DNREC’s Mosquito Control Section Announces First Detection of Eastern Equine Encephalitis This Year

Asian tiger mosquito – Photo by Jared Belson

Mosquito bite avoidance and precautions encouraged

DOVER – Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), a potentially serious illness, has been detected in sentinel chickens monitored for mosquito-transmitted diseases in Delaware, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife Mosquito Control Section announced today. The Delaware Division of Public Health Laboratory reported to DNREC that four chickens recently tested positive for EEE from three of the 20 sentinel chicken stations monitored by Mosquito Control. The three stations are located in southwestern New Castle County, east-central Kent County, and southeastern Sussex County.

In response to these recent EEE detections, the Mosquito Control Section will increase mosquito population surveillance in areas where the EEE detections have occurred, and take mosquito control actions as warranted to include possible aerial spraying and/or fogging with a spray truck.

Anyone in an area where the virus is present can be infected with EEE, with people who are exposed to high numbers of mosquito bites at the highest risk. The Mosquito Control Section encourages people to avoid mosquito bites and lessen their chances of contracting a mosquito-transmitted disease by:

  • Properly using insect repellent containing DEET or another EPA-recognized ingredient whenever outdoors;
  • Covering up exposed skin as much as possible by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants; and
  • Avoiding known high mosquito population areas or being outside during times of peak mosquito activity, typically dawn and dusk.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis is a rare, potentially fatal viral disease spread by mosquitoes that can affect both people and horses, and is considered one of the more serious mosquito-transmitted illnesses. While not as common as West Nile Virus (WNV), another mosquito-transmitted disease in Delaware affecting both people and horses, EEE is more virulent than WNV, with a higher fatality risk. Although WNV is usually found before EEE in the summer in Delaware, no sentinel chickens or wild birds have tested positive for WNV yet this year. No human or equine cases of EEE or WNV have been reported to date this year in Delaware. Although EEE and WNV vaccines are available for horses, no such vaccines are available for people.

Many people infected with EEE have no apparent signs of illness, according to the Delaware Division of Public Health. Symptoms of EEE often appear four to 10 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Severe cases of EEE can involve encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, beginning with the sudden onset of headache, high fever, chills, and vomiting. The illness may then progress into disorientation, seizures, or coma. Approximately 33 percent of EEE cases in people lead to death, and many of those who do survive can experience significant brain damage or other long-term effects. Those over age 50 and under age 15 appear to be at greatest risk for developing severe disease when infected with EEE. There is no specific treatment for EEE, with care based on symptoms. If you think you or a family member may have contracted EEE, it is important to consult your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis.

In addition to avoiding mosquito bites, the Mosquito Control Section advises residents to also reduce mosquito producing habitat on their individual properties and in communities and neighborhoods by draining or removing items that collect water, such as discarded buckets or containers, uncovered trash cans, stagnant birdbaths, unprotected rain barrels or cisterns, old tires, upright wheelbarrows, flower pot liners, depressions in tarps covering boats, clogged rain gutters, corrugated downspout extenders, and unused swimming pools.

The Mosquito Control Section also encourages residents to report intolerable numbers of biting mosquitoes by calling the numbers below between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Callers after business hours or during weekends or holidays should leave their name, phone number, address, and a brief message.

  • Glasgow Office, serving all of New Castle County and northern Kent County, including the Dover area: 302-836-2555
  • Milford Office, serving southern Kent County and all of Sussex County: 302-422-1512

The public can also call these numbers to report suspected WNV-stricken wild birds, with special emphasis on crows, blue jays, cardinals, robins, hawks, and owls.

For more information about:

  • Mosquito biology/ecology and control – Contact the Mosquito Control Section’s Dover office at 302-739-9917.
  • WNV or EEE in humans and related medical issues – Contact the Delaware Division of Public Health at 888-295-5156.
  • Animal health questions – Contact the Delaware Department of Agriculture, Poultry and Animal Health Section, at 800-282-8685.

For more information about Eastern equine encephalitis or West Nile Virus, visit the CDC website, www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm.

Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs Office, 302-739-9902

Vol. 49, No. 208


Medicaid MCOs Embrace YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program

NEW CASTLE (Aug. 1, 2019) – As a way to improve the health of Delawareans who are covered by Medicaid, while potentially reducing overall health care spending, the Department of Health and Social Services’ two Medicaid managed care organizations are making the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program available to their members who meet eligibility criteria.

The program is available at no cost to adult members of DHSS’ Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance two managed care organizations (MCOs) – Highmark Health Options and AmeriHealth Caritas Delaware – who meet the program’s eligibility criteria. To participate, MCO members must be 18 or older, overweight with a body mass index (BMI) over 25 and be diagnosed with prediabetes or have a previous diagnosis of prediabetes. YMCA of Delaware membership is not required.

“Unfortunately, obesity and diabetes are twin epidemics in our state,” said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a practicing family physician. “I thank Highmark and AmeriHealth Caritas for making the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program available at no cost to Medicaid MCO clients who meet the eligibility criteria. This is an important step forward in reducing the impact of obesity and diabetes, while helping us to build a healthier Delaware.”

Across the state, about two-thirds of Delaware adults are at an unhealthy weight, either overweight or obese. In 2017, 11.3 percent of Delaware residents age 18 and older reported they had been diagnosed with diabetes and an additional 12.2 percent reported being told they have pre-diabetes.

“Highmark Health Options is proud to partner with DHSS and the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program as we work together to reduce obesity and chronic disease,” said Todd Graham, President and CEO for Highmark Health Options. “We look forward to this partnership that will lead to a healthier lifestyle for our members while supporting the My Healthy Weight pledge.”

“We are very pleased to be a part of the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, alongside the Department of Health and Social Services, Highmark Health Options, and our valued community partner, the YMCA of Delaware, to help reduce the life-threatening chronic conditions caused by diabetes,” said Emmilyn Lawson, CEO of AmeriHealth Caritas Delaware. “Through this complimentary community-based program, we hope to nurture healthy citizens and healthier communities by increasing access to the support and services that Delawareans need to achieve their wellness goals.”

The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is a yearlong, evidence-based health behavior change program consisting of 25 one-hour group sessions. A trained lifestyle coach helps participants learn skills and strategies to eat healthier, increase physical activity, lose weight, overcome stress, stay motivated and more. The goals of the program are to reduce participants’ body weight by 7 percent and increase physical activity by 150 minutes per week.

“We have offered the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program about 10 years, we’ve seen tremendous results, and will now be able to reach even more people in need,” said Tricia Jefferson, RD, LDN, Director of Program Development and Partnerships for the YMCA of Delaware. “Partnering with both Managed Care Organizations to serve our Medicaid-eligible participants will not only help us further prevent diabetes in a population that is at great risk, but it will help shape the future of how prevention programs are delivered and paid for across the nation.”

“We are grateful to Highmark, AmeriHealth Caritas, and the YMCA for their partnership in offering an evidence-based program to address obesity and related chronic disease for eligible Medicaid enrollees,” said Steve Groff, Director of DHSS’ Division of Medicaid and Medical Assistance. “DHSS was one of nine founding members of My Healthy Weight, a national collective initiative offering obesity prevention and treatment. The Diabetes Prevention Program will fulfill our pledge to provide access to community-based programs.”

To learn more about your eligibility for the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, contact your managed care organization.

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The Department of Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of life of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.


DHSS Among Founding Members of National My Healthy Weight; Medicaid Program to Offer Treatment Visits for Obesity Starting in 2019

NEW CASTLE (Jan. 2, 2018) – In embracing one of the policy objectives of Governor John Carney’s Action Plan for Delaware, the Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) has become a founding member of the national My Healthy Weight, a first-ever collective initiative offering obesity prevention and treatment for individuals of all ages. Delaware is one of nine founding members of this public-private initiative developed by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the Bipartisan Policy Center, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In Governor Carney’s Action Plan, his transition team recommended that DHSS launch a statewide effort to reduce the impact of obesity as a way to improve health outcomes and reduce health costs. About two-thirds of Delaware adults are at an unhealthy weight, either obese or overweight, and half of all Delawareans don’t get regular physical activity. In 2014, about 11 percent of Delaware adults reported having diabetes, with that percentage rising to 18.6 percent for Delawareans with incomes below $15,000, compared with 7.8 percent for those who make $50,000 or more per year.

Starting in January 2019, Medicaid clients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher will have access to at least 12 visits a year with a health care professional to support healthy weight. Individuals with a BMI of 25 or higher and specific cardiovascular health risks and children with at-risk BMIs will also be offered visits with health care professionals. Further support will be provided for eligible individuals to access community-based programs focused on obesity prevention and treatment.

“My Healthy Weight offers the opportunity for DHSS to provide consistent coverage through our Medicaid program to thousands of clients who are at an unhealthy weight,” Governor Carney said. “This initiative will improve the quality of life for many Delawareans, offer us new ways to prevent obesity, and help us reduce the impact of such chronic conditions as diabetes, hypertension and cancer. I am grateful to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for believing in our ability to build a healthier Delaware.”

Delaware joins a collaborative of health care leaders from across the nation, including private and public payers and employers, who have joined together in this innovative pledge. The initiative will provide millions of Americans with consistent coverage to support healthy weight change.

“With obesity and diabetes at epidemic rates in our state, My Healthy Weight offers us a way to provide consistent coverage to support healthy weight change and bring down our statewide rates,” said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a board-certified family physician. “We know that poverty is the number one social determinant of health, so we are proud to offer this connection to care to our Medicaid clients as an important step forward in preventing and treating obesity in our state.”

“Each founding member in My Healthy Weight is a leader in the fight to combat this national public health crisis,” said Dr. Howell Wechsler, CEO, Alliance for a Healthier Generation. “By covering obesity prevention and treatment for members of all ages, they are taking a bold action to support better health at the most fundamental levels. This proactive, preventive initiative will make our entire health care system better and will improve millions of lives.”

More than one in three U.S. adults has obesity, with obesity care costing as much as $210 billion per year nationwide. Physical inactivity, obesity, and related chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, and hypertension, constitute some of the most challenging and costly public health threats facing America.

“Health care is changing rapidly in America and prevention is too often an afterthought or left out of the conversation entirely,” said Bipartisan Policy Center’s Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anand Parekh. “The founding members of My Healthy Weight are putting a historic stake in the ground to say that they value obesity and chronic disease prevention, which represents a fundamental and long overdue shift in the way we think about health care in this country.”


DPH Announces First Flu Death of 2017-2018 Season

The words Get Flu Shot written on a CalendarDOVER — The Division of Public Health (DPH) is reporting the first flu-related death of the 2017-2018 flu season. The individual, a 47-year-old male from New Castle County, passed away last week at a local hospital. The man, who was infected with influenza A, was a resident of a long-term care facility and had multiple underlying health conditions.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the gentleman’s family during this difficult time,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “His death is a reminder of how serious the flu can be, especially among vulnerable populations. We often think of the very young and seniors when we think of the vulnerable, but people at any age with underlying health conditions are also at a greater risk of the flu and serious complications stemming from it.”

As of Dec. 2, 2017, there are 46 laboratory-confirmed flu cases in Delaware for the 2017-2018 season with 15 requiring hospitalization. For the same time frame last flu season, there were 42 lab-confirmed cases statewide and also 15 hospitalizations.

Concerns have been expressed that the U.S. could see a difficult flu season, because this year’s flu season in Australia — which is typically a good measuring stick for how the season will unfold in the United States — has been particularly harsh, with more cases, hospitalizations and deaths compared with the season last year. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) flu experts say that flu is difficult to predict, and it’s still too early in our season to determine when the flu season will peak in the United States, how severe it will be, or what viruses will predominate.

Public Health officials say this is why getting the flu vaccine is so important. “Getting your annual flu vaccine is still your first and best line of defense against the influenza virus,” said Dr. Rattay.

In addition to getting vaccinated the following additional preventive steps are critically important to stopping the spread of flu:

  • At this time of the year, it’s important to keep your distance from others if you have cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
  • Cover sneezes and coughs with a tissue, and dispose of tissues immediately; if no tissue is available sneeze or cough into your inner elbow.
  • Stay home if you are sick until you are fever free for 24 hours – with a temperature of less than 100◦ F (37.8◦ C), without the use of fever-reducing medications for at least 24 hours.
  • If you suspect you have influenza, call your doctor as they may decide to provide antiviral medications to help hasten recovery and prevent serious complications

DPH continues to offer the vaccine at five State Service Centers. Information for these sites can be found at http://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/fluclinics.html. You can also Google “CDC Flu Finder” and enter your ZIP code. Additionally, the vaccine is available through many medical providers, pharmacies, and some grocery stores.

DPH recommends anyone, 6 months of age and older, who has not yet been vaccinated against the flu, to do so as soon as possible as it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against influenza virus infection. Children 6 months to 8 years getting vaccinated for the first time, should get two doses of vaccine.

For more information on influenza prevention, diagnosis, and treatment, call DPH at 1-800-282-8672 or visit flu.delaware.gov.
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.


Sixteenth Annual Diabetes Wellness Expo Nov. 14

Picture of glucose meter and lancelet surrounded by fresh apples
Glucose meter surrounded by fresh apples

DOVER – Nearly 80,000 Delawareans have diabetes and an additional 84,600 people have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, adult blindness, lower-limb amputations, heart disease and stroke. The disease requires extensive medical monitoring and costly, lifelong treatment. However, the health impacts of the disease can be managed through healthier lifestyle choices and self-management of medications so people can enjoy a higher quality of life.

More than 50 exhibitors and screeners will showcase health services, supplies and programs to Delawareans with diabetes at the 16th Annual Diabetes Wellness Expo, to be held Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the Dover Downs Conference Center. The free event, organized by the Delaware Diabetes Coalition (DDC), the Division of Public Health (DPH) and other partners, will bring together health care facilities, diabetes-related organizations and businesses to promote self-management and healthier lifestyles for people with diabetes and prediabetes.

The Expo includes educational presentations on: diabetes/prediabetes management, medication adherence, eating healthy, A1C control and the benefits of exercise. Blood sugar, blood pressure, foot care, eye exams and other screenings and tests are available. Free flu shots will also be provided at the Expo. A box lunch including a gourmet sandwich, fruit and beverage will be provided on a first come, first-served basis.

Overweight and obesity are major contributing factors for developing diabetes. In Delaware, 20.8 percent of adults who report being obese have been diagnosed with diabetes, compared with 3 percent of adults who report normal weights. People with pre-diabetes are at risk for developing type 2 (often called adult onset) diabetes, but they can significantly reduce that risk by increasing physical activity and eating a healthier diet. The National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse estimates that between 90 percent and 95 percent of people with diabetes have type 2.

The 2016 Delaware Behavioral Risk Factor Survey (BRFS) provides information about compliance with recommendations for people with diabetes:

  • 57 percent say they check their blood glucose (sugar) levels one or more times per day. The recommended frequency is three times a day for most diabetic adults.
  • 33 percent see their doctor four or more times a year. An additional 35 percent say they see their doctor two or three times a year.
  • 75 percent of people with diabetes had an eye exam in which their pupils were dilated during the past year.
  • 77 percent said a health professional had checked their feet for sores or irritations one or more times in the past year.
  • Nearly half (47.2 percent) of all adults diagnosed with diabetes say they have taken a course or class in how to manage diabetes.

For more information, please call the Delaware Diabetes Coalition at 302-388-9728 or Delaware’s Division of Public Health’s Diabetes and Heart Disease Prevention and Control Program at 302-744-1020. You can also learn more about diabetes programs and resources at http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/dpc/diabetes.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 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.