Wednesday, July 5, 2017

E.coli Update

Update on E.coli investigation: Testing continues this week as part of the effort to identify the source of this outbreak. Results so far indicate that the city water system is clean. Due to the seriousness of the E.coli strain being investigated, those experiencing symptoms (see link below for details) should seek medical care.

Please refer to THIS LINK for information on symptoms and prevention

Monday, July 3, 2017

E.coli Illness Outbreak

ST. GEORGE, UT - The Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) has confirmed six cases of E.coli ( Escherichia coli) in the Hildale/Colorado City area on the Utah/Arizona border. The most serious cases involve children, and include two deaths. There is an ongoing investigation being carried out by health personnel and the source of this outbreak has not yet been determined. The outbreak appears to be confined to a limited area of Hildale and risk to the larger community is not considered to be significant at this time.

“E.coli is a bacteria known to cause diarrheal illness,” says  Dr. David Blodgett, SWUPHD Health Officer. “Certain types of E.coli are more concerning than others. Some of the cases in this outbreak have been identified as the O157H7 strain, characterized by bloody diarrhea and serious complications. Our thoughts and sympathies are with the families who have been affected”.

The disease-causing types of E. coli are usually spread to humans when tiny amounts of human or animal feces gets in the mouth. These particles can come from unwashed hands, contaminated water or food, and animal exposure.

The general symptoms of E.coli can include stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), vomiting, and fever (usually 101 F or lower).  Bloody diarrhea is a symptom characteristic of the strain involved in the outbreak. Symptoms will appear between one and ten days after exposure. Most people will recover within five to seven days after becoming ill.

People can help prevent E.coli infection by thorough hand washing after animal exposure, using the restroom, changing diapers, and before and after food preparation. Practice proper food preparation by keeping raw meat separate from other foods, cooking meat to safe temperatures (usually 165 degrees F), and refrigerating foods that can spoil within two hours. Do not drink raw milk or unpurified water from streams, ponds, or lakes.

People who have these symptoms should contact their healthcare provider. More information and updates will be available on the SWUPHD website  ( and the SWUPHD Facebook page (swuhealth).
                                                                                          # # #

The mission of the Southwest Utah Public Health Department is to protect the community’s health through the promotion of wellness and the prevention of disease. Visit our website at

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Two Intermountain Clinics Recognized by Utah Million Hearts Coalition

The Utah Million Hearts Coalition recently recognized Intermountain Healthcare’s Sunset Clinic and Cedar City Clinic for Excellence in Blood Pressure Control. With only 46 clinics recognized statewide, this exclusive achievement demonstrates continual dedication to proper blood pressure control for patients.

“The award recognizes the hard work and dedication these clinics made to meet the highest standards of clinical blood pressure care,” said Kelly Robinson, Utah Million Hearts Coalition spokesperson. “More Utah providers, like the Sunset and Cedar City clinics, are taking blood pressure measurement and control to the next level by using evidence- based strategies to help patients keep blood pressure down - a strong sign that we’re making progress in preventing heart attacks and strokes and prioritizing patient care.”

Nearly 1 in 3 American adults has hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. Only half have it under control, putting them at greater risk of developing heart disease or stroke - two of the leading causes of death in the U.S.

To achieve the award, Intermountain’s Sunset Clinic and Cedar City Clinic shared control data with the Coalition and highlighted successful strategies and best practices they adopted. These clinics have helped their adult patients control their blood pressure by:
  • Making blood pressure measurement accuracy a priority
  • Using evidence-based guidelines and protocols for high blood pressure diagnosis
  • Continually training staff on correct measurement protocols
  • Using team-based care to improve patient engagement
  • Implementing the use of electronic health records that include patient reminders and visit summaries
  • Staying engaged with patients by offering support and educational tools

Clinics that would like additional information about applying for the award next year can contact Audrie Frehner, Health Educator at the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, at 435-986-2567 or

Monday, May 1, 2017

Tularemia (Rabbit Fever) Found in Two Local Animals

KANAB, UT – The Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) has confirmed two cases of tularemia (in a cat and a rabbit) in Kane County. Tularemia, also known as Rabbit Fever, is a bacterial illness that can affect both animals and humans.

Tularemia is most commonly spread by the bite of an infected insect such as a deerfly or tick. People can also get tularemia by getting blood or tissue from infected animals (especially rabbits) in their eyes or mouth, or in cuts or scratches on the skin. It can also be spread by handling or eating rabbit meat that is not cooked well. Tularemia does not spread person-to-person.

The usual symptoms of tularemia are sudden fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, chest pain, and coughing. If tularemia is caused by the bite of an infected insect or from bacteria entering a cut or scratch, it usually causes a skin ulcer (open sore) and swollen glands. Eating or drinking food or water containing the bacteria may produce a throat infection, stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Breathing dust containing the bacteria may cause a pneumonia-like illness.

Tularemia is confirmed in humans by testing at healthcare facilities. Fortunately, human cases are rare and can be effectively treated with antibiotics. Many Utahns safely hunt and eat rabbits every season (September 1 – February 28).

Tularemia can be prevented by:
  • Discouraging children and pets from touching sick or dead rabbits, or other possibly infected animals or carcasses.
  • Wearing gloves when skinning or handling animals, especially wild rabbits.
  • Cooking wild rabbit meat thoroughly.
  • Wearing protective clothing and repellants containing DEET to protect against insect bites.

For more information, visit

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Kane Community Youth Coalition at State Capitol

KANAB, UT - Representatives of  the Kane Community Youth Coalition (KCYC) headed to the Utah State Capitol last week to educate policymakers on the effects of tobacco and e-cigarettes on local young people. More than 400 teens made the trip from all across the state. KCYC member Emilee Soderquist spoke alongside Representative Brad Daw and many others. Joining Emilee was Abby Brooks and McKenna Clarkson along with Adult Coordinators Lexie Little and Ashley Heaton.

Youth were paired with their elected representatives and senators to discuss the issues faced in their local areas. “This was a great opportunity for us to share with our state leaders the issues we are seeing in our schools and community,” says McKenna Clarkson, KCYC member.  “We are the ones who are seeing our peers using these harmful products and we can be a voice for the future of our generation.”

KCYC members were happy to educate Representative Mike Noel, Senator Ralph Okerlund, and  Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox about the alarming increase in youth drug use in our area. In southwest Utah, the youth rate of e-cigarette use has skyrocketed over 300% in just a two-year time span. Policymakers can use this information to adjust priorities relating to preventive legislation at the state level.

You can follow KCYC on Facebook (kanecoyouth).

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Blood Pressure Readings Inaccurate at Least 50% of the Time

ST. GEORGE, UT - A 2016 study from the Journal of Clinical Hypertension found that in-office blood pressure measurements were inaccurate more often than not, either causing the misdiagnosis of hypertension (resulting in the inappropriate administration of medication) or causing patients at risk for stroke and heart events to go without necessary intervention or treatment.

The Utah Million Hearts Coalition recently announced a new website,,  which is designed to educate both patients and health care providers about the prevalence of inaccurate blood pressure measurements as well as correct measurement technique.

“Patients need to take their health into their own hands,” says Anni McKinnon, Utah Million Hearts Coalition member. “Learn how blood pressure should be measured, speak up when your blood pressure is not taken correctly, and assist your provider in getting an accurate measurement and subsequently an accurate diagnosis.” People can also help control their risks for cardiovascular disease by managing their weight, engaging in regular physical activity, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, and not using tobacco products.

Patients can take the following steps help ensure a correct blood pressure measurement:
  1. Thirty minutes prior to taking blood pressure: do not drink caffeine or alcohol, use tobacco products, exercise, or feel stressed or anxious.
  2. Sit and relax for five minutes before taking blood pressure.
  3. Sit up straight with both feet flat on the floor and your back supported.
  4. Cuff should be the proper size and placed on your bare arm or over thin clothing.
  5. Arm should be at heart level and supported.
  6. If your reading is high, your blood pressure should be taken two more times, waiting one minute between readings.

Even when blood pressure measuring technique is correct, some patients experience a ‘white-coat effect’ and exhibit high blood pressure in a medical office. “About 30% of patients with elevated in-office blood pressure turn out to have normal out-of-office measurements,” adds McKinnon, “so home monitoring is also important in some cases.”

In 2016, the Utah Million Hearts Coalition recognized 13 Utah medical clinics for their commitment to achieving excellence in blood pressure measurement and hypertension control.  Clinics that would like additional information in applying for the award can contact Audrie Frehner at 435-986-2567 or


The Utah Million Hearts Coalition is a community collaboration among Utah’s public health departments, local health care organizations, professional medical associations, and health-related nonprofit organizations. For more information about the coalition, visit

Monday, February 13, 2017

Local Coalition Members Return From Washington, D.C.

KANAB, UT - Adult and Youth members of the Kane Community Youth Coalition attended the Community Anti Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) conference last week in Washington, D.C. Members in attendance were Ashley Heaton, Lexie Little, Elizabeth Davis, Staci Wright, Chloe Crosby, Kosha Riedhead, Shaelynn Heaton, and Whitney Cornell.  The conference theme this year was engineering healthy communities. Attendees learned vital skills in preventing substance abuse in their communities.

“CADCA is a wonderful national conference that provides local coalitions with the tools necessary to make an impactful difference it their communities,” said Lexie Little, Community Outreach Specialist for Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD). “I was lucky enough to present with my supervisor, Kye Nordfelt, on the work we have accomplished in Southern Utah with banning or limiting the number of tobacco specialty shops and decreasing youth access to these addicting products.”

Coalition members were able to meet with Senator Hatch and Congressmen Stewart to discuss the substance abuse issues we are seeing in our area and to educate the legislators on the long term effect of these drugs.

“Attending this conference is a wonderful opportunity and we were so lucky to be able to bring so many members this year,” said Ashley Heaton, SWUPHD Prevention Specialist. “We look forward to implementing these strategies in our community.”

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Community Preparedness Summit on February 27-28

The Southwest Utah Public Health Department (SWUPHD) is sponsoring the Rural Preparedness Summit on February 27th and 28th, at Dixie State University's Gardner Center. 

While attendees will include first responders, emergency managers, medical personnel, volunteers, and community leaders, anyone interested in learning more about emergency and disaster plans for southwest Utah is invited. 

"Our theme for the summit is 'We Can't Do It Alone'", says Paulette Valentine, SWUPHD Emergency Preparedness and Response Division Director. "This event is open to anyone who wants to find out more about how we will work together to respond to a local emergency. That includes people who might play a role in an organization's response, or just individuals with an interest in emergency preparedness on a community level."

Topics will include disaster response from medical, mental health, public safety, and volunteer perspectives; cooperation between coalitions and agencies, psychological first-aid, mass fatality plans, and local communication plans. 

Registration is $25 for residents of Washington, Iron, Kane, Beaver, or Garfield counties, and $130 for attendees from outside the region. Register online by going to and clicking the Rural Preparedness Summit screen. Registration deadline is February 15th. For more information, call Steve Rossberg at 435-986-2589.

Co-sponsors of the Summit include Dixie State University, Dixie Regional Medical Center, Southwest Utah Healthcare Preparedness Coalition, Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), and Citizen Corps. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Local Youths in Washington, D.C.

ST. GEORGE, UT – Youth representatives from the Washington County Youth Coalition (WCYC), Kane Community Youth Coalition (KCYC), and the Panguitch Prevention Coalition (PPC) are in Washington, D.C. this week for the 27th Annual National Leadership Forum for CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America). They are joining over 2,500 substance abuse prevention specialists and advocates from around the country for leadership training and education. 

“We are so excited to be able to spend several days with other youth, learning and honing our prevention skills,” says Jared Martinez, WCYC member from Snow Canyon High School. “We want our community to be a better place, one that doesn’t suffer from the harmful effects of drug and alcohol abuse.”

Youth attending include: Jared Martinez, Nolan Porras, Baylee Calvert, Hannah Curtis, Taibree Coleman, and Abby Ott for WCYC; Chloe Crosby, Kosha Reidhead, Whitney Cornell and Shaelynn Heaton for KCYC; and Lexi Oldham, Kathleen Sullivan, Jessica Roundy, Aubree Hughes, Joe Vasquez and Tyler Roundy for PPC.

The coalitions have recently impacted their communities by working with cities to adopt no smoking ordinances, providing tobacco cessation materials and resources to homeless shelters, and providing e-cigarette education.

During the CADCA forum, they will be trained on a wide range of topics, including prescription drug abuse prevention, synthetic drugs and marijuana abuse, creating tobacco-free environments, and developing policies to reduce underage and excessive drinking. 

The coalition will hear from several federal leaders from the Office of National Drug Control Policy. WCYC will also meet with U.S. congressmen and senators at the CADCA Forum’s Capitol Hill Day event on Wednesday, Feb. 8th to discuss local concerns.

CADCA’s National Leadership Forum is the nation’s largest training conference for community prevention leaders (  More information about the WCYC and KCYC can be found on their Facebook pages at washcoyouth and kanecoyouth.