West Nile virus detected in Canyon County mosquitoes

Because of Malheur County’s proximity to Canyon County, Idaho, we will share health advisories from neighboring areas to alert people to local concerns. Thanks to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare for the important information.

Mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus (WNV) were detected in Canyon County on June 14, 2019, prompting public health officials to remind people to take precautions to “Fight the Bite.” The positive mosquitoes, which are the first detected in the state this year, were collected by the Canyon County Mosquito Abatement District. The positive lab results were confirmed Tuesday.

Last year, one death was reported because of WNV complications, and 11 counties across Idaho reported finding mosquito pools that tested positive for West Nile virus. Sixteen people and five horses were infected. This first detection of 2019 occurred in western Idaho, an area where positive mosquitoes have been found almost every year since West Nile virus was first detected in Idaho in 2004.

West Nile virus is contracted from the bite of an infected mosquito; it is not spread from person-to-person through casual contact. Symptoms often include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash. In some cases, the virus can cause severe illness, especially in people over the age of 50, and may require hospitalization. On rare occasion, it can lead to death. 

“This is the time of year we expect West Nile virus-positive mosquitos to be found in Idaho,” says Dr. Christine Hahn, Idaho Division of Public Health Medical Director. “Avoiding mosquito bites is the best protection against infection with the virus.”

To reduce the likelihood of infection, take steps to avoid mosquitoes, particularly between dusk and dawn when they are most active. In addition, you should:

  • Cover up exposed skin when outdoors and apply DEET or other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved insect repellent to exposed skin and clothing. DEET may be used on adults, children, and infants older than 2 months of age. Carefully follow instructions on the product label, especially for children. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
  • Insect-proof your home by repairing or replacing screens.
  • Reduce standing water on your property; check and drain toys, trays, or pots outdoors that may hold water and harbor mosquito eggs.
  • Change bird baths and static decorative ponds weekly as they may also provide a suitable mosquito habitat.

WNV does not usually affect domestic animals such as dogs and cats, but it can cause severe illness in horses and certain species of birds. Although there is no vaccine available for people, there are several vaccines available for horses. People are advised to have their horses vaccinated annually.

For the latest information, visit www.westnile.idaho.gov. Article adapted from the DHW blog.

Preventing Heat-related Illnesses

Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable, yet annually many people succumb to extreme heat. With summer starting, we want to reach those most vulnerable to extreme heat events and prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Please share this important information!

Know the Warning Signs

Muscle cramping might be the first sign of heat-related illness, and may lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Here is how you can recognize heat exhaustion and heat stroke and what to do:

Heat ExhaustionWhat you should do
Heavy sweatingMove to a cooler location.
WeaknessLie down and loosen your clothing.
Cold, pale,
clammy skin
Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible.
Fast, weak pulseSip water.
Nausea/vomiting, faintingIf you have vomited and it continues, seek medical attention immediately.
Heat StrokeWhat you should do
High body temperature (above 103°F)Call 911 immediately – this is a medical emergency.
Hot, red, dry or moist
skin
Move the person to a cooler environment.
Rapid and strong pulseReduce the person’s body temperature with cool cloths or even a bath.
Possible
unconsciousness
Do NOT give fluids.

Heat and low income

  • If you have air conditioning, use it to keep your home cool.
  • If you can’t afford to use your air conditioning:
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor, and have someone do the same for you.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you have, or someone you know has, symptoms of heat-related illness.

Article adapted from the Oregon Health Authority Health Security, Preparedness and Response Extreme Heat website. Info-graphic from Driving Healthy.

Emergency Preparedness Planning Workshop June 11

Malheur County – join us on Tuesday, June 11 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a collaboration between Oregon’s Health Security, Preparedness and Response (HSPR) Program and local service providers to address emergency preparedness for vulnerable populations in our community.

Register Here

Join Kristy Beachamp, Public Health Emergency Preparedness Liaison from the Oregon Health Authority and Malheur County Emergency Management and Health Department staff for this important training and planning session to address the access and functional needs across the county in the event of an emergency. We will learn about the intersection of public health emergency preparedness, vulnerable populations, risk communication and have an exercise testing our access and functional needs plan.

We will meet in the Snake River Conference Room at Saint Alphonsus (351 Southwest 9th Street, Ontario). Lunch and materials will be provided. No cost to attend. Call Sarah Poe or Rebecca Stricker at the Malheur County Health Department for more information at 541-889-7279.

Tips to Prevent Poisonings

Drugs and Medicines

  • Only take prescription medications that are prescribed to you by a healthcare professional. Misusing or abusing prescription or over-the-counter medications is not a “safe” alternative to illicit substance abuse.
  • Never take larger or more frequent doses of your medications, particularly prescription pain medications, to try to get faster or more powerful effects.
  • Never share or sell your prescription drugs. Keep all prescription medicines (especially prescription painkillers, such as those containing methadone, hydrocodone, or oxycodone), over-the-counter medicines (including pain or fever relievers and cough and cold medicines), vitamins and herbals in a safe place that can only be reached by people who take or give them.
  • Follow directions on the label when you give or take medicines. Read all warning labels. Some medicines cannot be taken safely when you take other medicines or drink alcohol.
  • Turn on a light when you give or take medicines at night so that you know you have the correct amount of the right medicine.
  • Keep medicines in their original bottles or containers.
  • Monitor the use of medicines prescribed for children and teenagers, such as medicines for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
  • Dispose of unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs. Follow federal guidelines for how to do this (FDA 2011).
  • Participate in National Drug Take Back days recognized by the Drug Enforcement Administration or local take back programs in your community.

Household Chemicals and Carbon Monoxide

  • Always read the label before using a product that may be poisonous.
  • Keep chemical products in their original bottles or containers. Do not use food containers such as cups, bottles, or jars to store chemical products such as cleaning solutions or beauty products.
  • Never mix household products together. For example, mixing bleach and ammonia can result in toxic gases.
  • Wear protective clothing (gloves, long sleeves, long pants, socks, shoes) if you spray pesticides or other chemicals.
  • Turn on the fan and open windows when using chemical products such as household cleaners.

Keep Young Children Safe from Poisoning

Be Prepared

  • Put the poison help number, 1-800-222-1222, on or near every home telephone and save it on your cell phone. The line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Be Smart about Storage

  • Store all medicines and household products up and away and out of sight in a cabinet where a child cannot reach them.
  • When you are taking or giving medicines or are using household products:
    • Do not put your next dose on the counter or table where children can reach them—it only takes seconds for a child to get them.
    • If you have to do something else while taking medicine, such as answer the phone, take any young children with you.
    • Secure the child safety cap completely every time you use a medicine.
    • After using them, do not leave medicines or household products out. As soon as you are done with them, put them away and out of sight in a cabinet where a child cannot reach them.
    • Be aware of any legal or illegal drugs that guests may bring into your home. Ask guests to store drugs where children cannot find them. Children can easily get into pillboxes, purses, backpacks, or coat pockets.

Proper Disposal

For more information on proper disposal, please see the FDA’s web site, Disposal of Unused Medicines: What You Should Know.

What To Do If A Poisoning Occurs

  • Remain calm.
  • Call 911 if you have a poison emergency and the victim has collapsed or is not breathing. If the victim is awake and alert, dial 1-800-222-1222. Try to have this information ready:
    • the victim’s age and weight
    • the container or bottle of the poison if available
    • the time of the poison exposure
    • the address where the poisoning occurred
  • Stay on the phone and follow the instructions from the emergency operator or poison control center.

The Safety tips above were adapted from the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Find more information on Home and Recreational Safety from the CDC HERE.

Wildfire Community Preparedness

2019 Wildfire Community Preparedness Day banner

May 4 is Wildfire Community Preparedness Day! This national campaign encourages people to come together and take action to reduce wildfire risk.

Wildfires across the United States have cost more than 100 lives and more than $25 billion dollars in property losses in just the last two years. That’s why it’s so important to take steps to improve the wildfire safety of your home and community.

Wildfire Protection Projects

Projects that reduce wildfire risk and increase preparedness can be accomplished by a broad range of ages; and come in a variety of time commitments, with some as short as a few hours. You might be asking – what can I do in one day to be safer from wildfire? And the answer is a lot! To help get you started, we’ve developed more than two dozen project ideas for individuals, families and groups. With the youngest participants in mind, most can be accomplished without power tools or monetary costs.

  • Rake and remove pine needles and dry leaves within a minimum of 3 to 5 feet of a home’s foundation. As time permits – continue up to a 30-foot distance around the home. Dispose of collected debris in appropriate trash receptacles.
  • Clean pine needles from roof and gutters and pay attention to maintaining the home ignition zone.
  • Get out your measuring tape and see how close wood piles are located to the home. If closer than 30 feet, they need to be relocated and moved at least 30’ away from structures.
  • Sweep porches and decks clearing them of leaves and pine needles. Rake under decks, porches, sheds and play structures. Make sure you dispose of debris. 
  • Mow grasses to a height of four inches or less.
  • On mature trees, use hand pruners and loppers to remove low-hanging tree branches up to a height of 4 feet from the ground (specific height depends on the type and size of tree).
  • Collect downed tree limbs and broken branches and take them to a disposal site. 
  • Remove items stored under decks and porches and relocate it to a storage shed, garage, or basement. Gasoline cans and portable propane tanks should never be stored indoors and should be located away from the home.
  • Distribute wildfire safety information to neighbors, or staff a table at a grocery or hardware store (other high-traffic locations work too) and distribute free Firewise and emergency preparedness materials that can be ordered from the catalog or from READY.gov.
  • Join forces with neighbors and pool your resources to pay for a chipper service to remove slash.
  • Visit the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association site, and download free home inventory software. Work together as a family to videotape and take photos of your possessions – that way you’ll have the insurance documentation needed to replace belongings.
  • home evacuation plan.
  • Create a Family Communication Plan (available in both English and Spanish).
  • Build or update a 72-hour kit.
  • Contact your local Office of Emergency Management and ask if your jurisdiction requires individuals to register cell phones to receive emergency notifications on mobile devices.
  • Can you see your home’s address number from the street? If not, trim overgrown vegetation covering or blocking the numbers.
  • Using social media or text messaging, pick a day and send hourly Firewise and Emergency Preparedness tips to your contacts and friends.
  • Help an elderly relative or neighbor enter emergency numbers and the names of close relatives into their cell phones; and in large font post their phone number and street address above their landline so it can easily be seen when providing information to an emergency dispatcher.
  • As a family – locate two alternate routes out of your neighborhood (besides the one normally used); and plan and practice an evacuation drill using those secondary routes.
  • Teens that babysit outside the home need to schedule a conversation with the parents of the kids they’re responsible for and learn their emergency plan and what they should do if a wildfire starts, or an evacuation issued, while in that leadership role.
  • Work with neighbors to develop a phone tree that can be used to alert everyone about a fire or evacuation.
  • Screen or box-in areas below patios and decks with wire screening no larger than 1/8” mesh to help keep embers out during a fire.
  • During an evacuation pets have special needs too – build an emergency kit for your animals.
  • Hold a garage sale and donate the proceeds to your local fire department’s wildland fire team.

Visit the National Wildfire Protection Association for more information.

Build a Family Emergency Preparedness Kit

Part of the work of the Malheur County Health Department is Preparedness and we want to help everyone be safe and ready for emergencies.

If disaster were to strike Malheur County, you might not have access to food, water, or electricity for some time. By taking time now to prepare emergency water, food and disaster supplies, you can provide for your entire family.

Having an ample supply of clean water is a top priority in an emergency. A normally active person needs to drink at least 2 quarts (a half gallon) of water each day. You will also need water for food preparation and hygiene. Store at least an additional half gallon per person, per day for this. 

Even though it is unlikely that an emergency would cut off your food and water supplies for two weeks, consider maintaining a supply that will last that long. You may not need to go out and buy foods to prepare an emergency food supply: you can use the canned goods, dry mixes, and other staples on your cupboard shelves. If you are unable to store this much, store as much as you can.

And don’t forget about your pets! They need a kit, too.

Oregon Health Authority presents the video below to help viewers gain insight into what goes into a preparedness kit and how much (or little) one can cost.

Checklist for your kit

  • Bags or container for kit
  • Water – 3 gallons – one gallon per person per day
  • Food – enough for 3 days
  • Battery ­ powered or hand­crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit – also include applicable prescription medications
  • Whistle – to signal for help
  • Filter mask
  • Moist towelettes
  • Wrench or pliers
  • Manual can opener
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Duct tape
  • Garbage bags
  • Flashlight
  • Unique family needs – entertainment, rain gear, blanket

Download the “Build a Kit on a Budget” checklist (pdf)

Adapted from information from Oregon Health Authority Health Security, Preparedness and Response.

Flood Safety

With recent flood warnings in surrounding areas, it is helpful to review flood safety precautions.

From the Malheur County Emergency Management Division, “In the event of an emergency, or during high water flows, information on flood warnings can be found at the National Weather Service website, at http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/boi/. During times of high water flows, when evacuation is immanent,  the Emergency Alert System will also be activated, and information will be provided on KSRV radio and Boise television stations.”

Watch the video below from the Oregon Health Authority on what to do during a flood.