New tool available to track harmful algal bloom

New tool available to track harmful algal bloom

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Press Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 8, 2022

MDHHS CONTACT: Chelsea Wuth, 517-241-2112, WuthC@michigan.gov
MDARD CONTACT: Chelsea Lewis-Parisio, 517-331-1151, LewisC31@michigan.gov
EGLE CONTACT: Jeff Johnston, 517-231-9304, JohnstonJ14@michigan.gov  

New tool available to track harmful algal bloom reports

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) are reminding Michiganders to be aware of the potential for harmful algal blooms (HABs) in bodies of water. To help the public know where HABs have been reported, a new Michigan Harmful Algal Bloom Reports map is now available online at Michigan.gov/HABsMap.

HABs form due to a rapid growth of cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, which are naturally found in lakes, rivers and ponds. Toxins found in cyanobacteria (cyanotoxins) that can be found in blooms can be harmful to people and animals.

“The new Michigan Harmful Algal Bloom Reports map is an exciting tool to increase awareness of HABs and to help prevent related illness,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “If you may have had contact with or swallowed water with a HAB and feel sick, call your doctor or Poison Control at 800-222-1222. If symptoms are severe, get emergency medical attention as soon as possible.”

To provide more information on HABs statewide, MDHHS and EGLE developed the Michigan Harmful Algal Bloom Reports map. The map, which will be updated weekly from June to November, shows bloom reports that have been verified by EGLE and the results of any cyanotoxin tests.

Not all HABs in Michigan are reported to EGLE and some may not be included on the map. HABs can move around, disappear and reappear – meaning that HABs may be present in waterbodies, but not present on the map. Before going in any water, MDHHS recommends that you always look for and keep away from visible HABs or scums and that people and pets stay out of water in affected areas.

The occurrence of cyanobacteria and their toxins typically takes place in the summer and fall and has been confirmed in lakes across Michigan in previous years. In 2021, 79 harmful algal blooms in 43 counties were reported to EGLE.

HABs look like water that has algal scums or mats, which looks like spilled paint or pea soup or has colored streaks on the surface. Visit the HAB Picture Guide for examples of HABs, as well as other algae and plants mistaken for HABs. HABs usually occur from May through October, with most occurring in August and September. HABs can last for days or weeks and change in size, location and toxicity.

Breathing in or swallowing water with HAB toxins may cause illness, such as runny eyes or nose, asthma-like symptoms, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, numbness, headaches or dizziness. Skin contact may cause rashes, blisters or hives.

What should people do if they think they have found a HAB?

If people think they have found a HAB or have any suspicion of a HAB:

  • Do not let people, pets or livestock in the water or near the shore in affected areas.
  • Always rinse off people and pets after contact with any lake water.
  • If there is a posted HAB advisory or closing, follow its instructions.
  • You can still use unaffected areas of a lake unless a bloom covers most of the lake.
  • Report suspected HABs to EGLE by e-mailing AlgaeBloom@Michigan.gov with pictures of the suspected HAB. Reports can also be received via phone at 800-662-9278.

HABs and animal health

Animals, especially dogs, can become ill or die after contact with HABs. Signs of illness can include vomiting, diarrhea, staggering and seizures. To prevent illness in dogs, keep them out of areas with scums or discolored water, rinse them off after contact with any lake water and bring clean, fresh water for them to drink. If a pet or livestock animal become sick after contact with a suspected HAB, call a veterinarian right away.

Animal illness due to HABs is reportable to MDARD. To report cases, submit a Reportable Disease Form (found at Michigan.gov/dvmresources under ‘Reportable Diseases’) or call 800-292-3939.

How to help prevent HABs

To reduce and prevent HABs, Michiganders should learn about pollution from excess nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Excess nutrients may come from fertilizers, detergents, sewers and failed septic systems.

To decrease nutrients going into water:

  • Use phosphate-free detergents.
  • Dispose of pet waste properly.
  • Apply fertilizer only when necessary, at the recommended amount. A buffer should be left when applying fertilizer near a lake or stream.
  • Promote the use of natural shoreline, including growing native vegetation along the water’s edge.
  • Join with a local organization or residents to develop or update a watershed management plan, which identifies pollutants causing water quality problems, sources of those pollutants and recommendations to reduce pollutant inputs.

Contacts for HAB questions

  • The new Michigan Harmful Algal Bloom Reports map can be found at Michigan.gov/HABsMap.
  • Visit Michigan.gov/HABs for more information on HABs.
  • For more information on HABs and your health, call MDHHS at 800-648-6942.
  • For more information on HABs and pets or livestock, call MDARD at 800-292-3939.
  • For more information on HABs and the environment, call EGLE at 800-662-9278.
$1.5 million awarded in grants to prevent child abuse

$1.5 million awarded in grants to prevent child abuse

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Press Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 4, 2022

CONTACT: Chelsea Wuth, 517-241-2112, WuthC@michigan.gov

Over $1.5 million awarded in grants to help prevent child abuse in Michigan

LANSING, Mich. – The Children Trust Michigan’s (CTM) Board of Directors has approved $1,516,148 for direct services innovation grants for five Michigan community-based organizations to support local child abuse prevention initiatives.

All grantees will be funded over a four‐year period. Winning grant proposals were selected through a competitive bid process from among the 11 proposals submitted.Children Trust Michigan

“We congratulate the five successful grantees that emerged from an extremely competitive process with many more excellent proposals than we were able to fund,” said Suzanne Greenberg, CTM executive director. “We will work closely with our
new grantees to build protective factors for children and families that will make safe, healthy and childhoods possible for Michigan’s children.”

The five organizations receiving funding are:

  1. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County – $320,000: Developmental Relationships Frameworks, Key Connected program to include family nights and parent advisors.
  2. Child and Family Charities – $316,148: The Nurturing Father’s program, including developing and sustaining a parent advisory board.
  3. Family Assistance for Renaissance Men – $320,000: 24/7 Dad program with a focus on workforce development and job skills mentoring.
  4. Motherly Intercession – $240,000: InsideOut Dad program
  5. Tuscola Intermediate School District – $320,000: Family Resource Center

The purpose of direct services grants is to fund community‐based child abuse prevention programs and services. The grants support families that experience challenges that could impact positive parenting and optimal child development. Strong emphasis is placed on assuring that funded initiatives are appropriately integrated into broader community plans for serving children and families.

With the newly funded initiatives combined with other multi‐year grant commitments and the statewide network of local councils, CTM distributed more than $2.6 million in 2022 in support of child abuse prevention programming across the 83 counties in Michigan. Visit Michigan.gov/ChildrenTrustMichigan for more information.

August is Child Support Month in Michigan

August is Child Support Month in Michigan

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Press Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 4, 2022

CONTACT: Lynn Sutfin, 517-241-2112, SutfinL1@michigan.gov

August is Child Support Month in Michigan
For every dollar spent on child support program,
$6.19 is collected to support children

LANSING, Mich. – In recognition of tireless efforts of child support workers, employers, state and county departments, hospitals and community partners to support Michigan children and families, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has declared August 2022 as Child Support Month in Michigan.

The Michigan Child Support Program strives to help families support each other both financially and emotionally.

The Michigan Child Support Program is a partnership of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Office of Child Support, Friend of the Court offices, prosecuting attorney offices, the State Court Administrative Office, employers, hospitals and other community agencies.

“The work of our partners in the Michigan Child Support Program has never mattered more than now,” said Erin Frisch, director of the Michigan Office of Child Support. “As many Michigan families continue to feel the impacts of the pandemic through economic instability and inflation, child support can make the difference in paying for groceries, clothing and health care.”

The program provides professional, non-judgmental services to help mothers, fathers, grandparents or guardians get the financial resources they need for their children. It also provides parents of all income levels with assistance in obtaining financial support and medical insurance coverage for their children, helps locate parents, establishes paternity, and opens and manages child support cases and collects and disburses support payments.

Every dollar spent on the program collects $6.19 to provide support to Michigan children. 

Highlights for 2021 include:

  • The Learn, Earn and Provide program (LEAP) was expanded to five counties and served 117 child support payers with career training and mentoring.
  • The Community Advisory Council marked its first full year of meetings.
  • County and state child support offices in Michigan provided services for more than 828,000 children and their families.
  • More than $1.23 billion was collected and distributed to Michigan families.
  • Families who receive cash assistance and child support received $2.65 million directly instead of these funds reimbursing state and federal program costs. Governor Whitmer created this “pass through” allowing families to receive the additional funds beginning with the signing of the fiscal year 2020 state budget.

Additional information about Michigan’s Child Support Program is available in the this child support fact sheet. Child support information for parents, employers and hospitals can also be found at Michigan.gov/ChildSupport. 

MIHealthyLife will strengthen health care coverage

MIHealthyLife will strengthen health care coverage

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Press Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 29, 2022 

CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112, WheatonB@michigan.gov

MIHealthyLife will strengthen health care coverage for Michiganders 

MDHHS wants to hear from the public on improving Medicaid prior to
selecting health plans

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is announcing MIHealthyLife, an initiative to strengthen Medicaid coverage by seeking public input as the department rebids its Medicaid health plan contracts.

“Under the banner of MIHealthyLife, MDHHS seeks to bring together the investment, creativity and commitment of the department and its partners – including health plans, providers and communities – to create a more equitable, coordinated and person-centered system of care dedicated to ensuring Michiganders a healthier future,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel.

Medicaid and the Healthy Michigan Plan provide health care coverage to approximately 2.2 million Michiganders, including low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities. These plans are key to achieving the MDHHS mission to improve the health, safety and prosperity of residents. Through this online survey, MDHHS hopes to receive input from people currently enrolled in Medicaid and their families; advocacy groups; community-based organizations; federally recognized Michigan Indian tribes; providers of health care, behavioral health, dental care and other providers; health systems; health plans and other interested parties to identify opportunities for innovation and improvement in the services and supports provided by the Medicaid health plans.

Survey questions seek feedback on broad priorities or strategic pillars – which are principles that will guide the state’s policy and program areas to assist in determining where the state should focus its efforts. Examples of pillars include giving all children a healthy start, reducing racial and ethnic health disparities and using data to drive outcomes.

Feedback will help guide planning and decision-making in preparation for the implementation of new Medicaid health plan contracts, as well as other MDHHS efforts to improve the health of residents served by the programs.

Survey responses must be submitted through the online survey, no later than 5 p.m., Aug. 26.

For more information, visit MIHealthyLife. All procurement-related questions can be sent to mdhhs-mihealthylife@michigan.gov.

July 28 is World Hepatitis Day

July 28 is World Hepatitis Day

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Press Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 27, 2022

CONTACT: Chelsea Wuth, 517-241-2112, WuthC@michigan.gov

July 28 is World Hepatitis Day
MDHHS encourages hepatitis B and C testing during pregnancy and among infants born to people with hepatitis infection

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is recognizing World Hepatitis Day on Thursday, July 28 to highlight the importance of hepatitis B and C testing during pregnancy, and among infants born to people infected with hepatitis B (HCB) or hepatitis C (HCV).

“World Hepatitis Day is an opportunity to encourage all eligible Michiganders to get tested for hepatitis B and C, as testing is critical and important for early detection and treatment,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “Many infected individuals can live decades without experiencing any signs or symptoms. Left untreated, hepatitis B and C infections can cause severe liver damage.”

HBV is transmitted from person to person through the contaminated blood or body fluids of a person who has the virus, such as through unprotected sex and from an HBV-infected person to their infant at birth (perinatal HBV). The most effective way to prevent HBV infection is to get vaccinated. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends hepatitis B vaccination among all infants, unvaccinated children under 19 years of age, adults ages 19 through 59 years, and adults ages 60 years and older with risk factors for HBV.

HCV is a blood-borne pathogen that spreads through contact with blood from an individual who is infected. This includes through sharing needles or equipment used to inject or prepare drugs, occupational exposures, unregulated tattooing, sharing personal care items contaminated with infectious blood (e.g., razors or toothbrushes) and from an HCV-infected person to their infant at birth (perinatal HCV). There is no vaccine to prevent HCV, however, there are effective medications to cure an individual of their HCV infection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends hepatitis B testing during each pregnancy. HBV vaccine is also recommended among pregnant persons who are identified as being at-risk for HBV infection during pregnancy. The HBV vaccine contains no live virus and there is no apparent risk of adverse events to developing fetuses when the vaccine is administered during pregnancy. The CDC also recommends HCV testing among all adults ages 18 and older, and among pregnant people during every pregnancy, regardless of age.

People who are HBV or HCV positive during pregnancy should seek follow-up care in the postpartum period for evaluation and treatment management in addition to testing of their newborn

For more information, visit the HepatitisSyringe Service Program or We Treat Hep C webpages.

Task Force to Tackle Monkeypox Outbreak

Task Force to Tackle Monkeypox Outbreak

Coulter Creates Task Force to Tackle Monkeypox Outbreak

  • Oakland County has the highest number of monkeypox cases in Michigan.
  • County Executive Coulter is calling on the federal government to boost monkeypox vaccine supply.
  • Paul Benson, who treats the LGBTQ+ community, says if adequate supply becomes available, the monkeypox vaccine can eliminate the virus.

Pontiac, Mich., July 21, 2022 – Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter launched the Oakland County Monkeypox Task Force today to respond to the outbreak and educate the public about the illness. To date, the county has at least five confirmed or probable monkeypox cases, the highest of any county in Michigan.

Oakland County Health Officer Calandra Green will lead the task force which will help develop a communication and education plan about monkeypox and a strategy for outreach to the communities. They also will create a plan for the distribution of vaccines once they become more readily available.

“Oakland County has the largest number of cases of monkeypox in the state of Michigan and the population of individuals most at-risk of getting it exceeds our capacity to vaccinate them at the moment,” Coulter said. “That’s why I’m forming a task force to prepare for what may be to come.”

Task force members include Dr. Paul Benson, medical director at Be Well Medical Center in Berkley where he serves a large segment of the LGBTQ+ community, Oakland County Medical Director Dr. Russell Faust, Affirmations Executive Director Dave Garcia, a representative from Corktown Health in Hazel Park, and a representative from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Additional task force members may be named soon.

Coulter also urged the federal government to increase the availability of doses of monkeypox vaccine.

“We know that the number of cases will increase. I’m urgently calling on the federal government and the Centers for Disease Control to expedite the development and production of the drugs that will help prevent and treat this emerging virus,” he said.

The federal government allocated only 2,000 doses of monkeypox vaccine to the state of Michigan of which Oakland County Health Division has enough doses to vaccinate 340 people. Because of that small number, preventative vaccination is not yet an option. Rather, the vaccines will go to individuals who have already been exposed to the virus. Specific quantities and timelines for delivery of more vaccine are not yet known.

In the meantime, Oakland County Health Division has been responding to the outbreak through contact tracing and monitoring. So far, all monkeypox cases in the county have been among adult males.

“We are committed to diligently working to contain the spread of monkeypox in Oakland County,” Green said. “The community can help by knowing their risks and seeking testing if they experience any symptoms of monkeypox.”

In addition to the steps the Health Division is already taking to reduce the spread of the illness, vigilance and preventative vaccination, once adequate supply becomes available, will be the key to eliminating monkeypox from our region, said Dr. Benson.

“Unlike the COVID vaccine, we can actually eradicate monkeypox from our area with preventative vaccination that focuses on males who have high risk factors in their lifestyles,” Dr. Benson said. “Until an adequate supply of vaccine arrives, people need to be aware of how the disease can spread from one person to another and watch for signs and symptoms of the virus.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus can spread from person to person through:

  • direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids
  • respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex
  • touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids
  • pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta
  • It’s also possible for people to get monkeypox from infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by the animal or by preparing or eating meat or using products from an infected animal.

Monkeypox can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks. People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others. At this time, it is not known if monkeypox can spread through semen or vaginal fluids.

Individuals with questions about monkeypox may contact the Oakland County Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533 or email noc@oakgov.com.