Clinic Moving and Holiday Closure

The Fargo Cass Public Health Clinic will be closed September 3-7 to move to the clinic’s new location, and in observance of Labor Day.  The clinic will re-open on Tuesday, Sept. 8, at 1240 25th St. S., Fargo.

For questions concerning appointments and vaccinations, call 701-241-1383.

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Vaccinating on time is important for disease protection

Parents agree that feeding and sleep schedules are important to help keep their children healthy. The same goes for childhood immunizations. Vaccinating children on time is the best way to protect them from 14 serious and potentially deadly diseases before their second birthday.

“The recommended immunization schedule is designed to offer protection early in life,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, Assistant Surgeon General and director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “when babies are vulnerable and before it’s likely they will be exposed to diseases.”

Public health and medical experts base their vaccine recommendations on many factors. They study information about diseases and vaccines very carefully to decide which vaccines kids should get and when they should get them for best protection.

Although the number of vaccines a child needs in the first two years of life may seem like a lot, doctors know a great deal about the human immune system, and they know that a healthy baby’s immune system can handle getting all vaccines when they are recommended.

Dr. Schuchat cautions against parents delaying vaccination. “There is no known benefit to delaying vaccination. In fact, it puts babies at risk of getting sick because they are left vulnerable to catch serious diseases during the time they are not protected by vaccines.”

When parents choose not to vaccinate or to follow a delayed schedule, children are left unprotected against diseases that still circulate in this country, like measles and whooping cough.

In 2014, the United States experienced the highest number of measles cases since it was eliminated from the U.S. in 2000. In 2014, there were 23 outbreaks affecting 668 people from 27 states. This year, measles continued to affect the U.S. with over 160 cases reported as of May 1, 2015. Staying on track with the immunization schedule ensures that children have the best protection against diseases like these by age 2.

Parents who are concerned about the number of shots given at one time can reduce the number given at a visit by using the flexibility built into the recommended immunization schedule. For example, the third dose of hepatitis B vaccine can be given at 6 through 18 months of age. Parents can work with their child’s health care professional to have their child get this dose at any time during that age range.

“I make sure my kids are vaccinated on time,” said Dr. Amanda Cohn, pediatrician at CDC’s NCIRD. “Getting children all the vaccines they need by age 2 is one of the best things parents can do to help keep their children safe and healthy.”

If you have questions about the childhood immunization schedule, talk with your child’s health care provider, or call Fargo Cass Public Health at 701-241-1383.

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Vaccines important for all stages of life

The North Dakota Department of Health is observing National Immunization Awareness Month and would like to remind all North Dakotans to make sure their family is up-do-date with their immunizations.

“Most people think immunizations are just for babies, but they are important for adolescents and adults too,” said Molly Howell, Immunization Program Manager. Some childhood vaccines wear off over time, so adolescents and adults need shots to stay protected from serious diseases like tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. As people get older, they are at greater risk of getting certain diseases like meningitis, blood infection, and infections that can lead to HPV cancers. “Vaccination is important because it not only protects the person receiving the vaccine, but also helps prevent the spread of diseases to others – especially those who are most vulnerable to serious complications, such as infants and young children, the elderly, and those with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems,” according to Howell.

Infants need important vaccinations at birth, 2, 4, 6 and 12 to 15 and 24 months of age. Infant immunizations protect against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, polio, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzae type B, pneumococcal, rotavirus, measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox and hepatitis A. Children ages 4 to 6 are due for boosters of MMR, TDaP, polio, and chickenpox before entering school in the fall.

Adolescents are recommended to be vaccinated against tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, meningitis, and HPV at 11 to 12 years of age. In North Dakota, four in 10 adolescent girls and six in 10 adolescent boys have not yet received a dose of HPV vaccine, making them vulnerable for cancers later on in life. “HPV vaccination is critically important as one person every 20 minutes in the United States is diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer,” said Howell.

Vaccines are recommended for adults to prevent serious diseases such as influenza, shingles, pneumonia caused by pneumococcal bacteria, hepatitis, and whooping cough. Unfortunately, far too few adults are receiving the recommended vaccines, leaving themselves and their loved ones vulnerable to serious diseases. “Although adults believe immunization is important, many are unaware that they need vaccines,” said Howell. “There is a new recommendation for all adults 65 and older to receive two different pneumococcal vaccines one year apart. If you are pregnant, have a medical condition, are elderly or in close contact with infants or others at high risk, it is even more important for you to contact your health care provider about vaccines.”

In addition, a yearly flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months and older.

“We want to encourage everyone to ask about immunizations each time you visit your health care provider,” said Howell. “If you haven’t seen your health care provider in a while, it’s probably time for a check-up and you are probably due for vaccinations.” Vaccines are available at private doctors’ offices, as well as other convenient locations such as pharmacies, workplaces, community health clinics and local public health departments. Insurance plans usually cover the cost of vaccines. There are free vaccine programs available to assist people who don’t have health insurance.

For more information about immunizations, go FargoCassPublicHealth.com, or call 701-241-1383 to schedule an appointment.

The Fargo Cass Public Health Clinic will be closed September 3-7 for moving and in observance of Labor Day. The clinic will re-open on September 8 at its new location at 1240 25th St. S., Fargo.

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Preteens and teens-Protect their futures with vaccines

Taking them to their sports physical, making sure they eat healthy and get plenty of sleep … you know these are crucial to your adolescent’s health. But did you also you know your preteens and teens need vaccines to stay healthy and protected against serious diseases?

As they get older, preteens and teens are at increased risk for some infections. Plus the protection provided by some of the childhood vaccines begins to wear off, so preteens need a booster dose. You may have heard about whooping cough (pertussis) outbreaks recently. Vaccine-preventable diseases are still around and very real. The vaccines for preteens and teens can help protect your kids, as well as their friends, community, and other family members.

There are four vaccines recommended for all preteens at ages 11 to 12. Teens may also need a booster dose of one of the shots or get any shots they may have missed. You can use any health care visit, including sports or camp physicals, checkups or some sick visits, to get the shots your kids need. The vaccines recommended for preteen and teen girls and boys are:

  • Quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine, which protects against four types of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria and is a leading cause of bacterial meningitis – a serious infection around the brain and spinal cord – in teens and young adults.
  • HPV vaccine, which protects against the types of HPV that most commonly cause cancer. HPV can cause future cancers of the cervix, vulva and vagina in women and cancers of the penis in men. In both women and men, HPV also causes mouth/throat (oropharyngeal) cancer, anal cancer and genital warts.
  • Tdap vaccine, which is a booster shot against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Pertussis (whooping cough) can keep kids out of school and activities for weeks. It can also be spread to babies who are too young to be vaccinated, and this disease can be very dangerous and sometimes deadly for babies.
  • Influenza (flu) vaccine, because even healthy kids can get the flu, and it can be serious. All kids, including your preteens and teens, should get the flu vaccine every year. Parents should also get vaccinated to protect themselves and to help protect their children. 

Talk with your child’s health care professional to find out which vaccines your preteens and teens need. Vaccines are a crucial step in keeping your kids healthy.

Vaccines are available at Fargo Cass Public Health. Call 701-241-1383 for more information and to schedule an appointment.

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City of Fargo recognized as “Infant Friendly” workplace!

Seven North Dakota businesses have been recognized as “Infant-Friendly” in the past year, according to BriAnna Wanner, Maternal and Child Health Nutritionist, Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity, North Dakota Department of Health. Employers are eligible for this designation if they adopt a policy that supports nursing mothers in the workplace.

The following North Dakota employers have been designated as infant-friendly in the last year:

  • Bismarck – NDSU Extension- Burleigh County
  • Fargo – City of Fargo
  • Grand Forks – University of North Dakota, Sublime Aesthetic Professionals, Calvary Lutheran Church, Grand Forks Head Start
  • Hettinger – West River Health Services

Since the inception of this program, 65 businesses in North Dakota, representing over 17,000 employees, have been designated Infant-Friendly. Businesses interested in joining the list of recognized organizations can find resources for supporting their employees and the simple application at www.ndhealth.gov/breastfeeding.

The designation of these businesses coincides with Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s proclamation of Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7, 2015. This week is the global celebration of World Breastfeeding Week, an annual event that draws attention to the health impacts of breastfeeding for both babies and mothers. The theme this year is “Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make It Work!” which draws attention to the importance of workplace support in helping mothers establish and sustain breastfeeding.

“More than 75 percent of women working in North Dakota are mothers of young children,” said Wanner. “The fastest growing segment of the workforce is women with children younger than three. Knowing these demographics, there are many benefits for the employer to be supportive of women and families in the workplace.”

 

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Blue-green algae advisory

The North Dakota Department of Health, in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, Animal Health Division, are advising the public to avoid contact with or swallowing blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, and to protect their pets and livestock.

According to Dr. Susan Keller, state veterinarian, the advisory is to remind people that these blooms are most common in North Dakota in late summer, but it only takes a few hot days to cause the overwintering organisms to become active and bloom. Exposure can cause people and animals to become ill.

“Blue-green algae normally can be found in many lakes and pasture watering holes in the state,” Keller said. “Under certain conditions, the blue-green algae can grow into blooms and can produce toxins.”

According to the state health department, blue-green algae blooms can produce poisonous cyanotoxins. These toxins have no known antidotes. People, their livestock or other animals that swallow water containing a harmful algae bloom can become sick. Symptoms can include severe diarrhea and vomiting; numb lips, tingling fingers and toes, or dizziness; or rashes, hives or skin blisters. Children are at higher risk than adults for illness from harmful algae blooms because they weigh less and can get a relatively larger dose of toxin.

The Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture, Animal Health Division, recommend these steps to avoid exposure to cyanotoxins:

  • Don’t swim, water ski or boat in areas where the water is discolored or where you see foam, scum or mats of green or blue-green algae on the water.
  • If you do accidentally swim in water that might have a cyanobacteria bloom, rinse off with fresh water as soon as possible.
  • Don’t let pets or livestock swim in or drink from areas where the water is discolored or where you see foam, scum or mats of algae on the water.
  • If pets (especially dogs) swim in scummy water, rinse them off immediately – do not let them lick the algae (and toxins) off their fur.
  • Don’t irrigate lawns or golf courses with pond water that looks scummy or smells bad.
  • Respect any advisories announced by public health authorities.

For more information about the effects of blue-green algae blooms on pets and livestock, contact the Animal Health Division, North Dakota Department of Agriculture at 701-328-2655. For more information on public health issues, contact Karl Rockeman, North Dakota Department of Health, at 701-328-5225.

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Wildfire Smoke Continues To Affect North Dakota

As wildfires continue to burn across Canada, smoke and hazy conditions will persist in North Dakota over the coming days. The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) reminds residents with respiratory conditions, young children, and the elderly to avoid, and all others to limit, strenuous outdoor activities while smoky conditions remain across the region. 

Elevated levels of particulate matter, a component of wildfire smoke, have been detected at all NDDoH air quality monitoring sites across the state.  The levels of particulate matter fluctuate with weather patterns, so the quality of the air at different locations around the state can vary from day to day. 

Particulate matter can be irritating to the respiratory system, especially for those who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or conditions such as asthma and allergies. If a person finds themselves reacting to smoke to the extent that it is affecting their breathing, they should seek immediate help from a medical provider.

Updated air quality report from the National Weather Service.

 

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Department of Health Releases 2014 Drinking Water Compliance Report

Information about North Dakota’s public water systems is available in the newly released 2014 Drinking Water Compliance Report prepared by the North Dakota Department of Health. 

North Dakota public water systems maintain an excellent Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) compliance record. In 2014, the Department of Health issued certificates of compliance to 306 public water systems. 

“The purpose of the annual report is to improve consumer awareness of drinking water compliance issues,” said Greg Wavra, administrator of the department’s Drinking Water Program. “People served by systems that incurred Safe Drinking Water Act violations in 2014 should have been informed of those violations by their water suppliers.”  

All SDWA violations incurred in North Dakota in 2014 are included in the report. Also listed are violations recorded in 2015 based on 2014 monitoring data. 

“It’s important to understand that the majority of violations referred to in the 2014 report have been resolved,” Wavra said. “It is a significant challenge for public water systems and states to meet the ever-increasing number of requirements of the SDWA.” 

To obtain a copy of the 2014 Drinking Water Compliance Report, write to the North Dakota Department of Health, Division of Municipal Facilities, at 918 E. Divide Ave., 3rd Floor, Bismarck, N.D. 58501-1947, or call 701.328.5211.  To review the report, click on Publications on the department’s website at http://www.ndhealth.gov/mf

 

 

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Department of Health Urges At-Risk Residents to Avoid Prolonged Exposure to Wildfire Smoke

Wildfires in Canada are sending smoke across North Dakota and other parts of the U.S.  In North Dakota, particulate matter (PM) is elevated across the state, but is highest in the northern and eastern thirds of the state.  The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) urges residents with respiratory conditions to consider limiting strenuous outdoor activities while smoky conditions remain across the region. 

Particulate matter can be irritating to the respiratory system, especially for those who suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or conditions such as asthma and allergies. The Department does not expect PM levels to exceed ambient air quality standards. However, as a precaution, the Department advises people with respiratory conditions, and the elderly and young children, to limit prolonged heavy exertion outside. If a person finds themselves reacting to smoke to the extent that it is affecting their breathing, they should seek immediate help from a medical provider. 

For more information, contact Chuck Hyatt at 701.328.5188

 

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National HIV Testing Day-June 27

Department of Health Urges Testing for North Dakotans

In observance of National HIV Testing Day, June 27, the North Dakota Department of Health is urging people to  “take the test and take control,” according to Gino Jose, HIV Prevention Coordinator for the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH). 

National HIV Testing Day serves to spread global awareness and focus prevention efforts on the devastating impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  This day also serves as a reminder that HIV testing is recommended for all persons, regardless of risk, at least once in that person’s lifetime, and more often for people who have high risk of infection.  People at high risks include those who have unprotected sex, share needles for drug use, and get tattoos or piercings using non-sterile equipment.   

Since surveillance began in 1984, over 700 HIV cases have been reported to the NDDoH, with approximately 396 individuals currently living with HIV/AIDS in North Dakota. Newly reported cases continue to increase annually in North Dakota and 33 cases have been reported to the state thus far in 2015.  It is estimated that about one-fourth of the people who are HIV positive are unaware of their infections, and North Dakotans are likely no exception. Over one million people in the United States are HIV positive, and approximately 50,000 new infections occur every year. These estimations underscore the need for increased efforts to reach at-risk populations with HIV testing and prevention services. 

“National HIV Testing Day is great opportunity to raise awareness about the impact the disease has on people, families and communities,” Jose said. “If you do not know if you are infected with HIV, you could be spreading it to others. People need to know how to keep themselves from becoming infected with HIV, so we can reduce the spread of this disease in our communities. The only way to know if you have HIV is to get tested.” 

HIV testing is available at test sites throughout the state, and results are available in 20 minutes. The test sites are staffed by trained personnel who offer free and confidential HIV testing, counseling and referrals for those at risk. HIV can be prevented by avoiding or not engaging in risky behaviors. Fargo Cass Public Health offers Free Rapid HIV Testing. Call 241-1383 to schedule an appointment. 

For information about HIV testing and other HIV/AIDS services, call the NDDoH at 800.472.2180 or visit the program’s website at www.ndheath.gov/hiv.  People can identify their risk factors through an anonymous survey at http://www.ndhealth.gov/knowyourrisk.

 

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