PCDOH Staff Present at National APHA Conference

Brewster, NY—The Putnam County Department of Health (PCDOH) has the distinction of being one of the few local health departments invited to present at the recent 141st American Public Health Association (APHA) Meeting & Expo. More than 10,000 national and international physicians, researchers, educators and related health specialists attended the event, which ran from November 2 to 6 in Boston, Massachusetts.

PCDOH Supervising Public Health Educator Barbara Ilardi and Supervising Public Health Nurse Kathy Percacciolo presented on the health department’s success in developing a strategic plan by partnering with a public health training center (PHTC).

The PCDOH has been partnering with the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health’s NYC-Long Island-Lower Tri-County PHTC to enhance training for national accreditation. The strategic plan helps focus the efforts of the health department to better evaluate and serve the health needs of the community.

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 https://www.putnamcountyny.com/health/; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

United for the Troops: www.unitedforthetroops.org

united for the troops

It is with great sadness to announce the passing of Retired Putnam County Highway employee and member of PC Volunteer Firemen’s Association member Walter J. Swarm

Walter J. Swarm, a lifelong resident of Mahopac Falls, NY passed away on Friday November 1, 2013 at the age of 86. He was born in Baldwin Place, NY on March 21, 1927, the son of Carl and Anna Johnson Swarm.

Walt graduated from Mahopac High School Class of 1947. He served in the US Navy during WWII and is a member of VFW Post 5491 in Mahopac. Walt retired as a shop foreman in 1995 after 37 years with the Putnam County Highway Department.

Walt was a life member of the Mahopac Falls Volunteer Fire Department, where he served in many capacities including being its youngest elected Chief and serving on the Board of Directors. He was a member of the Putnam County Volunteer Firemen’s Association, the Putnam County Fire Chiefs Association, the Hudson Valley Firemen’s Association as well as FASNY.

He is survived by his wife of 26 years, Dorothy. His daughters Enis Marie Bick of Passaic, NJ, Gloria (Jimmy) Troy of Newburgh, NY, Marion (Artie) Becker of Putnam Lake, NY and Shirley (Harvey) Wills of Cusseta, GA, grandchildren P.C., J. R., Matthew, Christina, Antoinette, Joe (Heather), Erin, Jennifer and Shelby and his great granddaughter Kayla. He is also survived by his step-children, Ronald and Joseph (Adrienne) LeBlanc and Renee Dazi, and his 7 step- grandchildren, Tommy, Deanna, Denise, Nicholas, Matthew, Juliette and Alexis. He was predeceased by his first wife, Edith, his son-in-law, Phil, his brothers, Oscar, Harry, Eric and George and his sisters Alice and Marian.

Visiting will be held on Sunday November 3 from 2-4 & 7-9 pm and Monday November 4 from 5-9 pm at Joseph J. Smith Funeral Home. Funeral Services will be held on Tuesday November 5 at 11 am at The First Presbyterian Church in Mahopac Falls with interment to follow at Ballard-Barrett Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his memory may be made to the Mahopac Falls Volunteer Fire Department.



Brewster, NY—Putnam County Department of Health officials were notified by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) last week that two Putnam residents were positively confirmed for Powassan (POW) virus, a tick-borne illness. The two affected individuals are recovering at home.

POW virus, like Lyme disease, is transmitted through the bite of an infected deer (black-legged) tick. The POW virus can be transmitted in as little as 15 minutes; in contrast, most Lyme infections require the tick be attached for at least 36 to 48 hours before the bacterium can be transmitted. Since POW is a virus, antibiotics are not effective, as they are with the bacterial Lyme disease. Signs and symptoms of POW infection can include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, seizures, and memory loss. Long-term neurologic problems may occur. People with severe POW virus illness often need to be hospitalized to receive respiratory support, intravenous fluids, or medications to reduce swelling in the brain that may occur.

Fortunately, POW virus is significantly less common than the Lyme bacterium. Since 2001, New York State has reported 16 known cases of POW; 5 of these were Putnam County residents. A recent study of ticks in the 7 Hudson Valley counties found that Putnam had the highest rate of POW virus infection. Still, the rate is low at only 3.84 percent of ticks. The research was conducted by the NYSDOH in collaboration with the Carey Institute of Ecosystem Studies, based in Millbrook, N.Y.

“Preventing tick bites is the first defense in preventing all tick-borne infections,” said Allen Beals, M.D., Commissioner of Health, “but especially important given the rapid transmission of the POW virus. This illness gives another reason to seriously consider applying a repellent containing DEET, which has been highly effective in preventing bites.”

People who frequent wooded and tall, grassy areas, such as hunters, campers, hikers, gardeners, and outdoor workers, are more likely to be exposed to ticks. The deer tick cannot fly or jump, but instead rests on low-lying vegetation and attaches to passing animals and people. The risk is greatest along trails in the woods and on the edges of properties with tall vegetation, where the higher humidity levels are ideal for tick survival. However, ticks are also carried into lawns and gardens by pets, mice and other small animals.

Decrease your chances of a tick bite by taking the following precautions:

  • Tuck pants into socks and shirt into pants when in wooded and grassy areas.
  • Wear light-colored clothing to spot ticks more easily.
  • Check for ticks on clothing or skin frequently. Brush them off before they can attach to your skin.
  • Do a thorough “tick check” of your entire body daily. Pay particular attention to the back of the knees, behind the ears, the scalp, the armpits and your back.
  • Repellents containing DEET have been effective in preventing tick bites. If you decide to use a tick repellent, apply carefully and follow all label directions. Bathe or shower and change clothes when you go back inside.
  • Do not apply repellents directly to children. Apply to your hands and then transfer it to the child. Never apply repellents to children’s hands or face.
  • No one should apply repellents near eyes, nose or mouth.

If an attached tick is found, remove it immediately. The Health Department recommends the following method: (1) Use fine-tipped tweezers to carefully grasp the mouth-parts—not the body—of the tick, close to the skin. (2) Gently and steadily pull the tick out without twisting or squeezing. (3) Wash the bite area thoroughly. (4) Apply antiseptic.

For more information about POW virus and other tick-borne diseases, call the Putnam County Department of Health at (845) 808-1390 or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/powassan/

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; or visit our social media sites on Facebook at www.facebook.com/putnamhealth and Twitter @PutnamHealthNY.

For Immediate Release: Row of Honor Press Conference


Row of Honor, November 11th: Great way to remember a loved one or to thank a Veteran. All proceeds will go to the Purple Heart Organization


Children Need Screening Tests for Lead at Ages One and Two – International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week celebrated October 20-26

Children Need Screening Tests for Lead at Ages One and Two
International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week celebrated October 20-26

Brewster, NY—Lead is an environmental toxin and exposed children face serious health risks with lifelong impact. Most lead poisoning cases in children result from ingesting or inhaling dust or chips in old homes built before 1978. In Putnam County approximately 30% of homes fall into this category. Preventing exposure to paint products and others containing lead, as well as early identification and intervention, are all crucial efforts to prevent and reduce lead poisoning. Children must be screened at age one and then again at two. International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, celebrated annually each October, helps raise awareness of this continuing problem and the appropriate precautions that should be taken.

“Lead poisoning has very serious consequences for young children because their brains are undergoing rapid development,” explains Allen Beals, MD, Commissioner of Health for Putnam County, “and these consequences can affect a child’s growth, behavior and ability to learn and are completely preventable. That is why NYS Public Health Law requires children have their blood lead levels (BLL) tested at age one, and again at two, by healthcare providers. The PCDOH can also assist in getting these screenings done.”

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. 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 a blood lead test. Reducing lead exposure however should be more routine. 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.

 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 should shower and change clothes and shoes before going home. Work clothes should be washed separately from other clothes.


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, 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.


MEMORANDUM: Service Arrangements for Bob McMahon


FROM:                       MaryEllen Odell
TO:                              All Putnam County Employees
RE:                              Service Arrangements for Bob McMahon
DATE:                        October 15, 2013

It is with deep regret that Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell announces the passing of former Commissioner Robert McMahon. Bob, a Lake Carmel resident, passed away on Saturday, October 12. He was 67.

“Bob McMahon was a true gentleman. He was far more than just a colleague, he was my dear friend. It was an honor for me to have known Bob and to work with him. I will miss him greatly as I know many people in the region will,” said Odell. “I’m sure everyone in Putnam offers their condolences to Donna and the family. Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with them during this most difficult and sorrowful time.” 

Bob was a retired Lieutenant who served 28 years with the FDNY. Prior to that, Bob served in the U.S. Navy, was a Commander in the Naval Reserve, an officer in the Kent Police Department, and a State Corrections Officer. In addition, Bob was a registered nurse, a former chief and life member of the Lake Carmel Fire Department, a NYS and FEMA certified training instructor and a member of the Board of Directors for Putnam Hospital Center.

Bob served as Deputy Fire Coordinator from July 1990 to January 1997 when he was appointed Fire Coordinator. He served in that position through December 1999 and in January 2000, he was appointed as Commissioner of Emergency Services. He held that position until he retired in August of 2012. Under Bob’s leadership, the emergency services in Putnam were greatly enhanced, evolving into today’s state-of-the-art Bureau of Emergency Services.

Last February, the County’s 911 Communications Center was renamed The Robert McMahon Emergency 911 Communications Center in his honor.

Bob is survived by his wife, Donna, their three sons, Robert, Brian (Kelly) and Brendan and their four grandchildren, Kaitlyn, Timothy, Meaghan and Brendan.

Calling hours will be held today Tuesday, Oct. 15 from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Putnam County Emergency Services Training and Operations Building – TOPS, on the Donald B. Smith Sr. Government Center, 110 Old Route 6, Carmel, NY 10512. 

A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 16 at the St. James the Apostle Church, Gleneida Ave, Carmel, NY 10512. Internment will follow at the Raymond Hill Cemetery on Route 52 in Carmel.

Following the internment there will be a gathering at the Lake Carmel Fire House, Route 52 Carmel NY. All are welcome.

Donations in Bob’s name may be made to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Ave., New York, NY 10065.

Putnam’s Bob McMahon remembered as Emergency Services Pioneer