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2109 Sumner Avenue
Aberdeen, WA
USA

(360) 532-8631

In the news

Tobacco companies must run ads telling the truth

Brianne Probasco

Starting on November 26, 2017, the major U.S. tobacco companies must begin running court-ordered television and newspaper ads that tell the American public the truth about the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke. The ads -- called corrective statements -- will run in print and online in about 50 newspapers. They will also run for one year on the major television networks during prime time.

If you're someone who smokes, quitting is the single best thing you can do to improve your health. Just one year after quitting, the risk for heart attack drops sharply. Two to five years after quitting, the risk for stroke falls to about the same level as a non-smoker.

Resources are available to help people in Washington quit. For more information, visit https://www.doh.wa.gov/SmartQuit.

Flu activity picking up in Washington: protect yourself now

Brianne Probasco

State health officials are already seeing influenza cases across the state, and they expect the number to rise in the coming weeks. People are urged to get a flu shot now as the best line of defense against flu.

“The flu can, and does, make people really sick,” said Dr. Kathy Lofy, health officer for Washington State Department of Health. “Most healthy people who get the flu don’t need urgent medical care; however, people in a high-risk group and those who are very sick should contact their health care provider as soon as possible.”

Flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months of age and up. Serious complications from influenza are more likely to occur in high-risk groups such as young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with certain medical conditions. Health care providers, and others in close contact with people in high-risk groups, should get a flu shot to protect themselves and the people in their care.

People who are sick should stay home so they don’t spread the flu to others. Antiviral medication may be prescribed to help reduce the severity and duration of flu illness.

Washington had 278 confirmed flu deaths in the past year, and medical facilities saw high numbers of patients seeking care for flu. While most people with the flu can be safely treated at home, there are some symptoms that should trigger immediate medical care. To find out what to do if you feel sick with flu-like symptoms read this guide from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.

Grays Harbor County Public Health encourages everyone to knock out flu with an annual flu shot. Flu shots are available at these locations:

  • Safeway Pharmacy, 221 W Heron in Aberdeen
  • Rite Aid, 301 East Wishkah in Aberdeen
  • Rite Aid, 3130 Simpson Avenue in Hoquiam

New this year: Medicaid will only reimburse for flu shots done at the patient's primary care doctor's office. Medicaid will not reimburse for flu shots done at a pharmacy.  If your primary care doctor doesn't offer the flu shot, you can call your plan and ask to be referred to one that does.

  • Molina: (800) 869-7165
  • Amerigroup: (800) 454-3730

Rabid bat numbers continue to rise in WA

Brianne Probasco

Twelve bats found in public parks and private homes across Washington have tested positive for rabies since August 1. While health officials test for and find rabid bats every year – typically during summer months – the August numbers are the highest in a decade, bringing the total number to 21 this year.

The number of bats submitted for testing in August was higher than in past years. Whether the rise is due to increased public awareness or other factors is not clear. What is clear is that many members of the public are doing the right thing: alerting local health officials if a family member or pet encounters a bat.

While any mammal can be infected with rabies virus, bats are the primary animal that carry rabies in Washington. It is important that people continue to take appropriate precautions if a bat is found – dead or alive. If you suspect that a family member or pet has had contact with a bat, do not touch the bat and call us at (360) 532-8631 for next steps. More detailed precautions and information can be found on the Washington State Department of Health website.

Resources, and hope, for those struggling with opioid addiction

Brianne Probasco

Grays Harbor County Public Health and Social Services Department is participating in a 5-year grant awarded to Washington State by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The grant provides free naloxone to those at risk of an opioid overdose and supports the County’s efforts to prevent opioid addiction.

“Opioid abuse and overdose death is a public health crisis that touches all of our lives. The good news is that it can be prevented. Our immediate goal is to get people into treatment and, ultimately, recovery. Getting naloxone out into the community has and will save lives,” says Karolyn Holden, Director.

Since April, 378 naloxone kits have been distributed and 76 have been reported used in our community. Naloxone is a medicine that temporarily stops the effects of opioids (heroin, OxyContin, Percocet, dilaudid, fentanyl, methadone, etc.) and can prevent someone from dying of an overdose.  

Anyone can get a free naloxone kit at Public Health’s syringe services program and training is provided to all who carry naloxone. Throughout this summer and fall, more locations around Grays Harbor will become naloxone distribution sites.  In Washington State, naloxone kits are legal to carry and administer in a suspected opioid overdose and should not be confiscated.

“Naloxone distribution is just one part of the Department’s comprehensive approach to the opioid crisis in our community,” explains Holden.

Public Health coordinates Hoquiam’s My TOWN Coalition, which works to prevent young people from using drugs in the first place. A local strategic plan to prevent opioid use and misuse is underway as well.  

At Public Health’s 13-year-old syringe services program, people who inject drugs can turn in their used needles for clean ones. This reduces the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C, and other blood-borne infections among people who inject drugs as well as their families, and communities. It also prevents those needles from ending up in public places. Public Health collected 750,000 needles last year, down from 900,000 the year before.

“When people visit our syringe services program, we make sure that they not only exchange their used needles for clean ones, but that they also get information about drug treatment services,” says Holden. “We care about them and want them to get well so we make every effort to connect them with treatment services.”

Holden says that the drop in the number of needles exchanged shows that drug treatment and community collaboration works -- and that there is hope. 

If you or a loved one is interested in getting opioid related treatment, help is available.  People with Washington State Apple Health insurance coverage can call (360) 795-5955 to discuss treatment options in Grays Harbor County. You can also contact Evergreen Treatment Services in Hoquiam at (360) 209-6339.

For more information about naloxone distribution in Grays Harbor County, visit www.healthygh.org/directory/opp.

For more information about the syringe services program and local drug treatment options, visit www.healthygh.org/directory/syringe.

To reach someone at Grays Harbor’s 24-hour Crisis Clinic, please call (360) 532- HELP.

Wildfire smoke

Brianne Probasco

Smoke from British Columbia wildfires have moved into Grays Harbor County.

Since mid-day on Tuesday, August 1, air quality monitors across the state have shown increased levels of air pollution. Data from a monitoring station located in Taholah is currently showing Unhealthy air quality and a monitoring station in north Pacific County is also showing Unhealthy air quality.

Until our local air quality improves, you should avoid outdoor physical activities and keep windows and door closed.  The Washington Department of Health offers detailed information on how residents can best deal with smoke impacts on their homes and communities.

Zika virus

Brianne Probasco

Currently, there are locally transmitted Zika cases reported in Miami, Florida and Brownsville, Texas.  No other locally transmitted cases have been reported in the continental United States.

We will continue to monitor the Zika virus outbreak and will update this page.

Zika virus is primarily spread to people through mosquito bites.

There are two different types of mosquitoes that transmit Zika virus - most commonly Aedes aegypti and possibly Aedes albopictus.  Neither type typically lives in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States.

There have also been reports of the Zika virus being spread by sexual contact.

The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are:

  • fever
  • rash
  • joint pain
  • red eyes (conjunctivitis)

The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week.

Severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon, but Zika virus disease among pregnant women has been associated with birth defects.

For more information, visit CDC.gov/zika.

If you have further questions, call:

  • your medical provider
  • Lisa Leitz, RN, Communicable Disease Program Coordinator at (360) 532-8631 x.4044

Fight the bite!

Brianne Probasco

Mosquitoes can transmit several diseases, including two that have been in the news recently: West Nile virus and Zika.

Don't let the little buggers ruin your summer - follow the tips below to fight the bite!

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Lead

Brianne Probasco

News reports about high levels of lead in drinking water across the nation are raising questions about the safety of drinking water.

  • Community water systems are required to regularly test to ensure the water provided is safe to drink.
  • If you have concerns about the safety of your drinking water, you should contact your public utility company.

It is important to understand that water is not a major source of lead exposure.  Lead paint, dust, and contaminated soil are usually the most significant sources of lead exposure.

If you're concerned that your child may have been exposed to lead, call:

  • your medical provider
  • Lisa Leitz, RN, Communicable Disease Program Coordinator at (360) 532-8631 x.4044

For more information:

Lead (Washington State Department of Health website)

Lead in Drinking Water (Washington State Department of Health website)

Lead in School Drinking Water (Washington State Department of Health website)

Grays Harbor County Division of Environmental Health