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[ Hepatitis A case identified in Dexter, MO]]>JEFFERSON CITY, MO - A case of Hepatitis A has been identified in a food handler that worked while potentially contagious at Huddle House in Dexter, Missouri. The restaurant, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Senior Services and Stoddard County Health Center, is investigating and has taken necessary control measures to decrease the risk of spreading the illness.

Members of the public who ate at the Dexter, Missouri, Huddle House between November 21, 2017 and December 2, 2017 should watch for symptoms of Hepatitis A and seek medical care if they have symptoms. Symptoms usually develop between two and seven weeks after exposure and can include:

  • Fever

  • Fatigue

  • Loss of appetite

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Abdominal pain

  • Dark urine

  • Clay-colored stools

  • Joint pain

  • Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes)

Vaccine and Immune Globulin (IG) for those Exposed to Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable disease. If given within two weeks of exposure, according to the specific CDC guidelines, prophylaxis vaccine or immune globulin (IG) can prevent illness. With concurrent outbreaks occurring across the nation, vaccine and IG are in limited supply. Therefore, use of these prevention strategies must be restricted to those at highest risk for illness or complications, such as close personal contacts. It is important to note that receiving a Hepatitis A vaccine or IG more than 2 weeks after a known exposure may not prevent illness. 

Disease Information

Hepatitis A is a virus that infects the liver. Most people who get Hepatitis A feel sick for several weeks, but they usually recover completely and do not have lasting liver damage. In rare cases, Hepatitis A can cause liver failure and death; this is more common in people older than 50 and in people with other liver diseases.

Prevention

Hepatitis A is spread when a person swallows the virus present on objects or in food or drinks contaminated by tiny amounts of stool from an infected person. Good hand washing practices are critical for preventing the spread of Hepatitis A. Washing hands after going to the bathroom and changing diapers and before preparing or eating food will help keep the virus from spreading to uninfected people. If you are concerned that you are at high risk of exposure, the best way to keep from getting sick from Hepatitis A is to get vaccinated. The Hepatitis A vaccine is highly effective when administered properly.

For more information about Hepatitis A, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at: https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hav/afaq.htm.

Members of the public or providers with patients who are concerned about a potential exposure can call the Stoddard County Health Center at 573-568-4593.

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Thu, 14 Dec 2017 17:02:51 CST
<![CDATA[ State completes nine opioid summits with significant community engagement]]>JEFFERSON CITY, MO -Missourians from every corner of the state filled auditoriums for a series of nine regional opioid summits held by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), as part of a state-wide initiative that saw participation from directors and members of all 16 cabinet departments in the state. These summits created a collaborative opportunity for 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 make local leaders the champions of this cause.

"As we've been in each region throughout the state, listening to people's concerns, we have been incredibly moved by people's willingness to share their experiences and by those who want to help," said DHSS Director Dr. Randall Williams. "Governor Greitens and I heard a young woman who told us that before she got into recovery, she 'was slowly waiting to die.' Experiences like hers solidify our commitment to helping people like her move to recovery and prevent others from going down a path that leads to substance abuse."

Each summit featured local and national thought leaders such as Dr. Ted Cicero, professor at Washington University in St. Louis with more than 50 years' experience in the field of neuropharmacology; James Shroba, Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Agency St. Louis Field Division, covering a six-state area; Howard Weissman, executive director of the National Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse ; and Generation Rx, a nonprofit that provides free educational resources for parents, teachers and community groups. The summits also included panel discussions with local leaders and community members, creating the opportunity to listen to how the opioid crisis is affecting each region of the state.

"We've held these summits to align our local, state and national partners and to plan the way forward," said Dr. Williams. "Next month, stakeholders from every Local Public Health Agency in the state will come together to discuss our next steps as we take what we've learned from each other and put it into practice."

For anyone who was unable to attend one of the summits, livestreams of both the St. Louis and Springfield summits are available here. The summits are part of the State of Missouri's comprehensive, integrated and innovative approach to addressing the opioid crisis. For more information on the state's initiatives, available resources and statistics related to the crisis, please visit https://opioids.mo.gov/.

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.

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Wed, 13 Dec 2017 14:45:25 CST
<![CDATA[ Update: Public health response to Bourbon virus]]>JEFFERSON CITY, MO - The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and local public health agencies recently completed a follow-up investigation of the Bourbon virus case identified during the summer of 2017.

Results of blood testing among participants are protected health information and will not be released.  It is important to note, because Bourbon virus is believed to be spread by ticks, Missourians likely have one more reason to practice tick avoidance while outdoors.

Testing for Bourbon virus and Heartland virus (another cause of tick-borne illness in Missouri) was conducted on more than 7,000 ticks collected in the state park. Bourbon virus was not detected in any of the ticks collected. This does not mean the virus is not present in some ticks in the park.  Instead, it means none of the ticks that might have been infected at the time of this investigation were trapped and tested. Heartland virus was detected in one group of ticks.

Patients diagnosed with Bourbon virus have shown signs similar to infection with Heartland virus and ehrlichiosis (the latter is a type of bacteria transmitted by ticks), 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 or specific treatment for Bourbon virus.

For members of the public worried about the possibility of tick-borne diseases, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being bitten by a tick. Instructions on how to prevent exposure while outdoors are as follows:

  • Apply insect repellents containing at least 20% DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 (no more than 30% DEET in children) to exposed skin according to label instructions.
  • Apply a permethrin solution to clothing according to label instructions. This will last through several washings. Do not allow people or pets to have contact with treated surfaces until spray has dried.
  • Stay on marked and paved trails.
  • Wear light-colored long sleeve shirts and pants.
  • Immediately perform a thorough tick inspection after being outdoors.
  • If a tick is found, remove as soon as possible. Grasp the base of the head of the tick with a pair of tweezers and pull off with a straight motion, making sure to avoid twisting and jerking motions.

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 Bourbon virus investigation, please contact the Department of Health and Senior Services, Office of Veterinary Public Health at 573-526-4780 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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.

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Wed, 13 Dec 2017 10:30:52 CST
<![CDATA[ Flu season hitting hard in Missouri]]>JEFFERSON CITY, MO - The 2017-2018 flu season is off to an early start in Missouri. As of November 25, 2017, there were 1,545 cases of the flu reported to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, compared to 379 cases reported at the same time last year.

These numbers could indicate that flu season is coming early to the Show-Me State or that it will be particularly severe-as was seen in the southern hemisphere where flu season precedes ours. For 2016-2017, there were more than 70,000 confirmed influenza cases in Missouri. If these trends continue, the state could see even more during the 2017-2018 season.

"We know that historically, the intensity or prevalence of flu can vary from year to year. But this year, all indications are that we are seeing more flu earlier in the year and we anticipate more cases," said Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. "Now is the time to get your flu shot if you haven't already. The flu shot combined with proper handwashing are the two most effective things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones this holiday season." 

Flu facts:

How big is the problem?  Flu spreads every year, but the timing and severity of flu season is unpredictable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that flu results in between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses, between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations, and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths annually in the U.S.

What does flu illness look like?  The most common symptoms of flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle or body aches. Flu viruses spread by tiny droplets when a person with flu coughs, sneezes, or talks. It's important to remember that certain people are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia or bronchitis, if they get sick.  Some of these complications are very serious and can lead to death.  Those at high risk for flu-related complications include people age 65 years and older, people with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease), pregnant women and young children.

What can you do to protect family and friends?  A flu vaccine is the best form of defense to protect yourself and your loved ones this winter. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to reach its full protective abilities. Now is the time to get vaccinated so you can protect yourself and loved ones ahead of the upcoming holidays. In addition to getting your flu shot, take these steps to prevent the spread of flu:

  • Avoid close contact with sick people.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after touching shared objects or surfaces such as door knobs, light switches, remote controls, shopping counters, debit card readers, etc.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

  • Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces.

  • Stay home while you're sick and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

It is easy for flu viruses to spread as you travel during the holidays and get together with friends and family.  People with flu can pass the virus on to others a day before feeling sick and sometimes for about a week after feeling better, so it's important to use these steps throughout the flu season.   

For more information or to find a flu vaccine location near you, visit health.mo.gov/flu.

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.

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Mon, 04 Dec 2017 15:04:49 CST
<![CDATA[ Missouri Dept. of Health and Senior Services director joins board of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials]]>JEFFERSON CITY, MO - Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), will be joining the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) National Board of Directors as Region VII Director. One of 10 regional representatives, Williams will attend meetings and leadership events across the country on behalf of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.

ASTHO, which recently celebrated its 75th anniversary, is a nonprofit organization representing public health agencies across the country with a membership of more than 100,000 public health professionals. According to the ASTHO website, their members "formulate and influence sound public health policy and ensure excellence in state-based public health practice."

"It's a privilege to work with colleagues that I admire and respect. I hold ASTHO and its membership in the highest esteem and look forward to serving to the very best of my ability," said Dr. Williams.

"I have visited all 115 counties in Missouri to take a history and get a ground-level perspective on the health concerns facing our state," he continued. "But Missouri's health doesn't begin or end at our borders: it is influenced by our neighboring states, the nation and even on a global scale. Several of my colleagues from ASTHO have become valuable partners as we face complex health issues in Missouri and around the United States, including Dr. Jerome Adams, U.S. Surgeon General, and Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, director of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention."

Dr. Fitzgerald will be visiting Missouri on April 10 to participate in a meeting of the state's local public health agency stakeholders and Women's Health Council.

About the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials: ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and freely associated states, and the District of Columbia, as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. More information about ASTHO can be found at astho.org.

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.

Attachment: Photograph of Dr. Williams and Dr. Adams at the ASTHO 75th Anniversary Conference

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Mon, 20 Nov 2017 09:37:53 CST
<![CDATA[ First Meeting of the Missouri Women's Health Council]]>JEFFERSON CITY, MO - Women's health experts from across the state gathered in Jefferson City on October 25 for the first meeting of the Women's Health Council. First Lady Sheena Greitens, PhD, welcomed the members. Dr. Rachel Winograd from the Missouri Institute of Mental Health educated the group about the opioid epidemic in Missouri and Marissa Lee from the Drug Enforcement Administration discussed the epidemic as it relates to law enforcement. Dr. Sarah Martin from the Kansas City Health Department addressed the health of Missouri's women to raise awareness of the challenges many women face.

Department of Health and Senior Services director Dr. Randall Williams appointed the 27 women who speak for communities with specific health care risks, needs and concerns to the advisory group. Through quarterly meetings, the council will provide input and feedback on how best to improve outcomes as the department develops and implements strategies to improve women's health in Missouri.

"As I traveled throughout the 115 counties in Missouri, I saw firsthand the incredible leadership these women bring to issues that affect so many Missourians, especially our most vulnerable populations. Not only do they lead, but they lead with courage, grace, kindness and passion. We are incredibly appreciative of them taking time to combine their efforts, and I think they will serve as a great force multiplier as we implement programs and policies to help all Missourians," said Dr. Williams.

"We especially appreciate the First Lady for joining us and her ongoing commitment. The First Lady's efforts to listen to foster children helped us better understand how changing our processes could make a huge difference in their lives. And it is that type of listening and sharing that will help us better serve all the citizens of Missouri."

Teri Ackerson, Neuroscience Program Coordinator at Saint Luke's Marion Bloch Neuroscience Institute in Kansas City, is the Council Chair and Susan Kendig, Women's Health Integration Specialist with SSM Health - St. Mary's Hospital in St. Louis, is the Council Vice Chair. A list of all members with full biographies can be found here. Council members are:

  • Kathi Arbini - substance abuse prevention advocate
  • Paula Baker - President and Chief Executive Officer of Freeman Health System
  • Daphne Bascom - Senior Vice President and Medical Director for Community Integrated Health at the YMCA of Greater Kansas City
  • Karlyle Christian-Ritter - Director of Cape Neonatology, Medical Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Saint Francis Medical Center
  • Patricia Clay - Executive Director of Treatment Communities of America
  • Colleen Coble - Chief Executive Officer of the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
  • Wendy Doyle - President and CEO of Women's Foundation
  • Karen Edison - Philip C. Anderson Professor and Chairwoman of the Department of Dermatology, Medical Director of the Missouri Telehealth Network & Show-Me ECHO, Director of the Center for Health Policy at the University of Missouri
  • Danielle Felty - Maternal/Child Director at Liberty Hospital
  • Alyson Harder - Chief Executive Officer of Heartland Behavioral Health Services
  • Sandra Jackson - Local Recovery Coordinator at John J. Pershing VA Medical Center, Local Evidence-Based Psychotherapy Coordinator
  • Eboni January - Physician in Obstetrics and Gynecology at SSM St. Mary's Health Center and Betty Jean Kerr People's Health Centers, co-CEO of Pavlov's Wellness Firm
  • Sarah Martin - Division Manager of Community Engagement, Policy and Accountability at the Kansas City, Missouri Health Department
  • Katherine Mathews - Research Division Director in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women's Health at Saint Louis University
  • Sheryl Lynetter "Ms. Sherry" Maxwell - Lincoln University Cooperative Extension Charleston Outreach Center
  • Bridget McCandless - President and CEO of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City
  • Mary McLennan - Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Women's Health Chair, Saint Louis University
  • K. Gay Purcell - Physician at Mid-America Internal Medicine, Adjunct Clinical Professor at University of Missouri-Kansas City, School of Medicine
  • Katie Towns - Assistant Director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department
  • Padma Veligati - Physician in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Mosaic Life Care
  • Denise Wilfley - Scott Rudolph University Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine, Pediatrics, and Psychological & Brain Sciences; Director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Wellness at Washington University School of Medicine
  • Denise Willers - Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University
  • Margaret Wilson - Dean of the A.T. Still University Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Rachel Winograd - Research Assistant Professor at the Missouri Institute of Mental Health, University of Missouri St. Louis
  • Lana Zerrer - Chief of Staff at Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans' Hospital

The next meeting of the Women's Health Council will be February 23, 2018.

A photo of the first meeting can be found here.

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

 

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Mon, 30 Oct 2017 16:25:44 CST
<![CDATA[ National Drug Take Back Day Saturday October 28]]>JEFFERSON CITY, MO - On Saturday, October 28, law enforcement agencies across the state will be partnering with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to give Missourians the opportunity to discard expired, unused or unwanted prescription drugs. Drop off locations, which will operate from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., can be found here. The DEA cannot accept liquids or needles or sharps, only pills or patches. The service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked.

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services director, Dr. Randall Williams, stresses the importance of this event. "National Drug Take Back Day is a fantastic opportunity for Missourians to clean out their medicine cabinets and discard old or unwanted medicines. It might seem like a small thing but getting rid of these drugs could end up saving a life-especially for teenagers who may not realize the dangers of misusing prescription drugs or combining them with other drugs or alcohol. According to the NCADA, one out of seven MO teenagers reports misusing prescription opioids and one out of three reports knowing where to find them."

Last April Americans turned in 450 tons (900,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at almost 5,500 sites operated by the DEA and more than 4,200 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Overall, in its 13 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 8.1 million pounds-more than 4,050 tons-of pills.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Rates of prescription drug misuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the numbers of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that other methods for disposing of unused medicines-flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash-both pose potential safety and health hazards.

For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or about the October 28 Take Back Day event go to the DEA Diversion website. The next event will be held April 29, 2018.

Information on Missouri's efforts to combat the opioid crisis can also be found by using the tag #MoFightsOpioids on social media.

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.

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Thu, 26 Oct 2017 10:39:41 CST
<![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.

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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.

 

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Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
Office of Public Information
912 Wildwood
Jefferson City, Mo. 65109
573-751-6062

PublicInfo@health.mo.gov

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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/.

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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/.

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Mon, 31 Jul 2017 10:06:45 CST