Temporary ban on flavored vaping products

Effective October 15, 2019 through April 11, 2020, the sale of flavored vaping products is prohibited​ in the state of Oregon for 180 days.

  • No retailer may sell a flavored vaping product to a consumer in Oregon.
  • Online sales of flavored vaping products to people in Oregon are also prohibited during the ban.
  • The temporary ban applies to THC and non-THC vaping products.

Governor Kate Brown’s Executive Order 19-09 to enact a temporary ban on the sale or display of flavored vaping products is an evidence-based strategy to prevent youth, as well as adults attracted to flavors, from becoming exposed to the health risks from vaping products and from becoming addicted to nicotine. These recommendations from the Governor, taken together, will help us protect the health of all Oregonians. The Oregon Health Authority urges all Oregonians who use vaping products to stop vaping immediately.

OHA continues to work with health care providers in Oregon to identify cases of vaping-related illnesses and to partner with federal officials to investigate the causes ​of vaping-related lung injuries and deaths.

The Oregon Health Authority will work closely with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the Oregon Department of Justice and other agencies to implement the Governor’s Executive Order, including launching a statewide public education effort to warn Oregonians about the risks e-cigarette use or vaping products pose to youth and adults. Nearly 90 percent of Oregon high school students who exclusively use e-cigarettes use flavored products.

Read the Governor’s press release.​ 

The Oregon Health Authority is urging Oregonians to stop using all vaping products until federal and state officials have determined the cause of serious lung injuries and deaths linked to the use of both cannabis and nicotine vaping products. State health officials will continue to work closely with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration to determine the cause of deaths and illnesses in Oregon and across the nation.

No vaping products should be considered safe. Until health experts can identify why people who have used these products have become seriously ill, and in some cases died, no vaping product should be used.

People who experience symptoms of the illness after using vaping products, such as shortness of breath, cough or chest pain, should immediately seek medical attention.

Get Help Quitting

Oregon Quit Line

The Oregon Quit Line is a free, telephone and web-based program that helps youth and adults quit vaping ​cannabis and nicotine. It offers free confidential, evidence-based counseling and materials. Callers 18 years and older can receive Nicotine Replacement Therapy in the form of patches or gum.

The Quit Line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


This is Quitting

This is Quitting powered by truth® is a free, confidential, 24-7 texting program for young people who vape. 


Oregon’s Drug and Alcohol Helpline​

The Alcohol and Drug Helpline serves anyone in Oregon who needs information, support or access to resources and treatment for alcohol or drug use. If you or someone you know needs help, the Alcohol and Drug Helpline is free, confidential, and available 24-7, 365 days a year.

  • Call 800-923-4357 or Text RecoveryNow to 839863.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline

SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families who need support quitting substances other than nicotine. 

  • ​Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

For more information, visit the Oregon Health Authority page on Vaping and Your Health

LGBTQIA+ Welcome

The Malheur County Health Department (MCHD) provides compassionate, high quality care for all people in Malheur County, including LGBTQIA+ individuals. We are proud to offer many services for the health and well-being of our community, including:

  • Rapid HIV testing, referral, and case coordination
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections testing and treatment
  • Communicable disease testing and case coordination, including tuberculosis and hepatitis
  • Wide range of birth control options
  • Immunizations, including HPV for all genders ages 9-26
  • Home Visiting programs for parents with children age 5 and under
  • Pregnancy testing and counseling
  • Tobacco prevention and education
  • Birth and death certificates, available within 6 months of event
  • WIC nutrition program for qualifying families with children age 5 and under

We are a community of all sexual orientations and gender identities and have a variety of health needs. MCHD serves all people regardless of ability to pay, with a few low-cost exceptions. No one will be denied services based on immigration status, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, nationality, or religious affiliation. MCHD also accepts Medicare, Medicaid, and most private health insurance. If you do not have insurance, we have staff who can help you sign up for the Oregon Health Plan or determine your eligibility for other assistance programs.

All services are confidential and open to all ages. Call 541-889-7279 to make an appointment. Walk ins welcome. Se habla Español.

Crisis Resources and Support

Resources for LGBT Youth and Friends/Supporters

Some LGBT youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience negative health and life outcomes. It is important that at-risk LGBT youth have access to resources and support to deal with the questions and challenges they may face as they mature.

Resources for Educators and School Administrators

Because some LGBT youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience bullying or other aggression in school, it is important that educators, counselors, and school administrators have access to resources and support to create a safe, healthy learning environment for all students.

Resources for Parents, Guardians, and Family Members

Some LGBT youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience negative health and life outcomes, so it is critical for the parents, guardians, and other family members of LGBT youth to have access to the resources they need to ensure their LGBT children are protected and supported.

Resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) LGBT Youth Resources

Pregnant Women Should Get Flu and Whooping Cough Shots

If pregnant women don’t get vaccinated, they may be endangering their babies as well as themselves.

Call the Malheur County Health Department at 541-889-7279 to schedule your flu and Tdap vaccines locally.

Millions of pregnant women in the United States are not getting two vital vaccines that protect not only their health, but their babies, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said October 8th, 2019.

The vaccines — against flu and whooping cough — are strongly recommended during every pregnancy. But only about 35 percent of pregnant women in the country are receiving both vaccines, according to a new CDC report, and just over half receive one.

The consequences of missing vaccines for flu and whooping cough, also called pertussis, can be dire.

“Influenza and pertussis, or whooping cough, are serious infections that can be deadly for babies, especially for those who are too young to be vaccinated directly,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC in a briefing. “We are stressing the importance of two safe and effective vaccines for pregnant women and the risks to both women and their babies when these vaccines are not given during pregnancy.”

Whooping cough can be fatal, especially for babies, who cannot get their first vaccine against it until they are two months old. The CDC report said that about 70 percent of people who died from whooping cough in recent years were infants younger than two months.

“When infants get whooping cough they are usually very sick and have difficulty breathing, eating, drinking or sleeping,” Dr. Schuchat said. “Parents may see their baby gasping for air and even turning blue from lack of oxygen.”

When a woman receives the whooping cough vaccine during pregnancy, antibodies are transmitted to the fetus. Those antibodies protect babies when they are born until they can build up their own immunity from a series of five immunizations against the disease. The report said that if women receive the vaccination early in the third trimester of pregnancy, it gives their newborns optimal protection and will prevent nearly 80 percent of whooping cough cases in babies under two months old.

Flu can be particularly risky for pregnant women and can cause complications like premature birth. The report found that pregnant women account for about a quarter to a third of women of reproductive age who are hospitalized for influenza — even though only about 9 percent of women in that age group are pregnant in any given year.

Babies younger than six months — the age at which they can receive their first flu vaccine — are hospitalized from flu much more often than older children and are at greater risk of dying from it. Dr. Schuchat said infants with flu can develop problems like pneumonia, dehydration and swelling of the brain.

“Maternal immunization rates have been steadfastly stuck at about 50 percent,” said Dr. Denise Jamieson, chairwoman of the department of gynecology and obstetrics at Emory University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the new report. “We really haven’t moved the needle at all.”

The new report analyzed data on hospitalization and death from flu and whooping cough between 2010 and 2018. The researchers also conducted an online survey this past spring of about 2,600 women who reported being pregnant any time since August 2018. It asked whether the women’s health care providers recommended the vaccines, either by offering to provide them or referring the patients to someone who could, and whether the women agreed to get vaccinated.

About three-quarters of the women surveyed said that during pregnancy their providers recommended the flu vaccine and the Tdap vaccine, which protects against whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria. But even among those women, about a third did not get vaccinated, the report said.

The most common reason the women gave for not getting the flu vaccine was a belief it was not effective. The reason they gave most often for not getting the Tdap vaccine was not knowing it is necessary during each pregnancy. For both vaccines, the second most common reason women refused it was concern about whether it was safe for their babies, the report said.

Dr. Jamieson, a former CDC official who now practices obstetrics and gynecology at Grady Memorial Hospital, said that pregnant patients in her practice who declined to get the flu vaccine often said, “they heard bad things about the vaccine, misconceptions that it makes you sick or wasn’t safe,” she said. Some didn’t think they were at risk for flu she said.

Dr. Jamieson said women were generally more likely to accept the Tdap vaccine, possibly because it is newer so there are fewer misconceptions about it. The flu vaccine has been recommended in pregnancy since 1960, Dr. Jamieson said, but the Tdap has only been recommended for pregnant women since 2012.

Vaccines for flu and whooping cough are the only two immunizations recommended for all pregnant women, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which posts a list of vaccines that are considered unsafe in pregnancy and others that can be given under certain circumstances.

Article adapted from the New York Times by Pam Belluck.

Public Health Warning: People should stop vaping immediately

oha logo
Second vaping-related death in state confirmed; people who vape are at risk, officials say

The Oregon Health Authority is issuing a public health warning urging people to immediately stop using all vaping products. On September 26, 2019, the agency confirmed a second vaping-related death in the state.

This is the second death among the five previously reported cases. Oregon’s first fatality was announced on Sept. 3. All five cases are part of a national outbreak of severe lung injury linked to vaping and e-cigarette use.

“People should stop vaping immediately,” said Dean Sidelinger, MD, state health officer. “If you vape, whether it’s cannabis, nicotine or other products, please quit. These are addictive substances, and we encourage people to take advantage of free resources to help them quit.”

He added: “If you haven’t started vaping, don’t start.”

OHA officials say the most recent death was an individual who had been hospitalized with respiratory symptoms after vaping cannabis products. Nationally, there have been more than 800 cases, primarily among youths and young adults, in 46 states and one U.S. territory. A total of 12 additional deaths, including Oregon’s first fatality, have been reported in 10 states.

Those who have fallen ill in Oregon have been hospitalized after experiencing worsening symptoms, including shortness of breath, cough or chest pain. CDC and the FDA have not identified a cause, but all cases have reported e-cigarette use or vaping.

OHA investigators and local public health authorities continue to urge clinicians to be on alert for signs of severe respiratory illness among patients and report any cases.

Before the new illness reports, OHA was already concerned about the health risks of vaping products. A recent report by the agency details the health risks for the products including nicotine addiction, exposure to toxic chemicals known to cause cancer and increases in blood pressure.

Individuals who have recently vaped and are having difficulty breathing should seek medical attention immediately.

If you or someone you know smokes or vapes, we urge you to quit now. Free help is available from the following resources:

Switching to cigarettes or other combustible products is not a safer option.

Public Health Warning: Stop using vaping products

Public health officials have now linked a second Oregon death to the use of vaping products. The Oregon Health Authority urges Oregonians to stop using all vaping products until federal and state officials have determined the cause of serious lung injuries and deaths linked to the use of both cannabis and nicotine vaping products. No vaping products should be considered safe. Until health experts can identify why people who have used these products have become seriously ill, and in some cases died, no vaping product should be used. State health officials will continue to work closely with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration to determine the cause of deaths and illnesses in Oregon and across the nation

Oregon Health Authority Media contact: Jonathan Modie, 971-246-9139, phd.communications@dhsoha.state.or.us

GET THE FACTS ABOUT FLU SHOTS

Call 541-889-7279 to schedule an appointment for your FREE flu shot at the Malheur County Health Department before the end of October.

Flu season is nearly here. To help you decide when, where, and how to get vaccinated, we compiled answers to some of the most common questions we see regarding flu vaccinations.

Who should get a flu shot?

Everyone over 6 months of age should receive a flu vaccine yearly, unless a doctor has advised otherwise.

But I’m healthy and getting the flu doesn’t seem like a big deal. Why do I need a flu shot?

No one wants to miss out on their vacation or be two weeks behind at work because of a preventable illness. So while you may be able to get through the flu, why take the risk?

During the 2017-2018 flu season, influenza vaccination prevented approximately 7 million flu illnesses, 109,000 flu hospitalizations, and 8,000 flu deaths.

Even if you’re young and healthy, the flu can lead to serious complications that require hospitalization. Getting vaccinated not only helps prevent you from getting ill, it also decreases the severity of illness if you do get the flu and helps protect those around you who cannot receive the shot because of their age or underlying conditions, such as your grandma or your neighbor’s new baby.

Can I get the flu from the flu shot?

No, flu shots do not cause the flu. This is a common concern but, thankfully, not something that happens.

Flu vaccines given via a needle are made with inactivated (killed) viruses that are not infectious or with just certain proteins from flu viruses, so they cannot cause the flu. And, the nasal spray flu vaccine is made with live viruses that are significantly weakened, so they can give protection but not cause illness.

While vaccinations cannot cause the flu, some people do experience mild side effects, including aches and a low-grade fever. However, when these side effects occur, they are generally mild and tend to last only a day or two.

When should I get a flu shot?

The CDC recommends everyone over 6 months of age receive a flu shot by the end of October. Flu activity generally picks up in the fall and it’s best to get the shot before the virus starts spreading in your community and workplace.

Children 6 months through 8 years getting vaccinated for the first time, and those who have only previously gotten one dose of vaccine, should get two doses of vaccine this season. All children who have previously gotten two doses of vaccine (at any time) only need one dose of vaccine this season. The first dose should be given as soon as vaccine becomes available.

The flu season usually peaks around February, and can last well into the spring. So, even if you miss the recommended window, it is still worth getting vaccinated later in the season.

What’s the benefit of getting a shot now?

It takes two weeks from the time you receive your flu shot to develop full immunity. The sooner you get the shot, the sooner your body can build that full immunity.

Should I get a flu shot if I’m pregnant?

Yes, flu vaccines are safe for pregnant people. They help to protect both the pregnant individual and their baby from the flu.

During pregnancy, people experience changes in their immune system, heart, and lungs that make them more prone to severe illness from flu. According to the CDC, vaccination reduces this risk of serious, flu-associated respiratory infection and hospitalization in those who are pregnant. In addition, pregnant people who receive the flu vaccine are helping to protect their babies from flu illness for several months after their birth, when they are still too young to be vaccinated themselves. 

What if I’m over 65 years old?

The flu can be particularly serious for people 65 and older because human immune defenses weaken with age. The flu vaccine is the best way to protect against the flu and potentially serious complications.

There are two vaccines that are specifically recommended for people who are 65 years of age or older: the “high dose” vaccine and the “adjuvanted” flu vaccine, Fluad. Both options have been found to be effective at preventing the flu and the CDC does not state a preference for one vaccine over another. The regular flu shot is also a good option if these products are not available.

Where can I get a flu shot?

If you are local to Malheur County, Oregon, come see us at the Malheur County Health Department! Call ahead for an appointment: 541-889-7279. Walk ins are welcome.

You can use the online HealthMap Vaccine Finder or Public Health’s Find an Immunization Clinic page to easily find nearby pharmacy and clinic locations to get your flu shot. Remember to call ahead to ensure that the vaccine you need is currently available, especially if you are interested in the nasal spray flu vaccine or the intradermal flu vaccine.

If you still have questions about flu vaccinations or want to know more, check out our past blog post on flu vaccination effectiveness  or CDC’s FAQ’s about the 2019-2020 flu season.

Article adapted from Public Health Insider post by Lily Alexander. Photos taken by Heather Hazzan as a part of the Self x American Academy of Pediatrics Vaccine Photo Project.

Oregon Health Authority Report on Tobacco Retailer Inspections

The Oregon Health Authority recently released a report highlighting a slight decrease in illegal cigarette sales, but illegal sales of little cigars doubled. For Malheur County, what was most striking was how few stores were inspected, giving us an incomplete snapshot of the scale of illegal sales. Only 8 out of 26 retailers in Malheur County were inspected in 2019.

This incomplete snapshot is particularly concerning given the rise of the vaping epidemic among our youth and the recent fatality in Oregon connected with vaping.

The Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division conducts retail inspections in collaboration with Oregon State Police. In 2019, the state inspected 1,100 retailers out of about 3,200 retailers who sell tobacco and e-cigarette products statewide. If a retailer violates the law, a citation is issued to the store’s clerk, manager on duty or owner. The annual inspection report shows which stores passed inspection and which sold illegally to people under age 21.

One of the challenges of our inspection process in the state is that only a few counties in Oregon require a license to sell tobacco – and there’s no state license. This means it is extremely difficult to enforce the minimum legal sales age by holding retailers accountable for illegal sales. A tobacco retail license would make it possible to track who is selling tobacco (and thoroughly inspect each one), educate retailers on how to comply with the law and have meaningful penalties for repeat offenders.

The list of Oregon tobacco retailers that violated the tobacco sales is available on the OHA Public Health Division website here.

For more information about how the tobacco industry markets in Oregon, see the recent Tobacco Retail Assessment Report here.

Oregon ends nearly 50-year participation in federal Title X program in response to Trump administration gag rule

Malheur County Health Department is affected by the termination of Title X funding, but will continue to provide reproductive health services, including birth control, STI testing and treatment, at low to no cost with other funding. Call 541-889-7279 to schedule an appointment.

Published on Oregon Health Authority External Relations August 27, 2019

After the Oregon Health Authority declined to use federal dollars in the wake of new Trump administration rules that prevent health practitioners from discussing abortion with their patients, the federal Department of Health and Human Services directed Oregon to give up its Title X grant or face grant termination. In response, Oregon has no choice but to relinquish funding and end its Title X grant.

Health clinics that received Title X funding provide comprehensive reproductive health care that helps their patients plan the timing and size of their families, prevent unwanted pregnancies, diagnose and treat sexually transmitted infections and detect cancer. Last year Title X-funded clinics served 44,241 Oregonians.

Patrick Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority, issued the following statement regarding the new federal gag rule and OHA’s decision to leave the Title X program:

Yesterday the Oregon Health Authority faced a deadline imposed by the federal government to withdraw from the Title X family planning program, or face termination for non-compliance. Last week Oregon informed the United States Department of Health and Human Services that we had suspended the use of the federal funds to avoid imposing the administration’s newly implemented gag rule on Oregon women. The federal government has rejected Oregon’s plan.

The new federal gag rule, which was not informed by evidence-based medical practice, bars health care providers from fully informing Oregon women about their most personal reproductive health choices and denies them access to a comprehensive range of health services. Oregon is the lead plaintiff, joined by 19 other states and the District of Columbia, as well as Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the American Medical Association, in a lawsuit challenging the Title X rule.

The federal deadline leaves Oregon no choice but to end our nearly 50-year participation in Title X and relinquish our grant. We cannot violate our own state laws that guarantee Oregon women full access to reproductive health services and prohibit any restriction on benefits, services or information regarding a woman’s right to choose to terminate a pregnancy.

Yesterday the Oregon Health Authority faced a deadline imposed by the federal government to withdraw from the Title X family planning program, or face termination for non-compliance. Last week Oregon informed the United States Department of Health and Human Services that we had suspended the use of the federal funds to avoid imposing the administration’s newly implemented gag rule on Oregon women. The federal government has rejected Oregon’s plan.

The new federal gag rule, which was not informed by evidence-based medical practice, bars health care providers from fully informing Oregon women about their most personal reproductive health choices and denies them access to a comprehensive range of health services. Oregon is the lead plaintiff, joined by 19 other states and the District of Columbia, as well as Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the American Medical Association, in a lawsuit challenging the Title X rule.

The federal deadline leaves Oregon no choice but to end our nearly 50-year participation in Title X and relinquish our grant. We cannot violate our own state laws that guarantee Oregon women full access to reproductive health services and prohibit any restriction on benefits, services or information regarding a woman’s right to choose to terminate a pregnancy.

Oregon stands in solidarity with other states in maintaining that the new Title X rule will reduce access to birth control, cancer screenings and reproductive choices. Oregon is fortunate to have funds available to continue offering comprehensive reproductive health care services. Every person in Oregon should know this federal action will not prevent health clinics and care providers from continuing to offer the full range of high-quality, personalized and trusted reproductive health services they have always delivered.

Vaping Sicknesses Rising: 153 Cases Reported in 16 States

Sean Bills, a West Valley City, Utah resident, on life support in Jordan Valley Hospital. Bills’ family said he was admitted to the hospital Saturday after vaping gave him lipoid pneumonia. More on his story HERE.

Sixteen states have now reported 153 cases of serious, vaping-related respiratory illnesses in the past two months, and many of the patients are teenagers or young adults.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that all of the cases occurred in people who acknowledged vaping either nicotine or tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC, the high-inducing chemical in marijuana.

Federal and state officials say that they are mystified as to what is causing the illnesses, but that it does not appear that an infectious disease is responsible. No one product or device is common among the cases, the agency said. It also was unclear whether a contaminant in a used cartridge or a home-brewed concoction of vaping liquids contributed to some of the ailments.

The patients, most of whom were adolescents or young adults, were admitted to hospitals with difficulty breathing. Many also reported chest pain, vomiting and fatigue.

The most seriously ill patients had serious lung damage that required treatment with oxygen and days on a ventilator. Some are expected to have permanent lung damage. Some severe cases were earlier reported in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and California.

In an email, the C.D.C. said that while more study was needed, vaping either cannabis or nicotine could be dangerous.

“E-cigarettes are still fairly new, and scientists are still learning about their long-term health effects,” said Brian King, deputy director for research translation in the agency’s smoking and health office. “Adverse respiratory effects associated with e-cigarette use could be the result of a variety of factors, including intended and unintended constituents of these products.”

Mr. King said numerous ingredients in e-cigarette aerosol could harm the lungs, including ultrafine particles that could be inhaled deeply, heavy metals like lead, volatile organic compounds and cancer-causing agents.

The C.D.C. urged doctors to report suspected cases to their state health agencies. The Food and Drug Administration is also collecting information about illnesses related to e-cigarettes and vaping.

“Oftentimes people are vaping both nicotine and the THC products, so it’s unclear which may be responsible,” said Dr. Michael Lynch, medical director of the poison center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “Probably this has been happening occasionally and we haven’t been aware of it, because the association with vaping wasn’t necessarily made. Now people are on the lookout, which is good, because we want to make sure we have an understanding of how prevalent an issue this is.”

Article adapted from The New York Times. A version of this article appears in print on Aug. 21, 2019, Section A, Page 13 of the New York edition with the headline: More Youth Getting Sick From Vaping, C.D.C.

7 Things You Should Know About Bats and Rabies

70% of Americans who die from rabies in the US were infected by bats – CDC Vital Signs. But bats are not bad! We need to know more to prevent infection and protect this species that protects us from other diseases.

As the weather warms up, adult bats come out of hibernation, baby bats are learning to fly, and humans get outdoors, which means a big increase in human-bat interactions compared to other times of year. Bats can be infected with rabies and can spread that infection to humans who have bare skin contact with bats or bat saliva. 

Oregon has 15 species of bats. Learn more about them at the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. Bats are flying mammals that can reach speeds of 20 to 30 mph. Some of Oregon’s species migrate south in winter while some remain here and hibernate. Bats have ecolocation which allows them to make high-pitched sounds then listen to the echo of those sounds to locate where objects are. Echolocation helps them find even the smallest insect. 

Kate Cole from Public Health Insider compiled seven important things to know about bats and rabies. Please share this information with your friends, family, and children to make sure they know how to protect themselves from rabies in bats.

7. Bats are the main source of rabies in the United States. 

All mammals can get rabies, but in the United States, bats are the primary animal source of rabies. 

6. If you see a bat, do not touch it!! 

Any bare skin contact with a bat or its saliva, or waking up to a bat in your room, could put you at risk for exposure to rabies. Teach your kids not to touch bats, or any wild animal, and be sure to keep your pets away from bats. Talk to your family about the importance of respecting wildlife from a distance.  

5. If you think you or your children or pets may have touched or picked up a bat, take immediate action: 

  • Immediately wash the area that came into contact with the bat thoroughly with soap and water.  
  • Call your medical provider. If a person has been exposed to rabies, an injection of immune globulin and a series of rabies vaccinations need to be given as soon as possible to prevent infection and death. 
  • If you think you had contact with a bat, try to trap it! Trapping it means it can be tested for rabies and people potentially exposed can get the treatment they need. “How am I supposed to trap a bat?” you ask. Good news – there’s a how-to video.

4Pets are at-risk for getting rabies from bats, too. 

Vaccinate your pets against rabies to protect them in case they are exposed. Talk to your veterinarian to see if your furry family members need to update their rabies vaccine.  

Keep your pet under direct supervision so they don’t come into contact with bats. If you suspect your pet has come into contact with a bat, call your veterinarian, even if your pet is up to date on its vaccinations. Your veterinarian may need to give it a booster shot to protect it! 

3If you have problems with bats getting inside your house, you can do a lot to make your home more bat-proof. 

Putting screens on windows can prevent bats from accidentally flying into your home. Sometimes, bats are attracted to nesting in attics or inside a wall. The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has excellent tips on easy things you can do to your home or building to prevent bats from getting inside

2. Most bats don’t have rabies. 

Although exact numbers are not known, it is estimated that less than 1% of bats are infected with rabies. Unfortunately, you cannot tell if a bat has rabies by looking at it; only testing the brain tissue on a dead bat can confirm if a bat has rabies (live bats need to be humanely euthanized before they can be tested for rabies). So, assume all bats may have rabies and never touch them. 

1. Bats are a vital part of our local ecosystem.  

Don’t let all this information about rabies give you a negative opinion on bats. What bats enjoy is eating large amounts of night-flying insects like mosquitos, termites, and agricultural pests, diminishing mosquito-related diseases and the need for pesticides in our community. In fact, some people try to attract bats to their property to help reduce the number of insects. For information on how to build a bat house for your yard, check out this resource.

Article adapted from Public Health Insider.

Identity-first vs. person-first language is an important distinction

Tara Haelle, the Association of Health Care Journalists medical studies core topic leader, recently wrote a post on the AHCJ’s blog, Covering Health, on how to use respectful language when it comes to how we identify the people who are living with various conditions or disabilities.

Haelle’s post was in response to a question about the acceptability of referring to someone with a condition as a descriptor, such as “epileptic child” or “diabetic adults.” Those constructions are called “identity-first” language, as opposed to “person-first” language where the person literally comes first: “children with epilepsy” and “adults with diabetes.”

The use or not of person-first language is a sensitive, important discussion, not unlike discussion of appropriate and respectful gender terminology in stories involving individuals who self-identify with a non-binary gender (something other than “male” or “female”).

This is a particularly relevant concern in the disability community, where a long history of erasure, exploitation, stigma and misunderstanding has led to strong emotions about how people with disabilities — or disabled people, depending on what someone prefers — are identified and discussed.

This is also true for the importance of person-first language when discussing addiction. “People who use intravenous drugs” or “woman with opioid use disorder” or “person with alcohol addiction,” as opposed to “drug users” or “opioid addict” or “alcoholic.”

As is already clear, person-first language is a complex issue depending on the condition and the person. Usually, with clear diseases like epilepsy and diabetes, it’s always best to use person-first language: men with diabetes, children with epilepsy. Although some controversy exists about obesity as a disease state, person-first language is also recommended: “man with obesity” is preferred to “obese man.”

With mental health disorders, it’s usually best to use person-first: a man with schizophrenia (not schizophrenic) or woman with bipolar disorder (not a bipolar woman). However, when you get to conditions that relate to different ways of perceiving or interacting with the world, person-first is often discouraged by those in that community, the source Haelle prioritizes highest. Two examples are autism and deafness.

Most deaf people prefer identity-first language, not person-first, and they reject “hearing impaired” because many do not perceive an inability to hear as a deficit. It’s always best to confirm with the person if there’s one person involved. If there isn’t, then I default to what the community at large generally uses. For Haelle, a community’s preference trumps even “official” sources, since agencies such as the CDC do not always recommend what the community itself prefers (e.g., deafness here.)

Autism is trickier, and Haelle has relied heavily on the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. Many autistic people see autism as an intrinsic part of their identity — a disability, yes, but one that also confers benefits and is simply a different way of perceiving and interacting with the world. This is where one can most frequently run into challenges.

But this preference isn’t across the board, as the ASAN essay notes. Some may prefer “person with autism,” and sometimes parents prefer “child with autism” while their child prefers “autistic child.” Yet the former can (but not always) connote a perception of autism as an unfortunate disorder or disease that someone wants to be cured while the latter connotes “aspect of my identity that is important to my sense of self.” Hence the importance of asking.

Article adapted from AHCJ blog post by Tara Haelle. July 31, 2019.