Screening and Lifestyle Choices Can Lower Colorectal Cancer Risk

Brewster, NY – Colorectal cancer – cancer that begins in the colon or rectum – is one of the most common cancers
among New Yorkers. Each year more than 10,000 people develop colorectal cancer, and nearly 3,500 die in New
York State alone. Early detection is key and March, National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, is a good time to
schedule a screening and make some lifestyle changes for further protection.

“Screenings for colorectal cancer can detect polyps before cancer even begins,” says Allen Beals, M.D.,
Putnam County Commissioner of Health. “If polyps are found early, they can be removed easily.”
“It is always smart to take the initiative when it concerns matters of health,” said County Executive
MaryEllen Odell. “I am so pleased to see that our Health Department is proactive in seeing to it that information on a
variety of health matters is brought to the attention of the public.”

Colorectal cancer can strike younger adults, but most cases are in people aged 50 or older. According to the
Centers for Disease Control, if everyone 50 years and older were screened regularly, nearly 60% of deaths from this
cancer could be avoided. Certain individuals should begin testing earlier, such as those with a personal or family
history of colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease or colorectal polyps. These conditions may put them at
greater risk. Recommended screening tests include: stool tests, colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy or a barium enema.

Colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer do not always cause symptoms, especially in the early stages.
Symptoms for colorectal cancer typically do not surface until it has spread and become life threatening. Symptoms
may include bleeding from the rectum, blood in the stool, change in bowel habits, decreased appetite or unexplained
weight loss, weakness and fatigue, or stomach pain that does not go away, and should prompt a call to your health
care provider.

Lifestyle choices can help protect against developing colorectal cancer and other cancers. The American
Cancer Society recommends the following to reduce a person’s risk:
      -Do not smoke
      -Maintain a healthy weight
      -Be physically active on a regular basis
      -Make healthy food choices
      -Limit alcohol consumption

No single food or nutrient protects against colorectal cancer by itself; a variety of factors in foods work together to
provide anti-cancer effects. There is convincing evidence that a high-fiber, plant-based style of eating, incorporating a
variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans, helps lower the risk for several cancers, including colorectal
cancer. For more information about healthy eating to reduce your cancer risk, visit www.AICR.org.

The New York State Cancer Services Program (CSP) provides breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screenings
at NO COST to women and men who:

      -Do not have health insurance OR have health insurance that does not cover the cost of these screenings
      -Cannot pay for these screenings
      -Meet income eligibility requirements
      -Meet age requirements
      -Live in New York State

Additional services include diagnostic testing if results are abnormal and referrals for treatment. For more
information or to schedule an appointment, please contact the Cancer Services Program at 1-866-442-2262 or visit
http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/cancer/services/community_resources and click on your county.

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community,
composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance
and control, environmental health protection, family health promotion, emergency preparedness and health
education. For more information, please visit our website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health; or visit our social
media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

FREE Rabies Vaccination Clinic Scheduled for March 22

Bring your dogs, cats and ferrets to a FREE rabies vaccination clinic on Saturday, March 22, from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Sponsored by the Putnam County Department of Health, the clinic is being held at South Putnam Animal Hospital, 230B Baldwin Place Road, Mahopac, N.Y. and is open to all Putnam County residents.

Please bring photo ID as proof of Putnam County residency, as well as written proof of prior rabies vaccination. Tags are not acceptable. If you do not have a written certificate documenting prior rabies vaccination, your pet will receive a one-year rabies vaccine. All dogs must be leashed and cats and ferrets must be in a carrier. An animal information/release form will be available and can be completed at the clinic site. For more information and directions, please call the Putnam County Department of Health at (845) 808-1390 ext. 43127.

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease
surveillance and control, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health; or visit our social media
sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Putnam County Department of Health Issues Carbon Monoxide Alert: Carbon Monoxide Detectors Can Save Lives

Brewster, NY —With frigid outside temperatures, people shut and seal their windows, turn up their heat, and
carbon monoxide (CO) poisonings rise. Every year hundreds of Americans are killed, and thousands more injured,
due to CO poisoning. In fact, this odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas, known as the “silent killer”, is the leading
cause of poison-related deaths in the U.S. Most incidents occur in residential homes and are the result of faulty
venting of a fuel burning device such as a furnace or automobile, though recent reported cases have involved larger
community establishments.

Like other serious injuries, CO poisoning is both predictable and preventable, with information and the proper
precautions. In addition to furnaces and automobiles, CO is emitted from malfunctioning or improperly used stoves,
portable generators or space heaters, gas ranges, charcoal, firewood and other products. After snow storms or other
severe weather events with power outages, people often use generators and portable heaters. In everyday living, faulty
home heating systems, including both gas- and oil-burning furnaces, are more often the cause. In these cases, nearly
half of the victims—49 percent—are asleep at the time of poisoning.

“Everyone interested in protecting their family should have a carbon monoxide detector in their home,” says
Commissioner of Health Allen Beals, MD.

CO detectors are an inexpensive solution to a potentially deadly problem. They are widely available at home
and hardware stores and not difficult to install. CO detectors come with manufacturers’ instructions about placement,
usage and maintenance. For maximum protection, installing alarms on each level of your home is advised, with at
least one near the sleeping area. Even residents with “all electric homes”, often use CO-emitting devices such as
generators, automobiles, gas dryers and fireplaces. CO alarms should be tested monthly and batteries typically should
be changed twice a year.

The number-two prevention tip is to have your furnace serviced regularly by a professional. The Consumer
Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends annual inspections and local gas and utility companies usually have
similar recommendations.

Other important prevention tips include:
1. Never use a gas range or oven for warmth.
2. Never run generators in indoor spaces such as garages, basements or porches. (Place all generators at least 20
feet from a home. This is usually adequate to prevent CO from entering the home.)
3. Never start up or run any gasoline-powered engine (snow blowers, mowers, weed trimmers, chain saws, etc.)
in an enclosed space.
4. Have fireplaces, oil and gas heat and hot water systems serviced annually.
5. Never use a stove or fireplace unless it is properly installed and vented.
6. Never use a charcoal or barbeque grill inside your home or garage.
7. Never run a car or motorcycle inside a garage attached to a house or in a detached garage with the garage door
shut. Open the door to remove CO and other toxic exhaust gases.
8. Never operate an unvented fuel burning appliance, such as a gas or kerosene heater, in any room where
people are sleeping.

Initial symptoms of CO poisoning are flu-like and may include dizziness, shortness of breath, sleepiness,
weakness, nausea and headache. If the early signs are ignored, a person could lose consciousness and be unable to
escape danger. If you suspect CO is leaking in your home or building, go outside immediately and call 911 from
outside.

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community,
composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance
and control, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more
information, please visit our website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health; or visit our social media sites on
Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

For further information, please visit:
New York State Department of Health
http://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/emergency/weather/carbon_monoxide/
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov/co/

INFLUENZA WIDESPREAD IN NYS; 18 CASES REPORTED IN PUTNAM

Brewster, NY—Flu activity is now widespread in New York State, according the State Health Commissioner,
Nirav R. Shah, MD, with 45 out of 62 counties now reporting confirmed flu cases. In Putnam County, 18 cases
have been reported. This broad-based circulation in the state follows reports from Texas health officials of a
cluster of cases of severe influenza-like illness that put 8 people in the hospital, with 4 resulting in death.
Nationwide many cases have been identified among young and middle-aged adults and linked to influenza A
(H1N1), the same strain of virus that circulated widely in 2009, also known as “swine flu.”

“The bottom line is if you have not yet received a flu shot, get one,” says Allen Beals, M.D., Putnam
County Commissioner of Health. “It’s late, but not too late, and this year’s vaccine offers protection against the
H1N1 flu strain.”

Flu vaccine is widely available at health care provider offices and pharmacies. Residents can also
contact the Immunization Program at the PCDOH at 808-1332 to make an appointment for the shot for a $25
fee that covers the cost of the vaccine and its administration.

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County
community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment,
disease surveillance and control, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health
education. For more information, please visit our website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health; or visit our
social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

County Exec MaryEllen Odell Supports Employee Wellness For All: Putnam Community Health Improvement Plan Involves Businesses in Employee Health

Brewster, NY— Workplace wellness increases employee productivity, reduces absenteeism and streamlines health care costs and Putnam County’s recently completed Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) takes advantage of these well-researched benefits. Submitted to the NYS DOH last week, the CHIP has the broad support of the County Executive’s Office, working with the Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH). One of the major goals of this plan is to involve the business community in promoting wellness strategies among Putnam workers.

“Employee health promotion is an excellent investment to make,” says Allen Beals, MD, Commissioner of Health. “It helps Putnam County keep health care costs in line, and it can help other businesses do the same. Workers spend a significant amount of their waking hours at work,” Dr. Beals continues. “Involving the business community is a logical and effective way to improve health. Our community partners, together with the strong support of our County Executive MaryEllen Odell, have taken the steps to incorporate this into our county’s health improvement
plan.”

County Executive Odell has also been a proponent of the County’s own employee wellness program from the start. She participates in the programs herself, getting her annual flu shot and having her blood tested for various health risk factors. Blood screening usually involves a simple overnight fast, followed by a blood draw to measure cholesterol and other blood lipids, as well as sugar levels. These tests can provide information on risk of cardiovascular disease, pre-diabetes and diabetes, as well as other problems. Knowing one’s risk factors can help individuals take further
steps, if necessary, to prevent or halt more serious consequences.

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. The Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) is required by the NYS DOH and outlines plans, goals and objectives that the PCDOH and its community health partners will work toward. The plan is available online at https://www.putnamcountyny.com/health/data/ For more information on how the PCDOH can help business organizations launch an employee wellness program, please call 845-808-1390, Ext. 43258, or email WorkplaceWellness@putnamcountyny.gov. For general Health Department information, visit our website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

 

PUTNAM COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH RECOGNIZES WORLD AIDS DAY

Brewster, NY – Sunday, December 1, is World AIDS Day, a day set aside to increase awareness of the magnitude of the HIV/AIDS epidemic around the world. To commemorate this international observance, the Putnam County department of Health is offering special hours on Tuesday, December 3, from 12 to 5 p.m., for free, rapid HIV testing and counseling at 121 Main Street, in Brewster, NY. Free testing for STDs and Hepatitis C will be available at the same time. HIV and Hep C results take just 20 minutes. A raffle will be held and light refreshments will be served. No appointment is necessary.

Although new technologies have been developed in the fight against AIDS, such as a rapid HIV test, and new treatments have slowed the progression of HIV to AIDS, the disease remains a major health threat both in the U.S. and worldwide. People with the infection are living longer, healthier, more productive lives, but there is still no vaccine or cure.

“Early diagnosis and prompt, appropriate treatment can make the difference in quality and length of life,” said Allen Beals, M.D., Commissioner of Health, “and it is also the key to protecting others from becoming infected.”

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention in Atlanta estimates that one in five infected people do not know they are HIV positive. Chances are they have never been tested because they do not believe they are at risk. Prevention efforts have helped keep the rates of new infections stable in recent years, but the opportunity for infection increases as more people live with the disease. For more information about HIV, STD, or Hepatitis C testing, or disease education and prevention, contact the Health Department at (845) 808-1390.

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health is to improve and protect the health of our community, made up of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our website at www.putnamcountyny.gov or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealth.

PUTNAM’S MRC VOLUNTEERS RECOGNIZED FOR EFFORTS, AIDING HEALTH DEPT. TO CUT COSTS, EXPAND SERVICES

Brewster, NY— Dozens of Putnam County Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers from all walks of life—including nurses, carpenters, lawyers, doctors and retired married couples—were in attendance for the Annual Dinner Meeting held on November 7 at the Putnam County Golf Course in Mahopac.

The dinner, organized by the Putnam County Department of Health, is held each year to thank these loyal neighbors and celebrate the work they do in support of Putnam County’s existing emergency response infrastructure. This year’s event provided an opportunity for Allen Beals, MD, Commissioner of Health, to personally recognize the volunteers for their efforts.

“Your dedication to the health and welfare of the County’s residents is invaluable, “Dr. Beals said, “not only during emergency situations such as we had last year during Hurricane Sandy, but also in our preparatory drills and activities.” Dr. Beals credited the outstanding efforts of his staff and the contribution of the MRC for his ability to expand services to the Putnam community and at the same time decrease his budget two years in a row.

Dr. Beals highlighted some of the recently expanded activities of the health department, such as new Hepatitis C testing; onsite flu immunization clinics in all Putnam County school districts; HIV and STD testing; availability of low-cost radon testing kits; expanded rabies control, with the success of the Feral Cat Task Force; heightened emergency preparedness following the crank radio and movie night event; progress toward national accreditation; greater engineering services for our homeowners due to the improved housing market this past year; intensified outreach by maternal child nurses supporting every pregnant woman in the county, and the launch of his Commissioner’s Column in the local newspaper dispensing useful medical information.

Volunteers, both non-medical and medical, continue to be needed for Putnam County’s MRC. Interpreters, amateur radio operators, mental health professionals, chaplains, pharmacists, infectious disease specialists, dentists and veterinarians are just some examples of welcomed personnel. Interested residents can find out more information by visiting the Putnam County website or calling Keiren Farquhar, the MRC coordinator at 845-808-1390, x43136.

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

PCDOH Staff Present at National APHA Conference

Brewster, NY—The Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) has the distinction of being one of the few local health departments invited to present at the recent 141st American Public Health Association (APHA) Meeting & Expo. More than 10,000 national and international physicians, researchers, educators and related health specialists attended the event, which ran from November 2 to 6 in Boston, Massachusetts.

PCDOH Supervising Public Health Educator Barbara Ilardi and Supervising Public Health Nurse Kathy Percacciolo presented on the health department’s success in developing a strategic plan by partnering with a public health training center (PHTC).

The PCDOH has been partnering with the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health’s NYC-Long Island-Lower Tri-County PHTC to enhance training for national accreditation. The strategic plan helps focus the efforts of the health department to better evaluate and serve the health needs of the community.

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our website at https://www.putnamcountyny.com/health/; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

POWASSAN VIRUS CONFIRMED IN TWO PUTNAM COUNTY RESIDENTS

Brewster, NY—Putnam County Department of Health officials were notified by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) last week that two Putnam residents were positively confirmed for Powassan (POW) virus, a tick-borne illness. The two affected individuals are recovering at home.

POW virus, like Lyme disease, is transmitted through the bite of an infected deer (black-legged) tick. The POW virus can be transmitted in as little as 15 minutes; in contrast, most Lyme infections require the tick be attached for at least 36 to 48 hours before the bacterium can be transmitted. Since POW is a virus, antibiotics are not effective, as they are with the bacterial Lyme disease. Signs and symptoms of POW infection can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, and memory loss. Long-term neurologic problems may occur. People with severe POW virus illness often need to be hospitalized to receive respiratory support, intravenous fluids, or medications to reduce swelling in the brain that may occur.

Fortunately, POW virus is significantly less common than the Lyme bacterium. Since 2001, New York State has reported 16 known cases of POW; 5 of these were Putnam County residents. A recent study of ticks in the 7 Hudson Valley counties found that Putnam had the highest rate of POW virus infection. Still, the rate is low at only 3.84 percent of ticks. The research was conducted by the NYSDOH in collaboration with the Carey Institute of Ecosystem Studies, based in Millbrook, N.Y.

“Preventing tick bites is the first defense in preventing all tick-borne infections,” said Allen Beals, M.D., Commissioner of Health, “but especially important given the rapid transmission of the POW virus. This illness gives another reason to seriously consider applying a repellent containing DEET, which has been highly effective in preventing bites.”

People who frequent wooded and tall, grassy areas, such as hunters, campers, hikers, gardeners, and outdoor workers, are more likely to be exposed to ticks. The deer tick cannot fly or jump, but instead rests on low-lying vegetation and attaches to passing animals and people. The risk is greatest along trails in the woods and on the edges of properties with tall vegetation, where the higher humidity levels are ideal for tick survival. However, ticks are also carried into lawns and gardens by pets, mice and other small animals.

Decrease your chances of a tick bite by taking the following precautions:

  • Tuck pants into socks and shirt into pants when in wooded and grassy areas.
  • Wear light-colored clothing to spot ticks more easily.
  • Check for ticks on clothing or skin frequently. Brush them off before they can attach to your skin.
  • Do a thorough “tick check” of your entire body daily. Pay particular attention to the back of the knees, behind the ears, the scalp, the armpits and your back.
  • Repellents containing DEET have been effective in preventing tick bites. If you decide to use a tick repellent, apply carefully and follow all label directions. Bathe or shower and change clothes when you go back inside.
  • Do not apply repellents directly to children. Apply to your hands and then transfer it to the child. Never apply repellents to children’s hands or face.
  • No one should apply repellents near eyes, nose or mouth.

If an attached tick is found, remove it immediately. The Health Department recommends the following method: (1) Use fine-tipped tweezers to carefully grasp the mouth-parts—not the body—of the tick, close to the skin. (2) Gently and steadily pull the tick out without twisting or squeezing. (3) Wash the bite area thoroughly. (4) Apply antiseptic.

For more information about POW virus and other tick-borne diseases, call the Putnam County Department of Health at (845) 808-1390 or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/powassan/

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our website at www.putnamcountyny.com; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.