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.

 

Free flu shots October 5

The health department’s annual free flu shot event will be held 4-7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5, at Consolidated Baptist Church’s Andrew Center, 1625 Russell Cave Road.

Make your wait time shorter by registering here: flu form [en español]. Please fill out the form, print it, and  bring it with you on Oct. 5. The form is for use on Oct. 5 only.

The seasonal flu shot is recommended to all people ages 6 months and older. Last year, Lexington had seven deaths from flu-related causes. The health department provided 2,434 flu shots throughout the season, including 1,498 at last year’s free flu shot clinic.

Lexington had 503 confirmed flu cases last year, but that represents a small fraction since most flu cases aren’t lab-confirmed. The CDC estimates 5-20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu each year, costing an estimated $10.4 billion in medical expenses and $16.3 billion in lost earnings.

For community members not able to get their flu shots at the special free event, the health department will offer flu shots 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Thursday in the Public Health Clinic, 650 Newtown Pike, starting Oct. 2. No appointment is necessary, and the cost for a regular flu shot is $30 and $49 for a high dose recommended for ages 65 and older. Medicaid/Medicare, cash, checks, credit cards and some insurances are accepted.

 

Community Farmers’ Market returns to health department

Following a successful run earlier in the summer, a Community Farmers’ Market is returning to the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department for September.

Starting next week, farmers from the Bluegrass Farmers’ Market will give health department patients, clients, visitors and staff, as well as the entire community, a chance to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. The LFCHD Community Farmers’ Market will be held:

  • 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Sept. 6, 650 Newtown Pike (main health department location)
  • 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Sept. 13, 2433 Regency Road (health department’s south location)
  • 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Sept. 20, 650 Newtown Pike
  • 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Sept. 27, 2433 Regency Road

While some vendors may accept other forms of payment, participants are encouraged to bring cash for payment.

West Nile virus confirmed in city; health department to spray for mosquitoes

Aug. 23, 2017–The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department has confirmed a case of West Nile virus in a Lexington resident. West Nile virus infection is an illness spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus is known to be present in mosquito populations in Kentucky.

In most instances, people infected with the West Nile virus either show no symptoms or relatively mild symptoms, including fever, headache, tiredness, nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph glands and a rash on the chest, stomach or back. However, less than one percent of infected people develop a serious neurologic illness, such as encephalitis or meningitis. Serious illness can occur in people of any age, but people over the age of 60 are at the greatest risk for severe disease. People with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension and kidney disease, are also at greater risk for serious illness.

To help control mosquitoes, the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department will conduct mosquito-spraying activities in the pre-dawn hours Thursday morning in parts of the following ZIP codes: 40502, 40505, 40507 and 40508.

For spraying to be held, the wind speed must be less than 10 mph, the temperature must be greater than 55o F and there can be no rain or dense fog. The health department uses Duet, an EPA-approved agent that features a component that stimulates resting mosquitoes in trees and foliage, causing them to fly into the air and come into contact with the spray’s mosquito-killing agent, sumithrin. Duet has been rigorously tested for human and animal safety and is registered for outdoor residential and recreational areas.

Lexington residents can also take steps at home to fight mosquitoes:

  • Mosquito-proof your home and yard. Fix or install window and door screens.Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Cover or eliminate empty containers with standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by getting rid of items such as tires, buckets, barrels and cans. Refresh the water in your pet’s water dishes and birdbaths at least every five to seven days.
  • Be aware of peak mosquito activity times. The twilight hours around dusk and dawn are times of peak mosquito activity. Use insect repellent when outdoors especially during peak activity times, including early morning hours. Look for EPA-labeled repellents containing active ingredients, such as DEET, Picaridin (KBR3023) or oil of lemon eucalyptus (p-menthane 3,8-diol). Apply repellent according to label instructions. When weather permits, wear long sleeves, long pants and socks outdoors. Mosquitoes can bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with repellent containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent helps prevent bites.

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department also conducts surveys in neighborhoods around Lexington to identify standing water problems that can serve as a location for mosquitoes to lay their eggs. Elimination of standing water is the ultimate goal, but in areas where standing water cannot be eliminated the water can be treated to kill mosquito larvae with a chemical called a larvicide. The mosquito spray used by the health department only affects adult mosquitoes that are in the air at the time of spraying.

To report a standing water problem in your neighborhood, please call the health department’s Environmental Health section at (859) 231-9791. 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.

Eclipse 2017: Protect your eyes with these safety tips!

The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH), within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) is warning the public not to directly look at the upcoming solar eclipse on Aug. 21 without the proper equipment and techniques.

People from all over the world will converge on the U.S. to witness the eclipse. While the solar eclipse will occur across the continental U.S., those within an estimated 70-mile path labeled “Path of the Total Solar Eclipse” which includes Hopkinsville, Paducah and the Land Between the Lakes will experience a total solar eclipse, lasting up to 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Outside of this path, observers will witness a deep partial eclipse, which will partially block the sun’s light. The last time a total solar eclipse occurred across any part of the contiguous U.S. was in 1979. Following the 2017 solar eclipse, the next total solar eclipse will not be visible over the continental U.S. until April 8, 2024.

“Looking at an eclipse without proper eye protection can cause permanent and irreversible eye damage including blindness”, said Hiram C. Polk, Jr., M.D., commissioner of DPH. “We encourage everyone to enjoy this special celestial event, but urge the public not to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun without special purpose solar filters such as eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers.”

Protect Your Eyes

There are several ways to safely view a solar eclipse and avoid permanent eye damage:

  • Eclipse glasses or handheld solar viewers that meet the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 12312-2 international standard for eye and face protection products intended for direct observation of the sun may be used. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun.
  • Telescopes with solar filters can also be used. Never look through a telescope without a solar filter on the large end of the scope. Never use small solar filters that attach to the eyepiece as found on some older telescopes.
  • Pinhole projectors and other projection techniques are a safe, indirect viewing technique for observing an image of the sun and can be constructed using paper or cardstock.
  • Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other optical device. Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, telescope, binoculars or any other optical device while using your eclipses glasses or handheld solar viewer. The concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury. Seek expert advice before using a solar filter with a camera, telescope, binoculars or any other optical device.

Outdoor Safety

In addition to eye safety measures, the following additional public health safety tips are recommended for people who participate in outdoor activities while viewing the eclipse:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Increase your normal fluid intake regardless of your activity level. You will need to drink more fluids than your thirst level indicates. This is especially true for people age 65 and older who have a decreased ability to respond to external temperature changes. In addition, avoid drinking beverages containing alcohol, because they will actually cause you to lose more fluid.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen. Choose lightweight, light colored, loose fitting clothing. In the hot sun, wear a wide-brimmed hat that will provide shade and keep the head cool. Sunscreen should be SPF 15 or greater and applied 30 minutes before going out into the sun.
  • Apply an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellent such as DEET, picardin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-methane-diol or 2-undecanone. Always follow directions and reapply as directed.
  • Be sure to keep your hands clean to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

State health officials will deploy portable medical tents at an upcoming eclipse event in Hopkinsville to ensure first aid services are available to participants through coordination with local and state agencies. The first aid tents will be staffed by Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers and public health staff. Public health environmentalists will also inspect food vendors in the region to help prevent foodborne and waterborne illnesses.

Video footage related to eclipse eye safety is available here. A video for eclipse eye safety for children is available here. Video footage for an eclipse safety kit is available here. Additional video footage on portable medical tent deployment is available here.

For more information on safe viewing of eclipses, please visit http://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety.

For more information on the Solar Eclipse Across America go to http://www.eclipse2017.org/2017/path_through_the_US.htm

Amended Immunization Regulation

The following is a summary of the recent changes, effective June 21, 2017, to 902 KAR 2:060 Immunization schedules for attending child day care centers, certified family child care homes, other licensed facilities which care for children, preschool programs, and public and private primary and secondary schools, http://www.lrc.ky.gov/kar/902/002/060.htm. This amended Kentucky Administrative Regulation requires all children to have a current immunization certificate on file, contains the required immunizations schedule for attending, and has a process to obtain a religious exemption from the required immunizations.

  • One new age-specific immunization requirement and one booster dose requirement effective for the school year beginning on or after July 1, 2018:
    • 2-Dose Series of HepA (Age: 12 months through 18 years)
    • Quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine (MenACWY) booster dose (Age: 16 years)
  • Homeschooled children are required to submit a current immunization certificate to participate in any public and private school activities (classroom, extra curriculum activity, or sports).
  • All vaccines administered are printed on the Commonwealth of Kentucky Certificate of Immunization Status now including immunizations not required for school entry.
  • Religious exemptions shall be documented on a signed and notarized Commonwealth of Kentucky Parent or Guardian’s Declination on Religious Grounds to Required Immunizations. There will be a space for the parent or guardian to initial each specific immunization they are choosing to decline.
  • New versions of forms, effective June 21, 2017, can be found on websites  for the Kentucky Department of Education, http://education.ky.gov/districts/SHS/Pages/Immunization-Information.aspx. and the Kentucky Immunization Program, http://chfs.ky.gov/dph/epi/Immunization.htm.
  • Out-of-state immunization certificates may be accepted if they meet the same age-specific requirements as outlined in this regulation.
  • A Commonwealth of Kentucky Certificate of Immunization Status printed from the Kentucky Immunization Registry (KYIR) does not require a signature.
  • A licensed practical nurse (LPN) designee of a physician, local health department administrator, or other licensed healthcare facility may sign the Commonwealth of Kentucky Certificate of Immunization Status.
  • School nurses and administrators can enroll in KYIR and print the Commonwealth of Kentucky Certificate of Immunization Status from the registry, and it will not require a signature.
  • Routine certificate reviews are to occur at enrollment in a day care center, kindergarten, seventh grade, eleventh grade, and for the 2018-2019 school year for twelfth grade; new enrollment at any grade; upon legal name change; and at a school required examination pursuant to 702 KAR 1:160.
  • A child whose certificate has exceeded the date for the certificate to be valid shall be recommended to visit the child’s medical provider or local health department to receive immunizations required by this administrative regulation. An updated and current certificate shall be provided to the:
    • Day care center, certified family child care home, or other licensed facility that cares for children by a parent or guardian within thirty (30) days from when the certificate was found to be invalid; or
    • School by a parent or guardian within fourteen (14) days from when the certificate was found to be invalid.

Never leave a child unattended in a car!

As part of the 52 Weeks of Public Health campaign, the  Department for Public Health, located within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), urges the public to take steps to avoid injury and illness during  periods of extreme summertime heat, particularly dangers associated with leaving children in vehicles.

“Extreme temperatures are cause for concern, so we advise the public to take necessary steps to keep cool and prevent harm,” said Hiram C. Polk Jr., MD, DPH commissioner. “Serious injury – particularly for children exposed to extreme levels of heat – can occur. Everyone should take steps to avoid these dangers.”

According to Kids and Cars, an organization that works to raise awareness of the dangers of leaving children in hot vehicles, 39 children died last year due to heatstroke – medically termed “hyperthermia”.

“We want all our citizens to understand the dangers of extreme heat, particularly the danger of leaving children in hot cars,” continued Dr. Polk. “Not only are extreme temperatures uncomfortable, they also present a significant health danger. This is particularly true for vulnerable populations such as young children and the elderly.”

Several measures are recommended to prevent these types of deaths from occurring. They include:

  • Create reminders.  More than half of child heat stroke deaths occur because parents and caregivers become distracted and exit their vehicle without their child. To help prevent these tragedies parents can:
  • Place a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag or something that is needed at your next stop on the floor in front of a child in a backseat. This will help you see your child when you open the rear door and reach for your belongings.
  • Set the alarm on your cell phone as a reminder to you to drop your child off at day care.
  • Set your computer calendar program to ask, “Did you drop off at day care today?”
  • Establish a plan with your day care that if your child fails to arrive within an agreed upon time, you will be called. Be especially mindful of your child if you change your routine for day care.
  • Don’t underestimate the risk.  The inside of vehicles can quickly heat up, even on relatively cool days, so you should never leave your child alone in a car. Don’t underestimate the risks and leave them even “just for a minute.”
  • Lock cars and trucks. Thirty percent of the recorded heat stroke deaths in the U.S. occur because a child was playing in an unattended vehicle. These deaths can be prevented by simply locking the vehicle doors to help assure that kids don’t enter the vehicles and become trapped.
  • Immediately dial 911 if you see an unattended child in a car.  EMS professionals are trained to determine if a child is in trouble. The body temperature of children rises three to five times faster than adults. As a result, children are much more vulnerable to heat stroke. Check vehicles and trunks first if a child is missing.

Additional tips are recommended to avoid other heat-related injury and illness:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Increase your normal fluid intake regardless of your activity level. You will need to drink more fluids than your thirst level indicates. This is especially true for people age 65 or older who often have a decreased ability to respond to external temperature changes. In addition, avoid drinking beverages containing alcohol, because they will actually cause you to lose more fluid.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen. Choose lightweight, light colored, loose fitting clothing. In the hot sun, wear a wide-brimmed hat that will provide shade and keep the head cool. Sunscreen should be SPF 15 or greater and applied 30 minutes before going out into the sun.
  • Stay cool indoors. The most efficient way to beat the heat is to stay in an air-conditioned area. If you do not have an air conditioner, consider visiting a mall or public library.
  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully. If you must be out in the heat, try to plan your activities so that you are outdoors either before noon or in the evening. Rest periodically so your body’s thermostat will have a chance to recover.
  • Use a buddy system. When working in the heat, monitor the condition of your co-workers and have someone do the same for you. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness.
  • Monitor those at high risk. Those at greatest risk of heat-related illness include:
    • Infants and children up to 4 years of age
    • People 65 years of age or older
    • People who are overweight
    • People who overexert during work or exercise
    • People who are ill or on certain medications for blood pressure or diuretics.

Board of Health selects Allen-Bryant as chair for 2017-18

The Lexington-Fayette County Board of Health elected Kacy Allen-Bryant as chair for the 2017-18 fiscal year, which began July 1.

Allen-Bryant, Ph.D.(c), MSN, MPH, RN, is a lecturer for the University of Kentucky College of Nursing, where she engages in community outreach to many organizations, including homeless shelters, day centers for those with mental illnesses, afterschool programs for disadvantaged youth and the public school system. She is also the director of occupational health for KC WELLNESS, INC.

Allen-Bryant received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Public Health and Graduate Certificate in Gerontology from the University of Kentucky. She is also currently in the UK College of Nursing’s Ph.D. program.

Allen-Bryant has worked in the public health field for 17 years, including serving the last eight years on the Board of Health. She chaired the board’s Outcomes and Evaluation Committee and was instrumental in passing a resolution to add electronic cigarettes to Lexington’s smoking ordinance. Allen-Bryant played a vital role in starting the city’s successful needle-exchange program.

Jason Lee, chief financial officer of Community Ventures, will serve as vice-chair for 2017-18. Other board members include: Paula Anderson, Vicki Blevins-Booth, Dr. Lee Dossett, Dr. William Elder, Commissioner Chris Ford, Michael Friesen, Councilmember Jake Gibbs, Mayor Jim Gray, Dr. Mamata Majmundar and Sherelle Roberts Pierre. The board currently has two vacant positions.

The Board of Health meets the second Monday of every month at 5:45 p.m. at the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, 650 Newtown Pike.

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.