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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King County’s tuberculosis infection rate remains high

November 22, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. Nov. 22, 2011

King County continues to experience one of the highest tuberculosis infection rates in the United States, public health officials announced Monday.

Public Health – Seattle & King County released the latest findings about the infectious disease in the 2010 TB report. The report also details local efforts to controls 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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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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