It’s Tick Season! Tips on Preventing Tick Bites

tick warning signTicks & Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is the most common disease caused by ticks in Virginia and the United States. For the last 10 years, Virginia has reported over 1,000 cases each year. The CDC estimated that the actual number may be 10 times greater. The number of cases has risen recently, with 2017 being the highest year on record, with 1,652 cases reported. 

Lyme disease is usually transmitted by the tiny, black-colored nymph stage Blacklegged Ticks. They measure less than 1/16 of an inch in length. Ticks are mostly found on the ground in wooded areas that have dense leaf litter. Pets may also bring ticks into the home.

Symptoms

Due to this tick’s small size and painless bite, people are often unaware they were bitten unless they see the tick attached to their skin. The first symptom of Lyme disease includes a rash that may appear as a bullseye. Other symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Prevention

To prevent ticks, use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellents on your shoes, socks, and lower legs containing:

  • DEET (20%-50% concentration),
  • Picaridin,
  • IR3535,
  • Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE),
  • Para-menthane-diol (PMD), or
  • 2-undecanone

Please follow the label when using any repellent. These repellents are also useful against other ticks and mosquitoes.  

Pants, shoes, and socks can also be treated with Permethrin (an insecticide safe for use on clothing worn by people). Carefully follow label instructions on Permethrin when treating clothing. Permethrin should not be directly applied to the skin. Anything treated with it should be completely dry before use. It is advised to tuck your treated pants into your treated socks.

After you return indoors, check your clothing and do a full body check for ticks. Examine gear and pets for ticks and shower within 2 hours of being outdoors. This helps wash off unattached ticks and will help you do a full body check.

https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/content/uploads/sites/12/2019/08/Tick-borne-Disease-in-Virginia-Flyer-8.5-x-11-format-for-website-.pdf

Virginia Department of Health’s Child and Adult Care Food Program Granted Extensions by USDA Food and Nutrition Service

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — June 14, 2022
Media Contact:  Brookie Crawford, brookie.crawford@vdh.virginia.gov

Virginia Department of Health’s Child and Adult Care Food Program Granted Extensions by USDA Food and Nutrition Service

RICHMOND, VA – Today, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced the release of an extension to several nationwide waivers to help providers in the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) to continue to meet the nutritional needs of child and adult participants during the public health emergency caused by COVID-19.

CACFP is a federal program that provides reimbursements for nutritious meals and snacks to eligible children and adults who are enrolled for care at participating child care centers, day care homes, and adult day care centers.

The extension now allows these waivers to remain in effect through June 30, 2023.

The following waiver requests provide the following information:

  • This flexibility applies to all CACFP entities impacted by COVID-related supply chain disruptions and are unable to provide a complete, reimbursable meal.
  • It is expected that CACFP entities document any changes to their menus caused by COVID -related supply chain disruptions issue(s); i.e. delivery delays, product unavailability, etc. State agencies must also document instances where flexibilities are provided; as appropriate.
  • States should continue to encourage their CACFP entities to report any impacts to services associated with COVID-related supply chain disruptions and forward to their MARO state desk contact.

The waivers include:

  • Non-Congregate Meal Service [42 U.S.C 1753(b)(1)(A) and 7 CFR 226.19(b)(6)(iii)] – this waiver allows national school lunch programs, including the seamless summer option, school breakfast program and CACFP operators to provide non-congregate meals.
  • Parent/Guardian Meal Pick-Up [7 CFR 226.2] – this waiver allows national school lunch programs, including the seamless summer option, school breakfast program and CACFP operators providing non-congregate meals during COVID-19 to distribute meals to parents or guardians to take home to their children.
  • Meal Service Times [7 CFR 226.20(k)] – this waiver allows national school lunch programs, including the seamless summer option, school breakfast program and CACFP operators to serve meals outside of standard meal times.
  • State Agency Onsite Monitoring Visits [7 CFR 226.6(b)(1) and 226.6(m)(6)] – this waiver waives the requirement for state agencies to conduct onsite visits and monitoring of CACFP programs, but program operations should continue to be monitored offsite.
  • Sponsoring Organization Onsite Monitoring Visits [7 CFR 226.16(d)(4)(iii)] – this waiver waives the requirement for sponsoring organizations to conduct onsite visits and monitoring of CACFP programs, but program operations should continue to be monitored offsite.

For more information about the CACFP program, please call the help desk at (877) 618-7282 or email the Division of Community Nutrition at  CACFP@VDH.Virginia.gov.

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Governor Glenn Youngkin Encourages Virginians to Prepare Now for the 2022 Hurricane Season

~ Hurricane season begins June 1~

RICHMOND,VA — Governor Glenn Youngkin is urging Virginians to prepare now for this year’s hurricane season, which began today and lasts through November 30. Forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are predicting another above-average hurricane season this year with a likely range of 14 to 21 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). NOAA provided these ranges with a 70% confidence.

“I want to encourage Virginians to take the time and prepare now for this coming storm season,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “This includes not only our coastal residents but inland Virginians as well. History has proven that our inland communities are just as susceptible to hurricane impacts like flooding, tornadoes, and high winds.”

For comprehensive information on preparedness, response, and recovery activities, please review the Virginia Hurricane Evacuation Guide, which not only includes evacuation information, but also highlights actions to take in the event of tropical weather.

“Virginia should be proud of the work being done by our public safety agencies to ensure a swift and effective response to all hazards, including hurricanes,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Robert Mosier. “We can’t forget that the best form of preparedness is ensuring you and your family also have a plan, make a kit, and stay informed of potential bad weather.”

Recent years have proven that hurricanes are also not just a coastal threat. Even storms that start in the lower Atlantic or Gulf States have the potential to come north and cause significant damage. This is why we encourage all Virginians across the Commonwealth to take the time to become prepared.

“Preparedness is all about being ready before a storm or disaster even develops,” said Shawn Talmadge, State Coordinator at the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. “Many of the items we ask Virginians to keep in a kit or plans that should be made are not only applicable to hurricanes but for many other types of hazards as well. Just a little bit of planning goes a long way in ensuring the safety and welfare of you and your family.”

Take the time now to review your insurance policy, secure your property, and create a plan that includes arrangements for your pets or those that may need extra assistance. Below are a few critical steps to ensure you and your family’s safety.

Know your zone. Evacuation may become necessary depending on the track and severity of the storm. Review Virginia’s evacuation zones at KnowYourZoneVA.org. Users can enter their physical address in the search bar of the website to view and confirm their designated evacuation zone.

Complete a family communication plan. Prepare for how you will assemble and communicate with your family and loved ones. Identify meeting locations and anticipate where you will go. Federal Emergency Management Agency guidance on family communications plans is available here.

Check your insurance coverage. Remember, there may be a waiting period (typically 30 days) for a flood insurance policy to become effective, and be aware that not all storm-related losses, such as flooding, are covered under traditional policies. Now is the time to review your coverage and contact your insurance agent for any changes. If you are not insured against floods, talk to your insurance agent or visit floodsmart.gov. If you are a renter, now is the time to ensure you have adequate coverage to protect your belongings.

Make an emergency kit. Assemble an emergency kit that includes nonperishable food, water, medication, sanitary supplies, radios, extra batteries, and important documents. Learn more about building an emergency supply kit  here.

Stay informed. Identify where to go for trusted sources of information during emergencies. Check with your local emergency management office to sign up for alerts that go directly to your phone or email. Be sure to monitor local news for watches and warnings in your area and follow directions of local officials. Power outages are always a concern during weather events—make sure you have a battery-operated radio available so you can still receive life-saving alerts.

There are many resources available to assist with hurricane planning efforts. Learn more about preparing your business, your family, and your property against hurricane threats (and other disasters) at vaemergency.gov/prepare and ready.gov/hurricanes.

Colin Greene column: How to prevent heat-related illnesses

Originally posted at Richmond.com


girl in poolAlthough it won’t officially be summer for another month, many Virginians already are facing some days of extremely hot weather. What follows are some recommendations on staying safe in the heat.

Every year, more than 600 people in the U.S. die of heat-related illnesses, and many others experience hospitalization. It is crucial to ensure that we take precautions against heat injury.

Your body has several ways of getting rid of excess heat. The first is to release it into the air (or water) around you from your skin, and to dilate the blood vessels beneath your skin to carry more internal heat to the surface to be released.

The second occurs through breathing, where body-temperature air is exhaled and replaced by cooler inhaled air. The third — and perhaps most important — is through sweating. Water in sweat evaporates, taking heat with it and cooling the skin.

When the body can’t shed enough heat, its core temperature starts to rise, and serious danger can follow. Heat cramps might occur, where muscle pain develops, often after overexertion in the heat. Heat exhaustion might follow, with excessive sweating; cool, clammy skin; extreme fatigue; headache; muscle cramps; nausea or vomiting; dizziness or lightheadedness; confusion; and darker-colored or decreased urination.

Heat stroke is the most serious outcome, where the body’s cooling systems have been overwhelmed. The body temperature rises to 105 degrees Fahrenheit or higher; the skin becomes warm and dry; and rapid heart rate, shallow breathing and significant mental status changes occur. This might lead to permanent brain and organ injury, coma and death.

Extreme heat is especially dangerous in humid climates. As the air temperature approaches body temperature, it becomes harder for the skin or breath to release body heat. In high humidity, sweat evaporates very slowly, losing much of its cooling effect.

Dehydration occurs as body fluid is lost through sweating and evaporation. In turn, dehydration makes it harder to sweat, and increases risk of organ damage due to loss of blood flow.

The best way to avoid heat injury is prevention. Here are few tips from an old soldier, who now is your state health commissioner:

  • Be aware of the weather forecast for any given summer day, and plan ahead. (P.S. This is good advice all year round.)
  • For particularly hot, humid days, limit outdoor activity. Stay in an air-conditioned location as much as possible, and if you will be outdoors, frequently seek shade. Wear light-colored clothing and wide-brimmed hats to reflect the sun’s rays. Apply sunscreen to exposed skin.
  • Limit or postpone outdoor exertion. The hotter it gets, the more time resting (in shade) you need and the less time you should spend working. Play, such as sports or hiking, counts just as much as work.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. If you will be outdoors, plan on drinking a quart of fluid every hour or so. Alternating water with a sports-type drink often works best. Skip the caffeine and alcohol: Both of these increase urination and dehydration.

Don’t wait to feel thirsty.

  • Drink fluids on a schedule when you’re outdoors in the heat.
  • Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast. There is water in your food as well as in your drink.
  • Have a buddy, and watch out for each other while in the heat. Include weather in your work planning.
  • Be a buddy, especially to elderly or disadvantaged neighbors, who might not have air conditioning. Check up on them; offer them access to AC during the heat. Homeless people are especially at risk.
  • Never leave children or animals alone in vehicles.

For mild symptoms, in yourself or your buddy:

  • Get out of the heat, into an air-conditioned space if possible, but into the shade as a minimum.
  • Rest in a cool area until symptoms completely resolve.
  • Drink water or sports drinks, as discussed above.
  • Consider calling it quits for the day for any more outdoor exertion.

For any concern of heat stroke (changes in level of consciousness; disorientation or confusion; warm, dry skin without sweating despite the heat):

  • Dial 911 immediately.
  • Cool the victim down as effectively as possible: move to shade/indoors, wet down with water and fan the body.
  • Only give fluids by mouth if fully conscious and oriented.
  • Get to medical attention as soon as physically possible.

Heat is part of summer — and sometimes late spring — but it can be dangerous if not treated with respect. Let’s prevent heat injuries in our commonwealth.

EMS Week in Virginia, May 15-21, 2022

Virginians rely on Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel to respond to the call for help and to provide quality prehospital care during their greatest time of need. National EMS Week is May 15 – 21, 2022. EMS for Children Day, May 18, focuses on the pediatric patient and the specialized care required when providing treatment to them.

EMS Week recognizes the dedication of 37,758 EMS providers and 564 agencies in Virginia. We commend their continued efforts to provide lifesaving care and their commitment to the EMS system. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginia’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers have been challenged beyond measure and continue to provide emergency care with the utmost expertise and professionalism. Last year, EMS providers responded to more than 1.59 million calls for help in Virginia, which represents approximately 4,360 incidents per day.

Severe Weather Preparedness

severe weather sign

Understand Severe Weather Terms

Understanding severe weather terms can help you and your loved ones prepare.

  • Hurricane Warning: show the onset of hurricane conditions expected in the warning area within the next 48 hours.
    • During a hurricane warning: complete storm preparation;
    • leave the affected area if directed by local officials.
  • Hurricane Watch: issued when a hurricane with sustained winds of 74 mph (65 knots, 118 km/h) or higher is possible.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Watch: there is a possibility that severe thunderstorms may occur in your area.
  • Severe Thunderstorm Warning: a severe thunderstorm is occurring or will likely occur soon in your area.
  • Flash Flood Watch: due to heavy or excessive rainfall in a short period of time, your area may experience flooding.
  • Flash Flood Warning: Flash flooding is in progress, imminent, or highly likely. Seek higher ground immediately or evacuate if directed to do so.
  • Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible in your area. Remain alert for approaching storms.
  • Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.

Prepare For Severe Weather

Download the Ready Virginia mobile app to stay up to date on changing conditions.  More steps that you can take to keep yourself and loved ones safe include:

  • An emergency kit prepared with supplies. Include things such as:
    • Alternate fuel source for heating your home,
    • Flashlights and batteries,
    • Blankets,
    • Food that needs no cooking or refrigeration,
    • 3 day supply of water,
    • Prescription medicines,
    • Battery operated radio,
    • Flashlights, and
    • Cell phone chargers.
  • Prepare your car with emergency supplies. Have maintenance service on your vehicle as often as the manufacturer recommends.
  • Check batteries in smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors.
  • Update important documents: insurance information and home inventory. Store them in your emergency kit or a waterproof container.

 

Know What To Do During Severe Weather:

Reflecting on two years of the COVID-19 pandemic

Read this article from Acting State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH, reflecting on two years of the COVID-19 pandemic: https://roanoke.com/opinion/columnists/greene-reflecting-on-two-years-of-the-covid-19-pandemic/article_f4c054aa-9fdb-11ec-b180-67fdd9427c4c.html.

​To find a free vaccination opportunity near you, visit the Vaccinate Virginia website at Vaccinate.Virginia.gov or call the Vaccinate Virginia call center at (877) VAX-IN-VA or (877) 829-4682, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. T-T-Y users may call 7-1-1.

World AIDS Day #WorldAIDSDay

World Aids Day logo

World AIDS Day takes place December 1 of each year.  It is a time when people across the world can take the opportunity to unite in the fight against HIV and AIDS, show support for those living with HIV, and remember those who have lost their lives to AIDS-related illnesses.  Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day.

You can read more about World AIDS Day on HIV.gov.  Shareable images can be found on the HIV.gov website as well as through Greater Than AIDS.

Show your support this World AIDS Day by wearing a red ribbon or sharing web resources.  Get tested and update your HIV status.  Learn about advances in HIV prevention and care.  There are many ways to get involved.  The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has expanded the availability of our in-home HIV testing program during COVID-19 to meet the needs of Virginians.  If you are interested in receiving a test kit mailed directly to you, visit the program REDCap page.

Virginia’s Comprehensive Harm Reduction (CHR) program provides new syringes and needles, disposes of used syringes, refers participants to drug treatment and medical care, distributes Naloxone (to reverse overdoses), provides education and counseling, provides testing for HIV, hepatitis and other diseases, and provides referrals to social services and insurance.  The program has found previously-identified HIV-positive persons and re-engaged them into medical care.  For more information on the Virginia CHR program or to find locations, visit https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/disease-prevention/chr/.

For Virginia Medication Assistance Program clients:  remember that open enrollment for 2022 has started.  Be sure to visit www.myvamap.com and take action before January 15 to make sure you have health coverage for the 2022 year.

The Virginia Disease Prevention Hotline is available to answer questions and provide resources Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.  You can reach a counselor at (800) 533-4148.

Rabies Awareness Week

Rabies is a virus that is commonly found in Virginia’s wildlife, especially in certain wild animals such as raccoons, skunks and foxes. It’s important to remember though that any mammal can get rabies and so it’s helpful to take some basic precautions to protect you and your pets from being infected. World Rabies Day is September 28, and it is a global health observance to raise awareness about rabies and bring together partners to enhance prevention and control efforts worldwide.

Remember to protect yourself and your pets from rabies exposures by following these simple steps:

  • Have your veterinarian vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and selected livestock. Remember to  keep their vaccinations up-to-date. 
  • Contact your local health department or animal control authorities if your pet is attacked or  bitten by a wild animal. Depending on the situation, keep in mind that your pet may need a  rabies booster vaccination and be restricted to your property for a period of time after the  wildlife exposure.  
  • Wash animal bite wounds thoroughly and report the bite to your local health department.  
  • Limit the possibility of exposure to rabies by keeping your animals on your property. Don’t let  pets roam free. 
  • Keep garbage or pet food inside. Leaving garbage or food outside may attract wild or stray  animals. 
  • Enjoy all wild animals from a distance, even if they seem friendly, and NEVER keep wild animals  as pets. A rabid animal sometimes acts tame. If you see an animal acting strangely, especially if  rabies exposures may have occurred, report it to your local animal control department and do  not approach it. 
  • Contact the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources to find a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for  guidance if you think a wild animal needs help. DO NOT take matters into your own hands. 
  • Bring stray domestic animals, especially if they appear ill or injured, to the attention of local  animal control authorities. If you think a stray animal needs help, contact your local animal  control office for guidance.

 

Rabies Awareness Week is September 21 through October 3

SepticSmart Week

As proclaimed by Governor Northam, SepticSmart Week in Virginia is September 20-24, 2021. Read the proclamation. This annual event focuses on educating homeowners and communities on the proper care and maintenance of their septic systems. Visit www.epa.gov/septic for more resources and information about SepticSmart Week 2021. Learn more about the public health, environmental and economic benefits of a well-maintained septic system at www.epa/gov/septic.

Maintaining your system is important to protect your home, health, environment and property value. The Environmental Protection Agency offers many tips. At VDH, the Division of Water and Wastewater Services protects public health and ground water quality through its wastewater program. Read more about the program.