Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Cases of E. coli Traced to Costco Chicken Salad

(Salt Lake City) – Utah public health officials are investigating a cluster of illness that may be associated with the consumption of chicken salad purchased at Costco. To date, cases of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported in seven states, including five cases in Utah.

The Utah cases range in age from 9 to 84, three are females and two are males. Two of the Utah cases were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Onset dates of Utah cases range from October 17, 2015 to October 30, 2015.

The Utah Department of Health is working with health partners, including the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Utah’s local health departments to investigate the illness. The UDAF assisted in the investigation by gathering product samples for testing and encouraged stores to remove the product from sale. Most of the cases, including four out of the five Utah cases, reported eating Costco chicken salad.

Although the chicken salad has not tested positive for E. coli O157:H7, there is a strong association between reported illness and eating the salad. Out of an abundance of caution, Costco removed the chicken salad from their Utah stores on Friday, November 20th. However, people who bought chicken salad may still have the product in their refrigerators.

Consumers with “Chicken Salad made with Rotisserie Chicken” – item number 37719 – purchased from Costco in Utah should not eat it or feed it to your pets. You should either return it to the Costco store where it was purchased or throw the product away.

Other states with confirmed E. coli cases linked to the chicken salad include Colorado, Montana and Washington.

Symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 usually appear two to 10 days after eating contaminated food and include: stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea which may contain blood. If there is a fever, it is usually not high (less than 101°F). Most people recover within 5-7 days, but some cases can be severe. Approximately 5-10% of those diagnosed with E. coli O157:H7 infection develops a potentially life-threatening complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Some patients may appear to be improving before HUS develops. Signs that a person is developing HUS may include decreased frequency of urination, feeling very tired, and losing pink color in cheeks and inside the lower eyelids. People with these symptoms should seek medical attention immediately.

If you have recently eaten Costco chicken salad and are currently experiencing these symptoms, consult your health care provider.

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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

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"We’ll Never Forget" Families of teen crash victims share their grief

(Salt Lake City, UT) – In 2014, 29 families were devastated to learn that their teenager had been killed in a motor vehicle crash on Utah roads. Today, they shared their stories to encourage others to drive safely, buckle up, and cherish your loved ones.

Angela Child’s 19-year-old daughter, Angel Stringfellow, rolled her car on October 9, 2014 as she and her friend were traveling to Dixie State University. As Angel passed a bus on the freeway, her tire blew out. She overcorrected and rolled down an embankment. Neither teen was wearing a seat belt. Angel was ejected and died from head and blunt force trauma.

“One simple decision to put on a seat belt could have saved my daughter’s life; and it will save yours! Don’t let your family lose you,” said Child.

In 2015, nearly half of all teens killed on Utah roads were not restrained. “Three out of four people who are ejected during a fatal crash die from their injuries. The simple decision to choose to wear your seat belt every time you are in a vehicle can and does save lives,” said Carlos Braceras, Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) Executive Director.

This is the eighth year the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and UDOT have collected stories of teens killed in motor vehicle crashes. The book is used by state and local agencies as a prevention tool to help young drivers realize the impact their decisions have on others. The books are also distributed to high school driver education classes throughout the state.

“The Zero Fatalities effort to educate teens about how their actions can devastate others is an extremely effective preventive measure; something our legislators often ask for when considering how to spend taxpayer dollars,” said Carrie Moore, Executive Director of The Bradley Center for Grieving Children and Families. “Fatalities that never happen spare not only the families of the victims, but we avoid the very real social costs that often follow the loss of a loved one. The books show the ripple effect our driving decisions can have on our families, friends, and communities. These teens’ memories will live on, and their stories will not be forgotten.”

On August 23, 2014, 15-year-old Jacob Santos and his grandmother, Ruth Nelson, were coming home from the Box Elder County Fair in Tremonton, Utah. Jacob was driving and didn’t see an oncoming truck as he made a left hand turn onto Highway 89. They were T-boned on the driver side of the vehicle and he and his grandmother were killed on impact.

“Jacob had his learner permit and was in need of more driving hours so he could get his license on his 16th birthday. His grandmother willingly let him drive her home because that’s what loving grandmas do,” said Deanne Brown, Jacob’s mother. “He had a lack of experience being a new driver. It doesn’t mean that Jacob’s grandmother was to blame. But how many accidents could be prevented if we paid closer attention?”  

Data from the Utah Highway Safety Office showed that in 2014, 32 teen drivers were involved in a fatal crash, killing a total of 33 people, including 15 of the teen drivers. Teen drivers were 1.8 times more likely to have a contributing factor, such as speeding, in a fatal crash than drivers of other ages.

“Involved parents who set rules and monitor their teen’s driving behavior in a supportive way can cut their risk of a crash in half,” said Dr. Joseph Miner, UDOH Executive Director.  According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, teens whose parents are involved in their driving are twice as likely to wear seat belts, half as likely to speed, and 30 percent less likely to talk on a cell phone while driving.

To download a copy of the book We’ll Never Forget: Remembering 10 Lives Lost on Utah Roads, visit www.health.utah.gov/vipp or www.dontdrivestupid.com. 

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Media Contact:
Jenny Johnson
Utah Department of Health
(o) 801-538-9416 (m) 385-290-7826

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Recognizing the Quality of Utah’s Rural Hospitals

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Utah Department of Health’s Office of Primary Care and Rural Health (OPCRH) is pleased to announce that two Utah hospitals, Milford Valley Hospital and Kane County Hospital, have been recognized by the National Rural Health Resource Center for being in the top 20 hospitals in the nation for financial stability.  In addition, Gunnison Valley Hospital, a critical access hospital, has been singled out for excellence and innovation in the area of care coordination.

Dr. Don Wood, Director of the Utah Department of Health’s Office of Primary Care and Rural Health (OPCRH) says, “These recognitions for Utah’s rural hospitals remind us that health care delivered in rural communities is affordable, high quality, and necessary to the continued good health of the entire community. These hospitals should serve as role models to all hospitals.”

Each year, rural hospitals are ranked by the Hospital Strength INDEXTM, the industry’s most comprehensive and objective assessment of hospital performance in the United States.  The release of this information coincides with National Rural Health Week, November 15-21, 2015.

In addition, 19 Utah hospitals received recognition for reaching top quartile performance status in Quality, Outcomes, Patient Satisfaction, and Financial Strength, as compared to all other acute care hospitals in the nation.

Those facilities include:
Ashley Regional Medical Center – Outcomes, Financial Strength
Bear River Valley Hospital – Quality, Outcomes, Patient Satisfaction, Financial Strength
Beaver Valley Hospital – Outcomes
Castleview Hospital – Quality, Financial Strength
Central Valley Medical Center – Patient Satisfaction, Financial Strength
Delta Community Medical Center – Outcomes, Patient Satisfaction
Fillmore Community Medical Center – Outcomes, Patient Satisfaction
Garfield Memorial Hospital – Quality, Patient Satisfaction
Gunnison Valley Hospital – Outcomes, Patient Satisfaction, Financial Strength
Heber Valley Medical Center – Patient Satisfaction, Financial Strength
Kane County Hospital – Financial Strength
Milford Valley Memorial Hospital – Outcomes, Financial Strength
Moab Regional Hospital – Outcomes
Mountain West Medical Center – Financial Strength
Park City Medical Center – Outcomes, Patient Satisfaction, Financial Strength
San Juan Hospital – Outcomes
Sanpete Valley Hospital – Outcomes, Patient Satisfaction
Sevier Valley Medical Center – Quality, Outcomes, Patient Satisfaction, Financial Strength
Valley View Medical Center – Quality, Outcomes, Patient Satisfaction, Financial Strength

Since 2010, 50 rural and critical care access hospitals have closed throughout the United States.  Wood says, “Fortunately, Utah is one of the states in which a rural hospital has never closed. We want to maintain these hospitals because they provide extraordinary care and also contribute to the economies of our rural communities.”  

Owen QuiƱonez 
Community Health Specialist

Monday, November 16, 2015

Thanksgiving is National Family Health History Day: UDOH urges Utahns to know their family health history of cancer

(Salt Lake City) – Family health history is an important tool in understanding a person’s risk of developing cancer. The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) is encouraging Utahns to take advantage of Thanksgiving and other holiday gatherings as an opportunity to ask family members three important questions: (1) who in their family has ever had cancer, (2) what type of cancer did they have, and (3) at what age were they diagnosed.

“While these questions may seem simple, the answers could change how often you need to have certain cancer screenings or even what treatment options you should consider,” said Lynette Phillips, Director of the UDOH Cancer Control Program. “When healthcare providers and genetic counselors know your family history, they can help you come up with a personalized plan for your future.”

The UDOH urges Utahns to speak with a genetic counselor if they notice any of these red flags in their family history:
  • Blood relatives that had cancer, such breast or colon cancer before age 50.
  • Two or more blood relatives on the same side of the family that had the same type of cancer or related cancers. For example, breast and ovarian cancers are related, as are colorectal and uterine cancer.
  • Blood relatives that had more than one type of cancer.
  • Blood relatives that had a rare type of cancer or tumor.
Most people who develop cancer have no family history of it, but occasionally cancer can run in families due to their genetic make-up. Sharing your family health history with a healthcare provider or genetic counselor can help determine if you are at a higher risk for certain cancers than most people. People who are at higher risk may benefit from starting cancer screenings at a younger age, having more frequent cancer screenings, or undergoing more advanced screenings such as an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Medications or surgical procedures may also help prevent or delay cancer in high-risk individuals.

There are a variety of medical tests which can identify whether or not individuals and families have a genetic condition, such as Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer or Lynch Syndrome, which increases their risk for cancer. It’s important for individuals having these tests to know what they’re being tested for, what the possible outcomes may be, and what their options are after getting the results.

More tools and information about family health history collection, genetic counseling and testing, Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer, Lynch Syndrome, and resources for healthcare providers are available on http://cancerutah.org/genomicseducation.


Media Contact:
Katie McMinn
Cancer Control Program
801-538-6233 (o)
801-856-6697 (m)

Friday, November 13, 2015

Utah Organizations Launch “Eat Well, America, Combat Childhood Obesity” Campaign

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Is the way to a child’s health through his stomach? Three Utah organizations believe it is. This November, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH), American Diabetes Association®, and National Tongan American Society will launch the “Eat Well, America, Combat Childhood Obesity” campaign. The campaign is designed to raise awareness and show Utahns living with or at risk for diabetes, their loved ones, and anyone wanting to lead a healthier lifestyle how easy and enjoyable healthy eating can be.

Nearly 145,000 Utahns have been diagnosed with diabetes. “For years, our organizations have participated in American Diabetes Month observed each November to raise awareness of this devastating disease,” said Brenda Ralls, Epidemiologist for UDOH.  “Healthy lifestyles could help prevent a large proportion of type 2 diabetes and healthy eating is one way we can help reduce our risk of diabetes.”

Obesity is a health risk at any age, however preventing obesity through a healthy diet is particularly beneficial for children. Obese children have greater risk of prediabetes, cardiovascular disease, bone and joint problems, and social and psychological problems.

“Eating well is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and enjoying delicious, healthy food helps with diabetes management,” said Jeff Bird, Executive Director of the Utah American Diabetes Association office. 

Fahina Tavake-Pasi, Executive Director of the National Tongan American Society, states that “Pacific Islanders have one of the highest rate of obesity in Utah. We also have a high rate of death caused by diabetes. The National Tongan American Society is excited to add our support to this campaign and to help decrease obesity and diabetes in our community.”

Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness among Utah adults aged 25 to 74. It is the 7th leading cause of death for Utahns and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke by two to four times. Amputation of the toe, foot, or leg can occur as a result of diabetes; with about 250 hospital discharges for lower-extremity amputations among Utahns with diabetes occurring each year.

Diabetes also places an enormous burden on Utah’s health care system. Approximately $1 billion is spent annually in Utah for treatment of diabetes and related costs.

A march to kick-off the campaign will be held on World Diabetes Day, Saturday, November 14th. The march will begin at 10:00 a.m. on the corner of 100 South State Street and end at the Utah State Capitol. Following the march there will be a brief program scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m. in the rotunda. All are welcome.

For more information about healthy eating and how to prevent diabetes and obesity, visit www.choosehealth.utah.gov.

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

Monday, November 9, 2015

Top 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

(Salt Lake, UT) – The holidays may be filled with cheer but for many Utah families, the busyness and stress of this time of year is also filled with challenge and heartache as their loved ones suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease was the 6th leading cause of death for Utahns in 2014, claiming 584 lives. An estimated 5.3 million Americans of all ages are living with the disease.

“Traditional holiday activities may change as families cope with a loved one’s changing behavior or memory loss,” said Lynn Meinor, Alzheimer’s State Plan Specialist with the Utah Department of Health (UDOH). “Avoiding situations that further confuse or frustrate the person with dementia or Alzheimer’s is important, and involving your loved ones in holiday plans early on can help them feel safe and included.”

While Alzheimer’s disease cannot be prevented or cured, early diagnosis can help individuals and families get proper treatment and prepare for the future. Individuals may experience one or more of the top 10 warning signs in varying degrees:
  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life, such as forgetting important dates or events, asking for the same information over and over again, or needing to rely on memory aids or family members for things they used to be able to handle on their own.
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems, such as having trouble following a recipe or keeping track of monthly bills.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks, such as trouble driving to a familiar location, remembering the rules of a favorite game, or forgetting how to do tasks at work.  
  4. Confusion with time or place, such as forgetting where they are or how they got there or understanding if something is not happening immediately.  
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships, such as difficulty with reading, judging distances, or determining colors or contrasts.
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing, such as following a conversation, repeating themselves over and over again, finding the right word, or calling things by the wrong name.
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. People with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places, lose things, or accuse others of stealing because they can’t remember where they placed an item.
  8. Decreased or poor judgment. For example, a person with Alzheimer’s disease may mismanage money, giving large amounts to telemarketers, or pay less attention to grooming and personal appearance.
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities or trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or completing a favorite hobby.
  10. Changes in mood and personality, such as becoming confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful, or anxious.
“Each individual is unique and may show signs of Alzheimer's disease in different degrees” says Melissa Lee, Communication Director of the Alzheimer’s Association Utah Chapter. “If you notice any of them in yourself or someone you know, don’t ignore them. Schedule an appointment with your doctor. With early detection, you can get the maximum benefit from the treatments that are available.”

Utah is projected to have one of the highest per capita prevalence increases in Alzheimer’s disease among all states. In response to this unprecedented growth, the Utah State Legislature provided funding to the UDOH in 2015 to implement the Utah State Plan for Alzheimer’s disease and Related Dementias.

Free resources for individuals and families impacted by Alzheimer’s disease are available by calling the Alzheimer’s Association toll-free 24/7 Helpline at 1-800-272-3900 or by visiting http://alz.org/utah.

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Media Contact:
Lynn Meinor
Utah Department of Health
(o) 801-538-6198
Melissa Lee
Alzheimer’s Association Utah Chapter
(o) 801-265-1944