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Monday, August 14, 2017

Health officials complete investigation of E. coli infections

No source identified; awareness, precautions urged to prevent infections

Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) epidemiologists have completed their investigation into the E. coli bacterial infections that seriously sickened two Wright County siblings but were not able to identify a specific source.

The infections caused hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious form of kidney failure, in the children. This severe complication resulted in the death of one of the children; the other is recovering at home. The children were sickened with a strain of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli, or STECknown as STEC O145, as well as an undetermined type of STEC.

Disease investigators considered all known potential sources of E. coli, including typical sources, which can include foods such as ground beef, leafy greens and raw milk; swimming; person-to-person transmission in families or daycares; and farm animal contact, such as at fairs or petting zoos.

"Unfortunately, we were not able to identify the source of the children's infections," said MDH State Public Health Veterinarian Joni Scheftel. "In particular, we did not find a connection with a petting zoo that the children visited, despite extensive testing of the animals." To date there have been no additional cases of people infected with the same strains of E. coli. "However, we will continue to monitor for cases that may help establish a link and/or source," Scheftel said. 

Health officials said it's important to be aware that germs like Shiga toxin-producing E. coli can be found in food and animals, even healthy ones. They urged people to continue everyday precautions to help prevent infections. Cook meats to proper temperatures and check doneness with a meat thermometer, avoid contaminating ready-to-eat foods with the juices from raw meat, wash raw fruits and vegetables before eating them, wash your hands after using the bathroom, before you eat and after being in contact with animals or their environment.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Learn about health improvement through Library programs

Dakota County Library is hosting programs in July and August for health and wellness. Learn the importance of treating hearing loss, solutions for aging in place at home, getting better sleep, and how to eat healthy. 
Check out a list of upcoming programs below. For more information and to register, visit or call 651-450-2900.
Hear for the Health of It
Learn about the importance of treating hearing loss, how and where to get an accurate diagnosis, and how to effectively deal with hearing loss. Presented by the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
Registration required.
Wed, July 19, 10:30–11:30 a.m.
Galaxie Library
Aging in Place
Explore solutions that help people stay in their homes as they age — from simple DIY fixes to more involved improvements — using the AARP "HomeFit" Guide. Bring photos, sketches or plans of areas
of concern to discuss. Presented by licensed architect and Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist,
Gene Nicolelli.
Thu, Aug. 3, 6–8 p.m.
Galaxie Library
Secrets for Sleep
Learn important facts about sleep, the impact of poor sleep, and how to address sleep problems. Gain practical tips on how to get the most restful sleep. Presented by Lori Kearney of Mindful Health with Lori.
Wed, Aug. 9, 6:30–8 p.m.
Wescott Library
Eating for Energy: Fuel for Your Day
Discuss how food can energize or drain you, and learn about the relationship between sugar and mood swings. Learn about bio-individuality and how to make good food choices to maximize energy and vitality. Presented by Lori Kearney of Mindful Health with Lori.
Thu, Aug. 10, 6:30–8 p.m.
Burnhaven Library

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Dakota County Award recognizes response to critical local public health needs

The Dakota County Health Department was honored with the Model Practice Award at the 2017 conference of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). The award recognized the health department's Breastfeeding Friendly Health Departments initiative.
The award celebrates local health departments for developing programs that demonstrate exemplary and replicable best practices in response to a critical local public health need. The Breastfeeding Friendly Health Departments initiative was one of 41 health department programs to receive NACCHO's prestigious Model Practice Award.
The initiative established a framework and process for local health departments to follow in order to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding in their communities. By increasing the number of women who start breastfeeding, and continuing through at least six months, communities can have a significant impact on health in the short and long term. The model uses a 10-step process for local health departments to lead by example for breastfeeding promotion and support.
The development of the initiative was led by Bonnie Brueshoff, director of public health in Dakota County. The model has been further expanded through the Minnesota Department of Health, with additional efforts and tools developed to support success.
"We are proud to receive NACCHO's Model Practice Award for the Breastfeeding Friendly model. The award is evidence of our commitment to supporting breastfeeding mothers and the health of infants," said Brueshoff. "This recognition is shared with local public health partners and the Minnesota Department of Health, who were willing partners in developing a responsive and innovative public health program to improve health through the promotion and support of breastfeeding."
Since 2003, NACCHO's Model Practice Awards have honored programs, resources, and tools that demonstrate how local health departments and their community partners can effectively collaborate to address local public health challenges. Each innovative project receiving the Model Practice Award was peer-reviewed and selected from a competitive group of more than 100 applicants.
"This award puts Dakota County Public Health in special company with a select group of health departments that exemplify a forward-thinking, proactive approach toward protecting and promoting the health of communities nationwide," said Laura Hanen, NACCHO interim executive director and chief of government affairs.
Breastfeeding Friendly Health Departments is now part of a searchable online database of successful public health practices in areas that range from immunization and maternal and child health to infectious diseases and emergency preparedness. The database provides users an opportunity to learn best practices and discover what resources are needed to implement comparable programs in other jurisdictions. 
To read more about the initiative, visit