Thursday, July 2, 2015

ICS: Do You Know What it is?

Preparing and planning for potential large scale public health emergencies is something the public health workforce in Jefferson County has become accustomed to. The staff is regularly trained on various aspects of incident management and response by the JCPH Emergency Preparedness Program and is involved in frequent planning exercises with both state and federal partners. Last month, JCPH staff had an opportunity to plan for an event using the Incident Command System (ICS).  ICS is a management system designed to enable effective and efficient domestic management of incidents by integrating a combination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure. ICS was first developed as a tool for managing multi-agency responses to wild fires. It has been successfully adapted to a wide range of emergency and disaster management applications. The beauty of this national system is that it can be used to manage any event and has been adopted across the country, allowing a wide range of responders, planners, and individuals to work effectively with public safety organizations to manage and support response efforts.  For more information on Jefferson County Public Health’s ICS and Emergency Preparedness program, visit the Emergency Preparedness website

Splish. Splash. Practice Healthy Swimming Behaviors This Summer!


Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) encourages healthy swimming behaviors to reduce the risk of recreational water illnesses.  Recreational Water Illnesses (RWIs) are illnesses that are spread by swallowing, breathing or having contact with contaminated water from swimming pools, spas, lakes, rivers or oceans. RWIs can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including gastrointestinal illness, skin, respiratory, neurological and wound infections. The most commonly reported RWI is diarrhea. Diarrheal illnesses can be caused by germs such as Cryptosporidium, Girardia, Shigella, Norovirus and E. coli.

Practice healthy swimming behaviors:

  • Refrain from swimming when ill, especially if you have diarrhea.
  • Avoid swallowing pool water or even getting it in your mouth.
  • Shower before swimming and wash hands after using bathroom or changing diapers. Change diapers in bathroom and not at poolside or near water.



For more information about Recreational Water Illness Prevention and Healthy Swimming, call 303-271-5700.
Information can also be found on the Centers for Disease Control web site at: www.cdc.gov/healthyswimming  

Health Care Access

Jefferson County Public Health encourages all individuals and families to get health insurance. The Affordable Care Act benefits all families by providing a medical home and regular health care visits. Shop for and compare health insurance plans online with Connect for Health Colorado

If you are interested in applying for adult only Medicaid, please call the Jefferson County Human Services Department at 303-271-1388. Check out this site for information on how to get your family covered with Medicaid:  https://www.colorado.gov/hcpf/how-to-apply 

If you have children and have applied for Medicaid but have been denied, you may be eligible for Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+). CHP+ can help you get medical care for children ages 18 years and under. There is a small annual fee and co-pays are based on factors such as income and family size. Please call 1-800-359-1991 for more information.

If you are already on Medicaid but need help finding medical, dental, vision or mental health care, contact the Jefferson County Public Health Healthy Communities Program at 303-239-7041. They can help you with available resources.

For more information:Description: External Link Icon
Apply for food, medical and cash assistance programs at Colorado PEAK! or call Human Services at 303-271-1388.

The Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing administers the Medicaid and Child Health Plan Plus programs.

World Hepatitis Day, July 28th

400 million people is 400 million too many!

Worldwide, 400 million people are living with hepatitis B or C. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year 1.4 million people die from viral hepatitis. These deaths could be prevented through increased education and understanding on how to prevent hepatitis. Here’s the quick and skinny on the 5 Types of Hepatitis (also available on http://www.worldhepatitisday.info/):

Hepatitis A
Transmission: Hepatitis A is spread mainly through eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by the faeces of an infected person. It can also be spread by eating raw shellfish that have come from water contaminated by sewage.
Prevention: There is a vaccination for hepatitis A. Treatment within a few weeks of exposure to the virus can also bring short term immunity. You can reduce the risk of exposure by practicing good hygiene and sanitation, and avoiding drinking water that has come from a potentially unsafe source.
Hepatitis B
Transmission: Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids (i.e. saliva, semen and vaginal fluid) of an infected person. It can be passed on from mother to child during childbirth.
Prevention: There is a vaccination that can prevent infection. If you have not been vaccinated, to reduce chances of exposure it is best to use condoms, and to avoid sharing needles or items such as toothbrushes, razors or nail scissors with an infected person. It is also wise to avoid getting tattoos or body piercings from unlicensed facilities.
Hepatitis C
Transmission: Hepatitis C is mainly spread through blood-to-blood contact. In rare cases it can be transmitted through certain sexual practices and during childbirth.
Prevention: There is no vaccination for hepatitis C. It is therefore necessary to reduce risk of exposure, by avoiding sharing needles and other items such as toothbrushes, razors or nail scissors with an infected person. It is also wise to avoid getting tattoos or body piercings from unlicensed facilities.
Hepatitis D
Transmission: Hepatitis D is spread through contact with infected blood.
Prevention: Hepatitis D is only found in people who are already infected with the hepatitis B virus. People not already infected with hepatitis B, should get the hepatitis B vaccination. To reduce exposure, avoid sharing needles and other items such as toothbrushes, razors or nail scissors with an infected person. It is also wise to avoid getting tattoos or body piercings from unlicensed facilities.
Hepatitis E
Transmission: Hepatitis E is mainly transmitted through eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated by the feces of an infected person. It can also be spread by eating raw shellfish that have come from water contaminated by sewage.
Prevention: Currently there is a vaccine to prevent hepatitis E, but it is not widely available. You can reduce the risk of exposure by practicing good hygiene and sanitation, and avoiding drinking water that has come from a potentially unsafe source.
For more information and helpful educational brochures, visit JCPH’s Hepatitis website.




Keep Children Healthy Through Hydration


A newly released study by the Harvard School of Public Health has revealed that more than half of all children and adolescents in the U.S. are not getting enough hydration, most likely because they are not drinking enough water. Water and sufficient hydration is essential for physiological processes such as circulation, metabolism, temperature regulation, and waste removal.

Lack of hydration and water intake can have significant repercussions on a child’s physical and cognitive and emotional functioning abilities. Even mild dehydration can cause health issues such as headaches, irritability, poorer physical performance, and reduced cognitive abilities.


Drinking enough water is extraordinarily important in Colorado, where we live at elevation and the climate is arid, dry and hot during the summer months. Make sure to bring water with you everywhere, and focus on having yourself and your family drink more water—at low-cost, no-calorie beverage—to improve overall health. Improving a child’s hydration status may allow them to feel better in general and do better in school. 

Fight the Bite . . . Adhere to the 4 Ds of West Nile Virus Prevention

The recent rains followed by warm weather have increased the number of tiny flying insects in the county.  At this time, many of these insects are nuisance species like midges or gnats but the mosquito season is here and their numbers will increase in the coming weeks along with possible exposure to West Nile Virus.  The best way to protect yourself, your family and your community from mosquito bites and the potential of contracting West Nile Virus is to follow the four Ds: Drain, Dusk/Dawn, Dress, DEET

·         DRAIN: Even the smallest containers like coffee and soda cans can be enough water for mosquitoes to lay eggs so everyone should thoroughly inspect all areas around their home and work for standing water and drain or empty all standing water.
·         DUSK/DAWN: Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing during evening and early morning (dusk and dawn) or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times when mosquitoes are most active.
·         DRESS: Dress in long sleeves and pants during dusk and dawn or in areas where mosquitoes are active. Wearing light-colored clothing may also help prevent being bitten.
·         DEET, Picariden or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus: Wear insect repellant containing either DEET, Picariden or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
o   Follow label instructions.
o   Apply repellants to exposed skin and/or clothing.
o   Never use repellants over cuts, wounds or irritated skin.
o   If using DEET, choose the concentration that best fits the amount of time spent outside. 25 percent DEET lasts up to 5 hours, 5 percent lasts 45-90 minutes. Use a concentration of 30 percent or less for children.
o   DEET should not be used on children less than 6 months of age. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children less than 3 years of age.

In 2014, as reported by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, a total of 118 cases of human West Nile Virus (WNV) infection were identified in Colorado from 24 different counties.


For more information about West Nile Virus, please visit the JCPH website or the Colorado Fight the Bite website.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Your Skin, the Summer Sun & Skin Cancer Prevention

Skin cancer is the most common diagnosed cancer in the United States. Melanoma, which is responsible for 75% of all skin cancer deaths, is the 5th most commonly diagnosed cancer in Colorado. And, Colorado’s annual rate of new melanoma diagnoses was 15% higher than the national average from 2002-2006. About 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime, and it is estimated that about 117 people in Colorado die of melanoma each year.

Prevention is key when it comes to skin cancer! An ounce of prevention, such as avoiding unprotected exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light and early detection, goes a long way in decreasing the potential of developing skin cancer. Below is a list of the most effective skin cancer prevention action steps:
  • Do Not Burn: Overexposure to the sun is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer;
  • Avoid Sun Tanning and Tanning Beds: UV light from tanning beds and the sun causes skin cancer and wrinkling; 
  • Use Sunscreen: Always remember to apply a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Reapply at least every two hours and after swimming and sweating; 
  • Cover Up: Wear protective clothing when out in the sun, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, wide-brimmed hats, and sunglasses (with 99-100% UVA/UVB protection); 
  • Stay in the Shade: Retreat to the shade when the sun’s UV rays are most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.; and, 
  • Watch for the UV Index: Plan outdoor activities around the index to prevent overexposure to the sun.