News

  1. Wilkes County Health Department Public Health Month Labs

    The Wilkes County Health Department celebrates Public Health Month! Starting April 1, 2017-April 30, 2017 the health department will offer the following lab tests for $5.00 per test, CMP, Lipid Panel, Hgb A1C, PSA, CBC and TSH. The labs will be offered to the first 100 people who call and schedule an appointment. If you would like more information or to schedule an appointment please call, 336-651-7450.

  2. March Colon Cancer Awareness Month- Dress in Blue Day this Friday.

    Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States and the second leading cause of cancer related death in NC. Colorectal cancer affects people in all racial and ethnic groups. Data indicates that 50 percent of colon cancers could be prevented through regular screening. It is important for individuals to talk with their doctors about getting screened starting at age 50.

    National Dress in Blue Day is the colon cancer community’s day to unite for a future free of colon cancer! The NC Cancer Prevention and Control Branch/Comprehensive Cancer Control Program is excited to help the Colon Cancer Alliance lead the charge and provide you with all the resources and support the need to knock out colon cancer, honor a loved one and get people screened.

    Please join us in this year’s Dress in Blue Day on Friday, March 3rd. For more information please click here.

    Colorectal Cancer Awareness

  3. Notice of Proposed Adoption of Local Rules by the Wilkes County Board of Health for Postexposure Management of Dogs and Cats Exposed to Rabies

    Pursuant to G.S. 130A-39(a), local boards of health have the responsibility to protect and promote the public’s health and the authority to adopt rules necessary for that purpose.  Pursuant to this authority the Wilkes County Board of Health (hereinafter the “Board of Health”) has been reviewing and considering the adoption and implementation of the new national guidance for postexposure management of dogs and cats published March 1, 2016 by the National Association of Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) in the Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control.

    This rule for rabies postexposure management of dogs and cats implements and particularizes the authority given to the local health director in G.S. 130A-197 to effectively and efficiently protect the public’s health utilizing the most current science.  Accordingly, the Wilkes Board of Health proposes to adopt the recommendations and guidelines for rabies postexposure management of dogs and cats specified by the National Association of Public Health Veterinarians in the 2016 edition of the Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control (Part I.B.5: Postexposure Management).  The provisions of the Compendium shall be the required control measures pursuant to G.S. 130A-197 if adopted.

    The Board of Health proposes to consider and adopt local rules as described above at its regular meeting on Monday, February 13, 2017, at 5:30 P.M. at the Wilkes County Health Department in Wilkesboro, N.C.  This notice is given pursuant to the requirements of G.S. 130A-39(d).  The proposed rules will be available for public comment beginning February 3, 2017.  Contact the Wilkes County Health Department or the County Manager’s Office for a copy or the links below. If there are public comments, the Board of Health will review comments provided in writing or by email in advance of that meeting and will entertain anyone wishing to speak about the rules during the public comment section of the Board of Health meeting.  Registration for public comment at the meeting is required.  Individuals should register their request with Ann Absher, Health Director, prior to the meeting by calling (336) 651-7464.

    If the proposed rules are adopted, they will be effective as of the date of adoption.

    This the 3rd day of February, 2017.

    WILKES COUNTY BOARD OF HEALTH

    Wilkes County Board of Health Proposed Rule for Postexposure Management of Dogs and Cats Recommended by the NC Division of Public Health
    2016 NASPHV Rabies Compendium: Proposed Model Board of Health Rule
    Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control, 2016

  4. Wilkes County Health Department Receives Federal Grant to Expand Primary Care

    On Thursday December 15th Wilkes County Health Department along with the co-applicant Wilkes Community Health Center, was among the newly announced Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) New Access Point grant recipients. Wilkes County Health Department was one of the six funded sites in North Carolina, and one in 75 across the nation. Wilkes County Health Department was awarded $793,324 for the first year of the grant with $650,000 awarded the following years. The new access point will allow the Wilkes County Health Department to open the Wilkes County Health Center as a federally qualified health center (FQHC) to expand and provide primary health care needs to the residents of Wilkes County. To date in 2016, the Health Department provided nearly 6,700 medical, screening and enabling visits to 2,800 patients. By the end of year 2018, Wilkes County Health Center’s goal is to serve over 4,500 patients.

    High rates of uninsured adults and chronic disease in Wilkes County, has presented challenges in maintaining the current level of services with increasing costs and reduced funding available to meet these needs. Wilkes County also has 50.3% of its residents living below the 200% federal poverty level. The new HRSA FQHC funding will allow Wilkes Community Health Center to expand the services the health department offers, and become an integral and integrated player in the health care delivery system. With the funding Wilkes Community Health Center will be able to provide adult and child primary health care, medications, and other enabling services for both adults and children.

    Currently, the Health Center will operate and function in the Wilkes County Health Department. The Health Center does have plans to eventually move off site to meet the growth demands of additional patients.

    Additional benefits include federal loan repayment for providers, free malpractice insurance, enhanced Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement, and funds to help cover the uninsured patients. It also provides the agency additional opportunities to apply for more grants that are only available to active federally qualified health center sites.

    The health center co-applicant board will be made up of 51% of health center patients. In return, the health center hopes to provide quality primary care with patients’ needs in mind. “Community health centers are the best model of consumer directed health care and will nicely complement health promotion and preventive services at the health department,” said E. Benjamin Money, President and CEO of the NC Community Health Center Association.

    “We are so pleased to be able to receive this opportunity to increase our services at the Wilkes Community Health Center and the Wilkes County Health Department with this federal grant.  We appreciate the assistance of The Health Foundation with resources to support the grant application. The Wilkes County Board of Health, the Wilkes Community Health Center Board and I would like to thank our community partners for their continued assistance and support to improve the health care needs of Wilkes County. With this grant, we will be able to expand health care services offered through the new center at the health department.” said Ann Absher, Health Director.

    In the coming months ahead the Wilkes County Health Department, Wilkes Community Health Center, and community partners will come together to implement a comprehensive plan that will further enhance the primary care needs of Wilkes County citizens.

    To learn more connect with us on facebook, twitter or logging on to www.wilkeshealth.com. If you have any additional questions, please contact Ann Absher at 336-651-7464 or aabsher@wilkescounty.net

    “This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number H80CS30715. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.”

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  5. Radon Test Kits Available Starting January 2017

    As the turning of the seasons brings colder weather to North Carolina, and families close windows to keep warm, it is an excellent time to make plans for radon testing in your home.

    Radon is the odorless, colorless gas that is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. The effects upon the families it touches can be just as devastating as lung cancer caused by smoking tobacco.

    January is National Radon Action Month.  Each year upwards to 22,000 people die from radon-induced lung cancer. Roughly 54 percent of those diagnosed with early-stage lung cancer are expected to live no more than five years after diagnosis.

    The Wilkes County Health Department is partnering with the NC Radon program to provide free short-term radon test kits in recognition of National Radon Action Month.  A limited supply of radon test kits are being made available locally on for pick up at Wilkes County Environmental Health Office located at 110 North Street room 308.  Only one kit per home is needed to determine if your home has a high level.  The North Carolina Radon Program website, www.ncradon.org, will have a list of all 83 participating organizations across North Carolina. The NC Radon Program website will also have a limited supply of kits available.  Once the supply of free kits have been exhausted, the NC Radon Program website will return to providing short-term radon test kits at a reduced cost of $5.34, a kit retailed at $15.00.

    The North Carolina Radon Program of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services educates families and homeowners about radon gas, how to test for radon gas and how to lower the radon levels within a home. Lowering the radon levels in a home lower the risk of lung cancer.

    The North Carolina Radon Program website also contains a new mobile application.  Meant to particularly help real estate brokers working in North Carolina, the mobile application will assist the user in determining how many tests have been conducted within a zip code as well as the highest radon level recorded in that zip code.  The user of the APP will also be able to locate a certified professional to assist them in testing or fixing the radon issue in their home.

    The cost of lowering radon levels in a home averages to about $1,500. The North Carolina Radon Protection Section sought help for families that might struggle to meet that expense. The Self Help Credit Union stepped up and created a loan program specifically for radon mitigation.  North Carolina homeowners who meet federal poverty criteria may be eligible for forgivable loans from local programs.  A link to more information is available on the NC Radon Program web page.

    Lung cancer can strike anyone, even a nonsmoker.  Test your home for radon and lower your family’s risk of lung cancer. For more information visit www.ncradon.org

    For more radon resources you can download the following:

    List of Radon Test Kit Sites

    What is Radon?

    Radon Smart Phone APP

     

     

  6. Surgeon General Reports Youth and Young Adult E-Cigarette Use Poses a Public Health Threat-Issues call to action to reduce e-cigarette use among young people

    On Thursday December 8th the newest report released from the U.S. Surgeon General raises public health concerns about e-cigarette use among youth and young adults. The report comes amid alarming rates of youth and young adult use of e-cigarettes; in 2015, about 1 in 6 high school students used an e-cigarette in the past month. While in Wilkes County according about 1 in 4 high school students have tried and e-cigarette in the past month.

    The report finds that, while nicotine is a highly addictive drug at any age, youth and young adults are vulnerable to the long-term effects of exposing the brain to nicotine, and concludes that youth use of nicotine in any form is unsafe. The report also finds that secondhand aerosol or smoke that is exhaled into the air by e-cigarette users can expose others to potentially harmful chemicals.

    This report, is the first comprehensive federal review of the public health impact of e-cigarettes on youth and young adults. These devices are referred to as “e-cigarettes,” “e-cigs,” “cigalikes,” “e-hookahs,” “mods,” “vape pens,” “vapes,” and “tank systems.” The report uses the term “e-cigarette” to represent all of the products in this rapidly growing and changing product category. In addition to finding health risks of e-cigarettes among young people, the report also describes influences on e-cigarette use and actions to help prevent the harmful effects of using e-cigarettes.

    “Everyone needs to know that e-cigarettes are dangerous to youth and young adults,” said Ann Absher, Wilkes County Health Director. “Any tobacco use, including e-cigarettes, is a health threat, particularly to young people.”

    Major Conclusions from the Report

    • E-cigarettes are a rapidly emerging and diversified class of products typically delivering nicotine, flavorings, and other additives to users via inhaled aerosol.
    • E-cigarette use among youth and young adults has become a public health concern.
    • E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among youth. E-cigarette use is strongly associated with the use of other tobacco products among youth and young adults, including combustible tobacco products such as cigarettes.
    • The use of products containing nicotine poses dangers to youth, pregnant women and fetuses. The use of products containing nicotine in any form among youth, including e-cigarettes, is unsafe.
    • E-cigarette aerosol is not harmless. It can contain harmful and potentially harmful ingredients, including nicotine.
    • E-cigarettes are marketed by promoting flavors and using a wide variety of media channels and approaches that have been used in the past for marketing conventional tobacco products to youth and young adults.
    • Action can be taken at the national, state and local levels to reduce youth and young adult use of e-cigarettes.

    “We need parents, teachers, health care providers, and others to help make it clear that e-cigarettes contain harmful chemicals and are not okay for kids to use” Mrs. Absher said. “This report gives facts about how these products can be harmful to young people’s health.”

    If you would like more information concerning this Surgeon General’s Report on Youth and Young Adult E-Cigarette please click here. If you would like to review the report, please click here.

     

  7. Public Notice for e-Cigarette Use. Proposed Board of Health Rules

    Below you will find the public notice for the proposed Board of Health Rules prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes in county buildings and vehicles.  Also you will find the proposed rules for anyone who may request a copy.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at 336-651-7450. Thank you.

    Proposed Board of Health Rules prohibiting use of e-cigarettes in county buildings and vehicles
    Proposed rules for requesting a copy of Proposed Board of Health Rules prohibiting use of e-cigarettes in county buildings and vehicles

  8. Parking Lot Paving at the Health Department

    On this Friday, September 23rd, the health department will have the parking lot paved. Please park across the street or on in one of the spaces in front of the health department.  If you have a disability and need to use a the elevator and/or a wheelchair please come to the side entrance. Thank you for your understanding. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us 336-651-7450.

  9. Fall Prevention Week 2016

    September 19-24 is NC Falls Prevention Awareness Week and Thursday, September 22nd, the first day of fall, is Falls Prevention Awareness Day. In conjunction with the NC Chronic Disease and Injury Section’s Fall is for Health campaign , the Injury and Violence Prevention Branch has resources to assist your  awareness of falls prevention. For more information, please click any of the following links:

    Fall Prevention Week Proclamation
    Fall Prevention Saves Lives and Money
    Fall is for Health, Fall Prevention Awareness Week
    Healthy Aging NC

  10. Your Input is Needed for the North Carolina State Health Assessment

    STATE HEALTH ASSESSMENT:
    In preparation for seeking accreditation from the national Public Health Accreditation Board, the Division of Public Health and its partners have completed a State Health Assessment with 5 identified priorities.  Now they need your input on the process and priorities.  If you would like to review and provide input to that important process, please click here.

  11. Celebrate National Food Safety Month

    Wilkes County Health Department’s division of Environmental Health announced today that it will actively support National Food Safety Month (NFSM) by showcasing its commitment to food safety and food safety education. NFSM is an annual awareness campaign now in its 22nd year. It serves to build public awareness in all aspects of food safety education.

    Angie Rhodes, Environmental Health Supervisor, for Wilkes County explained that she and her team are excited about participating in NFSM throughout September. “We take food safety very seriously within Environmental Health. While we are committed to food safety throughout the year, this month we will be focusing on the public’s awareness of food safety and how they can better protect themselves and their loved ones”.  Foodborne illness affects 48 million Americans every year, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.  Local health departments (LHD) including Wilkes County are critical to the prevention and mitigation of foodborne illness.  LHDs help to ensure that food is safe to eat at home, at community events, in restaurants and in schools.  They take the lead role in foodborne disease investigations and detections.  As well as providing educational information to the public about how to protect themselves from getting foodborne disease.  Wilkes County Environmental Health Food and Lodging team work diligently to inspect restaurants, schools, daycare centers, hospitals and grocery stores to ensure safe food handling practices and sanitary conditions are maintained.  All facilities inspection grades and comments can be viewed by the public on our Wilkes County Health Department website.  We encourage the public to utilize this resource and the sanitation grade posted in the facility when making a dining selection.  Foodborne illness is a costly and sometimes deadly problem.  Hospitalizations due to foodborne illnesses are estimated to cost over $3 billion dollars, and lost productivity is estimated to cost $20 to $40 billion each year.  Please click here to visit our page.  Click on the Food Safety Basics link to learn more information about National Food Safety Month or call 336-651-7530.

     

  12. Information concerning Zika

    To get the most up to date information concerning Zika, please visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention by clicking here. You can also download a flier about important information concerning Zika for people living in areas WITHOUT zika here.

  13. WIC Now has a New Location

    Attention: Effective June 10, 2016 Wilkes County WIC has a new building. Come and join us at our new location by the hospital! Our new physical address is 232 Jefferson Street North Wilkesboro, NC 28659. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at 336-651-7451. If you need directions, please click here.

    Our office hours are Monday -Friday 8:00am to 5:00pm. Open during lunch hours except Wednesdays 12:30pm-1:30pm. We also have Monday evening appointments until 6:00pm

  14. Appalachian District Health Department awarded 1.5 million dollar grant to improve community outcomes for maternal and child health in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Watauga and Wilkes Counties

    Appalachian District Health Department was awarded a three-year grant for 1.5 million dollars to improve birth outcomes, reduce infant mortality and improve child health 0-5 in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Watauga and Wilkes Counties. The Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Initiative, funded by the NC Division of Public Health Women’s and Children’s Health Section, will partner with families, healthcare providers and community agencies to achieve program goals and implement evidence-based programs to improve maternal and child health in the multi-county region.

    The MCH Initiative was established to provide a competitive grants process among local health departments (LHDs) to provide funding to achieve improved birth outcomes, reduced infant mortality and improved health among children aged 0-5. The multi-county region inclusive of the Appalachian District Health Department, Avery County Health Department and Wilkes County Health Department, will be awarded 1.5 million dollars over a three year period, and will be administered by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health, Women’s and Children’s Health Section.

    The health of women of childbearing age and of children aged 0-5 is critical to the health of communities. Some key indicators that provide information on the health of women and young children include:

    Infant Mortality

    Based on 2014 rates, North Carolina has the tenth highest infant mortality rate in the country with a rate of 7.1 per 1,000 live births as compared to the national rate of 5.8 per 1,000 live births. However, there was significant variance in rates among racial/ethnic groups. Non-Hispanic African American infants had the highest infant mortality rate (12.8 per 1,000) while non-Hispanic whites had the lowest (5.1 per 1,000). Non-Hispanic American Indian infants had a rate of 9.4 per 1,000 and Hispanic infants had a rate of 6.2 per 1,000 live births. The infant mortality rate disparity ratio of the African American infant mortality rate to the White infant mortality rate was 2.5 in 2014, which was an increase from the 2013 ratio of 2.3. Thirty-six counties had a ratio higher than the state rate.

    Child Health Insurance

    According to the 2010-2014 American Community Survey, the number of children without health insurance in North Carolina is about 155,000, which is 6.8% of all children. Among North Carolina counties there is wide range in the percent of children without health insurance with the percent ranging from 1.7 to 29.9 for the 2010 to 2014 time period.

    Child Poverty

    The percent of children living in poverty in North Carolina was 24% in 2014 according to the American Community Survey, with North Carolina having the thirteenth highest percentage among all states in the United States. Among North Carolina counties in 2014 there was a great variation in the percent (13.1% to 46.6%).

    As a community, we all share the responsibility of creating the environment where children can be safe, healthy and thrive. The Appalachian District Health Department, Avery County Health Department and Wilkes County Health Department have mobilized around this initiative as an engaged, multi agency coalition that is prepared to improve maternal and child health outcomes for our communities. The proposed project is ambitious, yet achievable, because of the existing infrastructures of partnerships, collective resources that will be leveraged and the strong social capital found in staff members and dedicated coalition members.

    For more information on the Maternal and Child Health initiative, contact Rachel Willard at 336.651.7449 or rwillard@wilkescounty.net.

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    April 13, 2016

  15. State Health Officials Encourage Ongoing Awareness of Travel Recommendations

    Contact: news@dhhs.nc.gov
    919-855-4840

    RALEIGH, N.C. – State officials continue to encourage awareness of travel recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as they pertain to Zika virus.  There are five travel-related cases of Zika virus confirmed in North Carolina, and North Carolinians are encouraged to stay informed of the risk of Zika virus infection before traveling to Central America, South America, Mexico or the Caribbean.

    “We have anticipated all along that travel-related cases would be identified in North Carolina, and while travel-related cases are not a probable threat to public health, we always actively monitor emerging global situations and adjust resources to meet needs,” said State Health Director, Randall Williams, MD. “Travelers to any of the countries with active Zika transmission should follow precautions to minimize their exposure to mosquito bites. Pregnant women are particularly urged to take note of the recent CDC travel recommendations advising that travel to areas with active virus transmission be postponed if possible.”

    Zika virus is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infectious mosquito. Symptoms include rash and red eyes. Less common symptoms include fever, joint pains and muscle aches. Only about one in five people infected with Zika virus will show symptoms. Sexual transmission of Zika virus is possible, and is of particular concern during pregnancy.

    A pregnant woman infected with Zika virus can pass the virus to her unborn baby. A serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly, and other adverse pregnancy outcomes have been reported in some mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a travel advisory recommending pregnant women consider postponing travel to any area with active Zika virus transmission. Women who are trying to become pregnant should talk to their doctors about the risk of Zika virus infection before traveling.

    The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is currently hiring two medical entomologists, who will oversee surveillance and monitoring of vectors, such as mosquitoes, in North Carolina and consult with local programs on best practices of vector control.

    While the primary mosquitoes that carry Zika virus are not believed to be widespread in North Carolina, individuals are always encouraged, as a routine precaution, to take steps to prevent mosquito bites, such as:

    • Wearing insect repellent registered with the Environmental Protection Agency.
    • Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants.
    • Using air conditioning or making sure window and door screens are in place.

    For more information about Zika virus, please visit:
    http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/diseases/zika.html or www.cdc.gov/zika.

     

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  16. State Health Officials Urge Awareness of Zika, Travel Recommendations. No Reported Cases to Date in NC.

    RALEIGH – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is encouraging all North Carolinians to be aware of the risk of Zika virus infection before traveling to Central America, South America or the Caribbean.
    To date, no cases of Zika virus infection have been reported in North Carolina.

    “Pregnant women are urged to take note of the recent CDC travel recommendations advising that travel to areas with active virus transmission be postponed if possible,” said Randall Williams, MD, State
    Health Director. “Suspected cases of Zika are now required to be reported. Our State Laboratory for Public Health is currently coordinating testing of Zika virus with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and has a history of rapidly implementing testing for emerging threats.”

    Zika virus is transmitted through the bite of an infectious mosquito. Symptoms include rash and red eyes. Less common symptoms include fever, joint pains and muscle aches. Only about one in five people infected with Zika virus will show symptoms.

    A pregnant woman infected with Zika virus can pass the virus to her unborn baby. A serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly, and other adverse pregnancy outcomes have been reported in some mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a travel advisory recommending pregnant women consider postponing travel to any area with active Zika virus transmission. Women who are trying to become pregnant should talk to their doctors about the risk of Zika virus infection before traveling.

    State health officials are in constant communication with local health departments to work with health providers, including obstetricians and gynecologists, to ensure they have the latest information, as well as access to guidance and testing. Testing for Zika virus should be done for anyone who displays signs or symptoms within two weeks of travel to an area with active Zika virus transmission. Pregnant women who have ultrasound findings of microcephaly or other abnormalities, and have reported travel to areas with Zika virus activity should also be tested.

    While the primary mosquitos that carry Zika virus are not believed to be widespread in North Carolina, individuals are always encouraged, as a routine precaution, to take steps to prevent mosquito bites, such as:
    • Wear insect repellent registered with the Environmental Protection Agency.
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
    • Use air conditioning or make sure window and door screens are in place.

    Again, no cases of Zika virus infection have been reported in North Carolina to date. For more information about Zika virus for patients and health care providers, please click here, or visit the CDC’s website here.

  17. National Give Kids a Smile Free Dental Event Scheduled

    Wilkes Public Health Dental Clinic will be hosting the annual Give Kids a Smile free dental day on Friday, February 5th, 2016. This event will provide free dental services to children ages 5-17 in Wilkes County, who have NO dental coverage/insurance.

    • An appointment must be made for your child to be seen.
    • If you have children or know of a child who might benefit from this opportunity
    • Please call: 336-903-7303 English or 336-903-7304 Spanish, for more information or to schedule an appointment.
  18. Brenner FIT Adds Wilkes County Site to Telemedicine Network

    Pediatric Weight-Management Program is Now Connected with 7 Locations  

    WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – December 8, 2015 – Brenner FIT, the Brenner Children’s Hospital program that takes a family-centered approach to treating children with obesity, has extended its electronic reach to Wilkes County.
    A secure video link between Brenner Children’s, part of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, and the Wilkes County Health Department in Wilkesboro allows patients and families members to have some of their Brenner FIT sessions without having to travel to the hospital in Winston-Salem.
    “This site is open to all families in Wilkes and the surrounding counties who could benefit from a location for treatment that’s close to home,” said Joseph Skelton, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at Wake Forest Baptist and director of Brenner FIT. “We’re grateful to the Wilkes County Health Department for providing the space that will let people in those communities communicate directly with our experts via webcam.”
    The Wilkesboro location is the seventh to have a Brenner TeleFIT connection. The network’s other links are to sites in Boone, Dobson, Elkin, Greensboro, Hickory and Lenoir. A grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission helped support the network’s expansion to Wilkes County.
    Brenner FIT is one of the most comprehensive weight-management programs in the country for children ages 2 to 18. It does not employ restrictive diets, medications or harsh exercise, focusing instead on changes in family habits and attitudes, improved nutrition and increased physical activity.
    The program includes clinic visits, classes, coaching and training sessions and consultations with the Brenner FIT team of physicians, behavioral counselors, dietitians, physical therapists, social workers and exercise specialists.
    For information about Brenner FIT, email brennerfit@wakehealth.edu or call 336-713-2348.

    Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center (www.wakehealth.edu) is a nationally recognized academic medical center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with an integrated enterprise including educational and research facilities, hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centers and other primary and specialty care facilities serving 24 counties in northwest North Carolina and southwest Virginia. Its divisions are Wake Forest Baptist Health, a regional clinical system that includes Brenner Children’s Hospital and has close to 175 locations, 900 physicians and 1,000 acute care beds; Wake Forest School of Medicine, an established leader in medical education and research; and Wake Forest Innovations, which accelerates the commercialization of research discoveries and specialized research capabilities of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and operates Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, an urban district for research, business and education. Wake Forest Baptist clinical, research and educational programs are annually ranked among the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

  19. New Phone System at Health Department

    The health department is switching to a new phone system tomorrow on December 1, 2015.   Our numbers will remain the same.  However, the transfer will occur around 9:00 am and take around 10 minutes but could take up to 30 minutes.  Please try again if you experience difficulty reaching the health department.  We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause during this time.  Our fax numbers will not be switching so they will not be affected. Thank you for your patience.

  20. The Countdown is On…Great American Smokeout is Just Around the Corner

    Get ready to lose the habit, and become victorious over tobacco. The American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout event is your chance to triumph over addiction. Every November, we set aside the third Thursday to encourage smokers to go the distance, and to finally give up smoking.

    About 42 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. As of 2013, there were also 12.4 million cigar smokers in the US, and over 2.3 million who smoke tobacco in pipes — other dangerous and addictive forms of tobacco.

    By quitting — even for one day — you will be taking an important step toward a healthier life — one that can lead to reducing your cancer risk. It’s a race for your health, and it starts today. Today’s the day that quitters win.

    Great American Smokeout Flier 2015

  21. Race to Quit, NC

    Despite increased awareness about the dangers of tobacco, North Carolina has made great strides to curb tobacco addiction, but we still rank 12th among states with the highest concentration of tobacco users, that’s more than 20 percent of adults in our state are still cigarette smokers.

    Every year, tobacco use (second-hand smoke notwithstanding) kills more people than alcohol, automobile accidents, AIDS, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined.  We know the vast majority of tobacco users know of these dangers and have tried unsuccessfully to quit, but they might not be aware of the support that exists to help them in the fight.

    Most tobacco users are aware of the dangerous health effects and have even tried to quit before. But many don’t realize that there is help out there.

    That’s why more than 50 organizations-including leading patient groups, health care delivery systems, nonprofits, and state and local agencies are launching “Race to Quit, NC.” Together, we are offering the assistance and resources that North Carolinians need to cross the finish line and join the quitter’s circle. For more information click here.

    September 22, 2015 

     

  22. Child Passenger Safety Week 2015

    Children are our future. Protecting them is the responsibility of all community members. Unfortunately, car crashes are a leading cause of death for children. On average, nearly 2 children under 13 were killed and 345 children were injured every day in 2013 while riding in cars, SUVs, pickups, and vans. It’s hard to overstate the toll this takes on families, but we can help put an end to this tragedy by taking some important steps.

    Today, all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories require the use of car seats for children traveling in motor vehicles. Car seat laws were enacted because they save lives and prevent injuries. In 2013, 637 children under age 13 could have lived if all of these children had been buckled. We know car seats are most effective when installed and used correctly. Tweens are at risk, too: Among 13-year-old car, van and SUV occupants who died in crashes between 2009 and 2013, almost half were not wearing their seat belts. By working together, we can prevent these deaths and injuries.

    That is why Safe Kids Wilkes County is committed to working closely with safety advocates to help ensure children arrive safe and alive. Our goal is to educate parents and caregivers about the best ways to keep kids safe while traveling, no matter how short or long the trip. During Child Passenger Safety Week, car seat safety events will be held across the country. Safe Kids Wilkes County encourages all parents and caregivers to take advantage of this service to make sure that their children are in the right car seats for their age and size, and that seats are installed correctly. To locate an inspection station in your area, click here or for car seat safety tips click here.

  23. September is National Food Safety Month

    Wilkes County Health Department’s division of Environmental Health announced today that it will actively support National Food Safety Month (NFSM) by showcasing its commitment to food safety and food safety education. NFSM is an annual awareness campaign now in its 21st year. It serves to build public awareness in all aspects of food safety education.

    Angie Rhodes, Environmental Health Supervisor, for Wilkes County explained that she and her team are excited about participating in NFSM throughout September. “We take food safety very seriously within Environmental Health. While we are committed to food safety throughout the year, this month we will be focusing on the public’s awareness of food safety and how they can better protect themselves and their loved ones”.

    Foodborne illness affects 48 million Americans every year, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.  Local health departments (LHD) including Wilkes County are key to the prevention and decrease of foodborne illness.  LHDs help to ensure that food is safe to eat at home, at community events, in restaurants, and in schools.  They take the lead role in foodborne disease investigations and detections.  As well as providing educational information to the public about how to protect themselves from getting foodborne disease.  Wilkes County Environmental Health Food and Lodging team work actively to inspect restaurants, schools, daycare centers, hospitals and grocery stores to ensure safe food handling practices and sanitary conditions are maintained.  All facilities inspection grades and comments can be viewed by the public on our Wilkes County Health Department website.  We encourage the public to utilize this resource and the sanitation grade posted in the facility when making a dining selection.

    Foodborne illness is a costly and sometimes deadly problem.  Hospitalizations due to foodborne illnesses are estimated to cost over $3 billion dollars, and lost productivity is estimated to cost $20 to $40 billion each year.

    Please visit the Wilkes County Health Department’s website at http://wilkeshealth.com/environmental-health/environmental-health-programs/ .  Click on the Food Safety Basics link to learn more information about National Food Safety Month or call 336-651-7530.

     

    September 10, 2015

  24. Community Health Needs Assessment Going On Now

    Every three years, the health department collaborates with Wilkes Regional Medical Center, the Health Foundation and community partners to conduct a community health needs assessment. The community health needs assessment provides useful information from local community members about their health concerns, access to care, and individual health status.  At the completion of the assessment, community priority areas are set and action plans are developed to work towards improvements in population health.

    A key component of the CHA is collecting input from the community. One way to do that is through the survey link below. The survey takes approximately 20 minutes to complete. The only required questions are the questions that ask you to identify a particular number of items. When completing the survey, if there is a need to go back, please use the “previous” button at the bottom of each page.

    Please take a few minutes and complete the survey via the SurveyMonkey link below.

    The only requirements are the person must be a resident of Wilkes County, at least 18 years old, and has not already completed the survey. To take the survey, please click here.

     

  25. National WIC Breastfeeding Week 2015

    WASHINGTON, Aug. 3, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is recognizing state and local agencies of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (more commonly known as WIC) that excel in offering education and support for breastfeeding mothers. As part of World Breastfeeding Week activities, Vilsack has also proclaimed this week, Aug. 1-7, as National WIC Breastfeeding Week, “in appreciation of breastfeeding mothers and of all the dedicated volunteers, professionals, communities, and organizations who support their efforts.”

    “The work being done by WIC programs to empower mothers to breastfeed—addressing societal barriers, enhancing peer counselor programs, building key coalitions, and more-is absolutely vital and deserves recognition,” said Vilsack. “There is no better food than breast milk for a baby’s first year of life. Increasing breastfeeding rates can help reduce the prevalence of various illnesses and health conditions, which in turn results in lower health care costs.”

    According to a 2010 study, if 90 percent of U.S. families could comply with medical recommendations to breastfeed exclusively for six months, the United States would prevent more than 900 deaths save $13 billion per year and from reduced direct and indirect medical costs and the cost of premature death.

    Throughout the week the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is recognizing outstanding breastfeeding programs with WIC Breastfeeding Performance Bonuses and the WIC Loving Support Awards of Excellence. The recognition supports the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which calls for increased emphasis on breastfeeding promotion and support in the WIC program.

    This year, WIC Breastfeeding Performance Bonuses are presented to large (>1,000 infants) and small (<1,000 infants) high-performing WIC agencies with the greatest improvement in the percentage of exclusively breastfed infants over the past year. A total of $500,000 will be awarded to eight state WIC agencies and Indian tribal organizations that have demonstrated successful breastfeeding promotion and support efforts. The performance bonuses highlight WIC agencies’ successful breastfeeding initiatives, while encouraging and motivating other state agencies to strengthen their breastfeeding promotion and support services.

    For the first time, USDA is also recognizing exemplary WIC local agencies with the WIC Loving Support Awards of Excellence. WIC agencies utilizing the USDA Loving Support Model for a successful peer counseling program were eligible to apply for the honor, which considers their breastfeeding performance measures, effective peer counseling programs and community partnerships. A total of 55 local WIC agencies across the country qualified for an award. By recognizing their success and sharing best practices, the WIC Loving Support Awards of Excellence will provide successful models and motivation to other WIC local agencies with the goal of ultimately increase breastfeeding rates among WIC participants.

    The WIC program provides nutritious foods to supplement diets, nutrition education (including breastfeeding promotion and support), and referrals to health and other social services to low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, infants, and children up to age five. Services are made available through approximately 1,900 local agencies and 10,000 clinic sites. Visit www.fns.usda.gov/WIC to learn more about the WIC program.

    In addition to WIC, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services administers several other programs including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, National School Lunch Program, and the Summer Food Service Program which together comprise America’s nutrition safety net. For more information, visit www.fns.usda.gov.

     

    August 4, 2015

  26. Overdose Awareness Day

    Overdose Awareness Day, August 31, has been a key remembrance event for those who have died from fatal drug overdoses since 2001. On August 28 through August 31, thousands of people worldwide will stand beside the friends and families of fatal overdose victims to reflect on their losses. The event intends to reinforce the idea that no-one need feel shame or disgrace at the death of someone from drug overdose.
    Overdose Awareness Day also presents an opportunity to help our communities understand that drug overdose is a social issue and no-one is immune to drug harm.
    The number of fatalities from prescription medications continues to grow and this event is a chance to share with our community that medicines can be dangerous when not taken properly or in combination with other substances. Prescription medications play an important medical role but their use can have tragic long-term consequences. For more information about Overdose Awareness Day, click here.

  27. Confirmation of Canine Flu in North Carolina

    RALEIGH – North Carolina veterinary officials have received confirmation of three cases of canine influenza in Asheville and Winston-Salem, and are receiving reports of suspected cases in Greensboro.

    According to reports, more than 200 dogs may have the virus, but since it is not a reportable disease in North Carolina, the problem could be more widespread. Veterinarians are asked to voluntarily report cases to the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Animal Welfare Section at 919-715-7111 or agr.aws@ncagr.gov so officials can track the spread.

    The signs of canine flu are cough, runny nose and fever and are similar to other respiratory problems. Other signs can include lethargy, eye discharge, reduced appetite and low-grade fever. Most dogs recover within two to three weeks. However, secondary bacterial infections can develop, and may cause more severe illness and pneumonia. Anyone with concerns about their pet’s health, or whose pet is showing signs of canine influenza, should contact their veterinarian. Dog owners should consider limiting contact with other dogs and visits to communal areas.

    The virus is highly contagious and easily spread from infected dogs to other dogs through direct contact, nasal secretions (through coughing and sneezing), contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes), and people moving between infected and uninfected dogs.

    There is a canine flu vaccination, but it may not be appropriate for all dogs. Pet owners should contact their veterinarian to determine if vaccination is advisable.

    Dr. Patricia Norris, director of the Animal Welfare Section, recommends that boarding and shelter facilities review their current intake, isolation, veterinary care, monitoring and sanitation protocols with their facility veterinarian to be sure they are taking adequate measures to control the spread of this virus.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control, there is no evidence of transmission of canine influenza viruses from dogs to people and there has not been a reported case of human infection with canine influenza. Also, this strain of influenza is different from avian influenza that has caused the deaths of birds in the Midwest.

    More information can be found at by clicking here.

     

    July 28, 2015

  28. Rabid Cat Found on Highway 268 East Near East Wilkes High School

    Wilkes County Health Department officials have identified a rabid cat that was found on July 13, 2015  at Highway 268 East adjacent to East Wilkes High School.   Due to its illness this animal was euthanized and submitted for rabies diagnostic testing and found to be positive for rabies on July 14, 2015.

    The cat was estimated to be approximately 6 months old, gray tabby with white paws.   Anyone having contact with this cat, or being bitten by it between June 30 and July 13 should call the Health Department at 336-651-7524 for medical consultation and rabies risk assessment.

    Wilkes County Animal Control has been working closely with the Health Department on this case to track down other potentially rabid animals in the area, including cats and dogs who may have had contact with the rabid cat. Rabies is a fatal disease of both man and animals. If you, your child or your pets were bitten by this cat or suspect you had a non-bite exposure to the cat’s saliva, please call the health department immediately. Rabies post exposure prophylaxis consists of wound cleansing and administration of rabies immune globulin and a series of four vaccines. Residents with a concern about their pet’s exposure to this cat or other rabid animals in the area should contact Animal Control at 336-903-7688.

    Rabies is common in wildlife in North Carolina and Wilkes County. Domestic animals are commonly infected with rabies as a result of exposure to raccoons. Cats are the domestic animal most commonly identified with rabies in North Carolina. Stray and feral cats should be left alone and the public should not attempt to interact with them or feed them. While this cat was positively identified with rabies, a bite from any kitten or cat that is lost to follow up would be an indication for administration of rabies post exposure prophylaxis.

    For the welfare of the animal, and the safety and health of the public, all cats and dogs in Wilkes County should be vaccinated for rabies, and kept on leash (whether or not you have a county leash law, this is good advice). When bitten or scratched by any animal (even a dog or cat that is currently vaccinated against rabies) you should thoroughly clean the wound with soap and warm water and contact your physician or the Health Department for additional advice.

     

    July 15, 2015

  29. World No Tobacco Week

    Starting May 20, 2015- May 31, 2015 is World No Tobacco Week. Quitline NC is offering free nicotine patches. To qualify you must call between May 20, 2015 and May 31, 2015, be 18 years and older, call from a North Carolina phone number, and commit to a quit date. If you are looking to quit and need help call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or 1-800-784-8669 or visit QuitlineNC.com. For more information click here.

  30. March is National Nutrition Month

    March is National Nutrition Month (NNM) and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) encourages everybody to “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle”.  National Nutrition Month is an opportunity to focus on nutrition education and information.  This month is designed to focus attention on the importance of making educated food choices and developing healthy eating and physical activity habits.  National Nutrition Month is also an opportunity to promote the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics along with Registered Dietitians.  Registered Dietitians are your best source for credible, non-biased food and nutrition information.

    According to a 2012 report on ABC news, the diet industry is a $20 billion a year industry and when surveyed, over 100 million people reported being on a diet, 85% of whom were female.  However even with this significant financial investment 34.9% of Americans are considered obese that is, according to the CDC guidelines, of having a body mass index greater than 30.  So what does it mean to “Bite into a healthy lifestyle” anyways?  The definition of lifestyle is the way in which a person lives, which means in order to live a healthy lifestyle you must make choices every day that contributes to health.  For many people, this is much easier said than done.

    When you “Bite into a healthy lifestyle” it means you are making choices every day that fit into your body’s specific nutritional, calorie and physical activity needs.  Age, gender, body type, family history, existing health conditions and daily routines all play a factor in determining which foods we should eat more of and which we should limit when trying to optimize our health.  That is why it is so important to see a Registered Dietitian if you have questions or are confused about your specific nutritional needs.  The Wilkes County Diabetes and Nutrition Center offers individual nutrition counseling, provided by 2 Registered Dietitians if you are seeking to improve eating habits, better your health or control your chronic medical condition.  Here are some tips to help you “Bite into a healthy Lifestyle”:

    1. Get to know your foods – Understanding what is in food is essential to making informed food choices while building an eating plan that meets your tastes.
    2. Understand the facts – Knowing how and what to read on the nutrition fact label can be confusing.  Some of the information may not be pertinent to each person, so knowing what to look for is key.
    3. Avoid a restrictive mindset – As soon as food is made off limits that is all you will be able to think about.  So figure out how to make all foods fit.  In the right portion.
    4. Move more – You don’t have to run a marathon to be active.  Incorporating more movement into your daily routine is a great place to start.
    5. Eat frequently – Our bodies aren’t any more complicated today than they were centuries ago, that is why we need to fuel it frequently throughout the day, but in small portions.  This means avoid skipping meals.
    6. Stay hydrated – We all know drinking water is good for us, so try to make sure you are matching your water intake, at the very least, to any other drink you may be consuming (ie:  coffee, regular or diet soda, tea, etc.).
    7. Keep it simple – You don’t have to be a gourmet chef to eat good tasting foods.  Try some new recipes or just focus on increasing your fruits and vegetables a little each day by using frozen or low sodium/no added sugar canned foods.

    The Wilkes County Diabetes and Nutrition Center is located at 234 Jefferson St in North Wilkesboro, in the medical arts complex next to Wilkes Regional Medical Center.  We are here to help you obtain your healthy lifestyle.  Most major insurances accepted.  Call for more information:  (336)667-0460

     

    March 3, 2015

  31. Wilkes County Health Department Selected for National Mentorship Program

    The Wilkes County Health Department is pleased to announce the that Environmental Health Section of the health department has been chosen by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to participate in the fourth cohort of a mentorship program for retail food regulatory program. The Environmental Health Section is among 25 health departments selected nationwide to participate in this year’s cohort. The Environmental Health Section will be mentored by the Wake County Environmental Health and Safety Division. Other selected sites in North Carolina include Jackson County Department of Public Health, Cumberland County Department of Public Health Environmental Health Division, Lee County Health Department, Davie County Health Department, and Richmond County Health Department.

    The Mentorship Program is funded by FDA and NACCHO. It provides peer mentoring for regulatory programs that license and inspect foodservice and retail food establishments and are working towards achieving conformance with the Retail Program Standards. Peer mentoring is provided by matching programs experienced in implementing the Retail Program Standards with programs that are looking for assistance, guidance, tools and resources, and recommendations for achieving conformance with the Retail Program Standards. The Mentorship Program has helped participants from the first three cohorts improve their inspection programs, enhance customer service, and implement innovative strategies to reduce risk factors at retail that may cause or contribute to foodborne illness outbreaks.

    The Retail Program Standards are designed to help food regulatory programs enhance the services they provide to the public. The Retail Program Standards identify program areas where an agency can have the greatest impact on retail food safety and improve industry and consumer confidence in food protection programs.

    “We are honored to be selected because the Retail Program Standards is an on-going quality improvement program, which will help us advance in our practice, and how to best apply the program to benefit Wilkes County.”, said Environmental Health Supervisor Angie Rhodes. “We are also hopeful that we will be able to participate in a future cohort as a mentor site, which would provide us leadership development and grant opportunities/financial resources.”

    The Retail Program Standards focus on nine program areas: regulatory foundation; trained regulatory staff; inspection program based on HACCP principles; uniform inspection program; foodborne illness and food defense preparedness and response; compliance and enforcement; industry and community relations; program support and resources; and program assessment.

    The Mentorship Program’s fourth cohort begins in January 2015 with mentors and mentees identifying their goals and developing a work plan. The mentees, with assistance and guidance from their peer mentors, will then work towards achieving conformance with the Retail Program Standards. This work will culminate with a wrap-up meeting in August 2015 where mentors and mentees will be able to share lessons learned, as well as outcomes from the program. The outcomes will be summarized in a final report that will include lessons learned and resources and tools developed by program participants.

     

    January 20, 2015

  32. State of the County’s Health Report Released

    The Board of Health approved the Wilkes County Health Department’s “State of the County’s Health” (SOTCH) report at their December 8th meeting. A SOTCH report is prepared each year that a Community Health Assessment (CHA) is not conducted. The last CHA was completed by the Wilkes County Health Department and Wilkes Regional Medical Center in 2013, and will be repeated again in 2016.

    The SOTCH updates the community on progress made by community members towards health priority areas identified in the CHA. The six health areas addressed by local task forces and reported on in the SOTCH are access to care, chronic disease, physical activity, nutrition, mental health and substance abuse. Highlights in these areas presented to the Board of Health included certified application counselors to assist community members with understanding the federal health insurance exchange, implementation of FitnessGram in Wilkes County Schools, increasing adoption and implementation of Mental Health First Aid for youth, naloxone dispensing by public health nurses, and market voucher and cooking demonstration programs with the farmers markets.

    The SOTCH also identifies emerging issues, new initiatives for health, resources in Wilkes County that promote active living, health eating and tobacco-free living, and resources needed to support health in our community. Leading causes of death and hospitalization are also included. The Health Department makes the SOTCH and past community health reports available to community members through their website at wilkeshealth.com , you can download it by clicking here, or it is available in print at the Wilkes County Library. For more information about these reports, please visit our website or call 336-651-7450.

     

    December 17, 2014

  33. Wilkes Community Resource Guide Updated

    The Wilkes County Health Department has updated the Wilkes Community Resource Guide, which provides information on services and other opportunities in the community that support good overall health and wellness. The guide includes many free community resources, such as Living Healthy classes for individuals with chronic conditions and free car seat safety checks. It can be accessed on wilkeshealth.com through the “About Us” tab, under “Community Reports.” or you can click here to download it.  The resource guide is developed as part of the Community Health Assessment process, completed every three years by the Health Department, most recently in 2013. The resource guide is updated at least once annually to provide current information to Wilkes County residents.

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    December 5, 2014

  34. Wilkes County Health Department Thanks Public Health Heroes on Public Health Thank You Day!

    On the Monday before Thanksgiving, the Wilkes County Health Department joins Research!America and leading U.S. public health organizations to recognize public health professionals who go above and beyond to protect the health of all Americans.

    Public Health Thank You Day 2014 honors all those unsung heroes who keep our drinking water safe and air clean, develop vaccines, track and investigate infections, and protect us against  threats to our health such as  influenza, the Ebola and Enterovirus D68 outbreaks and natural disasters.

    These unsung heroes who protect the nation’s health throughout the year include our nurses, physicians environmental health sanitarians, researchers, health educators, interpreters and so many others.

    “Public Health Thank You Day reminds us of the invaluable contributions of those who work selfishly and in sometimes dangerous conditions to ensure that Americans are protected from health threats,” said Mary Woolley, president and CEO of Research!America. “Their lifesaving efforts should be commended each and every day.”

    Recent outbreaks have shown us that in spite of the challenges and risks, public health professionals continue to dedicate their time and energy to combat disease and maintain a healthy environment for Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and various institutions within our public health infrastructure have come together to address recent outbreaks, and  public health professionals are tackling these threats head-on—as they do with other health challenges on a daily basis.

    “We are so appreciative of the hard work of our team members here at the Health Department and in the community who work to keep the public safe and healthy,” said Ann Absher, Health Director.

    Research!America’s Public Health Thank You Day partners include the Wilkes County Health Department, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the Society for Public Health Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and the American Cancer Society.

    More information and materials can be found at www.publichealththankyouday.org.

    About Research!America

    Research!America is the nation’s largest not-for-profit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority. Founded in 1989, it is supported by member organizations that represent more than 125 million Americans. For more information, visit www.researchamerica.org.

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    November 24, 2014

  35. New Flu Vaccine Policy for Health Department Employees

    At their October 13th meeting, the Board of Health approved adding the requirement for mandatory influenza vaccine for all Wilkes County Health Department employees, students and contract workers. This updates the immunization policy for employees, which requires vaccines and screenings like Hepatitis B and TB screening.

    The policy allows for medical or religious exemptions, and went into effect on October 13th with a deadline of November 10th to have received the influenza vaccine.  If an employee refuses the vaccine or is granted a medical or religious exemption, they are required to wear a surgical mask or N95 (if applicable) during work hours whenever in the presence of another person during flu season, between November 10 and March 31. “100% of employees in the active workforce are in compliance with this policy. Any staff that may be on leave will be evaluated upon return to work to determine if they have received the influenza vaccine,” reported Ann Absher, Health Director.

    The goals behind adding the flu vaccine to the immunization policy are to reduce employee illness and absenteeism during flu season, and to reduce the spread of flu from an employee to patients or to other employees having high risk, chronic medical conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, individuals with medical conditions including asthma, epilepsy, COPD, heart disease, diabetes, immune-suppressing conditions and others are at high risk for developing flu-related complications.

    The Health Department’s flu policy follows a similar policy implemented by Wilkes Regional Medical Center. Other healthcare facilities around the US and North Carolina have implemented mandatory flu vaccine policies, among them Novant Health in Winston Salem and Duke University Health System in Durham. National organizations who support mandatory flu vaccine policies include the American Public Health Association, American Hospital Association, US Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC.

    If you have not received your flu shot yet, it is not too late. Flu season typically lasts through March 31, and a vaccine received now can still protect you. Contact your doctor, pharmacy or the Health Department at 336-651-7449 for more information on getting a flu shot.

     

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    November 19, 2014

  36. Don’t Go At It Alone: Get a Quit Coach and Free Patches for Great American Smokeout

    (Wilkesboro, NC) – There has never been a better time to quit smoking in North Carolina than the 2014 Great American Smokeout, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, on November 20th. Any tobacco user who registers to quit with QuitlineNC on November 20th is eligible to receive eight weeks of free nicotine patches to help them quit for good.

    QuitlineNC, North Carolina’s telephone and online quit-smoking support service, is ready to help smokers – as well as other tobacco users – take advantage of this great opportunity by working with a Quit Coach.

    “The nicotine in tobacco is addictive and it can be difficult to quit,” said Allison Marron, Health Promotion Coordinator at the Wilkes County Health Department. “The combination of coaching and nicotine replacement therapy of this special offer can be a lifeline to help more people in Wilkes County quit successfully.”

    A Quit Coach can help you plan to quit, offer tips and support, mail you materials, and be there for you every step of the way – whether you choose to quit for the Great American Smokeout or any time. Nicotine replacement therapy, such as the patches, can also be a big help.

    “An expert Quit Coach has knowledge and tips that go way beyond the support you can get from a friend or co-worker,” said Ms. Marron. “They can tell you about local quit smoking programs, sign you up for web coaching, and even call you back to check on your progress. And, if you register on Great American Smokeout day, they can send you eight weeks of free nicotine patches, too.”

    Get your own Quit Coach and free nicotine patches on November 20th by calling 1-800-Quit-Now (1-800-784-8669) or visit www.quitlinenc.com. For service in Spanish call 1-855-DEJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569). QuitlineNC operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

     

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  37. New Phone Number Announced for NC Calls about Ebola

    Charlotte—Residents in North Carolina with questions or concerns about the Ebola virus are directed to call a new number: 1-844-836-8714. The North Carolina Ebola Public Information Line will continue to be staffed by the Carolinas Poison Center 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Nurses, pharmacists and other medical professionals handle the calls.

    As of early November, the Carolinas Poison Center has fielded 279 calls about Ebola. Calls range from questions about how Ebola is acquired and spread to questions about symptoms that accompany the virus. The poison center is partnering with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to provide this service to the public.

    Ebola is transmitted through the blood and bodily fluids of an infected person. It is not transmitted through air, water or food. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) notes that the following symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days: fever that is greater than 38°C or 100.4°F, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bleeding or bruising. A person infected with the Ebola virus is not contagious until symptoms appear.

    The Carolinas Poison Center, operated by Carolinas HealthCare System, offers residents in all 100 counties of North Carolina free and confidential phone assistance with poisoning emergencies and questions about poisons. Nurses, pharmacists and doctors who are experts in poisonings handle the calls. Carolinas Poison Center is one of 55 poison centers serving the U.S. and is certified by the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

    November 14, 2013

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  38. Wilkes County Health Department now accepting new patients.

    The Wilkes County Health Department is now accepting new patients in the following clinics:  Adult Health, Child Health, and Family Planning.  The health department is accepting patients that are insured and also those who are uninsured. The Wilkes County Health Department accepts Medicaid, NC Health Choice, private insurance including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna-Tyson Insurance, and offers a sliding fee scale for those who are uninsured.  The sliding fee scale is based on family size and income. For more information or to schedule an appointment please contact us at 336-651-7450.

  39. Health Department Compares to other Counties on Health Risk Factors

    The Wilkes County Health Department recently provided an addendum to the Division of Public Health for the Community Health Assessment conducted in 2013. The addendum document did not include any new health risk factors, however it provided disease rates for comparison counties, specifically Surry and Caldwell.

    The Division of Public Health requires counties to compare themselves to the state rate as well as rates for at least two comparison counties, to highlight areas where the county may have better health outcomes than its peers. Wilkes, for example, had a lower age-adjusted death rate for heart disease from 2007-2011 compared to selected peer counties and to the state average. Other updated data includes comparisons for cancer and stroke death rates, cancer incidence rates, live birth data and outcomes, teen pregnancy, communicable diseases and mental health issues.

    The complete Community Health Assessment, addendum document and related community resource guide are available online at wilkeshealth.com and in print at the Wilkes County Library.

    The Community Health Assessment (CHA) is designed to promote a broader understanding of the health of the community and measure local progress in improving the health of the community through collaboration measures with community partners. Completed every four years, the CHA is a process by which community members gain an understanding of the health, concerns and healthcare systems of the community by identifying, collecting, analyzing and disseminating information on community assets, strengths, resources and needs. Each hospital system also conducts a community health needs assessment (CHNA) to achieve a similar purpose. In 2013, Wilkes County Health Department and Wilkes Regional Medical Center collaborated to fulfill their CHA and CHNA requirements. The CHA presents the collaborative process, assessment of primary and secondary data, overall results and Wilkes County’s leading health priorities. The next joint CHA / CHNA will be conducted in 2016.

    In years when a CHA is not conducted, the Health Department prepares a State of the County’s Health (SOTCH) report, which provides an update of the activities conducted by community task forces towards our priority health issues. The Health Department will be preparing the 2014 SOTCH this fall, which is due to the state in March 2015. In addition, the Health Department updates its Community Resource Guide at least once annually, which provides information on services and other opportunities in the community that support good overall health and wellness. The Resource Guide is currently being updated, and is anticipated to be completed by January 2015.

    The Health Department and community partners continue to work on health priorities relating to physical activity, nutrition, chronic disease prevention, mental health, substance abuse and access to care. Services offered by the Health Department in these areas include: Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less, a 15-week weight loss program offered each year in January; Living Healthy, a free 6-week program to help individuals manage chronic or ongoing health conditions; Certified Application Counselors who can help with determining eligibility for and applying for coverage on the health exchange during open enrollment; and diabetes and other medical nutrition services, among other programs. For more information, please visit wilkeshealth.com or call 336-651-7450.

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  40. Rabid Cat Found on Highway 18 North / Byrd Ridge Road

    Wilkes County Health Department officials have identified a rabid cat that was found on October 23, 2014 at Highway 18 North / Byrd Ridge Road. Due to its illness this animal was euthanized and submitted for rabies diagnostic testing and found to be positive for rabies on October 28, 2014.

    The cat was a domestic long hair, smoky gray in color with white on its chest and both front feet. Anyone who had contact with this cat, or was bitten by it between October 9 and October 23 should call the Wilkes County Health Department at 336-651-7524 for medical consultation and rabies risk assessment.

    Wilkes County Animal Control has been working closely with the Health Department on this case to track down other potentially rabid animals in the area, including cats and dogs who may have had contact with the rabid cat. Rabies is a fatal disease of both man and animals. If you, your child or your pets were bitten by this cat or suspect you had a non-bite exposure to the cat’s saliva, please call the health department immediately. Rabies post exposure prophylaxis consists of wound cleansing and administration of rabies immune globulin and a series of four vaccines. Residents with a concern about their pet’s exposure to this cat or other rabid animals in the area should contact Animal Control at 336-903-7688.

    Rabies is common in wildlife in North Carolina and Wilkes County. Domestic animals are commonly infected with rabies as a result of exposure to raccoons. Cats are the domestic animal most commonly identified with rabies in North Carolina. Stray and feral cats should be left alone and the public should not attempt to interact with them or feed them. While this cat was positively identified with rabies, a bite from any kitten or cat that is lost to follow up would be an indication for administration of rabies post exposure prophylaxis.

    For the welfare of the animal, and the safety and health of the public, all cats and dogs in Wilkes County should be vaccinated for rabies, and kept on leash (whether or not you have a county leash law, this is good advice). When bitten or scratched by any animal (even a dog or cat that is currently vaccinated against rabies) you should thoroughly clean the wound with soap and warm water and contact your physician or the Health Department for additional advice.

    For more information please contact Diane Bauguess at the Wilkes County Health Department at 33-651-7524 or email at dbauguess@wilkescounty.net. For more information on steps to prevent rabies, please click here.

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  41. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

    October 30, 2014

    October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Each year, October is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer, celebrating the lives of the many women who survived, and remembering those lost.

    Appoximately 1 in 8 women born today in the United States will get breast cancer at some point during her life. Aside from non-melanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States. It is also one of the leading causes of cancer deaths among women of all races. The good news is that early detection and treatment increases chances for survival.

    We encourage all women to take charge of their health by going for regular breast screenings.  Breast screenings check a woman’s breasts for cancer before noticeable signs or symptoms are present. There are two main tests used to screen for breast cancer.

    • Clinical breast exam – A breast exam by a doctor or nurse, who uses his or her hands to carefully feel for lumps or other changes in the entire breast area.
    • Mammogram – X-ray of the breast. Mammograms are the best method to detect breast cancer early when it is easier to treat and before it is big enough to feel or cause other symptoms.

    We urge every woman to talk with their healthcare provider about which screenings are right for them.

    Many local health departments, including the Wilkes County Health Department, offer free breast screenings, education and referral services to eligible women through the N.C. Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP).  To learn more about N.C. BCCCP, click here.

    The Wilkes County Health Department also receives grant funding from Susan G. Komen of Northwest North Carolina to provide education and services. These services are offered to women who are under-insured and uninsured, and have included screenings, mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsies, and surgical consults. To learn more about Susan G. Komen, click here. For more information about these services or to make an appointment, contact Brenda Stanley, Program Coordinator at 336-651-7450.

    This fall, the Health Department raised approximately $1,110 for Susan G. Komen of Northwest North Carolina through multiple fundraisers, including a Zumbathon, flapjack fundraiser at Applebee’s and jean’s week for Health Department employees, as well as donations made at educational booths at community events.

     

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  42. Youth Tobacco Survey Shows Less Smoking, More E-Cigarette Use Among N.C. Teens

    The 2013 N.C. Youth Tobacco Survey, released in September, delivered both good and bad news to those working to prevent tobacco use among North Carolina students. Results showed the lowest teen cigarette smoking rates ever recorded, along with a significant increase in teen use of certain non-cigarette tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and hookahs (water pipes).

    Cigarette smoking among North Carolina middle school students dropped 40 percent from 2011 to 2013, falling from 4.2 percent to 2.5 percent. Among high school students, the drop was 13 percent, from 15.5 percent to 13.5 percent.

    However, current use of electronic cigarettes among North Carolina high school students jumped by 352 percent from 1.7 percent in 2011 to 7.7 percent in 2013. Ten percent of high school students said they are considering using e-cigarettes in the next year and 10.6 percent of high school students are considering hookah use in the next year.

    Many individuals are not aware that e-cigarettes are considered tobacco products, and are restricted under tobacco-free policies already in place in local businesses and organizations. Some tobacco-free policies have been expanded to include e-cigarettes specifically, so as to avoid any confusion. Local examples include tobacco-free policies at Wilkes Community College and Wilkes County Schools, as well as the Board of Health’s tobacco-free rule regarding Wilkes County Health Department properties. All of these policies have been expanded in recent years to specifically list e-cigarettes among prohibited products.

    “We celebrate the decline in cigarette smoking; however this trend toward other tobacco use and dual use of tobacco products is a real cause for concern,” said Dr. Ruth Petersen, chief of the Chronic Disease and Injury Section in the N.C Division of Public Health. “Nicotine in these tobacco products is highly addictive, and there is evidence that using nicotine during adolescence may harm brain development.

    “It is clear that young people do not understand the addictive nature or the potential harms of these products. I keep hearing of young people around the state describing e-cigarettes as nothing but flavored water vapor, when that is far from the truth. Hookah pens, which are e-cigarettes made to look like writing pens, appear to be becoming quite popular with younger teens.”

    Other findings include:

    • Overall tobacco use among high school students increased from 25.8 percent to 29.7 percent from 2011 to 2013.
    • Hookah use more than doubled among high school students from 2011 to 2013, from 3.6 percent to 6.1 percent.
    • 19.1 percent of young tobacco users surveyed report using two or more forms of tobacco, such as hookahs or e-cigarettes.

    Full results from the most recent Youth Tobacco Survey, and results from previous years, may be found by clicking here.

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  43. Congratulations to Landra Roope Child Health Coordinator and the Wilkes County Diabetes and Nutrition Center

    The North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation Child Health Recognition Awards program honors local health departments, public health staff and individuals for innovative, collaborative programs that improve the lives of North Carolina’s children. The Foundation works with the North Carolina Public Health Association (NCPHA) to coordinate the program, and all nominees and award recipients are recognized at a luncheon at NCPHA’s annual meeting. Recognition awards are presented in four categories: Lifetime Achievement, Individual, Local Health Departments and Public Health Staff. The awards include grants and scholarships that promote public health study and programs that benefit children. Up to three health departments and three to five individuals are honored annually.

    We would like to congratulate Landra Roope, RN, BSN and the Wilkes County Diabetes and Nutrition Center for their contributions to child health.

    If a child needs a wellness check and the clinic is short-staffed, Child Health Coordinator Landra Roope quickly steps into her job as Expanded Role Nurse and sees the child. Because she is dependable, trustworthy, flexible and cost-conscious, she is often asked to mentor and help train students and colleagues.

    The Wilkes County Diabetes and Nutrition Center in Wilkes County faces its share of children who are overweight or obese, but public health nutritionists also tackle many other serious dietary problems, such as food allergies, picky eaters, or children on feeding tubes. By counseling healthy eating habits and nutrition, the dietitians are playing a vital role in the lives of Wilkes County children working with pediatric focused nutrition programs.

    For more information please click here, or you can download the 2014 Child Health Recognition Awards Program here.

  44. Health Department Leads Third Meeting with Ebloa Preparedness Team

    October 20, 2014

    Representatives from the Wilkes County Health Department met Friday with other county leaders and agencies to discuss protocol and procedures to prepare in the event of an Ebola response. This is the third meeting held of the Ebola Preparedness Team to discuss guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the North Carolina Division of Public Health regarding preparing for potential Ebola cases.

    Team members represented at Friday’s meeting were from the Health Department, Wilkes Regional Medical Center, Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office, Wilkes Communication Center, Town of Wilkesboro Police, Wilkes County Schools, Wilkes County Emergency Medical Services including first responders representative, Reins Sturdivant Funeral Home, and Animal Control. The County Clerk and County Manager were also present. Other community members invited were unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts. Ann Absher, Health Director at the Health Department, commended the large showing of community groups. “I am proud of the presence and leadership represented today,” said Mrs. Absher. Mrs. Absher and Diane Bauguess, Communicable Disease Nurse at the Health Department, are the lead Health Department contacts for this team.

    Other team members include Wilkesboro Fire Department, and new groups are being invited throughout the process to ensure it remains comprehensive, including the Wilkes Rescue Squad and Department of Social Services..

    The team met twice in August to review protocol for protective gear, isolation and quarantine. North Carolina has been preparing since July for the possibility that a patient in North Carolina might be diagnosed with Ebola. Friday’s meeting included a call with the North Carolina Division of Public Health, and also provided an update on how the Health Department would handle contact tracing. If a case was identified in Wilkes County, the Health Department would conduct contact tracing to identify who the infected person had been in contact with, their risk of developing Ebola, and the steps to monitor for symptoms. The North Carolina Division of Public Health is prepared to deploy community response teams for immediate action to aid in contact tracing, should any Ebola cases be diagnosed in North Carolina.

    The Ebola Preparedness Team is operating based on standard emergency preparedness plans, as well as updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the North Carolina Division of Public Health, and the North Carolina Division of Environment and Natural Resources, among other state agencies supporting law enforcement and other areas. The group is scheduled to meet weekly as the global Ebola crisis continues to share further updates, refine any local protocol and procedures accordingly and conduct appropriate training as necessary.

    Ebola is only contagious after the onset of symptoms. In our country, Ebola diagnosis includes recent travel to one of the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.  Ebola is sustained by human-to-human transmission through direct contact with the blood, secretions and other bodily fluids of ill people and through contact with environments contaminated with such fluids. The incubation period is typically 8 -10 days, but could be as little as two days and as long as 21 days. Symptoms are sudden onset fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat, followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and impaired kidney and liver function. Some cases develop both internal and external bleeding.

    For questions about Ebola, please call the NC Ebola Public Info Line at 1-800-222-1222 and select option 6.  For more information from the CDC please click here.

  45. No Evidence of Ebola in Patient Treated at Appalachian Regional Healthcare System

    Appalachian Regional Healthcare System and Appalachian District Health Department, working in close contact with the NC DHHS Division of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), assessed whether a patient presenting today might be suspected of having Ebola virus disease.

    After reviewing the case in great detail, the clinical care team and public health officials have determined that the patient’s illness and epidemiologic information are NOT consistent with Ebola infection.  The patient is currently being evaluated for other unrelated conditions.

    Based on the patient’s treatment needs, the patient is being transferred to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and is in stable condition.

    Appalachian Regional Healthcare System and Appalachian District Health Department are pleased with the coordinated public health response and quick action taken by the hospital medical team to provide excellent care to this patient and to assure the health of our community.

  46. Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68)

    October 10, 2014

    EV-D68 is one of more than 100 non-polio enteroviruses. It was first identified in California in 1962. As of October 7th 2014, 44 states including NC have lab confirmed cases of EV-D68.  Non-polio enteroviruses are very common with about 10-15 million infections in the United States each year. Symptoms of EV-D68 range from mild to severe respiratory illness. Mild Symptoms include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, body and muscle aches. Severe symptoms may include wheezing and difficulty breathing. The virus is found in infected persons respiratory secretions such as saliva, nasal mucus and or sputum. It is likely spread from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes or touches a surface that is then touched by others. Children with Asthma may have slightly higher risk for severe respiratory illness. EV-D68 can be diagnosed by specific lab tests on specimens from a infected person’s nose or throat. This testing is done through the CDC and State Health Departments. CDC recommends that clinicians consider EV-D68 testing for patients with severe respiratory illness without a clear cause. There is no specific treatment for people with respiratory illness caused by EV D-68. Some people with severe respiratory illness will require hospitalization. Prevention includes hand washing  often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick, cover coughs and sneezes with tissue or shirt sleeves (not hands), clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched (such as door knobs) and stay home when sick. Please report any clusters of severe respiratory illness or suspected cases or EV-D68 with severe illness to Wilkes County Health Department at 651-7450 For additional information on EV-D68 visit CDC.gov.

     

  47. DHHS Secretary Aldona Wos Says N.C. Has Been Preparing For Ebola

    October 10, 2014

    Raleigh, NC -Secretary Aldona Wos said that the Department of Health and Human Services’ (DHHS) Division of Public Health has been working closely with its public health partners and health care providers since July to prepare for the possibility that a patient in North Carolina might be diagnosed with Ebola.  Over the past few months, extensive guidance has been sent to health care providers and procedures have been put in place to routinely screen and evaluate patients.

    “North Carolina’s health care community is ready to identify and respond to a case of Ebola,” said Secretary Aldona Wos, M.D.  “If a case were to occur in North Carolina, state and local health officials would rapidly identify everyone who was potentially exposed and take immediate measures to prevent further spread.  Our public health professionals have extensive training and experience with this type of investigation and response.”

    Public health officials are actively monitoring for cases using a variety of methods, including surveillance of emergency department visits and collaborating with a network of hospital-based Public Health Epidemiologists.  DHHS’ State Laboratory of Public Health also has successfully established the capability to rapidly detect Ebola infection using procedures and materials provided by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

    Additionally, public health officials and DHHS’ Office of Emergency Medical Services have provided assistance to local EMS agencies with triage and treatment protocols for any potential Ebola patients.

    “North Carolina has a strong health care system and a multi-faceted public health infrastructure,” added Dr. Wos.  “I am confident in the measures in place and the strength of our system.  The keys are for all health care providers to take full travel histories from their patients and for good infection control practices to be strictly applied.”

    Ebola is only contagious after the onset of symptoms.  The incubation period before symptoms may appear is 2-21 days, with 8-10 days being the most common.  Ebola is spread through unprotected contact with blood or body fluids from someone who is infected. Anyone who becomes ill within 21 days after traveling to an affected area in West Africa should contact a healthcare provider right away and limit their contact with others until they have been evaluated.

    In addition to the current Ebola virus preparedness response, DHHS’ Division of Public Health tracks and responds to cases and outbreaks due to other infections, including food-borne, vector-borne and respiratory diseases.

  48. North Carolina Teen Pregnancies Hit Record Low for 6th Consecutive Year

    Teen Pregnancy Rate Down 67% Since 1990

    North Carolina’s teen pregnancy rate fell 11% last year, hitting a record low for a 6th consecutive year, according to new data provided by the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics and released by the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina (APPCNC). Statewide, 11,178 girls ages 15-19 experienced a pregnancy in 2013.

    The 2013 teen pregnancy rate was 35.2 per 1,000 15-19-year-old girls. In other words, only 3.5% of 15-19-year-old girls in North Carolina experienced a pregnancy last year.

    Other highlights from the newly released data include:

    • Reduced pregnancies among girls of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, helping to minimize some historical disparities. Pregnancies to white, black, and Hispanic teens dropped 13%, 11% and 7%, respectively.
      • Reducing the teen pregnancy rate also reduced all potential outcomes of a teen pregnancy. The teen birth rate dropped by 11% and the teen abortion rate dropped by 13%.
      • 75% of counties saw teen pregnancy decrease in 2013.
      • Less than one-quarter (24.3%) of pregnancies happened to a girl who has been pregnant before, the lowest proportion of repeat pregnancies in state history.
      • North Carolina’s teen pregnancy rate is 67% lower than when it peaked in 1990 at a rate of 105.4 per 1,000 girls ages 15-19.

    In Wilkes County, the 2013 pregnancy rate was 38.1 per 1,000 15-19 year old girls, or 75 total pregnancies. This shows an improvement over the past two years; in 2012, the teen pregnancy rate was 48.8 per 1,000 15-19 year old girls, or 96 total pregnancies. In 2011, the teen pregnancy rate of 53.9 per 1,000 15-19 year old girls or 107 total pregnancies. We have seen a decrease of 9.5% in pregnancies of 15-19 year old girls from 2011.

    Wilkes County has seen a 21.3% decline in teen pregnancies from 2012-2013. The county ranked 44 out of 100 counties, moving up from spot 30 last year. A higher rank indicates a lower teen pregnancy rate compared to lower ranked counties.

    Local successes are due in part to partnerships with the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina and their assistance with the implementation of the WISE (Working to Institutionalize Sex Education) curriculum, programs such as Wise Guys and Smart Girls by Communities In Schools, changes to the local Board of Education policy and changes in curriculum taught in schools.

    Nationwide, researchers have attributed teen pregnancy declines to increased use of birth control, the availability of highly effective long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) like IUDs and the Implant, and a slight increase in the average age when teens first engage in sexual intercourse.  North Carolina communities have focused on facilitating these trends.

    Teen Pregnancy’s Changing Face

    Part of the decline in teen pregnancy has been driven by the shrinking number of pregnancies to minors, which now account for only 29% of the state’s teen pregnancies.  A full 71% of all adolescent pregnancies in North Carolina happen to 18-19-year-old girls.

    “The face of teen pregnancy isn’t 16 and Pregnant,” said APPCNC CEO Kay Phillips. “We have always focused on encouraging parents, schools, and community groups to lay the groundwork for smart decision-making with age-appropriate, effective sex education. Now, we’re supplementing those strategies by helping people connect teens – especially older teens – with the most effective birth control methods as they reach the years when sexual activity is typical.”

    A Broader Understanding of Best Practices

    More schools and community organizations have offered evidence-based pregnancy prevention education as research has overwhelmingly illustrated the benefits.  However, experts have increasingly stressed the need to provide sexually active young people with LARCs, highly effective birth control methods which are associated with drastically lower teen pregnancy rates. Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended Implants and IUDs as the preferred first-line contraceptive method for sexually active teens.

    The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiatives (TPPI) has been successful with both strategies. Pregnancy prevention programs in 21 counties have provided younger teens with evidence-based and evidence-informed education programs. In addition, TPPI funds 22 programs in 21 counties to help young parents gain parenting and life skills while avoiding a subsequent pregnancy.

    TPPI’s Adolescent Parenting Program has been especially effective at ensuring that participating young women get education and resources to obtain contraceptive care, and tools to select more effective birth control methods. One in four Adolescent Parenting Program participants uses a LARC compared with only 7% of teen patients seen in the state’s federally funded Title X clinics in local health departments.

    “We see young people waiting longer to have sex and we see them better educated about birth control, which is great,” said Phillips. “But our systems break down when our health care providers don’t know about best practices in adolescent care or when young people are only offered traditional contraceptive methods like the Pill or condoms.”

    Planned Parenthood Health Systems in New Hanover County seamlessly combines evidence-based home visiting, peer group support, education, and access to medical care in their Adolescent Parenting Program. Participants, most of whom are 18-19-year-old parents, receive the Partners for a Healthy Baby curriculum, which has been proven to reduce rates of child abuse, improve health outcomes for participants’ children, promote family stability, and increase young parents’ economic self-sufficiency. The comprehensive approach to education, support, and medical care has helped 58.3% of participants choose LARC to prevent a subsequent pregnancy.

    “The dramatic decline in teen pregnancy is a remarkable accomplishment for North Carolina,” notes Phillips. “Continuing the combination of effective prevention programs, smart public policy, and best practices in birth control use is the way to keep up the fantastic trend.“

    Additional Resources:

    Snapshot of North Carolina Data: http://www.appcnc.org/data/map/northcarolina

    Data for Each North Carolina County: http://www.appcnc.org/data/map

    Historical Data: http://www.appcnc.org/data/state-statistics/archived-state-statistics

    NC State Center for Health Statistics: http://www.schs.state.nc.us/data/vital.cfm

     

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    APPCNC is North Carolina’s nonprofit leader in preventing adolescent pregnancy through advocacy, collaboration and education. Learn more at www.appcnc.org.

  49. Living Healthy Peer Leaders Training

    The Wilkes County Health Department will be offering a free training October 16, 17, 23 & 24 for Living Healthy workshop Peer Leaders. Individuals from Wilkes County who complete the training and co-lead a six-week Living Healthy workshop before June 30, 2015 will receive a $50 gift card. The Living Healthy program teaches adults skills to help self-manage their ongoing health conditions. No prior health care or teaching experience is required to be a Peer Leader volunteer.

    The training will be held at Wilkes Community College, from 9:00am-4:00pm each day. Attendance is required each day. The training, including workshop materials, snacks and lunch each day are provided for free by grant funding from the National Association of City and County Health Officials.

    The Health Department will coordinate the six-week workshop for volunteer Peer Leaders, and will cover the expenses of workshop materials. The incentive will be awarded after successful completion of co-leading one six-week workshop series. Please contact Allison Marron at the Wilkes County Health Department at 651-7449 for more information or to register.

  50. Free Living Healthy Workshops and Training this Fall

    The Wilkes County Health Department will be offering free Living Healthy workshops to help individuals self-manage their ongoing health conditions. This workshop is open to any adults with conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease, COPD, fibromyalgia, depression, asthma or any other chronic conditions. This free workshop is offered one time per week for six weeks, and will help participants build skills in managing symptoms with confidence, communicating effectively with their doctor and other health care professionals, making decisions, fighting fatigue and making daily tasks easier. Individuals are encouraged to register if they can attend at least four of the six sessions. Participants will receive a free gift at their first session, snacks at each session, and a $10 gift card for attending at least four of the six sessions.

    The next series will start on September 4 and will run every Thursday through October 9, from 2:00pm to 4:30pm at the First United Methodist Church of North Wilkesboro, located at 401 6th Street in North Wilkesboro. Another series will start on September 30 and will run every Tuesday through November 4 from 1:00pm-3:30pm at First Baptist Church of North Wilkesboro, located at 510 D Street in North Wilkesboro. For more information about Living Healthy or to pre-register for a workshop series, please contact Allison Marron at the Wilkes County Health Department at 651-7449.

    Individuals interested in volunteering as workshop leaders can attend a four-day Peer Leader training on October 16, 17, 23 and 24, from 9:00am-4:00pm at Wilkes Community College. Attendance is required each day. The training, including workshop materials, snacks and lunch each day are provided for free by grant funding awarded by the National Association of City and County Health Officials. The Health Department is offering a $50 gift card incentive for individuals from Wilkes County who complete the October 2014 training in Wilkes County and co-lead a six-week Living Healthy workshop before June 30, 2015. The Health Department would coordinate this training and cover the expenses of workshop materials. The incentive would be awarded after successful completion of leading one six-week workshop series. Please contact Allison Marron at the Wilkes County Health Department at 651-7449 to register.

     

  51. Free Healthy Living Workshop

    Living Healthy is a FREE workshop that will help you take control of your ongoing health condition rather than letting it control you!
    If you have diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, COPD, fibromyalgia, or any other chronic dis-ease, Living Healthy is for you. By attending this FREE workshop one time per week for 6 weeks, you will learn how to:

    •  Manage symptoms
    • Communicate effectively with your doctor
    • Fight fatigue
    • Build your confidence
    • Make daily tasks easier
    • AND…Get more out of life!

    Light refreshments provided. Free Gift for attending first session AND after completing at least 4 sessions. For more information click here.

  52. Local Team Participates in Public Health Leadership Program

    [WILKESBORO, NC] (March 2, 2014) – The Wilkes Health Action Team has been selected to participate in the third cohort of the National Leadership Academy for the Public’s Health (NLAPH) program, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). NLAPH is a national program focused on improving population health by working with multi-sector leadership teams and training the teams through an applied, team-based collaborative leadership development model. The program is implemented by the Center for Health Leadership and Practice (CHLP), a center of the Public Health Institute (PHI), and will provide training and support for a period of one year. The Wilkes Health Action Team is the first team to be selected from North Carolina.

    “This program will impart population health teams with the skills to lead across sectors and collaboratively solve complex population health problems in innovative ways,” said Carmen Rita Nevarez MD, MPH, Vice President for External Relations and CHLP’s Director. “These are the types of leaders who will ultimately be able to drive critical efforts, such as the adoption of evidence-based policies and practices at the community level, which can have a tangible impact on health outcomes.”

    The Wilkes Health Action Team will work on an applied health leadership project that tackles an important population health issue with the goal of improving public health outcomes.  Wilkes County currently ranks 75th out of 100 among all Counties in the State of North Carolina, according to the County Health Ranking & Roadmaps program, which is designed to help communities create solutions addressing specific factors that are known to affect health. The 2013 joint Community Health Assessment/Community Health Needs Assessment (CHA), led by Wilkes County Health Department and Wilkes Regional Medical Center, identified many health risks among the children in our county, including lacking health insurance (7.7%), and living in poverty (35.1%).  Health risks associated with an unhealthy weight are also a critical issue. According to the CHA, “In Wilkes County, one out of every two children that are middle school age is at an unhealthy weight.” The team assembled to undertake this critical issue includes representation from the public health, public schools and nonprofit sectors. Team members are Heather Murphy, Executive Director of The Health Foundation, Inc., Chris Skabo, Director of Athletics and Healthful Living for Wilkes County Schools, Ann Absher, the Health Director for the Wilkes County Health Department, and Allison Marron, the Health Promotion Coordinator.

    Our community has a long history of solving complex issues collaboratively. The Leadership Academy brings local representatives in the philanthropic, educational, and health care sectors together and allows us the opportunity to focus our energy on how we can best bring the community together around issues we all care about. We are all entering this initiative with a sense of purpose and a common understanding of the interconnectedness of health, education, and economic prosperity. We all want our children to be healthy and ready to learn so that they can grow to be contributing members of this community, but we need to figure out the best ways to reach our common goals,” said Ms. Murphy, who is also the team leader.

    NLAPH will provide training and support to assist the team in successfully addressing childhood obesity and other youth health issues.  Training and support will focus on two tracks.  The first is the development of leadership skills, including personal and collaborative leadership in a multi-sector environment. The second emphasizes growth from team-based collaborative work to policy and systems change.  NLAPH is provided at no cost to the participants or the community.

    For more information, contact:

    Allison Marron, Health Promotion Coordinator
    Wilkes County Health Department
    amarron@wilkescounty.net
    336-651-7449

     

  53. Free Workshop Series on Living Healthy With Chronic Disease

    The Wilkes County Health Department will be offering a free Living Healthy workshop to help individuals self-manage their ongoing health conditions. If you have diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, COPD, fibromyalgia, or any other chronic disease, Living Healthy is for you. By attending this FREE workshop one time per week for 6 weeks, you will learn how to: manage symptoms, communicate effectively with your doctor and other health care professionals,  lessen your frustration, fight fatigue, build your confidence, make daily tasks easier, and get more out of life!

    The workshop will run every Thursday from January 30th through March 6th, from 9:30am-12:00pm. Participants may still join on February 6th if they missed the session on January 30th.

    The workshop is being held at the Wilkes County Diabetes & Nutrition Center, located at 234 Jefferson St. in North Wilkesboro. For more information about Living Healthy or to pre-register for the workshop, please contact Allison Marron at the Wilkes County Health Department at 651-7449.

  54. Eat Smart Move More Weigh Less

    If you have resolved to eat better and exercise more for the New Year and need help staying motivated, then the Eat Smart Move More Weigh Less Program is just what you need.  Wilkes County Cooperative Extension and Health Department are offering this 15-week program beginning February 21th from 2:00pm until 3:00pm at the Express YMCA.

    The Eat Smart, Move More Weigh Less Program was created to help people learn about strategies that have proven to work for weight loss.  Over the 15 weeks, participants learn to pay attention to what they are eating and be mindful of how much activity they get each day.  To help develop these healthy habits, they receive a journal to record progress and a full color magazine with tips to help them along the way.  And, as an extra bonus, the YMCA will be offering participants free temporary membership for the duration of the program.

    “Most people think they need a prescriptive weight loss program,” says Sheree Vodicka, RD, LDN with the NC Division of Public Health. “With that type of program, most people gain the weight back over time. Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less helps people develop lifelong healthy habits that will help people to not just lose the weight, but to maintain their new healthier weight.”

    To register for the Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less Program please contact Wilkes Cooperative Extension at 651-7330.  There is a $30 enrollment fee that covers the cost of class materials, the journal and magazine, and a healthy snack.

    Space is limited so register soon. Contact:  Judy West, Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Education at 651-7330

    January 31, 2014

     

     

     

  55. Free Child Car Seat Check

    Safe Kids of Wilkes County is having a child car seat check tomorrow, Friday November 8, 2013 in the parking lot beside Shanghai Chinese Restaurant on HWY 421 from 2:00pm-4:00pm.

    The free child car seat check will address car seats, booster seats and seat belts. Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death among children ages 1 to 19. The certified technicians from Safe Kids Wilkes County will teach families how to use and install car seats so children are safe for every ride. This begins the process of ensuring passenger safety right into adulthood.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Kevin Bounds at 921-7533 or click here.

     

  56. North Carolina and Wilkes County Teen Pregnancies Drop to New Lows

    WILKESBORO, N.C. (OCTOBER 16, 2013) – North Carolina’s teen pregnancy rate fell 10% last year to a historic low, according to new data provided by the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics and released by the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina (APPCNC).

    The 2012 teen pregnancy rate for North Carolina was 39.6 per 1,000 15-19 year old girls. In other words, fewer than 4% of 15-19 year old girls in North Carolina experienced a pregnancy last year.

    Other highlights from the newly released data include:

    •           Reduced pregnancies among girls of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, helping to minimize some historical disparities. Pregnancies to white, black, and Hispanic teens dropped 8%, 11% and 13%, respectively.

    •           Reducing the teen pregnancy rate also reduced all potential outcomes of a teen pregnancy. The teen birth rate dropped by 9% and the teen abortion rate dropped by 13%.

    •           74% of counties saw teen pregnancy decrease in 2012.

    •           Less than one-quarter (24.5%) of pregnancies happened to a girl who has been pregnant before, the lowest proportion of repeat pregnancies in state history.

    Locally here in Wilkes County, the 2012 teen pregnancy rate was 48.8 per 1,000 15-19 year old girls, or 96 total pregnancies. In 2011Wilkes County had a teen pregnancy rate of 53.9 per 1,000 15-19 year old girls or 107 total pregnancies. We have seen a decrease of 9.5% in pregnancies of 15-19 year old girls from 2011.

    We contribute our local successes from our partnership with the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina and their assistance with the implementation of the WISE (Working to Institutionalize Sex Education) curriculum, programs such as Wise Guys and Smart Girls from Communities In Schools, changes to the local Board of Education policy and changes in curriculum taught in schools.

    Nationwide, researchers and advocates have attributed teen pregnancy declines to increased use of birth control, the availability of more effective birth control methods like IUDs, and a slight increase in the average age when teens first engage in sexual intercourse.

    Concentration in the Older Years

    Part of the decline in teen pregnancy has been driven by the shrinking number of pregnancies to minors, which have been cut almost in half in the last decade.

    A full 71% of all teen pregnancies in North Carolina happen to 18-19 year old girls.  Twenty-three counties had more than 10% of all 18-19 year olds get pregnant last year.

    Advocates note that the most effective solutions for reducing 18-19 year old pregnancies connect these teens with effective birth control methods, largely through clinic outreach and social marketing to this traditionally hard-to-reach demographic group.

    Celebrating Successes

    Positive trends in younger pregnancies and shrinking racial disparities point to the successes of strategically placed proven programs, which tend to focus on younger teens and more at-risk demographic groups.

    The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiatives (TPPI) have been successful at connecting younger teens in 42 counties with evidence-based and evidence-informed pregnancy prevention programs. TPPI also works with pregnant and parenting teens through their Adolescent Parenting Program, which provides pregnant and parenting teens with evidence-based home visiting and peer group education to help them prevent a second pregnancy, graduate high school and gain parenting skills.

    Unfortunately, the federal shutdown has put many programs like those run by TPPI in jeopardy, leaving some of the state’s most at-risk youth disconnected from their mentors until the Federal Government resumes funding.

    If you want more information or want to get involved contact Communities In Schools representing Wilkes and Alexander Counties 651-7830 or the Wilkes County Health Department at 651-7450.

    Additional Resources:

    Snapshot of Wilkes County Data: http://www.appcnc.org/data/map/wilkes

    APPCNC: http:// www.appcnc.org/

    Communities In Schools of Wilkes and Alexander Counties: http://www.ciswilkes.org/

    Wilkes County Health Department: http://wilkeshealth.com/

    ###

  57. Dining with Diabetes

    October 18, 2013

    Do you have diabetes or cook for someone who does? Are you confused about that you should get? Do you need ideas for healthy low cost meals? Are you tired of eating the same old thing? The Dinning with Diabetes is for you. The Wilkes County Health Department in partnership with the Cooperative Extension of Wilkes County is offering this 4 session class. For more information please here for the Dining with Diabetes November 2013 flier

  58. Healthy Living for a Lifetime Free Wellness Screens

    The Wilkes County Health Department, Smoky Mountain Center, Wilkes Regional Medical Center and Wilkes County Farm Bureau is excited to bring you Healthy Living for a Lifetime™. On Tuesday, September 17, 2013 from 10:00am – 6:00pm at Crossroads Harley-Davidson. No appointment is necessary. 8 hours fasting recommended, not required.

    Screenings Offered: Cholesterol, Blood Glucose, Blood Pressure, Body Mass Index, Bone Density, and Hemoglobin A1c. Oral Cancer Screening will also be provided by Wilkes Public Health Dental Clinic .Receive educational materials, promotional items, refreshments and more! For more information, call 919-706-4159 or contact the Wilkes County Farm Bureau at 336-667-5125.

    Click here for more information.

     

     

  59. Warmer Weather + Sunny Days = Ticks

    Fight the Bite to Avoid Illness

    Spring, summer and fall are wonderful times of year in North Carolina, but with the warm weather come pesky ticks.

    Ticks are more than just nuisances. Some carry germs that can make people seriously ill.

    There are simple, easy ways to Fight the Bite while enjoying the outdoors this summer and fall. While outdoors, reduce your chance of bites by covering as much of your skin as possible by wearing long sleeves and pants. At home, you can take a few simple steps to make your yard less tick.

    Mow your lawn often to keep grass short, clear brush and leaf litter under trees, and remove plants that attract wild animals such as deer and rodents. Remember to make sure your pets are treated for ticks.

    The CDC recommends several repellents against mosquitoes including: DEET, picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus. Most repellents are safe for use on children 2 months of age and up, except lemon oil of lemon eucalyptus, which should not be used on children under the age of 3. Don’t allow children to apply repellents themselves, and only use a small amount.

    In addition, clothing may be treated with permethrin to repel and kill ticks. Be sure to follow the label directions when applying repellents.

    Removing Ticks

    Proper and prompt removal of ticks is the key to preventing infection. Use fine-tipped tweezers to remove ticks, getting as close to your skin as possible and pulling steadily upward without twisting the tick. Note the date you removed the tick. If you become ill within three weeks, be sure to tell your physician you were bitten.

    Other tips regarding ticks and tick removal include:

    • Check yourself and your children often when outdoors and quickly remove any ticks. Pay particular attention to the nape of the neck, behind the ears, and the groin, which are favorite places for ticks to attach.
    • Do not use matches, hot nails or Vaseline® for tick removal. They will not make a tick let go and may cause the tick to release diseased bacteria into the bitten area.
    • After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash your hands with soap and water.

    Consult your doctor if you become ill after a tick bite. Symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever may include sudden onset of fever, headache and muscle pain, followed by development of a rash. Symptoms of Lyme disease may include a “bull’s-eye” rash accompanied by nonspecific symptoms such as fever, malaise, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and joint aches.

    Safety and Resources on Native Ticks and Tick– Borne Diseases
    Safety and Resources on Native Ticks and Tick– Borne Diseases- Spanish

    For additional information on mosquitoes and ticks contact the Wilkes County Health Department at 651-7450 or visit the following websites: www.deh.enr.state.nc.us/phpmwww.epi.state.nc.us/epi/arboviruswww.epi.state.nc.us/epi/tick and www.cdc.gov/az.

  60. Jerri Mayberry Achieves Certified Diabetes Educator Status

    (Arlington Heights, IL – May/June 2013)

    The National Certification Board for Diabetes Educators (NCBDE) announced that Jerri Goldston Mayberry, Registered Dietitian at Wilkes Diabetes and Nutrition Center located on 234 Jefferson Street N. Wilkesboro in the Medical Arts Complex achieved Certified Diabetes Educator® (CDE®) status by successfully completing the Certification Examination for Diabetes Educators. Candidates must meet rigorous eligibility requirements to be able to take the Examination. Achieving certification status demonstrates to people with diabetes and employers that the health care professional possesses distinct and specialized knowledge, thereby promoting quality of care for people with diabetes. Currently, there are over 17,870 diabetes educators who hold NCBDE certification.

    Mrs. Mayberry has years of experience in assisting persons with diabetes improve their diabetes control through nutrition and development of good self management skills.  She has 20 years experience in both the hospital setting and in public health.  Jerri joined the Wilkes Diabetes and Nutrition Center in September 2012 to expand the Diabetes Self Management program and Medical Nutrition Therapy services.  Jerri and her co-worker, Maggi Birdsell, RD, LDN, CDE are both Registered Licensed Dietitians and have both obtained the CDE credential.   They work with physician referred adults and children to provide direct one-on-one and group education services on pre-diabetes, diabetes, menu planning, medications, blood glucose, insulin administration, monitoring and improving blood glucose management.  They also provide weight management and dietary counseling for other nutrition disorders.  Most of their educational services are covered by Medicare, Medicaid and private insurances. A sliding scale fee option is also available.  For more information about available services: call the Wilkes Diabetes and Nutrition Center at 336-667-0460.

    NCBDE was established in 1986 to develop and administer a certification program for health care professionals who teach individuals with diabetes how to manage their disease. The mission of the organization is to define, develop, maintain and protect the certification and credentialing process to promote quality diabetes education. Through the program, NCBDE recognizes and advances the specialty practice of diabetes education. NCBDE supports the concept of voluntary, periodic certification for all diabetes educators who meet credential and experience eligibility requirements. For more information, visit the web site at www.ncbde.org or call the national office at 877-239-3233 or 847-228-9795.

  61. Product recalled due to contamination

    CDC is reporting 34 cases of Hepatitis A that may be linked with consumption of a contaminated product. Cases have been reported by five states: Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and California. Most cases report consumption of a frozen berry and pomegranate seed mix called Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend that was purchased at Costco markets. While none of the North Carolina Costco markets have received this product, it was sold at Harris Teeter stores in North Carolina and five other states (Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida) under the name Harris Teeter Organic Antioxidant Berry Blend (10oz. bag) from April 19 through May 7, 2013. The producer has voluntarily recalled bags of this product with UPC 0 7203670463 4. The correct Lot and Best By codes are as follows: Lot Codes T041613E, T0401613C, and a Best By Code of 101614. Harris Teeter has removed this product from their frozen distribution center and shelves. There have not been any cases reported in North Carolina in association with the outbreak. Consumers should not eat this product if it is still in their freezer, and should throw it out. If they did consume the product in the last two weeks, they should contact the local Health Department and be evaluated for post-exposure prophylaxis.

  62. Wilkes County Health Department Receives Award

    WILKESBORO- The Wilkes County Health Department was awarded a blue ribbon Communicable Disease Program Extra Effort Award, for their Pertussis (Whooping Cough) and Hepatitis A efforts in immunizations and education to the community during occurrences last year. This prevention award is a state level recognition and was given at the State Communicable Disease Conference, which was held in May.  Tdap (vaccine for whooping cough) immunizations became available in April 2012 because of an elevated number of cases of Pertussis were reported; there were 24 cases confirmed in the county. After a confirmed case of Hepatitis A in a food worker in May 2012, immunizations geared up quickly to prevent an outbreak.  A total of 6,080 immunizations were administered for free to the public, 4,880 of those were Tdap immunization for whooping cough, and 1,200 of those were the Hepatitis A immunization. The Health Department set up separate clinics that offered both immunizations for the public to go and receive these vaccines. They also offered on site vaccinations at each high school in the county to the students for Tdap immunization. Wilkes County was the second highest county in the state with confirmed Pertussis cases and first in the state with Hepatitis A and Tdap immunizations administered. There have been no cases reported this year.

  63. How to Prevent Exposure to Rabies

    June 7, 2013

    Contact with wild animals is the primary way that people, domestic animals and livestock are exposed to rabies. Rabies is a deadly disease. Wild mammals and strays can transmit rabies even if they don’t appear sick. By avoiding contact with wild or stray animals and by taking simple precautions, you can greatly reduce the chances of you, your family or your domestic animals being exposed to rabies and of having to undergo medical treatment.

     

    Practice the following precautions to prevent rabies exposures and to live safely with wildlife:

    • Do not feed pets outdoors
    • Keep dogs, cats and ferrets and livestock currently vaccinated against rabies.
    • Supervise pets while they are outside. A fenced yard is the best protection.
    • If you believe that your pet has been in contact with a possibly rabid animal, wear protective gloves as you check your pet to avoid coming in contact with contaminated saliva.
    • Do not approach, feed or handle wildlife; leave orphan wildlife alone.
    • If you see a wild animal or stray pet around your home that appears sick or unusual or if you find a bat inside your home, call the Wilkes County Animal Control at (336) 903-7688.
    • If wildlife are damaging your property or are a threat to your health, call a wildlife damage control agent (WDCA) for safe removal (see www.ncwildlife.org/Trapping/WildlifeDamagaControlAgent.aspx)
    • Do not attract wildlife to your yard and do not feed wildlife.
    • Remember, birdfeeders will attract squirrels, foxes and other mammals.
    • Secure garbage and remember that composting also attracts wildlife.
    • Keep yard mowed, shrubs trimmed and clear fallen trees and debris from your yard.
    • Repair holes in siding and screens, and place caps on chimneys and screens on attic vents to prevent wildlife such as raccoons and bats from entering.
    • Be aware that any new construction on your home may allow wildlife to get in.
    • If you are a person who regularly works with or around animals that may be exposed to rabies, consider pre-exposure prophylaxis (pre-exposure rabies vaccination).
    • Travelers going outside of the United States should check the CDC’s Travelers’ Health website and the CDC Yellow Book, or call Brenda Stanley at the Wilkes County Health Department at (336) 651-7484, to determine if rabies pre-exposure prophylaxis (pre-exposure rabies vaccination) or other vaccines are recommended before traveling to or through certain areas.

     

    The number one cause of rabies in humans is related to bat exposures. Any direct contact between a human and a bat is considered an exposure, unless the person was awake the entire time of potential exposure and can be reasonably certain a bite, scratch or mucous membrane exposure did not occur. Finding a bat in the same room as a person who might be unaware that a bite or direct contact had occurred is also considered an exposure (e.g, a deeply sleeping person awakens to find a bat in the room or a bat seen in a room with a previously unattended child, mentally disabled person, or intoxicated person).

    If you are bitten by a possibly rabid animal or have a non-bit exposure which is, introduction of saliva or brain/nervous tissue from a rabid or potentially rabid animal into an open wound (scratches, abrasions, breaks in the integrity of the skin) or onto mucous membrane (the eyes, nose or mouth), immediately wash the wound or exposed area for 15 minutes with soap and clean, running water and seek prompt medical attention to determine if post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) (rabies vaccination after exposure) is needed to prevent development of the disease. Call animal control (336) 903-7688, or if you are located in another county you can find their number at, www.ncarca.org/agencylistings.asp, to capture the animal, if possible, so it can be evaluated for rabies.

  64. Walk In Hepatitis A Clinics

    The Wilkes County Health Department will be offering Walk In Hepatitis A clinics on the following dates:

    • Thursday, December 6, 2012 from 8:30 am- 7:00 pm
    • Friday, December 7, 2012 from 8:30 am- 4:30 pm

    Around 824 people received the first of a two part Hepatitis A vaccination series during May of this year.   It is important that county residents who received the first dose also receive the second dose of the vaccination in order to be fully protected.  For full immunity both doses of the vaccination are required.   The free vaccinations that will be given in December are only for those individuals who received the first dose of the Hepatitis A vaccination free at the Wilkes County Health Department earlier this year. For questions or more information contact the Wilkes County Health Department at 651-7573. If you are unable to attend the walk in clinics please call the Wilkes County Health Department at 651-7450 after December 7th to schedule an appointment.

  65. Public Health Officials urge safety measures when handling live chicks and ducklings

    RALEIGH – Giving live chicks to children is a long-time tradition during the Easter season and for backyard poultry producers, this is the time of year to buy chicks and ducklings for their flocks. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health is working with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to encourage businesses that sell or display chicks, ducklings and other live poultry to help educate the public about certain health risks associated with handling live birds.

    “All poultry, including baby chicks and ducklings, can potentially carry Salmonella in their droppings as well as on their feathers, feet and beaks, even when they appear healthy and clean,” said Dr. Megan Davies, State Epidemiologist. “People can become infected with Salmonella if they have been in contact with bird feces. Young children are especially at risk for illness because their immune systems are still developing and because they are more likely than others to put their fingers or other items into their mouths.”

    Davies offers simple tips to help avoid exposure such as washing your hands thoroughly with hot soap and water after handling or touching any area where poultry is produced or housed. “Parents need to be vigilant and make sure their children thoroughly wash their hands every time they handle chicks.”

    Salmonella infection is a serious illness with most people developing the illness between one-to-seven days after exposure. While many people recover in a few days without any medical treatment, some will experience life-threatening illnesses, bloody diarrhea, dehydration and other complications. Symptoms include:

    • Fever
    • Headaches
    • Severe abdominal cramps
    • Diarrhea
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting

    State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Carl Williams warns that Salmonella can also get on cages, coops, hay, plants and soil in the area where the poultry live or roam. Last year 15 states, including North Carolina, reported 40 documented human cases of Salmonella illness associated with baby poultry. As a result of that outbreak, several federal agencies and private organizations worked together to develop educational posters to help people understand the health risks associated with backyard flocks and baby poultry as well as ways to reduce the risk of human illness.

    For more information please click the links below:
    Healthy Pet Resources- English
    Healthy Pet Resources- Spanish

  66. Prevent Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

    How?

    VACCINATE

    With

    FREE Tdap

    At the Wilkes County Health Dept

    For those who qualify:

    • Any women who may become pregnant
    • Pregnant women (Third trimester only)
    • Close contacts of infants aged <12 months such as parents, siblings, grandparents
    • Child care providers
    • Healthcare Providers
    • Anyone with pre-existing, chronic, respiratory disease
    • Close contacts to persons with chronic respiratory disease
    • Any child 18 and under with incomplete protection from pertussis

    For more information on Pertussis or to schedule an appointment please call the Wilkes County Health Department at 651-7450 click here for more information.

  67. Governor Proclaims February 19-25 a Statewide Celebration on NC School Health Centers

    Thousands in North Carolina and Across the Country Celebrate School-Based Health Care

    In February’s National School-Based Health Care Awareness Month

     Governor Beverly Purdue has issued a proclamation that sets aside February 19-25, 2012, as North Carolina School Community Health Alliance week.  North Carolina and the Mobile Expanded School Health (MESH) in Wilkes are joining communities across the nation to celebrate National School-Based Health Care Awareness Month, by highlighting stories and health care outcomes that represent the work of more than 1,900 school-based health centers across the country.  SBHCs work to provide access to primary medical care, mental health services, preventive care, social services, and youth development to nearly 2 million of our nation’s children and adolescents.

    The Governor states that school health centers “Provide the physical and mental health care that is critical to the overall well-being of youth in North Carolina. Optimal physical and mental health of students leads to optimal academic achievement.”  The centers also positively impact the economy by reducing emergency room visits, by decreasing parental absences from work, and by increasing early identification and treatment of disease, thus preventing more expensive treatment at a later date.

    The theme of 2012 National School-Based Health Care Awareness Month is Sharing our Stories. MESH,  the North Carolina School Community Health Alliance, the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care (NASBHC), and their partners are sharing stories of the tremendous impact school-based health care has on our nation’s youth, stories like this:

    MESH (Mobile Expanded School Health) visits all the high schools on a weekly basis in Wilkes County. The staff sees on average 13-18 students per day. By caring for these students on-site at the school, students do not miss valuable classroom time. MESH provides services to approximately 1300 students per school year.

    Recent research confirms the obvious: poor health affects educational achievement. But, it also shows that school-based health care can provide a solution:

    • Students who visit school-based health centers two times a semester are a third less likely to drop out of school.
    • Students who use school-based health centers have higher grade point averages and attendance compared to students who don’t use them.
    • High school students had a 50% decrease in absenteeism and 25% decrease in tardiness two months after receiving school-based mental health counseling.

    “The future of our community depends on having healthy and successful students – and MESH plays an important role in that,” said Ann Absher, Health Director of Wilkes County Health Department.

    For more information please contact Melissa Black, Outreach Nursing Supervisor, 336-651-7469 or e-mail at mblack@wilkescounty.net.

  68. Eat Smart Move More Weigh Less On-Line

    Eat Smart Move More North Carolina is now enrolling for March 2012 Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less Online Classes! Eat Smart Move More Weigh Less is a 15 week porgram that is designed to help you make smart food choices, practical ways to add more activity to your daily routine to help you weight less.The March series will begin the week of March 19th  (deadline for registration is Thursday, March 15th) ! If you would like to register click here or for more information please visit www.myeatsmartmovemore.com.

  69. Norovirus Infections Spreading Widely Across North Carolina

    State Public Health Officials urge precautions to prevent possible exposure

    RALEIGH – Throughout January, several local health departments across North Carolina have reported multiple outbreaks of norovirus, prompting state public health officials to issue advice on steps everyone can take to avoid this common and unpleasant gastrointestinal illness.

    “The most important message we have right now is that people who are ill with vomiting or diarrhea should not work, go to school or attend daycare while they are having symptoms, “said State Epidemiologist Dr. Megan Davies.  “Everyone needs to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water. This is the most effective way to protect yourself and others against norovirus since hand sanitizers alone are not as effective against this hardy virus.”

    Noroviruses are easily transmitted by touching a contaminated surface as well as by direct contact or by eating food or drinking liquids that have been contaminated with the virus. Noroviruses are notoriously difficult to kill with normal cleaning and disinfecting procedures. Surfaces that have been contaminated with stool or vomit should be cleaned immediately and disinfected with a freshly prepared diluted bleach solution or a bleach-based household cleaner.

    Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramping. Some may have fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and a general sense of tiredness. The symptoms can begin suddenly and an infected person may go from feeling well to very sick in a very short period of time. In most people, the illness lasts for about one or two days. People with norovirus illness are contagious from the moment they begin feeling sick until at least three days after they recover. Some people may be contagious for even longer, she added. Infection can be more severe in young children and elderly people.  Dehydration can occur rapidly and may require medical treatment or hospitalization.

    “Unfortunately, there is no specific medications to treat norovirus, but infected people should drink plenty of liquids to replace fluid lost through vomiting and diarrhea,” Davies said. “The best course of action is prevention.”

    Davies offered several simple steps to take if you suspect the presence of a norovirus:

    • Wash hands frequently with soap and water, especially after toilet visits and before preparing, serving or eating food or drink. Hand sanitizers are not as effective against norovirus.
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces contaminated with vomit or diarrhea immediately using a bleach-based household cleaner, or dilute household bleach 1:10 in water (must be mixed fresh daily; never use undiluted bleach).
    • Stay home when sick.
    • Do not prepare food for other people when sick and for at least three days afterward.

    For more information about norovirus, see the Division of Public Health Web site at www.ncpublichealth.com. More detailed information about cleanup in private homes and in other settings can be found by clicking here.

  70. Diabetic Friendly Tips for the Big Game

    You’ve waited a whole year for it…watched your team in hopes of a triumphant season or watched in disbelief as the clock ran out and the score seemed lopsided. You’ve laughed, celebrated, and, in some cases, cried. Now with the season’s end upon us, whether or not your team made it to the big game you are probably still going to watch it, even if it is “just for the commercials.” This weekend will be an activity packed weekend with lots of commentary, analysis, and who can forget about the food. If you are diabetic, or know someone who is diabetic, then take a few minutes to click here and review these tips for a diabetes-friendly eating plan for the big game.

  71. Halloween Safety Tips

    Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids, and to help ensure they have a safe holiday, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

    ALL DRESSED UP:

    • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
    • Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility.
    • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
    • When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
    • If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
    • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
    • Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as “one size fits all,” or “no need to see an eye specialist,” obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.
    • Teach children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or become lost.

    CARVING A NICHE:

    • Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers.  Then parents can do the cutting.
    • Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
    • Candlelit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.

    HOME SAFE HOME:

    • To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
    • Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
    • Wet leaves should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
    • Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.

    ON THE TRICK-OR-TREAT TRAIL:

    • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
    • If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
    • Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.
    • Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or Treaters:
    • Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
    • Carry a cell phone for quick communication.
    • Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
    • If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
    • Never cut across yards or use alleys.
    • Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
    • Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn’t mean others will!
    • Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.

    HEALTHY HALLOWEEN:

    • A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
    • Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
    • Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
    • Try to ration treats for the days following Halloween.

    Source: http://aap.org/advocacy/releases/octhalloween.cfm.

  72. October is Let’s Talk Month

    October is Let’s Talk Month in Wilkes County.  The purpose of “Let’s Talk Month is to convey the important message that parents are the primary sexuality educators of their children.  Individuals and community organizations are encouraged to support parents in their efforts to ensure that children receive accurate and healthy information about sexuality.

    The links below provide parents with the information for starting the conversation, for keeping it going, as well as information on other topics pertaining to sexuality and other sensitive topics.

    The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy

    Advocates for Youth Parents Sex Ed Center

    For more resources on starting the conversation, download any of the following.

    Kiss and Tell

    Teens tend to get advice on all kinds of issues from parents, teachers, and other adults but rarely are young people themselves asked to describe their own thoughts and beliefs. Kiss and Tell is a snapshot of what teens are thinking about love and relationships. Kiss and Tell should be of interest to adults who work with teens, particularly those concerned about teen relationships, early sex, pregnancy, and parenthood. Kiss and Tell may also be useful to teens, and they may find what is presented here of interest as well.

    Talking Back 

    For 15 years now The National Campaign has asked teens from all over the country a fairly simple question: If you could give your parents or other important adults advice about how to help you and your friends avoid pregnancy, what would it be? Here are the top ten answers that were heard most often.

    Relationship Redux

    The teen years are a time of exploration, discovery, learning, and growing up. They are a time when young people are first really faced with profound questions about relationships and sex. Although many parents understand the importance of talking to their kids about sex, far fewer seem to realize just how important it is for them to talk to their children about what it takes to recognize, develop, and maintain a healthy relationship.

    Fast Facts-Media and Teen Pregnancy

    This Fast Facts brief presents new polling data on teens’ opinions about media and teen pregnancy in general, as well as their views about MTV’s popular 16 and Pregnant program in particular. Some have criticized this show and others like it for glamorizing teen pregnancy. These results suggest that teens have a different view. The overwhelming majority of teens report that shows dealing with teen pregnancy make them think about their own risks of getting pregnant or causing a pregnancy and that 16 and Pregnant helps young people better understand the challenges of pregnancy and parenting.

    Media Monster

    Much has been written about the influence of the media on teen sexual behavior. In fact, when it comes to teens decisions about sex, few topics generate as much passionate discussion as the relative influence of the media. One need look no further than the media firestorm generated by a just-released report from the RAND Corporation linking sexual content on TV with teen pregnancy. Simply put, when it comes to media influence on teens, everyone is an expert. The goal of this report is to inform practitioners and program providers about what the most up-to-date research says about teens and media influence. Specifically, the publication examines in detail how the media influences—in positive and negative ways—teen sexual knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. Importantly, the report also offers practical suggestions for how those working with youth can use the media to reach young people and provides suggestions on how best to capitalize on the exploding world of digital media.

    10 Tips for Foster Parents 

    The good news for parents and other caring adults, including foster parents, is that there is much they can do to help influence their children’s decisions about sex. Foster youth say they want to discuss sex, love, and relationships with their foster parents, but some are embarrassed or feel uncomfortable starting the conversation. The same holds true for foster parents. They often don’t know what to say, how to say it, or when to start. This guide offers some ideas to help foster parents strengthen their relationships with foster youth. It also offers some ideas on how best to communicate about sex, love, and relationships.

  73. Public Health Alert do to Concerns About Ground Turkey Recall

    United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing a public health alert due to concerns about illnesses caused by Salmonella Heidelberg that may be associated with use and consumption of ground turkey.

    This public health alert was initiated after continuous medical reports, ongoing investigations and testing conducted by various departments of health across the nation determined there is an association between consumption of ground turkey products and an estimated 77 illnesses reported in 26 states (One in North Carolina; 0 in Wilkes County). The illnesses were linked through an investigation by state health departments and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    CDC is partnering with state health departments to monitor the outbreak while FSIS focuses its investigation on potential identification of a contamination source(s).

    FSIS reminds consumers of the critical importance of following package cooking instructions for frozen or fresh ground turkey products and general food safety guidelines when handling and preparing any raw meat or poultry. In particular, while cooking instructions may give a specific number of minutes of cooking for each side of the patty in order to attain 165 °F internal temperature, consumers should be aware that actual time may vary depending on the cooking method (broiling, frying, or grilling) and the temperature of the product (chilled versus frozen) so it is important that the final temperature of 165 °F must be reached for safety. Please do not rely on the cooking time for each side of the patty, but use a food thermometer.

    Ground turkey and ground turkey dishes should always be cooked to 165 °F internal temperature as measured with a food thermometer; leftovers also should be reheated to 165 °F. The color of cooked poultry is not always a sure sign of its safety. Only by using a food thermometer can one accurately determine that poultry has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F throughout the product. Turkey can remain pink even after cooking to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F. The meat of smoked turkey is always pink.

    Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause salmonellosis, one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses. Salmonella infections can be life-threatening, especially to those with weak immune systems, such as infants, the elderly and persons with HIV infection or undergoing chemotherapy. The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within eight to 72 hours. Additional symptoms may be chills, headache, nausea and vomiting that can last up to seven days.

    Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.

    This health alert can be found by clicking here.

    The products subject to recall today bear the establishment number “P-963″ inside the USDA mark of inspection, and include the following:

    Ground Turkey Chubs – Use or Freeze by Dates of 2/20/11 through 8/23/11

    • 10 lb. chubs of Honeysuckle White Fresh Natural Lean Ground Turkey with Natural Flavorings
    • 10 lb. chubs of Unbranded Ground Turkey w/ Natural Flavoring 2 Pack
    • 80 oz. (5 lbs.) chubs of Riverside Ground Turkey with Natural Flavoring
    • 10 lb. chubs of Natural Lean Ground Turkey with Natural Flavorings
    • 16 oz. (1 lb.) chubs of Fresh Lean HEB Ground Turkey 93/7
    • 16 oz. (1 lb.) chubs of Fresh HEB Ground Turkey 85/15
    • 16 oz. (1 lb.) chubs of Honeysuckle White 93/7 Fresh Ground Turkey with Natural Flavoring
    • 4-1 Pound Packages of Honeysuckle White Ground Turkey with Natural Flavoring Value Pack
    • 16 oz. (1 lb.) chubs of Honeysuckle White 85/15 Fresh Ground Turkey
    • 48 oz. (3 lb.) chubs of Honeysuckle White 85/15 Fresh Ground Turkey

    85% Ground Turkey – Use or Freeze by Dates of 2/20/11 through 8/23/11

    • 19.2 oz. (1.2 lb.) trays of Honeysuckle White 85/15 Ground Turkey
    • 19.2 oz. (1.2 lb.) trays of Honeysuckle White Taco Seasoned Ground Turkey Colored with Paprika
    • 19.2 oz. (1 lb. 3.2 oz.) trays of Kroger Ground Turkey Fresh 85/15
    • 48.0 oz. (3 lb.) trays of Kroger Ground Turkey Fresh 85/15
    • 20 oz. (1.25 lb.) trays of Honeysuckle White 85/15 Ground Turkey
    • 48.0 oz. (3 lbs.) trays of Honeysuckle White 85/15 Ground Turkey Family Pack
    • 16 oz. (1 lb.) trays of Honeysuckle White 85/15 Ground Turkey
    • 19.2 oz. (1.2 lbs.) trays of Honeysuckle White Seasoned Italian Style Ground Turkey with Natural Flavorings
    • 20 oz. (1 lb. 4 oz.) trays of Safeway Fresh Ground Turkey with Natural Flavorings * 15% Fat
      (NOTE: Sold in Texas only at Randall’s and Tom Thumb, Use or Freeze by 03/12/11 through 05/05/11)

    93% Ground Turkey – Use or Freeze by Dates of 2/20/11 through 8/23/11

    • 19.2 oz. (1.20 lb.) trays of Honeysuckle White 93/7 Lean Ground Turkey
    • 48 oz. (3.0 lbs.) trays of Honeysuckle White 93/7 Lean Ground Turkey Family Pack
    • 19.2 oz. (1.2 lb.) trays of Fit & Active Lean Ground Turkey 93/07
    • 19.2 oz. (1.2 lbs.) trays of Giant Eagle Ground Turkey Fresh & Premium Lean
    • 19.2 oz. (1 lb 3.2 oz.) trays of Kroger Ground Turkey Fresh Lean 93/7
    • 20 oz. (1.25 lb.) trays of Honeysuckle White 93/7 Lean Ground Turkey

    Ground Patties

    • 16.0 oz. (1 lb.) trays of Honeysuckle White Ground Turkey Patties with “Use by” or “Freeze by” dates of 2/20/11 through 8/23/11
    • 16 oz. (1 lb.) trays of Kroger Ground Seasoned Turkey Patties Fresh 85/15, with “Use by” or “Freeze by” dates of 2/20/11 through 8/23/11
    • 16.0 oz. (1 lb.) trays of Shady Brook Farms Ground Turkey Burgers with Natural Flavoring with the following “Use by” or “Freeze by” dates: 07/09/11, 07/10/11, 07/11/11, 07/15/11, 07/16/11, 07/21/11, 07/22/11, 07/24/11, 08/01/11, or 08/04/11

    Frozen Ground Turkey – Production Dates of 2/20/11 through 8/2/11

    • 16 oz. (1 lb.) chubs of Honeysuckle White Ground Turkey with Natural Flavoring
    • 16 oz. (1 lb.) chubs of Spartan Ground Turkey
    • 48 oz. (3 lb.) chubs of Honeysuckle White 85/15 Ground Turkey
    • 40 lb. Bulk Packed Ground Turkey with Natural Flavoring for Food Service Use Only

    Recommendations for Preventing Salmomellosis

    Wash hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. Also wash cutting boards, dishes and utensils with hot soapy water. Clean up spills right away.

    Keep raw meat, fish and poultry away from other food that will not be cooked. Use separate cutting boards for raw meat, poultry and egg products and cooked foods.

    Cook raw meat and poultry to safe internal temperatures before eating. The safe internal temperature for meat such as ground beef and pork is 160° F, and 165° F for poultry, as determined with a food thermometer.

    Refrigerate raw meat and poultry within two hours after purchase (one hour if temperatures exceed 90° F). Refrigerate cooked meat and poultry within two hours after cooking.

  74. N.C. Public Health Leaders Encourage Support for Nursing Moms Breastfeeding Week Observed in North Carolina August 1-7

    RALEIGH – State public health leaders say a society-wide approach to support for mothers and babies who are breastfeeding is an essential key to improving infant mortality rates and improving children’s health in North Carolina.

    “We know that infants who are breastfed benefit in many ways – through improved immunity to disease, reduced likelihood of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and in lower rates of childhood obesity,” State Health Director Dr. Jeff Engel said.  “Our goal is to create a climate where nursing mothers are supported in their choice to breastfeed their children.”

    With the endorsement of the North Carolina Hospital Association, the N.C. Division of Public Health has established the North Carolina Maternity Center Breastfeeding-Friendly Designation to recognize those maternity centers that have taken steps to promote, protect and support breastfeeding in their organizations.

    State and local government, industry and small businesses also are encouraged to recognize breastfeeding’s benefits to mothers and babies by promoting, protecting and supporting breastfeeding in North Carolina.  Beginning in July 2010, state policy requires all government agencies to provide space, privacy and time for nursing mothers to express breast milk.  At the N.C. Division of Public Health’s main Raleigh campus, a room has been furnished specifically for nursing moms’ use.  For ideas on becoming a breastfeeding friendly workplace, visit http://www.nutritionnc.com/breastfeeding/index.htm.

    Mother-to-mother support has proven to be one of the most successful approaches to encouraging mothers to breastfeed their babies. The N.C. WIC Program offers mother-to-mother support to increase the number of mothers who begin and continue to breastfeed.  The program has expanded from 23 programs in 2005 to 70 programs in 2011.

    “Linking moms to other moms who can provide support and encouragement for breastfeeding really works,” said State WIC Director Alice Lenihan.  “We believe that this evidence-based approach to care will improve the lives of many of our most vulnerable citizens.”

    The theme of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, chosen by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), is Talk to me! Breastfeeding – A 3D Experience. The focus is not only the importance of the mother-baby connection (two-dimensions) but also the third dimension of support from healthcare providers, friends, family members, and the community.

    For more information about the North Carolina Maternity Center Breastfeeding-Friendly Designation or the N.C. WIC Program please visit http://www.nutritionnc.com.  Other resources specific to this year’s world breastfeeding theme may be found at the WABA website, www.worldbreastfeedingweek.org.

  75. N.C. Health Officials Urge Caution and Offer Preventive Steps During Heat Wave

    North Carolina health officials are urging simple steps to prevent a trip to the emergency room during the high temperatures across North Carolina this week.

    State Health Director Jeffrey Engel said those steps include drinking plenty of water or juice to avoid dehydration and, if possible, limiting time outdoors, especially in the afternoon when the sun and temperatures are at their peak.  With many summer camps still in session, children should be closely monitored for signs of heat stress, including:

    • Muscle cramps
    • Fatigue, weakness
    • Dizziness, fainting
    • Headache
    • Nausea or vomiting

    Elderly people also are very susceptible to complications from extreme heat.  The N.C. Division of Aging and Adult Services is encouraging frequent checks on elderly family members and neighbors to be sure they are protected from the heat.  Additional safety measures for people of all ages include:

    • Be careful about exercising or doing a lot of activities when it is hot. Stay out of the sun, take frequent breaks, drink water or juice often, even before you are thirsty, and watch for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
    • Dress for the weather. Loose-fitting, light-colored cotton clothes are cooler than dark colors or some synthetics.
    • If you live in a home without fans or air conditioning, open windows to allow air flow, and keep shades, blinds or curtains drawn in the hottest part of the day or when the windows are in direct sunlight. Try to spend at least part of the day in an air conditioned place like a shopping mall, a store, the library, a friend’s house, or the movies. Cool showers can help, too. Do not use a fan when the air temperature is above 95 degrees – it will blow hot air, which can add to heat stress.
    • Never leave a child or a disabled or elderly person or a pet in an unattended car, even with the windows down. A closed vehicle can heat up to dangerous levels in as little as ten minutes.

    According to data collected from hospital emergency departments across the state, more than 130 individuals sought care for heat-related illness between July 10 and 16.  Temperatures recorded at Raleigh Durham International Airport peaked near 100 degrees early in that week.

    “The majority of people seeking emergency care are between 25 and 64 years old,” Engel said. “These are folks who are out exercising, doing yard work or recreational activities, and those who have jobs that keep them outdoors.  It is critical that everyone take proper precautions to avoid illness when the temperatures are high.”

    For more information on summer heat data and prevention, visit publichealth.nc.gov.

  76. Tuberculosis Updates July 6, 2011

    Wilkes County Health Department Investigating Tuberculosis Cases at NC Department of Correction, Wilkes Correctional Center.

    July 6, 2011
    Contact: Denise Monahan (336) 651-7450

    The Wilkes County Health Dept and the Wilkes Correctional Facility continue to work very closely in monitoring for signs of tuberculosis and treating any suspect cases. Since November, there have been four confirmed cases of Tuberculosis. Because of the ongoing, collaborative efforts in follow-up screenings for tuberculosis, a fourth case has been identified.

    “We believe all inmates with symptoms have been identified and are being appropriately treated,” said Wilkes County Interim Health Director Ann Absher. “We appreciate the efforts of the Wilkes Correctional Facility staff and inmates as we continue to work to manage any potential concerns regarding tuberculosis.”

    “Tuberculosis infection may not be detected by a skin test until up to two months after exposure, so our standard procedure is to repeat skin tests in eight weeks on all employees and inmates to determine if those persons may have been infected,” said Dr. Jason Stout, medical director of the N.C. Tuberculosis Control Program at the N.C. Division of Public Health. “Most infected persons are not sick and not contagious, and can take medicine to prevent getting sick in the future.”

    Tuberculosis a disease that often affects the lungs. It is transmitted when a sick person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.  The germs are expelled into the air, and if a nearby person breathes them in, that person can become infected with TB.  Tuberculosis is curable with medications.  For more information on TB, visit the N.C. Tuberculosis Control Program website by clicking here.

    For more information, call the Wilkes County Health Department at 336-651-7450 or visit the website www.wilkeshealth.com.

  77. N.C. Health Leaders Urge HIV Testing

    RALEIGH – In North Carolina, one in 268 people is infected with HIV disease, and most of the new cases are among teens and young adults. This number includes those who may not be aware that they are infected.  North Carolina health leaders say the outlook for people who are HIV positive is dramatically different than it was when the disease was first identified 30 years ago; however, the epidemic is far from over.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control, most new HIV infections in the U.S. are among people under 30. In North Carolina, nearly one-half of all new sexually transmitted diseases in North Carolina, including HIV, occur in young people between 15 and 24 years old.

    “Thirty years ago, HIV was portrayed as a deadly disease that affected only a small population,” State Health Director Dr. Jeff Engel said.  “Today, we see patients of all ages, races and sexual orientation.  And while it still can’t be cured, HIV disease today can be effectively treated and people can live long and healthy lives. “

    New research indicates that early treatment of heterosexual HIV patients with antiretroviral drugs sharply reduces the chances they will transmit the virus. Results from the study indicate that men and women with HIV reduced risk of transmitting the virus to their heterosexual partners by 96 percent when taking oral antiretroviral therapy (ART).

    “The most important step in effective treatment is a diagnosis,” Engel said.  “By getting tested for HIV and other STDs, you can get the treatment and advice you need to protect yourself and your partner.”

    In recognition of National HIV Testing Day on June 27, health departments and community based organizations across the state are offering free HIV/STD testing events. For a list of special events and ongoing testing opportunities, visit http://www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/hiv.

    The most recent case statistics on syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV and AIDS incidence rates in North Carolina are available at the N.C. Division of Public Health’s Communicable Disease branch website at http://www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/hiv/stats.html.

    The Wilkes County Health Department offers free HIV testing, please call 651-7450 for more information.

  78. Sports Physicals Coming to a School Near You!

    MESH will be having sports physical clinics at the high schools on the following dates from 9:00 am-3:00 pm:

    • Monday July 18 at Wilkes Central High School
    • Tuesday July 19 at North Wilkes High School
    • Wednesday July 20 at West Wilkes High School
    • Thursday July 21 at East Wilkes High School

    MESH will also be providing sports physicals at the Wilkes County Health Department for ALL ages on the following days:

    • Wednesday July 6th
    • Wednesday July 13th
    • Wednesday July 27th

    Physicals will be completed on the MESH unit which will be parked in the parking lot of the health department.  The physicals will be done from 9:00 am-4:00 pm.  Forms can be picked up from your athletic director, school office, or the Wilkes County Health Department. The medical history must be completed and signed by a parent prior to the exam.  There is a non-refundable $15.00 charge for all physicals. Make checks payable to the Wilkes County Health Department.  Please call (336) 957-7043 for an appointment.

  79. 2011 ASK Day

    In America, nearly 1.7 million children live in a home with a loaded, unlocked gun, and a staggering 40 percent of homes with children have a gun.  On Tuesday, June 21, 2011, organizations and individuals around the country will celebrate National ASK (Asking Saves Kids) Day.  Held annually on the first day of summer, a season when children play more often in other homes, ASK Day reminds parents about the importance of asking if there are guns in the homes where their children play.

    Parents ask all sorts of questions to protect their children when they go play at the home of a friend, neighbor or caregiver.  But there is one important question that more than half of parents say it never even occurred to them to ask: “Is there a gun in your home?”  If the answer is no, that is one less thing to worry about.  If the answer is yes, parents are urged to ensure that the guns are stored locked and separate from ammunition, preferably in a gun safe.

    The official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics estimates in North Carolina alone more than 168,000 children and teens live in homes with loaded guns, and more than 82,000 live in homes with guns that are loaded and unlocked.  ASK is a national public health initiative that provides something real every parent can do to keep their children safe.  The ASK campaign encourages parents to ASK if there are guns in the homes where their children play.  It is a simple idea that is undoubtedly saving lives.

    More information is available at www.askingsaveskids.org or www.ncgv.org

  80. Ban of Dangerous Synthetic Drugs Goes into Effect June 1

    RALEIGH: A ban of various dangerous synthetic drugs goes into effect in North Carolina on June 1, 2011. It will be illegal to sell, manufacture or possess synthetic cannabinoids, MPDV, or mephedrone.

    These drugs have been sold legally, often labeled as incense, bath salts, or plant food.

    The Child Fatality Task Force commends the General Assembly for passing and the Governor for signing this law which will help protect youth and adults from these dangerous chemicals.

    “These are dangerous substances with troubling side effects. They aren’t safe and soon won’t be legal either,” said Elizabeth Hudgins, Executive Director of the Child Fatality Task Force.

    Sale and manufacture will be a felony; possession charges will vary depending on the amount of the substance.

    Use has been growing rapidly. For example, the Carolinas Poison Center reported as many calls on MDPV – a synthetic cocaine – in the first 2 months of 2011 as in all of 2010 combined. Use is especially prevalent in Cumberland and Onslow Counties.

    Legislators heard from doctors, parents, law enforcement and others as they discussed the ban. At least 28 states have banned one or more of these substances. The Drug Enforcement Administration recently added synthetic cannabinoids to their controlled substance list.

    Contact: Elizabeth Hudgins: 919-707-5626

    ################

    The North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force is a legislative study commission consisting of 35 members with a broad spectrum of expertise. Since 1991, the Task Force has been charged with making recommendations to the Legislature and Governor for strategies to reduce child death and to promote the safety and well-being of children.

  81. Tuberculosis Updates May 2, 2011

    Wilkes County Health Department Investigating Tuberculosis Cases at NC Department of Correction, Wilkes Correctional Center.

    May 2, 2011
    Contact: Ann Absher (336) 651-7450

    The Wilkes County Health Dept and the Wilkes Correctional Facility continue to work very closely in monitoring for signs of tuberculosis and treating any suspect cases. Since November, there have been three confirmed cases of Tuberculosis.  Because of the ongoing, collaborative effort in follow-up screening for tuberculosis, a fourth suspect case has been identified.  This fourth case has not been confirmed, additional test results are pending, however, the inmate has been transferred to a facility for additional follow-up.

    “We believe all inmates with any symptoms have been identified and are being treated or observed,” said Wilkes County Health Director Beth Lovette. “We appreciate the efforts of the Wilkes Correctional Facility staff and inmates as we continue to work to manage any potential concerns regarding tuberculosis.”

    “Tuberculosis infection may not be detected by a skin test until up to two months after exposure, so our standard procedure is to repeat skin tests in eight weeks on all employees and inmates to determine if those persons may have been infected.  ,” said Dr. Jason Stout, medical director of the N.C. Tuberculosis Control Program at the N.C. Division of Public Health. “Most infected persons are not sick and not contagious, and can take medicine to prevent getting sick in the future.”

    Tuberculosis a disease that often affects the lungs. It is transmitted when a sick person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.  The germs are expelled into the air, and if a nearby person breathes them in, that person can become infected with TB.  Tuberculosis is curable with medications.  For more information on TB, visit the N.C. Tuberculosis Control Program website by clicking here.

    For more information, call the Wilkes County Health Department at 336-651-7450 or visit the website www.wilkeshealth.com.

  82. Celebrate Screen-Free Week: April 18th-24th

    Wilkes County Health Department is proud to be an official endorser of Screen-Free Week (April 18-24), the annual celebration where children, families, schools, and communities turn off screens and turn on life.  What would you and your family do with an extra 20, 30, even 50 hours a week?

    We all know that children spend far too much time with screens: an astonishing average of 32 hours a week for preschoolers and even more for older children.  Excessive screen time is harmful for children—it’s linked to poor school performance, childhood obesity, attention problem, and the erosion of creative play.

    Screen-Free Week (formerly TV-Turnoff) is a wonderful way to help children lead healthier, happier lives by reducing dependence on entertainment screen media—including television, video games, computers, and hand-held devices.  By encouraging children and families to unplug, Screen-Free Week provides time for them to play, connect with nature, read, daydream, create, explore, and spend more time with family and friends.  And, of course, Screen-Free Week isn’t just about snubbing screens for seven days; it’s a springboard for important lifestyle changes that will improve well-being and quality of life all year round!

    Anyone can participate in Screen-Free Week simply by refraining from using screens for entertainment during the week of April 18-24, 2011. For more information click here.

  83. Annual Health Check-Up Highlights Healthiest and Least Healthy Counties in Every State

    County Health Rankings Show That There Is More to Health Than Health Care

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ON
    Wednesday, March 30, 2011, 12:01 A.M. ET

    Madison, WI and Princeton, NJ - How healthy is your county? A new set of reports released today rank the health of nearly every county in the nation and show that much of what affects health occurs outside of the doctor’s office. For the second year, the County Health Rankings confirm the critical role that factors such as education, jobs, income, and environment play in how healthy people are and how long they live.

    Published on-line at www.countyhealthrankings.org by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Rankings help counties understand what influences how healthy residents are and how long they will live. The Rankings look at a variety of measures that affect health such as the rate of people dying before age 75, high school graduation rates, access to healthier foods, air pollution levels, income, and rates of smoking, obesity and teen births.

    The Rankings, based on the latest data available for each county, is the only tool of its kind that measures the overall health of each county in all 50 states on the multiple factors that influence health.

    Each county’s rank reveals a pattern of strengths and weaknesses. And, the Rankings reveal that all counties have areas where they can improve, even those that are the healthiest. Some highlights of what counties look like nationally:

    • People are nearly twice as likely to be in fair or poor health in the unhealthiest counties;
    • Unhealthy counties have significantly lower high school graduation rates;
    • Unhealthy counties have more than twice as many children in poverty;
    • Unhealthy counties have fewer grocery stores or farmer’s markets; and
    • Unhealthy counties have much higher rates of unemployment

    “The Rankings really show us with solid data that there is a lot more to health than health care. Where we live, learn, work and play affect our health, and we need to use the information from the Rankings to shine a spotlight on where we need to improve so we can take action to address our problems,” said Patrick Remington, MD, MPH, director of the County Health Rankings project and Associate Dean for Public Health at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

    Researchers looked at factors that affect people’s health within four categories: health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment.

    “It’s hard to lead a healthy life if you don’t live in a healthy community,” said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A. president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “The County Health Rankings are an annual check-up for communities to know how healthy they are and where they can improve. We hope that policymakers, businesses, educators, public health departments and community residents will use theRankings to develop solutions to help people live healthier lives.”

    Specific to Wilkes County
    Note: Any particular county’s health outcomes (or health factors) could stay exactly the same but its rank could change if, or when, other counties improve or decline. Counties in the “middle” are more likely to see bigger changes in their ranks than counties at the top or the bottom.

    In 2010 Wilkes County’s Health Outcomes ranking was 64 compared to 69 in 2011.  The 2010 ranking for Health Factors was 62 in 2010 and 68 in 2011.

    In 2011 Wilkes County was worse than the state average on the following:

    • Premature death
    • Number of adults reporting poor or fair health, number of reported physically unhealthy days, and number of reported mentally unhealthy days
    • Percent of adults who smoke
    • Motor vehicle crash death rate
    • Teen birth rate
    • Need for primary care providers
    • Preventable hospital stays
    • College attendance
    • Unemployment rate
    • Children in poverty
    • Access to healthy foods
    • Access to recreational facilities

    In 2011 Wilkes County was better than the state average on:

    • Mammography screening
    • Excessive drinking
    • Sexually Transmitted Infections
    • Uninsured adults
    • Single parent households
    • Air pollution

    In 2011 Wilkes County was similar to the state average on:

    • Low birth weight
    • Adult Obesity
    • Diabetic Screening
    • High School graduation rate
    • Inadequate social support
    • Homicide rate
  84. USDA and HHS Announce New Dietary Guidelines to Help Americans Make Healthier Food Choices and Confront Obesity Epidemic

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2011 — Agriculture Secretary TomVilsack and Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius today announced the release of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the federal government’s evidence-based nutritional guidance to promote health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity through improved nutrition and physical activity.

    Because more than one-third of children and more than two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese, the 7th edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans places stronger emphasis on reducing calorie consumption and increasing physical activity.

    “The 2010 Dietary Guidelines are being released at a time when the majority of adults and one in three children is overweight or obese and this is a crisis that we can no longer ignore,” said Secretary Vilsack. “These new and improved dietary recommendations give individuals the information to make thoughtful choices of healthier foods in the right portions and to complement those choices with physical activity. The bottom line is that most Americans need to trim our waistlines to reduce the risk of developing diet-related chronic disease. Improving our eating habits is not only good for every individual and family, but also for our country.”

    The new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans focus on balancing calories with physical activity, and encourage Americans to consume more healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat -free and low-fat dairy products, and seafood, and to consume less sodium, saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and refined grains.

    “Helping Americans incorporate these guidelines into their everyday lives is important to improving the overall health of the American people,” said HHS Secretary Sebelius. “The new Dietary Guidelines provide concrete action steps to help people live healthier, more physically active and longer lives.”

    The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans include 23 Key Recommendations for the general population and six additional Key Recommendations for specific population groups, such as women who are pregnant. Key Recommendations are the most important messages within the Guidelines in terms of their implications for improving public health. The recommendations are intended as an integrated set of advice to achieve an overall healthy eating pattern. To get the full benefit, all Americans should carry out the Dietary Guidelinesrecommendations in their entirety.

    More consumer-friendly advice and tools, including a next generation Food Pyramid, will be released by USDA and HHS in the coming months. Below is a preview of some of the tips that will be provided to help consumers translate the Dietary Guidelines into their everyday lives:

    • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
    • Avoid oversized portions.
    • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
    • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
    • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals – and choose the foods with lower numbers.
    • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

    This edition of the Dietary Guidelines comes at a critical juncture for America’s health and prosperity. By adopting the recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines, Americans can live healthier lives and contribute to a lowering of health-care costs, helping to strengthen America’s long-term economic competitiveness and overall productivity.

    USDA and HHS have conducted this latest review of the scientific literature, and have developed and issued the 7th edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in a joint effort that is mandated by Congress. TheGuidelines form the basis of nutrition education programs, Federal nutrition assistance programs such as school meals programs and Meals on Wheels programs for seniors, and dietary advice provided by health professionals.

    The Dietary Guidelines, based on the most sound scientific information, provide authoritative advice for people 2 years and older about how proper dietary habits can promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases.

    The Dietary Guidelines aid policymakers in designing and implementing nutrition-related programs. They also provide education and health professionals, such as nutritionists, dietitians, and health educators with a compilation of the latest science-based recommendations. A table with key consumer behaviors and potential strategies for professionals to use in implementing the Dietary Guidelines is included in the appendix.

    The 2010 Dietary Guidelines is available at www.dietaryguidelines.gov.

    For more information on dietary guidelines, see www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines and www.healthfinder.gov/prevention

    USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD)

  85. Tuberculosis Updates

    Wilkes County Health Department Investigating Tuberculosis Cases at NC Department of Correction, Wilkes Correctional Center.

    January 11, 2011
    Contact: Ann Absher (336) 651-7450
    WILKESBORO – Inmates and employees of the Wilkes Correctional Center have been tested for tuberculosis (TB) after two cases of the disease were confirmed at the facility.  The Wilkes County Health Department has been working with the center to contact those individuals who may have been exposed and to ensure that they receive appropriate testing and treatment. As of Tuesday, January 11, no additional cases had been identified.

    “We believe all inmates with any symptoms have been identified and are being treated or observed,” said Wilkes County Health Director Beth Lovette. “Staff and any outside contacts with the cases are being notified and will be carefully screened and offered appropriate follow-up.”

    The first case was diagnosed in early November.  Testing and notifications began immediately.  Both of the infected individuals have been transferred to Central Prison in Raleigh for medical observation and treatment.  While it is important for the community to be aware of this exposure, health officials believe the potential for exposure is limited and that no one is at immediate risk of any health problems.

    “Tuberculosis infection may not be detected by a skin test until up to two months after exposure, so our standard procedure is to repeat skin tests in eight weeks on all employees and inmates to determine if those persons may have been infected.  ,” said Dr. Jason Stout, medical director of the N.C. Tuberculosis Control Program at the N.C. Division of Public Health. “Most infected persons are not sick and not contagious, and can take medicine to prevent getting sick in the future.”

    Tuberculosis a disease that often affects the lungs. It is transmitted when a sick person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.  The germs are expelled into the air, and if a nearby person breathes them in, that person can become infected with TB.  Tuberculosis is curable with medications.  For more information on TB, visit the N.C. Tuberculosis Control Program website at http://www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/tb/

    For more information, call the Wilkes County Health Department at 336-651-7450 or visit the website www.wilkeshealth.com

    Wilkes County TB Exposure Talking Points for Wilkes Co. Health Department

    01/11/11

    • Two inmates from the Wilkes Correctional Center have been confirmed to have tuberculosis disease.  Both patients have been relocated to Central Prison in Raleigh, where they are on respiratory isolation to minimize the risk of transmission to others.
    •  Wilkes County Health Department, staff from the N.C. Division of Public Health and medical staff from the Department of Correction have been actively involved in this investigation from the onset.  We have worked collaboratively to coordinate identification of testing of inmates and staff.
    • This exposure does not represent any immediate risk to the public’s health.
    • The health department staff is working with Wilkes Correctional Center to determine any additional potential exposures in visitors to the facility and/or inmate work details or visits outside the facility. Anyone who may have been exposed to the disease would be notified and evaluated for signs of infection or disease, according to state communicable disease guidelines.
    • TB is transmitted when a sick person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.  The germs are expelled into the air, and if a nearby person breathes them in, that person can become infected with TB.
    • TB is NOT spread by shaking someone’s hand, sharing food or drink, touching bed linens or toilet seats, sharing toothbrushes, or kissing.
    • TB is killed relatively quickly by sunlight, so usually transmission occurs indoors. Because of the close quarters in a prison or jail setting, inmates are at very high risk for communicable diseases.
    • TB is a disease that often affects the lungs.  People who are sick with TB often have one or more of the following symptoms:
      1. Cough lasting over 3 weeks
      2. Coughing up blood
      3. Fever
      4. Profuse sweating at night, often soaking the bed sheets
      5. Unintentional weight loss
      6. Poor appetite
      7. Chest pain or discomfort
      8. Difficulty breathing
    •  TB infection is diagnosed by either a skin test or a blood test.
      1. For the skin test, a small amount of liquid is injected under the skin of the arm.  A healthcare worker examines this arm 2-3 days later.  If the area where the liquid was injected swells up, this indicates that the person has been exposed to the TB germ at some point during her/his lifetime.
      2. The blood test requires a single blood draw, and tests whether the person’s immune system recognizes the TB germ.
      3. A positive skin test or blood test does not mean that a person is sick with TB.
    •  If the TB skin/blood test is positive or if a healthcare provider is concerned about any symptoms a patient is experiencing, a chest x-ray may be performed to check for any signs of TB illness.
    • It can take up to two months after exposure for the TB skin test or blood test to turn positive.  Standard procedure is to test exposed persons at the time that the exposure is discovered, and then to repeat the same test 2 months or more later if it is negative the first time.
    • Once a person has been exposed to TB and has a positive skin test/blood test, that person may become ill with TB in the future.  The risk of becoming ill depends on that person’s immune system; persons with weak immune systems are more likely to become ill than persons with normal immune systems.
    • One can reduce the risk to become sick with TB in the future by taking medicine.  The standard course of medicine is one pill every day for 9 months, and this reduces the risk to get sick in the future by about 80 percent.
  86. North Carolina Reports Season’s First Death From Flu

    North Carolina has reported its first child death from flu for the 2010-2011 flu season.  A 15-year old died on January 5 of complications from an influenza infection. (To protect the family’s privacy, the youth’s hometown, county and sex are not being released.) The child had not received flu vaccine this season.

    “The death of this healthy young person is a tragic reminder of the potentially devastating effects flu can have on people at any age,” said State Health Director Dr. Jeff Engel. “Most flu infections can be prevented by getting the vaccine. Flu vaccine is readily available and affordable this year, and is the single most effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

    Flu vaccine is recommended for anyone over 6 months old. It is particularly important for people at high risk of complications, including pregnant women, people with chronic diseases, very young children and the elderly. However, one out of four flu deaths last year were in healthy people with no underlying medical problems.  This year’s vaccine protects against three strains of influenza, including H1N1.

    “The vaccine is an excellent match for all three strains of flu we are seeing nationally and in our state,” Engel said.  “A good vaccine match can reduce the chances of getting influenza by up to 90 percent.”

    Statewide surveillance shows that flu is now widespread in North Carolina. The southeastern United States has had most of the flu activity nationwide so far this season.

    Influenza kills approximately 36,000 people and causes 220,000 hospitalizations every year. Usually, most of the deaths are in the elderly, but with the 2009 H1N1 virus (which is still circulating), more than 90 percent of deaths were in children and young adults.

    “Flu season lasts into the spring, so if you haven’t been vaccinated, it is not too late,” Engel said.  “If you do get sick, remember to stay home from work or school while you are sick, cover coughs and sneezes, and—most important—wash your hands.”

    “Flu vaccine is still available at the Wilkes County Health Department and is now free to children and adults,” states Beth Lovette, Wilkes County Health Director.   Please call 651-7450 to schedule an appointment.

  87. North Carolina Reports Season’s First Death From Flu

    North Carolina has reported its first child death from flu for the 2010-2011 flu season.  A 15-year old died on January 5 of complications from an influenza infection. (To protect the family’s privacy, the youth’s hometown, county and sex are not being released.) The child had not received flu vaccine this season.

    “The death of this healthy young person is a tragic reminder of the potentially devastating effects flu can have on people at any age,” said State Health Director Dr. Jeff Engel. “Most flu infections can be prevented by getting the vaccine. Flu vaccine is readily available and affordable this year, and is the single most effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

    Flu vaccine is recommended for anyone over 6 months old. It is particularly important for people at high risk of complications, including pregnant women, people with chronic diseases, very young children and the elderly. However, one out of four flu deaths last year were in healthy people with no underlying medical problems.  This year’s vaccine protects against three strains of influenza, including H1N1.

    “The vaccine is an excellent match for all three strains of flu we are seeing nationally and in our state,” Engel said.  “A good vaccine match can reduce the chances of getting influenza by up to 90 percent.”

    Statewide surveillance shows that flu is now widespread in North Carolina. The southeastern United States has had most of the flu activity nationwide so far this season.

    Influenza kills approximately 36,000 people and causes 220,000 hospitalizations every year. Usually, most of the deaths are in the elderly, but with the 2009 H1N1 virus (which is still circulating), more than 90 percent of deaths were in children and young adults.

    “Flu season lasts into the spring, so if you haven’t been vaccinated, it is not too late,” Engel said.  “If you do get sick, remember to stay home from work or school while you are sick, cover coughs and sneezes, and—most important—wash your hands.”

    “Flu vaccine is still available at the Wilkes County Health Department and is now free to children and adults,” states Beth Lovette, Wilkes County Health Director.   Please call 651-7450 to schedule an appointment.

  88. Wilkes Residents Celebrate One Year of Serving Smokefree Air in NC

    THANKS FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR LUNGS
    Celebrate with “Tasty Tuesdays”

    Smoke-Free Restaurants and Bars Law One Year Old January 2, 2011

    Celebrate the First Birthday of the Smoke-Free Bars and Restaurant Law in North Carolina. Wilkes County residents have enjoyed one year of restaurants and bars serving up smoke-free air, without the health hazards of tobacco smoke.

    Residents are encouraged to eat out each Tuesday in January – for breakfast, lunch or dinner – to celebrate smoke-free restaurants and bars.

    “Eating out is the best way to say, ‘Thanks from the bottom of our lungs,’ to all those who helped create a healthier, smoke-free environment for North Carolinians and visitors dining in our great state,” said Beth Lovette, Director of the Wilkes County Health Department.

    “The smoke-free law protects workers and customers from the known health hazards of secondhand smoke, and may encourage many folks to eat out more than ever, now that doing so is safer,” said Jared Belk, Health Educator at the Wilkes County Health Department.

    “We are encouraging everyone to celebrate ‘Tasty Tuesdays’ by going out to eat every Tuesday in January (January 4, 11, 18, 25) to show support for the smoke-free restaurants and bars law and to express their appreciation to the restaurants and bars that are doing their part to create a healthier North Carolina,” said Belk.  “You don’t need a coupon to celebrate Tasty Tuesdays – just head out to eat on Tuesdays in January.”

    For more information about the law or to report a violation, visit www.smokefree.nc.gov or call the CARE-LINE at 1-800-662-7030. Information is also available by contacting Jared Belk at 336-651-7450

  89. One Year In, N.C. Smoke-Free Law Is Successfully Reducing Exposure to Secondhand Smoke

    RALEIGH – At its one-year anniversary, North Carolina’s smoke-free restaurants and bars law has successfully reduced worker and patron exposure to secondhand smoke.  An air quality study by the N.C. Division of Public Health shows that air quality in restaurants and bars around the state has improved by 89 percent since the law went into effect January 2, 2010. See Air Quality Graph here.

     “The law is protecting North Carolinians from the health hazards of secondhand smoke, and that will have a lasting impact on the health of our citizens,” State Health Director Jeff Engel, M.D. said. “Secondhand smoke has been linked to heart disease, cancer, respiratory infections and asthma.”

     The Surgeon General’s Report released earlier this month emphasizes the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, reporting that even short-term exposure to tobacco smoke can cause changes that can trigger a heart attack or stroke in someone with heart disease or asthma attacks in those with respiratory conditions.

    Restaurant and bar workers report improved health since the law went into effect. Robert Nixon, owner of Jackalope Jacks in Charlotte, said his whole staff is healthier.  “They aren’t sick as much,” Nixon said. “And I know I feel better, because I don’t inhale smoke anymore.”

     “I haven’t had as many colds or been as congested since the law went into place,” said Jackalope Jack’s bartender Ben Jackson.

     In 2008, according to the N.C. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 7.8 percent of North Carolina adults surveyed said they had been exposed to secondhand smoke at work every day during the past week. For the first nine months of 2010, preliminary data show that only 4.3 percent of North Carolina adults are now exposed to secondhand smoke daily at work since the smoke-free law went into effect.

     “Compliance with the law has been excellent, with the vast majority of restaurants, bars and lodging facilities cooperating fully, thanks to the hard work of local health departments around the state,” Engel said. “The number of complaints we are receiving now about non-compliance is very small.”

     By the end of November, the state had received 1,343 complaints involving 874 facilities since the law went into effect on January 2. There were 538 complaints made in January, but only 37 in November, with the monthly number dropping steadily early in the year.  View the monthly chart here.

     Paul M. Stone, President and CEO of the N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association, said his membership is pleased with the new law.  “The consensus is that this ban has had an overall positive effect on restaurants and hotels in North Carolina,” Stone said.  “It also has been very well received from the public.”

    According to a UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health survey released this summer, 74 percent of N.C. registered voters support the law.  In the same survey, 42 percent said they dine out more now that the smoke-free law went into effect, while only 8.3 percent say they dine out less often.  Slightly less than 50 percent said it has made no difference in their behavior.

    Among bar patrons, 18.4 percent said they are now going out more, 70.7 percent said the law made no difference and 10.7 percent report going out less.

     Please click links below for additional resources/information:
    Smoke Free N.C.
    Chart of monthly statewide number of complaints about compliance with the law
    UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health Survey (Support for Smoke-Free Policies) 
    A Report for the Surgeon General: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease

  90. Fast Food Restaurants Dish Up Unhealthy Marketing to Youth

    Researchers Release Unprecedented Report on Fast Food Nutrition and Marketing

    New Haven, Conn. – Children as young as age 2 are seeing more fast food ads than ever before, and restaurants rarely offer parents the healthy kids’ meal choices, according to a new study from Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. The new evaluation, the most comprehensive study of fast food nutrition and marketing ever conducted, shows that fast food marketers target children across a variety of media and in restaurants. In addition, the study finds that restaurants provide largely unhealthy defaults for the side dishes and drinks that come with kids’ meals. The detailed findings of this study will be presented in Denver today during the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting.

    The report’s authors studied marketing efforts of 12 of the nation’s largest fast food chains, and examined the calories, fat, sugar and sodium in more than 3,000 kids’ meal combinations and 2,781 menu items. Their evaluation of marketing practices revealed that the fast food industry spent more than $4.2 billion on marketing and advertising in 2009, focusing extensively on television, the Internet, social media sites and mobile applications.

    “Despite pledges to improve their marketing practices, fast food companies seem to be stepping up their efforts to target kids,” said lead researcher Jennifer L. Harris, Ph.D., M.B.A., director of marketing initiatives at the Rudd Center. “Today, preschoolers see 21% more fast food ads on TV than they saw in 2003, and somewhat older children see 34% more.”

    Key study findings include:

    Unhealthy foods and beverages still dominate restaurant menus:

    • Out of 3,039 possible kids’ meal combinations, only 12 meet the researchers’ nutrition criteria for preschoolers. Only 15 meet nutrition criteria for older children.
    • Teens ages 13-17 purchase 800-1,100 calories in an average fast food meal, roughly half of their recommended total daily calories.
    • At least 30% of the calories in menu items purchased by children and teens are from sugar and saturated fat.
    • At most fast food restaurants, a single meal contains at least half of young people’s daily recommended sodium.

    The restaurant environment does not help steer people toward the healthier selections:

    • Most fast food restaurants have at least one healthy side dish and beverage option for a kids’ meal, but the healthy options are rarely offered as the default.
    • Even though McDonald’s and Burger King show only healthy sides and beverages in child-targeted advertising, the restaurants automatically serve french fries with kids’ meals at least 86% of the time, and soft drinks at least 55% of the time.
    • Companies facing increasing pressure about portion sizes are renaming, rather than eliminating, their biggest sides and drinks.  At Burger King, for example, a 42-ounce “King” drink is now the “large” option; the former “large” 32-ounce drink is now a “medium”; the former “medium” 21-ounce drink is now a “small”; and the former “small” 16-ounce drink is now the “value” option.

    Marketing to youth is effective:

    • Forty percent of children ages 2-11 ask their parents to go to McDonald’s at least once a week, and 15% of preschoolers ask to go every day. 84% of parents report taking their child ages 2-11 to a fast food restaurant at least once in the past week.
    • The average preschooler sees almost three ads per day for fast food; children ages 6-11 see three-and-a-half ads; and teens ages 12-17 see almost five ads per day.
    • Children’s food choices are affected by secondhand exposure to ads for foods and beverages targeted to adults. More than 60% of fast food ads viewed by children were for foods other than kids’ meals. Accordingly, older children (ages 6-11) are more likely to order an item from the dollar menu or a combo meal (27%) than to order a kids’ meal (21%).

    Youth exposure to fast food ads is dramatic, increasing:

    • Compared with 2007, in 2009 preschoolers saw 21% more ads for McDonald’s, 9% more for Burger King, and 56% more for Subway.  Children (ages 6-11) saw 26% more ads for McDonald’s, 10% more for Burger King, and 59% more for Subway.
    • Fast food advertising targeting preschoolers focuses on building brand loyalty rather than promoting specific food items.
    • McDonalds’ 13 websites get 365,000 unique child visitors ages 2-11 and 294,000 unique teen visitors ages 12-17 each month. Targeted marketing for fast food starts as young as age 2 through websites such as McDonalds’ Ronald.com.

    Companies target African American and Hispanic youth:

    • Hispanic preschoolers see 290 Spanish-language fast food TV ads each year. McDonald’s is responsible for one-quarter of young people’s exposure to Spanish-language fast food advertising.
    • African American children and teens see at least 50% more fast food ads than their white peers. McDonald’s and KFC, in particular, specifically target African American youth with TV advertising, targeted websites, and banner ads.
    • African American children see nearly twice as many calories as white children see in fast food TV ads every day.

    “Our results show that the fast food industry’s promises to market less unhealthy food to young people are not enough,” added study co-author Kelly Brownell, Ph.D., director and co-founder of the Rudd Center.  “If they truly wish to be considered partners in public health, fast food restaurants need to drastically reduce the total amount of marketing that children and teens see for fast food and the iconic brands that sell it.”

    Researchers measured youth exposure to marketing and advertising messages from all restaurants by using syndicated data from The Nielsen Company, comScore, Inc., and Arbitron Inc. When this information was unavailable, independent studies were implemented, along with content analyses and audits inside the restaurants.

    The report was supported by grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Rudd Foundation.

    Click here for the full report.

  91. Infant Mortality Rate Continues Downward Trend

    North Carolina’s Infant Mortality Rate Continues Downward Trend; Minority Rate Still Cause for Concern

    RALEIGH  North Carolina’s overall infant mortality rate dropped again in 2009 to the lowest level in the state’s history, state officials announced today.  A total of 126,785 babies were born last year.  The state’s overall infant mortality rate was 7.9 deaths per 1,000 live births.  This represents a decline of 3.7 percent from the 2008 rate.  Since 1988, when North Carolina ranked as one of the last in the nation for infant mortality, the state has improved its overall rate more than 35 percent.

    After reaching its lowest level ever in 2008, the infant mortality rate among minorities rose in 2009 by 4.4 percent; minorities continue to experience rates more than two times (2.6) higher than whites.  Minority women also continue to experience markedly higher rates of low and very low birthweight babies (13.5%) than whites (7.7%).

    “Racial health disparities, especially among women of childbearing age, must continue to be one of our top priorities,” State Health Director Jeff Engel said.  “That means continued investment at the state and federal levels in preventing high-risk conditions like diabetes and hypertension as well as ensuring access to good preconceptional, prenatal and infant care.”

    Programs like the N.C. Baby Love Plus Program, a federally-funded Healthy Start Initiative in 14 North Carolina counties, continue to address the racial disparities that affect infant mortality, targeting issues ranging from domestic violence to lack of prenatal care. UNC Pembroke’s Healthy Start Corps Program also receives federal funding to eliminate health disparities in pregnant women and newborns with a strong focus on American Indian families.

    The N.C. Division of Public Health, in partnership with local health departments and community-based organizations, supports numerous initiatives to reach families of color with improved access to health services, care coordination and support, including the Healthy Beginnings program, which is currently serving 12 communities across the state. A 20-year public-private partnership with the North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation has resulted in statewide and targeted outreach activities and educational materials that have been nationally recognized for being culturally and linguistically appropriate.

    The 2009 Infant Mortality Report shows that deaths attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) decreased from 136 deaths in children under 1 year old in 2008 to 98 in 2009.  Deaths from accidental suffocation also decreased from 21 in 2008 to seven in 2009.

    “While we can’t explain the unusually high number of SIDS-related deaths last year, it is good to see a return to the downward trend we had been on since 1995,” said Tom Vitaglione, co-chair of the N.C. Child Fatality Infant Mortality

    Task Force. “Our state is fortunate to have a dedicated Child Fatality Prevention System that reviews all child deaths and studies ways to prevent them through focused programs like the statewide N.C. Infant Safe Sleep Campaign.”

    The report also shows that smoking rates continue to decline among pregnant women and the percentage of teenagers under 18 who gave birth was down from the previous year, accounting for just 3.5 percent of all live births.  The number of women receiving prenatal care early in their pregnancies rose slightly from 82 percent in 2008 to 83.3 percent in 2009.

    The number of babies being born in North Carolina is down more than 3 percent overall, from a record high of 130,886 in 2007, to 126,785 births in 2009.

    Click here for a complete copy of the 2009 report.

    Source: North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Office of Public Affairs

  92. Back to School Childhood Immunizations: Is your child ready?

    Are your kids ready?

    Wilkes County Health Department Officials urge parents to check that their children’s immunizations are up-to-date.  Parents have until September 22, 2010 to have their child’s immunizations current according to new NC State Guidelines.  We want parents to know that by law, their children must be up-to-date on their required immunizations to start school.  After September 22, 2010, if a child’s immunizations are not current the child will not be allowed to return to school until immunizations are up-to-date.  Below are requirements based on the 2010 NC State Guidelines.

    • For entry into Kindergarten, children must have:
    Vaccine
    Number Doses Required
    Before School Entry
    Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis

    5 doses

    Polio

    4 doses

    Measles

    2 doses

    Mumps

    2 doses

    Rubella

    1 dose

    Haemophilus Influenzae type B (Hib)

    4 doses

    Hepatitis B (Hep B)

    3 doses

    Varicella (chickenpox)

    1 dose

    • For upcoming 6th Graders:
    Vaccine
    Number Doses Required
    Before School Entry
    TDap (this is a new requirement)

    1 dose

    Parents are encouraged to check with their health care provider or insurance provider to find out which vaccines and vaccine services are covered by their insurance plans.  Based on changes in immunization funding this year, not all children are eligible for free vaccines.  Please check with your child’s doctor or the Wilkes County Health Department at 651-7450 to see if your child qualifies for free vaccine.

     

    For details on school immunization requirements in NC please click here. 

    Vaccines are a safe and effective way to help parents protect their children from disease.

  93. Back to School Childhood Immunizations

    Are your kids ready?

    Wilkes County Health Department Officials urge parents to check that their children’s immunizations are up-to-date.  Parents have until September 22, 2010 to have their child’s immunizations current according to new NC State Guidelines.  We want parents to know that by law, their children must be up-to-date on their required immunizations to start school.  After September 22, 2010, if a child’s immunizations are not current the child will not be allowed to return to school until immunizations are up-to-date.  Below are requirements based on the 2010 NC State Guidelines.

    For entry into Kindergarten, children must have:

    Vaccine
    Number Doses Required
    Before School Entry
    Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis

    5 doses

    Polio

    4 doses

    Measles

    2 doses

    Mumps

    2 doses

    Rubella

    1 dose

    Haemophilus Influenzae type B (Hib)

    4 doses

    Hepatitis B (Hep B)

    3 doses

    Varicella (chickenpox)

    1 dose

    For upcoming 6th Graders:

    Vaccine
    Number Doses Required
    Before School Entry
    TDap (this is a new requirement)

    1 dose

    Parents are encouraged to check with their health care provider or insurance provider to find out which vaccines and vaccine services are covered by their insurance plans.  Based on changes in immunization funding this year, not all children are eligible for free vaccines.  Please check with your child’s doctor or the Wilkes County Health Department at 651-7450 to see if your child qualifies for free vaccine.

    For details on school immunization requirements in NC please click here. 

    Vaccines are a safe and effective way to help parents protect their children from disease.

  94. Egg recall tied to salmonella grows to 380 million

    The Assoicated Press August 19, 2010

    ATLANTA (AP) — Hundreds of people have been sickened in a salmonella outbreak linked to eggs in four states and possibly more, health officials said Wednesday as a company dramatically expanded a recall to 380 million eggs.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with state health departments to investigate the illnesses. No deaths have been reported, said Dr. Christopher Braden, a CDC epidemiologist involved in the investigation.

    Initially, 228 million eggs, or the equivalent of 19 million dozen-egg cartons, were recalled by the company Wright County Egg of Galt, Iowa. But that number was increased to nearly 32 million dozen-egg cartons.

    Minnesota, a state with some of the best food-borne illness investigators in the country, has tied at least seven salmonella illnesses to the eggs.

    Other states have seen a jump in reports of the type of salmonella. For example, California has reported 266 illnesses since June and believes many are related to the eggs. Colorado saw 28 cases in June and July, about four times the usual number. Spikes or clusters of suspicious cases have also been reported inArizona, Illinois, Nevada, North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin.

    Salmonella is the most common bacterial form of food poisoning. And the strain involved in the outbreak is the most common strain of salmonella, accounting for roughly 20 percent of all salmonella food poisonings.

    Unfortunately, current lab tests do not allow health officials to fingerprint this form of salmonella as precisely as other kinds of food-borne illness. So determining the size of a salmonella enteritidis outbreak is a little more challenging, Braden said.

    The Food and Drug Administration also is investigating.

    Much of the investigation so far has been centered on restaurants in California, Colorado, Minnesota andNorth Carolina. They are not necessarily breakfast places – it’s possible some got sick from eating a salad dressing that had a raw egg in it, or eating soup with an undercooked egg dropped in, Braden said.

    In North Carolina, a cluster of about 80 illnesses in April were linked to meringue-containing chocolate pie and banana pudding served at a Durham barbecue restaurant, health officials said.

    Eggs from Wright County Egg were linked to illnesses in the four states. The eggs were distributed around the country and packaged under the names Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph’s, Boomsma’s, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms and Kemp. It wasn’t immediately clear when the eggs were produced and distributed.

    The initial recall was issued last week. Eggs affected by the expanded recall were distributed to food wholesalers, distribution centers and food service companies in California, Colorado, Minnesota, Arkansas,Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Oklahoma, Oregon, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Washingtonand Wisconsin.

    “We are undertaking this additional recall to further protect the safety of consumers – this voluntary measure is consistent with our commitment to egg safety, and it is our responsibility,” Wright County Egg officials said in a statement Wednesday evening.

    In an earlier statement, company officials said the FDA is “on-site to review records and inspect our barns.” The officials said they began the recall Aug. 13.

    The most common symptoms of salmonella are diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within eight hours to 72 hours of eating a contaminated product. It can be life-threatening, especially to those with weakened immune systems.

    This form of salmonella can be passed from chickens that appear healthy. And it grows inside eggs, not just on the shell, Braden noted.

    Thoroughly cooking eggs can kill the bacteria. But health officials are recommending people throw away or return the recalled eggs.

    For more information click the following links:
    U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_MED_TAINTED_EGGS?SITE=WILAC&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

  95. Sports Physicals Coming to a School Near You!

    It’s that time of year again. If you child is interested in playing sports this up and coming school year MESH will be at the following:

    • Wilkes Central HS Monday July 12th 9a-3p
    • North Wilkes HS Tuesday July 13th 9a-3p
    • West Wilkes HS Wednesday July 14th 9a-3p
    • East Wilkes HS Thursday July 15th 9a-3p.

    The MESH unit will be parked at the Health Department on Tuesday July 20th 9a-4p, and July 27th 9a-4p doing Sports PE’s. If students need an appointment call 957-7043 or 903-7666. The cost is $15.00.

  96. North Carolina Health Officials encourage Residents to “fight the bite!”

    Raleigh – On the eve of Tick and Mosquito Awareness Month, state health officials are reminding people to be careful because warmer, wetter weather brings out more of the disease-carrying pests.

    All North Carolinians are urged to take simple steps to prevent insects from biting them and to reduce insect breeding conditions around the home.

    “Spring rains and warmer weather provide ideal breeding conditions for mosquitoes and ticks,” said State Health Director Jeff Engel. “Ticks and mosquitoes can be more than just a nuisance – they can also make people seriously ill. Now is the time to fight the bite!”

    Nolan Newton, chief of the Public Health Pest Management Section of the Division of Environmental Health, said that people can take steps to prevent illness.

    “You can make your backyard a lot less tick-friendly,” Newton said. “Keep grass short and remove plants that attract wild animals like deer and rodents, which carry ticks.”

    Newton said discarding containers that hold water will remove mosquito breeding grounds.

    “Take a good look at your environment now, before the mosquitoes really start biting,” he added. “Things like bird baths, old tires, planters and even small containers like tin cans can give mosquitoes a place to thrive.”

    Newton added that people should remember to make sure they tightly secure screens on all openings on rain barrels used for water conservation. Placing a window screen on a rain barrel will remove a breeding area for mosquitoes but still allow people to conserve water.

    Engel and Newton said insect repellent also can be useful, particularly against mosquitoes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend several repellents against mosquitoes – DEET, picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus. According to the CDC, oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3. Repellents containing permethrin provide excellent protection against ticks but may only be used on clothing. Consumers should look for products that contain the CDC-recommended ingredients, and follow instructions.

    Also, exposure to mosquitoes and ticks can be limited by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks. People should also check themselves and their families for ticks when they are in tick-prone areas.

    Proper and prompt removal of ticks is the key to preventing infection. Use fine-tipped tweezers to remove ticks, getting as far forward near the head as possible and pulling steadily. Note the day you removed the tick on a calendar. If you become ill in the next two weeks or develop a skin rash within a month of the tick bite, tell your physician the date you removed the tick.

    Rocky Mountain spotted fever is the most common tick-borne illness in North Carolina. According to the N.C. Division of Public Health, more than 260 cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever were reported in North Carolina in 2009. The state also has other tick-borne illnesses. Last year, North Carolina reported more than 100 cases of Lyme disease and more than 60 cases of ehrlichiosis. Tick-borne diseases occur statewide.

    La Crosse virus is the most common mosquito-borne illness. La Crosse virus is found mostly in westernNorth Carolina. Two other mosquito-borne diseases, Eastern equine encephalitis and West Nile virus, are also found in North Carolina. While Eastern equine encephalitis is found largely in the eastern part of the state, West Nile virus is found statewide.

    Wilkes County reported a death from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in 2008, and a confirmed case of Lymes Disease in 2009 along with four other probable cases.  2009 also had four cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and one case of West Nile Virus.  So far in 2010 there has been one probable case of Lymes Disease.

    For additional information on mosquitoes and ticks, visit the following websites: www.deh.enr.state.nc.us/phpmwww.epi.state.nc.us/epi/arbovirus and www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/tick.