Monday, August 31, 2015

Utah Youth E-Cigarette Usage Nearly Doubles in 2015

(Salt Lake City, UT) – New data released today by the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) showed a substantial increase in the use of electronic cigarettes by youth in grades 8, 10, and 12.  The data was included in the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program (TPCP) annual Legislative Report and revealed that in 2015, 10.5 percent of Utah youth reported they currently use electronic cigarettes; nearly double the 5.8 percent reported in 2013.  In the same timeframe, adult e-cigarette use remained unchanged at 4.8 percent.

Traditional tobacco use among youth remained low at 3.4% but e-cigarette use grew at an alarming rate.  The report indicated 30 percent of youth in grade 12 have tried e-cigarettes.  Additionally, nearly half of all Utah youth who use e-cigarettes have never tried conventional cigarettes.

“While the use of electronic cigarettes leveled off among adults in 2014, the youth experimentation and use rates are more than double the rates reported by Utah adults,” said Dr. Joseph Miner, Executive Director of the UDOH. “The prevalence of fruit or candy-like flavored e-juices and the use of celebrities in advertising make these products especially enticing to youth.”

Findings in this report also detailed where youth are accessing e-cigarettes and e-juice. Most youth are borrowing the devices from friends, but others are illegally obtaining them from convenience stores, supermarkets, discount stores, gas stations, and tobacco or vape shops.

The UDOH works in partnership with Utah’s 13 local health departments to address tobacco prevention. “Despite this alarming trend, all of our local health departments have been working hard to educate their communities about e-cigarettes and the dangers of nicotine use by youth,” said Brian Bennion, Executive Director of the Weber-Morgan Health Department.  “We are now seeing the impact of their work in relation to policy changes that make it harder for teens to access tobacco products but there is still more to be done.”

The UDOH encourages Utahns currently using tobacco and other nicotine devices to consider the long-term damage to their health, including emphysema, lung, mouth and other cancers, and tooth loss.  Information on how to quit and free cessation services can be found at

To download a copy of the 2015 TPCP Legislative Report or to view e-cigarette data specific to your area, visit


Media Contact:
Brittany Karzen
Media Liaison
Cell: (714) 267-3679

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Utah Resident Dies from Plague

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Utah public health officials have confirmed that an elderly resident died from plague earlier this month. This is the first Utah resident to be diagnosed with plague since 2009.

Plague is a rare, life-threatening, flea-borne illness that is maintained in a rodent-flea transmission cycle.  Species such as prairie dogs, black footed-ferrets, squirrels, and rabbits are especially susceptible and experience high mortality upon infection.  Plague is naturally occurring in Utah, and typically seen in the prairie dog populations each year.  Since April 1, 2015, a total of 12 cases of human plague have been reported in residents of seven states: Arizona (two), California (one), Colorado (four), Georgia (one), New Mexico (two), Oregon (one), and Utah (one). The two cases in Georgia and the California resident have been linked to exposures at or near Yosemite National Park.  The investigation continues into the circumstances surrounding the Utahn’s illness.  The patient may have contracted the disease from a flea, or contact a dead animal.  At this time, public health officials believe there was no travel history indicating that the Utah resident traveled anywhere else where plague is common.

Human plague occurs in areas where the bacteria are present in wild rodent populations.  The risks are generally highest in rural and semi-rural areas, including campsites and homes that provide food and shelter for various ground squirrels, chipmunks and wood rats, or other areas where you may encounter rodents.

Plague is a very serious illness, but it is treatable with commonly available antibiotics. The earlier a patient seeks marmedical care and receives treatment that is appropriate for plague, the better the chance for a full recovery.  Some common symptoms may include fever, headache, chills, and weakness. If you are experiencing symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
To protect you, your family, and your pets:
          Reduce rodent habitat around your home, work place, and recreational areas. Remove brush, rock piles, junk, cluttered firewood, and possible rodent food supplies, such as pet and wild animal food. Make your home and outbuildings rodent-proof.
          Always wear gloves if you are handling or skinning wild animals to prevent contact between your skin and potential plague bacteria. Contact your local health department if you have questions about disposal of dead animals.
          Use repellent if you think you could be exposed to rodent fleas during activities such as camping, hiking, or working outdoors. Products containing DEET can be applied to the skin as well as clothing and products containing permethrin can be applied to clothing (always follow instructions on the label).
          Keep fleas off of your pets by regularly applying flea control products. Animals that roam freely are more likely to come in contact with plague-infected animals or fleas and could bring them into homes. Keep pets away from wild animals.  If your pet becomes sick, seek care from a veterinarian as soon as possible.
          Do not allow dogs or cats that roam free outside to sleep on your bed.
          Cook all wild game meat properly to a minimum of 165F inner temperature.
          Clean and disinfect all knives and equipment used to process wild game.
          Do not feed raw game meat or inner organs to pets.

Notify your local Utah Division of Wildlife Resources if you see an unusual number of dead prairie dogs, squirrels, or rabbits in any given area.  Contact information for local area offices can be found at:

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Media Contact:
Charla Haley
(c) 801-230-5927