News from the Wyoming Department of Health

Wyoming Department of Health: Keep Poison Help Number Handy

News from the Wyoming Department of Health

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Contact: Kim Deti, Wyoming Department of Health

Phone: 307-777-6001

Contact: Wyoming Poison Center

Phone: 303-520-9591 or email denverhealthmedia@dhha.org

 

Wyoming Department of Health: Keep Poison Help Number Handy

 

Keeping the Wyoming Poison Center number handy can help families stay safe and prevent poison-related tragedies, according to a Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) representative.

 

Wyoming Poison Center help can be reached by calling 1-800-222-1222. “We want people to keep this number visible in their homes and workplaces and to also consider programming it into their phones,” said Andy Gienapp, WDH Office of Emergency Medical Services manager.

 

Shireen Banerji, Wyoming Poison Center clinical manager, said “Poisonings can happen anywhere, anytime to anyone. We assume most poisonings happen to children who accidentally swallow something, and, yes, there are plenty of those situations. But adults can be poisoned at home or work by chemicals, pesticides, cleaners, bites and stings, medications and food.”

 

“Poison prevention requires vigilance from all members in the household and extended family, including babysitters, nannies and teachers,” Banerji said.

 

The Wyoming Poison Center handled more than 5,000 cases in 2016.

 

The WDH Office of Emergency Medical Services supports funding for Wyoming Poison Center services.  The center is part of the Rocky Mountain Poison & Drug Center (RMPDC), located in Denver.

 

Gienapp noted poisonings are the leading cause of death by injury. Related facts include:

  • Most poisoning deaths are due to misuse and abuse of licit and illicit drugs.
  • In 2015, about 57 percent of all exposure cases involved pharmaceuticals. Other exposures were to household products, plants, mushrooms, pesticides, animal bites and stings, carbon monoxide and many other types of non- pharmaceutical substances.
  • Ingestion was the exposure route in almost 84 percent of 2015 cases. People were also exposed through the lungs, skin, eyes and other routes.

 

For additional poisoning prevention tips and resources, visit the Rocky Mountain Poison & Drug Center website at www.rmpdc.org.

 

###

Wyoming Seeing High Level of Influenza Activity

With flu activity reports showing a high level of ill­ness, the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) is reminding residents of the common-sense steps they can take to avoid spreading influenza or be­coming ill with the disease.

“Reports have been showing high levels of activity across the state for the last few weeks. We don’t know whether we’ve yet reached the peak of activity,” said Clay Van Houten, interim state epidemiologist with WDH.

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.

“Influenza should not be overlooked as a serious threat.  Our public health la­boratory testing is showing that H3N2 is the flu strain circulating around the state and nation,” Van Houten said. “This is concerning because we tend to see more hospitalizations and deaths reported during seasons when this type of flu is dominant, especially among young children and older adults.”

Common-sense measures can help slow or prevent influenza’s spread. “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 you are ill can help,” Van Houten said.

“Vaccines are the most important tool available to help prevent influenza and we know this season’s vaccine includes the strain circulating in Wyoming,” he said. Flu shots are still available in many locations; WDH recommends the vaccine annually for nearly everyone over the age of six months.

Van Houten reminded residents it takes about two weeks for flu vaccines to offer protection. “If you’re exposed to the virus in the meantime, you may still become ill,” he said.

Doctors may recommend prescription antiviral medications to help treat influ­enza.These medications may be especially helpful for persons at higher risk for flu complications such as young children, adults 65 andr older, persons with chronic medical conditions, persons with challenged immune systems, women who are pregnant or soon after delivery, persons less than 19 years of age who are on long-term aspirin therapy for other conditions, those who are extremely overweight, and residents of nursing homes or other chronic-care facilities.

“For antiviral medications to be a good option, it is important to seek medical care quickly once you start to become ill,” Van Houten advised.

Van Houten said residents who become ill should get lots of rest, drink plenty of liquids and avoid using alcohol or tobacco. “You may also take over-the-counter medications to relieve your symptoms, but should avoid giving prod­ucts containing aspirin to children or teens with flu-like symptoms,” he said.

Crisis Text Line Available in Wyoming – News from the Wyoming Department of Health

A newly available statewide Crisis Text Line will provide anonymous, continuous crisis support to Wyoming residents who may be in crisis and at risk of suicide.

Promoted by the Wyoming Department of Health, Grace For 2 Brothers Foun­dation, and the Prevention Management Organization, Crisis Text Line ena­bles anyone with a mobile phone with SMS capability to access free support by texting WYO to 741-741.

“Many of our Wyoming neighbors who struggle sometimes with depression, bullying, substance abuse, relationship problems and suicidal thoughts feel they have no one to turn to,” said Rhianna Brand, director of operations for Grace For 2 Brothers Foundation, a Cheyenne-based nonprofit focused on sui­cide prevention.

Brand noted that text messages offer a discreet, familiar and accessible form of communication available to most people.

Mikki Munson, community prevention specialist with the Prevention Manage­ment Organization, said the text line’s trained specialists with extensive train­ing in crisis intervention provide emotional support to anyone in crisis, as well as safety planning and referrals.

“This partnership with the Crisis Text Line will connect someone in crisis to a counselor in their most critical time of need,” Munson said.  Munson also not­ed the anonymous data collected by the Crisis Text Line will help Wyoming work to improve prevention efforts and mental health resources.

By: Kim Deti

Skin Cancer Prevention Needed in Sunny Wyoming – News from the Wyo. Dept. of Health

Skin cancer is a common, significant concern for residents of sunny Wyoming, according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).

 

Morgan Powell, Integrated Cancer Services outreach coordi­nator with WDH, said skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States.

 

“Risk factors for skin cancer include a light skin tone, eye color or hair color; tanning, a history of sunburns, particularly during childhood; a personal or family history of skin cancer; sun exposure during work or play; and certain types of moles,” Powell said.

 

“We recommend wearing sunscreen with at least a 15 SPF, staying out of the sun during the middle of the day, and covering up when out in the sun as good ways to reduce your skin cancer risk,” Powell said.

 

Powell noted there are several skin cancer warning signs. “When looking over the skin look for spots that are asymmetrical, have border irregularity, color variations and diameters of 6 millimeters or more,” she explained. “This is also known as the ABCD’s of skin cancer.”

 

“Of the three types of skin cancer, basal and squamous cell carcinoma are more common than melanoma and are highly treatable if caught early,” Powell said. “Melanoma is less common, but is a much faster growing type of cancer.” According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, melano­ma affects roughly 130 people in Wyoming each year.

 

“Skin cancer is dangerous because it can be so easy to miss,” Powell said. “When it’s missed it can spread to other parts of the body, which makes it much more difficult to treat.”

 

“It may be summer now, and is certainly an important time to protect yourself from skin cancer. However, it’s a year round concern in Wyoming. Snow can reflect 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays,” Powell said. “Sunburns can also be a risk on cloudy or cool days because clouds block only about 20 percent of UV rays.”

# written by Kim Deti

May is Hepatitis Awareness Month

Hepatitis is most often caused by one of several viruses. In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis are Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. Unlike Hepatitis A, which does not cause a long-term infection, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can cause chronic, life-long infections. More than 5 million Americans are living with chronic Hepatitis B or chronic Hepatitis C, but most do not know they are infected.

Chronic hepatitis can cause serious liver problems, including liver damage, cirrhosis, and even liver cancer.  People with chronic hepatitis B and hepatitis C have the greatest risk of liver cancer. In fact, more than 60 percent of liver cancer cases are associated with Hepatitis B or C.

About two in three people with Hepatitis B do not know they are infected and the most commonly affected people in the US are Asian Americans (1 in 12). About 50 percent of people with Hepatitis C do not know they are infected and three in four people with Hepatitis C were born from 1945-1965. The CDC encourages those in high risk groups to get tested for hepatitis.

For a limited time, Public Health has state supplied Hepatitis A and B vaccines for $20 per dose. If you are: age 19 and older and a Wyoming resident, we can immunize you for a reduced cost. Call our offices to schedule an appointment for your vaccinations. We can also draw blood to test for immunity if you are not sure if you have had the vaccine series before or if you think you may have been exposed to Hepatitis. Give us a call to schedule an appointment for a blood draw.

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/.

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.

####

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

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.

 

####

Poison Control Services for Wyoming

News from the Wyoming Department of Health

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 2, 2015
Contact: Kim Deti
Phone: 307-777-6420

Poison Control Services Continue for Wyoming with New Vendor

Services for state residents who have critical questions about potential poisoning incidents are continuing without interruption as a new vendor takes over services for Wyoming, according to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH).

“If you or someone else you are with may have been poisoned, you can continue to call 800-222-1222 and should do so immediately,” said Andy Gienapp, Office of Emergency Medical Services manager with WDH. All calls are free and private and services are available 24 hour a day, every day.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, poisoning is the leading cause of unintentional death in the United States, with most deaths due to drug and medicine misuse and abuse. In Wyoming, poisonings are the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related hospitalizations and the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths.

Gienapp said almost anything can be poisonous if used the wrong way, in the wrong amount, or by the wrong person or pet.

“Poison control center hotlines offer expert advice quickly on medicines, household products and chemicals, foods and beverages, cosmetics and personal care items, bites and stings, mushrooms and plants, and fumes and gases,” he said.

The Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center began providing poison control hotline services for Wyoming under a contract with WDH on July 1. For several years previously, poison control had been provided by the Nebraska Regional Poison Center.

####