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Tag Archive | "Kent County Health Department"

Heeren Brothers recalls cantaloupe

Heeren Brothers Produce is recalling approximately 5,400 cantaloupes because of a possible health risk to consumers.

The produce, which was distributed to small, independent grocers in Michigan July 23-26, has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes and should be discarded and not consumed. The cantaloupes are Athena Cantaloupes, but have no stickers or other markings that identify them as such.

The Kent County Health Department is recommending those who may have eaten the cantaloupe to contact a health care provider if they notice symptoms of illness in the coming weeks, especially those who may already be at high risk for illness. The FDA tested the cantaloupe and says it found the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes, which can cause the infection Listeriosis in some people. Listeriosis can be fatal in high-risk populations.

The Kent County Health Department has not received any complaints of illness due to the cantaloupe recall as of August 6. “Listeriosis infection has an incubation period that ranges from three days to ten weeks,” said Adam London, Administrative Health Officer of Kent County. “We are concerned about people who are vulnerable to illness: newborns, older adults, those with compromised immune systems, and women who are pregnant.”

Listeriosis is a foodborne illness that causes about 1600 infections annually in the United States. Symptoms of Listeriosis include fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea, stomach cramping or vomiting. If you start to notice these symptoms and believe you may have eaten a potentially contaminated cantaloupe, contact your health care provider immediately. In pregnant women, Listeriosis can cause a variety of health complications for the fetus, including miscarriage and stillbirth. Other symptoms include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions. Even though Listeriosis is treatable with antibiotics, it has a high death rate among the food-borne infections.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, the elderly or others with weak immune systems. Healthy individuals may suffer short-term symptoms, such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain or diarrhea. Listeria can cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women.

After receiving notice from the FDA, Heeren Brothers Produce immediately alerted retailers and requested that they remove the produce from their shelves. Heeren Brothers Produce has also contacted the supplier of the cantaloupes. The source of the potential issue is still under investigation. Heeren Brothers Produce is cooperating fully with the FDA.

Consumers who have questions may contact Heeren Brothers Produce at 616.452.2101 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Here are tips from the FDA regarding melon safety:

Consumers and food preparers should wash their hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling any whole melon, such as cantaloupe, watermelon, or honeydew.

Scrub the surface of melons, such as cantaloupes, with a clean produce brush under running water and dry them with a clean cloth or paper towel before cutting. Sanitize your scrub brush after each use, to avoid transferring bacteria between melons.

Promptly consume cut melon or refrigerate promptly. Keep your cut melon refrigerated at, or less than 40 degrees F (32-34 degrees F is best), for no more than 7 days. Discard cut melons left at room temperature for more than 4 hours.

More information on Listeriosis can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/.



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Stay safe in the summer heat

Hot, humid weather is in the forecast again today, with temperatures expected to reach highs in the upper eighties throughout most of this week. Children, the elderly, and pets are especially at risk of becoming ill in these temperatures. The Kent County Health Department wants everyone to take a few precautions to stay healthy during hot summer days.

Never leave children or animals in a parked vehicle unattended, even with windows cracked open. The temperature inside a parked car can reach 120 degrees or more in a matter of minutes. Heat stroke and death can occur in these dangerous situations. If you are leaving the car, take your children and/or pets with you. So far this year, 15 children have died after being left unattended in cars in the U.S., according to the San Francisco State University Department of Geosciences.

Elderly people have a much more difficult time dealing with heat. “People who are elderly may have trouble adjusting to changes in temperature,” says Adam London, Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. “Also, some medications can cause adverse reactions to heat. If you have elderly family members or friends, check on them twice a day during these hot days.” If they appear to be suffering from dizziness, muscle weakness, cramping, vomiting, heavy sweating, or paleness, they may be suffering from heat exhaustion. Get them to a cool area, and seek medical treatment.

If you wait until you’re thirsty to drink, you may already be dehydrated. (Some people may be limited in the amount of fluid they drink due to certain conditions or medications. Check with your doctor to see how much you should drink while the weather is hot.) Drink non-alcoholic fluids often, and avoid alcohol or sugary-drinks, as they can cause you to dehydrate faster.

Be sure pets have fresh, clean drinking water. Keep them indoors or provide a shady place for them to stay out of the sun. Don’t let them overheat: keep strenuous activity and playtime short.

If you are looking for additional resources to help you during hot weather, the Heart of West Michigan United Way may be able help. Call their free informational and referral service by dialing 211 for more information.

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Kent County sees decline in infant mortality

The Kent County Health Department is one of many agencies working to ensure healthy babies are being born here. There has been a decrease in infant deaths in Kent County over the past decade, mirroring a national trend. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a significant decline in the nation’s infant mortality rate; a 12 percent decrease from 2005 to 2011. Michigan is one of several states that experienced a decline.

“We have made significant strides to help deliver healthy, full-term babies,” says Adam London, Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. “We know there is still much work to be done, especially in terms of the disparities seen based on race. We need to make sure women receive important nutrition, education and health information they need before and during pregnancies.”

Several programs through KCHD and local hospitals are making a difference. “The Maternal Infant Health Program through the Kent County Health Department worked with nearly 1000 mothers in 2012 to promote healthy pregnancies and support good birth outcomes,” London added. “Our staff with the Strong Beginnings program helped an additional 200 women last year.”

In addition, the Kent County Interconception Care Program is helping mothers who experienced a miscarriage, premature birth or low birth-weight delivery. By educating the mother about nutritional care, encouraging an 18 month delay between pregnancies, and delivering proper dental care, the next pregnancy lasts on average 5 weeks longer, and the baby weighs 2.5 pounds more at birth.

“In just one decade, the overall infant mortality rate dropped by 19% in Kent County,” London added.

By ethnicity, white infants experienced a 20% decrease in mortality, African-American babies experienced a 16% decrease, and Hispanic infants experienced a 38% decrease in mortality.



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Norovirus on the rise in Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS – Reports of stomach illness to the Kent County Health Department have increased over the past week.  In many cases, it appears individuals are suffering from norovirus, a common illness that causes stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.  Communicable Disease staff at KCHD has been in contact with local emergency departments and urgent care centers, as well as people impacted by the illness. Norovirus is highly contagious and is easily transmitted from a sick person to those who are well.

“If you or someone in your family is suffering from norovirus, avoid contact with those who have not been infected,” said Adam London, acting Health Officer of the Kent County Health Department.  “If you work in the food service industry, in a cafeteria, or in a restaurant, and you are ill, stay home until you recover. The Michigan Food Code requires food employees to be symptom-free from diarrhea or vomiting for a minimum of 24 hours before returning to work.”

Norovirus is contained in the vomit and diarrhea of an infected individual. Although a surface may not be visibly soiled, the virus can still be present and can live on this surface for long periods of time if not properly cleaned. Because of this, if possible, infected individuals should use one bathroom while uninfected individuals use another.  The infected person should use disposable paper towel to dry their hands after washing, to prevent the virus from spreading. Be sure to clean that bathroom (and any other potentially contaminated areas) with a chlorine bleach solution, mixing ¼ cup of bleach with one gallon of water.

Other tips:

1.Wash your hands before eating, after using the bathroom, and before, during and after preparing food. Rub your hands together to lather the soap, and be sure to really scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails:

• Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.

• Rinse your hands well under running water.

• Dry your hands using a paper towel or air dry them.

• After drying, use another clean paper towel to open the door, and then dispose of it.

2. If you have been suffering from vomiting or diarrhea, remain at home until symptoms subside.

3. Don’t prepare food for anyone else until you haven’t had symptoms for 24 hours or more.

4. If sharing food, don’t use bare hands when handling foods, and use utensils to transfer food from container to plate.

There is no medication to treat norovirus. If you suspect you have it, drink plenty of water or sports drinks that do not contain caffeine. If you feel you are suffering from severe dehydration, contact a health care provider immediately. Symptoms can be worse in young children, the elderly, or in those with weakened immune systems.  For more information, check out http://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/.

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Kent County braces for flu

Vaccination best shot for avoiding influenza 

From the Kent County Health Department


Influenza cases generally start peaking in February. The Kent County Health Department notes the trend is rising, so now is a good time to remind everyone how to avoid the flu.

Testing has determined that many of the cases being reported are “Influenza type A,” also known as the seasonal flu.  This is one of the types contained in the flu vaccination. If you haven’t received a vaccination against the flu this year, now is a good time to do it. “You should note that the vaccination can take about two weeks to become effective,” says Cathy Raevsky, Administrative Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department. “Flu vaccines for children and adults are safe, and we have plenty of injection and nasal mist available right now.”

There are other steps you can take to prevent getting the flu other viruses.  Avoid people who are already sick or running a fever if possible, and if you are sick, stay home, to prevent spreading the illness to others.  Use a tissue to cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, and toss the tissue in the trash after you use it. Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer. And remember, germs spread when you touch your eyes, nose and mouth.

While everyone should get vaccinated against the flu virus, we especially recommend people at high risk of serious flu complications (young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease, and people 65 years and older) get vaccinated. Health care workers, and those who care for high-risk people, should also. Children under 6 months are too young to be vaccinated, so people who care for them should be vaccinated instead.

Signs and symptoms of flu include fever (or feeling feverish/chills), cough and/or 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 have a fever, or experience all of the symptoms.

Be sure to check out the Kent County Health Department website, “Stick it to the Flu” at http://www.stickittotheflu.com/ to learn more about flu vaccinations, prevention tips and treatment, or call (616) 632-7200 to make an appointment.


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Healthy parents, healthy children

Have fun and be healthy as a family

Healthy lifestyles start at home.

The Kent County Health Department program Healthy parents, healthy children is open to all Kent County families looking to change attitudes and behaviors, to learn more about nutrition and exercise, and lead healthy lives!

Parents and children will have fun while learning:

·  How to make good habits stick.

·  To create a home environment that supports healthy choices.

·  Healthy cooking, with demonstrations & light tastings.

This class meets once per week for 4 weeks (2/20, 2/27, 3/5 and 3/12) from 6-7:30 p.m. for families with children ages 9-12 and 7:30-9 p.m. for families with children ages 13-16. It is led by a registered dietitian and a Public Health Educator from the Kent County Health Department. Classes cost $67 for a family of 4 (two parents, two children.) Classes will be held at North Rockford Middle School, 397 E Division Street, Rockford, MI 49341.

There is a limited amount of spots for this class, so sign up soon! To sign up call 616.863.6322 or register online at www.rpssignmeup.com.

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Resolve to eat better in 2012

Get tips while shopping

From the Kent County Health Department

The holidays seem to catch up with us quickly. Eating, drinking and being merry can sometimes lead you to pack on the pounds. Statistics show nearly half of Americans will make a New Year’s resolution, but a third of those resolutions will be broken by the end of January!
The Kent County Health Department can help you with one of the top New Year’s Resolutions: developing healthy eating habits, through Individualized Nutrition Counseling and Grocery Store Tours. Our registered dietician, Sarah VanEerden, offers nutrition services to individuals, schools, community groups, and worksites. Sarah will take your concerns to the store–literally! She offers grocery store tours to teach healthy buying habits. The tour is free, lasts 90 minutes to two hours, and can be tailored to fit the specific dietary needs of you and your family.
For more information, call her at (616) 632-7286.

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Man claims he spread HIV on purpose

David Smith

A Kent County man is in jail after telling police that that he has been sexually active and injecting drugs without disclosing his status.
Police say that David Dean Smith, 51, suggested that he was intentionally trying to spread the virus to as many people as possible, and that hundreds of people may have been exposed to HIV.
Smith allegedly made statements that suggested his activities may have included people from outside of the area, including individuals he met over the Internet. The man is currently being held in the Kent County Jail, charged with one count of “AIDS -sexual penetration with uninformed partner” (failing to disclose HIV status).
The Kent County Health Department is working with both Grand Rapids Police and the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the claims made by the man and tracking down potential victims. The man reportedly alerted one victim by text. A second warrant was filed in court on behalf of another victim Wednesday. Other victims will need to come forward in order for more charges to be leveled against Smith.
Lisa LaPlante, spokesperson for the Kent County Health Department, urges people who may have been exposed to get tested. “While the threat of transmission varies based on the activity, this is still an extremely serious public health concern.  Anyone who is concerned should immediately have his or her HIV status tested,” she said. The KCHD provides quick, safe, anonymous and confidential testing.  Call their Personal Health Services Clinic at 616.632.7171 for more information.

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Expectant and new moms can “text4baby”

From the Kent County Health Department

Women who are pregnant or just joined motherhood have a new, powerful tool, right at their fingertips: text4baby. This texting service is free, and will help expectant and new moms through their baby’s first year.
The National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB) launched text4baby. Text4baby is available to pregnant women and new moms from pregnancy through a baby’s first year.
Michigan’s infant mortality rates have increased in recent years, and the state currently ranks 37th in the U.S. “Kent County Health Department is glad that the Michigan Department of Community Health is working hard to fight infant mortality,” says Cathy Raevsky, Administrative Health Officer of KCHD.  “Together, we can inform mothers and give babies a healthy start. The information provided to mothers in these texts could make a difference in the lives of children in Kent County.”
Women can sign up by visiting www.text4baby.org or text BABY to 511411 (or BEBE for Spanish). The service sends three free SMS text messages each week, timed to the baby’s due date or date of birth. Messages include information about birth defects prevention, immunization, nutrition, oral health, safe sleep, and more.
This service has been successful in California, where more than 75 percent of moms surveyed said they learned of a medical warning that they did not previously know, and more than 70 percent talked to their doctor about information they learned over text4baby.  The service gives accurate health information and resources in a format that is personal and timely, and can reach a large population: more than 85% of Americans own a cell phone and 72% of cell users send or receive text messages.
Text4baby is made possible through a broad, public-private partnership that includes government, corporations, academic institutions, professional associations, non-profit organizations, and more.

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New program helps people recover from loss of loved one to suicide

At a time when many people are excited about the holidays, there are some who are struggling with loss of a loved one. This can be especially difficult if that loved one took his or her life. The Kent County Health Department wants you to know there is help.

The Healthy Kent Suicide Prevention Coalition has teamed up with network180 for a new “Survivor Outreach Program.” Trained volunteers can offer support to family members and friends who are struggling with loss and want to talk with someone who has “walked in their shoes”. One call to the network180 Survivor Outreach hotline (available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) will put you in touch with the Suicide Outreach Program coordinator, who will contact the volunteer to meet with the family in person or over the phone in the next 3-5 days. network180 and the Healthy Kent Suicide Prevention Coalition are distributing information about this service to Kent County First Responders and Funeral Home Directors. If you or someone you know need to talk to someone about dealing with a suicide, call the SOP line at 616.336.3909.

Seventy-four people completed suicide in Kent County in 2009. That was the highest recorded in the past several years. This year through November, 56 people have died by suicide. Dozens of professionals in Kent County are committed to helping people who are struggling with depression. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This line is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24-hours a day and your call is free.

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