Our mission is to protect and preserve the health of the citizens of Fremont County. Public health nurses provide a variety of services including immunizations, preventive assessments of children and the elderly and a full range of services designed to assist individuals and groups to attain and maintain good health and to cope with illnesses.
Take precautions to avoid hantavirus
State health officials today warned Coloradans to avoid hantavirus exposure. There have been two confirmed cases of hantavirus in the state this year, one of which resulted in death.
Hantavirus is a serious and potentially fatal respiratory disease carried by deer mice. People become infected by breathing in dirt and dust contaminated with deer mouse urine and feces. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has documented more than 90 cases of hantavirus across the state since it began tracking the disease in 1993. Approximately 40 percent of people who were infected died.
Coloradans are most likely to get hantavirus when they are exposed to deer mouse urine and feces in and around their homes. Unlike house mice, deer mice have large ears and eyes and white undersides. More people contract hantavirus in the early spring and summer, often when they are cleaning up yards and outbuildings.
“Be particularly careful where there is evidence mice have been in and around buildings or wood or junk piles,” said Dr. Jennifer House, state public health veterinarian. “If you have deer mice around your home, assume there is some risk of exposure to this virus. The more mice there are, the greater the risk.” House advises:
- Remove wood, junk and brush piles near your home. Store firewood at least 100 feet from your house. Keep vegetation around the house well-trimmed.
- Open windows and doors for at least 30 minutes before cleaning sheds and outbuildings.
- Spray accumulated dust, dirt and rodent droppings with a mixture of bleach and water (1½ cups of household bleach to one gallon of water).
- Wear rubber, latex or vinyl gloves when cleaning.
- Never vacuum or sweep areas where there is evidence of rodent infestation.
Initial hantavirus symptoms include fever, body aches, headache and vomiting. The symptoms begin from one to six weeks after exposure and can progress quickly to respiratory distress within one to five days. Infected people may have a dry cough and difficulty breathing.
“If you become ill with these symptoms, tell your physician about possible exposures to rodent-infested environments,” House said. “If hantavirus is suspected, early admission to a hospital for careful monitoring is critical.”
Because there is no effective treatment for the disease, House emphasized prevention as the key. She advised year-round rodent control, both in and outside the home.
Public Health Improvement Plan Approved
At the October 27th Board of Health meeting the 2014-2018 Public Health improvement Plan was approved by unanimous vote. This plan, a combined effect of the Fremont County Department of Public Health and Environment(FCDPHE), the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, local healthcare providers and the public, identifies the following top three public health priorities for Fremont County:
- Mental Health and Substance Abuse
- Tobacco Consumption
- Maternal Health
FCDPHE will be working collaboratively with local healthcare providers as well as providing direct service to address these important issues. A copy of the completed plan is found at the link below.
If you have questions, please contact the FCDPHE at 276-7450.
The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment has Ebola information an resources available. Visit their site at https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/ebola for more information.