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)


Are you Wildfire Smoke ready!

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Yesterday was officially the first day of summer! This means nice warm weather, but also possible wildfires. Wildfires are unplanned fires that burn in natural areas like forests, grasslands, or prairies. These dangerous fires spread quickly and devastate not only wildlife and natural areas, but also communities.

Wildfire smoke is a major threat to public health. Smoke from wildfires can cause wheezing, coughing, heart and lung disease, and even death. Wildfire smoke is also the largest source of particle pollution in Washington.

Here are some ways that you and your family can prepare for and stay safe during a wildfire. Below you will also find information about what to do following the aftermath of a wildfire in your community.

Prepare for Wildfires

  • Have several ways to receive alerts so you don’t miss anything important. Sign up for community alerts in your area and be aware of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alert. Also sign up for CodeRED or download the FEMA app and receive alerts from the National Weather Service.
  • Look out for air quality alerts. To check your air quality visit AirNow.gov
  • Make an emergency plan. Make sure everyone in the household knows what to do if you need to evacuate quickly.
  • Know your evacuation zone.
  • Have a communications plan, and make sure everyone in your household knows it.
  • Have an emergency go bag ready for you, household members and pets. For a checklist visit Build A Kit | Ready.gov
  • Review important documents. Make sure your insurance policies and personal documents  are up to date. Create copies and keep them in your go bag!

Stay Safe During a Wildfire

  • Evacuate as soon as authorities tell you to.
  • Pay attention to emergency alerts for information.
  • Call 911 if you’re trapped and give your location.
  • Use an N95 mask to protect you from smoke inhalation.

Returning Home After a Wildfire

  • Do not return home until authorities say it is safe to do so.
  • Look out for hot ash, charred trees, smoldering debris, and live embers.
  • Wear protective clothing when doing any cleaning.
  • Document property damage with photographs.
  • Reach out to family to check if they are OK or to let them know you are.

Helpful Resources:

The Northwest Clean Air Agency (NWCAA) offers resources on how to protect yourself and others during wildfire smoke events. See their website’s Wildfire Smoke Information page: https://bit.ly/3wgdcEM. For NWCAA monitors and related air quality information: https://bit.ly/3lXahMq.

For information on low-cost air sensors and a map showing local sensors: https://bit.ly/3iWcwxM.

Wildfires | Ready.gov

May 2 2022: Wildfires and Smoke | AirNow.gov

Wildfire smoke – Washington State Department of Ecology

Smoke From Wildfires – Toolkit | Washington State Department of Health



COVID-19 Vaccines for Children 6 Months to 4 Years to Be Available Soon

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June 17, 2022

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized emergency use of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to include use in children 6 months of age and older.

For the Moderna vaccine, the FDA amended the emergency use authorization (EUA) to include use of the vaccine in individuals 6 months through 17 years of age. The vaccine had been previously authorized for use in adults 18 years of age and older. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the FDA amended the EUA to include use of the vaccine in individuals 6 months through 4 years of age. The vaccine had been previously authorized for use in individuals 5 years of age and older.

The FDA’s evaluation and analysis of the safety and effectiveness data of these vaccines was comprehensive and rigorous. Prior to making the decision to authorize these vaccines, the FDA’s independent Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee was consulted and voted in support of the authorizations.

Before these vaccines can be made available, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices must vote on whether to recommend them–a vote is scheduled for this weekend—as well as the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.

When fully authorized, Skagit County Public Health will offer these vaccines at its downtown Mount Vernon clinic at 700 S 2nd Street (3rd floor). To best serve the public and to account for increased demand, all COVID vaccines will be made available at the Public Health clinic by appointment only over the next two weeks.

Please note: Vaccines appointments for this newly authorized group are not yet available at this time. Once Public Health has approval to move forward, appointments will be added to the website at www.skagitcounty.net/COVIDvaccine. For those who need assistance scheduling, please call the Public Health office at (360) 416-1500.

To make an appointment with a different vaccine provider, use the Vaccine Locator online tool at https://vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov/ or call the state hotline at 1-800-525-0127.


Las vacunas COVID-19 para niños de 6 meses a 4 años estarán disponibles pronto

17 de junio de 2022

Hoy, la Administración de Alimentos y Medicamentos de los Estados Unidos (FDA) autorizó el uso de emergencia de la vacuna Moderna COVID-19 y la vacuna Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 para incluir el uso en niños de 6 meses de edad en adelante.

Para el Caso Moderna vaccine, la FDA enmendó la autorización de uso de emergencia (EUA) para incluir el uso de la vacuna en personas de 6 meses a 17 años de edad. La vacuna había sido previamente autorizada para su uso en adultos mayores de 18 años. Para pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, la FDA enmendó la EUA para incluir el uso de la vacuna en individuos de 6 meses a 4 años de edad. La vacuna había sido previamente autorizada para su uso en personas de 5 años de edad y mayores.

La evaluación y el análisis de la FDA de los datos de seguridad y eficacia de estas vacunas fue exhaustivo y riguroso. Paratomar la decisión de autorizar estas vacunas, se consultó y votó a favor de las autorizaciones al Comité Asesor de Vacunas y Productos Biológicos Relacionados independiente de la FDA.

Antes de que estas vacunas puedan estar disponibles, el Comité Asesor sobre Prácticas de Inmunización de los CDC  debe votar si las recomienda , una votación está programada para este fin de semana, así como el Grupo de Trabajo de Revisión de Seguridad Científica de los Estados Occidentales.

Cuando esté totalmente autorizado, Skagit County Public Health ofrecerá estas vacunas en su clínica del centro de Mount Vernon en 700 S 2nd Street (3rd floor). Para servir mejor al público y tener en cuenta el aumento de la demanda, todas las vacunas COVID estarán disponibles en la clínica de Salud Pública con cita previa solo durante las próximas dos semanas.

Tenga en cuenta: Las citas de vacunas para este grupo recién autorizado aún no están disponibles en este momento. Una vez que Salud Pública tenga la aprobación para seguir adelante, las citas se agregarán al sitio web en www.skagitcounty.net/COVIDvaccine. Para aquellos que necesitan asistencia para programar, llame a la oficina de Salud Pública al (360) 416-1500.

Para hacer una cita con un proveedor de vacunas diferente, use la herramienta en línea Del localizador de vacunas en https://vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov/ o llame a la línea directa estatal al 1-800-525-0127.


Avian Influenza Detected in Skagit County

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June 14, 2022

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed that a red-tailed hawk collected from Skagit County on May 11, 2022, has tested positive for HPAI H5N1, a strain of avian influenza or “Bird Flu.” At this time, we can assume that Avian Influenza is actively circulating in Skagit County, similar to much of Washington State.

Avian influenza viruses, such as the H5N1 strain, are extremely contagious among certain domesticated bird species, and can sicken and kill chickens, pheasants, and turkeys, among other domestic fowl. The virus is often spread to domestic birds through interactions with wild birds.

DOH and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) are asking the public to avoid contact with wild birds, especially sick or dead wild birds or their young. State officials are asking people to report any sick or dead wild or domestic birds using the following resources:

While avian influenza infections among people are rare, human infections can happen when the virus gets into an individual’s eyes, nose, or mouth, or is inhaled. People may be at greater risk of bird flu virus infection during close or lengthy unprotected contact (not wearing respiratory protection or eye protection) with infected birds or contaminated surfaces.

Please note that chicken, eggs and other poultry and poultry products are safe to eat when properly handled and cooked.

If an individual develops flu-like symptoms within 10 days of contact with an ill or dead wild bird, they should contact their healthcare provider, as well as Skagit County Public Health at (360) 416-1500.

For more information, as well as safety tips, please visit DOH’s Avian Influenza webpage at https://doh.wa.gov/avian-influenza or call 1-800-525-0127.


10 Tips on how to keep your home cool this summer!

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In the summer, we all know how uncomfortable a hot home can be. With summer being right around the corner, it is a good idea to prepare your home for the heat. Continue reading for 10 ways to keep your home cool this summer.

Tips

  1. Switch to LED light bulbs. LED bulbs produce less heat and use up to 75% less energy than incandescent light bulbs, saving you money at the same time.
  2. Use ceiling, portable desk, and floor fans to circulate air, making your home feel cooler.
  3. Light bulbs give off heat when they’re being used. Add light dimmers and occupancy sensors so your light bulbs turn off when you’re not in the room.
  4. Block the sun’s heat from your home by installing solar screens, window tinting, or shutters.
  5. Buy an air conditioner ahead of time. If you buy a window AC unit, make sure to insulate around it.
  6. Plant trees and bushes outside your home to create shade.
  7. Reduce the use of appliances, and unplug the ones you are not using.
  8. Minimalize your kitchen use throughout the day. A helpful tip is to meal prep in the morning or night when temperatures are cooler.
  9. Wet your patio floor. Evaporation naturally cools the air.
  10. Weather strip doors and windows to keep outside heat from coming in, and keep your cool air from your AC from seeping out.
https://blog.constellation.com/2020/06/25/how-to-keep-your-house-cool-without-raising-your-energy-bill/

Helpful resources:

Home Cooling | Department of Energy

Heat Safety Tips and Resources (weather.gov)


Are you prepared for this summer’s heat?

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Summer is right around the corner which means sunshine and heat! While Pacific Northwesterners anxiously await these warmer months, we also need to be conscious of potential risks associated with extreme heat. For those who may be heat sensitive or who do not have adequate access to cooling systems or water, extreme temperatures can be life threatening. And with extreme heat events predicted to now be more common due to our changing climate, it is a good time to look at ways to prepare.

As you may recall, last summer we experienced a record-breaking heat wave that lasted 7 days—from June 26th to July 2nd. According to the Washington State Department of Health, there were 100 heat related deaths reported throughout the state. In Skagit County, we sadly lost 6 individuals to heat related complications during this time.

It is crucial that during these times we are ready and prepared. Being ready can help to prevent heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and—most importantly—death. Do you know the signs of heat-related illnesses and ways to respond? Keep reading for some helpful information.

Prepare for Extreme Heat

  • Weather strip doors and windows.
  • Cover windows with drapes or shades.
  • Have at least 2 fans to create air flow in home. Remember fans create air flow and a false sense of comfort but will not reduce your body temperature or prevent heat-related illnesses.
  • Install a window air conditioner and insulate around it.
  • Add insulation to keep the heat out.
  • Know of cooling places like stores or libraries near you! Contact Skagit County Public Health to find a cooling shelter near you—(360) 416-1500.

Be Safe During

  • Stay hydrated and drink lots of fluids.
  • Take cold showers or baths.
  • Go to a cooling center if air conditioning is not available in your home.
  • Never leave people or pets in a closed vehicle on a hot or warm day.
  • Wear loose, light colored clothing, and lightweight clothes.
  • Use your oven less to help reduce heat in your home.
  • Avoid being outside.
  • Check in with family members to let them know you’re okay or to check if they’re okay. As well with neighbors, and friends.
  • Consider pet safety.
  • Watch for signs of heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

What is heat illness?

Some common heat illnesses are heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps. Here are some signs to look out for.

Signs of Heat Stroke:

If you suspect a heat stroke, immediately call 9-1-1 or get the person to a hospital as soon as possible.

  • Rapid, strong pulse.
  • Red, hot, and dry skin with no sweat.
  • Dizziness, confusion, or unconsciousness.
  • Extremely high body temperature.

Signs Heat Cramps:

  • Muscle pains.
  • Spasms in the stomach, arms, or legs.

Signs of Heat Exhaustion:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Fast or weak pulse
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Fainting
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

If you have signs of heat cramps or heat exhaustion, go to the closest cooling center/location near you. Try to cool down by removing excess clothing and drink water or sports drinks. Call your healthcare provider if your symptoms get worse or last more than an hour.

Helpful Resources:

Extreme Heat | Ready.gov

Summer Safety (weather.gov)

Heat Wave 2021 | Washington State Department of Health


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)