Friday, October 10, 2014

Preparing for a Zombie Apocalypse Can Help You in a REAL Emergency

Halloween is just around the corner, meaning in just a few weeks, our streets will be full of zombies, ghosts and ghouls. While you shouldn’t really worry about a zombie apocalypse, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reminds everyone that preparing for a zombie apocalypse can help you in a real emergency.

You Can Prepare

Anyone can be impacted by an emergency such as a natural disaster, act of terrorism, or disease outbreak. You can take steps now to help you prepare for an emergency and better cope if an emergency happens.
Build a Kit
If a disaster strikes your community, you might not have access to food, water, or electricity for some time. It’s important to maintain an emergency kit with enough supplies for at least 72-hours. It is also important to consider your family’s unique needs, like medications or food for your pets.
Make a Plan
Families can cope with disasters by preparing in advance and working together as a team. If something were to happen, how would you contact one another, how would you get to a safe place, what would you do in different emergency situations? Planning what to do before a disaster strikes provides the best protection.
Stay Informed
It is important to understand what emergencies are likely to occur in your area and specific ways to respond to each one. You should also understand the ways you can get information about potential threats, such as through text alerts, emergency sirens in your community, or other methods. Jefferson County residents are urged to sign up for CodeRed.

You Can Stay Safe

Emergencies can be both stressful and dangerous, and they can expose us to dangerous situations.  It is important to remember that there are things you can do to keep yourself safe during an emergency.
Emergencies can expose us to dangerous situations where we could be injured. It’s important to use caution at all times, and learn basic first aid skills before an emergency. Stressful situations may trigger a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event in some individuals. The most important thing you can do during an emergency is to be able to recognize the signs of a cardiovascular event and act immediately by calling 9-1-1.

It is also important to avoid food-borne illness during an emergency. Keep meat, poultry, fish, and eggs refrigerated at or below 40°F and frozen food at or below 0°F. This may be difficult when the power is out. A refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. When in doubt, throw it out.    

Friday, October 3, 2014

Enterovirus D68: What You Need to Know

As with any illness that spreads quickly across the country, it is natural for the public to have increased concern and even worry. After all, there have been almost 277 confirmed Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) cases across 40 states. Everyone can help prevent the spread of respiratory illness.

Jefferson County Public Health has compiled a list of facts to help better understand and prevent the virus.

Who Does the Virus Affect and How? 
  • Children under the age of five are at higher risk of contracting the virus, but older kids and teenagers have been affected;
  • Children with asthma and other preexisting respiratory issues are at highest risk and experience the most severe cases of EV-D68;
  • Common symptoms include runny nose, cough, fever, and achiness. EV-D68 can also cause more severe and serious symptoms such as breathing issues leading to the need for respirators;
  • The virus is spread through direct contact or through the air when propelled by a cough or sneeze of an infected person. 
Treatment and/or Prevention? 
  • There is no vaccine or antibiotic treatment for EV-D68; 
  • EV-D68 can only be diagnosed by doing specific lab tests on specimens from a person’s nose and throat;
  • The best protection against contracting and/or spreading this respiratory virus is by practicing good hygiene: frequent hand washing, disinfecting areas and surfaces that may be contaminated, and containing sneezes and coughs so that particles cannot be spread through the air;
  • Parents can treat aches and pains associated with the virus with over-the-counter medications. More serious cases are treated by doctors with supplemental oxygen and other prescription medications to ease pain.
If you believe your child has a respiratory illness, it is prudent to keep a close eye on their breathing. If your child begins to wheeze, breathe at a fast and irregular rate, or experience strain pulling in enough oxygen, immediately contact your medical provider. For children with asthma, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends meeting with your doctor to create and/or update an “asthma action plan.”

The CDC is working closely with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and Children’s Hospital Colorado to investigating the possible linkage of a cluster of neurological disease to the EV-D68 outbreak. The investigation is ongoing and the CDC will provide updated information as needed.

Download this infographic about EV-D68 from the CDC, and don’t forget to get an annual flu shot.

Fall Prevention: Steps older adults can take to reduce their risks for falling

Falls, the leading cause of injury in older adults, can be prevented. Falls in the elderly cost $30 billion yearly to treat and can send them spiraling into poor health and disability. With a growing aging population here in Jefferson County, increased awareness of how to prevent these falls and injuries is important.

These simple tips have been compiled to help our aging Jefferson County population stay safe:
  • Exercise, including walking and stretching to improve muscle strength and balance;
  • Have the doctor review all medications to check for side effects, doses or drug interactions that could cause dizziness or drowsiness;
  • Get yearly vision exams to make sure eyes are healthy and glasses are the proper strength;
  • Reduce risks at home including clutter and poor lighting; and install handrails in tubs and showers;
  • Limit intake of alcohol, which can affect balance;
  • Stand up slowly: Rising too quickly can sometimes result in a sudden drop in blood pressure, causing dizziness;
  • Use a cane or walker if needed for steadiness.
Stay safe, balanced, and on your feet this fall!


Public Health Encourages Participation in International Walk to School Day

Jefferson County Public Health encourages parents and children around the county to join in a country-wide effort to celebrate International Walk to School Day on October 8, 2014. This fun walking or biking event promotes safe routes to school and emphasizes the physical, mental and environmental health benefits of walking or bicycling to school.

The event works by getting teams at schools to organize walking school buses and bike trains that promote and facilitate walking and bicycling to school. The teams work with local officials, parents, and school children to map safer routes to school by painting cross walks, removing debris from sidewalks, and having adults accompany groups of children on their journey to and from school. The program also includes bicycle and pedestrian safety education to teach children the skills they need to stay safe around traffic.

Walking or bicycling to and from school can be a first step to changing community culture and creating environments that are more inviting for everyone, young and old. Here are some reasons to support walking and bicycling to school:

  • Enhance the health of kids. Increased physical activity can combat a host of health problems facing kids today.
  • Improve air quality. Replacing car trips to school with walking or bicycling can help reduce air pollution.
  • Create safer routes for walking and bicycling. Sidewalks, education programs and traffic calming measures are some of the ways to improve conditions for young students.
Information on Walk to School Day is also available at

Thursday, October 2, 2014

What’s Driving Poor Health in Jeffco?

When it comes to the health of the people of Jefferson County, five risk factors are the main drivers of poor health as determined by the Community Health Assessment (CHA) released last year. These factors are poor diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use and exposure, alcohol use, and stress-- all of which are risk factors of cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke). In 2013, one out of every four deaths in the county was due to cardiovascular disease, making it the leading cause of death in Jefferson County. Directly addressing the risk factors can greatly increase overall health.

A new study from Sweden published this month in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has shown that Jefferson County is not alone. The study found that the combination of healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, moderate alcohol consumption, no smoking, and being physically active may prevent 4 out of 5 heart attacks. Furthermore, the number of heart attacks decreased as positive behavior and lifestyle changes made around these five risk factors increased.

Good health starts long before you need medical attention, and you have control of and can improve many of the factors that contribute largely to your well-being. Whether it’s quitting smoking, creating a healthier diet, committing to an exercise plan, cutting down on your spirits consumption, or reducing stress in your life, or a combination of any of the factors—even small steps in the right direction is a great start!

Visit Jefferson County Public Health’s Healthy People, Healthy Places Jeffco website dedicated to improving health in the county through finding solutions to health issues and providing tips on healthy living, working, and playing.

Fruit & Vegetable Consumption Related to Greater Happiness

Jefferson County Public Health believes it is important to highlight the direct correlation between our diet and our health.  While proper handling and preparation steps are crucial to food safety, creating a healthy and balanced diet is equally as important to our health.  
While it is no secret that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables keeps us healthy, new research findings suggest that this same diet may also make us happier.  Preliminary evidence has shown that eating fruits and vegetables is related to greater self-reported curiosity, creativity, happiness, life satisfaction, and positive affect. Consumption of fruits and vegetables is believed to promote a general, overall more positive state of well-being.
Be sure to combine health and happiness this fall with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and consider adding an extra apple or handful of carrots to lunch!
For more information on healthy eating, visit Jefferson County Public Health’s Healthy Eating, Active Living web page.

The study, published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, is available on PubMed. Science Daily online news published a report on the study: Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Could be as Good for Your Mental as Your Physical Health

Early & Regular Breast Cancer Screenings Saves Lives

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) and, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), an estimated 232,340 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in women and 2,240 in men in 2013. Routine breast exams are important as early detection of breast cancer saves many thousands of lives each year.

The ACS recommends these general guidelines on what types of tests to have and when to have them:
  • Women age 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health;
  • Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a periodic (regular) health exam by a health professional, at least every three years. After age 40, women should have a breast exam by a health professional every year;
  • Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s. Women should report any breast changes to their health professional right away.
  • Women at high risk for breast cancer based on certain factors should get an MRI and a mammogram every year. 
Jefferson County Public Health is committed to increasing awareness and providing early detection services within the county. JCPH offers low cost clinical breast exams, Pap tests, and pelvic exams to all Jefferson County women as part of their routine Women’s Wellness Exam. To schedule an appointment at the Lakewood clinic please call (303) 239-7078.

For more information on breast cancer, the risk factors and prevention steps, please visit the American Cancer Society website.