Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Preventing Youth Injury and Violence by Changing Social Norms

(Salt Lake City, Utah) – Injury is the leading cause of death for youth aged 1-19 in Utah. Today, state and local public health officials gathered at a summit sponsored by the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and Safe Kids Utah Coalition to discuss how changing social norms in a community can decrease injuries and violence among youth.

Social norms are the perceived standards of acceptable attitudes and behaviors prevalent among members of a community. In other words, the rules of behavior that are considered normal among a group of people. These norms may change over time based on one’s surrounding environment or situation. Social norms can be as simple as shaking someone’s hand when greeting or as complex as preventing binge drinking among college students.

Michael Haines, founding director of the National Social Norms Resource Center, spoke to attendees of the Utah Safe Kids and Injury Prevention Summit. Haines has several decades of experience using social norms to change behaviors regarding alcohol and substance use, sexual violence, and injury prevention.

“Human beings are social animals. We tend to follow group norms. The Social Norms Approach uses this tendency to move people to lower their risk of injury. When people see messages like ‘Most Utah citizens think it is wrong to use violence to settle arguments’, then violent behavior is reduced,” remarked Haines

Those attending the summit discussed how social norms strategies could be used to curb the number of suicides among Utah youth. Data from the UDOH showed that suicide was the leading cause of death for youth aged 10-17 in Utah in 2015. “There are several effective social norms strategies we are beginning to use in Utah. First, emphasizing to people experiencing suicidal thoughts that they are not alone. Second, that effective help is available. And third, that recovery is within reach,” said Andrea Hood, UDOH suicide prevention coordinator. “We are also striving to change social norms to let people know there are effective treatments for mental health conditions and countless stories of survival.”

Sexual violence prevention efforts are changing too. About 30 percent of Utah high school students who are dating experience some form of dating violence. “In terms of violence and sexual violence, we want to change social norms by promoting more equitable gender norms and decreasing acceptance of violence, thereby creating more equal and healthy relationships,” said Megan Waters, UDOH violence prevention specialist.

Haines hopes attendees start to view social norms as an effective tool for preventing violence and injury.

To learn more about violence and injury prevention, visit http:// health.utah.gov/vipp.

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Media Contact:
Tammy Kikuchi
Violence and Injury Prevention Program

Monday, March 13, 2017

News Advisory: Preventing Youth Injury and Violence by Changing Social Norms

What: Social norms are unwritten rules about how to behave in a particular social group or culture. Public health experts from across the state will discuss how changing social norms in a community can reduce injuries and violence among youth in Utah. 

Why: Violence and injury are the leading causes of death for Utah youth aged 1-19. Suicide was the leading cause of death for Utahns aged 10-17 in 2015. Nearly 30 percent of Utah high school students who are dating experience dating violence. Using social norms to change behaviors surrounding issues like suicide and dating violence is an innovative and effective strategy.
Who: Michael Haines, a nationally recognized expert in health promotion and social norms, is the keynote presenter for the Utah Safe Kids and Injury Prevention Summit.
When: Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Keynote speech
10:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Media availability with Michael Haines
11:30 a.m. to Noon

Where: Viridian Event Center
Room C
8030 South 1825 West
West Jordan, UT 84088


Media Contact:
Tammy Kikuchi
Violence and Injury Prevention Program

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Utah Public Health Officials Issue Warning About Peanut Butter Substitute

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), multiple states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are investigating a multistate outbreak of E. coli infections. The investigation has revealed I.M. Healthy brand soy nut butter and I.M. Healthy granola products may be contaminated with E. coli bacteria and are a likely source of the outbreak. 

No E. coli cases associated with this outbreak have been reported in Utah, although the products are sold in Utah stores. Food safety inspectors from the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) are contacting Utah distributors and grocery store chains to ensure recalled products are removed from shelves. Inspectors have found some products on some store shelves and have worked with stores to have the products removed. 

Sixteen people from nine states have been infected with E. coli associated with the outbreak. Eight of those individuals were hospitalized and five developed a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported. 

Utahns should stop eating all varieties of I.M. Healthy brand soy nut butter and granola products. Childcare centers, schools, and other institutions should stop serving these products and check their food storage area for soy nut butter products from I.M. Healthy. The products have a shelf life of two years.

“Even if some of the soy nut butter or granola was eaten or served and no one got sick, throw the rest of the product away. Put it in a sealed bag in the trash so that children, pets, or other animals can't eat it,” said Laine McCullough, epidemiologist with the Utah Department of Health.

Consumers who have purchased I.M. Healthy soy nut butter may return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 1-800-288-1012, Monday-Friday 8:00-4:00 MST.

E. coli symptoms vary but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. Most people get better within 5–7 days, but some infections are severe or even life-threatening. Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure, is a potentially life-threatening complication of E. coli infection. Very young children and the elderly are more likely to develop severe illness and kidney failure than others, but even healthy, older children and young adults can become seriously ill.

Contact your healthcare provider if you have diarrhea that lasts for more than three days, or is accompanied by high fever, blood in the stool, or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine. More information about E. coli can be found at www.cdc.gov/ecoli.

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Media Contacts:
Rebecca Ward (UDOH)
(o) 801-538-6682
(m) 801-352-1270
Larry Lewis (UDAF)
(o) 801-538-7104
(m) 801-514-2152

Friday, February 3, 2017

Health Department to Implement Limited Medicaid Expansion

(Salt Lake City, UT) – At the direction of Gov. Gary R. Herbert and legislative leadership, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) will amend its Medicaid State Plan to extend coverage to an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 low-income Utah parents. Low-income parents who earn up to approximately 45 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) are currently eligible for Medicaid; the amended plan will raise the effective income eligibility limit to 60 percent of the FPL.

The amended plan will require federal approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). 

Newly eligible parents will likely be able to apply for Medicaid benefits beginning July 1, 2017. The funding to provide coverage for these adults was appropriated during the 2016 legislative session through House Bill 437.

The UDOH initially submitted this request to CMS in 2016 as part of a larger request to expand coverage to targeted groups of adults, including the chronically homeless and those involved in the criminal justice system. The larger request would have provided coverage to an additional 6,000 to 8,000 adults. CMS officials are still considering elements of the larger request submitted last year. 
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Media Contact:
Tom Hudachko
Utah Department of Health
(o) 801.538.6232
(m) 801.560.4649

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

‘Stop the Opidemic’ Utahns Share Stories of Loss, Recovery from Opioid Addiction

(Salt Lake City, Utah) – Opioid abuse is a Utah epidemic. Six Utahns die every week from opioid overdoses. Today, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) announced the launch of a bold, new campaign, ‘Stop the Opidemic,’ to bring an end to the devastation opioid misuse and addiction has on individuals, families, and communities throughout the state. 

“For nearly nine years, I have investigated these deaths and seen first-hand the devastating reality behind Utah’s addiction to opioids,” said Erik Christensen, chief medical examiner with the UDOH. “The hard-hitting messages and imagery used in the ‘Stop the Opidemic’ campaign are designed to educate Utahns on the dangers of opioids, the signs and symptoms of opioid overdoses, and the importance of having naloxone on-hand whenever someone is using an opioid, whether that’s a prescription for pain or an illicit drug.”

In 2015, 268 Utahns died from a prescription opioid overdose (such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone, or fentanyl), 127 died from illicit opioids such as heroin, and 10 deaths involved both prescription and illicit opioids; an average of 33 deaths each month (13.5 per 100,000 population). An estimated 80% of heroin users started with prescription drugs. Utah ranks 7th highest in the nation for drug overdose deaths (for the years 2013-2015).

The campaign features testimonials of Utahns who have lost family members to heroin overdoses and who are recovering from prescription opioid and heroin addictions. Alema Harrington, a well-known journalist in Utah, shared his story of recovery. Harrington was first exposed to opiates while playing football at Brigham Young University but his dependency on the drugs soon spiraled out of control, leading to heroin use. “There was so much stigma and shame but I was finally willing to be humble enough to ask for help,” said Harrington. “I have a disease. My disease is addiction. Without treatment it will kill me. This is a treatable disease. Regardless of where you are at in your addiction, there is hope.”

With support from the Utah State Legislature, naloxone is more readily available than ever before. Naloxone is a rescue medication that can reverse heroin and prescription opioid overdoses by blocking the effects of opiates on the brain and restoring breathing in minutes. There is no potential for abuse and side effects are rare. As of December 8, 2016, pharmacists in Utah can dispense naloxone, without a prior prescription, to anyone at increased risk of experiencing an opioid overdose or anyone who is concerned about a family member or friend.

Mark Lewis lost his son, Tony, on October 27, 2014 at the age of 27 to a heroin overdose. He became addicted when he was 15-years-old to OxyContin when someone at school gave it to him. “Kids don’t think it can kill you because a doctor prescribes it. They don’t realize how addictive it is,” said Lewis. “I was not aware of naloxone until after Tony died. I found out from his friends that Tony had been saved by naloxone once several years prior. I carry a naloxone kit now, even though Tony is gone, because you never know when you might come up on somebody, anywhere, who has overdosed.”

Signs of an opioid overdose include:
  • Shallow or stopped breathing
  • Small, pinpoint pupils
  • Blue or purple lips and fingernails
  • Limp body and unresponsive
  • Faint heartbeat
  • Gurgling or choking noises
“The dangers of opioids are clear – drug tolerance, physical dependency, addiction, abuse, overdose, and death. It’s time to stop the opidemic,” said Christensen.

To learn more about the campaign, visit http://opidemic.org.

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Media Contact:
Katie McMinn
(o) 801-538-6156
(m) 801-856-6697