BEACH CLOSING LIST – No Swimming Due to Blue-Green Algae Bloom at Local Putnam County Beaches

List Revised as of 8/16/2018  9:00 AM

  • Beach Name: Lake Casse, Lake Name: Lake Casse, Town: Carmel 
  • Beach Name: Singers, Lake Name: Lake Peekskill, Town: Putnam Valley 
  • Beach Name: North Beach, Lake Name: Lake Peekskill, Town: Putnam Valley

A blue-green algae bloom that can make you sick is in the beach area.
Keep people and animals out of the water Don’t drink the water Rinse with clean water if exposed.

Consider medical attention if you have symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea; skin, eye or throat irritation, allergic reactions or breathing difficulties.

 

Blue-Green Algal Blooms Persist; County Opens Beach for Affected Community Residents

BREWSTER, NY— Blue-green algal blooms have dashed many summer plans this year. Dozens of repeated beach closures have disappointed residents who enjoy cooling off in their neighborhood lake on a hot and humid summer day. While funding is coming from New York State to research solutions for the long term, County Executive MaryEllen Odell has taken immediate steps to open the Putnam County beach in Veterans Memorial Park on Gypsy Trail Road in Kent, free of charge to those residents living in affected lake communities.

“We wanted to do something right now for our community members who are dealing with these algal blooms on a daily basis,” says County Executive Odell. “This is a difficult situation. The blooms pose a serious health problem. Swimming, and even boating, can put you at risk.”

“Our public county beach at Veterans Memorial Park has fortunately remained unaffected by the blue-green algal blooms that have plagued many other Putnam beaches,” says Christopher Ruthven, deputy commissioner of parks and recreation for Putnam County. “We’re open from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. until Labor Day, and for residents affected by the harmful algal blooms in their community lakes, the usual $8 fee for a day pass is being waived.”

Odell adds, “Being able to use the beach at Veterans Memorial Park provides a silver lining to an unfortunate situation. At the park individuals and families can enjoy the swimming in the lake, relaxing on the beach, barbecuing, hiking the trails, visiting the Veterans Museum or admiring the Gold Star Mothers statue or the military helicopter and tank.”

The increasing number of harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Putnam and around New York State is not completely understood. Staff at the Putnam County Department of Health have been busier than ever collecting and sending lake water samples for testing.

“We are working closely with town and beach personnel,” explains Michael Nesheiwat, MD, interim commissioner of health. “They are well-informed and able to quickly recognize these harmful algal blooms. When there is an overabundance, or bloom, of this cyanobacteria, the onsite personnel are able to shut down the beaches directly without a confirmatory visit by the health department. This is important as blooms can present a serious health hazard and these microscopic organisms are toxic to humans and animals if swallowed. At high levels, ingestion may cause nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, along with irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, throat, and respiratory tract.

“Needless to say, we are grateful to the County Executive who has stepped in to waive the park fee for residents in the affected communities,” continues Dr. Nesheiwat.

Toxic bacteria are naturally present in low numbers in lakes and streams. However, in warm, shallow, undisturbed surface water that gets a lot of sunlight, the bacteria can grow quickly and easily, creating a bloom. When this happens, floating scums on the water surface may appear, along with discolored water covering all or portions of a lake.

The Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) continues to monitor the county’s 32 permitted bathing beaches, while also responding to calls from town, village and summer camp personnel. Blue-green algae can range in color from green, blue, brown, yellow, grey, or even red. Contact should be avoided with any discolored water, with or without a floating covering or unpleasant odor. When the water clears, either naturally or by treatment, follow-up water testing must be conducted. Toxins can still be present even after the bloom looks like it has passed.

“After a satisfactory result on a water test, town and beach personnel can re-open the beach,” explains associate public health sanitarian Shawn Rogan. “And we work closely with the towns to reopen as soon as possible. The problem we are seeing more and more of is that the algae can ‘re-bloom’ shortly thereafter, making it necessary to close the beach once again.”

Some towns choose to apply an algaecide, but they have the same precautions as any pesticide.  Treatment methods, if any, are strictly a town decision, and application of an algaecide requires approval by the Department of Environmental Conservation.  Prevention efforts focus on ways to control the level of nutrients the algae receive. These include reducing plant fertilizer use, promoting efficient septic systems operations, and managing storm water. These tactics are supported by the DEC, but much is still unknown about the causes of HABs.

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), 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, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our County website at www.putnamcountyny.com; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Heat Wave Brings Health Problems

Brewster, NY- When the temperatures soar, health problems can arise. Staying cool and hydrated is the key to staying healthy and safe in a heat wave. Even those who are young and physically fit can suffer heat-related illness in extreme temperatures, especially when the hot weather lasts a few days. During hot weather, outdoor activities are best done in the early morning or evening hours when it is coolest.

“Residents should be careful during any hot weather. Watch out for your family and friends, and check in on your neighbors. Infants, young children and the elderly can have more problems in hot weather,” says MaryEllen Odell. “During extreme heat events, cooling centers are opened during the day for Putnam residents.”

“A list of Putnam cooling center locations is posted online, along with the phone numbers you can call to check their hours of operation, “says Ken Clair, Commissioner of Emergency Services. The list is available at the NYS Department of Health website at https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/weather/cooling/.

Heat stroke, sometimes also called sun stroke, is the most dangerous type of heat-related illness. “Heat stroke actually causes several thousand deaths each year in the United States,” says Michael Nesheiwat, M.D., Interim Commissioner of Health. “When a person’s body temperature goes over 103 degrees Fahrenheit, all sorts of very serious problems can occur, including damage to your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. If you suspect someone has heat stroke, call 911 immediately. The longer treatment is delayed the higher the risk of serious complications or death. Before help arrives, move the person to a cooler location, out of the sun or into air conditioning, and lower the person’s temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath.”

In addition to a body temperature of 103 degrees or higher, symptoms of heat stroke include altered mental state or behavior, confusion, nausea, rapid breathing, racing heart or headache.

Heat exhaustion, although less severe than heat stroke, is another heat-related problem. Signs of this include cold, pale, clammy skin, dizziness, fainting, nausea, muscle cramps or headache.  “If you experience these symptoms, move to a cooler location and apply cool water to lower your temperature. With heat exhaustion, drink sips of water every 15 minutes for one hour,” Dr. Nesheiwat advises.

Heat cramps or painful spasms in the legs and abdomen can also occur, but are less severe. If a person is on a low-sodium diet or has heart problems, seek medical attention right away. Otherwise, drink sips of water every 15 minutes for one hour. If cramps don’t go away within one hour, seek medical care.

Take the following precautions to avoid problems in hot weather. Drink plenty of fluids and don’t wait to be thirsty to drink. Water is best because it replenishes your body’s natural fluids. Alcohol and very sugary drinks should be avoided because they dehydrate the body. Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and use a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher. Apply it 30 minutes before going out because a sunburn will affect the body’s ability to cool down. Stay indoors in a cool or air-conditioned place as much as possible. Never leave a person or pet in a parked vehicle, even if the windows are open or you think it may be only for a few minutes.

For more information on heat-related illness during prolonged periods of extreme temperatures, call the Putnam County Department of Health at (845) 808-1390.

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), 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, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our County website at www.putnamcountyny.com; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Blue-Green Algae Arrives Early, Again

BREWSTER, NY— Blue-green algal blooms have arrived early for the second consecutive year. So far this year, seven public beaches in Putnam County have been closed due to harmful growth. Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are more than a simple nuisance. They can present a serious health hazard. Residents should be cautious when swimming, boating, or even just cooling off in waters with any algae.

The increasing number of HABs in Putnam is not entirely unexpected and county staff have been preparing. Earlier this year, the Putnam County Department of Health held a seminar with the support of the New York State (NYS) departments of Health and Environmental Conservation. Beach and water operators, along with residents, were invited to learn about ways to reduce the health risks of algal blooms. NYS funds are also being set aside to protect vulnerable lakes and other waterbodies from HABs.

“These harmful blooms are a significant issue for our county,” says County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “We have a number of beautiful lakes that have been affected. This can cause problems for recreation, and potentially for the quality of our drinking water. State funding and expertise will help us combat this problem.”

“Warming temperatures may be to blame in part for the increasing number and duration of blue-green algae blooms,” explains Michael Nesheiwat, MD, Interim Commissioner of Health. “The type in Putnam is technically known as cyanobacteria. These toxin-producing microscopic organisms are harmful to humans and animals if swallowed. At high levels, ingestion may cause nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, along with irritation of the skin, eyes, nose, throat, and respiratory tract.”

Toxic bacteria are naturally present in low numbers in lakes and streams. However, in warm, shallow, undisturbed surface water that gets a lot of sunlight, the bacteria can grow quickly and easily, creating a bloom. When this happens, floating scums on the water surface may appear, along with discolored water covering all or portions of a lake.

The Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) closely monitors permitted bathing beaches, performing periodic checks at regular weekly or biweekly intervals depending on the situation. The PCDOH also responds to calls from town, village and summer camp personnel. However, when there is visible presence of blue-green algae, operators of permitted beaches must close their beach. Colors can also range from green, blue, brown, yellow, grey, or even red. Contact should be avoided with any discolored water, with or without a floating covering or unpleasant odor. When the water clears, either naturally or by treatment, follow-up water testing must be conducted. Toxins can still be present even after the bloom looks like it has passed.

“Only after a satisfactory result on a water test are town and beach personnel permitted to re-open the beach,” explains associate public health sanitarian Shawn Rogan. “We work closely with the towns to reopen the beach as soon as possible. If the water tests are acceptable, we can usually open a beach within two days.”

The PCDOH has four recommendations for residents to protect themselves from HABs. Avoiding exposure to all visible algae blooms is the number-one precaution. In addition to not swimming, even playing by the water, wading, or water-skiing may cause accidental swallowing, skin exposure, or inhalation of airborne droplets, and all should be avoided. Use added caution with open cuts or sores.  The second precaution is not to allow young children or pets to play in water where an algal bloom is present. The third is to wash hands and body thoroughly if any exposure occurs, and the fourth is not to use any water from lakes with algal blooms for drinking unless treated through a municipal water treatment plant.

There are water treatments to reduce the blooms in lakes but prevention is by far the best tactic. Treatments can involve the use of algaecides, but they have the same precautions as any pesticide.  Treatment methods, if any, are strictly a town decision, and application of an algaecide requires approval by the DEC.  Other prevention efforts involve community-wide efforts to reduce plant fertilizer use, promote efficient septic systems operations, and to manage storm water. Each of these strategies for residents helps to control the level of nutrients the algae receive and may limit their growth. These tactics are supported by the DEC, but much is still unknown about the causes of HABs.

“Reducing the use of fertilizer in a community may reduce the number and severity of blooms,” adds Mr. Rogan.  “However blooms have also occurred in remote Adirondack lakes as well.”

For more information on blue-green algae:

http://www.putnamcountyny.com/health/harmful-algae-blooms-habs/

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), 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, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our County website at www.putnamcountyny.com; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

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Please let us know if we can provide any additional information. Feel free to contactour Public Information Officer Barbara Ilardi with any questions at 845-808-1390.

PCDOH Offers Free HIV Testing on June 27 – 1 in 5 new cases are among youth and young adults

BREWSTER, NY— About 1.1 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, and one in seven of them don’t know that they are infected. These statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta are the reason for having National HIV Testing Day each year on June 27— to encourage people of all ages to get tested. This year the Putnam County Department of Health will again be offering free HIV testing on Wednesday, June 27, at the main health department office at 1 Geneva Road in Brewster from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“We have come a long way in improving the treatment for HIV since the disease was first seen in the U.S. decades ago,” says County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “That’s why it is important to get tested and start treatment early.”

“Undetected and untreated, the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV, usually causes AIDS, which is often a fatal disease,” said Michael Nesheiwat, MD, Putnam County’s Interim Commissioner of Health. “However today numerous medications exist to treat the virus. Early diagnosis and treatment has transformed patient outcomes and they can live long and productive lives. Even one death from AIDS today is too many. Early detection and treatment is also key to limiting spread of the virus. Everyone should be tested for HIV testing at least once, if not on a routine basis.”

In the early stages of HIV infection a person may feel fine. The only way to know for certain if a person is infected is to get tested. Free HIV testing and counseling will be offered by the Putnam County Department of Health on June 27 with results ready in just 20 minutes. No appointments are necessary, and privacy and confidentiality are ensured. Free condoms, giveaways and educational information will be available.

This year the official CDC theme for the day is “Doing It My Way, Testing for HIV,” which highlights the importance of HIV testing and that individuals can choose HIV testing on their own terms. For those who are busy on June 27, or wish to be tested at a different time, the health department offers free testing throughout the year as well. The walk-in clinic hours are on Tuesdays from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. and on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Other options include getting tested by a personal health care provider or at the federally qualified health center Open Door Brewster. When and where to get tested is a person’s own choice. The important thing is to get tested. For questions or concerns about scheduling a test, or for more information about HIV testing or HIV/AIDS education and prevention, contact the health department at (845) 808-1390.

HIV can affect anyone regardless of age, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or gender. Among new HIV diagnoses in 2016 in the U.S., 21 percent were among youth and young adults, aged 13 to 24 years of age. People aged 50 and older have many of the same HIV risk factors as younger people, but may be less aware of their risk. In 2015, people aged 50 and older accounted for 17 percent of those living with HIV infection.

Today people with HIV and AIDS do live longer, healthier lives, and new research is promising, but there is still no vaccine or cure for HIV. Safe sex is still the best “primary prevention.” Older Americans are more likely than youth to be tested later in the course of their disease. This means delayed treatment, and as a result, more health problems. Despite medical advances, HIV/AIDS is still a significant cause of death for some age groups. It was the 8th leading cause of death for those 25 to 34 years of age in 2014 in the U.S.

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), 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, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our County website at www.putnamcountyny.com; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Spring Brings Increased Risk for Rabies

Brewster, NY—Rabies is a serious threat to the health of humans and animals and is deadly when left untreated. As the temperature rises, the numbers of rabies cases increase as well. Springtime is when wild baby animals are born and bats often return to the local area. In New York State, more than half of the rabies cases in wild animals are in raccoons, followed by bats, skunks and foxes. To prevent the spread of rabies, stay away from wild animals, even if they seem friendly. So far in 2018, one skunk and one raccoon in Putnam County have tested positive for rabies. Domesticated animals, such as cats and dogs, can also become sick with rabies. Regular pet vaccination can protect them.

“A person can become infected with the rabies virus through a bite from a sick animal,” says interim Commissioner of Health Michael J. Nesheiwat, M.D. from the Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH).  “Infection occurs when saliva from an infected animal comes in contact with an open wound or bite, or an individual’s eyes, nose or mouth. Remember, an animal does not have to look sick to be infected and the only way to tell if an animal has rabies is to test their brain tissue. That is why it is never a good idea to approach a wild or stray animal, no matter how cute.”

Every year, well-meaning residents try to help baby animals they think may have been abandoned. Instead, residents are urged to leave the animal alone, or call a wildlife rehabilitator to see if the animal truly needs assistance. Children should be taught to avoid all wild and stray animals and to tell an adult about any contact with an animal, including an unfamiliar pet.

“While wildlife and feral cats account for a portion of required rabies treatments, the number-one reason for treatments in Putnam County remains bats,” continues Dr. Nesheiwat. “If you find a bat in your home, it is important to capture it safely,” adds Dr. Nesheiwat. “We are able to test a captured bat for rabies and if it is not infected you can avoid the two-week series of shots.” To safely capture a bat, watch the popular demo from the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), available on the Putnam County website at http://www.putnamcountyny.com/how-to-capture-a-bat/ .

Other programs to reduce the chance of spreading rabies include the PCDOH pet vaccination clinics and the Feral Cat Task Force. Free vaccination clinics are usually held three times a year—in March, July and November. The next event will be held at Hubbard Lodge in Cold Spring on July 28 from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. The Feral Cat Task Force has captured, neutered, vaccinated and returned 31 cats, and adopted or fostered 17 kittens so far in 2018. For people 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 or contact with wild animals should be reported promptly to the PCDOH at 845-808-1390. After hours or on weekends/holidays report the incident by calling the department’s environmental health hotline at 845-808-1390 and press “3.” A representative will promptly return your call. If a family pet encounters a wild animal, avoid immediate handling of your pet, or use rubber gloves and call the health department. Trained personnel will test a wild animal for possible rabies after an incident involving human or pet contact.

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), 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, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our County website at www.putnamcountyny.com; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Cats can receive low-cost spay and neutering services on Thursday, June 21, at the Trinity Episcopal Church Parish House

Cats can receive low-cost spay and neutering services on Thursday, June 21, at the Trinity Episcopal Church Parish House, 5 Elm Street in Fishkill. Appointments are required. Call 845-206-9021 or email clinic@strayhelp.org.

For further information about Stray H.E.L.P. (Healthcare and Education to Limit Population), visit: www.strayhelp.org

Diseases from Ticks Rise Dramatically; NYS announces Tick-Borne Illness Control Plan

Diseases from Ticks Rise Dramatically;

NYS announces Tick-Borne Illness Control Plan

BREWSTER, NY—New York State has some of the highest numbers of disease cases from ticks in the U.S. From 2004 to 2016, these numbers totaled 69,313, second only to Pennsylvania with 73,610, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. So it was a timely announcement last week from the New York State Governor who unveiled a statewide tick-borne disease control plan. Details include expansion of tick control methods on public lands; increased education aimed at hikers, hunters and others at high risk; and a charge to the NYS Department of Health to pursue research partnerships to develop better diagnostic tests. A summit will be held this summer to advance the necessary research on Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses as part of this new state initiative.

“Part of Putnam’s charm comes from our abundant natural landscape of lakes and wooded areas,” says Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “With this country terrain, comes wildlife and insects, and unfortunately the diseases they carry. Almost everyone knows, or has heard of, someone who has had Lyme disease. This state support announced last week by Governor Cuomo is much needed and appreciated on the community level. On the personal level, it’s also important for all our residents to learn about and take basic precautions.”

“Diseases from infected ticks have more than doubled in the last 13 years in the United States,” says interim Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD. “Unfortunately, these diseases are not going to disappear anytime soon. In fact, they are on the rise. The best protection we currently have is personal protection. So be vigilant: Apply repellent consistently and perform frequent tick checks. These actions can go a long way in preventing the bites and infection in the first place. They are especially important since no human vaccine is currently available.” Repellents should contain 20 percent or more of DEET (chemical name, N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide).

More than a dozen tick-borne illnesses have been identified by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, including five that infect residents in the Hudson Valley region. Lyme disease is the most common and the most well-known, but anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis and babesiosis are increasing as well. Powassan disease, a rarer and potentially deadly infection, is also carried by the same black-legged tick, or “deer tick,” that transmits Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and babesiosis.

Environmental methods to reduce tick populations continue to be studied and their use will be expanded under the new NYS control plan. These techniques include dosing the deer and rodents that carry ticks with “tickicide” and application of eco-friendly tick-control treatments to parkland in the Hudson Valley. In some cases, permethrin-treated cotton balls which rodents use for nesting material will be used to kill ticks in the larval stage when they attach to the mice; in others a “tick control box” will apply the dog and cat preventative medicine fipronil to the rodents after they enter the box looking for bait. Additionally, the use of “tickicide” in feeding stations for the white-tailed deer will be expanded. This involves setting up rollers in a feeding station that brush tick insecticide on the deer as they eat. These stations are being used successfully in state parks on Long Island.

“Problems in diagnosis and treatment arise with these illnesses because often a patient does not recall a bite. Furthermore, early symptoms, when antibiotics are most effective, are non-specific or are similar to other viral illnesses,” continues Dr. Nesheiwat. “With Lyme disease, not all patients get the telltale bullseye rash.”

Testing for Lyme disease is currently challenging. If a blood test is performed too early, the results may come back negative even though the person is really infected. The test is most accurate a full week after the suspected bite so that a person’s antibodies have risen enough to be detected. A physician makes the final diagnosis based on a combination of available tests, observation of the patient, and the patient history and description of symptoms. Currently the only way Lyme disease can be diagnosed with certainty is when the patient has the tell-tale bullseye rash. However, this only occurs in 70 to 80 percent of infected individuals. This summer, academic institutions, local health departments and professional organizations will gather at the summit to strategize about advancing diagnosis, prevention, and other best practices.

Another challenge is that a small percentage of patients who get Lyme disease have continuing symptoms after completing treatment with antibiotics. They may complain of fatigue, joint pain or muscle aches. However the cause of these lingering symptoms is not completely understood. Sometimes this is called “chronic Lyme disease,” but the accurate medical name is “post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome.”

Residents who have been bitten by a tick and develop symptoms within 30 days should visit their healthcare provider. The most common symptoms include fever/chills, aches and pains, and a skin rash. Providers will evaluate symptoms and order diagnostic tests if indicated. For more details, visit the CDC’s webpage on “Symptoms of Tickborne Illness.”

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), 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, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our County website at www.putnamcountyny.com; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

Free Hepatitis C Testing at PCDOH on May 18; All Baby Boomers Advised to Have One-Time Test

BREWSTER, NY—The Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) is offering free hepatitis C testing in recognition of National Hepatitis C Testing Day. Testing will take place on Friday, May 18, especially targeted to New York State baby boomers. Anyone can get “Hep C,” but those born from 1945 through 1965 are five times more likely to be infected with the virus. Testing starts at 10 a.m. and runs until 4 p.m. at the main health department office at 1 Geneva Road in Brewster. No appointment is necessary and results are ready in 20 minutes.

“Health officials encourage everyone in this age category to get tested once. You can have Hep C infection without knowing it,” says County Executive MaryEllen Odell.

“More than 3 million Americans are living with this viral disease, and nearly 75 percent don’t know that they are infected,” says Interim Health Commissioner, Michael Nesheiwat, M.D. “The reason baby boomers have high rates is not completely understood. Most are believed to have been infected in the 1970s and 1980s when infection rates were highest—before the widespread screening of the blood supply. Because this virus can live in your body for decades without producing any symptoms, it may go untreated and long-term it can cause liver failure, cirrhosis and cancer.” The longer an individual lives with the infection untreated, the more likely they are to develop life-threatening liver disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hepatitis C causes more deaths among Americans than any other infectious disease.

Hep C is primarily spread through contact with infected blood. Baby boomers may have gotten infected from contaminated blood and blood products before routine screening started in 1992. Others may have become infected from injecting drugs, even if they did it only once in the past. Many baby boomers don’t know how or when they were infected.

There is no vaccine to prevent Hepatitis C. Getting tested is the best way to know if an infection exists and then treatment can be started as soon as possible. For many, treatment can cure Hepatitis C.

Residents who are unable to make the Free Testing Day on May 18, can call the health department at 845-808-1390 for information about other free testing opportunities.

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), 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, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our County website at www.putnamcountyny.com; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY

PCDOH Confirms Measles Outbreak, Three Cases Confirmed With More Exposures Possible

Brewster, NY— The Putnam County Department of Health has confirmed three positive cases of measles. Two are Putnam residents and the third lives in Connecticut. All have been isolated to avoid spreading the disease further. Measles is a serious, highly contagious disease that can be spread through the air by coughing or sneezing. In rare cases it can be deadly.

“Before these individuals were isolated, they may have exposed other people,” explains interim Health Commissioner Michael J. Nesheiwat, MD., “and we are working with local partners to identify all possible contacts.”

Anyone who was in the Subway restaurant, 3101 Route 22 in Patterson, on Sunday April 29, between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., or in DeCicco & Sons in Brewster at 50 Independent Way (at Route 312 and I84) on Tuesday, May 1 between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., may have been exposed. They should call the Putnam County Department of Health as soon as possible to understand their possible risk and what action to take. Public health nurses will be available by calling at 845-808-1390.  Those individuals who were born before 1957, or who have had measles disease or who have been vaccinated with MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) may still retain full or partial immunity.

“Measles symptoms begin with fever, runny nose, cough, red eyes, and sore throat,” continues Dr. Nesheiwat. “It is followed by a rash that spreads over the body. If anyone has these symptoms, call the doctor or emergency room first. Do not go directly to a medical facility.

Isolation procedures need to begin immediately upon arrival.”

The mission of the Putnam County Department of Health, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), 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, emergency preparedness, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, please visit our County website at www.putnamcountyny.com; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth  and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.