Florida Department of Health in Escambia County

Erin Jeffreys / Florida Department of Health in Escambia County

The Florida Departments of Health in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties and their partner organizations recently released their 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment.

The document identifies the top health priorities for both counties for the next couple of years.

A recent study shows that childhood obesity continues to increase across the country. With few exceptions, the rate of obesity among children is also on the rise at the state and local level.

The national study shows 35.1 percent of children in the U.S. were overweight in 2016. That’s a 4.7 percent increase compared to 2014. Overall, the statistics reflect continuation of a three decades rise in obesity among youth from age 2 to 19.

Locally, there’s reason for optimism if you consider the obesity rate among children in the 2-5 year age range.

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

Each year on February 7, there is a nationwide effort to increase HIV education, testing, community involvement, and treatment among African Americans. 

For communities like Escambia County, the annual observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day takes on added significance.

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Pertussis – commonly known as Whooping Cough – is on the rise in Escambia County. Health officials are reminding everyone to get vaccinated – or get a booster. 

Pertussis is a vaccine-preventable disease which is extremely contagious. The vaccine taken as a child doesn’t last a lifetime, so a booster is needed at some point to maintain a level of protection.

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The Florida Department of Health in Escambia County is out with a rabies advisory for the Warrington and Navy Point areas, and is on the lookout for any further such cases.

County Health Director Dr. John Lanza says the cases involved a pair of foxes in separate encounters with humans. The most recent attack resulted in the death of that fox.  As for the fox in the first attack, there is uncertainty.

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Beginning next month, kids from low-income families in the western Panhandle will get better access to medical and dental care.

Sacred Heart Health System’s Pediatric Care Center is moving from its Pensacola campus to the Florida Department of Health-Escambia’s main office on West Fairfield, to join in a new partnership with Escambia Community Clinics.

“We’ve partnered with Sacred Heart on a couple of venues with residency, one being internal medicine, and then the OB-GYN,” said ECC Executive Director Chandra Smiley.

County Health Rankings

Local health advocates are going over details in the 2017 County Health Rankings, as part of determining their next moves in improving the collective health of their residents.  

Again this year, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa were among the healthiest counties in the state, while Escambia remained among the least healthy.

For 2017, Santa Rosa remained in the top 10 for the sixth year in a row. The county is now ranked as the seventh healthiest of Florida’s 67 counties, after moving up from its eighth place ranking last year.

National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is held annually on Feb. 7.  The theme for 2017 is “I am my Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, African Americans are the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV in the United States. That’s also the case in Florida and Escambia County.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

January is usually the midway point of the flu season in Florida. The state Department of Health reports that levels of the disease remained elevated overall for a second consecutive week.

Mild influenza activity was reported in 51 counties, including Escambia and Santa Rosa, during the week of January 1-7, the latest available figures. Ten counties reported moderate influenza activity, and six reported no activity.

In 2015, smoking among adults in Florida dropped to 15.8 percent, the lowest it has ever been. State health officials are celebrating the decline and giving much of the credit to passage of a constitutional amendment ten years ago.

In the late 1990's, Florida was one of just four states to craft its own multi-billion dollar settlement with the nation’s big tobacco companies. About a decade later, Florida voters approved a ballot measure mandating that the state use part of that money to provide a dedicated funding source for smoking prevention education.

Another mosquito-borne illness alert is going out from the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County, after a second case of West Nile virus for 2016 was confirmed in a county resident.

This is the second such case in as many months and neither patient is being identified. Mosquitoes are known carriers of West Nile and there are concerns that other residents and visitors may become ill from bites.

DOH-Escambia Director Dr. John Lanza reminds us that West Nile has different impacts on different people, and can also be mistaken for other ailments.

Photo via Flickr//Melanie Hayes / https://flic.kr/p/5PA9Tx

    

While the start of football season is occupying the thoughts of many these days, there’s another season beginning soon that deserves just as much attention, if not more. 

Flu season is actually year-round, but the acute period generally begins in October and runs through May of each year, give or take a month or two depending where you live.

Dr. John Lanza is Director of the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County. He and other health officials are calling for everyone over six months of age to get vaccinated.

cdc.gov

A mosquito-borne illness advisory is going out from the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County, after the first case of West Nile in 2016 was confirmed.

The advisory means there’s a heightened concern that other Escambia County residents and visitors could become ill from a bite by a mosquito carrying the illness.

“In the state of Florida, there’s a threat of the West Nile virus essentially 12 months out of the year,” said Dr. John Lanza, Director of DOH-Escambia. “We do realize that it’s more significant from July through November.”

CDC

Escambia County Health Director Dr. John Lanza spoke to the Pensacola Rotary Club Tuesday on the Zika virus and the fight against it. 

Lanza began his midday remarks at New World Landing downtown with a confession.

“This is a standard, Department of Health community Power Point that I have given many times before,” Lanza said. “So if you think there’s going to be some big scoop or something or other – there isn’t.”

Florida Department of Health

  As Florida goes through its typical humid, bug-filled summer, Florida is recording its first home-grown cases of Zika. 

Governor Rick Scott says all four people live in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. One of the cases involves a woman and the other three involve men, none of whom have needed to be hospitalized.

“The Florida Department of Health believes that active transmissions of this virus could be occurring in one small area in Miami-Dade County, just north of downtown,” said Scott. “

Dean Calma / IAEA

One hundred and two people in Florida have been affected by the Zika virus since February, including seven pregnant women whose unborn children face the largest risk. Anti-Zika efforts are ramping up along the Gulf Coast, which 60 million people call home.

In the western Panhandle, only one case of the virus has been found, that was in Santa Rosa County, and the unidentified patient has since made a full recovery.

Action for Healthy Kids

The Florida Department of Health in Escambia County is putting the public health spotlight on children this week. “Every Kid Healthy Week” is part of their overall effort to fight childhood obesity and promote healthy behaviors for youth.

Beginning August 1, all tobacco and related products will be prohibited on the University of West Florida campus.

UWF will join about 1,100 campuses nationwide, including 26 across Florida,  in going tobacco and smoke-free. Patsy Barrington in the Exercise Science and Community Health Department says work on the policy began a couple of years ago.

“The reason it came about is because a campus-wide policy did not exist,” said Barrington. “There were policies in certain areas on campus. The Commons had a policy, but nothing that addressed campus-wide.”

There’s a new potential for “red tide” off the western Panhandle, according to the Florida Department of Health, just over a month after the first such reports.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting red tide concentrations will increase the next few days along portions of northwest Florida. That leading to an elevated potential for respiratory irritation in Escambia, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties.

Photo via Flickr// Rhonda Callow / https://flic.kr/p/5cujsh

Escambia County residents and visitors are being advised to protect themselves from the risk of rabies exposure, after a recent attack on an Escambia County resident.

According to the Florida Department of Health-Escambia County, a resident of the Dog Track Road area was attacked by a fox last week. The animal was located, killed and its brain sent to the state lab.

“[It] was tested for rabies, and found to be positive. This is the second fox so far this calendar year; the first one was up in Century last July,” said Dr. John Lanza, Director of DOH-Escambia.

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