- Free Cholesterol Tests in September for Health District Residents (2016)
In recognition of National Cholesterol Education Month, the Health District is offering free cholesterol tests to all district residents during September. The district covers the northern two-thirds of Larimer County and includes Fort Collins, Timnath, LaPorte, Bellvue, Wellington and Red Feather Lakes. For those who live outside the district, the cost is $15.
A fingerstick blood test is used to obtain results for total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides and blood glucose. During each 20-minute appointment, a registered nurse will run the cholesterol test and will also check blood pressure and provide health education materials. Appointments are strongly recommended. Walk-ins will be accepted only at designated clinics as space allows.
A list of screening dates and locations is available at www.healthdistrict.org/heart or by calling the Health District at 970-224-5209. Appointments fill fast, so reserve your spot now!
- Upcoming Youth Mental Health First Aid Training (Fall 2016)
This free 8-hour training will help those who work and interact with youth to identify symptoms or behaviors of developing mental illness and will equip people with the tools they need to reach out and offer help. This course is appropriate for teachers, school staff, coaches, parents, family members, caregivers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other community providers.
The training introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development, and teaches a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, and disruptive behavior disorders (including AD/HD).
Upcoming sessions are on September 15, October 12 and November 14. The trainings are held 8:00am-5:00pm at the Health District of Northern Larimer County, 120 Bristlecone Drive. Space is limited. For more information or to register, please contact Emily Leetham at 970-494-4370 or email@example.com. Please specify which training you would like to attend.
For more general information on Mental Health First Aid, go to www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org.
- Planning for End-of-Life Care Just Got a Little Easier (July 2016)
You never know what the future holds. Who would make your medical decisions if you were unable to speak for yourself? The Larimer Advance Care Planning Team can assist adults in deciding their wishes for end-of-life care and in documenting those wishes through advance care directives. These services are provided free of charge. We want to make advance care planning a part of the continuum of health care for all adults.
Advance directives document your health-care wishes and are used if you are unable to communicate for yourself. The most common directives include:
- Medical Durable Power of Attorney. A document that legally appoints a health-care agent to make medical decisions for you when you are not able to
- Advance Directive for Surgical/Medical Treatment (also known as a Living Will). This directive is used only when a physician (or physicians) has determined that the patient has a terminal condition or is in a permanent vegetative state. The directive documents your wishes related to life-sustaining procedures and artificial nutrition.
The Larimer Advance Care Planning Team is a collaborative effort funded by the Colorado Health Foundation, with contributions from the Health District of Northern Larimer County and community partners, to engage and support individuals in completing advance care plans. The Health District is proud to partner with UCHealth's Aspen Club, Colorado Health Medical Group, the Palliative Care Team at UCHealth, Associates in Family Medicine, Columbine Health Systems, the Larimer County Office on Aging and Sharing the Care Campaign to encourage advance care planning in our community.
It's time to start talking about the way we want to live at the end of our lives, and it's time to communicate about the kind of care we want and don't want for ourselves. Together, we can make these difficult conversations easier. For those in the community who are 18 and older, the Larimer Advance Care Planning Team can assist you in creating a plan for your end-of-life care that represents your values and what is important to you.
For more information and to download advance care plan documents, go to the Larimer Advance Care Planning website or call 970-482-1909.
- Tularemia Confirmed in Larimer County (June 17, 2016)
The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment has confirmed the first human case of tularemia in the county in 2016. This patient developed a lung infection, and may have been exposed while mowing the yard or gardening at home in Fort Collins. Soil can be contaminated by tularemia-causing bacteria from the droppings or urine of sick animals, most often rabbits. When a person mows, blows leaves or turns up the soil, these bacteria can aerosolize and be inhaled, causing pneumonic tularemia.
All warm-blooded animals are susceptible to tularemia, including livestock and pets such as dogs, cats and birds; however, the bacteria normally occur in nature in rabbits and hares, as well as in small rodents, voles, muskrats and beavers. A recent die-off of rabbits or rodents in a neighborhood could suggest a possible tularemia outbreak among the animals in that area. The bacteria these animals shed can persist in the soil or water for weeks, and it takes very few bacteria to cause an infection.
Tularemia can be transmitted to people who have handled infected animals. Infection can also occur from the bite of infected insects (most commonly ticks and deer flies); by exposure to contaminated food, water or soil; by eating, drinking, or touching eyes, nose, or mouth before washing after outdoor activities; by direct contact with breaks in the skin; or by inhaling particles carrying the bacteria (through mowing or blowing vegetation and excavating soil). In recent years, most human tularemia cases along the Front Range have been attributed to activities involving soil and vegetation.
Typical signs of infection in humans may include fever, chills, headache, swollen and painful lymph glands, and fatigue. If tularemia is caused by the bite of an infected insect or from bacteria entering a cut or scratch, it usually causes a skin ulcer or pustule and swollen glands. Eating or drinking food or water containing the bacteria may produce a throat infection, mouth ulcers, stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting. Inhaling the bacteria may cause an infection of the lungs with chest pain and coughing. Symptoms typically appear between 3 to 5 days of exposure, but can range from 2 to 13 days.
Tularemia can be effectively treated with antibiotics. If you have any of the early signs, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Untreated tularemia can lead to hospitalization and may be fatal if not diagnosed and treated appropriately.
Gardeners, landscapers, mowers, outdoor workers, and others participating in activities outside are advised to:
- Wear gloves when gardening or planting trees, and always wash hands before eating or putting hands to mouth, nose, or eyes.
- Wear a dust mask when mowing or blowing vegetation, or excavating or tilling soil.
- Wear an insect repellent effective against ticks, biting flies and mosquitoes (DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 are good choices).
- Wear shoes, rather than going barefoot, on grassy lawns, especially if dead rabbits or rodents have been seen in the neighborhood
- Never touch dead animals with bare hands.
For more information about tularemia and how to protect people and pets, visit http://bit.ly/1ejjGud.
- Summer Ozone Season Along the Front Range (June 2016)
June 1 marked the beginning of the summer ozone season along Colorado's Front Range. Ozone Action Alerts are issued on days when meteorologists from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment expect weather conditions to lead to increased ground-level ozone concentrations in Denver and along the Front Range. The cities of Loveland, Fort Collins and Greeley are included in the alert area.
Ground-level ozone is an important air pollutant. Elevated levels can cause symptoms that include stinging eyes and throat, chest pains, coughing and respiratory distress. Those at highest risk of symptoms due to elevated ozone levels include the elderly; young, active children; and anyone with a pre-existing respiratory condition such as emphysema or asthma. Even healthy adults who spend a lot of time working or exercising outdoors may be affected by elevated ozone levels. During ozone alert days, people can lower their risk of developing symptoms by limiting prolonged outdoor activities.
Ozone is different from most other air pollution in that it is not emitted directly into the atmosphere. Instead, ozone forms in the lower atmosphere when other primary emissions react in the presence of heat and sunlight. Those emissions are volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides. The sources of these ozone-forming emissions include cars and trucks, industrial operations, oil and gas wells, residential activities such as mowing lawns and using paints and stains, as well as from naturally occurring sources such as volatile organics from evergreen trees.
Ozone alerts serve two important purposes: They provide specific health advice for people who may be affected by elevated ozone levels, and they inform the community about steps that can be taken to help reduce ozone during those times. Because ozone formation occurs when air emissions bake in the hot summer sun, people can help by taking voluntary steps to reduce these pollutants. Some suggestions for individual action include:
- Keep your car tuned and tires well-inflated to increase mileage and reduce fuel use
- Avoid unnecessary idling at drive-thru windows and other places
- Stop at the click when refueling your car or truck to limit vapors at the gas pump
- Refuel after dusk in the summer to avoid the period of intense sunlight
- Combine trips, take the bus, or postpone a trip during an alert if possible
- If you use a gas-powered lawnmower, delay mowing until evening to avoid the period of intense ozone formation
Ozone also occurs in the upper atmosphere at an altitude of 10 to 30 miles above the Earth's surface. This upper-level ozone is not a form of air pollution, and in fact, it blocks ultraviolet rays thereby helping to protect us from skin cancer and cataracts.
More information about ozone in our area is available at www.ozoneaware.org. In Colorado, the Regional Air Quality Council is leading the planning efforts to reduce ozone levels and attain compliance with the ozone air quality standard. Technical information about this planning process is available at www.raqc.org.
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