Safety tips will help during holiday and summer picnics

One out of every six people get sick from a foodborne illness each year, and a few extra precautions can help keep your summer meals, cookouts and picnics illness-free this year.

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department wants to increase awareness of food safety as people head into the summer picnic season. The following food safety guidelines can help you prevent the spread of food-borne illness from picnic meals shared with family and friends:

  • Keep hands clean. Wash hands before eating or preparing food, after using the restroom, between handling raw and ready-to-eat items and after handling pets. Wash with hot soapy water and dry with paper towels.
  • Clean and sanitize surfaces often. To sanitize surfaces, use a solution of regular household bleach and warm water. Add about 1 tablespoon of bleach to 2 gallons of water for the right concentration. Sanitize by first washing and rinsing the surface and then immerse, spray or swab with the bleach solution.
  • Separate – don’t cross-contaminate. Separate raw foods from ready-to-eat foods. Use different cutting boards or wash, rinse and sanitize after contact with raw meat, poultry and seafood. Never use the same plate for holding raw meat and transporting cooked meat.
  • Be sure to wash all produce thoroughly before use. Thoroughly clean the outer surface before slicing and keep work surface and utensils clean and sanitized. Handle all cut melons carefully, including cantaloupe and watermelon. Promptly refrigerate sliced melon at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
  • Follow the cooking guidelines listed below for proper meat preparation. Cook food to the proper internal temperature. Always check the internal temperature of cooked foods with a metal-stemmed thermometer and cook another 15 seconds after the thermometer indicates it has reached the proper temperature.

 Ground beef: 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds

Poultry and stuffed meats: 165 degrees F for 15 seconds

Pork products: 150 degrees F for 15 seconds

Other products: 140 degrees F for 15 seconds

Reheating leftovers: 165 degrees F for 15 seconds

  • Refrigerate leftovers promptly. Leftovers should be cooled and maintained within two hours at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower or frozen at zero degrees or lower. When you are unsure how long leftover food has been out of proper serving temperature, a good rule of thumb to follow is “when in doubt, throw it out!”

Get vaccination, wash your hands to prevent hepatitis A

A case of hepatitis A has been confirmed at Millcreek Elementary School. The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department is working closely with Fayette County Public Schools. Letters have been sent home to the parents with kids in the classroom.

Hepatitis A is a liver disease that can easily be passed from person to person and can be spread through close contact with someone infected with it. Washing your hands with soap and warm water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper or before making food and drinks can help stop the spread of hepatitis A.

The best prevention is with a hepatitis A vaccination. Starting in the 2018-19 school year, Kentucky students will be required to have the vaccination. Please check with your medical provider to see if your child has been vaccinated.

Health department to hold annual rabies clinic May 10 at Castlewood Park

Lexington pet owners can get a low-cost rabies shot at a new location this year.

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department’s annual Rabies Vaccination Clinic will be held 6-9 p.m. Thursday, May 10, at Castlewood Park, 201 Castlewood Drive. Vaccinations will cost just $3. All cats must be in a carrier, and all dogs must be on leashes. In the event of inclement weather, the clinic date is subject to change. The health department will provide updated information at www.lexingtonhealthdepartment.org and on its Twitter account at twitter.com/LFCHD.

Rabies, a viral disease of humans, pets and wild animals, is transmitted from animals to humans by the saliva of a rabid animal, usually from a bite. Rabies vaccinations typically cost about $20, making this clinic a great value to pet owners. “A rabies shot gives protection to the pet as well as its owner and the other people of Lexington, said Luke Mathis, LFCHD Environmental Health team leader and one of the event’s organizers. “We’re pleased to provide this useful public health service as we help Lexington be well.”


State law requires that all dogs, cats and ferrets maintain a current rabies vaccination. The health department gave 345 rabies shots during the May 2017 clinic. The LFCHD Rabies Control Program received 740 animal bite reports last year, with LFCHD staff making sure each animal was up to date on all rabies vaccination shots.

The clinic also provides pet owners with the opportunity to purchase an animal license for $8 if the animal has been spayed or neutered. A license costs $40 if the animal has not been fixed or the owner has no proof of alteration. Lexington-Fayette Animal Care and Control, the Lexington Humane Society, the Lexington-Fayette County Division of Parks and Recreation Department, Gainesway Small Animal Clinic and MedVet Medical and Cancer Center for Pets are also sponsoring the clinic.

For more information on the annual Rabies Clinic, call the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department’s Division of Environmental Health at (859) 231-9791. Be sure to like the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LFCHD, and follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/LFCHD and Instagram at @lexpublichealth.

LFCHD, community partners reveal city’s health assessment and improvement plan

Every five years, the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department (LFCHD) in partnership with the Lexington Community Health Improvement Partnership (LEX-CHIP) engages the community in a health assessment and planning process for the purpose of improving health in the Lexington-Fayette County community.

This document has been created to share the process and results of the Community Health Assessment (CHA) and to address the priority issues it identified. Goals, objectives, and strategies for each of the priority issues are outlined in this document. The purpose of the plan is to detail how community partners will collectively and collaboratively work together to improve the health and well-being of our community.

Through the development of the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), an overarching theme arose. The theme “Rise Up Lex” was born. It is the hope of LEXCHIP that this theme will become a motto for both LEXCHIP and the community of Lexington. From this theme, the action teams LexBeWell, LexWork, and LexBeSafe were formed. The groups strive to focus on the vision that Lexington will be a community that is safe and healthy for all.

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, in partnership with the Lexington Community Health Improvement Partnership (LEX-CHIP), is proud to share the document here: Community Health Assessment and Improvement Plan.

The document takes a look at current health trends through multiple sets of lenses. It uses the information to inform decision-making for community engagement and partnerships to improve the overall health of the community.

Health department provides 185 free flu shots

The community fought the flu this February with free flu shots.

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department provided 185 free flu shots Feb. 13 at a special clinic at 650 Newtown Pike. “Flu season in Kentucky peaks in February and cases can extend into April and May,” LFCHD spokesperson Kevin Hall said. “It’s definitely not too late to get protection from the flu for your entire family.”

The seasonal flu shot is recommended for all people ages 6 months and older. There have been 565 confirmed flu cases in Lexington this season, including 13 deaths.

The health department previously provided 1,026 free flu shots in October at its annual clinic for the community.

Flu shots are regularly available 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Thursday at the health department without an appointment for $30 ($49 for a high-dose vaccine for ages 65 and older). Medicaid/Medicare, cash, checks, credit cards and some insurances are accepted.

For additional information, like the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LFCHD, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/LFCHD and Instagram at @lexpublichealth. For questions about the flu shot, call the Public Health Clinic at 859-288-2483 option 2.

LFCHD seeking Dr. Rice C. Leach Public Health Hero nominations

It is time to nominate people for the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department’s Dr. Rice C. Leach Public Health Hero Award. The award, now in its 15th year, is for individuals who have demonstrated their dedication to improving the health of Lexington residents.

Criteria for the selection of the award include:

  • Exemplary leadership and diligence in promoting public health;
  • Remarkable contributions and support in fostering public health programs; and
  • Work or actions that have impacted the community’s health in a positive way.

The Lexington-Fayette County Board of Health renamed the award in 2016 in honor of the late Dr. Rice C. Leach “so future generations will know what a true public health super hero is.” Leach, who served as Lexington’s Commissioner of Health for five years, died in April 2016 following a battle with cancer.

Past winners include Kentucky State Sen. Reginald Thomas (2017), Dr. Leach (2016), Dr. Susan Pollack and Marian F. Guinn (2015), the Rev. Willis Polk and Baby Health Service (2014), Anita Courtney and Teens Against Tobacco Use (2013); Vickie Blevins-Booth and Jay McChord (2012); Jill Chenault-Wilson and Dr. Malkanthie McCormick (2011); Dr. Jay Perman (2010); the Lexington Lions Club (2009); Dr. David Stevens and the late Dr. Doane Fischer (2008); Dr. Ellen Hahn, Mary Alice Pratt and Therese Moseley (2007); Dr. Andrew Moore and Rosa Martin (2006); Jan Brucato and Dragana Zaimovic (2005); and Dr. John Michael Moore, Ellen Parks and Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (2004). Dr. Robert Lam received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

If you know of someone, please provide the following information:

  • Name, professional title and organization;
  • Phone number and e-mail address of nominee; and
  • Examples of why the person is worthy of the award. Descriptions should be no more than 200 words.
  • Your name and contact information

Nominations can be submitted here: Dr. Rice C. Leach Public Health Hero nomination.

The deadline for submitting candidates is 4 p.m., Wednesday, Feb.28.

The Lexington-Fayette County Board of Health will make the final determination. The winner will receive special recognition from the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. The awards are given each April as part of National Public Health Week.

 

Health department offers safety tips as temperature dips

During the cold weather, stay indoors whenever possible. However, if you must go outside, dress warmly in layered clothing, including a hat, scarf or knit mask to cover your face and mouth, sleeves that are snug at the wrist, mittens, a water-resistant coat and water-resistant boots. Avoid exertion, as cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. People with heart disease or high blood pressure should follow their doctor’s advice about shoveling snow or performing other activities in the snow. When outside, avoid walking on ice, and keep your steps and walkways as free of ice as possible.

Be on the lookout for signs of hypothermia and frostbite, two common cold weather-related health problems. Warning signs of hypothermia, which is abnormally low body temperature, include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. If you detect symptoms of hypothermia, seek medical care immediately. Get the victim into a warm room and remove any wet clothing. Warm the center of the body first with an electric blanket, if available. Otherwise, use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothes, towels or sheets. Warm beverages can help increase the body temperature, but do not use alcoholic beverages.

Warning signs for frostbite, or an injury to the body caused by freezing, include redness or pain in any skin area, white or grayish-yellow skin, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy and numbness. If you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care immediately. Get the victim into a warm room, and immerse the affected area in warm – not hot – water. Do not rub the frostbitten area with snow or massage it, as this can cause more damage. Do not use a heating pad, heat lamp or the heat of a stove, fireplace or radiator for warming, as the frostbitten areas are numb and can be easily burned.

These procedures are not substitutes for medical care, and all emergencies should be reported to a physician or health care provider. To learn more about winter weather tips, visit the CDC’s website.

 

Flu season starts in Lexington: get your flu shot today!

It’s officially flu season in Lexington: the first lab-confirmed case of the flu has been reported.

The health department will offer flu shots 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Thursday at its Public Health Clinic at 650 Newtown Pike. No appointment is necessary, and the cost for a flu shot is $30. Medicaid/Medicare, cash, checks, credit cards and some insurances are accepted.

“A seasonal flu shot is recommended to all people ages 6 months and older and is the best way to avoid getting the flu,” LFCHD spokesman Kevin Hall said.

Last year, Lexington had 503 confirmed cases of the flu and seven flu-related deaths.

For additional information about the 2017-18 flu season, like the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LFCHD, or follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/LFCHD and Instagram at @lexpublichealth. Flu information can also be found by calling the Public Health Clinic at 859-288-2483.

Free Narcan kits available 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Fridays

Free naloxone kits to help reverse opioid overdoses will soon be available to the community through a partnership between the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department and the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, part of the University of Kentucky College of Public Health.

The kits will be distributed 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Fridays in the Dr. Rice C. Leach Community Room at the health department’s main location at 650 Newtown Pike. The kits will be provided as part of the health department’s needle-exchange program and will be available to participants, family and friends.

“Our clients at the needle-exchange are some of the people at the highest risk for potential overdoses,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Kraig Humbaugh. Since opening Sept. 5, 2015, the health department’s needle-exchange has provided clean needles to 1,849 individuals, with 106 using the on-site referral program to enter rehabilitative programs.

Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan®, blocks opiate receptors in the brain, works in 1-3 minute and lasts 30-90 minutes. It can cause withdrawal symptoms such as nausea and disorientation, but there is no risk for abuse or addiction.

“The Lexington Fayette-County Health Department and the University of Kentucky College of Public Health have a shared goal in the fight against drug overdose: to save lives in our community,” said Dr. Svetla Slavova, principal investigator for the grant and associate professor in the UK College of Public Health Department of Biostatistics. She is also a faculty member with the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, bona fide agent for the Kentucky Department for Public Health.

“We are thankful that the Bureau of Justice Assistance allowed the redirect of savings on our grant for the purchase of 1,236 Narcan® kits,” Slavova said. “This partnership between government agencies, the university, and KIPRC, bona fide agent of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, is one way we hope to turn the tide of overdose fatalities in Kentucky.’

The purchase of Narcan® was supported by a grant 2014-PM-BX-0010 (Data-Driven Multidisciplinary Approaches to Reducing Prescription Abuse in Kentucky) awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice.

New look for restaurant inspection score cards

Two changes by the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department will make it easier for the public to view restaurant inspection scores.

The most noticeable change is the use of new inspection placards that are required to be placed in areas visible by the public. The new placards feature the restaurant’s inspection score in a green box for a passing grade and red for a failing grade, along with a check box for areas of concern and violations.

“These new placards allow customers to immediately determine if a restaurant passed or failed and provide information about violations,” LFCHD Communications Officer Kevin Hall said. “Also, they’re designed to be easier to read and look better on the walls or in the windows of Lexington’s restaurants.”

The health department is also modernizing the way its employees record their inspections. Starting this week, inspectors will use an electronic system that allows inspections to be uploaded into an online database in real time, which will eliminate administrative staff time for data entry. The system also allows staff easy access to past inspection records to help identify repeated violations.

“Any steps we can take to improving our inspection process is beneficial to the people of Lexington,” Hall said. “Our restaurant inspections help protect every person who dines out in Lexington, and this gives us another way to help Lexington be well.”

People who say they’ve never used the health department have benefited from our restaurant inspections, and this gives us another way to help Lexington be well.”

The health department regulates about 1,550 restaurants, which are inspected at least twice per year.

Additional information about restaurant inspections, including a database of previous scores, can be found here.