Stop Sickness in Its Tracks

nurse using a stethoscope with patientSickness does not discriminate, on average adults get one to three colds every year and according to the Centers for Disease Control, colds are the most common illness experienced by children. Although colds can happen anytime of the year, winter is the prime time for a case of the coughs or sniffles to strike. Experts say there are a few things to consider before automatically turning to medications for symptom relief. Continue reading

Enterovirus Cases Confirmed in Indiana


Four Lake County children have been diagnosed with enterovirus D68. The cases were confirmed by state health officials on Friday.

The Indiana State Department of Health is working with local health departments and hospitals to detect others with the illness.

State health officials have already reported a higher than expected level of respiratory illnesess statewide for this time of year.

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First Death From West Nile Virus Confirmed

The first death from West Nile virus has been confirmed by the Indiana State Department of Health and the person was from Vigo County.

Jennifer House, DVM, director of zoonotic and environmental epidemiology at the Indiana State Department of Health, said the normal peak season for West Nile Virus is in August and September, but there is still a risk when it’s a little warmer outside and mosquitos are biting.

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Swine Flu Detected in Indiana

With the county fair season approaching, state health officials are encouraging you to take steps to protect yourself against the swine flu at county and 4-H fairs around the state.

Four cases of variant influenza A (H3N2), or swine flu, were found in fair-goers after the Grant County Agricultural Fair earlier this month. The Indiana State Department of Health and the Grant County Health Department are investigating these cases.

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Flu Claims 70th Victim This Season

 The flu continues to wreak havoc in the state. Two flu-related deaths have been reported this week by the Indiana State Department of Health, bringing the total number of deaths and illnesses caused by the flu to 70.

The majority of those deaths have occurred in individuals with underlying medical conditions such as cancer, COPD, diabetes, and cardiac and renal diseases.

Health officials encourage you to wash your hands frequently, cover your cough and sneeze with your arm or disposable tissue and stay home from work or school when you are sick to keep your germs from spreading.

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Report Analyzes Effects of Environment on Young Children

With Indiana’s mixture of rural and urban lifestyles, a wide range of environmental hazards exist for children in their constructive years. The Sunny Start program at the Indiana State Department of Health recently released the State of the Young Hoosier Child Environmental Health Report for 2012, which notes these hazards and gives solutions for parents, community leaders, and legislators.

This it the second report on the health of young Hoosiers provided by Sunny Start, with last year’s report focusing on physical health and well-being, social emotional development, school readiness, and family support. Both reports focus on children’s most vulnerable formative years – birth through age five.

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Spring Brings Increase in Rabies Infections

With Spring on its way, the Indiana State Department of Health’s Rabies Lab has been receiving an increased number of animal specimens to test for rabies. Four bats have been found to carry rabies within the last two weeks– two in Allen County, one in LaPorte, and one in Monroe. The ISDH is pushing for more rabies awareness to ensure that people know that bats very often carry rabies and the dangers involved in being bitten or scratched.

An Indiana University student was recently bit by a rabid bat on his hand while he slept, and after shaking the bat off in the hallway, it was found alive by a residence hall employee. A pest control officer was called to take the animal, and the student, his roommate, and the pest control officer will have to undergo a 14-day regiment for rabies shots. The animal was sent to the ISDH for testing and was found positive for rabies.

Rabies is a viral disease affecting the brain that can affect any mammal. The only way to know for sure if an animal has rabies is to have it sent to the state for testing– so don’t expect to see a rabies-infected animal foaming at the mouth. To avoid getting rabies, do not approach a wild animal, and be careful of pets or other animals you don’t know. Call your local control officer if you see an animal behaving oddly.

It can take up to two months after being bitten or scratched before any symptoms of rabies appear. When the disease reaches the brain, it is often too late for doctors to cure. If bitten by an animal that may be infected, wash the wound immediately with soap and water for at least five minutes and see a doctor as soon as possible. In the United States, more raccoons carry rabies than any other animal, but bat bites are the most common.

Pulaski County Health Department to work with VaxCare

The Pulaski County Health Department is working with VaxCare to administer a program that will allow the Department to continue vaccinating insured patients.

The Indiana State Department of Health announced last year that the Immunization Program would no longer support insured patients. This practice will be effective March 1st of this year for some health departments.

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State Health Officials Offer Tips for Removing Snow Safely

Knox Mayor Rick Chambers uses a snowblower during a January winter storm

Snow can be fun to play in, but removing it can pose a risk to safety. State health officials are urging Hoosiers to exercise caution when shoveling snow, using a snow blower and walking on snow and ice this winter.

Injuries can happen while shoveling snow, including sprains and strains, particularly in the back and shoulders.

The good news is that shoveling snow can actually be good exercise if done correctly. Here are some simple tips that can prevent injury when clearing the way:
* Warm up by stretching and doing a few exercises before shoveling.
* Avoid smoking or eating a large meal before shoveling.
* Dress warmly in layers with a hat. Be sure to cover your neck.
* Wear shoes or boots that have slip-resistant soles to avoid falls.
* Plan before shoveling snow. Shovel heavy snow in stages. Start by skimming off the snow from the top, and then remove the bottom layer. Don’t overload the shovel.
* Avoid a rush and allow enough time to do the work. Follow a slow and steady pace and take frequent breaks to stand up and stretch.
* Watch what you are shoveling/blowing. Don’t let a hat or scarf block your vision. Watch for ice patches and uneven surfaces.
* Use a shovel that’s comfortable for your height and strength. Don’t use a shovel that’s too heavy or too long for you. Space your hands on the tool grip to increase your leverage.
* Push the snow instead of lifting it. If you must lift, do it properly. Squat with your legs apart, knees bent, and back straight. Lift with your legs. Do not bend at the waist.
* Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side as it could stress your back.
* Breathing cold air dehydrates the body, so drink water during breaks.

For more information about winter weather safety, including health tips and helpful links, visit the Indiana State Department of Health website.