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Department of Health Newsroom 2013

December 19, 2013: County Health Department Emphasizes Importance of Vaccination During Winter Flu Season
October 30, 2013: New Health Campus Receives LEED Gold Certification
October 17, 2013: County Health Director to Be Honored for Regional Collaboration on Public Health Issues
October 9, 2013: County Health Department Urges All Residents to Get Vaccinated against the Seasonal Flu
August 30, 2013: First Heat-Related Death Reported in Saint Louis County
August 27, 2013: County Health Department Urges Caution during Hot Weather
August 14, 2013: County Health Department Finds Rabies in Bat
July 29, 2013: County Health Department Offers Free Whooping Cough Vaccine Today at South County Health Center
July 23, 2013: County Health Department Offers Free Whooping Cough Vaccine at Clinic on Wednesday, July 24th
July 18, 2013: County Health Department Stresses Importance of Washing Hands and Cooking Meals Properly
July 11, 2013: County Health Department to Offer Free Whooping Cough Vaccine to Public
June 4, 2013: County Health Department Warns Residents that Flooding Can Pose Health Risks
May 31, 2013: County Health Department Now Has Five WIC Locations
May 23, 2013: Health Department Encourages Dog Bite Prevention
April 26, 2013: Health Department Offers Information about Bats
April 16, 2013: County Health Department Focuses on Shaken Baby Syndrome during National Child Abuse Prevention Month
April 4, 2013: Community Celebration Health Fair
March 20, 2013: County Health Department Recognizes Kick Butts Day 2013 by Encouraging Youth to Say “No” to Cigarettes
February 14, 2013: County Health Department Hosts Dental Health Fair
January 10, 2013: County Health Department Emphasizes Importance of Vaccination During Winter Flu Season


County Health Department Emphasizes Importance of Vaccination During Winter Flu Season


(December 19, 2013) – The Saint Louis County Department of Health is strongly advising that all residents be vaccinated against the seasonal flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most of the country is now experiencing high levels of influenza-like-illness and the St. Louis area is no exception.


“While the severity of this year’s flu season remains unpredictable, we know that an increasing number of people are getting sick with the flu and we are getting reports of severe illness and hospitalizations,” said Dr. Dolores J. Gunn, director of the department.


She emphasized the importance of vaccination. “It’s not just about protecting yourself. If you don’t catch the flu, then you can’t spread it to others,” she added.


Every year, experts around the world determine which types of influenza are most likely to be in circulation and the vaccine is modified accordingly. Currently, there is no shortage of flu vaccine or antiviral medication in the St. Louis area; however, the department will continue to monitor the availability of vaccine and antiviral medications in collaboration with health care providers.


Residents needing a seasonal flu vaccine can visit the Saint Louis County Department of Health’s flu website to find out where they can go to be vaccinated:


www.SaintLouisCountyFlu.com


Between 15 and 60 million Americans are infected by seasonal flu each flu season, depending on the severity of the outbreak. Over 200,000 people are hospitalized every year due to flu-related complications and around 36,000 of them die.


Other standard precautions being urged by the county health department are:


  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or into your sleeve.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Try to maintain a distance of three feet between you and others.
  • Stay home when you are sick or think you may be getting sick.



  • New Health Campus Receives LEED Gold Certification


    (October 30, 2013) – The Saint Louis County Department of Health’s new Health Campus in Berkeley has received LEED Gold Certification. The “Gold” designation is the second-highest possible designation and is an indication that the facility has been designed and constructed in a way that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient. (“LEED” is the acronym for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.”)


    “I’m very excited that the new Health Campus has received LEED Gold certification,” said Dr. Dolores J. Gunn, director of the department. “We initially set out to achieve LEED Silver Certification, but the Gold designation demonstrates how ‘green’ the new facility really is. This is important because reducing our collective impact on the environment is part of the mission of public health.”


    Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED certification is awarded by the Green Building Certification Institute in four categories: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. To receive LEED Gold Certification, a facility must receive between 60 and 79 points out of a possible 110 points. The health department had been seeking LEED Silver Certification which requires between 50 and 59 points, but the facility earned 60 points, resulting in the LEED Gold Certification.


    The 60 points earned by the new structure were awarded for a variety of features, including: its accessibility to public transportation; its connectivity to the local community (walkability); the incorporation of water-efficient landscaping; the decision to recycle as much of the previous building as possible as well as the use of recycled materials in the new structure; and the use of low-emitting adhesives, sealants, paint, and coatings throughout.


    “I need to mention that it is not the health department alone that deserves the credit for this,” added Dr. Gunn, “but the people who worked together to design and build the Health Campus – Forum Studio, the Clayco/Legacy Joint Project, and the Saint Louis County Department of Public Works. They all worked tirelessly to achieve this recognition and they deserve a major share of the credit.”


    Other “green” features incorporated into the new structure include charging stations for electric vehicles, priority parking for fuel-efficient vehicles and those being used for car-pooling, bike racks to encourage people to leave their cars at home, the use of plants native to Missouri for landscaping to eliminate the need for irrigation, the use of locally-produced and recycled materials, the use of glass walls both inside and out to maximize the penetration of natural light, and the use of high-efficiency HVAC and plumbing systems to reduce energy and water use.


    According to the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter, there are currently seven (7) LEED Platinum Certified facilities in the St. Louis area and forty-eight (48) other LEED Gold Certified structures in the St. Louis area. The Health Campus is the first county government facility to achieve LEED Gold Certification.


    For more information about the Saint Louis County Department of Health’s new Health Campus, please visit

    www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/NewHealthCampus.


    For more information about the U.S. Green Building Council, please visit

    www.usgbc.org.


    For more information about the Green Building Certification Institute, please visit

    www.gbci.org/homepage.aspx.




    County Health Director to Be Honored for Regional Collaboration on Public Health Issues


    (October 17, 2013) – The director of the Saint Louis County Department of Health – Dr. Dolores J. Gunn – is being honored this Friday for her collaborative efforts in the region to improve the overall health of St. Louis. The recognition is taking place during Washington University’s annual Office of Diversity Programs’ Homer G. Phillips Public Health Lecture on the evening of October 18th. Sharing the recognition with her is the director of the St. Louis City Health Department, Pamela Walker.


    “I am very honored by this recognition of our collaborative efforts, but in a sense there is no other way to approach public health problems,” said Dr. Gunn. “Only by working together can we ever hope to improve the situation. We are all in this together.”


    Washington University’s Office of Diversity specifically mentioned Dr. Gunn’s leadership as co-chair of the St. Louis Regional Health Commission’s Health Status Reporting Task Force as one of the primary motivations for the recognition. The report produced by that task force – Decade Review of Health Status – “… has been widely acclaimed by every sector in the St. Louis region, as it chronicles both the improvement in health status in several leading health indicators, while outlining the challenges in reducing health disparities in St. Louis City and County,” according to the letter notifying Dr. Gunn of the recognition.


    Dr. Gunn has been director of the Saint Louis County Department of Health since December of 2004. The organization has almost 600 employees. Key accomplishments of the department under Dr. Gunn’s supervision include successfully managing several communicable disease outbreaks; handling public health emergencies caused by several weather-related events; implementing a new waste code that brought curbside recycling to every residence in Saint Louis County; achieving re-accreditation for the department from the Missouri Institute for Community Health with 100% compliance; constructing a new, state-of-the-art Animal Care and Control Center and a new, silver LEED certified Public Health Campus; and overseeing the implementation of the county’s first comprehensive clean indoor air legislation to protect people from secondhand smoke.


    The Homer G. Phillips Public Health Lecture Series was established in honor of the former faculty, physicians, and nurses of the Homer G. Phillips Hospital, a premier public hospital and training program for physicians of color until its closing in 1979. The lecture series has traditionally focused on reducing health disparities through empowering individuals, health institutions, and health professionals to serve as partners in improving community and global health.


    The lecture and recognition will be taking place at the Eric P. Newman Education Center beginning at 6:00 p.m. with the formal portion of the program beginning at 7:30 p.m.




    County Health Department Urges All Residents to Get Vaccinated against the Seasonal Flu


    (October 9, 2013) – Flu season has arrived and the Saint Louis County Department of Health is urging all residents six months of age and older be vaccinated against the seasonal flu. Even those who aren’t worried about catching the flu should be vaccinated.


    “For many, flu is just an inconvenience, but for some it can be life threatening,” said Dr. Dolores J. Gunn, director of the health department. “Getting vaccinated is not just about protecting yourself. It’s also about protecting others. If you don’t catch the flu, then you can’t spread the flu.”


    This year’s seasonal flu vaccine offers protection against several different strains of flu based on recommendations from experts around the world who determine each year which types are most likely to be circulating in the fall.


    To find out where to go for seasonal flu vaccinations, residents are encouraged to visit the Saint Louis County Department of Health’s flu website:


    www.SaintLouisCountyFlu.com


    Depending on the severity of the outbreak, between 15 and 60 million Americans are infected by seasonal flu each flu season. Over 200,000 people are hospitalized every year due to flu-related complications and around 36,000 of them die.


    Other standard precautions being urged by the county health department are:


  •  
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
  •  
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or into your sleeve.
  •  
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  •  
  • Try to maintain a distance of three feet between you and others.
  •  
  • Stay home when you are sick or think you may be getting sick.



    First Heat-Related Death Reported in Saint Louis County


    (August 30, 2013) – A 65-year-old Ferguson woman, whose home air conditioner was not working, is the first confirmed heat-related death in Saint Louis County this summer, according to the medical examiner. The body was discovered yesterday.


    Extreme heat is expected to continue in the area through tomorrow; a heat advisory has been issued that remains in effect until 7:00 p.m. on Saturday. In addition to the heat-related death, nine (9) patients have been treated for heat-related symptoms in Saint Louis County this week, including one (1) who was hospitalized.


    Whenever temperatures rise above 95 degrees, the Health Department recommends the following:


  •  
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  •  
  • Spend as little time as possible in the sun and keep activity levels to a minimum.
  •  
  • Drink plenty of cool, non-alcoholic beverages, especially those without sugar or caffeine.
  •  
  • Take regular breaks in the shade or in an air-conditioned room.
  •  
  • Eat light, easily-digested foods, avoiding hot, heavy, or greasy meals.
  •  
  • Be sure not to leave food unrefrigerated for long because food spoils rapidly in the heat.
  •  
  • Take care of those who might not be aware of the danger or able to react accordingly –especially young children and the elderly. Check on your neighbors and relatives if they may be vulnerable or do not have air conditioning.
  •  
  • Know the signs of heat exhaustion. If someone becomes dizzy, nauseated, or sweats heavily, find a cooler location for him or her immediately.
  •  
  • Know the signs of heat stroke. Heat stroke is much more serious than heat exhaustion. The symptoms are similar to heat exhaustion, but also include hot, flushed skin, and normally sweating stops. If heat stroke is a possibility, call 911 immediately. Heat stroke is life threatening!

    If a person is unable to keep his or her residence cool and needs to find a cooling center, that person is urged to call the United Way of Greater Saint Louis by dialing 211 from his or her home landline phone, or by dialing 1-800-427-4626 from any other type of phone.


    Residents are also urged to consider pets whenever temperatures rise. Here are some tips for protecting pets during hot weather:


  •  
  • Regularly check a pet’s water to make sure it’s clean and fresh. Ample drinking water is vital to animals during hot and humid conditions. Make sure to adjust the drinking quantity for the size and number of pets in the area. You can also spray your pet with water to cool them off.
  •  
  • Provide a shady spot for pets. A pen near trees will work or you can fasten a sunroom screen to the sides and top of the pen to provide shade too.
  •  
  • Never leave your pet unattended in a hot vehicle. Internal vehicle temperatures can reach 150 degrees.

    For more information, please visit the County Health Department’s Heat Safety Tips webpage at:


    www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/HeatSafetyTips


    Saint Louis County’s Department of Health is a member of Operation Weather Survival – a network of public and private organizations that collaborate, coordinate resources, and help educate the public to prevent illness, injury, and death caused by extreme hot or cold weather. More information about Operation Weather Survival can be found at:


    www.crh.noaa.gov/lsx/?n=operationweathersurvivalnew2




    County Health Department Urges Caution during Hot Weather


    (August 27, 2013) – Summer may be almost over, but the Saint Louis area is expecting some extreme heat over the next several days. The Saint Louis County Department of Health is strongly urging caution and common sense throughout the rest of the week and over the Labor Day weekend.


    “Saint Louis experiences extreme heat almost every year and it’s important to observe common sense precautions whenever this happens,” said Dr. Dolores Gunn, Director of the Health Department.


    Whenever temperatures rise above 95 degrees, the Health Department recommends the following:


  •  
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  •  
  • Spend as little time as possible in the sun and keep activity levels to a minimum.
  •  
  • Drink plenty of cool, non-alcoholic beverages, especially those without sugar or caffeine.
  •  
  • Take regular breaks in the shade or in an air-conditioned room.
  •  
  • Eat light, easily-digested foods, avoiding hot, heavy, or greasy meals.
  •  
  • Be sure not to leave food unrefrigerated for long because food spoils rapidly in the heat.
  •  
  • Take care of those who might not be aware of the danger or able to react accordingly –especially young children and the elderly. Check on your neighbors and relatives if they may be vulnerable or do not have air conditioning.
  •  
  • Know the signs of heat exhaustion. If someone becomes dizzy, nauseated, or sweats heavily, find a cooler location for him or her immediately.
  •  
  • Know the signs of heat stroke. Heat stroke is much more serious than heat exhaustion. The symptoms are similar to heat exhaustion, but also include hot, flushed skin, and normally sweating stops. If heat stroke is a possibility, call 911 immediately. Heat stroke is life threatening!

    If a person is unable to keep his or her residence cool and needs to find a cooling center, that person is urged to call the United Way of Greater Saint Louis by dialing 211 from his or her home landline phone, or by dialing 1-800-427-4626 from any other type of phone.


    Residents are also urged to consider pets whenever temperatures rise. Here are some tips for protecting pets during hot weather:


  •  
  • Regularly check a pet’s water to make sure it’s clean and fresh. Ample drinking water is vital to animals during hot and humid conditions. Make sure to adjust the drinking quantity for the size and number of pets in the area. You can also spray your pet with water to cool them off.
  •  
  • Provide a shady spot for pets. A pen near trees will work or you can fasten a sunroom screen to the sides and top of the pen to provide shade too.
  •  
  • Never leave your pet unattended in a hot vehicle. Internal vehicle temperatures can reach 150 degrees.

    For more information, please visit the County Health Department’s Heat Safety Tips webpage at:


    www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/HeatSafetyTips


    Saint Louis County’s Department of Health is a member of Operation Weather Survival – a network of public and private organizations that collaborate, coordinate resources, and help educate the public to prevent illness, injury, and death caused by extreme hot or cold weather. More information about Operation Weather Survival can be found at:


    www.crh.noaa.gov/lsx/?n=operationweathersurvivalnew2




    County Health Department Finds Rabies in Bat


    (August 14, 2013) – The Saint Louis County Department of Health’s Animal Care and Control program has received the first positive rabies specimen in 2013. This specimen was a bat found in a home in the University City area. Rabies has been detected in specimens from other regions of Missouri this year, primarily in skunks and bats.


    County health officials are cautioning residents to avoid handling wild animals, especially bats and skunks, because some can carry rabies. Any county resident who encounters a live or dead bat in their home is urged to call the health department. Residents should not attempt to capture a live bat, but should confine it to the room where it is discovered until animal control officers can collect it for possible rabies testing.


    To reach Animal Care and Control during regular business hours (Monday – Friday; 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; and Saturday; 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.), call 314-615-0650. After regular business hours, call 314-889-2341.


    “So far this year, we have submitted 170 specimens for rabies testing due to probable exposure,” said Rebecca Smail, program manager of Vector Control and Veterinary Services. “Only one bat has come back positive for rabies, although we are awaiting results on 15 recent submissions,” she added. In 2012, only three specimens sent for testing proved to be positive.


    Never release a bat found in a home if it was present while people were sleeping or if it was found in the same room with children or adults who, due to health or age, may not be able to describe the extent of their exposure.


    Most bats don't carry rabies, and, in fact, perform a beneficial service by eating large quantities of insects; but if one bat in a colony contracts rabies, the chances are that it will spread to other members of the colony.


    Health officials urge people to be aware of and cautious around wildlife, especially bats, and to avoid direct contact with any animal that is behaving strangely. Children should be taught to stay a safe distance away from any unknown animals.


    Smail said people should check with their veterinarians on the immunization status of their pets. Because rabies can be readily passed from wild animals to domestic pets, the first line of defense is to make sure all cats and dogs are properly vaccinated, as required by county ordinance. Once transmitted, the disease of rabies has no cure and is almost always fatal.


    For more information about pet vaccinations, visit:

    www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/AnimalandMosquitoControl




    County Health Department Offers Free Whooping Cough Vaccine Today at South County Health Center


    (July 29, 2013) – The Saint Louis County Department of Health is offering free Whooping Cough vaccine today – Monday, July 29th – to those eleven years of age and older. Whooping Cough is the common name for pertussis – a highly contagious disease that can be fatal, especially for infants.


    “Vaccine-preventable diseases are among the easiest to fight because we know what stops them,” said Dr. Dolores J. Gunn, Director of the Saint Louis County Department of Health. “By offering this free clinic, we hope to curb the spread of this potentially-serious disease, and we hope as many Saint Louis County residents as possible take advantage of this opportunity to be immunized.”


    The times and location for today’s free clinic are:


    Free South County Whooping Cough Vaccination Clinic

    South County Health Center

    4580 South Lindbergh Boulevard in Sunset Hills (63127)

    Monday, July 29th, 2013

    12:00 p.m. (noon) to 4:00 p.m.


    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone be vaccinated against this disease, especially those who are caregivers for or are around infants less than one year of age.


    Whooping Cough is caused by a bacterium (Bordetella pertussis) and is known for triggering uncontrollable, violent coughing that can make it hard to breathe. Although it most commonly affects infants and young children, anyone who has not been vaccinated can be a carrier and infect those who are vulnerable. Again, the disease can be fatal, especially in babies less than one year old.


    The vaccine that will be provided at the free vaccination clinics is Tdap – a mixture that will protect those receiving it not only from pertussis, but from tetanus and diphtheria as well.


    For more information about the free vaccination clinics, visit


    www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/PertussisClinics


    For more information about pertussis, visit


    www.cdc.gov/pertussis/



    County Health Department Offers Free Whooping Cough Vaccine at Clinic on Wednesday, July 24th


    (July 23, 2013) – The Saint Louis County Department of Health will be offering free Whooping Cough vaccine tomorrow – Wednesday, July 24th – to those eleven years of age and older. This is the first of two free clinics. The second will be held on Monday, July 29th. Whooping Cough is the common name for pertussis – a highly contagious disease that can be fatal, especially for infants.


    “Vaccine-preventable diseases are among the easiest to fight because we know what stops them,” said Dr. Dolores J. Gunn, Director of the Saint Louis County Department of Health. “By offering these free clinics, we hope to curb the spread of this potentially-serious disease, and we hope as many Saint Louis County residents as possible take advantage of this opportunity to be immunized.”


    The dates, times, and locations for the two clinics are:


    Free North County Whooping Cough Vaccination Clinic

    John C. Murphy Health Center

    6121 North Hanley Road in Berkeley (63134)

    Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

    12:00 p.m. (noon) to 4:00 p.m.


    Free South County Whooping Cough Vaccination Clinic

    South County Health Center

    4580 South Lindbergh Boulevard in Sunset Hills (63127)

    Monday, July 29th, 2013

    12:00 p.m. (noon) to 4:00 p.m.


    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone be vaccinated against this disease, especially those who are caregivers for or are around infants less than one year of age.


    Whooping Cough is caused by a bacterium (Bordetella pertussis) and is known for triggering uncontrollable, violent coughing that can make it hard to breathe. Although it most commonly affects infants and young children, anyone who has not been vaccinated can be a carrier and infect those who are vulnerable. Again, the disease can be fatal, especially in babies less than one year old.


    The vaccine that will be provided at the free vaccination clinics is Tdap – a mixture that will protect those receiving it not only from pertussis, but from tetanus and diphtheria as well.


    For more information about the free vaccination clinics, visit


    www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/PertussisClinics


    For more information about pertussis, visit


    www.cdc.gov/pertussis/



    County Health Department Stresses Importance of Washing Hands and Cooking Meals Properly


    (July 18, 2013) – An increase in the number of cases of foodborne and waterborne illness has prompted the Saint Louis County Health Department to remind everyone of the importance of hand washing and using proper food handling techniques in preventing disease.


    “We are showing increases over the usual number of cases of cryptosporidiasis and camplylobacteriosis,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the department’s Communicable Disease Control Services Division. “They are not connected to any one specific outbreak, such as a public swimming pool or one area of the county,” Khan added.


    Cases are being reported widely across the county, from Florissant to Webster Groves, and equally among men and women. There is approximately a 70% increase in the number of cases reported in the county for June and July (37 cases) as compared to the same time period in previous years (21-22 cases).


    Campylobacteriosis is an infection often caused by a foodborne agent and can result in diarrhea, cramps, fever and pain.


    Cryptosporidiosis can cause mild diarrheal illness or severe gastrointestinal illness. Persons who become symptomatic may develop diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, nausea, vomiting, and weight loss. It can be spread by fecal matter in such sources as public swimming pools.


    “Hand washing is easy to do and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness in all settings – from your home and workplace to child care facilities,” said Health Department Director Dr. Dolores J. Gunn. “Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community.”


    Here are three basic steps people can take to reduce the risk of exposure to food- and waterborne illnesses:


  • WASH YOUR HANDS thoroughly after using the bathroom or changing diapers and before preparing or eating food.
  • COOK meats thoroughly. Ground beef and meat that has been needle-tenderized should be cooked to a temperature of at least 160˚F (70˚C).
  • PREVENT cross contamination in food preparation areas by thoroughly washing hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw meat.

  • For more safe food handling tips, visit the Saint Louis County Department of Health’s Safe Food Center at:


    www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/FoodandRestaurants



    County Health Department to Offer Free Whooping Cough Vaccine to Public


    (July 11, 2013) –The Saint Louis County Department of Health will be offering free Whooping Cough vaccine at two clinics later this month to those eleven years of age and older – one on Wednesday, July 24th and one on Monday, July 29th. Whooping Cough is the common name for pertussis – a highly contagious disease that can be fatal, especially for infants.


    “Vaccine-preventable diseases are among the easiest to fight because we know what stops them,” said Dr. Dolores J. Gunn, Director of the Saint Louis County Department of Health. “By offering these free clinics, we hope to curb the spread of this potentially-serious disease, and we hope as many Saint Louis County residents as possible take advantage of this opportunity to be immunized.”


    The dates, times, and locations for the two clinics are:


    Free North County Whooping Cough Vaccination Clinic

    John C. Murphy Health Center

    6121 North Hanley Road in Berkeley (63134)

    Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

    12:00 p.m. (noon) to 4:00 p.m.


    Free South County Whooping Cough Vaccination Clinic

    South County Health Center

    4580 South Lindbergh Boulevard in Sunset Hills (63127)

    Monday, July 29th, 2013

    12:00 p.m. (noon) to 4:00 p.m.


    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone be vaccinated against this disease, especially those who are caregivers for or are around infants less than one year of age.


    Whooping Cough is caused by a bacterium (Bordetella pertussis) and is known for triggering uncontrollable, violent coughing that can make it hard to breathe. Although it most commonly affects infants and young children, anyone who has not been vaccinated can be a carrier and infect those who are vulnerable. Again, the disease can be fatal, especially in babies less than one year old.


    The vaccine that will be provided at the free vaccination clinics is Tdap – a mixture that will protect those receiving it not only from pertussis, but from tetanus and diphtheria as well.


    For more information about the free vaccination clinics, visit


    www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/PertussisClinics


    For more information about pertussis, visit


    www.cdc.gov/pertussis/



    County Health Department Warns Residents that Flooding Can Pose Health Risks


    (June 4, 2013) –The Saint Louis County Department of Health is reminding residents that flood waters can contain raw sewage and other dangers and are considered a public health threat. The department is urging caution because of the forecast of potential flooding in the St. Louis area.


    Flood waters and standing water can pose various risks, including infectious diseases, chemical hazards, and injuries. Eating or drinking anything contaminated by flood water can cause diarrheal disease.


    To protect yourself and your family, the department is urging everyone to heed the following precautions:


  • Do not allow children to play in flood water areas.
  • Do not allow children to play with toys that have been contaminated by flood water unless they have been disinfected.
  • Practice good hygiene (hand washing) after contact with flood waters.
  • Wash children's hands frequently (always before meals).

  • For more information about flood water safety, visit the following CDC website:


    http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/floods/cleanupwater.asp



    County Health Department Now Has Five WIC Locations


    (May 31, 2013) –The Saint Louis County Department of Health offers WIC services at five locations – including at its new Health Campus, located at 6121 North Hanley Road.


    “WIC” is shorthand for the federally-sponsored “Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.” The program serves nearly half of all infants born in the United States as well as their mothers. Under the terms of the current contract, Saint Louis County will be able to serve up to 9,300 WIC-eligible people every month.


    The WIC program provides nutritious supplemental foods and individualized nutrition education and counseling for at-risk pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and children up to five (5) years of age at no cost to participants. Last year, 382,507 WIC checks were issued by Saint Louis County Department of Health and redeemed for nutritious food items.


    WIC also makes critical referrals as needed to other health care and public assistance programs. In addition, it provides breast feeding education and sponsors support groups open to residents of Saint Louis County.


    Studies confirm that pregnant women who enroll in WIC during the early months of pregnancy have fewer low birth weight babies, experience fewer infant deaths, see the doctor earlier in pregnancy, and eat healthier.


    Eligibility for WIC services is based on income, family size, and nutritional risk. A family of three (3) would qualify if their annual earnings were $36,131 or less, whereas a family of eight (8) could earn up to $73,316 annually and still qualify. Pregnant women are counted as two family members. For more information about the WIC program, including a list of all five (5) locations, please call the Saint Louis County Department of Health at (314) 679-7900 or visit:


    www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/HealthCentersandMedicalServices/NutritionWICServices



    Health Department Encourages Dog Bite Prevention


    (May 23, 2013) –National Dog Bite Prevention Week 2013 runs from May 19th - 25th. The Saint Louis County Department of Health is using the opportunity to remind residents about basic dog bite prevention tips to decrease the number of incidents in our community.


    “Last year, there were 1,019 incidents of dog bites reported to the Saint Louis County Department of Health,” said Rebecca Smail, Program Manager of Vector Control and Veterinary Services. “We’d like to see that number decrease as much as possible.”


    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year, and one in five dog bites results in injuries that require medical attention.


    There are many things a person can do to avoid dog bites, ranging from properly training and socializing a pet to educating children on how – or if – they should approach a dog. Information and education are the best solutions for this public health problem.


    Before you bring a dog into your household, you should:


  • Consult with a professional (e.g., veterinarian, animal behaviorist, or responsible breeder) to learn what breeds of dogs are the best fit for your household.
  • Be aware that dogs with a history of aggression are not suitable for households with children.
  • Be sensitive to cues that a child is fearful or apprehensive about a dog. If a child seems frightened by dogs, you should wait before bringing a dog into your household.
  • Spend time with a dog before buying or adopting it.
  • Use caution when bringing a dog into a household with an infant or toddler.

  • If you decide to bring a dog into your home, you should:


  • Spay or neuter your dog because this often reduces aggressive tendencies.
  • Never leave infants or young children alone with a dog.
  • Never play aggressive games with your dog (e.g., wrestling).
  • Properly socialize and train any dog entering your household. Teach the dog submissive behaviors (e.g., rolling over to expose the abdomen and giving up food without growling).
  • Immediately seek professional advice (e.g., from veterinarians, animal behaviorists, or responsible breeders) if the dog develops aggressive or undesirable behaviors.

  • To help prevent children from being bitten by dogs, residents should teach the following basic safety tips to children and review them regularly:


  • Do not approach an unfamiliar dog.
  • Do not run from a dog or scream at a dog.
  • Remain motionless (e.g., "be still like a tree") when approached by an unfamiliar dog.
  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball, clench your fists, and lie still (e.g., "be still like a log").
  • Do not play with a dog unless supervised by an adult.
  • Immediately report any stray dogs or dogs displaying unusual behavior to an adult.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with a dog.
  • Do not disturb a dog that is sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.
  • Do not pet a dog without its owner’s permission or before allowing it to see and sniff you first.
  • If bitten, immediately report the bite to an adult.

  • Smail added that if you are bitten by a dog or witness someone else being bitten, and no immediate medical treatment is needed, you should call the health department to report the incident. During regular business hours (9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday; and 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday), call 314-615-0650. After regular business hours, you should call the police non-emergency line at 314-889-2341.


    For more information about preventing dog bites, visit


    www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Dog-Bites/biteprevention.html


    For more information about pets and pet vaccination requirements, visit


    www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/AnimalandMosquitoControl



    Health Department Offers Information about Bats


    (April 26, 2013) –Spring has arrived and bats are awakening from hibernation. The Saint Louis County Department of Health is cautioning residents to avoid handling the animals since some can carry rabies.


    Any county resident who encounters a live or dead bat in their home is urged to call the health department. Residents should not attempt to capture a live bat but should confine it to the room where it was discovered so that animal control officers can collect it for possible rabies testing.


    Never release a bat found in a home if it was present while people were sleeping or in the same room with children or adults who, due to health or age, may not be able to describe the extent of their exposure.


    During regular business hours (Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.; Saturday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.), call (314) 615-0650. After business hours, call (314) 889-2341.


    “Last year, 359 bats were tested and six were rabid,” said Rebecca Smail, Program Manager of Vector Control and Veterinary Services.


    Health officials urge people to be aware of and cautious around wildlife, especially bats, and to avoid direct contact with any animal that is behaving strangely. Children should be taught to stay a safe distance away from any unknown animals.


    Smail said people should check with their veterinarians on the immunization status of their pets. Because rabies can be readily passed from wild animals to domestic pets, the first line of defense is to make sure all cats and dogs are properly vaccinated, as required by county ordinance. Once transmitted, the disease of rabies has no cure and is almost always fatal.


    Most bats don't carry rabies and in fact perform a beneficial service by eating large quantities of insects. But if one bat in a colony contracts rabies, chances are it will spread to other members of the colony.


    For more information about pet vaccinations, visit:


    www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/AnimalandMosquitoControl



    County Health Department Focuses on Shaken Baby Syndrome during
    National Child Abuse Prevention Month


    (April 16, 2013) – April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Saint Louis County Department of Health is using the opportunity to focus on preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS).


    “Unlike some public health challenges, Shaken Baby Syndrome is entirely preventable,” said Dr. Dolores J. Gunn, director of the county health department. “Every child deserves to start his or her life in a safe environment free from abuse.”


    Shaken Baby Syndrome is a serious form of child abuse in which a baby or young child is violently shaken, leading to serious injury or even death. Injuries can include brain damage, blindness, spinal damage and paralysis, seizures, and severe learning and behavior problems.


    As part of its ongoing commitment to help prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome and promote healthy families, the Saint Louis County Department of Health hosts a Newborn Support Group and conducts free classes to educate the public about how to prevent it.


    Crying is the most common reason why babies are shaken or hurt by their caregivers. The following is suggested to help soothe a crying baby and help prevent SBS:


  •  
  • Check to see if the baby is hungry or needs a diaper change

  •  
  • Take the baby for a ride in the car

  •  
  • Give the baby a warm bath

  •  
  • Rock, walk, or talk to the baby

  •  
  • Sing or play a recorded lullaby or other soothing music

  •  
  • Be sure to call a doctor if the baby might be sick


    Sometimes babies cry no matter what a parent or caregiver does. Interacting with a baby that cannot be comforted can be frustrating. If a parent or caregiver becomes too frustrated, the following tips are recommended:


  •  
  • Walk away

  •  
  • Take a break

  •  
  • Lay the baby down on his or her back in a safe place

  •  
  • Sit down, leave the room, take a deep breath, and count to ten

  •  
  • Give the baby a pacifier


    Parents or caregivers that feel overwhelmed should call someone they trust for help.


    Many parents rely on daycares and babysitters to care for their children. Additional steps to take to prevent SBS are:


  •  
  • Be careful when choosing a caregiver for a baby

  •  
  • Make sure that everyone who cares for a child knows about the danger of shaking

  •  
  • Give caregivers permission to call the parent anytime they become frustrated


    For more information about the department’s efforts or to schedule a “Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome” presentation for a school, community group, or organization, please contact the Maternal and Child Health program at (314) 615-6855. To inquire about the Newborn Support Group meetings, call (314) 679-7950.


    For more information about Shaken Baby Syndrome, please visit:


    www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/Health/ShakenBaby


    Downloadable materials are also available at the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome at


    www.DontShake.org


    and at the Children’s Trust Fund of Missouri website at


    www.ctf4kids.org



    Community Celebration Health Fair
    A Celebration for National Public Health Week 2013
    “Public Health Is a Return on Investment:
    Save Lives, Save Money”


    (April 4, 2013) – The Saint Louis County Department of Health is hosting a Community Celebration Health Fair on Saturday, April 6th, 2013, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at its new Health Campus at 6121 North Hanley Road in Berkeley (63134). The event is being held to highlight its public health service to the community and to recognize and celebrate National Public Health Week 2013.


    “Public health efforts play an important role in all our lives – even when we are unaware of them,” said Dr. Dolores J. Gunn, director of the health department. “From the start of your day when you brush your teeth until you lay your head down on a pillow each evening, public health agencies are playing a role in keeping you and your family safe and healthy. That is something worth celebrating.”


    The Community Celebration will feature free health screenings, health information, music, performances, the health department’s Mobile Medical Unit, the Safety Central Trailer from Safe Kids, free electronics recycling, secure paper shredding and recycling, fire trucks from the City of Berkeley, face-painting by Cookie the Clown, and much, much more. The Radio Disney Road Crew will also be on hand to provide entertainment. All residents of Saint Louis County are invited to attend.


    On Tuesday, Saint Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley presented the Saint Louis County Department of Health with a proclamation declaring April 1st through 7th “National Public Health Week 2013” in Saint Louis County. The proclamation also encourages people to attend Saturday’s Community Celebration.


    At the Tuesday event, the County Executive also praised the department’s public health efforts.


    “I am very proud of our County Health Department,” said Mr. Dooley. “They consistently and effectively identify and address challenges to the public health in our community. Because of their work, Saint Louis County really is one of the best places to live, work, learn, and play.”


    National Public Health Week is an annual nationwide recognition and celebration of the public health efforts that help maintain the American standard of living. This year’s theme is “Public Health Is a Return on Investment: Save Lives, Save Money.” The annual event is used to raise awareness of the many public health efforts in local communities all across the nation.


    Among the many programs run by the Health Department to protect public health are programs for milk testing, animal control, tobacco cessation, vital records management, disease tracking, emergency preparedness, immunizations, primary health clinics, recycling education, restaurant inspections, lead testing, and mosquito control.


    For more information about the Community Celebration, visit:


    www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/CommunityCelebration


    For more information about National Public Health Week, visit:


    www.nphw.org




    County Health Department Recognizes Kick Butts Day 2013 by Encouraging Youth to Say “No” to Cigarettes

    (March 20, 2013) – Today is Kick Butts Day 2013 and the Saint Louis County Department of Health is encouraging everyone to recognize the event by supporting efforts to prevent kids from using cigarettes. It is more effective to focus on preventing kids from smoking than on helping adults quit smoking after they have become addicted.


    “Nicotine is one of the most addictive chemicals out there and the best way to prevent smoking among adults is to keep kids from starting in the first place,” said Dr. Dolores J. Gunn, Director of the Saint Louis County Department of Health. “It may not always seem like it to kids caught up in situations filled with peer pressure, but the truth is that the easiest cigarette to say ‘no’ to is the first one.”


    Kick Butts Day is an annual national event, set aside every year to empower youth to stand out and speak up about the issue of tobacco. This year it’s being held on Wednesday, March 20th, and more than 1,100 youth-centered events are being held around the nation to recognize and celebrate it.


    The Saint Louis County Department of Health works year-round to prevent youth smoking initiation. In 2011, the department facilitated the creation of a youth-driven advocacy group that named itself AirO2Dynamic. The group is comprised of middle and high school youth who partner in efforts around Saint Louis County to help their peers realize that no one need to be a smoker. Anyone interested in learning more about AirO2Dynamic or its efforts should contact Desiree Whitlock at 314-615-0523 or send an e-mail to youth.doh@stlouisco.com.


    The department also works to help adult smokers quit.


    “There is a high correlation between households that have adults who smoke and those who have kids that eventually end up smoking,” said Dr. Gunn. “Helping adults quit is another way to prevent youth initiation.”


    Adult smokers interested in quitting can send an e-mail to quitsmoking.doh@stlouisco.com to learn more about the programs offered by the department. Some of the department’s programs include free nicotine replacement therapy for those actively participating (patches and gum, while supplies last).


    To learn more about Kick Butts Day 2013, visit www.KickButtsDay.org.



    County Health Department Hosts Dental Health Fair

    (February 14, 2013) – The Saint Louis County Department of Health is hosting a health fair on Thursday, February 21st, to highlight its dental clinic and show support for National Children’s Dental Health Month. The health fair will run from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the new John C. Murphy Health Center at 6121 North Hanley Road in Berkeley.


    The health fair will include oral hygiene regimens for infants and children, the benefits of dental sealants and fluoride varnish, nutrition information, safe sleep practices for babies, and information about shaken baby syndrome. There will also be attractions for adults such as blood pressure screenings, smoking cessation, and women’s health information.


    “The health fair is an interactive educational event to promote not only good oral health in children, but also overall well-being and disease prevention,” said Dr. Nita Fowler Johnson, the Chief of Dental Services for the department. “Good oral health is very important for a child's overall health and is achieved through a partnership between parents, dentists, and other health professionals.”


    Tooth decay remains the most common chronic disease of children and adolescents 6 to 19 years of age. It is four times more common than asthma among adolescents 14 to 17 years of age. It also affects 9 out of 10 adults over the age of 20.


    “Children with untreated dental problems may experience pain, school absences, and decreased attention in school. All these problems can affect their quality of life and impair their ability to learn,” said Dr. Johnson.


    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if all children and adolescents received appropriate amounts of fluoride and dental sealant applications to susceptible tooth surfaces, most of their tooth decay could be prevented.


    The John C. Murphy Health Center houses a new, state-of-the-art dental clinic with services focused primarily on meeting the needs of children and pregnant women; however, dental services are offered at all three health centers run by the Saint Louis County Department of Health:


    1)

    the John C. Murphy Health Center, located at 6121 North Hanley Road in Berkeley (314-615-0500);

    2)

    the North Central Community Health Center, located at 4000 Jennings Station Road in Pine Lawn (314-679-7800); and

    3)

    the South County Health Center, located at 4580 South Lindbergh Boulevard in Sunset Hills (314-615-0400).


    General dentistry services provided at the health centers include exams, x-rays, cleaning, fillings, extractions, fluoride treatments, sealants, preventive periodontal work, and some root canals (specialty services such as orthodontics, oral surgery, dentures, partials, crowns or bridges are not provided). Residents may call for details on eligibility requirements or to schedule an appointment. Sliding fee scales are available in some situations and are based on income and ability to pay.


    Schools and community agencies may also call to schedule free educational programs for their groups. Although the month of February is a national focus for dental health, dental hygienists from the department are available to provide interactive educational presentations throughout the year.


    www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/HealthCentersandMedicalServices


    National Children's Dental Health Month is a nationwide annual celebration established by the American Dental Association to promote good oral health habits at a young age. By participating in this annual celebration in the month of February, families, dental professionals, non-dental health professionals, teachers and others can help children achieve and maintain a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. For more information about National Children’s Dental Health Month, visit:


    www.ada.org/5578.aspx



    County Health Department Emphasizes Importance of Vaccination During Winter Flu Season

    (January 10, 2013) – The Saint Louis County Department of Health is strongly advising that all residents be vaccinated against the seasonal flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most of the country is now experiencing high levels of influenza-like illness and the Saint Louis area is no exception. The health department has reported 1,464 cases so far this flu season compared to 1,446 for all of 2011-2012 flu season.


    “While the severity of this flu season remains unpredictable, we know that an increasing number of people are getting sick with the flu and we are getting reports of severe illness and hospitalizations,” said Dr. Dolores J. Gunn, director of the department.


    She emphasized the importance of vaccination. “It’s not just about protecting yourself. If you don’t catch the flu, then you can’t spread it to others,” she added.


    In Saint Louis County, the predominant strain this year has been influenza B, unlike most years when influenza A is more common. The symptoms of influenza B can sometimes be worse than those of influenza A.


    The flu vaccine provides protection against both strains. In fact, it offers protection against three different flu types, based on recommendations from experts around the world who determine each year which types are most likely to be in circulation.


    Residents still needing a seasonal flu vaccine can visit the Saint Louis County Department of Health’s flu website to find out where they can be vaccinated:


    www.SaintLouisCountyFlu.com


    Between 15 and 60 million Americans are infected by seasonal flu each flu season, depending on the severity of the outbreak. Over 200,000 people are hospitalized every year due to flu-related complications and around 36,000 of them die.


    Other standard precautions being urged by the County Health Department are:


  •  
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.

  •  
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or into your sleeve.

  •  
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

  •  
  • Try to maintain a distance of three feet between you and others.

  •  
  • Stay home when you are sick or think you may be getting sick.