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[ 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.

The Springfield Kickoff is sponsored by the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, CoxHealth, Mercy, Jordan Valley Community Health Center, the City of Springfield and the Healthy Living Alliance.

For more information about the Springfield event, please contact Kathryn Wall at (417) 874-1205 or at kwall@springfieldmo.gov.

Confirmed city and locations for additional Opioid Summits:

  • July 20, 2017: Springfield, White River Conference Center, 600 W Sunshine St, Springfield, MO 65807
  • September 12: Cape Girardeau, Show Me Center, 1333 N Sprigg St, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701
  • October 17: Joplin, Missouri Southern State University, 724 Illinois Ave, Joplin, MO 64801
  • October 24: Poplar Bluff, Mount Calvary Powerhouse Church, 1875 Speedway Dr, Poplar Bluff, MO 63901
  • November 7: Kirksville, Truman State University, 100 E Normal St, Kirksville, MO 63501
  • November 29: Columbia, Courtyard by Marriott, 3301 Lemone Industrial Blvd. Columbia, MO 65201
  • St. Louis, St. Joseph, 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
<![CDATA[ Missouri Department of Health and Services announces fees for vital records will be waived in flood affected counties]]> 

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) announced today that fees will be waived for replacement of Missouri birth, death, marriage and divorce records for persons whose documents were lost or destroyed due to the recent flooding.

"Many records may have been damaged or destroyed by the recent floods," DHSS Director Randall Williams said.  "To help relieve the burden of replacing these important documents, DHSS is waiving the fees for all vital records that were lost or destroyed due recent flooding.

Many Missouri residents can obtain their birth, marriage and divorce records locally. People born in Missouri can obtain a copy of their birth certificate from their local health department.  To locate your local health department, go to http://health.mo.gov/living/lpha/lphas.php.

For more information on obtaining vital records, visit http://health.mo.gov/data/vitalrecords/index.php. Additional information about flood recovery and resources can be found at mo.gov/flood.


Thu, 11 May 2017 19:37:55 CST
<![CDATA[ 'When in doubt, throw it out,' Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services urges regarding food stored near flood water]]>

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) urges residents to be extremely cautious with food and cooking utensils stored in flooded buildings. Stored food and cooking utensils can become home to growing bacteria like salmonella and listeria, which can cause potentially serious food-borne illnesses. The bottom line is: when in doubt, throw it out.

“The best advice about food safety is this—when in doubt, throw it out,” said DHSS Director Dr. Randall Williams. “Any food that may have come into contact with flood waters should be discarded.”

As waters recede, DHSS and local public health staff are working in affected areas throughout the state to help restaurants, groceries and other food-related businesses reopen quickly and safely for you and your family. These establishments are required to be inspected before reopening where DHSS and local public health staff help identify and correct any potential risks.

There are many precautions you should take when handling food, kitchen appliances and cooking utensils stored in flooded homes as well.

Safe drinking water: It is important to establish a source of safe drinking water in your home. You will need this not just for drinking, but for proper sanitization of items in contact with flood waters also.

Bottled water that did not come in contact with flood water is safe to drink. Tap water may be used, but may need to be boiled first. If you have a private well, water samples should be collected and tested before consuming after a flood.  You may contact your local public health agency or DHSS at 573-751-3334 to obtain a free well water testing kit.

Sanitization: Items that can be sanitized should be washed with soap and clean water and rinsed with clean water, then sanitized in one of the following methods:

  • Place in water. Bring water to a boil, and boil for a minimum of three minutes, or

  • Place in a freshly-made solution of one teaspoon of unscented liquid 5.25 percent chlorine bleach per gallon of safe drinking water for 1 minute.

Allow items to air dry completely before using or storing.

Sorting food items: Many food items are not edible if stored in a flooded building. Remember, when in doubt, throw it out, and never try to determine safety by tasting foods. Tasting and smelling are not reliable methods of detecting bacteria.

Residents should throw out any food that may have come in contact with flood waters. This includes any food not in a waterproof container such as cardboard boxes, bottles and jars with screw caps, home-canned items and containers with pull tops.

Commercially canned items in metal cans and food in retort pouches like those commonly used to package tuna may be sanitized and saved.

If the home lost power: Refrigerated items generally remain unspoiled if the power was out for less than four hours and the door remained closed. Frozen items may be safely refrozen if ice crystals remain visible in the food.

Handling cooking utensils: Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and pacifiers. You can sanitize and save all other cooking and eating utensils. 

For more information on flood cleanup and recovery go to http://health.mo.gov/living/environment/floodrecovery/index.php.

Fri, 05 May 2017 17:42:59 CST
<![CDATA[ Be careful returning to flood-damaged homes, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services says]]>The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services urges Missourians to take extra precautions when returning to flood-damaged homes, apartments or businesses during clean-up efforts. The dangers are not over after the water goes down.

“Please be careful as you return to your homes as gas pipes, power lines and structural damage can cause life-threatening injuries and fall risks,” DHSS Director Dr. Randall Williams said.

Flood hazards such as a weakened foundation, exposed wires or contaminated floodwater are not always obvious and can be life-threatening. Always follow instructions of emergency personnel as to when it is safe to return. Following the tips below will help ensure safety after the storm.

  • Turn off the electricity and all other utilities before going inside to prevent electrocution, gas leaks and other issues. Even if the power company turned off electricity to the area, be sure to shut the power off in your home. Do not use appliances or motors that were wet, unless they are taken apart, cleaned and dried.
  • Call the electric or gas company immediately if you find downed power lines or suspect a gas leak. Look for outside damage, such as cracks in the foundation or gaps between stairs and the house. If you see damage, have a building inspector check the house before entering.
  • Be alert for gas leaks – do not strike a match or use an open flame.
  • Look before stepping into your home. Floors and stairs can be very slippery.
  • Discard refrigerated food if power was out for at least four hours or if the refrigerator door was opened during a power outage.
  • Throw away food if there is any chance it came into contact with flood water.
  • Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples, and pacifiers.
  • Use bottled water that has not been in flood waters. If bottled water is not available, boil any tap water before use.
  • Get a booster tetanus vaccine if you have not had a dose within the past 10 years or are unsure of the last time you had one. If you get a deep cut or puncture wound, seek immediate medical attention and ask about a tetanus booster.
  • Be sure to wear proper clothing and safety gear when cleaning up after a flood.
  • Immediately clean all wounds and cuts with soap and clean water.
  • Control moisture in your home to prevent mold growth. Use a disinfectant (one-and-one half cups household bleach in a gallon of water) if needed, and especially if the water damage occurred because of floodwaters or sewage backup.

Tip and toss any water pooled in outdoor containers to avoid mosquito breeding grounds.

For more information regarding flood recovery, go to http://health.mo.gov/living/environment/floodrecovery/index.php.

Wed, 03 May 2017 08:45:34 CST
<![CDATA[ Flood water continues to pose serious risks, potential drowning, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services warns]]>Parents should keep children out of harm's way; precautions should be taken by all who work near flood water to avoid exposure

JEFFERSON CITY – With many rivers and creeks still pushing above flood stage and additional communities about to be impacted by flooding, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services reminds Missourians of the serious health and safety risks posed by flood water.

“We know from experience that the major danger of flooding occurs after the storm passes and people drive or wade into moving or standing water,” DHSS Director Dr. Randall Williams said. “It is vital that people realize how risky these waters still are.”

Parents should warn children never to play in or near flood water. Soaked creek and stream banks may be unstable and suddenly give away, tossing you into moving water.

Storm drains or culverts obscured by flood water can create powerful currents that can sweep people in with deadly consequences for them along with people attempting to rescue them.

There are many risks in addition to drowning:

  • Flood water can contain raw sewage and pose other risks, including infectious diseases, hazardous chemical exposure, and debris that can cause injuries.
  • Direct contact with flood water can cause skin rashes, infect cuts or wounds, or cause stomach illnesses including vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Downed or broken power lines in flood water pose an electrocution hazard.
  • Sharp objects and debris, such as glass or metal objects, may be lurking in flood water.
  • Animals, insects, snakes and other reptiles that have been displaced due to flooding may be submerged or hiding in debris in or near flood waters.

If you have been exposed to flood waters it can make you sick. Be sure to remove clothing exposed to flood water as quickly as possible. Wash your hands and any skin exposed to flood waters with clean soap and water.

Monitor any cuts, scrapes or wounds for redness, swelling or drainage. Seek medical attention if any of these symptoms develop.

These same risks apply to people who work in clean up and recovery and are exposed to flood water.

Anyone assisting with flood cleanup should have had a booster dose of tetanus-diphtheria (Td) vaccine within the past 10 years. Contact your local health department or your primary care physician if you need a TD vaccine.

For more information regarding flood safety and recovery, go to http://health.mo.gov/living/environment/floodrecovery/index.php.

Tue, 02 May 2017 10:43:04 CST
<![CDATA[ State seeking organizations to serve meals to children during summer months]]>Federally funded program helps fight childhood hunger

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is looking for organizations throughout the state to help feed thousands of children who would otherwise go without meals during the summer months when school is not in session.

The Summer Food Service Program reimburses organizations for meals they serve to children who are at risk of not having enough to eat. The program is one way Missouri is working to fight childhood hunger.

The summer food program provides nutritious meals to children under age 18 during the summer months when school breakfast and lunch programs are not operating.

Organizations eligible to participate in the program include schools, faith-based organizations, camps, private nonprofit agencies and local governments. The sites are required to be located in areas where at least half of the children are eligible to receive free or reduced-price meals.

The federally funded program is administered by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The department will accept applications March 1 through May 15 to participate in the program. Organizations interested in becoming sponsors are required to attend training.

More information about the Summer Food Service Program is available online at www.health.mo.gov/sfsp , by telephone at 888-435-1464 (toll-free) or through RELAY MISSOURI for the Hearing and Speech Impaired at 1-800-735-2966.  Potential sponsors may 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.

Fri, 03 Feb 2017 10:39:45 CST
<![CDATA[ Test confirms traveler infected with Zika virus]]>World Health Organization no longer categorizes Zika virus as Public Health Emergency of International Concern

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services confirmed a case of Zika virus found in man who traveled to Mexico. This case brings the total number of travel-related cases found in Missouri to 34.

Additionally, on November 18, 2016, the World Health Organization declared that Zika virus is no longer a Public Health Emergency of International Concern but instead should be viewed as an enduring public health challenge. Given that development, DHSS will no longer send out announcements regarding each travel-related case of Zika virus. However, case count information will still be available upon request.

DHSS will continue ongoing work to test possible cases, educate the public about the dangers of mosquito bites and Zika virus and track any new developments related to the disease.

The CDC is recommending pregnant women avoid traveling to Zika-affected areas which include areas of Florida and countries ranging from Mexico into the Caribbean, Central America and South America.

All travelers returning from these areas should take precautions like wearing EPA-registered insect repellent to avoid mosquitoes. Additionally, all travelers to these areas should abstain from sex or use condoms for at least 8 weeks after returning. If a traveler or a traveler's partner is pregnant or trying to become pregnant, a doctor should be consulted for specific guidance. Also, returning travelers should immediately contact their health care providers if at any point they feel they may have Zika virus.

International health officials have found a connection between pregnant women contracting the virus and a birth defect called microcephaly in their newborn infants. According to the CDC, babies with microcephaly often have smaller head sizes and brains that might not have developed properly.

Nearly 80 percent of people infected with the virus will have no symptoms. Typically, symptoms are mild and include fever, rash, joint soreness and/or redness of eyes.

According to the CDC, Zika virus has the potential to be spread through a mosquito bite, through unprotected sexual contact, through blood transfusion and an infected pregnant woman can pass Zika virus to her fetus during pregnancy.

There is not currently a vaccine for Zika virus. The best prevention measure is to avoid mosquito bites in areas with ongoing transmission. There have been no reported cases of Zika virus contracted from a mosquito bite in Missouri. Ways to avoid mosquito bites while outdoors include wearing EPA-registered insect repellent with DEET, wearing pants and long sleeves, or remaining indoors in an air conditioned environment.

Since the beginning of the year, DHSS has regularly updated health care providers and the public about Zika virus in addition to coordinating the approval of Missourians for testing.

Please consult our additional resources for more information about Zika virus: http://health.mo.gov/living/healthcondiseases/communicable/zika/.

Mon, 28 Nov 2016 14:42:58 CST