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public health column

April 15, 2019 - 3:20pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, public health column, STDs.

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

April 1, 2019 - 2:11pm

Public health column from the Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments:

The Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming County Health Departments are encouraging county residents to “Think Health.” Taking time to think about your health and taking positive health steps will lead to healthier outcomes. Learning something new every day is one way to “Think Health”...

The first week of April is National Public Health Week (NPHW), a week set aside showing us how we can choose healthier living.

National Public Health Week started in April of 1995 by the American Public Health Association (APHA) with a focus on Public Health prevention topics. This year's theme is, “Creating the Healthiest Nation: For science. For action. For Health.”

The topics for each day are:

  • Monday, April 1st -- Healthy Communities: People's health, longevity and well-being are connected to their communities. Americans face many issues in their community such as being exposed to air pollution, lead, and even unsafe places to walk. Working with transportation planners to create safe walking and biking paths and organizing clinics for vaccines such as flu shots are all steps that can be taken to benefit people in the community and prevent preventable deaths. By making health a priority in policymaking we can help make a difference in communities.
  •  
  • Tuesday, April 2nd -- Violence Prevention: Violence is a significant public health problem in the United States, whether it is gun-related, rape, domestic abuse, suicide, or even child abuse. As public health professionals, it is part of our job to prevent acts of violence. This can be done through urging policy makers to inforce stricter gun laws, working with local colleges to help victims of sexual violence, and enforcing home visits to prevent child maltreatment. It is important to advocate community-driven solutions that target the source of where the violence is coming from that do not punish the community as a whole.
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  • Wednesday, April 3rd -- Rural Health: Americans who live in rural communities have an increased risk of death from heart disease, cancer, unintentional injury, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory disease. There has also been a higher rate of suicide and opioid overdoses shown in rural communities. To improve rural community’s health it is important that we focus on social determinants that negatively impact health. By offering telemedicine, increasing job training opportunities and helping children achieve success academically; we can help improve the health of those living in rural populations.
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  • Thursday, April 4th -- Technology and Public Health: Technology can be a powerful public health tool. It can be used to help educate and advocate communities, can help practitioners swap their best practices, can be used for GIS mapping, and can even be used as a text line to find out information about certain health topics. It is important that public health funding levels continue to be supported to allow workers to have access to the latest technology.
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  • Friday, April 5th -- Climate Change: Climate change is seen as one of the greatest threats to public health. It can lead to natural disasters, impact food security, water and air quality, and even increase the risk of vector-borne diseases. Climate change is a real issue that has already begun to occur. Supporting policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, carpooling, and steering toward renewable, clean energies instead of fossil fuels can help make a difference in climate change and our health.
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  • Saturday and Sunday, April 6th & 7th -- Global Health: America's health and the world's health are fundamentally connected. Consider that during the H1N1 flu pandemic, the virus quickly traveled around the world and a global effort was required to track its movements and eventually contain the disease. Across the world, communities still struggle with preventable and often-neglected diseases.The World Health Organization's (WHO) top 10 threats to global health include: pandemic flu, cholera, violent conflict, malaria, malnutrition and natural disasters.

Public Health covers a wide variety of topic areas. According to the WHO, public health refers to all organized measures (whether public or private) to prevent disease, promote health, and prolong life among the population as a whole. Its activities aim to provide conditions in which people can be healthy and focus on entire populations, not on individual patients or diseases. It is important to remember that most of public health is prevention!

“As you can see, public health isn’t just about being physically healthy,” said Paul Pettit, Genesee and Orleans County Public Health director, “it includes the health of the whole body and mind, as well ascommunity resiliency, and the safety of the environment we live, work and play in.

"The Health Departments’are moving into the role of Chief Health Strategists, we want to embrace and encourage our communities to work with us to create new and innovative ways to improve health, so please reach out.”

The benefits of prevention are undeniable. For example, public health is credited with adding 25 years to life expectancy of people in the United States.

“Promoting public health in community development, local businesses and through community events will help us move toward being the healthiest counties in New York State,” said Dr. Gregory Collins, commissioner of Wyoming County Public Health.

What can you do throughout the year to encourage better health in your home, neighborhood, work place and county?

For information about this article or health department services contact, Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website here.

March 24, 2019 - 3:12pm

Public Health Column from the Genesee County Health Department:

Do you know that 80 percent of elevated lead levels in adults come from workplace exposures? Adults who do work in construction, auto repairs, paint, weld steel, or even reconstruct bridges have high chances of being exposed to lead.

Exposure can also occur during renovation or remodeling activities in homes built before 1978 when personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves aren’t used. Adults are typically exposed to lead when it is ingested through food, water, cigarettes, contaminated hands, or by inhaling lead fumes or dust.

People with these jobs also risk bringing home dust with lead on their work clothes, skin or equipment. It’s referred to as “take-home lead” and can expose anyone who comes in contact with it to lead.

Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services of Genesee and Orleans counties, said it's important to minimize take-home lead exposure.

“By bringing lead into your home, you are putting your family at risk, especially if you have children," Bedard said. "Lead can severely impact a child’s intellectual development, even in the womb, as well as cause other negative health effects for adults.

If your work involves any of the jobs listed above or if you have a hobby involving any type of renovations or remodeling, it is important that you get tested for lead by your Primary Care Doctor.”

According to the New York State Department of Health, lead levels between 10 and 25 micrograms per deciliter of blood (μg/dL) shows that there has been an exposure to lead and will require further actions for treatment. In 2013, the national prevalence rate of blood leads levels ≥10 μg/dL was 20.4 adults per 100,000 employed.

When lead is exposed to the body, about 90 percent is stored in bones and the rest is distributed to the brain, liver and kidneys. When your body undergoes changes such as aging and pregnancy, lead in the bones can be released into the blood leading to higher blood lead levels and increased likelihood of symptoms.

Lead exposure can be very damaging to your health and even lead to death if exposure is extremely high. Some symptoms include high blood pressure, vision or hearing problems, digestive issues, memory loss, seizures, headaches, pain or tingling in the hands and/or feet, and even feelings of weakness.

Tips to Protect Yourself From Lead:

  • Monitor blood lead levels;
  • Shower after working;
  • Wash your hands before you drink, eat, or smoke;
  • Change clothes before going home;
  • Wash work clothes separately;
  • Wear a fitted respirator with a HEPA filter when working with lead and dust fumes;
  • Participate in your employer's lead screening program.

Lead should be taken seriously and it is important to get tested if you think you may be at risk. For information about lead, click here or contact your local Health Department.

  • Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website here.
February 23, 2019 - 2:18pm

Genesee County Health Department Public Health Column

Are you actively taking the necessary steps to live healthy? If not, now is a great time to start if you want to make a difference in the quality and quantity of your life. Take a few moments to learn why your family should register for the FREE Get Fit! Program by March 1.

The Healthy Children and Families Coalition is offering this eight-week family-based program that makes exercising and eating right fun and realistic.

Families who register will also receive a YMCA pass to use the facility in Batavia for free throughout the duration of the program! There are also chances to win prizes throughout the program that further encourage healthy lifestyle choices.

Enroll your family today by visiting www.GetFitWNY.org or calling 585-344-5420!

Classes will be held on Thursdays, 6 to 7:30 p.m. from March 7th -- May 9th at the Pembroke Primary School, 2486 Main Road in East Pembroke, and also at Pembroke Intermediate School, 58 Alleghany Road, Corfu (for two classes only -- March 21 & 28).

There will be no class on April 18th and April 25th. Hurry, limited spots available.

Throughout the program, families will bond together through exercising, sampling healthy food choices, discovering simple and great tasting recipes, as well as learning how to eat right on a budget. Exercising is made fun with different activities each week including yoga, taekwondo, and parachute games.

The Get Fit! Program aims to battle the obesity epidemic locally. Sixty-six percent of adults and 37 percent youth in Genesee County are either overweight or obese.

But the weight problem is nationwide. And being overweight or obese contributes to your risk of developing heart disease. According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause death in the United States. Excess weight, even 10-20 pounds, increases a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer and other medical ailments.

According to the Surgeon General, overweight adolescents have a 70 percent chance of becoming overweight or obese adults. This increases to 80 percent if one or more parent is overweight or obese. For the first time in history, it is possible for children to have a shorter life span than their parents.

The increased cost of nutritious foods, larger portion sizes, increased consumption of processed foods (typically having higher salt concentrations), and decreased physical activity are the fuel in this out of control “fire.”

The Get Fit! Program is made possible by the Genesee County Health Department, the Genesee County YMCA, Rochester Regional Health at United Memorial Medical Center, the City of Batavia Youth Bureau, Oakfield Family Medical Care, Insight Grants Development, Alexander Central School District, Pembroke Central School District, and the Rotary Club of Batavia.

February 19, 2019 - 4:11pm

Public Health Column for February

The Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming County Health Departments are encouraging county residents to “Choose Health.” By taking small steps in our day-to-day living and making positive health choices, people have the ability to change their future health for the better.

During an average lifespan, the heart beats more than two billion times. The heart is vital to your health and without it blood wouldn’t be able to move through your body. February is American Heart Month, a time to remember how important this muscle is and educate ourselves on how to take better care of it since it is the reason we are alive.

According to the New York State Department of Health, more people die of cardiovascular diseases than all other causes of death combined. In fact, approximately 610,000 people die in the United States every year from heart disease, making the disease accountable for 1 in every 4 deaths.

In 2015, Genesee County had 201 deaths from cardiovascular disease, Orleans County had 144 deaths, and Wyoming County had 120 deaths.

The most common cardiovascular disease is coronary heart disease (CHD), killing an average of 370,000 people every year. This disease occurs when the small blood vessels that carry oxygen and blood to our hearts get very narrow. Coronary heart disease is usually caused by a condition called atherosclerosis, which occurs when fatty material and a substance called plaque builds up on the walls of your arteries.

Plaque is a waxy substance that forms in the artery wall made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances. The buildup forces the arteries to become narrow, slowing down or completely stopping the blood flow to the heart. Narrowing of the arteries can lead to chest pains (stable angina), shortness of breath, or even heart attack.

Heart disease has a close relationship to lifestyle choices. This is why it is so important that you make healthy decisions, participate in physical activity, and eat healthy.

The New York State Department of Health recommends people of all ages engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes on all or most days of the week. If you do not exercise at all, start slow and discuss with your doctor steps you should take to get active and help improve your heart health.

This may include going to the gym, getting involved in a sport, or even walking the mall with a friend. You can even break the exercise up and do 10 minutes three times a day building up to 30 minutes a day, if 30 minutes all at once seems to be too overwhelming. By repeating these small changes daily, they are likely to turn into a habit and your heart will thank you for it in the long run.

It is also important when focusing on heart health to pay close attention to nutrition. Poor nutrition can lead to many health problems, including high blood cholesterol levels, obesity and diabetes.

Consuming food high in saturated fat (whole milk, butter, and red meats), trans fats (foods with hydrogenated oils like boxed cookies, crackers, and doughnuts) or sodium (found in many processed foods) can increase your risk of getting heart disease.

To improve you’re eating habits and lower risks of heart disease you can eat more fruits and vegetables, limit processed foods, eat foods high in fiber, reduce your sodium intake and limit trans fats, saturated fats, and cholesterol.

When choosing to eat meats avoid red meats and go for lean meat instead, these would include meats such as lean ground turkey, fish, and skinless chicken.

“Staying on track when it comes to eating healthy can be a difficult thing to do but is extremely necessary to stay healthy and preventcardiovascular disease,” said Paul Pettit, Public Health director for Genesee and Orleans counties.

Although poor nutrition and lack of exercise are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, the single largest risk factor is smoking. Smokers are twice as likely to have a heart attack as nonsmokers are, and are between two and four times more likely to die suddenly from heart disease. This is due to the nicotine in cigarettes raising blood pressure and the carbon monoxide limiting the amount of oxygen that can be carried by your blood.

Although you may not smoke, exposure to smoke in the home and workplace has also been shown to increase risk from the second hand smoke. Talk with family members about quitting smoking or discuss designated smoke areas to reduce second hand smoke.

The New York State Smoker’s Quitline is a great resource for free nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and support services. Call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866- 697-8487) or visit www.nysmokefree.com.

There are also other factors that increase your risk for heart disease. Unfortunately some of those factors may be out of your control. One factor happens to be gender. For example, men in their 40s have a higher risk of heart disease than women. However, as women get older, their risk increases so that it is almost equal to a man’s risk.

Secondly, genetics can play a role in developing heart disease. If someone in your family has had heart disease, especially before age 50, your own risk increases as you age. It is especially important that precautions are taken and healthy habits are made in order to decrease risk of developing heart disease.

So how do I know if I am having a heart attack? Well, here are some signs:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and then comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or just pain;
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. This can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach;

  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort;

  • Breaking into a cold sweat;

  • Nausea;

  • Lightheadedness;

  • Palpitations (feeling like your heart is pounding or beating fast)

    (Source

It is important to understand that men and women often have different signs and symptoms of a heart attack. Women are more likely to experience the less known symptoms of the jaw and back pain, nausea and vomiting.

Unfortunately, many people are unsure of what is happening to their body and wait to seek help, instead of going in right away to find out what is wrong.

It is important to learn the signs, but also remember that even if you are not sure if it is a heart attack, to tell a doctor about your symptoms. Just one call to the doctors, explaining your symptoms could save your life. Minutes matter!

If you think you are having a heart attack, do not wait more than five minutes to call 9-1-1.

For additional information, contact your local health department.

Contact the Genesee County Health Department at 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website here.

January 4, 2019 - 4:09pm

Public Health Colmun 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, dirt floors, opening of sump pump, in well-water supply, and from gaps around suspended floors and pipes. Any home can have high radonlevels, 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 the second leading cause of lung cancer. If you smoke and live in a home with high radon levels, your risk for developing lung cancer significantly increases.

Testing your home with a short term radon test kit is the quickest way to determine if there are high levels of radon present in your home. The Genesee County Health Department has an allotment of short-term test kits that are free of charge for Genesee County residents. These test kits are easy to use and contain basic instructions on how to receive the most accurate results when testing your home for radon.

“Testing your home for radon and taking action sooner rather than later could save the health of your family,” Balduf said. "Testing your home for radon is a simple process that is free of charge to Genesee County residents when you request a kit from the Genesee County Health Department."

If you do live outside of the county, inexpensive radon test kits can be purchased at hardware stores. If test results come back and the radon levels in your home are greater than 4 picocuries per liter of air [pCi/L], which is the “take action” level determined by the EPA, a certified radon mitigator can install a radon reduction system in your home. Take action against radon this January!

For more details about the program or to receive any of these services call the department at 585-344-2580.

December 27, 2018 - 1:03pm

From the Genesee and Orleans health departments:

With the year closing out, both the Genesee County and Orleans County health departments would like to wish you and yours a healthy and Happy New Year!

The collaboration between the two counties has provided several opportunities to meet our joint mission to work collaboratively ensuring conditions that promote optimal health for individuals and the communities we serve.

In 2018, we have had a successful joint Point of Distribution (POD) exercise to test our Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program. Staff have had the opportunity to work across the county borders to assist in department functions during times of limited staff.

We have added the Weights & Measures program in both counties to provide a consumer connection with vendors of food, fuel and other providers to test and verify the accuracy of weighing and measuring devices.

Our children’s programs work diligently to provide education, case management, support and referrals to help the children of our counties succeed and enjoy a good quality of life.

The Community Health Services of both departments work hard to limit the spread of communicable diseases by providing immunizations, lead poisoning prevention direction, as well as provide guidance for pregnant moms and families with new babies.

The nursing staff has provided migrant health outreach to assist the farm workers in both counties along with investigating disease / foodborne illness outbreaks.

The Environmental Team provides quality inspections to assure we are safe from foodborne illness, have working septic systems, and help keep our pets safe from rabies.

The Public Health Education Team has welcomed Marlowe Thompson to work in both counties assisting with the upcoming Community Health Assessment (CHA), Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), and the Public Health Accreditation Board process. The team along with one of our nurses is able to provide Narcan training to local businesses and organizations to help battle the opioid crisis.

Prevent Type 2 Diabetes Workshops will be starting up in early 2019 in both counties in partnership with our hospitals. Our support team is always working to make sure the department is run within budget, keep our forms straight and provide guidance with insurance reimbursement.

In 2019, we are looking to shift from organizational thinking to community-focused thinking by taking the role of Community Chief Health Strategists. Our departments have always worked collaboratively with other agencies within our borders and are looking to focus community resources on improving specific health outcomes as we develop our tri-county CHA/CHIP and in partnership with the local hospital systems, Community Services Plan.

We will be looking to community members to assist in this process by participating in community conversations and taking a community health assessment survey.

Both departments look forward to having a joint website where you can access forms and information from both county health departments. We continue to provide timely posts on our GO Health NY Facebook and Twitter pages along with increasing interviews on our GO Health NY YouTube site.

“It is our pleasure to serve the residents and visitors of Genesee and Orleans counties,” said Paul Pettit, Public Health director of Genesee and Orleans county health departments. “On behalf of the staff in both counties thank you for the opportunity to serve you and we look forward to a great 2019!”

For information about Health Department services contact:

  • Genesee County Health Department at 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website here.
  • Orleans County Health Department at 589-3278, or check out this website here.
September 25, 2018 - 12:04pm

Public Health Column from the Genesee County Health Department:

Do you have small children or grandchildren? Are you pregnant and getting your older home ready for your new baby? Do you live in a house or send your children to a day care center built before 1978? Do you know the last time your child was tested for lead poisoning?

If you don’t know the answer to the last question, talk with your primary care provider or contact your local Health Department and ask about testing.

Lead is a metal that can harm children and adults when it gets into their bodies. Lead can be found in dust, air, water, soil, and in some products used in and around the home. Most homes built before 1978 have old lead paint, often under newer paint.

If paint peels, cracks, or is worn down, the chips and dust from the old lead paint can spread onto floors, windowsills and all around your home. Lead dust can then get onto children's hands and toys, and into their mouths.

Generally there are no signs or symptoms to help you know if your child has lead poisoning. A person with lead poisoning usually does not look or feel sick. The best way to find out if your child has lead poisoning is by testing.

The most common test is a quick blood test. It measures how much lead is in the bloodstream. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, the ability to pay attention, delayed development, and academic achievement.

New York State requires doctors to test all children with a blood lead test at age 1 year and again at age 2 years. At every well-child visit up to age 6, health care providers must ask parents about any contact their child might have had with lead.

If there's been a chance of contact, providers are required to test for lead again. Parents can ask their child's doctor or nurse if their child should get a lead test, and what the lead test results mean.

“Children under the age of 6 years old are at risk because they are growing so rapidly and because they tend to put their hands and/or other objects, which may be contaminated with lead dust, into their mouths,” said Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services of Genesee and Orleans Counties.

In addition to children, pregnant women should be tested for lead as well.

“Expectant mothers who live in an older home and are exposed to lead dust can inhale the particles and pass it on to their baby," Bedard said. "Your doctor should discuss proper prenatal care to reduce your exposure to lead during your pregnancy and how to prevent lead exposure to your baby once he/she is born.”

The good news is that you can protect your family from lead poisoning. Talk to your healthcare provider about potential lead sources in your house or anywhere your kids spend long periods of time, such as a daycare or a relative’s house.

Here are some ways to reduce or eliminate your exposure to lead/ lead dust:

Fix peeling lead paint and make home repairs safely.

  • Keep children away from peeling or chipped paint.

  • Before making repairs in a home built before 1978, call your local health department to learn how to work safely and keep dust levels down.

  • Children and pregnant women should stay away from repairs that disturb old paint, such as sanding and scraping. They should stay away until the    area is cleaned using wet cleaning methods and a HEPA vacuum (not dry sweeping).

Wash dust off hands, toys, bottles, windows and floors.

  • Wash your child's hands and face after play, before meals, and before bed.

  • Wash toys, stuffed animals, pacifiers and bottles with soap and water often.

  • Mop floors often, and use damp paper towels to clean window wells and sills.

Be careful not to bring lead home on clothes, toys, or jewelry.

Keep lead out of your food and tap water.

Serve foods that have calcium, iron, and vitamin C.

​Lead is in some children's jewelry, toys, keys, and old furniture. Sign up for children's product recall alerts at www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.

Some jobs and hobbies can involve contact with lead. These include: painting, plumbing, construction, car repair, or working with firearms, stained glass or pottery.

To lower lead dust, change work clothes before going home; take shoes off at your door; wash work or hobby clothes separately; wash face, hands and uncovered skin before going home.

  • Let tap water run for one minute before using it, if it hasn't been run for a few hours. Town and well water could have lead from old plumbing.

  • Only use cold tap water for drinking, cooking, and making baby formula. Boiling your water does not get rid of lead.

  • Use lead-free dishes. Don't serve or store food in pewter, crystal, or cracked pottery.

These foods help keep lead from being stored in your child's body:

  • Foods with calcium: milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu, and green, leafy vegetables.

  • Foods with iron: beans, lean meat, fortified cereal and peanut butter.

  • Foods with vitamin C: oranges, orange juice, grapefruit, tomatoes, green peppers.

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

September 18, 2018 - 1:42pm

From the Genesee County Health Department:

There are many reasons to prepare for an emergency, such as a natural disaster, a power outage, or another crisis. Most Americans do not have supplies set aside or plans in place to protect their own or their family’s health and safety.

National Preparedness Month, recognized each September, provides an opportunity to remind us that we all must prepare ourselves and our families now and throughout the year.

Albert Cheverie, Public Health Emergency Preparedness coordinator of Genesee and Orleans counties, encourages all residents to take the time to prepare for an emergency now.

“Disasters can strike at any time," Cheverie said. "One of the most important tools every individual and family can have to protect themselves in possible emergencies is a plan of action.”

Make and Practice Your Plan

Having a family emergency plan will save time and make real situations less stressful. As you plan ahead about what to do during an emergency, be sure to take into account any members of your family with special needs, specific preparations for children, and what you will do with your pets. Here are a few simple things you can do to start your Emergency Action Plan:

  • Create a Communication Plan

           Make a plan as a family for communicating in the event that you are separated during an emergency. Use a sheet or card with all the phone numbers and information every individual in the family may need, and make sure every member of the family has a copy of the communication plan. Make sure to regularly review and update the contact list as needed.

  • Make an Evacuation Plan

           As a family, discuss where you will go in the event of an emergency. Discuss where your children will go if they are in school or daycare at the time of the emergency, and make sure they understand where you will be. Your plan should also include how to safely shut off all utilities.

  • Practice Your Plan

           Set up practice drills at least twice a year for your family to ensure everyone knows what to do and where to go in the event of an emergency. Update your plan according to any issues that arise. Make sure everyone knows where the plan is located.

Learn Life Saving Skills

If something happens where people are injured; act quickly and with a purpose. Remember to call 9-1-1 as soon as possible. Move the injured away from any remaining danger and do anything within your ability to keep the person alive. This may include: applying pressure to stop bleeding, repositioning the injured person to help them breath, or by simply talking to them and providing comfort if they are conscious.

Check Your Coverage

Your home and personal belongings are meaningful and valuable assets. If a disaster strikes, having insurance for your home is the best way to ensure you will have the necessary financial resources to help you repair, rebuild, or replace whatever is damaged. Yet, more than half of all homeowners in the United States do not carry adequate homeowners insurance to replace their home and its contents should a catastrophic loss occur. Now, before a disaster strikes, take the time to:

  1. Document Your Property: Store paper copies in a waterproof and fireproof box, safe, or bank deposit box. Leave copies with trusted relatives or friends. Secure electronic copies with strong passwords and save them on a flash or external hard drive in your waterproof box or safe.

  2. Understand Your Options for Coverage: An insurance professional can help you customize your home insurance policy based on your particular needs.

      3. Ensure You Have Appropriate Insurance for Relevant Hazards: Most homeowner insurance policies do not cover damage from earthquakes and floods. Talk with your insurance professional if you reside in a flood zone or are at risk for flooding or mudflows.

Save For an Emergency

Americans at all income levels have experienced the challenges of rebuilding their lives after a disaster or other emergency. In these stressful circumstances, having access to personal financial, insurance, medical, and other records is crucial for starting the process of recovery quickly and efficiently.

Taking the time now to collect and secure these critical records will give you peace of mind and, in the event of an emergency, will ensure that you have the documentation needed to start the recovery process without delay.

In addition to financially saving for an emergency, it is also important to stock up on essential items you may need, but might not have access to in the event of an emergency. A large-scale disaster or unexpected emergency can limit your access to food, safe water, and medical supplies for days or weeks.

The Department of Homeland Security recommends you have a basic emergency supply kit that includes enough food and water for each of your family members for at least 72 hours — that’s 1 gallon of water per day per person and canned (nonperishable) food for three days.

Other supplies on their list includes flashlights, extra batteries, a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio, a basic first-aid kit, trash bags for safe sanitary waste disposal, a week supply of prescription medications, pet supplies (if needed), as well as entertainment such as books, magazines, playing cards, and coloring books with crayons. It is also important to keep your emergency kit up to date, replacing water and perishables periodically.

Though National Preparedness Month concludes at the end of September, the conversation about emergency preparedness should not. Cheverie encourages residents to take action now by enrolling in a skills class such as CPR or Stop the Bleed, participating in community exercises, and volunteering to support local first responders.

“The good news is that it is never too late to prepare for a public health emergency," Cheverie said. "You can create plans, make healthy choices, and download free resources, such as the Ready Genesee and Orleans Aware Mobile Apps to stay informed and up-to-date on what is happening in your local community.”

The Ready Genesee and Orleans Aware Mobile Apps are free and available to everyone using an iOS or an Android device. The apps can be downloaded directly from the App Store or Google Play.

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

June 20, 2018 - 5:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in lead poisoning, public health column, news, Announcements.

Public Health Column from the Genesee County Health Department:

Is your child or grandchild at risk for lead poisoning? If you live in a home with peeling paint that was built before 1978, this may be something to consider.

Most commonly, kids get lead poisoning from lead-based paint, which was used in many U.S. homes until the late 1970s, when the government banned the manufacture of paint containing lead. That is why kids who live in older homes are at a greater risk for lead poisoning.

Lead poisoning is caused by swallowing or breathing in lead dust. Lead is a metal that can harm children and adults when it gets into their bodies. In addition to lead based paint in the home, there are many sources of lead including, but not limited to: paint on old toys, furniture, and crafts, dust, soil, drinking water, air, folk medicines, cosmetics, children’s jewelry and toys, workplace and hobbies, lead-glazed ceramics, china, leaded crystal, pewter, imported candies and/or food in cans, 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, and behavior problems. Lead can also be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy.

There are generally no symptoms or signs to help you know if your child has lead poisoning. A person with lead poisoning usually does not look or act sick. The best way to find out if your child has lead poisoning is by testing. The most common test is a quick blood test. It measures how much lead is in your bloodstream.

Because children continue to be at risk, New York State requires health care providers to test all children for lead with a blood lead test at age 1 year and again at age 2 years. At every well-child visit up to age 6, health care providers must ask parents about any contact their child might have had with lead.

If there's been a chance of contact, providers are required to test for lead again. Parents can ask their child's doctor or nurse if their child should get a lead test, and what the lead test results mean.

Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services of Genesee and Orleans counties, commented on why it is important for pregnant women to be tested for lead, too.

“Mothers who live in an older home and are exposed to lead dust can inhale the particles, and pass it on to their baby," Bedard said. "Some of the effects that lead can have on their unborn child include: delayed growth and development, premature delivery, low birth weight, and in some cases may result in a miscarriage.”

If you are pregnant, talk to your provider about getting tested for lead.

Although lead poisoning is preventable, lead continues to be a major cause of poisoning among children. Thousands of children are still at risk. Here are some simple things parents and caregivers can do to reduce a child’s exposure to lead:

  • Find the lead in your home. Most children get lead poisoning from lead paint in homes built before 1978. It is important to find and fix lead in your home as soon as possible. Have your home inspected by a licensed lead inspector;
  • Before purchasing an older home, ask for a lead inspection;
  • Get your child tested. Even if young children seem healthy, ask your doctor to test them for lead;
  • Learn about drinking water. Water pipes in some older homes may contain lead solder where lead may leach out into the water. Let cold water run for one minute before drinking it, especially if it has not been used for a few hours;
  • Give your child healthy foods. Feed your child healthy foods with calcium, iron, and vitamin C. These foods may help keep lead out of the body. Calcium is in milk, yogurt, cheese, and green leafy vegetables like spinach. Iron is in lean red meats, beans, peanut butter, and cereals. Vitamin C is in oranges, green and red peppers, and juice.
  • Clean up lead dust. When old paint cracks and peels, it makes lead dust. Lead dust is so small you cannot see it. Children get lead poisoning from swallowing dust on their hands and toys. Use a damp cloth and a damp mop to reduce the spread of dust;
  • Understand the facts! Your local health department can provide you with helpful information about preventing childhood lead poisoning.

For information about Health Department services contact:

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

March 19, 2018 - 4:32pm
posted by Billie Owens in shingles, PHN, public health column, vaccine.

Public Health Column from the Genesee County Health Department:

A new and improved shingles vaccine has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Shingrix" is now available to adults 50 years and older in protecting against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia, one of the most serious complications associated with shingles.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared that adults who receive two doses of the Shingrix vaccine are more likely to prevent the virus from occurring compared to adults who received Zostavax.

Shingles is a painful rash that can be described as an extreme burning sensation. The CDC has estimated that one out of every three adults will experience shingles in their lifetime.

Shingles primarily appears on one side of the body around the face and/or torso. Before an individual develops shingles, they may experience a tingling or burning sensation under the skin in the region where the rash will appear.

The rash consists of fluid-filled blisters that scab over in 7 to 10 days. An individual can expect the redness to linger for about 2 to 4 weeks after the initial onset of the rash. Additional symptoms present with shingles may include: fatigue, fever, chills, upset stomach, and muscle weakness.

Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus remains dormant (inactive) in the nervous system for many years before reactivating as shingles.

It is unclear what stimulates the varicella zoster virus to reactivate in the form of shingles, but certain risk factors contribute to the virus reappearing such as age and weakened immunity.

Shingles can cause debilitating health complications such as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), loss of vision, loss of hearing, skin disorders, and in rare cases, neurological problems.

Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services of Genesee and Orleans counties, explained that “postherpetic neuralgia can occur if nerve fibers were damaged during an outbreak of shingles. Messages sent from the skin to the brain no longer work properly, resulting in excruciating pain in the localized area where the rash was initially present. The pain can last for months, and sometimes years.”

PHN is one of the most serious complications individuals may experience with shingles. The CDC estimates that approximately every one in five adults who experience shingles will suffer with PHN. The older the individual is who develops shingles, the more likely they are to develop PHN.

Adults who are 50 years and older can protect themselves from developing shingles and PHN by receiving the new and improved shingles vaccine, Shingrix. The CDC recommends that adults 50 years and older receive two doses of the new shingles vaccine separated by 2 to 6 months for the most effective protection.

Bedard mentioned that folks who already experienced shingles or received the old, single dose, vaccine (Zostavax) should highly consider getting vaccinated with Shingrix.

Bedard states, “Although adults may have already received a shingles vaccine, they should consider getting vaccinated with Shingrix to increase their protection against the virus and the complications associated with it.”

Receiving two doses of Shingrix reduces the risk of shingles and PHN by more than 90 perceny in people 50 years and older.

Bedard continues, “Individuals who have already experiences an episode of shingles should receive this vaccine to prevent future outbreaks of the virus that could appear more serious. Since your risk of shingles and PHN increases as you get older, it is important to have strong protection against shingles in your older years.”

Anyone who experiences the initial onset and/or symptoms of shingles should contact their doctor right away. Anti-viral medications can be prescribed to lessen the severity of the symptoms. Although the symptoms might be managed, the risk for developing complications is still a major concern.

Receiving the Shingrix vaccine will provide superior protection against shingles. The two-dose vaccine is the recommended choice by the CDC in preventing shingles in adults 50 years and older. Talk to your local pharmacy or health care provider to receive more information on the vaccine.

To find doctor’s offices or pharmacies near you that offer the vaccine, visit HealthMap Vaccine Finder. For information about Health Department services contact:

  • Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit their website at www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/health/index.html
  • Orleans County Health Department at: 589-3278 or check out our website at: www.orleansny.com/publichealth
  • Wyoming County Health Department at: 786-8890 or visit their web site at www.wyomingco.net/health/main.html
December 9, 2017 - 3:36pm
posted by Billie Owens in public health column, flu, news, Announcements.

Press release:

Flu season is here, whether we’re ready for it, or not. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has declared the first week in December National Influenza Vaccination Week. This week heightens awareness that the flu vaccine is still available for those who have not protected themselves against the ruthless virus.

According to Mari Hamilton, public health educator for the Genesee County Health Department, the latest weekly influenza surveillance report of the Center for Disease Control confirms cases of the flu in Genesee County.

The flu has the ability to infect each and every one of us, even those who claim they “never get the flu.” The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. Symptoms of the flu include:

  • Cough
  • Fever Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (very tired)
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

The flu virus spreads by tiny droplets produced when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. A person can contract the flu by breathing in these tiny droplets. It is also possible for an individual to pick up the flu by touching an item that has the flu virus on it, such as a phone, door knob, or keyboard and then touch their mouth, nose or face.

It is important to not only protect yourself from the flu but also protect the ones you love as well. Anyone who develops the flu can pass it along to someone at high risk of severe illness, including the elderly and infants younger than 6 months who are too young to get the vaccine.

Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services of Genesee and Orleans Counties, explains that “children, pregnant women, individuals with chronic illnesses (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease or lung disease), and people aged 65 years and older are at a much higher risk for developing critical health issues due to the flu.

These individuals may have a weakened immune system, therefore making it more difficult for them to fight off the flu. These individuals are more likely to be hospitalized due to severe flu complications.”

In 2016 there were 282 reported lab cases of the flu confirmed in Genesee County and 83 reported lab cases of the flu confirmed in Orleans County. These numbers are projected to increase this flu season. The New York State Department of Health already has lab cases of the flu confirmed in Genesee County. Receiving an annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect against this very serious disease.

“The flu vaccine is altered each year based on the surveillance data that experts collect to predict what strains of the virus will cause the most illness," Bedard said. "That means that the flu vaccine you received last year may be different than the one created this year. It is also notable to state that over time the flu vaccine does wear off, making it necessary to receive it annually.”

After you receive your flu shot, it is important to take preventative measures to continue staying healthy.

  • Good handwashing is a habit that should be practiced all year round. During flu season, it is crucial to scrub your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap. Use a paper towel to open the door.
  • Wipe off surfaces with a disinfectant solution regularly to get rid of germs.
  • Sneeze and cough into your elbow.
  • Be courteous to dispose of used tissues into a waste bin and wash your hands after.
  • Stay home if you are sick!
  • Eat a diet rich in healthy nutrients such as fruits and vegetables containing antioxidants and vitamins.
    • Sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, and citrus fruits are great examples.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Receive about 7-9 restful hours of sleep each night.

Getting the flu vaccine not only protects yourself, but the people around you as well. With the flu activity increasing and family and friends gathering for the holidays, now is a great time to get a flu vaccine if you have not already received one this season. To find a location near you to receive your flu shot, please visit: https://vaccinefinder.org/

For information about services that your local health department provides visit:

November 29, 2017 - 4:52pm
posted by Billie Owens in public health column, news, Announcements, health, radon.

Press release -- Public Health Column:

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month! Did you know that radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer after smoking?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), if you smoke and live in a home with high radon levels, your risk for developing lung cancer significantly increases. Testing your home for radon is the only effective way to determine if you and your loved ones are exposed to toxic levels of this poisonous gas.

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, further explains how radon can seep into your home.

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

Test Your Home

Testing your home with a short term radon test kit is the quickest way to determine if your home is at risk. The Genesee County Health Department has an allotment of short term test kits that are free of charge for Genesee County residents. These test kits are easy to use and contain basic instructions on how to receive the most accurate results when testing your home for radon.

The EPA recommends placing the test kit in the first livable floor of your home. If you do not spend time in your basement, place the test kit in the first level of your home. Avoid testing in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room. The humidity created in these rooms may interfere with the radon test results.

Once you have located where you will unseal the test kit, place it at least 20 inches off the ground. Be mindful to place the test kit in an area where pets or children will not disturb it. All windows and doors must remain closed (except for normal entry and exit) throughout the duration of the test. This will allow for the greatest concentration of radon to build up within your home.

Mail Test Kit in Timely Manner

Once the test kit is complete, reseal the test kit canister and mail it to the lab in a timely manner. A self-addressed envelope will be provided with the kit. f the test is not received by the lab within 7 days, the test results will be inconclusive.

Test kits are also available through the New York State Department of Health, some County Health Departments and local hardware stores.

Balduf explains that “If your home does have an elevated level of radon (4 picocuries per liter of air [pCi/L] or greater), you should contact a certified radon mitigator to install a radon reduction system in your home. These systems should only be installed by a certified radon mitigator. Radon reduction systems can be a low cost and effective way to reduce the level of radon in your home.”

Home Buyers -- Know Results of Radon Test

When purchasing a new house, make sure the seller completes a radon test kit and has the results available. If you are building a new home, make sure to have radon-resistant construction features installed and tested prior to moving in.

The Genesee County Health Department Radon Program offers short-term radon test kits for residences in Genesee County. The program also offers educational materials and in-services programs on the danger of radon prevalence, and mitigation options for new or existing homes which are all available at no charge.

This holiday season; share the gift of good health by encouraging your friends and family to test their homes for radon. The only way to know if there is radon in your home is by completing a simple test kit that may save your life.

For More Information

For more details about the program or to receive any of these services call the department at 585-344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit http://www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/health/radon2.html.

For information about services that your local health department provides visit:

June 30, 2017 - 2:07pm
posted by Billie Owens in genesee county, public health column.

From county health officials:

It is officially summer, a popular time for home renovations. Home renovations can be a complicated undertaking and renovating an older home presents its own unique set of challenges. Specifically, homes built before 1978 could contain lead-based paint and other lead sources which pose a health hazard, especially to children.

“The biggest problem with renovations involving lead is the dust that is produced during sanding, cutting, and demolition. Dust can settle on various surfaces and be inhaled into the lungs or ingested through common hand-to-mouth activities,” said Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services for Genesee and Orleans counties.

The first step in any home renovation project is to decide if you are going to hire a contractor or if you are going to “Do-it-yourself.” Please note that, in most cases, landlords are required to hire a professional and cannot do the work themselves. In either case, safe work practices need to occur in order to protect you and your family.

Hiring a contractor:  When hiring a contractor, ask about their work practices to minimize lead hazards. Also, you should verify that your contractor is certified by the EPA. The EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule requires contractors working on buildings built before 1978 to be certified by the EPA, use renovators that are properly trained, and follow safe work practices. Finally, make sure that the details of your renovation are clearly laid out and that everyone involved understands what will be happening during setup, renovation, and cleanup

Do-it-yourselfer:  If you are a homeowner undertaking a renovation project yourself, you need to be educated on proper work practices to keep you and your family safe from dangerous lead dust.

Consider hiring a certified lead inspector before you begin your project to determine if your home contains any lead in the work area.

Work safely by removing any furniture, rugs, and other household items before you begin the project which could get covered with dust and use plastic covering to seal off doors and vents to prevent the spread of dust outside of your work area.

Use the correct equipment including certified respirators, HEPA vacuum cleaners, protective clothing, etc. to minimize the risk involved.

When the work is finished, clean-up must be done properly. Use of a vacuum cleaner, with a HEPA filter, wet wiping, and wet mopping to remove any dust and debris from all surfaces is important. It is also important to remember that lead dust may not be visible to the naked eye; just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there! Contractors need to use a cleaning verification card to confirm cleaning was done properly. You can also choose to have a lead-dust test performed. Testing should be done by a lead professional. Contact the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD for more details (If using a contractor, lead-dust testing should be discussed before the project begins.).

If done properly, home renovation should be a safe process for you and your children. Of course, don’t forget about your pets! Pets are just as susceptible to the effects of lead and should be considered when planning your project. For more information about home renovation involving lead and for a more complete list of safe work practices, visit the EPA website at https://www.epa.gov/lead. Your local health department can also provide educational materials and advice with regards to lead.

For information about health department services contact:

April 26, 2017 - 5:18pm

From the Genesee County Health Department:

Parents and guardians make decisions daily that impact their children’s health and deciding whether or not to vaccinate your little one(s) is one of the most important decisions you will make. In the spirit of National Infant Immunization Week (April 22 – 29), let’s take time to learn how to keep your children best protected against vaccine preventable diseases.

Vaccines are among the most successful and cost-effective public health tools available for preventing disease and death. They not only help protect vaccinated individuals, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

A child’s first vaccination is scheduled to be given before they even leave the hospital after being born.

“There are recommended immunization schedules for children, adolescents and adults. Schedules for children are designed to offer protection early in life, decreasing the chances a child could become ill and possibly experience complications from a preventable disease,” said Laura Paolucci, administrator, for Wyoming County Health Department.

Vaccinating children on time is the best way to protect them against 14 serious and potentially deadly diseases before their second birthday. Vaccines are only given to children after careful review by scientists, doctors, and healthcare professionals. Vaccine side effects are almost always mild such as redness or swelling at the site of the shot, but this is minimal compared to the pain, discomfort, and risk of injury and death from the diseases these vaccines prevent. Serious side effects following vaccination, such as severe allergic reaction, are very rare.

Although the number of vaccines a child needs in the first two years may seem like a lot, doctors know a great deal about the human immune system, and they know that a healthy baby’s immune system can handle getting all vaccines when they are recommended.

“When parents choose not to vaccinate or to follow a delayed schedule, children are left unprotected against diseases that still circulate in this country, like measles and whooping cough," said Brenden Bedard, director of Community Health Services, for Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments. “There is no known benefit to delaying vaccination. In fact, it puts babies at risk of getting sick because they are left vulnerable to catch serious diseases during the time they are not protected by vaccines."

Parents who are concerned about the number of shots given at one time can reduce the number given at a visit by using the flexibility built into the recommended immunization schedule. For example, the third dose of Hepatitis B vaccine can be given at 6 - 18 months of age. Parents can work with their child’s health care professional to have their child get this dose at any time during that age range.

For more information on vaccine schedules, visit https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/index.html.

If you do not have a primary care provider your local Health Department may be able to assist in providing needed vaccines. This service is available for individuals who have no health insurance, public insurance, and some private insurance.

For information about Health Department services contact:

March 1, 2017 - 4:05pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, Announcements, public health column, radon gas.

Press release from the Genesee County Health Department:

Radon gas is a naturally occurring colorless, odorless gas that results from the breakdown of uranium in the soil and water which can cause lung cancer when exposed to high levels over a period of years. The risk for disease increases if you are a cigarette smoker.

Radon can enter any building, new or old, with dozens of counties in New York identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as “red zones” which have the highest potential and predicted average indoor radon screening levels.

Radon can enter a building several ways, including:

  • Cracks in concrete slab
  • Pores and cracks in concrete blocks
  • Slab-footing joints
  • Exposed soil
  • Cracks between poured concrete and blocks
  • Loose pipe fittings
  • Water

“Testing your home with a short-term radon test kit is an easy and quick way to determine if you are exposed to dangerous levels of the gas. Whether you are purchasing a new house or would like to test your current home, testing is an important safety measure,” said Environmental Director, Sarah Balduf.

To test your home, the EPA recommends placing a test kit in lowest level of the house that you most use (i.e. if you frequently use the basement, place the kit there. If not, use the first floor). Do not place a test kit in the kitchen or bathroom. The specific type of kit will determine how long to leave the kit in place, but can range from two days to one year. Short term test kits are a good starting point and are deployed in a home for two to seven days, while a long-term test kit can be deployed for up to a year.

Once the test time has ended, reseal the package and send it in to be analyzed per the instructions. Typically test kits are available through the New York State Department of Health, some County Health Departments or your local hardware stores. The Genesee County Health Department Radon Program offers short-term radon test kits for residences in Genesee County, as well as educational materials and in-services on the danger of radon, prevalence and mitigation options for new or existing homes which are all available at no charge.

For more details about the program or to receive any of these services call the department at 585-344-2580, ext. 5555, or visit http://www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/health/radon2.html.

The results you receive from testing will decide your next steps. If your results indicate high levels of radon, you may need to mitigate (fix) your home. A radon screening of 4 picocuries/liter means that some level of home improvement is needed. The EPA states that no level of radon is completely safe so even if your results are low, talk to an expert to make sure your home is fully protected. To fix any radon problems in your home, the EPA recommends using a qualified contractor.

For more information on radon gas visit https://www.epa.gov/radon or call your local health department.

For information about general health department services contact:

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

at www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/health/index.html. Visit Facebook at Genesee County Health Department and Twitter at GeneseeCoHealthDept.

  • Orleans County Health Department at: 589-3278 or check out their website

at: www.orleansny.com/publichealth.  Visit Facebook and Twitter at OrleansCoHealth.

July 15, 2015 - 3:21pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, public health column.

Press release from Genesee – Orleans Public Health Education Team of Kristine Voos, CHES, Nola Goodrich-Kresse, MCHES:

The Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming County Health departments are encouraging county residents to “Think Health.” Taking time to think about your health and taking positive health steps will lead to healthier outcomes. Learning something new every day is one way to think health.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are about 9 million Americans who use needles or other sharps to manage their medical conditions.  “Sharps” are a medical term for devices with sharp points or edges that can puncture or cut skin. For example, people with diabetes use needles to inject insulin and use lancets to test their blood glucose. In addition, injection drug users use needles. Heroin and other inject-able street drugs are dangerous and may be injected.

The popularity of injecting illicit drugs has increased dramatically in recent years. Recent intelligence has been received that heroin, cocaine and other illicit drugs are also being sold with deadly additives.

Safe disposal of sharps is critically important to optimize health, safety, and protection of the environment. The best way to ensure that people are protected from potential injury and spread of infections due to needle sticks is to dispose of them properly. The most common infections are Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Safe sharps disposal is important whether you are at home, at work, at school, traveling, or in other public places such as hotels, parks, and restaurants. If you see sharps on the ground do not pick them up. Contact your local law enforcement agency for further instructions. 

The following are DOs and DON’Ts of proper sharps disposal:

DO:

  • Immediately place used needles/other sharps in a FDA-cleared sharps disposal container to reduce the risk of needle sticks, cuts or punctures from loose sharps.  If one isn’t available, use a heavy-duty plastic household container, such as a laundry detergent container, as an alternative. All sharps containers need to be of a heavy-duty plastic, able to close with a tight-fitting/puncture proof lid, upright and stable during use, leak-resistant and properly labeled;
  • Be prepared – Carry a portable sharps disposal container for travel;
  • Ask your health care provider, local hospital, pharmacist or veterinarian where you can obtain low-cost FDA-cleared sharps disposal containers;
  • Keep all needles and other sharps, as well as disposal containers out of reach of children and pets;
  • Dispose of all contents of disposal containers at drop-off locations in your county.

DON’T:

  • Do not throw needles and other sharps into the trash;
  • Do not flush needles and other sharps down the toilet;
  • Do not put needles and other sharps in your recycling bin – they are not recyclable;
  • Do not try to remove, bend, break or recap needles used by another person.  This can lead to accidental needle sticks, which may cause serious infections;
  • Do not attempt to remove the needle without a needle clipper device because the needles could fall, fly off, or get lost and injure someone. Needle clippers make syringes unusable by clipping off the needle. These clippers may be used for needle disposal of small syringes (such as those used for insulin), but not clipping lancets. After the needle clipper clips off the needle from the syringe, the needle is automatically and safely retained within the clipper.

In New York State (NYS) there is a Safe Sharps Collection Program. All hospitals and nursing homes in NYS are mandated by law to accept home-generated sharps as free community service through their sharps collection programs. In addition, pharmacies, health clinics, community-based organizations/ mobile van programs, public transportation facilities, housing projects, police stations, waste transfer stations and other venues have become settings for safe sharps disposal. Below are drop-off locations in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties. *Before visiting, contact the site you are interested in to confirm service and drop-off details.

Genesee:

  1. Batavia Health Care Center, 585-343-1300
  2. Genesee County Nursing Home, 585-344-0584, ext. 2146
  3. United Memorial Medical Center, 585-344-5370
  4. NYS Veterans Home, 585-345-2076
  5. Le Roy Village Green, 585-768-2561

Orleans:

  1. Orleans Community Health, 585-798-2000
  2. The Villages of Orleans Health & Rehabilitation Center, 585-589-5637

Wyoming:

  1. Wyoming County Community Hospital, 585-786-8940 x4528
  2. East Side Nursing Home, 585-786-8151

For more information on proper sharps disposal and a print-friendly guide visit: http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/HomeHealthandConsumer/ConsumerProducts/ucm263274.htm

NYS Safe Sharps Collection Program:

http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/HomeHealthandConsumer/ConsumerProducts/ucm263274.htm

For more information about Health Department services, use the contact information below.

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