Free beet seeds available to community

Group Encourages Area Residents to Grow Beets

If you have some spare room in your garden, or would like to try growing a new vegetable this year, try beets! The group, One Vegetable, One Community, wants to unite the Fargo Moorhead communities by encouraging gardeners to grow, cook and share a single vegetable – beets.

The group has created 1000 free starter kits with beet seeds, growing instructions and preparation tips that are now available at: Fargo Cass Public Health, the Adult Learning Center Agassiz Building, Cass County Social Services, Clay County Family Services, Family HealthCare, Fargo Public Library-Main and Carlson locations, the Moorhead Public Library, Hjemkomst Center, the FM Community Bike Shop and Red Raven.  

The group’s goal is to get people talking about local food and create access to fresh, healthy food in our community. Beets are the 2015 One Vegetable, One Community vegetable because they taste great, are easy to grow, and are packed with nutrients. The Agassiz Seed Company and Prairie Road Organic Seed Company donated the seeds for this year’s vegetable. 

To learn more, or to share your ideas, visit the FM One Vegetable, One Community’s Facebook page at 

One Vegetable, One Community is sponsored by: the Cass Clay Food Systems Initiative, Fargo Cass Public Health, North Dakota State University Extension Service, and the North Dakota Nutrition Council.



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Infant immunizations vital to disease protection and prevention

During National Infant Immunization Week, April 18 to 25,  the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) reminds parents of the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases.

National Infant Immunization Week is an annual observance that emphasizes the need to fully immunize children 24 months and younger against 14 vaccine-preventable diseases. Following the recommended immunization schedule not only protects the infant, but also everyone in their community, by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

“Because of the success of vaccines in preventing disease, parents may not have heard of some of today’s vaccines or the serious diseases they prevent,” said immunization surveillance coordinator, Amy Schwartz. “These diseases can be especially serious for infants and young children. That is why it is important to follow the recommended immunization schedule to provide immunity early in life, before they are exposed to potentially life-threatening diseases.”

Vaccine-preventable diseases still circulate in North Dakota, the United States, and around the world, so continued vaccination is necessary to protect everyone from potential outbreaks. One example of the seriousness of vaccine-preventable diseases is the increase in measles cases that has occurred in the United States this year. More than 150 cases have been reported in the United States so far this year and 668 cases were reported in 2014, the most cases since measles elimination was announced in 2000. The vast majority of measles cases have occurred in unvaccinated people. Measles kills 1 in 500 cases and 1 in 4 cases require hospitalization, so an increase in the number of cases is cause for concern.

Parents should contact their primary care physician or local public health unit for vaccinations for their children. A child’s first measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine is recommended at 12 to 15 months.

For more information about infant immunizations, contact Fargo Cass Public Health at 241-1383.

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E-cigarette use triples among middle and high school students in just one year

Current e-cigarette use among middle and high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014, according to data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) in today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Findings from the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey show that current e-cigarette use (use on at least 1 day in the past 30 days) among high school students increased from 4.5 percent in 2013 to 13.4 percent in 2014, rising from approximately 660,000 to 2 million students. Among middle school students, current e-cigarette use more than tripled from 1.1 percent in 2013 to 3.9 percent in 2014—an increase from approximately 120,000 to 450,000 students.

This is the first time since the survey started collecting data on e-cigarettes in 2011 that current e-cigarette use has surpassed current use of every other tobacco product overall, including conventional cigarettes. E-cigarettes were the most used tobacco product for non-Hispanic whites, Hispanics, and non-Hispanic other race while cigars were the most commonly used product among non-Hispanic blacks.

“We want parents to know that nicotine is dangerous for kids at any age, whether it’s an e-cigarette, hookah, cigarette or cigar,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Adolescence is a critical time for brain development. Nicotine exposure at a young age may cause lasting harm to brain development, promote addiction, and lead to sustained tobacco use.”

Hookah smoking use roughly doubled for middle and high school students, while cigarette use declined among high school students and remained unchanged for middle school students. Among high school students, current hookah use rose from 5.2 percent in 2013 (about 770,000 students) to 9.4 percent in 2014 (about 1.3 million students). Among middle school students, current hookah use rose from 1.1 percent in 2013 (120,000 students) to 2.5 percent in 2014 (280,000 students).

The increases in e-cigarette and hookah use offset declines in use of more traditional products such as cigarettes and cigars. There was no decline in overall tobacco use between 2011 and 2014. Overall rates of any tobacco product use were 24.6 percent for high school students and 7.7 percent for middle school students in 2014.

In 2014, the products most commonly used by high school students were e-cigarettes (13.4 percent), hookah (9.4 percent), cigarettes (9.2 percent), cigars (8.2 percent), smokeless tobacco (5.5 percent), snus (1.9 percent) and pipes (1.5 percent).  Use of multiple tobacco products was common; nearly half of all middle and high school students who were current tobacco users used two or more types of tobacco products. The products most commonly used by middle school students were e-cigarettes (3.9 percent), hookah (2.5 percent), cigarettes (2.5 percent), cigars (1.9 percent), smokeless tobacco (1.6 percent), and pipes (0.6 percent).

Cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco are currently subject to FDA’s tobacco control authority. The agency currently is finalizing the rule to bring additional tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, hookahs and some or all cigars under that same authority. Several states have passed laws establishing a minimum age for purchase of e-cigarettes or extending smoke-free laws to include e-cigarettes, both of which could help further prevent youth use and initiation.  

“In today’s rapidly evolving tobacco marketplace, the surge in youth use of novel products like e-cigarettes forces us to confront the reality that the progress we have made in reducing youth cigarette smoking rates is being threatened,” said Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “These staggering increases in such a short time underscore why FDA intends to regulate these additional products to protect public health.” 

Today’s report concludes that further reducing youth tobacco use and initiation is achievable through regulation of the manufacturing, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products coupled with proven strategies. These strategies included funding tobacco control programs at CDC-recommended levels, increasing prices of tobacco products, implementing and enforcing comprehensive smoke-free laws, and sustaining hard-hitting media campaigns. The report also concludes that because the use of e-cigarettes and hookahs is on the rise among high and middle school students, it is critical that comprehensive tobacco control and prevention strategies for youth focus on all tobacco products, and not just cigarettes.  

The National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) is a school-based, self-administered questionnaire given annually to middle and high-school students in both public and private schools. NYTS, which surveyed 22,000 students in 2014, is a nationally representative survey.

The 2012 Surgeon General’s Report found that about 90 percent of all smokers first tried cigarettes as teens; and that about three of every four teen smokers continue into adulthood. To learn more about quitting and preventing children from using tobacco, visit

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Wildfire Smoke Can Exacerbate Health Problems

The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) is urging residents to use caution and avoid wildfires and the resulting smoke from the fires.

Wildfires present health concerns for a number of reasons. Because North Dakota’s wildfires are wind-driven, they can change direction rapidly and can move extremely fast.  Anyone caught by flames can suffer serious burns or damage to airways from the superheated air.  Anyone not involved in fire suppression or emergency management activities is urged to comply with evacuation orders and to stay out of the area so suppression crews can do their work.

Wildfire smoke can cause health problems as well.  The smoke contains particulates that can be irritating to the respiratory system.  Those who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or conditions such as asthma and allergies, can have strong adverse reactions to wildfire smoke. Staying indoors and away from the smoke plume is advisable for those who suffer from respiratory problems. If a person finds themselves reacting to wildfire smoke to the extent that it is affecting their breathing, they should seek immediate help from a medical provider.

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Nearly 4000 STD Cases in ND in 2014

The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) is observing Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Awareness Month in April to emphasize the importance of educating the public and health care providers about the growing rate of STDs in North Dakota.  The NDDoH encourages everyone to become educated about STDs by using accurate STD prevention information, as well as utilize testing and treatment choices that lead to better health.  This is especially important as STDs rates have risen across the country and across our state.

Over the past five years, the number of STD cases reported in North Dakota has steadily increased, and the increase has been documented across the entire state, not just in high growth areas.  In 2014, over 4,000 cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were reported in 51 of 53 counties. The good news, however, is that many STDs are easily treated, as long as they are diagnosed in a timely fashion.

“We know that people receive a lot of conflicting information about STDs—how they’re spread, treated, and prevented—and sometimes it is difficult to determine which information is fact or fiction,” said Sarah Weninger, STD Program Coordinator. “However, finding accurate information about prevention and treatment is available to all North Dakotans through local public health units, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and from NDDoH.”

Here are some things you need to know:

  • You can’t tell someone has an STD just by looking at them
  • STD tests aren’t always a part of a regular doctor visit
  • Almost all STDs that can be spread via unprotected vaginal sex can also be spread through unprotected oral and anal sex
  • Using a condom can help make sex safer, since it can provide protection from many STDs

The surest way to prevent STDs is to abstain from sexual activity.  However, those who are sexually active can lower their risk of contracting STDs by:

  • Being in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and does not have STDs
  • Limiting the number of people you have sex with if you have more than one partner
  • Using latex condoms and dental dams the right way every time you have sex
  • Getting the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which can protect you against diseases (including many cancers) caused by the HPV

“Getting yourself tested for STDs is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health. Once you know your status, you can protect that status or receive treatment if you do have an infection. STD testing is quick, simple and confidential,” said Weninger.

A 2014 study found that one-third of adolescents did not talk about sexual health issues with their physicians during annual health visits. Patients must be honest with health care providers about sexual history to obtain appropriate STD testing and prevention guidance. Syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia are more easily treated in their early stages with antibiotics. If left undiagnosed and untreated, STDs can eventually cause serious complications, including sterility or even death. For those who may not be able to afford health care, clinics and local public health units across the state may be able to provide reduced or no-cost testing and treatment. For more information on testing call Fargo Cass Public Health at 241-1383 or go to   Materials are available that highlight STD Awareness Month at

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Celebrating Public Health Collaborations

Gov. Jack Dalrymple has proclaimed April 6-12, as Public Health Week in North Dakota to recognize how the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) and local public health units, along with worksites, coalitions, universities and other organizations, are working to protect and promote the health of all North Dakotans. This year’s national Public Health Week theme is “Healthiest Nation 2030.”

Local public health units across the state have formed regional networks to share services and staff expertise to strengthen local public health infrastructure, more efficiently use funding and staff, and provide more equitable access to quality public health services for all people in North Dakota.

In North Dakota, the NDDoH recognizes the importance of collaborations to provide more efficient and effective public health services and programs to assure a Healthier North Dakota by 2030.

“Public health in cities, counties and regions across the state provide invaluable services to the residents of North Dakota,” explained Dr. Terry Dwelle, State Health Officer at the North Dakota Department of Health.   “Collaborations between service providers are essential to build better public health services in North Dakota.”

As an example of successful collaboration, public health coalitions, such as Healthy North Dakota and Hunger Free North Dakota Coalition, are bringing diverse groups together to reduce diabetes and cancer risks by helping people make healthier choices and gain access to information, education, health screenings where they live, work, and learn.

For more information about Public Health Week, contact Kelly Nagel, Public Health Liaison, North Dakota Department of Health, at 701.952.8195.

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Are you at risk for diabetes?

As spring ushers in a new season of new beginnings, the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) is inviting North Dakotans to take a new step towards becoming healthier on March 24, Diabetes Alert Day. The NDDoH is supporting the American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Alert Day by encouraging everyone to take the Diabetes Risk Test. Taking the test and using the strategies provided can help motivate individuals to live a healthy and active lifestyle.

Over 45,000 North Dakotans have diabetes and over 190,000 are at risk for or have prediabetes. The NDDoH’s Diabetes Program educates North Dakotans on changes to make in order to prevent type 2 diabetes or to manage diabetes to prevent complications.

In observation of Diabetes Alert Day, the following are a few helpful strategies to prevent and manage type 2 diabetes:

Take the Diabetes Risk Test

The Diabetes Risk Test is quick to complete and includes questions about age, weight, family history, and other potential risk factors for diabetes. Results can indicate if a person has a low or high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Take the Diabetes Risk Test today by visiting:

Change Your Eating Habits

  • Include non-starchy vegetables (leafy greens, carrots, broccoli and asparagus)
  • Include whole fruits (contain fiber, vitamins and minerals)
  • Eat healthy carbohydrates and increase fiber intake (brown rice, whole wheat breads, oatmeal and buckwheat)
  • Avoid skipping meals which can make you hungrier and unable to focus
  • Keep healthy snacks with you to avoid temptation to eat unhealthy foods
  • Watch portion sizes to help manage your calorie intake 

Move More Each Day

  • Try to be active for at least 30 minutes most days of the week
  • Walk during your breaks and after lunch
  • Check out your local walking trails
  • Check with your local community centers to join intramural leagues or walking clubs
  • Experience new activities you’ve always wanted to try whether its biking, dancing or swimming
  • Create a “health club” with friends to stay motivated

Taking the Diabetes Risk Test, changing your eating habits and becoming more active are ways to live a healthier life style. These actions can help in the prevention and management of diabetes.

For more information, contact Tera Miller, North Dakota Department of Health, at 701.328.2698.

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Public invited to pitch ideas on local food systems

The Cass Clay Food Systems Initiative Advisory Commission has been formed and will have its inaugural public meeting, to address food systems issues in Cass and Clay counties, on Wednesday, March 25, from 1-2:30 p.m., in the Fargo City Commission Room located at 200 3rd St. N. There will be a 15 minute “hear from the community” segment where community members will have one minute to quickly pitch their ideas, concerns and needs for food systems in the counties to the commission. Please consider attending!

If you have questions please feel free to contact Megan Myrdal-project coordinator at

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North Dakota Observes Poison Prevention Week

State Health Department Urges North Dakotans to Prevent Unintentional Poisonings

In observance of National Poison Prevention Week, March 15 through 21, 2015, the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) is encouraging North Dakotans to take measures to avoid unintentional poisonings.

In 2014, there were 5,286 exposure calls made to the Minnesota Poison Center, the call center used by North Dakota. Of those 5,286 exposure calls, 52 percent were for children younger than age 6 that experienced an incident serious enough to call for help. Poison Prevention Week is an opportunity to remind parents, grandparents, caregivers and the public about the dangers of poisoning and to provide some basic prevention strategies to help children avoid a serious episode.

“Most poisonings are preventable,” said Mandy Slag, Injury Prevention Program Director for the North Dakota Department of Health. “I encourage all adults to take preventive measures to protect children and themselves from unintentional poisonings. Many of the most dangerous poisons are things commonly found in a home, such as antifreeze and window washer products, some medicines, corrosive cleaners like drain openers or toilet bowl cleaners, fuels like kerosene and lamp oil, and pesticides.”

The Department of Health recommends the following poison-prevention measures:

  • Keep all medicines, household chemicals and other poisonous substances away from children and away from food. Lock them up if possible.
  • Warn children never to put medicines, chemicals, plants or berries in their mouths.

Never call medicine “candy” to get a child to take it.

  • Never store poison in food or beverage containers.
  • Read all labels. Follow the instructions and measure carefully. Only take medicines prescribed for you.
  • Unused medications can be disposed of through the North Dakota Attorney’s General’s Take Back Program. To find out more about the program visit:
  • Do not carry medicine in your purse or diaper bags; children like to play with them.
  • Keep windows and/or doors open or run fans when using strong cleaning products. Never mix cleaning products together.
  • Have the national poison control phone number and other emergency contacts readily available.

In case of a poisoning or a questionable episode:

  • Call 9-1-1 if the person is unconscious, having difficulty breathing or is not breathing.
  • Do not give the person anything to eat or drink. Call the Poison Control Center at 800.222.1222 immediately.
  • Bring the product or bottle to the phone. Explain Poison Control Center staff what was taken, how much was taken, when it was taken and the age and weight of the person.
  • Do not induce vomiting unless instructed to do so by the Poison Control Center or your physician.

For more information about poison prevention or to request stickers and magnets with the national poison control number, contact Mandy Slag, North Dakota Department of Health, at 800.472.2286 (press 1) or visit our website at

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Suicide Prevention Programs Launched in North Dakota

In an effort to reduce suicide rates in the state, the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) is expanding their community education programs to educate citizens on how to recognize the warning signs of suicide. Suicide is a condition that affects people of all races, ages and socioeconomic status.

“One of the best ways to reduce suicide rates is to increase community awareness of the prevalence of suicide in North Dakota. Most people who are experiencing suicidal thoughts do not want to die; they only want their pain to end. Offering to talk to people about their thoughts of suicide and referring them to other people who can help is one way to end the pain without ending a life,” says Micki Savelkoul, Suicide Prevention Program Director at the North Dakota Department of Health.

Suicide numbers continue to climb both nationally — 40,600 in 2012 — and within North Dakota — 138 in 2013, which is the most recent data.  In 2013, North Dakotans between the ages of 35 and 44 had the highest rate of suicide in North Dakota at 31.9 per 100,000, followed closely by people ages 25 to 34 with a suicide rate of 29.8 per 100,000. Community education programs focus on teaching people how to identify warning signs and how to ask about suicidal thoughts, as well as provide resources for those thinking of suicide. These trainings are known as “gatekeeper” trainings.  A gatekeeper is someone who is able to recognize warning signs of emotional distress and crisis. Gatekeepers can include a variety of community members, from parents and friends to caseworkers and firefighters.

North Dakota Department of Health is offering two community education programs free to communities upon request. The programs are SafeTALK and QPR.

SafeTALK- SafeTALK is presented in a three-hour, classroom-style training that focuses on how to identify warning signs that people who are experiencing suicidal thoughts exhibit when thinking about suicide. SafeTALK also teaches participants how to connect people experiencing suicidal thoughts to resources that can help.

Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) – QPR is presented in a 1- to 2-hour training session. Participants in this training will learn how to identify warning signs of suicide, how to ask the question of suicide, how to persuade that person to get help, and how to refer someone to a higher level of care.

If you are interested in one of these community programs being held in your community or other suicide prevention programs and activities, contact Micki Savelkoul, North Dakota Department of Health, at 701.328.4580.

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