Friday, April 27, 2012

Worship Your Skin, Not the Sun

Salt Lake City – This year, more than 600 Utahns – or approximately 12 people every week - will develop skin cancer.  As summer approaches, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and Utah Cancer Action Network (UCAN) are reminding Utahns to be safe in the sun by covering up, seeking shade, and avoiding the sun during the hottest time of day.
Utah has the second highest rate of melanoma skin cancer in the country (28.1 per 100,000). People who live in areas with high elevation, warm climates, and where sunlight can be reflected by sand, water, snow, and ice have a greater chance of developing melanoma, the deadliest of all skin cancers.
“The risk of melanoma also increases by overexposure to the sun and the use of indoor tanning beds,” said Teresa Garrett, Division Director, UDOH Disease Control and Prevention. “There are simple ways to protect yourself and your children from skin cancer, like wearing sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher, wearing a wide brim hat, sunglasses, long shorts or pants and shirts with sleeves, and finding shade when you spend time outdoors,” Garrett said.
The UDOH Utah Cancer Control Program (UCCP) will soon be running ads encouraging sun safety in local movie theaters.  The program is also partnering with Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation, Basin Recreation in Summit County, and pro soccer player Chris Wingert, to raise awareness of sun safety. With funding from the Prevent Cancer Foundation, Wingert will talk about sun protection with youth soccer players, their parents, and coaches.
“Over the past couple of years I’ve thought a lot about how unaware most children are of the damage that the sun can cause,” said Wingert.  “I love the sun as much as anyone, so I’m hopeful that by getting involved in a program like this, I can help others become aware of the dangers while still being able to enjoy the outdoors.”
For more information on skin cancer prevention and education, visit
Media Contact:
Sylinda Lee
Media Coordinator
801-538-6829 (o)
435-760-0685 (m)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Utahns with Arthritis: Move More to Feel Better

(Salt Lake City) – In 2009, one in every three (34.8%) Utah adults with arthritis were obese. That’s a 16% increase, up from 29.9% in 2003. According to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity prevalence nationwide is 54% higher among adults with arthritis compared to those without arthritis.

“This is an ongoing concern for us,” said Rebecca Castleton, Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Arthritis Program Coordinator. “Arthritis is the number one cause of disability in Utah and physical activity is an essential way to manage symptoms and maintain a healthy weight.”

Although exercise and lifestyle self-management are key to reducing the health impact of arthritis, losing weight can be a complex battle due to joint pain and stiffness that can limit physical activity.

“People with arthritis may have a more difficult time losing weight and exercising, but those are the two best things they can do to improve their symptoms,” said Castleton.

Simple walking can reduce pain, improve function, and promote weight loss. A loss of just 10-12 pounds can make a big difference in quality of life and postpone further disability.  Combined, they can reduce the number of knee replacements and help people with arthritis live longer.

For more information, or to learn more about exercise and other arthritis classes in your area, visit or call 801-538-9458. Or contact the Arthritis Foundation at 1-800-444-4993 or

Media Contact:
Christine Weiss
UDOH Arthritis Program
(o) 801-538-9458 (m) 801-471-8073

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New hotline established for data breach information

The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) has established a new hotline for concerned citizens to call for information on the data breach that compromised peoples' personal information.

We would kindly request all media outlets that currently have the original hotline number on web sites or in stories to please update that information with the new hotline number.

The new number is 1-855-238-3339.  The number is toll free, is staffed 24/7, and offers information in English and Spanish.

Many individuals expressed frustration today at not being able to get through to an operator on the original hotline.The new number will be able to handle the higher call volumes we are currently experiencing.

UDOH is working to add a feature to the hotline that will allow individuals to enter their personal information into the phone system and determine if they were among the victims who had their Social Security numbers compromised.Until this functionality can be added, people will still need to speak to a Medicaid representative to determine that information.

# # # #

Media Contact:
Tom Hudachko, UDOH Public Information Office
801-538-6232 or 801-560-4649

UDOH Releases Influenza Vaccination Rates of Hospital Healthcare Workers

(Salt Lake City, UT) – A new online report will make it easier for Utahns to find vaccination information about healthcare workers employed in licensed* Utah hospitals. The report was developed by the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) in collaboration with members of the Utah Healthcare Infection Prevention (UHIP) Governance Committee.** This tool will allow Utahns to compare influenza vaccination rates for healthcare workers among licensed hospitals in Utah.

The initial report will list all licensed Utah hospitals, along with their influenza vaccination rates for hospital healthcare workers, for the 2011-2012 influenza season on the UDOH Healthcare Associated Infections website at Thereafter, the influenza vaccination reports will be published annually.

“Increasing influenza vaccination among healthcare workers is an essential part of a comprehensive patient safety program,” said Robert Rolfs, M.D., Deputy Director, UDOH. Unvaccinated healthcare workers are at risk for infection when working with patients who may carry influenza. Most important, if they become sick with influenza acquired at work or elsewhere, they can spread that infection to their patients who
are often the most vulnerable to serious complications of influenza.

Publicly releasing hospital influenza vaccination rates is an important step in creating transparency for healthcare safety and quality in Utah. Influenza vaccination of healthcare personnel is a critical patient safety practice that should be required in all healthcare facilities, unless an organization has achieved a vaccination rate greater than 95 percent by other means. Patients should reasonably expect that they will not contract potentially life-threatening illnesses such as influenza from their healthcare providers while being treated for other conditions.

In November 2007, the UDOH adopted a Healthcare Associated Infections reporting rule (Rule‐386‐705, Epidemiology, Healthcare Associated Infection). This rule requires that hospitals report healthcare worker influenza vaccination rates. Results have shown that healthcare worker influenza vaccination rates in Utah hospitals have consistently increased from 71.7 percent in 2008 to 93.8 percent in 2011.

In April 2011, the UHIP Governance Committee recommended that all healthcare delivery facilities in Utah implement a policy of mandatory annual influenza vaccination for all healthcare personnel. While the Utah hospitals are not required to have mandatory influenza vaccination programs for healthcare workers, some Utah healthcare facilities have such programs in place. Healthcare organizations that do not have an effective healthcare worker influenza vaccination policy in place are strongly encouraged to begin preparations now for the 2012-2013 influenza season.

*Licensed hospitals include: acute care, long-term acute care, critical access, rehabilitation, psychiatric, government and children’s hospitals.

**The Utah Healthcare Infection Prevention Governance Committee is a multi-disciplinary panel of state leaders in patient safety, infectious diseases, and infection control. Membership is comprised from a broad base of care delivery groups across the State and organized under and staffed by the Utah Department of Health.

Visit for more information about UHIP Governance Committee members.
Media Contact:Rebecca L. Ward
(o) 801-538-6681
(c) 801-647-5421

Monday, April 9, 2012

Data Breach Expands to Include More Victims

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Utah Department of Technology Services (DTS), along with the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) today announced up to 255,000 additional people had their Social Security numbers listed in data stolen by thieves from a computer server last week. These latest victims are people whose information was sent to the state by their health care provider in a transaction called a Medicaid Eligibility Inquiry to determine their status as possible Medicaid recipients.
The victims are likely to be people who have visited a health care provider in the past four months. Some may be Medicaid or CHIP recipients; others are individuals whose health care providers were unsure as to their status as Medicaid recipients.
DTS has started the process of identifying these additional victims, and the state will be sending letters directly to them as they are identified. Some of the 255,000 Social Security numbers were not accompanied by any other indentifying information (such as names and addresses), so DTS will likely need to coordinate with other agencies to identify and notify these individuals.
Victims who had their SSNs stolen will receive one year of free credit monitoring services. There are additional steps anybody can take to help protect their identity and their financial information. This includes placing either a freeze or a fraud alert on their personal credit file with the nation’s three credit bureaus. For information on how to do this, visit
As many as 350,000 additional people may have had other, less-sensitive information, such as their names, birth dates, and addresses accessed through eligibility inquiries. These people will also receive a letter alerting them to the situation. However, priority will be placed on alerting those who had their Social Security numbers stolen first.
It is now believed that a total of approximately 280,000 victims had their Social Security numbers stolen and approximately 500,000 other victims had less-sensitive personal information stolen.
Possible victims should be aware that nobody from DTS or UDOH will be contacting them and asking for personal information over the phone or via e-email regarding this incident. Scammers may attempt to reach victims in this manner. We strongly recommend that people do not provide private information in response to telephone or e-mail contacts they have not initiated.
The data breach initially occurred on Friday, March 30. A configuration error occurred at the password authentication level, allowing the hacker to circumvent DTS’s security system. DTS has processes in place to ensure the state’s data is secure, but this particular server was not configured according to normal procedure. DTS has identified where the breakdown occurred and has implemented new processes to ensure this type of breach will not happen again.
DTS is cooperating with local law enforcement, as well as the FBI, on a criminal investigation.
Medicaid clients can call 1-855-238-3339 to find out if their information was compromised during the attack. Additional information can also be found online at
# # #

Media Contacts:
Tom Hudachko
UDOH Public Information Officer
801-538-6232 / 801-560-4649

Stephanie Weiss
DTS Public Information Officer

Friday, April 6, 2012

Impact of Medicaid data breach on DTS server widens

For Immediate Release

(Salt Lake City, UT) – A cyber attack on a Utah Department of Technology Services (DTS) computer server that stores Medicaid claims data now appears to have affected far more recipients than originally believed.  In addition to Medicaid clients, the breach also involved information from Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) recipients.

As part of its on-going investigation into the attack, DTS today reported to the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) that approximately 181,604 Medicaid and CHIP recipients had their personal information removed from the server.  Of those individuals, 25,096 appear to have had their Social Security numbers compromised. 

The UDOH will immediately begin reaching out to clients whose personal information was stolen during the attack, with priority being placed on those clients whose Social Security numbers were jeopardized.  Those clients will receive a letter in the mail instructing them on how to take advantage of free credit monitoring services for one year.

Once those clients have been notified, all other affected clients will receive letters with information on how to further protect themselves.  Additionally, clients who have signed up for a My Case account (a web portal clients can use to access their accounts) had information on the breach posted to their accounts along with an e-mail notification.

“We understand clients are worried about who may have accessed their personal information, and that many of them feel violated by having their information compromised,” said UDOH Deputy Director Michael Hales.  “But we also hope they understand we are doing everything we can to protect them from further harm.”

Initially, it appeared as though the hackers who broke into the server were able to remove 24,000 claims.  However, as the investigation progressed, DTS determined the thieves actually removed 24,000 files.  One single file can potentially contain claims information on hundreds of individuals.

DTS servers have multi-layered security systems that include many controls, including: perimeter security, network security, identity management, application security, and data security.  In this particular incident, a configuration error occurred at the authentication level, allowing the hacker to circumvent the security system. DTS has processes in place to ensure the state’s data is secured, but this particular server was not configured according to normal procedure.

DTS has identified where the breakdown occurred and has implemented new processes to ensure this type of breach will not happen again.  Additional steps are being implemented to improve security controls related to the implementation of computer hardware and software, as well as increased network monitoring and intrusion detection capabilities.

The investigation into the breach of the server is ongoing, and the two agencies will continue to update the public with any further developments.

Concerned Medicaid clients are still encouraged to call 1-855-238-3339 to get more information on how to protect themselves and their identities.  This same information can also be found at

# # #

Media Contacts:
Tom Hudachko, UDOH Public Information Officer
801-538-6232 or 801-560-4649

Stephanie Weiss, DTS Public Information Officer

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Think Carefully Before Giving Baby Chicks and Ducks for Easter

(Salt Lake City, UT)  – Utah public health officials are advising families to avoid potential exposure to Salmonella by not giving baby chicks and ducklings to children as Easter gifts.  

Utah Department of Health Epidemiologist, Julia Hall, says while there currently is no state investigation associated with baby chick exposure for 2012, in 2009, 2010 and 2011, Utah did have clusters of Salmonella, possibly associated with baby chick exposure. Hall says, “Many chicks and young birds carry Salmonella, and it’s difficult to know if animals are carrying Salmonella because they usually don’t show signs of illness.”

Children are especially susceptible because they frequently put their fingers into their mouths and because their immune systems are still developing. Pregnant women, the elderly, people with HIV/AIDS and other immunocompromised individuals are also at higher risk.

Symptoms may include mild or severe diarrhea, fever and occasionally vomiting. These symptoms generally develop within one to three days after exposure to baby chicks and their droppings. Other symptoms may include nausea, chills, or headaches. Bloodstream infections can be very serious, particularly in the very young or elderly.

Hall suggests taking the following precautions to prevent Salmonella infection:
  • Don’t let kids younger than five years of age handle poultry or items contaminated by poultry. Other high risk groups should also avoid handling poultry or contaminated items.
  • Thoroughly wash hands after handling poultry or their droppings.
  • Don’t eat or drink around poultry or their living areas.
  • Don’t wash food or water dishes for poultry in the kitchen sink.     
  • Don’t clean cages or animals inside your home.                                              
  • Don’t let poultry live inside your home.
For more about the risk of Salmonella from poultry see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website:
Media Contact:
Rebecca Ward
Health Educator
(w) 801-538-6682
(c) 801-647-5421

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

State Agencies Investigating Data Breach

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Utah Department of Technology Services (DTS) notified the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Monday evening of an information breach on a DTS server that houses Medicaid claims.  The initial breach appears to have taken place on Friday, March 30.  During the breach, information was accessed from approximately 24,000 claims. 

DTS is investigating to determine how many individual Medicaid clients may have been affected, and what personal information may have been compromised.  Typically, claims stored on servers like the one that experienced the breach could include client names, addresses, birth dates, Social Security numbers, physician’s names, national provider identifiers, addresses, tax identification numbers, and procedure codes designed for billing purposes.     

DTS had recently moved the claims records to a new server, and hackers believed to be operating out of Eastern Europe were able to circumvent the server’s multi-layered security system.  The affected server has been shut down, and new security measures have since been implemented.  The agency takes such attacks by thieves seriously and is cooperating with law enforcement in a criminal investigation. 

DTS is reviewing every server in the state to ensure proper security measures are in place.  DTS has a layered security defense with multiple stages of security to defend against attacks and the agency is reviewing all policies and procedures to ensure effective security. 

DTS is conducting an investigation to identify individual Medicaid clients and providers whose protected information may have been accessed.  It is UDOH’s priority at this time to notify and assist those individuals.  In the meantime, the UDOH is advising all Medicaid clients to monitor their credit and to keep a close eye on their bank accounts. 

The UDOH will send letters by mail to individual clients who had their personal information accessed with information to assist in protecting them from potential harm.  Additionally, those clients whose Social Security numbers were compromised will receive free credit monitoring services. 

Concerned Medicaid clients can also visit or call 1-855-238-3339 to get more information on additional free resources individuals can take advantage of to protect their credit and their personal information. 

# # #

Media Contacts:
Tom Hudachko, UDOH Public Information Officer
801-538-6232 or 801-560-4649
Stephanie Weiss, DTS Public Information Officer

State Agencies to Announce Data Breach

What:   Representatives from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and the Utah Department of Technology Services (DTS) will announce details of a recent data breach, and steps being taken to protect personal health information that may have been compromised as a result.

Who:    Tom Hudachko, UDOH Public Information Officer
            Michael Hales, UDOH Deputy Director and Medicaid Director
            Stephen Fletcher, DTS Executive Director

When:   Today – April 4, 2012
            10 a.m.

Where:  Cannon Health Building – Room 125
              288 North 1460 West
             Salt Lake City

For Further Information Contact:
Tom Hudachko, UDOH Public Information Officer