Advance Healthcare Directive Registry

man lying with laptop drinking coffee or teaAll adults can benefit from thinking about what their health care choices would be if they are unable to speak for themselves.  These decisions can be written down in an advance directive so that others know what they are.  VDH provides a free, secure tool to store end of life documents that protect your legal rights and ensure your medical wishes are honored if you are unable to manage your own care.  Visit the Advance Health Care Directive Registry to get started.

National Infant Immunization Week

This week, the Virginia Department of Health celebrates National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW).

NIIW is an annual observance that highlights the importance of vaccines for infants. The week celebrates the work of immunization programs and their partners in promoting healthy communities.

As part of NIIW, one healthcare provider in Virginia is selected as the state winner of the CDC Childhood Immunization Champion Award. This award recognizes a provider who contributes to public health by promoting childhood immunization.

This year’s CDC Childhood Immunization Champion Award winner is Dr. Cyrelda Fermin of Alexandria, VA. Dr. Fermin is a pediatrician who speaks English, Filipino, and Spanish. She uses her multilingual abilities to provide care for families who are not native English speakers. Through her efforts, she has helped ensure high pediatric immunization rates in her community.

Congratulations, Dr. Fermin! And congratulations to Donna Deadrick of Carilion Children’s Pediatric Medicine and Cathie Harrington of Wythe Physicians Practices who were also nominated. The hard work of healthcare professionals across the state helps to ensure a healthy start for Virginia’s youngest residents. VDH thanks everyone who serves as an immunization champion for their community!

National Minority Health Month

April is National Minority Health Month, a time to learn more about the health status of racial and ethnic minority populations in the U.S. The theme for 2018 is Partnering for Health Equity.
The theme emphasizes the importance of partnerships at the federal, state, local, tribal and territorial levels that help reduce the gap in health and health care for minorities.
VDH, through the Office of Health Equity, has an opportunity to renew its commitment to reduce health disparities and improve the health of minorities.
To learn more about the Office of Health Equity and its programs, please visit:

Request for Applications: Sexual Risk Avoidance Education

The Virginia Department of Health’s Abstinence Education Program “Sexual Risk Avoidance Education” is excited to announce the release of our Request for Applications (RFA)! In order to be eligible for “Sexual Risk Avoidance Education” funding, all agencies must apply through this competitive process. The RFA can be located at, RFA No. 705AO150, or under “Sexual Risk Avoidance Education”. Applications must be submitted by May 18, 2018 at 2:00pm EST.

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. 


Information on Mumps

  • Cases of mumps have recently been identified in Virginia, particularly among college-aged students. Local health department staff have been investigating these cases to determine epidemiologic links between them.
  • Mumps is an acute viral illness most often characterized by parotitis (swelling of the salivary glands), orchitis (swelling of the testes), or oophoritis (swelling of the ovaries) unexplained by a more likely diagnosis. Other symptoms may include low-grade fever, myalgia, anorexia, malaise, and headache. However, mumps infection may present as only nonspecific or primary respiratory symptoms and up to 20% of infections are asymptomatic.
  • The incubation period for mumps is roughly 18 days (range 12-25 days) and individuals are infectious from 3 days before until 5 days after the onset of parotitis.
  • While two-dose vaccination with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine is the best way to prevent mumps infection, the vaccine is not 100 percent effective.
  • If you are experiencing signs/symptoms of mumps, please contact your health care provider.
  • Local health departments also offer many routine vaccinations. Contact your local health department for more information.
  • A fact sheet on mumps may be found at

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.

National Public Health Week- Day 3

Each year, the first week of April serves as a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation’s health. Check back each day this week to learn more about what some local health districts are doing this year to celebrate public health and focus on making Virginia the healthiest state in the nation:

Richmond City Health District

Richmond City Health District (RCHD) is taking a different approach this year and bringing focus to one single topic: how the kinds of neighborhoods we live in create (or limit) our ability to pursue health and well-being. RCHD has partnered with 21 other organizations who are all in the housing space, or are deeply interested in the topic of mixed-income and mixed-use communities, for a campaign called The Power of Home. The campaign will include a spread in Style Weekly, 4 podcasts with local and national housing experts, social media messaging across all mediums, an email newsletter to 700 + RCHD contacts and an interview with RCHD Health Director Dr. Danny Avula on WRIR (97.3) on Monday, April 9 at 12pm. Learn more about RCHD and The Power of Home at

National Public Health Week- Day 2

Each year, the first week of April serves as a time to recognize the contributions of public health and highlight issues that are important to improving our nation’s health. Check back each day this week to learn more about what some local health districts are doing this year to celebrate public health and focus on making Virginia the healthiest state in the nation:

Crater Health District

Crater Health District is offering a packed schedule of National Public Health Week events this year, including a Health Education Outreach Fair, Farmer’s Market stands at local health departments, workshops, community conversations, and even a Public Health Parade! See the full schedule and learn more at