The Sandoval Signpost

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Health Commons

Bernalillo mayor Patricia Chávez accepts a check to help the Sandoval County Health Commons Family Support program in Bernalillo. (lto r) Patsy Nelson, Deputy Director, Public Health Division, New Mexico Department of Health; Patricia A. Chávez, Mayor, Town of Bernalillo; Keith Pullman, Plant Manager, General Mills, Albuquerque; Norm Segel, Executive Director, Abrazos Family Services; Mary Meyer, Nutrition Program Manager, New Mexico WIC Program; Nicola Baptiste, Family Support Program, Sandoval County

Sandoval Health Commons receives youth nutrition and fitness grant

This past summer, Abrazos Family Support Services received a $10,000 Champions for Healthy Kids grant from the General Mills Foundation for the Sandoval County Health Commons Family Support program.

The Abrazos Family Support Services program is designed to provide hands-on learning for WIC families. The program began targeting Sandoval County WIC and Health Commons recipients and involves hands-on activities like cooking and community gardening. Studies demonstrate that a child’s diet and level of activity affects his or her school performance, mental and emotional well-being, and long-term physical health.

Abrazos Family Support Services has served families and children in Sandoval County since 1979, the organization has provided education, prevention and early intervention services to more than 5,000 individuals.

The Sandoval Health Commons is a private-public partnership with many community organizations including Abrazos, NM DOH Public Health, WIC and Sandoval County, providing a family centered holistic approach to meeting families’ needs in Sandoval county.

Bingaman calls on feds to work with state to prevent plague deaths

—Signpost Staff
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), seven cases of plague have been reported in New Mexico this year. Two resulted in fatalities. This is the largest number of cases reported in the state in a single year since 1998, and more than three times the average rate since 2000.

In the United States nearly all fatal plague cases are associated with delays in diagnosis and treatment. In its early stages, plague is treatable with appropriate antibiotics.

In a letter to officials at the CDC, Senator Jeff Bingaman said it is vital that the federal agency work with the New Mexico Department of Health to ensure cases are diagnosed and treated in a timely manner.

He explained, “While the New Mexico Department of Health and CDC have worked together successfully on past human cases, I would ask that the two again work closely and commit necessary resources and assistance to the state to protect against fatalities. The past reduction in the number of cases may have had the paradoxical result of making the public, some health-care providers, and health insurers unaware of the symptoms of the plague and the need to initiate immediate antibiotic treatment without delay of laboratory confirmation.”

According to the New Mexico Department of Health, in the two recent fatal cases medical care was not sought until the illness had progressed to the point that even timely diagnosis and appropriate therapy could not save the patients. Bingaman requested that CDC develop appropriate educational public service announcements and the funding to broadcast them on local television and radio stations to increase knowledge and change behaviors.

Millions of people in Europe died from plague in the Middle Ages, when human homes and places of work were inhabited by flea-infested rats.

Wild rodents in certain areas around the world are infected with plague. Outbreaks are usually associated with infected rats and rat fleas that live in the home. In the United States, the last urban plague epidemic occurred in Los Angeles in 1924-25. Since then, human plague in the United States has occurred as mostly scattered cases in rural areas (an average of ten to fifteen persons each year). Globally, the World Health Organization reports one thousand to three thousand cases of plague every year. In North America, plague is found in certain animals and their fleas, from the Pacific Coast to the Great Plains, and from southwestern Canada to Mexico.

The typical sign of the most common form of human plague is a swollen and very tender lymph gland, accompanied by pain. The swollen gland is called a "bubo" (hence the term “bubonic plague"). Bubonic plague should be suspected when a person develops a swollen gland, fever, chills, headache, and extreme exhaustion, and has a history of possible exposure to infected rodents, rabbits, or fleas. A person usually becomes ill with bubonic plague two to six days after being infected. When bubonic plague is left untreated, plague bacteria invade the bloodstream. When they multiply in the bloodstream, they spread rapidly throughout the body and cause a severe and often fatal condition. About 14 percent (one in seven) of all plague cases in the United States are fatal.

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/NCIDOD/DVBID/plague.

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