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Department of Public Health Newsroom 2017

May 24, 2017: Rabid Bat Serves as Reminder
Department Cautions Residents about Interaction with Wildlife
May 16, 2017: St. Louis County Executive Announces Official Launch of PDMP
May 11, 2017: Prevention Essential as Flood Waters Recede and Mosquito Season Arrives
April 24, 2017: Local Public Health Agencies Urge Vigilance and Action to Combat Rise in Congenital Syphilis Cases
April 17, 2017: St. Louis ReCAST to Kick Off Regional Efforts on Saturday, April 22, 2017
April 6, 2017: City of St. Louis Department of Health and Saint Louis County Department of Public Health to Focus on Sexually-Transmitted Infections (STI) during STI Awareness Month


Rabid Bat Serves as Reminder
Department Cautions Residents about Interaction with Wildlife

(May 24, 2017) – A local bat has tested positive for rabies. It was sent for testing on May 19th. This is the first bat to test positive for rabies in St. Louis County this year. The event serves as a reminder that residents should always be cautious around wildlife.

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

People are urged 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 check 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.

Any county resident who encounters a bat in their home – alive or dead – is urged to call the public 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 anyone who is not 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 636-529-8210.

For more information about bats and wildlife control, visit:

www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/MosquitoControl/BatsandWildlifeControl

For more information about rabies, visit:

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



St. Louis County Executive Announces Official Launch of PDMP

Clayton, MO – (May 16, 2017) – St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger is pleased to announce that St. Louis County’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) is operational. The program went online April 25th.

The prescription drug monitoring program creates an electronic database on opioid and other controlled substance prescriptions dispensed within a given jurisdiction. PDMPs help prevent an individual from receiving multiple prescriptions for the same opioids or controlled substances, making it more difficult for these drugs to be abused.

“Heroin is a deadly epidemic in our region,” County Executive Steve Stenger said. “Over the past eight years, more than 2,700 St. Louis area residents have died from a heroin or opioid-related overdose. A majority of heroin users begin with prescription drugs. Our PDMP is a big step in fighting this public health crisis.”

Pharmacies will be required to report controlled substances (Schedules II-IV) dispensed in St. Louis County to a central, safe and secure, password-protected database maintained by the St. Louis County Department of Public Health. The database will be accessible to registered physicians and pharmacists.

Missouri is the only state in the nation without a statewide PDMP. Recognizing this deficiency, at County Executive Stenger’s urging, the St. Louis County Council enacted legislation last year authorizing creation of the County’s program. County health officials have worked steadily since then to develop and operationalize the first database in the state. Fourteen cities and counties across Missouri that joined St. Louis County’s PDMP are part of the initial rollout. An additional 8 counties will join in July. 48% of the state’s population and 70% of all providers have joined St. Louis County’s PDMP.

“Our staff has done an incredible job of getting the PDMP going and spreading the word to the medical community across the state,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, Director of the St. Louis County Department of Public Health, “Over 1300 providers have registered and been approved to utilize the PDMP. We will be extremely busy over the next several weeks as those numbers grow and the program expands.”

The cities and counties that are part of the PDMP include: St. Louis City, Jackson County, St. Charles County, Ste. Genevieve County, Kansas City, City of Independence, City of Columbia, Jefferson City, Cole County , Lincoln County, and Stoddard County.

For more information on the St. Louis County PDMP including links to the registration guide and tutorial visit www.stlouisco.com/PDMP.


Prevention Essential as Flood Waters Recede and Mosquito Season Arrives

(May 11, 2017) – As flood waters continue to recede and cleanup efforts are well underway, the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health would like to remind residents to protect themselves from mosquitoes. Warmer temperatures, stagnant pools of water and flood debris all combine to form ideal conditions for mosquito breeding. Besides being a nuisance, some species of mosquitoes can transmit diseases, such as West Nile Virus, to people.

The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health’s Vector Control Services Program works to reduce the number of mosquitoes in the county, focusing primarily on those species that can transmit disease. Vector Control conducts routine surveillance throughout the county to identify locations with high numbers of adult mosquitoes as well as testing adult mosquitoes for the presence of West Nile Virus. Using data collected throughout the county, Vector Control treats standing water on public property during the day and treats for adult mosquitoes at night to reduce the mosquito populations in those neighborhoods.

Residents are also urged to help reduce mosquito populations by eliminating the standing water that mosquitoes need to reproduce. Mosquitoes can only develop in water, and eliminating or treating standing water is the best way to reduce mosquito populations and protect yourself from bites. Residents are asked to check their property for standing water and do the following:

  • Properly discard or recycle old tires, tin cans, jars, buckets, flower pots, drums, trash, and any other containers, or store them so they will not collect water.
  • Maintain, treat, or drain pools and be sure pool covers do not hold water when in use and are stored in a manner in which they do not collect water while not in use.
  • Cover or store boats, canoes, and wheelbarrows upside down when not in use. Be sure to remove drain plugs so that water does not collect in your boat.
  • Empty small plastic wading pools, children’s play items, flower pot saucers, and bird baths every few days.
  • Keep gutters clean and repair any tears in door and window screens.
  • Standing water that cannot be drained should be treated with a mosquito larvicide containing the active ingredient B.t.i. (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) according to the product’s label to prevent mosquitoes from developing.
  • Residents are asked to report any standing water located on public areas to Vector Control at 314-615-0680.
  • Remove unwanted weeds and brush, and treat plants and shrubs with an EPA approved mosquito barrier spray to eliminate resting areas for adult mosquitoes.

To help prevent mosquito bites, residents should avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn, as those are the times when mosquitoes are most active. If you must be outdoors where mosquitoes are present, wear light colored, loose fitting long sleeve shirts and long pants. Residents are also encouraged to use insect repellents containing N, N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET) or other active ingredients approved for repelling biting insects.

In areas that have been impacted by the recent flooding, residents should also be aware that there will be more water than usual for mosquitoes to hatch and develop. In addition to the previously mentioned precautions, residents in the process of cleaning up their homes and property following the flood should also do the following:

  • Clear floodwater-deposited debris on or around your property.
  • Remove standing pools of water by clearing debris from ditches, creating channels to assist in draining pools, and fill in holes created by debris or wheel ruts.
  • Be aware of and extract buried debris which can create stagnant water pools.

Should residents have any further questions regarding mosquitoes or Vector Control services, they may contact St. Louis County Vector Control at 314-615-0680. For more information regarding vector-borne diseases such as West Nile Virus, and others, you may visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at www.cdc.gov.


Local Public Health Agencies Urge Vigilance and Action to Combat Rise in Congenital Syphilis Cases

(April 24, 2017) – In 2016, the rate of congenital syphilis in Missouri rose to the highest it has been in decades. The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health, the St. Louis City Department of Health, and the St. Louis STI Regional Response Coalition (STIRR) are joining together to call for vigilance and action by everyone in the local health community to address the problem.

“Sexually-transmitted infections are entirely preventable,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health. “Everyone in local health community needs to be aware of the problem in order to combat this unacceptable increase.”

Missouri is not the only state affected by rising rates of congenital syphilis. The U.S. saw a 39% increase from 2012-2014. Preventative techniques, medical recommendations, and timely treatments are all being encouraged to both prevent congenital syphilis as well as ensure the health and safety of mothers, their sexual partner(s), and children.

“It is also critical that the local health community understand that risk factors outside of unprotected sex exist in the contraction and spread of syphilis,” said Dr. Fredrick Echols, director of the Division of Communicable Disease Control Services at the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health. “These include drug use, the diagnosis of another sexually-transmitted infection, new or multiple partners during pregnancy, and sex with non-monogamous partners.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) recommends that pregnant women be tested for syphilis during their first trimester. Missouri law requires that such testing occur either during the first trimester or during the initial prenatal screening. In addition, since women who remain sexually active during their pregnancy can still contract syphilis, it is recommended that women continue to be screened for syphilis periodically throughout their pregnancy. Monitoring for syphilis is vital since an infection can cause abnormal fetal development, miscarriage, birth defects, and because it can be passed from mother to child during delivery.

Because of the high prevalence of primary and secondary syphilis in the St. Louis region, STIRR is recommending an additional screening for syphilis between 28 and 32 weeks and repeat testing at delivery for all pregnant women. This testing may be considered as early as 24 weeks.

Added Dr. Hilary Reno, director of STIRR, “Combining precision prevention methods and compassionate treatment options are steps the health community must take to prevent further maternal, partner, and infant exposure and infection with syphilis.”

Medical and other healthcare professionals are being reminded to follow all recommended testing and treatment protocols regarding pregnant women and congenital syphilis. In addition, local public health agencies are recommending the following for medical professionals:

Treatment for pregnant women who test positive for syphilis is vital. It has been shown that early detection and swift treatment more than 30 days before delivery dramatically decreases the number of congenital syphilis cases. Pregnant women with syphilis should be treated with benzathine penicillin. However, it should also be recognized that pregnant women, especially those who show fetal abnormalities on an ultrasound, are at increased risk for treatment failure and a second dose of penicillin G can be given one (1) week later for primary, secondary, or early latent syphilis. Patients with penicillin allergies should be desensitized and treated with penicillin.

With infants, consideration should be given to both live birth and stillbirth circumstances. In the case of a live birth, infants should not be discharged from the hospital without syphilis testing of the mother at least once during pregnancy and preferably again at delivery. Decisions for the evaluation and treatment of newborns should be based on the timing and treatment regimen of the mother and the history of ultrasound finding of the neonate. In the case of patients with a stillbirth after 20 weeks of pregnancy, testing for syphilis should also occur.

To control a congenital syphilis outbreak, other testing, evaluation, actions, and care should be considered. Screening for syphilis with nontreponemal antibody testing is typical, but reverse screening protocols using treponemal antibody testing are also acceptable. Since syphilis is a reportable illness, all incidents should be reported to the Missouri State Department of Health and Senior Services. The testing and treatment of partners should also be considered, especially to prevent reinfection during pregnancy. Encouraging prenatal care not only works to ensure a healthier pregnancy, but also increases the chances for early syphilitic symptom detection. Finally, syphilis infections are closely related to the risk of an HIV infection, so strong consideration should be given to testing for that as well.


St. Louis ReCAST to Kick Off Regional Efforts on Saturday, April 22, 2017

(April 17, 2017) – St. Louis ReCAST – a grant-funded effort to promote community well-being – is holding its public kick-off meeting on Saturday, April 22, at 11:00 a.m. at the O’Fallon Rec Center at 4343 W. Florissant Drive (63115).

The St. Louis ReCAST project is being funded by a 5-year, $4.7 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that was awarded to the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health last year. St. Louis County’s Office of Community Empowerment helped secure the grant. Partners in the effort include the St. Louis City Department of Health, the Saint Louis Mental Health Board, and over 70 other local agencies, not-for-profits, and municipalities.

“The ReCAST grant is great example of regional cooperation that is helping us find solutions to longstanding problems in our communities,” County Executive Steve Stenger said.

The project will focus on the St. Louis Promise Zone – a federally-designated area in North St. Louis City and County that encompasses 11 wards in North St. Louis City and 28 municipalities in North St. Louis County. Priorities for ReCAST include:

  • violence prevention;
  • youth engagement;
  • peer support;
  • mental health; and,
  • trauma-informed care.

Each year, St. Louis ReCAST will allocate $650,000 to community microprojects in the Promise Zone that address ReCAST priorities. All the funds will be awarded through a community-based, participatory budgeting process that will include residents from the targeted communities. The meeting on April 22, 2017, is to begin the process of selecting the community delegates that will make the funding decisions for the first year of the effort.

Anyone who lives in the Promise Zone is eligible to be a community delegate, provided they are at least 11 years old (parental permission will be required for those under 18). Those selected to be community delegates will be eligible for childcare and transit passes as needed.


City of St. Louis Department of Health and Saint Louis County Department of Public Health to Focus on Sexually-Transmitted Infections (STI) during STI Awareness Month

(April 6, 2017) – April is STI Awareness Month and the City of St. Louis Department of Health and the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health are using the event to educate residents about the very serious health challenges posed by STIs for communities in the St. Louis region.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 20 million new STIs occur in the United States every year and they cost the American healthcare system nearly $16 billion in direct medical costs alone. In addition, there has been an alarming rise nationally in the number of syphilis cases, which serves as a reminder to local health officials and medical providers to follow CDC screening recommendations.

The CDC estimates that half of all new STIs occur among young men and women aged 15 to 24. In 2016, a significant percentage of all new STI cases in the St. Louis region were in persons under 25 years of age. For that reason, prevention efforts must include age-appropriate education for teens and young adults and the development and use of online options to reach this population.

“If we are to respond effectively and improve and protect the health of St. Louis residents and visitors, we must work together,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health. “There are a lot of factors at work here and a regional response is required to both address the immediate disease specifics and those factors that contribute to the problem, such as the lack of health insurance, a lack of knowledge about sexual health and available sexual health resources, the inability to cover medical costs, and a lack of transportation to needed services.”

Added Melba Moore, acting director and commissioner of health for the City of St. Louis Department of Health: “Through the continued coordination of regional prevention efforts, screenings, and treatments, we are working with all our regional and community partners to close the gap on STIs by enabling and empowering our communities to access the services they need.”

Added St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger: “I applaud these efforts as they relate directly to my strategic initiative to engage in more preventative public health measures that support optimal health for all residents in the region.”

Added Dr. Fredrick Echols, director of the Division of Communicable Disease Control Services at the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health: “People from all walks of life can play an important role in the prevention and education efforts for HIV and other STIs. Regardless of sexual orientation, religious beliefs, age, income, or any other distinctions, lives are worth saving.”

There are effective ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat STIs. Screenings and early diagnoses are crucial in preventing the spread and long term health consequences of STIs. Health officials in both the city and county are reminding parents and guardians to talk to their children about the risks associated with sexual activity and the steps they can take to protect themselves and prevent the spread of STIs.

There are simple measures people can take to lower their chances of getting an STD:

  • abstain from having sex;
  • be in a monogamous relationship with a partner who has tested negative for STIs;
  • consistently and correctly use condoms every time you have sex; and
  • talk openly and honestly with your healthcare provider to find out what tests may be right for you.

If you test positive for an STI, get treated right away and make sure your partner is treated to reduce the risk of becoming infected again. Safe, effective vaccines are also available to prevent hepatitis B and some types of the human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause disease and cancer. And for all individuals who are sexually active – particularly young people – STI screening and prompt treatment (if infected) are critical to protect a person’s health and prevent transmission to others.

Area youth (and their parents or guardians) are encouraged to visit www.STLCondoms.com, www.STLProtectYours.org, and www.GetTestedSTL.org, for STI-related information and resources.