Giant Hogweed Detected in Virginia

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has confirmed the presence of Giant hogweed, Heracleum mantegazzianum, in Clarke County. The Giant hogweed was planted at the site by a previous homeowner for ornamental purposes. VDACS employees are working with the homeowner in an effort to eradicate the weed from the Clarke County site. Read more

Be Food Safe This Summer

Summer has begun, which means that many people in Virginia will be taking out their grills and spending more time outdoors. Follow these tips for your cookout for safe and enjoyable outdoor cooking all summer long!

Bringing perishable or raw foods to a picnic or cookout?

Bacteria grows faster in warm temperatures. Be sure that these foods don’t spend more than:

  • one hour sitting out when the temperature is above 90˚F or
  • two hours when temperatures are below 90˚F.

Use an insulated cooler to help keep foods colds. Foods that need to be kept cold include:

  • raw meat, poultry, and seafood;
  • deli and luncheon meats or sandwiches;
  • summer salads (tuna, chicken, egg, pasta, or seafood);
  • cut up fruit and vegetables; and perishable dairy products.

To help keep your food cooler for longer:

  • keep your cooler full,
  • place the cooler in the shade, and
  • avoid opening the cooler.

Cooking on a grill?

Keep your food safe by remembering these four steps: clean, separate, cook, and chill.

  • Clean: Start with clean surfaces and clean hands.
  • Separate: Keep raw meat and poultry separate from your veggies. Keep cooked foods away to avoid potential cross-contamination.
  • Cook: Your food thermometer is your grill’s most important tool! Check the temperature of your meats, poultry, seafood, and other cooked foods before taking them off the grill to make sure they have reached a safe internal temperature.
  • Chill: Bacteria grow most rapidly in the temperature “danger zone,” between 40°F and 140°F. It’s essential to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Hot foods can be kept on the grill and cold foods can always be chilled with packs of ice or in a cooler.

Also, be sure to check out My Meal Detective for short videos on all four of these steps and learn how to prevent foodborne illness.

For more information on general and summer food safety, visit the VDH Food Safety page and:

FDA Takes Action Against the Use of OTC Benzocaine Teething Products Due to Serious Safety Risk, Lack of Benefit

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning that over-the-counter (OTC) oral drug products containing benzocaine should not be used to treat infants and children younger than 2 years. We are also warning that benzocaine oral drug products should only be used in adults and children 2 years and older if they contain certain warnings on the drug label. These products carry serious risks and provide little to no benefits for treating oral pain, including sore gums in infants due to teething. Benzocaine, a local anesthetic, can cause a condition in which the amount of oxygen carried through the blood is greatly reduced. This condition, called methemoglobinemia, can be life-threatening and result in death. Read More

May is Better Hearing & Speech Month!

communication for all better hearing & speech month

Communication disorders are among the most common disabilities in children nationwide, with 11% of children ages 3–6 having a speech, language, voice, or swallowing disorder—and almost 15% of school-age children experiencing some degree of hearing loss. Timely intervention is important, as untreated speech/language and hearing disorders can lead to problems with reading and writing, academic success, social interactions, behavioral problems, and more. These disorders are highly treatable and, in some cases, can be reversed or even prevented. The Virginia Early Hearing Detection and Intervention program (EHDI) encourages families to learn the early signs of hearing loss and seek follow up testing as early as possible for their child. Please join the VA EHDI program in raising awareness for better hearing and speech development for children during the entire month of May!

Rose Acre Farms Recalls Shell Eggs Due to Possible Health Risk

Rose Acre Farms of Seymour, Indiana is voluntarily recalling 206,749,248 eggs because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella Braenderup, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals infected with SalmonellaBraenderup can experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella Braenderup 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.

The eggs were distributed from the farm in Hyde County, North Carolina and reached consumers in the following states: Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia through retail stores and restaurants via direct delivery.

Read more about the recall. 

 

Treat Me Right: Strong provider-patient relationships contribute to good sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevention

April is STD Awareness Month! The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are reaching out to healthcare providers and patients alike with this very important message: Treat

 

 Me Right.

What does that mean?

For providers, this involves many aspects of patient care – from fostering a trusting patient-provider relationship to ensuring that your patients are correctly diagnosed and treated – and everything in between.

For patients, this means knowing what you can do to stay safe and healthy and how to directly ask your provider for the care that you need and deserve.

At a time when STDs are at a record high, it’s never been more important to protect your patients’ sexual health as a provider, or stand up for your own sexual health as a patient. Having a strong patient-provider relationship is always important, and the stronger these relationships are, the weaker STDs will become.

Health Alert: Synthetic Cannabinoids & Severe Bleeding

What are synthetic cannabinoids?

Synthetic cannabinoids are man-made mind-altering chemicals that are either sprayed on dried, shredded plant material so they can be smoked or sold as liquids to be vaporized and inhaled in e-cigarettes and other devices. They also can be in herbal or liquid incense.  Synthetic cannabinoids may also be called fake weed, legal weed, K2, or spice.

How do people use synthetic cannabinoids?

The most common way to use synthetic cannabinoids is to smoke the dried plant material. Other methods of use include mixing with marijuana, brewing as a tea, or using the liquid form in an e-cigarette.  When in the form of herbal or liquid incense, the product is often smoked, even though the packages are usually labelled as incense or potpourri and not for human consumption.

What are some health effects of synthetic cannabinoids?

People who use synthetic cannabinoids have shown severe effects including rapid heart rate, vomiting, violent behavior, suicidal thoughts, and increases in blood pressure, kidney damage and seizures.

Why are synthetic cannabinoids a public health concern?

On March 23, 2018, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reported an unusual cluster of cases involving four individuals with severe bleeding cause by a vitamin K-dependent coagulopathy. As of April 4, 2018, IDPH has received reports of 81 cases, including two deaths. All cases were associated with using synthetic cannabinoid products before the severe bleeding started.  For more information on the situation in Illinois, please visit here.

On April 4, 2018, the first case of a similar illness was reported in Virginia.  The cause of this severe bleeding is not clear. It could be poison such as rat poison contaminating the synthetic cannabinoid, or it could be due to the particular drug used. The drugs used in synthetic cannabinoids are not studied to make sure they are safe before they are sold.  In the past, there have been other situations in which people who used synthetic cannabinoids got sick with confusion, seizures, hallucinations, psychosis, or heart attack, and in some cases dying.

What should I do if I used synthetic cannabis?

If you notice any signs of unusual or unexplained bleeding, including nosebleeds, bleeding gums, unexplained bruising, vomiting blood, blood in urine or stool, or heavy period bleeding, go to an emergency room or urgent care immediately. Do not drive yourself, because you could pass out suddenly while driving.  Have a friend drive you or call 911. Tell the doctor that you used synthetic cannabis. There is a simple test that can tell if you might be having trouble with your blood clotting.

As a clinical provider, what do I do to report a case of unexplained bleeding related to synthetic cannabinoid use?

If you encounter a patient with significant bleeding and an elevated International Normalized Ratio (INR) without another identified cause (e.g., taking warfarin or overdose of rat poison), please promptly report to  poison control at 1-800-222-1222.