Monday, December 29, 2014

Free “Getting Ready to Quit Tobacco” Class in Golden, CO

The City of Golden, Colorado, has recently taken another step forward in its goal to become a healthier place to live, work, and play. As of January 1, 2015, more public places in Golden are smoke free! Golden also joins other Jefferson County, Colorado cities, including Edgewater and Lakewood, which have prohibited the use of vaporizing devices as part of their smoke-free laws.

Jefferson County Public Health is offering a FREE “Getting Ready to Quit” class in Golden, Colorado for those interested in preparing to stop smoking and/or using chew tobacco. Participants are encouraged to call 303-275-7555 to register for classes or for more information.

“Getting Ready to Quit” helps participants design their own approach to preparing for and quitting tobacco use. The focus is on gaining the skills needed to be a healthier, confident and successful non-tobacco user.

FREE “Getting Ready to Quit” Class

When: January 15, 2015
Time: 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Where: 1470 10th Street, Golden, CO 80401 (Golden Community Center)

To register for class or for more information, please contact:

Donna Viverette, JCPH Tobacco Prevention Initiative at 303-275-7555 or email: dviveret@jeffco.us

Monday, December 22, 2014

Prepare for the Everyday: Snow Shoveling Safety


Prepare for the Everyday: Snow Shoveling Safety


by Kelly Keenan, JCPH Emergency Preparedness Program


Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) believes that it's important for individuals to prepare for emergencies that may impact themselves and their families. While we often think about major events when we talk about preparedness, it is also important to plan and prepare for some of our more routine activities so that they don’t become emergencies. One example of this is shoveling snow during a winter storm. 

Many of us consider shoveling to be a chore rather than exercise; however it is basically lifting weights at an aerobic pace. Shoveling snow for just 30 minutes can burn between 180-266 calories, which is comparable to downhill skiing or swimming. Every year people hurt themselves while shoveling, from minor injuries to fatal heart attacks[1], so it is important to take shoveling snow seriously.

Here are a few tips to keep you safe while shoveling snow:

Dress warm, but not too warm. It is important to stay warm to avoid frostbite and hyperthermia, however being too warm can be hazardous as well. It is common to sweat while being active even if it is very cold outside. Sweating will cause the body to chill, which is exactly what you are trying to avoid. Dress in layers so that garments can be removed as the intensity of the activity increases.

Use proper technique. Start each movement by bending at the knees, like you are about to sit into a chair. Keep your back straight and engage the core (this feels similar to “sucking it in”). Stand up by using your legs to push you up rather than by trying to pull the snow up with your back. Alternate the side of the body the shovel is on to help keep your upper body balanced.  

Know your limits. Take your time and take breaks as you need them. If you feel any warning signs of a heart attack, seek medical attention immediately.
 
View the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web page on winter outdoor safety.
Jefferson County Public Health  Health Communications/PIO 303-239-7137.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Jefferson County Supports Nursing Mothers and Breastfeeding

Jefferson County Public Health is committed to promoting and supporting optimal breastfeeding practices toward the ultimate goal of improving the public's health. Public health professionals recommend breast milk exclusively for the first year of an infant’s life due to the health benefits it provides both mothers and infants. In an effort to increase breastfeeding rates throughout the county, Jefferson County Public Health’s WIC (Women, Infants, Children), Facilities and Breastfeeding Support programs have worked together to provide Quiet Rooms where mothers can breastfeed in various locations around the Jefferson County Government Campus. The Quiet Rooms are located in the Jefferson County Public Health Arvada and Lakewood WIC clinics, the Laramie building and the Courts & Administrative building.

Colorado’s breastfeeding law passed in 2008 states, “A mother may breastfeed in any place she has a right to be.” In addition, under the Affordable Care Act, Section 4207 requires employers to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express milk.” All employers, regardless of their size or number of employees, must comply with the “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law.

Mothers are one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. labor force and several studies have indicated that support for lactation at work benefits not only families, but employers as well by improving productivity; enhancing the employer’s public image; and decreasing absenteeism, health care costs, and employee turnover.

For more information about the quiet rooms or the Jefferson County Public Health Breastfeeding program, please visit the JCPH Breastfeeding Education and Support page or call Kelsey Rivera, RD, IBCLC at 303-239-7139.

What is Emergency Preparedness and Response?

Jefferson County Public Health’s (JCPH) Emergency Preparedness and Response Program works year-round to help prepare the county for any public health threats, from a biological Anthrax attack, to a foodborne outbreak of E. Coli, to a global pandemic. JCPH’s epidemiologists, emergency response planners and health communications team work together to ensure we are prepared and ready to respond.

Disease Detectives

Commonly known as disease detectives, infectious disease epidemiologists investigate infectious disease outbreaks in the community. By investigating outbreaks, epidemiologists can contain the spread of the disease in the population and help prevent a similar outbreak from happening in the future. JCPH’s epidemiologists investigate approximately 25 to 30 outbreaks from Norovirus to E. Coli., and respond to over 150 disease complaints each year.

Every disease outbreak is unique, however most investigations follow the same process. JCPH works in coordination with health and medical systems across the county and throughout Colorado. Working together they use robust surveillance systems to quickly identify potential outbreaks. Diseases that are particularly concerning are classified as reportable conditions. This means that anytime someone is diagnosed with one of these diseases, it must be reported to the local health department. This helps health departments quickly identify potential outbreaks so they can be rapidly contained.

If there is an outbreak, the epidemiologist will start an investigation. The epidemiologist will interview the index case to determine what he or she has been doing, or where they have been and who they’ve come into contact with. This helps to determine how the person may have become infected, and who else they may have infected while they were contagious. This is called contact tracing. The epidemiologist will use the information they gather during contact tracing to develop a scientific hypothesis or explanation about the source of the outbreak. They will research their hypothesis and use their findings to help the health department determine how they will control the outbreak.

Public Health Emergency Response Planners

Public health emergency response planners plan for the worst public health disaster that they can possibly imagine. From a biological anthrax attack to a fictional zombie apocalypse, public health planners work to ensure that the community is prepared for any type of public health disaster. Planners start their work by analyzing the threats to the community so that they know what the most likely potential threats are. They work alongside Emergency Management, Fire Departments, EMS, Law Enforcement Agencies, and Healthcare Agencies to find effective and efficient ways to prepare the community.

Public health planners focus on public health threats and provide expertise about the public health impact of any disaster, such as smoke inhalation during a wildfire. They write plans, train professionals and the public, and conduct drills and exercises to test their plans and their trainings. At the end of the day, emergency response planners create a more prepared community.

Take Steps Now to Eliminate Radon Gas from Your Home . . . January is National Radon Action Month

Jefferson County Public Health encourages all residents to have their homes tested for radon gas, a naturally occurring gas that you can’t see, smell, or taste, but it could be present at a dangerous level in your home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among nonsmokers in America and claims the lives of about 500 Coloradans each year.

Elevated levels of radon have been found in homes all across the country. In Colorado, 52 of its 64 counties are at high risk for radon. Due to the gas’s unpredictable nature, two houses right next to each other may have very different radon levels. Testing is the only way to know for certain if you and your loved ones are at risk.

January is an excellent time to test your home. Testing requires all windows and doors be closed, but is simple to do. Residents in Jefferson and Gilpin counties can purchase short-term test kits for $10.00 at Jefferson County Public Health. Visit the Lakewood office at 645 Parfet Street, Lakewood, CO  80215, to pick-up your testing kit. Long-term test kits are also available at local hardware stores, supermarkets and other retail outlets.

For more information on radon, radon testing, and radon mitigation call 1-800-846-3986 or JCPH Environmental Specialist John Moody at 303-271-5714.

Resources:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year as an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show support for the people living with HIV, and to commemorate those that have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half a million people have died of AIDS in the U.S. since the beginning of the HIV and AIDS epidemic– that is equivalent to the entire population of Jefferson County.

Did You Know?
  • More than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, and almost 1 in 6 (15.8%) are unaware of their infection.
  • Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, particularly young black/African American MSM, are most seriously affected by HIV.
  • By race, blacks/African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV. 
CDC estimates that 1,144,500 persons aged 13 years and older in the U.S. are living with HIV infection, including 180,900 (15.8%) who are unaware of their infection. That means the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS is still very much present. So, this December 1st, Put the Red Ribbon back on and join in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Resources:

Jefferson County Public Health offers screening, diagnosis and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) at our Arvada and Lakewood locations. If you have ever had a sexually transmitted disease, you may be at risk for HIV infection. JCPH also offers anonymous and confidential HIV counseling and testing. For more information or to make an appointment, call: (303) 232-7078. Also, download the JCPH HIV Testing and Counseling brochure.

For more statistics and information, visit CDC’s HIV in the United States page.

Think Toy Safety

Picking the perfect toy for that special child in your life can be fun. Knowing that the toy is safe and won’t cause a tragic injury is priceless. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is an independent federal regulatory agency created to protect the public from unreasonable risks of injuries and deaths associated with some 15,000 types of consumer products, including toys. Choking on small parts, small balls and balloons remains a leading cause of toy-related deaths and injuries. Here are some tips to help you with your toy selection: Think Toy Safety

Think about toy safety when shopping for the holidays. Buy toys that are right for the child's age, interests and skill levels.
Look for labels to help you judge which toys might not be safe, especially for infants and children under age three. The law bans small parts in toys for children under three and requires an explicit, prominent warning label on toys with small parts for children between the ages of three and six. In addition, balls with a diameter smaller than 1.75 inches are banned for children under three years old.

Resources:

Everyone and Every System has a Role in Creating a Healthier Jefferson County

Public Health Thanks Jefferson County Hospitals for Encouraging Healthy Food and Beverage Consumption

Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) applauds Lutheran Medical Center in Wheat Ridge and St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood for their involvement in the Colorado Healthy Hospital Compact. Compact members agree to promote healthy food and beverage options in cafeterias, vending machines, and patient menus, and/or support new moms with breastfeeding.

The Colorado Healthy Hospital Compact is an excellent example of how Jefferson County systems are working together to create healthier people in healthier places. JCPH’s executive director, Dr. Mark B. Johnson said, “Lutheran Medical Center and St. Anthony Hospital continue to demonstrate their commitment to the health and wellbeing of their staff and patients by encouraging healthy food and beverage consumption. We are happy to be able to partner with both hospitals in building a healthier Jefferson County.”

Both hospitals chose to reduce sugar-sweetened beverages to provide a healthier environment for patients and their families, staff and visitors. Joining the Compact allows the hospitals to work with state and local health departments and other Colorado hospitals to implement the best practices in hospital nutrition and breastfeeding support.

While Colorado is the leanest state in the nation, one in five Colorado adults and one in seven Colorado children are obese. Obesity puts people at risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Coloradans spend more than $1 billion each year on obesity-related health care. Public health professionals point out that hospitals can play a critical role in reducing obesity by working with the health department and other hospitals in the compact to develop best practices in hospital nutrition and breastfeeding. Jefferson County’s Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) and accompanying comprehensive community health assessment completed in 2013 identified physical inactivity, poor diet and psychosocial stressors as the highest priority areas to address in the county. JCPH continues to encourage multi-sector partnerships to promote health and wellness and remove barriers to healthy living.




Healthy Holiday Season: Wash your Hands & Stay Home if You Are Sick!

Wash, Wash, Wash and Wash again! December 7-13, 2014 is National Handwashing Week. It’s the time of year for parties, get-togethers and holiday celebrations. It’s also flu season, and a common time for the spread of disease and illness. The Colorado cold keeps our windows and doors closed, creating an atmosphere for germs to collect and hide. Here is a cheat sheet on the 7 Germiest Places and Things to clean before the holidays.

Following basic public health practices during the holidays, such as washing your hands, can effectively stop the spread of germs and many diseases.

When should you wash your hands?
  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After touching garbage

What is the right way to wash your hands?

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Resources:

Stay Home if You’re Sick (poster); Wash Your Hands (brochure); JCPH Flu shots (web page) Stop the spread of germs (web page). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also offers an excellent Feature on Handwashing, or visit the CDC Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives page.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Physical Activity Truth . . . Let’s Move Jeffco Youth

Encouraging an active lifestyle for children beginning at a young age can create an overall healthier life with reduced risk for many chronic diseases. National guidelines determined by the CDC suggest that children need 60 or more minutes of physical activity each day. Not only can regular physical activity help defend against childhood obesity and chronic illnesses, a new study has recently shown that it will improve children’s mental or “cognitive” skills, too.

The study, published in Pediatrics in September, reported improvement in memory, focus, attention and the ability to switch back and forth between tasks in 100 children (ages 7 to 9) involved in an after-school program of a little over an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise every weekday for almost the entire school year. While an hour a day of exercise may sound like a lot, rethinking how we define and categorize exercise can help.

Meeting a child’s daily physical activity goal can include activities such as informal, active play to organized sports. Here are some great tips from the CDC on creating a supportive environment for children to succeed:
  • Set a positive example by leading an active lifestyle yourself;
  • Make physical activity part of your family's daily routine by taking family walks or playing active games together;
  • Give your children equipment that encourages physical activity;
  • Take young people to places where they can be active, such as public parks, community baseball fields or basketball courts;
  • Be positive about the physical activities in which your child participates and encourage them to be interested in new activities;
  • Make physical activity fun. Fun activities can be anything your child enjoys, either structured or non-structured. Activities can range from team sports or individual sports to recreational activities such as walking, running, skating, bicycling, swimming, playground activities or free-time play;
  • Instead of watching television after dinner, encourage your child to find fun activities to do on their own or with friends and family, such as walking, playing chase or riding bikes; and,
  • Be safe! Always provide protective equipment such as helmets, wrist pads or knee pads and ensure that activity is age-appropriate.
Resources:

TISH: Sexual Health Information for Jefferson County via Text

TISH, Text Information Sexual Health, is a service for youth and young adults to receive answers about their sexual health through text. Jefferson County Public Health nurses receive and answer texts about sex, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), testing and all other topics regarding sexual health.

The text line is confidential and trustworthy, providing reliable information on sensitive topics that teens and young adults may otherwise be uncomfortable inquiring about. 

Here’s how it works: First, text the word “question” to (720) 446-TISH (8474) anytime. Once you receive a response, text your question and a Public Health Nurse will respond between the hours of 9am-5pm Monday through Friday. That’s it!

For more information on TISH, visit our Go Ask TISH website.


An online tutorial on TISH and how to use it is available in our Go Ask TISH Video.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Stop the Flu!

Get Your Flu Shot, Wash Your Hands, Stay Home When Sick

Now is the time to start paying close attention to protecting yourself and your loved ones from influenza (flu). Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications. While it is impossible to say just how severe the 2014-2015 season will be, public health officials expect flu to be circulating and urge everyone to do their part in preventing its spread.

Seasonal Flu Immunization Clinics: Vaccines are our best prevention tool against flu. Get your annual flu vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends everyone six months of age and older receive an annual flu vaccine. Schedule your vaccination through your healthcare provider, stop by a local pharmacy or call Jefferson County Public Health to schedule an appointment.

Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) provides seasonal flu vaccinations for individuals 6 months and older at our Lakewood clinic. Vaccinations are available by appointment only, so please call 303-239-7078 to make an appointment. There is an administrative fee of $21.68 per vaccine. Vaccine fees for adults and children vary depending on the vaccine requested and insurance coverage. Service will not be denied due to inability to pay for any child qualifying for publicly funded vaccine, and fees may be waived. We can bill for Medicaid, Medicare, CHP+, and a number of private insurances. Please inquire about coverage when making an appointment.

Remember, influenza is a respiratory illness that can cause life-threatening complications. Do your part to stop the flu!
  • Get a seasonal vaccination; 
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water (use anti-bacterial gel if soap and water are not available); 
  • Cover your sneezes and coughs with a tissue or your elbow; 
  • Avoid others with respiratory illnesses; and, 
  • Unless it’s an emergency, call a health care provider about your flu-like symptoms. The best option may be to stay home until your illness has resolved.
For more information on influenza, visit: http://jeffco.us/public-health or call 303-232-6301.

Wonder if you have the flu or just a bad cold? Download our flu or cold brochure.

Make this Year’s Great American Smokeout be the Day YOU Quit Tobacco

Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) strongly encourages all tobacco users to quit the use of tobacco or, if not ready to quit, to prepare for quitting by reducing use. Whether you smoke cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes or use other tobacco products, the Great American Smokeout on November 20, 2014, is the perfect time to make a plan to quit tobacco use altogether, or to even quit for just a day.
Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States and Colorado. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates cigarette smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke causes 480,000 (or 1 in 5) deaths every year in the United States, and for every person who dies from a smoking-related disease, about 30 more people suffer with at least one serious illness from smoking.
In honor of the Great American Smokeout, JCPH is promoting its “Day I Quit” campaign which aims to motivate tobacco users to quit so that they can “have more, do more, and be more”.  The campaign will be running between the months of November through January and will feature transit, movie theater and online advertisements.
If you wish to take the tobacco-free challenge, there are steps to take now to help you prepare and significantly increase your chances of successfully eliminating tobacco from your life.

Resources
 
  • Colorado offers numerous resources to help you quit smoking or quit using other tobacco products.  Visit www.tobaccofreeco.org to learn more or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). 
  • COQuitMobile is a free text-based program that places you on the path to a life free from tobacco. 
  • Attend a free tobacco cessation group hosted by Lutheran Medican Center in Wheat Ridge on Tuesdays at 12pm.  This is a six week drop-in group that provides adults who want to quit smoking with tools and support to achieve their goals.  (You do not need to attend all six weeks in order to participate.) 
 Jefferson County Public Health’s Tobacco Prevention Initiative is working with students, parents and community members to educate about the harms of tobacco in our communities and to promote tobacco-free living. For more information or to get involved, please visit: www.tobaccofreejeffco.com, email us at tobaccofree@jeffco.us or call Donna Viverette at 303-275-7555.

Happy & Healthy Eating Reminder: Preventing Foodborne Illness this Holiday Season

No matter how large or small your holiday guest list may be this year, it is important to be aware of safety issues when thawing, preparing, stuffing and cooking your turkey and other holiday meal additions. A few simple steps can help keep foodborne illness off the menu this holiday season. 

Safe Preparation:
  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling any food. Kids can sing “Happy Birthday” twice to gauge how long they should wash their hands.
  • Wash food contact surfaces such as cutting boards, dishes, utensils and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before going on to the next item.
  • Kitchen counters and cutting boards can be sanitized using a solution of two teaspoons of unscented chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Spray or wipe on surfaces and allow them to air dry.
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly under cool running water and scrub sturdy produce with a clean produce brush.
  • Don’t rinse raw meat or poultry before cooking. Washing these foods can spread bacteria to the sink and countertops. 
Safe Handling and Thawing:
  • Thawing turkeys must be kept out of the "danger zone" temperature (between 40 and 140°F) — this is the temperature range where foodborne bacteria multiply rapidly. See Safe Methods for Thawing, (Spanish version).
  • Keep raw eggs, meat, poultry, seafood and their juices away from foods that won't be cooked. Take this precaution while shopping in the store, when storing these foods in the refrigerator at home and while preparing meals.
  • Consider using one cutting board for foods that will be cooked (raw meat, poultry and seafood) and another for those that will not (raw fruits and vegetables).
  • Keep fruits and vegetables that will be eaten raw separate from raw meat, poultry and seafood. Keep fruits and vegetables separate from kitchen utensils and surfaces used for raw meat until those utensils and surfaces have been thoroughly washed.
  • Do not put cooked meat or other food that is ready to eat on an unwashed plate or surface that has held any raw eggs, meat, poultry, seafood or their juices.
Safe Cooking:
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry and fish are cooked to a safe internal temperature. Color is not a reliable indicator of doneness. To check a turkey for safety, insert a food thermometer into the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. The turkey is safe when the temperature reaches 165 F. For more information on safe internal temperatures, visit FoodSafety.gov's Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures
  • If the turkey is stuffed, the temperature of the stuffing should be 165 F. Follow these steps to safely prepare, cook, remove, and refrigerate stuffing; Spanish language instructions.
  • Bring sauces, soups and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating.
  • Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm. When making your own eggnog or other recipe calling for raw eggs, use pasteurized shell eggs, liquid or frozen pasteurized egg products, or powdered egg whites.
Safe Cleaning and Storage:
  • Do not leave foods containing meat, dairy, eggs, fish or poultry out at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers — and any type of food that should be refrigerated — within two hours. This includes casseroles and pumpkin or other custard pies.
  • Never defrost food at room temperature. Food can be defrosted safely in the refrigerator, under cold running water or in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately.
  • Plan ahead to allow enough time to thaw the turkey in the refrigerator. You will need a day for every 4-5 pounds.
  • Don't taste food that looks or smells questionable. A good rule to follow is, “When in doubt, throw it out."
  • Leftovers should be used within three to four days.
Remember, only handle and prepare food for others only if you are healthy. It is possible to spread illnesses other than just foodborne illnesses through meal preparation.
  • Don’t handle or prepare food for others if you are sick, especially if experiencing vomiting, diarrhea or flu-like symptoms. The bacteria and viruses that cause these types of symptoms can be transmitted easily to food and anyone who eats it.
  • Use special care when preparing food for anyone considered at high risk for foodborne illness (older adults, infants and young children; pregnant women; and people with a chronic illness or any other condition that weakens their immune system).
Other resources:
Download JCPH turkey time handout or view the JCPH Food Safety web page.

Healthy Habits Prevent Spread of Disease

Our hands are exposed to germs with our every action. Keeping hands clean through proper handwashing practices is one the most effective and important steps taken to control spreading germs and/or getting sick. People often touch their eyes, nose, and mouth-- places where many germs exist—with their hands numerous times each day without even noticing. Germs can also make their way onto our hands after using the toilet, handling raw foods, shaking hands with another person, or touching any object someone has sneezed or coughed on or around, for example. 

With the height of flu season just ahead and other viruses and illnesses threatening our health this fall, it’s important to use the most basic sanitary practices to stay well. Simply washing hands with soap and clean, running water can prevent the spread of many diseases, illnesses and conditions and help people and communities stay healthy. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), handwashing with soap could protect about 1 out of every 3 young children who get sick with diarrhea and nearly 1 out of every 6 young children with respiratory infections like pneumonia.

For more information on the correct handwashing procedures view this brochure.

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!

Resources:

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 www.walkbiketoschool.org.

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.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Protect against Rabies

September 28, 2014 is World Rabies Day. Rabies is a serious disease that affects the nervous system and can be fatal if left untreated. By keeping your pets vaccinated against rabies, you are not only protecting them, but you are protecting yourself and your family too. Show your pets how much you love them by honoring September 28th and getting them vaccinated. The Foothills Animal Shelter offers rabies vaccinations for your dog or cat for only $15. Please visit their website or call 303-278-7575 for more information.

The JCPH animal borne disease program works to monitor and respond to disease threats in the county. Recently, several bats in the County have tested positive for rabies . This is a good reminder for everyone to take precautions against rabies exposure. While only a small percentage of bats are infected with rabies, it is important to avoid close contact with them. The public should contact their local animal control if they find a dead bat or if they find a bat behaving strangely. Animal control will determine whether the bat needs to be collected and tested. Animal Control will collect specimens for rabies testing if there is a possibility that the bat had contact with people or their pets--particularly within the home or other enclosed buildings.

Jefferson County Health officials advise that even what may seem as insignificant contact with a bat may still be sufficient to transmit the rabies virus. Rabies is spread most often through contact with bat saliva, as a result of bites or from exposure to cuts on the skin. In some instances, people may be unaware that they were bitten and may not see puncture wounds.

Steps to Control and Prevent rabies:
  • Avoid contact with all stray and wild animals, including bats.
  • Vaccinate all cats, dogs, ferrets, and valuable livestock.
  • Do not allow pets to roam free.
  • Teach children to leave wildlife alone
  • If bitten or scratched by a pet or wild animal, immediately wash any wounds with soap and water and contact your healthcare provider.
  • If you are concerned that you or one of your animals might have been exposed to rabies, seek medical or veterinary attention immediately.
Resources:
  • For more information or to report a suspicious animal, please contact your local Animal Control agency or Jefferson County Animal Control: 303-271-5070
  • For more information on rabies and prevention tips please visit our web site at: http://jeffco.us/public-health/animal-borne-disease/rabies/ or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/ or call the JCPH Animal-borne Disease Program at at 303-271-5700.

2014 West Africa Outbreak

The Guinean Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation of Sierra Leone, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Liberia, and the Nigerian Ministry of Health are working with national and international partners to investigate and respond to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. As of August 22, 2014, the suspected and confirmed case count was 2,615.

Ebola hemorrhagic fever (Ebola HF) is one of numerous Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers. It is a severe, often fatal disease in humans and nonhuman primates (such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees). Ebola viruses are found in several African countries. The first Ebola virus was discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, outbreaks of Ebola among humans have appeared sporadically in Africa. Public health professionals are using contact tracing to attempt to stop the disease from spreading. View this CDC infographic to learn more about contact tracing.

Visit the CDC web page for more information on Ebola and the current outbreak, please visit: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/guinea/index.html

September is Food Safety Month . . .

Meet the new JCPH Food Safety Program Manager, Mindi Ramig

Mindi Ramig has enjoyed a varied career with Jefferson County Public Health for nearly 30 years. She finds it especially rewarding to work collaboratively with the retail food industry and the public to improve food safety practices. Mindy is also excited to be working with an excellent group of professionals at JCPH who are committed to ensuring safe food practices across the county. Mindi wishes everyone (the industry and the public) would make maintaining proper food temperatures at all times and using good personal hygienic practices, such as frequent and proper hand washing, a priority to help minimize food borne illness in the county.

Excellence in Food Safety Class

Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) offers its next Excellence in Food Safety Class (EFS) on November 18, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. Over 9,000 food handlers from hundreds of Jefferson County restaurants, schools, and grocery stores have taken the class since its inception in 1993. Everyone has a role in food safety. Sign up for a class and learn how to improve food handling and preparation techniques.

To sign up for a class, contact Jefferson County Public Health at 303-271-5700 or view our web page or download the Excellence in Food Safety brochure. A convenient online class is also available in 5 languages at www.jeffco.statefoodsafety.com.

Help Your Child Stay at a Healthy Weight

One in 3 children in the United States is overweight or obese. Childhood obesity puts kids at risk for health problems that were once seen only in adults, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month and Jefferson County Public Health encourages families to make healthy changes together. Childhood obesity can be prevented.

  • Get active outside: Walk around the neighborhood, go on a bike ride, or play at the park. Jeffco Open Space and Parks offers diverse trails and outdoor activities for everyone to enjoy.
  • Limit screen time: Keep screen time (time spent on the computer, watching TV, or playing video games) to 2 hours or less a day. Check out these tips for helping your family limit screen time.
  • Make healthy meals: Buy and serve more vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain foods. Livewell Colorado also offers tips for buying and eating healthy and includes healthy recipes.
  • Become a part of WE CAN, a national initiative to reduce childhood obesity.
Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) is working with parents, schools, policymakers, communities, businesses and others to improve active living and healthy eating for everyone in Jefferson County. JCPH has provided technical assistance to several municipalities in Jefferson County as they adopt policies that improve their communities’ access to physical activity and healthy food. Learn more about the Livewell Colorado HEAL (Healthy Eating and Active Living) Cities and Towns Campaign Please view our community health improvement plan at www.healthypeoplehealthyplacesjeffco.com.

The 2014-2015 Flu Season is almost here. Make sure to get flu shots for you and your family.

Jefferson County Public Health recommends everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine each year, preferably in the fall before the U.S. flu season begins. Flu season can begin as early as October and can last as late as April or May. Flu vaccination is the best way to prevent flu illness this season. Make an appointment by calling JCPH’s clinic appointment line at 303-239-7078. Get more information by visiting our influenza web page. Remember that influenza is a respiratory illness that can cause life-threatening complications. Do your part to stop the flu!
  • Get an annual flu vaccination 
  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water (use anti-bacterial gel if soap and water are not available). 
  • Cover your sneezes and coughs with a tissue or your elbow.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Creating a Multi-purpose Emergency Kit

How an emergency will impact you often depends on how prepared you are. One very important component to personal preparedness is having an emergency kit. While most people are aware of the importance of having a kit, they either haven’t actually put one together completely or they haven’t checked their kit in years. Kits have to be checked frequently because items can expire, get damaged or go missing.  Truthfully, kits can be expensive initially and then challenging to maintain, which is why I recommend creating a multi-purpose emergency kit.  

Since I work in emergency preparedness, everyone assumes that I am really prepared. However, I really struggled finding the time and money to put together my own kit. It wasn't that I didn’t know the importance of a kit, other things somehow always took priority (like getting more camping gear). 

In Colorado, summer means camping. We voluntarily leave the comforts and conveniences of our homes to spend the night sleeping outside, on the ground, without access to water or power. While camping is something we do for fun, in an emergency may possibly put us in a similar situation. In emergencies we can lose access to power or water, or have to evacuate our homes. We can suddenly be forced to live without the comforts and conveniences that we normally relay on. While going camping and being impacted by an emergency are completely different things, how we prepare for them isn't all that different.


After a camping trip last year I realized that I did actually have a personal preparedness kit! It was the three large, plastic containers that contain my camping gear. They already contain pretty much all the items I would need for a kit and they are ready to go at a moment’s notice. Each summer I get to use almost everything in the kit, plus I regularly check and replace items as needed (like bottled water, dog food, and matches). All I had to do was add a few items (like copies of important documents) to my camping gear, and it instantly became the perfect emergency kit! Using your camping and outdoor gear also as an emergency kit is a great option for anyone that (like me) is struggling with the expense and maintenance of pulling it together!! 



by - Kelly F. Keenan