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Department of Public Health Newsroom 2015

December 31, 2015: Saint Louis County Department of Public Health Urges Caution during Flood and Flood Cleanup

Most Accidents and Injuries during Natural Disasters Occur During the Cleanup

December 28, 2015: Saint Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and the County Department of Public Health Warn Residents that Flood Waters Can Pose Serious Health Risks
December 17, 2015: Saint Louis County Department of Public Health Encourages Recycling during Holiday Season

One million extra tons of waste is normally generated during holiday season

November 23, 2015: Saint Louis County Department of Public Health Joins with Federal Researchers to Assess Potential Exposures around Coldwater Creek
November 18, 2015: City of St. Louis Department of Health and Saint Louis County Department of Public Health Pledge to Continue Joint Effort to Combat Regional STD Problem
November 4, 2015: County Public Health Department to Host Another Free FluMist® Clinic for Children

Free Clinics to Be Held on Saturday, November 7th

October 19, 2015: County Public Health Department to Host Two Free FluMist® Clinics for Children

Free Clinics to Be Held on Saturday, October 24th

October 13, 2015: County Executive and Public Health Department Urge All Residents Be Vaccinated against Seasonal Flu

Free FluMist Clinics to Be Held in Two Weeks

August 19, 2015: Saint Louis County Department of Public Health Urges Everyone Stay Current with All Recommended Vaccinations
July 15, 2015: Residents Urged to Take Action to Combat Growing Mosquito Population
July 13, 2015: Caution Urged During Extreme Heat
July 2, 2015: Caution Urged for Pet Owners during Holiday Weekend
June 26, 2015: Public Health Department Urges All Sexually-Active People Be Tested for HIV

Do You Know Your Status?

June 22, 2015: Caution Urged During Extreme Heat
June 9, 2015: Saint Louis County Department of Public Health Rolls Out New Name

Greater Emphasis on Public Health Planned

April 29, 2015: County Health Department Strongly Urges Adherence to the CDC Vaccination Schedule
April 22, 2015: Local Man Bit by Rabid Bat
February 19, 2015: County Health Department Urges Caution for People and Pets during Cold Weather
February 3, 2015: County Health Department Urges Everyone Stay Current with All Recommended Vaccinations
January 15, 2015: County Takes Action Following HIPAA Breach
January 6, 2015: County Health Department Urges Caution during Cold Weather

Saint Louis County Department of Public Health Urges Caution during Flood and Flood Cleanup
Most Accidents and Injuries during Natural Disasters Occur During the Cleanup

(December 31, 2015) – The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health is reminding all residents to be cautious while flood waters remain and to follow all recommended protocols in the cleanup that will follow. Most accidents and injuries that occur due to a natural disaster happen during the cleanup that follows the event.

Flood waters and standing water can pose various risks to public health, including infectious diseases, chemical hazards, and injuries from hidden objects. Flood waters can also contain raw sewage and eating or drinking anything contaminated by flood water can lead to diarrheal illness.

To protect yourself, your family, and others in the neighborhood, the department is strongly urging everyone to heed the following precautions while flood waters remain:

  • Do not allow children or pets to play in flood waters or areas that have recently been flooded.
  • Check regularly on outdoor pets to make sure their area is free of flood water.
  • Avoid wild animals that have been displaced by flood waters and remind children never to approach a wild animal.
  • Check on elderly and homebound neighbors and relatives to make sure they are safe and aware of the dangers posed by flooding.
  • Practice good hygiene (hand washing) after any contact with flood waters or items that have been in flood water.
  • Wash children's hands frequently (especially before meals).
  • Do not drive through flooded roadways and always pay attention to warning signs.
  • If you become wet, seek warmth and change into dry clothes as soon as possible. Although temperatures are currently above freezing, they are low enough to pose the risk of hypothermia.

Once flood waters have receded and cleanup has begun, the department recommends the following precautions be heeded:

  • Keep all children and pets out of the affected area until cleanup has been completed.
  • If re-entering a home or building for the first time after a flood – especially if there is still standing water – be alert for possible electrical shocks.
  • Ensure that all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working as fires, gas leaks, and gas buildups are more common in these situations.
  • Be alert for symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. The most common symptoms are headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion. They are often described as “flu-like”. Carbon monoxide can cause you to pass out and too much can kill you.
  • Do not allow children or pets to play with toys that have been contaminated by flood water until after the toys have been disinfected.
  • When cleaning up basements or other flood-affected areas, wear waterproof rubber boots, gloves, and goggles. Avoid ingestion of any flood water. Use bleach to disinfect and sanitize affected areas and use standard precautions while using bleach (avoid skin contact, inhalation, or ingestion).
  • Remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected (such as, mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings, and most paper products).
  • Remove and discard drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with sewage or flood waters.
  • Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces (such as flooring, concrete, molding, wood and metal furniture, countertops, appliances, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures) with hot water and laundry or dish detergent.
  • Help the drying process by using fans, air conditioning units, and dehumidifiers.
  • After completing the cleanup, wash your hands with soap and warm water. Use water that has been boiled for 1 minute (allow the water to cool before washing your hands). Or you may use water that has been disinfected for personal hygiene use (solution of ⅛ teaspoon [~0.75 milliliters] of household bleach per 1 gallon of water). Let it stand for 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy, use a solution of ¼ teaspoon (~1.5 milliliters) of household bleach per 1 gallon of water.
  • Wash all clothes worn during the cleanup in hot water and detergent. These clothes should be washed separately from uncontaminated clothes and linens.
  • Wash clothes contaminated with flood or sewage water in hot water and detergent. It is recommended that a laundromat be used for washing large quantities of clothes and linens until your onsite waste-water system has been professionally inspected and serviced.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if you become injured or ill.

For more information about home cleanup following a flood, please visit the following website set up by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

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

If your home uses well water, it must be tested to make sure it has not been contaminated. DO NOT DRINK ANY WELL WATER UNTIL YOU ARE SURE IT IS SAFE. The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health will be offering FREE well water testing through January 20th, 2016, for those affected. For information about the free well water testing, visit

www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/FreeWellWaterTesting

If you operate or work at a food service establishment that has been affected by flooding, the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health has created the following fact sheet to help guide cleanup efforts:

www.stlouisco.com/Portals/8/docs/Health/Food%20Center/Flood.pdf

The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health also recommends that people consider getting a tetanus booster if it has been more than 10 years since the last one. Tetanus boosters are available at each of the department’s three clinics:

Main Health Campus (John C. Murphy Health Center)
6121 North Hanley Road
Berkeley, MO 63134

North Central Community Health Center
4000 Jennings Station Road
St. Louis, MO 63121

South County Health Center
4580 South Lindbergh Boulevard
Sunset Hills, MO 63127

For more information about the three health centers, including hours of operation and the process for walk-in immunizations, please visit:

www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/HealthCentersandMedicalServices

For up-to-date information about road closures in St. Louis County, please visit:

http://stlcogis.maps.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=3efdf4bb6ad74e919cdc04f389e9f272



Saint Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and the County Department of Public Health Warn Residents that Flood Waters Can Pose Serious Health Risks

(December 28, 2015) – Saint Louis County Executive Steve Stenger and the County Department of Public Health are reminding residents that flood waters can contain raw sewage or other dangers and should be considered a threat to public health. Both are urging caution because of the current and potential flooding in the St. Louis area.

“These heavy rains have already claimed the lives of at least 11 people in rural areas of Missouri and Illinois,” County Executive Steve Stenger said. “I urge all residents to use extreme caution during this dangerous time.”

Flood waters and standing water can pose various risks, including infectious diseases, chemical hazards, and injuries from hidden objects. Eating or drinking anything contaminated by flood water can lead to diarrheal illness.

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

  • Do not allow children or pets to play in flood waters or areas that have recently been flooded.
  • Do not allow children or pets to play with toys that have been contaminated by flood water until after the toys have been disinfected.
  • Check regularly on outdoor pets to make sure their area is free of flood water and to ensure that all pets have adequate shelter from inclement weather.
  • Avoid wild animals that have been displaced by flood waters and remind children never to approach a wild animal.
  • Check on elderly and homebound neighbors and relatives to make sure they are safe and aware of the dangers posed by flooding.
  • Practice good hygiene (hand washing) after any contact with flood waters or items that have been in flood water.
  • Wash children's hands frequently (especially before meals).
  • Do not drive through flooded roadways and always pay attention to warning signs.
  • If you become wet, seek warmth and change into dry clothes as soon as possible. Although temperatures are currently above freezing, they are low enough to pose the risk of hypothermia.
  • When cleaning up basements or other flood-affected areas, wear waterproof boots and gloves. Avoid ingestion of any flood water. Use bleach to disinfect and sanitize affected areas and use standard precautions while using bleach (avoid skin contact, inhalation, or ingestion).
  • For up-to-date information about road closures in St. Louis County, please visit:

    http://stlcogis.maps.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=3efdf4bb6ad74e919cdc04f389e9f272

    For more information about flood water safety and cleanup, please visit the following CDC website:

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



    Saint Louis County Department of Public Health Encourages Recycling during Holiday Season
    One million extra tons of waste is normally generated during holiday season

    (December 17, 2015) – The Saint Louis County Department of Health is encouraging everyone to be wise with resources during the holiday season.

    “Living sustainably is important to public health,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health. “If we want to have resources for future holiday celebrations, we need to reduce the impact of our holiday celebrations because of the effect all this extra waste has on our environment.”

    According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the volume of waste from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day increases by more than 25 percent. That equates to one million tons of extra waste being generated during the holiday season. To help plan for “greener holidays”, the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health has created the 2015 “Holiday Recycling Guide” – a tool that provides all the information needed to reduce, reuse, and recycle throughout the holiday season as well as tips that can be used into the New Year.

    Added Dr. Khan, “Our ‘Holiday Recycling Guide’ should serve as a ‘one-stop shop’ for residents planning to reduce waste creation, reuse any extras, and recycling the rest.”

    To view the department’s “Holiday Recycling Guide”, click on the holiday recycling link at:

    www.RecycleSaintLouis.com


    Saint Louis County Department of Public Health Joins with Federal Researchers to Assess Potential Exposures around Coldwater Creek

    (November 23, 2015) – The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health (DPH) and the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in Atlanta, Georgia, have joined together to evaluate potential exposures to contamination in and around Coldwater Creek.

    St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said, “Earlier this year, I instructed the department to actively pursue collaborative partnerships with state and federal agencies to answer the serious questions being asked by St. Louis County residents who grew up around Coldwater Creek. I am pleased to see this joint effort between St. Louis County and ATSDR take shape.”

    Added Dr. Khan, director of the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health, “This is great news. It will combine the scientific expertise of our two agencies in a joint research effort to directly benefit the residents of St. Louis County. ATSDR has tremendous expertise in health physics, toxicology, and radioisotope chemistry.”

    The project, called a “Public Health Assessment for Coldwater Creek,” will focus on:

    • evaluating the situation to determine if residents have been exposed to hazardous substances in the past, are being exposed currently, or could be exposed in the future; and
    • determining whether any exposure that has occurred is harmful or potentially harmful and whether any ongoing exposure can be stopped or reduced.

    “We look forward to continuing our work with our ATSDR colleagues on this public health assessment over the next 18 to 24 months,” Dr. Khan said.

    Engaging the public is among the top priorities for both DPH and ATSDR. Public Health Department leaders will work with ATSDR to actively gather information from the people who live or work near Coldwater Creek.

    The assessment will begin by collecting data about potential exposures from numerous agencies and organizations. Then department and ATSDR staff will contact people who live or work near the site to gather additional information and to thoroughly understand the questions and concerns of residents. The goal will be to provide information and recommendations to reduce or prevent harmful exposures from substances in and around Coldwater Creek.

    Residents and other interested parties are invited to attend any of the many public meetings being held to educate residents about the assessment process. For additional information, people can also visit http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/hac/products/pha.html or contact ATSDR’s Regional Representative, Erin Evans, at isb5@cdc.gov or at 913-551-1311.


    City of St. Louis Department of Health and Saint Louis County Department of Public Health Pledge to Continue Joint Effort to Combat Regional STD Problem

    (November 18, 2015) – The City of St. Louis Department of Health and the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health both recognize that sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) are a regional problem that requires a coordinated effort.

    “Germs don’t recognize geographical boundaries,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health. “Skinker Boulevard means nothing to them. If we are to respond effectively, we must work together.”

    “We are committed to working with all of our regional and community partners to help bring down local STD rates,” said Melba Moore, acting director and commissioner of health for the City of St. Louis Department of Health, “This has to include the continued coordination of regional prevention efforts, screenings, and treatment.”

    Added St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, “I applaud this effort as it relates directly to my strategic initiative to engage in more preventative public health measures that support optimal health for all residents in the region.”

    “I am a big proponent of working together as a region to support every St. Louisan,” St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said. “We experience many of the same challenges that are best addressed from a united front, so we will work together to share best practices and programs to benefit the whole region.”

    On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its annual STD Surveillance Report for 2014. According to the report, rates for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea in the St. Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) were above both the state and national rates.

    The populations most affected by STDs in the St. Louis region are the same in both the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County.

    Almost a third of all new STD cases in the St. Louis region are in those under 25 years of age, with females from 15 to 19 having some of the highest rates of new STD cases. Accordingly, prevention efforts need to include age-appropriate education for teens and young adults and the development and use of web-based options to reach this population.

    In addition, there has been an alarming rise nationally in the number of congenital syphilis cases, which, although not apparent in the St. Louis Region, is a reminder to local health officials to vigilantly adhere to all CDC screening recommendations.

    STDs are 100% preventable and health officials in both the city and county are reminding parents and guardians to talk candidly to their children about the risks associated with sexual activity and about what steps can be taken to protect themselves and prevent the transmission of STDs.

    Said Dr. Khan, “There are a lot of factors at work here and a regional response is required that addresses not only the immediate disease specifics, but also those factors that contribute to the problem such as the lack of health insurance, an inability to cover medical costs, or even a lack of transportation to needed services.”

    Added Director Moore, “Addressing the problem of STDs will require innovative age-appropriate coalitions, programs, and activities such as Fading Out HIV (a barbershop STD education and awareness initiative) and the Condom Distribution App (mobile application that identifies the location of free condoms). The Supporting Positive Opportunities for Teens – known as The SPOT – is another existing example of a community-based model worth replicating to enhance education and screening opportunities throughout the region.”

    The two departments will also be working together to establish strong public-private partnerships with community-based organizations, hospitals, health centers, and other agencies to identify additional programs and efforts that are effective at reducing STD rates.

    Area youth (and their parents or guardians) are encouraged to visit the youth-centered website www.STLProtectYours.org for STD-related information and resources.

    For information about The SPOT, please visit http://TheSPOT.wustl.edu/


    County Public Health Department to Host Another Free FluMist® Clinic for Children
    Free Clinics to Be Held on Saturday, November 7th

    (November 4, 2015) – The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health is hosting another free FluMist® Clinic for children ages 2 through 18. The clinic will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 7th.

    “There is no better way to protect yourself and your family from seasonal flu than by getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health. “Even if you encounter a flu strain not included in the vaccine, having been vaccinated will help lessen the symptoms and the severity of your illness.”

    The location for the free FluMist® Clinic is:

    Affton White-Rodgers Community Center
    9801 MacKenzie Road
    Affton, MO 63123

    Unlike traditional injections, FluMist® vaccinations contain a weakened form of the virus that is “misted” into the nose to develop the body’s immunity to the virus.

    Added Dr. Khan, “Not everyone feels comfortable getting a shot and we’re hoping that by offering these free FluMist® vaccinations to children, more families will choose to get vaccinated. Remember, it isn’t just about protecting yourself. If you don’t catch the flu, then you can’t spread it to others.”

    Certain children will not be able to receive a FluMist® vaccination at these clinics:

    • Children who have taken influenza-antiviral drugs 48 hours prior to the vaccination date.
    • Children who are allergic to eggs.
    • Children ages 2 to 4 who have asthma or a history of wheezing in the past 12 months.
    • Children who have chronic health issues.

    If your children have any of the conditions listed above, please talk to your health care provider about other vaccination options and ways to protect your children during the upcoming flu season.

    Every year, seasonal flu vaccine offers protection against different flu types, based on recommendations from experts around the world who determine which types are most likely to be circulating in the fall.

    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.

    Others interested in being vaccinated are urged to visit the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health’s Flu Website to find out where they can go for seasonal flu vaccinations:

    www.SaintLouisCountyFlu.com

    Other standard precautions being urged by the 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.

    If you think you may have the flu, the department recommends that you contact your health care provider for possible treatment – especially if you have a fever of 100° F or higher. Flu symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, chills, tiredness or fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

    For more information about the flu vaccine, visit:

    www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm


    County Public Health Department to Host Two Free FluMist® Clinics for Children
    Free Clinics to Be Held on Saturday, October 24th

    (October 19, 2015) – The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health is hosting two free FluMist® Clinics for children ages 2 through 18. Both clinics will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 24th.

    “There is no better way to protect yourself and your family from seasonal flu than by getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health. “Even if you encounter a flu strain not included in the vaccine, having been vaccinated will help lessen the symptoms and the severity of your illness.”

    The locations for the two free FluMist® Clinics are:

    Public Health Campus
    6121 North Hanley Road
    Berkeley, MO 63134

    South County Health Center
    4580 South Lindbergh Boulevard
    Sunset Hills, MO 63127

    Unlike traditional injections, FluMist® vaccinations contain a weakened form of the virus that is “misted” into the nose to develop the body’s immunity to the virus.

    Added Dr. Khan, “Not everyone feels comfortable getting a shot and we’re hoping that by offering these free FluMist® vaccinations to children, more families will choose to get vaccinated. Remember, it isn’t just about protecting yourself. If you don’t catch the flu, then you can’t spread it to others.”

    Certain children will not be able to receive a FluMist® vaccination at these clinics:

    • Children who have taken influenza-antiviral drugs 48 hours prior to the vaccination date.
    • Children who are allergic to eggs.
    • Children ages 2 to 4 who have asthma or a history of wheezing in the past 12 months.
    • Children who have chronic health issues.

    If your children have any of the conditions listed above, please talk to your health care provider about other vaccination options and ways to protect your children during the upcoming flu season.

    Every year, seasonal flu vaccine offers protection against different flu types, based on recommendations from experts around the world who determine which types are most likely to be circulating in the fall.

    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.

    Others interested in being vaccinated are urged to visit the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health’s Flu Website to find out where they can go for seasonal flu vaccinations:

    www.SaintLouisCountyFlu.com

    Other standard precautions being urged by the 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.

    If you think you may have the flu, the department recommends that you contact your health care provider for possible treatment – especially if you have a fever of 100° F or higher. Flu symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, chills, tiredness or fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

    For more information about the flu vaccine, visit:

    www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm


    County Executive and Public Health Department Urge All Residents Be Vaccinated against Seasonal Flu
    Free FluMist Clinics to Be Held in Two Weeks

    (October 13, 2015) – Flu season has arrived and both County Executive Steven V. Stenger and the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health are urging all county residents six months of age and older be vaccinated against the seasonal flu.

    “This isn’t just about protecting yourself,” said County Executive Stenger. “If you don’t catch the flu, then you can’t spread the illness to others.”

    The county executive and Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health, discussed the importance and ease of being vaccinated against the seasonal flu at an event earlier today

    “There is no better way to protect yourself and your family from flu than getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Khan. “Even if you encounter a flu strain not included in the vaccine, having been vaccinated will help lessen the symptoms and the severity of your illness.”

    Every year, seasonal flu vaccine offers protection against different flu types, based on recommendations from experts around the world who determine which types are most likely to be circulating in the fall.

    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.

    The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health will be offering free FluMist vaccinations to children ages 2 through 18 on Saturday, October 24th, 2015, between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. at two locations:

    Public Health Campus
    6121 North Hanley Road
    Berkeley, MO 63134

    South County Health Center
    4580 South Lindbergh Boulevard
    Sunset Hills, MO 63127

    Unlike the traditional injection, FluMist vaccinations contain a weakened form of the virus that is “misted” into the nose to develop the body’s immunity to the virus.

    Certain children will not be able to receive a FluMist vaccination at these clinics:

    • Children who have taken influenza-antiviral drugs 48 hours prior to the vaccination date.
    • Children who are allergic to eggs.
    • Children ages 2 to 4 who have asthma or a history of wheezing in the past 12 months.
    • Children who have chronic health issues.

    If your children have any of the conditions listed above, please talk to your health care provider about other vaccination options and ways to protect your children during the upcoming flu season.

    Others interested in being vaccinated are urged to visit the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health’s Flu Website to find out where they can go for seasonal flu vaccinations:

    www.SaintLouisCountyFlu.com

    Other standard precautions being urged by the 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.

    If you think you may have the flu, the department recommends that you contact your health care provider for possible treatment – especially if you have a fever of 100° F or higher. Flu symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headaches, chills, tiredness or fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

    For more information about the flu vaccine, visit:

    www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm


    Saint Louis County Department of Public Health Urges Everyone Stay Current with All Recommended Vaccinations

    (August 19, 2015) – The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health is strongly urging all residents to stay current with all recommended vaccinations.

    “While the focus this time of year is often on vaccinating children before they return to school, we want to encourage adults to stay current as well,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health.

    “This year has seen outbreaks of both measles and mumps around the nation – two diseases that had been considered eradicated in the United States, but which are now back, in part, because of people not staying current with their vaccinations.”

    August is National Immunization Awareness Month and the department is using the opportunity to urge everyone to follow vaccination schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vaccination schedules for people of all ages can be found at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/.

    People who are not sure which vaccinations they have received are asked to check with their healthcare provider to determine their immunization status. Anyone without a healthcare provider can contact the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health.

    Measles is a highly contagious viral illness that can cause severe complications in young children and some adults. There has not been a case of measles in St. Louis County since 1994.

    Mumps is also a contagious viral illness that can sometimes cause complications, usually in adults. The last confirmed case of mumps in St. Louis County was in 2011.

    Vaccine-preventable diseases can be more common overseas, so the department also advises that travelers receive all recommended travel vaccinations several weeks prior to departure (recommendations will vary based on destination).

    For more information about vaccinations and National Immunization Awareness Month, please visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niam.html.

    For more information about measles, please visit www.cdc.gov/measles/about/faqs.html. For more information about mumps, please visit www.cdc.gov/mumps/about/index.html.


    Residents Urged to Take Action to Combat Growing Mosquito Population

    (July 15, 2015) – Heavy rains followed by the current hot weather has caused the local mosquito population to flourish and the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health is urging all residents to take precautions to help combat mosquitoes and prevent mosquito bites.

    “Although serious cases of local mosquito-borne illnesses in humans are rare, it is still important to minimize our exposure,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the public health department. “We can do this by eliminating opportunities for mosquitoes to breed and multiply and by protecting ourselves by using repellants.”

    Mosquitos can carry a variety of communicable diseases, including West Nile Virus and Chikungunya, and residents are urged to take the following steps to help keep the mosquito population in check and reduce their chances of being bitten:

    • Remove all standing water: At least once a week, drain water from garbage cans, buckets, toys, flowerpots, wading pools, pet dishes, and other objects that can collect water. Change water in birdbaths at least once a week.
    • Keep gutters cleaned out, and repair any tears in door and window screens.
    • Flexible drainage pipe is commonly used to drain water from downspouts. A big drawback is that it holds water and provides an excellent breeding site for mosquitoes if not properly sloped when installed.
    • Remove unkempt vegetation to eliminate breeding and resting areas for mosquitoes.
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and light colors outdoors.
    • Spray clothing with repellents containing DEET or picaridin.
    • Look for products containing the active ingredient methoprene or Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) to place in birdbaths or ponds, to prevent mosquitoes from developing.

    The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health’s Vector Control Services Program routinely collects mosquito samples for testing to help determine where to direct control efforts, focusing on those species that carry disease. The program also monitors and treats standing water in public areas as part of its preventative larviciding program. To find out where the county will be spraying, call (314) 615-4-BUG (615-4284) for the nightly mosquito-spraying schedule.

    So far this year, there have not been any reported human cases of West Nile Virus in St. Louis County (one mosquito has tested positive). In 2014, there were two reported human cases.

    Most people infected with West Nile Virus (70%-80%) do not develop any symptoms. About 20%-30% can experience headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash; however, most people with these symptoms recover completely, although fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months. In less than 1% of cases, symptoms can become much more severe and sometimes include encephalitis or meningitis.

    There have been two travel-related cases of Chikungunya reported in St. Louis County this year – both contracted while the patients were travelling outside the area. In 2014, there were three reported cases of Chikungunya – also all travel-related.

    Most people infected with Chikungunya will develop symptoms within 3 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain, but patients can also experience headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, and a rash. Although the symptoms can be severe, Chikungunya is not often fatal.

    Chikungunya can only be transmitted by a mosquito bite. It cannot be transmitted by person-to-person contact. In addition, there are only two species of mosquito that can carry Chikungunya – only one of which is found in the St. Louis area (Aedus albopictus). Currently, the mosquitos in the St. Louis region do not carry Chikungunya.

    For more information on mosquito prevention, contact the County Vector Control office at (314) 615-0680 or visit the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health’s website:

    www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness

    For more information about West Nile Virus, please visit the following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website:

    http://www.cdc.gov/westnile/

    For more information about Chikungunya, please visit the following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website:

    http://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/


    Caution Urged During Extreme Heat

    (July 13, 2015) – The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health is urging caution and common sense during the period of extreme heat currently being experienced in the St. Louis region.

    “Our region experiences extreme heat almost every year and it’s important to observe common sense precautions whenever this happens,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the department.

    Whenever temperatures rise above 95 degrees, the Department of Public Health 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 – 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.
    • Use air-conditioning whenever in a vehicle or roll down the windows if there is no air conditioning. Never leave a child or a pet in a parked car without 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 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.

    In addition, Cool Down St. Louis helps area seniors and the disabled with their air-conditioning and utilities (qualifications apply). Low-income households may also apply for utility assistance. For more information about Cool Down St. Louis and their programs, call 314-241-7668 or visit:

    www.CoolDownStLouis.org

    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 department’s Heat Safety Tips webpage at:

    www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/HotWeatherSafetyTips

    The Saint Louis County Department of Public 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


    Caution Urged for Pet Owners during Holiday Weekend

    (July 2, 2015) – The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health is urging pet owners to be extra-vigilant during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

    “More dogs run away from their homes during Fourth of July celebrations than at any other time of the year,” said Dr. Martha Weber, director of the department’s Animal Care and Control program. “Many dogs are afraid of the loud noises and will flee their home to look for a safe hiding place.”

    The department recommends pet owners observe the following precautions throughout the holiday weekend:

    • Make sure all pets have identification and rabies tags on their collars – not just this weekend, but always. Microchipping is another great way to help reunite lost pets with their families.
    • If going to a parade or fireworks display, it is best to leave pets at home.
    • All pets should be kept indoors during fireworks displays. Animals in yards with fences often try to leap those fences to escape the noise.
    • All windows and doors in should be kept shut. Animals will push through screens to escape.

    If a pet does run away this weekend, owners are encouraged to check www.StLLostPets.org – a site that lists all animals brought into the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health’s Animal Care and Control shelter, the Humane Society of Missouri’s shelter, and the APA Adoption Center.

    In addition, although extremely hot weather is not currently predicted for the St. Louis area, pet owners should always be aware of the dangers that heat can pose for pets:

    • 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.

    Public Health Department Urges All Sexually-Active People Be Tested for HIV
    Do You Know Your Status?

    (June 26, 2015) – Saturday, June 27th, is National HIV Testing Day and the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health is using the opportunity to remind everyone who is sexually-active to be tested regularly for HIV. Do you know your status?

    “HIV has been a public health threat for almost a quarter century,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the department, “yet some still have not gotten the message that HIV testing is one of the major keys to stopping the spread of the virus.”

    HIV is the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Whenever someone is infected by HIV yet fails to receive treatment, that person can develop Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, also called AIDS. More than a million Americans are living with HIV.

    “When the HIV epidemic first started, it was considered a death sentence,” said Dr. Khan, “but with today’s anti-viral drugs, it can be treated much more like a chronic disease. However, people first need to know they have it before treatment can begin. The sooner treatment is started, the better the prognosis. Again, the key is testing.”

    Testing also serves an important role in preventing the spread of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) has found that more than 90 percent of new HIV infections in the United States could be prevented by testing and diagnosing people who have HIV and ensuring they receive prompt, ongoing care and treatment.

    The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested at least once as part of their routine health care. People with certain risk factors should be tested more frequently.

    The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health offers free HIV testing at its North Central Community Health Center located at 4000 Jennings Station Road in Pine Lawn (63121).

    Walgreens is also offering free HIV testing at select locations as part of National HIV Testing Day on Friday, June 26th, and Saturday, June 27th. For information about the Walgreens locations, visit:

    http://www.greaterthan.org/get-tested-with-walgreens-and-greater-than-aids/

    For information about other locations that provide testing, visit:

    https://gettested.cdc.gov/

    For more information about National HIV Testing Day, visit:

    https://aidsinfo.nih.gov/education-materials/hiv-aids-awareness-days/163/national-hiv-testing-day


    Caution Urged During Extreme Heat

    (June 22 2015) – The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health is urging caution and common sense during today’s hot weather and any other hot days this summer.

    “Our region experiences extreme heat almost every year and it’s important to observe common sense precautions whenever this happens,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the department.

    Whenever temperatures rise above 95 degrees, the Department of Public Health 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 – 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.
    • Use air-conditioning whenever in a vehicle or roll down the windows if there is no air conditioning. Never leave a child or a pet in a parked car without 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 department’s Heat Safety Tips webpage at:

    www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/HotWeatherSafetyTips

    The Saint Louis County Department of Public 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


    Saint Louis County Department of Public Health Rolls Out New Name
    Greater Emphasis on Public Health Planned

    (June 9, 2015) – On Friday, June 5th, 2015, the Saint Louis County Department of Health officially became the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health – the addition of the word “public” emphasizing its new focus.

    “While the department will continue to perform many of the same functions it does today – including operating three primary care health centers that offer medical and dental services – its main focus is being shifted squarely to public health,” County Executive Steve Stenger said. “In practical terms, this will mean a new emphasis on addressing the physical, mental, emotional, and social health needs of the entire county using a prevention-based model, while doing so at a lower cost to the taxpayer.”

    “It is better – and often cheaper – to prevent health problems from occurring than to treat them after they have developed,” said Department of Public Health Director Dr. Faisal Khan.

    Part of the effort includes adopting a “health-in-all-policies” approach – a process to consider the potential health effects of policy decisions, with the goal being the continual adjustment of policies to maximize health benefits.

    By combining the use of prevention-based models with a “health-in-all-policies” approach, the department will be able to better target community health concerns that have socio-economic dimensions to them, including chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, mental health and substance abuse issues, and the prevalence of sexually-transmitted infections in the region.

    Added Dr. Khan, “One of the statistics the St. Louis region is unfortunately known for is its high rates of sexually-transmitted diseases. Only a prevention-based model will ever be able to thwart this troubling problem and start moving those numbers in a more positive direction.”

    As part of the new focus, Dr. Khan has initiated an internal re-organization to better align activities with the new emphasis on public health. A new division of health promotion and research has been created that will directly focus on public outreach, community education, and community intervention. The full departmental reorganization is expected to take about a year to complete and is expected to be cost-neutral.

    The department was originally founded in 1906 and over the past 109 years has changed its name several times. For more information about the newly-renamed Saint Louis County Department of Public Health, please visit:

    www.stlouisco.com/healthandwellness


    County Health Department Strongly Urges Adherence to the CDC Vaccination Schedule

    (April 29, 2015) – World Immunization Week runs from April 26th through May 2nd and the Saint Louis County Department of Health is using the opportunity to strongly urge everyone to comply with the vaccination schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    “One of the greatest public health advances of all time was the development of vaccines,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the Saint Louis County Department of Health. “Over the last 80 years, several vicious diseases such as smallpox and polio have been almost completely wiped from the human experience – all because of vaccines. It is not the time to retreat from these successes.”

    The CDC recommends that all children be vaccinated against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases, all of which can cause severe complications if contracted by someone who has not been vaccinated. There are 10 vaccinations to protect children from birth to age two (2), followed by another four (4) vaccinations after children reach their second birthday. In addition, there are two additional vaccines that the CDC only recommends for older individuals.

    “Smallpox is already a fading memory,” said Dr. Khan, “and there has not been a case of polio in the United States since 1979. Unfortunately, measles and mumps – both of which were almost eradicated here by the year 2000 – are making a strong comeback because of those who choose not to be vaccinated.”

    According to the CDC, 2014 saw the highest number of measles cases in the United States in more than 28 years – 668 cases spread among 23 separate outbreaks around the country. Prior to the introduction of the measles vaccine, the number of annual measles cases ranged from 400,000 to 800,000, resulting in numerous deaths and permanent brain injuries.

    Since January of this year, 15 people in Chicago and a total of 162 people in 19 states have contracted measles after an infected traveler arrived in southern California. Severe measles cases can cause deafness, convulsions, and swelling of the brain.

    However, parents of vaccinated infants and children have little to fear from these diseases. Added Dr. Khan, “The reality is that vaccinated children are protected even when others choose not to be.”

    The department is also urging people not to wait for an outbreak to be vaccinated because it takes about two weeks after vaccination for a person to develop an immunity against a disease. With some diseases, a second or third vaccination – called a “booster shot” – is sometimes also needed for full immunity to develop.

    “If you wait for an outbreak to occur,” said Dr. Khan, “you have already waited too long and may have to weather the outbreak without any developed immunity.”

    Parents and guardians are urged to discuss vaccination options with their children’s pediatrician or health care provider. Children and adults who are behind on their immunizations can also catch up to the recommended vaccination schedule.

    For those unable to afford their children’s vaccinations, the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program can help obtain these recommended immunizations for free. VFC is a federally-funded program that purchases vaccines at a discount, distributes them to local health agencies, and provides them free to eligible children. Anyone interested in the VFC program should contact the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services at 573-751-6124.

    For more information about vaccines and the recommended CDC vaccination schedule for all ages, please visit:

    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/


    Local Man Bit by Rabid Bat
    Health Department Cautions Residents about Interaction with Wildlife

    (April 22, 2015) – A 53-year-old St. Louis County man is receiving treatment for rabies after being bitten by an infected bat. This is the first bat to test positive for rabies in St. Louis County this year. In 2014, six rabid bats were recovered in St. Louis County. The event serves as a reminder that residents must always be cautious around wildlife.

    “Residents need to be aware that area bats are awakening from hibernation,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the Saint Louis County Department of Health. “It is extremely important that residents not try to handle or interact with these wild animals because some of them do carry rabies.”

    Any county resident who encounters a bat in their home – alive or dead – is urged to call the health department immediately. 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.

    To report a bat, call Saint Louis County Animal Care and Control at 314-615-0650 during regular business hours (Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.; Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.). After business hours, call 314-889-2341.

    Health officials regularly urge people to be aware of and cautious around all 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, including unknown pets.

    Residents should also check with their pets’ immunization records. 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 the symptoms of rabies start, there is no cure and the disease almost always fatal. There is treatment available if it can be started before any symptoms begin.

    Most bats do not 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

    For more information about rabies, visit:

    http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/



    County Health Department Urges Caution for People and Pets during Cold Weather

    (February 19, 2015) – The Saint Louis County Department of Health is urging people to use caution and common sense during the period of extremely cold temperatures expected in the St. Louis area over the next few days. Pets and people unable to care for themselves may require extra attention. If you are cold, they are cold.

    “Whenever St. Louis experiences temperature extremes, people need to consider those who may not be able to care for themselves,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the health department. “This includes our children, our pets, and the elderly, and it can sometimes also mean our friends and neighbors.”

    The health department recommends the following pet-related precautions:

  • Whenever possible, keep pets inside. Outdoors, pets can freeze, become lost, injured, or killed.
  • If pets must be outside, provide a flexible cover or wind break for dog house doors, face the door to the South, and use STRAW for bedding – not hay, towels, or blankets as these can become wet and make the space colder. (There is free straw available at the Saint Louis County Animal Shelter and a limited number of outdoor pet houses for people that cannot bring their pets indoors; residents can call or stop by 7 days a week to receive assistance for outdoor pets.)
  • Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Dogs can easily become lost. Make sure your dog always wears ID tags.
  • Thoroughly wipe off your pet's legs and stomach when it comes in out of the sleet, snow, or ice. Pets can ingest salt, antifreeze, or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking its paws or body.
  • Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
  • Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.

  • The Saint Louis County Department of Health’s Animal Care and Control Services Program also operates an anonymous tip line called Heffie’s Help Line. People can anonymously report suspected animal abuse – including weather-related dangers – and an animal control officer will investigate. Heffie’s Help Line can be reached by calling 314-615-1777.

    The health department is also recommending people adhere to the following standard cold-weather safety precautions:

  • The elderly and very young should stay indoors as much as possible. Offer to shop for elderly friends and relatives. Just like in the summer with heat, it takes some time to get acclimated to cold weather.
  • While indoors, try to keep at least one room heated to 70 degrees. This is especially important for the elderly and small children to prevent hypothermia.
  • Wear layered clothing outdoors for better protection from the cold. Wear a cap to prevent rapid heat loss from an uncovered head. Cover exposed skin to prevent frostbite.
  • Check daily on elderly friends, relatives, and neighbors who live alone.
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages.
  • Eat high energy foods along with warm beverages and soup.
  • Sleep warm with extra blankets, a warm cap, socks, and layered clothing.
  • Avoid fatigue and exhaustion during cold weather. Overexertion, such as shoveling snow or pushing a car, can strain your heart.
  • Carry extra clothing, blankets, and high energy snacks, such as cereal or candy bars, in your car for your protection if the car stalls. Keep the gas tank near full to prevent icing. Don't travel alone. Bring a fully charged cell phone in case you need to call for help.
  • Be careful when using fireplaces, stoves, or space heaters to stay warm. Carbon monoxide poisoning and home fires are very real winter hazards.
  • For information about emergency shelter, call the United Way at 211 from a residential phone or at 1-800-427-4626 from any other type of phone.

  • For more information, please visit the department’s Cold Weather Precautions webpage at:

    www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/ColdWeatherPrecautions

    The Saint Louis County 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 Everyone Stay Current with All Recommended Vaccinations

    (February 3, 2015) – The Saint Louis County Department of Health is strongly urging all residents to stay current with all recommended vaccinations.

    “The recent measles outbreaks around the nation should remind us all of the importance of receiving all recommended vaccinations,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the Saint Louis County Department of Health. “Measles was considered to have been eradicated in the United States by the year 2000, but now it is back because of people not staying current with their vaccinations.”

    Measles is a highly contagious viral illness that can cause severe complications in young children and some adults. Early symptoms usually include a fever, cough, runny nose, and pink eye, all of which can last for two (2) to four (4) days before the appearance of a rash. Infected people are contagious from four (4) days before the rash starts until four (4) days after the rash appears. The disease is transmitted by contact with an infected person who is coughing or sneezing. Even after an infected person has left a location, the virus can remain on surfaces and in the air for up to two (2) hours.

    In addition to the measles vaccine, the health department is urging that everyone stay current with all vaccinations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC). Vaccination schedules for people of all ages can be found at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/. People who are not sure which vaccinations they have received are asked to check with their healthcare provider to determine their immunization status.

    “Measles is a preventable disease,” added Dr. Khan. “Working together, this is an illness that we can once again eradicate from the U.S.”

    Because measles and other diseases can be more common overseas, the department also advises that all travelers receive all recommended vaccinations several weeks prior to traveling (recommendations will vary based on destination).

    There has not been a case of measles in St. Louis County since 1994. For more information about measles, please visit www.cdc.gov/measles/about/faqs.html.



    County Takes Action Following HIPAA Breach

    (January 15, 2015) –St. Louis County recently learned that some personal information of inmates was handled inappropriately at St. Louis County’s Buzz Westfall Justice Center. Specifically, it was discovered that a health department employee had e-mailed a document containing the names and social security numbers of certain inmates who had been at the Center from 2008 through 2014 to a personal e-mail account belonging to that same employee. This action constitutes a breach of federal law – specifically, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

    St. Louis County has notified the appropriate federal and local authorities of the violation and the person who mishandled the information is no longer employed by St. Louis County. That former employee has agreed to cooperate fully throughout the investigation. St. Louis County has instructed the former employee to immediately delete the document in question. At this time, it does not appear that anyone other than that former county employee has had any access to the information contained in the document.

    St. Louis County is strongly committed to patient privacy. It is something that is taken very seriously. Even though there is no indication that there was any intent to use the information to commit fraud, it is important that anyone potentially affected by the breach be fully aware of the violation that occurred and fully aware of the steps it is advisable to take at this point. Anyone potentially included in the breach should:

  • Call the toll-free numbers of any of the three major credit bureaus (listed below) to request a fraud alert notice on your credit report. This can help prevent a thief from opening additional accounts in your name. As soon as the credit bureau confirms your request, the other two credit bureaus will automatically be notified to place alerts on your credit report. All three bureaus will provide you a copy of your credit report free of charge.
  • Equifax: (888) 766-0008; www.fraudalerts.equifax.com. General: (800) 685-1111, www.equifax.com, P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241.

    Experian: (888) 397-3742; https://www.experian.com/fraud/center.html. General: (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; 475 Anton Blvd., Costa Mesa, CA 92626.

    TransUnion: (800) 680-7289 (888-909-8872 for freeze); http://www.transunion.com/personal-credit/credit-disputes/fraud-alerts.page; TransUnion Fraud Victim Assistance Department, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19022-2000. General: (800) 680-7289; www.transunion.com; P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19022-2000.

  • Order a copy of your credit reports every year. When you receive the reports, examine them closely and look for signs of fraud, such as credit accounts that are not yours. You can obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies once every twelve months by visiting www.AnnualCreditReport.com, by calling 1-877-322-8228, or by completing an Annual Credit Report Request Form and mailing it to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
  • Continue to monitor your credit reports for fraudulent activity. Even though a fraud alert has been placed on your account, you should continue to monitor the reports to ensure an imposter has not opened an account in your name. If you discover any suspicious or unusual activity on your accounts or you suspect fraud, be sure to report it immediately to your financial institutions and to local law enforcement. Additionally the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides comprehensive information at www.FTC.gov/I, or call the FTC’s identity theft clearing house at 1-877-438-4338 (TTY: 1-866-653-4261), or write to the Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580-0001.
  • A dedicated phone line has been set up by St. Louis County to respond to any questions or concerns those potentially affected may have. That number is 1-844-615-2047. Those potentially affected by the breach can also visit the following website for additional information:

    www.stlouisco.com/healthandwellness/HIPAAViolation1

    In addition to this press release, personal letters were mailed to each affected individual; however, given the likelihood that some of these individuals may have changed addresses over the last six (6) years, details about the incident have also been released to the media to increase the chance of reaching those affected.

    Following the investigation, St. Louis County will take additional safety precautions to prevent an incident like this from happening again. The Saint Louis County Department of Health will also continue to educate all its employees annually about HIPAA and the Privacy Rule.



    County Health Department Urges Caution during Cold Weather

    (January 6, 2015) –The Saint Louis County Department of Health is urging caution and common sense during the period of extremely cold temperatures expected in the St. Louis area over the next few days.

    “St. Louis experiences cold weather almost every year, but the temperatures and wind chills over the next 48 hours are expected to be much lower than normal. It’s important for everyone to observe common sense precautions until it passes,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, acting director of the health department.

    The health department recommends the following:

  • The elderly and very young should stay indoors as much as possible. Offer to shop for elderly friends and relatives. Just like in the summer with heat, it takes some time to get acclimated to cold weather.
  • While indoors, try to keep at least one room heated to 70 degrees. This is especially important for the elderly and small children to prevent hypothermia.
  • Wear layered clothing outdoors for better protection from the cold. Wear a cap to prevent rapid heat loss from an uncovered head. Cover exposed skin to prevent frostbite.
  • Check daily on elderly friends, relatives, and neighbors who live alone.
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages.
  • Eat high energy foods along with warm beverages and soup.
  • Sleep warm with extra blankets, a warm cap, socks, and layered clothing.
  • Avoid fatigue and exhaustion during cold weather. Overexertion, such as shoveling snow or pushing a car, can strain your heart.
  • Carry extra clothing, blankets, and high energy snacks, such as cereal or candy bars, in your car for your protection if the car stalls. Keep the gas tank near full to prevent icing. Don't travel alone. Bring a fully charged cell phone in case you need to call for help.
  • Be careful when using fireplaces, stoves, or space heaters to stay warm. Carbon monoxide poisoning and home fires are very real winter hazards.
  • For information about emergency shelter, call the United Way at 211 from a residential phone or at 1-800-427-4626 from any other type of phone.
  • Residents are also urged to consider pets whenever temperatures drop this low. Here are some tips for protecting pets during cold weather:

  • Whenever possible, keep pets inside. Outdoors, pets can freeze, become lost, injured, or killed.
  • If pets must be outside, provide a flexible cover or wind break for dog house doors, face the door to the South, and use STRAW for bedding – not hay, towels, or blankets as these can become wet and make the space colder. (There is free straw available at the Saint Louis County Animal Shelter and a limited number of outdoor pet houses for people that cannot bring their pets indoors; residents can call or stop by 7 days a week to receive assistance for outdoor pets.)
  • Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm. Dogs can easily become lost. Make sure your dog always wears ID tags.
  • Thoroughly wipe off your pet's legs and stomach when it comes in out of the sleet, snow, or ice. Pets can ingest salt, antifreeze, or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking its paws or body.
  • Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
  • Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol.
  • For more information, please visit the department’s Cold Weather Precautions webpage at:

    www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/ColdWeatherPrecautions

    The Saint Louis County 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