Beaver Fever

Beaver Fever

Dan Onion, MD, MPH

Mt. Vernon/Vienna Health Officer

293-2076; dkonion@gmail.com

October, 2016

Tom Ward, our local weatherman among many other things, called me with a story I could leave for spring to describe. But it is so interesting, I have to tell you about it now. He called because he'd learned that a local summer resident on Flying Pond, had one of her two Labrador retrievers diagnosed by her veterinarian with "beaver fever". Tom wondered if that could affect humans as well and if there were ways to eliminate such risk.

Environmental Risks in and around our Homes: Water Testing

Environmental Risks in and around our Homes: Water Testing

This will be the first in a series of brief articles, with recommendations, about environmental risks at our homes in Vienna. I shall discuss the most common risks first, and how one assesses or measures them. In this article, I talk about when, how and for what you should consider testing your home water supply.

There is, of course, no public water supply going to Vienna homes. The closest we get to that is the Kimball Pond Road public spring, which is tested several times a year by its stewards. Thus, all of us are responsible for assuring the safety of our own home water; our water sources are from springs, or drilled or dug wells, unless we live without running water.

So what should you worry about, what should you test for, and how often?  

Town Meeting Questions: Drinking Water vs Beach Water Testing, and Hepatitis Immunization Questions

Town Meeting Questions: Drinking Water vs Beach Water Testing, and Hepatitis Immunization Questions

Dan Onion, MD, MPH

Mt. Vernon/Vienna Health Officer

293-2076; dkonion@gmail.com

March, 2017

Mark Rains and Roger Reveille asked me a set of questions at our March 11 town meeting this year that others may also be wondering, so I'll expand my answers to them here.

Gun Violence in Maine, and Beyond

Gun Violence in Maine, and Beyond

Dan Onion, MD, MPH

Mt. Vernon/Vienna Health Officer

293-2076; dkonion@gmail.com

November, 2017

I am writing this on March 25, the day after huge marches to demand action to reduce gun violence were held locally and all over the country, along with some counter marches. Those marches and a recent dialog I had with Mt. Vernon's most prominent sportsman, George Smith, (see his Bangor Daily News blog) lead me to want to expand the discussion of gun violence to other related and alarmingly bad public health transformations we seem to be suffering.

Arsenic in Our Water

Arsenic in Our Water

The Vienna Kimball Pond Road Spring

Dan Onion, MD, MPH

Mt. Vernon/Vienna Health Officer

293-2076; dkonion@gmail.com

June, 2017

Contaminants in our home water supplies are a perennial concern to health officials, especially here in Maine where fewer than half of our citizens use town water sources. The use of multiple, and often single-family wells and springs make it difficult to ensure everybody’s water is safe. Of course, no one in Mt. Vernon or Vienna is on a public (town) water supply. And many use the old spring on Vienna’s Kimball Pond Road as a drinking water source because it carries on a nearly 200-year-old local tradition -- and it tastes good.

Measuring and Fixing the Disturbingly Strong Link between Health and Economic Status in Maine Counties

Measuring and Fixing the Disturbingly Strong Link between Health and Economic Status in Maine Counties

Dan Onion, MD, MPH

Mt. Vernon/Vienna Health Officer

293-2076; dkonion@gmail.com

September, 2017

My mission as town health officer is to promote the health of all town residents. That can be done in several different ways: educate individuals about how to better care for themselves, find and evaluate environmental risks in town, and promote ways the health care infrastructure can be improved. The last can get a little political, because it involves state-wide public policies. But it is important for all of us to appreciate those policy impacts. One policy issue with the greatest impact on health is insurance. I think it’s important for voters, as they are asked to vote on proposals to improve health disparities, to understand the powerful correlations between county populations' health and their socio-economic status (SES) in Maine and elsewhere.

HEY, ABOUT THE INFLUENZA EPIDEMIC, MANY OF YOU NEED TO LISTEN UP

HEY, ABOUT THE INFLUENZA EPIDEMIC, MANY OF YOU NEED TO LISTEN UP TO HELP YOURSELVES, YOUR FAMILY AND THE REST OF THECOMMUNITY MORE RIGHT NOW!

HERE’S HOW!

Dan Onion, MD, MPH

Mt. Vernon/Vienna Health Officer

293-2076; dkonion@gmail.com

February, 2018

People, people, people, many of you I meet are not listening, and are giving up about surviving the influenza epidemic we are in the midst of right now. That’s crazy; please don't!  We’ve got several kinds of arrows in our quiver to help us and ours survive if we are smart enough to use multiple strategies at once, as we do with other complicated challenges. Listen up! Here’s how.

Shingles: What is it and how vaccinations may help

Shingles: What is it and how vaccinations may help

Dan Onion, MD, MPH

Mt. Vernon/Vienna Health Officer

293-2076; dkonion@gmail.com

June, 2018

Several townspeople have asked my opinion about the new herpes zoster immunization now available, so here goes!

Herpes zoster or shingles is a fairly common disease (in my full time practice of primary care, I'd see 8-10 cases a year) caused by the recrudescence of the herpes varicella/chickenpox virus years after typical childhood chickenpox with fever, painful rash and pustules. The name shingles comes from Latin and French words for belt, or girdle, from the appearance of the skin rash on the torso. Since the introduction of childhood chickenpox vaccination in the mid 1990s, many fewer children now get it. But that leaves nearly everyone born before then with the potential to develop shingles later in their lives and especially if they become immunocompromised with immunosuppressant medications like steroids or anti-cancer drugs, or from diabetes, cancer itself, or other serious illness.

Medical Probabilities Exemplified in Influenza and Car Crashes

Medical Probabilities Exemplified in Influenza and Car Crashes

 

Dan Onion, MD, MPH

Mt. Vernon/Vienna Health Officer

293-2076; dkonion@gmail.com

November, 2017

A relative told me last week that she was not going to immunize her daughter because she had read on the internet that the immunization didn't always work and had complications. Her husband, my nephew, is an anthropologist and so trained in scientific probabilities. It astounded me that he could tolerate such oversimplification of the probabilities involved here. I thought of these issues again yesterday as I got my annual influenza shot. What if I asked the medical assistant if it would work and what the complications were; what would she likely say?

MaineCare Expansion

 

MaineCare Expansion; Signing up

Dan Onion, MD, MPH

Mt. Vernon/Vienna Health Officer

293-2076; dkonion@gmail.com

August 1, 2018

A bit of history first. The Federal Medicaid Program (called MaineCare here in Maine) was created when its enabling legislation was passed along with the better known Medicare Program in 1968, just as I was graduating from medical school. Before then, all the low-income patients I cared for as a medical student at Boston City Hospital, were dependent for free medical care at city- or county-run hospitals and their clinics, like Boston City, or community hospitals like those around us here in Mt. Vernon, all of which were committed to providing free care to those patients by acceptance of hospital construction monies dispensed through the Federal Hill-Burton program. All 3 Federal programs continue to this day.

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