Emmet County Iowa Public Health

Emmet County Public Health Office

508 South 1st Street
Estherville, IA 51334
ph: 712-362-2490
fax: 712-362-7160

 

WHAT IS PUBLIC HEALTH NURSING?

  • It is a community based approach to health care serving individuals, families or groups.
  • Services are provided in the client home, in the office, schools, worksites or meeting places.
  • The goal of Public Health Nursing is to promote maximum health and long life for residents of Emmet County.

WHO IS ELIGIBLE?

  • People of all ages living in Emmet County may request services by contacting the Public Health Office at the phone number or address listed above.
  • Referrals are accepted from patients, families, friends, ministers, doctors, or social workers.

Emmet County Public Health Information and Links

Emmet County Board of Health

Members are appointed by the Board of Supervisors, and their function is to establish policy, promulgate and enforce rules and regulations to enable the Department of Health to control those factors which could be a hazard to the public’s health.

Members include:
  • Pam Caboth, Chair
  • Mary Tirevold, Vice Chairman
  • Lela Kruse, Secretary
  • Dr. Keith Probst
  • Pam Caboth
  • Andrew Spurgin
Emmet County Public Health Personnel
Nursing:
  • Kathy Preston, RN – Administrator
  • Sharon Hooge, RN – Staff Nurse
  • Corrin Preston, RN – Staff Nurse
Office Personnel:
  • Mary Moorman – Office Manager
  • LeAnn Dietrich – Office Assistant
Certified Nursing Aides:
  • Paula Myhre
  • Dawn Ukasick
  • Rhonda Russell
Environmental Health Specialist:
  • Ben Huntley
Available Emmet County Public Health Community Services
The following services are provided in the home:
Assistance With Daily Needs

A Homemaker Home Aide assists clients with:

  • Bathing
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Budgeting
  • Family management
  • Therapeutic exercises
  • Light housekeeping
Community Education and Activities
  • Classes for expectant parents
  • Home visits to new parents
  • Adult and Childhood immunizations
  • Blood pressure screening
  • Free STD testing/treatment
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Programs on health topics
  • Coordination with other community services
  • Health data
  • Bioterrorism preparedness planning
  • Tobacco cessation program
  • Breast & cervical cancer prevention program
  • Lead screening and education
  • Presumptive Medicaid Applications
  • Flu clinics
Helpful Health Links

Communicable Disease Information: cdc.gov

Medicare Benefits: medicare.gov

Breast & Cervical Cancer: komen.org & stopbreastcancer.org

Iowa Department of Public Health

Emmet County Public Health Payments

Fees for services vary according to the service provided.

Medicaid and private insurance pay for some services. Arrangements are made for payment of other services.

Some services are provided at no charge.

For more information call 712-362-2490 or click the “email” button below.

Volunteers – “I Can Help!”

Emmet County Emergency Preparedness Task Force is looking for Volunteers for Emmet County in the event of an Emergency. Likely areas where volunteers would be used:

  • Special needs shelters
  • Clean up
  • Medication, supply, or food distribution centers
  • Traffic control
  • Food preparation for workers
  • Telephone banks
  • Communication
  • Medical Care
  • Resource management
  • Damage assessment

If you can say “I CAN HELP” please register as an Emmet County Emergency Response volunteer.

Summer Cookouts Require Extra Attention to Food Safety

Emmet County citizens urged to take simple steps to prevent food poisoning

For many Iowans, summer means grilling season. For public health workers, this time of year also means the beginning of an increase in foodborne illnesses.

Helpful tips include:
  • Wash hands before preparing food or eating, and after using the bathroom. Rub them together using soap and warm running water for about 20 seconds.
  • When grilling, it is best to use a meat thermometer to ensure that meat is thoroughly cooked; at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit for steaks, 160 degrees for hamburgers, and 170 for poultry breasts. If a thermometer is not available, make sure that all meat is cooked until there is no pink left and the juices run clear.
  • Rinse all fresh fruits and vegetables under running water, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten.
  • Don’t use the same platter or utensils that previously held raw meat or seafood.
  • If food that should have been refrigerated is left out for more than two hours, throw it away.

For more information, including recommended temperatures for other meats and seafood, visit foodsafety.gov.

West Nile Virus

West Nile virus is carried by mosquitoes (especially Culex species). West Nile virus (WNV) can cause serious illness in humans and animals.

Signs and Symptoms

Most people (70-80%) who become infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms.

About 1 in 5 people who are infected with WNV will develop a fever along with other symptoms such as:

  • Headache
  • Body aches 
  • Joint pains 
  • Vomiting,
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash

Most people with this type of WNV disease recover completely, however,  fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.

Less than 1% of people who are infected with WNV will develop a serious neurologic illness, such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues). The symptoms of neurologic illness may include:

  • Headache
  • High fever
  • neck stiffness
  • Confusion
  • Coma
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Vision loss
  • Paralysis

Serious illness can occur in people of any age. However, people over 60 years of age are at the greatest risk for severe disease. People with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and people who have received organ transplants, are also at greater risk for serious illness. Recovery from severe disease may take several weeks or months. Some of the neurologic effects may be permanent. About 10 percent of people who develop neurologic infection due to West Nile virus will die.

Where Found

West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne virus that has been documented in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India, parts of Asia, Australia, and the Americas.  The virus was first identified in the West Nile district of Uganda in 1937.  It was first reported in the United States in 1999, when 62 cases and seven deaths from West Nile virus infection were reported in the New York City area.  Since 1999, West Nile virus has spread across the continental United States.  The first documented virus in Iowa was identified in a dead crow in the eastern part of the state in September 2001.  Human cases have been reported every year since 2002 in Iowa.

For more information, visit the IDPH West Nile virus webpage.

Cryptosporidium

Iowa is having an increasing number of cases of cryptosporidium this year. This has caused the public health department to alert the community in an effort to prevent the spread of the illness.

Cryptosporidium is found in the feces of infected people and animals can contaminate soil, food, water, or surfaces. An individual becomes infected with the Cryptosporidium parasite by accidentally swallowing contaminated food or water or having contact with other contaminated objects. We know that Cryptosporidium may be transmitted through swimming pools and lakes when swimmers swallow contaminated water. Within households and day care facilities we know that Cryptosporidiosis is easily spread person-to-person. For example, in a household setting a family member with diarrhea who uses the toilet and does not wash his or her hands, can contaminate food or surfaces that will then spread the germ to other family members. In a typical day care setting, diapering, shared toys, lots of hand-to-mouth contact and poor hygiene allows transmission of the germ between children. Hand washing is the most effective means of preventing Cryptosporidium transmission. Wash hands regularly, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing food.

The symptoms of cryptosporidiosis include diarrhea, loose or watery stools, stomach cramps, upset stomach, and a slight fever. For many people, symptoms can be mild. Symptoms generally occur within 2 to 12 days of infection. They last about two weeks, but may go in cycles of getting better then worse before the illness ends. Many have a brief recurrence of symptoms after the initial round of symptoms has resolved. People may excrete the parasite for up to two weeks after diarrhea has stopped. The infection may be very severe in people with impaired immune systems. Persons with persistent symptoms above should consult their health provider if they are ill and need clinical advice for managing their illness.

Once introduced into a community, Cryptosporidium can be spread for months if the public is not vigilant about the key hygiene measures needed to stop the spread of the germ. Therefore, public health interventions have focused on measures known to help control the spread of the disease.

Persons with Cryptosporidiosis should avoid close personal contact with persons in their household especially if the household member has a weakened immune system. If persons with weakened immune systems become infected, Cryptosporidium can be a life-threatening disease. Persons with the illness should take care to drink plenty of fluids to avoid the dehydration from diarrhea caused by Cryptosporidium. They should consult a health care provider for information on preventing dehydration.

Preventing the Spread from one person to the next:

Voluntarily isolate yourself from others while you are ill:

  • Stay home if you are ill. Keep children home from school or daycare until the diarrhea/nausea/ vomiting/ and abdominal pain are resolved.
  • Do not prepare or serve food to others while you are ill
Hygiene:
  • Wash hands regularly with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom and before preparing or eating food.
  • Wash hands after changing diapers. Take extra care to wash hands and clean surfaces if caring for someone with diarrhea, especially diaper-or toddler-aged children.
Day cares and school:
  • Children with diarrhea should not be dropped off at daycares or school.
  • Employees in daycare or schools with diarrhea should be excluded from work.
Swimming:
  • Do not swim when ill with diarrhea or for two weeks after the end of diarrhea. Cryptosporidium is chlorine resistant.
  • Do not swallow pool/lake/river water.
  • Practice good hygiene (i.e. shower before swimming).
Drinking Water:
  • Avoid drinking untreated water from shallow wells, lakes, rivers, springs, ponds and streams.
Restaurants:
  • Employees should wash hands after using the bathroom and before preparing food.
  • Employees with diarrhea should be excluded from food preparation or serving activities.
Cleansing:
  • Households with persons that have the illness should use 3 percent hydrogen peroxide to clean toys and environmental surfaces; bleach is not effective.

For more information, individuals may call the Emmet County Health Department at 712-362-2490 or click the “email” button below.

How Germs Spread

The main way that illnesses like colds and flu are spread is from person to person in respiratory droplets of coughs and sneezes. This is called “droplet spread.”

Stop the Spread of Germs
In a nutshell: take care to
  • Cover your mouth and nose
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue and then throw it away
  • Clean your hands often
  • Remind your children to practice healthy habits, too
  • Stay home from school and work when you have the flu or you have a fever
The “Happy Birthday” song helps keep your hands clean?
  • Not exactly. Yet we recommend that when you wash your hands — with soap and warm water — that you wash for 15 to 20 seconds. That’s about the same time it takes to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice!
Alcohol Based Hand Wipes and Gel Sanitizers Work Too!
  • When soap and water are not available, alcohol based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores.
Stay Healthy
  • Eat healthy foods
  • Get plenty of sleep (8-9 hours per day)
  • Drink plenty of water (try 5-6 glasses per day)
Bats: Beneficial to Iowans, but Unwelcome House Guests

Bats are beneficial to Iowans because they eat insects, including many farm pests. One bat can eat up to 2,000 insects per night! Unfortunately, many populations of bats have been destroyed and many species are now endangered.

The prevalence of rabies in bats is very low. However, most of the recent rabies cases in the United States have been caused by bat-associated rabies viruses, thus any bat should be considered a risk for rabies. Bat should be prevented from entering homes and everyone should avoid touching bats. Information on how to peacefully coexist with bats by “bat proofing” homes can be found through Bat Conservation International at www.batcon.org/.

If a sleeping person, a non-verbal child, or a mentally incapacitated person is found alone with a bat in the same room the bat should be tested for rabies. The exposed person may need to be treated with post exposure anti-rabies treatments if the bat can not be tested, or if rabies test results are positive.

If you have any questions or have a possible bat bite please call your physician.

If you have questions please call Emmet County Public Health at 712-362-2490 

For more information on rabies and post exposure treatment, see:

Immunization
Vaccine Information Statements

Tobacco Cessation

Smoking cessation information:

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