Use Caution When Collecting, Eating Wild Mushrooms

Source: California Department of Public Health  |  2016-12-29

Amanita phalloides. 
--Photo courtesy of Trent Pearce, Tilden Nature Area

With seasonal rains promoting the growth of wild mushrooms, California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith is reminding people that collecting and eating hazardous wild mushrooms can lead to serious illness and even death.

“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.”

Wild mushroom poisoning continues to make people ill and send them to the hospital. According to the California Poison Control System (CPCS), 679 cases of ingestion were reported statewide from November 2015 to October 2016. Among those cases:

  • Three suffered a major health outcome, such as liver failure leading to coma and/or a liver transplant, or kidney failure requiring dialysis.
  • 50 suffered a moderate health outcome, such as dehydration due to vomiting and diarrhea, or injury to the liver or kidney.
  • 348 were children under six years of age. Usually the children ate a small amount of a mushrooms growing in yards or neighborhood parks.
  • 415 were treated at a health care facility.
  • Eight were admitted to an intensive care unit.

The most serious illnesses and deaths have been linked primarily to wild mushrooms known to cause liver damage, including Amanita phalloides, also known as the “death cap” and Amanita ocreata, or “destroying angel.” These and other poisonous mushrooms grow in some parts of California year-round, but are most commonly found during fall, late winter or spring.

Eating poisonous mushrooms can cause abdominal pain, cramping, vomiting, diarrhea, liver damage or death. Anyone who develops symptoms after eating wild mushrooms should seek immediate medical attention. People who develop these symptoms, or their treating health care providers, should immediately contact Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.

Local mycological societies offer educational resources about mushroom identification, and may be able to help people identify mushrooms they have picked.

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SAMHSA Provides $7,196,038 in Grants for People and Communities Recovering from Trauma

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services  |  2016-12-22

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has awarded up to a total of $7,196,038 over the next five years to programs in California for programs that help people and communities recover from, and build resiliency from trauma.

“Trauma, whether from exposure to child abuse, community violence, or natural disaster can have a devastating effect on people,” said SAMHSA Principal Deputy Administrator Kana Enomoto.  “We must help people in every segment of our community -- especially youth and Tribes, many of whom have experienced significant historical, community, and individual traumas.”

The grant programs going to California included in this SAMHSA effort are:

National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative: Purpose – Creates a national network of grantees — the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) or Network — that works collaboratively to develop and promote effective trauma treatment and services for children, adolescents, and their families exposed to a wide array of traumatic events

Community Treatment and Services Centers grants: Purpose – Improves the quality of trauma treatment and services for children, adolescents, and their families who experience or witness traumatic events; and to increase access to effective trauma-focused treatment and services for children and adolescents throughout the nation.  The work of this initiative is carried out by a national network of grantees – the National Child Traumatic Stress Network – that works collaboratively to develop and promote effective trauma treatment, services, and other resources for children, adolescents, and families exposed to an array of traumatic events.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities. For more information on SAMHSA grants, visit www.samhsa.gov/grants.

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CDPH Releases Reports on Healthcare-Associated Infections -Vaccination Rates

Source: California Department of Public Health   |  2016-12-22

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released two annual reports recently. The reports provide information about healthcare-associated infections (HAI) and influenza vaccination rates among health care providers.

While California hospitals have made progress in preventing healthcare-associated infections, HAIs continue to be a significant public health issue in the state. In 2015, hospitals reported 19,847 healthcare-associated infections to CDPH. From 2014 to 2015, 56 hospitals demonstrated significant improvement in preventing one or more HAI type. Hospitals are making progress in preventing HAI with the exception of C. difficile diarrheal infections (CDI), which increased 8 percent since 2011. CDPH offered infection-prevention assistance to 73 hospitals with high infection rates.

The department’s influenza vaccination report indicates that vaccination rates among health care providers have improved in the past five years. Since 2011, vaccination rates increased 21 percent for hospital employees and 11 percent for non-employee healthcare providers, such as physicians or other contracted staff members.

Both the HAI and influenza vaccination rate reports include data reported by 392 licensed general acute care hospitals representing 419 campuses. The reports are on the CDPH website at www.cdph.ca.gov.

Due to various factors in the way data are classified and validated, the information in this HAI report is not directly comparable to previous annual reports the department released. The report provides additional details about these changes.

Using data from these reports, CDPH created an interactive map for the public, Healthcare Personnel Influenza Vaccination in California Hospitals and updated the data for the My Hospital’s Infections Map.

“Hospitals can utilize the data in our HAI report to implement and improve infection-prevention strategies,” said Dr. Karen Smith, CDPH director and state public health officer. “This same information can help Californians stay informed about what their local hospitals are doing to protect against healthcare associated infections.”

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CDPH Offers Food Safety Tips for the Holidays

Source: California Department of Public Health  |  2016-12-01

With the holiday season approaching, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reminds consumers to use safe food preparation and storage measures to prevent foodborne illness. Bacteria that can be found in foods such as meat and poultry may cause illness if they are insufficiently cooked, inadequately cooled or improperly handled.

“We can help ensure that foodborne illnesses don’t ruin our holidays by properly preparing and handling meat, poultry and other foods,” said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith.

About 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths in the U.S. each year are related to foodborne diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Foodborne diseases can be prevented by: washing hands with soap and warm water before and after food preparation, and especially after handling raw foods; cleaning all work surfaces, utensils and dishes with hot soapy water and rinsing them with hot water after each use; cooking food thoroughly and refrigerating adequately between meals.

Symptoms of foodborne disease can include diarrhea, which may be bloody, vomiting, abdominal cramps and fever. Most infected people recover from foodborne illnesses within a week. Some, however, may develop complications that require hospitalization. Young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are at highest risk for potentially life-threatening complications.

Additional information about food safety is available on the U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). Consumers can also access the national Partnership for Food Safety Education’s Fight BAC! Website www.cdph.ca.gov

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New Statewide Plan Aims to Dramatically Reduce New HIV Infections

Source: California Department of Public Health  |  2016-11-17

California has released a new surveillance, prevention and care plan designed to dramatically reduce new HIV infections in the state, with the goal of eventually getting that number to zero. The “Getting to Zero” plan is a blueprint for state and local health departments and community organizations working to achieve a more coordinated statewide response to HIV.

“Thanks to better treatment and prevention options, new testing technology and better access to health care, California has reached a point where we can begin to envision the possibility of zero new HIV infections,” said California Department of Public Health Director State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. “In a state as large as ours, it will take an incredible amount of coordination, innovation and work to make this vision a reality. This report lays the foundation for achieving our goals.”

The “Getting to Zero” plan was developed by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in coordination with local health officials, other state departments, medical and non-medical providers, and HIV community organizations and planning bodies. The report set four goals to be achieved by 2021. The four goals are to reduce new HIV infections, increase access to care, reduce disparities in underserved communities and achieve a more coordinated statewide response to the HIV epidemic.

To achieve those goals, the report outlines 15 strategies and 12 key objectives that will be monitored on an annual basis by CDPH’s Office of AIDS. Some of the strategies include improving HIV testing and HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) utilization, enhancing availability of HIV care and increasing community collaboration and involvement.

“This comprehensive plan reinforces the state’s ongoing commitment to address the HIV epidemic,” said Dr. Karen Mark, Chief of the Office of AIDS at CDPH. “This commitment includes supporting people living with HIV, reducing the rate of new infections, and recognizing that not all communities have been equally impacted by this epidemic, and making those most at risk a high priority.”

For more information see www.cdph.ca.gov

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CDPH Warns Consumers about Risks of Wearing Decorative Contact Lenses

Source: California Department of Public Health  |  2016-10-27

Decorative contact lenses are intended to temporarily change the appearance of the eye, but do not correct vision. Advertised as color, cosmetic, fashion and theatrical contact lenses, they are especially popular around Halloween.

California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith today warned consumers about the risks associated with wearing decorative contact lenses.

“Wearing any kind of contact lens, including decorative lenses, without proper consultation of an eye care professional can cause serious injury,” Dr. Smith said. “The risks include infection, ulcers, decreased vision, cuts or scratches to the surface of the eye, itchiness or redness. If these conditions are left untreated, the injuries can progress rapidly. In severe cases, blindness and eye loss can occur.”

The sale of contact lenses without a prescription is illegal. Only Board of Optometry licensed optometrists and ophthalmologists are authorized to prescribe and dispense prescription contact lenses. Medical Board of California registered opticians and optical shops are authorized to fill contact lens prescriptions

Decorative contact lenses are intended to temporarily change the appearance of the eye, but do not correct vision. Advertised as color, cosmetic, fashion and theatrical contact lenses, they are especially popular around Halloween. Decorative contact lenses are typically sold at beauty supply and novelty stores.

Consumers who have experienced any injury or illness with decorative contact lenses should contact their health care provider. Consumers can report the illegal sale of decorative contact lenses without a prescription to CDPH’s Food and Drug Branch Hotline at 1-800-495-3232 to initiate an investigation. 

For additional information see www.cdph.ca.gov

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Health Officials Urge Californians to Remove Standing Water

Source: California Department of Public Health  |  2016-10-14

Rains Can Lead to More Mosquitoes

California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith called on the people of California to help reduce the number of mosquitoes by eliminating standing water, especially in areas that have recently had rain and continue to experience warm temperatures.

“Rainy weather can create new breeding grounds for mosquitoes if water is allowed to pool and remain stagnant,” said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. “Mosquito season in California peaks in October, making it critically important that Californians take action to empty even small amounts of water from our gardens and yards.”

To help control mosquitoes, check your yard weekly for water-filled containers. Clean and scrub bird baths and pet watering dishes weekly, and dump the water from dishes under potted plants. Contact your local vector control agency if you detect unusual numbers of mosquitoes or you are being bitten during the day.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito, an aggressive mosquito that bites during the day, has been detected in 12 California counties. This black-and-white striped mosquito has the potential to transmit Zika and other diseases, such as dengue fever, chikungunya and yellow fever. While the mosquito is especially active two hours after sunrise and several hours before sunset, it can also bite during the day. These mosquitoes often enter buildings through unscreened windows and doors and bite people indoors.

To prevent mosquito bites, apply repellents containing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-registered ingredients such as DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 to exposed skin and/or clothing (as directed on the product label). During the times mosquitoes are most active you should wear long- sleeve shirts, long pants, socks and shoes. Be sure window and door screens are in good condition to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.

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