Thanksgiving food safety is key ingredient for holiday

November 20, 2011

NEW — 1 p.m. Nov. 20, 2011

Before the time comes to carve the turkey and dish up the cranberry sauce, local public health officials reminded Thanksgiving revelers to follow steps to ensure food safety.

The majority of food borne illness stems from inadequate handwashing, cross contamination, and improper cooking, heating and cooling. The proper handling, preparation, cooking and storing of food minimizes growth of E. coli, salmonella, and other causes of foodborne illness.

“Food safety for the holidays goes beyond the proper preparation and cooking of turkey,” Dr. David Fleming, director and health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, said in a statement. “Whether you’re preparing turkey with all the trimmings or other traditional favorites, be sure to handle all food with care to minimize the risk of foodborne illness.”

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Police trick-or-treat for Halloween DUI suspects

October 29, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. Oct. 29, 2011

Extra law enforcement officers in Issaquah and elsewhere in King and Pierce counties fanned out on local roads Halloween weekend to search for impaired motorists.

Halloween is a historically dangerous holiday on local roads due to the number of people driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The extra patrols started Friday evening and continue throughout the weekend. Halloween is Monday.

“Impaired drivers are the scariest things on our roads this weekend,” Dr. David Fleming, Public Health – Seattle & King County director and health officer, said in a statement. “Treat everyone to a fun and safe Halloween by driving sober or planning a safe ride home. Designate a sober driver, ride a bus or use cabs this weekend.”

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King County’s Food Day mission focuses on affordability, sustainability

October 21, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. Oct. 21, 2011

In King County, Food Day is about bringing together parents, teachers, students, health professionals, chefs, school lunch providers and others to advocate for affordable and sustainable foods.

Food Day is Oct. 24, and King County health officials plan a series of events to highlight local foods, access to healthy foods and childhood-obesity prevention.

“Local organizations, schools, leaders and residents are mobilizing for Food Day to expand access to healthy food and curb access to junk food,” Dr. David Fleming, Public Health – Seattle & King County director and health officer, and a Food Day national advisory board member, said in a statement. “We are aiming for long-term improvements so all of our residents have access to healthy options and ultimately good health.”

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Health agency urges parents to take whooping cough prevention measures

October 11, 2011

State health officials said whooping cough, or pertussis, is a serious concern as infants contract the disease at a much higher rate than other people.

The rate of whooping cough in babies is almost 10 times greater than the combined rate of all people of all ages statewide. The state Department of Health said 58 infants younger than 1 received whooping cough diagnoses in 2011. The total includes 22 infants hospitalized for whooping cough and two babies that died from the disease.

“Whooping cough is a serious illness, especially for babies who are too young to be vaccinated,” Dr. Maxine Hayes, state health officer and pediatrician, said in a statement. “Older kids and adults can help protect babies by getting the pertussis vaccine. By being vaccinated, close contacts of infants create a protective ‘cocoon’ for newborns and infants who can’t yet be vaccinated or have not completed their initial vaccine series.”

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Student stars in county’s ‘Let’s Do This!’ health campaign

September 20, 2011

Hillary Dominguez, 12, of Sammamish, poses near the ‘Let's Do This!’ campaign billboard on East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast. By Greg Farrar

“When she was really little,” Frances Clairmont said of daughter Hillary Dominguez, “she used to point at the TV and say, ‘I’m going to do that.’”

Clairmont said that at first, she and the rest of her family really weren’t sure if Hillary was hoping to be a doctor, a model or whatever other profession was being portrayed on the screen.

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Officials encourage flu shots as vaccine becomes available statewide

September 16, 2011

NEW — 10 a.m. Sept. 16, 2011

The flu vaccine is available statewide, state health officials announced Thursday, as flu season approaches.

The state Department of Health also encouraged people to get a flu shot before flu season hits. The illness is a serious disease and can be unpredictable. People can spread flu before they even know they have it, and up to a week after getting sick.

“Flu vaccine is the best way to protect all of us,” state Secretary of Health Mary Selecky said in a statement. “We should get a flu shot every year.”

The agency provides flu vaccine to all people younger than 19 at no cost, although health care providers may charge a fees for the office visit and to administer the vaccine. People unable to afford the fees can ask health care providers to waive the cost.

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County report highlights emergency medical program’s successes

September 6, 2011

NEW — 11:30 a.m. Sept. 6, 2011

Medics responded to 210,719 calls to 911 last year throughout King County in 7.6 minutes, on average.

The information, from a report released Tuesday, highlights the county Emergency Medical Services and Medic One system.

EMS agencies responded to 1,069 cardiac arrests and more than 33,000 trauma incidents last year. The system remains a leader in cardiac arrest survival — the survival rate is 49 percent, compared to 5 to 10 percent in many major urban areas.

The system serves more than 1.9 million people spread across 2,134 square miles.

“We are fortunate in King County to have one of the most innovative and effective Emergency Medical Services systems anywhere,” County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement. “The response that goes into every 911 call reflects extraordinary expertise and teamwork among fire departments, paramedic providers, dispatch centers, physicians, hospitals and public health workers.”

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Immunizations: What parents need to know

August 23, 2011

State law requires a variety of immunizations for students prior to them entering school and while they are in the school system.

In Issaquah, students may register for class, but may not attend school until all immunization requirements are met.

Students must be immunized against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, poliomyelitis, varicella (chickenpox) measles, rubella, mumps and hepatitis B.

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Stay safe from biting, stinging creepy crawlers all summer long

August 16, 2011

Summer means sunshine, heat and — in a not-so-appealing category — summer pests in the form of biting and stinging bugs.

Experts at the state Department of Health said learning how bugs behave is a key step to avoiding bites and stings.

Watch out for deer flies and horse flies, because both species can deliver painful, itchy bites — and transmit tularemia, a bacterial disease. Both species tend to be active during the day and can commonly be found near ponds, streams and marshes. In order to avoid nasty bites, cover exposed skin and use repellent.

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Report dead birds to help track West Nile virus

August 2, 2011

What to know

In order to track West Nile virus, Public Health – Seattle & King County is asking residents to report dead birds by phone at 206-205-4394 or online at

Local health officials recommend residents reduce the number of mosquitoes by:

  • Tipping out containers collecting water, including barrels, buckets, wheelbarrows, bottles, wading pools, birdbaths, animal troughs and plant saucers.
  • Dumping water off of tarps and plastic sheeting, and disposing of used tires.
  • Cleaning garden ponds, circulating water in fountains and placing mosquito screens over rain barrels.
  • Cleaning leaf-clogged gutters and repairing leaky outdoor faucets.
  • Repairing ripped windows and door screens — and making sure they fit tight, so adult mosquitoes cannot enter the home.
  • Helping elderly neighbors mosquito-proof residences.

King County public health officials need community members to crow about dead birds in order to track the West Nile virus.

Public Health – Seattle & King County is asking residents to report dead birds. Crows, in particular, die quickly from West Nile virus, and clusters of dead crows could indicate the presence of the virus.

Officials did not detect West Nile virus in King County last year, but the virus has been active locally in the past.

Most people do not feel the effects of the infection, but in others, West Nile disease can cause severe symptoms, including diseases of the brain and spinal cord. West Nile disease caused 57 deaths in the United States last year, out of 1,021 reported cases in 41 states.

Throughout the summer and early fall, Public Health – Seattle & King County plans to collect dead birds deemed suitable for laboratory testing. The birds must be a crow, raven, jay or magpie; dead for less than 24 hours; and have no visible trauma or decay in order to be tested.

The mosquito most responsible for West Nile virus in King County is the northern house mosquito, culex pipiens. The species prefers to lay eggs in standing water. Even small amounts of water, such as in plant saucers or a clogged gutter, can produce many mosquitoes.

People can avoid mosquito bites by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks. Health officials recommend for people to consider using insect repellent, too.

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