Category Archives: USA

Texas | DSHS urges anthrax precautions for hunters and ranchers

The Texas Department of State Health Services is urging hunters and ranchers to take precautions to protect themselves from diseases transmitted by animals.

Deer, sheep, goats, cattle, horses and other animals can contract anthrax, a bacterium that can cause a severe, life-threatening disease in both humans and animals.

The first case of anthrax this year was recently confirmed in a sable antelope herd on a ranch in Edwards County, an area of West Texas where anthrax is most likely to occur. Animals usually get the disease by swallowing anthrax spores while grazing. Anthrax is a naturally occurring disease with worldwide distribution, including Texas.

“Hunters and livestock owners should be aware of anthrax cases in their area and take steps to protect themselves, such as not touching sick or dead animals,” said Dr. Tom Sidwa, manager of the Zoonosis Control Branch at DSHS. “Basic precautions can minimize the chance of contracting anthrax or other diseases transmitted by wildlife.”

People usually get anthrax through handling a dead or sick animal infected with anthrax. Anthrax infection in humans usually involves infection of the skin. Skin infection is typically itchy and resembles an insect bite. Within two to six days it progresses into a painless ulcer with a depressed black center.

Although humans are susceptible to anthrax infection, no cases have been reported in Texas this year. Basic precautions can effectively reduce the risks of humans contracting anthrax and other diseases from livestock and game animals.

  • Do not harvest animals that appear ill or are acting abnormally.
  • Wear long-sleeved garments and gloves when handling, dressing and processing game.
  • Use sanitary practices such as hand washing with soap and water and laundering clothes immediately after animal exposure.
  • Minimize contact with animal fluids, brain and spinal tissues.
  • Keep pets and children away from dead animals.
  • Avoid direct contact with animal bones, horns or antlers.
  • Cook all meat until well done before consuming.

People should contact a doctor if they develop an unusual-looking sore on the hands, arms or other exposed skin. Although it is very rare to contract skin anthrax, this infection requires treatment with antibiotics prescribed by a physician.

Nebraska | EMS workshops coming to your community

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services’ Emergency Medical Services Program offers ongoing training workshops across the state for emergency medical technicians, first responders, and the general public. 

The workshop schedule for October is listed below.

For more information on the workshops offered please visit the DHHS EMS calendar web page by clicking here.  You may also click on the subscribe link at the top of the EMS workshop calendar web page to sign up for an email or a text message alert when the EMS workshop calendar is updated.

The free workshops are worth three continuing education hours unless noted otherwise.

CITY, DATE, TOPIC, LOCATION, INSTRUCTOR, TIME, CONTACT PERSON

Albion, 10/28/2013, Common Medications & Recreational Drugs, Albion Fire Hall, 215 S. 5th, Kyle Lingenfelter, 7pm – 10pm, Lori Neid, 402-562-1451

Bellwood, 10/02/2013, Death, Dying, and Dealing with the Dead, Bellwood Fire Hall, 752 41st Road, Kyle Lingenfelter, 7pm – 10pm, Lori Neid,  402-562-1451

Butte, 10/21/2013, EMS Role in Extrication, Butte Fire Hall, Terri Van Houten, 7pm – 10pm, Brandi Fuchs,  402-844-7702

Central City, 10/21/2013, Understanding the Impact of Culture on Emergency Care, Central City Community Room, 1609 16th Ave., Jolene Hake & Stephanie Carlson, 7pm – 10pm, Lori Neid,  402-562-1451

Chambers, 10/09/2013, Geriatrics, Chambers Fire Hall, Terri Van Houten, 7pm – 10pm, Brandi Fuchs, 402-844-7702

Chappell, 10/29/2013, Hoarding and Confined Space Rescue, Chappell Fire Hall, 1687 2nd St., Bob Allen, 6pm – 9pm, Polly Olson, 308-874-4306

Clarkson, 10/28/2013, Stay & Play vs. Load & Go, Clarkson Fire Hall, 210 Bryan St., Steve Kelso, 7pm – 10pm, Lori Neid, 402-562-1451

Cortland, 10/10/2013, Cardiac Rhythms, Cortland Fire Hall, Robin Spangler, 7pm – 9pm, Cristi Grusing, 402-798-8339

Crawford, 10/17/2013, Skills Night, Crawford Fire Hall, 220 Elm St., Glen Eberspecher & Robby Rhembrandt, 6:30pm -  9:30pm, Jack Galt, 308-665-1528

Crawford, 10/24/2013, Cardiac & Respiratory Review, Crawford Fire Hall,  220 Elm St., Shad Bryner, 7pm – 10pm, Jack Galt, 308-665-1528

Creighton, 10/21/2013, Infection Control, Creighton Fire Hall, Carol Rodenborg, 7pm – 10pm, Brandi Fuchs, 402-844-7702

Culbertson, 10/17/2013, Patient Assessment, Culbertson Ambulance Barn, Todd Hovey, 7pm – 10pm, Todd Hovey, 308-340-0792

Dakota City, 10/10/2013, Backboard, Splints & Neck Injuries, Dakota City Fire Hall, John Kneifl, 7pm – 10pm, Brandi Fuchs, 402-844-7702

Decatur, 10/29/2013, Shock, Decatur VFD, 9th & Broadway, Connie Hartley, 7pm – 9pm, Scott Hartley, 402-292-8535

Edgar, 10/02/2013, Patient Extrication, Edgar Fire Hall, Loren Uden, 7pm – 10pm, Janis Johnson, 402-762-5447

Elba, 10/10/2013, Role of EMS in Extrication, Elba Fire Hall, 719 12th St., Ed Carlin, 7pm – 10pm, Rosie Palacz, 308-754-8001

Ewing, 10/12/2013, Emergency Vehicle Operations Course, Ewing Fire Hall, Brad Korth & Rich Lutz, 9am – 4pm, Brandi Fuchs,  402-844-7702

Fullerton, 10/30/2013, Case Studies:  Legal & Ethical Issues, Fullerton Fire Hall, 205 Fuller St., Fred Benzel, 7pm – 10pm, Lori Neid,  402-562-1451

Genoa, 10/15/2013, Understanding the Impact of Culture on Emergency Care, Genoa Fire Hall, 512 Willard St., Jolene Hake & Stephanie Carlson, 7pm – 10pm, Lori Neid, 402-562-1451

Gordon, 10/09/2013, OB Emergencies &  Imminent Delivery, Gordon Memorial Hospital, 300 E. 8th St., Tracy Meyer, 6pm – 9pm, Rob Menacher,  605-890-0812

Grand Island, 10/14/2013, Back to Basics, St. Francis Memorial, 2116 W. Faidley Ave., Brian Urbon, 7pm – 10pm, Rita Gallagher,  308-383-2792

Gresham, 10/27/2013, Pediatric & Adult Assessments, Gresham Fire Hall,  380 Elm St., Rhonda Rowe, 7pm – 10pm, Rhonda Rowe,  402-363-1274

Hartington, 10/09/2013, Child and Elder Abuse, Hartington Ambulance, Tina Monteith, 7pm – 10pm, Brandi Fuchs, 402-844-7702

Hastings, 10/22/2013, Respiratory Emergencies, Mary Lanning Healthcare, 715 N. St. Joseph Ave, Rita Gallagher, 7pm – 10pm, Lisa Dirks, 402-461-5020

Leigh, 10/15/2013, Triage, Leigh Fire Hall, 129 Short St., Sandy Atkins, 7pm – 10pm, Lori Neid,  402-562-1451

Lincoln, 10/16/2013, Chest Pains and Nitro, Duncan Aviation, 3701 Aviation Rd., Ryan Batenhorst, 1pm – 4pm, Kent Rezac,  402-416-4351

Lincoln, 10/24/2013, Pediatric Emergencies, St. Elizabeth RMC, 555 S. 70th St., Jason Kruger, 6pm – 8pm, Jean Stilwell, 402-219-7051

Madison, 10/14/2013, Personal Safety in EMS, Madison Public Safety Building, Doug Dekker, 7pm – 10pm, Brandi Fuchs, 402-844-7702

McCook, 10/23/2013, EMS Trauma Run Review/Performance Improvement, Community Hospital,  1301 East H St., Hospital Staff, 6pm – 9pm, Darcie Johnson, 308-344-8541

Oakland, 10/14/2013, OB/GYN Emergencies, Oakland Fire Hall,  500 N. Oakland Ave., Deb Von Seggern-Johnson, 7pm – 10pm, Mike Black, 402-317-8298

Omaha, 10/10/2013, Patient Packaging & Extrication, Ponca Hills VFD, 12919 Ponca Rd., Dave Huey, 7pm – 10pm, Wendy Keeler, 402-203-3133

Omaha, 10/12/2013, EMS Rules & Regulations/EMSC Updates, Immanuel Medical Center, 6901 N. 72nd St., Brian Monaghan & Debbie Kuhn, 7:30am – 9:30am, Debbie Kuhn, 402-471-0119

Omaha, 10/17/2013, Traumatic Brain Injury, ALS Affiliates, 2819 S. 125th Ave., Ste. 251, Scott Hartley, 7pm – 10pm, Scott Hartley, 402-292-8535

Palmer, 10/08/2013, Patient Packaging, Palmer Fire Hall,  604 Commercial St., Kyle Lingenfelter, 7pm – 10pm, Lori Neid,  402-562-1451

Pilger, 10/17/2013, Back Boarding & Splinting, Pilger Fire Hall, Matt Montgomery, 7pm – 10pm, Brandi Fuchs,  402-844-7702

Pilger, 10/19/2013, Emergency Vehicle Operations Course, Pilger Fire Hall, Brad Korth & Rich Lutz, 9am – 4pm, Brandi Fuchs,  402-844-7702

Plainview, 10/15/2013, Trauma/DNR, Plainview Fire Hall, Bryan Young, 7pm – 10pm, Brandi Fuchs, 402-844-7702

Santee, 10/01/2013, Skills Night, Santee Health Center,  110 S. Visiting Eagle St., Julie Mertens, 7pm – 10pm, Brandi Fuchs, 402-844-7702

Scotia, 10/29/2013, Gunshot Trauma, Scotia Fire Hall, 304 S. Main, Steve Kelso, 7pm – 10pm, Lori Neid, 402-562-1451

Sidney, 10/22/2013, Advanced Airway Management, Emergency Response Care, 845 Osage, Ward Krichau, 6pm – 9pm, Shawn Baumgartner, 308-635-0511,

St. Paul, 10/22/2013, Hot and Cold Emergencies & Burns, St. Paul Fire Hall, 824 6th St., Kyle Lingenfelter, 7pm – 10pm, Lori Neid,  402-562-1451

Syracuse, 10/17/2013, Legal Issues in EMS, Community Memorial Hospital, 1579 Midland St., Julie Smith, 7pm – 10pm, Wendie Stowe,  402-269-2011

Uehling, 10/28/2013, EMS Patient Extrication:  Assessment & Packaging, Uehling Fire Hall,  321 Main St., Scott Crawford, 7pm – 10pm, Sue Schommer,  402-841-2111

Valentine, 10/12/2013, Airway Emergencies, Cherry County Hospital, 510 N. Green St., Shirley Hubbard, Noon – 3pm, Dana Miller, 402-389-0275

Wausa, 10/28/2013, Cardiac Emergencies, Wausa Fire Hall, Carol Rodenborg, 7pm – 10pm, Brandi Fuchs, 402-844-7702

Wolbach, 10/02/2013, Trauma, Wolbach Fire Hall, 305 Center, Steve Kelso, 7pm – 10pm, Lori Neid,  402-562-1451

York, 10/22/2013, Trauma, York Fire Hall, 815 N. Grant Ave., Dave Huey, 7pm – 10pm, Anthony Bestwick,  402-366-4243

New Mexico | DoH reports third NM plague case in 2013

The New Mexico Department of Health announced today a confirmed case of plague in a 52-year-old man from Santa Fe County.

Confirmatory testing was performed at the Department’s Scientific Laboratory Division. This is the third human case of plague in New Mexico and in the United States this year. An environmental investigation will take place at the man’s home to look for ongoing risk to others in the surrounding area.

“Whenever there is a human case of plague the Department takes several steps to ensure the safety of the immediate family, neighbors, and health care providers,” said Department of Health Secretary Retta Ward, MPH. “We inform neighbors door-to-door about plague found in the area and educate them on reducing their risk. We determine whether individuals close to the patient may also have been exposed to the plague and recommend preventative treatment when necessary.”

The Department’s investigation also includes:

• Alerting physicians and veterinarians that plague is in the area, making sure they contact the Department of Health if they have a suspect case of plague, and offering the services of the Department’s Scientific Laboratory if they need to test for a suspect case of plague in either humans or animals.

• Conducting an environmental investigation at the most likely place of exposure, looking for signs of a plague die-off in rodents, infected fleas in nearby rodent burrows, or evidence of recent intrusion by rodents or fleas into the home, either through holes in the walls or by the family dog or cat.

Plague is a bacterial disease of rodents and is generally transmitted to humans through the bites of infected fleas, but can also be transmitted by direct contact with infected animals, including rodents, wildlife and pets.

“We are seeing plague activity in several different locations of north-central New Mexico,” said Dr. Paul Ettestad, public health veterinarian at the Department of Health. “Everyone needs to be aware of the situation and take precautions to avoid rodents and their fleas.”

To prevent plague, the Department of Health also recommends:

• Keep your pets from roaming and hunting

• Clean up areas near the house where rodents could live, such as woodpiles, brush piles, junk and abandoned vehicles.

• Sick pets should be examined promptly by a veterinarian.

• See your doctor about any unexplained illness involving a sudden and severe fever.

• Put hay, wood, and compost piles as far as possible from your home.

• Don’t leave your pet’s food and water where mice can get to it.

Symptoms of plague in humans include sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, and weakness. In most cases there is a painful swelling of the lymph node in the groin, armpit or neck areas. Plague symptoms in cats and dogs are fever, lethargy and loss of appetite. There may be a swelling in the lymph node under the jaw. With prompt diagnosis and appropriate antibiotic treatment, the fatality rate in people and pets can be greatly reduced. Physicians who suspect
plague should promptly report to the New Mexico Department of Health.

The first 2 human plague cases in New Mexico this year were in 15-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl, both from Torrance County. Both have recovered. There was one human plague case in New Mexico in 2012, two human cases of plague in 2011, no cases in 2010, and six human cases of plague in 2009, one of them fatal.

For more information, including fact sheets in English and Spanish, go to the Department of Health’s website at: http://nmhealth.org/ERD/HealthData/plague.shtml

Global | Sirens sound yet deaf people left standing

Lydia Callis became an unlikely star of Superstorm Sandy as the sign-language interpreter during New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s televised press conferences on the storm.

Time magazine reported in October 2012: “During Bloomberg’s televised press conferences on the storm — delivered in his standard business-like fashion — Callis translated his words with enthusiasm and passion. In fact, her presence at press conferences has provided New Yorkers with what New York magazine described as ‘a legitimate reason to smile’.”

The magazine continued: “She not only was able to translate the important words of the mayor to anxious viewers across the country but also provided clear, coherent and animated explanations to millions of deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans.”

One of the reasons Ms Callis’ wonderful – and probably lifesaving – service became such a hit was that it is so rare for public leaders and disaster managers to take account before, during and after crises of the specific challenges of people who are hearing impaired or deaf.

The ‘normal’ situation is captured beautifully in the above image by deaf artist Katja Tissi: Imagine the situation of a deaf person when the sirens are sounding; everybody is running for his or her life, but deaf people are unaware of what is happening.

Mr Beat Kleeb, an Accessibility Expert at the World Federation of the Deaf, said that the largest group of persons with disabilities are the hearing impaired and deaf persons but as the disability is invisible it is often the most overlooked.

But there is encouraging evidence of hearing impaired and deaf people being more included in disaster management planning.

In Georgia, USA, two men, Mr John McDonald and Mr Aaron Shoemaker are training sign-language interpreters to be first responders and to be able to help hearing impaired and deaf people impacted by disasters.

Their Georgia Emergency Management Interpreting Initiative (GEMINI) was prompted after a tornado smashed through Adairsville, Georgia, on 30 January 2013, and emergency responders left behind a deaf woman and her two children.

GEMINI has been around for several years now, but has never been up front and personal until a deaf person was directly affected by the disaster in Adairsville,” Mr McDonald told the local Calhoun Times newspaper.

“She was left behind. They went around knocking on doors; they didn’t answer so they put a red ‘X’ on the door and they moved on; well, a lot of people don’t realize when you spray paint a building like that, it is permission to bulldoze without double checking.”

It was not until Mr McDonald and Mr Shoemaker arrived and briefed rescue workers that just knocking on doors searching for survivors was not enough that the crews went back through the impact zone and found the woman and her two children.

Mr McDonald and Mr Shoemaker, both certified interpreters for the deaf, were able to communicate with the woman to get her the help she needed.

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and partners have launched the first-ever survey of people living with disabilities and disasters to mark the 2013 International Day for Disaster Reduction on 13 October.

Have Your Say! If you’re living with a disability or you are a caregiver, take our survey and share your thoughts on living with disasters. The survey is available here in several languages.

Washington | King County – Public meetings set for hazard reduction plan

The King County Regional Hazard Mitigation Partnership invites all King County residents to participate in public meetings being held September 24, 25, and 26, where the results of County’s most recent disaster analysis will be displayed and discussed.

Whether you live in an urban or rural area of King County, everyone needs to prepare before disaster strikes. Our region is subject to flooding, earthquakes, severe storms, and other natural disasters. Although you may not have experienced these firsthand, knowing how to prepare for these events by recognizing risks and identifying potential hazards through hazard mitigation is critical.

Tuesday, September 24
6-8 p.m.
Shoreline City Hall
17500 Midvale Ave. N., Shoreline

Wednesday, September 25
6-8 p.m.
Kent Senior Activity Center
600 E. Smith St., Kent

Thursday, September 26
6-8 p.m.
EvergreenHealth Auditorium
12040 NE 128th St., Kirkland

The same information will be presented at each meeting, so residents need only attend one. The meetings will open with a brief presentation on the results and progress of the King County Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan, which is being updated in line with King County’s commitment to creating communities that are more resilient to disasters. After the presentation, there will be an open house with computer model simulation and hazard maps to show countywide disaster vulnerabilities. Some of these vulnerabilities are:

  • Earthquake
  • Flood – 50-year, 100-year and 500-year events
  • Wildfire
  • Landslides and mass movements
  • Severe weather

Partnership members and staff will be available to answer questions. A computer model will be available to demonstrate estimated damages if an earthquake or flood were to affect your community. Based on the results, experts will be available to discuss mitigation options that could limit future damage to your residence or property. Personal preparedness information will also be available to take home.

California | San Diego – Four new cases of pertussis reported

New cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, have been reported at three school sites where students and staff may have been exposed, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) reported today.

The recent cases bring the total to 155 in the county so far this year. There were 165 cases of pertussis reported in 2012.

“Most children are back in school now and spend their days in close surroundings with fellow students,” said Eric McDonald, M.D., M.P.H., deputy county public health officer. “Parents should make sure their children are up to date with all recommended vaccinations, including the DTaP and Tdap shots which are effective in preventing or reducing the severity of pertussis.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children get doses of DTaP vaccine at the following ages: 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months and 4 to 6 years. Health officials also recommend that preteens and adults get a Tdap booster. The ultimate goal is to prevent deaths that can result as a complication of pertussis. Infants under one year old are especially vulnerable because they do not have the full five-dose series of pertussis vaccinations.

Parents can obtain the vaccine series and the Tdap booster shot for themselves and their children through their primary care physicians. Local retail pharmacies offer vaccinations for a fee, and anyone who is not covered by a medical insurance plan can get the shot from a County Public Health Center at no cost.

A typical case of pertussis starts with a cough and runny nose for one to two weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound. Fever, if present, is usually mild. The disease is treatable with antibiotics.

For more information about whooping cough and ongoing vaccination clinics, call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966, or visit www.sdiz.org.

The new pertussis cases reported this week are:

·         A 7-year-old who was up-to-date on immunizations and attends the Palmer Way School in the National School District.

·         A 14-year-old who was up-to-date with vaccinations and attends Herbert Hoover High School in the San Diego Unified School District.

·         A 14-year-old and a 15-year-old who were both up-to-date with vaccinations and attend Olympian High School in the Sweetwater Union High School District.

Montana | State health officials confirm two West Nile Virus deaths

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, in collaboration with the Treasure County Health Department and RiverStone Health, have confirmed two West Nile Virus (WNV) human deaths in Montana over the past week.

There have been 15 confirmed WNV cases this year.

The deceased, a Treasure County male in his eighties and a Yellowstone County male in his seventies, died of severe complications related to West Nile Virus infection. The individuals had no history of travel outside the state within the past month.

“These deaths are an unfortunate reminder infection with WNV can have serious consequences,” said DPHHS Director Richard Opper. “We want to remind people to take precautions and protect themselves as the season comes to a close.”

In the U.S. this year, 890 human cases of WNV have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of these cases, thirty-three have died.

Most people who become infected with WNV experience no symptoms.  Some individuals may develop a mild illness, called West Nile fever, which may last for three to six days. Other individuals, fewer than 1 out of 150, may be come severely infected with West Nile encephalitis or West Nile meningitis.  Symptoms of this disease may include headache, rash, high fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, muscle weakness, tremors, convulsions, coma and paralysis.  There is not available treatment for WNV infection other than supportive care.  Individuals who develop any of these symptoms should see their healthcare provider.

Idaho | Teaching children to avoid bats

With schools around the state back in session, public health officials are asking parents and schools to talk with children about never handling live or dead bats.

In 2006, children walking to school in Boise found a bat, which they took to school and exposed a number of other curious children to the potentially deadly rabies disease.

“It is very important for parents to teach children to never handle a bat, or any other unfamiliar wild or domestic animal, even if they appear friendly,” says Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, Idaho Deputy State Epidemiologist. “Don’t let them bring bats into show-and-tell, and teach children to report any contact with a bat to an adult right away.”

It is extremely important for people to avoid bats or other wild animals that appear sick or are acting aggressively or abnormally.

“People should call their healthcare providers immediately if they have been bitten or scratched by a bat. Medical management of people after an animal bite is extremely effective in preventing rabies, a virtually 100% fatal infection,” says Dr. Tengelsen.

Bats play an important role in our environment. While most bats are harmless and do not carry rabies, they are the only animal in Idaho that is a natural reservoir for the virus and should be appreciated from a distance.

Rabid bats are detected in Idaho every year; no area of the state is considered free of rabies. Twenty bats have tested positive for rabies in Idaho so far this year. The seasonal average for rabid bats in Idaho is 15. At least 49 people have undergone rabies vaccinations after suspected or confirmed exposures to a rabid animal. The most recent rabid bat was captured in central Idaho over Labor Day weekend, after swooping down on people in an outdoor pool.

To protect yourself and your pets, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare offers these tips:

  • Parents should teach their children to avoid bats, never bring them to school for show-and-tell, and to let an adult know if they find one.
  • Do not touch a bat with your bare hands. If you have had contact with a bat or wake up to find a bat in your room, seek medical advice immediately. The teeth of a bat are very small and people are sometimes bitten in their sleep without feeling it. Any bat found in a home should be tested for rabies if there is any suspicion that an exposure to a person or pet might have occurred.
  • If you come in contact with a bat, save it in a non-breakable container if it is alive, or sealed and double-bagged in clear plastic bags without touching it; always wear thick gloves. Call your public health district to determine whether testing the bat for rabies is indicated. If it is determined that you or your pet may be at risk of exposure to rabies, testing of the bat is a free service.
  • Rabies is deadly for pets, too. Always vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, andhorses — even indoor pets could be exposed to rabies if a bat gets into a home.
  • Bat-proof your home or cabin by plugging all holes in the siding and maintaining tight-fitting screens on windows. For information about bat-proofing your home after bats have migrated away, see http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/bats/management/index.html

For more information, call your Public Health District. Information on rabies can be found at the following website: http://www.rabies.dhw.idaho.gov

New Mexico | First flu case of the season reported

The New Mexico Department of Health announced the first flu case of the season. It is a 60-year-old man from Bernalillo County. Last year, the first case of flu was reported in November.

“With the first flu case reported, I want to remind New Mexicans about the importance of getting a flu vaccine,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Retta Ward. “It’s hard to predict how severe this flu season will be, but the flu vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and loved ones from flu.”

Secretary Ward encourages New Mexicans with insurance to contact their doctors or pharmacies about getting a flu vaccine. The New Mexico Department of Health offers vaccinations for people without insurance or who are otherwise not able to get immunized. Those with Medicaid or other insurance who come to Public Health Offices are asked to present their insurance card.

The Department of Health recommends everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine each flu season, especially people in the following groups because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications:

• Children 6 months through 4 years of age
• Pregnant women (any trimester)
• People age 50 and older
• People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, lung or heart disease, and those who are immunocompromised
• People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
• People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu
• American Indians and Alaskan Natives
• People who are morbidly obese
• Healthcare personnel

People in these groups should also consider seeing their health care provider to be evaluated for antiviral medication if they develop flu symptoms. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

• Fever* or feeling feverish/chills

• Cough
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Muscle or body aches
• Headaches
• Fatigue (tiredness)
• Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
* It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

Remember that to avoid catching the flu or passing it on to others, everyone should wash their hands frequently, cover their mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, and stay home when ill.

To find out more about flu vaccination clinics throughout New Mexico, you can call the Immunization Hotline toll free at (866) 681-5872 or check out http://flushot.healthmap.org/ to see where the vaccine is being offered

North Dakota | State sees steep rise in WNv cases

The North Dakota Department of Health has seen a 95 percent increase in reported West Nile virus (WNV) cases in the last two weeks.

State health officials are reminding people to continue taking precautions against mosquito bites and possible West Nile virus infection.

As of Sept. 18, 2013, North Dakota reported 76 human WNV cases, up 37 cases since Sept. 3, 2013. In addition to human cases, there have been nine asymptomatic blood donors, one horse, six birds and 20 mosquito pools that have tested positive for WNV.

“We are continuing to see WNV positive cases being reported,” said Alicia Lepp, epidemiologist with the North Dakota Department of Health. “Even though the weather is cooling down, people still need to protect themselves against mosquito bites. With fall activities starting, such as football and hunting, people need to be aware that mosquitoes will remain active and pose a risk of WNV transmission until the first hard freeze occurs.”

To reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes, the state health department recommends the following protective measures:

Use insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, IR 3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or permethrin when outdoors. Always follow the directions on the manufacturer’s label.

Limit outdoor activities between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most likely to bite.

When possible, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts while outside.

Eliminate stagnant water and leaf debris in containers around homes where mosquitoes can lay their eggs (e.g., buckets, flowerpots, old tires, wading pools and birdbaths).

Keep mosquitoes from entering your home by repairing screens in windows and doors.

Keep the grass around your home trimmed.

The common symptoms of West Nile virus include fever, headache, body aches and rash. People with more severe illness may experience symptoms such as stiff neck, confusion, paralysis, coma and even death. Fortunately, most people infected with West Nile virus develop the less severe form of the disease or develop no symptoms at all.

West Nile virus activity will be updated Wednesday mornings each week throughout the West Nile virus season on the Department of Health’s West Nile virus website at www.ndhealth.gov/wnv.