Team Public Health: At your service

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Trey Young-Winfrey and Master Sgt. Keven Ward
  • 97th Medical Operations Squadron
In Public Health (PH), our main goal is to maximize your individual effectiveness by helping reduce lost duty time due to preventable illness. We manage several programs to help us achieve this goal:

Occupational Health
If you are exposed to hazards such as noise or chemicals on the job, you may require medical monitoring to ensure you are not being adversely affected. This monitoring may consist of a blood test or hearing test, and is accomplished along with your annual Preventive Health Assessment (PHA). We review the results of these tests for trends and perform illness investigations and workplace education when needed. We help ensure personal protective equipment is being properly used, issue ear plugs upon request and on a walk-in basis. All pregnant workers are referred to Public Health. We evaluate workplace hazards and provide data to Health Care Providers who can recommend duty restrictions, if needed, to protect the health of the mother and her unborn baby.

Tuberculosis (TB) Prevention
Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that commonly attacks the lungs. Symptoms include chronic, productive cough, fatigue, and night sweats. TB is spread through the air in tiny droplets expelled by coughing, sneezing, etc. There is a "TB skin test" that shows when someone has been exposed to TB. A positive test does not mean the person is sick or contagious. However, they are at a greater risk of developing the disease, called "Active TB." To reduce this risk, there is a medicine called isoniazid (INH). The normal regimen is one pill every day for nine months, which is necessary to completely destroy the bacteria. Our responsibility at PH is to educate on the disease side effects and the importance of INH compliance and ensure members receive TB skin testing when required, such as prior to deploying and after returning.

Deployment Surveillance
Since the end of the Persian Gulf War and because of Gulf War Syndrome, many changes have been made in the medical screening of deploying members. At PH, we review medical intelligence on vaccine-preventable diseases at the deployment locations, then we ensure members deploying to those locations are protected with available immunizations. We also ensure members have all the current medical requirements prior to deploying. We gather health threat information about the deployment location, and then we educate members on protective measures, such as pre-treating uniforms with insect repellant (if needed). Members complete screening forms before and after deploying.

Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)
The term Sexually Transmitted Infection is a general term, which includes many different infections, spread from person to person through sexual contact. Some of the more common or better-known STIs are Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, Syphilis and HIV or AIDS. Please visit our office for more specific information on these and others infections. Early detection is a must. Our role in STI prevention is to educate sexually active individuals on preventive methods, such as limiting sex to a single uninfected partner, abstinence, or properly using a latex condom. Condoms are available at PH at no cost to you. The Privacy Act of 1974 is enforced.

Food Safety and Sanitation
Another one of our responsibilities is to ensure only safe, wholesome food is offered for consumption at Altus AFB. We provide training to food facility supervisors and receiving personnel on how to recognize safe food. We evaluate food items returned by Commissary patrons. We conduct periodic inspections at every food facility on base to make sure they are meeting the sanitation standards. We coordinate hazardous food recalls and evaluate chilled and frozen foods following power outages. We enforce the provisions of the FDA Food Code 2005 and applicable military directives. Organizations conducting food sales must first be approved by us. We ensure Family Day Care Homes, the Youth Center, and the Child Development Center are meeting sanitary standards, as well as public facilities like the base fitness center, swimming pools, and barber & beauty shops.

Medical Entomology
Finally, we assess potential disease threats posed by insects and other creatures here at Altus AFB. We set out traps to collect mosquitoes, then, based on the species of mosquito, we determine which diseases could thrive in the area and recommend preventive measures such as elimination of breeding areas or using insecticides.

For more information or if you have any questions/concerns, please call us at 481-6577.