CDPH in the News, April 2016

CDPH in the News

California health department warns against illegally made cheese

from KUTV

“Illegal Cheese Can Make You Sick!” warns a press release from The California Department of Public Health, cautioning consumers against eating illegally made soft cheeses. In the release, California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith, advised people against consuming “…illegally manufactured Mexican-style soft cheeses, often sold by street vendors.”

“These cheeses are often made with raw, unpasteurized milk and under unsanitary conditions,” Smith warned, describing how they have witnessed “…a dramatic increase in the number of reported Salmonella cases, particularly in the Hispanic community.”

Health alert issued over counterfeit pills

from Turlock Journal

Health officials and law enforcement are warning the public of a rash of overdose deaths from a counterfeit painkiller that is actually a powerful opiate. The overdoses have all been linked to pills sold on the street that are designed to look like hydrocodone, but are actually synthetic fentanyl, which is a narcotic more powerful than morphine.

In a two week time span there were 10 overdose deaths in Sacramento County from the narcotic. Other overdoses have been reported in other California counties as well, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Razor clam fishery closed

from Times Standard

The California Fish and Game Commission closed the razor clam fishery in Humboldt and Del Norte counties on Monday after an emergency meeting. Following the latest batch of test results last week, Lauren Zeise, acting director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, cited an “emergency situation” after toxicity levels of clams came in over five times the allowable limit.

According to the commission’s official emergency meeting report, “Ingesting razor clams with high levels of domoic acid is a matter upon which urgent action is necessary to avoid severely impairing public health and safety.” Concerns about razor clam toxicity levels have been present since last summer, but recent test results from the California Department of Public Health showed elevated levels. The current federal action level for domoic acid in clams is 20 parts per million. The CDPH test results show that all but one of the 18 samples were over this limit, with one-third of the samples topping out above 100 ppm.

Rodents carrying potentially fatal hantavirus found in Inland region

from Press Enterprise

Riverside County’s director of disease control on Tuesday urged caution around certain rodent species after 10 mice carrying the potentially deadly hantavirus were found in San Timoteo Canyon near Beaumont. The California Department of Public Health confirmed the animals, which lived in the Norton Younglove Preserve near Beaumont, tested positive for the disease after being live-trapped in March with 14 other rodents.

The virus was found in deer mice, harvest mice and the California or parasitic mouse. Hantavirus is common in the Inland region, said Dottie Merki, Riverside County’s environmental health program chief.

Big increase in suicides for middle-aged women

from San Diego Union Tribune

In the past 15 years, the national suicide rate has increased 24 percent, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found. In 1999, the national age-adjusted suicide rate was 10.5 per 100,000 people, and in 2015, that number increased to 13 per 100,000. The report noted that increase picked up pace after 2006.

The trends are similar in California, although the data is kept differently. In 1999, there were 9.1 suicides per 100,000 people, and that population-based rate increased to 10.4 in 2013, the latest data kept by the California Department of Public Health.

Mass. firefighters seek ban on flame retardants

from Boston Globe

Amid growing concern that flame retardants are responsible for elevated cancer rates in firefighters, Massachusetts lawmakers are pushing legislation that would go further than any other state’s in banning the use of chemicals meant to slow the spread of fires.

Fire officials and environmental advocates, who have joined forces to support the restrictions, contend that at least 10 chemicals used in flame retardants endanger firefighters, while doing little to stop fires. They support two bills that would prohibit manufacturers and retailers from using the chemicals in children’s products and upholstered furniture and authorize state environmental officials to ban other retardants they designate as health risks. Saunders, director of Clean Water Action in Massachusetts, pointed to an ongoing study by the California Department of Public Health that has found that firefighters who have been on the job for more than a year have been exposed to substantially higher levels of chemicals in flame retardants than civilians.