Why back-to-school vaccines?

(Source: Amy Vance, LiveWell/Spectrum)Clinical-featured

Vaccines are not made for trivial diseases that are simple to treat. Required childhood vaccines protect against these serious and potentially life-threatening diseases: polio, pertussis (whooping cough), diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis, chickenpox, measles, mumps, and rubella.


Zika Precautions

(Daily Herald) – Pregnant women and those trying to become pregnant should avoid or limit travel to areas where Zika is being transmitted. And, they should discuss travel plans to these areas with their doctor.


Summer Heat Safety

Due to high temperatures affecting southwestern Utah, the Southwest Utah Public Health Department is advising the public to take precautions to avoid heat-related injury; especially children, people over 65 years of age or having health issues, and new residents who are not familiar with the climate.

Try to stay indoors in an air-conditioned environment during the hottest parts of the day (usually 10am to 4pm). Air-conditioning is the best way to protect against heat-related illness. If your home doesn’t have air-conditioning, go to a public place that does.  Avoid strenuous activity outdoors during the heat of the day.

If you must be outside, stay hydrated with plenty of water and seek shade. Avoid sunburn by applying a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Wear a hat and sunglasses as well.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion may include heavy sweating, paleness, cramps, weakness, faintness, headache, and nausea. Get into an air-conditioned environment, drink fluids, rest, and take a cool shower or bath. Seek medical attention if these symptoms last longer than an hour.

If people exposed to heat have a temperature of 103 degrees or over, red/hot/dry skin, rapid pulse, dizziness, confusion, or unconsciousness, they may be experiencing heat stroke. Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Cool the victim down however you can (cool bath or shower, garden hose, wet sheet and fan).

LINK to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Frequently Asked Questions About Extreme Heat


Are plague-infected fleas a concern in southern Utah?

flea-29538_640(KCSG.com / Melissa Anderson) It’s known as the “Black Death” or bubonic plague. Recent reports of fleas infected with the bubonic plague in parts of Northern Arizona has caused questions about the potential of the fleas traveling to southern Utah.

“Fortunately in Utah, fleas are uncommon in our state because they thrive with humidity, which we don’t have,” said Southwest Utah Public Health Department PIO, Dave Heaton.

Utah reported two cases of the plague since 2009 in the entire state. No human plague cases in southwest Utah for at least the past 16 years.



Study: healthy fats won’t boost weight

olive-oil-968657_640Healthy Fats in Mediterranean Diet Won’t Boost Weight
Vegetable oils, nuts can be a part of a healthful diet, experts say
By Robert Preidt
Monday, June 6, 2016

An eating plan that includes healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts isn’t likely to cause weight gain, a new study finds.

That’s good news for people who’d prefer to try the Mediterranean diet — which includes healthy fats — over a diet that’s low in fat. And the study authors suggest that current health guidelines may be creating an unnecessary fear of these healthful fats.

“More than 40 years of nutritional policy has advocated for a low-fat diet, but we’re seeing little impact on rising levels of obesity,” said study lead author Dr. Ramon Estruch, of the University of Barcelona in Spain.

“Our study shows that a Mediterranean diet rich in vegetable fats such as olive oil and nuts had little effect on body weight or waist circumference compared to people on a low-fat diet. The Mediterranean diet has well-known health benefits and includes healthy fats, such as vegetable oils, fish and nuts,” Estruch explained in a journal news release.


E-Cigarette Use in Teens Increases 300%

Close up of a woman inhaling from an electronic cigarette

E-cigarettes now the most commonly abused drug among youth

WASHINGTON COUNTY, UT – Results of the 2015 Utah Prevention Needs Assessment youth survey have been released and show a 300% increase in teens using electronic cigarettes, surpassing alcohol as the most commonly abused drug among youth. From 2013 to 2015, the 30-day use rate of e-cigarettes among high school seniors increased from 3.6% to 14.3%, with about 31% of 12th graders reporting having experimented with the drug delivery device.
Kye Nordfelt, Health Promotions Director for the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, is concerned about the impact of youth e-cigarette use in the community. “With 1 in 3 teens experimenting with e-cigarettes, this will have an effect on all of us,” he says. “These teens are in our schools, congregations, and families.”

“This 300% increase in electronic cigarette use is unprecedented,” says Logan Reid, Director of Prevention at Southwest Behavioral Health Center. “I don’t remember the data ever showing such a sharp rise in the use of one drug in such a short period of time. And the scariest part about this trend is that youth are smoking more than just nicotine through these devices.”

The main drug used in e-cigarettes is nicotine (a product of tobacco), which on its own is extremely addictive, often setting kids on a course for years of addiction.  Since e-cigarettes provide a convenient drug delivery system, local law enforcement officers are now finding youth and adults using marijuana and other liquefied drugs in these devices.  Currently, the contents and sale of e-cigarettes are largely unregulated and are not taxed as a tobacco product. E-cigarettes are attractive to youth by the very nature of their technology, are promoted as less harmful, and include a wide variety of appealing flavors They are easily accessed in areas with heavy teen traffic and have no ingredient labels.

  “Over the past 40 or so years we have witnessed a gradual decline in tobacco use,” Nordfelt states. “But now we are seeing nicotine usage skyrocket in the form of e-cigarettes. Increased consumption by teens is especially troubling, and we want to do all we can to help our community curb this trend.”

The health department is offering free e-cigarette presentations for parents and youth groups, covering the health risks of using these products and how to prevent further use by teens. Call Kye at 435-986-2593 to schedule a presentation.


Personal Stories:

Abigail Dickie, a senior at Snow Canyon High School and president of the Washington County Youth Coalition, says that kids talk about e-cigarettes all the time. “I have several friends who vape. They are really appealing to youth, and it’s scary how businesses market them toward us because there aren’t regulations on how they advertise, like there are on regular cigarettes.”  Orion Parker, who also lives in Washington County, witnessed how his use of e-cigarettes influenced his seven-year-old son. Orion explains, “My son saw me using the device and asked if he could try it.  I told him absolutely not and tried to make sure he didn’t see me using it after that.  One weekend, when I came home from a business trip, I picked up my son from my grandma’s, and she told me how my son had told her when he grows up he wants to smoke that cool e-cigarette just like his dad.”  Parker did not want his son addicted to nicotine; he subsequently quit cold turkey and had a long chat with his son about the harms of tobacco products.

Michelle (name has been changed), a Washington County resident, is a mother of four who is deeply involved in her busy kids’ lives, active in her faith, and like many parents, never thought her teenage son would use an addictive substance.  “I was unaware that my son was addicted to nicotine when he was arrested for having an electronic cigarette – it was so easy for him to hide his use from me, as the smell was often not present.  As he began using tobacco products, he totally changed, all of his values and friends changed.  I tried to protect him, but even at 14 he has had no problem getting e-cigarettes.” She continues,“The other thing I hadn’t realized is that e-cigarettes can be used to smoke other things like marijuana. My son had denied using any nicotine products and insisted that e-cigarettes were harmless, but I’ve since learned that isn’t the case.  Now there is a lack of trust between us and we’re worried about what he could be doing to himself.”

Salmonella Outbreak

Linked to cucumbers, 30 cases in Utah…



A salmonella outbreak linked to cucumbers imported from Mexico to the U.S. has sickened at least 285 people in 27 states. 30 cases are confirmed in Utah among 7 local health districts, resulting in seven hospitalizations.

Anyone who purchased cucumbers recently (between August 1st and September 3rd) is advised to throw them away (see this link for specific stores involved).

State agricultural and health departments are working with local and national agencies to investigate and end the spread of the outbreak.

Salmonella is a bacterial disease which causes fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. Symptoms start between 12 and 72 hours after ingesting contaminated food or drinks and last from 4-7 days. Most people recover at home without treatment, but hospitalization may be required for dehydration and other complications. Children under 5, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems may experience more severe illness.

Ways to prevent salmonella infection include:

  • Wash surface area of produce to be eaten raw
  • Keep these foods separate from raw meat
  • Wash hands, work surfaces, and utensils with soap and water immediately after handling raw meat
  • Run non-porous cutting boards through the dishwasher

LINK: CDC information on the salmonella outbreak

Wildfires & Your Health

What impact does all that smoke have on your health?

Get live air quality data for Washington County (monitor loctaed in Hurricane) HERE

During the presence of moderate to heavy wildfire smoke, people with asthma and heart/lung diseases, children, and the elderly should:


  • Stay indoors as much as possible
  • Avoid prolonged or heavy exertion
  • Have prescribed medications and inhalers readily available
  • Avoid the use of swamp coolers (evaporative air conditioners) which can blow smoke into the house
  • Consider temporary relocation if smoke is causing illness
  • Seek medical attention as needed

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