Posted at 1:30 p.m.
nvironmental health specialists from Fairfax County are among those being deployed to the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist with the long-term recovery efforts from hurricanes Irma and Maria. The group includes five environmental health specialists, including one who is also a registered nurse. They will assist with identifying, monitoring, assessing and mitigating environmental health hazards.
Virginia will send two Environmental Health strike teams this weekend. They are expected to depart for the islands of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix on Feb. 11 and return on Feb. 27.
Fairfax County Team Members
St. Thomas/St. John District Team
- John Yetman, environmental health supervisor
- Lois Maisel, environmental health specialist
- Ebonie Miller, environmental health specialist
St. Croix District Team
- Isaac Robertson, environmental health specialist
- Ron Campbell, environmental health specialist
“We are excited and honored to be able to provide assistance to areas affected by those devastating storms,” said Dr. Gloria Addo-Ayensu, Fairfax Health Director. “I want to thank the members of our team for their compassionate service. I know they will provide to the residents and visitors of the U.S. Virgin Islands the same professionalism and high quality service to which the citizens of the Fairfax have come to expect.”
The teams, deployed through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), also include specialists from Virginia Department of Health and Henrico, Roanoke, Three Rivers and Alexandria health districts.
The deployment is in response to an EMAC request — an all-hazards mutual aid agreement between all U.S. states and territories to provide response and recovery resources and support to each other during emergencies or disasters — from the Virgin Islands. Once the mission has been completed and the resources return, the expenses for this deployment will be reimbursed to the county by the Commonwealth of Virginia (through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management), which will seek its reimbursement from the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Fourth of July is a great time to fire up the grill, but did you know the summer months typically see a spike in foodborne illness? Make sure the fun in the sun doesn’t get spoiled by food poisoning.
Here are some simple steps to grilling food safely from the county’s Health Department.
- Keep cold food cold. Meat and poultry should be refrigerated until ready to use. When using a cooler, keep it out of the direct sun by placing it in the shade or shelter and avoid opening the lid too often.
- Use a food thermometer to ensure that food reaches a safe internal temperature. Cook chicken to 165F and ground beef to 160F. You cannot judge “done” by how the food looks.
- Keep hot food hot. After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served (at 140°F or warmer.) Use a meat thermometer to check temperatures.
- Completely thaw meat and poultry before grilling so it cooks more evenly. Use the refrigerator for slow, safe thawing or thaw sealed packages in cold water. For quicker thawing, you can defrost in the microwave if the food will be placed immediately on the grill.
- Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Do not use the marinade for the raw food as the sauce for the cooked food. Keep a fresh portion aside for the sauce.
- Don’t use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry. Harmful bacteria present in raw meat and their juices can contaminate safely cooked food.
- Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Discard any food left out more than 2 hours (1 hour if temperatures are above 90 °F).
Posted at 2:30 p.m.
any of us will gather around the television on Sunday to watch the big game. And more than likely we’ll have lots of food and beverages to enjoy the action between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons.
But there are several things you need to remember to ensure that you, your family and any friends you’ve invited over for a game party stay safe with any food that you’re serving.
If you’re having chicken wings — a football fan’s favorite — take a temperature of your wings and place them on a clean plate covered in paper toweling. Use a clean food thermometer to check the internal temperature; for food safety the temp should be 165°F. You should measure several wings before you finish cooking each batch. Another option, of course, is just buy a platter of wings from your favorite restaurant.
For this weekend’s game, or any time you’re in the kitchen, remember these four simple steps: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.
Most importantly, make sure to keep hot food hot and cold food cold.
- Hot foods must have a heat source to keep them at or warmer than 140°F.
- Cold foods should be kept on ice to remain at a safe temperature at or below 40°F.
- Perishable foods left out longer than two hours should be discarded and replenished with fresh servings.
For more on food safety — and what it means to clean, separate, cook and chill — watch this video with Ron Campbell from the Health Department.
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds to avoid spreading bacteria to your towels.
- Never reuse paper towels. This product is for single use only. When used multiple times, bacteria can find their way onto the towel and hitch a ride around the kitchen.
- Kitchen towels build up bacteria after multiple uses. To keep the bacteria from getting the upper hand, you should wash your kitchen towels frequently in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
Enjoy the game and the food — and stay safe!
Posted at 11 a.m.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. While seasonal flu viruses can be detected year-round in the United States, flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter. The exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, but influenza activity often begins to increase this time of year.
People who have the flu often experience some or all of these symptoms:
- Sore throat.
- Runny or stuffy nose.
- Muscle or body aches.
- Fever (It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.)
The CDC recommends the following preventive measures to stay healthy this flu season, including:
- Get a flu vaccine. The CDC recommends getting a flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses. Everyone 6 months of age or older should get a flu vaccine. Vaccination of high-risk persons is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness.
- Take daily actions to stop the spread of germs. If you are sick with flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Wash your hands often with soap and water.
Reprinted from FEMA’s Oct. 6 edition of “Individual and Community Preparedness e-Brief” email newsletter.
Four Ways to Fight the Flu
Posted at 2:15 p.m.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports today that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has launched a clinical trial of a vaccine candidate intended to prevent Zika virus infection.
The early-stage study will evaluate the experimental vaccine’s safety and ability to generate an immune system response in participants. At least 80 healthy volunteers ages 18-35 years at three study sites in the United States, including the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., are expected to participate in the trial.
Scientists at NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center (VRC) developed the investigational vaccine — called the NIAID Zika virus investigational DNA vaccine — earlier this year.
Read more in this NIH news release. Learn more about Zika from the county’s Health Department, including flyers and posters you can print out and share, public service announcements and other resources.