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Department of Health Newsroom 2008


Nov 8, 2004: Vision education program for diabetics at Brentwood Community Center.
Oct 26, 2004: St. Louis County Health Department reports first confirmed flu diagnosis.
Sep 14, 2004: West Nile Virus thought to be factor in death of County woman.
Sep 10, 2004: Vital Records office closed on Wednesday September 15.
Sep 3, 2004: Rabies clinics and alert.
August 24, 2004: Fees for Vital Records to increase.
August 20, 2004: First human case of West Nile Virus in County.
August 3, 2004: Limit physical activity in severe heat.
July 27, 2004: DOH reports 6 rabid bats this year, 3 in last week.
July 13, 2004: Mosquitoes test positive for West Nile Virus at 4 more County locations.
July 2, 2004: More mosquitoes test positive for West Nile Virus.
June 18, 2004: First rabid bat of the season found in Clayton.
June 15, 2004: Health Advisory: "Look but don't touch" when it comes to wild animals.
June 15, 2004: Safety Street at North Central Health Center.
June 14, 2004: Safety Street at Murphy Health Center.
June 10, 2004: County mosquitoes test positive for West Nile Virus.
May 18, 2004: Safety Street Events at County Health Centers.
May 03, 2004: Abstinence By Choice media advisory..
Mar 26, 2004: Baby T-shirts stress dangers of second-hand smoke to infants and children.
Mar 25, 2004: DOH supports theme of World Conference On Drug Prevention.
Mar 25, 2004: Tobacco is taboo in students' poster art.
Jan 20, 2004: Women and heart disease.
Jan 6, 2004: Follow-up flu shots for children at Brentwood Community Center.


Vision Education Program for Diabetics At Brentwood Community Center

November 5, 2004. A vision educational program on diabetes will be held on Wednesday, November 10th from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon at the Brentwood Community Center, 2505 South Brentwood. Blood pressure screening and health information on diabetes will be offered. The program is offered by the Saint Louis County Department of Health, in collaboration with the St. Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and supported by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Diabetes Control Program.

Dr. Becky Lory will present information on eye disease and diabetes. Mildred Eads, Rehabilitation teacher, will discuss rehabilitation services for persons with low vision. Marti Guberman from Medical West Healthcare Center will discuss equipment that is available for persons with low vision. Andrea Werner-Morse and Brenda Dunn will speak about services and resources for persons with low vision. The St. Louis College of Pharmacy will conduct blood pressure screening. Door prizes and incentive prizes will be given to every participant. Refreshments will also be available. Reservations are not required.

Many people with diabetes go undetected, without proper screening and medical care. The program is designed to reach them. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death, affecting men and women of all ages and ethnic groups. Sixteen million Americans have diabetes. In Missouri, 13,968 or 22.4% are affected by diabetes and in the last ten years over 2,400 St. Louis County residents (20.6%) have died as a result of diabetes.

Contact: Linda Hiette, Health Educator, 314-615-6821


St. Louis County Health Department Reports First Confirmed Flu Diagnosis

October 26, 2004. Public health officials in St. Louis County today are reporting the first diagnosis of influenza in St. Louis County this season. The Influenza Type A virus was identified in a 95-year-old male and an 85-year-old female who reside in the mid-county area. Symptoms of flu include fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, sore throat and cough.

Because of vaccine production shortages, only those individuals who are at greatest risk of life threatening complications from the flu are advised to seek vaccination. This includes those over age 65 and anyone with a compromised immune system or chronic illness such as diabetes, heart or lung disease. Healthy adults should not get flu shots this year.

"Whether you got a flu shot or not, disease prevention depends on more than just vaccine," said Mike Williams, PhD, Communicable Disease Control Manager at St. Louis County Department of Health. One of the most effective deterrents to disease is plain old hand washing with soap and water.

Good personal hygiene makes for good public health. To keep from spreading a "bug" - whether it's the "flu bug" or the common cold, here are some simple things everyone can - and should - do:

  1. Try to keep a distance of three feet away from others.
  2. Always cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough.
  3. Wash your hands frequently, especially after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose.
  4. Stay home if you are ill.
  5. Call your doctor on the phone if you can avoid going in to the office.
  6. Wear a surgical mask when going in for medical care.

The arrival of flu in St. Louis should serve as a reminder for those who visit or care for anyone at high risk of flu-related complications. Medical and long-term care facilities should carefully monitor employees and guests for respiratory illness. Access to patients and residents should be restricted if a healthcare worker or visitor has symptoms of flu-like illness. For more information on flu and communicable disease control, visit www.stlouisco.com/doh/.

Contact: Mike Williams, Ph.D. Program Director, Communicable Disease Control, 314-615-1630


West Nile Virus Thought To Be A Factor In Death Of St. Louis County Woman

September 14, 2004. Public Health officials in St. Louis County report that a 92-year-old woman has died after being hospitalized with symptoms consistent with West Nile encephalitis. The woman, who lived in Central St. Louis County (63117), died on September 7. Laboratory results received on September 13 confirmed the diagnosis of acute infection with West Nile virus (WNV).

Her only known risk factor is that she was a gardener. St. Louis County Vector Control staff will do a thorough inspection of the vicinity near her residence, and will increase mosquito treatment activities including spraying and larviciding.

Health officials repeat that avoiding mosquito bites is the best way to prevent exposure to WNV. To reduce your risk, take the following preventive steps:

  • Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can breed.
  • Remove tires, buckets, and other water-holding objects from your property.
  • Change the water and clean birdbaths at least once a week.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools (or drain and cover if not in use) to prevent water from accumulating in pool covers.
  • Unclog gutters and down spouts.
  • Make sure drainpipes from gutters and sump pumps are properly sloped so they don't hold water.
  • Wear light colored, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks.
  • Use insect repellents containing DEET when outdoors (follow product instructions carefully).
  • Avoid outdoor activities in the early morning and evening, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Make sure screens fit tightly in doors and windows.
  • Mosquito control products for use in birdbaths, fishponds, swimming pool covers, and horse troughs are available online and at retail stores. Use the right product for the right situation, and follow label directions.

Most human infections are mild. Symptoms usually appear 3 to 15 days after infection, and include fever, headache, body aches, occasional skin rash and swollen lymph glands. More severe infection may be marked by headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, and, rarely, death. Persons older than 50 years of age and those with compromised immune systems have the highest risk of severe disease. If you have symptoms, contact your health care provider. For more information on mosquito prevention, contact the County Vector Control office at 314-727-3097 or log on to www.stlouisco.com/doh. For a recorded message of where the crews will be spraying for mosquitoes, call 314-615-4BUG.

Contact: Mike Williams, Ph.D., Manager, Communicable Disease Control, 314-615-1630 (Pager 314-430-5885)
Joan Bradford, Vector Control Supervisor, 314-725-9312


Vital Records Office Closed On Wednesday September 15

September 10, 2004. Due to a statewide Vital Records Workshop, the vital records office at Saint Louis County Department of Health, located at 111 South Meramec in Clayton, will be closed all day on Wednesday, September 15, 2004.

Contact: Celia Spencer, Manager, Vital Records, 314-615-8279


Best Protection Against Rabies: Vaccinate Pets, Avoid Bats.
Health Department Will Hold Rabies Vaccination Clinics For Pets

September 3, 2004. Rabid bats are an annual occurrence in St. Louis County, and often a household member or pet is exposed to rabies by getting too close. It's important to avoid contact with any wild animals, especially bats. Since rabies can be readily passed from wild animals to domestic pets, our first line of defense is to make sure all pet cats and dogs are properly vaccinated against rabies, as required by County law.

Health officials always stress the importance of vaccinating pets, but especially in light of recent cases of rabid bats. This not only protects pets from contracting rabies, but also serves as a barrier between wild animals and people. To give pet owners an opportunity to have their animals vaccinated against rabies, Saint Louis County Department of Health will hold rabies vaccination clinics the next two Saturdays, for pets owned by Saint Louis County residents.

RABIES VACCINATION CLINICS
  • Saturday, September 11, 8:30 AM to Noon
    South Animal Shelter, 77 Hunter Ave. in Ladue (phone 314-726-6655)
  • Saturday, September 18, 8:30 AM to Noon
    North Animal Shelter, 4100 Seven Hills (phone 314-831-6500)

A rabies vaccination will cost $5. Dogs should be on leashes, and cats in carriers. No appointments are needed.

Due to a higher than normal percentage of rabid bats in Saint Louis County this year, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services declared a rabies alert in the County. Not all bats have rabies, but once transmitted, the disease of rabies has no cure and is always fatal. Contact with bats means possible exposure to rabies, so health officials stress the importance of staying away from them and not touching them if you do see them.

The only way to know whether a bat had rabies is to send it for testing. County Animal Control Officers will collect a bat for testing if it is in a residence or is exhibiting abnormal behavior. If you find a bat in a living area of your home - such as a bedroom - you should leave the room, close the door, and call Animal Control, keeping the bat confined until Animal Control Officers arrive. If you find a bat outdoors, don't handle it, especially if it's on the ground or unable to fly. Call Animal Control for assistance at 314-831-6500 (north county) or 314-726-6655 (south and west county). After hours, call the St. Louis County Police to dispatch an Animal Control Officer.

Be sure to report all animal bites by calling Animal Control. It's vital to teach children not to approach or touch wild animals or unfamiliar pets. For more information on animal control and rabies, visit www.stlouisco.com/doh or www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/rabies/ or call the nearest Saint Louis County Department of Health Animal Shelter.

Contact:
Ron Twillman, Program Manager, Vector Control and Veterinary Services, 314-615-8351
Helen Kamp, D.V.M., Veterinarian, Animal Control, 314-726-6655


FEES FOR VITAL RECORDS TO INCREASE

August 24, 2004. Starting next week the cost for a copy of a birth or death certificate will go up. Certified copies of birth records will cost $15.00 each. Certified copies of death records will cost $13.00 for the first copy and additional copies of the same death certificate ordered at the same time will cost $10.00 each.

Previously the cost was $10 per record. A statewide law (House Bill 795 enacted by the 92nd General Assembly) increases the fee for a certified copy of a vital record effective August 28, 2004.

Saint Louis County Health Department Vital Records can issue certified copies of birth and death certificates for the entire state of Missouri. The years that are available for birth are 1920 to present. The years that are available for death are 1883 to present, however death events that occurred prior to 1980 must have occurred in St. Louis County.

To obtain a vital record you may apply in person at 111 South Meramec Avenue in Clayton. The office is located on the first floor, and is open from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM Monday through Friday. Please allow about fifteen minutes to fill out forms and receive your certified copies.

If requesting a vital record by mail, please send your request to: Saint Louis County Department of Health, Office of Vital Records, 111 South Meramec Avenue, Clayton, MO 63105-1711. Be sure to include a self-addressed stamped envelope and allow two weeks for processing. You must provide the full name, the date of birth or death, the hospital where the birth or death occurred, your relationship to the individual named on the record, and the purpose for the copies. For birth records also include the father's name and mother's maiden name.

Common reasons for needing a certified birth or death certificate include school registration, taxes, insurance, social security, drivers license, employment, marriage license, military, travel, passport and genealogy.

For more information, call the Saint Louis County Office of Vital Records at 314-615-0376. For recorded information call 314-615-1720, or go to www.stlouisco.com/doh/vitals.html on line.

Contact: Celia Spencer, Manager, Vital Records, 314-615-8279


First Human Case of West Nile Virus In St. Louis County

August 20, 2004. Public Health officials in St. Louis County report that a 33-year-old man has been diagnosed with West Nile virus. The man, who lives in North County (zip code 63136), became ill on August 5 and was hospitalized. His symptoms were consistent with West Nile encephalitis. Laboratory results were received yesterday. He is now recovering at home. This is the first human case of the virus in St. Louis County this year.

The disease infects birds and is spread through mosquitoes. Health officials stress that avoiding mosquito bites is the best way to prevent exposure, and offer the following reminders:

  • Get rid of all standing water.
  • Remove tires, buckets, and other water-holding objects.
  • Change water and clean bird baths at least once a week.
  • Prevent water from accumulating in pool covers.
  • Unclog gutters and down spouts.
  • Wear light colored, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks.
  • Use insect repellents when outdoors (follow product instructions carefully).
  • Avoid outdoor activities in the early morning and evening, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Make sure screens fit tightly in doors and windows.

Most human infections are mild. Symptoms usually appear 3 to 15 days after infection, and include fever, headache, body aches, occasional skin rash and swollen lymph glands. More severe infection may be marked by headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, and, rarely, death. Persons older than 50 years of age and those with compromised immune systems have the highest risk of severe disease. If you have symptoms, contact your health care provider.

Beginning Monday, St. Louis County Vector Control crews will increase mosquito treatment activities in North County, including spraying and larviciding. For a recorded message of where the crews will be spraying for mosquitoes, call 314-615-4BUG.

Contact:
Mike Williams, Ph.D., Manager, Communicable Disease Control, 314-615-1630 (Pager 314-430-5885)
Joan Bradford, Vector Control Supervisor, 314-725-9312


Limit Physical Activity in Severe Heat

August 3, 2004. Summer heat can be deadly, especially for those exercising or participating in sports activities outdoors. The most effective way to manage heat-related illness is to prevent it. Any form of physical exertion, not just exercise, can result in heat related problems, and individuals who aren't physically fit are more likely to suffer a heat related illness. Health officials suggest simple steps to prevent heat related injuries during outside activities:

  • Decrease the intensity of physical activity when the temperature or humidity is high.
  • Drink plenty of water and other fluids before, during and after a workout or other strenuous physical activity.
  • Drink more fluids during the activity than your thirst is dictating. Do not worry that you will over do it on fluids; it's difficult to drink too much.
  • As outside temperatures and humidity increase, gradually decrease your physical activity in the short term, and then increase your activity back to the previous level over 7-10 days. In other words, take it easy the first several times you are exposed to a hot environment before increasing your intensity level.
  • Monitor your heart rate to make sure you are in your target heart rate zone. You can contact American Heart Association for a brochure on physical activity, which includes information on target heart rate.
  • Monitor your weight before and after physical activity. If you have lost more than 3% of total body weight prior to the next workout, skip the workout entirely. For example, 3% of 120 pounds is about 3.5 pounds and 3% of 175 pounds is about 5 pounds.
  • Consume adequate amounts of carbohydrates, especially fruits and vegetables, as they contain high amounts of water.
  • Expose as much skin as possible to increase cooling by evaporation of sweat. Don't forget to wear sun block!
  • Plan your physical activities for the cooler parts of the day, before 11 a.m. and after 2 p.m.
  • Know the early warning signs of heat illness, such as heat cramps, excessive sweating, cold clammy skin, normal or slightly elevated body temperature, paleness, dizziness, weak and rapid pulse, shallow breathing, nausea, and headache.

For information on cooling sites, call the United Way at 1-800-427-4626.

HEAT RELATED ILLNESS

Summer temperatures combined with high humidity levels reduce the evaporation of sweat from the skin. Even though it may seem you are sweating a lot when it is humid, the sweat is mostly rolling off the skin and is not really contributing much to the cooling process. Sweat alone does not cool the body. It is the evaporation of sweat that cools the body. Obviously, the combination of high air temperatures and high humidity levels increase the risk for heat illness to occur.

Heat cramps are involuntary muscle spasms that can occur during or following physical exertion. This is the first sign of heat illness and is a signal to drink more water and/or reduce the amount of intensity of physical exertion.

Heat exhaustion is a more serious state of heat illness that usually occurs when individuals have not consumed enough water prior to or during their workout. Symptoms include excessive sweating, cold clammy skin, normal or slightly elevated body temperature, paleness, dizziness, weak and rapid pulse, shallow breathing, nausea, and head ache. If you feel ill, contact your health care provider.

Heat stroke is the most advanced stage of heat illness. The pulse is usually strong but very rapid. Breathing may be labored and difficult. Body temperature can exceed 106° F. Heat stroke is an emergency that requires immediate medical attention! Call 911.

To stay cool, stay in coolest environment available and use an air conditioner if it's available. Drink plenty of cool water, and non-alcoholic, caffeine-free beverages. Dress in loose fitting, lightweight and light colored clothing. Wear a hat to protect your head, use sunglasses and sun block. Limit activity during the heat of the day, especially if you are outdoors or in buildings without air conditioning. Bathe or shower frequently in cool water. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if any medication you are taking may increase your risk of heat related illness.

If you are 60 or older, have been ill lately, or live alone without air conditioning, try to go to an air-conditioned place for several hours a day. Neighbors, relatives and friends of persons at risk should check on these individuals daily.

Contact: Susan Lukwago, Program Manager, Community Health Education, 314-615-1675
Linda Hiette, Community Health Education Coordinator, 314- 615-6821


Health Department Reports Six Rabid Bats So Far This Year, Three Within The Last Week

July 27, 2004. Saint Louis County Department of Health reports three rabid bats last week, making for a total of six this season.

  • July 17th, a rabid bat was found in front of the Glencoe Post Office in Manchester, zip code 63038.
  • July 20th, a rabid bat was found in the driveway of a residence in the 400 block of Spring in Webster Groves, zip code 63119.
  • July 21st, a rabid bat was found inside an apartment in the 7500 block of Hoover in Richmond Heights, zip code 63117. Two people who live in apartment are in contact with the health department's communicable disease control staff to determine if there was any possibility of exposure.
  • Last month, rabid bats were confirmed in Clayton, 63105, and in University City, 63130.

According to Ron Twillman, Manager Of Vector Control And Veterinary Services, "people should check with their veterinarians on the immunization status of their pets." He stresses that since rabies can be readily passed from wild animals to domestic pets, our first line of defense is to make sure all cats and dogs are properly vaccinated, as required by County law.

Rabid bats are an annual occurrence in St. Louis County, and often a household member or pet is exposed by getting too close or touching a bat that turns out to have rabies. Once transmitted, the disease of rabies has no cure and is almost always fatal. County Animal Control officers will collect a bat for testing if it is in a residence or is exhibiting abnormal behavior. County residents should call Saint Louis County Animal Control at 314-831-6500 (north county) or 314-726-6655 (south and west county) for assistance.

Health officials warn people not to handle any bat, especially if it's on the ground or unable to fly. To avoid potential bites, scratches and other health risks, people should keep a safe distance away from any wild animal. For more information, visit www.stlouisco.com/doh and click on Animal Control.

Contact:
Ron Twillman, Program Manager, Vector Control and Veterinary Services, 314-615-8351
Helen Kamp, D.V.M., Veterinarian, Animal Control, 314-726-6655


Mosquitoes Test Positive for West Nile Virus at Four More County Locations

July 13, 2004. Mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV) in four more Saint Louis County locations: Castlepoint, Crownpoint, Ladue and Webster Groves. On July 7, Saint Louis County Department of Health sent an additional 85 samples for testing. Those results are still pending.

Previous positive pools were identified in Bel-Nor, Calverton Park, Creve Coeur, Des Peres, Florissant, Hanley Hills, Jennings, Ladue, Normandy, Spanish Lake, Town & Country, University City, and Vinita Park.

Health officials don't want to miss a chance to remind us that the infected mosquitoes are out there, and to keep our guard up. We all know the drill by now, but it bears repeating.

  • Standing water: don't stand for it! Every 2 or 3 days, drain water from garbage cans, buckets, toys, flowerpots, wading pools, pet dishes, and other objects that can collect water. Change water in birdbaths at least once a week.
  • Look for products containing the active ingredient methoprene or Bacicllus thuringiensis israelensis to place in birdbaths or ponds, to prevent mosquitoes from developing.
  • Keep gutters cleaned out, and repair any tears in door and window screens.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and light colors when outdoors, and minimize exposure between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Spray clothing with repellents containing DEET. Always follow manufacturer's directions.

The Health Department routinely collects mosquito samples to help determine where to focus control efforts. To find out where the County's vector control crew will be, call (314) 615-4-B-U-G for the nightly mosquito-spraying schedule.

There have been no human cases of WNV in Saint Louis County this season. For more information on mosquito prevention, contact the County Vector Control office at 314-727-3097 or log on to www.stlouisco.com/doh.

Contact: Joan Bradford, M.S., Vector Control Supervisor, 314-727-3097
Michael Williams, Ph D., Communicable Disease Control, 314-615-1630
Pager 314-430-5885


More Mosquitoes Test Positive for West Nile Virus

July 2, 2004. More mosquitoes in Saint Louis County are infected with West Nile Virus (WNV). In the past week, Saint Louis County Department of Health collected mosquito samples that tested positive - some sites with multiple pools - in the following areas:

  • Unincorporated Spanish Lake
  • Unincorporated Seven Hills Area (north of New Halls Ferry and 270)
  • Unincorporated Florissant
  • Creve Coeur, near Chesterfield city limits
  • Town & Country, near Chesterfield city limits
  • Bel-Nor
  • Hanley Hills
  • Jennings
  • Ladue (multiple locations)
  • Normandy
  • Vinita Park
  • University City

More tests are pending. Previous locations that tested positive include unincorporated Spanish Lake, Calverton Park, unincorporated Florissant, and Des Peres near Kirkwood city limits.

The best way to avoid being infected with West Nile Virus is to prevent exposure to mosquito bites. With the upcoming 4th of July holiday weekend, many people may be spending more time outdoors. Here are some suggestions to make your backyard barbeque less inviting to mosquitoes.

  • Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, so eliminate all sources - even small amounts - of water where mosquitoes can breed.
  • Every 2 or 3 days, drain water from garbage cans, buckets, toys, flowerpots, wading pools, pet dishes, and other objects that can collect water.
  • Change water in birdbaths at least once a week. Various retail products are available to place in birdbaths or ponds, to prevent mosquitoes from developing. Check labels for the active ingredient methoprene or Bacicllus thuringiensis israelensis.
  • Keep gutters cleaned out, and repair any tears in door and window screens.
  • Minimize exposure between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and light colors when outdoors.
  • Spray clothing with repellents containing DEET. Apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin. Repellents may irritate the eyes and mouth, so avoid applying repellent to the hands of children. When using any insect repellent, follow the manufacturer's "Directions For Use."

The Health Department routinely collects mosquito samples to help determine where to focus control efforts. To find out where the County's vector control crew will be, call (314) 615-4-B-U-G for the nightly mosquito-spraying schedule.

The Culex pipiens mosquito is the primary carrier of the West Nile Virus in the St. Louis metropolitan region. It feeds primarily on birds but occasionally feeds on humans and other mammals. Mosquitoes here are showing up positive for WNV earlier each year. This year, the first positive was confirmed on June 10. In 2003, the first positive mosquito pool was discovered on June 30; and in 2002 the first positive came on July 18.

Tests run in the County Health Department's Environmental Laboratory are subject to confirmation by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services through tests conducted under contract with a virologist at Southeast Missouri State University. There have been no human cases of WNV in Saint Louis County this season. For more information on mosquito prevention, contact the County Vector Control office at 314-727-3097 or log on to www.stlouisco.com/doh.

Contact:
Joan Bradford, M.S., Vector Control Supervisor, 314-727-3097
Michael Williams, Ph D., Communicable Disease Control, 314- 615-1630
Pager 314-430-5885


First Rabid Bat of the Season is found in Clayton, County Health Department Reports

June 18, 2004. Animal Control officers with the Saint Louis County Department of Health (DOH) retrieved a bat on June 14 on Hillvale Drive in Clayton (zip code 63105) after a resident reported finding the bat in his garage. Laboratory results received on June 17 showed the bat tested positive for rabies. There were no known direct exposures to humans or pets.

This is the first rabid bat this season in Saint Louis County. Health officials urge people to be aware of and cautious around wildlife, especially bats, and to avoid direct contact with any animal that is behaving strangely. Children should be taught to stay a safe distance away from any unknown animals.

Ron Twillman, DOH Program Manager of Vector Control and Veterinary Services, stresses that people should check with their veterinarians on the immunization status of their pets. Because rabies can be readily passed from wild animals to domestic pets, the first line of defense is to make sure all cats and dogs are properly vaccinated, as required by county law. Once transmitted, the disease of rabies has no cure and almost always is fatal.

Most bats don't carry rabies, and in fact perform a beneficial service by eating large quantities of insects. But if one bat in a colony contracts rabies, chances are it will spread to other members of the colony. For more information, or to report animal bites, please call Saint Louis County Department of Health, North Animal Shelter at 314-831-6500; or the South Shelter at 314-726-6655, or visit www.stlouisco.com/doh and click on Animal Control.

Contact: Ron Twillman, Program Manager, Vector Control and Veterinary Services 314-615-8351


 
Health Advisory: "Look but don't touch" when it comes to wild animals!

June 15, 2004. Wild animals can be beautiful and fascinating to watch, but they can also carry a number of diseases that can be transmitted to people and pets. Saint Louis County Department of Health advises that, to avoid potential bites, scratches and other health risks, people should keep a safe distance away from any wild animal.



Rabies



Rabid bats are an annual occurrence in St. Louis County, and often a household member or pet is exposed by getting too close or touching a bat that turns out to have rabies. Once transmitted, the disease of rabies has no cure and is almost always fatal. Health officials warn people not to handle any bat, especially if it's on the ground or unable to fly. County Animal Control officers will collect a bat for testing if it is in a residence or is exhibiting abnormal behavior. County residents should call Saint Louis County Animal Control at 314-831-6500 (north county) or 314-726-6655 (south and west county) for assistance.



Distemper, common in raccoons, is highly contagious to unvaccinated dogs and puppies because it is transmitted through the air. Raccoons may also spread rabies. During the warm weather months, there are more opportunities for wild life to mingle with domestic animals, potentially increasing the risk for spreading diseases. Keeping pets confined to their yards or houses can greatly reduce their risk of exposure.



Immunizations for Pets



Pet owners must take responsibility for assuring that their pets' immunizations are up to date. Saint Louis County ordinance requires rabies vaccinations for all cats and dogs, not only to protect the pets but also to serve as a barrier between wild animals and the human population.



The bottom line is - be cautious - avoid direct contact with wildlife - and stay safe. It's vitally important to teach children not to approach or try to pet unfamiliar animals. For more information, visit www.stlouisco.com/doh and click on Animal Control.



Contact:
Ron Twillman, Program Manager, Vector Control and Veterinary Services, 314-615-8351
Helen Kamp, D.V.M., Veterinarian, Animal Control, 314-726-6655



"Safety Street" at North Central Community Health Center

June 15, 2004. Saint Louis County Department of Health and Saint Louis County Police Department are sponsoring a "Safety Street" event on Friday, June 25, from 9:00 A.M. to Noon at the North Central Community Health Center, 400 Jennings Station Road, in Pine Lawn.



A mock street will be set up to teach children first-hand the rules of the road for safe bicycling. Studies show that wearing a properly fitted safety helmet can dramatically reduce head injuries. County ordinance requires helmets in unincorporated areas.



Free safety helmets for children will be available, while supplies last. A parent or responsible adult must accompany each child, and sign a consent form authorizing the child to receive a safety helmet. Health Department staff will properly fit each helmet for the child's safety. Children who already own helmets may bring their bikes and helmets to be checked for appropriate fit.



The event is free to St. Louis County residents.



Photo Opportunity:



  • Children learning the rules of the road in a mock city, complete with traffic signals.
  • Kids getting their safety helmets fitted.
  • Bikes checked for safety.
Contact: Albert Swanegan, Health Center Manager (314) 679-7800 x7801



"Safety Street" at Murphy Health Center

June 14, 2004. Saint Louis County Department of Health and Saint Louis County Police Department are sponsoring a "Safety Street" event on Friday, June 18 from 9:00 A.M. to noon at the John C. Murphy Health Center, located at 6065 Helen Avenue in Berkeley.



A mock street will be set up to teach children first-hand the rules of the road for safe bicycling. Studies show that wearing a properly fitted safety helmet can dramatically reduce head injuries. County ordinance requires helmets in unincorporated areas.



Free safety helmets for children will be available, while supplies last. A parent or responsible adult must accompany each child, to sign a consent form authorizing the child to receive a safety helmet and to serve as the child's safety mentor. Health Department staff will properly fit each helmet for the child's safety. Children who already own helmets may bring their bikes and helmets to be checked for appropriate fit.



The event is free to St. Louis County residents.



Photo Opportunity:



  • Children learning the rules of the road in a mock city complete with traffic signals.
  • Kids getting their safety helmets fitted, and their bikes checked for safety.
CONTACT: Betsy Alexander, Health Center Manager (314) 522-6410 x 6076



Mosquitoes in Saint Louis County Test Positive for West Nile Virus
First Positive Is Earlier This Year

June 10, 2004 - Mosquitoes in North County have tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). Saint Louis County Department of Health collected the mosquitoes in the Spanish Lake area and tested the samples in the County's Environmental Laboratory. Laboratory tests are subject to confirmation by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services through tests conducted under contract with a virologist at Southeast Missouri State University. Results came back positive for WNV late Wednesday (June 9).



Mosquitoes are showing up positive earlier each year. Last year the first positive pool was discovered on June 30; in 2002 the first positive came on July 18. There have been no human cases of WNV in St. Louis County this season.



The Health Department routinely collects mosquito samples throughout St. Louis County, including municipalities and unincorporated county areas, to help determine where to focus mosquito control efforts. One control measure is larviciding - the monitoring and treating of thousands of potential breeding sites - on public land and easements. Spraying for adult mosquitoes is triggered by mosquito trapping results, including WNV positive mosquitoes; concentrations of dead birds, and human cases of the disease. Prevention is crucial. Vector Control concentrates on larviciding, and spraying as needed to knock down adults that have emerged.



In 2003, WNV positive mosquitoes were collected throughout St. Louis County. The Culex pipiens mosquito is the primary carrier of the West Nile Virus in the St. Louis metropolitan region. It feeds primarily on birds but occasionally feeds on humans and other mammals.



Health officials stress there is no reason for undue concern in any one area, but urge residents throughout the County to take precautions. The best way to avoid being infected with West Nile Virus is to prevent exposure to mosquito bites. Health officials suggest the following preventive measures:



  • Minimize exposure when Culex mosquitoes are most active, between dusk and dawn.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and light colors when outdoors.
  • Spray clothing with repellents containing permethrin or DEET since mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing. Apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin. An effective repellent will contain 35% DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-tolumide). DEET in high concentrations (greater than 35%) provides no additional protection.
  • Repellents may irritate the eyes and mouth, so avoid applying repellent to the hands of children.
  • When using any insect repellent, follow the manufacturer's "Directions For Use."
  • Eliminate all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed.
  • Change water in birdbaths weekly.

To find out where the county's vector control crew will be, call (314) 615-4-B-U-G for the nightly mosquito-spraying schedule. For more information on mosquito prevention, contact the County Vector Control office at 314-727-3097 or log on to www.stlouisco.com/doh.



Contact:
Joan Bradford, M.S., Vector Control Supervisor, 314-727-3097
Michael Williams, Ph D., Communicable Disease Control, 314- 615-1630
Pager 314-430-5885



"Safety Street" Events at County Health Centers Offer Free Bicycle Helmets for Children

May 18, 2004. Saint Louis County Department of Health and Saint Louis County Police Department are sponsoring a "Safety Street" event at each of the three County Health Centers.



Safety Street events will run from 9:00 A.M. to noon - rain or shine - on the following dates:



  • Friday, June 11, at the South County Health Center located at 4580 South Lindbergh (just south of Gravois) in Sunset Hills;
  • Friday, June 18, at the John C. Murphy Health Center, located at 6065 Helen Avenue in Berkeley; and
  • Friday, June 25, at the North Central Community Health Center, 4000 Jennings Station Road in Pine Lawn.

A mock street will be set up at each health center to teach children first-hand the rules of the road for safe bicycling. Studies show that wearing a properly fitted safety helmet can dramatically reduce head injuries. County ordinance requires helmets in unincorporated areas.



Free bicycle helmets for children will be available, while supplies last. A parent or responsible adult must accompany each child and sign a consent form giving authorization for the child to receive a safety helmet. Health Department staff will properly fit each helmet for the child's safety. Children who already own helmets may bring their bikes and helmets to be checked for appropriate fit.



The events are free to County residents.



Photo Opportunity:



  • Children learning the rules of the road in a mock city complete with traffic signals.
  • Kids getting their safety helmets fitted, and their bikes checked for safety.
Contact: Ellen Waters, Media Coordinator, 314-615-1747
Diane McKenna, Health Center Manager (314) 842-1300 x 7201



Abstinence By Choice media advisory

May 3, 2004



Students Who Promote Abstinence Among Peers Are Honored

WHO
Approximately 250 students, parents, faculty and board members from participating school districts: Jennings, Normandy, Riverview Gardens and University City.
WHAT Abstinence By Choice (ABC) Program
Annual Recognition Night
Dinner followed by presentations.
WHEN Wednesday May 5, 2004
Presentations begin at 7:30 PM
WHERE Yacovelli's Banquet Center
407 Dunn Road
Florissant, MO
WHY
To honor the high school students who were specially trained by Saint Louis County Department of Health to present the program to middle school students; and to acknowledge the contributions of all who have worked in this important program to prevent teen pregnancy.
SPEAKERS
Students and parents will give their perspective on the benefits of the ABC program.

Press Representatives Welcome!
Photo Opportunity

Contact: Peggy Mohl, Health Education, 314-615-1626



Newborns smoking? Baby t-shirts stress dangers of secondhand smoke to infants and children

March 26, 2004. In order to educate parents of newborns about the dangers of secondhand smoke, Tobacco Free Missouri - Greater Saint Louis Coalition is partnering with area hospitals to provide packets of information and baby t-shirts to remind parents not to smoke around their children. On March 31, local hospitals will distribute these items to parents of newborns for Kick Butts Day. The information included in the packet discusses secondhand smoke and its effects on children and infants, the Environmental Protection Agency's "Take the Smoke-Free Home Pledge" initiative, a smoke-free dining guide and local smoking cessation resources. Participating hospitals include Barnes Hospital, Barnes Hospital - St. Peters, DePaul Hospital, Jefferson Memorial Hospital, Missouri Baptist Medical Center, St. Anthony's Medical Center, St. John's Mercy Medical Center, St. Joseph's Hospital - Kirkwood, St. Joseph's Hospital - St. Charles, St. Joseph's Hospital - West, St. Louis Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, St. Luke's Hospital and St. Mary's Health Center.



Secondhand smoke is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning end of a cigarette, pipe or cigar and the smoke exhaled from the lungs of smokers. It represents a dangerous health hazard. Over 4,000 different chemicals have been identified in it, and at least 50 of these chemicals cause cancer. Infants and children are especially susceptible to secondhand smoke because their lungs are still developing, and childhood exposure to secondhand smoke results in decreased lung function. Children who breathe secondhand smoke are more likely to develop asthma, the leading chronic illness among children.



Public health authorities at Saint Louis County Department of Health urge people not to use tobacco and to avoid exposing children to secondhand smoke. Here are some steps you can take to reduce your family's exposure to secondhand smoke:



  • If you smoke, quit.
  • Make your home a smoke-free zone. Remove ashtrays and post "no smoking" signs. Remember, air flows throughout a house, so smoking in even one room allows smoke to go everywhere.
  • Protect children by letting caregivers and babysitters know that smoking is not allowed in the home or around the children.
  • Ask family, friends and coworkers not to smoke around you or your children.
  • Don't smoke or allow others to smoke in cars. Opening windows is not enough to clear the air.
  • In restaurants, shopping malls, bowling alleys and other public places, sit in the non-smoking area or only go to those that are smoke-free. A listing of smoke-free places in the St. Louis metropolitan area can be found at www.breatheeasymo.org.

Tobacco Free Missouri is a grassroots initiative working with local community organizations, health departments and concerned individuals to reduce tobacco use in Missouri. For more information, go to the Saint Louis County Department of Health's tobacco education center.



Contact: Emily Pike, Health Education Coordinator, and Chair of the Healthcare Committee for Tobacco Free Missouri, 314-615-1672



Health Department Supports Theme of World Conference On Drug Prevention

March 25, 2004. Thousands of young people from around the world will gather in St. Louis next month for the 27th annual PRIDE World Drug Prevention Conference. Since prevention is one of the hallmarks of public health, Saint Louis County Department of Health staff will be on hand to support the theme, "Gateway To The Future," in recognition of the vital role young people play in drug and violence prevention. The conference will be at the America's Center in St. Louis, March 31 through April 3, 2004,



The PRIDE conference is the world's largest youth conference focusing on drug, alcohol, and violence prevention, and one of the few in which young people and adults come together to find solutions. Along with several other community partners, Saint Louis County Department of Health has been working with the conference steering committee, and will provide workshops on Media Literacy and on the county's TeenAge Health Consultant program (TAHC), which trains students to counsel their peers on topics such as drug and violence prevention.



For more information about programs offered by the Saint Louis County Department of Health, call 314-615-1670, or visit the website at www.stlouisco.com/doh.



For additional information about the PRIDE2004 World Drug Prevention Conference, or PRIDE Youth Programs, call the international headquarters office at (800) 668-9277 or visit the PRIDE Youth Programs website at www.prideyouthprograms.org



Contact: Viviane McKay, MPH, St. Louis County Department of Health
(314) 615-8941 [email protected]



TOBACCO IS TABOO IN STUDENTS' POSTER ART

March 25, 2004. Nearly 1600 area students submitted anti-tobacco posters with themes like "Don't smoke or you'll croak" and "Don't be a fool, smoking's not cool." The contest was sponsored by the Saint Louis County Department of Health to coincide with "Kick Butts Day" March 31. The contest was open to students in kindergarten through twelfth grades attending public and private schools in Saint Louis County.



Public health experts have learned that messages from peers may have more influence on young people than the same information received through other sources. The poster contest encourages students to spread messages about the health risks associated with tobacco use among their peers.



The thirteen students with winning posters will receive a $20 gift card for Westfield Shoppingtowns and the winning posters will be made into a calendar. In addition, the winning entries will be posted on the Saint Louis County Department of Health's website, www.stlouisco.com/doh.



Missouri residents exceed the national norm for tobacco use, the most preventable cause of premature death in the U.S. In Missouri, 26.6 percent of adults and 30.3 percent of high school students smoke. In Missouri, 16,300 youth under the age of 18 become new smokers every single year. If current trends continue, 139,000 Missouri children are projected to die prematurely from tobacco related disease.



Additional state and national statistics are available at www.tobaccofreekids.org/.



Contact: Emily Pike, Health Education Coordinator, 314-615-1672



Women and Heart Disease

January 20, 2004. According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease kills nearly half a million women a year - more than the next seven causes of death combined.



Coronary heart disease is America's No. 1 killer. Stroke is No. 3 and a leading cause of serious disability. To reduce your risk factors, it's important to know what the warning signs are, and what to do if they occur. Every second counts. If you see or have any of the symptoms listed, call 9-1-1 immediately.



Heart Attack Warning Signs

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:



  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath. This feeling often comes along with chest discomfort. But it can occur before the chest discomfort.
  • Other signs: These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness
Stroke Warning Signs:

Stroke is a medical emergency and occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted by a blocked or burst blood vessel. Stroke risk factors that can be treated are high blood pressure, heart disease, cigarette smoking and smaller, warning strokes that can happen before a major stroke.



  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Not all these signs occur in every heart attack or stroke. Sometimes they go away and return. If some occur, get help fast! Today heart attack and stroke victims can benefit from new medications and treatments unavailable to patients in years past.



If you or someone you're with has any of the above symptoms, don't wait longer than five minutes before calling 9-1-1. Don't drive yourself to the hospital or have someone else drive you. Call an ambulance so they can give you proper treatment and stabilize you on the way to the hospital.


Contact: Linda Hiette, Community Health Education Coordinator, 314-615-6821



Follow-up Flu Shots For Children
At Brentwood Community Center

January 6, 2004. The Saint Louis County Department of Health will sponsor a flu shot clinic Friday, January 16, 2004 at Brentwood Community Center, located at 2505 South Brentwood Blvd. from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (or until vaccine runs out).


Health officials recommend that infants and children (6 months of age to 9 years) who received the flu vaccine for the first time this year get a second follow-up dose after 30 days. Children who received their initial flu shot at least 30 days ago may be eligible to receive their follow-up dose at the Brentwood Community Center. Saint Louis County Department of Health will administer the second pediatric dose of the flu vaccine at a cost of $5.00 per child to cover administration cost. (Vaccine provided by Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.)


Children 6 months to 24 months of age and adults 50 years of age and older are considered to be at increased risk for complications from the flu. Also at high risk are individuals with chronic illnesses - including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, suppressed immune systems, and asthma.


For a flu site near you call 314-644-4FLU or visit our flu information page at
https://stlouisco.com/doh/flu_info_2003.html


People who have had a serious allergic reaction to eggs or to a previous dose of influenza vaccine, or those who have a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome should consult with their health care provider before getting a flu shot. The influenza vaccine may be contraindicated for some of these individuals.


Contact:
Kelley Guertzgen, Community Health Education Coordinator, 314-615-1674
Steve Fine, Assistant Director of Health Services, 314- 615-6445