Want to help in an emergency? Sign up for the Va MRC

medical reserve corps at an eventWhen emergencies like hurricanes hit Virginia, there are ways you can help. One way is by joining the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC).  Virginia’s MRC is a force of dedicated volunteers who stand ready to support the community in the event of a public health emergency. Each of Virginia’s 27 local MRC units is comprised of teams of medical and public health professionals who, along with interested community members, volunteer their skills, expertise and time to support ongoing public health initiatives and assist during emergencies throughout Virginia. Learn more and sign up.

Keep Foodborne Illness at Bay on Super Bowl Sunday

Super Bowl Sunday implies food, fun and football, but it can also bring a fourth ‘F’: foodborne illness. The good news is that this does not have to be the case. Follow these winning food safety plays and you will be ready to score a ‘win’ for food safety on game day:

  1. Have a good game-day warm-up by keeping things CLEAN. Before you eat or handle food, wash your hands, food prep tools and surfaces. Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water to avoid spreading bacteria to other surfaces. Also wash cutting boards, utensils and other surfaces before and after each use.
  2. SEPARATE raw meat and poultry from ready-to-eat foods to keep up a good defense. Be sure to use clean and different utensils for each dish.
  3. Avoid a false start- COOK to the correct temperature. Use a food thermometer to check that foods cook to the right temperature. This includes cooking to 165°F for chicken and 160°F for ground beef.
  4. Watch the clock to stay CHILL. Throw away perishable foods that sit at room temperature for more than two hours, or one hour if it’s 90°F or warmer. Also, take a timeout before halftime to check that food is out of the “danger zone” between 40°F to 140°F.

Follow these tips and you’ll be ready to score a touchdown for food safety!

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

 

Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

january is cervical cancer awareness monthCervical Cancer Awareness Month is an annual observance in January to raise awareness of cervical cancer prevention, causes, diagnoses, treatments and survivorships. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report more than 12,500 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014. Women between the ages of 21 – 65 should receive a routine cervical cancer screening with a Pap smear every 3 years; women ages 30 – 65 can also receive a Human Papillomavirus (HPV) test with their Pap smear every 5 years. HPV is a common virus that causes nearly all cervical cancers. Protect yourself and loved ones from cancerous types of HPV by getting the HPV vaccine; people between the ages of 9 – 26 old can receive the HPV vaccine. Keep yourself and your loved ones free from cervical cancer and HPV by talking with your doctor about getting a Pap smear and the HPV vaccine.

Sexually-transmitted Zika case in L.A. County

Los Angeles County officials last week reported that a woman had been infected with the Zika virus by her partner, in the first case of sexually transmitted Zika virus in the county. A man who lives in L.A. County traveled to Mexico and became infected with Zika in early November, and shortly afterward his female partner, who didn’t travel to Mexico, also developed the infection, officials said. Learn more

Opioids now kill more people than breast cancer

(CNN)More than 63,600 lives were lost to drug overdose in 2016, the most lethal year yet of the drug overdose epidemic, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most of those deaths involved opioids, a family of painkillers including illicit heroin and fentanyl as well as legally prescribed medications such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. In 2016 alone, 42,249 US drug fatalities — 66% of the total — involved opioids, the report says. That’s over a thousand more than the 41,070 Americans who die from breast cancer every year. Learn more

Oregon Health Authority: OSU requires vaccinations in light of sixth meningococcal disease case

Health officials today reported a sixth case of meningococcal disease infecting a student enrolled at Oregon State University in Corvallis, and are encouraging undergraduate students during winter break to receive vaccinations for meningococcal B disease.

“Oregon State University takes the health and welfare of its students, employees and the general public very seriously,” said Steve Clark, OSU vice president for university relations and marketing.

“Effective immediately, Oregon State University will require all of its Corvallis students 25 and younger to be vaccinated for meningococcal B disease by Feb. 15,” he said. “Prior to this latest case, vaccinations were encouraged for all OSU students 25 years and under, but required for all incoming first-year students and transfer students.” Learn more

Allergic to eggs? You can now get the flu shot, new guidelines say

Most flu vaccines administered today are manufactured using chicken eggs and contain trace amounts of a protein called ovalbumin. But a paper published Tuesday in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology found the flu shot to be safe and recommended its use for people who are allergic to eggs. “People with egg allergy of any severity can receive the influenza vaccine without any special precautions,” said Dr. Matthew Greenhawt, the paper’s lead author and chairman of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Food Allergy Committee. The new findings mean that even more people will be able to get their recommended flu shot without sacrificing peace of mind. Learn more 

Be Food Safe This Holiday Season

food safety graphicFood safety is important for keeping your holiday gathering happy and healthy. However, food safety can be a challenge during the holiday season. Group gatherings may include more dishes than there is room for in the refrigerator or oven. Guest lists may also include those who are more vulnerable to illness, such as older people, young children, and pregnant women.

Follow these tips for a food-safe, happy holiday season:

Happy Handling

  • It’s flu season! Wash your hands well to prevent the spread of germs, using soap and clean running water for at least 20 seconds. This will help prevent the spread of bacteria from raw poultry, too.
  • Wash all fresh produce to reduce the potential for bacterial contamination.
  • Don’t forget to also wash utensils and work surfaces to protect your food and family!

Let’s Talk Turkey

Follow the tips in the infographic (right) to make sure your turkey is both delicious and safe to serve.

Cooking for a large group?

  • Prepare uncooked recipes before recipes that include raw meat. Also, store uncooked items out of the way while preparing meat dishes. These steps will help to reduce cross-contamination.
  • Cook to the proper temperature, and use a thermometer!
  • Remember the golden rule: Keep hot food hot and cold food cold! Use chafing dishes or crock pots and ice trays. Hot items should stay above 140 ˚F, and cold items should stay below 40 ˚F.
  • Discard perishable foods left out for 2 hours or more. Plan to refrigerate any leftovers within 2 hours of preparation.

Eating Out?

Follow these four tips from CDC to prevent food poisoning:

  1. Check inspections online for the restaurant you plan to go to. Restaurant inspection data for Virginia is available by health district here.
  2. Make sure that the restaurant is clean. If not, you may want to visit a different establishment.
  3. Check that your food is completely cooked. Send back any undercooked food, as it may contain harmful bacteria.
  4. Refrigerate leftovers within 4 hours of eating. Eat leftovers within 3 to 4 days from purchase.

View our My Meal Detective videos to learn how to prevent and report foodborne illness. For more information on general food safety, visit the VDH Food Safety page and:

CDC- Food Safety Tips for the Holidays and Tips for Your Holiday Turkey

FDA- Food Safety Tips for Healthy Holidays

FightBAC.org- Holiday Food Safety Resources (includes recipes and kids games and activities)

FoodSafety.gov- Thanksgiving and Winter Holidays

USDA- Seasonal Food Safety