Antibiotics Awareness Week – November 12th-18th

This important week alerts individuals to the growing threat of antibiotic resistance – a serious public health issue – and urges everyone to use antibiotics appropriately.

What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance is when bacteria in your body are able to fight the drugs designed to kill them. The antibiotics become useless, and the harmful bacteria are still in your body.

How does antibiotic resistance occur?

Resistance happens when you are exposed to antibiotics inappropriately or over and over again.

How can I protect myself?

Use antibiotics appropriately! This means only taking antibiotics that are prescribed to you, and to take your antibiotics exactly as they are prescribed. It is also important that you do not take antibiotics for infections caused by viruses, because antibiotics do not kill viruses. Some common infections caused by viruses are the common cold, the flu, and most sore throats.

To raise awareness for this week, the Healthcare-Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance (HAI/AR) team at VDH challenged nurses across Virginia to join the fight by studying educational material about antibiotic resistance and completing a quiz to test their knowledge. This initiative was designed to help your nurses protect you from antibiotic resistance. The challenge will wrap up on November 15th. Keep an eye out on the VDH social media pages for results!

The HAI/AR team also released a special edition newsletter about Antibiotics Awareness Week, which spotlights hospital systems committed to reducing antibiotic resistance.

We hope you will use the resources provided in the above links to arm yourselves with information and do your part to reduce antibiotic resistance!

Get Your Flu Shot!

miss the fluBy now, you probably know that it is recommended that everyone 6 months of age or older receive a flu vaccination each year. While it’s best to get your flu shot as soon as it is available (sometimes as early as August)! Flu season usually peaks in January or February and continues through May. Getting a flu shot is not only the single best way to protect yourself from getting sick, it’s also the best way to prevent the spread of flu to others.

Help us make Virginia the healthiest state in the nation by getting a flu shot and encouraging your friends and family to get one as well.

It is important to get a flu shot even if you had one last year. Your immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccination is needed to get the best protection against the flu.

The flu is a serious disease, especially for certain age groups and people with certain chronic health conditions, such as:

  • Children younger than five, but especially younger than two years old
  • Adults 65 years of age or older
  • Women who are pregnant or just had a baby
  • People with chronic health conditions

Remember, a flu shot cannot cause illness.

To find out where to get a flu shot in your area, contact your local health department or use the vaccine finder. And visit our Miss The Flu page for more information on how to miss the flu, not your life!

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic Violence, also known as intimate partner violence, happens to women and men. Intimate partner violence includes:

  • physical violence,
  • sexual violence,
  • threats of physical or sexual violence,
  • stalking and
  • emotional or psychological abuse

by a current or former intimate partner. This type of violence can happen to anyone, even if you aren’t sexually intimate. It can range from a single episode of violence to severe episodes over many years.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the Virginia Family Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-838-8238 or the LGBTQ Partner Abuse and Sexual Assault Helpline, 1-800-356-6998. If you are not able to call you can text, 804-793-9999. If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.

Tricks and Treats for Having a Food Safe Halloween

Avoid the real horrors of Halloween by learning how to keep you and your family members safe from foodborne illness. Follow these tips to scare away food safety hazards:

  • Remind kids (and adults!) to wash their hands before and after enjoying their Halloween treats.
  • Going trick or treating?
    • Inspect candy before eating. Look for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance, discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers.
    • If your child has a food allergy, check food labels to make sure the allergen is not present.
  • Hosting a Halloween party?
    • Prevent frightful bacteria from multiplying by keeping foods at the right temperature. Don’t keep perishable foods out for more than two hours at room temperature (or 1 hour in temperatures above 90°F).
    • If you bake Halloween treats, don’t taste dough and batters that contain uncooked eggs. These items may harbor Salmonella, bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Salmonella live on both the outside and inside of normal-looking eggs.
    • Beware of spooky cider! Unpasteurized juice or cider can contain harmful bacteria such as coli and Salmonella. Serve products labeled as pasteurized to keep these bacteria from creeping up on you.
    • Say “boo” to bacteria during a bobbing for apples game. Rinse apples and other raw fruits under cool running water, and use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.

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

FDA- Halloween Food Safety Tips for Parents

Fight BAC!- Halloween Food Safety How-To

FoodSafety.gov- Avoid “Nightmares” on Halloween: Food Safety Tips

StateFoodSafety.com- Food Safety Talkabout: Halloween

Prescription Drug Take-Back Day October 27

Pills spilling out of pill bottle on blue background. with copy space. Medicine conceptVirginia will participate Saturday, October 27, 2018 in the fourteenth National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. If you have unused, expired or unwanted medications, drop them off at a collection site in your area from 10am-2pm, no questions asked. Drop off is free and anonymous.

Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the U.S. When you have unused or expired medications lying around, they could fall into the wrong hands and be abused. And flushing medications down the toilet is dangerous to public health. Dropping your medications off at a collection site is a quick and safe way to make sure they are disposed of properly.

Learn more

Rabies Awareness

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.

Do Your Part- Be Septic Smart!

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

National Preparedness Month – Week 2

Graphic shows an image of a beige color home with trees surrounding it and a red car in the driveway. Surrounding the image of the home is arrows pointed at different areas giving tips on how to keep each part of the home secure.

  1. Know basic home maintenance to protect your family and home.
  • Put smoke alarms on every level of your home, test them monthly, and replace them when they are 10 years old.
  • Protect your family by installing a carbon monoxide detector.
  • Have chimneys and vents cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional at least once a year to prevent home fires.
  • Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet from your furnace, water heater, and other heat-generating equipment.
  1. Do you know how to turn off the gas in your home? Learn how to turn off utilities like natural gas in case you ever have a gas emergency in your home.
  2. Be prepared for a power outage by having enough food, water, batteries, flashlight & meds for all family members to last for at least 72 hours: ready.gov/kit.
  3. Know basic First Aid, CPR and Fire Safety skills. Practice how to “Drop down onto your hands and knees. Cover your head and neck with your arms. Hold on to any sturdy covering until the shaking stops. Learn actions to save a life: https://community.fema.gov/until-help-arrives.

 

National Preparedness Month – Make A Plan

Make a Plan. Include your specific health and safety needs when creating your emergency plan. ready.gov/myplan

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.