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[ 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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

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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.


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Sat, 14 Jul 2018 14:01:00 CST
<![CDATA[ Keep your Independence Day celebrations safe]]>JEFFERSON CITY, Mo - As families and friends gather to celebrate the July Fourth holiday it is important to take safety precautions to prevent injury and illness.

"This is a great time of year to get outside with the kids, watch the parades and fireworks, and barbecue in the backyard with friends and neighbors," said Dr. Randall Williams, Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). "Taking basic safety precautions can prevent a variety of injuries and illnesses, and could even save your life or that of your loved ones."

Firework Safety. The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to leave it to the professionals and attend one of the many free displays across the state. If you will be lighting your own fireworks be sure to:

  • Obey all local laws regarding fireworks.
  • Have a responsible adult supervise all fireworks; do not give fireworks to children.
  • Fireworks and alcohol do not mix, save the alcohol for after the show.

Tick and Mosquito Bite Prevention. Ticks and mosquitoes may be small pests but their bite can have big consequences. DHSS remains concerned about the prevalence of ticks and mosquitoes throughout Missouri. The following safety precautions will help prevent both established and emerging diseases spread by ticks and mosquitoes.

  • Use insect repellent with a minimum 20% DEET, picaridin or IR3535.
  • 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.

Take two minutes to protect yourself from ticks and mosquitoes.

Food Safety. Whether you are having a picnic, barbecue or fish fry, some simple food safety steps can prevent foodborne illness from crashing your celebration. The following safety guidelines should be followed:

  • Always wash your hands before preparing foods and after handling raw meats, as well as before and after eating.
  • Keep hot food hot (135°F or above) and cold food cold (41°F or below). Left overs not kept under temperature control should be discarded if left out over two hours.
  • Cook foods completely. Hamburgers should reach 155°F, fish and pork 145°F and chicken or other poultry 165°F.
  • Avoid cross contamination of foods by keeping them separate and well wrapped.

Find more food safety tips here.

Water Safety. Missouri has a wealth of recreational water areas from backyard ponds, lakes and streams to multi-million gallon water parks with wave pools and slides. All these recreational water options provide hours of fun, but dangers can lurk in the water. Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury worldwide and among Missouri's children. The majority child drowning fatalities in Missouri occurred in unsupervised children under the age of five.

A drowning can occur quickly and silently in a matter of seconds and young children can drown in as little as one inch of water. Children under the age of one are most likely to drown at home in a bathtub or bucket. Children aged one through five are most likely to drown in a pool. Children aged five and older are most likely to drown in open water such a lake, pond, stream or river. By following the safety tips below you can reduce the risk of drowning this holiday:

  • Never leave a child unattended in or near water.
  • Actively supervise children and stay within arm's reach of young children. Avoid distractions.
  • Teach children water safety skills and swimming skills as early as possible.
  • Only swim in designated areas, preferably with a lifeguard. Remember lifeguards provide assistance in emergencies and should not be relied on for supervision.
  • Warn children to stay away from drains in pools.
  • Install proper barriers and covers around your pool and spa.
  • Wear life jackets as appropriate. Life jackets should be US Coast Guard certified, the proper size for the individual, and in good condition. Floatation devices are not a substitution for adult supervision.
  • Know CPR and if a child is missing check the water first.

"The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays but unfortunately it can also be one of the most dangerous holidays of the year," said Williams. "No matter how you are celebrating this year be it watching a fireworks display, tubing down a river or feasting on a backyard barbecue, we want you to do it safely."

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.

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Fri, 29 Jun 2018 16:17:42 CST
<![CDATA[ Missouri's rate of opioid deaths decreasing]]>JEFFERSON CITY, MO - While the 2017 numbers of opioid related deaths increased from the 2016 numbers, the rate of increase in opioid deaths was markedly reduced compared to the previous year. From 2015 to 2016 there was a 35 percent increase in opioid- or heroin-related deaths in the state, but the 2016 to 2017 numbers increased by only 4.7 percent.

In 2016, there were 908 opioid- or heroin-related deaths in the state, a 35 percent increase over 2015's number of 672. During this past year, the opioid related deaths increased only 4.7 percent. In total, there were 951 opioid deaths in Missouri, with 298 heroin deaths and 653 opioid deaths that were non-heroin.

Missouri is suffering through an opioid abuse crisis which impacts many families. The State of Missouri along with many partners continues to take significant steps in fighting this epidemic.

"We must continue our efforts to find innovative solutions to combat and curb opioid abuse," said Governor Mike Parson. "We remain committed to fighting this drug epidemic and will work to help all families and individuals throughout Missouri to end this epidemic."

"The opioid crisis is the number one public health issue Missouri is facing," said Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) director Randall Williams, MD. "We are incredibly thankful to all who have helped us meet the challenge that exists both nationally and in Missouri. The declining rate of opioid deaths shows improvement statewide; however, we recognize that one loss is too many and we are committed to working as hard as we can to decrease the number of deaths."

"The Department of Social Services is committed to making a positive difference and saving lives as our neighbors, friends, family and colleagues struggle with opioids," said Steve Corsi, Psy.D., Missouri Department of Social Services (DSS) director. "There is no group of people who are immune to opioid addiction and we are engaged with physicians and physician groups to work to refine an early detection and prevention system for opioids while reducing administrative burdens on physicians so they can remain focused on patient care. We've made great strides in shifting the trajectory of opioid deaths in Missouri over the past year and we want to see that progress accelerate."

One of the most significant efforts DHSS has undertaken is trying to decrease the potential for people to become addicted to opioids. Prescriber data is now being proactively reviewed once received from a pharmacy benefit manager, which is provided to DHSS voluntarily. While no patient information is received, it allows the department to analyze data to identify activity indicating that controlled substances, including opioids, are being inappropriately prescribed, dispensed or obtained, and for DHSS to take appropriate action. DHSS has stepped up investigations of improper prescription behavior through its Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD).

DHSS is also working with Missouri's Medicaid Program, MO HealthNet, to improve interactions with providers and to ensure MO HealthNet patients are receiving care according to best practice guidelines for opioid prescribing. These quality indicators are used for provider education and also to engage physicians.

The Missouri Department of Mental Health (DMH), in collaboration with researchers at the University of Missouri, St. Louis - Missouri Institute of Mental Health (MIMH), received a grant to expand access to integrated prevention, treatment and recovery support services for individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD) throughout the state. This grant, known as the Missouri Opioid State Targeted Response (STR) is implementing a "medication first" treatment model, designed to increase access to evidence-based medications for OUD.

"Early results from the STR grant efforts indicate a successful implementation of the medication first model. At agencies throughout the state, individuals were more likely to receive medication for OUD and receive the medication sooner, needed fewer psychosocial services and remained in treatment longer," said Mark Stringer, DMH director.

In addition, the grant has supplied over 5,000 naloxone kits to at-risk individuals and their loved ones, and clinicians who work with at-risk populations.

Other efforts to reduce opioid related deaths include:

  • The passing of Senate Bill 826 that limits initial new prescriptions of opioids to a seven day supply. This bill allows BNDD to implement rules so drug disposal boxes may be placed in pharmacies for citizens to use. The current drug take-back events held every six months in Missouri are averaging almost 40,000 pounds per event over the past two years.
  • The passing of HB 2280, which extends MO HealthNet (Medicaid) coverage an additional year for mothers in need of substance use treatment. The extended coverage would be limited to benefits for substance use treatment and mental health services so long as the woman remains adherent with the treatment. Missouri is the first state in the nation to pass such a policy.
  • Establishing the St. Louis Emergency Operations Center. The Missouri Departments of Health and Senior Services, Social Services, Corrections, Public Safety, Economic Development and Mental Health in partnership with the City of St. Louis Departments of Health, Human Services, Fire, EMS, Police and the DEA have launched St. Louis Emergency Operations Center, a command center aimed at reducing opioid overdose death and homicides. The command center operations will take place from the City of St. Louis Department of Health. The command center response team will utilize predictive analytics and public health intelligence to guide interventions.The response team will perform secondary assessments to determine the need for substance abuse treatment and/or additional wrap around support or services, once individuals have been duly stabilized by City of St. Louis emergency first responders.
  • Creating the Missouri Overdose Rescue and Education (MORE) project through a federal grant awarded to the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services to provide naloxone to first responders and train them on administering the nasal spray to reverse an apparent opioid overdose. Additional information on the MORE project can be found at: https://health.mo.gov/safety/ems/more/.

Additional information regarding the opioid epidemic in Missouri can be found on the DHSS website, https://health.mo.gov/data/opioids/. 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 protecting health and keeping people safe. More information about DHSS can be found at health.mo.gov or find us on Facebook (@HealthyLivingMo) and Twitter (@HealthyLivingMo).

About the Missouri Department of Mental Health: The department is nationally recognized in treatment and services for individuals with mental illness, substance use disorders and developmental disabilities. More information about DMH can be found at dmh.mo.gov. You can also find us on Facebook (@MentalHealthMo) or Twitter (@MentalHealthMo).

About the Missouri Department of Social Services:  We will lead the nation in building the capacity of individuals, families, and communities to secure and sustain healthy, safe, and productive lives. More information about DSS can be found at dss.mo.gov. You can also find us on Facebook (@MOSocialServices) or Twitter (@DSS_Missouri).

 

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EDUCATIONWed, 27 Jun 2018 15:39:55 CST
<![CDATA[ Effective stillbirth prevention campaign launches in Missouri]]>Goal to save 119 Missouri babies every year, reducing the stillbirth rate by 26 percent

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is announcing a partnership with Count the Kicks, a proven stillbirth prevention public health campaign. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Missouri has the 21st highest stillbirth rate in the country. Missouri vital statistics show that 458 stillborn babies are born each year in our state. The introduction of Count the Kicks in Missouri has the potential to save 119 babies every year if Missouri's stillbirth rate decreases by 26 percent, as has happened in neighboring Iowa where the campaign began.

Count the Kicks teaches the method for and importance of tracking fetal movement in the third trimester of pregnancy. Scientific studies show that expectant moms should track their baby's movements once a day in the third trimester and learn how long it normally takes their baby to get to 10 movements. Moms will start to notice a pattern, a normal amount of time it takes their baby to get to 10. If "normal" changes during the third trimester, this could be a sign of potential problems and an indication to call their provider.

Particular efforts will be made to eliminate racial disparities while lowering the overall stillbirth rate. Nationally and across Missouri, African American women are more than twice as likely to lose a baby to stillbirth as the general population of pregnant women.

"As a former practicing obstetrician, I know the power of this simple but highly effective method of kick counting and educated my patients on this during the third trimester of pregnancy as something mothers can do to help keep their baby safe. Stillbirth affects one in every 167 pregnancies. I encourage all Missouri health providers to order Count the Kicks educational materials today and let them spark the kick counting conversation with patients," said Dr. Randall Williams, DHSS Director.

Thanks to DHSS, maternal health providers, birthing hospitals and social service agencies throughout Missouri can order FREE Count the Kicks educational materials at www.countthekicks.org and can start using these materials in their practices right away. Moms everywhere can download the FREE Count the Kicks app, which is available in the Google Play and iTunes online stores. The app, which is available in English and Spanish, allows expectant moms to monitor their baby's movement, record the history, set a daily reminder and count for single babies and twins. The app already helped save three Iowa babies so far this year.

A formal announcement about the partnership will occur on Thursday, June 21 at 10:45 a.m. during the Quarterly Coalition meeting of Generate HealthSTL.org at The Heights, 8001 Dale Ave., St. Louis, Mo 63117.

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.

Healthy Birth Day, Inc. is the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that created the Count the Kicks public health campaign.

 

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Wed, 20 Jun 2018 15:06:24 CST
<![CDATA[ Planned Parenthood Loses Federal Lawsuit Challenging DHSS Abortion Complication Regulation]]>JEFFERSON CITY, Mo .- The United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri has issued a ruling upholding the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services' (DHSS) complication plan regulation in Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood Great Plains v. Williams.  DHSS developed a regulation to implement Senate Bill 5, abortion legislation passed during a 2017 special legislative session.  The legislation requires physicians who prescribe or administer certain drugs to induce abortions to have in place a complication plan approved by DHSS.  Under DHSS' regulation, the complication plan must ensure that a board-certified or board-eligible obstetrician/gynecologist is on call and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to treat complications related to abortion drugs prescribed or administered by the physician.

"My experience in state government has taught me that much can be accomplished when people work together. I appreciate both the legislature's passage of this important law and the efforts of those who worked so hard to implement and defend it," Governor Mike Parson stated. Senate Bill 5 was sponsored by Senator Andrew Koenig (R-15).  "I was happy to hear that the court denied the injunction," stated Koenig.  "Senate Bill 5 protects and provides for the health and safety of women in Missouri."   

DHSS Director Randall W. Williams, MD, FACOG, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist with thirty years of experience, is voluntarily an expert witness in the case as well as a defendant.  He provided expert testimony in the case regarding the standard of care for physicians who initiate elective procedures. 

Williams stated, "DHSS is pleased with the Court's ruling upholding its complication plan regulation.  Ensuring the safety of all patients is always the Department's foremost concern.  The complication plan regulation protects the health and safety of patients by reemphasizing the importance of the physician-patient relationship, providing for continuity of care, and ensuring communication among the physician and patient."

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.

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Wed, 13 Jun 2018 11:02:09 CST
<![CDATA[ Tick Season Continues, Use Caution]]>DHSS issues statement to stress abundance of caution regarding tick-borne illnesses.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo - On the heels of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) advisory in May, the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) wants to again remind everyone to take precautions to prevent tick bites. According to the CDC, tick and mosquito-borne illnesses increased three-fold between 2004 and 2016. Nine new diseases spread by ticks and mosquitos have been discovered since 2004, including Zika in mosquitos and Heartland and Bourbon viruses in ticks.

"This time of year, we remain concerned about the prevalence of ticks and mosquitos throughout Missouri. Out of an abundance of caution, this is our fourth statement since April reminding Missourians to take two minutes to prevent tick bites by using insect repellant and checking for ticks after spending time outdoors. Those two minutes could save your life or the life of a loved one. These steps will help prevent both established and emerging tick-borne disease," said Dr. Randall Williams, DHSS Director.

Late spring through summer are the prime months for tick activity, although DHSS receives reports of tick-borne illness throughout the year, including winter months. According to Dr. George Turabelidze, DHSS State Epidemiologist, "DHSS communication and collaboration with clinicians is critical to timely identification and treatment of tick-borne illness. We don't want anyone to experience tick-borne illness, but if they do we want to accurately and quickly diagnose the disease."

Missouri's 2018 reported cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis are lagging slightly behind 2017 cases but are expected to be similar to prior years. However, a possible case of Bourbon virus has been reported in an adult resident of St. Louis County. The individual has recovered. While initial testing was negative for Heartland and Bourbon virus, due to clinical symptoms and in an abundance of caution, additional different testing was conducted. Test results indicate a possible case of Bourbon virus. Confirmation of the possible positive test results, which require blood samples collected over time, will not be available for two to three weeks. CDC is the only entity that conducts Heartland and Bourbon virus testing.

The patient with possible Bourbon virus reports being bitten by a tick after spending time outdoors in the southwest St. Louis area. The patient does not report spending time in specific locations associated with prior positive Bourbon virus test results in people or ticks. Bourbon virus was initially identified in an individual in Bourbon County, Kansas. It has also been reported in Oklahoma and detected in ticks in Northwest Missouri, in a resident of Southwest Missouri, a resident of East Central Missouri, and now possibly a second resident of East Central Missouri.

"This potential case was identified through our collaboration with physicians, the CDC and an individual assessment of every suspected tick-borne illness in the state with special attention to emerging diseases in Missouri," said Turabelidze. "It is important for individuals and health care providers to pay attention to symptoms and be open to the possibility of tick-borne illness, especially during the warmer months."

"I'm thankful for our state epidemiologist, clinicians and the CDC for their collaboration and heightened surveillance. This possible case may not have been identified if not for their diligence," said Williams. "It is so important to seek medical attention if you are bit by a tick and develop flu-like symptoms and be sure to let your provider know tick-borne illness is a possibility. But remember, 52 percent of people have no recollection of being bitten by a tick, so if you experience flu-like symptoms in the summer you and your health care provider should consider the possibility of a tick-borne illness," said Williams.

Symptoms of these 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. If you find an attached tick, remove it promptly. The longer it is attached the greater the risk of infection. If symptoms occur following a tick bite, or even after exposure to a tick habitat, be sure to tell your health care provider.

"As we have indicated previously, Bourbon virus and Heartland virus are present in Missouri. If Bourbon virus follows the trend of Heartland virus it is reasonable to expect we will see reports of these emerging illnesses in different locations in Missouri," said Williams. "This is why everyone should be concerned about tick bites no matter where they spend time outdoors."

Despite the variety of ticks throughout Missouri, everyone can safely enjoy the outdoors by taking two minutes 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.
  • If you are also using sunscreen, apply it first, let it dry, and then apply repellent. Products that contain both sunscreen and repellent are not recommended
  • When possible, wear protective clothing (light colored, long sleeved shirts and pants) when outdoors to keep ticks off skin.
  • Always check yourself, family, or friends for ticks after spending time outdoors. Change your clothing or shower quickly after spending time outdoors when possible.

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

 

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Thu, 07 Jun 2018 18:46:06 CST
<![CDATA[ Online map will help families locate local summer food programs]]>Free meals will be served to low-income children at hundreds of locations in Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY, MO - The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) offers an online map that can help low-income families in Missouri find out where their children can receive free meals this summer. The interactive map pinpoints hundreds of locations in Missouri where meals will be provided through the state health department's Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).

Community organizations serve the meals at schools, churches, parks, swimming pools, YMCA facilities, Boys and Girls Clubs, and other spots where children gather when school is not in session.  The meals are provided to children who receive free or reduced price meals during the regular school year. Children do not have to register and there is no fee to participate in the program.

"Summer can be a time of food insecurity for students who receive free and reduced lunches during the school year," said Dr. Randall Williams, DHSS Director. "This interactive map will help ensure Missouri's children are getting critical nutrition all year long by helping identify locations where free food is being served."

The map and more information about the SFSP can be found at www.health.mo.gov/sfsp/.  The map can be searched by city, county or zip code. Additional information about the SFSP can be found by telephone at 888-435-1464 (toll-free) or through RELAY MISSOURI for the Hearing and Speech Impaired by dialing 711 or 1-800-676-3777. 

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

Funding for the SFSP is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (state or local) where they applied for benefits.  Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.  Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1)          Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

1400 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2)          fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3)          email: program.intake@usda.gov

 

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. 

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 DHSS on Facebook and Twitter at @HealthyLivingMo.

 

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Thu, 31 May 2018 08:02:52 CST
<![CDATA[ Protect Yourself and Others from Tick Bites]]>Two minutes is all it takes to prevent tick bites and tick borne illnesses by applying insect repellant while enjoying the outdoors this Memorial Day weekend.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo -The upcoming Memorial Day Weekend gives Missourians a chance to honor those who have lost their lives serving our country and many of us will spend time outdoors attending Memorial Day events.

"As you gather with friends and family to honor those who gave their lives for our freedoms, the Department of Health and Senior Services wants you to be safe by protecting yourself, friends and family by practicing the 2-Minute Drill to prevent tick bites," said Dr. Randall Williams, Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). "We know with hotter weather ticks become more active, so taking a few minutes to protect yourself and others can prevent you from becoming sick."

Two minutes are all it takes to prevent infection from 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.
  • If you are also using sunscreen, apply it first, let it dry, and then apply repellent. Products that contain both sunscreen and repellent are not recommended
  • When possible, wear protective clothing (light colored, long sleeved shirts and pants) when outdoors to keep ticks off skin.

Missouri is home to a variety of tick species, including the Lone Star tick, American Dog tick and Deer tick. Missouri also experiences a variety of tick-borne illness including Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis.

"In 2018, we have already seen 37 cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever and 14 cases of ehrlichiosis throughout Missouri, which is similar to what we have seen in years past. May, June and July are our prime months for tick-borne illness in Missouri," continued Dr. Williams.

Other tick-borne diseases include tularemia, Lyme or Lyme-like disease, and disease caused by Heartland and Bourbon viruses. "We continue to work with experts on tick-borne disease from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who study emerging tick-borne threats such as Bourbon and Heartland viruses and monitor symptomatic patients experiencing tick-borne illness," said Dr. Williams.

No matter where you spend your outdoor time this weekend, use insect repellant, check for ticks while you're having fun and again after returning from the outdoors. If possible you should change clothes and shower soon after spending time outdoors. "Prevention is the key to decreasing tick-borne disease whenever you are outside, please remember to use insect repellant and check for ticks," stated Dr. Williams.

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. 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.

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 http://health.mo.gov/2minutedrill/ and cdc.gov/ticks.

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.

 

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Thu, 24 May 2018 15:04:24 CST