Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Food Environment Atlas / Food Desert Locator


The USDA’s Food Environment Atlas allows one to “get a spacial view of a community’s ability to access healthy food and its success in doing so”.

County level statistics can be viewed on food choices, health and well-being indicators, and community characteristics.

The Food Desert Locator identifies low-income census tracts where a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store. The interactive map is similar to the Food Environment Atlas.

May 6, 2011 Posted by | Finding Aids/Directories, Health Statistics, Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

Antimicrobial Resistance Posing Growing Health Threat

CDC and Partners Celebrate World Health Day 2011 to Draw Attention to the Issue


Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria
Source: Public Health Image Library (PHIL)

Excerpts from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) press release

Millions of Americans take antimicrobial drugs each year to fight illness, trusting they will work. However, the bacteria, viruses and other pathogens are fighting back. Within the past couple of years alone, new drug-resistant patterns have emerged and resistance has increased – a trend that demands urgent action to preserve the last lines of defense against many of these germs. Today, CDC joins theWorld Health Organization and other health partners in recognizing World Health Day, which this year spotlights antimicrobial resistance.

“People assume that antibiotics will always be there to fight the worst infections, but antimicrobial resistance is robbing us of that certainty and new drug-resistant pathogens are emerging,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “It’s not enough to hope that we’ll have effective drugs to combat these infections. We must all act now to safeguard this important resource.”

Antimicrobial resistance—when germs change in a way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs to treat them—is a growing global problem. Plasmodium falciparum, the most dangerous of the malaria parasites, has developed resistance to nearly all of the currently available antimalarial drugs in parts of Southeast Asia. Sporadic cases of pandemic H1N1 flu have shown resistance to oseltamivir, one of only two antivirals that work against it. In the United States, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, known as MRSA, remains a problem in many health care settings. Drug-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae, previously seen in a limited number of hospitals, has now been reported in at least 36 states. Gonorrhea is now showing potential for resistance to cephalosporins, the only recommended antibiotic left to treat this common sexually transmitted infection.

Antibiotic resistance increases the economic burden on the entire health care system. Resistant infections are often more severe, leading to longer hospital stays and increased costs for treatment. According to the latest available data, antibiotic resistance in the United States costs an estimated $20 billion a year in excess health care costs, $35 million in other societal costs and more than 8 million additional days that people spend in the hospital.

As part of this effort, CDC—in collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and other partners—recently released a public health action plan laying out 11 key goals to combat antimicrobial resistance in the areas of surveillance, prevention and control, research and product development. The plan is designed to facilitate communication and coordination as well to provide guidance on the most pressing resistance issues and how to address them….

…Appropriate use of existing antibiotics can limit the spread of antibiotic resistance, preserving antibiotics for the future. CDC advocates for the appropriate use of antibiotics through its Get Smart programs focused on community and health care settings. CDC is engaged in working to address antimicrobial resistance across a growing number of disease-causing organisms and settings.

The public can also play a role in reducing the threat of antimicrobial resistance by not pressuring their health care providers for antibiotics, not sharing or saving antibiotics, and taking antibiotics exactly as prescribed, including taking the entire amount prescribed. Health care providers can prevent antimicrobial resistance by ensuring prompt diagnosis and treatment of infections, prescribing antibiotics appropriately, and following infection prevention techniques to prevent the spread of drug-resistant infections in health care facilities.

To learn more about antimicrobial resistance by disease and setting, please visit For more information on CDC’s antimicrobial resistance efforts, please visit

The action plan is posted on the Federal Register and comments on the plan will be accepted through April 15, 2011. To view the action plan, please visit:

April 16, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , | Leave a comment

Local Health Department in the News

From a PH(Public Health)_Partners Oct 8, 2010 Listserv item

Ongoing, publicly available collection of news stories about pubic health issues facing communities across the nation.  News clips are searchable by state or in the following subject areas: budget cuts, County Health Rankings, H1N1, goods news, and more.

A few recent items

“Reports of pertussis have reached startling numbers in communities around the nation in recent months, leading to
renewed attention to the common infectious disease. Several states are currently reporting pertussis outbreaks, from California to Michigan to South Carolina…”

Examples include the use of text messaging, Google Flu Trends, and Health Map




October 9, 2010 Posted by | Public Health | , , | 1 Comment

2009 Community Health Status Indicators (CHSI) Report Now Available

The 2009 Community Health Status Indicators (CHSI) Report, a 16 page, county-specific overview of population health conveying 200 indicators in a ready-for-action format, is now available.

The report may be found here.

Some of the many features
**over 200 measures for each of the 3,141 United States counties
**community profiles can be displayed on maps or downloaded in a brochure format
**visually compare similar counties (termed peer counties) as well as adjacent counties with their county

August 28, 2010 Posted by | Health News Items | , , | Leave a comment