Press Releases


Entries in Public Health (102)


NH DHHS - NH Officials to Discuss State’s Comprehensive Response to Opioid Epidemic

Member of the media are invited to a press event on Tuesday, September 29,

2015, at 11:30am, to hear firsthand from State officials about the State’s

comprehensive strategy to address the opioid overdose crisis.

WHAT: State of New Hampshire’s comprehensive strategy to address

the opioid epidemic, including the plan to distribute the

drug overdose reversal medication, naloxone

WHO: Anticipated speakers include Governor Maggie Hassan; DHHS

Commissioner Nicholas Toumpas; NH Bureau of Emergency

Medical Services Director Nick Mercuri; Police Chief

Association President Chief Bob Cormier; individuals in

recovery; family members of those experiencing addiction;

and physicians providing naloxone and medication-assisted

treatment for people experiencing addiction

WHEN: 11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

WHERE: Governor and Council Chambers

NH State House

Concord, NH

The press conference will specifically address:

· Two new laws, House Bills 270 and 271, that were passed and went in

to effect June 2, 2015, to increase public access to drug overdose

reversal medication, often referred to as naloxone or by its

commercial name, Narcan.

· The State’s purchase of naloxone kits that will be made available

this fall at no cost for those at risk for an opioid-related overdose

or their friends and family members.

· The State’s new campaign to increase awareness of the opioid crisis

and of resources and services available to help prevent, treat and

support recovery from addiction.

Presentations will run from 11:30am to approximately 12:10pm, with the

remaining 20 minutes available for questions from the press.

Press packets will be available at the beginning of the event.


NH DHHS - Promotes Good Oral Health among Older Adults in Honor of National Senior Center Month

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

(DHHS), Division of Public Health Services, Oral Health Program, has been

providing oral health screenings in senior centers around the State to

raise awareness of the importance of oral health for New Hampshire's older


Older adults face barriers to regular dental care due to a lack of dental

insurance, financial constraints, absence of perceived need, and

transportation issues. A recent statewide survey of older adults in senior

centers documented an unmet need for dental care among seniors living

independently in their communities, particularly among those residing in

rural areas, and those with limited incomes. Twenty-four percent of older

adults have untreated decay and sharp broken teeth.

“Because many seniors have unmet oral health needs, the Department is

promoting innovative approaches to dental care to help seniors prevent and

control tooth decay,” said Marcella Bobinsky, Acting Director of the

Division Public Health Services. “Oral health is part of healthy aging; you

can’t be healthy without good oral health.”

Older adults with urgent dental needs in six selected senior centers who

have been identified by hygienists are referred to participating local

dental offices, where their treatment is paid for through funds from DHHS.

These services are especially important for older adults because poor oral

health impacts their nutritional status, social functioning, and overall

well-being. As the gateway to the body, the mouth is constantly challenged

by bacteria and viruses that cause infection and inflammation. Dental

caries (cavities) and the periodontal diseases (such as gingivitis and

periodontitis) have been linked to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes,

respiratory diseases, and cancer.

The Oral Health Program received funds from the National Association of

Chronic Disease Directors to provide seniors with screening assessments,

oral health education, and referrals for treatment.

While these programs are important, funding for seniors’ dental screening

assessments ends on September 30, 2015. DHHS is raising awareness of the

issue to show the importance of sustaining the screening program and adding

on-site preventive oral health services to additional sites in the state.

For more information about screening sites or the Oral Health Program in

New Hampshire visit

# # #


NH DHHS Identifies Positive Test Result for West Nile Virus

First Positive Mosquito Batch of the Season

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

(DHHS) is announcing that a batch of mosquitoes has tested positive for

West Nile Virus (WNV) recently from the city of Manchester. This is the

first mosquito batch found to be positive so far this year and the first

positive test result of the season. DHHS is collaborating with the City of

Manchester Health Department on notification around this recent detection.

WNV, along with Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), are arboviruses that are

transmitted from the bite of an infected mosquito. WNV was first identified

in New Hampshire in August of 2000. The Public Health Lab has tested 3,048

mosquito batches, two animals, and 46 people so far this season for WNV and

EEE. There have been no positive tests for EEE yet this year. Last year, 1

mosquito batch tested positive for WNV in New Hampshire and there were 18

positive batches for EEE. No animals tested positive for WNV last year but

there were three EEE positive animals. Three humans were determined to have

been infected with EEE last year as well, with two fatalities, but there

were no people found infected with WNV.

“This is the first positive mosquito test result in New Hampshire this

season,” said NH State Epidemiologist Dr. Benjamin Chan, “NH residents and

visitors need to make sure they take precautions to prevent being bitten by

mosquitoes as we head into the fall, the most risky time of year for

mosquito-borne illnesses like WNV and EEE.”

Residents and visitors to New Hampshire should protect themselves and their

family members by using an effective mosquito repellant that contains 30%

DEET, wearing long sleeves and pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are

most active, and removing standing water from around your home so

mosquitoes do not have a place to breed. Repellents with picaridin, IR3535

and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products also

provide protection against mosquito bites.

Symptoms of the WNV usually appear within a week after being bitten by an

infected mosquito, although many people can be infected and not develop any

symptoms, or only develop very mild symptoms. Symptoms can include flu-like

illness including fever, muscle aches, headaches, and fatigue. A very small

percentage of individuals infected with WNV can go on to develop more

serious central nervous system disease, including meningitis or

encephalitis. If you or someone you know is experiencing flu-like symptoms,

including fever and headache, contact your local medical provider.

Anyone with questions about WNV/EEE can call 1-866-273-64531-866-273-6453 FREE between 8 AM to

4:30 PM, Monday through Friday. Other information about EEE and West Nile

virus are available on the DHHS website at and on the

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at

Prevention Guidelines for West Nile Virus

Prevention Guidelines for WNV and EEE


NH DHHS - Food Safety Tips for the Summer Season 

Concord, NH – During this busy summer season of trips to the beach,

vacations, and cookouts, the Department of Health and Human

Services’ (DHHS) Food Protection Section wants to remind everyone to follow

some important food safety practices to avoid foodborne illnesses, such as

Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli, and Campylobacter.

There are an estimated 48 million cases of foodborne disease each year, but

there is no way to know for sure since many foodborne illnesses are never

reported and not everyone even goes to see their healthcare provider.

However, in 2013, there were 19,056 confirmed cases of foodborne illness

resulting in 4,200 hospitalizations and 80 deaths according to U.S. Centers

for Disease Control and Prevention data.

“Food is an important part of vacation and holiday gatherings but it needs

to be handled safely, especially during the warmer weather,” said Marcella

Bobinsky, Acting Director of Public Health at DHHS. “The basic rule is to

keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Just like hand washing, the more we

practice it the more routine it becomes and the safer we all will be.”

A DHHS video on summer grilling food safety is available on YouTube at There are some simple

precautions everyone should always take to reduce the possibility of

becoming sick when preparing food, which include:

· Separate: Avoid cross contamination. Use a separate cutting board for

cooked foods and raw foods (especially meat) and always wash them

after use. Wash any utensil after preparing one food item before

going on to the next item.

· Clean: Always wash hands before touching any food. Wash hands and

surfaces often during food preparation and afterward.

· Cook: Pork, lamb, veal, and whole cuts of beef should be cooked to

145 °F as measured by a food thermometer placed in the thickest part

of the meat, followed by a three-minute rest time before carving or

consuming. Hamburgers and other ground beef should reach 160 °F. All

poultry should reach a minimum temperature of 165 °F. Fish should be

cooked to 145 °F. Fully cooked meats like hot dogs should be grilled

to 165 °F or until steaming hot.

· Chill: Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within two hours. One hour if

it is a hot day over

90ºF. The refrigerator should be maintained at 40ºF or lower and the

freezer should be at 0ºF or lower. Keep hot foods hot, 140ºF or

hotter, and cold foods cold, 40ºF or below. Never defrost food at

room temperature. Thaw food in the refrigerator, in a cold-water

bath, or in the microwave. When using a microwave, meat must be

cooked immediately after. Marinate foods in the refrigerator.

· Report: Report suspected foodborne illnesses to the NH Department of

Health and Human Services by calling 603-271-4496. Often calls from

concerned citizens are how outbreaks are first detected. If a public

health official calls you to talk about an outbreak, your cooperation

is important, even if you are not ill.

For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture at  or

, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at , the

DHHS website at , or .


NH DHHS - Programs Address Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate for National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and Prevention Month  

Concord, NH – July is National Cleft and Craniofacial Awareness and

Prevention Month and a number of NH Department of Health and Human Services

(DHHS) programs are helping to prevent cleft lip and cleft palate in New

Hampshire babies. Among the services these programs provide are:

customized, free help quitting tobacco (1-800-QUIT-NOW); free texts on how

to have a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby through Text4Baby; prenatal

services through NH Medicaid ( ); and nutrition education and

nutritious foods to help keep pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and

preschool children healthy and strong through NH WIC services.

On average, there are 12,000 babies born in New Hampshire each year, 8.34%

of whom are born with a cleft lip and 7.82% with a cleft palate. Orofacial

clefts happen early during pregnancy. A baby can have a cleft lip, a cleft

palate, or both. Babies born with these birth defects have problems with

feeding, hearing, and speech development; dental problems, including

missing teeth; and frequent middle ear infections. Correction of cleft

defects requires surgery. Some factors that increase the chance of having a

baby with an orofacial cleft are maternal smoking, having diabetes, and use

of certain medications to treat epilepsy, such as topirimate and valproic


“DHHS has a number of programs working toward reducing these birth defects

by addressing these risk factors,” said Marcella Bobinsky, Acting Director

of Public Health at DHHS. “Because birth defects can develop before a woman

even knows she is pregnant, it is important that she takes care of her

health from the start. Addressing health risk behaviors even before

pregnancy is important, such as taking 400 micrograms of folic acid every

day and quitting smoking to reduce the risk of poor birth outcomes.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that:

· Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have a baby with

an orofacial cleft than women who do not smoke,

· Women with diabetes diagnosed before pregnancy have an increased risk

of having a child with a cleft lip with or without cleft palate,

compared with women who did not have diabetes, and

· Women who used certain medicines to treat epilepsy, during the first

trimester (the first 3 months) of pregnancy have an increased risk of

having a baby with cleft lip with or without cleft palate, compared

with women who didn’t take these medicines.

For information on the NH Birth Conditions Program visit

Resources for women, infants, and children and the many programs of DHHS,

such as the Diabetes Education Program, the Maternal and Child Health

Program, NH WIC, Text4Baby, and the Oral Health Program, can be found at . DHHS currently offers free help quitting tobacco use

through 1-800-QUIT-NOW ( ).