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NPHIC Newsletter loaded with topical news
NPHIC's July-August newsletter is filled with key public health news. Read how Indiana's PIO responded to the intense challenge of the nation's first MERS case and how California's Health Department is helping tackle the Golden State's severe drought and wildfires. Other articles focus on the resurgence of measles; New York's new digital public health toolkit; how Alabama is addressing suicide as a public health issue; how two NPHIC members are seeking to reverse the appalling state of Native American oral health; how lead state PIOs are strengthening ties with the CDC; why animal diseases should concern you; and how you can "Speak up and go back to college." You can download the newsletter here.
Wildfire season: check out Oregon's toolkit
The Oregon Health Authority has developed an excellent toolkit to assist local health departments with messaging during and after a wildfire. The Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication During Wildfires Toolkit contains talking points sample press releases, web pages, social media messages and more. The toolkit uses CDC's CERC phase-based message framework and is one of several that have been produced in Oregon.
Call recording on hard-to-reach populations
"Best practices for translations and reaching sub-populations" during emergencies and disasters was the topic of the monthly Emergency Preparation call on July 10. In case you missed it, or want to listen again, here's a recording of the call. The panel-format call featured presentations from Mimi Kiser with the Interfaith Health Program at Emory University, Lisa Briseno with CDC's Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, and Alina Shaw with CDC's U.S.-Mexico Unit.
First locally-acquired Chikungunya cases in U.S. reported
The Florida Department of Health on July 17 confirmed the first cases of locally acquired chikungunya fever in the U.S., one in Miami Dade County and the other in Palm Beach County. Previously, 232 cases of chikungunya, including 73 in Florida, have been imported to the U.S. by travelers, typically from Caribbean nations. The disease is spread by day-biting Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. If a person is infected and bitten by a mosquito, that mosquito may later spread the infection by biting another person. Symptoms include sudden onset of high fever, severe joint pain, mainly in the arms and legs, headache, muscle pain, back pain and rash. Symptoms appear on average three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Chikungunya is not contagious from person-to-person and is typically not life threatening. Florida's news release is here, CDC's national case count is here and digital press kit is here.
Colorado responds to four plague cases
Four human cases of the plague in Colorado have been linked to a dog that had died of plague. The dog likely was exposed to a prairie dog or rabbit with plague-infected fleas. The first person who was infected was hospitalized longer than the other three, who had mild symptoms and recovered quickly after antibiotic treatment. Local, state and federal health officials are working to investigate the cases and prevent further illnesses, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment said in this news release. Flea samples collected from the area tested positive for plague bacteria, prompting local health department staff to go door-to-door in the area with information about plague and to assess prairie dog populations. More on plague here.
Tracking outbreaks by mining social media
Chicago and New York are using data mining software to be on the cutting edge of tracking foodborne illness, according to this Digitalgov article. The first to do this was Chicago, monitoring Twitter for possible food poisoning references, and New York was close behind, scanning Yelp restaurant reviews for possible outbreaks. Both cities search posts for words that could signal food poisoning, like "sick," "vomit," "diarrhea" and, of course, "food poisoning." Staff then encourage those who post to file an official complaint. This may hold promise for other initiatives. Google is using similar data mining techniques to help track the flu.
Durham County's '2 Legit 2 Quit' video
We came across a high-energy instructional video highlighting the multiple roles of a local health department. The video, titled "2 Legit 2 Quit," was produced by the Durham County N.C. Department of Public Health as part of its celebration of Public Health Week last April. Here's the video. Enjoy.
State indicator report on physical activity released
A new report from the CDC reveals state-level data on physical activity behaviors and environmental and policy support for physical activity. For example one of the indicators is the percent of youth with parks, community centers and sidewalks in the neighborhood. The national average is 54.5%; the top state is Colorado at 69.9% and the worst state is Mississippi at 30.0%. For the indicator "met aerobic and muscle strengthening guidelines," Colorado is on top again with 27.3% and Tennessee and West Virginia are tied for rock bottom at 12.7%. For the indicator "no leisure-time physical activity," once again Colorado fares best at 16.5% while Tennessee and West Virginia claim the most couch potatoes at 35.1% The report is here.
Rabid bat news prompts educational opportunity
News about three recent incidents of persons being bitten by rabid bats certainly will stoke more fear about this widely misunderstood animal. The incidents occurred in Montgomery County, Tenn.; Lee's Summit, Mo.; and Pueblo, Colo. While public health officials need to stress that bats should never be touched or held, they also can take the opportunity to educate people about these beneficial creatures. A small brown bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in a single hour, while a pregnant or lactating female bat typically eats the equivalent of her entire body weight in insects each night. Bats also are pollinators and seed-dispensers for many plants. Very few bats have rabies: Even among bats submitted for rabies testing because they could be captured, were obviously weak or sick, or had been captured by a cat, only about 6% had rabies, according to the CDC. More about bats here and here.
Vermont fact sheet responds to swimming hole deaths
The Vermont Health Department has put together a fact sheet titled "9 tips to keep you safe at the swimming hole this summer." The sheet's tips for swimming in natural bodies of water rant from "Don't swim alone" to "Bring a rope." The sheet is in response to multiple deaths at various swimming holes over the years, led by Huntington Gorge with more than 15 and Cobb Brook with 12 deaths. The sheet is here and a news release is here.
How to hashtag for Twitter success
Imagine if, with the stroke of a key, you could land your information in front of hundreds of people in your target audience. When it comes to Twitter, hashtags are small but mighty, and can help your department achieve its social media goals. Here are five ways to boost your tweets.
Climb aboard NPHIC's Facebook page
NPHIC has an active Facebook page with content added regularly. So get on board, "like" us, sign up as a "friend," and comment on posts. Our Facebook page is here. See you there!
Are you missing some sweet tweets?
What? You're not following NPHIC on Twitter?  What's the delay?  Join our growing ranks of public health and communications followers today.  Also feel free to suggest items to tweet or re-tweet.
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