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Health & Wellness

In advance of a one dollar increase in the tax on cigarettes and little cigars on July 1, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is encouraging those who wish to quit smoking to take advantage of programs that may be available to provide help.

The tax increase is projected to prompt more than 18,000 Oklahomans to stop smoking and the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline (1-800-QUIT-NOW, 1-800-784-8669) is expecting an increase in calls from those who want to give up the smoking habit.

OSDH is also encouraging state employers to join in the effort to educate their employees on what assistance may be available for those who want to quit.


Smoking costs Oklahoma businesses an estimated $5,816 per smoker per year, primarily in the form of increase health care costs and productivity losses.

In 2016, 57.5% of smokers said they had made a least one quit attempt during the past year. It often takes multiple attempts before smokers can give up what for many has been a lifelong habit.

“Quitting is tough but help is available. Health insurance companies that offer major medical coverage are required to cover preventive services such as tobacco use counseling and smoking cessation medications”, said Oklahoma Insurance Department Commissioner John D. Doak.“The services are covered with no out-of-pocket costs and no prior authorization. Oklahomans with questions about coverage for these services are encouraged to call my office at 1-800-522-0071 or check with their employer about benefits offered.”

“As Commissioner Doak points out, help is available and it is to the benefit of employers to make their employees aware of that assistance,” said Interim OSDH Commissioner Tom Bates. “Workers who smoke at least one pack of cigarettes a day experience 75 percent more lost productive time than nonsmoking workers, and just three 15-minute smoke breaks a day add up to more than a week of lost time in just one year.”

“We realize that quitting for many is a difficult thing. That is why it is important to provide support for those who wish to quit and employers can provide a great deal of that support,” said Christin Kirchenbauer, OSDH Cessation Systems Coordinator. “Things like providing extra breaks for the employee to call the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline can provide the boost that they need.”

Employers can provide support for their employees that are motivated to quit tobacco in a number of other ways:

• Communicate and promote the company insurance benefits for tobacco cessation - what medication is available, the costs, co-pays, what counseling is available
• Internal resources such as cessation classes, insurance nurse lines, health promotion programs
• Promote and communicate statewide resources like the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline (1-800-QUIT–NOW, 1-800-784-8669),

Overall, the reduction in the number of those using tobacco is expected to save the state more than $765 million dollars in long-term health costs.

By OICA CEO Joe Dorman


The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is pleased to be a key partner in “2018: Oklahoma Year of the Child,” an effort to encourage interest in children’s issues with candidates for office. OICA compiled a list of what we felt were the top twenty positive bills from this past legislative session so voters can see who supported child-friendly potential laws. We have also undertaken the task of reaching out to candidates to ask them three simple questions. The full results, including candidate surveys, will be uploaded by Wednesday, June 20 to under the legislative tab (or directly at


The survey questions are:
1. What ideas/policies will you pursue to better the lives of Oklahoma’s children? For example, what laws or policies will you champion, what programs will you attempt to expand or decrease, and what area of interest regarding children will you establish yourself as a leader amongst your colleagues.

2. What have you done to support children prior to this election? For example, discuss policies which you have had a direct impact in seeing implemented, what volunteer work have you personally done to improve the lives of children, or have you had a job which has worked with kids.

3. What will you do to support families in your new role, if elected? For example, would you support ideas such as restoration of the Earned Income Tax Credit, fiscal policy revisions for child-related programs, criminal justice reform, local immigration reform, and/or list enhancements for quality of life improvements for families.


OICA contacted Executive and Legislative branch candidates for answers. We emailed those who reported email addresses to the state with four different requests and mailed a postcard to all, including those who did not report emails to the Ethics Commission. We also reached out through Facebook to request answers to those without email addresses reported. I tell you this, so you will know OICA did everything within our power over the past few weeks to ensure candidates received contact from us regarding this survey.


All-in-all, OICA sent out surveys to 454 candidates and received 174 back. Frankly, I am disappointed that over 250 candidates for office declined to respond by the deadline, and I think Oklahoma voters should be also. Our state lags behind most others in indicators that measure child health, economic well-being, and family stability. The quality of life for too many children in Oklahoma is objectively poor. It should be incumbent on every individual running for office to take the time out of their day to write 250 words explaining what they will do to improve conditions for children if they are elected. I encourage voters to go to this Wednesday, June 20 to see who did not respond and who provided answers for consideration.


As candidates submit their answers, even though they are now considered a late response, we will still input their answers. For the candidates who win, OICA intends to remind them of their response when it comes to an issue which will impact children. If Oklahoma is going to move out of the dismal rankings for child well-being, it will take elected officials who truly care about these issues and who are willing to do something about it. We hope you, the voters and constituents who can elect them, will also take into consideration the most important reason to support a candidate in 2018: the children of Oklahoma.


About OICA
The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy was established in 1983 by a group of citizens, to create a strong advocacy network that would provide a voice for the needs of children and youth in Oklahoma, particularly those in the state’s care and those growing up amid poverty, violence, abuse and neglect, disparities, or other situations that put their lives and future at risk.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has joined public health officials from multiple states along with the Centers for the Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate an outbreak of Salmonella Mbandaka associated with Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal.


As of June 14, there were 73 cases from 31 states, including two Oklahoma residents.

The OSDH is informing consumers of Kellogg Company’s decision to voluntarily recall 15.3 oz. and 23 oz. packages of Honey Smacks cereal due to the results of the investigation to date.


Consumers should check the boxes of Honey Smacks cereal in their pantries for the recalled UPC codes listed below, and “best if used by” dates prior to June 14, 2019. The OSDH advises the public to avoid consuming any of the recalled cereal by throwing it away.




If cereal is stored in a separate container without the packaging, throw the cereal away and thoroughly wash the container with warm, soapy water to remove harmful germs that could contaminate other foods.

The list of affected cereals may be updated based on further results of the investigation. Additional information regarding the recalled product and the investigation can be found on the CDC website at

Symptoms of salmonellosis will generally appear within 6 to 72 hours after consumption of a contaminated food.


The symptoms may include diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, muscle aches, nausea and sometimes vomiting. Blood is sometimes seen in the stool. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, but may last up to two weeks.


People with compromised immune systems, infants less than 1 year old, and the elderly are more likely to experience severe or prolonged illness. OSDH recommends that Oklahomans having concerns regarding symptoms contact their healthcare provider.

For more information about Salmonella, visit



Press release


OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma’s 675,000 residents on Medicare will get new, more secure cards starting this month. The card will have a new Medicare number that’s unique to each person instead of the person’s Social Security Number.


“The change to a new Medicare Number will help protect citizens from identity theft and fraud,” Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak said. “But with these new security measures comes an opportunity for scammers to take advantage of unsuspecting Medicare recipients. We want everyone to be aware.”


The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has already spotted several scams involving the new cards. Medicare beneficiaries should know the following:

• Do NOT pay for a new Medicare card. They are free. Never give your Social Security Number, bank account number or cash to anyone who says they need it in order to receive the new Medicare card. Medicare recipients do not need to do anything to get a new card. They are automatically mailed out.

• Do NOT give your Medicare Number to people you don’t know. Some scammers call pretending to be from Medicare, but Medicare—or someone representing Medicare—will never ask for personal information to get a new Medicare card. Only share your Medicare Number with doctors or trusted people in the community who work with Medicare.

• Don’t let anyone trick you into believing your Medicare benefits will be canceled unless you give them your Medicare Number. If someone threatens to cancel your health benefits if you don’t share your Medicare Number, hang up and report the caller to 1-800-MEDICARE.

• Destroy your old Medicare card. Once you get your new Medicare card, destroy your old Medicare card and start using your new one right away. Don’t just throw the old card away—shred it or cut it into small pieces.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018 15:25

What to do When ticks bite

By Leilana McKindra, Communications Specialist, Agricultural Communications Services- Oklahoma State University


STILLWATER, Okla – With ticks most active in the summertime, families need to know what to do if someone is bitten by the pest.


The best defense against ticks is a repellant containing at least 25 percent DEET, but no option is 100 percent effective.


In the event one, or a few, slip past the barrier of protection and attach, proper first aid involves a pair of tweezers, said Justin Talley, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension livestock entomologist.


“Whenever possible, use tweezers to remove ticks, and especially smaller ticks such as seed ticks or nymphs,” Talley said. “If tweezers aren’t available, adult ticks can be pulled out by hand slowly and steadily.”


To properly remove an attached tick, grasp it with tweezers and pull it out with slow and steady pressure. Do not twist the tweezers or yank the tick out.


Do not put any kind of substance or liquid such as Vaseline, bleach or alcohol on the tick.


“Putting substances on ticks can cause the tick to salivate more which could potentially increase the risk of the tick transmitting a pathogen,” Talley said.


Once removed, seal the tick in a plastic bag, write the date on the bag and save it in the event symptoms develop.


“We recommend keeping the tick for about a month,” Talley said. “That way, if you begin developing symptoms, you can tell your doctor you were bitten by this particular tick. That gives the doctor a lot of clues and helps direct the treatment.”


Removed ticks also can be washed down the drain or sealed in a plastic bag and put in the garbage.


“It’s important to dispose of ticks properly so you’re not just throwing them back out on your property. Even if you squeeze some of the blood out, those ticks can survive and lay eggs,” Talley said.


There is increased concern around tick-borne illnesses such as ehrlichiosis, tularemia, Bourbon Virus, Heartland Virus and Spotted Fever Group rickettsiosis, which includes Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.


Anyone is at risk for being bitten by a tick, but people who are outside constantly, such as landscapers or cattle and horse owners and others in production agriculture, generally are at higher risk for tick-borne illnesses.


Unattached ticks can be brushed off the body or clothing.


For more information about ticks, contact the nearest county Extension office and download free OSU Fact Sheets on the topic, including EPP-7001, “Common Ticks of Oklahoma and Tick-Borne Diseases,” at



Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; phone 405-744-5371; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies: Director of Equal Opportunity. Any person (student, faculty, or staff) who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.



The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is celebrating Men’s Health Month during June.


Men are encouraged to take steps to be healthy and lower their risks of chronic diseases.


Heart disease and cancer are leading causes of death among men 18 and older in Oklahoma.


Death certificate data show the most notable increase occurred in hypertensive heart disease, jumping from 46.2 deaths/100,000 population in 2014 to 75.9 deaths in 2016.


Deaths from complications of diabetes in men also increased from 46.1 deaths/100,000 population in 2014 to 51.9 deaths in 2016.


Death rates due to diabetes among men 65 and older are twice as high as those less than 65.

The U.S Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening for high blood pressure in adults 18 years or older, screening for abnormal blood glucose as part of cardiovascular risk assessment in adults aged 40 to 70 years who are overweight or obese, and screening for colorectal cancer starting at age 50 years and continuing until age 75 years.


According to data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey conducted in 2016, 59.6 percent of Oklahoma men 45 years and older reported having a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, which are procedures used to examine the colon.

Many conditions, including chronic health issues associated with these diseases, can be prevented or detected early.

Steps toward better health include:

• Setting health goals such as being active and maintaining a healthy weight.
• Being tobacco-free.
• Getting regular checkups and preventive screenings.
• Getting enough sleep.
• Eating fruits and vegetables every day.
• Drinking more water and less sugary drinks.
• Taking prescription medication only as prescribed.
• Taking time for yourself with activities you enjoy.

This month, the OSDH is also celebrating Father’s Day and fatherhood by promoting healthy relationships between fathers and children, which can contribute to their children’s healthy development. The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse states that children learn more, perform better in school, and exhibit healthier behavior when they have responsible fathers involved in their lives.

For more information on men and health, visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at The Shape Your Future Program offers many resources on good health at The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse provides resources to encourage and strengthen fathers and families at

Press release


Summer is heating up, and as temperatures rise, so does the risk of heat-related illness.

Each year, more than 600 people die from heat-related illness in the United States. In Oklahoma, there were 145 deaths associated with exposure to excessive heat from 2010 to 2017. Approximately 70 percent of those deaths occurred in males.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) reminds residents that heat-related illness can range from heat rash, heat cramps and heat exhaustion to hyperthermia (overheating) and heat stroke. Heat stroke occurs when the body is unable to cool itself sufficiently, and it often results in severe organ damage or even death.

It is important to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and act quickly.

Heat Exhaustion
· Heavy sweating
· Weakness
· Cold, pale, clammy skin
· Fast, weak pulse
· Nausea or vomiting
· Fainting
· Muscle cramps
· Headache
· Feeling dizzy

Heat Stroke
· Body temperature of 103 degrees or higher
· Hot, red, dry or moist skin
· Rapid and strong pulse
· Headache
· Nausea
· Feeling confused
· Feeling dizzy
· Unconsciousness

A heat stroke is a medical emergency. If any signs are recognizable, call 911 immediately and move the person to a cooler environment. Reduce the person’s body temperature with cool cloths or even a bath.

The OSDH offers the following safety tips for preventing a heat-related illness:

Stay indoors. Stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home is not air-conditioned, visit the mall or public library, or contact the local health department for the location of a heat-relief shelter in the area.

Stay hydrated. Increase your fluid intake to two to four glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool fluids every hour. If you are on water pills or restricted fluid limit, consult a physician first. Avoid liquids which contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar; they contribute to the loss of more body fluid. Very cold drinks can cause stomach cramps and should be avoided as well.

Dress appropriately. Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing as well as sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and broad spectrum or UVA/UVB protection.

Closely monitor those who are more vulnerable. Infants, children, people older than 65 years of age, those with mental illness, outdoor workers, athletes and those with physical illnesses such as heart disease or high blood pressure should be closely observed.

Never leave anyone in a vehicle. Never leave anyone, especially children and the elderly, in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are cracked.

For more information on summer heat safety, contact the OSDH Injury Prevention Service at (405) 271-3430 or visit

Press release 

Center for Pediatric Psychology enhances OSU’s ability to make a difference


(STILLWATER, Okla., June 8, 2018) – The new Center for Pediatric Psychology at Oklahoma State University is expected to help the university and the state use their national status as leaders in the field of children’s health to do more for kids and their families.


The center’s director, Larry Mullins, the Vaughn Vennerberg II Chair of Psychology, said the center will serve as a hub for coordinated research and training activities and a way to use its state and national collaborations to make a difference for those it ultimately serves.


“There are over 20 million children in the U.S. living with chronic health conditions,” Mullins said. “Through pediatric psychology, we seek to understand the factors that put youths with chronic illnesses and their families at risk for additional health problems. We’re proud to play a part in this cause to help more of these children and families.”

The Center for Pediatric Psychology at OSU’s specific mission is to engage in cutting-edge scientific discovery related to all aspects of children’s health, as well as their families, and to foster integrated research, training and clinical service delivery.


Mullins also anticipates the center will be an important tool for recruiting outstanding faculty and graduate students.


“We have a long history of bringing in some of the best graduate students in the country to train in pediatric psychology,” Mullins said. “Establishing the Center for Pediatric Psychology formalizes what we’ve been doing and allows us to move forward in a much more thoughtful manner. It will help us better fund our graduate students and our research, and really support the growth of a network across the state.”


Two years of funding from the College of Arts and Sciences at OSU has created a speaker series as well as a graduate-student position to help coordinate activities at the new center. The long-term goal is to add more funding and training resources for graduate students and research facilities such as a dedicated suite that will serve as the program’s physical home.


Joining Mullins as charter faculty are John M. Chaney and Ashley (Hum) Clawson. The trio makes OSU one of only three American universities with three full-time pediatric psychologists.


“Most universities only have one faculty member in this area,” Mullins said. “That’s one reason we are easily in the top five pediatric psychology training programs in the country. Plus, Oklahoma is the birthplace of the field of pediatric psychology. Logan Wright coined that term at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in the late 1960s.


“OU is still a leading training facility for interns and postdocs, and we have an incredible working relationship with them that goes back decades. Our graduate students can do their clinical training in OU’s specialty clinics. It just makes sense to continue that legacy and build something that has some permanency to it.”


The center’s five affiliate faculty are all from OSU and OUHSC. At OSU, Thad Leffingwell, head of the Department of Psychology, is joined by assistant psychology professors Misty Hawkins and Amanda Baraldi. The pair from OUHSC are Stephen Gillaspy, associate pediatrics professor, and Ted Wagener, assistant pediatrics professor and associate director of training at the Oklahoma Tobacco Research Center of the Stephenson Cancer Center.


The center’s advisory board includes six pediatric health experts from across the country: C. Eugene Walker, OUHSC professor emeritus; Bernard Feummeler, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Massey Cancer Center; Kevin Hommel and Ahna L.H. Pai with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine; David Elkin, University of Mississippi Medical Center; and David Janicke, University of Florida.


In addition, the center will benefit from institutional and community partnerships with the following: Pediatric psychology faculty and pediatricians at OUHSC in Oklahoma City; J.D. McCarty Center for Children with Developmental Disabilities in Norman; University of Mississippi Medical Center; Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago; Weill Cornell Medicine; University of California, San Francisco Medical Center; Washington University Medical Center; Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; and Cook Children’s Medical Center of Fort Worth.


Submitted by Jacob Longan, College of Arts and Sciences - OSU


Oklahoma State University is a modern land-grant university that prepares students for success. OSU has more than 36,000 students across its five-campus system and more than 25,000 on its combined Stillwater and Tulsa campuses, with students from all 50 states and around 120 nations. Established in 1890, Oklahoma State has graduated more than 260,000 students who have been serving Oklahoma and the world for 125 years.

Wednesday, 06 June 2018 12:43

Helping kids avoid head lice at summer camp

Leilana McKindra, Communications Specialist- Agricultural Communications Services - Oklahoma State University


STILLWATER, Okla. (June 6, 2018) – With many Oklahoma youth planning to spend parts of their summer breaks enjoying camps, clinics and conferences, families need to know how to protect against head lice.


While the insects are a common problem across the United States, Justin Talley, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension livestock entomologist, said youth attending summer camps and other similar activities are at higher risk because there are so many participants from different home environments coming together in one place.


“Anyone can get head lice. It’s not about cleanliness or where you live. It’s a matter of who you come into close contact with,” Talley said.


Head lice are a blood sucking insect that can only be transmitted from person to person through direct contact such as sharing a pillow, a brush or by having head to head contact with someone who has lice.


As a preventative measure, parents should talk to their children about not sharing personal items such as combs or brushes and bed linens, especially pillows.


“The more children share those types of items, the more likely there will be a transmission of lice,” Talley said.


Infestations can take between five and 10 days to develop after exposure, depending on the temperature and condition of the infested person’s hair.


While the camp or conference medical staff should be trained to identify lice, parents should check their children for lice as soon as they return home, especially if they are exhibiting abnormal behavior such as flicking their hair or scratching more than usual.


To properly check for head lice, part the hair all the way to the scalp every 2 to 3 inches all over the head, and especially in the back toward the neck.


“The best method to detect lice is to purchase a lice comb and comb through your child’s hair thoroughly because this will pick up both adult lice as well as eggs,” Talley said.


Head lice range in color from creamy white to brown and are visible with the naked eye.


“They’ll be active, crawling on and near the scalp,” Talley said.


All clothing and bedding, and especially the pillowcases, also should be washed immediately after campers get back home.


These items should be laundered separately from the rest of the laundry in hot water above 125F and dried on a high heat setting.


“If lice are suspected or reported from the camp then dispose of any combs or brushes so that the infestation is not accidently spread to other members in the household,” Talley said.

In cases of a suspected infestation, try over-the-counter lice control shampoos. However, if the infestation is severe or if the over-the-counter product does not work, stronger alternatives may be obtained by prescription from a medical professional.


Lice control products typically require two applications – one initially and a second one about 10 to 14 days later.


“Regardless of the product you’re using, the second application is important because the first application doesn’t kill the eggs,” Talley said. “Reapplying the product after about 10 days allows those eggs to hatch so you’re killing the remaining nymphs.”


There also are companies, including some located in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, that use heat and vacuuming to remove lice.


For more information about head lice, contact the nearest county Extension office and download a free OSU Fact Sheet on the topic, EPP-7008, “Human Lice and Scabies,” at

Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; Phone 405-744-5371; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies. Any person who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.


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