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Department of Health Newsroom 2008


Dec 05, 2007: Department of Health Reaches Out to Kids for Holiday Recycling Effort
Nov 16, 2007: St. Louis County Reports First Flu Case
Oct 25, 2007: Office of Vital Records to Have More Convenient Hours
Oct 09, 2007: Health Department Urges Residents to Get a Flu Vaccine
Sept 24, 2007: Saint Louis County Is Starting a Medical Reserve Corps
Aug 23, 2007: Second Heat Related Death Reported in St. Louis County
Aug 16, 2007: First Heat Related Death Reported in St. Louis County
Aug 06, 2007: Health Department Urges Caution During Extreme Heat
July 30, 2007: First Human West Nile Virus Case Reported in County
July 25, 2007: St. Louis County Health Department and Schnucks Team Up to Plan for Emergencies
July 24, 2007: Chili Recall Information
July 17, 2007: County Health Department Honored for Innovative Program
June 21, 2007: County Health Department Issues Warning About Toothpaste Made in China
June 19, 2007: County Health Offers HPV Vaccine
June 15, 2007: Mosquitoes Test Positive for WNV in Parts of St. Louis County
June 6, 2007: County Health Department Urges TB Vigilance
June 5, 2007: If your child has wheels, come to “Safety Town”
May 29, 2007: Healthy Behavior Key to Good Swimming Season
May 8, 2007: Shigellosis Cases Increase; County Urges Preventative Steps
May 4, 2007: Building Blocks Marks Anniversary
April 18, 2007: Health Department Offers Information About Bats
April 16, 2007: “Smoke-Free is the Way to Be” in Students’ Poster Art
April 2, 2007: County Residents Urged to Prepare for Emergencies
Feb 15, 2007: Peanut butter recall information
Jan 29, 2007: Tattoo Parlor Arrest Raises Health Concerns



Department of Health Reaches Out to Kids for Holiday Recycling Effort

The Saint Louis County Department of Health is launching a holiday recycling effort with a new twist this year by teaming up with Radio Disney on a special event to engage kids on the importance of recycling.  


To target kids, the Department of Health and Radio Disney are hosting a special event on Saturday, December 15th.  Radio Disney will perform live at Chesterfield Mall from 10:30 a.m. to noon.  Kids will be able to participate in a free craft activity made from recyclable materials, win prizes, and bring home recycling tips.


“Children can be strong messengers to their parents and other adults about health issues.  Educating children about recycling will have a motivational effect on the whole family,” said Dr. Dolores Gunn, Director of the Department of Health. 


The Health Department is also offering holiday recycling tips and free gift tags with recycling messages.  The gift tags are available at these mall locations beginning in mid-December:  the St. Louis Galleria, Chesterfield Mall, West County Mall, South County Mall, and Mid Rivers Mall.


From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, household waste increases by more than 25 percent.  That equates to one million tons of extra waste being generated each week during the holiday season. The Department of Health has set a goal of increasing the recycling rate in the County to 50 percent by 2010; the holiday recycling campaign is one of several efforts throughout the year to encourage more recycling in order to meet that goal. The annual holiday recycling campaign is a reminder to residents to be resource-wise in their holiday shopping, planning, and entertaining.


Residents can view recycling tips at the County’s waste management web page: www.stlouisco.com/doh (click on “Holiday Recycling Guide”). General recycling information is available by calling the Department of Health Waste Management Hotline at 314-286-9200.




St. Louis County Reports First Flu Case

An 11-year-old boy is the first Saint Louis County resident with a confirmed case of the flu as the prime flu season approaches.


With the peak of the season approaching, now is the time to get vaccinated, health officials say.


“Catch the holiday spirit – not the flu” said Dr. Dolores Gunn, director of the Saint Louis County Department of Health.


Confirmed cases represent only a small percentage of the total number of cases in the community.  However, they are a useful indicator of both when the flu season has arrived and which age groups are most affected.


There are other steps you can take to reduce your chances of getting the flu


  • Try to keep a distance of three feet away from others.
  • Always cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your sleeve.
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose.
  • Stay home if you are ill.

To find out where to go for vaccinations (or to find more information about the flu), call the Flu Vaccination Hotline or visit the new Saint Louis County Flu website:


314-644-4FLU (4358)


 


www.SaintLouisCountyFlu.com




Office of Vital Records to Have More Convenient Hours

The Saint Louis County Department of Health is making it easier to get certified copies of birth and death certificates.  Starting on Monday, October 29th, 2007, the Office of Vital Records will begin new, more convenient hours of operation.  From Monday through Thursday, the office will stay open later to accommodate evening visits, and on Saturday the office will be open from 9:00 a.m. to noon.


“Because of the coming road construction projects in the area and the traffic congestion that will result, we hope that offering non-traditional hours of operation will make it more convenient for county residents to get copies of their vital records,” said Dr. Dolores J. Gunn, Director of the Department.


The new hours will be as follows:


Monday 10:00 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday 10:00 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday 10:00 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Thursday 10:00 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Friday 10:00 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Saturday 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Birth and death certificates can also be purchased online or through the mail. Information about these methods can be found on their website at www.stlouisco.com/doh/vitals/vitals.html.


The Office of Vital Records can issue certified copies of birth and death certificates only for events that occurred in the state of Missouri.  Birth certificates are available for births that took place from 1920 to the present.  Death certificates are available for deaths that occurred from 1883 to the present; however, deaths that happened before 1980 must have occurred in Saint Louis County for the office to issue a record.


The Office of Vital Records is located on the first floor of 111 South Meramec Avenue in Clayton, Missouri (63105), and can be reached at (314) 615-1720.




Health Department Urges Residents to Get a Flu Vaccine

Flu season has arrived and the Saint Louis County Health Department is urging that all residents be vaccinated against the flu – especially those most vulnerable such as the elderly and young children.


Earlier today, County Executive Charlie A. Dooley and Dr. Dolores J. Gunn, Director of the Saint Louis County Department of Health, were both vaccinated against the flu at an event highlighting the importance and ease of being vaccinated.


“It not just about protecting yourself.  If you don’t catch the flu, then you can’t spread the flu,” said Dr. Gunn.


To find out where to go for vaccinations (or to find more information about the flu), call the Flu Vaccination Hotline or visit the new Saint Louis County Flu website:


314-644-4FLU (4358)


 


www.SaintLouisCountyFlu.com


Flu season runs from October through April every year.  Depending on the severity of the outbreak, between 15 and 60 million Americans are infected each flu season.  Over 200,000 people are hospitalized every year due to flu-related complications, and around 36,000 of them die.


The populations most vulnerable to the flu are the elderly and young children.  During the 2006-2007 flu season, over 30% of the cases in Saint Louis County occurred in children between the ages of 5 and 14.


Other standard precautions being urged by the County Health Department are:


  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
  • Limit your contact with infected people.
  • Stay home when you are sick.


Saint Louis County Is Starting a Medical Reserve Corps

The Saint Louis County Department of Health is looking for volunteer registered nurses to work in medical dispensing sites for public health emergencies. “The specific knowledge and skills of nurses will be badly needed if there was bioterrorist attack or pandemic influenza,” said Health Department Director Dr. Dolores J. Gunn.


The county program is part of the Medical Reserve Corps, a national program that is designed to support local efforts to use community medical and health volunteers during emergencies. Many medical and health volunteers offered their help individually on September 11, 2001, demonstrating the need for a more organized approach to using volunteers during an emergency.


For more information, please call Saralou Hendrickson, RN at 314-615-1635 or e-mail her at [email protected]


Nurses working in hospitals and health department nurses are not being recruited because of their critical role in public health emergencies at all times. After recruitment and training, volunteers will participate in exercises and public health emergencies under the direction of the health department.




Second Heat Related Death Reported in St. Louis County

Dr. Mary Case, the St. Louis County Medical Examiner, has confirmed a second heat related death in St. Louis County.


On Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007, a 68-year-old woman was found dead in her Jennings home, having died earlier from heat related complications. Although the air conditioning was set on 70 and fans were blowing, the temperature in the home was 90 degrees. All the windows and doors were closed.


“It is very important to check in regularly with elderly friends, family members, and neighbors, especially when temperatures rise above 95 degrees,” said Dr. Dolores Gunn, Director of the Health Department. “Air conditioners sometimes break down and alternate arrangements need to be made as soon as possible to prevent outcomes like yesterday’s tragedy.”


If you find yourself in temperatures above 95 degrees, take appropriate precautions such as:
  • Spending time in an air-conditioned room or building. Even a few hours each day will reduce the danger of heat related complications.
  • Drink plenty of cool, non-alcoholic beverages, especially those without sugar or caffeine.
  • Being aware that fans only move the air – they don’t cool it. Sitting directly in front of a fan when it is hotter than 95 degrees will actually heat you up.
  • Taking a cool shower or bath to bring down your body temperature.
  • Seeking immediate medical attention if you or someone you know is experiencing heat related symptoms such as nausea, a raised body temperature, or hot, dry skin. If heat stroke is a possibility, call 911immediately. Heat stroke is life threatening!

Operation Weather Survival, a public and private collaboration, manages a network of cooling centers around the region.  People needing a cool place to go are urged to visit a one. 


To find a cooling center, call the United Way at 1-800-427-4626.




First Heat Related Death Reported in St. Louis County

The St. Louis County Medical Examiner, Dr. Mary Case, has confirmed the first heat related death in St. Louis County for 2007. 


Yesterday, an 87-year-old woman died in Creve Coeur from heat related complications shortly after midnight (Wednesday, August 15th, 2007). Although the air conditioning was on in the home at the time, it appears not to have been working properly.


“Often times the elderly are less aware of temperature extremes and we need to be vigilant on their behalf whenever possible,” said Dr. Dolores Gunn, Director of the Health Department. “Please check in regularly with elderly friends, family members, and neighbors, especially when an excessive heat warning is in effect.”


Residents are strongly urged to continue to take appropriate precautions whenever temperatures rise above 95 degrees, especially:
  • Take care of those who might not be aware of the danger or be able to react accordingly –especially the elderly, young children, and pets.
  • Drink plenty of cool, non-alcoholic beverages, especially those without sugar or caffeine.
  • Take regular breaks in the shade or in an air-conditioned room.
  • Know the signs of heat exhaustion. If someone becomes dizzy, nauseated, or sweats heavily, find a cooler location for him or her immediately.
  • Know the signs of heat stroke. Heat stroke is much more serious than heat exhaustion. The symptoms are similar to heat exhaustion, but also include hot, flushed skin, and normally sweating stops. If heat stroke is a possibility, call 911 immediately. Heat stroke is life threatening!

Operation Weather Survival, a public and private collaboration, manages a network of cooling centers around the region.  People needing a cool place to go are urged to visit a one. 


To find a cooling center, call the United Way at 1-800-427-4626.




Health Department Urges Caution During Extreme Heat

The St. Louis County Health Department is strongly urging caution and common sense during the heat wave that has arrived in the area. 


“St. Louis experiences heat waves almost every year and it is important to observe common sense precautions whenever this happens,” said Dr. Dolores Gunn, director of the Health Department.


Whenever temperatures rise above 95 degrees, the Health Department recommends the following:


  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Spend as little time as possible in the sun and keep activity levels to a minimum.
  • Drink plenty of cool, non-alcoholic beverages, especially those without sugar or caffeine.
  • Take regular breaks in the shade or in an air-conditioned room.
  • Eat light, easily digested foods, avoiding hot, heavy, or greasy meals.
  • Be sure not to leave food unrefrigerated for long – food spoils rapidly in the heat.
  • Take care of those who might not be aware of the danger or able to react accordingly –especially young children, the elderly, and pets.
  • Know the signs of heat exhaustion. If someone becomes dizzy, nauseated, or sweats heavily, find a cooler location for him or her immediately.
  • Know the signs of heat stroke. Heat stroke is much more serious than heat exhaustion. The symptoms are similar to heat exhaustion, but also include hot, flushed skin, and normally sweating stops. If heat stroke is a possibility, call 911 immediately. Heat stroke is life threatening!

Operation Weather Survival, a public and private collaboration, manages a network of cooling centers around the region.  People needing a cool place to go are urged to visit a one. 


To find a cooling center, call the United Way at 1-800-427-4626.




First Human West Nile Virus Case Reported in County

Public Health officials in St. Louis County report that a 40-year-old North County man has been diagnosed with West Nile virus. The man was treated at a local hospital last week. This is the first human case of the virus in St. Louis County this year.


County Health Director Dr. Dolores J. Gunn said the disease infects birds and is spread through mosquitoes.


Dr. Gunn said avoiding mosquito bites is the best way to prevent exposure, and offered the following reminders:


  • Get rid of all standing water.
  • Remove tires, buckets, and other water-holding objects.
  • Change water and clean birdbaths 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.


The county is spraying for mosquitoes on a regular basis in areas where West Nile virus has been discovered.




St. Louis County Health Department and Schnucks Team Up to Plan for Emergencies

One year after families in the St. Louis region were severely impacted by two separate summer storms, the Saint Louis County Department of Health and select Schnucks stores have teamed up to help jump start family preparedness planning. Health Department officials will give away several family emergency kits in a series of four-hour, in-store events now through Aug. 30. (See schedule).


Health department employees will base their face-to-face presentations on Missouri’s “Ready in Three” emergency preparedness program.  The “Ready in Three” program features a pamphlet created by Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services that offers three steps to emergency response: Create a Plan, Prepare a Kit and Listen for Information. The presentations will be from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 .a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends.


“Families, schools, churches and other organizations can help save lives by making time to plan, prepare and take a proactive approach to disaster response education,” said Health Department Director Dr. Dolores Gunn.


 The health department has already put family emergency planning information in the hands thousands of people across the region,” said Gunn.  “Now, we are taking our message into Schnucks grocery stores where we can reach families right in their own neighborhoods.”


Dianna Pasley, director of Food Safety at Schnucks says, “Our partnership with the Health Department is a complement to the planning that is underway at Schnucks.  We are planning ahead and running various scenarios for ourselves to help ensure that, in the event of a disaster, we can continue serving our customers and the community.”


Giveaways at the in-store events will include educational materials on how to stop the spread of germs, plan for emergencies including widespread disasters or pandemics, and a list of supplies you will need to ensure your family is prepared in the event of an emergency. Along with brochures and personalized disaster preparedness training, at each Schnucks location, several families will win a 4-person, 3-day emergency kit on wheels. Staff members of the St. Louis County Health Department are available to make special presentations to businesses across the community. For more information, please contact Eleanor Peters at (314) 615-1646 or [email protected] Founded in St. Louis in 1939, Schnuck Markets, Inc. operates 101 stores (including five Logli stores) and 98 pharmacies in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Tennessee and Mississippi.

Thursday
July 26
102 Creve Coeur 10650 OLIVE STREET 63141 314-567-3838
Thursday
July 26
191 Bridgeton 11253 ST. CHARLES ROCK ROAD 63044 314-738-0677
Friday
July 27
105 Butler Hill 4333 BUTLER HILL RD. 63128 314-894-1227
Friday
July 27
121 Wildwood 16580 MANCHESTER 63040 636-458-5544
Saturday
July 28
125 University City 6920 OLIVE BLVD. 63130 314-726-2373
Monday
July 30
142 Woods Mill 1060 WOODS MILL RD. 63017 636-227-2278
Tuesday
July 31
137 Affton 10070 GRAVOIS 63123 314-631-8220
Wednesday
Aug. 1
193 Concord 5434 SOUTHFIELD CENTER 63123 314-849-1815
Thursday
Aug. 2
140 Cool Valley 1225 S. FLORISSANT 63121 314-524-8633
Thursday
Aug. 2
145 Westfall Plaza 8037 WEST FLORISSANT 63136 314-679-2400
Friday
Aug. 3
198 Cross Keys 13987 NEW HALLS FERRY ROAD 63033 314-831-0011
Saturday
Aug. 4
106 Ballwin 15425 MANCHESTER 63011 636-256-0644
Monday
Aug. 6
216 Sierra Vista 1589 SIERRA VISTA PL 63138 314-741-0282
Saturday
Aug. 11
139 Kirkwood 10233 MANCHESTER RD. 63122 314-965-7310
Monday
Aug. 20
101 Florissant 8200 N. LINDBERGH 63031 314-921-7060
Tuesday
Aug. 21
104 Brentwood 8800 MANCHESTER 63144 63144 314-961-5454
Monday
Aug. 27
196 Eureka 245 EAST 5TH STREET 63025 636-938-4102
Tuesday
Aug. 28
184 Grandview 74 GRANDVIEW PLAZA 63033 314-838-4540
Wednesday
Aug. 29
136 Webster 8650 BIG BEND 63119 314-961-0555
Thursday
Aug. 30
266 Crestwood 9540 WATSON RD. 63126 314-849-0341


Chili Recall Information

Area retailers are pulling canned chili from its shelves for a nationwide recall that is part of an investigation into possible botulism contamination.  Please visit the following links for recalled products and associated UPC codes.  Information in the Q&A section gives instruction if the product has been consumed recently. 


  • Q & A for recall
  • KSDK Steak & Shake Recall numbers
  • Botulism Associated with Canned Chili Sauce, July 2007
  • FDA current recall
  • MDHSS release


County Health Department Honored for Innovative Program

A Saint Louis County Department of Health program that has improved communicable disease reporting and emergency preparedness in the region has received a Model Practice Award from The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). 


Department of Health representatives John Anthony and Michael Williams received the award during ceremonies at the NACCHO national Meeting on July 12th in Columbus Ohio. 


The Public Health Liaison Program was initiated in 2006 as a means to enhance the working relationship between the Department of Health and area hospitals.  As part of county’s Liaison Program, a public health staff member is assigned to individual hospitals.  Daily visits and a close working relationship with key hospital staff results in rapid reporting of infectious diseases, early identification outbreaks, and enhanced coordination during emergencies.


In the past, communication between the Department of Health and area hospitals relied on telephone and electronic means with little direct face-to-face contact.  As a result of this innovative program, Department of Health personnel visit hospitals daily to assure clear and open lines of communication.  “The presence of Liaison staff in the hospitals has resulted in improved knowledge of each of our roles and responsibilities, and created the personal and professional relationships that are so necessary in emergencies,” said Dr. Dolores Gunn, health department director.  


“St. Louis County Health Department’s Public Health Hospital Liaison Program joins a special group of health departments that exemplify the forward thinking, proactive attitude of our nation’s public health system,” said NACCHO President Bobby Pestronk. 





County Health Department Issues Warning About Toothpaste Made in China 

The Saint Louis County Department of Health is urging consumers to throw away toothpaste made in China if it does not carry The American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance.


The warning comes after reports that some toothpaste manufactures in China contains  diethylene glycol (DEG) which is used in antifreeze. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned imports of the toothpaste but some has been discovered in the U.S.


"Consumers must exercise caution in purchasing and using toothpaste labeled as made in China and should throw away toothpaste with that labeling,” said Dr. Nita Johnson, chief of dental services for the health department.


Johnson said none of the major toothpaste brands are involved in the ban. The bands that have been banned include: Cooldent Fluoride; Cooldent Spearmint; Cooldent ICE; Dr. Cool, Everfresh Toothpaste; Superdent Toothpaste; Clean Rite Toothpaste; Oralmax Extreme; Oral Bright Fresh Spearmint Flavor; Bright Max Peppermint Flavor; ShiR Fresh Mint Fluoride Paste; DentaPro; DentaKleen; and DentaKleen Junior.




County Health Offers HPV Vaccine

The vaccine that helps prevent genital warts and cervical cancer is now being offered to females between the ages of 9-26 at the Saint Louis County Department of Health’s three community health centers.


The vaccine is designed to offer protection against the human papilloma virus (HPV) and is administered in a series of three shots over a six month period. Patients with insurance should bring their insurance card. Uninsured patients may qualify for a free vaccination. All patients will be screened for pregnancy. The vaccine is not available to pregnant women.


County residents who are interested in being vaccinated are urged to call for additional information before coming to one of the health centers.


The health centers, their phone numbers and hours of operation are:


  • John C. Murphy Health Center, 6065 Helen Ave., Berkeley;  522-6410;  8 am to 5 pm Monday, Wednesday Thursday and Friday; 9 am to 6 pm Tuesday.
  • North Central Community Health Center, 4000 Jennings Station Road, Pine Lawn; 679-7800; 8 am to 5 pm Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; 9 am to 6 pm Thursday.
  • South County Health Center, 4580 S. Lindbergh Blvd; Sunset Hills; 842-1300; 8 am to 5 pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; 9 am to 6 pm Wednesday.

All of the health centers are closed on the first Thursday morning of the month.




Mosquitoes Test Positive for WNV in Parts of St. Louis County

The first mosquitoes to test positive for the West Nile Virus in St. Louis County have been discovered in Bellfontaine Neighbors, Calverton Park, Chesterfield, Jennings, Northwoods and unincorporated areas of Carsonville, West Overland, Creve Coeur and Florissant, according to the Saint Louis County Department of Health.     


“There have been no reported human cases of WNV in St. Louis County this year, but positive mosquito tests are a reminder that preventative measures are important,” said Saint Louis County Health Department Director Dr. Dolores J. Gunn.  “Even though serious West Nile Virus cases in humans are rare, it is important to minimize our exposure. We can do this by eliminating opportunities for mosquitoes to breed and multiply and protect ourselves by using repellants,” Gunn said.


Here are the steps residents can take to reduce the opportunities for mosquitoes to flourish:


  • Standing water: don't stand for it! At least once a week, 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 Bti (Bacillus 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 outdoors.
  • Spray clothing with repellents containing DEET. 

The Health Department routinely collects mosquito samples to test and help determine where to focus control efforts.  Vector Control monitors and treats standing water in public areas as part of its preventative larviciding program. To find out where the county will be spraying, call 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..




County Health Department Urges TB Vigilance

“Recent high-profile cases of tuberculosis are a reminder that the public, and health care providers, need to be vigilant”, said Saint Louis County Health Department Director Dr. Dolores Gunn.  The three keys to effective tuberculosis control are:


  • Diagnosis early in the course of disease
  • Treatment with effective antibiotics and completion of the entire prescribed course by the patient
  • Control measures implemented by the Department of Health to stop the spread of disease

The ability of a tuberculosis control program to stop the spread of this disease depends on rapid communication among physicians, laboratories, healthcare institutions and the Department of Health.  Preventing the transmission of tuberculosis is most effectively accomplished in the early weeks of illness.  “Department of Health personnel and the medical community must collaborate closely to identify cases of tuberculosis and to contain its spread through early intervention”, Gunn said.


About 5-10 percent of St. Louis County residents who have a positive tuberculosis skin test may eventually become ill.  Home confinement for a few weeks may be required.  In order to speed recovery, the health department provides free medicine, x-rays and home visits for TB patients.


Tuberculosis is a serious disease that is usually very treatable, especially in the early stages.  However, failure to complete a prescribed course of therapy can lead to the development of highly resistant form of the infection that does not respond to antibiotics.  “Control measures become significantly more difficult when the tuberculosis organisms are resistant to treatment”, Gunn said. 


Tuberculosis is airborne and symptoms can include persistent cough unexpected weight loss, coughing up blood and night sweats. Anyone with these symptoms or who thinks they have been exposed to someone with tuberculosis should contact their physician.




If your child has wheels, come to “Safety Town”

The Saint Louis County Department of Health and the Saint Louis County Police Department are sponsoring the annual  "Safety Town " event from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, June 15 at the John C. Murphy Health Center, 6065 Helen Ave., in Berkeley.


Youngsters who ride bikes, rollerblades or skateboards are invited to learn safe riding habits by taking a free spin through “Safety Town” streets. Bring your child’s own bike or use one that will be available during the event.


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 and is co-sponsored by the National Safety Council.




Healthy Behavior Key to Good Swimming Season

Now that the swimming season has arrived,  healthy swimming behavior is the key to preventing recreational water illnesses, according to the Saint Louis County Department of Health.


Outbreaks of recreational water illnesses continue to occur in the United States each yearend sixty-two percent of these outbreaks are related to the chlorine-resistant pathogen, Cryptosporidium, (“Crypto”) which is introduced into the pool by swimmers who are ill with diarrhea and spread to other swimmers when they swallow the contaminated water.


GGerms on and in swimmers’ bodies end up in the water and can make other people sick. Even healthy swimmers can get sick, but the young, elderly, pregnant women and immunosuppressed persons are especially at risk. Specific actions you can take to promote healthy swimming include:


  1. Do not swim when you have diarrhea.
  2. Do not swallow pool water or get pool water in your mouth.
  3. Shower before swimming (children too!).
  4. Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
  5. Take children on bathroom breaks or change diapers often.
  6. Change children’s diapers in a bathroom, not at poolside.

For information about St. Louis County’s public swimming pool regulations click on WWW. Stlouisco.com/health.




Shigellosis Cases Increase; County Urges Preventative Steps

Parents, daycare operators and physicians all play important roles in combating a significant increase in the number of reported cases of shigellosis, according to the Saint Louis County Department of Health.


Shigellosis is a bacterial infection that frequently affects children in daycare settings.  The primary symptom is diarrhea, and the infection is highly contagious, spreading easily among children, staff and their families.


The St. Louis County Department of Health has received 331 case reports so far in 2007 compared to nine cases for the same period last year. A large proportion of the cases have occurred among the staff and attendees of daycare centers and their families. 


“All of us have an important role to play in preventing the spread of shigellosis,” said Dr. Dolores Gunn, county health director.  “We would like to take this opportunity to ask parents, daycare providers and the medical community to cooperate with the Department of Health in the following ways.”


  • The most important step to prevent the spread of shigellosis is proper hand washing, particularly after using the toilet and before and after eating
  • Parents should make sure children with diarrhea do not attend daycare, see their medical provider and remain home until treated and released to return to daycare by Department of Health staff.
  • Daycare operators should exclude ill children and staff from attendance or work.  Every effort should be made to maintain the highest level of sanitation in their center by reinforcing the need for frequent hand washing, and by careful attention to disinfection of toys and surfaces, particularly around diapering areas. 
  • Physicians are urged to be aware that children who attend daycare, their families and daycare employees are at risk of shigellosis at this time.  If a healthcare provider suspects a diagnosis of shigellosis, it should be reported immediately to the St. Louis County Department of Health (314) 615-1630 so that measures to prevent the spread can be rapidly undertaken.


Additional information is available on the health department web site.


       




Building Blocks Marks Anniversary

The St. Louis County Department of Health and the  Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) are celebrating the second anniversary of the their partnership in a program that provides home visitation services for low-income first-time mothers.


The Health Department program, known as Building Blocks began in June, 2005 and serves 100 families.  It is funded through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and is the newest of four sites in Missouri, which include Kansas City, Springfield, and Cape Girardeau.


As part of the program, registered nurses begin services early in pregnancy and continue visitation through the child’s second year. Nurses provide support, education and counseling on health, behavioral, self-sufficiency and parenting issues.  “This program changes the life trajectories for both mother and child, benefiting multiple generations,” said Dr Dolores Gunn, health department director.


“Women experiencing their first pregnancy often have many questions and concerns and Building Blocks will help these new mothers throughout this special time,” said Gunn..


Health department nurses will help first-time mothers:


  • Have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby
  • Become a better parent
  • Build a strong support network for mother and baby
  • Make the baby’s home a safe place to live and play
  • Get referrals for healthcare, childcare and job training
  • Find ways to continue their education and develop job skills
  • Set family goals and find ways to reach them

For more information about the Building Blocks, Nurse-Family Partnership Program, call Lynn McMurtry, Nursing Supervisor at 679-7871.




Health Department Offers Information About Bats

The warmer weather marks the awakening of bats from hibernation, and the Saint Louis County Department of Health is cautioning residents to avoid handling the animals, since some can carry rabies.

Any county resident who encounters a live or dead bat in their home is urged to call the health department. Residents should not attempt to capture a live bat but should confine it to the room where it is discovered so animal control officers can collect it for rabies testing. 

Never release a bat found in a home if it was present while people were sleeping or in the same room with children or adults who, due to health or age, may not be able to describe the extent of their exposure. 

During business hours, residents who live north of Page Avenue should call 831-6500. Residents, who live south of Page Avenue, should call 726-6655. After business hours, and on weekends and holidays, county residents should call Saint Louis County Police at 889-2341.

Last year, 354 bats were tested and 16 had rabies, said La’Rhonda Garrett, DOH Program Manager of Vector Control and Veterinary Services.

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.

Garrett said 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 ordinances. Once transmitted, the disease of rabies has no cure and is almost always 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 colony contracts rabies, chances are it will spread to other members of the colony.
                                                                       
For more information, about pet vaccinations, or to report animal bites, please call the 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.          




“Smoke-Free is the Way to Be” in Students’ Poster Art

Nearly 2,700 area students submitted anti-tobacco posters with themes like “Be Smart, Don’t Start” and “Don’t Be a Fool, Smoking’s Not Cool” for the Saint Louis County Department of Health’s annual poster contest.


Students from Kindergarten through the 12th grade submitted posters that will be used in a calendar next year that will be distributed to participating schools. The 13 winning students each received a $25 gift certificate. The winning posters are on the health department’s web site,  https://stlouisco.com/doh.


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


Missouri residents exceed the national norm for tobacco use, the most preventable cause of premature death in the U.S. Each year over 8,900 youth in Missouri become new daily smokers. If current trends continue, 140,000 Missouri children are projected to die prematurely from tobacco related diseases.


Here is a list of winners and their schools:
Jenna Burgess  , Seven Holy Founders School;
Andrew Kilkenny, Parkway South Middle School;
Erin Schnurbusch, Rockwood Summit High School;
Mark Diekroeger, Green Trails Elementary School;
Rachel Ghazarian, St. Gerard Majella School;
Ali Powers, St. Michael the Archangel School;
Winn Meyers,North Glendale Elementary School;
Ali Borella, North Glendale Elementary School;
Jane Manwarring, North Glendale Elementary School;
Caroline Skoglund, Computer School, Webster Groves School District;
Luis Lopez, Green Trails Elementary School;
Shelby Stockwell, West Middle School, Hazelwood School District; and
Allison Buenemann, West Middle School, Hazelwood School District.           




County Residents Urged to Prepare for Emergencies

County residents are being urged during National Public Health Week, April 2-9,  to evaluate their personal emergency preparedness plans for their immediate families and loved ones.


“The events of recent years have shown that we all have to take responsibility for our personal safety during an emergency, whether it’s a flu epidemic or a power outage,” said H. Douglas Adams, assistant director of the Saint Louis County Department of Health.


The health department has developed plans to respond to emergencies and each family should create their own plan, Adams said. Basic elements in any family plan should include shelter, food and communications.


Information to help prepare for an emergency is available from several sources, including the Ready in 3 program offered by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, at www.dhss.mo.gov or the health department site at www.stlouisco.com/doh or by calling the health department at (314) 615-1623.




Peanut butter recall information

Missouri is one of 39 states involved in a national product recall of two kinds of peanut butter believed to be contaminated with salmonella.  The two affected brands are Peter Pan Peanut Butter and Great Value Peanut Butter, both having serial numbers beginning with “2111”. 


Most people recover from salmonella poisoning without medical attention, however if persons are experiencing illness after consuming the recalled peanut butter, they may want to seek medical care from their health care provider.


For more information, click on these links.

CDC:
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/salmonellosis_2007/
outbreak_notice.htm


Questions and Answers Related to this Outbreak


FDA:
http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2007/NEW01563.html


 




Tattoo Parlor Arrest Raises Health Concerns

Customers of an unlicensed tattoo parlor in Jennings are being urged by the Saint Louis County Department of Health to contact their health care providers to arrange for testing to determine if they have been exposed to Hepatitis B or C or HIV.

A man, who authorities say ran an unlicensed tattoo parlor out of his home in the 5700 block of Helen in Jennings, was arrested earlier this month for operating an unlicensed business.

According to records found in the home, customers, who were not fully identified, may be at risk. Unsterile tattooing equipment and needles can transmit infectious diseases and it is extremely important to make sure that all tattooing equipment is clean and sterilized before use. In this case, authorities said guitar strings were used to apply the tattoos. In addition, the person who receives a tattoo must be sure to care for the tattooed area properly during the first week or so after the pigments are injected.

“We are concerned that anyone who may have gotten a tattoo at this residence in Jennings could have been exposed to Hepatitis or HIV.  These individuals should consult their physician”, said Dr. Dolores J. Gunn, health department director.

Anyone who got a tattoo at the residence in Jennings is urged to call the Saint Louis County Department of Health at (314) 615-1630 for more information.