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Public Health

How to reduce water consumption by 20 percent

farm fieldAfter three consecutive years of below average rainfall and snowpack, 2014 is shaping up to be California’s driest year in recorded state history. On January 17, 2014, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. proclaimed a State of Emergency and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for these drought conditions in the upcoming months. To protect Californians’ health and safety from more severe water shortages in the months ahead, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has taken actions to conserve the state’s precious resources. As stated by the DWR, everyone – farmers, people in our cities and towns, as well as fish and other animals will get less water.

Several water systems throughout the state have already experienced water shortages. In preparation for the extended drought, Governor Brown has urged California residents and businesses to reduce water consumption by 20 percent immediately. In efforts to raise public awareness about water conservation, the Governor has initiated the Save Our Water campaign. Visit the Save Our Water website at www.saveourh2o.org to learn simple ways to reduce the amount of water used at home, both indoors and outdoors. The website includes the following tips:

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Winterize your home from vector infestations

rodentIt is important for the health of your family and pets to maintain a vector-free living environment. A vector is any animal or insect that can transmit disease to humans, such as mosquitoes, rodents, fleas and ticks. If infected, these vectors can transmit West Nile Virus, Hantavirus, Plague, or Lyme disease to humans and other animals.

Vectors are most active during warm summer months. When the winter comes, vectors seek sheltered environments to stay warm and this could mean that they are seeking refuge in your home. Vectors climb, claw and gnaw to find entry ways into your home which can cause structural damage to roofs, siding, and basements. Rats and squirrels seek warmer climates for building nests. Rodents work at night to gather food and often gnaw on electrical wires, possibly causing home fires.

Signs of vector infestations often go unnoticed until it’s too late. Below are some simple tips for preventing vector infestations in your home.

Rodent Control Maintenance

Maintaining your yard plays a large role in keeping your home vector-free. Be sure to trim shrubs, bushes and trees near your house to prevent rodents from climbing the branches and reaching your roof. Squirrels and rats like to gnaw at roof overhangs, shingles, gables, and sections where two roofs meet. Squirrels can even get into the attic through crevices in the chimney. A rat only needs an opening the size of a dime to get into a wall or attic, and a mouse can squeeze through any hole that a pencil will fit through.

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Protection of preteen health starts with immunizations

vaccinesThe Department of Public Health is promoting Preteen Vaccine Week, February 9-15, 2014. This observance is part of a statewide effort to raise awareness of immunizing 11-12-year-olds against very serious, yet preventable diseases. Preteen Vaccine Week is a great reminder to check preteen’s immunization records and schedule a doctor visit.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that both preteen boys and girls receive the following recommended immunizations:

  • Meningococcal (meningitis) – with a booster at 16 years
  • HPV (Human Papillomavirus ) – three dose series
  • Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis)
  • Seasonal flu shot
  • Some preteens may need to catch-up on other immunizations, which may include: varicella, hepatitis B, hepatitis A, MMR, and polio.

“To protect preteens against vaccine preventable diseases and to meet school entry requirements, we encourage families of preteens and adolescents to schedule a visit with their medical provider and get the immunizations they need,” said Maxwell Ohikhuare, M.D., County of San Bernardino Health Officer. “It is also important for medical providers to screen preteens and adolescents for all recommended immunizations at every encounter.”

All incoming 7th graders must provide proof of being immunized against pertussis (also known as whooping cough) before starting 7th grade. Right now is the perfect time to schedule an appointment with your child’s medical provider to ensure that they are up-to-date with all ACIP recommended immunizations.

If your preteen or adolescent does not have health insurance, call 1-877-243-8832 for information about the Vaccines for Children Program, which provides vaccines at low-cost.  For County of San Bernardino Department of Public Health Clinic locations or to schedule an appointment, call 1-800-722-4777, Monday – Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or visit www.sbcounty.gov/dph. For additional immunization information, please visit http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/immunize/Pages/Default.aspx.

County experiences increase in flu-related deaths

SBCDPH-logoThe Department of Public Health has confirmed an increase in flu-related deaths this flu season. Flu activity continues to increase statewide; the number of confirmed flu-related deaths within San Bernardino County has increased from 2 to 16 since January 10, 2014.  The deceased range from 29-64 years of age. The majority of the fatalities occurred in individuals 40-59 years of age. The confirmed deaths are scattered throughout the County with no specific regional trend.  Of the 16 deaths, 13 are confirmed to have been infected with the 2009 H1N1 strain that caused the 2009-2010 H1N1 pandemic. During the 2009-2010 H1N1 pandemic, the County reported a total of 45 flu-related deaths.  The total number of deaths reported for the entire 2012-2013 influenza season in the County was 5.

“This flu season is severe and may be peaking earlier in comparison to previous seasons.  Everyone who has not yet had a flu vaccination is encouraged to do so immediately.  The influenza vaccine remains the most effective way to protect oneself from the flu,” stated Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare, Health Officer of County of San Bernardino Department of Public Health. The Influenza vaccine is available at all County of San Bernardino Department of Public Health clinics.  A seasonal flu shot is recommended every year for those age 6 months and older.  All of the 2013-2014 flu vaccines provide protection against the 2009 H1N1 strain.

People who are ill should take actions to stop the spread of germs such as:

  • While sick, limit contact with others
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based rub
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth

According to the California Department of Public Health, “Those at highest risk – the elderly, pregnant women, infants, or those with other health conditions – who show flu symptoms should contact their physician immediately in order to get the most effective treatment. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. “

Continuous health information can be found on the Communicable Disease Section Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/CommunicableDiseaseSection. For information about community clinic locations and times, please visit the County of San Bernardino Department of Public Health website at www.sbcounty.gov/dph or call the Communicable Disease Section at 1-800-722-4794, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to find a location near you.

Learn to control your child’s asthma

Pediatrician Examining GirlAsthma is one of the most common chronic diseases in children.  San Bernardino County has one of the highest numbers of children diagnosed with asthma in California.

The winter season brings low temperatures and windy weather which increase asthma symptoms. Subsequently, this increases hospital emergency room visits and school absenteeism for children living with asthma. As a result of these uncontrolled asthma symptoms, parents/caregivers have to take time off from work to attend to these health emergencies.  This is the perfect time to improve your family’s health, particularly for children living with asthma. The Coordinated Asthma Referral and Education (CARE) Program can help by showing you daily skills to manage your child’s asthma.

The CARE Program provides the following FREE services:

  • Individualized asthma education to families and their children
  • Home environmental assessments to identify and reduce indoor and
    outdoor asthma triggers
  • Asthma management supplies including an air purifier, non-toxic cleaning material, mattress and pillow case covers

These services are available to children ages 0-18 who have been diagnosed with asthma living in the East, West and Central areas of San Bernardino County.  Since 2006, CARE has helped hundreds of families with asthmatic children. The goal of the CARE Program is to decrease emergency visits, hospitalizations, and school absenteeism due to asthma episodes.  Additionally, the CARE Program wants to help improve the quality of life for children living with asthma and their families. Children with controlled asthma can do everything non-asthmatic kids can do.

For more information about the CARE Program or to enroll your child in the program, please call 1-(800) 782-4264, option 7 or visit our website at: http://www.sbcounty.gov/dph/

First confirmed flu-related deaths in the County

publichealthThe County of San Bernardino Department of Public Health has confirmation of its first two flu-related deaths this influenza season. “The families have our sincerest condolences,” said Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare, Health Officer. Almost every state in the US has reported widespread geographic influenza activity.

“San Bernardino County like the rest of California has seen an accelerated increase in flu activity over the past few weeks. You can help prevent further spread of the flu by getting a flu shot,” stated Dr. Ohikhuare. It’s not too late to get a flu shot because it will still provide protection this flu season, which has yet to peak in California. A seasonal flu shot is recommended every year to all persons age 6 months and older, to help protect you, your family and the community from the flu. The flu is a caused by the influenza viruses and is easily spread from one person to another. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can lead to hospitalization and even death.

A seasonal flu shot is especially recommended for these high risk groups:

  • People 50 years of age and older
  • People who live in nursing homes and long-term care facilities
  • People of any age with chronic medical conditions (including asthmatics and diabetics)
  • Pregnant women
  • Home caregivers and health care workers
  • Infants and children* age 6 months up to their 19th birthday

*Depending on previous vaccination history, children aged 6 months through 8 years may be required to receive two doses of influenza vaccine

In addition to getting the flu vaccine, prevent the spread of illness by following these steps:

  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue and properly dispose of used tissues
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and/or mouth
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after a cough or sneeze. Alcohol- based hand sanitizers may be used if soap and water are not available
    • Avoid close contact with sick people and stay home when you are sick to avoid spreading illness to others
    • Contact your medical provider for treatment options

For information about community clinic locations and times, please visit the County of San Bernardino Department of Public Health website at www.sbcounty.gov/dph, or call the Communicable Disease Section at 1-800-722-4794, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to find a location near you.

Tips for a safe Thanksgiving meal

SBCDPH-logoWith any holiday food preparation, safe food handling and storage are important to keep your loved ones safe. Follow these helpful tips to prepare a safe Thanksgiving meal for your family.

• Handling and Thawing.  Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 15 seconds before and after handling the turkey. Fresh turkeys need no thawing and are ready to cook. Frozen turkeys can be purchased weeks in advance, but can require several days to thaw before cooking. If you are planning on purchasing a frozen turkey, first make sure there is sufficient space in your freezer for storage.

• Never defrost the turkey on the counter! The safest way to thaw a turkey is in the refrigerator. Leave the turkey in the original packaging and place in a shallow pan and allow refrigerator thawing time at a rate of 4 to 5 pounds per 24 hours.

• Time to cook. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed. Do not refreeze. If you purchase a fresh turkey, cook it within a day or two of purchase. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, not touching bone, and cook to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast as well.  Cook stuffing separately in a casserole pan to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F or higher.  If you cook stuffing in the turkey, ensure that the turkey and stuffing both reach 165°F or higher.

• Storing leftovers safely.  Within two hours, store leftover turkey in shallow containers and put them in the refrigerator or freezer. Use cooked leftover turkey, stuffing and gravy within 3 to 4 days. When using leftovers, reheat the foods thoroughly to 165°F and bring gravy to a boil before serving.

For more information, contact the County of San Bernardino Department of Public Health Division of Environmental Health Services at (800) 442-2283 or visit our website at www.sbcounty.gov/dph/dehs.

 

Get your free flu shot at your local Community POD site

flushotBe prepared for the flu season by receiving your free flu shot. The County of San Bernardino, Department of Public Health, Preparedness and Response Program is encouraging residents to get their flu shot and discover their local Point Of Dispensing (POD) site. A POD site is a location where the community would go to receive medication and or vaccinations during a public health emergency, such as pandemic influenza or bioterrorism.

The Preparedness and Response program will be offering FREE Flu shots to residents while exercising management of community POD sites. The free flu shot clinics are designed as a learning environment for the Department to exercise plans and procedures for a local pandemic influenza response. The goal of the exercise is to test the Department’s mass distribution of prophylaxis and vaccinations to county residents as a response to a bioterrorism attack, an outbreak or pandemic influenza, such as the 2009 H1N1 Pandemic.

County residents are encouraged to start planning and preparing for an emergency by using these three simple steps: Know Your Part, Learn Where to Go, and Learn Where to Find Information.

  • Know Your Part: Be informed about emergencies that could happen in your community and prepare for them by knowing about your community Point Of Dispensing (POD) site.
  • Learn Where To Go: Know where your nearest community POD site will be to receive medications or vaccinations.
  • Learn Where To Find Information: Identify sources of information in your community that will be helpful before, during and after an emergency.

For more information on public health emergencies or to see the FREE Flu shot clinic schedule, visit the County of San Bernardino, Department of Public Health, Preparedness and Response Program website at www.sbcounty.gov/prp or call 909-252-4406.

Avoid the flu, your shot is due

Young Woman Blowing Her Nose in BedA seasonal flu shot is recommended every year for persons 6 months of age and older, to help protect you, your family, and the community from the flu. Avoid the flu by getting vaccinated today.

A seasonal flu shot is especially recommended for these high risk groups:

  • People 50 years of age and older
  • People who live in nursing homes and long-term care facilities
  • People of any age with chronic medical conditions (including asthmatics and diabetics)
  • Pregnant women
  • Home caregivers and health care workers
  • Infants and children* age 6 months up to their 19th birthday

*Depending on previous vaccination history, children aged 6 months through 8 years may be required to receive two doses of influenza vaccine

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National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

publichealthDid you know October 20-26 is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week? 

The County is committed to helping parents reduce their child’s exposure to lead and prevent serious health effects.

A child with lead poisoning can have trouble learning, paying attention and behaving well.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly a quarter of a million children living in the United States have blood lead levels high enough to cause significant damage to their health. There are no known safe blood lead levels. Blood lead levels as low as 5mcg/dL have been known to cause serious health problems to children, including a drop in their “IQ”.

 According to Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare, Health Officer of the County of San Bernardino, lead-based paint in homes built before 1978 and lead-contaminated dust and soil are the main sources of lead exposure for children in the County. Children get lead poisoned by ingesting lead-contaminated dust, paint chips from deteriorating lead-based paint, and lead-contaminated soil. 

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