SMART Recovery Meetings at the Health Department

The Malheur County Health Department hosts SMART Recovery Meetings from 3-4 p.m. Mountain Time on Thursdays. Previously held at the Four Rivers Cultural Center, the meetings are now available in a private classroom at the Health Department at 1108 SW 4th Street in Ontario. Find this and other upcoming opportunities on our Events Calendar.

Meetings are in English, but virtual meetings in Spanish are available and our Peer Recovery Mentors are eager to help people who speak Spanish participate in those meetings either from home or at the Health Department.

Self-Management And Recovery Training (SMART) is a community of mutual-support groups. At meetings, participants help one another resolve problems with any addiction. Participants find and develop the power within themselves to change and lead fulfilling and balanced lives guided by a science-based and sensible 4-Point Program. Learn more at

hMPXV (Monkeypox) cases identified in Oregon and Idaho

As of July 12, 2022, there are five confirmed cases of hMPXV (also known as Monkeypox) in Oregon, with another seven presumptive, and one confirmed in Idaho. hMPXV is a rare disease caused by infection with the hMPXV virus. hMPXV virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox. hMPXV symptoms are similar to smallpox symptoms, but milder, and hMPXV is rarely fatal.

Symptoms of hMPXV can include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and backache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chills
  • Exhaustion
  • A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus.
    • The rash goes through different stages before healing completely. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.
    • Sometimes, people get a rash first, followed by other symptoms. Others only experience a rash.
  • Symptoms usually appear one to two weeks after infection.

How is hMPXV spread?

hMPXV spreads in different ways. The virus can spread from person-to-person through direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids. It also can be spread by respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex. In addition, pregnant people can spread the virus to their fetus through the placenta.

Touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids is another way hMPXV spreads. It’s also possible for people to get hMPXV from infected animals, either by being scratched or bitten by the animal or by eating meat or using products from an infected animal.

People who do not have monkeypox symptoms cannot spread the virus to others.

hMPXV can spread from the time symptoms start until the rash has fully healed and a fresh layer of skin has formed. The illness typically lasts 2-4 weeks.

How can hMPXV be prevented?

People should take the following steps to prevent getting hMPXV:

  • Avoid close, skin- to- skin contact with people who have a rash that looks like hMPXV.
    • Do not touch the rash or scabs of person with hMPXV.
    • Do not kiss, hug, cuddle or have sex with someone with hMPXV.
    • Do not share eating utensils or cups with a person with hMPXV.
    • Do not handle or touch the bedding, towels, or clothing of a person with hMPXV.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • In Central and West Africa, avoid contact with animals that can spread hMPXV virus, usually rodents and primates. Also, avoid sick or dead animals, as well as bedding or other materials they have touched.

If you are sick with hMPXV:

  • Isolate at home
  • If you have an active rash or other symptoms, stay in a separate room or area away from people or pets you live with, when possible.

CDC recommends vaccination for people who have been diagnosed with or exposed to hMPXV and people who are at higher risk of being exposed to hMPXV.

What should I do if I have symptoms?

  • See a healthcare provider if you notice a new or unexplained rash or other hMPXV symptoms.
  • Remind the healthcare provider that hMPXV is circulating.
  • Avoid close contact (including intimate physical contact) with others until a healthcare provider examines you.
  • Avoid close contact with pets or other animals until a healthcare provider examines you.
  • If you’re waiting for test results, follow the same precautions.
  • If your test result is positive, stay isolated until your rash has healed, all scabs have fallen off, and a fresh layer of intact skin has formed.

For more information:

  • Learn more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here.
  • Oregon Health Authority Monkeypox webpage here.
  • Investigative Guidelines for healthcare providers available here.


Through our programs, with a focus on disease prevention and health promotion, we are helping to ensure your health and safety. Call 541-889-7279 to make an appointment or to learn more about our services. Stay up to date with public health news below.

Food Safety at Home

Warmer weather can easily cause food to spoil. Cooking meats to a proper internal temperature and keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cool helps stop foodborne bacteria from growing.

Following these four simple steps can help keep you and your family safe from food poisoning at home.

CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often

washing hands in sink

Illness-causing bacteria and viruses can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your hands, utensils and cutting boards. Unless you wash your hands, utensils and surfaces the right way, you could spread these germs to your food and your family.

  • Wash hands the right way—for 20 seconds with soap and running water. Be sure to scrub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Wash surfaces and utensils after each use. Rinsing utensils, countertops and cutting boards with water won’t do enough to stop bacteria from spreading. Clean utensils and small cutting boards with hot, soapy water. Clean surfaces and cutting boards with a bleach solution.
  • Wash fruits and veggies—but not meat, poultry, or eggs. Even if you plan to peel fruits and veggies, it’s important to wash them first because bacteria and viruses can spread from the outside to the inside as you cut or peel them.

SEPARATE: Don’t cross-contaminate

woman cutting meat on cutting board

Even after you’ve cleaned your hands and surfaces thoroughly, raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs can still spread illness-causing germs to ready-to-eat foods—unless you keep them separate.

COOK: Cook to the right temperature

raw chicken and meat thermometer

One of the basics of food safety is cooking food to its proper temperature. Foods are properly cooked when they are heated for a long enough time and at a high enough temperature to kill the harmful bacteria and viruses that cause foodborne illness.

While many people think they can tell when food is “done” simply by checking its color and texture, there’s no way to be sure it’s safe without following a few important but simple steps.

CHILL: Refrigerate promptly

separate containers in fridge

Illness-causing bacteria and viruses can grow in many foods within two hours unless you refrigerate them. During the summer heat, cut that time down to one hour.

To learn more, visit the Oregon Health Authority.

Please Share: Upcoming Events

So much is happening this summer at MCHD!

Open House: On July 27th from 1-6 p.m., come tour the health department, meet our staff, and learn about our services! We are also launching the Health Is Wealth $100 Rewards program. We want to meet you! Help us spread the word and get involved with the great community asset we have in public health!

  • Download English and Spanish Fliers Here.
  • Share the Facebook Event Here.
  • Stay up to date with all events on our Events Calendar.

Farmers’ Market: Don’t miss the WIC Farmers’ Market August 2-3. Learn more about WIC here and call our office at 541-889-7279 to enroll, if eligible, before the event.

Spotlight on Malheur County WIC Program

About Us:

The Women, Infants, Children (WIC) Program is a public health nutrition program that serves low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women, and children up to the age of five.

The vison of the Oregon WIC program is to ensure optimal nutrition and lifelong health for every Oregon family. We provide families with access to healthy foods, nutrition education, breastfeeding guidance, free health screenings and referrals to other health services.

To apply for services, just call us at (541) 889-7279!

We support families by offering:

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding guidance
  • Nutritious foods
  • Nutrition-focused counseling
  • Free health screenings
  • Connections to resources

To be eligible, you must:

  • Live in Oregon.
  • Be a pregnant, postpartum or breastfeeding woman, an infant or a child under 5 years old.
  • Have a household income less than 185% of the federal poverty limit. (Individuals who can prove Fully eligible for Medicaid/Oregon Health Plan, TANF, SNAP/Food Stamps or FDPIR are automatically income eligible for WIC.)
  • Have a nutritional need or risk.

Income Eligibility Criteria (Effective May 2022):

More information on criteria here.

Farm Direct Nutrition Program:

Annually, we provide access to the Oregon Farm Direct Nutrition Program which is a state administered, federal nutrition program serving families enrolled in WIC and income-eligible seniors. Farm Direct participants receive additional benefits to spend on fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables from authorized farmers within our community.

Minimizing Barriers and Providing Equitable Care

  • We strive to maintain a welcoming and trauma-informed work environment that reflects and supports the racial and ethnic diversity of our participants, partners and community.
  • Provide nutritious foods to help minimize food insecurity for our most vulnerable and at-risk populations
  • Minimizes barriers to services by offering remote options when available
  • Use of Electronic Bank Transfer (eBT) cards for easier shopping and reduced stigma of services
  • Provide hand off referrals to other available services within the community
  • Services and materials are available in languages of our population served and ability to provide interpreted services and translated materials for non-English speaking families

Program Goals:

  • Increase number of families served in Malheur County.
  • Increase the number of infants exclusively breastfed for 6 months.
  • Maintain children on the program from infancy through age 5 to optimize health outcomes.
  • Provide families with education and resources to spend all their FDNP vouchers before the end of the annual WIC Farmers Market season.

Contact Us:

  • Phone: (541) 889-7279
  • Email:
  • Fax #: (541) 889-8468
  • Find our WIC staff on the Meet Our Team page.

Additional Resources:

Rethink the Drink

How excessive drinking affects people living in Oregon

  • More than 2,000 people die each year from excessive alcohol use, 3 times the number who die from other drug overdoses.
  • Six people die from alcohol-related reasons every day.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption is the No. 3 preventable cause of death (after tobacco use and obesity).
  • More than 1 in 5 people drink excessively.
  • It’s not just a problem for high school and college kids: people in their 30s and 40s binge drink at close to the same rates as younger people.
  • Certain populations experience unjust stressors and disadvantages due to racism and discrimination, which has led to higher rates of alcohol-related harms. These include Black and Indigenous communities, as well as people with lower incomes and less education.

Health harms of excessive drinking

  • Excessive drinking increases the risk for cancer, liver failure, heart disease and depression.
  • Binge drinking increases the risk for high blood pressure and strokes.
  • Excessive drinking contributes to three types of liver disease: fatty liver, alcohol-related hepatitis and cirrhosis.
  • Regular, heavy drinking increases your risk for breast cancer and prostate cancer.
  • Every drink can increase your risk for long-term health problems, like heart disease, cancer and depression.

What we mean by excessive drinking

  • OHA utilizes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definition of excessive alcohol use. Excessive drinking includes both heavy drinking, and binge drinking.
    • Heavy drinking, the kind that can harm your health long-term, is 15 drinks or more a week for a man. For a woman, it’s 8 drinks
    • Binge drinking is when a man has 5 or more standard drinks in one two-hour occasion. For women, it’s 4 or more drinks
  • What is a standard drink, in terms of Alcohol by Volume (ABV)?
    • 12 fl oz. beer (5% ABV)
    • 5 fl oz. wine (12% ABV)
    • 1.5 fl oz. liquor/hard alcohol (40% ABV)
  • The CDC numbers are different for men and women because their bodies process alcohol differently. However, it’s important to point out that the CDC numbers refer to cisgender males and females. “Cisgender” means that the gender you identify with matches the sex assigned to you at birth. When it comes to gender nonconforming individuals, more research is needed to assess the impact of excessive drinking.
  • It’s also true that for some people, drinking any alcohol is too much. And no matter who you are, drinking less is better for your health than drinking more.

Economic consequences of excessive drinking

  • Excessive drinking costs Oregon $4.8 billion per year from lost earnings for workers and revenue for businesses, health care expenses, criminal justice costs, and car crashes.
  • That’s $1,100 for every person in Oregon, according to a report by ECONorthwest.

Alcohol consumption during the pandemic

  • Many of the stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic – increased isolation, lack of social interaction and contact with social supports, increased uncertainty, increased stress, and increased depression and anxiety – may have contributed to an increase in excessive alcohol use and alcohol-induced deaths.
  • A study by RTI International showed excessive alcohol consumption increased considerably for females, Black respondents, and respondents with children based on their research conducted in 2020.
  • In Oregon, the rate of death directly due to alcohol increased substantially (21%) during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rethink the Drink is grounded in significant research

  • From 2017-2019, OHA conducted an Alcohol Formative Audience Assessment (AFAA)
  • In 2020, OHA conducted focus groups with people living in Oregon to test three creative approaches to a public health campaign
  • In Fall 2021, OHA conducted testing of messaging and draft versions of creative materials (video/audio visuals) with focus groups


  • Rethink the Drink is a new brand from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) that aims to change the conversation about excessive alcohol drinking and how excessive alcohol use harms communities in Oregon. The statewide campaign will launch in Summer 2022 and include:
    • Website:
    • Statewide TV, radio, online and newspaper advertisements
    • Facebook and Instagram pages
    • Information for county health departments, community-based organizations, and Tribes to localize the campaign for their communities
  • Rethink the Drink Fact Sheet
  • Rethink the Drink FAQ

Reproductive health services offered at MCHD

Did you know the Health Department offers free or low-cost family planning services, and also well-woman care?

Women of all ages, regardless of their reproductive status (menopause, hysterectomy, tubal ligation, etc.), can seek care (pelvic exams and Pap smears) from one of the Health Department’s providers.

The Health Department also offers reproductive health services, which are available to women of any age. It is important to note that there is no age of consent in Oregon for birth control; teens can make an appointment without their parents’ permission, and their parents won’t know they used Health Department services unless the teen tells her parents. At their appointment, the women will talk with a provider and select the birth control method which works best for them. 

Providers also offer pregnancy testing, STI and HIV testing, health education and counseling, pre-pregnancy services and information and referral to other health and social services.

Call 541-889-7279 to schedule an appointment.

Willowcreek Fire in Malheur County

Sharing important information from the Bureau of Land Management:

Our firefighters worked through the night combating the Willowcreek Fire northeast of Vale, Oregon. Growing to 40,000 acres in its first day, it’s our first major wildfire of the summer.

Currently, it is at 0% containment.

Though it began on private land, the fire soon spread to BLM public lands. So far, we’ve had no injuries, no threatened structures, and no evacuations necessary.

Our fire teams are making strategic use of the cooler temperatures and light winds to help slow the burn.

“The winds calmed at about 3 a.m., which gave us a good chance to get around the hot spots on the fire,” said Justin Fenton, BLM Fire Duty Officer.

We were also able to provide aviation support yesterday.

Interstate 84 was closed between Ontario and Baker City for several hours last night due to smoke but has since been reopened.

We’re investigating the cause of the fire, which is currently unknown.

If you’re out recreating this weekend, please help us prevent wildfire by never using fireworks or exploding targets on public lands, properly extinguishing your campfire, and never parking on dry grass.

Stay safe out there!

🔥 Wildfire information:

Follow the BLM of Oregon & Washington on Facebook here.

HIV testing is self-care: Today is National HIV Testing Day

Knowledge of HIV status is the first step to accessing prevention or treatment services which enable individuals to live a long and healthy life regardless of their status. HIV testing is free, easy, fast, and confidential at the Malheur County Health Department. Call 541-889-7279 to schedule an appointment.

The importance of HIV testing is included in the National HIV/AIDS Strategy for the United States 2022-2025 (PDF 1.76 MB), and one of its objectives, To Increase Knowledge of HIV Status, aligns with NHTD. Further, CDC recommends the following HIV testing:

  • Everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care.
  • Those with certain ongoing risk factors—such as having more than one sex partner since their last HIV test or having sex with someone whose sexual history they don’t know—should get tested annually. Some sexually active gay and bisexual men may benefit from more frequent testing (e.g., every 3 to 6 months).
  • As part of proactive prenatal care, all pregnant women should receive certain blood tests to detect infections and other illnesses, such as HIV, syphilis, and Hepatitis B.