Tuberculosis infection rate reaches 30-year low in King County

October 27, 2012

NEW — 6 a.m. Oct. 27, 2012

Tuberculosis rates in King County have reached a 30-year low due to local efforts to fight the disease, public health officials announced Thursday.

Still, King County faces a higher risk for cases in the United States, due to the county’s status as a global crossroads.

The latest TB report from Public Health – Seattle & King County details the findings, as well as information about the agency’s efforts to fight the disease.

“TB control is an essential investment in the health of our communities,” Dr. David Fleming, director health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, said in a statement. “We can’t afford to let down our guard — especially now that drug-resistant TB is on the rise worldwide.”

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Local health officials urge vaccinations as flu season starts

October 26, 2012

NEW — 10 a.m. Oct. 26, 2012

Public Health – Seattle & King County is asking residents to receive flu vaccinations as flu season starts in Washington.

Influenza can cause significant lost time from work and school, plus the expense of visits to the doctor. The flu can also lead to hospitalization and even death in some cases. Though flu season peaks in the winter, it can start as early as October.

“Flu vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from flu,” Dr. David Fleming, director and health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, said in a statement.

Health experts recommend for everybody 6 months old and older to get the flu vaccine, especially people at high risk for severe influenza.

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King County heart attack survival rate sets record

October 23, 2012

The heart attack survival rate in King County reached a record 52 percent last year — much higher than the heart attack survival rate in other areas, officials announced recently.

The information arrived in the annual report on the Emergency Medical Services/Medic One system. In most areas, the heart attack survival rate is about 10 percent.

Countywide, rescuers responded to 164,690 calls to 911 last year, including 45,220 for advanced life support — the most serious or life-threatening injuries and illnesses. The average medic unit response time improved slightly to 7.5 minutes.

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Report highlights students’ soda consumption

October 23, 2012

King County health officials called for teenagers to consume fewer sodas and other sugary drinks after a report showed 26,000 high school students countywide drink soda daily, and 8,000 students drink two or more sodas daily.

The information comes from a report released Sept. 6 about teenagers’ consumption of sugary drinks.

Such consumption is linked to risks for obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and hypertension.

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King County deputies to receive cardiac arrest equipment

January 4, 2012

NEW — 3:05 p.m. Jan. 4, 2011

King County public health officials said equipment and training for King County Sheriff’s Office deputies to respond to cardiac arrest could mean the difference between life and death.

King County Emergency Medical Services, a division of Public Health – Seattle & King County, plans to distribute 53 automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, to deputies interested in the training. Trained deputies can then be dispatched to a cardiac arrest call alongside emergency medical responders.

Officials announced the initiative Wednesday.

Equipped deputies arriving first to the scene of a cardiac arrest can start resuscitation and deliver the initial defibrillator shocks and, as soon as emergency medical responders arrive on the scene, they can take over resuscitation duties.

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King County’s tuberculosis infection rate remains high

December 20, 2011

King County continues to experience one of the highest tuberculosis infection rates in the United States.

Public Health – Seattle & King County released the latest findings about the infectious disease Nov. 21 in the 2010 TB report. The report also details local efforts to control the disease, and the ongoing and expensive challenge of battling drug resistant strains.

In 2010, the public health agency’s TB Program identified 114 cases of active TB, and provided treatment and or evaluation to more than 1,100 King County residents suffering from active or latent TB.

“TB control is an essential investment in the health of our communities that helps us fight the local effects of this global disease,” Dr. David Fleming, director and health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, said in a statement. “In these difficult budget times, state funding support for this work is now threatened, but we can’t afford to let down our guard.”

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Locals can still receive a flu vaccine

December 20, 2011

King County public health officials said time remains for people to receive a flu vaccine.

Health experts recommend for everyone 6 months of age and older to get the flu vaccine, especially children, pregnant women, elderly people and people suffering from health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.

The flu season usually peaks in February or later, and can last as late as May.

“No one wants to spend the holidays sick with flu,” Dr. David Fleming, director and health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, said in a statement. “Even people who were vaccinated last season should be vaccinated again to boost their protection.”

The flu vaccine is available at doctors’ offices, clinics, pharmacies, public health centers and other providers. Find a flu shot clinic at Find complete information about seasonal influenza at

Officials said healthy habits can limit the spread of contagious illnesses, including the flu. Cover coughs and sneezes, wash hands often, avoid close contact with ill people, and stay home from work, school and other public settings when ill.

Report: King County homicides, suicides decline

December 20, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. Dec. 20, 2011

King County experienced the fewest homicides — 59 — in a decade last year, as suicides declined after a spike in 2009.

The information comes from the King County Medical Examiner’s Office. In the agency’s annual report, officials analyze suspicious, sudden, unexpected and violent deaths in King County, plus trends in drug overdose deaths, homicides and traffic fatalities. The agency released the 2010 report Monday.

Overall, King County experienced fewer homicides, suicides, accidental deaths and deaths from natural causes last year than in 2009. (The report includes only deaths under medical examiner’s office jurisdiction.)

The deaths investigated by the medical examiner’s office also made 156 organ transplants possible last year.

Firearms ranked as the most frequent instrument of death in homicides and suicides.

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King County Council fears public health cuts as Legislature meets

November 22, 2011

King County leaders managed to preserve dollars for public health and other human services in the $5.2 billion budget for 2012.

Now, as state legislators prepare to gather for a special session Nov. 28, King County Council members said cuts from Olympia could force the county to cut services. Lawmakers need to slash spending to close a $2 billion budget gap.

“When they make those decisions, it rolls downhill to us,” Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, a budget team member and the Issaquah representative, said a day after the council adopted the 2012 budget.

Councilwoman Julia Patterson, a South King County representative and the budget team leader, said a difficult economy could magnify service cuts.

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Guest Column

November 22, 2011

Continuing the fight against childhood obesity

We have much to celebrate and be thankful for this Thanksgiving. In King County, we are fortunate to live in a community committed to helping people access healthy food.

Yet much work remains to be done, especially in supporting our children’s health.

By the time our children in King County reach middle and high school, they will have a better than one in five chance of being obese or overweight. By the time they are adults, more than half will be obese or overweight — causing debilitating health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, and adding hundreds of millions of dollars in health care costs locally.

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