Protecting kids from adverse experiences can boost lifelong health

Childhood experiences, both positive and negative, have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration, and lifelong health and opportunity. As such, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are an important public health issue. Learn how everyone can help prevent ACEs by using strategies to create safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for all children.

Preventing adverse experiences in childhood can help people stay healthy throughout their lives, new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.

Protecting kids from adverse childhood experiences — such as violence, abuse or growing up around people with mental health or substance use problems — can help reduce chronic diseases, risky health behaviors and socio-economic challenges later in life, according to a Nov. 8 study in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 

Nearly 16% of U.S. adults have experienced four or more ACEs their lifetimes, the study said, with women, blacks and American Indian and Alaska Natives at highest risk. 

ACEs can change brain development and affect how the body responds to stress. This can lead to chronic health problems, mental illness, substance misuse and reduced educational and occupational achievement in adulthood. At least five of the top 10 leading causes of death are associated with adverse childhood experiences.

Creating “safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments” can help prevent ACEs and help children and adults thrive, according to the study, which was published as a CDC Vital Signs Report. Preventing ACES can reduce risky behaviors like smoking and heavy drinking, improve education and employment potential and stop ACEs from being passed from one generation to the next.  

To address ACEs, the report recommended that: 

• health care providers refer patients affected by ACEs for services and support and link adults at risk to parenting interventions and substance abuse treatment;
• employers support family-friendly policies, such as paid family leave and flexible work schedules; 
• states and communities improve access to high-quality child care, address financial hardships and foster skills that manage emotion and conflicts; and that
• everyone “support community programs and policies that provide safe and healthy conditions for all children and families.”

For more insights on ACEs, read this recent column from APHA past-president Pam Aaltonen in The Nation’s Health. 

Article by Louise Dettman on Public Health Newswire

Create safe Thanksgiving meals!

The holidays are here, which means you’re probably getting ready to share meals and merriment with families and friends.

This can be a fantastic and yummy time of the year. But if you don’t take care while preparing all that delicious holiday food, you can put people at risk for food poisoning.

Anyone can get sick from food poisoning, but some folks are at higher risk. Kids under age 5, seniors and women who are pregnant are all more likely to get sick from food and have a serious illness.

Luckily, preventing food poisoning can be easy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture  has these tips to help home chefs create safe Thanksgiving meals:

• Wash your hands often while cooking. Use soap and water and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Dry your hands on a clean paper towel, not a dirty apron or towel.
• Prevent cross-contamination. Clean surfaces as you go, including sinks and counters. Use separate cutting boards and utensils for meat and other food. That way, you won’t end up with raw turkey juice in your salad. (Blech!)
• Cook the turkey to 165 degrees. Use a food thermometer to check it’s done, and never rely on those cheap pop-up ones that come with the turkey.
• Follow the two-hour rule. If all your food hasn’t been gobbled up two hours after you’ve set it out on the table, it’s time to wrap it up and stick it in the fridge. Any leftovers that are perishable should be eaten or frozen within three to four days.

For more seasonal food prep tips, check out FoodSafety.gov

If you have questions while cooking your turkey, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline.
Have a happy, healthy holiday!

By USDA FoodSafety.gov

Many Hispanic immigrants forgoing care due to fear, language barriers

Immigrant woman sitting in an exam room with a provider taking her pulse

Important note: Malheur County Health Department proudly serves Spanish speaking clients and offers interpreting services for any language available on the interpreting assistance line. Immigrant status should not be a barrier to care and all are welcome. Services are available at reduced cost or free for many programs. Call 541-889-7279 to schedule a confidential appointment.

To get a better handle on the health care access barriers Hispanic immigrants in the U.S. often face, researchers from the University of Kansas Medical Center surveyed Hispanic immigrants about their experiences with the health care system.

“The Affordable Care Act has helped many Latinos, but it has systematically excluded the undocumented,” said Mariana Ramírez, a bilingual research counselor at the Kansas medical center who spoke on “Emerging Issues in Refugee and Immigrant Health” at the American Public Health Association 2019 Annual Meeting and Expo in Philadelphia.

Even those who have ACA plans sometimes struggle with high deductibles and premiums and limited coverage. Ramírez and her fellow researchers found that many times, people would change plans every year, which can make coverage inconsistent and confusing.

Researchers found that while a majority of people surveyed were employed, only 11% had employee-sponsored health insurance. In comparison, about two-thirds of adults in the region overall had insurance through their employer.

And it’s not a simple problem of access to insurance or paying for coverage. There’s a real fear in the Hispanic community that trying to get medical care could have negative consequences, Ramírez reported. For example, a vast majority of those surveyed — 86% — were worried that either they, a family member or a close friend could be deported. And about 60% said they were concerned that health care practitioners would share their information with immigration officials or were worried that using publicly funded health care services would negatively impact their immigration status.

The problems didn’t stop there. Even if an Hispanic immigrant is able to access needed health care, significant challenges such as language barriers can persist. And, unfortunately, translation services are often inconsistent and insufficient. Indeed, study participants reported lower quality of care because they were unable to effectively communicate with health care providers.

“(When) everything is in English, you just kind of have to hope that everything goes well and cross your fingers,” Ramírez said.

As a result, some Hispanic immigrants end up calling a doctor back in their home countries for consults or ask family or friends to bring them medications from abroad. They may even turn to self-medication, home remedies or unlicensed practitioners — such as someone who studied dentistry in another country and now operates in the U.S. without a license.

Article adapted from Public Health Newswire

Wash Your Hands in the Kitchen and the Bathroom

The most dangerous antibiotic-resistant strains of E. coli are transmitted not through food but through contact with human feces.

While it’s important to wash your hands carefully after handling raw chicken, it may be even more important to wash them after going to the bathroom. The most dangerous antibiotic-resistant strains of E. coli, called ESBLs, are transmitted not through food, according to new research, but through contact of human feces with human mouths.

British researchers examined many strains of ESBL-E. coli in human blood and feces, sewage, farm slurry, live animals, and raw meat, fruits and vegetables.

They found that one multidrug-resistant strain, ST131, responsible for a mortality rate as high as 35 percent in humans, was found in more than 60 percent of human bloodstream infections, but was extremely rare in live animals and nonexistent in foods.

The study, in Lancet Infectious Diseases, concludes that many of the E. coli strains that make people seriously ill come from other humans, not food or animals (though foods can also contain dangerous strains).

The senior author, David M. Livermore, a professor of microbiology at the University of East Anglia, explained that there are some strains of are E. coli that are harmless and just live in your gut. Others cause mild food poisoning. And finally there are the E. coli that are antibiotic resistant and often lead to serious illness and death.

“Good kitchen hygiene remains important,” he said, “but with these antibiotic-resistant E. coli, toilet hygiene becomes vitally important.” For many of the strains that are causing major disease, “food is not the source. It’s humans.”

But how best to protect yourself from E coli? Wash your hands properly. “When you wash your hands with soap, what the soap does is to detach the microbes from your hands, but the microbes remain alive,” says Prof Sally Bloomfield of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “The important part of washing your hands is rinsing them. That’s what takes the microbes off your hands.”

How to wash your hands properly

Use plenty of soap and be vigorous. “Rub them for at least 15 seconds, making sure that you rub them properly, from palm to palm, as well as rubbing the back of your hands. Interlace your fingers and rub them together. Rub around the backs of each of your fingers and thumbs,” Bloomfield says. “That’s the way to mechanically detach all of the organisms from your hands.”

After rinsing, dry your hands thoroughly to remove any microbes left lurking behind. (Be sure to change your hand towels regularly – every few days, or every day if you have children – on a hot wash of 60C or more to kill bacteria.)

If you’re not able to wash your hands using soap and running water, Bloomfield recommends using antibacterial hand gel to kill any microbes on your hands. Keep one in your bag and use it when you’re not able to get to a bathroom.

Article adapted from The New York Times and The Guardian.

Halloween the Healthy Way

Halloween image with the wording Creatures of Habit
Make choices to stay healthy and strong!

Have a safe and healthy Halloween

Make Halloween festivities fun, safe, and healthy for trick-or-treaters and party guests.

Take steps to prevent the flu and other illness

It’s Halloween and the flu season is here! Keeping hands clean by washing them with soap and water is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs. Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year for the best protection against influenza throughout flu season.

Keep your bite healthy

Brush with fluoride toothpaste. Floss every day. Don’t go batty for sugary treats.

Sleep tight

Don’t look a fright this Halloween! Insufficient sleep is associated with a number of long-lasting diseases and conditions. Adults should get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.

Treat yourself to fruits and veggies

Don’t fill up on junk this Halloween. Treat yourself to yummy fruits and vegetables. They make a great healthy snack to serve for Halloween parties.

Be a smoke-free creature of habit

Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body. Make your Halloween activities smoke- and tobacco-free events. Eliminating smoking in indoor spaces is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke exposure.

Prevent injuries

Make sure costumes fit well to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls. Check out a fun coloring book. Color Me Safe! from CDC tells the rhyming story of the “Safe Family,” who take steps to protect themselves from injury at home, on the road, and at play.

Article from the CDC.

It’s Flu Shot Week!

  • Tuesday, October 22, 2019: Come to TVCC to get your flu shot!
  • TVCC Cafeteria/Weese 110
  • 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • 650 College Blvd, Ontario, OR 97914
  • Wednesday – Friday, October 23-25, 2019: Come to the Malheur County Health Department Walk – In Clinic to get your flu shot!
  • Extended Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. (not closed during lunch)
  • 1108 SW 4th Street, Ontario, OR 97914
  • Please bring insurance card, if available
  • No cost vaccine available for those without health insurance
  • For more information, call 541-889-7279

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.