Monday, February 8, 2016

“Make the Time to Make Sure” Utah Ranks 7th Lowest in Nation for Mammography Screenings

(Salt Lake City, UT) – I don’t have time for a mammogram. I’m scared of what the results will be. I’m worried about how much it will cost. What if it’s uncomfortable or embarrassing? Women often use excuses such as lack of time, fear of the unknown, lack of financial resources, or beliefs about modesty as reasons for not getting a mammogram. But with Utah ranked 7th lowest in the country for mammography screenings, the Utah Department of Health’s Cancer Control Program (UCCP) wants women to “make the time to make sure” by talking to their doctor about when they should get a mammogram.

“Breast cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in women in the U.S. and the leading cause of female cancer deaths in Utah,” said Brenda Nelson, spokesperson for the UCCP. “Our new campaign encourages the supporters of women, such as their husbands, children, and even co-workers, to encourage the women in their lives to talk to their doctor about getting a mammogram.”

The UCCP and many of Utah’s local health departments offer free or low-cost cancer screening exams. “Women living in Utah’s frontier communities are significantly less likely to have had a mammography screening in the last two years compared to women living in more urban areas,” said Lynette Phillips, program manager for the UCCP. “They are also often unaware of free or low-cost services in their area.”

To see if you qualify for free or low-cost mammography screening, contact your local health department or call the UCCP at 1-800-717-1811. An interactive map of screening facilities by county is also available at http://cancerutah.org/get-screened/screening-locations/.

The UCCP recommends that all women aged 40 and older, regardless of their family health history, talk to their doctor about getting a mammogram. “There have been several changes to national screening guidelines that can be confusing,” said Nelson. “That’s why it’s so important to talk with your doctor about when the best time for you to get a mammogram is and how often you should be screened. There are many risk factors that can increase your personal risk for breast cancer, including age, family history, body weight, and even physical activity level so some women may need earlier or more frequent screenings than others.”

For more information about breast cancer and mammography screenings, or to watch the “Make the Time to Make Sure” campaign videos, visit http://cancerutah.org/.

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Media Contact:
Brenda Nelson
Cancer Control Program
(o) 801-538-6189 (m) 435-849-1759

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

1 in 3 Utah Adults May Have Prediabetes

(Salt Lake City, UT) – One in three Americans (approximately 86 million people) has prediabetes, a condition in which blood glucose (sugar) levels are high, but not high enough yet to be classified as Type 2 diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in Utah alone, as many as 33% of adults may have prediabetes. While many are familiar with Type 2 diabetes, nearly 90 percent of people with prediabetes are not aware they have the condition. People with prediabetes have increased risks to their long-term health, including developing Type 2 diabetes, heart attack, and stroke.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA), American Medical Association (AMA), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recently partnered with the Ad Council on the first national prediabetes awareness campaign. The campaign is designed to help people learn their risk of developing diabetes and take steps to reverse the condition. The Healthy Living through Environment, Policy& Improved Clinical Care (EPICC) program at the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) is proud to lend its support to the campaign, which has a simple but strong message: no one is excused from prediabetes. The campaign encourages people to take a short online test at DoIHavePrediabetes.org to assess their risk for prediabetes.

Celsa Bowman, spokesperson for UDOH EPICC said, "Our goal is to help people lose five to seven percent of their body weight and increase their physical activity. Moderate weight loss of just 10 pounds for a person who is 200 pounds can cut the risk in half for developing Type 2 diabetes."

If left untreated, current trends estimate that 15 to 30 percent of people with prediabetes could develop Type 2 diabetes within five years. However, prediabetes can often be reversed through weight loss, diet changes, and increased physical activity. Diagnosis is key; research shows that once people are aware of their condition, they are much more likely to make the necessary lifestyle changes. A rise in the incidence of Type 2 diabetes presents a significant threat to Utah, potentially increasing healthcare costs and increasing demand on the healthcare system. In an effort to reverse this trend, UDOH EPICC is supporting the national effort and working to make an impact in the community through self-management classes and promoting prediabetes awareness.
 
Additional information on the campaign is available online at DoIHavePrediabetes.org.  Information about UDOH EPICC is available at choosehealth.utah.gov.

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Media Contact:
Dave Mecham
EPICC Program
(801) 538-6654

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

One Case of Salmonella in Utah Linked to Nationwide Outbreak

(Salt Lake City) – Utah public health officials are investigating one case of Salmonella Virchow associated with “Garden of Life Organic Shake & Meal Replacement” powdered mixes. Several matching Salmonella Virchow cases in other states also reported eating this product, which is a powdered nutritional supplement and meal replacement. These states include Wisconsin, Tennessee, Oregon, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Minnesota.

A sample of the product tested by the Utah Department of Health was positive for Salmonella. In response to the outbreak, the company has voluntarily withdrawn a limited quantity of Raw Meal Organic Shake & Meal in the flavors chocolate, original, vanilla, and vanilla chai. The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food has attempted to contact all Utah stores where the product is known to be sold and requested they make sure it is no longer on the shelves. The product is also sold online. Because it has a long shelf-life, there is a possibility that consumers may still be using it. Consumers who purchased any of these products should discard any remaining product or return it to the store or company where it was purchased.

For more information on which products have been recalled in connection with this outbreak, visit http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm484027.htm. Since many cases of Salmonella infection (salmonellosis) do not seek health care and are never tested, the number of ill people who are part of this outbreak is likely to be larger than the identified cases. Consequently, health officials want to bring this outbreak to the attention of people who have been sick with symptoms of salmonellosis but who have not yet consulted a health care provider. People with symptoms consistent with salmonellosis and who have consumed any of these products should contact their health care provider and mention this outbreak.

Symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhea, abdominal pain and fever. Symptoms usually begin within 12 to 72 hours after exposure, but they can begin up to a week after exposure. Salmonella infections usually resolve in 5 to 7 days, but approximately 22 percent of laboratory-confirmed cases require hospitalization. Invasive infections (for example, blood stream infections, meningitis) occasionally occur.

In rare cases, Salmonella infection can lead to death, particularly in the elderly or those with weakened immune systems. Many Salmonella infections in otherwise healthy people do not require medical treatment. For those who do seek health care, most do not need to be treated with antibiotics. However, antibiotic treatment for certain categories of people and for more severe infections is warranted.

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Media Contact:
Becky Ward
(o) 801-538-6682
(c) 801-352-1270

Monday, February 1, 2016

Zika Virus: Resources for Pregnant Women

(Salt Lake City, UT) - The name Zika virus may be new to Utahns, but for the past several months, countries in Central and South America and many island nations have been battling an outbreak. It is estimated that the mosquito that carries the virus has infected people in more than 25 countries, including 11 U.S. states and Washington D.C. Those with the infections in the U.S. all reported travel to areas where the virus is common. The insect is an Aedes species mosquito that thrives in moist, wet areas where it’s warm and never freezes.

“For the average American who is not traveling to an affected area, the risk of getting Zika virus infection is minimal,” said Dr. Allyn Nakashima, State Epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health (UDOH). However, that changes when a pregnant woman is bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus. She adds, “In that case, the virus can infect the developing baby and may cause a life-long condition called microcephaly, although the connection hasn’t been definitely proven. And, it’s still undetermined in which part of pregnancy the mother has to have the infection in order for the baby to be affected.”

Severe microcephaly is rare and it means that the baby’s head size is notably small and that the child has a smaller brain than average.  If severe, the condition may lead to life-long problems, including seizures and delays in speech, sitting, standing, walking, or learning and coordination. Some children may also have hearing and vision loss. Microcephaly can sometimes be seen during an ultrasound done after the 1st trimester of pregnancy.

In the U.S., it is estimated that the rate of severe microcephaly ranges from two babies per 10,000 live births to about 12 babies per 10,000 live births.  Dr. John Carey, a University of Utah pediatrician and specialist in birth defects notes, “In the babies from Brazil whose mothers had Zika infections during their pregnancy, the observed degree of microcephaly has been severe.” He added, “However, further study is needed to determine a definite connection between the maternal infection and the microcephaly seen in the infants.”

Currently, there is no vaccine or cure for the Zika virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has sent warnings to pregnant women traveling to certain countries that have already seen cases. If a pregnant woman has traveled to an area with Zika virus, she should watch for symptoms that may include fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, conjunctivitis (“pinkeye”), or a rash. Fever and headaches can be treated with acetaminophen (Tylenol®).  “It’s very important for pregnant women to control a fever, especially in the first 30 days of a pregnancy, which is when the fetal spine needs to close so that neural tube disorders such as spina bifida do not occur,” said Al Romeo, spokesperson for the UDOH MotherToBaby Program.

Utah public health officials say pregnant women should avoid traveling to those affected areas. For anyone who does plan to visit the affected countries, prevention is the best approach to avoiding Zika. Steps include using insect repellents containing DEET, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and removing standing water where mosquitoes live and breed.

The Utah Department of Health and CDC are monitoring the situation closely.
Resources for pregnant women:

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Media Contact:
Al Romeo
UDOH MotherToBaby
(o) 801-538-6009 (c) 801-898-6249

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Sexual Violence Costs Utahns Dearly: Government spends 5 times more on perpetrators than victims

(Salt Lake City, UT).  For the first time, the Utah Department of Health and Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault have released data showing the economic burden of sexual violence in Utah. The report revealed the costs resulting from sexual violence during a one-year period totaled nearly $5 billion, or approximately $1,700 per Utah resident.

Studies in Utah indicate that one in three women will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime and that one in eight women and one in 50 men will experience rape. While Utah falls well below the national average for most violent crimes, the rape rate exceeds the national average. “From year to year, our rape rate is consistently higher than that of the U.S.,” said Teresa Brechlin, UDOH Violence Prevention Coordinator. “We are 7th lowest in the country for homicide but 9th highest for reported rape. This is troubling.”

In addition to the expenditures borne by the social systems that address sexual violence, there are significant personal costs to victims. In fact, the greatest cost of sexual violence – nearly $4 billion – is the pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life that victims experience throughout their lives. Costs due to suffering and lost quality of life, suicidal acts, substance abuse, mental health care, and lost work are the top five most expensive outcomes of sexual violence.

A 25-year-old Utah woman, who wished to remain anonymous, knows these costs all too well. “After the assault, even the simplest day-to-day activities were a struggle for me. I suffered from debilitating social anxiety. I dropped out of school and had a hard time holding down a job.”  This survivor’s experience is not unusual. Victims of sexual violence report being less satisfied with life, having poorer health, not receiving adequate social and emotional support, and being more limited in their activities than those who had not experienced sexual violence. 

For children, sexual violence costs averaged $184,504 per incident. For adults, rape costs were $154,598 per incident and other sexual assaults cost $282 per incident. Data from the report also revealed dramatic differences in the resources that are allocated after a person is sexually assaulted. In 2011, the Utah state government spent approximately $16.5 million on victims of sexual violence (15.1%), while spending more than $92 million on perpetrators of sexual violence (84.4%). Only $569,000 or 0.5% was spent on efforts to prevent sexual violence.

“In spite of significant resources expended on perpetrators of rape and sexual assault, reports of sexual violence have continued to increase; while the negative impacts on victims go largely unaddressed.” said Alana Kindness, executive director of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault. “While there is clearly a need to strengthen the criminal justice response to these crimes, it is also clear that a more comprehensive strategy is needed; one that includes an investment in the well-being of those impacted by the crime. This will require increased investment in services that can reduce the long-term costs of unaddressed victimization and a strong commitment to prevention.”

Rape and other forms of sexual violence are preventable.  “Every day, we have opportunities to promote healthy and safe attitudes and beliefs about relationships, gender, and sexuality. We have a responsibility to intervene when we witness unhealthy attitudes and behaviors toward others,” said Ned Searle, Director of the Utah Office on Domestic and Sexual Violence.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual violence call the rape crisis and information line at (888) 421-1100. To download a copy of the report Costs of Sexual Violence in Utah, visit www.health.utah.gov/vipp or www.UCASA.org. 

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Media Contacts:
Teresa Brechlin
Violence & Injury Prevention Program
(o) 801-538-538-6888 (m) 801-814-5857
Megan Waters
(o) 801-538-6626 (m) 906-458-2701