The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released two annual reports recently. The reports provide information about healthcare-associated infections (HAI) and influenza vaccination rates among health care providers.
While California hospitals have made progress in preventing healthcare-associated infections, HAIs continue to be a significant public health issue in the state. In 2015, hospitals reported 19,847 healthcare-associated infections to CDPH. From 2014 to 2015, 56 hospitals demonstrated significant improvement in preventing one or more HAI type. Hospitals are making progress in preventing HAI with the exception of C. difficile diarrheal infections (CDI), which increased 8 percent since 2011. CDPH offered infection-prevention assistance to 73 hospitals with high infection rates.
The department’s influenza vaccination report indicates that vaccination rates among health care providers have improved in the past five years. Since 2011, vaccination rates increased 21 percent for hospital employees and 11 percent for non-employee healthcare providers, such as physicians or other contracted staff members.
Both the HAI and influenza vaccination rate reports include data reported by 392 licensed general acute care hospitals representing 419 campuses. The reports are on the CDPH website at www.cdph.ca.gov.
Due to various factors in the way data are classified and validated, the information in this HAI report is not directly comparable to previous annual reports the department released. The report provides additional details about these changes.
Using data from these reports, CDPH created an interactive map for the public, Healthcare Personnel Influenza Vaccination in California Hospitals and updated the data for the My Hospital’s Infections Map.
“Hospitals can utilize the data in our HAI report to implement and improve infection-prevention strategies,” said Dr. Karen Smith, CDPH director and state public health officer. “This same information can help Californians stay informed about what their local hospitals are doing to protect against healthcare associated infections.”
With the holiday season approaching, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reminds consumers to use safe food preparation and storage measures to prevent foodborne illness. Bacteria that can be found in foods such as meat and poultry may cause illness if they are insufficiently cooked, inadequately cooled or improperly handled.
“We can help ensure that foodborne illnesses don’t ruin our holidays by properly preparing and handling meat, poultry and other foods,” said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith.
About 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths in the U.S. each year are related to foodborne diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Foodborne diseases can be prevented by: washing hands with soap and warm water before and after food preparation, and especially after handling raw foods; cleaning all work surfaces, utensils and dishes with hot soapy water and rinsing them with hot water after each use; cooking food thoroughly and refrigerating adequately between meals.
Symptoms of foodborne disease can include diarrhea, which may be bloody, vomiting, abdominal cramps and fever. Most infected people recover from foodborne illnesses within a week. Some, however, may develop complications that require hospitalization. Young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are at highest risk for potentially life-threatening complications.
Additional information about food safety is available on the U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). Consumers can also access the national Partnership for Food Safety Education’s Fight BAC! Website www.cdph.ca.gov
California has released a new surveillance, prevention and care plan designed to dramatically reduce new HIV infections in the state, with the goal of eventually getting that number to zero. The “Getting to Zero” plan is a blueprint for state and local health departments and community organizations working to achieve a more coordinated statewide response to HIV.
“Thanks to better treatment and prevention options, new testing technology and better access to health care, California has reached a point where we can begin to envision the possibility of zero new HIV infections,” said California Department of Public Health Director State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. “In a state as large as ours, it will take an incredible amount of coordination, innovation and work to make this vision a reality. This report lays the foundation for achieving our goals.”
The “Getting to Zero” plan was developed by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in coordination with local health officials, other state departments, medical and non-medical providers, and HIV community organizations and planning bodies. The report set four goals to be achieved by 2021. The four goals are to reduce new HIV infections, increase access to care, reduce disparities in underserved communities and achieve a more coordinated statewide response to the HIV epidemic.
To achieve those goals, the report outlines 15 strategies and 12 key objectives that will be monitored on an annual basis by CDPH’s Office of AIDS. Some of the strategies include improving HIV testing and HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) utilization, enhancing availability of HIV care and increasing community collaboration and involvement.
“This comprehensive plan reinforces the state’s ongoing commitment to address the HIV epidemic,” said Dr. Karen Mark, Chief of the Office of AIDS at CDPH. “This commitment includes supporting people living with HIV, reducing the rate of new infections, and recognizing that not all communities have been equally impacted by this epidemic, and making those most at risk a high priority.”
For more information see www.cdph.ca.gov
California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith today warned consumers about the risks associated with wearing decorative contact lenses.
“Wearing any kind of contact lens, including decorative lenses, without proper consultation of an eye care professional can cause serious injury,” Dr. Smith said. “The risks include infection, ulcers, decreased vision, cuts or scratches to the surface of the eye, itchiness or redness. If these conditions are left untreated, the injuries can progress rapidly. In severe cases, blindness and eye loss can occur.”
The sale of contact lenses without a prescription is illegal. Only Board of Optometry licensed optometrists and ophthalmologists are authorized to prescribe and dispense prescription contact lenses. Medical Board of California registered opticians and optical shops are authorized to fill contact lens prescriptions
Decorative contact lenses are intended to temporarily change the appearance of the eye, but do not correct vision. Advertised as color, cosmetic, fashion and theatrical contact lenses, they are especially popular around Halloween. Decorative contact lenses are typically sold at beauty supply and novelty stores.
Consumers who have experienced any injury or illness with decorative contact lenses should contact their health care provider. Consumers can report the illegal sale of decorative contact lenses without a prescription to CDPH’s Food and Drug Branch Hotline at 1-800-495-3232 to initiate an investigation.
For additional information see www.cdph.ca.gov
California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith called on the people of California to help reduce the number of mosquitoes by eliminating standing water, especially in areas that have recently had rain and continue to experience warm temperatures.
“Rainy weather can create new breeding grounds for mosquitoes if water is allowed to pool and remain stagnant,” said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. “Mosquito season in California peaks in October, making it critically important that Californians take action to empty even small amounts of water from our gardens and yards.”
To help control mosquitoes, check your yard weekly for water-filled containers. Clean and scrub bird baths and pet watering dishes weekly, and dump the water from dishes under potted plants. Contact your local vector control agency if you detect unusual numbers of mosquitoes or you are being bitten during the day.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito, an aggressive mosquito that bites during the day, has been detected in 12 California counties. This black-and-white striped mosquito has the potential to transmit Zika and other diseases, such as dengue fever, chikungunya and yellow fever. While the mosquito is especially active two hours after sunrise and several hours before sunset, it can also bite during the day. These mosquitoes often enter buildings through unscreened windows and doors and bite people indoors.
To prevent mosquito bites, apply repellents containing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-registered ingredients such as DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 to exposed skin and/or clothing (as directed on the product label). During the times mosquitoes are most active you should wear long- sleeve shirts, long pants, socks and shoes. Be sure window and door screens are in good condition to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families (ACF) announced new quality and safety standards aimed at providing for higher quality care and safer environments for millions of children, including our youngest learners.
The rule, which implements bipartisan legislation signed by President Obama in 2014, sets higher standards for states, territories and tribes receiving federal funds through the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program in important areas such as health and safety requirements; training and professional development for child care providers; and eligibility rules that better support working families.
In 2016, California received $601,597,737 in federal funding through the CCDF program, which each month serves 111,400 children (78,100 families).
Last year, the Federal government provided over $5 billion to states, territories and tribes to help 850,000 working families pay for child care and to support quality improvements for providers that serve our neediest children. CCDF serves approximately 1.4 million children each month, a majority of whom are children under the age of five. The new rule protects the health and safety of children, helps parents make more informed consumer choices, supports early child development for our youngest learners, and enhances the quality of child care for all children.
All children in one of the 370,000 child care settings across the country that participate in the federal child care program – not just those receiving direct child care assistance from CCDBG – will benefit from new health and safety requirements, staff training requirements, and criminal background checks for staff. In addition, CCDF quality investments can benefit all children in child care regardless of whether or not they receive federal funding.
We know from U.S. Census data that nearly 12.5 million children under the age of five are in some form of child care arrangement each week. They spend an average of 36 hours per week in care. Research, particularly in neuroscience, has shown how much this time matters to our youngest children. Providing safe, high-quality environments that nurture our youngest children’s healthy growth and development will help them grow, thrive, be successful in school, and even find better jobs and earn more as adults.
“Many parents rely on child care programs, and it is important that their children are cared for in safe learning environments with qualified providers,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “These new standards, which are the result of bipartisan legislation, include robust safety, screening, and training procedures to boost quality, empower parents, and ensure that child care programs promote healthy and positive early childhood development.”
The rule strengthens a number of new provisions in the law and provides needed guidance to states, territories and tribes in a number of areas, including:
“This rule continues the historic re-envisioning of the Child Care and Development Fund program and raises the bar so that low-income parents will know their children are safe, learning, and on the path to future success in school and life,” said Linda Smith, deputy assistant secretary for early learning at ACF. “Child care is both an economic support for working parents and an early learning program for millions of children. It’s critical to our nation’s future that we get this right.”
California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith has urged health care providers to adopt new recommendations recently announced by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force calling for adults 18 years of age or older who are at increased risk of tuberculosis (TB) to be screened for the disease.
Those considered to be at increased risk of TB include individuals born in countries with elevated rates of the disease and individuals who live in settings with a large number of people, like group homes or homeless shelters.
“I urge health care providers in the state to adopt these new screening recommendations as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Smith. “Local health departments should work with providers to ensure that today’s new recommendations are implemented. Today’s recommendations, if universally adopted, can help us eliminate TB in California in the next few decades.”
Evidence shows that screening of individuals at increased risk for TB is an effective method for preventing the development of TB disease.
TB is a disease caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs but can also attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine and brain. It can be spread through the air from one person to another by coughing, sneezing or speaking.
When TB bacteria actively grow in people and cause symptoms, the condition is known as TB disease and can be deadly. People with TB disease can infect others. The bacteria can also be inactive, causing no symptoms and held in check by the immune system. This condition is known as latent TB.
Elimination of TB in California is possible by detecting and treating latent TB infection before it progresses to infectious TB disease.
In California, an estimated 2.4 million people have latent TB infection. In 2015, 2,137 people were diagnosed with TB disease in the state.
Health care providers can consult with their local health departments to develop specific plans for screening their patient populations. The CDPH Tuberculosis Control Branch provides technical assistance to local health departments and health plans to implement tuberculosis prevention efforts.
CDPH has developed the California Risk Assessment Screening Tool to help health care providers to quickly identify people at risk for developing the disease and also a fact sheet that offers suggested courses of treatment.
For more information on TB, please visit www.cdph.ca.gov.