Friday, September 12, 2014

Making the community a healthier place for babies topic of Friday workshop in Mobile

Mobile, Ala. -- An Infant Mortality Conference presented by the Alabama Baby Coalition and the Mobile County Health Department was held Friday, Sept. 12, 2014, at the American Red Cross Headquarters in Mobile. More than 130 participants took part in the day-long seminar.

MCHD's Tony Bondora, who is the ABC coordinator, led the state conference that offers a chance for health care workers and others interested in the health of children to gather and share effective strategies for saving more babies. A presentation was given on the centering pregnancy initiative, which offers expectant mothers at risk for a poor birth outcome the opportunity to join a group of women with similar due dates for monthly visits with a health care provider.   

The Alabama Baby Coalition held the infant mortality workshop in conjunction with National Infant Mortality Awareness Month. In Mobile County in 2013, 54 infants died before their first birthday, at a rate of 9.7 per 1,000 births. That figure represents an improvement from 2012 when 60 Mobile County infants died before their first birthday, at a rate of 10.9 per 1,000 live births, health data shows.

Alabama’s infant mortality rate of 8.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2013 is lower than the 8.9 rate recorded in 2012. In 2013, there were 58,182 live births in Alabama and the infant mortality rate represents the deaths of 500 of these infants who did not reach their first birthday.

Research indicates that babies born before 37 weeks of gestation face a higher risk of health problems. The percent of births at less than 37 weeks in Alabama has been trending down steadily to 11.8 percent of all live births in 2013. This compares to 13.4 percent in 2005. Low birth weight infants, defined as those weighing less than 2,500 grams (5 pounds, 8 ounces) were almost 20 times more likely to die than infants of normal weight. Ten percent of births in 2013 were of low weight.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Human case of mosquito-borne Eastern Equine Encephalitis confirmed in Mobile man

MOBILE, Ala. -- A Mobile resident has tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), lab reports confirm. The 66-year-old male patient remained hospitalized Friday, Sept. 5, 2014, in Mobile. He resides in the 36618 ZIP code of Mobile County.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis is one of the most severe mosquito-transmitted diseases in the United States with a mortality rate of approximately 33 percent, said Dr. Bernard Eichold, Health Officer of Mobile County. “It’s a very serious illness that can leave significant brain damage in survivors.”

Eastern Equine Encephalitis and other mosquito-borne viruses such as West Nile Virus are transmitted from bird to mosquito to bird. Mosquitoes can spread these viruses by feeding on the blood of infected birds and then biting another host animal or mammal such as a horse or human. Although humans and horses can become ill from the infection, the diseases cannot be spread from people or horses. The likelihood of transmission to humans can be decreased by avoiding mosquitoes. There is no vaccine available for humans, Eichold said.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis can be more dangerous to people and other mammals than other mosquito-borne viruses. However the same mosquito-prevention measures reduce exposures to all such viruses. Bites to children should be watched for secondary infections that need to be treated by a physician.

The Mobile County Health Department’s Vector Control division monitors encephalitis in sentinel poultry flocks placed throughout the county to detect the presence of viruses carried by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are trapped throughout the county and tested for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, West Nile Virus, and St. Louis Encephalitis. According to Vector Control staff, aggressive surveillance and control activities are ongoing.

The most effective and economical method to quell the adult mosquito population is to reduce their emergence from as many breeding sites as possible with larviciding treatments. Inspectors regularly check areas with standing water for mosquito breeding and treat as necessary using both portable and truck mounted equipment.

MCHD inspectors also respond to service requests from residents to inspect backyard areas as well as to treat identified breeding areas and to provide education. Because of large volumes of calls received daily, service requests are responded to on a first-call, first-served basis and may take a few days to be addressed, health officials said.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Whooping cough outbreak: Number of pertussis cases still climbing in Mobile County

MOBILE, Ala. – Seventy-eight cases related to the pertussis outbreak have been reported by the Mobile County Health Department this year. Known as whooping cough, pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory disease marked by uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe.

Between May and Sept. 3, 2014, Mobile County reported 78 pertussis cases. That number is up from 27 cases reported in June 20, 2014. In all of 2013, only eight confirmed and probable cases were reported in Mobile County. Of the 78 cases reported so far in the most recent outbreak, 63 have been confirmed, health officials said. There are 13 probable cases. There are open investigations on seven of the pertussis cases.

Pertussis most commonly affects infants and young children and can be fatal, especially in babies less than 1 year old, health officials said. After a coughing fit, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breaths which can result in a "whooping" sound. The best way to protect against pertussis is immunization.

Doctors who have diagnosed local cases urge residents to be aware of the disease and its consequences. Once a pertussis case has been confirmed, all family members residing with the infected person should receive treatment with antibiotics.

Beginning with the 2010-2011 school year, a Tdap vaccination became mandatory for students age 11 and older entering the sixth grade in Alabama. The Tdap shot protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

Vaccinations are available on weekdays at MCHD’s downtown location, 251 North Bayou St., from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. All required or recommended vaccinations are free or low-cost based on eligibility. Appointments are recommended, but not required.

Parents and caregivers must bring their children’s immunizations records, Social Security cards and Medicaid cards or other insurance verification. Immunizations by appointment are available at all Family Health locations in Mobile. For appointments, call 251-690-8889.

Here are two links from the CDC to hear what whooping cough sounds like:

TEEN Center planning three-day event focused on helping youth thrive in Mobile Sept. 18-20

MOBILE, Ala. -- The Mobile County Health Department's TEEN Center is planning a three-day event: "Nurturing the Roots: Building the Village & Helping Our Youth Thrive Adolescent Conference," scheduled for Sept.18-20 in Mobile.

The goal of the initiative is to strengthen area organizations and those who serve youth throughout the community. TEEN Center team members will focus on sharing strategies to educate, engage and sustain youth and youth programming as it relates to reproductive health, organizers said. Anyone who works with teens, including through local schools, churches or at other venues throughout the community, are welcome to attend. Parents and guardians, also are invited to take part in this three-day event, health officials said.

Thurday, Sept. 18, a documentary about the importance of fatherhood will be presented by Jordan Thierry at the Ben May main branch of the Mobile Public Library downtown. The program begins at 6 p.m. and will include a discussion with Thierry, the film's director, about how to motivate active fathers and men to engage boys, especially boys of color.

Friday, Sept. 19, a day-long event is planned from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. with breakout sessions on topics that include "Effective facilitating: Making youth feel safe," "How to develop youth without judgment," "Being an askable adult," "Organizing for success: Engaging parents to reinvest in their kids" and "Tools for a successful male mentoring program." All break-out sessions will be held at The Bright Spot. in Mobile.

On Saturday, Sept. 20,  from 9 a.m. until noon, a youth rally and march will be held at The Bright Spot in Mobile, and will include speeches and presentations by the TEEN Center's Youth Leadership Team.

For more information, contact Pebbles King, a program administrator with the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, at 251-690-7525.

Low-cost rabies clinics for pets planned across Mobile County on Saturdays in September

Every month, the Mobile County Health Department’s veterinarian provides hundreds of residents with low-cost vaccines for their dogs, cats and ferrets at a variety of locations.

Between September 2013 and August 2014, the MCHD Rabies Officer provided 2,325  rabies vaccines to domesticated pets. The state of Alabama tasks local Health Department’s with providing rabies vaccinations to pet owners.

Here’s a list of the weekend rabies clinics planned for Saturdays during September in Mobile County:

·         8:00 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Sept. 6, Georgetown community, mile marker 18, on Byrd Cemetery Road, off Lott Road.
·         1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sept. 13, Pet Supplies Plus, 803 Hillcrest Road
·         7 a.m. to noon, Sept. 20, Eddie Smith’s Country Store, 14045 Celeste Road
·         1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Sept.  27, B&B Pet Stop, 5035 Cottage Hill Road

The cost of the shot is $8 per pet, except at B&B Pet Stop, where the cost is $10. Payment must be made in cash, health officials said.  

About Rabies: Rabies is a virus that attacks the central nervous system. It is transmitted from infected mammals to man and is fatal once symptoms appear. Symptoms of rabies include unusual behavior, irritability, headache, fever, inability to eat or drink, balance problems, circling, seizures, coma, and, finally, death. All warm-blooded mammals, including humans, are susceptible to rabies.

Exposure to rabies may be minimized by eliminating all stray cats and dogs; having pet dogs, cats and ferrets vaccinated; staying away from wild animals, especially those acting abnormally; and not keeping exotic or wild animals as pets, health officials said.