News Feed: Department of Health & Senior Services /news-rss?filter=health_and_senior_services News Feed: Department of Health & Senior Services Wed, 13 Dec 2017 12:44:00 +0000 en-us Flu season hitting hard in Missouri Mon, 04 Dec 2017 15:04:49 +0000 JEFFERSON CITY, MO - The 2017-2018 flu season is off to an early start in Missouri. As of November 25, 2017, there were 1,545 cases of the flu reported to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, compared to 379 cases reported at the same time last year. These numbers could indicate that flu season is coming early to the Show-Me State or that it will be particularly severe-as was seen in the southern hemisphere where flu season precedes ours. For 2016-2017, there were more than 70,000 confirmed influenza cases in Missouri. If these trends continue, the state could see even more during the 2017-2018 season. "We know that historically, the intensity or prevalence of flu can vary from year to year. But this year, all indications are that we are seeing more flu earlier in the year and we anticipate more cases," said Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. "Now is the time to get your flu shot if you haven't already. The flu shot combined with proper handwashing are the two most effective things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones this holiday season."  Flu facts: How big is the problem?  Flu spreads every year, but the timing and severity of flu season is unpredictable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that flu results in between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses, between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations, and between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths annually in the U.S. What does flu illness look like?  The most common symptoms of flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and muscle or body aches. Flu viruses spread by tiny droplets when a person with flu coughs, sneezes, or talks. It's important to remember that certain people are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia or bronchitis, if they get sick.  Some of these complications are very serious and can lead to death.  Those at high risk for flu-related complications include people age 65 years and older, people with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease), pregnant women and young children. What can you do to protect family and friends?  A flu vaccine is the best form of defense to protect yourself and your loved ones this winter. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to reach its full protective abilities. Now is the time to get vaccinated so you can protect yourself and loved ones ahead of the upcoming holidays. In addition to getting your flu shot, take these steps to prevent the spread of flu: Avoid close contact with sick people. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after touching shared objects or surfaces such as door knobs, light switches, remote controls, shopping counters, debit card readers, etc.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces. Stay home while you're sick and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. It is easy for flu viruses to spread as you travel during the holidays and get together with friends and family.  People with flu can pass the virus on to others a day before feeling sick and sometimes for about a week after feeling better, so it's important to use these steps throughout the flu season.    For more information or to find a flu vaccine location near you, visit About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in promoting, protecting and partnering for health. More information about DHSS can be found at Missouri Dept. of Health and Senior Services director joins board of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials Mon, 20 Nov 2017 09:37:53 +0000 JEFFERSON CITY, MO - Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), will be joining the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) National Board of Directors as Region VII Director. One of 10 regional representatives, Williams will attend meetings and leadership events across the country on behalf of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. ASTHO, which recently celebrated its 75th anniversary, is a nonprofit organization representing public health agencies across the country with a membership of more than 100,000 public health professionals. According to the ASTHO website, their members "formulate and influence sound public health policy and ensure excellence in state-based public health practice." "It's a privilege to work with colleagues that I admire and respect. I hold ASTHO and its membership in the highest esteem and look forward to serving to the very best of my ability," said Dr. Williams. "I have visited all 115 counties in Missouri to take a history and get a ground-level perspective on the health concerns facing our state," he continued. "But Missouri's health doesn't begin or end at our borders: it is influenced by our neighboring states, the nation and even on a global scale. Several of my colleagues from ASTHO have become valuable partners as we face complex health issues in Missouri and around the United States, including Dr. Jerome Adams, U.S. Surgeon General, and Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, director of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention." Dr. Fitzgerald will be visiting Missouri on April 10 to participate in a meeting of the state's local public health agency stakeholders and Women's Health Council. About the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials: ASTHO is the national nonprofit organization representing the public health agencies of the United States, the U.S. territories and freely associated states, and the District of Columbia, as well as the more than 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ. More information about ASTHO can be found at About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in promoting, protecting and partnering for health. More information about DHSS can be found at Attachment: Photograph of Dr. Williams and Dr. Adams at the ASTHO 75th Anniversary Conference First Meeting of the Missouri Women's Health Council Mon, 30 Oct 2017 17:25:44 +0000 JEFFERSON CITY, MO - Women's health experts from across the state gathered in Jefferson City on October 25 for the first meeting of the Women's Health Council. First Lady Sheena Greitens, PhD, welcomed the members. Dr. Rachel Winograd from the Missouri Institute of Mental Health educated the group about the opioid epidemic in Missouri and Marissa Lee from the Drug Enforcement Administration discussed the epidemic as it relates to law enforcement. Dr. Sarah Martin from the Kansas City Health Department addressed the health of Missouri's women to raise awareness of the challenges many women face. Department of Health and Senior Services director Dr. Randall Williams appointed the 27 women who speak for communities with specific health care risks, needs and concerns to the advisory group. Through quarterly meetings, the council will provide input and feedback on how best to improve outcomes as the department develops and implements strategies to improve women's health in Missouri. "As I traveled throughout the 115 counties in Missouri, I saw firsthand the incredible leadership these women bring to issues that affect so many Missourians, especially our most vulnerable populations. Not only do they lead, but they lead with courage, grace, kindness and passion. We are incredibly appreciative of them taking time to combine their efforts, and I think they will serve as a great force multiplier as we implement programs and policies to help all Missourians," said Dr. Williams. "We especially appreciate the First Lady for joining us and her ongoing commitment. The First Lady's efforts to listen to foster children helped us better understand how changing our processes could make a huge difference in their lives. And it is that type of listening and sharing that will help us better serve all the citizens of Missouri." Teri Ackerson, Neuroscience Program Coordinator at Saint Luke's Marion Bloch Neuroscience Institute in Kansas City, is the Council Chair and Susan Kendig, Women's Health Integration Specialist with SSM Health - St. Mary's Hospital in St. Louis, is the Council Vice Chair. A list of all members with full biographies can be found here. Council members are: Kathi Arbini - substance abuse prevention advocate Paula Baker - President and Chief Executive Officer of Freeman Health System Daphne Bascom - Senior Vice President and Medical Director for Community Integrated Health at the YMCA of Greater Kansas City Karlyle Christian-Ritter - Director of Cape Neonatology, Medical Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Saint Francis Medical Center Patricia Clay - Executive Director of Treatment Communities of America Colleen Coble - Chief Executive Officer of the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence Wendy Doyle - President and CEO of Women's Foundation Karen Edison - Philip C. Anderson Professor and Chairwoman of the Department of Dermatology, Medical Director of the Missouri Telehealth Network & Show-Me ECHO, Director of the Center for Health Policy at the University of Missouri Danielle Felty - Maternal/Child Director at Liberty Hospital Alyson Harder - Chief Executive Officer of Heartland Behavioral Health Services Sandra Jackson - Local Recovery Coordinator at John J. Pershing VA Medical Center, Local Evidence-Based Psychotherapy Coordinator Eboni January - Physician in Obstetrics and Gynecology at SSM St. Mary's Health Center and Betty Jean Kerr People's Health Centers, co-CEO of Pavlov's Wellness Firm Sarah Martin - Division Manager of Community Engagement, Policy and Accountability at the Kansas City, Missouri Health Department Katherine Mathews - Research Division Director in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women's Health at Saint Louis University Sheryl Lynetter "Ms. Sherry" Maxwell - Lincoln University Cooperative Extension Charleston Outreach Center Bridget McCandless - President and CEO of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City Mary McLennan - Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Women's Health Chair, Saint Louis University K. Gay Purcell - Physician at Mid-America Internal Medicine, Adjunct Clinical Professor at University of Missouri-Kansas City, School of Medicine Katie Towns - Assistant Director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department Padma Veligati - Physician in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Mosaic Life Care Denise Wilfley - Scott Rudolph University Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine, Pediatrics, and Psychological & Brain Sciences; Director of the Center for Healthy Weight and Wellness at Washington University School of Medicine Denise Willers - Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University Margaret Wilson - Dean of the A.T. Still University Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine Rachel Winograd - Research Assistant Professor at the Missouri Institute of Mental Health, University of Missouri St. Louis Lana Zerrer - Chief of Staff at Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans' Hospital The next meeting of the Women's Health Council will be February 23, 2018. A photo of the first meeting can be found here. About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in promoting, protecting and partnering for health. More information about DHSS can be found at    National Drug Take Back Day Saturday October 28 Thu, 26 Oct 2017 11:39:41 +0000 JEFFERSON CITY, MO - On Saturday, October 28, law enforcement agencies across the state will be partnering with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to give Missourians the opportunity to discard expired, unused or unwanted prescription drugs. Drop off locations, which will operate from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., can be found here. The DEA cannot accept liquids or needles or sharps, only pills or patches. The service is free and anonymous, with no questions asked. Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services director, Dr. Randall Williams, stresses the importance of this event. "National Drug Take Back Day is a fantastic opportunity for Missourians to clean out their medicine cabinets and discard old or unwanted medicines. It might seem like a small thing but getting rid of these drugs could end up saving a life-especially for teenagers who may not realize the dangers of misusing prescription drugs or combining them with other drugs or alcohol. According to the NCADA, one out of seven MO teenagers reports misusing prescription opioids and one out of three reports knowing where to find them." Last April Americans turned in 450 tons (900,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at almost 5,500 sites operated by the DEA and more than 4,200 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Overall, in its 13 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 8.1 million pounds-more than 4,050 tons-of pills. This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Rates of prescription drug misuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the numbers of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that other methods for disposing of unused medicines-flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash-both pose potential safety and health hazards. For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or about the October 28 Take Back Day event go to the DEA Diversion website. The next event will be held April 29, 2018. Information on Missouri's efforts to combat the opioid crisis can also be found by using the tag #MoFightsOpioids on social media.About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in promoting, protecting and partnering for health. More information about DHSS can be found at #MoFightsOpioids - fighting the crisis on multiple fronts Tue, 17 Oct 2017 11:22:10 +0000 JEFFERSON CITY, MO - The opioid crisis in Missouri has reached epidemic levels: there were 908 opioid-related deaths in the state in 2016. As part of a comprehensive, integrated and innovative approach to addressing this crisis, Missouri is taking a multifaceted approach to reducing the impact of opioids on the state.There are a series of nine Opioid Summits being held throughout the state. These summits offer a collaborative opportunity for leaders from a variety of sectors-health care professionals, the faith community, state and local governments, law enforcement and more-to bring awareness to the issue, discuss the best interventions available, spur action and address problems found across the state. The first two summits, held in Springfield and Cape Girardeau, had a combined total of almost 1,000 participants. As of press time, more than 400 people have registered to attend the third summit, taking place today in Joplin. A list of upcoming summit dates, locations and registration information can be found here; a short video of Governor Greitens' remarks at the first opioid summit can be found here. Another significant piece of Missouri's efforts to combat the opioid crisis is to increase the availability of, access to and training for naloxone, an overdose reversal drug. Missouri was recently awarded a competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that provides $800,000 annually for four years. This funding will be used to reduce opioid-involved deaths through training, education and the distribution of naloxone to qualified individuals. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will lead the project, in partnership with the Missouri Overdose Rescue and Education (MORE) project and the Missouri Heroin Overdose Prevention and Education (MO-HOPE) project, the Missouri Institute of Mental Health and the Missouri Department of Mental Health. MORE will build on existing programs and partnerships developed by MO-HOPE, training rural-area first responders on the prevention of prescription drug and opioid related deaths and implementing secondary prevention strategies, including the purchase and distribution of naloxone. For up-to-date information on the state's progress in the fight against opioids follow #MoFightsOpioids. About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in promoting, protecting and partnering for health. More information about DHSS can be found at Adoptees will soon be able to request original birth certificates Thu, 12 Oct 2017 09:51:13 +0000 JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Per the Missouri Adoptee Rights Act, adoptees born in 1941 or later will be able to request a non-certified copy of their original birth certificate beginning January 1, 2018. To expedite processing, the Bureau of Vital Records (BVR) is now accepting applications for adoptees to request a copy of their original birth certificate. In accordance with the law, the certificates will not be provided until January 2, 2018, but early submittal will allow BVR to research and process the request in advance. Non-certified original birth certificates may only be obtained by the adoptee or the adoptee’s attorney, and may only be obtained from the BVR office in Jefferson City. To make a request, an adoptee or their attorney must complete the Application for Non-Certified Copy of an Original Birth Certificate and pay a non-refundable $15 fee. Applications may be submitted in person or by mail. The application must be notarized unless the adoptee brings it in person to the BVR office in Jefferson City. Although BVR will begin accepting applications to expedite processing, it may take six weeks or longer to locate requested records. Non-certified copies of the original birth certificates issued by BVR cannot be used for establishing identity, and will be stamped “For genealogical purposes only—not to be used for establishing identity.” In addition, no records will be released without first checking for receipt of a parental preference form. Another provision of the Missouri Adoptee Rights Act, the parental preference form allows birth parents to designate whether they want their information released. Birth parents may also establish a contact preference and complete a medical history form. The Application for Non-Certified Copy of an Original Birth Certificate, Birth Parent Contact Preference and Medical History forms can be obtained at the BVR office in Jefferson City, requested via phone or found on the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services website at Completed forms and a non-refundable $15 fee must be sent to: Bureau of Vital Records ATTN: Adoptee Rights930 WildwoodJefferson City, MO 65109 About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The department seeks to be the leader in promoting, protecting and partnering for health. More information about DHSS can be found at   ###   Missouri Department of Health and Senior ServicesOffice of Public Information912 WildwoodJefferson City, Mo. 65109573-751-6062                         Why worry about the flu in Australia? It could save your life. Tue, 10 Oct 2017 09:51:31 +0000 JEFFERSON CITY, MO - The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is looking far from the Midwest to see what this year's flu season might bring. Each year, flu cases in the southern hemisphere, in places like Australia, are tracked to help predict what will be seen in the northern hemisphere a few months later. This helps scientists determine what to include in the flu vaccine for North America. So far this year, Australia has reported cases that far exceed those in the last two flu seasons. This may be because the most common influenza virus reported there this year is influenza A; it tends to lead to higher case counts and larger outbreaks. If Missouri's flu season mimics what Australia is already seeing, there could be deadly consequences. The Missouri State Public Health Laboratory reported more than 70,000 lab-positive influenza cases for the 2016-2017 flu season. This easily spread virus can prove especially dangerous for some patients: there were also 99 influenza-associated deaths reported over the same period. The best defense we have against flu is the influenza vaccine, or flu shot. DHSS director Dr. Randall Williams says, "Having cared for patients for 30 years as a practicing physician, I saw that flu shots are critical for the greater good of our community. By protecting ourselves, we help protect our most vulnerable populations: newborn babies, pregnant women, the elderly and those whose health is already compromised. They are the most susceptible to serious flu illness and complications, including death. That's why we recommend everyone six months or older gets a flu shot to help decrease exposure." Flu activity often increases in October and November before peaking between December and February. By receiving a flu shot, the body's immune response to the virus will improve to provide protection against the influenza viruses that are likely to be common this flu season. For more information or to find a flu shot location near you, visit or talk to your local health department, pharmacist or medical provider. About the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: The Department seeks to be the leader in promoting, protecting and partnering for health. More information about DHSS can be found at   Public health response to Bourbon virus Wed, 20 Sep 2017 11:10:24 +0000 JEFFERSON CITY, MO - The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) worked with local public health agencies this week to test for evidence of Bourbon virus in the blood of some Missouri state park workers. The testing was done as part of a follow-up investigation into a recent case of Bourbon virus associated with exposure to ticks in Missouri. CDC's Arboviral Disease Branch will test each blood sample for the presence of Bourbon virus antibodies; these antibodies may indicate a previous exposure to the virus. This follow-up investigation will help determine who might be at risk for Bourbon virus. It is believed to be spread by ticks, but this has not been confirmed. Bourbon virus was first discovered to cause human illness in a Bourbon County, KS, man in 2014. The virus belongs to the Thogotovirus group, and Bourbon virus is the only known member of this group to cause disease in the United States. Patients diagnosed with Bourbon virus have shown signs similar to Heartland virus and ehrlichiosis (two other tick-borne illnesses found in Missouri), including fever, muscle aches, fatigue, headache, anorexia, diarrhea and rash. Like Heartland virus and ehrlichiosis, Bourbon virus can affect blood cells that help the body fight infection and prevent bleeding. There is no vaccine for Bourbon virus. The best way to prevent tick-borne disease infection is to avoid being bitten by a tick. Information on ways to prevent exposure can be found on the DHSS website: If a person begins developing a fever, muscle aches, fatigue, headaches, anorexia, diarrhea or a rash after exposure to a tick bite or tick habitat, they should seek treatment from a medical professional and inform them of recent tick exposure. For more information on ticks and the ongoing Bourbon virus investigation, please contact the Department of Health and Senior Services, Office of Veterinary Public Health at 573-751-6062 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.   New measures in fight against opioid crisis take effect today Mon, 28 Aug 2017 16:37:05 +0000 JEFFERSON CITY, MO - This past July, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens signed into law new opioids legislation that goes into effect today, giving Missourians three new tools in the fight against this epidemic. Two of these measures are aimed at saving lives in the event of an overdose. The first provision authorizes Department of Health and Senior Services director Dr. Randall Williams to sign a standing order for naloxone prescriptions throughout the state. Under this order, anyone can receive naloxone from a pharmacist without having to first get a prescription from another physician.  "Naloxone is a safe and effective drug that has saved countless lives," said Dr. Williams. "With this order, we are empowering the people of Missouri to intervene on behalf of family and friends in the event of an opioid overdose. I urge anyone who is at an increased risk for overdose to keep naloxone on hand in case of emergency. The same goes for any family member, friend, neighbor or acquaintance of someone suffering from opioid addiction-naloxone saves lives."The second measure is an expansion of Missouri's "Good Samaritan" law. Under the new legislation, anyone who acts in good faith to assist in a drug or alcohol overdose can call for emergency assistance without fear of arrest or other penalties as a result of seeking or obtaining medical assistance. In the event of an overdose, this policy protects the victim and the person seeking medical help for the victim from possession charges. "I want every Missourian to take this to heart: call 911 in the case of an overdose," said Dr. Williams. "Our first responders are ready and able to respond but time has to be on their side if they're going to be effective. Make the call and rest assured that our priority is to save lives, not pursue criminal charges. We think this is especially important for young people to remember."These two measures combined give us the greatest chance of reversing overdoses in our state. If we are all prepared to administer naloxone and immediately call for aid in the event of an emergency, we can make tremendous strides in reversing the trend of fatal overdoses in Missouri."The third change going into effect today will allow people who have opioid addictions and are being treated with medication assisted therapy (MAT) to access Missouri's drug courts. Previously, MAT patients were considered to still be "drug users" and therefore could be ruled ineligible for the rehabilitation-focused courts. The new measure recognizes MAT as a proven method of addiction treatment.For more information on naloxone and other opioid crisis information, please visit Keeping children healthy: back-to-school immunizations Thu, 24 Aug 2017 17:37:46 +0000 JEFFERSON CITY, MO - As a new school year begins parents and guardians need to ensure children are up-to-date on their immunizations. Missouri law requires that children in kindergarten through 12th grade receive immunizations to protect against certain vaccine-preventable diseases. This helps protect everyone: children, teachers, staff and the community as a whole. "Proper immunization can prevent serious health issues that could affect your child and others," said Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services, Dr. Randall Williams. "With the recent outbreaks of mumps and measles, being completely immunized is as important as ever. Don't wait. Talk to your physician or local health department about your child's immunizations today." Children attending kindergarten through 7th grade are required to be up-to-date on: DTaP - Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis Polio Hepatitis B MMR - Measles, mumps and rubella; and Varicella - Chickenpox Children entering 8th grade are required to have two additional immunizations to protect their health: Tdap - Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (booster); and Meningococcal ACWY A booster dose of Meningococcal ACWY is also required for children entering 12th grade. Vaccines help protect children against serious illness caused by diseases like measles and whooping cough, while continuously undergoing testing to ensure safety. For more information, please visit: Eye Safety is Critical during Upcoming Eclipse Wed, 16 Aug 2017 16:49:14 +0000 JEFFERSON CITY, MO - On August 21st, people will gather from coast to coast to view a rare solar eclipse, especially in Missouri. The state will offer some of the best vantage points in the nation for witnessing this historic event. A 50-70 mile wide path of totality stretches from northwest to southeast Missouri. These areas will experience the longest periods of darkness in the country on Monday afternoon. Depending on your location, the eclipse should begin between 11:30 am and 12 noon, and last until 2:30-3:00 pm central time. State and local agencies are coordinating efforts to ensure everyone has a safe viewing experience.  Residents and visitors are strongly encouraged to follow all safety precautions for viewing the solar eclipse. "There are a number of precautions you need to follow regarding eye safety," said Director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Dr. Randall Williams. "Looking directly at the sun during most parts of an eclipse can permanently damage your vision or blind you, but there are easy ways to view a solar eclipse safely, such as through eclipse glasses or pinhole projectors. Adults should take special care to help protect the eyes of children during this event." Outside of totality, the only safe way to safely look directly at the sun, during an eclipse or at any other time is through special-purpose solar filters. These solar filters are used in "eclipse glasses" or in hand-held solar viewers. They must meet a very specific worldwide standard known as ISO 12312-2. Ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, or homemade filters are not safe for looking at the sun. Individuals who do not take proper precautions run the risk of damaging their retinas or possibly causing blindness. In areas outside the path of totality, where only part of the sun is blocked even at the peak of the eclipse, there is no safe time to look at the sun with the naked eye. Viewers must protect their eyes while watching the entire eclipse. The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) recommends the following steps for safely watching a solar eclipse: Carefully look at your solar filter or eclipse glasses before using them. If you see any scratches or damage, do not use them. Always read and follow all directions that come with the solar filter or eclipse glasses. Help children to be sure they use handheld solar viewers and eclipse glasses correctly. Before looking up at the bright sun, stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer. After glancing at the sun, turn away and remove your filter-do not remove it while looking at the sun. The only time that you can look at the sun without a solar viewer is during a total eclipse. When the moon completely covers the sun's bright face and it suddenly gets dark, you can remove your solar filter to watch this unique experience. Then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear very slightly, immediately use your solar viewer again to watch the remaining partial phase of the eclipse. Never look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars or other similar devices. This is important even if you are wearing eclipse glasses or holding a solar viewer at the same time. The intense solar rays coming through these devices will damage the solar filter and your eyes. Your camera, telescope or binoculars could also be damaged. For information about where to get the proper eyewear or handheld viewers, check out the American Astronomical Society at Safety precautions are also necessary if you are hoping to photograph the eclipse with your cellphone or camera. Cellphone users should consider taking photos when the sun is entirely covered by the moon, not before or after as it could damage the phone's camera. Camera owners may take photos before or after the period of totality if they have a special solar camera filter to protect their camera from damage. Expert astronomers are the best source of information on the use of a special solar filter with a camera, telescope, binoculars or any other optical device. AAO also points out that another way to see the eclipse is through a pinhole projection, which projects an image of the sun onto another surface, like paper, a wall or pavement. The image of the sun is safe to look at throughout the eclipse. More information on pinhole projectors and safe-viewing devices can be found at For more information about eclipse viewing safety and other information related to the event, please visit Department of Health and Senior Services Announces Public Rule Review Process to Streamline State Regulations Mon, 31 Jul 2017 11:06:45 +0000 JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Governor Eric Greitens’ executive order directs each state agency, including the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) to review all of its regulations. DHSS oversees facilities throughout the state, working every day to ensure quality care for Missourians; assist and protect seniors; and administer more than 100 programs and initiatives addressing public health issues. DHSS closely coordinates with partners such as Missouri’s 115 local public health agencies and the 10 Area Agencies on Aging to provide needed services and plan for a healthy future. In accordance with Gov. Eric Greitens’ executive order, DHSS is thoroughly reviewing all of its administrative rules, and welcomes input from the public. Feedback from the citizens we serve is invaluable to helping the department identify changes that can be made to improve DHSS’ operations. “The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is excited to meet Governor Greitens’ call to reduce burdensome government restrictions and red tape that keep businesses and health care providers from doing their jobs effectively,” said Dr. Randall Williams, Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services. Members of the public who wish to make suggestions to improve DHSS rules and regulations can do so via multiple methods: on the Department of Health and Senior Services’ website; by submitting written comments to DHSS Rules Review, PO Box 570, Jefferson City, MO 65102; by fax to 573-751-6041; or at three public hearings, which are listed below. Comments will be accepted through September 15, 2017. The Department of Health and Senior Services will hold three public hearings to allow Missourians to comment in person: Tuesday, August 1, 2017, 9 AM Bridgeton Senior Center 4201 Fee Fee Rd. Bridgeton, MO 63044 Tuesday, August 15, 2017, 10:30 AM Don Bosco Senior Center 580 Campbell St. Kansas City, MO 64106 Tuesday, August 29, 2017, 9 AM Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center Conference Room B 1121 Linden St. Cape Girardeau, MO 63703 For more information on the Governor’s initiative to cut government red tape, please visit Drug disposal pouches donated to keep drugs off streets Fri, 21 Jul 2017 15:53:46 +0000 JEFFERSON CITY, Mo — The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is coordinating distribution of 50,000 medication disposal pouches donated by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals. This donation is extremely timely as DHSS attempts to stem the diversion of unused opioids in Missouri. A national survey of U.S. adults who use opioids showed that nearly 6 out of 10 had or expect to have leftover opioids, according to findings published online June 13, 2016, in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal. Also, a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) national survey on drug use and health determined that nearly 51 percent of those who misused prescription painkillers got them from friends or relatives. “As a company focused on the health and well-being of our patients and communities, Mallinckrodt has long been a strong advocate of addressing the complex issues of opioid misuse and abuse,” said Mark Trudeau, Mallinckrodt President and Chief Executive Officer. “We share the concerns of all Missourians and have worked to provide medication deactivation pouches for more than 400,000 Missouri families. A safe and responsible way to dispose of unused medications is critical in this fight.” “We commend Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens for efforts to combat this public health crisis,” he continued. “Mallinckrodt is committed to working with policy makers, community leaders, law enforcement and industry partners to ensure the responsible use of pain medication and prevent unused medications from ending up in the wrong hands.” The pouch-based systems that Mallinckrodt is donating deactivate prescription drugs and render chemical compounds safe for landfills through four simple steps as follows: The sealable pouch which contains active carbon is opened by the patient. The patient adds any remaining, unused medications and water to the pouch. Carbon in the pouch binds to the drugs active ingredients and breaks the medication down. The patient seals the pouch which can then be safely disposed of in the household garbage. DHSS will be partnering with local public health agencies and other organizations to distribute the donated pouches while maintaining a small number for requests that will be received from across the state. Five counties have been selected to receive the initial distribution. The Butler County Public Health Department in Poplar Bluff will be one such distribution location. The Alliance of Southwest Missouri, located in Joplin, will also be assisting with distribution of the pouches for citizens in Barton County, MacDonald County, Jasper County and Newton County. For more information on the department’s efforts to combat Missouri’s opioid crisis, please visit Missourians are dying every day from opioid overdoses Mon, 17 Jul 2017 17:11:25 +0000 JEFFERSON CITY, Mo — The opioid crisis in Missouri has reached epidemic proportions. In 2016, there were 908 opioid- or heroin-related deaths in the state; this is 35% increase over 2015. 2.5 people overdosed and died every day last year, compared with 1.8 the year before. One out of every 66 deaths in the state was due to opioid or opiate abuse in 2016—a significant increase from 2015 when one out of every 89 deaths were opioid-related. St. Louis County is one of the hardest-hit parts of the state. In 2016, 237 overdoses were attributed to heroin, prescription drug abuse or synthesized opioids such as fentanyl. In 2015, that number was ¬¬¬141, indicating a 68% increase. In the City of St. Louis, there were 182 such overdoses in 2016 compared to 93 the year before—a 96% increase. “We are incredibly appreciative that Governor Greitens has signed an executive order today instructing us to institute a prescription drug monitoring program,” said Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services director Randall Williams, MD. “The department will be entering into agreements with private companies to perform sophisticated analyses of the prescribing and dispensing data they hold. We think this is a better iteration of present models which can impose burdens on those who are doing what they’re supposed to do, and allows us to focus on those who are perpetuating the crisis. “Governor Greitens has charged his cabinet with taking a coordinated, integrated and innovative approach to helping all those families and individuals affected by the opioids crisis,” he continued. “We have traveled throughout the state and listened to the many ways this has affected Missourians; it is our goal to help people not face this challenge alone.” This collaborative initiative is being launched with a series of nine Opioid Summits around the state, designed to bring awareness to the issue, spur innovative action and address the specific problems found in different communities throughout Missouri. The kick-off summit is being held in Springfield on July 20. Led by Dr. Williams, this summit will be an opportunity for leaders from a variety of sectors—first responders, health care, the faith community, nonprofits and government—to discuss the opioid crisis and the best interventions moving forward, while taking in feedback from the community members most affected by the crisis. The Missouri Opioid Crisis Summit: Springfield Kickoff will be held on July 20 at the White River Conference Center located at 600 West Sunshine Street, Springfield. This event will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30a.m. This event is free but does require registration, as space for this event will be limited. The link for ticket registration can be found here. Additionally, this event will be livestreamed on the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services Facebook page: Please use the hashtags #SGFopioidcrisis and #MOopioidsummit to join the conversation. Confirmed city and locations for additional Opioid Summits: July 20, 2017: Springfield, White River Conference Center, 600 W Sunshine St, Springfield, MO 65807 September 6: Poplar Bluff, Mount Calvary Powerhouse Church, 1875 Speedway Dr, Poplar Bluff, MO 63901 September 12: Cape Girardeau, Show Me Center, 1333 N Sprigg St, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701 October 17: Joplin, Missouri Southern State University, 3950 Newman Rd, Joplin, MO 64801 November 7: Kirksville, Truman State University, 100 E Normal St, Kirksville, MO 63501 November 14: St. Joseph, Mo Western University, Fulkerson Center (Kempker Room), 4525 Downs Drive, St. Joseph, MO 64507 November 29: Columbia, Courtyard by Marriot, 3301 Lemone Industrial Blvd. Columbia, MO 65201 St. Louis and Kansas City dates and locations to be determined. Safely remove mold to protect health Mon, 03 Jul 2017 12:57:40 +0000 JEFFERSON CITY, Mo — Missouri’s recent historic flooding may have created an environment hospitable to mold in affected homes and other buildings. Proper cleanup is key to protecting health and preventing illness. If mold is present, individuals with certain allergies may exhibit symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, upper respiratory irritation, cough and eye irritation. Additionally, exposure to excessive amounts of mold can cause an increase in the frequency or severity of asthma symptoms. “Mold can cause illness, but it’s important not to panic if you find mold in your home,” said Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Communications Director Sara O’Connor. “Personal protection can safeguard your health during remediation. The proper cleaning or removal of mold-affected items will reduce the risk of future issues.” DHSS offers the following tips to clean mold safely and properly: Wear personal protective equipment such as gloves, a mask and goggles to protect your eyes, nose, mouth and skin. Throw away any items that were wet with flood water and couldn’t be cleaned and dried completely within 24-48 hours. Take photos of any items discarded for insurance purposes. Flood-related mold on non-porous surfaces should be cleaned with a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water. Use caution: do not breathe fumes and avoid contact with skin. Open all doors and windows while you are working in the building, and leave as many open as you safely can when you leave. Use fans and dehumidifiers to remove moisture when electricity is safe to use Do not cover mold. Remove it instead. Painting or caulking over mold will not prevent it from growing. For more information, please visit