DPH Encourages Everyone to Know Your HIV Status – “It’s Empowering”

Dover, DE – The Division of Public Health (DPH) is encouraging Delawareans aged 13 to 64 that have not already done so to get a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) test. Although more than 3,500 people are known to be living with HIV in Delaware, one in ten of those infected don’t know they have the disease. That means that 400 people in Delaware may be infected but are unaware, posing a risk not only to their own health, but also to the health of others as well.

Knowing you are infected means you can seek treatment and protect your own health and the health of your partner. Knowing you are NOT infected means you can take precautions to ensure you remain uninfected.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care, and that people with certain risk factors get tested more often. These include but are not limited to people with more than one sex partner, with sexually transmitted infections (STIs), or who inject drugs. Sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from even more frequent testing.

“Since most new infections are transmitted by individuals who do not know they are infected, undiagnosed infection remains the main factor fueling the HIV epidemic,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “Knowing your HIV status is empowering. If you test positive, early medical treatment can lead to a fairly normal life. HIV treatment can reduce the virus in a person’s bloodstream to ‘undetectable’ levels, keeping patients healthy for many years, and greatly reducing the chance of transmitting the virus to their sex partners.”

DPH also reminds everyone that a person’s negative HIV status expires every time you engage in risky behaviors like unprotected sex or use injectable drugs. Once this happens, you have to repeat the test at least three months after the incident because early exposure may be missed by a test.

Getting tested is easy and quick. Rapid HIV testing kits require only a single finger needle-stick and provide the results in 10 minutes. To find a HIV testing location near you for year-round testing opportunities, visit http://www.hivtest.org

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.


Delaware Announces Two More Travel-Related Positive Zika Cases

Dover – The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) announced today the state’s second and third Zika cases, bringing the total number of Delaware cases to three. All three cases are travel-related and the result of a mosquito bite during visits to the countries where Zika is widespread. In the second case, an adult male was tested after showing symptoms of the disease from a January 2016 trip. In the third case, an adult female also showed symptoms of the disease following a late February-early March trip. Pregnancy is not an issue. Both cases were mild and risk of infection to others is extremely low.

Zika is primarily spread by mosquito bite, and is not spread through casual contact like hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing utensils, etc. It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy. It is not yet known how often Zika is transmitted from mother to baby. In rare cases, it also may be transmitted sexually in semen. While Zika does not remain in the blood for longer than about a week, which means that transmission from person-to-person via mosquito bite must occur within a very tight timeframe, it is not known how long Zika remains in semen.

Zika is a very mild illness and the vast majority of people exposed to it do not develop symptoms. Symptoms typically begin two to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika virus are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes).

The most significant long-term health problems linked to Zika are serious birth defects. There have been reports of serious birth defects in infants whose mothers contracted the virus while pregnant. Microcephaly, a condition in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age, and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers infected with Zika are now being linked to the virus.

Because there is neither a vaccine nor antiviral medications available to prevent Zika virus infection, DPH joins the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in sharing precautions for pregnant women or women who may get pregnant:

• If you are pregnant, postpone travel to the countries where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
• If you are pregnant and have traveled to the countries where Zika transmission is ongoing, talk to a healthcare provider about your travel even if you don’t feel sick. It is especially important that pregnant women see a doctor if they develop a fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes during their trip or within two weeks after traveling to an area where Zika has been reported.
• If your male sexual partner has traveled to, or lives in, an area with active Zika virus transmission, a couple should use condoms the right way, every time, (Condom instructions for vaginal, anal, or oral (mouth-to-penis) sex. Discuss your male partner’s potential exposures and history of Zika-like illness with your doctor. If you are trying to become pregnant, talk to your doctor before you travel about your plans to become pregnant and the risk associated with Zika virus.
• If you are pregnant or may become pregnant and must travel to one of these areas, talk to your doctor first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during your trip.
• If you are not pregnant, but your male partner lives in or has traveled to a country with Zika, consider using condoms.

“We are not surprised that there are additional Zika cases in Delaware given how often people travel and that the virus is now so widespread in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “With the upcoming spring break and a potential for even more travel to the countries where Zika is common, DPH reminds people to avoid being bitten and, if a woman is pregnant or trying to get pregnant, postpone travel if at all possible, and talk to your doctor if you plan to travel. It is also important to consider the risk of sexual transmission of the virus, and to use condoms if it is possible the male sexual partner has been exposed to the virus.”

Added DPH Medical Director Dr. Awele Maduka-Ezeh, “Zika transmission continues to spread to new countries and the best way for people to protect themselves from Zika or any mosquito-borne illness is to prevent mosquito bites during travel abroad and during Delaware’s mosquito season. It is possible that local transmission could occur either from mosquito bites once the season starts, from sexual transmission, or from mother to baby during pregnancy. Taking precautions is the best protection.”

Health care providers should ask all their patients about recent travel, and all pregnant women with a travel history should be evaluated for Zika. Because of the similar geographic distribution and clinical presentation of Zika, dengue, and chikungunya virus infection, patients with symptoms consistent with Zika virus should also be evaluated for dengue and chikungunya virus infection, in accordance with existing guidelines.

DPH and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) always work together during mosquito season but, with the spread of Zika in other countries, this year is an especially important time to take steps to protect you and your family from mosquito bites. Visit the DPH Website for a joint DPH and DNREC Frequently Asked Questions flyer on Zika and preventing mosquito bites. For additional information on DNREC’s mosquito control efforts, visit their Newsroom for the recent press release on the start of their annual spring woodland-pool spraying campaign.

The number of countries with travel warnings aimed at anyone planning to travel there continues to expand. Those who recently traveled, or plan to travel, to areas where Zika transmission is ongoing, including, but not limited to, Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, U.S. Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Panama, could be at risk for exposure.

For the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list of countries, visit: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices.

The two new Delaware Zika cases were confirmed in the Delaware Public Health Lab (DPHL), which spent the last four weeks developing the capability to perform Zika tests locally. Previously, Delaware had to send samples to the CDC for Zika testing, which resulted in delays due to the volume of samples sent to the CDC from throughout the nation. To develop the ability to test locally, DPH needed to acquire the sample tests, train staff, develop protocols, and confirm with the CDC the testing protocols were accurate. If initial testing in DPHL is inconclusive, samples will be sent to CDC for further testing.

The first Delaware Zika case, an adult female, was announced in February and a result of a mosquito bite during travel. Pregnancy was not an issue. According to the CDC, there are almost 260 travel-related Zika cases in the U.S., six of which were contracted sexually.

To report a potential illness or receive further guidance on testing, call the DPH Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 302-744-4990. For copies of flyers and more educational tools, see the below links.

For further information:
• CDC information on Zika: http://www.cdc.gov/zika/
• DPH Zika page: http://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/zika.html
• Flyer for pregnant women in English: http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/zikaflyerforpregnantwomen.pdf
• Flyer for pregnant women in Spanish: http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/zikaflyerforpregnantwomensp.pdf
• DPH special bulletin on Zika: http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/dphbulletin1602zika.pdf
• Zika information in Spanish: http://www.cdc.gov/spanish/mediosdecomunicacion/comunicados/d_recomendaciones_viajeros_virus_del_zika_011516.html

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 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.


Flu Activity Peaking Late in Delaware, Public Health Officials Say: “It’s Not too Late to Get your Flu Vaccine”

DOVER – The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is encouraging everyone who has not yet been vaccinated against the flu to do so as soon as possible. DPH is currently reporting 92 new lab-confirmed flu cases for the week ending Feb. 27, which is more than double the number of cases from the week before. The numbers, which officials say could grow even higher by week’s end, don’t include the cases identified at the Howard R. Young Correctional Institution (HRYCI).

At the beginning of February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported seeing influenza activity increasing across the country, and had received reports of severe respiratory illness among young- to middle-aged adults with the Influenza A H1N1pdm09 virus. Most of these patients were reportedly unvaccinated, according to the CDC. In the past, the H1N1pdm09 virus infection has caused severe illness in some children and young- and middle-aged adults.

The CDC is also urging clinicians to implement rapid antiviral treatment of very ill and high-risk suspect influenza patients without waiting for testing. Early antiviral treatment works best, but may be beneficial for hospitalized patients up to four to five days after symptoms begin. Early antiviral treatment can reduce influenza morbidity and mortality.

“It is important for everyone to understand that it is not too late to get your flu vaccine,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH director. “The age range of those being most affected by this particular influenza strain are the least likely to get vaccinated and it is vital that they take steps to protect themselves from illness.”

Since October 2015, CDC has detected co-circulation of influenza A(H3N2), A(H1N1)pdm09, and influenza B viruses. However, H1N1pdm09 viruses have dominated since January. This year’s flu vaccine offers protection against all three of these strains of the virus. The CDC recently announced the vaccine is nearly 60 percent effective at preventing the flu.

As of Feb. 13, 2016, there were 100 total lab-confirmed cases of the flu in Delaware for the 2015 – 2016 flu season. That includes 56 in New Castle County, 24 in Kent County and 20 in Sussex County.

DPH urges all Delawareans 6 months of age and older who have not yet been vaccinated against the flu to get a vaccination as soon as possible. The flu is easy to transmit and you can get it from healthy – but unvaccinated – children and adults. The vaccine is readily available through medical providers, pharmacies, and some grocery stores as well as many State Service Centers. For a listing of State Service Centers providing vaccinations, visit dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/fluclinics.html.

Flu vaccination reduces the risk of getting sick from the flu or spreading the disease to others. It is especially important that the following groups get flu shots: Pregnant women and their household contacts; caregivers and household contacts of children younger than 6 months, since those children are too young to receive the vaccine; seniors; those with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems; and health care providers.

Delawareans are encouraged to prevent infection by taking simple everyday measures such as washing hands, using hand sanitizer, covering coughs and sneezes and staying at home when sick. These efforts help stop the spread of respiratory illnesses including flu.

Flu symptoms come on suddenly, and include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches and body aches, and fatigue. Some people get complications including pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections. Providers can prescribe antiviral medicines to make illness milder, hasten recovery, and prevent serious complications, hospitalizations, and even death.

Beginning in October each year, DPH monitors the occurrence of influenza-like illness in hospitals, selected long-term care facilities and medical clinics to track flu trends in the state. During the 2014-2015 flu season, there were 28 flu-related deaths and 2,390 confirmed cases of influenza in Delaware, a significant increase in activity from the prior flu season.

For more information on influenza prevention, diagnosis and treatment, call the Division of Public Health at 888-282-8672 or visit flu.delaware.gov.

Department of Correction (DOC) officials have implemented a series of infection control measures to contain the spread of the flu at HRYCI. The DOC began offering voluntary flu vaccinations in the fall and will continue to make vaccinations available to offenders and staff. Concerned families and friends of residents at HRYCI should contact Chelsea D. Hicks at 302-379-4048.

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 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.


Delaware Receives First Ever State-Level Health Champion Award From American Diabetes Association

NEW CASTLE – The Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Public Health (DPH) has been awarded a Health Champion Designation by the American Diabetes Association for instilling wellness in its worksite culture. Delaware is the first state-level office in the country to win the inaugural award. The Health Champion Designation recognizes companies and organizations that inspire and encourage organizational well-being and is part of the Association’s Wellness Lives HereSM initiative. Successful applicants met healthy living criteria in three categories: nutrition and weight management, organizational well-being, and encouraging physical activity.

“We are honored to be recognized as a Health Champion,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH Director. “Employee wellness initiatives encourage healthy lifestyles to prevent diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and several cancers. It is important for the Division of Public Health to model the practices and healthy lifestyles that we promote to the public.”

“This is truly exciting news, and an honor for the state’s public health agency to receive this designation,” said Rita Landgraf, Secretary for the Department of Health and Social Services. “We appreciate the Association’s recognition of our efforts to improve not only health on a statewide level, but within our own agency.”

“It is with great pride that we acknowledge the focus towards employee wellness that the Delaware Division of Public Health exemplifies,” said Jennifer Fassbender, Director of Wellness and Community Partnerships for the Association. “Providing a culture of wellness for employees is not only the ‘right thing to do’, but benefits the employer with a more engaged and productive workforce. The American Diabetes Association applauds the efforts of Delaware.”

Examples of DPH policies and activities that qualified it for the Healthy Champion Designation include:
• Producing a guide, titled Healthier Food and Snacks for Meetings, Seminars, and Catered Events.
• Allowing employees to wear ‘active wear’ clothing when staff have no scheduled meetings with vendors or outside meetings in exchange for at least 30 minutes of physical activity during the workday (ie: walking during lunch break)
• Placing posters throughout building to encourage healthy activities such as taking the stairs/providing additional health information including ADA brochures and resources
• Encouraging/permitting employees to stand at their desks and use stationary foot pedals/standing desk/active desks, etc.
• Forming walking clubs
• Adopting a smoke-free workplace policy (state policy)
• Integrating health and wellness information into employee communications such as the internal newsletter

An estimated 70,000 adult Delawareans have diabetes. The prevalence of Delaware adults diagnosed with diabetes more than doubled from 4.9 percent in 1991 to 11.1 percent in 2013, and the state rate mirrors the national trend. Severely overweight and obese individuals risk developing pre-diabetes or diabetes, especially if they have a family history of the disease.

For more information about healthy lifestyles, visit healthydelaware.org.

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. The Division of Public Health (DPH), a division within 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, drink almost no sugary beverages.

About the American Diabetes Association

The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight to stop diabetes and its deadly consequences and fighting for those affected by diabetes. The Association funds research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes; delivers services to hundreds of communities; provides objective and credible information; and gives voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes. For the past 75 years, its mission has been to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. To learn more about the organization and Wellness Lives Here, go to www.diabetes.org/wellnessliveshere.


Delaware Public Health Urges Disposal of Hummus from Sabra Dipping Co., LLC

DOVER – Hummus distributed by Sabra Dipping Co., LLC is being voluntarily recalled due to the potential presence of Listeria monocytogenes. No illnesses have been reported to date. The products listed are being recalled because a routine sample collected by the State of Michigan at a retail location on March 30, 2015, tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. Based on U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recall notices, the Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) is working to identify establishments in Delaware that may have received the affected product, and ensure that all affected products have been removed from Delaware shelves.

DPH is urging consumers who purchased these products to throw them out or return them to the store where they were purchased. At this time the recall is limited to hummus; no other Sabra Dipping Co., LLC products have been identified as potentially contaminated.

  • UPC/SKU: 040822011143 / 300067  Item: Sabra Classic Hummus 10 oz  Use By Date:  3 059 Best Before/Meilleur Avant 2015 May 11
  • UPC/SKU: 040822011143 / 300067  Item: Sabra Classic Hummus 10 oz  Use By Date:  3 060 Best Before/Meilleur Avant 2015 May 15
  • UPC/SKU: 040822014687 / 300074 Item: Sabra Classic Hummus 30 oz  Use By Date:  3 059 Best Before/Meilleur Avant 2015 May 11
  • UPC/SKU: 040822342049 / 301216  Item: Sabra Classic Hummus without Garnish 32oz  Use By Date:  3 059 Best Before/Meilleur Avant 2015 May 11
  • UPC/SKU: 040822017497 / 301290  Item: Sabra Classic Hummus 17oz Six Pack  Use By Date:  3 058 Best Before/Meilleur Avant 2015 May 11
  • UPC/SKU: 040822017497 / 301290  Item: Sabra Classic Hummus 17oz Six Pack  Use By Date: 3 059 Best Before/Meilleur Avant 2015 May 11
  • UPC/SKU: 040822342209 / 301283 Item: Hummus Dual Pack Classic/Garlic 23.5oz  Use By Date: 3 058 Best Before/Meilleur Avant 2015 May 11

Listeria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

For more information, Delawareans can contact DPH’s Office of Food Protection at 302-744-4546, or visit the FDA’s website at www.fda.gov/safety/recalls/.

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, drink almost no sugary beverages.

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.

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Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
Email: jill.fredel@delaware.gov

Delaware Health and Social ServicesDivision of Public Health