Monthly Health Promotion Activities

Environmental Health and Housing: Use Only House Painters With EPA Lead-Safe Certification

Spring is time for home renovations. If you are planning to renovate or paint your home, especially if they were built before 1978, go to the EPA- managed list of certified renovation and lead dust sampling technicians who are trained to mitigate lead exposure and protect residents from lead during a renovation:

Candice Davenport, Health Officer recommends that residents ask to see the renovator/ contractor’s EPA-certification to ensure that they are up to date on training and latest practices.

Chronic Disease: Diabetes

On March 24th, the Township pf Maplewood is joining the American Diabetes Association for a one-day wake-up call, #DiabetesAlertDay!  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Eighty-six  (86) million Americans now have prediabetes—that’s 1 out of 3 adults! Of those 86 million, 9 out of 10 of them don’t even know they have it.  Without intervention, 15% to 30% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years.

With numbers like that, it’s important to learn about prediabetes and take action.Take the one-minute Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test and find out if you are at risk for diabetes.

Environmental Health: Ticks

Lyme disease is one of the most commonly reportable diseases in Maplewood.  With the changing, and warming weather, The Maplewood Health Department asks that residents take special care when hiking or walking in the woods, such as in the South Mountain Reservation.

Lyme Disease is transmitted to humans through bacteria from the bite of an infected black-legged tick (also called a deer tick). The ticks, about the size of a poppy seed, cling to grasses and plants and attach themselves to people as they brush by. The ticks then burrow in hard-to-see places, like behind the ears and in the armpits and groin area.

It is very important to keep vigilant and follow these guidelines to prevent tick borne infections when you are outdoors, which may include just being in your backyard/ garden, if you are adjacent to a wooded area:

  • Check yourself every day for ticks if you live in a Lyme state, such as New Jersey. Don’t forget to check the places they like to hide, including behind the ears, on the scalp, and the armpits and groin. This CDC site also has helpful information about treatment, the blood test for Lyme disease and other useful tips.
  • Dry your clothes before washing. If you’ve been outside, take off your clothes and throw them in the dryer on high heat for at least 20 minutes . Washing, even in hot water, won’t help kill ticks (the little suckers won’t drown), but baking them in a hot dryer will do the trick.
  • If you find a tick, use tweezers and squeeze it by the head, not the body, to remove it. Squeezing the body “will cause the tick to spew all of its stomach contents into the skin, and you'll be more likely acquire whatever infection that tick was carrying,” Lyme expert Brian Fallow, M.D., director of the Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research at Columbia University Medical Center, told NPR.
  • Beware bare skin. Don’t make it easy for ticks to bite you. Wear long-sleeved tops, long pants, socks and sturdy shoes when tromping through forested areas. Use repellents with DEET on exposed skin and clothing.
  • Seek treatment early. If you think you may have been bitten, be on the lookout for a red rash that slowly gets larger — sometimes resulting in a bull’s eye shape — as well as flu-like symptoms and joint pain. If you start to have any of these symptoms, don’t wait to see a doctor. The sooner treatment gets started, the better your chances of recovery.


Be a Smarter Health Consumer! Get Smart about Antibiotic Use 

In this season of colder temperatures and winter colds, there is the common default to ask for antibiotics from our healthcare providers to get us back on track to our healthier selves. However, this practice of overusing antibiotics as a society may be doing more harm than good.

Antibiotic resistance is one of the world’s most pressing public health threats, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is estimated that more than half of antibiotics are unnecessarily prescribed to children by pediatricians for cough and cold illness, most of which are caused by viruses.   An estimated 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths occur each year in the United States due to antibiotic-resistant infections. Overuse and misuse of antibiotics are main drivers of antibiotic resistance.

Often called superbugs, some bacteria are already resistant to most or all known antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance is not just a problem for the person with the infection. Some resistant bacteria have the potential to spread to others- promoting antibiotic-resistant infections. 

The bottom line is that if we are not smarter about our consumption of antibiotics, the future of our children and other immunocompromised members of society may be at risk of aggressive bacterial infections that can no longer be treated with the limited spectrum of antibiotics that we have.  

According to the CDC’s Get Smart campaign, here are six simple and smart facts about antibiotic use:

  1. Antibiotics are life-saving drugs.  Using antibiotics wisely is the best way to preserve their strength for future bacterial illnesses.
  2. Antibiotics only treat bacterial infections, not viruses. If your child has a viral infection, it is recommended to use treatments like over the counter medicine, drink lots of water and get rest to alleviate symptoms.
  3. Some ear infections DO NOT require an antibiotic.  Even some bacterial infections like mild sinus and ear infections can get better without antibiotics. The term, “watchful waiting” may be recommended by doctors; meaning waiting a few days to see if you get better before prescribing antibiotics.
  4. Also, most sore throats DO NOT require an antibiotic. Only 1 in 5 children seen by a doctor has strep throat, which should be treated with an antibiotic. 
  5. Green colored mucus is NOT a sign that an antibiotic is needed. As the body’s immune system fights off an infection, mucus can change color.  This is normal and does not mean an antibiotic is needed.
  6. There are potential risks when taking any prescription drug.  Like any medication, antibiotics can cause complications ranging from upset stomach to serious allergic reactions.

Furthermore, the Maplewood Health Department would also encourage residents to do the following:

1. Keep up with vaccinations that can prevent diseases like pertussis or whooping cough and strep throat infections

 2. Wash your hands to prevent the spread of germs to yourself and to others

 3. Practice good use: Take antibiotics as prescribed and throw leftover antibiotics away.

For more information, go to the CDC’s Get Smart campaign:

Melanoma (Skin Cancer) Awareness- Summer 

Important key points about Melanoma in the U.S.:

Did you know that Skin Cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States? 

In 2011, there were more than 65,000 cases of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.  Melanoma can be caused by too much exposure from ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or sources such as indoor tanning.   Tans and sunburns are the body’s response to damage from UV exposure.    It is important for the public to understand: A TAN IS A SIGN OF DAMAGED SKIN.

  •  More than 1 in 3 Americans report getting sunburned every year.
  • People of any color can get skin cancer, and people with lighter skin are at higher risk.
  • The rate of new cases of melanoma doubled between 1982 and 2011.
  • Unfortunately, more than 9,000 Americans die of Melanoma each year.

Here is what you can do to prevent unnecessary exposure to ultraviolet rays when outdoors:

  • Wear a wide- brimmed hat, sunglasses, and other protective clothing outdoors.
  • Find shade, especially during midday hours.
  • Use broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher regularly and reapply as directed.  Sunscreen is most effective when used with other sun protection (hats, sunglasses, protective clothing, shade).
  • Avoid sunbathing and indoor tanning.


Hepatitis C: The Silent Epidemic for the Baby Boomer Generation

See attachment for CDC's new campaign to encourage those born between 1945-1965 to get tested for Hepatitis C.  The Maplewood Health Department wants to encourage those born between 1945-1965, other wise known as the 'baby boomer generation' to get tested for hepatitis C. Studies indicate that those born during that time are 5 times more likely to have hepatitis C than other adults. Hepatitis C is a serious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis C virus. Hepatitis C has been called a silent epidemic because most people with Hepatitis C do not know they are infected.

If you do test positive, and have chronic hepatitis C there are treatment options available that could prevent the progression of liver damage, liver failure, cirrhosis or liver cancer and may be able to eliminate the virus from the body. Contact your health care provider to get tested for hepatitis C. If you need a referral to a healthcare provider, contact the Maplewood Health Department at (973) 762-8120 x 4300 or X4400. For more information, go to:

National Poison Prevention Week (March)

How Can You Prevent Unintentional Poisoning in Your Home?

According to the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System (NJ PIES), each day, 55 children are exposed to potentially poisonous substances and a loved one calls the NJ Poison Center for help. Last year almost 20,000 children under the age of five (5) required assistance from the NJ Poison Experts because they were exposed to potentially dangerous items such as household chemicals, medicines and vitamins, cigars/cigarettes, liquid nicotine in e-cigarette devices and hookah pipes, coins, magnets, and batteries. While most of the cases were managed at home without a visit to the hospital, many did require admission to an intensive care unit and some required surgery. Some people think only medicines and chemicals cause life threatening poisoning situations, however, foreign bodies such as coins, magnets, and batteries should never be overlooked because they can cause serious injury and even death.

Don’t forget about the unwanted, unused medications that may have accumulated in medicine cabinets, closets, and pantries. Take these items to your town’s medication drop-off locations where they will be discarded safely. Remind any seniors you may know to do the same. If you would like help in finding a drop-off location near you, contact the poison center at 800-222-1222.

Despite the use of lead-free paints, residents of older homes, especially those with young children, may be at risk of lead exposure from lead dust due to improper paint removal during a renovation or old paint chips, or lead in the soil.  The Maplewood Health Department recommends the use of painters with a US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) lead renovation certification.

Here are some things you can do to prevent unintentional injury from poisons in the home:

  • Enter the phone number to NJPIEs, 1-800-222-1222 on your cell phones.
  • Make sure your babysitters, nannies, and other family caregivers have this number on hand as well.

In most cases, poisoning occurs in the home, is acute (i.e., develops suddenly) and unintentional (accidental), and involves children under the age of 6. Personal care products (e.g., cosmetics, creams, lotions, mouthwash), household cleaning products and chemicals (e.g., pesticides), and over-the-counter or prescription medications (e.g., pain relievers, cough and cold medicines, vitamins) are common causes for acute childhood poisoning.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, approximately 1.5 million cases of poisoning occur in children and adolescents under the age of 20 each year in the United States. More than 50% of all poisonings occur in children under the age of 6 years. Peak incidence of childhood poisoning occurs between 1 and 3 years of age.  Contact the Maplewood Health Department for a Babysitter/ Household Poison Prevention Kit at (973) 762-8120.

Although children younger than 6 accounted for about half of all the poison exposure calls to a poison center in 2010, adults accounted for 92 percent of all poison-related deaths reported to poison control centers.

How to Dispose of Unwanted Medications Safely at Home

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has created two resources on how to safely dispose of prescription drugs at home and prevent unwanted exposure to children and other family members:

Local Safe Medication Disposal Sites

The Maplewood Police Department at 1618 Springfield Avenue now has a permanent prescription drug drop box to dispose of expired or unused prescriptions safely throughout the year. The drop box is completely anonymous and available to the public 24 hours a day/7 days a week. The drop box accepts solid medications (pill and capsule form), as well as patches and inhalers. No liquid medication, syringes, or medical waste accepted.  

Poison Control Hotline Numbers

The Poison Control Center hotline is: 1-800-222-1222. Share this number with your babysitters and other family members and have it on speed dial or close to a telephone.

The NJ Poison Information and Education System (NJ PIES) in Newark can be reached at: (973) 972-9280.

Sources: and

Public Health and Immunization Awareness for All Ages 

One of the main responsibilities of the local health department is to conduct immunization audits of the public schools, non-traditional and special needs schools, and the child care and pre-school facilities, annually. It is evident that Maplewood residents understand the importance of vaccinations, as our compliance rate for the public schools is at 100% and we are currently working toward 100% compliance from all of our child care and pre-school facilities.  

As we have seen with the recent multi-state measles outbreak, staying up to date on immunizations that protect us from infectious diseases, is paramount.  It takes a societal commitment and an understanding that the advantages and benefits of getting vaccinated outweigh the risks of infection and its consequences, especially among our more vulnerable populations: young children, chronically ill individuals and the elderly. However, we are still lagging behind in two areas of vaccination: HPV vaccination and adult vaccination.

HPV Vaccination

Did you know that there is a vaccine that can prevent cancer?  Studies have identified a direct correlation between persistent human papilloma virus (HPV) infection and cancers such as cervical cancer and oropharyngeal cancers.

According to the CDC:
  • Approximately 79 million persons in the United States are infected with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
  • Approximately 14 million people in the United States will become newly infected with HPV each year.
  • While most of these infections will resolve on their own and no further treatment is needed, there is a significant number of people who will get persistent infections of HPV. Furthermore, without regular screening by a healthcare provider, it can develop into cervical cancer.
  • Each year, an estimated 26,000 cancers are attributable to HPV; about 17,000 in women and 9,000 in men.
  • Cervical cancer is the most common HPV-associated cancer among women, and oropharyngeal cancers are the most common among men.
  • The HPV vaccine can be given to both young girls and young boys, by their pediatrician.

The Maplewood Health Department has educational materials and resources available; contact the Nursing Department at (973) 762-8120 x4300. To learn more about the HPV vaccines, go to

Adult Vaccination

Aren’t vaccinations just for children? Most adults do not realize that there are adult vaccinations that can protect them as well, from waning immunity to diseases such as pertussis, pneumonia and shingles.  Some of us are at risk, not just because we are getting older but because of our occupational work (exposure to blood or bodily fluids; working with people who are sick or immunocompromised; healthcare providers). Perhaps we are caregivers to a newborn or a sick family member.  Others may travel a lot for work or leisure.  For others who live in close or confined conditions (college students, military), some vaccinations are highly recommended, such as the meningococcal vaccine.

Here are a list of vaccinations that adults can get.  The Maplewood Health Department recommends you talk to your doctor to find out if you are eligible and if your lifestyle would benefit from getting vaccinated:

  • Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap)
  • Varicella
  • HPV
  • Zoster (prevention of shingles)
  • Measles mumps and rubella (MMR)
  • Pneumococcal (PCV 13) and (PPSV23)
  • Meningococcal vaccination
  • Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib)
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Influenza

How effective was the flu vaccine this year?

While we are on the topic, let’s talk about this year’s flu vaccine. Every year, the World Health Organization (WHO) makes an educated guess as to the influenza (‘flu’) strains that will be prevalent in the upcoming fall/ winter. Between vaccine development at the beginning of the year and distribution, some viral strains may mutate and ‘drift’, causing illness since the predominant strain, is not part of the strains covered in this year’s flu vaccine. A report published in January by the CDC estimates that getting a flu vaccine this season reduced a person’s risk of having to go to the doctor because of flu by 23 percent among people of all ages (MMWR, January 16, 2015).  However, among the elderly and the very young, the flu vaccine has caused increased hospitalizations, nationwide. While the flu vaccine may still be effective in preventing more severe illness, CDC director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. stated: “We can save lives with a three-pronged effort to fight the flu: vaccination, prompt treatment for people at high risk of complications, and preventive health measures, such as staying home when you’re sick, to reduce flu spread.”

National Immunization Awareness Month (August) 

We all need shots (also called vaccinations or immunizations) to help protect us from serious diseases.  To help keep our community safe, the Maplewood Health Department is proudly participating in National Immunization Awareness Month.
Shots can prevent serious diseases like the flu, measles, and tuberculosis (TB).  It is important to know which shots you need and when to get them. The Maplewood Health Department will hold its annual Flu Clinic at Town Hall this fall. The flu vaccine will be available for Maplewood residents over the age of 18 years.
Everyone age 6 months and older needs to get a flu shot every year.  Other shots work best when they are given at certain ages.

Talk to your doctor or nurse to make sure that everyone in your family gets the shots they need.

February is Heart Healthy Month and the Health Department Encourages You to Take Good Care of Yourselves.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States and is a major cause of disability. Almost 700,000 people die of heart disease in the U.S. each year.   To prevent heart disease and increase awareness of its effects, Maplewood Health Department is proudly participating in American Heart Month.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death. In New Jersey, 18,000 residents die from heart disease each year.  But many times it is preventable.

You can make healthy changes to lower your risk of developing heart disease. Controlling and preventing risk factors is also important for people who already have heart disease. To lower your risk:

  • Watch your weight.
  • Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.
  • Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  • Get active and eat healthy.

 Need help staying on track? The Maplewood Health Department offers free Adult Health Clinics three times a month.  A public health nurse provides blood pressure readings, provides resources in the community to help with lifestyle and health follow up, diet and weight management, and preventive screenings consultation. Call the Maplewood Health Department at (973) 762-8120 x4300 to schedule an appointment.

Another thing you can do is to know the warning signs:

  • Chest discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body such as pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, weakness, nausea/ vomiting, lightheadedness and back or jaw pain.
  • Calling 9-1-1 is the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment.

It is important to know that heart disease affects men AND women. On average, about 31 women die from heart disease and stroke in New Jersey each day.  For more information, go to: American Heart Association's Women and Heart Disease: New Jersey Fact Sheet. For information about how to prevent heart disease in women go to: Go Red For Women website

For more information call the New Jersey Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program (NJHDSP) at 609-984-6137 or the American Heart Association at 1-888-MY-HEART.