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[ DHSS Advises of Possible Area of Public Health Concern]]>

JEFFERSON CITY - In consultation with experts at the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is advising the public of a possible health concern for individuals that may have been in contact with a water source within the St. Louis Marriott West Hotel on or after October 1, 2018. The facility is located at 660 Maryville Centre Drive, St. Louis, MO 63141.

DHSS has determined that two unassociated individuals were diagnosed in October and November with Legionnaires’ disease, who also stayed at the St. Louis Marriott West during the same time period.  People can get Legionnaires’ disease, a serious type of pneumonia, by breathing in small water droplets containing Legionella germs.  In general, people do not spread Legionnaires’ disease to other people. 

In response to this information, DHSS, with the full cooperation of St. Louis Marriott West management, is conducting an investigation.  No testing results have found Legionella germs in samples taken from the site.  Test results are pending. We do not know whether the hotel was the source of the germs that caused the two people to become sick.  The investigation is ongoing.

DHSS is actively working to help prevent additional people from becoming sick.  We believe the risk of Legionnaires’ disease is low. Your individual risk may increase if you are 50 years or older, smoke cigarettes, or have certain medical conditions, such as a weakened immune system.

If you developed symptoms of pneumonia within two weeks of staying at St. Louis Marriott West, seek medical attention right away. Pneumonia symptoms typically include cough, shortness of breath, fever, muscle aches, and headaches. Additional symptoms may be present, such as headache, confusion, nausea, or diarrhea.  Ask your doctor to test you with both a urine test and a respiratory culture. If you test positive, ask your doctor to report your illness to your local or state health department as soon as possible after your diagnosis.

DHSS will continue working with St. Louis Marriott West, which is taking proactive measures, to ensure protection of the health of guests and employees.  Additional information on Legionella is available from the CDC website at: https://www.cdc.gov/legionella/index.html.

]]>
Fri, 14 Dec 2018 14:10:40 CST
<![CDATA[ Bridgeton Health Consultation: Public Meeting Cancelled and Will Be Rescheduled]]>JEFFERSON CITY, MO - The Bridgeton Health Consultation: Public Meeting scheduled for today, November 15 is cancelled due to inclement weather. In the near future, a new date, time and location will be determined and announced. 

"This decision was reached by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services in consultation with citizens through the course of last night and was made in abundance of caution for individuals' safety," said Dr. Randall Williams, DHSS Director.

DHSS encourages individuals to read the Bridgeton Landfill Health Consultation document and make written comments. DHSS released the health consultation for public comment on September 21. Because of the postponement of the public meeting, the public comment period will remain open through December 31, 2018. The document may be viewed at health.mo.gov/bridgeton or at the St. Louis Public Library, Bridgeton Trails Branch, 3455 McKelvey Rd, Bridgeton, MO. Written public comments may be sent by email to BridgetonComments@health.mo.gov or postal mail to Lorena Locke, Bureau of Environmental Epidemiology, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, P.O. Box 570, Jefferson City, MO, 65102. Comments need to be submitted or postmarked by December 31, 2018.

About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in protecting health and keeping people safe. More information about DHSS can be found at health.mo.gov or find us on Facebook or Twitter @HealthyLivingMO.

 

]]>
Thu, 15 Nov 2018 19:05:10 CST
<![CDATA[ Bridgeton Health Consultation: Public Meeting with Availability Session]]>JEFFERSON CITY, MO - The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is hosting a meeting on November 15 for the public to submit comments in regards to the release of the public comment version of the Bridgeton Public Health Consultation. The meeting will be held at the Bridgeton Banquet Center, 12259 Natural Bridge Road, Bridgeton, MO 63044.

The DHSS public meeting will begin with an availability session that has a come and go format from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.  A presentation will follow starting at 6:30 p.m., which will last approximately 30 minutes, and the meeting will conclude with time for community comments until close at 8:30 p.m.

Bridgeton Landfill is a solid waste landfill located within the boundaries of the West Lake Landfill in the Greater St. Louis metropolitan area. Sub-surface smoldering at the landfill resulted in increased gas and odor emissions from the landfill. DHSS evaluated air data collected near Bridgeton Landfill in Bridgeton, MO, to determine the potential impacts of landfill gas emissions on people's health. The evaluated air data were collected by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from 2013 to 2016. Today the data show that chemical and odor detections have been substantially reduced. 

"While the formal scientific review of the data is the basis of this report, we want to ensure that it is written in a way that clearly presents that science to the community," said Jonathan Garoutte, Administrator of the DHSS Section for Environmental Public Health. "Getting direct feedback from the community helps ensure that our messages are clear.  We believe that the public health consultation, and the science behind it, distinctly shows a positive improvement in the air quality around the landfill."

DHSS encourages people to read the Bridgeton Landfill Health Consultation document, make written comments, and come to the public meeting. DHSS released the health consultation for public comment on September 21st. The public comment period is open for 60 days from September 21 through November 20, 2018.  The document may be viewed at health.mo.gov/bridgeton or at the St. Louis Public Library, Bridgeton Trails Branch, 3455 McKelvey Rd, Bridgeton, MO. Written public comments may be sent by email to BridgetonComments@health.mo.gov or postal mail to Lorena Locke, Bureau of Environmental Epidemiology, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, P.O. Box 570, Jefferson City, MO, 65102. Comments need to be submitted or postmarked by November 20, 2018.

About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in protecting health and keeping people safe. More information about DHSS can be found at health.mo.gov or find us on Facebook or Twitter @HealthyLivingMO.

]]>
Tue, 06 Nov 2018 15:46:29 CST
<![CDATA[ CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield visits Missouri Capitol]]>JEFFERSON CITY, MO - Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) visited the Capitol of the State of Missouri on Thursday, November 1 to meet with Governor Mike Parson and state health officials.

Topics of conversation included: opioids and a recent grant to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and our ongoing efforts to help families affected by this epidemic in Missouri; the national underutilization of influenza vaccinations and the Governor's participation in a new flu shot campaign launching statewide yesterday; and the importance of access to healthcare, but especially behavioral health services, throughout Missouri.

"It's important to me to be proactive versus reactive, and the meeting with Dr. Redfield allowed us to have a conversation with the CDC about how we can better partner to prevent and protect Missourian's health," said Governor Parson.

After the conversations with the Governor, Redfield traveled to the Missouri State Public Health Lab (SPHL), which is one recipient of CDC funding in Missouri. On average, the CDC provides grant funds equaling $50,313,815 to various entities in the State of Missouri. Of that, DHSS receives approximately $44,352,168 to support a variety of health preparedness and response programs.

"Dr. Redfield was a physician to six thousand patients prior to becoming CDC Director, and he brings a physician's caring to that role. As we fulfill Governor Parson's mission of maximizing our workforce and infrastructure to help all Missourians both now and in the future, we are very appreciative of Dr. Redfield and the CDC and all of our federal partnerships that help us protect health in Missouri," said Dr. Randall Williams, DHSS Director.

A recent $3.1 million grant from the CDC is focused on specific activities for strengthening public health's role in preventing opioid addiction.  Particular emphasis is placed on advancing the understanding of the opioid epidemic and scaling up targeted prevention activities. The grant will enhance the availability and analysis of timely, high-quality data that is critical to help public health officials effectively respond to the epidemic. Additionally, opioid abuse prevention education for Missouri's public will involve awareness campaigns focused on reducing addiction, ensuring knowledge of community resources and reducing the life-threatening effects of the epidemic.

The SPHL portion of the grant will enhance existing infrastructure to develop an opioid bio-surveillance system in Missouri. New methodology will be implemented to identify and track the prevalence of fentanyl analogs occurring in the state.

The opioid overdose epidemic is a complex public health issue requiring an interdisciplinary and rapid public health response. Data enhancements will help expand understanding the extent of the problem, focus resources where they are needed most, and evaluate the success of prevention and response efforts.

The most recent visit by a CDC Director to the State of Missouri prior to Redfield's visit yesterday was in 2009 when the CDC Director visited Kansas City, Missouri.

About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in protecting health and keeping people safe. More information about DHSS can be found at health.mo.gov or find us on Facebook and Twitter @HealthyLivingMo.

 

]]>
Fri, 02 Nov 2018 20:24:02 CST
<![CDATA[ Announcement from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services]]>JEFFERSON CITY, MO - On October 24, 2018, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services ("Department") mailed over 10,400 letters to individuals informing them that the Department recently discovered a breach of security of their personal information.  The breach occurred because, sometime before September 30, 2016, an information technology contractor for the State of Missouri, who had worked on a Department information system, improperly retained the information.  The past contractor then allowed the information to be stored in an electronic file that was not password-protected. 

The type of personal information found in the electronic file includes names, dates of birth, identification numbers issued by some State agencies and a very limited number of social security numbers.  The types and amount of personal information retained by the contractor varied by person.  Each person did not necessarily have all types of personal information listed previously retained by the contractor.

When the State of Missouri learned of this situation on August 30, 2018, it took immediate steps to secure the information.  Since that time, the Department has been diligently analyzing the data contained in the electronic file to determine the scope of the breach and to determine contact information for affected individuals. 

At the present time, the Department has no reason to believe that the information was actually viewed or used by anyone intending harm.  The Department has referred this matter to the appropriate legal authority to investigate and determine appropriate legal action. 

The Department is recommending that individuals remain vigilant by reviewing account statements and monitoring free credit reports for unusual activity. Contact information for consumer credit reporting agencies is below.  You may wish to contact these agencies to place a free fraud alert on your credit or to request a free credit freeze.  Additional information about obtaining credit reports may be obtained from the Federal Trade Commission by visiting https://www.consumer.ftc.gov.

Regarding this matter, Department Director Dr. Randall Williams, said:  "We have concerns that prior to September 30, 2016, a past contracted vendor may have acted illegally by retaining some names, dates of birth, identification numbers issued by some State agencies and a very limited number of social security numbers.  The State learned of this incident on the Thursday before Labor Day.  We immediately worked with other State agencies over the Labor Day holiday to prevent any dissemination of this data now or in the future.  Present leadership takes very seriously our requirement to protect information, and we have referred our findings to the appropriate law enforcement authority." 

Individuals who received a letter from the Department and have additional questions may call the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services at 1-888-252-8045, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Letter Example #1
Letter Example #2
Letter Example #3

About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in protecting health and keeping people safe. More information about DHSS can be found at health.mo.gov or find us on Facebook and Twitter @HealthyLivingMo.

]]>
Fri, 26 Oct 2018 20:01:28 CST
<![CDATA[ Governor Parson and Department of Health and Senior Services initiates campaign to encourage Missourians to get their annual flu shots]]>JEFFERSON CITY, MO - Missouri Governor Mike Parson is one of eight governors nationwide to have received his flu shot publicly so far this year. Not only that, but the Governor also collaborated with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to create a campaign for radio and TV to encourage all Missourians to get their flu shots as well that will run November 1 through December 31.

"The First Lady and I make sure to get our annual flu shots to protect us from getting the flu, as well as those around us," said Governor Parson. "This campaign seeks to help all Missourians understand the importance of getting a flu shot in order for our state to be healthy and productive through the entirety of flu season."

"We are appreciative of the Governor and First Lady as they work with us to increase awareness and prevention of the flu in Missourians," said Dr. Randall Williams, DHSS Director. "All Missourians six months or older should get their annual flu vaccinations. That includes pregnant women, as it has been shown that the flu shot can help protect them from the illness and serious complications. But it can also help protect the baby from flu infection for several months after birth."

The 2017-2018 flu season was a high severity flu season, and one of the worst in the United States. There were record breaking levels of influenza illness, hospitalization rates and reported pediatric deaths. The best protection against flu is getting a flu vaccine.

There are three steps you can take to protect against the flu and its serious outcomes. First, get a flu vaccine. Second, take everyday actions to stop the spread of germs, such as hand washing, avoiding contact with sick people and covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. And third, take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them to treat your flu illness if you are sick.

The video ads can be found on the DHSS YouTube. The first video is here, and the second is here.

About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in protecting health and keeping people safe. More information about DHSS can be found at health.mo.gov or find us on Facebook and Twitter @HealthyLivingMo.

 

]]>
Fri, 26 Oct 2018 16:00:43 CST
<![CDATA[ National Drug Take Back Day Saturday October 27]]>JEFFERSON CITY, MO - On Saturday, October 27, 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.

"Each day we lose 115 Americans to an opioid overdose - that's one person every 12.5 minutes," said U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H. "77 percent of opioid overdose deaths occur outside of a medical setting and more than half occur at home."

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services director, Dr. Randall Williams, stresses the importance of this event. "National Drug Take Back Day is a great 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."

In support of the event, Williams will be visiting three collection sites in the mid-Missouri area on Friday, October 26 and Saturday, October 27. On Friday, Williams will join University of Missouri-Columbia students at the event in the MU Student Center. On Saturday, Williams will visit the drop off location in Ashland at their police department and visit the drop off location at Hickman High School in Columbia.

Last April Americans turned in 949,046 pounds (474.5 tons) of prescription drugs. Missourians turned in 43,575 pounds at 225 collection sites around the state.

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 27 Take Back Day event go to the DEA Diversion website.

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.

 

]]>
Wed, 24 Oct 2018 12:59:42 CST
<![CDATA[ Take aim at ticks]]>JEFFERSON CITY, MO - Cool autumn days and the inviting prospect of colorful foliage will lead many Missourians to head outdoors again after a long, hot summer. But, even though cooler weather has arrived, ticks are still active and can transmit diseases if precautions are not taken. 

"Some ticks such as the lone star tick can be found year-round," said Dr. Randall Williams, DHSS Director. "The lone star tick, which is the primary carrier of ehrlichiosis, tularemia, and Heartland virus and is a possible carrier of Bourbon virus, is well adapted to withstand Missouri's winters. It can survive freezing temperatures by burying itself deep in the leaf litter and emerges when ground temperatures rise above 45 degrees Fahrenheit." 

With turkey and deer seasons ongoing, DHSS recommends that hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts keep a can of insect repellent in their backpack or tackle box. 

"Remember to do tick checks," said Williams. "Frequent tick checks increase the chances of finding a tick before it can transmit disease. If you find a tick, stop what you're doing and remove it. And remind your companions to check themselves as well." 

DHSS recommends the following precautions to prevent tick bites:

  • Use an insect repellent with a minimum of 20% DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin and clothing. Choose a product that lasts several hours whenever you spend time outdoors. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age.
  • When possible, wear protective clothing (light colored, long sleeved shirts and pants) when outdoors to keep ticks off skin.
  • Avoid tick infested areas including brushy areas, tall grasses, wood piles and leaf litter. When hiking, stay near the center of trails to avoid ticks.
  • Reduce ticks around your home by keeping lawns mowed short, shrubs and trees trimmed, and remove leaf litter, wood piles, fallen branches, trash and debris from yards.
  • People with pets should talk with their veterinarian about use of tick prevention treatments. You should regularly check your pet for ticks.

Most tick-borne diseases are spread primarily through the bite of an infected tick. However, the bacteria that cause tularemia (commonly known as, "rabbit fever") can be spread through the bites of ticks and deer flies or during contact with infected animals and their carcasses.

Preventing tick bites and prompt removal of attached ticks are the best strategies to avoid getting sick from diseases they can carry. Just one bite from a tick can lead to serious illness and the longer a tick is attached the greater the risk of infection. To remove ticks:

  • Using tweezers, grasp the tick near its mouth and as close to your skin as possible.
  • Pull the tick firmly, straight out, away from your 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.

If symptoms occur following a tick bite, or even after exposure to a tick habitat, be sure to tell your health care provider. For more information visit www.health.mo.gov/ticks.

More information about hunting seasons in Missouri can be found at the Department of Conservation page, https://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/seasons.

About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in protecting health and keeping people safe. More information about DHSS can be found at health.mo.gov or find us on Facebook and Twitter @HealthyLivingMo.

 

]]>
Thu, 18 Oct 2018 19:39:09 CST
<![CDATA[ Bridgeton Health Consultation: Seeking Public Comment]]>JEFFERSON CITY, MO - The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) evaluated air data collected near Bridgeton Landfill in Bridgeton, MO, to determine the impacts of landfill gas emissions on people's health. The evaluated air data were collected by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from 2013 to 2016. DHSS is releasing the evaluation for public comment. The public comment period is open for 60 days from September 21 through November 20, 2018.

Bridgeton Landfill is a solid waste landfill located within the boundaries of the West Lake Landfill in the Greater St. Louis metropolitan area. Sub-surface smoldering at the landfill, which was first reported in December 2010, resulted in increased gas and odor emissions from the landfill. Today chemical and odor emissions have been substantially reduced. 

The findings of the report are:

  • In the past, breathing sulfur-based compounds at concentrations detected in air near the landfill may have harmed the health of people living or working near the landfill by aggravating existing chronic diseases such as asthma or chronic cardiopulmonary disease, or caused respiratory effects such as chest tightness or difficulty breathing, especially in sensitive individuals living or working near the landfill. Breathing the odors of sulfur-based compounds may have also caused headache, nausea or fatigue.
  • In the past, long-term or repeated exposure to sulfur-based compounds and their odors in the air near the landfill may have increased stress, impaired mood or increased the risk of respiratory infection for those living or working near the landfill.
  • Currently, fugitive emissions from the landfill have decreased significantly, and breathing sulfur-based compounds in the air near the landfill is unlikely to harm most people's health. The odors of low concentrations of sulfur-based compounds may occasionally affect the health or quality of life of people living or working near the landfill.
  • Breathing other (i.e., non-sulfur based) chemicals that have been detected in the air is not expected to harm people's health.
  • Current cancer risks from breathing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) near the landfill are similar to those in other urban environments in the United States.

"We have seen a downward trend in sulfur-based chemicals in the air near the landfill, and this is encouraging," said Jonathan Garoutte, Administrator of the DHSS Section for Environmental Public Health. "In the past, odors and sulfur-based compounds were being detected much more frequently. Currently, breathing the air near the landfill is unlikely to harm people's health." 

Prior to the completion of the remedial work at the landfill in 2013-2014, breathing sulfur-based compounds and their odors may have aggravated existing respiratory conditions, caused harmful respiratory effects or affected people's quality of life. Currently, breathing the air near the landfill is unlikely to harm people's health.

Because occasional offensive odors may trigger asthma or affect quality of life, especially for sensitive individuals living or working near the landfill, DHSS continues to recommend:

  • When odors are objectionable, stay indoors as much as possible and avoid outdoor exercise. This is especially important for sensitive individuals: children, elderly adults and people with chronic respiratory conditions.
  • Seek immediate medical advice for any acute respiratory symptoms such as difficulty breathing. Offensive odors may cause changes in breathing or trigger an asthma attack.
  • Seek medical advice for any persistent symptoms that do not subside when the odors dissipate, including symptoms associated with stress.
  • Always practice good health-protective measures, such as following recommended nutrition guidelines and getting regular exercise. Individuals at risk of chronic stress are advised to develop a comprehensive stress management plan.

DHSS also recommends that air data continue to be collected while the sub-surface smoldering and remedial work on the landfill continue.

DHSS will hold a public meeting during the public comment period in the month of October.  Details will be forthcoming. 

DHSS encourages people to read the Bridgeton Landfill Health Consultation document and make written comments. The document may be viewed at health.mo.gov/bridgeton or at the St. Louis Public Library, Bridgeton Trails Branch, 3455 McKelvey Rd, Bridgeton, MO, 63044. Written public comments may be sent by email to BridgetonComments@health.mo.gov or postal mail to Lorena Locke, Bureau of Environmental Epidemiology, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, P.O. Box 570, Jefferson City, MO, 65102. Comments need to be submitted or postmarked by November 20, 2018.

About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in protecting health and keeping people safe. More information about DHSS can be found at health.mo.gov or find us on Facebook or Twitter @HealthyLivingMO.

]]>
Fri, 21 Sep 2018 16:53:27 CST
<![CDATA[ DHSS releases latest West Nile virus report, includes county level data]]>The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has updated their website to include data on cases of West Nile virus through September 15. Since the last report two new cases were reported, including the first case in Boone County in 2018.  In addition, the most recent report correctly identifies a West Nile virus fatality as a resident of Jackson County. 

"In this instance, DHSS staff correctly identified the fatality by county in the current online report, but had misinterpreted a fatality report leading to inaccurate information being shared both internally and to the public. We have implemented measures to prevent this in the future, including changes in how data elements are communicated internally," said Kerri Tesreau, Director of the Division of Community and Public Health.

DHSS has also updated the current report to include county level data. In an effort to be consistent in reporting of mosquito borne diseases, DHSS had recently stopped reporting West Nile virus information by county.  With mosquito borne diseases, there is a distinction between domestically acquired and travel/internationally acquired, as travel can be used as an identifier.  In an effort to be consistent, the data for domestically acquired diseases, such as West Nile virus, was inadvertently grouped with other travel/internationally acquired diseases.

Concerns regarding county level data were brought to our attention through inquiries.  As a result, we reviewed our processes and have changed them to include county level data for West Nile virus in most circumstances.  DHSS is committed to both protecting privacy and informing the public. As is consistent with other states, there will be times when data is reported by county, region or by the entire state.  This change in presentation was shared with the media previously. We always appreciate feedback, and hope this updated information helps Missourians better protect their health.

Mosquito bite prevention is the best method for preventing infection. More information from the CDC can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/pdfs/fs_mosquito_bite_prevention_us.pdf.

About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in protecting health and keeping people safe. More information about DHSS can be found at health.mo.gov or find us on Facebook and Twitter @HealthyLivingMo.

]]>
Wed, 19 Sep 2018 21:44:12 CST
<![CDATA[ Make it your business to fight the flu]]>Governor Parson encourages businesses to join the fight against the flu

JEFFERSON CITY, MO - According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the flu costs the United States more than $87 billion annually and is responsible for the loss of close to 17 million workdays each flu season. Tens of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands die from flu-related illnesses each year.

Last year's flu season was the worst since 2009 with health officials estimating more than 700,000 people were hospitalized with flu or flu-like illness. Missouri reported 133,957 laboratory confirmed cases of flu and more than 2,000 pneumonia and influenza associated deaths.

"Employers can take an active role in reducing the impact of flu by encouraging their employees to get a flu shot," stated Governor Parson.

Employers play a key role in protecting employees' health and safety while increasing productivity, reducing absenteeism, lowering healthcare costs and limiting other negative impacts of the flu. There are many steps employers can take to encourage flu vaccination including being flexible in your human resource policies to allow employees an hour or two to get their flu shot, partnering with a local provider to host a flu clinic at your worksite, or simply making sure your employees and their families know where they can get a seasonal flu shot in their community.

"We are focused on strengthening Missouri's workforce to make our state more competitive and keeping Missourians healthy is crucial to that success," continued Governor Parson. "The First Lady and I made sure to get our annual flu shot to not only protect us from getting the flu but also to protect those around us-those we work with, our families and especially our grandkids."

"On behalf of all of the health care providers in Missouri, we want to thank the Governor and First Lady for their leadership in stressing the importance of flu shots to prevent illness," said Dr. Randall Williams, DHSS Director.

The flu shot is recommended for everyone six months of age and older and is the best prevention against the flu. Flu shots are especially important for young children and adults aged 65 and older. It can take up to two weeks after receiving your flu shot for flu antibodies to develop and become effective, so vaccination is encouraged before the end of October. Go to http://health.mo.gov/flu to find a flu clinic near you.

NOTE:  Click here for downloadable images of Gov. Parson and First Lady Teresa Parson receiving their flu shot.

About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in protecting health and keeping people safe. More information about DHSS can be found at health.mo.gov or find us on Facebook and Twitter @HealthyLivingMo.

]]>
Mon, 17 Sep 2018 16:13:23 CST
<![CDATA[ Federal Court removes barrier preventing enforcement of laws and regulations protecting women's health in Missouri]]>

JEFFERSON CITY, MO - This morning, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit issued an opinion vacating a preliminary injunction that had been issued by the United States District Court, Western District of Missouri, in May 2017. The injunction had prohibited DHSS from enforcing state laws and DHSS regulations requiring physicians who perform abortions to have hospital privileges. The injunction had also prohibited DHSS from enforcing its regulations regarding physical plant requirements for abortion facilities. Now that the injunction has been vacated, DHSS will immediately begin enforcing the hospital privileges and physical plant requirements for abortion facilities.

"In its opinion, the court noted that the good faith of state officers and the validity of their actions are presumed. As the Director of DHSS, a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist for thirty years, and a defendant in the case, my commitment and that of the department is to act in good faith to follow the law and protect the health and safety of all women in Missouri, including those seeking abortions," said Dr. Randall Williams, DHSS Director, MD, FACOG.

About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in protecting health and keeping people safe. More information about DHSS can be found at health.mo.gov or find us on Facebook and Twitter @HealthyLivingMo.

]]>
Mon, 10 Sep 2018 21:40:41 CST
<![CDATA[ Making Tick Bite Prevention a Summer Routine]]>As the summer season continues it is important that tick bite prevention remains a part of your summer routine.

JEFFERSON CITY, MO - To date in 2018, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has recorded 344 cases of spotted fever rickettsioses, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, 208 cases of ehrlichiosis, 7 cases of Lyme disease, 11 cases of tularemia and 1 case of Heartland virus. There have been no recorded cases of acute Bourbon virus. Overall, 2018 tick-borne illness case counts are slightly behind 2017 reported cases.

"Missouri is a beautiful state, home to gorgeous parks, fantastic hiking trails, national forest lands, pretty lakes, and unfortunately ticks," said Dr. Randall Williams, DHSS Director. "Symptoms of tick-borne diseases typically begin within two weeks of a bite by an infected tick and for most people include a sudden fever, body aches and headache. Symptoms are often flu-like. If you find an attached tick, remove it promptly. The longer it is attached the greater the risk of infection."

To remove ticks:

  • 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.

In 1804, Lewis and Clark even made note in their journals about Missouri's ticks and mosquitos. Back then, they didn't have the same awareness of the dangers of tick bites as we do today. Today we know tick bites can transmit disease which is why DHSS continues to collaborate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding ticks and the diseases they carry, including emerging diseases such as Heartland and Bourbon viruses. As was published this past Wednesday, July 25, in the New England Journal of Medicine, (Tickborne Diseases - Confronting a Growing Threat) "The burden of tickborne diseases seems likely to continue to grow substantially."

Ticks may be small pests but their bite can have big consequences. DHSS was notified by the CDC that final results for a recent possible case of Bourbon virus were not indicative of acute Bourbon virus infection. Test results indicated that the individual most likely had ehrlichiosis. It is important to note that scientists and researchers are still learning how Bourbon virus affects the body and how the body responds to exposure. Due to test results, it is possible this individual had a prior infection due to Bourbon virus.

"As with any emerging illness, we still have a lot to learn about Bourbon virus," said Williams. Missouri continues to monitor tick-borne diseases and request testing through the CDC for emerging diseases such as Heartland virus and Bourbon virus when indicated. Acute Bourbon virus illness has been detected in two Missourians. Since its discovery, Bourbon virus has also been detected in tick populations in Missouri. Ongoing statewide collaborations between DHSS and the CDC, including additional testing this summer, indicate that statewide, five others in Missouri may have been infected with Bourbon virus, but to our knowledge, the infection was not associated with a known illness. Like other tick-borne diseases, not everyone who is bitten by a tick gets infected or gets sick.

"We are able to provide this number at this time because additional testing for this emerging disease has now been conducted on individuals throughout the state, including this summer, providing us and our partners at the CDC confidence that both privacy requirements and public health objectives are met," said Williams. "With such a new virus, we just don't know how prevalent the disease is in Missouri or the United States.  We do know that Bourbon virus and Heartland virus are present in Missouri ticks, which is why tick bite prevention is so important. We anticipate as the tick season continues, we will continue to test for Bourbon and Heartland viruses."

In addition to collaborating on testing, DHSS is working with the CDC to better understand the burden of tick-borne illness in Missouri and the United States. DHSS and the CDC will be partnering to conduct enhanced surveillance for rickettsial disease (spotted fever group), to identify hot spots for ehrlichiosis, and to improve diagnostic testing. 

DHSS and the CDC also plan to conduct additional surveillance of ticks in Missouri in the near future and will be releasing findings regarding the predicted prevalence of Heartland virus in Northwest Missouri and other vector-borne diseases in animals. The tick-borne disease expertise of DHSS staff in Missouri make Missouri an ideal partner for collaborations with the CDC on these issues. 

Missouri has also prepared and distributed health guidance for medical professionals regarding tick-borne illness in Missouri. The health guidance includes information regarding the number of tick-borne illnesses in Missouri, common symptoms to look for, and information regarding testing and diagnosis.

Preventing tick bites will reduce your risk of tick-borne infections such as Bourbon and Heartland viruses, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, ehrlichiosis, tularemia, and Lyme or other tick-borne diseases. Everyone can more safely enjoy the outdoors, whether at home or traveling, by using the following precautions to avoid tick bites.   

  • Take two-minutes to apply an insect repellent with a minimum of 20% DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin and clothing. Choose a product that lasts several hours whenever you spend time outdoors. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age.
  • When possible, wear protective clothing (light colored, long sleeved shirts and pants) when outdoors to keep ticks off skin.
  • Avoid tick infested areas including brushy areas, tall grasses, wood piles and leaf litter. When hiking, stay near the center of trails to avoid ticks.
  • Reduce ticks around your home by keeping lawns mowed short, shrubs and trees trimmed, and remove leaf litter, wood piles, fallen branches, trash and debris from yards.
  • People with pets should talk with their veterinarian about use of tick prevention treatments and should regularly check pets for ticks.
  • Take two more minutes to check for ticks while outdoors and again after returning from the outdoors. If possible, change clothes and shower soon after spending time outdoors.
  • When possible, wear light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and pants.
  • Always check yourself, family, and friends for ticks after spending time outdoors.
  • Remove ticks promptly.

For more information visit https://health.mo.gov/living/healthcondiseases/communicable/2minutedrill/

About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in protecting health and keeping people safe. More information about DHSS can be found at health.mo.gov or find us on Facebook and Twitter @HealthyLivingMo.

]]>
Fri, 27 Jul 2018 13:42:19 CST
<![CDATA[ DHSS remains committed to working with partners to ensure continuation of the Time Critical Diagnosis System]]>

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is working with partners, including hospitals, providers and emergency medical service professionals to ensure funding for the Time Critical Diagnosis (TCD) System will remain steady moving forward.

 

The TCD System is a statewide system that brings together the 911 response system, ambulance services and hospitals in a coordinated way to provide patients the right care, at the right place, in the right amount of time. By ensuring timely treatment for stroke, STEMI and trauma patients, the system improves recovery times, reduces complications and saves lives.

DHSS’s overall budget is $1.4 billion. Governor Parson’s veto of the TCD program totaled $153,546 with the intent to find a more stable long-term funding source than operating from general revenue.

“We remain committed to working closely with our hospitals, providers and emergency medical services professionals to provide time-sensitive care to patients in a coordinated manner. As we transition the time-critical diagnosis system forward, we will ensure the funding remains steady and continue to provide this essential service for Missourians,” stated Randall Williams, DHSS Director. 

As the DHSS moves forward in this transition, it will continue to work with its partners, and current designations and emergency transport protocols will remain in place.

The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel and agencies throughout Missouri recognize that the TCD System saves hundreds of lives a year. We are excited about the prospect of working with others to improve the TCD System and assure its long term viability,” said Jason White, EMS Consultant Mid-America Regional Council.

“We look forward to working with Gov. Parson and his administration to make sure that access to life saving care is available to every Missourian. We appreciate his commitment to continuing this important program,” stated Herb Kuhn, President and CEO of the Missouri Hospital Association.

Missouri currently has 56 hospitals designated as stroke centers, 55 hospitals designated as STEMI centers and 30 hospitals designated as trauma centers. Most hospitals carry two or more designations. In all, 71 hospitals participate in these voluntary designation programs.

For more information about the TCD System in Missouri, visit https://health.mo.gov/living/healthcondiseases/chronic/tcdsystem/index.php.

 

About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in protecting health and keeping people safe. More information about DHSS can be found at health.mo.gov or find us on Facebook and Twitter @HealthyLivingMo.

 

 

 

]]>
Tue, 17 Jul 2018 09:01:49 CST
<![CDATA[ Missouri reports cases of cyclosporiasis linked to McDonald's salads]]>

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services in collaboration with local public health agencies across Missouri is investigating cases of cyclosporiasis that appear to be linked to eating McDonald’s salads. A total of seven cases from Missouri report having eaten at McDonald’s restaurants prior to becoming ill.  Additional cases in Missouri and other states continue to be reported and investigated. 

Persons can become infected by consuming food or water contaminated with feces (stool) that contains the cyclosporiasis parasite. Cyclospora is not spread directly from one person to another. In the U.S., foodborne outbreaks of cyclosporiasis have been linked to various types of imported fresh produce. Cases in the U.S. have also occurred in people who traveled to parts of the world where the parasite is found.

 

Symptoms of cyclosporiasis usually begin about one week after exposure, although some people who are infected will not develop symptoms. The infection usually is not life threatening. Symptoms of cyclosporiasis may include the following:

·         Watery diarrhea (most common)

·         Loss of appetite and weight

·         Cramping, bloating, and/or increased gas

·         Nausea (vomiting is less common)

·         Fatigue

·         Low-grade fever

Cyclospora infection can be treated with specific antibiotics. If not treated, symptoms can persist from several weeks to a month or more. Contact your healthcare provider if you have developed these symptoms, and let him or her know you have eaten a salad at McDonald’s.

About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in protecting health and keeping people safe. More information about DHSS can be found at health.mo.gov or find us on Facebook and Twitter @HealthyLivingMo.


]]>
Sat, 14 Jul 2018 14:01:00 CST