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Tag Archive | "Kent County Health Department"

Health Department warns of potential scam


 

Scam targeting restaurants

On Monday November 28, 2016 the Kent County Health Department (KCHD) was contacted by a local restaurant who said they had received a phone call from a person claiming to be a representative of KCHD. The caller told an employee that the restaurant would have to pay a $5 “rescheduling fee” for an inspection. The caller insisted that the fee be paid immediately by credit card. This call did not come from a KCHD employee.

The Kent County Health Department does not charge a “rescheduling fee” and KCHD inspectors do not demand immediate credit card only payments for any fees.

The Kent County Health Department is urging restaurant owners and employees to be cautious.

“Our concern is that a restaurant owner or an employee could easily be caught off guard especially since this is a very busy time of the year for them,” said Adam London, Kent County Administrative Health Officer. “A five dollar charge might seem so insignificant to someone that they simply agree to pay it. It is very possible though, that whoever is making these calls has larger plans for your credit card such as selling your information or running up huge bills on your account.”

If you are contacted by someone who claims to represent the Kent County Health Department and they are asking for money over the phone, please request a call back number and contact the Kent County Health Department immediately at 616-632-6900.

KCHD also urges anyone who believes that they have been a victim of this scam to contact the Kent County Sheriff’s Department at 616-632-6100.

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Two food service facilities impacted by nationwide strawberry recall 


 

Recently, the Kent County Health Department was alerted by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services regarding an ongoing recall of frozen strawberries sold to certain commercial food service establishments. These strawberries are believed to be connected to a Hepatitis A outbreak nationwide. Because these strawberries may have been consumed over the past few months, there are two very important concerns for Health Department staff: the risk of people becoming ill with Hepatitis A, and vaccinating those who may have been exposed before they become ill. Treatment is available for those exposed in the past 14 days. In Kent County, two facilities have served strawberries from the suspected lots in the last two weeks: Romano’s Macaroni Grill, 5525 28th Street, Grand Rapids, MI 49512 (near I-96) and HCR ManorCare Grand Rapids, 2320 E Beltline SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546

“If you have eaten an item containing strawberries at Macaroni Grill or HRC ManorCare on the Beltline in the last 14 days, you should receive either the Hepatitis A vaccination as soon as possible to try to prevent the illness,” said Adam London, Kent County Health Department Administrative Health Officer. “The immunization is only effective up to 14 days after exposure, so it is important to contact your health care provider while you are in the 14 day window. If it has been longer than 14 days, you should be aware of the symptoms of Hepatitis A and if you become ill, contact your health care provider.”

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection that can be spread by eating contaminated food. “If someone has the virus, it is possible for them to transmit the illness to others, especially through food preparation,” London added. “As with many viral illnesses, personal hygiene and good handwashing can help prevent the illness from spreading.” Symptoms include:

. Jaundice (a yellowing of the skin or eyes)

. Dark urine

. Fever

. Fatigue

. Loss of appetite

. Nausea

. Vomiting

. Abdominal pain

. Clay-colored bowel movements

The Health Department urges individuals who need vaccination to do so as soon as possible. This chart explains the timeline for those who may have been exposed to receive vaccination:

If you ate strawberries at Macaroni Grill October 21-26, the window to get the vaccination has closed. If you ate them Thursday, October 27, then Thursday, November 10 is the last day you can receive the vaccination; and if you ate them on Friday, October 28, then Friday, November 11 is the last day you can receive the vaccination.

If you ate strawberries at HCR on October 24, the window to get the vaccination is closed. They did not serve them the other dates.

In case you have been traveling within Michigan, there is a complete list of restaurants statewide that may have served the recalled frozen strawberries in recent weeks at www.michigan.gov/documents/mdard/Hep_A_List_of_Known_and_Possible_Locations_11042016_1310_540528_7.pdf.

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Human cases of West Nile Virus confirmed in Kent County


 

Two people in Kent County have tested positive for the West Nile Virus.

According to the Kent County Health Department, the two people who have tested positive are unrelated adults who are residents of Kent County. It is unknown where they contracted the disease.

West Nile Virus (WNV) is spread to people primarily through the bites of an infected Culex species mosquito. While this species is known to transmit WNV it is not known to transmit Zika virus.

WNV is not contagious from person to person. Its symptoms range from a slight headache and low grade fever to, in rare cases, swelling of the brain tissue. But it can result in death.

For three months, ending on Labor Day, the Kent County Health Department conducted weekly surveillance of Culex mosquitoes, testing for the presence of WNV. Tens of thousands of mosquitoes were collected from various areas of the county. Testing was performed on the liquefied remains of up to 50 mosquitoes at a time, and West Nile Virus was found in 20 of those samples.

“We have known through our testing that the threat for contracting West Nile Virus was in our community,” said Adam London, Administrative Health Officer at KCHD. “We also know that the threat will continue as long as mosquitoes are active. Even the first frost may not be harsh enough to extinguish the risk.”

West Nile Virus was first detected in the United States in 1999. Since the first case was diagnosed in Michigan in 2001, more than 1,100 people have been diagnosed with the disease and 92 people have died. In 2001 and again in 2012, Kent County had the second highest number of West Nile cases in the state.

The best treatment for WNV is prevention. The Kent County Health Department recommends wearing a mosquito repellant that contains 10–35 percent DEET, wearing light colored clothing and staying indoors during dusk. You can help stop mosquitoes from breeding by removing any standing water in your yard and keeping your lawn and shrubs cut.

More about West Nile Virus can be found at www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html.

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Rockford football team forfeits due to illness


 

Kent County Health Department Investigating Potential Cryptosporidiosis Outbreak 

The Rockford Rams forfeited the first football game of the season last week after several dozen people associated with the team, including players, became ill.

The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) is investigating a likely outbreak of Cryptosporidiosis among approximately 30 people who are closely associated with the Rockford High School varsity football program. On Wednesday, August 24, 2016 health department staff was made aware that these individuals were suffering symptoms of a gastrointestinal illness.

On August 26, the KCHD received laboratory results that confirm the diagnosis of cryptosporidiosis in a second person associated with the team. Laboratory tests confirmed the diagnosis of a previous case on Wednesday, August 24, 2016.

On Thursday, August 25, 2016, KCHD conducted an onsite assessment at Rockford High School as part of its investigation. In light of that assessment and the fact that the outbreak is not significantly affecting other groups on campus, KCHD does not believe at this time that the school or its water supply are the source of the infection. The Kent County Health Department continues to work closely with the Rockford School District to monitor, investigate and mitigate the situation. The investigation is focusing on exposures and activities that are unique to the varsity football team.

Cryptosporidiosis is a diarrheal disease that is caused by the microscopic parasite Cryptosporidium. Commonly referred to as Crypto, the parasite lives in the gut of humans and animals and is shed through feces. While the parasite can be spread in many ways, water is the most common method. This can happen when animal waste contaminates a water source and that water is eventually consumed as drinking water or is used as recreational water for swimming. Cryptosporidium is a leading cause of waterborne disease in the United States. More information on Crypto can be found here https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/crypto/general.html. Cryptosporidiosis generally begins 2-10 days after becoming infected with the parasite. The most common symptom is watery diarrhea but can include stomach cramps, dehydration, nausea, vomiting, fever and weight loss. KCHD recommends rigorous personal hygiene and sanitation in the home environment. Good handwashing is important and sick people should not be preparing food for others. KCHD also encourages sick individuals (vomiting and/or diarrhea) to contact their family physician and inform them that they are ill and associated with the Rockford football team. KCHD has notified local physicians of the situation and testing recommendations.

 

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West Nile Virus found in mosquitoes in Kent County 


 

The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) Environmental Health division found the first positive specimens of West Nile virus this summer in the mosquito population. The infected mosquitoes were discovered in zip code 49506, which includes parts of southeast Grand Rapids and East Grand Rapids. This is not a human case; no human cases have been reported to KCHD.

This year in June, KCHD started capturing and testing mosquitoes in ten traps strategically placed throughout the County. These devices called “Gravid traps” collect mosquitoes that are then tested for the virus. The surveillance is possible thanks to a grant from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Kent County has received the State grant three years in a row. This surveillance allows the County to alert residents to step up prevention measures.

“Finding West Nile virus in one zip code does not mean that it is confined to that area,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer with KCHD. “The virus will likely be present in other neighboring zip codes to some degree, and the risk remains until at least the first frost of the season. We want people to be aware that they can greatly reduce their own risks by taking some simple precautions.”

The City of Grand Rapids said that it is beginning aggressive treatment to reduce the possibility of a widespread West Nile outbreak. Monday the City began treating identified areas with larvicide pellets into catch basins and areas of pooled still water.

Prevention is critical in the fight against West Nile, an illness that can be deadly in some people, especially those with weakened immune systems and the elderly. KCHD recommends wearing a mosquito repellant that contains 10-35 percent DEET, wearing light colored clothing and staying indoors during dusk. You can help stop mosquitoes from breeding by removing any standing water in your yard and keeping lawns and shrubs cut. Following these tips can be helpful in fighting other mosquito-borne illnesses as well.

 

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Test reveals positive case of mumps on Calvin College Campus 


 

This image depicts a child with a mumps infection. Note the characteristic swollen neck region due to an enlargement of the boy’s salivary glands. Photo from the Public Health Image Library at CDC.gov.

This image depicts a child with a mumps infection. Note the characteristic swollen neck region due to an enlargement of the boy’s salivary glands. Photo from the Public Health Image Library at CDC.gov.

GRAND RAPIDS – Last Friday, May 13, the Kent County Health Department (KCHD) received the test results from a sample obtained from a student at Calvin College. The results, provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, confirmed mumps infection.

The Kent County Health Department is aware of approximately 16 students on the campus who have not been vaccinated for the mumps virus and strongly recommends that those individuals now receive proper immunization. Calvin College will be offering vaccinations for those students.

For those students who are not willing to be vaccinated, the Kent County Health Department has strongly recommended to Calvin College administration that they be excluded from all campus activates such as attending classes; gathering in dining halls; attending extracurricular activities; or attending any other public

gathering. These measures are consistent with guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Mumps is a highly contagious vaccine preventable disease that is caused by a virus. It is spread through saliva and can be transmitted by coughing, sneezing, sharing drinks or utensils, or even talking with an infected person.

Mumps is best known for the puffy cheeks it causes. Other symptoms include fever, headache, muscle ache, tiredness, and loss of appetite. People with these symptoms are advised to contact a physician.

For more information on the mumps go to: www.cdc.gov/mumps/about/index.html.

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Health Department receives grant 


 

To enhance emerging disease preparedness

GRAND RAPIDS–The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) is one of only eleven local health departments in the United States, and the only one in Michigan, to be awarded a $25,000 grant to enhance coordination for preparedness and response to infectious disease outbreaks. The grant is awarded by the National Association of County and City Health Organizations (NACCHO).

With support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Lessons in INfection Control (LINC) Initiative awards recipients will test new approaches to prepare for and respond to healthcare-associated infections and other emerging infectious diseases.

“Not only will this funding increase KCHD’s capacity to respond to healthcare associated infections (HAIs) and other emerging diseases,” says Brian Hartl, Supervising Epidemiologist at KCHD, “it will also increase collaboration and communication between public health and health care facilities across West Michigan to strengthen HAI surveillance and control activities.”

The LINC Initiative supports local health departments in improving healthcare and community infection control practices by working with hospitals, long-term care facilities and other healthcare settings to identify and address the needs and opportunities. KCHD and other award recipients will test creative solutions and ways to combat the estimated 700,000 healthcare related infections in the U.S. each year.

Local health departments that received the award include the following:

• Barren River District Health Department (KY)

• Clark County Public Health (WA)

• Eau Claire City-County Health Department (WI)

• El Paso County Health Department (CO)

• Flathead City-County Health Department (MT)

• Florida DOH Pasco County

• Kent County Health Department (MI)

• Marion County Public Health Department (IN)

• Kanawha-Charleston Health Department (WV)

• Public Health – Seattle & King County (WA)

• St. Louis City Department of Health (MO)

The awardees will implement this project throughout 2016.

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Kent County offering free radon test kits


N-Radon1

You can’t see, smell or taste radon but the radioactive gas can kill. Next to smoking, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, claiming the lives of more than 20,000 Americans every year, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.

The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) recommends that all homes should be tested for radon every few years. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated January as national Radon Action Month, a perfect time for you to protect your family by testing your home. Testing is the only way to know if radon is present in your home.

N-Radon2While supplies last, KCHD is offering free radon test kits to Kent County residents. “Testing for radon is an easy and important step in protecting the health of your family,” says Sara Simmonds, supervising sanitarian with the Kent County Health Department. “The kit is easy to use. Simply hang a filter inside your house for a few days, then send it in a self-addressed, pre-stamped envelope for testing.”

Residents using the kits and the State of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality will both receive the results. Residents can use the information when deciding on how best to pursue remediation, and the state gains a better understanding of the locations and prevalence of radon in Michigan. For help understanding the test results, please contact the KCHD Environmental Health Division at 616-632-6900.

Radon occurs naturally in the ground. It seeps into buildings through cracks or openings in the foundation of floors and walls, around sump openings, or spaces around plumbing. It occurs in both new and old homes. Radon has been found in houses built over a basement, over a crawlspace or built on slab-on-grade. The EPA and the U.S. Geological Survey have developed a map of risk zones for the United States. You can view the risk maps by going online to http://www.epa.gov/radon/find-information-about-local-radon-zones-and-radon-programs#radonmap. Kent County is typically categorized as having a moderate to high levels of radon.

The kits are available Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. at the:

  • Kent County Health Department, 700 Fuller Avenue NE, Grand Rapids KCHD
  • North County Clinic at 4388 14 Mile Road NE, Rockford
  • KCHD South Clinic at 4700 Kalamazoo SE, Kentwood

Only one kit will be given per household.

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Flu season is here


 

Vaccinations available

From Kent County Health Department

Last year, three children in Michigan died due to complications from influenza. It takes about two weeks for the vaccination to become effective, so this is a great time to protect yourself and your family. Starting this week, you can schedule appointments through the Kent County Health Department (KCHD) for vaccinations for the 2015-2016 Flu Season. New this year: KCHD can accept Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Blue Care Network for flu vaccinations with no copay from subscribers.

The flu can have serious complications for children under the age of five, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with already-weakened immune systems. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age to protect against flu viruses. “Over the past three years, we’ve seen people wait until flu season is in full swing to get vaccinated,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. “We hope this year, everyone makes a plan to get vaccinated early, before the virus starts spreading. In addition to our clinics, there are many pharmacies and health care providers offering vaccines.”

KCHD’s seasonal influenza program provides vaccinations for all individuals six months of age and older. The cost of the vaccine ranges from $39-$55. KCHD offers FluMist (nasal mist vaccine) for $41, preservative-free options for $40-$44, and injectable three-strain egg-free vaccines or high-dose vaccines for $55.

Influenza viruses infect the nose, throat, and lungs and cause respiratory illness. Flu viruses spread when people with flu cough, sneeze, or even talk. Someone might also get flu by touching a surface or object (like a phone) that has flu virus on it, and then touching their own mouth, eyes, or nose. The flu can cause mild to severe illness, and in some cases, it can be deadly. Signs and symptoms can include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (very tired), vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults). Not everyone with flu will experience all of the symptoms.

Children from six months through eighteen years who have no insurance, or who have insurance that doesn’t cover vaccines, will pay a sliding scale administration fee of up to $23. The Health Department can bill Medicaid and Medicare, and we accept Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Blue Care Network. (No other private insurance is accepted at this time.) Cash, check, MasterCard, Visa, or Discover are accepted. To make an appointment at any of our four clinic locations, call (616) 632-7200. You can learn more about flu prevention at www.stickittotheflu.com.

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West Nile Virus Found in Kent County 


The Kent County Health Department have been using gravid traps like this one to capture and test mosquitoes for West Nile Virus.

The Kent County Health Department have been using gravid traps like this one to capture and test mosquitoes for West Nile Virus.

As a result of a massive mosquito surveillance project conducted by the environmental health division at the Kent County Health Department (KCHD), this season’s first positive specimen of West Nile Virus (WNV) has been discovered. This is not a human case. 

The positive sample was found in a pool of tested mosquitoes from the zip code 49504 in the city of Grand Rapids. The sample that yielded the positive result was collected between Tuesday July 28th and Thursday July 30, 2015.

The Kent County Health Department has been capturing and testing mosquitoes in 11 traps strategically placed throughout the county since early June. The traps, known as a Gravid trap, were placed in the 49503, 49504, 49507 and 49519 zip codes. That work will continue until Labor Day.

 

This photo shows the positive test strip for West Nile Virus from a tested mosquito.

This photo shows the positive test strip for West Nile Virus from a tested mosquito.

“This finding is significant because this is our first alert to the presence of West Nile as it begins to surface at this time of the year,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer with KCHD. “The fact that we have found West Nile in only one area does not mean that it is confined to that Zip Code. We expect West Nile to be present to some degree until the first frost. We want people to be aware that they can greatly reduce their own risks by taking some simple precautions.”

Prevention is critical in the fight against WNV, an illness that can be deadly in some people, especially those with weakened immune systems and the elderly. The Kent County Health Department recommends wearing a mosquito repellant that contains 10-35 percent DEET, wearing light colored clothing and staying indoors during dusk. You can help stop mosquitoes from breeding by removing any standing water in your yard and keeping your lawn and shrubs cut.

West Nile Virus was first detected in the United States in 1999. Since the first case was diagnosed in Michigan in 2001, more than 1,100 people have been diagnosed with the disease, and 92 people have died. In 2001 and again in 2012, Kent County had the second highest number of West Nile cases in the state. More about West Nile Virus can be found at www.cdc.gov/westnile.

 

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