September 24-September 30 is Rabies Awareness Week in Virginia. Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system, and is most commonly found in wild animals, such as raccoons, foxes and skunks. Virginia’s Rabies Awareness Week centers around World Rabies Day, which falls this year on September 28.
There are many ways you can prevent and control the spread of rabies:
- Have your veterinarian vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and selected livestock. Keep the vaccinations up-to-date.
- If your pet is attacked or bitten by a wild animal, report it to the local health or animal control authorities. Be sure your vaccinated dog, cat, or ferret receives a booster vaccination.
- Limit the possibility of exposure by keeping your animals on your property. Don’t let pets roam free.
- Do not leave garbage or pet food outside. It may attract wild or stray animals.
- Do not keep wild animals as pets. Enjoy all wild animals from a distance, even if they seem friendly. A rabid animal sometimes acts tame. If you see an animal acting strangely, report it to your local animal control department and do not approach it.
- Contact your local health department if you think you or your pet may have been exposed.
One quarter of U.S. homes have septic systems. It’s important to maintain your system to protect your home, health, environment and property value. The Environmental Protection Agency offers many tips.
At VDH, the Division of Onsite Sewage and Water Services program protects public health and ground water quality through its wastewater program. Read more about the office.
Protect Your Pipes
Think at the Sink
Are you prepared? Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes. Establish a plan today to include where the family will meet during a disaster or an emergency. To start developing a plan consider these 4 steps:
Step 1: Discuss the following questions before developing a plan.
Step 2: Consider specific needs in your household. Consider the supplies and specific daily living needs for those your household.
- Different ages
- Dietary needs
- Languages spoken
- Pet or service animals
- Disabilities or access and functional needs including devices and equipment
Step 3: Fill out a Family Emergency Plan.
Step 4: Practice your plan with your family/household.
Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, a division of Pfizer Inc., is voluntarily recalling one lot of Children’s Advil® Suspension Bubble Gum Flavored 4 FL OZ Bottle because of customer complaints that the dosage cup provided is marked in teaspoons and the instructions on the label are described in milliliters (mL). Read more.
In 2017, 59% of Virginia adolescents were up to date with HPV vaccine series; 2016 rate was 39.2%. In 2017, 75.6% of Virginia adolescents had at least one HPV dose compared with 53.6% in 2016. Virginia had the largest increase in HPV up to date status and the largest average annual increase in HPV among all CDC awardees. Read the MMWR.
On Friday August 24th, the Virginia HPV Immunization Taskforce (VHIT) will present a screening of “Lady Ganga” from 2:30 – 3:30 pm at the Byrd Theater in Richmond, Va. You can learn about the importance of the HPV vaccine to prevent cancer and ask subject matter experts questions during the panel discussion after the film. Read More
The annual Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, is among the largest mass gatherings in the world. In 2018, Hajj will take place from approximately August 19-24, 2018.
Because of the crowds, mass gatherings such as Hajj are associated with unique health risks. Before you go, you should visit a travel health specialist for advice, make sure you are up to date on all routine and recommended vaccines, and learn about other health and safety issues that could affect you during your trip.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is one disease of special concern because it can cause severe respiratory disease and it has been found in Saudi Arabia and nearby countries. If you develop flu-like symptoms like fever, cough, and shortness of breath within 14 days after traveling, contact your doctor and mention your recent travel. Because the virus that causes MERS can spread by close contact, please call your healthcare provider before going to a doctor’s office, an urgent care facility or the emergency room so that they can make special arrangements to prevent the spread of germs to others. More information on MERS is available.
As I mentioned last week, the Deputy Commissioners, the Operations Directors, John Ringer (our Director of Strategic Planning), and myself recently held a leadership retreat. Our retreat focused on the functioning of the leadership team and working toward greater clarity on the direction of the agency.
As State Health Commissioner, I depend upon the team of Deputy Commissioners and Operations Directors. This team discusses the weekly activity of the agency, the strategic and programmatic direction of VDH, and fulfills a fiduciary responsibility as the financial stewards of the agency. I need their input, their counsel, and their decision-making authority to ensure the smooth functioning and well-being of VDH. I have asked that we establish a “Commissioner’s Leadership Team,” comprising the Deputy Commissioners and the Operations Directors. This Commissioner’s Leadership Team will take the place of the “Deputy Leadership Team.”
I noted last week, “Cohesive, behaviorally unified teams trust one another. They engage in unfiltered conflict and debate around ideas. They commit to decisions and action plans. They hold one another accountable to delivering against those plans. They focus on achieving results for the team. (See Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team for a brilliant depiction of what constitutes a good team.) Here’s a cartoon, depicting the five dysfunctions and the reasons teams need to overcome them:
Trust is a foundational behavior of well-functioning teams. As I explained last week, we did some work on further building trust among the senior leadership team. One of the tools that we used for this work was to develop a “Team Covenant” that put into written form the behaviors needed to ensure a highly reliable, well-functioning team. Here’s the covenant of the Commissioner’s Leadership Team:
VDH Commissioner’s Leadership Team Covenant
- Come to CLT not as advocates for our own shops, but with VDH’s strategic goals foremost in mind.
- Assume positive intention and full trust.
- Speak up and share divergent views.
- Encourage constructive dissent.
- Pledge that, once we have made a decision, we will be unified and committed to the decision’s success.
- Communicate with respect and professionalism.
- We will always ensure we are very clear about “who, what, when” and assign ownership for follow up when we make a decision or decide to decide later.
- Innovate and challenge the status quo.
- Be clear on who has the appropriate decision rights.
- Have the courage to acknowledge when we fall short or break this Covenant, and will work with our Team members to get back in Covenant.
If you catch one of the deputies, an Ops Director, or myself acting in accordance with our covenant, let us know. Reinforce that behavior! Of course, we’re human beings; so, if you notice us breaking our covenant, give us a little nudge to help us get back on track. I hope other leadership teams in the agency will emulate us and develop covenants of their own. If we all start behaving in congruence with our values, VDH can go from being a good organization to a truly great one.
Have a great week!
(Pronouns: he, his, him)