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Department of Public Health Newsroom 2018

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July 9, 2018: Prevention and Testing Essential as Syphilis Numbers Rise
July 2, 2018: Saint Louis County to Improve Immunization Services This Back to School Season
June 28, 2018: St. Louis County Executive Declares Opioid Epidemic a Public Health Emergency
June 19, 2018: First Heat-Related Death Reported in St. Louis County
June 12, 2018: Saint Louis County Cautions against Caito Foods Linked to Salmonella
May 23, 2018: Food Safety Encouraged as Temperatures Rise
May 23, 2018: Swimming Season Arrives
Department Reminds Citizens About Safe Swimming Practices
May 9, 2018: Bite Prevention Essential as Tick Season Arrives
May 9, 2018: Saint Louis County Department of Public Health Cautions Residents about Interaction with Wildlife
May 2, 2018: Prevention Essential During Mosquito Season
May 1, 2018: St. Louis County Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Marks One Year Anniversary
March 9, 2018: Saint Louis County Encourages Increased Awareness and Testing on Women and Girl’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
February 7, 2018: Free STI and HIV Screenings Planned for Black HIV/AIDS Day

Prevention and Testing Essential as Syphilis Numbers Rise

(July 9, 2018) – As syphilis case numbers rise in both the city and county, the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health is emphasizing the importance of sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention and testing.

“Safer sex practices are vital for preventing the contraction and spread of syphilis and other STIs,” said Dr. Fredrick Echols, Director of Communicable Disease Control Services for Saint Louis County Department of Public Health, “Getting tested is also key to maintaining good health. All sexually active individuals should be regularly tested for STIs.”

The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health recommends certain measures sexually active individuals can take to protect themselves from syphilis and other STIs:

  • Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested for syphilis and does not have syphilis.
  • Properly using latex condoms every time you have sex. Condoms prevent the transmission of syphilis by preventing contact with a sore. However, sometimes sores occur in areas not covered by a condom. Be mindful that contact with these sores can still transmit syphilis.
  • Visit STLcondoms.com/ as a resource to find locations that offer free condoms across Saint Louis. The site also provides information on how to properly use condoms, as well as where to find local sexual health testing, treatment, and support resources.

While all sexually active individuals can get syphilis and should receive regular testing, men who have sex with men, those living with HIV, and individuals who have a partner that has tested positive for syphilis are especially at risk. Additionally, because of the STI rates in Saint Louis, pregnant women should be tested for syphilis at their first prenatal visit, and re-screened between 28 and 32 weeks and at delivery. Young people between the ages of 15-24 also have the highest rate of new syphilis infections, and should be take this into account when considering testing.

On average, a syphilis infection sore presents itself around three weeks after having vaginal, oral, or anal sex, but it can take between 10-90 days to appear. Also keep in mind that with many STIs, including syphilis, symptoms may also not appear at all, and it is still important to be tested. You can be screened for syphilis by visiting one of many FREE STI testing and treatment sites throughout Saint Louis. To find the location closest to you, visit GetTestedSTL.org.

“STIs are still a prominent health issue here in Saint Louis,” said Dr. Fredrick Echols, “but with advancements in treatment that allow us to cure many STIs and the presence of affordable and accessible health resources, we can work to reduce the number of syphilis infections and increase the overall health of our community.”

For more information on syphilis and other STIs, visit:
cdc.gov/std/default.htm


Saint Louis County to Improve Immunization Services This Back to School Season

(July 2, 2018) – As the new school year quickly approaches, the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health is encouraging parents to take care of back-to-school immunizations early. Immunizations are important in maintaining individual health as well as the health of other students and the community as a whole.

To better service patients utilizing the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health’s clinics for immunizations, the department is making changes and additions this back to school season. Some of these changes include:

  • Immunizations will still be offered on a walk-in basis at all three of our sites Monday through Friday from 8:30-10:30 AM and 1:00-3:00 PM. Please remember, clinics are closed for trainings the first Friday of each month, unless otherwise indicated.
  • Immunizations will be offered on Friday, August 3rd at all three clinic sites from 9:00 AM-12:00 PM and again from 1:00-5:30 PM.
  • Patients are encouraged to bring immunization records. It is also helpful if school nurses are able to provide documentation of immunizations needed whenever possible.
  • Patients who wish to be exempt from immunizations are encouraged to contact the Bureau of Immunizations with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to obtain immunization exemption forms.

The department is looking at ways to improve the overall patient experience this back to school season and hopes to combat the frustration that can come with long wait times and limited hours of operation. The department is hopeful that these changes will improve the immunization process and encourages patients to share this information with other parents.

For any questions or concerns, contact any of the health department’s community health centers.

North Central Community Health Center: (314) 615-9700
John C. Murphy Health Center: (314) 615-0500
South County Health Center: (314) 615-0400


St. Louis County Executive Declares Opioid Epidemic a Public Health Emergency

(June 28, 2018) – At a press conference this morning, St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger declared a public health emergency to intensify efforts to combat the opioid crisis in the County and presented an action plan developed to save lives.

“No single agency or effort can end this scourge,” County Executive Stenger said. “It is time for emergency action. We urge all St. Louis County residents to get educated about this crisis and recognize what they can do to help end it. Everyone has a role to play.”

The opioid addiction and overdose epidemic is having a profound and growing impact on all areas of St. Louis County and the broader St. Louis metropolitan area. Opioid-related overdose deaths have risen 70% over the past five years in St. Louis County with 203 lives lost in 2017. The Emergency Declaration will help improve collaboration and coordination among agencies and community partners, help overcome legislative and regulatory barriers, and focus attention and resources on solutions.

County Executive Stenger was joined at the press conference by the leadership of St. Louis County’s Department of Public Health, which will play a key role in implementing the detailed action plan addressing addiction and overdoses. Twenty-five community partners representing numerous organizations involved in the effort also attended the announcement, including representatives from BJC HealthCare, SSM Health, Mercy, the Missouri State Medical Association and the Behavioral Health Network.

“Significant efforts are already underway to address the opioid epidemic in the St. Louis region,” County Executive Stenger said. “In 2017, St. Louis County created a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, an important tool for healthcare providers to identify and address potential harmful medication use and assist in patient care. Our statewide PDMP includes 62 jurisdictions, 80% of the population and 92% of providers.

“And the lifesaving drug Naloxone was also made available to St. Louis County police and other area first responders, resulting in at least 112 overdose reversals in 2017 alone. The state of Missouri passed a Good Samaritan law that allows people to call 911 to report an overdose 2 without fear of being prosecuted. All these are important steps and with this action plan, we seek to help unify these efforts and others by providing a common framework and platform to build on our successes.”

St. Louis County’s action plan, in development for months, focuses on five key areas in the fight against opioid addiction:

  • Education and prevention
  • Harm reduction and rescue
  • Treatment
  • Recovery, and
  • Improved Public Health Data.

“We must understand and address the trauma of addiction for people and their families,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, Director of St. Louis County’s Department of Public Health. “We must also face the inequities in our system that lead to disparities in prevention, education, access to treatment, and the availability of long-term recovery. We will be working with all of our community partners to help those in recovery find connections to services, support, and hope.”

Information about the emergency response can be found on the website www.stlouisco.com/recover. St. Louis County will set up a data dashboard during the initial months of implementation to keep the public informed of progress on the plan’s initiatives. The dashboard will also include broader indicators that the Department of Public Health monitors to understand how the community’s health is being affected.


First Heat-Related Death Reported in St. Louis County

(June 19, 2018) – On June 14, 2018, the first heat-related death in Saint Louis County this season was confirmed according to the medical examiner.

Extreme heat is expected to continue throughout the summer. Whenever temperatures rise above 95 degrees, the Saint Louis County 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.
  • 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 Hot Weather Safety Tips page at:

www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/HotWeatherSafetyTips


Saint Louis County Cautions against Caito Foods Linked to Salmonella

(June 12, 2018) – On June 8, 2018, Caito Foods, LLC recalled fresh cut watermelon, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, and fresh-cut fruit medley products containing one of these melons due to a multi-state Salmonella outbreak, with 10 cases in Missouri so far. The products were packaged in clear, plastic clamshell containers and distributed in Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio. These products were sold at Costco, Jay C, Kroger, Payless, Owen’s, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, Walgreens, Walmart, and Whole Foods/Amazon.

Use or consumption of products contaminated with Salmonella may result in serious illness. It can also produce serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals infected with Salmonella can experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

To prevent illness, the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health is advising the following:

  • DO NOT EAT recalled products. Check your fridge and freezer for them and throw them away or return them to the place of purchase for a refund. Because it is possible that products shipped between April 17 and June 7, 2018 could still be on store shelves, this recall extends to both retailers and consumers.
  • If you don’t remember where you bought pre-cut melon, do not eat it and throw it away.
  • Retailers should not sell or serve recalled pre-cut melon products distributed by Caito Foods Distribution, Gordon Food Service, and SpartanNash Distribution.

The CDC will update the advice to consumers and retailers if more information becomes available.

Consumers seeking information may call 844-467-7278 Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT and Saturday and Sunday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT.

Retailers and wholesale customers should check their inventories and shelves to confirm that none of the products are present or available for purchase by consumers or in warehouse inventories. Please contact 844-467-7278 Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT and Saturday and Sunday, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT to arrange for disposal or return of the product.

If you believe you are sick with Salmonella, contact your doctor immediately.


Food Safety Encouraged as Temperatures Rise

(May 23, 2018) – The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health is encouraging residents to practice safe food handling and preparation as temperatures rise. Foodborne illnesses typically rise during the summer months, and are often caused by easily preventable mistakes.

“Many foodborne illnesses can be prevented by following a few simple rules,” said Dr. Echols, Director of Communicable Disease Control Services.

To safely prepare, handle, and serve food, the Department of Public Health recommends the following four steps:

Clean

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and handling pets.
  • Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item.
  • Consider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels, launder them often in the hot cycle.
  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. Scrub firm produce with a clean produce brush.

Separate

  • Separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from other foods in your grocery shopping cart, grocery bags, and refrigerator.
  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • Never place cooked food on a plate that previously held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs unless the plate has been washed in hot, soapy water.
  • Do not reuse marinades used on raw foods unless you refrigerate between uses and bring them to a boil before reuse.

Cook

  • Color and texture cannot determine safety. Always use a food thermometer for meat, poultry, seafood, and egg products for all cooking methods. Check packaging for the minimum internal temperature.
  • When cooking in a microwave oven, cover food, stir, and rotate for even cooking. If there is no turntable, rotate the dish by hand once or twice during cooking. Always allow standing time, which completes the cooking, before checking the internal temperature with a food thermometer.
  • Bring sauces, soups and gravy to a boil when reheating.

Chill

  • Use an appliance thermometer to be sure the refrigerator temperature is consistently 40° F or below and the freezer temperature is 0° F or below.
  • Refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, and other perishables within 2 hours of cooking or purchasing. Refrigerate within 1 hour if the temperature outside is above 90° F.
  • Never thaw food at room temperature, such as on the counter top. Foods can be defrosted: in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately.
  • Always marinate food in the refrigerator.
  • Divide large amounts of leftovers into shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator.

For more information on food safety and foodborne illness, please visit:

www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/groups/consumers.html


Swimming Season Arrives
Department Reminds Citizens About Safe Swimming Practices

(May 23, 2017) – As warmer weather arrives and swimming pools reopen, Saint Louis residents are heading out to take part in the popular summer activity. During the swimming season, the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health reminds citizens that pool safety is a critical part of their summer fun.

“People should be aware of the risks associated with swimming,” said Dr. Fredrick Echols, director of Communicable Disease Control Services at the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health. “It is important that residents take proper pool safety and health measures to protect themselves and others.”

Checking the quality of the pool is the first step residents can take towards protecting individual and public health. Pool safety can be evaluated by doing the following:

  • Check the pool’s latest inspection report.
  • Make sure the drain at the bottom of the deep end is visible.
  • Check that the drain covers at the bottom appear to be secured and in good repair.
  • Check for a lifeguard: If on duty, a lifeguard should be focused on the swimmers and not distracted. If there is no lifeguard on duty, a "No Lifeguard on Duty" sign should be posted. In the case of no lifeguard, check to see where safety equipment, such as a rescue ring or pole, is located.
  • Make sure no chemicals are out in the open.

People are also encouraged to protect themselves and others from recreational water illnesses (RWIs) such as diarrheal illness, ear infections, rashes, and respiratory infections by taking the following measures:

  • Shower before entering the pool.
  • Stay out of the pool if you have an open wound that is not sealed with a waterproof bandage.
  • Do not swim if you have diarrhea or have been sick within the last two weeks. Even microscopic amounts of fecal matter can infect an entire pool and make others sick.
  • Take children on bathroom breaks and check diapers every hour. Change diapers in a bathroom or changing area, not by the poolside.

Finally, swimmers are encouraged to protect themselves against sunburn by regularly applying sunscreen that is SPF 15 or higher.

For more information about swimming pool safety and RWIs, visit:

cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/swimmers/steps-healthy-swimming.html
and
cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/swimmers/rwi.html


Bite Prevention Essential as Tick Season Arrives

(May 9, 2018) – As warmer weather arrives, the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health would like to remind residents to protect themselves from ticks. Besides being a nuisance, some ticks can transmit diseases, such as Lyme disease, to people.

“Tickborne illness is very serious and can cause lifelong health issues if contracted,” said Dr. Fredrick Echols, director of communicable disease control services for Saint Louis County Department of Public Health, “but thankfully there are measures the community can take to prevent these illnesses.”

The Saint Louis County Department of Public Health recommends a number of steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from ticks:

  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with tall grass and leaf litter. Walk in the center of trails.
  • Dress appropriately: wear light-colored clothing, wear long pants and sleeves, tuck in shirts, tuck pants into socks, and wear closed-toe shoes.
  • Use insect repellents on the skin that contain ≥20% DEET. (“Natural” products, such as citronella, are not effective.)
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear, or treat your gear and clothing with permethrin before departure.
  • Check for ticks. You should always check your body, clothing, gear, and pets for ticks during and after outdoor activities. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
  • Quickly removing attached ticks and showering within 2 hours of being in a tick-infested area reduces the risk of some tickborne diseases. You should also tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill any remaining ticks. Additional dry time may be needed if clothes are damp.
  • If you find a tick, use tweezers to grasp it as close to the skin as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth-parts easily, leave it alone and let the skin heal. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.

If you have been bitten by a tick and develop the symptoms below within a few weeks, contact your primary care provider for evaluation and to discuss potential treatment options:

  • Fever/chills: With all tickborne diseases, patients can experience fever at varying degrees and time of onset.
  • Aches and pains: Tickborne disease symptoms include headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. With Lyme disease you may also experience joint pain. The severity and time of onset of these symptoms can depend on the disease and the patient's personal tolerance level.
  • Rash: Lyme disease, southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF), ehrlichiosis, and tularemia can result in distinctive rashes:

For more information regarding tickborne diseases such as Lyme disease and others:
www.cdc.gov/ticks/diseases/index.html


Saint Louis County Department of Public Health Cautions Residents about Interaction with Wildlife

(May 9, 2018) – As warmer weather approaches and wildlife becomes more active, the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health wants to remind residents to always be cautious around wild animals. Particularly, the department cautions against bats, which can carry dangerous diseases such as rabies.

“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 also 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.

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 bats and wildlife control, visit:

www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/MosquitoControl/BatsandWildlifeControl

For more information about rabies, visit:

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


Prevention Essential During Mosquito Season

(May 2, 2018) – As the mosquito season arrives, the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health would like to remind residents to protect themselves. 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.

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. 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 vectorborne diseases such as West Nile Virus, and others, you may visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at https://www.cdc.gov.


St. Louis County Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Marks One Year Anniversary

(May 1, 2018) – St. Louis County’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) has just completed its first year of operations and is already a valuable tool in battling opioid addiction across the state.

“We started a County PDMP because Missouri was the only state without such a program,” said St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger at a news conference marking the first anniversary of the program’s operation. “We invited others to join us and already 79 percent of the state’s population is covered by our PDMP.”

A Prescription Drug Monitoring Program creates a confidential database of certain drug prescriptions that can be viewed only by physicians and pharmacists. The database helps ensure that patients aren’t “doctor shopping” to receive multiple opioid prescriptions. The goals of a PDMP are:

  • improve opioid prescribing by providing critical information regarding a patient’s controlled substance prescription history,
  • inform clinical practice by identifying patients at high-risk who would benefit from early interventions.
  • reduce the number of people who misuse, abuse, or overdose while making sure patients have access to safe, effective pain management.

Since its inception, St. Louis County’s PDMP has produced actionable monthly and quarterly data for all 58 participating jurisdictions. The data collected shows that these goals are being addressed. Physicians and pharmacists are actively using the PDMP to identify patients that need assistance for prevention of substance abuse or treatment of an existing disorder. Including 58 jurisdictions, the St. Louis County PDMP covers 79% of the population and 92% of all providers statewide. Over 6,600 healthcare providers are registered to utilize the PDMP. Among the findings during the PDMP’s first 12 months:

  • On average, 129,713 opioid prescriptions are dispensed to St. Louis County residents each month. These prescriptions account for an average of 3,125,266 opioid pills dispensed to St. Louis County residents monthly.
  • Approximately 21,000 controlled substances are dispensed daily from jurisdictions currently participating in the PDMP, and an average of 5,200 of those are dispensed daily in St. Louis County.
  • Hydrocodone, oxycodone, and tramadol are the three most frequently prescribed opioids and comprise 85% of opioid prescriptions.
  • In the past year, the PDMP multiple provider episode alert has been generated for 13,974 patients. The multiple provider episode alert generates when a patient has filled prescriptions written by 3 or more prescribers that are filled at 3 or more pharmacies within a 6 month period.
  • The average length of an opioid prescription is 16 days for St. Louis County residents.

In the last 7 years, there have been 1,045 opioid-related deaths in St. Louis County. In 2017, St. Louis County experienced 203 opioid-related deaths.

“There are still too many people dying from abuse and overdoses,” County Executive Stenger said. “But our prescription drug monitoring program is saving lives as part of a multi-faceted approach we are using to combat the opioid crisis in our community. County police and first responders have successfully used Narcan to reverse an overdose 146 times since 2016. The St. Louis County Public Health Department is also working with community partners to increase access to opioid treatment and recovery services.”

The U.S. Department of Justice awarded St. Louis County two grants totaling $1,000,000 to address the opioid epidemic. The County is using the money to cover all PDMP costs for participating jurisdictions for 2 years. This grant is also supporting PDMP engagement, education, and reporting.

“We are continually looking for new, effective ways to battle this opioid epidemic and stand ready to work with our entire community in addressing this scourge,” Stenger said.


Saint Louis County Encourages Increased Awareness and Testing on Women and Girl’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

(March 9, 2018) – National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is March 10th. Every year, this day is observed in order to give people an opportunity to reflect on the impact that HIV and AIDS has had on women and girls, and the unique challenges they face. It also serves as an opportunity to unify in response to the epidemic, increase awareness, celebrate the great strides made in prevention, care, and treatment, support people living with AIDS, and honor those that have been lost to AIDS. The goal is an AIDS-free generation.

“Saint Louis County Department of Public Health wants to create a favorable environment for residents and visitors who need access to HIV education, prevention, care, and treatment services,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health.

Everyone should know their status. Screening is key. Proper screening provides medical providers with the information they need to ensure people are properly treated and linked to appropriate medical and social services. The sooner treatment is started, the better the prognosis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), AIDS affects over 280,000 women aged 13 and older in the United States. Often, those who have contracted HIV/AIDS are unaware of it. To stop its spread, it is recommended that anyone who is sexually active get tested regularly.

Those who are interested in obtaining free HIV testing and screening for other sexually transmitted infections should visit www.GetTestedSTL.org or www.STLCondoms.com, as free STI and HIV screening is regularly offered by both the City and County health departments. This website serves as a comprehensive resource for finding free educational materials, safer sex resources, and local resources for sexual health testing, treatment, and support.

In addition to regular testing, other actions to take against the spread of HIV and STIs are:

  • Use condoms the right way every time you have sex. Learn the right way to use a male condom or a female condom.
  • Know your partner’s STI and HIV status.
  • Choose less risky sexual behaviors (https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/transmission.html).
  • Limit your number of sexual partners.
  • Never share needles.
  • Talk to your doctor about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), taking medicine daily to prevent HIV infection, if you are at high risk for HIV.
  • Talk to your doctor about post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) if you think you may have been exposed to HIV within the last 3 days through sex, sharing needles and works, or a sexual assault.

Additionally, if you think you may have a sexually transmitted infection, it is recommended that you contact your primary healthcare provider.

For more information about Women and Girl’s HIV/AIDS Day, please visit:

www.cdc.gov/Features/WomenGirlsHIVAIDS/index.html


Free STI and HIV Screenings Planned for World AIDS Day

(February 7, 2018) – Black HIV/AIDS Day is February 7th. Every year, Black HIV/AIDS Day is observed to give people an opportunity to reflect on the impact that HIV and AIDS have had on people and nations throughout the world. It also serves as an opportunity to unify in response to the epidemic, increase awareness, celebrate the great strides made in prevention, care, and treatment, support people living with AIDS, and honor those that have been lost to AIDS. The goal is an AIDS-free generation.

In recognition of Black HIV/AIDS Day, the City of St. Louis Department of Health, Williams and Associates Inc., and the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health will offer free STI and HIV screenings Wednesday, February 7th at the location listed below. Persons who come for the free screenings will be able to receive STI and HIV screening. Rapid screening, which take only 15-20 minutes, will be available for HIV and hepatitis C.

Free STI and HIV Testing
North Central Community Health Center (Buzz Westfall Room)
4000 Jennings Station Road, Pine Lawn, MO 63121
8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Williams and Associates Inc.; 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
1114 North Sarah Street; St. Louis (63113)
Free Screenings for HIV and Hepatitis C

Williams and Associates Inc.; 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
3737 N. Kingshighway Boulevard; St. Louis (63115)
Free Screenings for HIV and Hepatitis C

City of St. Louis Department of Health; 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
1520 Market Street; 1st Floor Lobby; St. Louis (63103)
Free Screenings for HIV and Educational Information

“When the HIV epidemic first started in the ‘80s, it was considered a death sentence,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health, “but with the biomedical advancements made since then, it can now be treated much more like a chronic disease. However, before treatment can begin, people need to know they have it. The sooner treatment is started, the better the prognosis. Testing is the key.”

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

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), AIDS affects 1.2 million people in the United States, and 1 in 8 of those people do not know they have it. To stop its spread, it is recommended that anyone who is sexually active get tested regularly.

Anyone unable to attend the free HIV screening event, but who is interested in obtaining free HIV testing and screening for other sexually transmitted infections should visit www.STLCondoms.com, as free STI and HIV screening is regularly offered by both the City and County health departments. This website serves as a comprehensive resource for finding free educational materials, safer sex resources, and local resources for sexual health testing, treatment, and support.

For more information about World AIDS Day, please visit:

http://www.cdc.gov/features/worldaidsday/index.html

Additionally, if you think you may have a sexually transmitted infection, it is recommended that you contact your primary healthcare provider.


Free STI and HIV Screenings Planned for World AIDS Day

(February 7, 2018) – Black HIV/AIDS Day is February 7th. Every year, Black HIV/AIDS Day is observed to give people an opportunity to reflect on the impact that HIV and AIDS have had on people and nations throughout the world. It also serves as an opportunity to unify in response to the epidemic, increase awareness, celebrate the great strides made in prevention, care, and treatment, support people living with AIDS, and honor those that have been lost to AIDS. The goal is an AIDS-free generation.

In recognition of Black HIV/AIDS Day, the City of St. Louis Department of Health, Williams and Associates Inc., and the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health will offer free STI and HIV screenings Wednesday, February 7th at the location listed below. Persons who come for the free screenings will be able to receive STI and HIV screening. Rapid screening, which take only 15-20 minutes, will be available for HIV and hepatitis C.

Free STI and HIV Testing
North Central Community Health Center (Buzz Westfall Room)
4000 Jennings Station Road, Pine Lawn, MO 63121
8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Williams and Associates Inc.; 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
1114 North Sarah Street; St. Louis (63113)
Free Screenings for HIV and Hepatitis C

Williams and Associates Inc.; 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
3737 N. Kingshighway Boulevard; St. Louis (63115)
Free Screenings for HIV and Hepatitis C

City of St. Louis Department of Health; 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
1520 Market Street; 1st Floor Lobby; St. Louis (63103)
Free Screenings for HIV and Educational Information

“When the HIV epidemic first started in the ‘80s, it was considered a death sentence,” said Dr. Faisal Khan, director of the Saint Louis County Department of Public Health, “but with the biomedical advancements made since then, it can now be treated much more like a chronic disease. However, before treatment can begin, people need to know they have it. The sooner treatment is started, the better the prognosis. Testing is the key.”

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

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), AIDS affects 1.2 million people in the United States, and 1 in 8 of those people do not know they have it. To stop its spread, it is recommended that anyone who is sexually active get tested regularly.

Anyone unable to attend the free HIV screening event, but who is interested in obtaining free HIV testing and screening for other sexually transmitted infections should visit www.STLCondoms.com, as free STI and HIV screening is regularly offered by both the City and County health departments. This website serves as a comprehensive resource for finding free educational materials, safer sex resources, and local resources for sexual health testing, treatment, and support.

For more information about World AIDS Day, please visit:

http://www.cdc.gov/features/worldaidsday/index.html

Additionally, if you think you may have a sexually transmitted infection, it is recommended that you contact your primary healthcare provider.