Tag: North Dakota Department of Health

Volkswagen Emissions Decree Ripples Down to North Dakota

BISMARCK – On October 25, 2016, a partial Consent Decree was finalized between the U.S. Department of Justice and the Volkswagen Corporation regarding the installation and use of emissions testing defeat devices in thousands of vehicles sold and operated in the United States beginning in 2009. These devices violated the federal Clean Air Act and increased air emissions of the pollutant nitrogen oxide (NOx).

An environmental mitigation trust is being established as part of the partial Consent Decree to provide funds to the states to mitigate the negative air quality impacts. North Dakota’s share of the trust will be up to 7.5 million dollars. The partial Consent Decree establishes a process for states to receive the funds and develop mitigation plans. It also identifies mitigation “actions” or projects eligible for funding.

The partial Consent Decree identifying eligible projects can be viewed at https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/volkswagen-clean-air-act-civil-settlement.

The Governor’s Office has appointed the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) to develop and implement the mitigation plan for North Dakota. The plan will be based on actions that reduce emissions of NOx and provide the greatest air quality benefit for the public. The NDDoH is seeking public input on drafting the mitigation plan. Interested parties may provide comments by following the requirements outlined in the partial Consent Decree. The NDDoH is not soliciting a request for project proposals at this time, but rather it is seeking comments to help guide the development of the mitigation plan.

A 30-day public comment period will begin Mar. 1, 2017, and end Mar. 31, 2017. Comments should be provided in writing to the NDDoH, Division of Air Quality, 918 E. Divide Avenue, Bismarck, ND 58501-1947. Comments also may be emailed to: airquality@nd.gov. Comments must be received by the end of the public comment period to be considered in the development of the final mitigation plan. For more information, visit http://www.ndhealth.gov/aq/Enforce.aspx.

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Health Advisory for Possible Contaminated Foods Issued

BISMARCK – Residents of North Dakota are on alert for a possible contamination of food products distributed throughout the state. In response to the notification received from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the North Dakota Department of Health is issuing a consumer advisory for sauces produced by Dukarani Food Processing, Inc. of Minneapolis. These products have the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium which can cause life-threatening illness or death.

The advisory includes 8 oz. glass jars of Pepper Sauce, Ketele Sauce, and Benniseed Sauce produced and sold by Dukarani Food Processing. The products were produced and sold through Friday, Feb. 9, 2017.

 These products were identified at one privately owned ethnic food store in Fargo. The products have been removed from this store. However, not all product distributed to stores in North Dakota could be accounted for due to lack of records kept by the processor. Since state or federal regulatory officials cannot verify these products were properly processed, they should not be consumed. State officials in Minnesota and North Dakota are not aware of any illnesses associated with these products.

 Botulism, a potentially fatal form of food poisoning, can cause the following symptoms: general weakness, dizziness, double vision, and trouble with speaking or swallowing. Difficulty in breathing, weakness of other muscles, abdominal distension, and constipation are also possible. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.

 Consumers who purchased this product should discard the product and are warned not to eat the product, even if it does not look or smell spoiled.

Produced Water Spill in Mountrail County

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) has been notified of a produced water spill in Mountrail County resulting from a tank leak at a central tank battery owned by Whiting Oil and Gas Corporation.

The spill occurred on Friday, February 3, approximately 7 miles north of New Town and was reported that same day. Produced water is a by-product of oil and gas development.

Initial estimates indicate approximately 450 barrels of produced water were released, impacting a cultivated field. Whiting is in the process of cleaning up the spill.

Personnel from the NDDoH and North Dakota Oil and Gas Division were on site and will continue to monitor the investigation and remediation.

North Dakota Department of Health Reports Increase in Influenza Activity

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) is reporting that influenza activity for the 2016-17 influenza season has increased in recent weeks, according to Jill Baber, influenza surveillance coordinator for the NDDoH.

“One hundred sixteen laboratory-confirmed cases have been reported for the current flu season, with a substantial increase in reported cases in the last two weeks,” said Baber. “Flu data does not include cases of flu in people who do not go to the doctor or are not tested for flu, so we know there are more people with flu in North Dakota.”

It is never too late to protect yourself and those around you from the flu. The NDDoH urges everyone six months of age and older to get vaccinated against the flu. Flu can be particularly severe for children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with a compromised immune system, but the flu can make anyone very sick. Flu vaccine supply is plentiful this year, and so far the vaccine is well matched to circulating strains.

Typical flu symptoms include fever, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches and extreme fatigue. In addition to vaccination, the following precautions should be followed to fight the flu:

* Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or, if soap and water are unavailable, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
* Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing.
* Stay home from work or school when you are ill.
* Take antivirals if they are prescribed to you by a doctor.

For more information on flu and the latest flu numbers, visit http://www.ndflu.com

Oil and Brine Spill in Mountrail County

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) has been notified of an oil and brine spill resulting from a treater leak in Mountrail County at a site operated by Arsenal Energy USA, Inc. The spill occurred on Monday, Oct. 17, approximately 3.5 miles southeast of Stanley.

A treater is a vessel used to separate and condition oil-gas-salt water emulsions so the oil may be accepted for transport.

Initial estimates indicate approximately 40 barrels of oil and 30 barrels of brine were released. Of this, an undetermined amount of oil and brine flowed into a stock pond located 180 feet north of the site.

The cleanup is under way. Personnel from the North Dakota Oil and Gas Division and the NDDoH are at the site.  NDDoH personnel will continue to monitor the investigation and the remediation process.

September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month

BISMARCK – September is Newborn Screening Awareness month in North Dakota, and newborn screening is a simple blood test done shortly after birth by taking a few small drops of blood from a baby’s heel. Newborn Screening Awareness month is an opportunity to educate about the importance of this test, which can make a big impact on the lives of all babies.

“Newborn screening is a public health system success story,” said State Health Officer Terry Dwelle, M.D. “These screening innovations are considered among the greatest public health achievements of the early 21st century.”

Newborn screening began over 50 years ago in North Dakota by testing for phenylketonuria (PKU). Currently, North Dakota screens for nearly 50 disorders, such as cystic fibrosis (CF) and Sickle Cell Disease. These screenings look for signs of rare but serious conditions that may not always be apparent at birth.

“Newborn screening promotes early identification and treatment before an infant gets sick, which may make the difference between health and disability, or even life and death,” said Katie Bentz, Nurse Consultant for the Newborn Screening Program.

“Newborn screening is one of the most important things families can do for the health of their baby. We encourage families to discuss newborn screening with their health care providers.”

For more information, contact Katie Bentz at 701.328.4538

North Dakota Reports First West Nile Virus-Related Death in 2016

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Department of Health announced the state’s first West Nile virus-related death in 2016. The individual was a man who resided in the eastern region of North Dakota and was older than 60 years of age.

Most people infected with West Nile virus experience no symptoms or have only mild symptoms, such as fever and headaches. In more severe forms of infection, the virus can cause high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, altered mental state, and death.

“People older than 60, or those who have underlying health issues are at the greatest risk of developing severe illness due to West Nile virus infection. The death of this gentleman is an unfortunate reminder of how serious West Nile virus can be,” said Laura Cronquist, epidemiologist with the North Dakota Department of Health. “North Dakotans should continue to take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites, especially while spending time outdoors over the upcoming holiday weekend.”

To reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes that may carry West Nile virus, the state health department recommends the following protective measures:

  • Use insect repellents containing ingredients registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (or PMD), or permethrin. Always follow the directions on the manufacturer’s label for safe and effective use.
  • Limit outdoor activities between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most likely to bite.
  • When possible, wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and socks while outside.
  • Eliminate stagnant water and leaf debris in containers around homes where mosquitoes can lay their eggs (e.g., gutters, buckets, flowerpots, old tires, wading pools and birdbaths).
  • Keep mosquitoes from entering your home by installing and maintaining screens in windows and doors.
  • Keep the grass around your home trimmed.