Wednesday, April 15, 2015

As mosquito season looms, Mobile County Health Department's sentinel flock program in the news

WKRG reporter Devon Walsh holds one of the Mobile County Health
Department's immature chickens destined for the small cages
seen in the image. The chickens are strategically placed throughout the county to
detect mosquito-borne viruses typically between May and November each year.
MOBILE, Ala. -- In preparation for mosquito season, the Mobile County Health Department's Vector control division purchased 101 baby chicks in February.
Devon Walsh, a reporter for WKRG TV5, spent time with members of the Vector Control Division this week to find out more about the role the sentinel flock plays in protecting public health in Mobile County. A segment about them program is scheduled to air on a TV5 morning show in April.

“Because of the increased demand for chickens, we had to get them early,” said Jerry Folse, who leads Vector Control at MCHD. “This is the earliest we’ve ever had to buy them.”

Because temperatures dipped below freezing in late winter, a plan was hatched to care for the baby chicks indoors, in cages, until they were old enough to survive in the health department’s large chicken coop in downtown Mobile.

Known as black Sexlink chickens, there were about 94 chicks left by mid-April. Roughly half of the birds will be placed in groups of four at 13 sites strategically located around Mobile County. The others will remain at the coop to serve as replacements for any chickens that contract a mosquito-borne illness.

For more than 25 years, MCHD’s Vector Control division has monitored encephalitis in sentinel poultry flocks placed throughout the county to detect the presence of viruses carried by
mosquitoes. Mosquitoes also are trapped throughout the county and tested for Eastern
Equine Encephalitis, West Nile Virus, and St. Louis Encephalitis. Aggressive
surveillance and control activities are ongoing.

For several years, MCHD vector employee Tim Busby has been charged with caring for the chickens. He feeds them, gives them water and cleans out their cages several times a day before and throughout mosquito season, which typically runs from spring through the end of October.

Busby has become known as the chicken whisperer, he said, because of his knack for keeping the hens healthy and happy during their time at MCHD's roomy coop. When the first freeze hits the Gulf Coast, Folse said the remaining chickens are typically adopted by the property owners where the coops are located across the county. "People like them because they tend to be happy chickens that lay lots of eggs."

Thursday, April 9, 2015

National Public Health Week recognized by the Mobile County Health Department

MOBILE, Alabama – The availability of public health centers across Mobile County, the state and beyond means that those who might not otherwise have access to quality primary health care are able to see a medical provider when they need to at a low cost.
As the nation strives to become more fit, the Mobile County Health Department is pleased to bring more awareness to National Public Health Week and its intended impacts. The week spans from April 6-10, 2015. President Barrack Obama celebrated public health this week with a proclamation that focused on shifting healthcare from sickness and disease to wellness and prevention.
“We know that public health is vital to every community,” said Dr. Bernard Eichold, health officer for Mobile County. “At MCHD, we strive to personally live our mission every day, promoting, improving and protecting the health of everyone who lives and works here.” 
Mobile’s public health agency has deep roots in the community. Founded in 1816, before Alabama became a state, public health has played a vital role in the proliferation of the Alabama Gulf Coast.
Since 1979, the Mobile County Health Department’s Family Health division has provided comprehensive primary care services throughout Mobile County and now provides primary care services at nine sites from Mount Vernon to Tillman’s Corner to Dauphin Island Parkway.
The sites, which are all designated as Federally Qualified Health Centers, are strategically located where the targeted population needs are the greatest and access to care is limited, agency officials said. A mobile health unit also brings primary care and wellness screenings to those who might not otherwise have the means to travel to a health center.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Mobile County Health Department staff wear blue for National Autism Awareness Day April 2

Dozens of Mobile County Health Department and Family Health staff members, across all nine clniical sites, wore blue April 2, 2015, in recognition of National Autism Awareness Day.



Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Up to eight weeks of free help to quit smoking offered through state program

The Alabama Tobacco Quitline is celebrating 10 years of helping state residents quit tobacco use by offering up to eight weeks of nicotine replacement therapy patches (NRT) to eligible callers, while supplies last.

Alabama maintains one of the highest rates in the nation for those who light up. Some 21.5 percent of Alabama adults are smokers, according to the 2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

The Quitline is a toll-free telephone coaching program that helps tobacco users quit with informational materials, a quit plan, coaching and NRT, all at no cost. Previously, the Quitline offered two weeks of NRT to eligible callers.
“The additional weeks of NRT should help more people quit,” said Karen Atkinson, Quitline manager. “Research shows that the combination of coaching and NRT can double the chances of a tobacco user quitting and staying quit.”

Since it began April 1, 2005, more than 145,000 calls have been made to Alabama’s Quitline. Callers dial 1-800 Quit Now (1-800-784-8669) to enroll in the program. Coaching is required to receive the NRT which is mailed to the user’s home every two weeks while participating in the program.

Callers with certain medical conditions may be referred to their health care provider for NRT approval. The Alabama Tobacco Quitline had the third highest quit rate among reporting quitlines, according to 2013 data from the North American Quitline Consortium.

The Quitline is open seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to midnight. For those who prefer electronic services, a website,, is available. Mobile apps and text messaging are also available.

Source: Alabama Department of Public Health

Friday, March 20, 2015

SWAT ALERT: Students Working Against Tobacco recognized by Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson

Members of the Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) team met with Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson before a
Mobile City Council meeting in anticipation of March 18 Kick Butts Day. The students, from area public schools.

Sign held by a student in Cathedral Square during Kick Butts Day on March 18, 2015.
Students from Murphy High School answer questions about the dangers of tobacco on March 18, 2015 in Cathedral Square.