Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Outbreak of Illness Associated with Drinking Raw Milk

(Salt Lake City) – Utah public health officials are investigating a cluster of illness associated with the consumption of raw or unpasteurized milk. To date, 45 cases of Campylobacter infection have been reported in people who indicated that they consumed raw milk in the week before illness began. Cases have been reported from: Cache, Davis, Morgan, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber counties. Two cases occurred in out of state residents from California and Idaho. Onset dates range from May 9, 2014 to July 21, 2014. The cases range in age from two to 74 years. 

All 45 cases are linked to the consumption of raw milk or cream purchased at Ropelato Dairy in Weber County. Utah Department of Agriculture and Food inspectors suspended the dairy’s license to sell raw milk on August 4, 2014, after several tests of raw milk samples taken at the farm were positive for Campylobacter. 

According to Larry Lewis, Public Information Officer, Utah Department of Agriculture and Food, “Inspectors have repeatedly visited the dairy, reviewing safety procedures, working with the owner to determine the source of the problem and helping devise corrective actions.”  The dairy has been very cooperative in working with the inspectors, and will be allowed to resume raw milk sales as soon as the milk consistently passes safety tests.

Campylobacteriosis is a bacterial infection that causes diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, headache, nausea and vomiting. Illness can last for up to a week or more and can be serious, especially for young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those who have weakened or compromised immune systems. UDOH Epidemiologist, Kenneth Davis adds, “In some severe cases, illness can lead to complications, including paralysis and death. If you have recently consumed raw milk and are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your health care provider.”

Raw milk is from cows, goats or sheep that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. This raw, unpasteurized milk can contain dangerous bacteria such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli, which are responsible for causing foodborne illness. Other products that contain raw milk, such as cream or queso fresco, can also cause foodborne illness.

Raw milk contaminated with disease-causing bacteria does not smell or look any different from uncontaminated raw milk, and there is no easy way for the consumer to know whether the raw milk is contaminated.

Since 2009, there have been 14 documented outbreaks of Campylobacter infection associated with raw milk consumption in Utah, with more than 200 people becoming ill. In response, public health officials again warn that drinking raw milk may be dangerous. They suggest taking the following steps to avoid illness when purchasing and/or consuming raw milk (or raw milk products):
•   Purchase raw milk only from those stores or dairies permitted by law to sell it. However, a government permit does not guarantee that the raw milk (or raw milk product) will be free from disease-causing bacteria. 
•   Keep raw milk and raw milk products refrigerated at or below 40°F. Do not let raw milk sit out at room temperature.
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Media Contacts:
Becky Ward, UDOH
(o) 801-538-6682
(c) 801-352-1270
Larry Lewis, UDAF
(o) 801-538-7104
(c) 801-514-2152

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hospital Comparison Tool Helps Consumers, Health Care Professionals and Policy Makers

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) today released the 2012 Utah Hospital Comparison Tool (https://health.utah.gov/myhealthcare/monahrq/).  The online tool enables consumers and other decision makers to easily compare Utah's hospitals in selected treatment areas based on cost, quality, and patient safety. Health care professionals, policy makers, and legislators can use the tool to inform discussions about ways to increase the quality and safety of health care while lowering costs.

This year, Utah added a new module, County Rates of Hospital Use, which provides rates of conditions and procedures at the county level, including information on the number of hospital stays and charges or costs for those stays. Maps of hospital use are also available, showing hospitalization rates by county for selected conditions.

In addition, there are seven new indicators included in the query tool this year. Two of the indicators show that as a whole, Utah performs better than the national average when it comes to limiting unnecessary cardiac imaging for preoperative risk assessment CT scans and limiting inefficient simultaneous use of brain CT and sinus CT scans.

Other new indicators show that in reference to surgical patient safety, Utah performed better than the national average on how often post-operative patients became unable to breathe on their own and needed a ventilator, but has room to improve on how often patients developed a post-operative blood clot that ended up in the lung or in a large vein.

The findings also show Utah ahead of the rest of the nation in all childbirth measures, including those for new mothers and newborns, and provide information about how often and when C-sections and vaginal births are performed.

“Some complications may be inevitable in caring for people who are seriously ill and
require complex medical care, but methods are available to prevent most complications,”
said UDOH Deputy Director Dr. Robert Rolfs. “Data like these are important in helping measure our progress, and in helping doctors and health care systems identify areas for
improvement,” Rolfs added.

Hospital comparison information is released annually as required by the Utah Health Data Authority Act with the goals of improving transparency, helping the public choose hospitals for various services, and ultimately improving quality of health care.

The comparison tool is generated by MONAHRQ, a web development tool created by the Federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).  The information available in the MONAHRQ system is based on admission rates and pre-calculated AHRQ Quality Indicator measures (QIs) derived from local hospital discharge data.  The AHRQ QIs are a series of standardized measures that highlight potential health care safety and quality concerns.

Media Contact:
Kimberly Partain McNamara, MS
Senior Business Analyst
Utah Dept. of Health

Thursday, August 14, 2014

CDC Awards Utah $1 Million to Address Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that Utah will be one of five states in the country to receive more than $1 million over the next three years to help prevent prescription drug overdoses and address the patient and prescribing behaviors that drive it.

"Far too many Utahns are losing their lives each year from misuse or abuse of prescription pain medications," said UDOH Executive Director Dr. David Patton. "We appreciate CDC's efforts to provide funding to states that are working to get this epidemic under control. In the past, when funding has been available, we've had success in decreasing these deaths. This grant truly has the potential to save lives here in Utah."

The funding will help the UDOH to enhance and maximize the Utah Controlled Substance Database and conduct robust evaluations of the state’s naloxone access law and the “Good Samaritan” law, both passed during the 2014 General Session of the Utah Legislature. H.B. 119 allows physicians to prescribe naloxone (an opioid “antidote” or rescue medication) to third parties and permits these individuals to administer the medication to the victim without legal liability. A third party is usually a caregiver to a person at risk for an overdose. H.B. 11, also known as the “Good Samaritan” law, allows bystanders to report an overdose without fearing criminal prosecution for illegal possession of a controlled substance or illicit drug.

Data from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) show:
An average of 21 adults died each month from prescription drug overdose in Utah. Oxycodone, methadone, and hydrocodone are the top three prescription pain medications that contributed to these deaths.
Utah has the fifth highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the United States. In 2011, Utah had 19.5 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 people compared to 13.2 deaths per 100,000 people in the U.S. In 2012, 261 people died from prescription pain medication overdoses in Utah.
Opioid prescribing rates in Utah are higher than the U.S rate. In 2012, Utah providers wrote 85.8 opioid pain reliever prescriptions per 100 people (individuals may have had more than one opioid pain reliever prescribed to them), the twenty-second highest prescribing rate in the country and above the U.S. rate (82.5/100 people).
24.5% of Utahns reported using some type of prescribed opioid during the previous year. Most Utahns who die from a drug-related death suffer from chronic pain and take prescribed pain medications. (2008 BRFSS)

“Prescription drug overdose is an epidemic in the United States. We remain committed to providing states with the resources, expertise, and data they need to protect patients and save lives,” said CDC Director, Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “States are at the front lines of this epidemic, and as the nation’s public health agency CDC is committed to helping them any way we can.”

This new funding will give states a surge of resources and direct support from CDC to apply the most promising prevention strategies. Overall, CDC has committed $6 million over the next three years to help five states (Kentucky, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia) improve their prescription drug monitoring programs, and conduct rigorous state policy evaluations to understand the most effective prevention strategies.

For more information about prescription drug overdoses in Utah, visit http://health.utah.gov/vipp/.

Media Contact:
Jenny Johnson
Violence and Injury Prevention Program
(o) 801-538-9416 (m) 801-298-1569

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