Plague confirmed in Park County cats

Three Park County cats have recently been confirmed as infected with plague, according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH). No human cases have been identified.

All three cats lived in Cody, off the South Fork Road. The illness was confirmed in the first pet by the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory in Laramie on April 12, with confirmation of the third on April 20.

“Plague is a serious bacterial infection that can be deadly for pets and for peo­ple if not treated promptly with antibiotics,” said Dr. Karl Musgrave, state public health veterinarian with WDH.
“The disease can be transmitted to humans from ill animals and by fleas com­ing from infected animals. We want people to know of the potential threat in the area the cats were from as well as across the state. Dogs can also become ill and transmit the disease.”

“While the disease is rare in humans, it’s safe to assume that the risk for plague exists all around Wyoming,” Musgrave said. Six human cases of plague have been confirmed in Wyoming since 1978 with the last one reported in 2008. There are an average of seven human cases across the nation each year.

Precautions Musgrave recommends to help prevent plague infections include:

  • Avoid unnecessary exposure to rodents
  • Avoid contact with rodent carcasses
  • Avoid areas with unexplained rodent die-offs
  • Use insect repellent on boots and pants when in areas that might have fleas
  • Use flea repellent on pets, and properly dispose of rodents pets may bring home

Plague symptoms in animals can include enlarged lymph glands; swelling in the neck, face or around the ears; fever; chills; lack of energy; coughing; vom­iting; diarrhea and dehydration. Ill animals should be taken to a veterinarian.

Plague symptoms in people can include fever, swollen and tender lymph glands, extreme exhaustion, headache, chills, coughing, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. People who are ill should seek professional medical attention.

More information about plague is available online from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/plague/.

Just a Reminder…

If you are pregnant and need assistance in obtaining medical services, our Public Health nurses have the ability to assist you in signing up for the Presumptive Eligibility for Pregnant Women program. This is a Medicaid option designed to improve pregnant women’s access to outpatient services while their eligibility to Medicaid is determined. We can also assist you in the application process for Medicaid. We have paper applications to Medicaid in our offices if you don’t want to use the website to apply. If you need help with Medicaid, give us a call in either our Afton or Kemmerer offices.

Quit Tobacco Program Updated with Free Prescription Benefit

News from the Wyoming Department of Health

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 12, 2016
Contact: Kim Deti
Phone: 307-777-6420

By adding a free prescription medicine option, the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) is boosting the help available through the Wyoming Quit Tobacco Program (WQTP) for Wyoming smokers who are ready to quit.

A free three-month prescription to Chantix, a medication used to help people quit smoking, is now among the choices offered to Wyoming residents who enroll in the WQTP. Other options include free nicotine replacement gum, patches or lozenges.

The program has helped people cover Chantix costs for several years, but is now offering a free three-month prescription to people who enroll in the program by June 30. “The overall costs for this medication have increased and we don’t want that to be a barrier for those who choose this option,” said Joe D’Eufemia, Tobacco Prevention Program manager with WDH.

“It’s been shown time and again that people who want to quit smoking have a much higher chance for success if they have a plan that includes tools such as medication or nicotine replacement gum or patches, combined with coaching or similar support,” D’Eufemia said.

Interested residents may call 1-800-QUIT NOW or visit www.quitwyo.org online for more information or to enroll. In addition to free nicotine replacement therapy and Chantix, phone or online support is available at no cost to Wyoming residents.

D’Eufemia said nearly all smokers know they should quit and most want to do so. “In Wyoming, we want them to know we will help them with some great tools and support when they are ready,” he added.

“We’re reminding Wyoming smokers about the benefits of our program with our new ‘Quit Your Way’ multimedia campaign,” D’Eufemia said. The campaign was produced for WDH by Warehouse Twenty One, a Cheyenne-based advertising agency.

At the same time, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is continuing its hard-hitting “Tips from Former Smokers” campaign with a new round of advertisements. “The CDC ads share critical messages about smoking’s dangers, while our Wyoming-specific campaign is meant to promote our program’s generous benefits in a non-judgmental manner,” D’Eufemia said.

While the free Chantix prescriptions are currently available through June 30, if funding allows the program expects to continue offering the medication at no cost beyond that date.

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Position Available

Public Health Administrative Assistant
Lincoln County Public Health in Kemmerer is looking for an experienced Administration Assistant to join their small team and be an integral part in making a difference to the health and well-being of the families in the community. Available for immediate start at 40 hrs. per week. The successful candidate would be a reliable self-starter who is able to work autonomously, has initiative and takes pride in their work. Applicants must possess excellent public relation and computer skills.

In this role you would be required to complete the following tasks:
• Open and close the office
• Answer phones and client inquires,
• Administrative support to manager and staff, keep calendar current
• Prepare and file clinic records, archive records as needed
• Maintain inventories, assist manager with supply and vaccine orders.
• Extensive knowledge in computer, with strong writing skills
• Experience with Insurance, Medicare and Medicaid billing

This challenging position would suit a candidate with a flexible, positive outlook. Must be self-motivated with great communication skills (both verbal and written), have an eye for detail, be well organized, having a willingness to learn, professional approach, and is looking to kick start their career in a medical office environment. Go to www.lcwy.org and click on Jobs for an application. Mail applications to:  Lincoln County Public Health  421 Jefferson, Suite #401  Afton, WY  83110

January is National Radon Action Month

For the month of January, the Department of Health is running a promotion for a free radon test kit. Visit their page for more details on how you can receive a free kit.

The Wyoming Comprehensive Cancer Control Program, part of the Wyoming Department of Health, is encouraging state residents to test their homes for radon.

Radon is an invisible, odorless, tasteless and dangerous gas found in homes, especially older structures. Radon naturally occurs as a radioactive gas re­leased from the element radium and is found in rocks, soil and water.

“As radon naturally degrades, it can seep up into your home, get trapped in­side, and build in intensity,” said Julie Tarbuck, Wyoming Comprehensive Cancer Control Program manager.

“Radon is recognized as the second leading cause of lung cancer,” Tarbuck said. “The good news is exposure to radon is easily preventable with testing and fixing.”

however after a certain level of radon, health concerns exist. An elevated level of radon is considered anything over 4 pCi/L (picocuries per liter of air) and should be fixed, while anything below 2pCi/L is considered within normal limits and doesn’t require immediate attention, but may eventually cause health concerns with prolonged exposure.

The Wyoming Comprehensive Cancer Control Program has radon test kits available for individuals and families at a low cost, as well as resources for contractors, real estate agents and home buyers. For more information about radon or to obtain a radon test kit please call 307-777-8609 or visithealth.wyo.gov/phsd/radon.

*information written by Kim Deti

Eight whooping cough cases in Teton County

According to the Jackson Hole News and Guide, an eighth case of pertussis (whooping cough) has been reported. Whooping cough is highly contagious and can be very dangerous to infants and young children. If you haven’t had your Tdap vaccination to prevent whooping cough, please call the Public Health offices in Afton or Kemmerer to schedule an appointment to receive it. This is especially important to get if you’re going to be around newborn or very young babies this holiday season who have not yet had the opportunity to receive the vaccine or all of the pertussis preventing vaccine doses recommended in the childhood vaccination schedule.

If you are pregnant and have not yet had your recommended dose of Tdap, make your appointment to get it as soon as possible. Getting the vaccine in the third trimester enables you to create antibodies to pass along to the baby before birth. It can provide short term protection against pertussis.

Visit the CDC’s Pertussis information page for facts on whooping cough, its symptoms, treatment, preventing it with the vaccine, photos of what pertussis looks like, and sound bites that illustrate what a person with pertussis sounds like.

New Flu Clinic Date

Due to the last minute weather related change in venue and the lack of turn out for our October 2nd flu shot clinic, we have added another clinic date in the Thayne area. On Friday, October 30th, we will return to the Thayne Community Center to give flu shots from 1:00 p.m. until 6 p.m. We hope to see you there!

Don’t Overlook Need for Flu Vaccination

News from the Wyoming Department of Health

Following an unusually severe 2014-15 influenza season, Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) officials want residents to prepare for the upcoming flu season with annual influenza vaccinations.

“While influenza is something we see every year, it should never be overlooked or just accepted as no big deal. Flu can often be a very serious illness and, sometimes, deadly, as we saw last year,” said Dr. Wendy Braund, state health officer and WDH Public Health Division senior administrator.

Reggie McClinton, a WDH epidemiologist, said there can be no question the 2014-15 influenza season was severe. “Sadly, we saw 29 influenza-associated deaths reported in Wyoming. This represents the highest number our state has seen in many, many years. We also had a high number of reported cases overall compared to usual.”

McClinton noted the median age for residents who died was 75 with 21 of the reported deaths occurring in people older than 65; one death reported in a child; and others among adults under 65.

Braund said almost everyone six months or older should get a seasonal flu vaccine each year. “Getting a flu vaccine is safe and is the most important action people can take to help prevent getting ill with influenza and avoid passing it on to others,” she said.

“Predicting which flu strains will be most common in a given year is complicated and sometimes strains can ‘mutate’ or change. Last season’s vaccine was not as effective as we would have liked,” Braund said. “Vaccination remains a useful prevention strategy and at this point there is no reason to expect a problem with this season’s vaccines. Wyoming residents should not use the troubles with last season’s vaccine as an excuse to avoid this season’s vaccination.”

It takes about two weeks for flu vaccines to offer protection. “We don’t want people to wait until folks around them are ill,” Braund said. “We’ve already seen the beginning of early activity.”

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by a virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and muscle aches.

Braund said, “Anyone can get the flu. Healthy folks can recover. But they can also spread the virus to others who are more vulnerable to flu and its effects such as older residents, young children and those with certain medical conditions. That’s why the vaccine is recommended for just about everyone.”

Influenza vaccines are available in many locations, including local public health offices, workplaces, doctors’ offices and retail stores. “Flu vaccines are not expensive and most insurance policies cover the costs,” Braund said.

In Wyoming, the cost of the vaccine itself is covered for many children by federal funding and the vaccine program for those eligible is managed by WDH. Children who qualify include those covered by Medicaid, uninsured children, American Indian or Alaska native children and some children considered to be underinsured.

Basic common-sense measures can also slow the spread of influenza and other respiratory diseases. These steps include covering your mouth and nose with your sleeve or a tissue when you sneeze and cough; frequently washing your hands; and staying home from work, school, day care and errands when ill.

 

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Price Changes at Public Health

Prices for our services are set to change on October 1st. At that time we will begin charging an administration fee of $20 for all vaccine/vaccine components given. The cost of the vaccine themselves provided under the Vaccines for Children & Vaccines for Uninsured Adults is still $0. We accept Medicare, Medicaid, and some private insurances. We are contracted, in network providers for Blue Cross Blue Shield and WinHealth. We are working on contracting with United Healthcare but are not considered in network providers for this insurance company as of right now. We will post an announcement once that process is completed. If you have United Healthcare, please check your insurance plan to see if they will cover services provided by out of network providers before asking us to bill your services to United Healthcare. If they don’t allow you to use out of network providers, they may not cover services we provide to you.

Starting October 1st, we will also be implementing a sliding scale fee if you can’t afford the full administration fee. Please check out the fee update on each of our services pages on October 1st for up to date information on our costs.

Inability to pay will NOT prevent you from receiving services. If you cannot pay for services, we will not deny them to you. 

Thank you.