From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, MD, was appointed today as Interim Local Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County.
Duchin is a familiar figure in the health field, having held the position of chief of the department’s Communicable Disease Epidemiology and Immunization Section since 1999 and frequently serving as a department spokesperson.
In his new role, Duchin will provide leadership in developing priorities and setting strategies for the health department, with a particular role as the key science advisor on program and policy development.
Duchin will split time between his Health Officer duties and his continued direction of communicable disease and immunization activities. He will also maintain an affiliation with the University of Washington as a Professor of Medicine.
As part of his Health Officer duties, he will work with other health officers in Washington State on health issues that cross county borders.
In addition, Duchin will represent Public Health – Seattle & King County on external committees, task forces, and as a liaison to regional and national professional organizations.
Duchin’s is currently the Chair of the Public Health Committee of the Infectious Disease Society of America and has served in many other advisory roles, including the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the Institute of Medicine.
The Interim Local Health Officer reports to Patty Hayes, Interim Director of Public Health – Seattle & King County. Prior to Duchin, the position was held by the previous Director, Dr. David Fleming.
By Tony Gomez, BS, RS, Manager, Violence and Injury Prevention
Public Health — Seattle & King County
I’ve worked on Violence and Injury Prevention for over thirty years. I consistently notice in the media and in conversations about firearms that usually the discussion focuses on tragic homicides.
But, the truth is that most firearm deaths are suicides—often hidden from the public conversation. In King County, nearly 70% of firearm deaths being suicides, it’s crucial we come together despite different ideologies.
The truth is that most firearm deaths are suicides.
With firearm ownership so prevalent in King County (~25%) – and some estimated 30,000 households that keep at least one firearm loaded and unlocked – we can’t afford to wait any longer to get those easily stolen and accessed firearms locked up.
We know that impulsivity plays a significant role in suicide attempts; easy access to highly lethal means, such as firearms, increases risk. Strong evidence exists, both in the United States and abroad, that restricting access to lethal means is an effective way to reduce suicide.
Suicide prevention efforts in King County and elsewhere in the United States now champion safe storage of firearms. Continue reading
Public Health Insider: Behind-the-scenes of the agency protecting the health and well-being of all people in Seattle & King County
New York City has them, so does L.A. Even Toronto has them. So why aren’t there food safety inspection grades posted outside of restaurants in King County?
The answer? Food safety performance placarding is coming, and when it does, it will give patrons and establishments alike information that is meaningful, clear, and motivating.
Diners need to know actual risk
There’s a lot on the line: Studies show that restaurant placards influence consumer behavior. But research on the systems that give A-B-C grades shows that A-B-C placards don’t communicate what consumers are expect. Continue reading
By Tim Henderson
They walk in front of cars, and into tree limbs and street signs. They fall off curbs and bridges into wet cement and creek beds.
They are distracted walkers who, while calling or texting on mobile phones, have suffered cuts and bruises, sustained serious head injuries or even been killed.
As many cities and states promote walkable neighborhoods, in part to attract more young people, some also are levying fines on distracted walkers and lowering speed limits to make streets gentler for the inattentive.
Pedestrian injuries due to cell phone use are up 35 percent since 2010, according to federal emergency room data reviewed by Stateline, and some researchers blame at least 10 percent of the 78,000 pedestrian injuries in the U.S. in 2012 on mobile device distraction.
The federal Fatality Analysis Reporting system attributes about a half-dozen pedestrians deaths a year to “portable electronic devices,” including phones and music players.
From the National Institutes of Health
Nearly 55 percent of U.S. infants are placed to sleep with bedding that increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, despite recommendations against the practice, report researchers at the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other institutions.
Soft objects and loose bedding — such as thick blankets, quilts, and pillows — can obstruct an infant’s airway and pose a suffocation risk, according to the NIH’s Safe to Sleep campaign.
Soft bedding has also been shown to increase the risk of SIDS Infants should be placed to sleep alone, on their backs, on a firm sleep surface, such as in a mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered by a fitted sheet. Soft objects, toys, crib bumpers, quilts, comforters and loose bedding should be kept out of the baby’s sleep area.
Parents have good intentions but may not understand that blankets, quilts and pillows increase a baby’s risk of SIDS and accidental suffocation.”—Carrie K. Shapiro-Mendoza, Ph.D.
“Parents have good intentions but may not understand that blankets, quilts and pillows increase a baby’s risk of SIDS and accidental suffocation,” said the study’s first author, Carrie K. Shapiro-Mendoza, Ph.D., M.P.H., senior scientist in the CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health in Atlanta. Continue reading
You’ve been protecting your kids their whole lives. So don’t just hand them the keys to a two-ton machine with no rules… Talk it out. Tell your teenagers they have to agree to 5 rules to drive:
Set the rules before they hit the road.
Learn more here.
By Jenni Bergal
Back in 2008, South Carolina transportation officials were itching to do something innovative to curtail the number of serious traffic crashes in their state.
The federal government already had designated South Carolina as one of the states with the highest proportion of traffic fatalities at intersections.
So state highway safety officials began working with their counterparts at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to come up with a new, system-wide approach to tackling the problem. Continue reading
By Michael Ollove
Athens, Georgia—When Georgia public high schools were asked several years ago to devise a policy to govern sports activities during periods of high heat and humidity, one school’s proposal stood out: It pledged to scale back workouts when the heat index reached 140.
Those who understood the heat index, the combined effects of air temperature and humidity, weren’t sure whether to be appalled or amused. “If you hit a heat index of 140,” said Bud Cooper, a sports medicine researcher at the University of Georgia who examined all the proposed policies, “you’d basically be sitting in the Sahara Desert.”
The policy reflected an old-school, “no pain, no gain” philosophy, a view that athletes need to be pushed to their physical limits—or beyond them—if they and their teams are to realize their full potential.
In some places, state, school and sports officials are recognizing that the zeal of coaches, players, and parents for athletic accomplishment must be subordinated to safety. Increasingly, they are adopting measures to protect student athletes from serious, even catastrophic injuries or illnesses that can be the consequence of a blinkered focus on competitiveness. Continue reading
Going 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
Getting 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
Rabid 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.
A Q&A with an expert who studies the relationship between mental illness and violence.
By Lois Beckett
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
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