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Screening Tests for Lead Help Protect Children: International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week celebrated October 19-25

Brewster, NY—Children exposed to the environmental toxin lead face serious health risks with lifelong impact. Most child poisoning cases result from ingesting chips or inhaling dust from lead-based paint common in old homes built before 1978. In Putnam County approximately 30% of homes fall into this category. Preventing this exposure, and early identification and intervention are all crucial efforts. As a result public health law requires blood lead level (BLL) screening for children at age one and then again at two. International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, celebrated annually each October, helps raise awareness of this serious issue and the appropriate precautions that should be taken.

“Lead poisoning has very serious neurological consequences for young children and these cases are completely preventable,” explains Allen Beals, MD, Commissioner of Health for Putnam County. “Their developing brains are particularly vulnerable and exposure can affect children’s behavior and ability to learn, as well as their growth. The first step is to make sure your child has his or her blood lead levels checked at age one, and again at two. Speak to your healthcare provider or the PCDOH. Armed with the knowledge that testing is mandated by law, parents are in a good position to ensure this is done. We can assist in getting these screenings, or provide a quick test in our office by appointment.”

Young children learning to crawl spend a lot of time on the floor and put things in their mouth. Frequent washing of hands, face, toys, bottles and pacifiers is very important. A foundation of good nutrition and eating foods high in calcium, iron and vitamin C in particular, can limit the impact if lead is ingested or inhaled.

“Lead can also harm babies before they are even born, if the pregnant mother is exposed,” continues Dr. Beals, who had a private practice as an obstetrician/gynecologist for more than 20 years before taking up public service.

Lead dust is often invisible and generated during remodeling or renovation, when old paint is scraped or sanded, but can be present at other times as well, settling on windowsills, floors and toys. Even if surfaces appear in good condition, the opening and closing of doors and windows covered with a lead-based paint will generate lead dust. Most children with lead poisoning do not look or feel sick until much later in the course of the illness. Nonetheless, damage may be occurring. The only way to know is to have your child’s BLL tested.

Lead exposure can occur in other ways as well, and reducing exposure should be routine and a priority for everyone. Tips include:

 Assume any home built before 1978 contains lead paint. Keep all painted surfaces in good condition. Renters living in homes built before 1978 should ask landlords to safely repair any peeling paint. If the landlord is not responsive, local building inspectors or town clerks may be able to assist.

 Take the proper precautions before repairing peeling paint or performing home renovations. Pregnant women, babies and children should avoid all peeling and chipped paint. Call the Health Department for information on how to paint and repair safely. Safe work practices for renovations are key to preventing contamination in a home. Hiring a certified contractor ensures that proper safety measures are followed.

 Avoid cooking, storing or serving food in leaded glass, crystal and pewter and painted china or pottery from Asia, Latin America or the Middle East.

 Individuals with jobs or hobbies with lead exposure, such as carpentry or hunting, should shower and change clothes and shoes before going home. Potentially contaminated clothes should be washed alone.

A list of children’s products that contain lead is available on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website at www.cpsc.gov or by calling 800-638-2772. For more information on how to prevent childhood lead poisoning, call the Putnam County Department of Health at 845- 808-1390 or visit the New York State Department of Health web site at: www.nyhealth.gov/environmental/lead.

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health is to improve and protect the health of our community. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our website at www.putnamcountyny.gov; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY. ###

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Emerging Infections: Enterovirus D68 and Ebola

The Health Department strives daily to ensure the health and safety of Putnam County residents. Trained staff members monitor the health status of the community in order to identify emerging infections and work with community partners to reduce transmission of disease. Partners include the healthcare providers, hospitals, schools, laboratories, and the EMS community.

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Health Department is Going “Batty”

Brewster, NY— No doubt about it: it is bat season everywhere including Putnam. Bat populations normally rise in the warmer months and this year has been no different. So far this summer 61 bats have been brought in for testing to the Putnam County Department of Health. That is up about 35 specimens from last year at this time, and a sign that the capture-the-bat message is getting out. Unfortunately the health department still hears about bats being captured and then set free outside, leaving residents undergoing treatment that probably could have been avoided, if the bat had been available for testing.

“This increase in turned-in bats is great news,” explains Allen Beals, MD, Commissioner of Health. “It means we are doing our job and getting the message out that capturing a bat found in a home is so important. If the bat cannot be tested, many prophylactic treatments to prevent rabies are necessary. When the bat is caught and turned into the health department, we test it and can avoid the unnecessary and costly treatments.”

Rabies remains one of the most deadly viruses, with a 100% fatality rate if untreated. Fortunately, post-exposure prophylactic treatment is completely effective if started before symptoms begin.

The health department’s specimen prep room, where the bats are prepared for testing, opened last January making this summer the first season it has been operational. The dedicated, consolidated space provides proper ventilation for handling noxious materials. Renovations were completed with the support of County Executive MaryEllen Odell, by Putnam County personnel, making it highly cost effective. Together with the capture-the-bat initiative and the Feral Cat Task Force, the prep room enables the PCDOH to reduce the number of expensive rabies treatments in the county.

To safely capture a bat, watch the popular demo from New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) available on the Putnam County Department of Health’s website and the NYSDOH website. The video has also been posted on the PCDOH social media sites, Facebook and Twitter as well.

All possible bat exposures should be reported immediately by calling 808-1390. (If it is after hours, press extension “3” for instructions.)

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit the PCDOH website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health or visit the social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

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Lunch & Learn : Couch to 5k

James Kelly, second from left, an accomplished runner and triathlete, personal trainer and coach from NYSC, spoke today at a Lunch & Learn in the TOPS auditorium. The topic was “Couch Potato to 5K,” and he discussed how you can gradually build your endurance and strength, overcome obstacles, and accomplish your personal fitness goals. The event was organized by the Putnam County Wellness Committee and Department of Health’s Run 4 Your Life Race Committee, seen here from left: Susan Hoffner, Robert Morris, Christina Walsh and Jane Meunier-Gorman.

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HEALTH COMMISSIONER PROMOTES NEW INITIATIVES TO BUSINESS COMMUNITY

Brewster, NY—Health Commissioner Allen Beals, MD, spearheaded the efforts of his department last Saturday to reach out to the business community. The occasion was the Putnam Business Expo held at Putnam Hospital Center and Dr. Beals was promoting three new initiatives of the PCDOH—the Workplace Wellness Pilot program, the Run 4 Your Life event on September 7, and the Eat Smart Restaurant Week, a collaboration with Putnam food establishments, which will run from September 7 through 21.

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the Putnam County community, composed of nearly 100,000 residents. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our website at www.putnamcountyny.com/health; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

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Rabies Concerns Increase with Warmer Temperatures

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date:               June 2, 2014

Contact:         Barbara Ilardi, Public Information Officer, 845-808-1390

Rabies Concerns Increase with Warmer Temperatures

Brewster, NY— With warmer temperatures finally here, people are spending more time outdoors and the potential for contact with wildlife increases. Raccoons, skunks and foxes, as well as feral cats, can carry the rabies virus, which is found in the saliva and nervous tissue of an infected animal. Exchange can occur through an animal bite, or if saliva comes in contact with an open wound, or an individual’s eyes, nose or mouth.

Spring is also the time of year when individuals may unnecessarily come into contact with baby wild animals, such as raccoons, believing them to have been abandoned by their mother. Baby wild animals may have been exposed to the rabies virus and can pass it on to you if you are bitten or scratched. Abandonment by the mother is unlikely, and there are wildlife rehabilitators who can be called to determine if the babies need to be “rescued”.

To educate children about the risk of rabies, teach them to:  Avoid wild animals, including new litters of baby animals in spring. (Everyone should resist the urge to touch or pet a wild animal or unfamiliar pet.)  Tell an adult about any contact with a wild animal or unfamiliar pet.  Never touch a bat. If a bat is found indoors, call the Health Department.

While wildlife and feral cats may account for a significant number of required rabies treatments, the number-one reason for treatments in Putnam County remains bats. As the weather warms, bats return to the local area and are more active and likely to get into homes. A bat found in the home should be captured since this is the only way to avoid unnecessary treatment, a three week series of shots. A video on how to capture a bat is available on the New York State Department of Health’s website at: http://www.health.state.ny.us/diseases/communicable/zoonoses/rabies/.

The Feral Cat Task Force, initiated by the Putnam County Department of Health, works to reduce the risk of rabies exposure by decreasing the population of feral cats in our community. This program has captured, neutered, vaccinated and returned 250 cats in Putnam County, since it began in 2012. If you are interested in volunteering or making a donation in support of this program, please contact the Health Department at 845-808-1390 ext. 43160

All animal bites and/or contact with wild animals should be reported promptly to the Department of Health at 845-808-1390. After hours or on weekends/holidays report the incident by calling the Environmental Health Hotline at 845-808-1390 and press “3.” A Health Department representative will promptly return your call. The Health Department will test any animal for possible rabies after an incident involving human or pet contact. If a family pet encounters a wild animal, avoid immediate handling, or use rubber gloves and call the Health Department.

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of the county’s nearly 100,000 residents through prevention of illness and injury. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our website at www.putnamcountyny.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

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The 9th Annual Children’s Expo & Safety Fair was a success!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Michelle Martine, CAC—845-808-1300, x44122
michelle.martine@putnamcountyny.gov

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The 9th Annual Children’s Expo & Safety Fair took place at the Donald B. Smith County

Government Campus in Carmel on Saturday April 26, 2014. Hundreds of people attended the

event which was organized by the Child Advocacy of Putnam County (CAC) and the Bureau of

Emergency Services (BES). Eric Gross once again sponsored the event in honor of his wife

Barbara, who lost her battle with cancer in 2011. Barbara Gross, an educator in both the Carmel

and North Salem districts, was a strong advocate for children’s education and safety. Other

sponsors included Putnam County Tourism, Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union, and Durants

Party Rentals.

The overall goal of the event is to promote community education and awareness around

keeping children safe. Marla Behler, Program Coordinator of the CAC said “It is a unique

collaboration between multiple agencies-which allows Putnam County residents to experience a

fun day while also learning about the available resources and meeting the people who work

around the clock to serve them! We are very proud of the overall success of this program which

is now in its 9th year and grateful to all our partner agencies and to the public for making this a

significant community event.”


In addition to live radio broadcasting, participants were entertained with a magic show

performed by Danny Diamond, an animal safety demonstration by Jan Berlin, a NYSEG live wire

“electrical safety” demonstration and a UMAC martial arts demonstration. A few new vendors to

the fair this year included: WIC (Women, Infants & Children), Immunizations, and

Maternal/Child Health, Early Intervention, Community YMCA, Just for Kicks Martial Arts

Center and the RISE program from Putnam Family & Community Services. There was plenty of

food, games (provided by 4H) and raffle give-aways. Two lucky children even walked away with

a new bicycle donated by Arms Acres Liberty Management.

The emergency service coordinators and local fire and EMS agencies demonstrated their

services. Old favorites such as the Life Net helicopter tour, 911 tours, a dive team demonstration,

auto extrication and fire safety awareness were conducted. 80 Operation Safe Child ID’s were

provided by the Sheriff’s Office to ensure that if a child goes missing, his/her picture and

information is documented and can be swiftly provided to law enforcement to facilitate the

search. Additionally, about 25 different agencies/organizations provided information on child

health and safety to families.

A special thank you goes out to Rebecca Bertoldi for her expertise and assistance in

producing this year’s magazine titled “Putnam County Safe Families”. The publication included

several articles, submitted by various organizations focusing on helpful information and facts

about injury prevention. Topics ranged from firearm safety to toddler-proofing your house,

emergency preparedness and suicide prevention.

Overall, it was a fun-filled, educational day for the whole family!