The Central District Health Department works hard to provide the most accurate and up to date information available. If you have questions on any of the pieces presented here please contact us at (308) 385-5175.
Central District Health Department awarded $80,000 to combat healthcare-associated infections and antimicrobial resistance.
Washington, DC, January 25, 2024—. The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), the voice of the country’s over 3,300 local health departments, with the support of the CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, has selected CDHD as one of 17 local health departments to leverage the CDC (Interim) Local Health Department Strategy for HAI/AR award. The purpose of the “Building Up Infection Prevention and Control in Local Departments in Healthcare-Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance (BUILD HAIAR) project” is to strengthen capacity to improve healthcare infection prevention and response efforts, including those for COVID-19 and other healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), as well as those infections caused by antimicrobial resistance (AR) pathogens. CDHD is being awarded $80,000 to complete the project. Selected local health departments will conduct infection control assessments, strengthen antimicrobial stewardship efforts, and build strategic approaches to HAI/AR, including addressing health equity. They will also coordinate with stakeholders at the local and state levels to advance these efforts.
HAIs are among the leading causes of preventable deaths in the United States. The CDC estimates that one in 31 hospital patients are infected with at least one HAI, and AR is a major public health threat that compounds the challenge of HAIs. Antimicrobial-resistant infections cause over 35,000 deaths each year, and nine of the top 18 infections considered the highest AR threats are often associated with healthcare settings.
NOVEMBER 15, 2023
The CDC Health Alert Network is drawing attention to high blood lead levels in children consuming recalled cinnamon applesauce pouches. This alert is to advice clinicians and health departments to consider the possibility of illness due to lead exposure and report cases to their local health authorities.
VACCINATIONS IMPORTANT TO AVOIDING FLU, COVID & RSV SEASON
Grand Island, NE – A national and international surge in the flu, COVID and RSV may lead to “more severe disease and increased healthcare strain during the upcoming holidays” according to a recent release from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. With that in mind, CDHD is renewing the call to get flu shots and COVID-19 boosters, as well as vaccinations for the respiratory illness RSV.
The total numbers of Hall, Hamilton and Merrick County residents who have received a flu shot and/or a COVID booster this season is difficult to determine, but the Central District currently has nine long term care (LTC) facilities (30%) in outbreak for COVID. Of the LTC facilities in the Central District, just 25% of residents and a mere 1% of Health Care Workers are up to date on COVID boosters.
“We don’t know how severe this year’s respiratory virus season will be, but we do know that vaccines provide the best protection against severe respiratory viral illnesses,” Teresa Anderson, CDHD Health Director, said. “With a ‘triple whammy’ of RSV, the flu and COVID lurking out there, we strongly encourage vaccinations to protect not only yourself but also those you love, especially the elderly.”
In the United States, according to the CDC, the past 4 weeks have seen hospitalizations for flu increase by 200%, COVID by 51%, and RSV by 60%. Vaccinations take several weeks to provide maximum protection against disease. We have flu vaccine and the most recent COVID-19 Pfizer and Moderna boosters available. Per CDC guidance, we encourage those seeking RSV vaccinations to consult with their Health Care Provider. Vaccinations against these three viruses are advised for all eligible persons, and especially for those at high-risk including older adults and people with certain underlying medical conditions.
During the upcoming holidays, we encourage everyone to be vigilant for symptoms of a respiratory infection and take steps to prevent spreading it to others. Get vaccinated, stay home when sick, avoid others who have symptoms, get plenty of rest, and wash hands well and often and well.
Vaccination clinics the week of December 18-22nd will run 8 am – 5 pm Mon – Thurs week and 8 am – 10am on Friday. We are closed Monday, December 25th for the Christmas holiday and will reopen on Tuesday, December 26th. For more information, please call us at (308) 385-5175 or log onto www.cdhd.ne.gov.
FLU SEASON HAS YET TO HIT DURING NATIONAL INFLUENZA WEEK
Grand Island, NE – The flu season has yet to hit Hall, Hamilton and Merrick Counties, meaning there’s still time to protect yourself against this seasonal illness by getting a flu shot.
Based on laboratory confirmed cases reported to CDHD, fewer than 10 cases have been reported in the Central District. Numbers are very likely to rise as last year saw more than 120 lab confirmed cases, marking the busiest flu season since 2018-2019. Flu season typically runs from October through May each year, usually peaking in February, according to the Center for Disease Control.
“When you get a flu vaccine, it takes two weeks to produce antibodies that can protect you,” Teresa Anderson, CDHD’s Health Director, said. “The time to take action is now, before we see numbers increase, which we expect them to do. Getting a flu vaccine now will provide protection during all your holiday activities. ”
December 4 – 8 is National Influenza Vaccination Week, where you are encouraged to take the flu from “Wild to Mild” by getting vaccinated. Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at higher risk of developing serious flu complications, including pregnant people and young children. Here are tips to avoiding the annual flu virus:
•Get a yearly flu vaccine. Everyone aged 6 months and older is eligible. If you are 65 and older, ask for a “High Dose” vaccine which will better protect you.
•Take precautions to help reduce the spread of germs including hand washing, limiting contact with others when you are sick and avoiding close contact with sick people.
•Take flu antiviral drugs if prescribed by a doctor.
Flu like symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle and body aches, fatigue and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting. The flu vaccine helps significantly lessen the effects of the flu but does not prevent the flu entirely.
CDHD provides no cost flu vaccines from 8 am – 5 pm Mondays – Thursdays and 8 am – 4:30 pm on Fridays. Please bring your insurance card as we will bill insurance, though no one will be turned away. Flu shots are also available at local pharmacies and doctor’s offices. For more information, log onto www.cdhd.ne.gov or call us at (308) 385-5175.
CDHD OBSERVES U.S. ANTIBIOTIC AWARENESS WEEK
Grand Island, NE – The Central District Health Department is encouraging the public to learn more about antibiotics, a commonly prescribed medication which is vital to fighting certain bacterial infections.
The U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week is an annual one-week observance that raises awareness about the importance of antibiotic use and to prevent abuse of these vital medications.
Any time antibiotics or antifungals are used, they can cause side effects and contribute to the development of antimicrobial resistance, one of the most urgent threats to the public’s health. Antimicrobial resistance happens when germs, like bacteria and fungi, develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. Here are several tips to help consumers make wise decisions concerning antibiotics:
•Antibiotics do not work on viruses such as those that cause colds, flu, RSV or COVID-19.
•Antibiotics are only needed for treating certain infections caused by bacteria, but even some bacterial infections get better without antibiotics.
•Antibiotics will NOT make you feel better if you have a virus.
•If you need antibiotics, please take them exactly as prescribed.
•Antibiotics are critical tools for treating life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia and sepsis.
More than 2.8 million antimicrobial-resistant infections occur in the United States each year, and more than 35,000 people die as a result. Preventing infections from happening in the first place is one of the best ways to improve antibiotic and antifungal use and protect populations who are disproportionately affected by antimicrobial resistance.
Improving how healthcare professionals prescribe and how patients take antibiotics can help keep patients healthy from adverse events, fight antimicrobial resistance, and help ensure these life-saving drugs will be available for future generations. You can learn more at our website, www.cdhd.ne.gov or www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/week.
Wastewater Report Shows Grand Island Tops State In COVID-19 Concentration
Grand Island, NE – A state-wide test of wastewater shows that Grand Island has the highest concentration of COVID-19 in Nebraska by a wide margin.
This is part of a trend where COVID-19 concentration in wastewater has been going up since the end of the summer. Wastewater monitoring is one tool used for determining the risk of COVID in our area. Teresa Anderson, the Health Director for the Central District Health Department, said the increased numbers in our area is an excellent reason to get “up to date” on your COVID-19 vaccinations, including a recently available booster shot.
“This is an ideal time to get a COVID booster,” Anderson advised, adding, “We are thankful that hospitalization rates remain low. However, wastewater sampling can be an early warning system that tells us that we will see more cases.”
While it’s difficult to know exactly why Grand Island’s COVID levels are so high, the onset of cooler weather typically signals an increase in spreadable viruses as people tend to be indoors more. While reports of influenza (flu) and RSV are low, COVID is making an active appearance. The last time COVID-19 activity was this high was in March of last year.
In addition to seeking a COVID booster, familiar precautions can be applied. These include thorough handwashing, staying home when ill, and maintaining distance from others who are not well. Well-ventilated areas reduce the risk of catching a respiratory virus. COVID home test kits can be ordered through the mail at no cost at: www.covid.gov/tests Additionally, this is an ideal time to get that annual flu shot.
Wastewater sampling is provided as part of the National Wastewater Surveillance System. Plans are in place to expand sampling to include both influenza and RSV. You can read the full report on our website, www.cdhd.ne.gov.
CDHD is open from 8 am – 5 pm Mon – Thurs and from 8 am – 4:30 pm on Fridays and offers COVID boosters at no out-of-pocket expense for those with and without insurance. No appointment is necessary. For more information please call (308) 385-5175.
Healthy Families Nebraska – Central District Launched in Our Area
Grand Island, NE – Central District Health Department (CDHD) is launching Healthy Families Nebraska-Central District to support families who are expecting or raising children under age 3 in Hall, Hamilton, and Merrick counties.
Healthy Families Nebraska – Central District is a voluntary program that provides family support and resource specialists for families throughout pregnancy and early childhood. The program provides regular home visits starting with pregnancy and continuing throughout the early and sometimes challenging first years of life. At each visit, family support specialists provide new educational materials selected based on the child’s developmental stage.
“We are thrilled to be able to offer this additional resource to area families and individuals,” Blaire Dreessen, Program Manager, said. “We believe early, nurturing relationships are the foundation for healthy development.”
Every day in the United States, thousands of HFA family support and resource specialists show how much they value children, partnering with parents to strengthen families and communities. By getting their questions answered, new families can prevent small issues from getting bigger over time. The program is designed to last for up to three years, providing consistent support through home visits on a regular basis.
Last year, more than 70,000 families received personalized in-home support from the Healthy Families American program.
To sign up for the Healthy Families Nebraska program, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (308) 385-5175 during our office hours, 8 am – 5 pm Mon – Thurs and 8 am – 4:30 pm on Fridays. You can learn more at www.cdhd.ne.gov.
WEST NILE VIRUS CASES EXPECTED TO RISE IN THE CENTRAL DISTRICT
Grand Island – The Central District has seen signs that West Nile Virus is on the rise and urges the public to take actions to prevent a rise in cases of this potentially serious disease.
According to data from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services:
•There are currently 17 human cases of West Nile Virus statewide
•West Nile has been found in 4 blood donation samples statewide
•A five-year average shows that peak times of West Nile infection is late August – early October. Last year there were 64 total cases reported
In addition, Hall County has seen 8 mosquito pools (or groups of mosquitoes tested for West Nile) test positive for the disease, putting the county in the “Very High” infection rate category. There are currently no cases of West Nile Virus found in people, but blood donations in Hall County have tested positive for West Nile.
With the Nebraska State Fair starting this Friday and many late summer activities taking place outdoors, it is important for the public to pay attention to West Nile Virus and the ways to avoid it. The best way to avoid West Nile Virus is to avoid mosquito bites. This can be done by:
•Eliminating standing water on your property where mosquitoes breed
•Wearing bug repellant when you’re outdoors
•Wearing long sleeves and pants when outdoors and staying inside during times when mosquitoes are most active
West Nile Virus is a disease that does not cause symptoms in most people. However, in some, particularly the very old and very young, it can cause serious health problems including headaches, body aches, joint pain and a rash. Around 1 in 5 people experience symptoms which can be severe in some people.
If you have concerns about West Nile Virus, please contact McKenzie Hatch at the CDHD Environmental Health Department at (308) 385-5175. To learn more log onto www.cdhd.ne.gov.
West Nile Virus Found in Two Mosquito Pools in the Central District
Grand Island – West Nile Virus has been detected in the mosquito population of the Central District.
Two groups of mosquitos tested this week turned up positive samples in Hall County. Mosquitos are the primary way in which West Nile Virus is spread. There have been no human cases reported at this time, but this does mean the virus is present in our area.
“We test pools of mosquitos and saw two positive tests, which means West Nile Virus is out there,” Jeremy Collinson, Director of Environmental Health for CDHD, said. “This is about the time of year we are likely to see positive tests, so the public should be aware.”
West Nile Virus does not produce symptoms in most people but roughly 1 in 150 people develop severe illnesses that can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, muscle weakness and other symptoms. Those over the age of 60 are at greater risk for severe illness.
To best reduce the risk of West Nile Virus, the public should work to minimize their exposure to mosquitos which carry the disease. This includes:
-When you are outdoors, use insect repellent containing DEET.
-Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during these hours.
-Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
-Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flowerpots, buckets, and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children's wading pools empty, and on their sides, when they are not being used.
For more information on West Nile and how you can prevent it, visit our website at www.cdhd.ne.gov or call (308) 385-5175.