Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services HEALTH AND SAFETY http://health.mo.gov/information/news/rss.xml Official news releases issued by the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services. en-us <![CDATA[ #MoFightsOpioids - fighting the crisis on multiple fronts]]>JEFFERSON CITY, MO - The opioid crisis in Missouri has reached epidemic levels: there were 908 opioid-related deaths in the state in 2016. As part of a comprehensive, integrated and innovative approach to addressing this crisis, Missouri is taking a multifaceted approach to reducing the impact of opioids on the state.

There are a series of nine Opioid Summits being held throughout the state. These summits offer a collaborative opportunity for leaders from a variety of sectors-health care professionals, the faith community, state and local governments, law enforcement and more-to bring awareness to the issue, discuss the best interventions available, spur action and address problems found across the state. The first two summits, held in Springfield and Cape Girardeau, had a combined total of almost 1,000 participants. As of press time, more than 400 people have registered to attend the third summit, taking place today in Joplin. A list of upcoming summit dates, locations and registration information can be found here; a short video of Governor Greitens' remarks at the first opioid summit can be found here.

Another significant piece of Missouri's efforts to combat the opioid crisis is to increase the availability of, access to and training for naloxone, an overdose reversal drug. Missouri was recently awarded a competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that provides $800,000 annually for four years. This funding will be used to reduce opioid-involved deaths through training, education and the distribution of naloxone to qualified individuals. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will lead the project, in partnership with the Missouri Overdose Rescue and Education (MORE) project and the Missouri Heroin Overdose Prevention and Education (MO-HOPE) project, the Missouri Institute of Mental Health and the Missouri Department of Mental Health. MORE will build on existing programs and partnerships developed by MO-HOPE, training rural-area first responders on the prevention of prescription drug and opioid related deaths and implementing secondary prevention strategies, including the purchase and distribution of naloxone.

For up-to-date information on the state's progress in the fight against opioids follow #MoFightsOpioids.

About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in promoting, protecting and partnering for health. More information about DHSS can be found at health.mo.gov.

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 10:22:10 CST
<![CDATA[ Adoptees will soon be able to request original birth certificates]]>

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Per the Missouri Adoptee Rights Act, adoptees born in 1941 or later will be able to request a non-certified copy of their original birth certificate beginning January 1, 2018. To expedite processing, the Bureau of Vital Records (BVR) is now accepting applications for adoptees to request a copy of their original birth certificate. In accordance with the law, the certificates will not be provided until January 2, 2018, but early submittal will allow BVR to research and process the request in advance.

Non-certified original birth certificates may only be obtained by the adoptee or the adoptee’s attorney, and may only be obtained from the BVR office in Jefferson City. To make a request, an adoptee or their attorney must complete the Application for Non-Certified Copy of an Original Birth Certificate and pay a non-refundable $15 fee. Applications may be submitted in person or by mail.
The application must be notarized unless the adoptee brings it in person to the BVR office in Jefferson City.

Although BVR will begin accepting applications to expedite processing, it may take six weeks or longer to locate requested records. Non-certified copies of the original birth certificates issued by BVR cannot be used for establishing identity, and will be stamped “For genealogical purposes only—not to be used for establishing identity.” In addition, no records will be released without first checking for receipt of a parental preference form. Another provision of the Missouri Adoptee Rights Act, the parental preference form allows birth parents to designate whether they want their information released. Birth parents may also establish a contact preference and complete a medical history form.

The Application for Non-Certified Copy of an Original Birth Certificate, Birth Parent Contact Preference and Medical History forms can be obtained at the BVR office in Jefferson City, requested via phone or found on the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website at health.mo.gov/data/vitalrecords. Completed forms and a non-refundable $15 fee must be sent to:

Bureau of Vital Records
ATTN: Adoptee Rights
930 Wildwood
Jefferson City, MO 65109

About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in promoting, protecting and partnering for health. More information about DHSS can be found at health.mo.gov.




Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
Office of Public Information
912 Wildwood
Jefferson City, Mo. 65109














Thu, 12 Oct 2017 08:51:13 CST
<![CDATA[ Why worry about the flu in Australia? It could save your life.]]>JEFFERSON CITY, MO - The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is looking far from the Midwest to see what this year's flu season might bring. Each year, flu cases in the southern hemisphere, in places like Australia, are tracked to help predict what will be seen in the northern hemisphere a few months later. This helps scientists determine what to include in the flu vaccine for North America.

So far this year, Australia has reported cases that far exceed those in the last two flu seasons. This may be because the most common influenza virus reported there this year is influenza A; it tends to lead to higher case counts and larger outbreaks. If Missouri's flu season mimics what Australia is already seeing, there could be deadly consequences.

The Missouri State Public Health Laboratory reported more than 70,000 lab-positive influenza cases for the 2016-2017 flu season. This easily spread virus can prove especially dangerous for some patients: there were also 99 influenza-associated deaths reported over the same period.

The best defense we have against flu is the influenza vaccine, or flu shot. DHSS director Dr. Randall Williams says, "Having cared for patients for 30 years as a practicing physician, I saw that flu shots are critical for the greater good of our community. By protecting ourselves, we help protect our most vulnerable populations: newborn babies, pregnant women, the elderly and those whose health is already compromised. They are the most susceptible to serious flu illness and complications, including death. That's why we recommend everyone six months or older gets a flu shot to help decrease exposure."

Flu activity often increases in October and November before peaking between December and February. By receiving a flu shot, the body's immune response to the virus will improve to provide protection against the influenza viruses that are likely to be common this flu season. For more information or to find a flu shot location near you, visit health.mo.gov/flu or talk to your local health department, pharmacist or medical provider.

About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The Department seeks to be the leader in promoting, protecting and partnering for health. More information about DHSS can be found at health.mo.gov.


Tue, 10 Oct 2017 08:51:31 CST
<![CDATA[ Public health response to Bourbon virus]]>JEFFERSON CITY, MO - The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) worked with local public health agencies this week to test for evidence of Bourbon virus in the blood of some Missouri state park workers. The testing was done as part of a follow-up investigation into a recent case of Bourbon virus associated with exposure to ticks in Missouri.

CDC's Arboviral Disease Branch will test each blood sample for the presence of Bourbon virus antibodies; these antibodies may indicate a previous exposure to the virus.

This follow-up investigation will help determine who might be at risk for Bourbon virus. It is believed to be spread by ticks, but this has not been confirmed. Bourbon virus was first discovered to cause human illness in a Bourbon County, KS, man in 2014. The virus belongs to the Thogotovirus group, and Bourbon virus is the only known member of this group to cause disease in the United States.

Patients diagnosed with Bourbon virus have shown signs similar to Heartland virus and ehrlichiosis (two other tick-borne illnesses found in Missouri), including fever, muscle aches, fatigue, headache, anorexia, diarrhea and rash. Like Heartland virus and ehrlichiosis, Bourbon virus can affect blood cells that help the body fight infection and prevent bleeding. There is no vaccine for Bourbon virus.

The best way to prevent tick-borne disease infection is to avoid being bitten by a tick. Information on ways to prevent exposure can be found on the DHSS website: http://health.mo.gov/.

If a person begins developing a fever, muscle aches, fatigue, headaches, anorexia, diarrhea or a rash after exposure to a tick bite or tick habitat, they should seek treatment from a medical professional and inform them of recent tick exposure.

For more information on ticks and the ongoing Bourbon virus investigation, please contact the Department of Health and Senior Services, Office of Veterinary Public Health at 573-751-6062 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.


Wed, 20 Sep 2017 10:10:24 CST
<![CDATA[ New measures in fight against opioid crisis take effect today]]>JEFFERSON CITY, MO - This past July, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens signed into law new opioids legislation that goes into effect today, giving Missourians three new tools in the fight against this epidemic.

Two of these measures are aimed at saving lives in the event of an overdose. The first provision authorizes Department of Health and Senior Services director Dr. Randall Williams to sign a standing order for naloxone prescriptions throughout the state. Under this order, anyone can receive naloxone from a pharmacist without having to first get a prescription from another physician. 

"Naloxone is a safe and effective drug that has saved countless lives," said Dr. Williams. "With this order, we are empowering the people of Missouri to intervene on behalf of family and friends in the event of an opioid overdose. I urge anyone who is at an increased risk for overdose to keep naloxone on hand in case of emergency. The same goes for any family member, friend, neighbor or acquaintance of someone suffering from opioid addiction-naloxone saves lives."

The second measure is an expansion of Missouri's "Good Samaritan" law. Under the new legislation, anyone who acts in good faith to assist in a drug or alcohol overdose can call for emergency assistance without fear of arrest or other penalties as a result of seeking or obtaining medical assistance. In the event of an overdose, this policy protects the victim and the person seeking medical help for the victim from possession charges.

"I want every Missourian to take this to heart: call 911 in the case of an overdose," said Dr. Williams. "Our first responders are ready and able to respond but time has to be on their side if they're going to be effective. Make the call and rest assured that our priority is to save lives, not pursue criminal charges. We think this is especially important for young people to remember.

"These two measures combined give us the greatest chance of reversing overdoses in our state. If we are all prepared to administer naloxone and immediately call for aid in the event of an emergency, we can make tremendous strides in reversing the trend of fatal overdoses in Missouri."

The third change going into effect today will allow people who have opioid addictions and are being treated with medication assisted therapy (MAT) to access Missouri's drug courts. Previously, MAT patients were considered to still be "drug users" and therefore could be ruled ineligible for the rehabilitation-focused courts. The new measure recognizes MAT as a proven method of addiction treatment.

For more information on naloxone and other opioid crisis information, please visit mohopeproject.org.

Mon, 28 Aug 2017 15:37:05 CST
<![CDATA[ Keeping children healthy: back-to-school immunizations]]>JEFFERSON CITY, MO - As a new school year begins parents and guardians need to ensure children are up-to-date on their immunizations.

Missouri law requires that children in kindergarten through 12th grade receive immunizations to protect against certain vaccine-preventable diseases. This helps protect everyone: children, teachers, staff and the community as a whole.

"Proper immunization can prevent serious health issues that could affect your child and others," said Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, Dr. Randall Williams. "With the recent outbreaks of mumps and measles, being completely immunized is as important as ever. Don't wait. Talk to your physician or local health department about your child's immunizations today."

Children attending kindergarten through 7th grade are required to be up-to-date on:

  • DTaP - Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis

  • Polio

  • Hepatitis B

  • MMR - Measles, mumps and rubella; and

  • Varicella - Chickenpox

Children entering 8th grade are required to have two additional immunizations to protect their health:

  • Tdap - Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (booster); and

  • Meningococcal ACWY

A booster dose of Meningococcal ACWY is also required for children entering 12th grade.

Vaccines help protect children against serious illness caused by diseases like measles and whooping cough, while continuously undergoing testing to ensure safety.

For more information, please visit: http://health.mo.gov/living/wellness/immunizations/index.php.

Thu, 24 Aug 2017 16:37:46 CST
<![CDATA[ Eye Safety is Critical during Upcoming Eclipse]]>JEFFERSON CITY, MO - On August 21st, people will gather from coast to coast to view a rare solar eclipse, especially in Missouri. The state will offer some of the best vantage points in the nation for witnessing this historic event. A 50-70 mile wide path of totality stretches from northwest to southeast Missouri. These areas will experience the longest periods of darkness in the country on Monday afternoon. Depending on your location, the eclipse should begin between 11:30 am and 12 noon, and last until 2:30-3:00 pm central time.

State and local agencies are coordinating efforts to ensure everyone has a safe viewing experience.  Residents and visitors are strongly encouraged to follow all safety precautions for viewing the solar eclipse.

"There are a number of precautions you need to follow regarding eye safety," said Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Dr. Randall Williams. "Looking directly at the sun during most parts of an eclipse can permanently damage your vision or blind you, but there are easy ways to view a solar eclipse safely, such as through eclipse glasses or pinhole projectors. Adults should take special care to help protect the eyes of children during this event."

Outside of totality, the only safe way to safely look directly at the sun, during an eclipse or at any other time is through special-purpose solar filters. These solar filters are used in "eclipse glasses" or in hand-held solar viewers. They must meet a very specific worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2. Ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, or homemade filters are not safe for looking at the sun.

Individuals who do not take proper precautions run the risk of damaging their retinas or possibly causing blindness. In areas outside the path of totality, where only part of the sun is blocked even at the peak of the eclipse, there is no safe time to look at the sun with the naked eye. Viewers must protect their eyes while watching the entire eclipse.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends the following steps for safely watching a solar eclipse:

  • Carefully look at your solar filter or eclipse glasses before using them. If you see any scratches or damage, do not use them.
  • Always read and follow all directions that come with the solar filter or eclipse glasses. Help children to be sure they use handheld solar viewers and eclipse glasses correctly.
  • Before looking up at the bright sun, stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter-do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  • The only time that you can look at the sun without a solar viewer is during a total eclipse. When the moon completely covers the sun's bright face and it suddenly gets dark, you can remove your solar filter to watch this unique experience. Then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear very slightly, immediately use your solar viewer again to watch the remaining partial phase of the eclipse.
  • Never look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other similar devices. This is important even if you are wearing eclipse glasses or holding a solar viewer at the same time. The intense solar rays coming through these devices will damage the solar filter and your eyes. Your camera, telescope or binoculars could also be damaged.
  • For information about where to get the proper eyewear or handheld viewers, check out the American Astronomical Society at https://eclipse.aas.org/eye-safety/eyewear-viewers.

Safety precautions are also necessary if you are hoping to photograph the eclipse with your cellphone or camera. Cellphone users should consider taking photos when the sun is entirely covered by the moon, not before or after as it could damage the phone's camera. Camera owners may take photos before or after the period of totality if they have a special solar camera filter to protect their camera from damage. Expert astronomers are the best source of information on the use of a special solar filter with a camera, telescope, binoculars or any other optical device.

AAO also points out that another way to see the eclipse is through a pinhole projection, which projects an image of the sun onto another surface, like paper, a wall or pavement. The image of the sun is safe to look at throughout the eclipse. More information on pinhole projectors and safe-viewing devices can be found at https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/learn/project/how-to-make-a-pinhole-camera/.

For more information about eclipse viewing safety and other information related to the event, please visit https://www.mo.gov/eclipse/.

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 15:49:14 CST
<![CDATA[ Department of Health and Senior Services Announces Public Rule Review Process to Streamline State Regulations]]>JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Governor Eric Greitens’ executive order directs each state agency, including the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to review all of its regulations. DHSS oversees facilities throughout the state, working every day to ensure quality care for Missourians; assist and protect seniors; and administer more than 100 programs and initiatives addressing public health issues. DHSS closely coordinates with partners such as Missouri’s 115 local public health agencies and the 10 Area Agencies on Aging to provide needed services and plan for a healthy future.

In accordance with Gov. Eric Greitens’ executive order, DHSS is thoroughly reviewing all of its administrative rules, and welcomes input from the public. Feedback from the citizens we serve is invaluable to helping the department identify changes that can be made to improve DHSS’ operations.

“The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is excited to meet Governor Greitens’ call to reduce burdensome government restrictions and red tape that keep businesses and health care providers from doing their jobs effectively,” said Dr. Randall Williams, Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services.

Members of the public who wish to make suggestions to improve DHSS rules and regulations can do so via multiple methods: on the Department of Health and Senior Services’ website; by submitting written comments to DHSS Rules Review, PO Box 570, Jefferson City, MO 65102; by fax to 573-751-6041; or at three public hearings, which are listed below. Comments will be accepted through September 15, 2017.

The Department of Health and Senior Services will hold three public hearings to allow Missourians to comment in person:

  1. Tuesday, August 1, 2017, 9 AM
    Bridgeton Senior Center
    4201 Fee Fee Rd.
    Bridgeton, MO 63044
  2. Tuesday, August 15, 2017, 10:30 AM
    Don Bosco Senior Center
    580 Campbell St.
    Kansas City, MO 64106
  3. Tuesday, August 29, 2017, 9 AM
    Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center
    Conference Room B
    1121 Linden St. Cape Girardeau, MO 63703

For more information on the Governor’s initiative to cut government red tape, please visit http://www.nomoredtape.com/.

Mon, 31 Jul 2017 10:06:45 CST
<![CDATA[ Drug disposal pouches donated to keep drugs off streets]]>JEFFERSON CITY, Mo — The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is coordinating distribution of 50,000 medication disposal pouches donated by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals. This donation is extremely timely as DHSS attempts to stem the diversion of unused opioids in Missouri.

A national survey of U.S. adults who use opioids showed that nearly 6 out of 10 had or expect to have leftover opioids, according to findings published online June 13, 2016, in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal. Also, a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) national survey on drug use and health determined that nearly 51 percent of those who misused prescription painkillers got them from friends or relatives.

“As a company focused on the health and well-being of our patients and communities, Mallinckrodt has long been a strong advocate of addressing the complex issues of opioid misuse and abuse,” said Mark Trudeau, Mallinckrodt President and Chief Executive Officer. “We share the concerns of all Missourians and have worked to provide medication deactivation pouches for more than 400,000 Missouri families. A safe and responsible way to dispose of unused medications is critical in this fight.”

“We commend Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens for efforts to combat this public health crisis,” he continued. “Mallinckrodt is committed to working with policy makers, community leaders, law enforcement and industry partners to ensure the responsible use of pain medication and prevent unused medications from ending up in the wrong hands.”

The pouch-based systems that Mallinckrodt is donating deactivate prescription drugs and render chemical compounds safe for landfills through four simple steps as follows:

  1. The sealable pouch which contains active carbon is opened by the patient.
  2. The patient adds any remaining, unused medications and water to the pouch.
  3. Carbon in the pouch binds to the drugs active ingredients and breaks the medication down.
  4. The patient seals the pouch which can then be safely disposed of in the household garbage.

DHSS will be partnering with local public health agencies and other organizations to distribute the donated pouches while maintaining a small number for requests that will be received from across the state. Five counties have been selected to receive the initial distribution. The Butler County Public Health Department in Poplar Bluff will be one such distribution location. The Alliance of Southwest Missouri, located in Joplin, will also be assisting with distribution of the pouches for citizens in Barton County, MacDonald County, Jasper County and Newton County.

For more information on the department’s efforts to combat Missouri’s opioid crisis, please visit http://health.mo.gov.

Fri, 21 Jul 2017 14:53:46 CST
<![CDATA[ Missourians are dying every day from opioid overdoses]]>JEFFERSON CITY, Mo — The opioid crisis in Missouri has reached epidemic proportions. In 2016, there were 908 opioid- or heroin-related deaths in the state; this is 35% increase over 2015. 2.5 people overdosed and died every day last year, compared with 1.8 the year before. One out of every 66 deaths in the state was due to opioid or opiate abuse in 2016—a significant increase from 2015 when one out of every 89 deaths were opioid-related.

St. Louis County is one of the hardest-hit parts of the state. In 2016, 237 overdoses were attributed to heroin, prescription drug abuse or synthesized opioids such as fentanyl. In 2015, that number was ¬¬¬141, indicating a 68% increase. In the City of St. Louis, there were 182 such overdoses in 2016 compared to 93 the year before—a 96% increase.

“We are incredibly appreciative that Governor Greitens has signed an executive order today instructing us to institute a prescription drug monitoring program,” said Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services director Randall Williams, MD. “The department will be entering into agreements with private companies to perform sophisticated analyses of the prescribing and dispensing data they hold. We think this is a better iteration of present models which can impose burdens on those who are doing what they’re supposed to do, and allows us to focus on those who are perpetuating the crisis.

“Governor Greitens has charged his cabinet with taking a coordinated, integrated and innovative approach to helping all those families and individuals affected by the opioids crisis,” he continued. “We have traveled throughout the state and listened to the many ways this has affected Missourians; it is our goal to help people not face this challenge alone.”

This collaborative initiative is being launched with a series of nine Opioid Summits around the state, designed to bring awareness to the issue, spur innovative action and address the specific problems found in different communities throughout Missouri.

The kick-off summit is being held in Springfield on July 20. Led by Dr. Williams, this summit will be an opportunity for leaders from a variety of sectors—first responders, health care, the faith community, nonprofits and government—to discuss the opioid crisis and the best interventions moving forward, while taking in feedback from the community members most affected by the crisis.

The Missouri Opioid Crisis Summit: Springfield Kickoff will be held on July 20 at the White River Conference Center located at 600 West Sunshine Street, Springfield. This event will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30a.m. This event is free but does require registration, as space for this event will be limited.

The link for ticket registration can be found here. Additionally, this event will be livestreamed on the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HealthyLivingMo/. Please use the hashtags #SGFopioidcrisis and #MOopioidsummit to join the conversation.

Confirmed city and locations for additional Opioid Summits:

  • July 20, 2017: Springfield, White River Conference Center, 600 W Sunshine St, Springfield, MO 65807
  • September 6: Poplar Bluff, Mount Calvary Powerhouse Church, 1875 Speedway Dr, Poplar Bluff, MO 63901
  • September 12: Cape Girardeau, Show Me Center, 1333 N Sprigg St, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701
  • October 17: Joplin, Missouri Southern State University, 3950 Newman Rd, Joplin, MO 64801
  • November 7: Kirksville, Truman State University, 100 E Normal St, Kirksville, MO 63501
  • November 14: St. Joseph, Mo Western University, Fulkerson Center (Kempker Room), 4525 Downs Drive, St. Joseph, MO 64507
  • November 29: Columbia, Courtyard by Marriot, 3301 Lemone Industrial Blvd. Columbia, MO 65201
  • St. Louis and Kansas City dates and locations to be determined.
Mon, 17 Jul 2017 16:11:25 CST
<![CDATA[ Safely remove mold to protect health]]>JEFFERSON CITY, Mo — Missouri’s recent historic flooding may have created an environment hospitable to mold in affected homes and other buildings. Proper cleanup is key to protecting health and preventing illness.

If mold is present, individuals with certain allergies may exhibit symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, upper respiratory irritation, cough and eye irritation. Additionally, exposure to excessive amounts of mold can cause an increase in the frequency or severity of asthma symptoms.

“Mold can cause illness, but it’s important not to panic if you find mold in your home,” said Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Communications Director Sara O’Connor. “Personal protection can safeguard your health during remediation. The proper cleaning or removal of mold-affected items will reduce the risk of future issues.”

DHSS offers the following tips to clean mold safely and properly:

  • Wear personal protective equipment such as gloves, a mask and goggles to protect your eyes, nose, mouth and skin.
  • Throw away any items that were wet with flood water and couldn’t be cleaned and dried completely within 24-48 hours. Take photos of any items discarded for insurance purposes.
  • Flood-related mold on non-porous surfaces should be cleaned with a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water. Use caution: do not breathe fumes and avoid contact with skin.
  • Open all doors and windows while you are working in the building, and leave as many open as you safely can when you leave.
  • Use fans and dehumidifiers to remove moisture when electricity is safe to use
  • Do not cover mold. Remove it instead. Painting or caulking over mold will not prevent it from growing.

For more information, please visit http://health.mo.gov/living/environment/indoorair/mold.php.

Mon, 03 Jul 2017 11:57:40 CST
<![CDATA[ Bourbon virus and other tick-borne diseases in Missouri]]>JEFFERSON CITY, Mo — The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has been notified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that a Missouri resident has tested positive for Bourbon virus infection. The case did not involve any travel outside of the state, indicating that exposure occurred in Missouri. The Bourbon virus belongs to a group of viruses called Thogotoviruses. Based on genetic similarities to other Thogotoviruses, there is a possibility Bourbon virus is transmitted by ticks.

Not much is known about the virus since it was first discovered in 2014 in Bourbon County, KS. DHSS staff, including local public health authorities, and the CDC are currently collecting ticks in Missouri for Bourbon virus testing. This will help to determine what the health risk is to people who are bitten by ticks. The CDC, with help from Missouri, Kansas and other states, is looking for additional patients who may be infected with the Bourbon virus. The investigation also involves laboratory scientists who are working to develop a test for the virus that can be used by doctors and laboratories.

Known symptoms of Bourbon virus include fever, headache, body aches, rash and fatigue. Most people have a full recovery from tick-borne disease. However, DHSS statistics indicate that people over age 50 and those with chronic health problems are more likely to develop a serious illness that can lead to complications.

Avoiding exposure to ticks is critical to the prevention of tick-borne disease. Beyond staying away from brushy areas and long grass where ticks hunt, the best practice to avoid tick bites is to use a repellent with a minimum of 20% DEET. Keeping lawns cut short and trimming shrubs and trees to increase sunlight can help make these areas less hospitable for ticks. People with outdoor pets should talk with their veterinarian about using an effective parasite prevention treatment.

In addition to preventing bites, prompt removal of ticks can help prevent disease:

  • Using tweezers, grasp tick near its mouth and as close to your skin as possible.
  • Pull tick firmly, straight out, away from skin. Do not jerk or twist the tick.
  • Do NOT use alcohol, matches, liquid soap, or petroleum jelly to remove a tick.
  • Wash your hands and the bite site with soap and water after the tick is removed. Apply an antiseptic to the bite site.

Bourbon virus testing is only available from CDC in certain circumstances and is still in the beginning stages of development. This means that testing must be approved by CDC, and other health conditions must be ruled out first. Providers with questions about Bourbon virus testing can contact DHSS at 573/526-4780 or 800/392-0272 (24/7).

For more information on the prevention of illnesses that are carried by ticks, please see the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/features/stopticks/index.html.

Fri, 30 Jun 2017 10:40:17 CST
<![CDATA[ Weekend temperatures soar as Missouri prepares for Summer Weather Safety Week, June 18-24]]>Missouri Summer Weather Safety Week calls attention to dangers of excessive heat

JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the State Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service are promoting Missouri Summer Safety Week (June 18-24) to highlight the risks and dangers associated with excessive heat. Missourians can find a public cooling center near them by visiting health.mo.gov. Users can simply enter a ZIP code, city or county to find a cooling center nearby.

"Summer heat, like any other weather concern, brings its own set of dangers for which we need to be prepared," said Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. "Taking simple precautions like wearing sunscreen, staying hydrated and taking frequent breaks from the heat will go a long way towards making sure you have a happy and healthy summer.

"Additionally, we must be vigilant of the grave dangers heat can pose to the elderly, children and pets," he continued. "Reach out to your older neighbors who might be isolated and without air conditioning. And please, never ever leave a pet or child in a car."

In 2016, the Department of Health and Senior Services reported 25 heat-related deaths in Missouri.

Remember these basic tips to protect you and your family during severe heat and heat emergencies:

  • Check on those who do not have air conditioning and may spend much of their time alone.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in a vehicle.
  • Eat light, well-balanced meals at regular intervals.
  • Drink plenty of water and limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
  • Protect your face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat. Wear sunscreen.
  • Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day; use the buddy system when working in extreme heat and take frequent breaks.
  • If you do not have air conditioning, consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls and other community facilities.
  • Be aware of medications that may impair the body's response to heat, including antihistamines, tranquilizers and some medications for heart disease.

Missourians should call the state's toll-free abuse and neglect hotline at 1-800-392-0210 to report senior citizens or adults with disabilities suffering from the heat and needing assistance. The hotline operates 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. seven days a week.

The National Weather Service has additional information on staying safe during excessive heat, as well as lightning safety at http://weather.gov/stlouis/summerweathersafetyweek. To find the cooling center nearest you, please visit health.mo.gov.

For interviews with the National Weather Service about Summer Weather Safety Week, please contact your local NWS office at the following numbers: St. Louis: (636) 441-8467; Kansas City: (816) 540-6021; Springfield: (417) 869-4491; Paducah, Ky.: (270) 744-6440; Memphis, Tenn.: (901) 544-0401; Davenport, Iowa: (563) 388-0672.


Fri, 16 Jun 2017 12:08:51 CST
<![CDATA[ Online map will help families locate local summer food programs]]>Free meals will be served to low-income children at hundreds of locations in Missouri

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services offers an online map that can help low-income families in Missouri find out where their children can receive free meals this summer.

The interactive map pinpoints hundreds of locations in Missouri where meals will be provided through the state health department's Summer Food Service Program.

Community organizations serve the meals at schools, churches, parks, swimming pools, YMCA facilities, Boys and Girls Clubs and other spots where children gather when school is not in session.

The meals are provided to children who receive free or reduced price meals during the regular school year. Children do not have to register and there is no fee to participate in the program.

"Summer can be a time of food insecurity for students who receive free and reduced lunches during the school year," said Dr. Randall Williams, Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. "This interactive map will help ensure Missouri's children are getting critical nutrition all year long."

The map is located at http://health.mo.gov/sfsp/. The map can be searched by city, county or zip code. For families without access to the Internet, many community libraries have computers the public can use free of charge. More information is also available by calling, toll-free, 1-888-435-1464 or through RELAY MISSOURI for the Hearing and Speech Impaired at 1-800-735-2966.

Meals will be served to children age 18 and under. They are also provided to individuals age 18 to 21 that have been determined by a state or local educational agency to be mentally or physically disabled and who participate in an established school program for the mentally or physically disabled.

Funding for the Summer Food Service Program is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Organizations interested in providing meals through the program can also write to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Summer Food Service Program, P.O. Box 570, Jefferson City, MO 65102.

In accordance with federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, the Department of Health and Senior Services does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC, 20250-9410, or call 800-795-3272 (voice) or 202-720-6382 (TTY).  USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Mon, 05 Jun 2017 13:41:03 CST
<![CDATA[ Statement from the Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services]]>

Since 1979, Missouri law has required providers of abortion services and those who treat abortion complications to report every complication they diagnose or treat after an abortion to the Department of Health and Senior Services within 45 days.

It has recently come to my attention that this law was not complied with under previous administrations.

This is unacceptable.

As soon as I became aware of this problem, the Department of Health and Senior Services took steps to ensure future compliance with the law and understanding of the importance of these reports.

As a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist who practiced for 30 years, I recognize that every procedure including abortion has recognized risks and potential complications.  By the standard of care, these risks should be discussed with the patient prior to the procedure.  And when the law requires complications to be reported, each and every complication should be reported.

The Department of Health and Senior Services will rigorously enforce this law in the future. 

Randall W. Williams, MD, FACOG


Wed, 31 May 2017 17:20:38 CST