Monkeypox – What You Need to Know

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You’ve probably heard about the monkeypox in the news and might be wondering about it, worried, or want more information.

Currently, there are no confirmed cases of monkeypox in Skagit County. However, as of July 26, 2022, 101 people in Washington State have tested positive for orthopoxvirus, likely to be monkeypox.

While new information continues to come in, here are answers to several common questions including information about how it is spread, who is at risk, signs and symptoms, and what to do if you have symptoms or think you may have been exposed.

What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a viral disease that can cause rashes and other symptoms. It does not commonly occur in the U.S., but there is currently an outbreak of monkeypox with cases spreading in Washington state and across the country, as well as in many other countries. Many of the current cases are occurring in men who have sex with men, although monkeypox can spread person-to-person with any kind of close, skin-to-skin contact.

How is it spread?
Monkeypox spreads in different ways but requires close interaction with a symptomatic individual. The virus can be transmitted from person-to-person through:

  • Direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs or body fluids
  • Respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex
  • Touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids
  • Pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta

It is also possible for people to get monkeypox from infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by the animal or by preparing or eating meat or using products from an infected animal.

Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks. People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others.

Who is at risk?
At this time, the risk of monkeypox in the United States is fairly low, however, anyone in close contact with a person with monkeypox can get it and should take steps to protect themselves.

What are the signs and symptoms?
Symptoms of monkey pox can include fever, headache, muscle aches and backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, exhaustion, and a rash. The rash can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.

What should you do if you have symptoms or think you may have been exposed?
CDC recommends that anyone who has symptoms of monkeypox isolate themselves from others and immediately contact their healthcare provider, even if they have not had contact with someone who has monkeypox. Additional recommendations to prevent the spread of infection include:

  • Isolate yourself from other people and from animals
  • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle, sleep, or have sex with others
  • Wear a well-fitting medical mask around others
  • Do not share bedding, towels, dishes, or utensils
  • Wash your own laundry and dishes
  • Routinely clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and items
  • Do not use commercial travel (airplane, bus, taxi, shared car)

For more information about monkeypox, please visit Monkeypox | Washington State Department of Health. If you have symptoms of monkeypox or think you may have been exposed, contact your health care provider or Skagit County Public Health at (360) 416-1500.

Sources:

Monkeypox | Washington State Department of Health

Monkeypox | Poxvirus | CDC

Graphics | Monkeypox | Poxvirus | CDC


July is BIPOC Mental Health Month!

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According to Mental Health America (MHA), BIPOC communities are significantly more likely to develop mental health conditions, and one of the major barriers to mental health treatment is access and the need for understanding mental health support.

Join us to celebrate Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Month! This year’s theme is #BeyondTheNumbers. which explores the nuances and uniqueness in BIPOC communities and celebrates their strengths and resilience.

BIPOC Mental Health Month is not only about raising awareness about the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face regarding mental health in the U.S, but is also about shining a light on their needs, stories, and experiences.

Together, let’s gain knowledge on historical context, systems of support, and actionable ways to move forward toward a mentally healthy future for us all.

Here are some resources to share with your friends, family and colleagues to support the BIPOC community, be a stronger ally, spread awareness about BIPOC mental health to reduce stigma, and encourage people to get the treatment they need.

For more resources visit:

Mental Health America | Homepage | Mental Health America (mhanational.org)

National BIPOC (Minority) Mental Health Month – Lifeworks Northwest (lifeworksnw.org)

BIPOC Mental Health Month | Postpartum Health Alliance


Firework Safety Tips for Fourth of July

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Fourth of July is just around the corner and already next week which means fireworks and family fun! Although fireworks are fun, they can be very dangerous causing fires and deadly injuries. According to the National Safety Council, due to fireworks an average of 18,500 fires happen each year and about 200 people in the month of July go the emergency room everyday due to firework- related injuries. These injuries range from head, face, ear, arm, leg, hand, or finger and 34% occur to people between ages 24-44. Although, children aged 5-9 are more than twice as likely as other age groups to be injured by fireworks.

To keep yourself, friends and loved ones safe this holiday continue reading for some firework safety tips.

Tips to Celebrate Safely

  • Make sure to purchase legal fireworks from your area and labeled for consumer use.
  • Never leave young children alone with fireworks or to handle on their own, this includes sparklers.
  • Safer options for children are glow sticks, confetti poppers or colored streamers.
  • Always keep a bucket of water or a garden hose nearby, in case of a fire.
  • Never light them indoors.
  • Do not use fireworks while being impaired by drugs or on alcohol.
  • If using fireworks or nearby, consider using protective eye wear.
  • Light fireworks one at a time and make sure to move as quickly as possible after lighting.
  • Do not relight or use a malfunctioning firework. To discard, soak them in water and throw them away.
  • Never point or throw fireworks including sparklers towards no one.  

For more resources visit:

Fireworks | CPSC.gov

Fireworks Safety Tips – National Safety Council (nsc.org)

Summer fire safety outreach materials (fema.gov)


Don’t Fry Day: Sun Safety!

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Imagine yourself in ten years from now. How do you look? How’s your skin? What if you were told that you had skin cancer? Most of us do not think about how important our skin is and how crucial it is for us to take care of it every day.  

Although we have not had much sunshine this spring, the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has designated the Friday before Memorial Day as “Don’t Fry Day” to share awareness and remind everyone to protect their skin while enjoying the outdoors as the summer gets closer.  

Keep reading for some tips on how you and your family can prevent skin cancer and long-term skin damage.  

Sun Safety Tips:  

  1. Do not burn or tan 
  • Avoid intentional tanning and tanning beds. 
  1. Seek Shade 
  • When it’s very hot out, sit under a tree or other shade structure. Use an umbrella when at the beach. 
  • Sun rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. 
  1. Wear protective clothing  
  • Use long sleeve shirts and pants 
  • Wide brimmed hat and sunglasses 
  1. Apply Sunscreen throughout your day 
  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 or higher for protection from harmful ultraviolet A and B radiation.  
  • Budget friendly and clean sunscreens: CeraVe sunscreen, Neutrogena sunscreens, Derma e sunscreen, etc. To check if your sunscreen contains any harmful ingredients visit: Best Recreational Sunscreens | EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens 
  • Apply 15 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours.  
  1. Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand 
  • These surfaces can be very harmful and reflect the damaging rays of the sun leaving you with a possible sunburn.  
  1. Get vitamin D safely 
  • Take vitamin supplements 
  • Incorporate in your healthy diet.  

What is Melanoma? 

Melanoma is a skin cancer that can spread to other parts of the body and causes over 9,000 deaths every year. People who die of melanoma lose an average of 20 years of life expectancy. Melanoma can be caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from sun or sources such as indoor tanning.  

Why Is it important? 

Skin Cancer is one of the most common diagnosed cancers in the United States. Too much sun exposure can age your skin, lead to skin cancer, weaken, or suppress your immune system.  

According to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, more than 1 million Americans are living with melanoma. Early detection of melanoma can save your life. Without additional prevention efforts, cases of melanoma will continue to increase in the next 15 years.  

You can detect it early by carefully examining all your skin once a month and visit your doctor if you notice a new or changing spot on your skin. For more helpful tips, visit How to Spot Skin Cancer

Please visit the sources for more information:  

Don’t Fry Day : National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention 

Healthy Skin  |  American Skin Association 

Best Recreational Sunscreens | EWG’s Guide to Sunscreens 

How to Spot Skin Cancer 

Preventing Melanoma | VitalSigns | CDC 


The importance of HPV Vaccination

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Did you know HPV is a common virus that can cause certain cancers later in life? According to CDC, more than 42 million American are currently infected with HPV types that cause disease and about 13 million Americans, including teens, become infected each year.  

What is HPV?  

HPV, also known as Human Papillomavirus, is a common virus that can cause cancers later in life. It is one of the most common sexual transmitted infections (STIs). HPV is spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact. You can get HPV by sexual contact with someone who has the virus, even if they do not have signs or symptoms.  

Who should get vaccinated? 

Children ages 11-12 years should get two doses of HPV vaccine, given 6 to 12 months apart, but HPV vaccines can be given as early as age 9 years. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about getting the HPV vaccine to prevent HPV infections. The vaccine is available for all people—male or female.  

It is recommended that everyone through age 26 should get the HPV vaccine. Adults between ages 27 and 45 years old who were not already vaccinated might still be able to get the HPV vaccine after speaking with their medical provider about their risks for new HPV infections. The HPV vaccine for adults provides less benefit because most people in this age range have already been exposed to HPV at some point.  

Why is vaccination important?  

You can protect your child from certain cancers later in life with the HPV vaccine. The earlier the better! It can protect your child long before they ever have contact with the virus. 

HPV infections can cause certain cancers in both men and women. Some of those are cervix, vagina and vulva cancer in women and penis cancer in men. Both men and women can also get anus and back-of-the-throat cancer. Cancer usually takes years, even decades, to be detected after a person is infected with HPV.  

Are HPV vaccines safe and effective? 

The HPV vaccine can prevent over 90% of cancers caused by this virus and work best when given at age 11-12 years, before contact with the HPV virus.  

HPV vaccination is safe! More than 135 million doses of HPV vaccines have been distributed throughout the states since they were licensed. Also, 15 years of monitoring have shown that HPV vaccines are very safe and effective in protecting against the HPV types targeted by the vaccine. For more information about HPV vaccination please visit, HPV Vaccine Safety | CDC.  

For more resources please visit: 

https://www.cdc.gov/hpv/index.html

HPV Resources, Education, and References | CDC 

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine Information (immunize.org) 


Connecting the Dots: Youth Alcohol Awareness!

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Did you know, April is Alcohol Awareness Month? If you haven’t already, now may be a good time to reflect on your drinking patterns and the role that alcohol plays in your life.

This year’s theme is “Connecting the Dots: Opportunity for Recovery, which focuses primarily on youth education and prevention. This specific group of individuals can be easily influenced by alcohol and other substances if not educated or informed about risks. For this reason, we are asking you to join us this month to help raise awareness in our communities, schools, and homes on alcohol use. 

Our youth in Skagit County

According to the 2021 Healthy Youth Survey, Alcohol use has been reported by youth as young as 6th grade, and prevalence of regular use increases each year. By 12th grade, approximately 1 in 5 12th graders reported drinking in the past month. This can be for many reasons, perhaps one being that children in these grades are not getting enough information about alcohol.

Why is it important?

Research shows that heavy alcohol use during teen years can permanently damage the still developing brain. Alcohol use at a young age is also associated with violence, poor school performance, suicide, and risky sexual behavior. The use of alcohol at this early age can lead to possible substance abuse later in life and Alcohol use disorder (AUD), which affects about 15 million adults in the United States. There are more than 380 deaths each day in the U.S. due to excessive alcohol use, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the nation.

Looking for something positive? Research also shows that about 50% of children who have conversations with parents about risks are less likely to use drugs and alcohol, than those who do not. That’s why “connecting the dots” with your child, sibling, cousin, niece, or nephew is so important.

What can we do to help spread awareness?

Although one month out of the year is not enough time to help educate and help everyone recover, continue to spread the word about the importance of alcohol awareness to friends and family.

Get creative and make informational flyers about the topic with resources and distribute them around your neighborhood town, local stores etc. Host a fundraiser to donate money to local non-profit treatment facilities.

For more information please visit:

Alcohol Awareness Month | AlcoholAwareness.org

Alcohol Awareness Month: Learn About Alcohol Use Disorder and Ways to Get Help | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) (nih.gov)

Skagit County | Addictions, Drug & Alcohol Institute (uw.edu)

HYS Fact Sheets (askhys.net)

Alcohol and Public Health | CDC