Category Archives: Public Health

Six tips for college health and safety – CDC

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Tips for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

BooksGoing to college is an exciting time in a young person’s life. It’s the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. College is a great time for new experiences, both inside and outside the classroom. Here are a few pointers for college students on staying safe and healthy. Continue reading

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Keep your cool in hot weather – CDC

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Sun Orange Orb by Cris DeRaudGetting too hot can make you sick. You can become ill from the heat if your body can’t compensate for it and properly cool you off.

Heat exposure can even kill you: it caused 7,233 heat-related deaths in the United States from 1999 to 2009.

Learn about heat-related illness and how to stay cool and safe in hot weather

.Main things affecting your body’s ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather:

  • High humidity. When the humidity is high, sweat won’t evaporate as quickly, which keeps your body from releasing heat as fast as it may need to.
  • Personal factors. Age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn, and prescription drug and alcohol use can play a role in whether a person can cool off enough in very hot weather.

Continue reading

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Washington health officials warn of risk posed by rabid bats

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From the Washington State Department of Health

BatsRabid bats have been found throughout the state and continue to pose a risk to people and pets, especially during the summer when bats are more active.

Five bats that were in contact with people or pets have tested positive for rabies so far this year.

This is fairly normal, but health officials are hoping to raise awareness and keep this number low.

“There’s an ongoing risk of people and pets interacting with wild animals, including rabid bats,” said Ron Wohrle, veterinarian at the Department of Health. “To help protect yourself and your pets, avoid contact with bats or wild animals and enjoy wildlife from a distance.”

Five bats that were in contact with people or pets have tested positive for rabies so far this year.

Though 1 percent of bats carry the rabies virus, people are more likely to come into contact with sick bats. Healthy bats usually avoid contact with people and animals and will not rest on the ground. Continue reading

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King County’s wellness plan beats the odds

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By Christine Vestal, Stateline

Seattle

SEATTLE – When King County, Washington, launched its employee wellness program seven years ago, its motive was clear. “We were being eaten alive by runaway medical costs,” says the county’s top executive Dow Constantine.

By all accounts, the previous administration was desperate to bring down double-digit health care cost growth that threatened to destroy the entire budget.

That partially explains why King County, which spends nearly $200 million per year to insure 14,000 workers and their families, who mostly live and work here in the county seat, was willing to risk millions more on a wellness program that would prove to break the traditional mold.

Why has King County’s  employee wellness program far surpassed all others in employee participation, health improvement and health care savings?

It may also explain why labor unions took the unusual step of joining management in a plan that would ultimately shift more health care costs to workers.

But it doesn’t explain why this employee wellness program, which received an innovation award this year from Harvard University, has far surpassed all others in employee participation, health improvement and health care savings.  Continue reading

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Women’s Health – Week 46: Stroke

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tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s Health

A stroke, also called a brain attack, occurs when blood flow to the brain suddenly stops. Blocked or damaged vessels are the two major causes of stroke.

During a stroke, brain cells begin to die because oxygen and nutrients cannot reach them. The longer blood flow is cut off to the brain, the greater the damage.

Every minute counts when someone is having a stroke. Immediate treatment can save a person’s life and enhance the chance for a successful recovery.

stroke

Diagram showing what happens in the brain during a hemorrhagic stroke and a ischemic stroke.

There are two kinds of stroke: Continue reading

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Enjoy the lake — but please don’t drink the water

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Enjoy the lake this summer but, please, don’t drink the water, say Snohomish health officials

swimmersFrom the Snohomish Health District:

Swimming or playing in water that is contaminated or high in bacteria or natural toxins can affect your health.

Swimming pools, spas, lakes, rivers, or oceans are all potential sources of water-related illness. Recreational water illnesses typically affect a person’s stomach and intestines, causing diarrhea and vomiting. Water quality can also affect your skin or respiratory system.

The recent outbreak of illness at Horseshoe Lake in Kitsap County was caused by norovirus found in the water at the swimming beach. Continue reading

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How Americans can get a better return on their health care investments – CDC series

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USA America buttonFrom the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Each year, the U.S. spends nearly $9,000 for the health of every American — far more than what the governments of other countries spend on the health of their citizens – yet life expectancy and health outcomes are generally worse for Americans than for citizens of other developed nations in North America and Europe. Continue reading

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Cloudy weather doesn’t mean region’s skin cancer risk is low

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Blue sky and white clouds (Panorama)Just be because the Puget Sound regions has cloudy weather most of the year, doesn’t mean our risk of getting skin cancer is low, the Washington State Department of Health (DoH) warns.

In fact, if Puget Sound, were a state by itself, would rank fourth in the nation for skin cancer rates, the DoH says.

Why? Because of a misconception that cloudy weather means we don’t have to protect themselves from the sun, the DoH says.

Here’s more from the DoH alert: Continue reading

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Ohio Amish reconsider vaccines amid measles outbreak

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Photo: Sarah Jane Tribble/WCPN

 This story is part of a partnership that includes WCPNNPR and Kaiser Health News. 

The Amish countryside in central Ohio looks like it has for a hundred years. There are picturesque pastures with cows and sheep, and big red barns dot the landscape.

But something changed here when, on an April afternoon, an Amish woman walked to a communal call box.

She called the Knox County Health Department and told a county worker that she and a family next door had the measles. Continue reading

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Myth vs. Fact: Violence and Mental Health

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A Q&A with an expert who studies the relationship between mental illness and violence.

ht_jeffrey_swanson_300x200_140610By Lois Beckett
ProPublica

After mass shootings, like the ones these past weeks in Las Vegas, Seattle and Santa Barbara, the national conversation often focuses on mental illness. So what do we actually know about the connections between mental illness, mass shootings and gun violence overall?

To separate the facts from the media hype, we talked to Dr. Jeffrey Swanson, a professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Duke University School of Medicine, and one of the leading researchers on mental health and violence. Swanson talked about the dangers of passing laws in the wake of tragedy ― and which new violence-prevention strategies might actually work.

Here is a condensed version of our conversation, edited for length and clarity.

Mass shootings are relatively rare events that account for only a tiny fraction of American gun deaths each year. But when you look specifically at mass shootings ― how big a factor is mental illness? Continue reading

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For women just out of jail, health care could be key to better life

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This story is part of a partnership that includes KQEDNPR and Kaiser Health News.

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Juanita Alvarado (right), a community health worker at the Transitions Clinic in San Francisco, helps a patient. (Photo courtesy Transitions Clinic).

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department is implementing a new city law allowing its staff to enroll inmates into health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi believes that making sure people have health coverage when they’re released will help prevent them from committing another crime and coming back.

One inmate – Sophia – recently requested help signing up for health insurance. Sophia, who asked that her last name not be used, was caught driving a stolen car in January and sentenced to three months in the county jail.

She says that was because she stopped getting treatment for her substance abuse and mental health problems when her health insurance expired.

“It stopped in December and I didn’t get it reinstated. So I didn’t address any of my issues and I guess that’s why I found myself in a car, driving around,” she says.

Pretty soon, health insurance sign-ups like Sophia’s will happen for all inmates at the San Francisco county jail — whether they request it or not. They’ll happen right when most new arrivals get booked into custody. Continue reading

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When adults set an example, teens more likely to wear life jackets, UW study suggests

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life-jacket-float Children and teens are more likely to wear life jackets when out on the water when adults onboard are wearing them as well —  yet relatively few adult boaters in Washington state wear life jackets while boating, according to recently published studies by UW Medicine researchers at Seattle Children’s Hospital and Harborview’s Injury Prevention & Research Center.

The findings, the researchers write, underscore the important role adults can have in encouraging the young to wear life jackets when out on the water.

Wearing a life jacket has been shown to reduce a boaters risk of drowning by half. Nevertheless, nationwide only about 15% of boaters wear a life jacket or personal floatation device (PDF), and, as the new studies show, Washington state boaters do little better.  Continue reading

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