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Entries in Public Health (99)


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 ( ).


NH DHHS - NH to Begin Testing Newborns for SCID, a Life-Threatening Immune Disorder 

Concord, NH – On July 1, 2015, the New Hampshire Department of Health and

Human Services, Division of Public Health Services, Newborn Screening

Program will begin screening newborns for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency

Disorder (SCID), a group of genetic disorders that are some of the most

critical immune system problems and occur in an estimated 1 in 40,000

newborns. If SCID is not detected and treated early, most affected infants

will die within the first year of life.

SCID will be added to the panel of disorders that all newborns in the State

are screened for at birth. Screening for SCID will use the same newborn

screening specimens already collected to test for 33 other rare disorders.

The addition of SCID to the New Hampshire Screening Panel was recommended

by the New Hampshire Newborn Screening Advisory Board with representatives

from families, the medical community, and public health. This change is

consistent with national guidelines for newborn screening.

“Screening all babies for SCID is an important milestone in the State’s

efforts to help protect our youngest and most vulnerable citizens,” said

Marcella Bobinsky, Acting Director of the Division of Public Health

Services. “When detected soon after birth, this extremely serious condition

can be successfully treated. Adding this screening will help give New

Hampshire babies with SCID the opportunity to live a normal, healthy life.”

About 12,300 babies are screened each year in New Hampshire. Blood is drawn

by a simple heel stick between 24 and 48 hours after birth. The screening

provides an opportunity to detect medical conditions that if not addressed

early in life would cause serious problems like developmental delays, major

illness, or death.

For more information on the Newborn Screening Program, please visit

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NH DHHS - Public Health Labs Open House

Public Health Laboratories Open House

When: Thursday, May 28, 2015

1:00–3:00 pm

Where: NH Department of Health and Human Services
Public Health Labs

29 Hazen Drive

Concord, NH

The New Hampshire Public Health Laboratories will host an open house in the

lobby of the Department of Health and Human Services building at 29 Hazen

Drive, Concord. Guests will have the opportunity to view displays of recent

work that highlight the role of the Public Health Labs in protecting the

public health of New Hampshire residents, chat with laboratory scientists,

and tour the laboratories.


NH DHHS Releases New Tick Disease Prevention Plan

Reminds Residents to Take Precautions against Tickborne Diseases

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

(DHHS), Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) has released a Tickborne

Disease Prevention Plan that provides detailed information about the

tickborne diseases encountered in New Hampshire and methods to prevent

them. The intent of this plan is to describe preventative measures and

actions that are recommended by DHHS for individuals in NH to prevent

tickborne disease.

“Lyme disease is a major public health issue in New Hampshire. The

Tickborne Disease Prevention Plan provides a collaborative and

comprehensive approach to staying safe from the type of tick that carries

Lyme disease,” said Dr. Benjamin Chan, State Epidemiologist. “Blacklegged

ticks carry the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. These ticks even cause

other infections besides Lyme disease. This new plan highlights the many

ways that we can prevent tick bites."

In 2014, there were an estimated 1,415 cases of Lyme disease in New

Hampshire. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

(CDC), there were over 36,000 cases in the United States in 2013 (the most

recent year for which data are available), and New Hampshire had the second

highest incidence rate of Lyme disease in the country.

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdoferi and is

transmitted to people by the bite of an infected blacklegged tick (also

known as the deer tick). The greatest risk for Lyme disease is between the

months of May and August when the blacklegged tick is in the nymphal stage.

The nymph is about the size of a poppy seed and very difficult to see, so

individuals may be unaware they have been bitten. Ticks that transmit Lyme

disease can also transmit other diseases, such as anaplasmosis, babesiosis,

and Powassan virus. Although not as common as Lyme disease, these have been

documented in New Hampshire.

Symptoms of Lyme disease in the early stages can include fever, headache,

fatigue, and most often a red skin rash that is round and may look like a

bull’s-eye. Lyme disease is treatable with antibiotics, but if left

untreated can lead to complications of meningitis (inflammation of the

lining around the spinal cord), pain and swelling in large joints, and

heart complications.

DHHS recommends taking the following precautions to prevent tick bites:

Avoid tick-infested areas such as overgrown grass, brush, and leaflitter
Use insect repellent labeled as effective against ticks

Wear protective clothing (long pants and long sleeves to keep ticks off skin)

Do daily tick checks on yourself, family members, and pets, especially after being outdoors

Consult with your veterinarian about tick prevention for pets
Shower soon after returning indoors to wash or rinse off any unattached ticks
Reduce ticks around your home by keeping grass short, removing leaf
litter, and minimizing habitat or food sources for deer and rodents, which can carry ticks
Speak with your healthcare provider if you are bitten by a tick or if you notice a large round rash anywhere on you
The plan is available on the DHHS website at: For more information about Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases, visit the
DHHS website at or the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at
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