Protect your skin! Idahoans have a higher melanoma rate than the rest of the United States

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We’ll soon be spending lots of time in the sun, and many of us won’t properly protect ourselves from its damaging rays. As we get ready for the long Memorial Day weekend to kick off our summer, Friday is National Don’t Fry Day, and it’s a good time to make a promise to yourself to be more responsible in the sun this summer. Sunburns add up. Every time you get a sunburn, your risk for skin cancer increases.

Is it really necessary to take precautions if you’re not outside very long?  

The sun’s ultraviolet rays can damage skin – especially fair skin — in as little as 15 minutes, but it can take up to 12 hours for the full effect to show up. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with melanoma being the deadliest form. Idahoans have a higher rate of melanoma than the national average and one of the highest death rates in the nation. So it’s always important to take precautions in the sun.

Who is most at risk?

Those with fair skin or hair, freckles, and blue eyes are at the highest risk for developing skin cancer, but everyone who spends time outside increases their risk and should make sun safety part of their daily routine. While being sun safe is important, early detection is vital in treating skin cancers, so check your skin regularly and see a doctor if you find anything you’re not sure about. Continue reading

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If you have plans to travel, please talk to your healthcare provider about measles

Even though health officials in Oregon and Washington have declared the measles outbreak in their states over, measles outbreaks are still happening both in the United States and in other countries. The number of measles cases in the U.S. in the first 4 months of the year is the highest it has been in over 20 years, with more than 700 cases. Measles is one of the most highly contagious diseases in the world, so if you have plans to travel anytime soon, make sure your measles vaccination is up to date.

Tell me how it spreads.

Measles is extremely contagious. Infected people can spread the virus to others beginning around four days before the rash appears, and up to four days after. The measles virus can live for up to two hours on a surface or in the air after an infected person has coughed or sneezed. If other people who are not immune breathe the contaminated air or touch the contaminated surface they can become infected – and about 90 percent of those who aren’t immune will become infected, which is not very good odds!

So vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones.

That’s right. Getting an MMR immunization, which protects you against measles, mumps, and rubella, is the best way to protect yourself and your family, as well as your friends and community. Continue reading

Be aware and take precautions: Backyard poultry can carry Salmonella

SalmonellaPoultry_456pxSpring is a great time to replenish your backyard poultry flocks. Keeping backyard poultry can be a great experience for you and your family, and whether you are thinking about buying your first chick or are an experienced backyard poultry enthusiast, you should be aware of the risks of keeping poultry so you know how to keep yourself and your family from getting sick.

What happens when a person is infected with Salmonella?

Salmonella most often causes diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and abdominal cramps anywhere from 12-to-72 hours after infection. An infected person can expect to be sick for four to seven days. If you think you or a loved one has a Salmonella infection, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Who is most at risk of contracting Salmonella from poultry?

Babies, the elderly, and anyone with a weakened immune system can get so sick from Salmonella bacteria that they must be hospitalized. Children are likely to get sick for several reasons: their immune systems are still developing, and they are much more likely to snuggle or kiss the chicks and put their fingers in their mouths after touching the birds. Continue reading

Idaho receives $1.6 million to support oral health activities

Idaho has been awarded $1.6 million to develop and implement innovative programs to address oral health workforce needs of designated dental health professional shortage areas (dental HPSAs). Forty-two out of 44 Idaho counties are designated dental HPSAs, according to the Bureau of Rural Health and Primary Care in the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW).

The funding, which will be administered over four years, was awarded to the Idaho Oral Health Program in IDHW’s Division of Public Health by the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA). The program serves as the primary source of oral health surveillance and population-based oral disease prevention programs. The Idaho Oral Health Program provides the infrastructure essential to create, implement, and evaluate oral health initiatives and specific policies.

The goals of this award include:

  • Fostering programs that promote oral health or science professions to youth.
  • Increasing oral healthcare services by providing funding to medical or dental professionals, health systems, Federally Qualified Health Centers, dental education institutions, and other entities in dental HPSAs to implement teledentistry.
  • Increasing utilization of silver diamine fluoride, a minimally invasive dentistry technique. Silver diamine fluoride is an inexpensive topical treatment and is recommended by the American Dental Association as a method for arresting certain instances of tooth decay.
  • In addition, an evaluation on the effectiveness of implementing teledentistry to increase access to oral healthcare and the potential cost savings of utilizing silver diamine fluoride in dental HPSAs will be conducted.

Continue reading

Health officials warn of Hepatitis A outbreak in southern Idaho

Public health officials are investigating an outbreak of hepatitis A in southern Idaho. Twelve people infected with hepatitis A virus have been reported to public health officials since Jan. 1, 2019. In 2018, only eight people were reported with hepatitis A in Idaho. Epidemiologists are working to determine possible links between the cases and are encouraging people in high-risk populations to get vaccinated.

Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for people who might be at increased risk of being exposed to the virus, including:

  • Men who have sex with men
  • People who use drugs (injection or non-injection)
  • People experiencing unstable housing or homelessness
  • People with chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C

“We’re monitoring the situation closely,” said epidemiologist Randi Pedersen. “The best protection is to be vaccinated, but everyone can reduce their risk by practicing good hand hygiene. This means thoroughly washing your hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food.” Continue reading

Outbreaks of hepatitis A in several states prompt reminder to protect yourself by getting vaccinated

Since 2016, more than 15,000 people nationwide have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with hepatitis A, and 140 have died. This is a dramatic increase in hepatitis A infections and is caused by person-to-person spread of the virus. Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection. Large-scale outbreaks have been reported in several states, including Utah and California. Since it is on the rise, it’s a good time to check your immunization status and get the vaccine if you still need it.

What are some of the most common symptoms of hepatitis A?

Symptoms can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, diarrhea, clay-colored stools, and yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice). People with hepatitis A can feel sick for several months.

How do you get hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A virus can be picked up from objects, surfaces, food, or drinks contaminated with fecal matter from an infected person. Hepatitis A can also be spread through person-to-person contact with an infected person by having sex or caring for someone who is ill. Continue reading

It’s National Poison Prevention Week: Tips to protect your children from a poisoning emergency

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Most poisoning emergencies are unexpected and happen quickly in our homes. A majority of non-fatal poisonings involve children younger than 6. And for adults, poisoning is the No. 1 cause of injury death in the United States. This week is National Poison Prevention Week, so it’s a good time to think about what you would do in a poisoning emergency.

Are young children most at risk for a poisoning accident?

In 2017, poisoning was the second-leading cause of unintentional injury deaths among all Idahoans, with children younger than 6 being most at risk. It is extremely important for parents of small children to keep potentially poisonous items out of their reach. The Nebraska Regional Poison Center, which receives all of Idaho’s poison emergency calls, had more than 14,000 calls in 2018 from Idaho residents. Most of those calls were from parents of children ages 6 and younger.

What are the most dangerous poisons for children?

The leading causes of poisoning for Idaho children are things we commonly have in our homes and include household cleaning supplies; cosmetics and personal care products; aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen; vitamins/supplements; and toys and other foreign objects children can swallow. In 2018, the poison center received 833 calls related to children younger than 6 and household cleaning supplies, with liquid dishwasher detergents at the top of the list. The center received 751 calls for cosmetic/personal care product exposure. Continue reading