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.
All adults should get vaccines to protect their health. Even healthy adults can become seriously ill and pass diseases on to others. Everyone should have their vaccination needs assessed at their doctor’s office, pharmacy, or other visits with health care providers. Certain vaccines are recommended based on a person’s age, occupation, or health conditions (such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes or heart disease).
Vaccination is important because it protects the person receiving the vaccine and helps prevent the spread of disease, especially to those who are most vulnerable to serious complications (such as infants and young children, the elderly, and those with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems).
August 1-7, 2017 is World Breastfeeding Week. This year’s theme is Sustaining Breastfeeding Together. This year’s theme is about the importance of community and family support in a woman’s effort to breastfeed. As a collective, family, government, healthcare providers and employers all shift and impact a mother’s experience with breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding provides babies the perfect nutrition, and everything they need for healthy growth and development. Breastfeeding is good for mom too and reduces her risk for certain cancers. The commonwealth of Virginia protects the rights of families to breastfeed whenever and wherever baby is hungry.
The first week is focused on babies and young children. Vaccines give parents the safe, proven power to protect their children from 14 serious diseases before they turn 2 years old.
- Vaccinating your children according to the recommended schedule is one of the best ways you can protect them from 14 harmful and potentially deadly diseases like measles and whooping cough (pertussis) before their second birthday.
- Children who don’t receive recommended vaccines are at risk of (1) getting the disease or illness and (2) having a severe case of the disease or illness. You can’t predict or know in advance if an unvaccinated child will get a vaccine-preventable disease, nor can you predict or know how severe the illness will be or become.
- Vaccines don’t just protect your child. Immunization is a shared responsibility. Families, health care professionals and public health officials must work together to help protect the entire community – especially babies who are too young to be vaccinated themselves.
Did you know July is National Grilling Month? Summer is a great time for outdoor events and activities, but it’s also peak season for foodborne illness. Follow these tips for a safe and healthy grilling season:
Raw meat, poultry, and seafood items should be the last items to go in your grocery cart. Separate these raw food items from other food in your shopping cart and grocery bags. Use individual plastic bags for each raw food item to protect against cross-contamination.
Keep meat, poultry, and seafood refrigerated until you are ready to grill. Keep these items below 40°F during transport and use an insulated cooler.
Wash your hands with soap before and after handling raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Don’t forget to also wash work surfaces, utensils, and the grill before and after cooking.
Meat and poultry color is not a good indicator of safety. Use a food thermometer to check that meat is cooked enough to kill harmful germs. If you use a smoker, keep temperatures inside the smoker at 225°F to 300°F to keep meat a safe temperature while it cooks.
- 145°F – whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal (stand-time of 3 minutes at this temperature)
- 145°F – fish
- 160°F – hamburgers and other ground beef
- 165°F – all poultry and pre-cooked meats, like hot dogs
After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot at 140 °F or warmer until it’s time to serve.
Check your grill and tools
Clean the grill with a moist cloth or paper towel before cooking. Bristles from wire bristle brushes can also dislodge and stick into food the next time you cook. Check the grill’s surface before cooking to make sure no wires are stuck.
Toss marinades and sauces that have touched raw meat juices to avoid spreading germs to cooked foods. Harmful bacteria in raw meat and juices can contaminate cooked food; use clean utensils and a clean plate to remove cooked meat from the grill.
Check out My Meal Detective for short videos on these tips and learn how to prevent and report foodborne illness. For more information on grilling and general food safety, visit the VDH Food Safety page and:
Sunscreen is a proven way to protect yourself against sunburns and skin cancer. Use sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection. Remember to reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours and after swimming, sweating, and toweling off.
When the first test for HIV became available in 1985, it was known how HIV was spread, but not how to treat it. Thirty years later, there are now three dozen medications to treat HIV. People at high risk for HIV infection can take 1 pill a day to prevent getting HIV. It is called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP. Daily PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90%. For people who inject drugs, it reduces the risk by more than 70%. Learn about PrEP effectiveness at Virginia > AIDS Let’s talk About PrEP.
Getting an HIV test has never been more important. Most new HIV infections occur among persons who are unaware of their HIV status. Early detection of HIV is crucial for HIV-positive persons to remain in good health. For this reason, the CDC recommends that anyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested at least once in their lifetime. CDC recommends those that may be at higher risk get tested more often. A general rule for those with any risk factors is to get tested at least once a year.
Learn about HIV testing options in Virginia. Virginia locations offer both free and low-cost options with results ready in as little as one minute. In recognition of National HIV Testing Day on June 27th, take some time out of your day to get your test for HIV. Feel free to use the testing locator on this page to find a testing location near you. Together, we can all do our part to end the HIV epidemic in Virginia.
In Virginia, the leading causes of death for men are cancer and heart disease. Virginians can take action by encouraging men and boys to make health a priority.
Men can become healthier by making healthy choices daily. Some steps to becoming healthier include:
- Going to annual doctor’s appointments and screenings.
- Quitting all tobacco use.
- Wearing sunscreen when outdoors.
- Getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
- Exercising at least 30 minutes every day.
- Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables .
These are just a few of the things that men and boys can do to stay healthy. During this men’s health month encourage the men in your life to make a promise to eat healthy, be active and go to regular checkups and screenings.
As the weather warms up and you plan on spending more time outdoors be sure to keep the bugs away while you play! Ticks and Mosquitoes can make you sick. They can carry illnesses like Lyme disease, West Nile and Zika. Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents to keep you and your family safe this summer.
EMS Week in Virginia, May 21-27, honors EMS responders’ commitment to providing lifesaving services. EMS for Children Day, May 24, focuses on raising awareness of specialized care for pediatric patients. Last year, EMS providers responded to nearly 1.5 million calls for help in Virginia, approximately 4,063 incidents per day.
Many EMS agencies across the state will host community activities, including first aid classes, health and safety fairs, open houses, fundraising dinners and more. These family-friendly events welcome everyone to come out and get to know the first responders in their neighborhoods.
To learn more about the Virginia Department of Health’s Office of EMS, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/emergency-medical-services/.