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Public Health

Firefighter seminar draws more than 50 people this week

By Press Release

Press Release:

On May 15 a Public Employee Safety & Health Bureau (PESH) Firefighter Seminar: Myth vs. Fact was held at Genesee Community College.

Jennifer Puerner of the NYS Public Employee Safety & Health Bureau spoke about training requirements, standards, mandates, record & retention, PPE requirements, bailout system requirements and other rules and regulations. The purpose of the seminar was to differentiate between myths vs. facts.

Fifty-six participants from 17 agencies participated in this seminar.


  • Anthony Mudrzynski
  • Henry Mudrzynski
  • Michelle Patnode
  • Gary L. Patnode
  • Rick Brunea


  • Jesse Babcock
  • Douglas Bentley
  • Gerald Bentley
  • Gary Rowley


  • Robert Fix
  • Zechariah Gowanlock
  • Daniel Herberger
  • Dan Huggins


  • Brian Bentley
  • Paul Dibble
  • Clayton Gorski
  • Robert Hunt


  • Kevin Bruton Sr.
  • Paul Cummings
  • Don Cunningham
  • Joseph MacConnell
  • Robert MacConnell
  • James Pascarella


  • Deb Donnelly
  • Jeff Fluker
  • Carl Hyde
  • Gail Smith


  • Paul Carr
  • Brandon Crossett
  • John Durand
  • Robert Mruczek
  • Cory Russell
  • Edward Sharp
  • Robert Wasinger


  • Dean Eck
  • Gregory S. Lang
  • Matt Lenhard
  • Justin Rodland
  • Daniel Smith


  • Charles Chatley
  • Andrew Martin


  • Nick Esten
  • Michael Heale
  • Nathan Tabor


  • Tyler Lang
  • Gary P. Patnode
  • Tim Yaeger
  • LuAnne Mileham


  • Fay Fuerch
  • Craig Johnson
  • Jeff Elsenheimer


  • Kevin Ross
  • Brian Breemes
  • Kari Breemes
  • Tim Eckdahl


  • Jacob Schultz

Joining the fire/EMS service not only provides you the opportunity to make an invaluable contribution to your community but allows you to develop (free) professional skills, and form lifelong friendships and positive relationships. Visit your local fire department to find out more about volunteer opportunities in your community.

Genesee County ranked 42nd in overall health outcomes

By Press Release

Press release:

According to the 2023 County Health Rankings, released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI), Genesee and Orleans Counties rank 42nd and 55th, respectively in overall Health Outcomes. The Rankings are available at

“Each year, we look at the County Health Rankings to get an overview of our health and factors that influence our health,” stated Paul Pettit, Public Health Director for the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments(GO Health). “The county with the lowest score (best health) gets a rank of #1 for that state, and the county with the highest score (worst health) is assigned a rank corresponding to the number of total counties ranked in each state. New York State has 62 counties.”

According to the Rankings, the five healthiest counties in New York State starting with the most healthy are Putnam, followed by Saratoga, Nassau, Rockland and Tompkins. The five counties with the poorest health, starting with the least healthy are Bronx, Cattaraugus, Sullivan, Chemung, and Montgomery. The rankings are broken into two main categories, Health Outcomes, which include length of life and quality of life, and Health Factors, which include health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors and physical environment. The 2023 County Health Rankings findings for Genesee and Orleans Counties are: 

Genesee County

  • Ranked 42/62 in Health Outcomes compared to 38/62 counties in 2022
  • Ranked 22/62 in Health Factors compared to 16/62 counties in 2022

Orleans County 

  • Ranked 55/62 in Health Outcomes compared to 54/62 counties in 2022
  • Ranked 57/62 in Health Factors compared to 55/62 counties in 2022

“As Chief Health Strategists, we collaborate with our partners and community members to provide quality training, education and referrals as well as develop coalitions to explore the best way to help our county residents thrive and improve health factors,” stated Pettit. 

As referenced below, both Genesee and Orleans Counties have health factors that could be improved, specifically with local access to physicians, mental health providers and dentists, along with excessive drinking, adult obesity, and adult smoking. Access to care significantly impacts and drives the rankings for both counties. Additionally, it is a substantial barrier for residents and, ultimately, has an impact on not only an individual’s physical, social and mental health, but their overall quality of life.

Genesee County/Orleans County/New York State

Primary Care Physicians to Patient Ratio

  • 3,350:1/13,330:1/1,170:1

Mental Health Providers 

  • 570:1/1,610:1/300:1


  • 2,750:1/4,470:1/1,220:1

Excessive Drinking 

  • 23%/21%/18%

Adult Obesity 

  • 29%/34%/27%

Adult Smoking 

  • 18%/21%/12%

This year, the focus area of the Rankings was the connection between civic health and the health of the community. The factors that were added included Voter Turnout (Genesee at 64.3%; Orleans at 56.9%) and Census Participation (Genesee at 64.3%; Orleans at 54.0%). Voting and participating in the U.S. census are both examples of civic participation, which can help influence residents’ quality of life and help improve the health of our community. 

The Rankings have become an important tool for communities that want to improve health for all. Working collaboratively with community partners in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming Counties (GOW), Genesee and Orleans counties have completed the GOW 2022-2024 Community Health Assessment and are working on the chosen priorities in the Community Health Improvement Plan over the next three years. We analyze the Rankings along with New York State data and community input from the Community Health Assessment survey and Community Conversations to determine these priorities. 

For the 2022-2024 Community Health Improvement Plan, preventing chronic disease, promoting well-being, and preventing mental and substance use disorders were selected as the priority areas that will be the focus moving forward.

For more information on Health Department programs and services, visit or
call your respective health department at:

  • Genesee County: 585-344-2580 ext. 5555
  • Orleans County: 585-589-3278

As school year approaches, Common Ground Health encourages parents ensure immunizations up-to-date

By Press Release

Press release:

As students across the region prepare to return to school in September, parents are encouraged to make sure their children’s immunizations are up to date. In New York state, several immunizations are required within 14 days of the first day of school or child care.

For school attendance, child care and pre-K, students need:

  • Diphtheria and Tetanus toxoid-containing vaccine and Pertussis vaccine (DTaP or Tdap)
  • Hepatitis B vaccine
  • Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine
  • Polio vaccine
  • Chickenpox vaccine

Additional vaccines are required for middle school and high school students:

  • Tdap vaccine for grades 6-12
  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY) for grades 7-12 (students in grade 12 need an additional booster dose of MenACWY on or after their 16th birthday)

Public health officials also urge parents to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19, as the vaccines are the best protection against severe illness or hospitalization from the disease. Children from six months to young adults up to age 18 are now eligible to receive the shots. Talk to your pediatrician if you have questions about the COVID vaccine or kids’ booster doses, or visit

Dr. Linda Clark, chief medical officer at Common Ground Health, said, “Going back to school is an exciting time for many students. To make sure they can return to the classroom, parents need to ensure that their children’s immunizations are current. If not, they should schedule appointments with their physician as soon as possible. If they aren’t sure, they should check with their pediatrician or primary care doctor.”

Children attending daycare and pre-K through 12th grade in New York state must receive all required doses of vaccines on the recommended schedule in order to attend or remain in school. Parents need to show proof of their child's up-to-date vaccinations or provide a valid medical exemption from vaccination.

County legislature proclamations recognize public health, public safety, animal care and control

By Mike Pettinella

The Genesee County Legislature issued three proclamations at its meeting Wednesday afternoon at the Old Courthouse -- National Public Health Week (April 4-10), National Public Safety Telecommunications Week (April 10-16) and Animal Care and Control Appreciation Week (April 10-16).


Legislator Gregg Torrey, left, reads from the National Public Health Week proclamation as Brenden Bedard, Public Health deputy director, looks on. The decree asks residents "to observe this week by helping our families, friends, neighbors, co-workers and leaders better understand the value of public health and supporting great opportunities and to celebrate public health’s accomplishments in light of this year’s theme, Public Health is Where You Are.


Legislator Chad Klotzbach presents the National Public Safety Telecommunications proclamation to, from left, Dispatcher Shelby Turner, Assistant Director Frank Riccobono, Director Steven Sharpe and Sheriff William Sheron. According to the proclamation, "Public Safety Telecommunicators are the first and most critical contact our citizens have with emergency services; they work 24/7 and have one of the most stressful jobs in America, and (the legislature) takes great pride in honoring the men and women whose diligence and professionalism keep our county, citizens, and first responders safe."


Dog Control Officers Catherine Seward, left, and Sarah Fountain accept the Animal Care and Control Appreciation Week proclamation as Sheriff Sheron and Legislator Gordon Dibble look on. The decree states that animal control officers "are compassionate and committed individuals who serve to protect animals every day by enforcing laws pertaining to their treatment, and (the legislature) takes great pride in honoring the officers whose dedication and professionalism protect the welfare of helpless animals and pets within our county."

Submitted photos.

Be Aware: It's National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

By Press Release

Public Health Column from the county health department:

Oct. 25th – 31st is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, which is a time when families, community organizations, and local governments join efforts in the fight against lead poisoning in their communities.

Lead poisoning in children can lead to hyperactivity, reduced cognitive (thinking) ability, and other permanent, negative health effects. One of the goals of the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments (GO Health) is to spread awareness of this public health issue and to increase lead poisoning prevention throughout our communities.

Paul Pettit, Public Health director of Genesee and Orleans counties, declares that “Lead poisoning can be prevented! The key is to keep children from coming in contact with lead. Take time this week to learn about ways to reduce your child’s exposure to lead in their environment and prevent its serious health effects.”

This year, the Center for Disease Control has compiled three themes for National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week:

  • (1.) Get the facts: Most childhood lead poisoning occurs when children swallow or inhale dust containing lead, often from lead-based paint which was commonly used throughout homes until 1978. Children ingest (eat) lead when they put their hands or other dust-covered objects, such as toys, in their mouth, eat paint chips or soil contaminated with lead, and inhale lead dust, particularly during home renovations or other paint disturbances.
  • (2.) Get your home evaluated: Although the use of lead was banned from products such as paint since 1978, many homes in our communities still have remnants of old lead paint in them. Old, chipping paint, particularly around window sills, door frames, banisters and porches pose a serious health risk, especially in young children who tend to spend most of their time crawling or playing on the floor.
  • (3.) Get your child tested: A blood test is the only way to discover if your child has been exposed to lead resulting in a detectable blood lead level. New York State requires that health care providers test all children for lead at age 1 and again at age 2. Health care providers are required to ask parents/guardians about theirchild’s exposure to potential lead hazards up until 6 years old. If there is any suspected exposure in that time frame, another blood lead test may need to be administered.

In New York State, the goal is to have 80 percent of children tested for lead at these ages. Local data shows that the screening rates among children in Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties fell below the State goal in 2019. Lead testing and early detection can prevent long-term health problems for your child and their future. Make sure to talk to yourchild’s doctor about lead screening at their next appointment!

Funding may be available to help make your home lead safe. In January 2020, the Genesee County Health Department (on behalf of GO Health) received a $1.3M federal HUD grant to address lead-based paint hazards in homes and rentals throughout the City of Batavia and the Village of Albion, including installation of replacement windows, paint, siding, and other home repairs. Specifically, the grant targets low-income households with children under the age of 6; this includes homeowners and landlords with low-income tenants.

Recently, Genesee County was able to revise the grant target area to include all areas within Genesee and Orleans Counties, making potential grant funding available to qualified applicants throughout both counties.

“Lead hazards exist in older homes all over Genesee and Orleans Counties. We want every eligible resident to have a chance to apply for these funds, and we’re prepared to help them through the process,” said Darren Brodie, Lead Program coordinator for Genesee and Orleans counties.

For those who don’t know whether they qualify as low-income, as defined by HUD, the information can be found online or by contacting the Health Department directly. This target area expansion is expected to go into effect next month, and the Health Department is currently accepting applications countywide for both Genesee and Orleans in anticipation of the expansion.

For more information on the GO Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes Program, National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, or for general information on lead hazards and the negative effects of lead poisoning, call the Genesee County Health Department at (585) 344-2580, ext. 5507, or email.

Lead hazards in the home won’t go away on their own. Lead poisoning prevention starts with YOU!

For more information contact the Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website.

Public Health Column: To help prevent rabies, love your pets but leave wildlife and feral cats alone

By Billie Owens

From the Genesee Orleans Public Health Departments:

Love Your Own…Leave the Rest Alone! – Rabies Prevention

As stay-at-home restrictions progressed in New York State due to COVID-19, many people took this opportunity to adopt a new pet to spend their time with. Animal shelters all over the state were reporting increased adoptions and some ran out of animals altogether.

Now that it is summer and your new pets are going outside more, it is a perfect time to remind everyone how dangerous rabies can be and what you can do to prevent exposure to you, your family, and your pets.

Rabies is an infectious disease that can be fatal once symptoms (signs) show up. Rabies is a central nervous system disease which attacks the brain and causes death. It is most often spread through bites, scratches, and contact with infected saliva.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that any mammal, including humans, can get rabies but it is most common in wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes, so it is wise to stay away from these animals (alive or dead).

In New York State, cats are the most frequently diagnosed domestic animals.

The best way to prevent rabies exposure is to prevent your pets from contracting the virus by keeping their rabies vaccine up-to-date, so that they do not bring it into your home. Even indoor-only pets require a vaccination.

Sarah Balduf, Environmental Health director of the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments, reported that so far in 2020, the two counties have tested 22 animals and six tested positive for rabies. Additionally, 111 dogs and cats were observed in 10-day confinement.

An animal is subject to 10-day confinement if they are involved in an incident (i.e. biting a human) while apparently healthy. The animal’s health is monitored for 10 days to determine if rabies may be present and if further action is required. Complete details below. 

Genesee County -- Animals Tested for Rabies as of June 26








Total Tested







Total Positive







Total 10-Day Confinements







Orleans County -- Animals Tested for Rabies as of June 26








Total Tested







Total Positive







Total 10-Day Confinements








One of the first signs of rabies in animals includes a change in the animal’s behavior.

“Animals may become unusually aggressive and try to bite you or other animals," Balduf said. "A wild animal might act friendly or move slowly so that you could easily get close to it. Other symptoms include staggering, convulsions, choking, excessive drooling at the mouth, and paralysis.”

When a human is infected with rabies, they may not show symptoms for up to three months. Early symptoms of rabies are often flu-like and include fever, headache, and general weakness.

As the disease progresses, symptoms include anxiety, confusion, agitation, hallucinations, hydrophobia (fear of water), and insomnia.

Once symptoms have developed, rabies is almost always fatal to both humans and animals so it is crucial to report any possible exposures as soon as they occur.

To protect yourself from rabies, people are encouraged to avoid feeding, touching, or adopting wild animals and stray domestic animals such as cats and dogs that have not been properly rescued and vetted by a shelter and veterinarian.

People are required by NYS law to keep their pets (dogs, cats and ferrets) up-to-date on their rabies vaccination.

It is recommended, though not mandatory, that livestock animals, especially valuable ones, are vaccinated as well.

It is also recommended that people keep a close eye on children who are playing outdoors and telling them the dangers of playing with wild or stray animals (alive or dead). 

Anyone who has been bitten by any animal or who otherwise may have been exposed to rabies needs to take immediate action!

If you can do so safely, being careful not to damage the head/brain, capture the animal and call your local health department or a doctor to report the incident.

Capturing the animal is vital in order for it to be tested for rabies. Testing will confirm if the animal is infected with the virus or not, making sure that only those who need treatment get it.

Additionally, make sure exposed wounds or bites are cleaned thoroughly with soap and water and call your health care provider for further instructions.  

(*If a bat is found in a room where there are unattended children, someone sleeping or someone who cannot speak for him/herself or your family pet, do not let the bat out of the house. To learn how to capture a bat safely, view this short video.

A doctor in consultation with the health department will determine who needs to be vaccinated with rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (RPEP).

A person who is exposed and has never been vaccinated against rabies may need to receive four doses of rabies vaccine on the following schedule: immediately, day 3, day 7, and day 14 after exposure. People who have weakened immune systems may require a fifth dose and some people required only two doses, as determined by a doctor. 

The cost to treat an individual varies considerably based on weight, number of doses, and insurance. In 2020, treatment costs have ranged from $2,360 to $6,130.

Local health departments will work with the patient’s insurance company but what is not be covered by insurance is ultimately the responsibility of the taxpayers.

So far in 2020, Genesee County has had to treat six people with RPEP and Orleans County has had to treat three.

It is important that all individuals do their part to prevent rabies in the community by vaccinating their pets and practicing caution around wild or stray animals. 

To protect your pets from rabies, please visit one of the upcoming rabies vaccine clinics (subject to change due to COVID-19, watch GOHealthNY social media for updates and instructions to follow COVID-19 guidelines for everyone’s safety.):

  • Genesee County: Thursday, Aug. 13, at the Genesee County Fairgrounds, 5031 E. Main Road, Batavia from 4 to 7 p.m.

​For information on Health Department services:

  • Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website.

Public Health Column: May is Arthritis Awareness Month

By Billie Owens

Public Health Column: May is Arthritis Awareness Month

Arthritis is one of the most widespread health conditions in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one in every four adults live with the pain of arthritis (1.*)

To recognize this toll on Americans’ health, the CDC and the Arthritis Foundation observe Arthritis Awareness Month every May. Paul Pettit, Public Health director of Genesee and Orleans counties, proclaims the importance of the month.

“It is imperative to recognize arthritis awareness month as many of our local community members are faced with this debilitating health condition," Pettit said. "Although there is no cure for arthritis, there are many effective treatments available and lifestyle changes that can benefit the quality of life for people suffering with this disease. We want our community to know that help and specialists are available so that no one has to suffer.”

Arthritis is the name of a disease that covers a wide variety of conditions, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, fibromyalgia, and gout. Common symptoms of arthritis include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion.

Symptoms may come and go and can range from mild to severe. Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities and make it difficult to walk or climb stairs. Arthritis can cause permanent joint changes. These changes may be visible, such as knobby finger joints, but often the damage can only be seen on X-ray.

Some types of arthritis also affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys and skin as well as the joints.

The arthritis rate in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties in 2016 (crude rate, percentage of people with this health condition per reported region/county), and in New York State are (2.**):

  • Genesee: 32.80 percent
  • Orleans: 31.10 percent
  • Wyoming: 32.70 percent
  • New York State: 22.90 percent

“During the coronavirus pandemic, we understand that older ndividuals and people with autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, may be more likely to get seriously sick if they do become infected with the virus, so it is important to take appropriate precautions,” Pettit said.

“It is important that healthy individuals continue taking their medications as prescribed by their physician and to practice social distancing,wearing a face mask or cloth face shield, and to wash hands frequently for 20 seconds.”

  1. *Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- Arthritis Awareness Month. Reviewed May 2017. Accessed May 27, 2020.

  2. **New York State Department of Health. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Health Indicators by County. Accessed May 27, 2020.

Engaging in physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight can help manage arthritis symptoms.

Physical activity can reduce arthritis pain, improve function and mood, and delay the onset of disability. All adults should get two hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, per week and do muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week.

You can achieve these goals by taking brisk walks for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. You can also break it up into 10 minute sessions and spread it out during the day — walk the dog 10 minutes in the morning, take a 10-minute walk to the post office, coffee shop, or grocery store in the afternoon, and then take a 10-minute walk after dinner.

Make sure to talk to your doctor about new or worsening arthritis symptoms. You may be referred to a doctor who specializes in arthritis and related conditions such as a rheumatologist or orthopedist. For more information on arthritis, click here.

For information about Health Department services contact the Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website.

Public Health Column: How to protect against ticks and prevent Lyme disease

By Billie Owens

From the Genesee & Orleans County Health Departmenta:

Deer ticks live in shady, moist areas at ground level. They will cling to tall grass, brush and shrubs, usually no more than 18-24 inches off the ground. They also live in lawns and gardens, especially at the edges of woods and around old stone walls.

Deer ticks cannot jump or fly, and do not drop onto passing people or animals. They get on humans and animals only by direct contact. Once a tick gets on the skin, it generally climbs upward until it reaches a protected area.

“It’s important for you and your family to learn how to prevent a bite, how to remove a tick, and what to do if you think you could have a tick-borne disease,” said Sarah Balduf, Environmental director for the Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments.

In tick-infested areas, your best protection is to avoid contact with soil, leaf litter and vegetation.

“As we continue to balance the implications of COVID-19 and working to enjoy outdoor activities, remember to follow Governor Cuomo’s 10-point New York State on PAUSE Plan, including that individuals should limit outdoor recreational activities to non-contact and avoid activities where they come in close contact with other people,” said Paul Pettit, director for the Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments.

For more information about the New York State on PAUSE Plan click here.

However, if you garden, hike, camp, hunt, work, or otherwise spend time in the outdoors and maintain appropriate social distancing, you can still protect yourself:

  • Wear light-colored clothing with a tight weave to spot ticks easily.
  • Wear enclosed shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pant legs into socks or boots and shirt into pants.
  • Check clothes and any exposed skin frequently for ticks while outdoors.
  • Consider using insect repellent.
  • Stay on cleared, well-traveled trails. Walk in the center of trails. Avoid dense woods and bushy areas.
  • Avoid sitting directly on the ground or on stone walls.
  • Keep long hair tied back, especially when gardening.
  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after going indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that may be on you.
  • Do a final, full-body tick check at the end of the day (also check children and pets), and remove ticks promptly.

What About Insect Repellent?

Consider using insect repellents registered with the Environmental Protection Agency:

  • DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) can be applied to exposed skin. Products that contain 20 percent or more DEET can provide protection that lasts up to several hours. Use the lowest concentration of DEET that you will need for the length of time you will be outdoors.
  • Picaridin is a colorless, nearly odorless ingredient that can be applied to exposed skin in a range of 5 to 20 percent of the active ingredient.
  • Permethrin: Clothes, shoes and camping gear can be treated or purchased pretreated with permethrin. Its protection can last through many washes.Neverapply permethrin to skin. The New York State Health Department recommends taking these precautions when using repellents that contain these active ingredients:
  • Store out of the reach of children and read all instructions on the label before applying.
  • Do NOT allow children to apply repellents themselves.

What Can I Do To Reduce Ticks In My Yard?

  • Keep lawns mowed and edges trimmed.
  • Clear brush, leaf litter and tall grass around the house, and at the edges of gardens and stone walls.
  • Stack woodpiles neatly away from the house and preferably off the ground.
  • In the fall, clear all leaf and garden litter, where ticks can live in the winter, out of your yard.
  • Keep the ground under bird feeders clean so as not to attract small animals that can carry ticks into your yard.
  • Locate children’s swing sets and other play equipment in sunny, dry areas of the yard, away from the woods where ticks can be abundant. For more information on Lyme disease, contact your local health department or refer to the NYS Department of Health website.

Also Consider These Important Facts:

  • If you tuck pants into socks and shirts into pants, be aware that ticks will climb upward to hidden areas of the head and neck, so spot-check clothes frequently.
  • Clothes can be sprayed with DEET or treated with permethrin. Follow label instructions carefully.
  • Upon returning home, clothes can be put in a high temperature dryer for 20 minutes to kill any unseen ticks.
  • Any contact with vegetation, even playing in the yard, can result in exposure to ticks. Frequent tick checks should be followed by a whole-body examination and tick removal each night. This is the single most effective method for prevention of Lyme disease.

How Can I Safely Remove a Tick?

If you DO find a tick attached to your skin, do not panic. Not all ticks are infected, and your risk of Lyme disease is greatly reduced if the tick is removed within the first 36 hours. To remove a tick:

  • Use a pair of pointed tweezers to grasp the tick by the head or mouth parts right where they enter the skin. DO NOT grasp the tick by the body.
  • Pull firmly and steadily outward. DO NOT jerk or twist the tick.
  • Place the tick in a small container of rubbing alcohol to kill it.
  • Clean the bite wound with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.
  • Monitor the site of the bite for the next 30 days for the appearance of a rash. If you develop a rash or flu-like symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately. Although not routinely recommended, taking antibiotics within three days after a tick bite may be beneficial for some persons. This would apply to deer tick bites that occurred in areas where Lyme disease is common and there is evidence that the tick fed for more than one day. In cases like this you should discuss the possibilities with your doctor or health care provider.

For information on Health Department services in Genesee County contact:

  • Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website.

Gov. Cuomo signs 'New York State on PAUSE' -- 10-point policy for uniform COVID-19 safety

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced he is signing the "New York State on PAUSE" executive order, a 10-point policy to assure uniform safety for everyone.

It includes a new directive that all nonessential businesses statewide must close in-office personnel functions effective at 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 22.

Guidance on essential services under the executive order is as follows:

ESSENTIAL BUSINESSES OR ENTITIES, including any for profit or nonprofit, regardless of the nature of the service, the function they perform, or its corporate or entity structure, are not subject to the in-person restriction.

(Essential Businesses must continue to comply with the guidance and directives for maintaining a clean and safe work environment issued by the Department of Health).

This guidance is issued by the New York State Department of Economic Development d/b/a Empire State Development and applies to each business location individually and is intended to assist businesses in determining whether they are an essential business and steps to request such designation. With respect to business or entities that operate or provide both essential and nonessential services, supplies or support, only those lines and/or business operations that are necessary to support the essential services, supplies, or support are exempt from the restrictions. 

For purposes of Executive Order 202.6, "Essential Business," means:

1. Essential Health Care Operations, including:

  • research and laboratory services
  • hospitals
  • walk-in-care health facilities
  • emergency veterinary and livestock services
  • elder care
  • medical wholesale and distribution
  • home health care workers or aides for the elderly
  • doctor and emergency dental
  • nursing homes, or residential health care facilities or congregate care facilities
  • medical supplies and equipment manufacturers and providers

2. Essential Infrastructure, including:

  • utilities including power generation, fuel supply and transmission
  • public water and wastewater
  • telecommunications and data centers
  • airports/airlines
  • transportation infrastructure such as bus, rail, or for-hire vehicles, garages
  • hotels, and places of accommodation

3. Essential Manufacturing, including:

  • food processing, manufacturing agents, including all foods and beverages
  • chemicals
  • medical equipment/instruments
  • pharmaceuticals
  • sanitary products
  • telecommunications
  • microelectronics/semi-conductor
  • agriculture/farms
  • household paper products

4. Essential Retail, including:

  • grocery stores including all food and beverage stores
  • pharmacies
  • convenience stores
  • farmer's markets
  • gas stations
  • restaurants/bars (but only for take-out/delivery)
  • hardware and building material stores

5. Essential Services, including:

  • trash and recycling collection, processing and disposal
  • mail and shipping services
  • laundromats
  • building cleaning and maintenance
  • child care services
  • auto repair
  • warehouse/distribution and fulfillment
  • funeral homes, crematoriums and cemeteries
  • storage for essential businesses
  • animal shelters

6. News Media

7. Financial Institutions, including:

  • banks
  • insurance
  • payroll
  • accounting
  • services related to financial markets

8. Providers of Basic Necessities to Economically Disadvantaged Populations, including:

  • homeless shelters and congregate care facilities
  • food banks
  • human services providers whose function includes the direct care of patients in state-licensed or funded voluntary programs; the care, protection, custody and oversight of individuals both in the community and in state-licensed residential facilities; those operating community shelters and other critical human services agencies providing direct care or support.

9. Construction, including:

  • skilled trades such as electricians, plumbers 
  • other related construction firms and professionals for essential infrastructure or for emergency repair and safety purposes

10. Defense

  • defense and national security-related operations supporting the U.S. Government or a contractor to the U.S. government.

11. Essential Services Necessary to Maintain the Safety, Sanitation and Essential Operations of Residences or Other Essential Businesses, including:

  • law enforcement
  • fire prevention and response
  • building code enforcement
  • security
  • emergency management and response
  • building cleaners or janitors
  • general maintenance whether employed by the entity directly or a vendor
  • automotive repair
  • disinfection

12. Vendors that Provide Essential Services or Products, Including Logistics and Technology Support, Child Care and Services:

  • logistics
  • technology support for online services
  • child care programs and services
  • government owned or leased buildings
  • essential government services

If the function of your business is not listed above, but you believe that it is essential or it is an entity providing essential services or functions, you may request designation as an essential business.

Houses of worship are not ordered closed however it is strongly recommended no congregate services be held and social distance maintained. 

Businesses and entities that provide other essential services must implement rules that help facilitate social distancing of at least six feet.

Requests by businesses to be designated an essential function as described above, should only be made if they are NOT covered by the guidance.

To request designation as an essential business, please click here (PDF).

Restrictions on requesting designation as an essential business:

  • Any business that only has a single occupant/employee (i.e. gas station) has been deemed exempt and need not submit a request to be designated as an essential business.
  • Businesses ordered to close on Monday, March 15, 2020 under the restrictions on any gathering with 50 or more participants, including but not limited to, bars, restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, casinos, auditoriums, concerts, conferences, worship services, sporting events, and physical fitness centers, are presumed to be compliant with NYS issued restrictions and must remain closed and are not eligible for designation as an essential business for purposes of this guidance.

For Guidance on cleaning and disinfection of facilities, refer to the New York State Department of Health Interim Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection of Public and Private Facilities for COVID-19 here (PDF). 

For further information: New York State Department of Health's COVID-19 webpage.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention webpage.

Local health department contact information can be found here.

East Bethany Presbyterian Church cancels in-person worship services, including church school, through March 27

By Billie Owens

Press release:

East Bethany Presbyterian Church has been closely monitoring the potential impact of COVID-19 and is following current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and New York State Health Department.

After days of prayer and discussion between the church’s governing board (the Session) and our pastor, Rev. Erin Schubmehl Jacobson, and following the recommendations of the Presbytery of Genesee Valley, we are canceling in-person worship services, including church school through March 27th.

We will continue to update the church community on our Facebook page and our website.

Le Roy School District postpones musical 'Into the Woods' tonight and Saturday

By Billie Owens

Press release:  

Le Roy Central School District has made the decision to postpone our musical performances of "Into the Woods" for tonight and tomorrow (March 13 and 14).

If you have purchased tickets, please hold on to them as we hope to hold the shows in the future. For those of you who might seek refunds, further information will be communicated in the future.

Our production will stage a closed dress rehearsal tonight for Stars of Tomorrow Judges ONLY.

Tim McArdle, Principal, Le Roy Jr.-Sr. High School

Northgate Church moves to online-only worship services in keeping with government recommendations

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Northgate Free Methodist Church has been closely monitoring the potential impact of COVID-19 and is following current recommendations from the CDC, local health departments / government officials and the most recent guidelines from NY Governor Andrew Cuomo.

After days of careful consideration, prayer and discussion between Northgate’s Management Team, we have come to the following conclusion: In cooperation with those trying to keep our surrounding communities safe, we are canceling all in-person worship services, including activities for children and students this weekend.

Small groups, due to the size restrictions set forth by the government, will be allowed to meet at their personal discretion, offsite.

Because we value gathering together as a community of believers, we are encouraging the community to join us online on our Facebook Live feed for worship on Saturday evening at 6 o'clock.

That recorded service will then be available at any time to be used for personal worship time this Sunday. The recorded worship service will also be posted for viewing on our website at

Please invite people to join in with us as you would on any given Saturday or Sunday. News updates will be made available at

Plans for next week and the weeks ahead remain fluid at this time. We will be evaluating the circumstances day to day and will keep the community abreast of the details as they become available.

Town of Batavia working to continue to protect residents, staff and officeholders

By Billie Owens

Press release:

The Town of Batavia has initiated the first phase of actions and precautions deemed necessary to continue to protect Town officers, staff and residents from the consequences of contagions such as colds, flu, and the coronavirus.

We will continue to clean and sanitize facilities as recommended by Public Health agencies. We will restrict nonessential trainings, reduce unnecessary contact between staff members and the public. We will post and distribute Health Self-Assessment Checklists to all staff.

We have identified essential staff and will be conferencing as many times a day as needed to address the rapidly evolving concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We will continue expanding our partnership with other public and private agencies to find efficiencies in our response.

We ask that all persons having business with the Town and Town Court to please take the time to call, check our website, or email and ask for the best and safest way to transact or conduct business.

Town of Batavia and The Town of Batavia Courts, 3833 W. Main Street Road
Batavia, NY 14020

Closures, cancellations and postponements intended to reduce novel coronavirus exposure risk

By Billie Owens

March13: Closures, cancellations and postponements announced March 13 as precautionary measures to prevent the risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19):

  • East Bethany Presbyterian Church has been closely monitoring the potential impact of COVID-19 and is following current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and New York State Health Department. After days of prayer and discussion between the church’s governing board (the Session) and our pastor, Rev. Erin Schubmehl Jacobson, and following the recommendations of the Presbytery of Genesee Valley, we are canceling in-person worship services, including church school through March 27thWe will continue to update the church community on our Facebook page ( and our website (

  • Le Roy Central School District has made the decision to postpone our musical performances of "Into the Woods" for tonight and tomorrow (March 13 and 14). If you have purchased tickets, please hold on to them as we hope to hold the shows in the future. For those of you who might seek refunds, further information will be communicated in the future. (Our production will stage a closed dress rehearsal tonight for Stars of Tomorrow Judges ONLY.)

  • The Genesee County Office for the Aging has suspended all recreational programs at this time. Those seeking services are requested to call for an appointment 343-1611.

  • Northgate Free Methodist Church in Batavia is canceling all in-person worship services, including activities for children and students this weekend (March 14-15). Small groups, due to the size restrictions set forth by the government, will be allowed to meet at their personal discretion, offsite. We are encouraging the community to join us online on our Facebook Live feed for worship on Saturday evening at 6 o'clock. The recorded worship service will also be posted for viewing on the church website. News updates will be made available here.

  • The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce has postponed its seventh annual Home Show due to Governor Cuomo’s coronavirus ban on gatherings of 500 or more people. The Home Show was scheduled for April 3-5 at the Falleti Ice Arena. The Chamber plans to hold the show later this year, at a time when the pandemic ban is lifted. “The purpose of our Home Show has always been to put our area businesses in front of as many potential customers as possible,” said Chamber President Tom Turnbull.  “We are trying hard to come up with ways to do just that during these extraordinary times.”

  • Museum Quilt Guild is cancelling its March 21 meeting and Community Service Day. This is normally held at the Batavia VA Center in the auditorium.

  • The Volunteers for Animals Spay-ghetti Dinner fundraising dinner at Notre Dame High School scheduled for Saturday, March 14, has been postponed. It will be rescheduled at a later date.

  • The Batavia City School District Foundation Inc. is postponing its debut Alumni Pep Rally that was scehduled for March 29 at Eli Fish Brewing Co. A new date will be determined in the future.

  • Due to the recent health concerns, the 14th Annual Antique Show and Sale sponsored by the Holland Land Office Museum, which was to take place at Genesee Community College on April 17th and 18th, has been postponed. We are currently working with GCC to find a new date in the fall.

Good news is no 2019 CoronaVirus reported in NYS to date, bad news is flu season drags on

By Billie Owens

So far, the Chinese pandemic that has millions of people quarantined has not thus far been reported in New York State. But the pesky flu season drags on, and health officials report the influenza season continues now into its ninth week.

For the week ending Jan. 25 alone, there were 60 new cases of flu reported in Genesee County. Of those, 42 were Type A, and 18 were Type B.

The "Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report" from the New York State Department of Health, which covers influenza activity across the state and by county, is published every Thursday during flu season and can be found here for state data and, here for county-by-county statistics.

In regard to another communicable illness, one that is causing global alarm -- "the 2019 Novel (New) CoronaVirus (2019-nCoV)" -- there are no confirmed cases in New York State, according to Nola Goodrich-Kresse, a county public health educator.

More than 50 million people in China in more than a dozen cities are locked down in an effort to contain the virus.

"The Health Departments are monitoring the situation and will be notified if any travelers from China are returning to our area," she writes in an email. "We are encouraging people to take the same prevention steps as recommended for the seasonal flu as we are still in the midst of the flu season."

Those preventative steps are:

  • Get the flu vaccination if you have not done so already;
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • Stay home if you are sick; if you are experiencing difficulty breathing or high fever, contact your primary care provider for further instructions.  Let your primary care provider or if you have to travel by ambulance, emergency services know of your travel history;
  • Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces.

The NYS Department of Health has opened a 2019 Novel (New) CoronaVirus Hotline) for questions or concerns about travel and symptoms at 1-888-364-3065 or you can visit their website here.

Public Health Column: January is Radon Action Month

By Billie Owens

Public Health Column from the Genesee County Health Department:

January is Radon Action Month! Did you know that radon is a naturally occurring, radioactive gas? It has no smell, taste, or color. Radon forms from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water and circulates into the air you breathe.

When radon is formed under homes and buildings, it can penetrate through cracks in the foundation, leading to high levels of radon, especially in enclosed areas.

Sarah Balduf, Environmental Health director of Genesee and Orleans counties, explains how easily radon can seep into your home.

“Radon can enter your home through cracks in the foundation, walls, joints, dirtfloors, opening of a sump pump, in well-water supply, and from gaps around suspended floors and pipes.," Balduf said. "Any home can have high radon levels, whether it is old or new, has a basement or is built on a slab.”

It is understandable how this colorless, odorless gas can go unnoticed. If high levels of radon in your home are undetected for an extended period of time, the risk for developing lung cancer can occur.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year. Radon is the leading second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States after smoking and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.

“However, because you can’t see or smell radon, people tend to downplay the health effects and ignore the possibility that there might be a silent killer in their homes” says Balduf.

Testing homes for elevated levels of radon is simple and inexpensive. Radon test kits can be purchased at local hardware and home improvement stores or directly from the New York State Department of Health website for $11 (click here).

If test results come back and the radon levels in your home are greater than 4 picocuries per liter of air [pCi/L], a certified radon mitigator can install a radon reduction system in your home.

To learn more about the Genesee County Radon Program, please call the department at 585-344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit here.

WNY Public Health Alliance urges everyone to get their flu shots

By Billie Owens

Press release:

The Western New York Public Health Alliance is urging everyone over the age of 6 months to get a flu vaccine to protect themselves from the effects of influenza. Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death.

Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year.

An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death in children.

It is important that people understand how the flu vaccine works. Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are used to make the vaccine.

The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.

Most flu vaccines in the United States protect against four different flu viruses (“quadrivalent”); an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and two influenza B viruses. There are also some flu vaccines that protect against three different flu viruses (“trivalent”); an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and one influenza B virus. Two of the trivalent vaccines are designed specifically for people 65 and older to create a stronger immune response.

It is also important to understand when to get a flu shot. You should get a flu vaccine before flu viruses begins spreading in your community, since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body and provide protection against flu.

Make plans to get vaccinated early in fall, before flu season begins. CDC recommends that people get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later.

Children who need two doses of vaccine to be protected should start the vaccination process sooner, because the two doses must be given at least four weeks apart.

Flu vaccines are offered in many doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies and college health centers, as well as by many employers, and even in some schools.

Even if you don’t have a regular doctor or nurse, you can get a flu vaccine somewhere else, like a health department, pharmacy, urgent care clinic, and often your school, college health center, or workplace.

For more information, please contact your local Health Department or go to the Center for Disease Control website.

The Western New York Public Health Alliance (WNYPHA) is a not-for-profit organization comprised of the Health Commissioners/Public Health directors and other community public health leaders from these eight counties of Western New York: Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans; and Wyoming.

Their mission is to support collaboration across WNY to further public health initiatives and priorities. As part of this mission, the WNYPHA works to provide health education and information to prevent disease and improve population health.

Public Health Column: Stepping up efforts to reduce childhood lead poisoning

By Billie Owens

From the Genesee County Health Department:

Often times, you are poisoned by lead you can’t even see! According to the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), children under 6 years old are more likely to be poisoned with lead than any other age group.

Lead is a metal that is harmful to both children and adults when it enters the body.

Most often, children are poisoned from breathing in or swallowing dust from old lead paint that gets on floors and windowsills, hands and toys.

Only a small amount of lead is needed to harm a child’s growth, behavior and ability to learn.

Most children poisoned by lead do not look or feel sick, so the only way to know for sure is to get tested.

New York State (NYS) law requires that every child must be tested for lead at the age one and again at the age two. Providers should also be assessing a child for risks of lead exposure regularly through age 6.

NYS has both the nation’s greatest number (3.3 million) and the highest percentage (43.1 percent) of housing stock built before 1950. Houses of this age are much more likely to contain lead paint, the leading cause of childhood lead poisoning.

Governor Cuomo’s 2019 budget is responding to this public health threat by lowering the acceptable blood lead level from 15 micrograms per deciliter of blood (µg/dl) to 5 µg/dl.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) took that step in 2012 and has since been enacted in several states, including, Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey and Vermont. These states made their decision to move to the lower CDC guidelines based on the evidence that supports early intervention as the primary way to prevent the serious health effects suffered by victims of lead poisoning.

“Effective Oct. 1st, a child whose blood lead level is 5 µg/dl or more will be contacted by their local health department who will help families identify sources of lead and create plans to remove it by conducting home inspections,” said Paul Pettit, Public Health director.

“Lowering the blood lead action level will increase home inspections greatly. The Genesee and Orleans County health departments are prepared for this change and have hired a lead coordinator to be dedicated to this workload for both counties.”

If a child's blood lead level is 5µg/dl or more, the health department nurse will report to Environmental Department. There will be an inspection done at the house by the Environmental Department from the local health department to check for lead exposure, and an educational prevention approach by the nurse from the local health department will be done with the family to decrease the lead level in the child’s bloodstream.

There are many sources of exposure according to the NYSOH. Subscribe to the Consumer Product Safety Commission to learn about consumer products recalled for lead violations.

Sources of Lead

  • Paint (older homes, old toys, furniture, crafts)
  • Air / Dust
  • Soil
  • Water (leaching of lead solder on plumbing)
  • Folk medicines and cosmetics
  • Children’s jewelry and toys
  • Workplace and hobbies
  • Lead-glazed ceramics; china; leaded crystal; and pewter
  • Imported candies or foods
  • Firearms with lead bullets
  • Foreign made mini-blinds
  • Car batteries and radiators

Lead can harm a young child’s growth, ability to learn and may be linked with tooth decay/cavities, hearing loss, behavior problems, even to the point that Early Intervention services are needed.

Early Intervention is the term used to describe services and support that are available to babies and young children and their families with developmental delay and disabilities.

Lead can also be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy. Although lead poisoning is preventable, it continues to be a major cause of the problem among children.

For more information about lead, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and Early Intervention Services visit:

For information about Health Department services contact:

  • Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website.

Senators announce $1.3 million in HUD funds for lead-based paint removal in Genesee County homes

By Billie Owens

Information from a press release:

U.S. senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today (Sept. 21) announced $1.3 million for Genesee County under the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program.

The senators explained that the funding will allow Genesee County to continue addressing and removing lead-based paint hazards in homes, a problem it has grappled with for years.

The purpose of the Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Program is to identify and control lead-based paint hazards in eligible privately owned housing for rental or owner-occupants. These grants are used to assist municipalities in carrying out lead hazard-control activities.

Schumer explained that following his relentless advocacy for Genesee County, HUD Secretary Ben Carson called him directly Friday afternoon to confirm the funding.

“During my call with Secretary Carson, I made it clear that even 40 years after the federal government banned the use of lead paint, children in the Rochester-Finger Lakes Region still continue to suffer the insidious consequences of toxic lead," Schumer said. "I’m pleased to announce that he agreed with me, and committed to sending Genesee County $1.3 million to remove lead hazards from communities.

"I’ve long fought tooth and nail for federal funding and programs that work to remove lead in area homes, because lead poisoning is an irreversible, preventable tragedy that robs too many children across the region of their futures. I couldn’t be more thrilled to announce today’s fantastic news, which will be a major boon for public health."

"No child in the Finger Lakes Region should be forced to live in a home with dangerous lead," Gillibrand said. "This funding is a critical investment to start remediation and help keep some of our most vulnerable families safe. I will continue fighting so that our communities have the federal support they need to remove lead from their homes."

Public Health Column: April is Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness Month

By Billie Owens

From the Genesee County Health Department:

April is Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness Month, which is a great time to GYT -- Get Yourself Tested!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly 20 million new STDs occur every year in this country. In fact, one in two sexually active young people in the United States will contract an STD by the time they’re 25 — and most won’t know it.

This is why it is important to GYT at least once a year, and more often if you or your partner(s) participate in risky behaviors.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections transmitted from one person to another through sexual activity. These include chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), syphilis, and HIV. Many people who have an STD don’t know it because they often don’t have signs or symptoms. Even without symptoms, STDs can still be harmful and passed on during sex.

If you are sexually active, getting tested for STDs is one of the most important things you can do to protect your health. Make sure you have an open and honest conversation about your sexual history and STD testing with your doctor and ask whether you should be tested for STDs.

It is important for sexually active men and women to get tested at least once a year. You should get tested every three to six months if you do not use protection (latex or synthetic male/female condoms, dental dams, and finger cots) having multiple sexual partners and/or sharing needles/drug paraphernalia.

Testing will not only protect your health now, but will protect the future of your health as well.

Brenden Bedard, deputy Public Health director / director of Community Health Services of Genesee and Orleans counties, says there are serious health outcomes that STDs may have if left untreated.

“Some of the consequences of not receiving timely testing and treatment can include infertility (cannot become pregnant), loss of pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease (inflammation of the female reproductive organs), epididymitis (inflammation of the epididymis tube in the testicle), weakened immune system, damage to organs, and various cancers,” Bedard said.

The good news, he explained, is that many STDs can be treated or even cured.

“Some STDs, such as gonorrhea,chlamydia, and syphilis, can be cured by taking antibiotics prescribed by a healthcare provider," Bedard said. "Although some STDs cannot be cured, such as genital herpes, genital warts, and HIV/AIDS, taking medication can treat andmanage the symptoms of these diseases.”

According to the CDCs latest report, in 2017 there were 2 million cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis diagnosed in the United States. In 2018, STD rates in Genesee County confirmed 159 cases of chlamydia, 41 cases of gonorrhea, five cases of syphilis, and six cases of hepatitis B.

There are several ways to prevent STDs. The most reliable way is to not have sex (vaginal, oral or anal), but there are many other tried-and-true options:

  • Get Vaccinated: Vaccines are safe, effective, and recommended ways to prevent hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV vaccines for males and females can protect against certain types of HPV that can lead to cancer or genital warts. The HPV vaccine is given in a series of 3 shots for people ages 15-45. For people ages 9-14, only two doses (shots) are needed. You should also get vaccinated for hepatitis B if you were not vaccinated when you were younger.
  • Reduce Number of Sexual Partners: Reducing your number of sex partners can decrease your risk for STDs. It is still important that you and your partner get tested, and that you share your test results with one another.

  • Mutual Monogamy: Mutual monogamy means that you agree to be sexually active with only one person, who has agreed to be sexually active only with you. Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is one of the most reliable ways to avoid STDs. But you must both be certain you are not infected with STDs. It is important to have an open and honest conversation with your partner.

  • Use Condoms: Correct and consistent use of a condom is highly effective in reducing STD transmission. Use a condom every time you have anal, vaginal or oral sex. If you have latex allergies, synthetic non-latex condoms can be used. It is important to note that these condoms have higher breakage rates than latex condoms. Natural membrane condoms are not recommended for STD prevention. Contact your local Health Department (Genesee: 344-2580, ext. 5555) about access to free condoms.

  • Sterile Needles and Syringes: Persons who inject drugs can substantially reduce their risk of getting and transmitting HIV, viral hepatitis and other blood-borne infections by using a sterile needle and syringe for every injection.

For more information on where you can get tested, click here.

To contact the Genesee County Health Department phone 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website here.

Public Health Law requires that testing and treatment for chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis be made available for everyone regardless of if they do not have health insurance or if their health insurance does not cover such services. For those without health insurance or who are underinsured the Genesee County Health Department contracts with the following agencies:

Batavia Primary Care, 16 Bank St., Batavia

Planned Parenthood, 222 W. Main St., Batavia

WorkFit Medical, 178 Washington Ave., Batavia

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