Tick bites can lead to serious illness

Tick exposure can occur year-round, but ticks are most active during warmer months. Brown Dog and Rocky Mountain Wood Ticks are in the Idaho and Oregon region, that can bite and transmit disease to people. Some ticks carry pathogens that can cause human disease, including Colorado Tick Fever and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Photo of an adult female Rocky Mountain wood tick, Dermacentor andersoni, on a blade of grass.
Rocky Mountain Wood Tick
Photo of an adult male brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus, on a blade of grass.
Brown Dog Tick

Before You Go Outdoors

  • Know where to expect ticks. Ticks live in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas, or even on animals. Spending time outside walking your dog, camping, gardening, or hunting could bring you in close contact with ticks. Many people get ticks in their own yard or neighborhood.
  • Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear and remain protective through several washings. Alternatively, you can buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. EPA’s helpful search tool can help you find the product that best suits your needs. Always follow product instructions. Do not use products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old.
  • Avoid Contact with Ticks
    • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
      • Walk in the center of trails.

After You Come Indoors

Check your clothing for ticks. Ticks may be carried into the house on clothing. Any ticks that are found should be removed. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If the clothes are damp, additional time may be needed. If the clothes require washing first, hot water is recommended. Cold and medium temperature water will not kill ticks.

Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and daypacks.

Shower soon after being outdoors. Showering within two hours of coming indoors has been shown to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease and may be effective in reducing the risk of other tickborne diseases. Showering may help wash off unattached ticks and it is a good opportunity to do a tick check.

Check your body for ticks after being outdoors. Conduct a full body check upon return from potentially tick-infested areas, including your own backyard. Use a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body. Check these parts of your body and your child’s body for ticks:

Clipart image of a woman illustrating where on the body to look for ticks: in and around the hair, in and around ears, under the arms, inside belly button, between the legs, back of the knees
Where to check for ticks

Tick Removal

Illustration showing how to remove a tick (Ixodes scapularis pictured).

If you find a tick attached to your skin, there’s no need to panic—the key is to remove the tick as soon as possible. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers work very well.

How to remove a tick

  1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible.
  2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol or soap and water.
  4. Never crush a tick with your fingers. Dispose of a live tick by putting it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet.
  5. Follow up: If you develop a rash or fever within several weeks of removing a tick, see your doctor. Be sure to tell the doctor about your recent tick bite, when the bite occurred, and where you most likely acquired the tick.

Learn more about Ticks from the CDC HERE.

Recreational use advisory issued for Malheur Reservoir

Oregon Health Authority (OHA) issued a recreational use health advisory July 9th for Malheur Reservoir due to the presence of a cyanobacteria bloom and cyanotoxins above recreational use values for human exposure. The lake is in Malheur County.

People should avoid swimming and high-speed water activities, such as water skiing or power boating, in areas of the lake where blooms are as the major route of exposure in ingestion of water. Toxins are not absorbed through the skin. However, if you have skin sensitivities you may get a puffy red rash.

You are encouraged to visit Malheur Reservoir and enjoy activities such as fishing, camping, hiking, biking, picnicking, and bird watching. Boating is safe as long as speeds do not create excessive water spray. Sprays could lead to the risk of inhaling cyanotoxins.

Drinking water: Drinking water directly from areas of the lake affected by a bloom is especially dangerous. Toxins cannot be removed by boiling, filtering or treating water with camping-style filters. Contact campground management or the local health department with questions about water available at nearby campgrounds or day use areas. Not all private treatment systems are effective at removing cyanotoxins. If you do not use a well or public water system and draw in-home water directly from an affected area you are advised to use an alternative water source.

Children and pets: Children and pets are at increased risk for exposure because of their size and level of activity. Dogs can get extremely ill and even die within minutes to hours of exposure to cyanotoxins by drinking the water, licking their fur, or eating the toxins from floating mats or dried crust along the shore. This is regardless of a recreational use health advisory in place. Similar to dogs, livestock and wildlife can become ill and die after drinking from waterbodies, troughs or other sources of drinking water affected by blooms and potential toxins.

Symptoms: Exposure to cyanotoxins can be serious and cause a range of symptoms. Symptoms may be similar to food poisoning such as stomach cramping, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Symptoms may also be more serious, such as numbness, tingling, dizziness and shortness of breath. These symptoms may require medical attention. Dogs can experience weakness, difficulty walking, seizures, lethargy, loss of appetite and more. If your dog exhibits symptoms veterinary treatment should be sought as quickly as possible.

Fishing: Fish caught from areas where cyanobacteria blooms are present should have fat, skin and organs removed before cooking or freezing. Toxins are more likely to collect in these tissues. Fillets should also be rinsed with clean water.For health information or to report an illness, contact OHA at 971-673-0482. Learn more here.

OHA Press Release July 9, 2021. Contact: Jonathan Modie, 971-246-9139, PHD.Communications@state.or.us

Governor Brown Announces Oregon to Reopen No Later than June 30

(Salem, OR) — On June 25th, Governor Kate Brown signed a recovery-focused executive order lifting all remaining COVID-19 health and safety restrictions issued under Oregon’s emergency statutes. Restrictions will be lifted when Oregon achieves a 70% first dose adult vaccination rate or on Wednesday, June 30, whichever occurs sooner. With restrictions lifted, the state will shift to a focus on helping Oregonians and communities recover from the impacts and the economic toll of the pandemic.

“I’m proud of our collective efforts to vaccinate more than 2.3 million Oregonians. It is because of this success that we can move Oregon forward, and into the next chapter of this pandemic. We are ready,” said Governor Brown.

“We should all take pride in the work we have done to bring us to this moment. The efforts underway to close our vaccine equity gap and reach every Oregonian with information and a vaccine have definitely helped bring us this far. Thank you to all who are going the extra mile to vaccinate Oregonians.”

The Governor signed the executive order in a press conference with Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen, state epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger, and Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill.

Recovery Order

The Governor’s recovery order rescinds Executive Order 20-66, the successor to her original “Stay Home, Save Lives” order and subsequent “Safe and Strong Oregon” orders, which authorized Oregon’s statewide mask mandate and the county risk level system, including restrictions on businesses and other sectors for physical distancing, capacity limits, closing times, and more. The recovery order also rescinds Executive Order Order 20-22 (Non-urgent Healthcare Procedures), Executive Order 21-06 (K-12 Schools), Executive Order 20-28 (Higher Education), and Executive Order 20-19 (Childcare Facilities).

With the repeal of the set of executive orders that placed COVID-19 related restrictions on Oregonians, the recovery order extends the emergency declaration for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor’s remaining emergency authority will be limited in focus to COVID-19 recovery efforts, similar to the recovery executive order currently in place for 2020 wildfire season recovery.

Emergency authority continues to be necessary to provide flexibility and resources for vaccination efforts, health system response to COVID-19 including staffing flexibility, Oregon’s access to FEMA, enhanced SNAP benefits, and other federal aid, to allow the continued operation of certain emergency child care providers through the summer, unemployment insurance claim processing, and more. The recovery order does not provide authorization for agencies to renew restrictions based on emergency authorities.

Continued Governor Brown: “This is a pivotal moment for Oregon. We have endured a lot over the past several months. We must recognize that it has been exceptionally difficult for our Black, Indigenous, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Tribal communities. Disparities that existed before are even wider now. I am incredibly proud of the work that our local health partners and community-based organizations have done to reach Oregonians from communities of color and make progress toward closing the equity gaps in our vaccination efforts.

“Brighter days are ahead. And, we are more determined than ever to make sure we ground our state in a strong recovery that reaches every single Oregonian as we turn a page on this chapter of the pandemic. Our work is not done, but we can all take a moment to celebrate that by next week, we will be moving forward together.”

Some statewide mask requirements may stay in place in specialized settings following federal guidance, including airports, public transit, and health care settings. The Governor’s recovery order will remain in effect until December 31, 2021, unless terminated earlier.

K-12 Education, Higher Education, and Childcare

Rescinding the Governor’s executive orders for K-12 schools, higher education, and childcare will mean a shift to a more traditional, local decision-making model for communities when it comes to serving the health and safety needs of students and children.

In order to ensure a return to full-time, in-person instruction in the fall, the Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Health Authority will be issuing updated, advisory guidance for the 2021-22 school year. Schools will still be expected to comply with longstanding regulations around the control of infectious diseases, and to have a communicable disease management plan.

Additional materials

  • A copy of Governor Brown’s signed recovery order is available here.
  • A copy of the Governor’s prepared remarks from June 25th press conference is available here.
  • More information on vaccines is available at covidvaccine.oregon.gov.

Video Links

  • A recording of live-streamed press conference from June 25th is available on YouTube. Please note the video starts at the 24:30 mark.
  • A recording of a Spanish language translation is available on OHA’s Facebook page.
  • An HD recording of June 25th press conference for members of the media is available on Vimeo.

Take care in the extreme heat

Person in a postiion that looks like they're standing between the signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

According to the National Weather Service, many parts of Oregon are expected to reach record-breaking temperatures over the weekend, including up to 104 in eastern Oregon. 

Dr. Richard Leman, a public health physician at OHA, said, “It’s critical that people do what they can to avoid the heat as temperatures get to the level where they can cause serious health problems. Temperatures that get above 100 are nothing to take casually. These conditions can be extremely dangerous if we don’t take care of ourselves.”

Here are tips to take care of yourself during extreme heat:

Stay cool

  • Stay in air-conditioned places when temperatures are high, if possible. If you’re outside, find some shade.
  • Avoid strenuous activity when it’s hot. This could lead to heat stroke.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing to keep cool and protect your skin from the sun.
  • Use cool compresses, misting, and cool showers and baths.
  • Never leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car. They can suffer from heat-related illness.

Stay hydrated

  • Regardless of your level of activity, drink plenty of fluids, even if you are not thirsty and especially when working outside.
  • Avoid alcohol or liquids containing large amounts of sugar.

Stay informed

  • Keep up to date on the temperature and heat index when planning your activities so you can find ways to stay cool and hydrated.
  • Know the warning signs of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, sunburn and heat rash, and how to treat and prevent them.
  • Closely monitor anyone with a chronic medical condition, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer or kidney disease. They may be less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature.

For more information, visit:

Preventing Heat-related Illnesses (OHA): https://www.oregon.gov/oha/ph/Preparedness/Prepare/Pages/PrepareForExtremeHeat.aspx

Extreme Heat (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/index.html

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat-related Illness (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/warning.html

Final Week for Oregonians to Get Vaccinated for “Take Your Shot, Oregon” Prizes

Drawing for $1 million, $10,000 county prizes, $100,000 scholarships, and more on June 28
New prizes added, including travel packages, county prizes

(Salem, OR) — Governor Kate Brown urged Oregonians today to get vaccinated as soon as possible, with less than one week remaining before the Take Your Shot, Oregon drawing on June 28.

Oregonians 18 and older have the chance to win $1 million or one of 36 $10,000 prizes––with one winner in each county in Oregon. Oregonians age 12 to 17 have a chance to win one of five $100,000 Oregon College Savings Plan scholarships. Oregonians must receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before the draw date to be entered to win.

“Don’t miss your chance to win $1 million––if you have been waiting to get vaccinated, go get it done today,” said Governor Brown. “It’s never been easier to get a vaccine, so don’t miss your shot to enter. Vaccines are the best tool available to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19. We are so close to hitting a 70% adult vaccination rate statewide, so we can lift health and safety restrictions and return to a sense of normalcy.”

New Prizes Announced

New prizes have been added to the Take Your Shot, Oregon campaign. Four travel packages to destinations around Oregon have also been added to the June 28 drawing, courtesy of Travel Oregon. The travel prizes are valued at up to $2,000 and include lodging, accommodations, dining, and activities for two at iconic Oregon travel destinations. In addition, several counties have partnered with the state to add additional prizes for the Take Your Shot, Oregon campaign.

Washington County is adding 10 additional $10,000 prizes, plus five additional $20,000 scholarships. Additional new county prizes include:

  • Coos County: Ten $10,000 prizes
  • Curry: Two $10,000 prizes
  • Gilliam: Ten $10,000 prizes, one $10,000 scholarship
  • Jefferson: Eight $10,000 prizes, three $10,000 scholarships
  • Malheur: Ten $2,500 prizes
  • Morrow: Two $20,000 prize and three $10,000 prizes
  • Polk: Two $10,000 prizes
  • Sherman: Twenty $2,700 prizes
  • Wallowa: One $10,000 prize and two $5,000 scholarships

The drawing will take place on June 28, with names announced the following week. All Oregonians who have received a federally-administered vaccine dose, such as a VA health facility, Oregonians vaccinated out-of-state, and those who were vaccinated during a clinical trial can go to takeyourshot.oregon.gov to fill out a simple online form to make sure they are entered to win. People who received vaccines through Tribal vaccination clinics and sites are already entered to win and do not need to sign up individually.

Press release here.

Preparedness Warning!

A high wind warning will be in effect from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. this evening (6/22) for all of Malheur County. Expect heavy rain and/or small hail stones and wind gusts of up to 60 mph. A brief thunderstorm will roll through Malheur County this afternoon around 5 p.m. bringing a brief spell of heavy rain and possibly some small hail stones. Expect wind gusts of up to 60 mph. High wind watch will expire at 10 p.m. tonight.

The National Weather Service issues a number of Watches, Warnings and other products to alert the public about high wind events.

High Wind Warning: Take Action! Sustained, strong winds with even stronger gusts are expected today. Seek shelter. If you are driving, keep both hands on the wheels and slow down.

High winds can occur during a severe thunderstorm, with a strong weather system, or can flow down a mountain. When winds are sustained at 40-50 mph, isolated wind damage is possible. Widespread significant wind damage can occur with higher wind speeds. During strong thunderstorms, straight line wind speeds can exceed 100 mph. High winds can blow objects around and pose a significant threat to your safety.

What you can do during a wind storm:

The safest place to during high winds is indoors.
Postpone outdoor activities if a wind advisory or high wind warning has been issued.
If you are caught outside during high winds:
Take cover next to a building or under a shelter.
Stand clear of roadways or train tracks, as a gust may blow you into the path of an oncoming vehicle.
Use handrails where available on outdoor walkways and avoid other elevated areas such as roofs without adequate railing.
Watch for flying debris. Tree limbs may break and street signs may become loose during strong wind gusts. Keep an eye toward nearby balconies for loose objects that may fall.
In the event of a downed power line:
Call for help. Report downed lines to your local utility emergency center and to the police. Do not try to free lines or to remove debris yourself.
Avoid anything that may be touching downed lines, including vehicles or tree branches. Puddles and even wet or snow-covered ground can conduct electricity in some cases. Warn others to stay away.
If you see someone who has been shocked who may be in direct or indirect contact with a power line, do not try to touch them. You may become a second victim. Get medical attention as quickly as possible by calling 911.
If a line falls on your car, stay inside the vehicle. Take care not to touch any of the metal frame of your vehicle. Honk your horn, roll down the window and warn anyone who may approach of the danger. Ask someone to call the police. Do not exit the car until help arrives, unless it catches on fire. To exit, open the door, but do not step out. Jump, without touching any of the metal portions of the car’s exterior, to safe ground and get quickly away.
If you are driving:
Keep both hands on the wheel and slow down.
Watch for objects blowing across the roadway and into your path.
Keep a safe distance from cars in adjacent lanes as strong gusts could push a car outside its lane of travel.
Take extra care in a high-profile vehicle such as a truck, van, SUV, or when towing a trailer, as these are more prone to be pushed or even flipped by high wind gusts.
If winds are severe enough to prevent safe driving, get onto the shoulder of the road and stop, making sure you are away from trees or other tall objects that could fall onto your vehicle. Stay in the car and turn on the hazard lights until the wind subsides.

Come work in Public Health – We’re Hiring!

MCHD is currently hiring several positions for our office in Ontario: Accreditation Coordinator, Office Assistant, Case Investigator, Health Promotion Supervisor, Tobacco Prevention Coordinator, Clinic Manager, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, Public Information Officer, and Registered Nurse. Application closing dates start this Sunday, June 20, 2021. Apply soon!

We offer a broad array of career opportunities, in our administrative offices and through our many programs working. From administrative support to nurse to health specialist, every position at the health department helps contribute to building a healthier, more equitable community. We encourage you to explore and share the job openings here.

MCHD champions the health of all people in Malheur County. We provide many opportunities to advance professional skills and make a contribution while helping to improve the health of the public. We offer a friendly, supportive environment where individual contributions are highly valued. Our core values are family, integrity and love. Ready to join our team?

Malheur County Submits COVID-19 Vaccine Health Equity Plan

Today, Malheur County submitted the COVID-19 Vaccine Health Equity Plan to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). This plan outlines the commitment to key approaches and collaborations to identify and provide access to those who have been disproportionally impacted by COVID-19. The Malheur County Health Department involved several team members to capture the many efforts the county has made and plans ahead to improve protection through vaccination. The vision of the Health Department played an important role in the team’s approach to writing the plan and focusing on our goal for public health.

Vision: Everyone in Malheur County leads a healthy, fulfilling and productive life, no matter who you are. We have strong relationships with diverse communities to eliminate health gaps and promote optimal health. By connecting people and programs, we make substantial, measurable progress in improving the health of all in Malheur County.

No county in Oregon, Idaho, or Washington has a higher Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) score than Malheur County, which explains part of why there are such higher rates of COVID-19 infection and low rates of COVID-19 immunization here. Read more about the OHA’s critical population planning and Malheur’s SVI score here.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explain that health equity is achieved when every person has the opportunity to “attain his or her full health potential” and no one is “disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances.” Health disparities or inequities are types of unfair health differences closely linked with social, economic, or environmental disadvantages that adversely affect groups of people.

OHA statewide data  shows the percentage of people who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is significantly higher for white people than for many communities of color. Where the state’s rate for people who identify as white and non-Hispanic is 45%, the rate for Black, Hispanic, American Indian and Alaska Native residents is just above 30%. In Malheur, Klamath, Lake and Harney counties, the COVID-19 rate for people who identify as white and non-Hispanic is 32.7%, while the rate for Black, Hispanic, American Indian and Alaska Native residents is 14.6%.

Residents in Malheur County will continue to be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 without increased vaccination to protect those who are most vulnerable. The Equity Plan demonstrates our commitment in the COVID-19 response to prioritizing access and education as we move closer to the health department’s vision of health for all.

Encouraging COVID-19 Vaccination at Work

COVID-19 Vaccination for Essential Workers | CDC

Malheur County continues to lag behind Idaho and Oregon state average COVID-19 vaccination rates, meaning many people in our community are still at risk of being infected and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. However, we do have many people who work who are vaccinated and protect themselves and the people they work with and serve. Many outbreaks start at work and cause hardship on the business, those who are sick, and those who must quarantine. We want people to be protected and businesses to thrive through COVID-19 vaccination.

One way people who are vaccinated can help their employer and coworkers is to encourage vaccination at work. Customize the templates below to communicate with staff about the COVID-19 vaccine. Share with business owners and managers and ask if these can be shared widely. Add your own logos and customize text to make it appropriate for your business or organization.

E-mail and Message Templates for Businesses About COVID-19 Vaccines:

  • Introductory Letter This letter can be sent to your branches, offices, teams, or units to encourage review and use of the toolkit materials. The link also includes communication tools like vaccine fact sheets, posters, social media graphics, stickers you can print.
  • Letter to Employees This letter about COVID-19 vaccination information can be sent to your employees.
  • Newsletter Content  This short newsletter-style blurb can be used in e-newsletters or hard copy newsletters that you distribute to employees. Consider a “special edition” newsletter and add information about who to contact for more information.

Thanks to Southwest District Health for sharing their excellent Vaccination Communication Toolkit.