Food safety: How to make sure your holiday treats don’t make anyone sick

HolidayFoodSafetyCDC

Several food safety alerts and recalls this season have made it difficult to know what’s safe to eat. Even though we can’t do much personally to control those national events except to pay attention and not consume recalled products, we can take some basic food safety actions, both as a guest and as a host, so we don’t add insult to injury. Nearly 1 in 6 Americans get sick each year from contaminated food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Reducing that number by just 10 percent would keep nearly 5 million people from getting sick each year.

What is the most common cause of food poisoning?

There are more than 250 agents that can cause foodborne illness including viruses, bacteria, parasites, toxins, and foreign objects. Norovirus is the most common virus to cause food poisoning, while salmonella is the most common bacterial cause and results in more deaths than infections with other bacteria.

Are there certain foods we should avoid at gatherings?

Contaminated leafy greens, such as romaine lettuce, and undercooked poultry are the main culprits for foodborne disease. But illness can come from lots of different types of foods, including raw milk, raw eggs (as in eggnog), and undercooked meat. You should wash your hands with soap and water before and after preparing, serving, or eating food, and always cook foods to a safe internal temperature. Also, be sure to thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables before you serve or eat them. Continue reading

Advertisements

Wash your hands often, because clean hands keep you from getting sick (and spreading germs!)

handwashing_456px

Now is a good time to be reminded about how important it is to do something very simple for your health: Wash your hands, and wash them often. It’s one of the best things you can do (besides getting immunized) to avoid getting sick or spreading germs to others.

Let’s start with the basics. When should you wash your hands?

After using the toilet is No. 1, but in general it’s a good idea to wash your hands when you get home or are preparing food or are ready to eat. You should also wash up before and after caring for someone who is sick, after changing a diaper, after holding or petting an animal, and after blowing your nose or coughing or sneezing into your hands.

Is there a right way to wash your hands?

There are essentially five steps to washing your hands the right way: Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse and Dry. You should use soap and water and rub your hands together to lather the soap. Be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails each time you wash. You need to vigorously rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds, which also is the length of the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end, twice. Hum it to yourself and then rinse your hands under running water and dry them with a clean towel or allow them to air dry. Continue reading

A Closer Look At Your Health: Learn how to prevent or manage type 2 diabetes

Diabetes is a huge health problem for many Idahoans: Nearly 600,000 Idaho adults have prediabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. November is Diabetes Awareness Month, so it’s a good time to learn what you can do to prevent the disease or get help managing it.

How do you find out if you have it?

PrediabetesInfoGraphicThe American Diabetes Association recommends that all adults over the age of 45 be screened for diabetes every three years. Catching it early can prevent complications such as heart disease, stroke, and blindness. Many insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, will pay for the screening with the recommendation from a healthcare provider.

Is it possible to have prediabetes but still prevent type 2 diabetes?

Prediabetes happens when your blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. For some people, early diagnosis and intervention can return blood glucose levels to the normal range. People who have been diagnosed with prediabetes are eligible to participate in a Diabetes Prevention Program, which are offered throughout the state. The program will help you take charge of your health to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. Find out your risk for developing prediabetes and learn more about the Diabetes Prevention Program by going to www.diabetes.idaho.gov. Continue reading

Idaho Rural Health Association honors DHW’s Mary Sheridan as an Idaho Rural Health Hero

1116_MarySheridanAwardCROPPED

Mary Barinaga, MD, president of the Idaho Rural Health Association board, presents an Idaho  Rural Health Hero Award to Mary Sheridan, bureau chief of Rural Health and Primary Care in the Division of Public Health, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Mary Sheridan was one of eight Idaho healthcare professionals to receive an Idaho Rural Health Hero Award at the Idaho Rural Health Association’s 2018 Annual Meeting and Awards Reception on Nov. 7.

The awards are given a week before National Rural Health Day in Idaho (November 15th) to recognize rural health educators, community advocates, healthcare providers and program administrators who demonstrate outstanding service and dedication to rural communities.  Nominations described the many contributions of this year’s awardees as advocates, communicators, educators, collaborators and innovators.

Mary has been a key public figure in rural health policy and innovation since joining the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare in 1995. She is a member of the Idaho Healthcare Coalition appointed by the Governor and winner of the 2017 National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health Award. She is passionate about understanding rural health issues and seeking resources to help address unmet needs. Continue reading

Make a plan to quit tobacco Friday for The Great American Smokeout

The Great American Smokeout is one day each year when smokers are encouraged to make a plan to quit. Nov. 16 can be your day to begin that journey. It may be a difficult journey, but it’s worth it. Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. Quitting tobacco is the best decision you can make for your immediate health and for the rest of your life.

logo

How many Idahoans smoke or use tobacco products?

About 14.5 percent of adult Idahoans smoke. And just over 9 percent of high school students between 9th and 12th grades smoke, with many beginning to use cigarettes as early as age 13. Nicotine in tobacco is so addictive, it’s difficult to stop once you start.

Why is it important to quit smoking sooner rather than later?

The benefits of quitting start immediately after you stop. After 20 minutes of not smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. 12 hours after quitting, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. A year after quitting, the extra risk of a heart attack you’ve gained from smoking drops by half. And after 10-15 years of being cigarette-free, there is a substantial reduction in your risk for cancer or heart disease from smoking.

Are electronic cigarettes a good option to help a person quit?

E-cigarettes have no medically endorsed program to use them with, and some studies have shown that they don’t, in fact, help people quit smoking. Traditional nicotine replacement therapy is a much better choice because it helps a person kick the habit in a gradual, controlled way. Plus, it has been scientifically proven to be an effective intervention.

Are there benefits to a smoker’s family and friends when they quit?

Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemical compounds, including 50 known cancer-causing chemicals. Infants and children of parents who smoke are more likely to have ear infections and asthma, as well as more frequent lower respiratory problems such as coughs, pneumonia, bronchitis, and croup. Secondhand smoke also increases an infant’s risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Everyone who lives with a smoker has a 20-percent greater risk of developing lung cancer than people who don’t live with a smoker.

Where can a person go to get help?

Idahoans who want to quit can call 1-800-QuitNow to talk to a professional cessation coach or sign up online at ProjectFilter.org. When you sign up or call, a quit coach will help you decide which nicotine substitute, if any, is best for you. You can receive up to eight weeks of free nicotine patches, gum, or lozenges, mailed directly to your home, as part of your personalized quitting plan. You’ll also find lots of resources when you sign up, including eCoach forums and chats, and expert advice. The Idaho Careline, which you can reach by calling 2-1-1 anywhere in the state of Idaho, also has information about local programs to help you quit.

(A Closer Look At Your Health airs at around 6:50 a.m. most Tuesdays. This is an edited transcript from the Nov. 13 segment. Join us next week!)

Resources:

A northern Idaho woman older than 50 is Idaho’s first flu-related death this season

Idaho’s first influenza-related death of the 2018-2019 influenza season occurred this week in a northern Idaho woman over the age of 50.

“The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is reminding residents that flu can be serious” said Randi Pedersen, the Idaho Influenza Surveillance Coordinator. “The most important action to take to prevent serious illness is to get a flu vaccine now.”

Last year’s flu season was particularly deadly, resulting in a record 101 influenza-related deaths in Idaho. That number was quadruple the average of 25 deaths each season over the last decade.

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness that infects anywhere from 5 to 20 percent of the population every year. Symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills, or fatigue. Most people who get influenza recover after a few days, but some people may develop serious complications.

Continue reading

A Closer Look At Your Health: How to help your baby sleep safely

Sleeping babyIt’s scary to think that you could do something as normal and safe as putting your baby down for a nap, and he might not wake up. But it happens more often than it should, unfortunately. About 3,500 infants die suddenly and unexpectedly each year in the United States. The cause of death for many of these babies can’t be determined, but there are things you can do to make sure your baby has a safe sleep environment.

So what are those things we can do to help babies sleep safely?

First and foremost, place your baby on his or her back for all sleep times, including naps. They should sleep on a firm, flat sleep surface (such as a mattress) in a safety-approved crib with no soft bedding or soft toys. Avoid using a couch, soft chair, car seat, swing, bouncy seat, stroller, infant carrier, or infant sling for routine sleep. Instead of soft bedding, keep babies comfortable with clothing or put them in a sleep sack or a wearable blanket. Health officials also recommend keeping your baby’s sleep area in the same room (but not in the same bed) where you sleep until your baby is at least 6 months to 12 months old.

What do we know about sudden unexplained infant deaths?

Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) is defined as a death that occurs suddenly and unexpectedly for an infant of less than 1 year old. It includes deaths without a clear cause, such as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and those from a known cause, such as accidental suffocation and strangulation. Sudden Unexpected Infant Death is the fourth leading cause of death for Idaho children younger than 1 year old. There are many things we don’t know about Sudden Unexpected Infant Death, but there are some things we have learned, including:

  • Infants are more vulnerable between the second and fourth months of their lives.
  • Breastfeeding for the first six months seems to lower the risk.
  • Sucking on a pacifier at bedtime may reduce the risk. However, do not hang the pacifier around a baby’s neck.

One of the hallmarks of sudden and unexpected infant deaths is the “sudden” part. Is there any way to know if your baby’s risk is higher than normal?

No, there really isn’t. It is unpredictable and strikes seemingly healthy babies without warning. Putting your baby to bed in a safe sleep environment is critical. A mother’s behavior during pregnancy also can have an impact, including whether or not she smoked, took drugs or drank alcohol, and had proper prenatal care. The risk also seems to increase for premature babies or those with a low birth weight, and for mothers who were younger than 20 when they gave birth.

So we know that putting babies to sleep on their backs is safer than their bellies or their sides. But couldn’t they choke on their spit-up or vomit?

That is a common concern for parents, and if you have that concern, you should discuss it with your medical provider. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics has reported no increased risk of choking for babies who sleep on their backs. In fact, since the organization recommended in 1992 that babies sleep on their backs, the rate of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death has dropped by more than 50 percent.

Resources