DPH Advises Residents to Prepare For Dangerously High Temperatures This Week

DOVER – The Division of Public Health (DPH) is asking Delaware residents to prepare for extreme heat this week and prevent heat-related illness as temperatures rise. Temperatures are expected to reach the upper 90s through the weekend, with the heat index values as high as 110 degrees. The National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Warning for New Castle County through 10 p.m. Sunday, July 21, and a Heat Advisory for Kent County and inland Sussex County through 8 p.m. Wednesday. Additional Heat Advisory days are possible.

On hot days and warm nights, our bodies have less chance to recover, placing everyone at risk for heat-related illness. When temperatures and humidity are high, sweat ceases to evaporate and the body’s natural cooling system slows down or shuts down completely. Hot weather can cause heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and severe respiratory conditions, which can be fatal.
Extreme heat is especially dangerous for seniors, young children, people with disabilities, and people with breathing conditions and other chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other respiratory problems. Higher temperatures, not even in the extreme, have also been associated with higher levels of inflammation in patients with preexisting heart health conditions. Also at risk are people without access to air-conditioning, fans, or cooling shelters.
DPH suggests that every household make a heat wave plan in case of a power outage. Air-conditioners should be serviced and electric fans should be obtained before the heat rises to dangerous levels. Residents should keep cases of bottled water on hand and listen to local news reports for the locations of community “cooling centers,” which are often public libraries or churches. During days of extreme heat, Delawareans should check on vulnerable members of their families and neighbors, including seniors and those with access and functional needs.

For those who may need additional assistance, Delaware 2-1-1 connects Delawareans with critical services and support. Eligible callers can receive referrals to crisis assistance, and nearby cooling centers.

Tips to prevent heat illness:
• Do not leave people or pets alone in a parked car, even for a minute.
Call 911 if you see anyone (a child, or adult with access and functional needs) who is unable to open a door or window and is left unattended in a vehicle. Keep your car locked when you’re not in it so children don’t get in on their own. If you see a pet left in a car, even with air-conditioning running, call 911 or Delaware Animal Services at 302-255-4646.
Also remember that any equipment left in a car can quickly become hot to the touch, especially metal pieces in child car seats, seatbelt handles, and wheelchairs. Check the temperature of these items prior to use to avoid potential burns.
Carry water with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks containing sugar, alcohol, or caffeine, which dehydrate the body. Check with a doctor before increasing fluid intake if you have epilepsy, heart, kidney, or liver disease, or if you are on a fluid-restrictive diet. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician. Visit http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/nutrition/index.html for more information.
Stay indoors on the lowest floor possible. When outdoors, wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Wear a hat or use an umbrella. Use sunscreen with SPF 30+. Sunburn slows the skin’s ability to cool itself, and has been linked to skin cancer.
Avoid extreme temperature changes. Be careful trying to cool down too quickly; a cold shower immediately after coming in from hot temperatures can lead to hypothermia, particularly for the elderly and children. In these cases, cool water is better than ice cold water.
Limit outdoor activity, especially mid-day when the sun is hottest. Work out or hold team practices early in the morning or in the early evening. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) online course for coaches, athletic trainers, students, school nurses, parents, and teachers is available at: cdc.gov/nceh/hsb/extreme/Heat_Illness/index.html.
Heed the following heat danger warning signs and take suggested actions:
o Heat cramps occur in the muscles of the limbs or abdomen during or after physical activity in high heat. Sweating results in a loss of fluids and salts that cause muscle cramps. Address heat cramps by resting in a cool place and drinking plenty of water.
o Heat exhaustion is more severe, occurring when a person is overheated, along with reduced or unbalanced intake of fluids. Symptoms include dehydration, fatigue, weakness, clammy skin, headache, nausea and/or vomiting, rapid breathing, irritability, and fainting. Take these simple steps to reduce heat exhaustion: Move the person indoors or into shade. Loosen or remove the person’s clothing. Encourage the person with heat exhaustion to eat and drink. Get the person to a cool shower or bath. Call your doctor for further advice.
o Heat stroke occurs when the body can no longer cool itself, and can be a life-threatening event. Prompt medical treatment is required. Symptoms include: flushed, hot and dry skin with no sweating; high body temperature (above 103 degrees F, taken orally); severe, throbbing headache; weakness, dizziness, or confusion; sluggishness or fatigue; decreased responsiveness; and loss of consciousness. If heat stroke occurs, take these steps: Call 9-1-1 immediately. This is a medical emergency. Get the heat stroke victim indoors or into shade. Get the person into a cool shower or bath or wipe them down with continuously soaked cool washcloths while awaiting emergency responders.

For more information, visit the CDC at cdc.gov/extremeheat/warning.html.
Make a Heat Plan for Pets:

DPH also urges pet owners to make a plan for caring for their pets. Animals at the greatest risk of stress from the heat include pregnant or lactating animals, very young and older animals, animals with darker coats, obese pets, short-nosed dog breeds, and animals with chronic health conditions. Signs of heat stress can include panting, increased salivation, restlessness, muscle spasms, increased heartbeat and body temperature, weakness, lack of coordination, bright red or pale and sticky gums, vomiting, diarrhea, and depression.
Pets should not be left in vehicles, even in mild temperatures: Animals kept inside a vehicle in warm or hot temperatures are susceptible to heatstroke. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the interior of a vehicle can reach 89 degrees in just 10 minutes when the temperature outside is just 70 degrees. At 80 degrees outside, a vehicle’s interior can reach 99 degrees in that time. Temperatures will continue to rise inside a vehicle, and the AVMA states that cracking windows does little to help. Call 911, or Delaware Animal Services at 302-255-4646 immediately, if you see a pet left unattended in a vehicle.
Animals should have access to shade and water when outside: The best place for pets in hot temperatures is inside the home. If a pet must be outside in the heat, make sure the animal has a shady area and fresh water to help stay cool. The interiors of cat and dog houses can get very hot in summer months and, therefore, do not provide adequate shade.
Practice caution when walking dogs in the heat: The best time of day to walk dogs in summer months is in the early morning or late evening when the sun’s heat is not as intense. A simple touch of the hand to any surface where a walk is planned will tell if it’s too hot for a dog. If it’s too hot for a human hand, it’s too hot for a dog’s paws.
Pay attention to signs of heat stroke: Just like humans, dogs are susceptible to heat stroke in high temperatures, especially if there is high humidity, increased activity or little ventilation. A dog that is drooling, excessively panting, or unsteady can be signs of heat stroke, which can be life-threatening. Seek immediate veterinary attention if your dog has become over-heated and is showing any of these symptoms.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


Stray cat in Millsboro tests positive for rabies

DOVER (Sept. 13, 2018) – Delaware’s Division of Public Health (DPH) is advising Sussex County residents who live in the residential area of Mount Joy Road between Townsend and Cannon roads in Millsboro of a positive case of rabies in a stray cat that came into contact with a human recently. The victim was bitten by the cat while attempting to provide aid to the animal after it was hit by a car in the victim’s driveway. The individual has begun treatment for rabies exposure.

Anyone in this area who thinks they might have been bitten, scratched or come in contact with a stray cat should immediately contact their health care provider or call the DPH Rabies Program at 302-744-4995. An epidemiologist is available 24/7. Anyone who thinks their pet may have been bitten by this cat should call their private veterinarian or the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) at 302-698-4630 or email rabies.hotline@delaware.gov.

Since Jan. 1, 2018, the Division of Public Health (DPH) has performed rabies tests on 107 animals, 10 of which were confirmed to be rabid, including three foxes, three raccoons, two cats (including this one), one dog and one horse. Rabies tests performed on four animals (one sheep, one bat and two dogs) were indeterminate. DPH only announces those rabies cases for which it is possible the animal had unknown contacts with humans and there is a risk of exposure to the community.

In addition, DPH recently announced Delaware’s first positive case of rabies in a human in nearly 80 years. A Felton woman died in August after contracting the disease.

Rabies is an infectious disease affecting the nervous system of humans and other mammals. Infection can occur through the bite or scratch of an infected animal or if saliva from such an animal gets into the eyes, nose, mouth or an opening in the skin. Rabies in humans and animals cannot be cured once symptoms appear, and therefore, if an animal that has exposed a human is unavailable to be quarantined or tested, DPH recommends that people receive post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment, a series of four vaccinations, as a precautionary measure.

Fortunately, rabies is also almost completely preventable. DPH recommends that members of the public take the following steps to stay clear of exposure:
• All dogs, cats, and ferrets 6 months of age and older are required by Delaware law to be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. Consider vaccinating livestock and horses as well. It is recommended to consult with your private veterinarian if you have any questions regarding whether your animal(s) should be vaccinated against rabies.
• Pet owners can reduce the possibility of pets being exposed to rabies by not letting them roam free.
• Spaying or neutering your pet may reduce the tendency to roam or fight and, thus, reduce the chance they will be exposed to rabies.
• Do not keep your pet’s food or water outdoors; bowls can attract wild and stray animals.
• Keep your garbage securely covered.
• Do not touch or otherwise handle wild or unfamiliar animals, even if they appear friendly.

For more information on the DPH rabies program, visit http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/dpc/rabies.html or call 1-866-972-9705 or 302-744-4995. For more information on rabies, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


DPH Shares ‘Preparedness Buddy’ Brochure To Help Delawareans Prepare For Emergencies

DOVER — Winter weather can bring high winds, snow, ice, and extremely cold temperatures. Responding to those and other potential hazards — such as power outages, fires, floods, and disease outbreaks — is less stressful when emergency plans are in place. This is particularly true for adults and children with disabilities, seniors, and those with temporary or chronic health conditions, language barriers or any other issue that might make mobility difficult in an emergency. That’s why the Division of Public Health (DPH) is encouraging use of the Office of Preparedness’ “Preparedness Buddy Brochure.”

This downloadable and printable brochure is a great tool that asks people with access and functional need to identify a Preparedness Buddy to help them prepare to manage through emergencies. It provides these individuals, as well as their support network or “buddy,” with a step-by-step template for developing a personal emergency plan in the event of situations where they may need to evacuate their homes or shelter in place.

The Preparedness Buddy brochure can be found online at http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/php/preparednessbuddy.html in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole. DPH recommends printing the brochure, filling in such important information as medications you are taking, food and drug allergies, medical supplies and equipment, medical and personal caregivers or disability service providers, primary care physician, communication and mobility challenges, and your specific transportation needs. If you have a pet or service animal, include their information and needs, and then share it with friends and family. DPH especially advises people with access and functional needs who live alone, to find a primary Preparedness Buddy, as well as an alternate buddy. They should also identify and send a copy of the brochure to an out-of-state Preparedness Buddy.

“Keeping all Delawareans safe is a priority of the Division of Public Health,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Most everyone has someone with access and functional needs in their family or friend network. By helping those who may need extra assistance prepare for emergencies, we are taking an important step towards doing just that. We strongly urge anyone with access and functional needs to take advantage of the Preparedness Buddy brochure as a precaution in case of an emergency.”

And, DPH urges loved ones or those serving people with access and functional needs to print and fill out the brochure if an individual is unable. The term “people with access and functional needs” is defined as those with hearing, mobility, cognitive, emotional, and mental challenges, and also can include older people, children, those with limited or no English language proficiency, persons from diverse cultures, individuals who use life-support systems, people who use service animals, and people who are medically or chemically dependent (meaning those who must regularly take medications or receive medical care or are struggling with substance abuse.)

DPH advises these seven steps for people with access and functional needs to plan for emergencies:

1. Find a Preparedness Buddy and an alternate buddy. Delawareans who live alone or have special needs should ask someone dependable to serve as their Preparedness Buddy and their alternate.

2. Complete the Preparedness Buddy personal emergency plan brochure. Keep the original plan on the refrigerator and a copy in a disaster kit. Ask your preparedness buddies to keep copies.

3. Include in the personal emergency plan what to do in case of interrupted utilities (electricity, gas, phone, and garbage disposal) and interrupted transportation (medication deliveries, transportation to and from work, and caregiver and family visits). Home health care clients should contact their providers to ask how bad weather impacts their schedule and ability to reach clients. Include contact names, street addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. Review and update emergency plans each year or during peak disaster seasons.

4. The Preparedness Buddy should regularly check in on their designated buddy to ensure they have enough medication, oxygen, medical supplies, food, and water.

5. Read the “Emergency Preparedness” section of the Guide to Services for Older Delawareans and Persons with Disabilities at http://www.delawareadrc.com/, pages 82-84.

6. Register Delawareans with access and functional needs at the Smart 9-1-1 website. All three counties use Smart 9-1-1. Smart 9-1-1 is a service that allows residents to create a free Safety Profile for their household that includes any information they want 9-1-1 and first responders to have in the event of an emergency. When anyone in that household dials 9-1-1 from a phone associated with their Safety Profile, their profile is immediately displayed to the 9-1-1 call taker providing additional information that can be used to facilitate the proper response to the proper location.

7. Read the emergency planning instructions for your region:

The Office of Preparedness created the Preparedness Buddy brochure in collaboration with Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities, the Division of Developmental Disabilities Services, Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, the Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA), the Developmental Disabilities Council, Autism Delaware, the University of Delaware Center for Disabilities Studies, Family SHADE, and local Emergency Operations Centers.

For more information on preparing for emergencies such as what items to keep in a disaster kit and evacuation planning visit:

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


Zika: Holiday Travel? Pack Your Bug Spray

DOVER – As temperatures drop outside and holiday travel plans to warmer climates heat up, the Division of Public Health (DPH) reminds you that as Zika is being found in an increasing number of countries stopping a mosquito bite is still the best protection against the disease. Packing bug spray and clothing that protects against mosquito bites is as important as packing sunscreen and a bathing suit.

Delaware now has 16 Zika cases, including one not previously announced in an adult male with travel back and forth to Puerto Rico. All cases were caused by mosquito bites while traveling abroad. All but one of the Delaware Zika cases are in adults and none is pregnant. Of the 16 Delaware cases, nine are in New Castle County, three are in Kent County and four are in Sussex counties.

Anyone who is traveling abroad and gets bitten by a mosquito carrying Zika virus or has unprotected sex with someone who has been exposed to the virus (which could include anyone who lives locally), could get the disease. That same Delawarean could return home and spread it here through sexual activity or during pregnancy. To prevent spreading Zika during sexual activity, barrier methods (condoms, dental dams) should be used.

Women who are trying to become pregnant and have been diagnosed with Zika virus or have symptoms of Zika, should wait at least eight weeks after symptoms first appeared before trying to conceive. Men who have been diagnosed with Zika virus or have symptoms are advised to wait at least six months after symptoms first appeared before having vaginal, oral, or anal unprotected sex.

For an updated list of countries impacted by Zika visit: www.cdc.gov/zika.

“Zika remains an ever-growing threat and we are concerned that people will forget about the need to protect themselves while traveling over the holidays,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “We are still telling pregnant women to avoid countries where Zika transmission is active, and their sexual partners need to be tested if they recently traveled to those areas. If the sexual partner has confirmed Zika, the couple should abstain from sex or use condoms and other barrier methods until the baby is born.”

Adding Department of Health and Social Services Cabinet Secretary Rita Landgraf, “Last week the World Health Organization announced it was shifting its approach to Zika from a ‘public health emergency’ to one of a long-term fight. This is not to say that Zika is any less problematic or potentially dangerous, but instead says that Zika is spreading so rapidly and, with no vaccines available soon, we must view this as needing an aggressive response over a period of years, not something that can be eradicated in a matter of months.”

To reduce the risk of mosquito bites while traveling, use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents; stay in places with air conditioning or that use window or door screens to keep mosquitoes outside; sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are outside and not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes; treat clothing and gear with permethrin available in pharmacies or purchase permethrin-treated items; and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

Zika is a generally mild illness caused by a virus primarily transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. About one in five people infected with the virus develop the disease, and most people who are infected do not develop symptoms. The most common symptoms of Zika virus infection are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). However, while it is often mild, Zika has been linked to serious birth defects in infants whose mothers were infected during the pregnancy and rare but serious health complications in adults.

To learn more about Zika and Delaware, visit http://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/zika.html. Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant can find more information by visiting:

· http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/zikaflyerforpregnantwomen.pdf (English)
· http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/zikaflyerforpregnantwomensp.pdf (Español)
· http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/zikaflyerforpregnantwomenhc.pdf (kreyòl ayisyen)

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


DPH Seeking Dental Volunteers to Protect Children’s Teeth Through Seal-A-Smile Program

Dover – With children still munching their way through all of that Halloween candy and looking forward to holiday treats, that means higher sugar consumption which can impact the health of young teeth and even lead to cavities. Research shows dental sealants which shield the back teeth could prevent up to 80 percent of cavities in school-aged children. Yet according to a CDC report, about 60 percent of school children ages 6-11 years don’t get dental sealants.

That’s why the Division of Public Health (DPH) is seeking dentists wishing to use their skills to help Delaware’s children in the Seal-A-Smile program which brings the dental office to local schools. Too many children still lack access to regular dental care. The program travels all across the state in the Mobile Dental Clinic, visiting elementary schools to provide preventive dental services to children who do not have dental homes.

During the 2015-2016 academic year, the Seal-A-Smile program visited 25 schools statewide and provided oral exams to over 400 children. Seventy-three percent of those children received dental sealants, a thin plastic coating that is applied to molars for cavity protection, and a total of 919 teeth were sealed. However, nearly half of the children who were screened were diagnosed with untreated cavities, and seven percent of the students overall had conditions that required emergency treatment. Many of these children are from lower income families, receive free or reduced lunch and despite the fact that they are Medicaid eligible, do not regularly see a dentist.

CDC research shows that low-income children are 20 percent less likely to have sealants than higher-income children. Additionally, lack of dental care can have a profound impact on children’s health, development, and self-esteem.

“Many children with untreated cavities will have difficulty eating, speaking, and learning,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “School-based dental programs are an effective way to get oral health care to children and help children lead a healthy, normal life.”

DPH is asking local dentists to contribute 2-3 hours of their time per shift, to assist in its mission to promote oral health and disease prevention among Delaware’s children. There is no minimum or maximum limit to the number of times a dentist can volunteer during the school year. With the help of volunteering dentists, DPH seeks to reach more schools across the state to provide these much needed dental services.

Dentists interested in participating in the Seal-A-Smile program can find the program flyer and participation form at http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/hsm/files/sealasmilevolunteerflyer.pdf. Questions can be directed to 302-744-4554.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.