Thursday, February 14, 2013

UDOH Launches "Be a Quitter" Campaign

(Salt Lake City, UT) - Seven Utah tobacco users will share the ups and down of kicking the habit as part of the Utah Department of Health’s (UDOH) new reality campaign, “Be a Quitter.”
Campaign participants range in age from 21 to 61 and will use social media and video to share their quit experience with Utahns.
“We know it isn’t easy to quit tobacco, and we’re very proud of this group for sharing their stories to help inspire others,” said Janae Duncan, Program Coordinator, UDOH Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. “Not only do the participants believe that being part of this campaign will give them the extra support they need to quit, they also feel that sharing their story will inspire others who may be trying to quit tobacco.”
The campaign participants, who have used tobacco for periods ranging from five to 40 years, will open their lives to the public by sharing the effects – both good and bad – that quitting has had on them and their families and friends. Topics may include how many cigarettes they did or did not smoke that day, urges to smoke or chew, how they combat their cravings, and the effect their changes in lifestyle are having on their relationships.
“We wanted to use real people for this campaign because we wanted to show smokers everywhere that while it’s difficult, you’re not alone,” said Duncan. “There will be trials and hurdles, but you should never give up.”
The campaign targets the more 200,000 Utah adults who currently smoke. Participants include Chelsea Kessler, 22, Park City; Scarlett Hartwell, 61, Ogden; Gavin Hoffman, 35, Salt Lake City; Tanner Cormack, 21, Tooele; Kathy Ott, Salt Lake City; and Mary Beth Stover, 52 and her husband Bob Stover, 51, North Salt Lake.
To learn more about the participants and see the video trailer, visit
Free resources are always available for people who want to quit tobacco. For help, call the Utah Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit
Media Contact:
Janae Duncan
Tobacco Prevention and Control Program
(o) 801-538-9273
(c) 801-960-8536

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Alpine Schools Using Air Quality Recess Guidance

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Some students in the Alpine School District have taken recess break inside because repeated inversions have made Wasatch Front air quality unhealthful. Inversions can be especially hard on children and anyone with certain chronic health conditions.

“Bad air can trigger respiratory problems like coughing and wheezing for those with asthma,” said Kellie Baxter of the Utah Asthma Program. “Children are especially affected by poor air quality and it’s important they stay indoors when pollution levels are high.”

The Utah Departments of Health (UDOH) and Environmental Quality (DEQ) created the Recess Guidance for Schools in 2004 to help administrators know when to move recess indoors on poor air quality days.
In 2011, UDOH invited all principals to join a Recess Guidance alert list if they wanted to be advised of bad air days. Emails are sent when PM2.5 reaches unhealthful levels. 

The alerts contain information for Cache, Box Elder, Duchesne, Uintah, Weber, Davis, Tooele, Salt Lake, and Utah counties.  They are followed by specific guidance on which students should be kept indoors in each area. The majority of schools in Alpine School District have signed up.

“Air quality was a problem throughout the month of January,” said Gary Gibb, principal at Legacy Elementary in Alpine School District. “Getting alerts on current air quality levels allowed me to quickly make decisions about which students should remain indoors for recess.”

Three video tutorials were developed by UDOH and DEQ to help parents and schools learn more about air quality and the Recess Guidance:
1)      Utah’s Air Quality and Health – Explains how air quality affects health and how to determine your sensitivity to air pollution.
2)      How to Use the Division of Air Quality Website – Explains how to find current pollution levels and other air quality information at
3)      Recess Guidance – Explains how to use the Recess Guidance to determine when to avoid outdoor physical activity based on PM2.5 levels.

Baxter says parents also play an important role in the use of the Recess Guidance. “UDOH and DEQ developed tutorials to help both parents and school leaders understand the effects of bad air on young lungs and how to help children avoid harmful exposure to PM2.5.”

To see current PM2.5 levels, visit and click on ‘Current Conditions.’ Copies of the Recess Guidance, PM2.5 fact sheets, and video tutorials are available at or by calling the UDOH Health Resource Line at 1-888-222-2542. 

Media Contacts:
Kellie Baxter
UDOH Asthma Program                                                                           
(o) 801-538-6441 (m) 801-376-6032                   
Rhonda Bromley
Alpine School District

Friday, February 1, 2013

UDOH Launches New Self-reporting Food Complaint Website

(Salt Lake City, UT)  Next time you think something you ate may have made you sick, you’re encouraged to visit the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) food-related illness website, This online self-reporting system allows the general public to report illnesses that may be related to food they consumed at home, in a restaurant, or at a group gathering, etc. 

The system was developed to make it faster and easier for the general public to securely notify Utah public health professionals of potential foodborne illnesses and relevant exposures. “Rapid detection of foodborne illnesses and identifying common sources are essential to timely investigation and reducing foodborne outbreaks,” said Allyn Nakashima, M.D., State Epidemiologist. The web-based reporting system is designed to capture data from anyone who is ill and experiencing symptoms of foodborne illness, since not everyone who becomes sick chooses to see a doctor.

All information submitted by users is confidential and will automatically be sent to the appropriate local health department. The information will be used by public health to determine whether food caused the reported illness and where the food may have originated. The sooner public health can receive the information and the more people they hear from, the more likely it is public health is to detect an outbreak, launch an investigation and stop it from spreading.

At, users can watch a brief video showing how the system works and complete a form indicating where food was consumed, what was eaten, and other potential high-risk exposures during the time period just before becoming ill. The website can be used whether a person lives in Utah, visited Utah, or traveled through Utah before getting sick. Health care providers who see patients with complaints of diarrhea and vomiting are encouraged to refer them to this website.

Foodborne illnesses can be serious. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that foodborne microorganisms cause 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths each year.

Food can become contaminated when it is undercooked, improperly washed, or accidentally contaminated during harvesting or preparation. It can contain bacteria, viruses, or toxins. Contamination can happen before food reaches a grocery store right up until serving time. And, it’s possible for food to make a person sick even if it looks or tastes just fine.

Foodborne bacteria, viruses, and toxins can cause infections in the stomach and intestines that can lead to symptoms that include diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, and fever. Sometimes, foodborne illnesses can have more serious complications such as kidney failure, reactive arthritis (RA), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and sepsis (infection of the blood). They can be expensive if you have to miss work, school, or need to stay in the hospital.

For these reasons, public health officials encourage anyone who may have contracted a foodborne illness to use the website to report their symptoms. Consumers can play an important role in reducing their risk of foodborne illnesses.

For more information about, or foodborne illnesses, contact the Bureau of Epidemiology at 801-538-6191.

Media Contact:
Charla Haley
Risk Communications Coordinator