Some not so sunny facts about lead poisoning, child obesity

Some not so sunny facts about lead poisoning, child obesity

Tips to curb weight gain, lead exposure
July 16, 2014
Leader Herald

GLOVERSVILLE – Nathan Littauer Hospital and Fulton County Public Health are sharing some facts about children and summer vacations.
Children’s health can be more compromised during the summer months than when school is in session, a news release said.
“There are two local problems that can negatively impact our children’s overall health” said Cheryl McGrattan, Nathan Littauer’s hospital spokesperson, in the release. “Specifically, children have a tendency to gain weight in the summer, and we typically see higher lead levels during the summer months. These two public health issues strike at the core of our preventative health efforts for the last few years. The two organizations have chosen lead poisoning and obesity prevention as part of their community implementation focus for our region.”
“We want the community, particularly parents, to know the facts about summer safety,” said Dr. Irina Gelman, director of the Fulton County Public Health Department, in the release.
Regarding weight gain, the CDC released a longitudinal study June 12 suggesting the rates of weight gain accelerate during the summer compared with the school year, particularly among racial/ethnic minority and overweight children, according to the release.
Although the study finds that more information is needed, many in the medical community agree that the gains can be attributed to a lack of structure, disrupted sleep patterns and more time spent in front of electronic devices, the release said.
“Summer camps and getting kids outside are a great way to keep your children active, and as a result, help them to maintain healthy weights during the summer,” said Littauer pediatrician Dr. Shannon Colt in the release.
Gelman noted in the release that “unfortunately, higher rates of elevated blood lead levels are also evident in the summer months for the opposite reasons.”
She explained, “When children are away from computers and smart phones, they may be playing in lead-contaminated soil.”
According to the release, it is recommended that children living near older houses be provided with sandboxes with sand purchased from a hardware store, and outdoor toys are washed regularly. Open windows can also play a role in higher lead levels, as children reach into window sills where paint chips often accumulate.
The Fulton County Public Health Department advises parents to pay close attention to their backyard garden and make sure it is situated far from runoff from older homes.’
“If you have a garden, please look to see where the water goes the next time it rains,” Gelman said in the release.
Often the inside of a home can be lead-free, but the garden may be in the path of runoff from houses that aren’t, according to the release.
Gelman highlighted the importance of having the soil adjacent and/or in close proximity to the older home tested. Home lead tests are easy to use and available in most hardware stores, while soil lead testing kits may be ordered online. The lead testing supplies cost ranges from $10 to $20 per kit, the release said.
The family dog can be another potential source of lead. One family had a dog that was chained outside for a portion of the day in lead-contaminated soil. When the dog came in to the home it carried lead on its fur, and the children had elevated blood lead levels simply because of petting their dog, the release said.
In the release, the two organizations recommended removing shoes before entering the house and using play clothes. Removing the play clothes when first entering the house and promptly washing them afterward can reduce exposure to lead. Removing work clothes for parents upon returning home is equally important, as some work uniforms, depending on the profession, such as automotive repair or mechanical engineering, carry inherent risks. This also works to help keep ticks at bay. Washing hands often always remains on the priority list, the release said.

Officials praise health care sign-ups

Officials praise health care sign-ups

More than 4,000 enrolled in counties

July 13, 2014


More than 4,000 individuals in Hamilton, Fulton and Montgomery counties enrolled in the health care sign-ups.

Nearly 1 million New Yorkers enrolled in the marketplace in total during the first-year open enrollment period.

According to a news release from New York State of Health, a study of the first-year open enrollment period shows more than 80 percent of enrollees reported being uninsured at the time of application. Enrollment occurred in every county in the state and across all eligible health plans, and across a mix of age groups.

Across the three counties, 4,157 people have enrolled, according to the report.

In an email, Mike Ostrander, Nathan Littauer Hospital’s chief financial officer, said the hospital was pleased with the amount of enrollments. New York State of Health website navigators employed by Littauer enrolled roughly 1,200 individuals in the program.

“Nathan Littauer Hospital is pleased with the response we have had to the marketplace. We feel that 1,200 applications processed is a good starting-off point,” Ostrander said in the email. “We have offered multiple channels for people to enroll in quality, affordable coverage through this new marketplace. People now have options.

This marketplace is part of the Affordable Care Act, informally known as Obamacare.

Cheryl McGrattan, vice-president of marketing at Nathan Littauer, said this was uncharted territory.

“This is the first time our country has done something like this in 230 years,” McGrattan said.

From Oct. 1, 2013, through April 15, 960,762 New Yorkers enrolled in a health care plan through NY State of Health.

“Year one of the marketplace has been a tremendous success with more than 960,000 New Yorkers enrolling in quality, low-cost health insurance,” said Donna Frescatore, executive director of NY State of Health, in a news release. “The year-one results show strong activity throughout the state and across many important measures, such as age, prior insurance status, affordability and health plan options. We’re looking forward to building upon this success during the next open enrollment period, which begins for individuals and families on November 15, 2014, for coverage starting on January 1, 2015.”

The report, filed between Oct. 1 and April 15, shows 370,000 enrollments in qualified health plans. According to, a qualified health plan is an insurance plan that is certified by the Health Insurance Marketplace set up by the Affordable Care Act, provides essential health benefits and follows established limits on cost-sharing, like deductibles, copayments and out-of-pocket maximum amounts. Roughly 65,000 individuals enrolled in a Child Health Plus plan, and 525,000 enrolled in Medicaid.

In Fulton County, 2,101 people enrolled in the marketplace. Of that number, 1,067 enrolled in Medicaid, 208 in Child Health Plus plans and 826 into all qualified health plans.

McGrattan said during the enrollment period there was no way the hospital could have predicted the amount of people that would enroll.

Fulton County Supervising Public Health Nurse Dale Woods said while her department does not keep track of health insurance enrollments, her department does refer clients to navigators who can help enroll them in insurance programs.

Woods did say she felt the numbers sounded reasonable for their population.

Montgomery County saw 1,836 enrollments, with 1,016 enrolling in medicaid, 161 in Child Health Plus plans and 659 in qualified health plans.

Kim Conboy, Montgomery County Public Health director, said that prior to the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, approximately more than 5,000 individuals in Montgomery County were uninsured.

Fact Box

Local enrollment

The following is the number of enrollees in the New York State of Health health care marketplace:

Fulton County: All programs – 2,101; Medicaid – 1,067; Child Health Plus – 208; all other qualified health plans – 826; total – 2,101

Montgomery County: All programs – 1,836; Medicaid – 1,016; Child Health Plus – 161; all other qualified health plans – 659

Hamilton County: All programs – 220; Medicaid – 87; Child Health Plus – 21; all other qualified health plans – 112


Tick Season conjures concern

Growing Concern

Deer-tick population increases in local counties

July 7, 2014




The deer-tick population has gone up in the region, increasing the prevalence of Lyme disease, local health officials say.

Kim Conboy, Montgomery County Public Health director, said Lyme disease has been spreading across the state.

“Montgomery County is along the leading edge of where there is a noted increase in deer-tick infection,” Conboy said in an email. “Lyme disease has been spreading north and west from the Hudson Valley.”

In some cases, a deer-tick bite can lead to Lyme disease.

According to the state Department of Health, in 2010, Montgomery County had 23 cases of Lyme disease, while Fulton County had three. In 2012, Montgomery County had 20 reported cases, while Fulton County had nine.

Cheryl McGrattan, a spokeswoman for Nathan Littauer Hospital in Gloversville, said she has seen an increase in cases of people coming to the hospital with tick bites.

“Primarily, what our primary care centers are seeing are people who want help with tick removal, or they have taken the tick out but haven’t gotten all parts of it, or want to be checked for Lyme [disease],” McGrattan said.

She said doctors are reporting more tick activity this year over last year.

Nathan Littauer Hospital is a TickEncounter Prevention Partner, working with the University of Rhode Island to help prevent the spread of tick-transmitted disease.

Dr. Tom Mather, a public health entomologist with the University of Rhode Island, studies ticks.

“In general, there are, throughout the Northeast, more ticks in more places, in particular more deer ticks,” Mather said.

Mather blames the spread on an increase in the whitetail deer populations.

Deer and mice carry the ticks.

“They serve not to spread disease, but as the blood meal of the adult stage of the ticks,” Mather said.

Deer ticks can be found in shady, moist ground litter, and above the ground clinging to tall grass, brush, and shrubs.

Dr. Mark Will, a veterinarian with Glove Cities Veterinary Hospital, said he has seen the number of dogs with ticks increase over the last decade.

“Every year has been worse than the year before, and this has not changed,” Will said.

Will said pet owners should check their pets for ticks regularly.

The state Department of Health says if you find a tick attached to your skin, remove the tick with tweezers and watch for the symptoms of Lyme disease.

In 60 percent to 80 percent of cases, the first symptom of Lyme disease is a rash at or near the site of the bite in a “bulls-eye” circular patch or solid red patch that grows larger.

Around the time the rash appears, other symptoms, such as joint pain, chills, fever and fatigue, can occur. As Lyme disease progresses, severe fatigue, a stiff neck, tingling or numbness in the arms and legs, or facial paralysis can occur, according to the Health Department.

West Nile virus

West Nile virus also is a concern in New York state.

The virus is a mosquito-borne infection that can cause serious illness.

The presence of West Nile virus was confirmed recently in a mosquito pool in Rockland County. There were traces of West Nile virus in Fulton and Oneida counties in 2013, according to the state Department of Health. In Saratoga and Albany counties, there were cases of people testing positive for the disease.

According to the state Department of Health, no cases of West Nile were reported in Fulton or Montgomery counties between 2010 and 2012.

West Nile is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito.

Many people who contract West Nile virus do not experience any type of illness, according to the state DOH. An estimated 20 percent of people who become infected will develop mild symptoms including fever, headache and body aches, and possibly a skin rash or swollen lymph glands.


Veterinarian Dr. Mark Will applies an anti-tick medication to his dog, Charlie, while veterinary technician Tammy Hagadorn helps
The Leader-Herald/Arthur Cleveland

dog tick