Mosquitoes, Dog Bites, Lead all Discussed by Health Council

Health Department Director Jason Tiller updated the county’s health advisory council  this week on strategies for minimizing the threat of standing water, which promotes the breeding of mosquitoes that can carry the Zika virus.

Tiller spoke of the possibility of partnering with United Way to hold a service day in the spring to collect waste tires.  The group noted that such an activity would:

  • Help clean-up the community
  • Reduce areas of standing water
  • Increase public awareness. If it is necessary to keep tires in the open, tarps can be placed over them or holes can be drilled to promote drainage.  “Mosquito dunks” which contain ingredients to kill mosquito larvae can also be used.

Physician Jacob Hodges asked about including businesses selling new tires in efforts to control mosquitoes.

KDHE Report on Elevated Blood Lead Levels

Council members reviewed the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s “Open Letter to the Community of Saline County”, dated November 8, 2016.

For the 16 cases of elevated blood lead levels of children in Saline County, “the likely sources of lead exposure included contamination from deteriorating lead-based paint and take-home lead from parents’ occupations and hobbies.  A number of children were likely ingesting lead from playing in contaminated bare soil areas, as well as from contamination making its way to homes.”

When asked, Dr. David Dupy said it “didn’t sound like there was any clustering” of cases based on geography.

Tiller said the health department will continue to manage cases that have been identified and watch for new cases.

Gwenda Philbrook commented that the report determined that 10 out of 15 children with elevated blood lead levels played in bare soil; KDHE’s report noted that additional sampling found that 6 of the play sites (60%) were contaminated with lead.

Amanda Michaelis commented, “Our job at the health department should be to educate the community.”

Staffing Requests

To that end, Tiller has already received approval from the County Commission to hire a hybrid home health registered nurse and health educator (50/50).  He is seeking approval to hire a communicable disease licensed practical nurse / public health emergency preparedness position; money for this position is contained within the PHEP grant.

Review of Animal Bite Reporting

Following up on questions about the reporting of animal bites, Dr. Dupy said he personally sees two or three people a week who have been bit by animals when he works shifts at the hospital’s emergency room.  Existing laws require that these bites be reported to the health department.  Typically, the City’s Animal Services or the Sheriff’s Office do the reporting.

The council reviewed the existing agreement between the City and County.  Owners can quarantine their own animal.  Homeowners often don’t want to report the bite; some may fear being out of compliance with licenses/tags as well as shots.

Planning for the Future

Tiller shared an editorial from the April 2016 journal of the American Journal of Public Health.  Karen DeSalvo and others urged officials to “define what constitutes a healthy, sustainable thriving community and thus, how to measure success.”

Michaelis commented that National Public Radio recently did a segment on the Surgeon General’s report on addiction.  She said it concluded that 25% of the population may face addiction issues.  Michaelis had recently attended a conversation at New Beginnings, which served 71 residents in four recovery houses.  Several noted that multiple providers combine to provide a “first class” place for recovery in the region.  They noted Central Kansas Foundation has a sterling reputation.

Health Advisory Council members Tom Bell and Glenn Engelland did not attend.