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Tobacco Companies Run Court-Ordered Ads Telling the Truth about their Deadly Products
(Little Rock, Ark.) – On November 26th, the major U.S. tobacco companies started running ads in the Little Rock Sun and nationally telling the American people some of the truths about the deadly consequences of smoking and secondhand smoke.
A federal court in 2006 ordered the companies to make these “corrective statements” after finding them guilty of civil racketeering laws and lying to the public about the dangers of smoking and marketing to children. The ads will finally run after 11 years of additional appeals and litigation by the tobacco companies aimed at weakening and delaying the truth statements.
Public health advocates in Arkansas welcome the corrective statement ads because they will focus attention on the enormous economic and health problems caused by tobacco use and the need for strong action to save lives. To reduce tobacco use, advocates across the nation are calling on state and city officials to raise the sale age of tobacco products to 21, pass a comprehensive smoke-free law, and increase the state’s tobacco tax by $2.00 per pack. These efforts in other states have resulted in public health gains, including saving lives and reducing the burden of tobacco.
“These ads serve as a reminder that tobacco’s terrible toll is no accident. It is caused directly by the deceptive and even illegal practices of the tobacco industry, which have intentionally led to the addiction of some 750,000 current tobacco users and tens of thousands of Arkansas smokers who are now deceased,” said Dr. Gary Wheeler, Chief Medical Officer at the Arkansas Department of Health. “These ads emphasize how important it is for our leaders to resist the undue influence of the tobacco industry and take evidence-based action to reduce tobacco use and save lives in Arkansas.”
In Arkansas alone, 15.7 percent of high school students still smoke and 1,700 children become regular smokers each year. Tobacco use claims the lives of 5,800 Arkansans and costs the state $1.21 billion in health care bills annually. Arkansas ranks as the 2nd highest state in the nation for tobacco use as 1 in 4 adults still smoke.
“The tobacco industry has long profited from deceptively promoting products that when used as directed lead to disease, death and economic hardship,” said Dr. Appathurai Balamurugan, State Chronic Disease Director at the Arkansas Department of Health. “In Arkansas, tobacco companies spend $107.3 million yearly to market cigarettes and other tobacco products to young adults. Not surprisingly, nine out of 10 tobacco users start before the age of 18. We’re hopeful these corrective statements will shine the light on the tobacco industry’s decades-long deceit and encourage the enactment of policies to help bring about the first tobacco-free generation.”
In 1999, the U.S. Department of Justice sued the major cigarette manufacturers, charging they had violated the civil provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and other laws. Tobacco company defendants in the case include Altria, its Philip Morris USA subsidiary and R.J. Reynolds.
Over 11 years ago, on August 17, 2006, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler issued her verdict against the companies. In a 1,683-page final opinion, she detailed how the tobacco companies “have marketed and sold their lethal products with zeal, with deception, with a singled-minded focus on their financial success, and without regard for the human tragedy or social costs that success exacted.” Importantly, Judge Kessler concluded, “The evidence in this case clearly establishes that Defendants have not ceased engaging in unlawful activity.”
Judge Kessler ordered the tobacco companies to tell the truth and publish corrective statements on five topics about which they had deliberately deceived the public:
- the adverse health effects of smoking;
- addictiveness of smoking and nicotine;
- lack of significant health benefit from smoking “low tar,” “light,” “ultra-light,” “mild” and “natural” cigarettes (products that have been deceptively marketed as less harmful than regular cigarettes);
- manipulation of cigarette design and composition to ensure optimum nicotine delivery; and
- adverse health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke.
“It is a step forward that Big Tobacco has been forced to issue these long-overdue corrective statements, but it’s far from enough,” said Dr. Wheeler. “The tobacco companies claim they’ve changed, but the facts show that they continue to market their deadly products to kids and they continue to fight the most effective policies to reduce smoking and other tobacco use.”
The corrective statements started running November 26 in print and online in about 50 newspapers specified by the court. They will also run during prime time on the major television networks for one year. The tobacco companies must also publish the corrective statements on their websites and cigarette packs; implementation details are still being finalized.
The corrective statement newspaper ads must run in the front section of Sunday newspapers on Nov. 26, Dec. 10, Jan. 7, Feb. 4 and March 4. In Arkansas, corrective statements will appear in the Little Rock Sun community newspaper. Corrective statements will also appear in the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, TN, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. The tobacco companies will pay the entire cost of running the ads.
Despite significant progress in reducing smoking, tobacco use is still the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States, killing more than 480,000 Americans and costing the nation about $170 billion in health care expenses each year.
Food Safety for the Thanksgiving Holiday
Little Rock, Ark. – As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, cooking the traditional turkey dinner may give rise to anxieties and questions. A few simple steps will not only ease your holiday fears, but will ensure a delicious and safe meal for you, your family, and your friends. The following information may help you prepare your special Thanksgiving meal and help you countdown to the holiday.
Plan Ahead: Ask these questions to help you plan your meal and to avoid the spread of foodborne illness.
Do I want to purchase a fresh or frozen turkey? If you choose to buy a frozen bird you may do so at any time, but make sure you have adequate storage space in your freezer. If you buy a fresh turkey, be sure you purchase it only 1-2 days before cooking.
How and when do I thaw a frozen turkey? The options to safely thaw a frozen turkey include thawing in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave.
To thaw a turkey in the refrigerator place frozen turkey as originally wrapped in the refrigerator (40 °F or below). Allow approximately 24 hours per 4 to 5 pounds of turkey. A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.
To thaw a turkey in cold water, submerge the turkey in cold water and change the water every 30 minutes. Allow about 30 minutes defrosting time per pound of turkey. Cook immediately after thawing.
Microwave thawing is safe if the turkey is not too large. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the size of turkey that will fit into your oven, the minutes per pound, and the power level to use for thawing. Cook immediately after thawing.
- Size of Turkey: 4 to 12 pounds; Number of Days to Thaw in Refrigerator: 1 to 3 days; Number of Hours to Thaw in Cold Water: 2 to 6 hours
- Size of Turkey: 12 to 16 pounds; Number of Days to Thaw in Refrigerator: 3 to 4 days; Number of Hours to Thaw in Cold Water: 6 to 8 hours
- Size of Turkey: 16 to 20 pounds; Number of Days to Thaw in Refrigerator: 4 to 5 days; Number of Hours to Thaw in Cold Water: 8 to 10 hours
- Size of Turkey: 20 to 24 pounds; Number of Days to Thaw in Refrigerator: 5 to 6 days; Number of Hours to Thaw in Cold Water: 10 to 12 hours
Day before Thanksgiving Day: Check to make sure you have all the equipment you will need, such as a roasting pan large enough for the turkey and a food thermometer. Wet and dry stuffing ingredients can be prepared and refrigerated separately.
On Thanksgiving Day: If you decide to fry your turkey, make sure your turkey is completely thawed and dry. Attempting to fry a frozen turkey can result in grease fires and burn injuries. The turkey should be 12 pounds or less in size. Select a safe location outdoors. Heat the oil to 350°F, and monitor the temperature of the oil regularly while cooking. Allow approximately three to five minutes of cooking time per pound.
If you choose to stuff your turkey, stuff loosely. The stuffing should be moist, not dry, since heat destroys bacteria more rapidly in a moist environment. Place the turkey in the oven immediately after placing the stuffing in the cavity of the turkey. You may choose to cook your stuffing outside the bird in a casserole dish. The approximate times listed are for fresh or thawed turkey in an oven at 325°F.
Timetable for Turkey Roasting
(325°F oven temperature)
- Cooking Time:8 to 12 pounds; Unstuffed Turkey: 2 ¾ to 3 hours; Stuffed Turkey: 3 to 3 ½ hours
- Cooking Time: 12 to 14 pounds; Unstuffed Turkey: 3 to 3 ¾ hours; Stuffed Turkey: 3 ½ to 4 hours
- Cooking Time: 14 to 18 pounds; Unstuffed Turkey: 3 ¾ to 4 ¼ hours; Stuffed Turkey: 4 to 4 ¼ hours
- Cooking Time: 18 to 20 pounds; Unstuffed Turkey: 4 ¼ to 4 ½ hours; Stuffed Turkey: 4 ½ to 4 ¾ hours
- Cooking Time: 20 to 24 pounds; Unstuffed Turkey: 4 ½ to 5 hours; Stuffed Turkey: 4 ¾ to 5 ¼ hours
Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey. A whole turkey is safe to eat when the inside of the turkey reaches 165°F. You should check the temperature in the innermost part of the thigh, wing, and the thickest part of the breast. All turkey meat, including any that remains pink, is safe to eat as soon as all parts reach at least 165°F. Do not serve any parts that are pink unless the turkey meat temperature was checked with a thermometer. The stuffing should reach 165°F, whether cooked inside the bird or in a separate dish.
After removing the turkey from the oven, let it stand 20 minutes before removing the stuffing and carving.
To store leftover turkey and dressing, cut the turkey into small pieces; refrigerate stuffing and turkey separately in shallow containers within 2 hours of cooking.
Use refrigerated leftover turkey and dressing within 3 to 4 days. Harmful bacteria that may make you sick cannot be smelled or tasted; therefore, always reheat food thoroughly to a temperature of 165°F or until hot and steaming.
To learn more about food safety, visit the Partnership for Food Safety Education at www.fightbac.org.
Arkansas Sixth in the U.S. for High Antibiotic Prescribing
Little Rock, Ark. – Arkansas was the sixth highest state in the U.S for antibiotic prescribing in 2014. High rates of antibiotic use can lead to antibiotic resistance, so it is important for antibiotics to be prescribed and used correctly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly 2 million people will develop an antibiotic resistant infection in the United States each year. Of those, 23,000 people will die from the infection.
“Appropriate antibiotic use is key for our health,” said Dr. Gary Wheeler, Chief Medical Officer for the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH). “If we overuse or misuse them, they eventually will no longer be effective against bacterial infections. Antibiotic-resistant infections are being seen more and more around the world, and even in Arkansas. Healthcare providers and patients must change the way we prescribe and use antibiotics.”
During the fall and winter months, there is an increase in the number of flu and other viral infections. Anti-bacterial antibiotics do not work to fight viral infections. Visit a doctor to determine if an antibiotic is needed to treat an infection that you, your child, or a loved one may have.
“Not only is antibiotic resistance harmful to human health, but it also affects animal health as well,” said ADH State Public Health Veterinarian, Dr. Susan Weinstein, who works closely with One Health Arkansas to bridge the gap between human and animal health in Arkansas. “The worldwide animal industry is estimated to use more tons of antibiotics than human medicine does, but has taken major steps to limit antibiotic use to only sick animals, rather than to promote weight gain. The ‘Get Smart on the Farm’ program from CDC and other partners offer a web-based learning site with education materials on animal health and antibiotic resistance.”
The promotion of smart use of antibiotics is a priority in Arkansas and worldwide. ADH, the Arkansas Association of Health-System Pharmacists, the University of Arkansas for Medical Science College of Pharmacy, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, Arkansas Medicaid, and the Arkansas Hospital Association have partnered with the CDC to promote the newly-designed “Be Antibiotics Aware” week November 13-19. Formerly known as “Get Smart Week,” “Be Antibiotics Aware” brings attention to antibiotic resistance and the importance of correct antibiotic use.
Governor Asa Hutchinson has declared November as Clostridium difficile (C. diff) Awareness Month. In 2016, there were over 2,400 reports of C. diff infections from hospitalized patients in Arkansas. C. diff can be deadly and primarily affects people that have recently taken a course of antibiotics. Correct antibiotic use and good hand washing reduce C. diff infections.
Antibiotics are powerful, live-saving drugs. Everyone can play a part to make sure they are prescribed and used correctly, so that they continue to work for patients when antibiotics are needed. For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/.
HAA, AR First Lady Partner with Junior League’s 2017 Holiday House to Support Breastfeeding Moms
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Healthy Active Arkansas (HAA) and the Junior League of Little Rock (JLLR) have partnered to offer a breastfeeding nook for breastfeeding moms as part of the 2017 Holiday House. The nook will be a comfortable, private space for mothers who need to breastfeed their children or pump while visiting the event. This is the first time a designated breastfeeding space has been offered as part of Holiday House.
Certified lactation counselors from Baptist Health, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and the Arkansas Department of Health will be at the breastfeeding nook and available to answer questions about breastfeeding.
“Holiday House is one of the state’s biggest shopping events of the season, and it attracts thousands of women, many of whom are new moms who are breastfeeding,” Arkansas First Lady and breastfeeding advocate, Susan Hutchinson said. “We are excited that the Junior League has made the Nursing Nook a feature of the event and hope this serves as an inspiration to other event coordinators across the state to offer similar amenities during community events.”
JLLR President, Sabrina Lewellen agrees, “We are beyond thrilled to partner with Healthy Active Arkansas to provide this comfortable space for breastfeeding and lactating mothers. Nutrition and wellness are two of our primary focus areas and of several Junior Leagues across the world, so making this space available is a natural fit. The breastfeeding nook is an important and welcomed addition to Holiday House 2017. I hope it will be part of Holiday House events in the years to come.”
Breastfeeding has been linked to fewer incidences of ear and upper respiratory infections in infants, sudden infant death syndrome and obesity over the lifespan. In addition, breastfeeding benefits mothers by reducing their risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer and aids in losing weight gained during pregnancy. Mothers who receive support to breastfeed, through their family, employer, or community are more likely to continue exclusively breastfeeding for the recommended six months’ timeframe.
Individuals or organizations interested in learning how they can support breastfeeding can learn more by visiting the Arkansas Breastfeeding Coalition at www.arbfc.org. The Expressly for You breastfeeding helpline (501) 202-7378 is also available 24 hours, 7 days a week to mothers who have questions or need advice.
The JLLR’s Holiday House is an annual shopping event that helps support JLLR community projects including Stuff the Bus, Nightingales, LYFE, Kota Camp, Nonprofit Board Institute, Little Readers Rock and Boosters & Big Rigs. Arkansas Children’s Hospital is a presenting sponsor for this year’s Holiday House, and is a founding partner of Healthy Active Arkansas. For more information on the 2017 Holiday House, please visit URL https://www.jllr.org/holiday-house/
Healthy Active Arkansas is a 10-year framework to increase the number of Arkansans at a healthy weight. There are nine priority areas, including Breastfeeding, that include evidence-based strategies that impact the health of the state.
Pulaski County Mass Flu Vaccine Clinic Nov. 1
(Little Rock, Ark.) – On Wednesday, November 1, the Pulaski County Central Health Unit of the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) will offer flu vaccinations at the Arkansas State Fairground’s Hall of Industry, 2600 Howard Street off of Roosevelt Road from 10:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Patients should bring their insurance cards with them to the flu vaccine clinic. If they do not have insurance, or the insurance does not cover flu shots, the vaccine will be available at no charge to the patient.
“We want Pulaski County residents to stay healthy this flu season, and getting a yearly flu vaccination is the best line of protection,” Vickie Jones, Pulaski County Central Health Unit Administrator, said. “We encourage everyone to come to the mass clinic or the local health unit to get their flu shot.”
Annual flu vaccination continues to be recommended for adults and children ages six months and older. The flu virus changes from year to year, and this year’s vaccine protects against the flu viruses that are expected to cause the most illness this flu season.
“The flu should not be taken lightly,” said Dirk Haselow, MD, State Epidemiologist at ADH. “We are encouraging everyone to get a flu shot to protect themselves and their families, because it is hard to predict in advance how severe the flu season is going to be this year.”
People of all ages can get the flu. Certain people are more likely to have serious health problems if they get the flu. This includes older adults, young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), people who smoke, and people who live in nursing homes. Therefore, ADH strongly recommends that people in these groups get a flu vaccine. It is also recommended that friends, family members and people who provide care to people in these groups also get a vaccine—not only to protect themselves but also to decrease the possibility that they might expose the people they love and care for to the flu.
The flu vaccine is safe and does not cause the flu. Some people may have mild soreness and redness near the site of the shot and a low fever or slight headache. There are very few medical reasons to skip the flu vaccine. These include life-threatening allergic reactions to a previous dose of the flu vaccine or an ingredient in the vaccine. People with allergies to vaccine ingredients can often receive the vaccine safely, if it is given in a doctor’s office where they can be monitored.
The flu is easily spread through coughing or sneezing and by touching something, such as a door knob, with the virus on it and then touching your nose or mouth. Good hand washing habits are important in preventing the flu; however, the best way to prevent the flu is to get the vaccine.
Stroke a leading cause of death in Arkansas
Little Rock, Ark. – Arkansas has one of the highest death rates from stroke in the nation. In the United States, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds, and one in six people worldwide will have a stroke in their lifetime. In recognition of World Stroke Day on October 29, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) urges Arkansans to learn the stroke warning signs, since bystanders often need to act fast in an emergency.
Arkansas is working to make strides in the treatment of acute stroke through the five primary stroke centers (UAMS, Baptist, Mercy, Sparks, and Washington Regional hospitals), AR SAVES telestroke system, Mercy telestroke program, and the new Arkansas Stroke Ready Hospital (ArSRH) designation program.
“Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in Arkansas. If people know the signs and act in time, the effects of stroke can be reversed,” said Appathurai Balamurugan, MD, DrPH, State Chronic Disease Director and Medical Director for the ADH Chronic Disease Branch. “Through our work with the hospitals and Emergency Medical Services, we hope to improve quality of stroke care among Arkansans with this devastating condition.”
In 2014, 7,484 people in Arkansas had strokes. In 2015, the state had the 5th highest stroke death rate in the United States.
“As a stroke survivor, I can only punctuate the need to know and understand the signs and symptoms of a stroke and to act quickly by calling 911 to seek medical attention,” said Gale Scott, member of the Arkansas Acute Stroke Care Task Force. “I only wish I had gotten to the hospital sooner.”
Remembering the F.A.S.T. acronym is a way to recognize stroke and what to do when it is suspected:
F – Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
A – Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S – Speech Difficulty: Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like, “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
T – Time to call 9-1-1: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.
Other than a prior stroke, major stroke risk factors include:
- High blood pressure – It’s the most important controllable risk factor for stroke. About 77 percent of people who have a first stroke have blood pressure higher than 140/90 mm Hg. An estimated 93 million Americans have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
- Transient ischemic attack – About 15 percent of strokes are preceded by a TIA (or “ministroke”).
- Atrial fibrillation (Afib) – It increases stroke risk up to five times and affects more than 2.7 million Americans.
- Smoking – Current smokers have two to four times the stroke risk of nonsmokers or those who quit more than 10 years ago. In 2017, 24.9 percent of Arkansans 18 or older reported they were cigarette smokers.
If any of these risk factors are present, it is important to follow up with a primary care physician on a yearly basis. Know the warning signs and take action. Remember to ACT FAST.
Visit www.healthy.arkansas.gov for more information on stroke prevention in Arkansas.
Policy Updated for Infection Prevention in Pediatric Clinics
Little Rock, Ark. – The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently updated its policy regarding healthcare-acquired infections and antibiotic use in pediatric care settings. The new recommendations highlight: the basic but critical role of handwashing and cough etiquette; antibiotic restraint for respiratory, throat, urinary, and ear infections; communication with caregivers, community members and other health organizations; and improved cleaning and safety procedures in clinics.
This is the first update to the AAP “Infection Prevention and Control in Pediatric Ambulatory Settings” policy since 2007. In the last decade, the White House, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and multiple other groups have prioritized the prevention of infections in healthcare settings.
“These updated guidelines for offices of pediatricians are timely and welcome,” said Dr. Gary Wheeler, Chief Medical Officer at ADH and member of the AAP. “We need new efforts by individual providers to limit the transmission of germs in their offices, particularly drug-resistant organisms, and limit the inappropriate use of antibiotics. We never want a child to leave the doctor’s office sicker than she was when she went in.”
Arkansas has made great progress in reducing the rates of hospital-acquired infections; however, the CDC reports the state still has one of the highest rates of antibiotic use per capita. These numbers indicate that every Arkansan receives at least one antibiotic per year. The important partnerships between the healthcare and public health community will continue to help close the gap.
According to Kelley Garner, MPH, ADH Healthcare-Associated Infections Program Coordinator, “our partnerships in Arkansas are invaluable. All healthcare facilities play an important role in the health of the community, and doctors’ offices are a critical component of the healthcare network. There is a lot of work ahead but we are making progress.”
Over the last three years, with funding from the CDC, ADH has worked to reduce transmission of germs to patients during hospitalization and to reduce the overuse of antibiotics. Efforts have included increasing medical and support staff, coordinating an infection reporting and analysis system, holding multiple workshops and teleconferences for healthcare providers, and making dozens of visits to hospitals, nursing homes and long-term care facilities to assist in outbreak containment and on-site education. ADH has partnered with CDC and multiple groups including the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, and the Arkansas Hospital Association to help patients have safer encounters with health care providers.
The AAP policy update supports ADH’s efforts and gives clinics concrete recommendations for best practices. You can read the policy update at www.aap.org.
National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is October 22-28, 2017
Little Rock, Ark. – Childhood lead poisoning is considered to be the most preventable environmental disease among young children; yet, approximately half a million children in the United States have blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter, the level at which Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says public health actions should start. In 2016, there were 189 children in Arkansas reported to have blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter.
Lead is toxic to the human body. In particular, children six years old and younger are more vulnerable to lead poisoning than adults because their brains and spinal cords are still developing, and effects on early childhood development can be severe. Even in small amounts, lead can affect a child’s mental and physical growth, causing learning disabilities, disorders in coordination, attention deficit disorder, and stunted growth. Some of these effects may persist beyond childhood. For pregnant women, harmful effects can include premature births, smaller babies, and miscarriage. There is no safe level of lead exposure.
“Unfortunately, the effects of lead exposure in a young child can be devastating and lifelong,” says Dr. Dirk Haselow, State Epidemiologist at the Arkansas Department of Health. “Prevention of lead exposure is key.”
Children with high blood lead levels were most likely exposed to lead in their own homes from leaded dust and lead-based paint chips, especially if that home was built before 1978. Children can also be exposed to lead from additional sources, including contaminated drinking water, take-home exposures from a workplace, and lead in soil. Despite the continued presence of lead in the environment, lead poisoning is entirely preventable. A simple blood test may be able to help prevent permanent damage from occurring.
Steps that your family can take to reduce lead exposure include the following:
- Wash your child’s hands before meals and after playing outside.
- Provide your child with meals and snacks that are high in iron, calcium and Vitamin C.
- Frequently wash toys, pacifiers and other items that your child uses regularly.
- Dust and wet mop weekly.
- Have your family members leave their shoes outside the door.
- Ensure that any home renovation and maintenance work is done in a lead-safe way.
Parents can reduce a child’s exposure to lead in many ways. Below are some simple things you can do to help protect your family:
- Get Your Home Tested: Find out how to minimize risks of lead exposure by hiring a certified professional to test older homes for lead. Water pipes in some older homes may contain lead solder where lead may leach out into the water. Learn more about lead in drinking water here.
- Get Your Child Tested: A simple blood test can detect lead. Consult your doctor for advice on testing your children.
- Get the Facts: Find out about the hazards of lead. The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) can provide you with helpful information about preventing childhood lead poisoning. Contact them at 501-671-1472 or review the ADH Lead-Based Paint Program website here.
The only way to fully rid a pre-1978 home of lead is to abate it. Abatement should always be done by a state-certified contractor. Abatement involves: the removal of lead-based paint and dust-lead hazards; the permanent covering or encapsulation of lead-based paint; the replacement of parts or fixtures painted with lead-based paint; and the removal or permanent covering of soil-lead hazards, as well as all set-up, cleanup, disposal, and post abatement clearance testing actions linked to such measures.
An owner of a home built prior to 1978, who does not wish to fully abate lead hazards, should be careful when disturbing lead-based paint. Homeowners should only hire federally-certified Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) contractors, to make sure that the work is done in a lead-safe way. This protects people who live in the home from hazards connected with renovation, repair and painting. Done in the wrong way, these activities can create harmful leaded dust when lead paint is disturbed.
National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW) focuses on the many ways parents can reduce children’s exposure to lead in their environment and prevent serious health effects from lead poisoning. The NLPPW theme, "Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future," underscores the importance of testing your home, testing your child, and learning how to prevent lead poisoning’s serious health effects. To raise awareness of childhood lead poisoning prevention, the ADH, along with other agencies such as the CDC, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is participating in NLPPW October 22-28. NLPPW focuses on the many ways parents can reduce children’s exposure to lead in their environment and prevent its serious health effects.
The ADH will be participating in multiple activities in central Arkansas throughout the week. Visit the ADH’s Lead-Based Paint Program at the following events in support of NLPPW:
Monday, Oct. 23: Lowes, North Little Rock, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 24: Fuller and Son Hardware (NLR), 9728 Maumelle Blvd, North Little Rock, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 26: Big Boo!seum Bash, Witt Stephens Jr. Nature Center, Little Rock, 5:30 to 8 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 27: Boo on the Bayou, Delta Rivers Nature Center, Pine Bluff, 6 to 9 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 28: Boo on the Bayou, Delta Rivers Nature Center, Pine Bluff, 6 to 9 p.m.
For more information, contact the ADH Lead-Based Paint Program at 501-671-1472 or contact the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD.
Arkansans Urged to Test Homes for Radon, the Second Leading Cause of Lung Cancer in the U.S.
Little Rock, AR — The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), Radiation Control Section, is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a nationwide campaign to educate Americans about the dangers of radon exposure and to encourage them to take action to protect their homes and families.
Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that is dispersed in outdoor air but can reach harmful levels when trapped in buildings. Scientists have long been concerned about the health risk of radon, but never before has there been such overwhelming evidence that exposure to elevated levels of radon causes lung cancer in humans.
EPA estimates that radon is responsible for more than 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year nationwide. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after smoking and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.
“Because you can’t see or smell radon, people tend to downplay the health effects and ignore the possibility that there might be a silent killer in their homes,” said Dr. William Mason, Medical Director for Preparedness at ADH.
Testing homes for elevated levels of radon is simple and inexpensive. Radon test kits can be purchased online or at local hardware and home improvement stores. Prices are as low as $15. Radon problems can be fixed by qualified contractors for a cost similar to that of many common home repairs.
ADH urges Arkansas residents to take action by testing their homes for radon. Radon poses a serious threat to our community’s health, but there is a straightforward solution. For more information on radon, radon testing and mitigation, and radon-resistant new construction, call the Radiation Control Section at (501) 661-2301 or visit our website at www.healthy.arkansas.gov.
Arkansas Awarded $7,107,244 to Support Families Through HRSA’s Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood
Little Rock, Ark. – The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced $7,107,244 in funding to Arkansas through the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program. These grant funds allow the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) to continue to provide voluntary, evidence-based and promising practice home visiting services to women during pregnancy, and to parents with young children up to kindergarten entry.
In Arkansas, ADH implements the Nurse-Family Partnership program and partners with Arkansas Children’s Hospital to implement Healthy Families America, HIPPY, Parents as Teachers, and Following Baby Back Home, a promising home visiting approach. Families in 53 counties are served by the MIECHV grant through 32 local implementing agencies and seven of ADH’s local health units. In 2016, Arkansas’s MIECHV programs served 2,409 households, 54% with household incomes at or below the federal poverty level.
“Home visiting can be a real game-changer,” said Bradley Planey, Family Health Branch Chief and Home Visiting Project Director at ADH. “The programs work to improve children’s health, development, and school readiness. They also support families with health screenings, referrals to resources, parenting advice, and guidance in many other areas of family life. This can mean a real difference in the life of the child and family.”
Nationally, the MIECHV Program serves almost 42% of U.S. counties with high rates of low birth weight infants, teen births, families living in poverty or infant mortality. More than 3.3 million home visits have been conducted through the MIECHV Program, serving parents and children in 893 counties in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five territories. Three-fourths of families participating in the program had household incomes at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Level.
“Evidence-based home visiting programs help children get off to a better, healthier start,” said HRSA Administrator George Sigounas, MS, Ph.D. “Today’s awards allow states to support local agencies in providing home visiting services that meet the needs of families in their own communities.”
Administered by HRSA, in partnership with the Administration for Children and Families, the MIECHV Program gives pregnant women and families, particularly those considered at-risk, necessary resources and skills to raise children who are physically, socially, and emotionally healthy and ready to learn. Funded through the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 through FY 2017, the MIECHV Program is also addressing HHS’ clinical priorities such as serious mental illness and childhood obesity. Nationwide, $342 million in funding was awarded to 55 states, territories, and nonprofit organizations.
For more information on the home visiting programs in Arkansas, visit http://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/home-visiting-programs
For more information on HRSA's Home Visiting Program, visit http://mchb.hrsa.gov/programs/homevisiting.
For a list of awardees, visit https://mchb.hrsa.gov/maternal-child-health-initiatives/home-visiting/fy17-home-visiting-awards.
Arkansas Suicide Prevention Awareness Proclamation
ADH declares end of Mumps outbreak
Mandatory Boil Order for Biscoe and Fredonia
Rabid Dog in Mississippi County
Northeast Arkansas – For the first time in more than two decades, Mississippi County has a confirmed case of rabies. A dog from Mississippi County, Arkansas has tested positive for the virus. The dog was exposed to a skunk in mid-June of this year. All those who may have come into contact with the dog have been contacted for follow-up. Residents are reminded to keep pets up-to-date on rabies vaccinations.
So far in 2017, the state has had 23 rabid animals (13 skunks, 9 bats, and 1 dog) test positive for rabies. Last year, 23 animals tested positive for rabies in Arkansas, which is below the annual average.
Documenting where rabies is found in the state helps guide medical professionals about the need for rabies preventive shots after an animal bite. This information also helps the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) inform the public of rabies in an area so citizens will vaccinate their pets and livestock. These maps can be found on the ADH website at www.healthy.arkansas.gov.
“Rabid animals can pose a threat to pets and livestock,” said Susan Weinstein, DVM, state public health veterinarian at ADH. “Situations like this are a critical reminder to everyone to make sure their pets and livestock are current on their vaccinations.”
The rabies virus attacks the brain and spinal cord and is a fatal disease. The virus lives in the saliva (spit) and nervous tissues of infected animals and is spread when they bite or scratch.
The virus also may be spread if saliva from an infected animal touches broken skin, open wounds or the lining of the mouth, eyes or nose. It is most often seen in animals such as skunks and bats. Any skunk seen out during the day, or getting into a fenced yard or pen with a dog, is very likely rabid, and should be avoided and reported to local authorities. Cats, dogs, ferrets and livestock can also develop rabies, especially if they are not vaccinated.
All dogs and cats in Arkansas are required by state law to be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. One-year and three-year shots are available. This protects the animal, and acts as a barrier between the wildlife exposures of rabies and people, since pets are more likely to be directly exposed to a rabid animal. Any rabies vaccine given by an owner with an over-the-counter product cannot be counted as vaccinated, as there is no assurance it was stored or given properly. There is also usually no documentation of a date when the vaccine was given.
The first sign of rabies in an animal is usually a change in behavior. Rabid animals may attack people or other animals for no reason, or they may lose their fear of people and seem unnaturally friendly. Staggering, convulsions, choking, frothing at the mouth and paralysis are often present. Skunks may be seen out in daylight, which is an unusual behavior for them, or they may get into a dog pen or under a house. Many animals have a marked change in voice pitch, such as a muted or off-key tone. An animal usually dies within one week of demonstrating signs of rabies. Not all rabid animals act in these ways, so you should avoid direct contact with all wild animals—especially skunks, bats and stray cats and dogs.
If you think you have become exposed to an animal with rabies, wash your wound thoroughly with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately. Contact your physician immediately and report the incident. The animal in question should be captured, if it is possible to do so safely, without damaging its head so that it can be tested.
If an apparently healthy, domesticated dog or cat bites a person, it must be captured, confined and observed daily for 10 days following the bite. If the animal remains healthy during this period of time, it did not transmit rabies at the time of the bite. The brain tissue of all wild animals must be tested for rabies if human exposure has occurred.
How can you protect yourself from rabies?
- Be sure dogs, cats and ferrets are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.
- Do not feed, touch or adopt wild animals.
- Keep family pets indoors at night.
- Bat-proof your home or summer camp in the fall or winter. The majority of human rabies cases are caused by bat bites.
- Encourage children to immediately tell an adult if any animal bites them.
- Teach children to avoid wildlife, strays and all other animals they do not know well.
Report all animal bites or contact with wild animals to the nearest local health unit. Do not let any animal escape that has possibly exposed someone to rabies. Depending on the species, an animal can be observed or tested for rabies in order to avoid the need for rabies treatment. For more information, call Susan Weinstein, DVM, state public health veterinarian, at (501) 280-4384.
Case of Heartland virus found in Arkansas resident
Little Rock, Ark. - Arkansas has identified its first case of Heartland virus, a relatively new tickborne disease, in an individual living in the northwest part of the state.
People become infected with Heartland virus through the bite of the Lone Star tick. Patients are most likely to be diagnosed with Heartland virus from May to September. Heartland virus causes a flu-like illness, including fever, headache, muscle aches, diarrhea, appetite loss, and feeling very tired. Most cases have low numbers of cells that fight infection and low numbers of cells that help blood clot. There is no vaccine or drug to prevent or treat the disease.
In 2009, two people admitted to Heartland Hospital in Missouri were later found to be infected with this virus. Both recovered, but the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services began working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to learn more about the virus.
To date, more than 20 cases of Heartland virus disease have been identified in several states in Southeast and South Central United States, so it is not surprising that Arkansas has a case. Most patients require hospitalization for their illness but fully recover. One patient has died. The Arkansas patient has recovered fully.
Arkansas has some of the highest rates in the nation for tickborne diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), Ehrlichiosis, and Tularemia. Anaplasmosis and Lyme Disease may also occur. People who work or do activities outside, where they are exposed to ticks or insects, are more likely to be infected. Preventing bites from ticks and mosquitoes is the best way to prevent these and other infections.
• Use insect repellents
• Wear long sleeves and pants
• Avoid bushy and wooded areas
• Perform thorough tick checks after spending time outdoors
For more information, visit healthy.arkansas.gov.
Flu Vaccine Clinic at State Fairgrounds Oct. 27
(Little Rock, Ark.) - The Pulaski County Health Unit will provide flu vaccines at the Hall of Industry located at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds in Little Rock, on Tuesday, Oct. 27, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
People should bring their insurance cards with them to the flu vaccine clinic. If anyone does not have insurance, or the insurance does not cover flu vaccine, the vaccine will still be available at no charge.
It is important to get a flu vaccine every year, because the flu virus changes from year to year. This year’s vaccine protects against the flu viruses that are expected to cause the most illness this flu season.
People of all ages can get the flu. Certain people are more likely to have serious health problems if they get the flu. This includes older adults, young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), people who smoke, and people who live in nursing homes. Therefore, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) strongly recommends that people in these groups get a flu vaccine. ADH also recommends that friends, family members and people who provide care to people in these groups also get a vaccine - not only to protect themselves but also to decrease the possibility that they might expose the people they love and care for to the flu.
The flu vaccine is safe and does not cause the flu. Some people may have mild soreness and redness near the site of the shot and a low fever or slight headache.
There are very few medical reasons to skip the flu vaccine. These include life-threatening allergic reactions to a previous dose of the flu vaccine or an ingredient in the vaccine. People with allergies to vaccine ingredients can often receive the vaccine safely, if it is given in a doctor’s office where they can be monitored.
The flu is easily spread through coughing or sneezing and by touching something, such as a door knob, with the virus on it and then touching their nose or mouth. Good hand washing habits are important in preventing the flu. However, the best way to prevent the flu is to get the vaccine.
Lead Poisoning Prevention Week Oct. 25-31
(Little Rock, Ark.) - Childhood lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among young children, yet around half a million children in the United States have blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter, the level at which Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says public health actions should start. A simple blood test can keep permanent damage that will last a lifetime from happening.
High levels of lead in the blood can affect the brain and might cause other health effects. Exposure to lead is even more harmful to children six years-old and younger because their brains and spinal cords are still developing. For these children, even being around very low levels of lead can cause permanent damage, such as reduced intelligence, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, behavioral problems, stunted growth, and hearing and kidney damage. Therefore, health officials consider any level of exposure to lead to be unsafe, particularly for young children.
“Prevention of lead exposure is key,” said Dr. Dirk Haselow, State Epidemiologist at the Arkansas Department of Health. “Once exposed, the effects in a child may be devastating and lifelong.”
There are many ways to come into contact with lead: through cracked or peeling paint, household dust, bare soil, air, drinking water, food, ceramics, home remedies, hair dyes, and makeup. The lead from these sources is too small for people to see. Children with high blood lead levels are most likely to have been exposed to lead in their own homes from lead dust and lead-based paint chips, especially if that home was built before 1978.
The good thing is that there are steps your family can take to reduce exposure.
• Wash your child’s hands before meals and after playing outside.
• Provide your child with meals and snacks that are high in iron, calcium and Vitamin C.
• Frequently wash toys, pacifiers and other items your child uses regularly.
• Dust and wet mop weekly.
• Have your family members leave their shoes outside the door.
• Test your home for lead to determine the source of exposure.
• Ensure that any home renovation and maintenance work is done in a lead-safe way.
• Follow-up with your child’s doctor.
The only way to fully rid a pre-1978 home of lead is to abate it. Abatement should always be done by a state-certified contractor. Abatement involves: the removal of lead-based paint and dust-lead hazards, the permanent covering or encapsulation of lead-based paint, the replacement of parts or fixtures painted with lead-based paint, and the removal or permanent covering of soil-lead hazards, as well as all set-up, cleanup, disposal, and post-abatement clearance testing actions linked to such measures.
To raise awareness of childhood lead poisoning prevention, the Arkansas Department of Health, along with other agencies, such as the CDC, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is participating in National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW) October 25-31.
Visit the Arkansas Department of Health’s Lead-based Paint Program at the following lead prevention activities in central Arkansas in support of NLPPW:
Saturday, Oct. 24
KIDSTOCK, Hilary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library, Little Rock, 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 26
Lowes, North Little Rock, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 26
Lowes, Hot Springs, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
BIG BOO!SEUM BASH, Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
For more information, contact the Arkansas Department of Health’s Lead-based Paint Program at 501-671-1472.