Roughly a dozen Vibrio species are known to cause a bacterial disease called vibriosis in humans, with the most common in the United States being V. parahaemolyticus, V. vulnificus, and V. alginolyticus. The Vibrio species that cause vibriosis naturally live in the salt or brackish (i.e., somewhat salty) waters of Virginia’s coastal zone. People with vibriosis become infected by eating raw or undercooked seafood or exposing a wound to seawater. Most infections occur from May through October when water temperatures are warmer. Vibrio vulnificus, in particular, can cause severe or fatal infections. Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions such as liver disease, diabetes, HIV, cancer, and certain stomach disorders are at greater risk of becoming sick with vibriosis and experiencing severe complications.
Remember these helpful tips for preventing Vibrio infection:
- Eat cooked seafood, which tastes just as delicious!
- Avoid contact with seawater or preparing raw seafood such as oysters and shrimp if you have an open wound, even if it’s a minor cut or scrape. Or cover your wound with a waterproof bandage.
- Wash wounds and cuts with soap and clean water if they have been exposed to seawater, raw seafood, or juices from seafood.
Learn more about Vibrio.
Before you take off for a getaway, business trip, or family visit, there are some things you should know about Zika. Use these tips to plan ahead:
Before your trip:
- If you are pregnant, do not travel to an area with Zika. If you or your partner are trying to get pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider before traveling to an area with Zika.
- Check the latest travel recommendations from the CDC
During your trip:
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites
- Keep mosquitoes outside by staying in places with air-conditioning and windows and doors, or use a bed net
After your trip:
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
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In 2014, there were 6,471 new cases of breast cancer in Virginia. Every Woman’s Life (EWL) helps low-income, uninsured women between the ages of 18-64 get FREE breast cancer screening. If these tests lead to a cancer diagnosis, successful treatment can increase dramatically with early detection. Find out if you are eligible for EWL, and schedule your annual screening today.
Domestic Violence, also known as intimate partner violence, happens to 37% of US women and almost 31% of US 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.
In Virginia there were 124 family and intimate partner homicides, which is 32% of all homicides. Almost 3 out of 4 victims of intimate partner homicide are women.
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.
Virginia will participate Saturday, October 28, 2017 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. Last year, Virginia collected 22,855 pounds of prescription drugs from over 200 collection sites statewide.
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.
Protecting children from exposure to lead is important to lifelong good health. No safe blood lead level in children has been identified. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. The effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected. Prevent lead poisoning. Get your home tested. Get your child tested. Get the facts!
The goal is to prevent lead exposure to children before they are harmed. There are many ways parents can reduce a child’s exposure to lead. The most important is stopping children from coming into contact with lead. Lead hazards in a child’s environment must be identified and controlled or removed safely.
Lead-based paint and lead contaminated dust are the most hazardous sources of lead for U.S. children. Lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978. All houses built before 1978 are likely to contain some lead-based paint. However, it is the deterioration of this paint that causes a problem.
Visit Lead Safe Virginia to learn more about protecting children from lead exposure and learn more about how VDH protects your drinking water from unsafe lead levels.
Need coffee? Then you need water. On October 12, try to Imagine a Day without Water. Then find out more about the Virginia Department of Health Office of Drinking Water, working year-round to help Virginia’s drinking water treatment plants provide clean running water. The mission of the Office of Drinking Water is to protect public health by ensuring that all people in Virginia have access to an adequate supply of clean, safe drinking water that meets federal and state drinking water standards.
September 25-October 1 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.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists “Safer and Healthier Foods” as one of the Ten Great Public Health Achievements in the 20th Century. September is National Food Safety Education Month and National Family Meals Month, and we use this month to celebrate our accomplishments and to educate on the importance of good food safety habits.
Think you know your food safety facts? Take our quiz to find out how much you know!
Question 1: How many Americans get sick each year from foodborne illness?
Answer: It’s estimated that 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick each year! 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.
Question 2: Which group(s) of people are more likely to get food poisoning or to get seriously ill from it?
Answer: E. All of the above. Learn about why these groups are more at risk on CDC’s website:
CDC- Prevent Food Poisoning (en español: CDC- Prevenga la intoxicación alimentaria)
- Children under age 5
- Adults age 65 and older
- People with weak immune systems
- Pregnant women
- All of the above
Question 3: Pregnant women are __________ times more likely to get a Listeria infection.
Answer: C. Pregnant women are 20 times more likely to get a Listeria infection. Listeriosis is a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes
Question 4: One out of __________ children diagnosed with E. coli O157 infection develops kidney failure.
Answer: B. One out of seven
children diagnosed with E. coli
O157 infection develops kidney failure. These are life threatening infections that can be prevented. Learn how to protect yourself and your family from E. coli
Question 5: What are the top 4 contributing factors to outbreaks in restaurants?
Answer: Contributing factors are behaviors, practices, and environmental conditions that lead to outbreaks. Knowing the contributing factors can help us stop outbreaks and prevent future ones.
The top four contributing factors to outbreaks in restaurants are:
- Sick food worker contaminates ready-to-eat food through bare-hand contact.
- Sick food worker contaminates food through a method other than hand contact, such as with a utensil they contaminated.
- Sick food worker contaminates ready-to-eat food through glove-hand contact.
- Food handling practices lead to growth of pathogens, such as food not kept cold enough.
Want to learn more food safety tips? Check out My Meal Detective for short videos that will help you learn how to prevent and report foodborne illness. For more information on general food safety, visit the VDH Food Safety page and: