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National Public Health Week - Wednesday

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A healthier America begins with preventing communicable diseases

SOMETIMES THE SMALLEST CHANGE CAN MAKE THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE.  If we take small actions, our communities, homes and families will see the large benefits of preventive care and grow the movement. Properly washing your food and hands before cooking to prevent the spread of bacteria or viruses are just a few of the ways people can stay healthy.  Many diseases are preventable. Yet each year, 1 million Americans die from diseases that could have been prevented.

Did you know?

  • Each year, roughly one in six Americans (48 million people) gets sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. Reducing foodborne illness by 10 percent would keep about 5 million Americans from getting sick each year.
  • Most food poisoning is caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites, rather than toxic substances in the food.
  • Raw foods are the most common source of foodborne illnesses because they are not sterile.
  • When food is cooked and left out for more than two hours at room temperature, bacteria can multiply quickly.
  • Some people are at greater risk for bacterial infections because of their age or an unhealthy immune system. Young children, pregnant women and older adults are at the greatest risk.
  • Hand-washing and wearing gowns and gloves in hospitals cuts the number of infections of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, also known as (MRSA), and other hospital-acquired infections.
  • Vaccination is the only medical intervention that has ever completely eliminated an illness in humans.
  • One in nine people who contract a meningococcal disease, such as meningitis, will die from it, even if they are diagnosed and treated quickly.
  • Cases and deaths from the most vaccine-preventable diseases targeted since 1980, such as chickenpox, have declined by 80 percent or more because of widespread immunization.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccinations from birth through adulthood to provide a lifetime of protection against many diseases and infections, such as influenza, pneumococcal disease, human papillomavirus and hepatitis A and B.

Together we can address these statistics and live longer and healthier lives. There are ways you can protect yourself, your family and community from communicable diseases. Taking action, both big and small, to prevent communicable diseases such as foodborne illnesses is more than just common sense — it’s effective. Below are just a few examples of how you can prevent communicable diseases.

Start small...

  • Proper food handling, preparation and storage, as well as adoption of hand-washing practices within commercial establishments, health care facilities and homes, can help reduce contamination and prevent foodborne illness.
  • Encourage your community to promote proper hand-washing and food preparation habits to limit the spread of communicable diseases, which frequently occurs via airborne viruses or bacteria.
  • Vaccines should be administered at the earliest possible opportunity to achieve immunity and increase the chances of avoiding disease.
  • Report cases of communicable disease outbreaks in your community, use Health MAP to report flu near you.
  • Follow the recommended immunization schedule for children and adults.
  • Advocate for paid sick days as a strategy to reduce communicable disease transmission in the workplace.

Think big...

  • Support local disease control policies that seek to lessen the impacts of some of the most serious communicable diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, influenza, polio and tuberculosis.
  • Encourage restaurants to implement proper handling, preparation and storage practices to increase food safety.
  • Write to policymakers about the importance of ensuring that laboratories, businesses, health and community partners are prepared to respond to outbreaks of foodborne disease.
  • Submit a letter to the editor in response to a recent article that highlights the importance of strengthening the nation’s comprehensive food safety system.
  • Host a food preparation course at a local supermarket.
  • Create a local movement: Ask policymakers to hold a town hall discussion on the President’s “Food Safety Working Group,” which is working to modernize food safety through collaborative partnerships with consumers.

There is much more you can do to prevent communicable disease. By raising awareness of prevention within your community during National Public Health Week, you can help members of your community live healthier and longer lives.



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