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National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Did You Know? Breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer in American women, regardless of race or ethnicity. Only lung cancer accounts for more cancer deaths in women. In 2011, the American Cancer Society (ACS) reported that 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed among women in the U.S., and approximately 39,520 died from the disease. Also, breast cancer may be rare in men, but it can occur and be very serious. The ACS reports about 2,140 cases and approximately 450 deaths in men from the disease.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM). The purpose of NBCAM is to promote awareness of breast cancer issues, educate people on the causes, prevention and treatment of breast cancer and to empower women to take control of their health.

There are certain risk factors associated with breast cancer including age, family history, weight and certain lifestyle factors. The presence or absence of any of these factors, however, does not mean someone will or will not get breast cancer. The simple truth is that all women are susceptible, but there are things that you can do to lower your risk of developing breast cancer.

Controlling your weight, staying active and knowing your family history are all ways to lower your risk of breast cancer. The most important way, however, it to be screened regularly. Mammograms are the best available method to detect breast cancer. Women under the age of 50 should discuss the necessity of getting a mammogram every other year; women ages 50-74 should get a mammogram every other year. Early screening and detection can dramatically increase the success of treatment should breast cancer ever be diagnosed.

You may be eligible for low-cost or free cancer screenings. CCHD's Cancer Screening Program offers financial assistance for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening tests to those who qualify. For more information, call 791-9272 or visit CCHD's Cancer Control Program page.

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Your Vote Counts!

As Americans, we enjoy the right to vote and choose our representatives. Exercise your right this November by voting! Voting gives you a chance to select who will make the decisions that will affect you and your family.

Registering to vote is easy, and there are several options available:

  • Visit your county election office.
  • Fill and out and sign a voter registration card. Drop it off at the county election office or mail it to the county election administrator. In Cascade County, this address is Box 2305, Great Falls, MT 59403.
  • Fill out and sign a registration card at the Motor Vehicle Department when you apply for or renew your driver's license.
  • If necessary, obtain an absentee ballot.

Along with a registration card, you will also need to provide your Montana driver's license or ID number and residence address. The deadline for regular registration is 30 days before the election; this year the deadline for the November election is October 7. Late registration is also available; visit the county election office for more information.

For more details on voting and voter registration, visit the Montana Secretary of State's Voter Information page or the Cascade County Elections Office page.

Be an educated voter! Find out more about the candidates running for office and their stances on the issues that are important to you. Project Vote Smart is a non-partisan, Montana-based organization that aims to educate voters on the candidates and issues. Visit www.votesmart.org to learn more.

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Protect Yourself and Others from Influenza

Influenza (the flu) is a serious, contagious respiratory illness that, if severe, can cause hospitalization and even death. The good news is that it can be prevented. Protect yourself and those close to you from the flu by taking some simple precautions.

  • Wash Your Hands - A person might get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth and nose. They may even touch another person, spreading it to them, as well. Washing your hands frequently and properly will help cut down on this transmission.
  • Cover Your Cough - According to the CDC, flu viruses are mainly spread by droplets made when people cough or sneeze. The droplets land in the mouths and noses of people nearby or can be inhaled. Cover your cough with your elbow or upper arm to avoid this type of spread.
  • Stay Home if You are Ill - If you do catch the flu, or fell ill at all, stay home. A person with the flu can spread it to others up to six feet away, even just by talking. Avoid passing on your illness; stay home and let your body rest. If you get the flu your healthcare provider may consider prescribing an antiviral, such as Tamiflu, that can help fight the virus.

Flu season typically begins in October and can last until May, usually peaking in January and February. Now is the perfect time to get vaccinated! CCHD offers flu shots during normal immunization hours, no appointment necessary. Flu shots cost $25 for adults and $14 for children; all insurances and payment types are accepted. The cost of the flu shot is covered in full by Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid and HMK (CHIP).

More Resources - Get more information on the flu and learn the answers to frequently asked questions about the flu and the flu vaccine. Visit www.flu.gov and www.cdc.gov/flu/.

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Breastfeeding: It Rocks!

How Can WIC Help You With Breastfeeding?

  • 5 Certified Lactation Counselors (CLCs): CLCs have successfully completed a 40 hour training course and passed a test administered by the Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice.
  • 1 Breastfeeding Peer Counselor: A breastfeeding peer counselor can teach others about the benefits of breastfeeding and help women with basic breastfeeding challenges and questions. A "peer" means a person has breastfed her own baby and is available to help other mothers.
  • One-on-One Personal Support: CLCs are available to help with latch and other breastfeeding challenges during regular office hours. In addition, our Breastfeeding Peer Counselor can be available by email, text messaging, phone or home visit.
  • Mother-to-Mother Support: Other breastfeeding mothers can be a great source of support. Mothers can share tips and offer one another encouragement. Come and enjoy our monthly Breastfeeding Support Group and exchange information and experiences and hear inspiring stories from other breastfeeding mothers. Our WIC Breastfeeding Counselor has a variety of fun activities and learning opportunities waiting for you. Become a voice for breastfeeding and inspire and educate other new mothers about the wonderful benefits of breastfeeding.
  • Breast Pump Program: WIC may help with breast pumps for working mothers or mothers attending school.
  • Breastfeeding Education: CLCs teach pregnant women and new mothers how to have a successful experience with breastfeeding.
  • Nutritious Food Benefits: Exclusively breastfeeding moms receive extra foods from WIC to support their nutritional needs. Exclusively breastfed babies receive additional fruits, vegetables, meat and cereal from 6 through 12 months of age.

                                  

Breastfeeding Food Benefits             vs.              Formula-feeding Food Benefits

Benefits of Breastfeeding

There are many benefits to breastfeeding. Some are more beneficial to the mother, while others are more important to the baby. Click here to learn about the many benefits of breastfeeding.

For more information, contact the WIC program at 454-6953 or wic@cascadecountymt.gov. You may also call Lorrie, the WIC Breastfeeding Counselor, directly at 761-9890.

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Protect Lives and Property from Wildfire: Be Prepared!

Dry conditions have caused numerous wildfires in our state so far this year, and these fires have already destroyed homes and forced hundreds of residents to evacuate. Since this is a very real threat in our area, it's important to know what to do should a fire start near your home.

Some home survive wildfires and some do not. Those that do survive almost always do so because their owners had prepared ahead of time; these are some of the steps you can take:

  • Design and landscape your home with wildfire safety in mind.
  • Use fire-resistant materials on the roof and exterior; combustible materials can be treated with fire-retardant chemicals.
  • Create a 30 to 100 foot safety zone around your home by clearing excess vegetation and rubbish.
  • Plant fire-resistant shrubs and trees; hardwood trees are less flammable than pine, evergreen or fir trees.

Visit www.firewise.org to learn more about preparing and protecting your home from wildfire.

If there is a wildfire in your area, officials may recommend or order the residents evacuate. Leaving your home and belongings behind may be difficult, but it is important to heed instructions for your safety and the safety of your family. Act quickly, and follow the instructions that are given. You may be asked to take a certain route or be directed to a shelter area. Along with clothing, toiletries and other necessary items, don't forget to pack special health items or medications that you may need. Also, don't forget about your pets! Ensure that you take enough food and other necessary supplies for them. Some shelters may not allow pets, so it may be a good idea to have a predetermined place for them to stay. Visit www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/wildfires/ to learn more.

The smoke and dust produced by fires can cloud the air and cause some individuals to experience burning eyes, an irritated throat and even breathing difficulties. Those especially at risk from the presence to particles in the air include people with heart and lung disease, older adults and children.

If you smell or see smoke, take the following steps to protect yourself and your family:

  • Stay indoors and use your air conditioner. If you don't have an air conditioner, leave the area until the smoke is gone.
  • Avoid activities, like exercising and physical chores, that put extra demands on your lungs and heart.
  • Dust masks or other cloths, even if wet, will not protect you from smoke.

For more informaiton from the CDC on air quality and fires, click here.

Cascade Country's Air Quality Program monitors the air for carbon monoxide and particulate matter and also conducts emission inspections at different businesses throughout the County. Fortunately, our relatively rural setting and frequent breezy days help to keep our air clean. On days that seem particularly smoky or hazy, you can check the air quality before you go out by visiting www.todaysair.mt.gov.

For more local information, help and resources visit CCHD Environmental Health's Air Quality site or call 454-6950 and ask to speak with a Sanitarian.

You can find out more information about State fire conditions here.

Download our printable fact sheets for more about air quality and evacuation.

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Help Prevent the Spread of Pertussis

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection. Although it initially resembles an ordinary cold, pertussis may eventually turn more serious and can even be fatal, especially in infants.

Initially, pertussis may not be easily recognized, but the early symptoms include:

  • runny nose
  • low-grade fever (usually minimal throughout the course of the illness)
  • mild, occasional cough
  • apnea-a pause in breathing (in infants)

After a week or two, the cough will most likely become more severe. Fits of numerous rapid coughs followed by a "whoop" sound are the most commonly recognized symptoms of pertussis. Click here to hear what whooping cough sounds like. These coughing fits may be followed by vomiting and exhaustion.

Pertussis is present in Montana, and the number of cases reported in 2012 is markedly higher than last year at this same time. You can view the current pertussis statistics for the state of Montana by clicking here.

Pertussis can be prevented, and vaccination is the best way to do this. Vaccines for pertussis are available for infants, children, teens and adults. DTaP and Tdap vaccines both protect against pertussis. DTaP is for children younger than 7 years of age, and Tdap is given to older children and adults.

Children should get five doses of DTaP, one dose at each of the following ages:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 12-15 months
  • 4-6 years

Vaccine protection for pertussis does fade over time; the majority of Montana's 2012 pertussis cases have been reported in school age children 5-18 years old. Adolescents 11-18 years of age (preferably 11-12 years old) and adults 19-64 years of age should receive a single dose of Tdap. Infants are particularly susceptible to pertussis, so it is especially important for anyone that has close contact with an infant to be fully immunized against pertussis.

Pertussis is a serious disease, but it can be prevented. Call a Public Health Nurse at CCHD at 454-6950 or visit CCHD's Immunizations program to learn more about pertussis and vaccination. You can also visit www.cdc.gov/pertussis/ or download our printable fact sheet.

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