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09-13-06 New vaccinations for cancer, diphtheria, other illnesses soon available

By Shelley Grieshop

  WAPAKONETA -- Several new vaccines soon will be available at the Auglaize County Health Department to protect the public from various illnesses.

  One of the vaccines is Gardasil, a drug recently approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, which can prevent human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that can lead to cervical cancer.

  HPV, a group of viruses that infect the skin, can cause warts on the hands, feet and genitals, and create an abnormal cell change in the cervix. About 20 million people are infected with HPV, although most have no visible symptoms and are unaware they have it.

  Because HPV is so common and new studies have linked various forms of it to cervical cancer, health officials have been frequently broadcasting television commercials to urge the public -- mainly women -- to get immunized against the virus.

  Also available later this fall at the health department is the Hepatitis A immunization for children 12 months old and up. Auglaize County Nursing Director Cindy Jones said the shot is especially advised for school-age children and those frequently in daycare settings.  A new tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis immunization (Tdap) is available now at the county health department for people ages 11 to 64. Infants typically receive the combination shot in a different dose when they are about 2 months old. However, Jones said a case of pertussis was reported to the health department not long ago involving a baby who had contracted it shortly after birth.

  "We recommend it for mom's after delivery," she said.

  Pertussis, or whooping cough, is an upper respiratory infection that can cause permanent disability in infants, and even death. Senior citizens, who may have waning immunity, can pass the disease on to young children without knowing it," Jones explained.

  Approximately 11 percent of reported cases of tetanus and 10 percent of reported diphtheria cases are fatal in the United States. Nearly all of the cases occur in people who were never vaccinated or who received a series of shots but not a booster in the past 10 years, as recommended.

  Other new vaccines include pneumococcal conjugal and streptococcus pneumoniae, which can prevent illnesses such as pneumonia, the flu, strep throat and ear infections. A new herpes zoster vaccine can be given to ward of shingles.

  Jones said the health department still has several doses of an immunization to prevent meningitis, an illness that particularly plagues college students living in dorm settings.

  "And we're getting more doses of the meningococcal vaccine in a few weeks," she added.

  In other business, board members meeting Tuesday:

   Issued a seven-day order to Tom Heitkamp, Celina, to repair a sewage system problem at an apartment complex he owns along state Route 364 in Egypt.

   Approved a contract for $500 per month with Barb Stahler for cleaning services, effective Tuesday of this week.

   Accepted the resignation of Michael Wurst, the agency's emergency response coordinator, effective Aug. 31. The position is currently not being filled due to budget restrictions.

   Approved a revision of the Public Health Emergency Response Coordinator position description. Health Commissioner Charlotte Parsons said the position, created in 2000, formerly required someone with a registered nursing degree but now demands only a health field background in order to broaden applicants.

   Approved the hiring of Stephanie Balsom as community health surveillance coordinator, effective Sept. 26, at $21.28 per hour.

   Took no action following an executive session to discuss the possibility of hiring a replacement for the emergency response coordinator position.


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