MCHD works to keep residents safe during Carnival season 01.26.2024

January 26, 2024

MCHD works to keep residents safe during Carnival season

MOBILE, Ala. — The Mobile County Health Department (MCHD) and Family Health, its primary care division, hope people attending Carnival parades and balls will only go home with beads and good memories — not with influenza-like illnesses (ILI).

In 2023, Mayor Sandy Stimpson announced at a Mobile City Council meeting that almost 1.1 million revelers attended parades over a 19-day period. This included 177,000 on Joe Cain Day and then 220,000 on Mardi Gras.

“The Mobile County Health Department prepares each year to help make sure our citizens and visitors have an enjoyable time during Mardi Gras,” said Dr. Kevin Philip Michaels, Health Officer for Mobile County. “Our Inspection Services team is out making sure all the temporary food vendors meet the same requirements as our traditional brick-and-mortar establishments.

“In the past, a group of MCHD employees from several departments have volunteered to distribute bottles of hand sanitizer during Carnival parades. We plan on continuing this practice.”

In Mobile County, MCHD’s Data Science Team reports the number of emergency department visits in response to an ILI — such as influenza, COVID-19, or Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) — have seen a general decline for the last four weeks, with ILI accounting for 4.3 percent of all emergency departments visits for the week ending January 20.

However, the numbers across the state are higher. According to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), emergency department visits reporting symptoms of a respiratory virus were at 7.05 percent for the same week. This is an increase from the previous week’s mark of 6.61 percent.

According to ADPH, all districts have seen lab-confirmed cases of influenza (A/H3; A/H1N1; B) in its communities in the last three weeks. COVID-19, RSV, and Human Rhinovirus/Enterovirus are currently circulating throughout Alabama and can present similar symptoms as influenza.

For the first time in U.S. history, vaccines for all three major respiratory viruses are available.

“The treatment of many of the viral respiratory illnesses are supportive in nature, cough, decongestants, and anti-fever medications or simply rest and hydration,” said Dr. Michaels. “Also, minimize other causes through annual flu and COVID-19 vaccinations and for those at risk getting the new RSV vaccination.”

Dr. Michaels goes on to encourage social distancing, hand washing, cough etiquette, and the use of facial coverings as dictated by their overall health. To find a location to get your flu or COVID-19 shots, visit https://www.vaccines.gov. For the RSV vaccine, please reach out to your provider or pharmacy.

MAWSS reports Sanitary Sewer Overflows caused by grease blockages 1-25-24

January 25, 2024

MAWSS reports Sanitary Sewer Overflows caused by grease blockages

MOBILE, Ala. — Mobile Area Water & Sewer System (MAWSS) responded to two Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO) on January 24 that were caused by grease blockages.

One SSO took place at 1778 Princeton Woods Drive East. Approximately 65 gallons of wastewater overflowed into Clear Creek.

The other SSO took place at 6440 Rangeline Service Road. Approximately 240 gallons of wastewater was contained and did not reach state waters.

MAWSS crews have cleared both blockages and are taking steps to prevent further overflows at these locations.

Grease blockages occur when foods containing fats, oil or grease are put down the drain. MAWSS provides free containers for grease recycling. You can learn more about the program by visiting www.itseasytobeungreasy.com.

Dr. Kevin Philip Michaels, Health Officer for Mobile County, advises area residents to take precautions when coming into contact with any standing water that may have accumulated as a result of these overflows. Those who have come into direct contact with untreated sewage are advised to wash their hands and clothing thoroughly.

Area residents should take precautions when using Clear Creek for recreational purposes because of the overflow. All seafood harvested in this general area should be thoroughly cooked before eating. People should wash their hands after cleaning seafood and before preparing food.

MAWSS reports on Sanitary Sewer Overflow 1-24-24

January 24, 2024

MAWSS reports on Sanitary Sewer Overflow

MOBILE, Ala. — Mobile Area Water & Sewer System (MAWSS) responded to a Sanitary Sewer Overflow on January 23 at 950 Henckley Avenue. Approximately 600 gallons of wastewater overflowed because of a broken sewer main line.

MAWSS reports 400 gallons of wastewater were reclaimed, while 200 gallons flowed into Twelve Mile Creek. MAWSS crews repaired the break and are taking steps to prevent further overflows at this location.

Dr. Kevin Philip Michaels, Health Officer for Mobile County, advises area residents to take precautions when coming into contact with any standing water that may have accumulated as a result of this overflow. Those who have come into direct contact with untreated sewage are advised to wash their hands and clothing thoroughly.

Area residents should take precautions when using Twelve Mile Creek for recreational purposes because of this overflow. All seafood harvested in this general area should be thoroughly cooked before eating. People should wash their hands after cleaning seafood and before preparing food.

Oral rabies vaccine distribution set in Baldwin and Mobile counties 01.19.2024

January 19, 2024

Oral rabies vaccine distribution set in Baldwin and Mobile counties

MOBILE, Ala. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services Program has announced that it will be distributing oral rabies vaccine (ORV) baits in Alabama next week. The distribution should last about seven days.

Baits will be distributed by vehicles in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, and from low-flying airplanes and helicopters throughout a vaccination area that includes most of the coastal peninsula, the northeastern section of Mobile County adjacent to U.S. 43, and parts of the following cities: Spanish Fort, Fairhope, Daphne, and Foley. This will be across a 1,599 square-mile bait zone.

ORV baits have been distributed in Alabama since 2003 in partnership with state and local public health agencies as part of the USDA’s National Rabies Management Program. This effort seeks to prevent the westward movement of the rabies virus most often spread by raccoons by creating a barrier along the Appalachian Mountains from the Canadian border to Alabama.

Targeted wildlife species eat the vaccine baits and become vaccinated for rabies. More than 218,000 baits will be distributed in southern Alabama. The vaccine distribution campaign in Alabama will use an ORV bait called RABORAL V-RG. The vaccine is contained in ketchup-sized packets coated in fishmeal. The odor attracts targeted wild animals, such as raccoons, who eat the baits and are then vaccinated against rabies. The vaccine baits have been proven safe in more than 60 species of animals, including domestic dogs and cats.

Humans and pets cannot get rabies from contact with the vaccine baits. However, if you or your pet find one, please leave it undisturbed. If a person has contact with the bait, immediately rinse the area with warm water and soap. If there has been exposure to the vaccine inside the bait, please contact the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) at 877-722-6725.

Do not attempt to remove bait from an animal’s mouth, as you could be bitten. Ingesting the bait will not harm your pet. If your pet has eaten several baits, the pet may experience vomiting or diarrhea that is self-limiting.

State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Dee W. Jones said, “This is a federal program, and the main role of the Alabama Department of Public Health is to help with accidental exposures to the vaccine packet. The packets are safe, and the program is very beneficial from a short-term strategy of reducing exposure to rabies as well as long-term strategy of hopefully eradicating rabies in raccoons.”

For more information about the federal ORV usage in Alabama, please contact the USDA at 866-4USDA-WS. For more information about rabies exposures, animal or human exposures to the ORV, please call ADPH at 334-206-5969.

Swim advisory lifted for Dog River 01.19.2024

January 19, 2024

Swim advisory lifted for Dog River

MOBILE, Ala. — A swimming advisory issued by the Mobile County Health Department (MCHD) for Dog River near the Alba Fishing & Hunting Club has been lifted. Recent water samples at this location indicate bacteria values are back below the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) threshold of 104 enterococcus organisms per 100 milliliters for marine water.

The Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management operate the bacteriological water quality monitoring and notification program under a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency’s BEACH (Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health) Act Program. This program involves the routine collection of water samples from a total of 25 coastal recreational sites in Mobile and Baldwin counties (to see the testing locations please visit www.adem.state.al.us/programs/coastal/BeachMonitoring.cnt).

In the summer months, samples are taken once or twice a week at the most highly used sites and biweekly at the other sites. All sites are tested once a month in the cooler months.

Samples are analyzed for enterococci bacteria. High counts indicate that the possibility that other disease-causing germs could be present in the water. Based on EPA’s “Criteria for Bathing (full body contact) Recreational Waters,” samples are checked for enterococcus bacteria. These indicator bacteria are inhabitants of the intestines of humans and other warm-blooded animals.

Bacterial concentrations in recreational waters can increase during and immediately following rainstorms because of overflowing sewage collection and treatment facilities, storm water runoff and malfunctioning septic systems.

When monitoring results exceed the EPA standard, the affected site is immediately retested. If the results of the second test identify enterococci levels persisting above the EPA standard, the health department through the cooperative efforts of the news media will issue a public advisory.

Local agencies receive $1.7 million from Alabama Children’s Trust Fund 01.18.24

January 18, 2024

Local agencies receive $1.7 million from Alabama Children’s Trust Fund

MOBILE, Ala. — The Alabama Children’s Trust Fund (CTF) secures resources to fund evidence-based community programs committed to the prevention of child maltreatment. Sallye Longshore, Executive Director of the Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention, presented a check this week to agencies in Mobile and Baldwin counties in the amount of $1,738,750.

“The Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention looks forward each year to participating in our annual district check presentations. These events provide opportunities to highlight the outstanding work of our agency’s funded programs in each of the state’s seven Congressional Districts,” said Longshore. “These community-based entities implement evidence-based programs to strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect in Alabama.”

Along with the Mobile County Health Department (MCHD), the agencies sharing this funding from the First Congressional District are AltaPointe Health Systems, Auburn University, Baldwin County Child Advocacy Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters Central Gulf Coast, Coastal Family Partners, Crittenton Youth Services, Embrace Alabama, Goodwill Gulf Coast, Gulf Regional Early Childhood Services, Prestwick Community Outreach, The Family Center, United Cerebral Palsy of Mobile, United Methodist Inner City Mission, and United Way of Southwest Alabama..

Representing MCHD were Pebbles King, the Bureau Director of Community and Nutrition Services; Cmdr. Curtis Graves, Program Administrator for the Fatherhood Initiative; and Ernest G. Scott, Program Administrative Support for the Fatherhood Initiative.

“We are appreciative for the opportunity to be a 2024 grantee of CTF,” King said. “This funding allows The Fatherhood Initiative, an evidence-based program designed to educate and develop Mobile County men and women, to be better caregivers for their family and leaders in their community.”

MCHD received $110,000 to assist with its Fatherhood Initiative. The program equips parents with the skills necessary to be a positive influence in their children’s lives.

A participant in the Fatherhood Initiative spoke during the check presentation at Mobile Government Plaza on his powerful experience.

“I never had a father growing up and I did not want to follow in those footsteps,” said Carlos Dials. “I became a father, then I did the same to my son.”

“The Fatherhood Initiative gave me the tools I needed to lay down a solid foundation. This program has helped me out a lot.”

“The Mobile County Health Department’s Fatherhood Initiative is incredibly grateful to the Alabama Children’s Trust Fund for its financial and technical support,” said Graves, who is also Director of the Mobile Police Department’s Office of Strategic Initiatives. “We would also like to extend our gratitude to the Alabama Department of Human Resources. Through your funding, we have witnessed countless success stories and witnessed the transformational journey of mothers and fathers who have embraced their roles with renewed confidence and commitment. Your investment in our program has not only helped parents improve their parenting skills but has also strengthened family bonds and created a positive ripple effect within our community. We look forward to continuing our partnership and working together to advance the cause of fatherhood.”

The Alabama Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Act was adopted by the Alabama Legislature in 1983 to address the state’s growing problem of child neglect and maltreatment. While several state agencies already existed to deal with different aspects of child abuse, none of these agencies specifically focused on solving the problem before it occurred.

It was clear that Alabama needed to create a state agency dedicated solely to preventing child abuse with funding and staff. To address the problem at its origin, instead of merely addressing the symptoms of what could have been prevented, the Children’s Trust Fund was established. These dollars are intended to provide annual funding of community-based prevention programs throughout the state as well as create a self-sustaining pool to provide for funding these programs in the future.

This year, the agency awarded a total of 202 grants statewide to a range of prevention efforts, including parent education, home visiting, fatherhood, mentoring, respite care, and community awareness programs.

Children’s Trust Fund also partnered with the University of Alabama’s College of Human Environmental Science and the Center for Business and Economic Research, Culverhouse College of Business, to release the 2021 study on the enormous intervention cost. Services associated with child abuse and neglect incidents are estimated to cost taxpayers $3.7 billion annually. Based on this report and the number of first-time child maltreatment incidences reported, the average intervention cost is $368,416 per case. In contrast, prevention is much more cost-effective. The average cost per participant in an ADCANP/CTF-funded program is $53 for adults and $11 for youth.

To learn more about the Children’s Trust Fund in Alabama, visit www.ctf.alabama.gov.

Freezing temperatures predicated for this week 01.15.24

January 15, 2024

Freezing temperatures predicated for this week

MOBILE, Ala. — Extreme cold weather has been forecast for Mobile County with temperatures in the area likely to drop below freezing several nights this week. These conditions could be a dangerous situation for susceptible persons such as those without shelter, are stranded, or live in a home that is poorly insulated or without heat.

Dr. Kevin Philip Michaels, Health Officer for Mobile County, recommends the following tips:

  • Stay indoors if possible and use safe heating sources.
  • Beware of the fire dangers from space heaters and candles. Keep them away from flammable materials such as clothing, drapes, furniture, magazines, and newspapers. Maintain at least a 3- to 5-foot perimeter around space heaters. Keep children and pets away from unattended space heaters.
  • Dress appropriately before going outdoors.
  • Drink plenty of non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Do not leave pets outside for long periods.

The most common serious health problems resulting from prolonged exposure to cold temperatures are hypothermia and frostbite.

Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature drops to 95 degrees Fahrenheit and remains low. Prolonged exposure to the cold causes the body to use up stored energy. Those considered to be at highest risk include infants, the elderly, those with chronic illnesses or taking certain medications, and individuals working outdoors. Some warning signs of hypothermia in adults are shivering, exhaustion, confusion, memory loss, slurred speech, and drowsiness. In children, they also include bright red, cold skin, and very low energy.

Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. It causes a loss of feeling and color in the affected area. Frostbite most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes, and can permanently damage the body. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and people not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures. Some of the following signs may indicate frostbite: white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, and numbness.

Individuals exhibiting any symptoms of hypothermia or frostbite should be taken to an emergency room immediately.

 MCHD offers safety tips for cold weather 01.12.24

January 12, 2024

 MCHD offers safety tips for cold weather

 MOBILE, Ala. — With frigid weather forecast for next week, the Mobile County Health Department wishes to remind the public that serious health problems can result from prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. The most common cold-related problems are hypothermia and frostbite.

Hypothermia occurs when the body temperature drops to 95 degrees Fahrenheit and remains low. The prolonged exposure to the cold causes the body to use up stored energy. Those considered to be at highest risk include infants, the elderly, those with chronic illnesses and/or taking certain medications, athletes, and individuals working outdoors. Some warning signs of hypothermia are:

  • Adults – shivering, exhaustion, confusion, memory loss, slurred speech, and drowsiness.
  • Children – bright red cold skin, and very low energy.

Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. It causes a loss of feeling and color in the affected area. Frostbite most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers, or toes and can permanently damage the body. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures. Some of the following signs may indicate frostbite:

  • White or grayish-yellow skin area.
  • Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy.
  • Numbness.

All individuals are susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite. If any symptoms of hypothermia or frostbite are noticed, the individual should be taken to an emergency room at once.

Dr. Kevin Philip Michales, Mobile County Health Officer, urges all individuals to take precautions, especially those individuals at increased risk. The following tips are recommended to survive the cold weather:

  • Stay indoors if possible and use safe heating sources.
  • Beware of the fire dangers from space heaters and candles. Keep these devices and items away from all flammable materials such as clothing, drapes, furniture, magazines, and newspapers. Maintain at least a 3- to 5-foot perimeter around space heaters. And remember to keep children and pets away from unattended space heaters.
  • Dress appropriately before going outdoors.
  • Drink plenty of non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Don’t forget the extended members of your family. Pets should not be left outside for long periods in freezing weather – like humans, they can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite.

Swim advisory issued for Dog River 01.11.24

January 11, 2024

Swim advisory issued for Dog River

MOBILE, Ala. — The Mobile County Health Department advises the public that swimming water quality on Dog River near the Alba Fishing & Hunting Club is poor. Swimming in this area might lead to an increased risk of illness. Recent tests at this sample site rose above acceptable levels.

Monitoring will continue and the advisory will be lifted once bacteria values fall below the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) threshold of 104 enterococcus organisms per 100 milliliters for marine water.

The Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management operate the bacteriological water quality monitoring and notification program under a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency’s BEACH (Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health) Act Program. This program involves the routine collection of water samples from a total of 25 coastal recreational sites in Mobile and Baldwin counties (to see the testing locations please visit www.adem.state.al.us/programs/coastal/BeachMonitoring.cnt).

In the summer months, samples are taken once or twice a week at the most highly used sites and biweekly at the other sites. All sites are tested once a month in the cooler months. The Dog River location will be tested again in the coming days.

Samples are analyzed for enterococci bacteria. High counts indicate that the possibility that other disease-causing germs could be present in the water. Based on EPA’s “Criteria for Bathing (full body contact) Recreational Waters,” samples are checked for enterococcus bacteria. These indicator bacteria are inhabitants of the intestines of humans and other warm-blooded animals.

Bacterial concentrations in recreational waters can increase during and immediately following rainstorms because of overflowing sewage collection and treatment facilities, storm water runoff and malfunctioning septic systems.

When monitoring results exceed the EPA standard, the affected site is immediately retested. If the results of the second test identify enterococci levels persisting above the EPA standard, the health department through the cooperative efforts of the news media will issue a public advisory.

Prichard reports on several Sanitary Sewer Overflows caused by heavy rains 01.11.24

January 11, 2024

Prichard reports on several Sanitary Sewer Overflows caused by heavy rains

MOBILE, Ala. — Prichard Water Works & Sewer Board has reported on Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSO) that began on January 8 and ended January 10. Heavy rains are the cause of the SSO’s.

The nearest manhole locations, estimated overflow, and receiving waters are listed below:

LocationEstimated GallonsReceiving Water
2407 Whistler St.103,500Gumtree Branch
218 Patricia Ave.207,000Gumtree Branch
N. Bessemer & Whistler207,000Gumtree Branch
830 Strauss Ave.69,000Toulmins Spring Branch
823 N. College St.69,000Toulmins Spring Branch
705 Sample St.103,500Toulmins Spring Branch
1205 W. Prichard Ave.207,000Toulmins Spring Branch

Dr. Kevin Philip Michaels, Health Officer for Mobile County, advises area residents to take precautions when coming into contact with any standing water that may have accumulated as a result of these overflows. Those who have come into direct contact with untreated sewage are advised to wash their hands and clothing thoroughly.

Area residents should take precautions when using Gumtree Branch and Toulmins Spring Branch for recreational purposes because of these overflows. All seafood harvested in this general area should be thoroughly cooked before eating. People should wash their hands after cleaning seafood and before preparing food.

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