing everything we can to prepare for any potential outbreak of Ebola,” said Fallin. “Designating an area of OU Medical Center as a high level treatment center will add an extra layer of preparation in the event that an Oklahoman does get sick with the Ebola Virus.  My thanks go out to our medical professionals for working diligently to ensure that any future outbreak can be successfully contained and treated.”

“All Oklahoma hospitals remain on alert and are prepared to provide an initial screening of suspected Ebola cases and, if criteria warrant, quickly isolate and provide interim care while testing is completed,” OHA President Craig W. Jones said.” We will continue to work with state health officials on a more long-term approach to providing bio-containment resources needed to treat these and similar patients in the future.”

“As the state’s premier educational and research hospital, OU Medicine’s mission is to lead health care. We are proud that our team of health care professionals has been entrusted with this mission, and we stand ready to provide the best care possible to help ensure the safety and well-being of our community and staff,” said Chuck Spicer, president and CEO of OU Medical System.

For more information on Oklahoma’s Ebola preparedness, please visit http://ebola.health.ok.gov

Oklahoma | CDC confirms cases of EV-D68 in state

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has received confirmation through laboratory testing conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is circulating and causing respiratory illness in Oklahoma. 

Although enteroviruses are a common cause of respiratory illness, EV-D68 is a relatively rare type of enterovirus in the United States. To date, EV-D68 has been confirmed in 11 other states, including Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado.

The CDC laboratory has reported ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­seven of 24 specimens submitted from Oklahoma hospitals and laboratories tested positive for the virus which has been associated with an increase in pediatric admissions at hospitals in the central region of the state. EV-D68 infection looks very similar to the common cold with most persons showing symptoms of cough, runny nose, body aches, and possibly a fever. However, in some children the illness can rapidly progress to something more serious where the child has wheezing, difficulty breathing, and difficulty getting enough oxygen into their lungs.

“Children less than 5 years old and children with underlying asthma appear to be at greatest risk of having medical complications from EV-D68 requiring hospitalization,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley. “If a child develops a cold or a cough, parents and caregivers should just watch the child a little more closely to ensure the respiratory infection is running a normal course. If wheezing or asthma-like symptoms develop, medical care should be accessed immediately.”

Medical providers are not required to report suspected cases of the virus to state public health authorities. Therefore, the number of actual cases in the state cannot be tracked. Officials are, however, monitoring the trend of hospital admissions for acute respiratory illness, and requesting that any outbreaks of respiratory disease in daycares or schools be reported to the OSDH.

There are no specific treatments or vaccines to prevent EV-D68 infections.

People can protect themselves from respiratory illnesses by:

  • Washing hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Avoiding touching the eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoiding close contact and sharing cups and eating utensils with people who are sick.
  • Disinfecting frequently touched surfaces such as toys, doorknobs and light switches, especially if someone is sick.
  • Staying home when sick.

Find more information about enteroviruses at www.health.ok.gov or www.cdc.gov.

OK | WNv confirmed in a Major County resident

The first case of West Nile virus (WNV) in Oklahoma has been confirmed in a Major County resident.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) encourages residents to take precautions to reduce the risk of contracting WNV, a mosquito-borne illness.

Summertime typically marks the beginning of the WNV season in Oklahoma, with outdoor activities providing opportunities for encountering infected mosquitoes.

Although the severity of this year’s WNV season cannot be predicted, it is important to know the highest risk months in Oklahoma for WNV exposure occur from July through October.

During 2013, 84 cases of WNV were confirmed among Oklahoma residents, including 8 deaths.  Cases ranged in age from 17 to 92 years.  WNV is spread through the bite of the Culex mosquito, which feeds on infected birds and transmits the virus when biting humans, horses, and some other mammals.

Symptoms of WNV include sudden onset of fever, headache, dizziness, and muscle weakness. Long-lasting complications can include difficulty concentrating, migraine headaches, extreme muscle weakness and tremors, and paralysis of a limb. If one or more of these symptoms develop, especially after suffering mosquito bites within the previous two weeks, a health care provider should be contacted. Persons over the age of 50 are at greatest risk of developing severe neurologic disease from WNV. Some of the neurological effects of WNV may be permanent.

Among the precautions to take against mosquito bites are the following:

  • Use an insect repellent containing DEET on exposed skin and clothing when you go outdoors, particularly if you are outside between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are more likely to bite. Insect repellent with permethrin should be used on clothing only.
  • Repair or install window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of your home.
  • Prevent items such as buckets, cans, pool covers, flower pots, and tires from holding standing water so mosquitoes don’t have a place to breed.
  • Empty your pet’s outdoor water bowl and refill daily.
  • Clean leaves and debris from rain gutters regularly to ensure they are not clogged.

For more information, visit the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s WNV website at http://go.usa.gov/wpz.

Oklahoma | State Health dept confirms first case and death of Heartland virus

The Oklahoma State Department of Health has confirmed the state’s first case and death of Heartland virus. A Delaware County resident died recently from complications of the virus. The virus is found in the Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum), and is likely spread through tick bites.  

Heartland virus was first identified in Missouri in 2009. The Oklahoma case is only the tenth person confirmed with the virus and the second person to die from it. Other cases have occurred in Missouri and Tennessee. All of the patients diagnosed with Heartland virus reported spending several hours per day in outside activities or occupations.

Symptoms can include fever, fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, loss of appetite, nausea, bruising easily and diarrhea. There is no routine testing available for Heartland virus. However, protocols are in place for investigational diagnostic testing. Healthcare providers can contact the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Acute Disease Service at (405) 271-4060 for consultation regarding protocol enrollment for patients who have acute illnesses compatible with Heartland virus infection.

There is no vaccine or drug to prevent or treat the disease. Preventing bites from ticks and mosquitoes may prevent this and other infections. The Oklahoma State Department of Health recommends the following:

–Use insect repellents, following package instructions.
–Wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors so that ticks are easily seen and removed.
–Avoid bushy and wooded areas where ticks can be transferred onto you.
–Perform thorough tick checks soon and daily after spending time outdoors.

For more information on reducing exposure to ticks, visit:

http://www.ok.gov/health/Disease,_Prevention,_Preparedness/Acute_Disease_Service/Disease_Information/Tickborne_and_Mosquitoborne_Diseases/index.html

Alabama | State experiences significant H1N1 influenza activity this season

While the flu season is just getting started in much of the country, activity is already high in Alabama, along with Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.

Reports from Alabama’s network of providers who report influenza-like illness and send influenza samples for testing to the Department of Public Health indicate the geographic spread of influenza in Alabama is widespread for the third week in a row.

Influenza type A, H1N1 (also known as 2009 H1N1, the pandemic strain, or pH1N1) has been the predominant strain circulating virus so far this season. One characteristic of pH1N1 is that, similar to the pandemic of 2009, young and middle-aged adults seem to have a greater chance of severe influenza.

Flu is a very contagious respiratory illness. Some of the symptoms of influenza can be fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches and extreme fatigue. Influenza can be a serious disease for anyone, even children, pregnant women and previously healthy young adults.

An annual influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months and older. The flu vaccine this year includes protection against H1N1. Flu vaccines are available as shots and nasal spray. Physicians, nurses and pharmacists can advise patients which type of flu vaccine is right for them.

In addition to taking the flu vaccine, other measures can reduce or prevent the spread of influenza. These include staying at home when sick, covering the mouth and nose with a tissue/cloth when coughing or sneezing, and washing hands or using hand sanitizer frequently.

Dr. Karen Landers, Assistant State Health Officer, said, “Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. It’s not too late to get a flu shot to protect against this serious disease. People become protected about two weeks after receiving the vaccine.”

There are no reports of influenza vaccine shortages this season.

Contact your private provider, pharmacy or local county health department to receive an influenza vaccination. For more information contact the Immunization Division of the Alabama Department of Public Health at (334) 206-5023 or toll free at 800-469-4599.

Oklahoma | State health officials concerned about Texas measles outbreak

A statewide health alert issued by the Texas Department of State Health Services following an outbreak of measles in Texas has prompted concern from Oklahoma’s public health officials.

“We are worried about the current outbreak of measles in Texas, because measles is very contagious, spreads like wildfire and can be very serious,” said Lori Linstead, director of the Immunization Service at the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

The age range of the Texas cases is from 4 months to 44 years old. “Persons of any age who have not been appropriately vaccinated against measles are susceptible to the disease,” said Linstead.

Currently, there are no reported cases of measles in Oklahoma. The last reported case of measles in the state was in 1997.

Measles is spread from person-to-person by airborne droplets, commonly from a contagious person coughing or sneezing; by direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected persons; or through touching surfaces contaminated with these secretions. Infected people can spread the disease usually four days before their rash starts to four days after rash onset.

Symptoms of measles include a high fever and a red blotchy rash starting on the face then spreading to the rest of the body. Symptoms begin to appear about 10 to 12 days after exposure to the virus. Individuals first experience a fever lasting about two to four days then followed by the onset of cough, runny nose, and/or conjunctivitis. The rash usually appears about 14 days after exposure and lasts four to seven days. It begins at the hairline, and then involves the face and upper neck. Over the next three days, the rash gradually proceeds downward and outward, reaching the hands and feet. Symptoms may last for one to two weeks. There is no treatment for measles; however, health care providers may treat the symptoms of measles with bed rest, plenty of fluids, and anti-fever medications.

Oklahoma State Department of Health officials are alerting Oklahoma health care providers to consider measles in their diagnosis of patients with compatible symptoms who have traveled to the North Texas area during the 18 days prior to the onset of symptoms. Providers should take appropriate infection control precautions and immediately reportany suspected cases to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

About one out of 10 children with measles also gets an ear infection, and up to one out of 20 gets pneumonia. One out of every 2,000 will develop encephalitis (swelling of the brain).Coma due to measles encephalitis may last for weeks or months.For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die.

Persons who are not vaccinated are definitely at risk of getting the disease. “We strongly recommend that all parents think about vaccinating their children with MMR vaccine now. The first dose is recommended at 12 to 15 months of age, so babies who have reached their first birthday can receive the vaccine now; there is no reason to wait,” Linstead said.

Ninety-four percent of Oklahoma toddlers (19 through 35 months of age) have received one dose of measles vaccine and 97 percent of children entering kindergarten in Oklahoma have received two doses. But, measles is so contagious, that even a very small number of unvaccinated children won’t be protected if the measles virus gets into the community. State health officials consider the six percent of Oklahoma toddlers who haven’t received the vaccine to be at risk.

The second dose of MMR is recommended at 4 to 6 years of age or before entering kindergarten.“All children 4 years of age or older who have not received a second dose of MMR can get it now,” Linstead said.

Parents who have not vaccinated their children or delayed vaccination because of fears of measles vaccine causing autism should know that many studies have been done to investigate if the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine has any connection to autism. Absolutely no link has been found.Twelve studies have produced no evidence that children who receive MMR vaccine are at greater risk of autism than those who haven’t received MMR vaccine.The results of studies are very clear; the data show no relationship between vaccines and autism.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health recommends that children receive MMR vaccine from their regular health care provider, clinic, or county health department.

For more information on measles, visit www.health.ok.gov.