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A recent essay in Science makes the case that, at least when writing up research on endangered species, complete transparency could be harmful. The prolific increase in online publishing, whether it be articles, reports, or data, creates significant problems in this field, namely:
- Unrestricted access to species location information is facilitating a surge in wildlife poaching, with many species at risk. Poaching has been documented in species within months of their taxonomic description in journals.
- Unrestricted access to location data and habitat descriptions can disrupt the often delicate relationships between scientists and landowners. Trespassing has occurred when location data is published.
- Unrestricted access to species information has the potential to accelerate habitat destruction and create other negative disturbances. The digital age has brought a desire among many nature enthusiasts to observe, photograph, and sometimes remove animals and plants.
Some fields such as paleontology and archaeology have long maintained restrictions on the publication of site locations and promoted government policies and regulations to limit collection and trade in fossils, artefacts, and culturally sensitive and/or scientifically important material. Organizations such as the U.S. Forest Service do not disclose geospatial data in order to protect research sites. Other solutions include modification of research permits so that endangered species locations are not automatically uploaded into wildlife databases and masking such records on private land, as presently occurs in some states in the United States.
Is this relevant to any public health research? Other than personally identifiable information, what types of health data should not be made widely available?
CDPH in the News
Judge Trashes California’s $567,000 Medical Waste Fine
from Courthouse News
A federal judge Tuesday found that it a simple call that the California Department of Public Health unlawfully fined a medical-waste disposal company $567,000 for disposing of biohazardous materials out of state.
“The case presents a clear violation of the extraterritorial doctrine that requires little analysis,” U.S. District Judge Lawrence O’Neill wrote, in granting Daniels Sharpsmart an injunction against California Department of Public Health Director Karen Smith. O’Neill found the DPH Medical Waste Management Program violated the Commerce Clause when it threatened Daniels Sharpsmart with penalties if it continued disposing of wastes that originated in California by any method not authorized under California law.
Diner claims restaurant served a dead frog in her salad
from New York Post
A woman from San Dimas, Calif., tells Fox News she was “beyond grossed out” after finding a dead frog in a salad she ordered from BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse. Shawna Cepeda and her family were dining at the BJ’s in West Covina when she claims she noticed something off about her salad – but only after she took several bites and tasted something “a little sour,” reports the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. The case has also been referred to the California Department of Public Health, an investigator for the Los Angeles Department of Public Health confirmed to the San Gabriel Valley Times.
Baby chicks may be cute, but they can make you sick
from Fresno Bee
Public health officials say that as more people keep backyard flocks of chickens, they are seeing more outbreaks of Salmonella bacteria infections linked to the feathery pets. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says between January and May, 372 people in 47 states became ill from infection, with several Salmonella strains that have been linked to contact with live poultry. In California, 21 people in 15 counties, including in the central San Joaquin Valley, have become ill. Health officials with the California Department of Public Health said live poultry, especially baby chicks and ducklings, may have Salmonella in their feces and on their feathers, feet and beaks – even when they appear healthy and clean. The contamination can get on hands, shoes and clothing. Salmonella also can be on cages, coops, feed and water dishes, bedding, plants, and soil.
Stockton SJ, fire district sue drug companies over opioid crisis
The city, county and a local fire district recently sued several major pharmaceutical companies and a medical distribution firm, charging them with damaging the local economy by promoting the use of opioid painkillers they knew to be dangerous and extremely addictive. The 52-page complaint was filed in Superior Court late last month by two private law firms on behalf of Stockton, San Joaquin County and the Montezuma Fire Protection District, which serves unincorporated portions of southeast Stockton. Data from the California Department of Public Health is startling. According to the CDPH, there were slightly more than 600,000 opioid prescriptions in San Joaquin County in 2015. The county has about 700,000 residents. That same year, there were 45 deaths, 106 emergency-room visits and 114 overdose hospitalizations in the county attributable to opioids, according to the CDPH. Statewide, the data says there were more than 24 million opioid prescriptions and nearly 2,000 overdose deaths in California.
Promise Breakers: Introduction to a Public Health Scandal
from Huffington Post
A Capital & Main investigation has confirmed five cases of lead poisoning that were linked to Sacramento’s James Mangan Rifle and Pistol Range. As we reported last December, the 54-year-old gun range was padlocked in January 2015, after tests showed toxic levels of lead dust in nearly every corner of the building. The recent indictments of state officials in Michigan for involuntary manslaughter related to the lead contamination of the city of Flint’s water supply shows what can happen when there is resolve across the political spectrum to hold officials accountable for environmental crimes. But what happens when the spotlight is dimmer – or, in the case of Sacramento, nonexistent?
Documents obtained as part of our investigation show that officials in California’s Department of Public Health (CDPH) knew as far back as 2002 that workers at the range had levels of lead in their blood so high they could lead to organ shutdown and death. A federal directive on lead hazards in the workplace says that such extreme cases are “high-gravity, serious” and “must be handled by inspection.” Because hazards inside the range required millions of dollars in fixes to bring it up to safe federal standards, an inspection would have almost certainly led to the facility’s permanent closure. Instead of referring the case for inspection, CDPH decided to trust city assurances that Sacramento would do better.
CDPH in the News
Celebrity-fueled FNV campaign expands to include access to affordable, fresh produce
from Food Navigator
The FNV campaign, which the Partnership for a Healthier America launched in 2015, initially concentrated on urban and rural areas with limited fresh produce consumption, such as Fresno, Calif., and Hampton Roads, Va., but it quickly spread nationwide and now is expanding at the state level. By using celebrities in bright, bold and quirky ads that show children that the people they admire eat fruits and vegetables not just because they have to, but because they want to helped the FNV campaign significantly increased produce consumption, according to PHA. It reports that research it conducted in pilot markets shows seven out of 10 survey respondents say they ate more fruits and vegetables after seeing or hearing about the campaign, and grocery retailers that brought the campaign in-store saw a measurable rise in produce sales. Building on this initial success, FNV now is expanding through Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education initiatives at the state level, PHA announced at its annual Summit in Washington, DC, earlier this month. Through public-private partnerships with the California Department of Public Health, the University of Georgia SNAP-Ed and the Colorado Department of Human Services, the FNV campaign will focus on reaching low-income consumers in communities in these states with limited access to affordable and diverse produce.
Botulism sickens 10, kills 1 gas station nacho diner
from boing boing
Evidently, many more people eat gas station nachos than I had previously considered possible. A Sacramento, California area botulism outbreak has been traced back to folks who enjoyed the tasty treat at a local refueling station.
Gas station nacho cheese that sickened 10 people and killed one of them was contaminated with botulinum toxin, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) confirmed Monday. “The nacho cheese sauce was removed from sale on May 5. (The California Department of Public Health) believes there is no continuing risk to the public,” the agency said in a statement.
Los Angeles company recalls deer-antler tea after 2 get sick
The California Department of Public Health says a Los Angeles company is recalling tea made from deer antler after two people who drank it got sick. State health officials said Monday that the tea may be contaminated with botulism, and they are investigating the two Orange County residents who became ill. They say the company, U.S. Deer Antlers Exports and Imports Inc., sold the tea to acupuncturists and others in California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
The tea is sold in 6-inch by 4-inch plastic packaging with Korean language text and drawings of deer on it.
UC Davis Study Utilizes Safety Net Connect’s eConsult System to Evaluate the Role of an Integrated Approach to Improving Access to Tobacco Cessation Services for Underserved LA Residents
from SYS-CON Media
Safety Net Connect (SNC), a leading provider of innovative healthcare technology for organizations assisting underserved populations, is pleased to announce that its electronic consultation “eConsult” system used by Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (LADHS) is engaged in a two-year-long University of California, Davis (UC Davis) study to measure the benefits of an integrative approach to tobacco cessation, in partnership with California Smokers’ Helpline (Helpline), a free, evidence-based smoking cessation program funded by the California Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control, and First 5 California.
This collaborative project, funded through a Community Practice-Based Research Planning Award from the Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program (TRDRP) of California, was launched with the aim of creating and fostering long-term sustainable partnerships to conduct cost-effective, high quality tobacco cessation programs that are replicable across clinics throughout California. Several months into the project, SNC’s eConsult technology has already demonstrated a positive change in the delivery of tobacco cessation services for underserved populations, while increasing access to evidence-based tobacco treatment.
Pot brownies could lose some punch under proposed California rules
from Sacramento Bee
The ubiquitous billboards and product labels for Korova Edibles, an Oakland marijuana confections manufacturer, feature a three-eyed cow and a mooing boast: “Unrivaled potency.” Korova’s “20 dose” medical cannabis Black Bar chocolates are supercharged with 1,000 milligrams of THC, marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient, and the company’s new THC Blondie – a treat “packed with caramel chunks” and “covered in crushed pretzels” – has 10 50-milligram doses with a total punch of 500 milligrams.
Now state Department of Public Health potency limit recommendations for medical marijuana edibles threaten to upset Korova’s marketing strategy and could force the company to dramatically cut THC levels in its chocolates, cookies, brownies and pot-infused popcorn sold through more than 750 marijuana dispensaries and delivery services in California.
Workshop on radiological, “dirty bomb” risks held in California
from Homeland Preparedness News
The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), in conjunction with the California Department of Public Health and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, recently held a radiological security workshop May 2-3 to discuss radiological materials and ways to reduce the risks they pose. The workshop’s 60 participants discussed the high number of radiological sources found in the state as well as risk mitigation. Each presentation sought to highlight steps that can be taken to secure radiological sources and how to replace them with alternative technologies when appropriate.
CDPH in the News
Vaccination Rates for California Kindergarteners Are Higher Than Ever After New Law
Vaccination rates hit an all-time high for California kindergartners, the California Department of Public Health said Wednesday as it announced its first findings since a new law ended the era of the “personal belief exemption” that allowed thousands of parents to choose not to vaccinate their children who attend public and private schools. The percentage of kindergartners who received all required vaccines rose to 95.6 percent in 2016-17, up from the 92.8 percent rate in 2015-16. This is the highest reported rate for the current set of immunization requirements, which began in the 2001-02 school year, the state said.
Report Finds Dangerous Amount of Lead Found in Children in the Valley
from ABC 30
Peeling paint in aging homes, imported ceramics, even contaminated soil– all have the potential to cause lead poisoning. According to the California Department of Public Health– some Valley kids are exposed to dangerous amounts of lead; exposure that could harm a child’s nervous system and impair brain development. “It is a concern that should not be overlooked and it is a concern in our community and in others. We have a lot of housing that was built prior to 1978 that have lead based paint in there, and that is exposure that we want to mitigate,” said David Pomaville, Fresno County Public Health Director.
The report found that nearly 14-percent of children living in and around Downtown Fresno tested extraordinary high for lead– eight more Fresno County communities made the list. Local experts say those numbers are from 2012 and current data shows a decrease in lead exposure.
UC Irvine Medical Center Defends Its Handling Of MRSA Outbreak Infecting 10 Infants
from CBS Los Angeles
UC Irvine Medical Center on Thursday defended how it handled an outbreak of the dangerous superbug that infected 10 infants in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. The newborns tested positive for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA between August and March. But the babies were successfully treated, and the parents were notified, hospital spokesman John Murray said.
According to Marian Hollingsworth, a member of the state’s Healthcare Associated Infection Advisory Committee, she filed a complaint with the California Department of Public Health in August. She said she was alarmed that neither the hospital nor county health officials alerted the public immediately.
How will the cigarette tax hike affect the Sacramento region?
from ABC 10
Smokers will soon have to shell out an extra $2 when buying cigarettes. A $2 cigarette tax hike goes into effect April 1st, months after being approved by voters. The tax is estimated to bring in $1 billion to $1.4 billion in revenue, most of which will be allocated to increase funding for the Medi-Cal health care program for low income residents, as well as tobacco prevention programs and tobacco-related disease research among other things. The $2.87 tax will place California in the nation’s top ten cigarette tax rate.
Yolo and Placer Counties have the lowest number of smokers in the state. Yolo County had a 9.4 percent smoking prevalence among adults between 2012 and 2014, the third-lowest in California, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Placer County had a 9.8 percent smoking prevalence, the fourth-lowest in the state.
Humboldt County Has California’s Highest Rates of Gun Deaths, Suicides and Fatal Car Crashes
from Lost Coast Outpost
Humboldt County is a dangerous place to be, and a big part of the problem is us. That has to be one of the key takeaways from the latest annual County Health Status Profiles report from the California Department of Public Health.
Granted, we’re no longer the most dangerous county in the state, as we were back in 2010. Nor are we the second most dangerous, as we were in 2011. No, this year we wound up in the same position as last year: sixth among California’s 58 counties on the list of where you’re most likely to buy the farm. But what’s even more alarming is how Humboldt County residents seem more than willing to meet the Grim Reaper halfway, often cashing in our chips not through natural causes but with our own reckless behavior.
Here’s what we mean: Among counties with reliable data, Humboldt County has the highest rates of death from firearms, car crashes and suicides, and we’re second-highest in how frequently we die from drugs, chronic liver disease and unintentional injuries.
The UCB Library recently purchased access to JAMAevidence.
JAMAevidence is a resource of evidence-based tools and more, including Users’ Guides to the Medical Literature. This online guide includes Education Guide slide sets, audio summaries, calculators, and critical appraisal and information cycle worksheets – these are not included in the print version.
The Users’ Guides 29 chapters are under these headings:
- The Foundations
- Harm (Observational Studies)
- Summarizing the Evidence
- Moving From Evidence to Action
CDPH in the News
Court Orders Release of Secretive California Cell-Phone Danger Docs
from Sputnik International
A California judge has ordered the state of California to make public the results of an investigation into the risks of cellphone use. The papers are believed to contain information about radiation warnings by the state’s Environmental Health Investigations branch. Joel Moskowitz PhD, a director at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Public Health requested the findings, which the state refused to provide. Determined, the director filed a lawsuit under the California Public Records Act. On Friday, a Superior Court judge ruled that the documents are public record, and therefore the public has a right to see them. He asserted that there is significant public interest in learning the risks, as well as how to counter them.
Why people with Lyme Disease feel there isn’t enough awareness
from ABC 10
On Friday, the Lyme Disease Advisory Committee Meeting (LDAC) held a presentation in Sacramento, along with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Gregory Hacker, a biologist with the CDPH, gave an update on ticks in the Folsom Lake area.
Dorothy Kupcha Leland was there to hear the results of Hacker’s study. She’s the author of ‘When Your Child Has Lyme Disease: A Parent’s Survival Guide.’ It’s everything she wishes she had known a decade ago, when her now 25-year-old daughter was first diagnosed. Leland said the presentation confirmed what she had always assumed, that there are far more Lyme-infected ticks in Northern California than people think. Her daughter was first diagnosed at just 14-years-old. Lyme Disease affects people of all ages, but are common in children and older adults. Those who spend time outdoors often are more exposed. Many experts, including Leland, say the number of cases are often underreported because the disease is often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. Leland’s daughter was diagnosed within 9 months of her first symptoms, but she adds they were lucky. Many people go year’s without being diagnosed.
86 people diagnosed with Zika in San Diego
from The CW6
Since 2015, 86 people in the San Diego region have been diagnosed with the Zika virus, while roughly the same number are awaiting test results, according to statistics kept by county health officials. All but three were acquired while traveling, 31 cases to Mexico; nine to Nicaragua, according to the county of San Diego’s Health and Human Services Agency. The California Department of Public Health reported 524 Zika infections statewide as of March 17. Of those, 99 involve pregnant women, and five babies have been born with Zika-related birth defects.
Rare E. Coli Outbreak Linked To Soy-Based Nut Butter; Kids Mostly Affected
from CBS SFBayArea
An outbreak of a rare E. coli strain that may stem from a soy-based nut butter has made a dozen people ill across the United States, including four people in California, according to state health officials. “All four California patients reported eating I.M. Healthy brand Creamy SoyNut Butter in the week before becoming ill,” the California Department of Public Health announced in a statement Friday. The CDPH is now warning consumers not to eat I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter or granola coated with SoyNut Butter due to a possible E. coli contamination.
Statewide survey shows rising popularity of e-cigarettes
from Moorpark Acorn
Stores in Ventura County sold fewer tobacco products overall and offered more fruits and vegetables last year than they had three years before. But sales of e-cigarettes have soared, a health survey released this month showed. California Department of Public Health’s 2016 Healthy Stores for a Healthy Community survey, which came out March 8, looked at the percentage of stores around the state that sold tobacco, alcohol, fruits, vegetables, low-fat milk and sugary soft drinks. Created by the health department’s tobacco control program, the survey of retailers was first conducted in 2013, so the new set of statistics gathered in the 2016 survey provides a view of how far retailers have come in offering healthier products and curtailing tobacco sales.
High lead poisoning rates found in California communities
from Cal Coast News
Though not typically associated with California communities, childhood lead poisoning is prevalent in several areas of the state, particularly Fresno County. At least 29 California communities have childhood lead poisoning rate that are at least as high as in Flint, Michigan, which recently came under the national spotlight because of its water crisis. According to blood testing data obtained from the California Department of Public Health, there is one zip code in Central Fresno where 13.6 percent of blood tests on children under six years old returned high for lead.
Fresno County has a total of nine zip codes in which high lead levels among children are at least as common as in Flint, according to the state data. High poverty rates and issues with substandard housing – both of which are problems in Fresno – are risk factors for lead exposure.
Sage Research Methods, recently purchased by UC Berkeley, is an essential online resource for anyone doing research or learning how to do research. With more than 800 books, reference works, and journal articles from SAGE’s research methods list, SAGE Research Methods provides information on writing a research question, conducting a literature review, choosing a research method, collecting and analyzing data, and writing up the findings.
Sage Research Methods will help you:
- Plan a research project
- Explore research methods (quantitative and qualitative)
- Determine which statistical test to use to answer your question
Highly recommended, try it!
CDPH in the News
Thousands of California Workers Alerted to Elevated Lead Levels
More than 6,000 California workers in munitions, manufacturing and other industries have elevated levels of lead in their blood that could cause serious health problems, according to a recent report from the state’s public health agency. The report, containing the results of tests conducted between 2012 and 2014, comes as the state’s workplace health and safety agency, Cal/OSHA, is considering a major update of its safety standards for workplace lead exposure for the first time in decades. The current standards are based on 35-year-old medical findings, which at the time did not recognize the dangers of even low-level exposure to lead. More recent science shows chronic, low-level lead exposure can cause lasting harm.
CA PrEP program delayed
from Bay Area Reporter
Problems with California’s AIDS Drug Assistance Program are leading to the delayed launch of a program that would help people statewide get access to PrEP. California Department of Public Health officials have said the trouble with ADAP, which is supposed to help thousands of people get the care they need to stay alive, started after the agency switched to new contractors last July. CDPH spokespeople have said the agency’s still trying to resolve the issues.
Courtney Mulhern-Pearson, director of state and local affairs at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, said some clients have reported being turned away by their pharmacies or even being dropped from ADAP because of the glitches.
What Researchers Found in California’s Marijuana
Researchers in Northern California have delivered some unsettling news for marijuana users: It turns out, a sizeable amount of the pot sold in California’s medical marijuana dispensaries test positive for mold and bacteria that could be dangerous for patients with compromised immune systems. Fungi and bacteria – including Cryptococcus, Mucor and Aspergillus, E. coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Acinetobacter baumannii – were detected in 20 of the marijuana samples. If inhaled, these pathogens “could lead to serious illness and even death” because inhaling a contaminated substance “provides a direct portal of entry deep into the lungs, where infection can easily take hold,” Joseph Tuscano, a researcher UC Davis, said in a statement.
For the time being, more research is needed in order to better inform patients and recreational users about the quality and safety of their weed. California’s Department of Public Health is actively developing statewide standards for cannabis testing, with the intention of implementing them before the state fully rolls out its recreational marijuana system in 2018.
Children’s Bureau of Southern California Awarded Nearly $1 Million to Address High Obesity Rates in Los Angeles, University Park, Jefferson Park, and West Adams
Children’s Bureau was awarded $880,000 from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health with funding from the California Department of Public Health and the United States Department of Agriculture. The grant will support the Champions for Change – Healthy Communities Initiative, which aims to reduce the prevalence of obesity among low-income Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education eligible populations by providing nutrition education, physical activity promotion, and working to create healthier environments for low-income individuals and families where they live, learn, work, play, pray, and shop.
Key efforts under the initiative include teaching fundamental skills such as cooking, reading food labels, shopping on a budget, growing fruits and vegetables, and introducing low-cost and fun ways to be physically active. In addition, champions in communities throughout the County will be identified to help improve access to healthier foods and increase opportunities to be physically active in a variety of settings, including early childcare centers, schools, faith-based organizations, corner stores, parks, worksites, and cities.
Advocate of Toxicants Policy Reform Reappointed to State Scientific Guidance Panel
from UC Riverside
Carl F. Cranor, distinguished professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside and a longtime advocate of reforming policies for regulating exposure to toxic substances, has been reappointed to the Scientific Guidance Panel of the California Environmental Contaminant Biomonitoring Program. Cranor was first appointed to the panel in 2012. The Senate Rules Committee approved his reappointment in January to a three-year term that ends Jan. 1, 2020.
The Scientific Guidance Panel plays a significant role in the California Biomonitoring Program, making recommendations about the program’s design and implementation – including the identification of chemicals that are a priority for monitoring in California – and providing scientific peer review. Five members are appointed by the governor, two by the speaker of the Assembly, and two by the Senate Rules Committee.
Established by Senate Bill 1379 in 2006, the California Biomonitoring Program is a collaborative effort of three departments in two state agencies: the California Department of Public Health in the Health and Human Services Agency, and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment and Department of Toxic Substances Control in the California Environmental Protection Agency.
UC SHIP board looking to add surgery options for transgender students
from Daily Bruin
University of California representatives are working to include certain transgender surgeries in student health insurance coverage. Attendees at the UC Student Health Insurance Plan meeting Tuesday discussed voting to add breast augmentation surgery for male-to-female transgender students to the UC SHIP plan, said David DiTullio, an Executive Oversight Board graduate representative for the Student Health Advisory Committee. However, they tabled the vote and decided to collect more data about the feasibility of adding the surgery to UC SHIP coverage over the next year before making a final decision.
The UC SHIP staff hopes to implement the male-to-female top surgery benefit for the 2018-2019 school year but has not reached a decision, said Karina Keus, a SHAC and EOB undergraduate representative. UC Berkeley added the surgery to its plan this year, but no students have taken advantage of the top surgery yet… Keus said the Berkeley campus is not under the umbrella of the UC SHIP system; it receives insurance through Anthem. The benefit is temporary and might be discontinued at UC Berkeley if the California Department of Public Health does not approve it, Keus added.
CDPH in the News
California Department of Public Health Reports Widespread Flu Activity that is More Severe than Last Year
from Sierra Sun Times
California Department of Public Health (CDPH) State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith reported today that the state is experiencing widespread influenza activity that is more severe than last year due to significantly higher numbers of hospitalizations and outbreaks throughout the state. CDPH has also received the first report of a death associated with influenza in a child younger than 18 years of age. The death occurred in Riverside County. "This is a tragic reminder that the flu is a serious illness for people of all ages and kills thousands of Americans each year," said Dr. Smith. "If you haven’t been immunized yet this season, getting flu shots for you and your family now can still help protect you this winter."
Since the beginning of the influenza season, CDPH has received reports of 14 influenza-associated deaths, including the child in Riverside. This count represents a fraction of the total flu deaths statewide because only deaths in people younger than 65 are reported to the state and not all influenza-related deaths are easily attributable to influenza.
Hospitals statewide have been impacted by a surge in influenza patients, and hospitalizations for pneumonia and influenza at Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Northern California during the week ending January 7 reached 10.2 percent, the highest level recorded in 10 years. CDPH has also received reports of 83 influenza outbreaks, mostly in long-term care facilities, more than twice the reports received in recent years.
Why are a handful of measles cases an ‘outbreak’?
Los Angeles County’s public health department said Friday that it has confirmed two more measles cases, bringing to nine the number it has identified in the outbreak that it says began a month ago.
So why does such a small number of cases constitute an outbreak?
Public Health says it declared an outbreak because “the number of cases is definitely greater than expected and the majority of confirmed cases are epidemiologically linked.” The criteria for defining an outbreak depend on the particular disease. For “uncommon conditions,” the department says, an outbreak could be “two or more cases that are connected by social, environmental or geographical circumstance.”
While the department says there have been sporadic cases in the past 20 months, this is the first measles outbreak in L.A. County since the one that began at the Disney theme parks in Dec. 2014. By the time that outbreak was contained in April 2015, the California Department of Public Health had confirmed 136 cases statewide.
Genomic sequencing gives insight into Shigella outbreaks
from United Press International
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed genomes from Shigella sonnei bacteria associated with major shigellosis outbreaks in California in 2014 and 2015. Shigellosis causes abdominal pain, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems and results in roughly 500,000 infections, 6,000 hospitalizations and 70 deaths in the United States each year.
A team from UC Davis and the California Department of Public Health conducted the first major whole-genome study of S. sonnei strains in North America to gain insight into how the bacteria acquired virulence and antibiotic resistance, and to show the California strains’ relationship to other strains throughout the world.
California SNF fined $100k over safety violations that led to patient’s death
from Becker’s Hospital Review
The State of California has fined Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center, a skilled nursing facility in San Francisco, $100,000 after an investigation by the California Department of Public Health found safety violations that were a proximate cause of a patient’s death.
The safety violations occurred Nov. 26, 2014. According to the investigation report, a nurse assistant failed to lock both wheels of a patient’s wheelchair while on an outing to a movie theater and then left the patient unattended. The wheelchair rolled off the curb and the patient landed face-first on the ground. The patient, who had dementia and other chronic conditions, suffered severe injuries, including a face laceration, hip fractures and internal head bleeding, and died Dec. 10, 2014. According to the California Department of Public Health, $100,000 is the maximum fine state regulators can impose under state law.
California hospitals with high rates of HAIs have not been inspected in years, investigation finds
from Becker’s Hospital Review
While California law requires hospitals to be inspected every three years, 131 hospitals in the state have not been inspected in five years, and 80 of those hospitals have high rates of hospital-acquired infections, according to a petition filed by Consumers Union covered by the Los Angeles Times.
California does not require hospitals to report patient infections with certain rare superbugs nor does it require these facilities to report deaths resulting from HAIs. In order to identify hospitals in the state with troubling infection patterns, the national nonprofit Consumers Union looked at rates of a few HAIs that must be reported under a 2008 law. The pathogens included in the nonprofits analysis were methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile. While Consumers Union said the data is not comprehensive, it has revealed which hospitals have struggled with controlling infections.
“It’s time to start looking at these hospitals that have significantly higher infection rates and do something that makes them accountable,” said Lisa McGiffert, director of Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project, according to the LA Times. The petition requests the state investigate hospitals with high infection rates and enforce penalties for safety violations. The state must either respond to the petition in writing or hold a public hearing on the matter. According to the LA Times, the California Department of Public Health said it would respond within 30 days.
CDPH in the News
Tyler Technologies Enables Sonoma County, California, to Digitize Marriage License Signatures
Tyler Technologies, Inc. (TYL) today announced a new offering in partnership with the Sonoma County Clerk and Recorder’s Office in California, which is using Tyler’s Eagle Recorder™ software to electronically print staff signatures on marriage licenses. Sonoma County is leading the charge in making this offering possible because of Eagle Recorder’s robust and intuitive capabilities.
Over the past several months, the Sonoma County Clerk and Recorder’s Office has led a pilot program in collaboration with the California Department of Public Health to print marriage licenses with digitized signatures of the issuing and registering clerks, thereby automating a once manual process. Sonoma is the first county in California to begin offering this service for county staff.
California Residents Learn About Common Asthma Triggers Found in Homes
According to a report prepared by the Environmental Health Investigations Branch of the California Department of Public Health, approximately five million Californians have been diagnosed with asthma at some point in their lives. The report states that almost three million residents currently have asthma and that over one in five are considered to have very poorly controlled asthma.
"Understanding environmental triggers that can cause an asthma attack is important for those who suffer from the condition," said Michael Chapman, Laboratory Manager of LA Testing’s Huntington Beach facility. "At LA Testing, we offer comprehensive air testing services, sampling supplies and test kits for known allergens and asthma triggers. Indoor testing allows people to understand what they are being exposed to so they can take steps to mitigate or avoid exposure risks at home, school or in the workplace."
California’s Menu Labeling Law Takes Effect December 1, 2016, Months Ahead of FDA Enforcement
Eight years after being signed into law, California’s menu labeling law will finally go into effect on December 1, 2016. While FDA has delayed enforcement of the federal menu labeling standard until May 5, 2017, California’s Department of Public Health confirms that local health departments may begin inspecting restaurants subject to the statewide standard as early as December 1, 2016. The California Department of Public Health has recommended, however, that local health departments work with restaurants on complying with the law and not issue violations during the first six months of enactment.
In 2008, California became the first state in the U.S. to pass a menu labeling law requiring the disclosure of calorie information on restaurant menus and menu boards. The law initially applied only to chain restaurants that had at least 20 locations in the state and was set to take effect in 2011. After Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, however, the California legislature repealed its original menu labeling law and replaced it with a new version that was identical to the menu labeling provisions of the ACA. California also delayed implementation of its statewide standard until the compliance date of the federal FDA rule.
California Department of Public Health encourages caution around wild mushrooms
from SF Examiner
In the wake of recent wet weather, Dr. Karen Smith, the Director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), is reminding Californians that picking and consuming wild mushrooms may not be a good idea unless you’re an expert. "It is difficult to distinguish between wild mushrooms that are poisonous and those which are safe to eat," said Dr. Smith. "Wild mushrooms should not be eaten unless they have been carefully examined and determined to be edible by a mushroom expert." According to data collected by CDPH, 679 cases of people ingesting mushrooms and subsequently becoming ill were reported between Nov. 2015 to Oct. 2016.
County receives $40k for campaigns to educate public about Zika
from Valley News
The Board of Supervisors signed off on a Riverside County Department of Public Health request to accept $40,000 in federal funding for education campaigns intended to help residents protect themselves against the Zika virus Tuesday, Dec. 13. In a 4-0 vote without comment, the board approved the health department’s plan to utilize $24,000 for education efforts in the current fiscal year and $16,000 in 2017-18.
The funds were distributed by the California Department of Public Health but originated from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, according to documents posted to the board’s policy agenda. The countywide education campaigns will highlight "measures to reduce mosquito breeding sources," according to a health department statement.