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2012 American Diabetes Month

Today, more than 25 million Americans are living with diabetes and 79 million more are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The Rutherford Polk McDowell District Health Department is proud to participate in American Diabetes Month to promote diabetes prevention and control.

People who are overweight, over 45 years old, or who have high blood pressure are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. The good news is that you can take steps to lower your chances of developing type 2 diabetes:

  • Watch your weight.
  • Eat healthy.
  • Be active.
  • Control your blood pressure and cholesterol.

2012 World Rabies Day

The Rutherford Polk McDowell District Health Department along with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services reminds pet owners and all animal lovers this World Rabies Day that the best way to avoid potential exposure to rabies is to make sure that pets have been vaccinated. North Carolina has had 341 reported cases of rabies in animals so far in 2012. While the majority of cases have been among wild animals such as raccoons and foxes, even family pets may be infected.  Locally in Rutherford County there have been 9 confimred reports of rabies in animals, 2 in Polk County and 1 in McDowell County.

"The potential for exposure to a rabid animal exists in every county, whether you live out in the country or in town," said State Health Director Laura Gerald. "That is why it is important never to touch or approach a wild, stray or feral animal. It is equally important that all pet owners abide by state law to have pets vaccinated against rabies."

There have been no reported cases of rabies in humans in North Carolina since 1955 due to strong public health and animal control efforts. However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 40,000 people nationwide each year receive rabies post-exposure prophylaxis as a precaution because they have been bitten or potentially exposed to a rabid animal. Persons travelling outside the United States should be aware that the risk can be much greater in other countries. Each year, an estimated 55,000 people die from rabies worldwide.

If you have been bitten by any animal:

  • Wash any wounds thoroughly with soap and water for 15 minutes and seek medical treatment immediately.
  • Contact your local county animal control agency and local public health department so the animal may be collected for testing or observation, if possible.

According to public health officials, raccoons and cats represent the highest number of lab-confirmed rabies cases in the state in wild and domestic animals respectively. However any mammal can be infected, including bats. While most bats do not have rabies, they represent a significant risk of infection as most human cases of rabies in the United States are due to bat exposure. If you find bats in your home, please call your local health department immediately.

North Carolina requires all dogs, cats and ferret owners to have their pets vaccinated against rabies, beginning at four months of age.

For more information, go to: http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/cd/diseases/rabies.html.


Breast Cancer Awareness Month

This October, the Rutherford Polk McDowell District Health Department is proud to sponsor National Breast Cancer Awareness Month—a time to promote regular mammograms and increase early detection of breast cancer. About 1 in 8 women in the United States will get breast cancer. Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common kind of cancer in women. Mammograms can help find breast cancer early when there is the best chance for treatment.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer is the number one cause of cancer death in Hispanic women. It is the second most common cause of cancer death in White, Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women.  Within our three county health district - Rutherford County could expect 76 new cases of breast cancer and it is projected that 26 of those women will die from breast cancer.  In Polk County, 28 new cases are expected with 5 deaths as a result.  Finally, in McDowell County 47 new cases of breast cancer with 7 deaths. (Produced by the North Carolina Central Cancer Registry)

If you are age 40 to 49, talk with your doctor about when to start getting mammograms and how often you need them.  If you are age 50 or older, call today to schedule your mammogram.

These are general guidelines. Talk to a doctor about your risk for breast cancer, especially if breast or ovarian cancer runs in your family. Your doctor can help you decide when and how often to get a mammogram.


New Food Code Rules

On September 1, 2012, new Food Code Rules will go into effect in North Carolina.  The new food code represents the most comprehensive change in North Carolina’s food protection standards in more than 30 years and establishes practical, science-based rules and provisions to help avoid food-borne illnesses, like noroviruses and salmonella. 

Under the new rules, employees must avoid handling ready-to-eat food with their bare hands and all restaurants must have a certified food protection manager during hours of operation.  Restaurant owners also must establish employee health policies to ensure that an ill employee who has the potential to contaminate food is not involved in the preparation or serving of food.

Restaurant rating systems also will change under the new food code. Although sanitation rating cards showing the grade and score will continue to be posted, restaurants will no longer earn a bonus for completing voluntary food safety training since certification will be required.

Another change people will notice is that local food trucks and pushcarts will also be subject to the new food code rules and will be required to post a sanitation rating card.

Key Provisions of the new North Carolina Food Code:

  • Each food establishment will be required to demonstrate knowledge of food protection by passing an American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-accredited exam. This requirement will be phased in and become effective January 1, 2014.
  • Each food establishment will be required to develop and adhere to an Employee Health Policy to prevent and control the transmission of illnesses.
  • Food establishments will be required to refrain from handling exposed, ready-to-eat foods with bare hands.
  • Food establishments will be required to decrease the temperature of refrigerated foods and must date-mark opened, ready-to-eat foods.

Anyone interested in viewing the new code can visit the following website:


The food rules are found in section .2600 and the NC Food Code Manual is posted as well.


2012 World Breastfeeding Week: The Road to Lifelong Health Begins with Breastfeeding

While malnutrition plagues numerous developing countries, rates
of obesity are at an all-time high in many 2012 World Breastfeeding Week Logo
developed countries, with the highest prevalence in the United States and Mexico. The health and nutritional status of mothers and infants are directly linked, making appropriate infant feeding a critical first step in preventing these and a variety of other medical conditions. "Poor feeding practices can lead to malnutrition and obesity, and contribute to an overall decline in the health and welfare of the population," said Cathy Carothers, President of the International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA). Research shows that infants who are not exclusively breastfed for their first six months of life are also more likely to develop a wide range of chronic and acute diseases and conditions including ear infections, diarrheal diseases, asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and respiratory illnesses. In addition, mothers who do not breastfeed are at an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Keeping breastfeeding high on the public health agenda is critical to improving global health. Early and exclusive breastfeeding with the introduction of appropriate complementary feeding around six months of age ensures that both mothers and infants receive maximum health benefits. The Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding, jointly developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), serves as a roadmap toward a renewed commitment to exclusive breastfeeding beginning in the first hour of birth to achieve optimal health outcomes.  The Global Strategy is celebrating 10 years of guiding infant feeding in 2012.

In honor of that anniversary, the topic of World Breastfeeding Week 2012 (August 1-7, 2012/October 1-7, 2012) is "Understanding the Past—Planning the Future: Celebrating 10 years of WHO/UNICEF's Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding." Building on the concept that the Global Strategy serves as a roadmap for actions to protect, promote and support breastfeeding to achieve maximum health benefits, World Breastfeeding Week is being celebrated with the ILCA theme "The Road to Lifelong Health Begins with Breastfeeding."

This road to lifelong health is not one for mothers and babies to travel alone.  “While breastfeeding is a learned behavior, it is important to remember that the journey to successful breastfeeding begins with  support of families, health care providers, governments, employers and communities,” said Carothers.   ILCA provides abundant resources, including a “Find a Lactation Consultant” Directory that helps new  mothers access local International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) who can help navigate the way to successful breastfeeding and ultimately to sustained health. ILCA’s “Worksite Lactation Support Directory” provides a listing of IBCLCs with specific expertise in helping employers set up lactation programs to help mothers continue breastfeeding after they return to work.

For more information about World Breastfeeding Week or IBCLCs, visit the ILCA website at www.ILCA.org.

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