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: 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.

  • Colorado offers numerous resources to help you quit smoking or quit using other tobacco products.  Visit 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:, email us at 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'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!


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.