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West Nile Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    Linda Smith

July 29, 2015                                              719-587-5199

Protect Against West Nile

SAN LUIS VALLEY – West Nile virus has been identified in some mosquitoes tested by the Alamosa Mosquito Control District.  Local Public Health officials would like to remind the public that the most effective way to avoid West Nile Virus is to prevent mosquito bites.  

Use insect repellents when you go outdoors.  When weather permits, wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks outside.  Take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours at around dusk and dawn. Use screens to keep mosquitos out of your home, and remove standing water on your property.  Livestock water tanks and ornamental ponds may be treated with Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti), a type of bacteria that kills mosquito larvae but is safe for animals.  Do not handle dead birds with your bare hands. Birds may also carry WNV, transmitting it to mosquitoes, and on to humans.

One in five people infected with WNV may develop fever, headache, body aches, nausea, and vomiting. These flu-like symptoms usually appear within three to 14 days of being infected and often end after a few days to several weeks. Many more people are infected but do not  develop symptoms.

Of those who develop symptoms, a small percentage will develop more severe symptoms, including high fever, headache, neck stiffness, confusion, convulsions, vision loss, paralysis, coma, and even death. Serious illness can occur in people of any age, but the elderly and those with weakened immune function are particularly at risk. Symptoms may last from several weeks to years, and effects may be permanent. If any of these symptoms occur, medical attention should be sought immediately.

For more information about West Nile Virus prevention and control, including the latest guidelines on insect repellents, go to www.cdc.gov/westnile.  Or, call your local public health agency.

Alamosa County Public Health Department:  719.589.6639

Conejos County Public Health and Nursing Service:  719.274.4307

Costilla County Public Health Agency: 719.672.3332

Mineral County Public Health:  719.658.2416

Rio Grande County Public Health Agency:  719.657.3352

Saguache County Public Health:  719.655.2727

International Travel Vaccine Clinic

If you are traveling out of the country and would like to get immunizations for the common diseases in other regions of the country, then you can get immunized at the Rio Grande County Public Health. Click here for more information.

Chief Medical Officer to Expand Availability of Overdose Antidote

 

DENVER— In keeping with Senate Bill 15-053, Dr. Larry Wolk, chief medical officer and executive director at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, will expand the availability of naloxone, which is used to counter the effects of opioid overdoses. Opioids include prescription painkillers and illegal drugs such as heroin.

Colorado’s new law allows the state’s chief medical officer to issue standing orders for naloxone prescriptions that can be filled by pharmacists and used by:

  • A family member, friend or other person in a position to assist a person at risk of overdose.
  • An employee or volunteer of a harm reduction organization.
  • A first responder.
  • An individual at risk of overdose.

The law protects these individuals from civil or criminal liability if they provide naloxone in good faith to an individual experiencing an opioid-related drug overdose.

“This legislation will save lives,” said Dr. Wolk. “While our first aim is prevent the abuse of both illegal and prescription opioids, we now can make a life-saving antidote more readily available to people who can help someone at risk.”

Lisa Raville, executive director of Colorado’s Harm Reduction Action Center, said, “We are so thankful to the Legislature for unanimously passing this law to expand access to naloxone across the state. And a special thank you to Dr. Wolk for allowing pharmacists and harm reduction organizations – that don't have a medical provider – to work under his license as they are often better placed than doctors to reach those in need of naloxone such as opiate users, mothers and law enforcement members.”

From 2011 to 2013, an average of 7,600 Coloradans visited emergency departments each year because of drug overdoses. Annual deaths from painkillers such as morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone and fentaynl more than tripled from 2000 to 2013 in Colorado.

At a news conference in February, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced a new statewide education campaign, Take Meds Seriously, to raise awareness about the problem of prescription drug abuse in Colorado. The campaign focuses on safe use, storage and disposal of prescription pain medications.

Free Chair Exercise

Free Chair Exercise every Tuesday in the Be-Bop Studio at 1:00 p.m. Click here for more information.

Warmer Weather Brings Hantavirus Risk

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                      Linda Smith

March 16, 2015                                                                          Public Information Officer                                                                                                                          719-587-5199

Warmer Weather Brings Hantavirus Risk

SAN LUIS VALLEY— Spring cleaning can increase your risk of exposure hantavirus unless you take proper precautions. Hantavirus causes Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), a relatively rare but very serious disease that results in death for more than one-third of those who become infected.

In the San Luis Valley, hantavirus is carried by deer mice, which can move into barns, sheds, crawlspaces, and attics to keep warm through the winter. The virus can be found in the urine, saliva and droppings of infected mice. People are infected by breathing in the virus when stirring up dust from mouse nests or mouse droppings in areas with poor ventilation, or when handling mice.

To protect yourself and your family, do not sweep or vacuum mice droppings or nesting materials, because breathing dust containing infected droppings or urine is the most common way to be exposed to the virus.  Before entering or cleaning enclosed buildings and other enclosed areas where mice may have been present, open them up to air out for 30 minutes.  Wear gloves and consider wearing an N-100 rated respiratory mask (available at most hardware stores) when cleaning rodent-infested indoor areas.  Spray mouse droppings and nesting materials with a disinfectant and let them sit for a few minutes before disposing of them in a plastic bag.  Take steps to keep rodents away from your home. 

Early medical care is crucial for those who do become infected.  First symptoms of HPS appear 1-6 weeks after exposure and are flu-like:  fever, headache, muscle pain, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. A few days later, difficulty breathing develops and progresses very quickly to inability to breathe. Anyone who experiences early symptoms in the weeks following exposure to rodents, their droppings, or their nests, should seek medical care immediately and be sure tell the medical provider about the exposure to rodents. 

Since hantavirus was first identified in the Four Corners area in 1993, Colorado has had more confirmed cases of HPS than any other state except New Mexico. Last year there were two confirmed cases of HPS in the San Luis Valley.

For more information call your local Public Health agency (Alamosa County  589-6639; Conejos County 574-4307; Costilla County 672-3332; Mineral County 658-2416; Rio Grande County 657-3352; Saguache County 655-2533) or go to www.cdc.gov/hantavirus

Hantavirus Infographic May2014