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Public health is one of the most important services we provide the residents of Johnson County Government. Every day, in many ways, we strive to prevent disease and promote wellness. Our Olathe and Mission walk-in clinics offer services including immunizations, pregnancy testing and family planning, and Tuberculosis testing. The Johnson County Mental Health Center provides a wide range of mental health and substance abuse services to residents. We serve clients of the Kansas WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program, teach classes for child care providers, manage disease investigation and reporting, and so much more.

Health News

Celebrate the art of mental health recovery

The first full week of October is Mental Health Awareness Week.  The Johnson County Mental Health Center serves over 12,000 individuals a year.

On Thursday, October 9, in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Week, the Johnson County Mental Health Center will hold its Annual Art Show. This art sale includes sketches, paintings, jewelry and sculpture created by Johnson County Mental Health clients. The money raised goes to an activity and scholarship fund for Johnson County Mental Health clients.

Event:             Johnson County Mental Health Annual Art Show
Date:               Thursday, October 9
Time:               4 – 7 p.m.
Location:        Johnson County Mental Health Center (1125 W. Spruce Street, Olathe)
Cost:               $5 minimum donation, refreshments served

Johnson County 4-H now enrolling new members

4-H boy shows off the yellow decorated rocekt he builtDid you know that 4-H, the nation’s largest youth development and empowerment organization, cultivates confident kids who tackle the issues that matter most in their communities? In Johnson County, 4-H is thriving.

With nearly 700 members, the Johnson County program, affiliated with K-State Research and Extension in Olathe, continues to grow and expand to reach new audiences.

National 4-H Week is Oct. 5 – 11, and the Johnson County program is currently enrolling for the new 4-H year. Early fall is the best time for new families to join 4-H. Families who join in the fall get the opportunity to experience the start of all new 4-H activities, such as electing club officers and selecting committee assignments.

4-H offers youth a one of-a-kind opportunity to gain lifelong skills through hands-on learning. The program is built on a foundation of three core areas: healthy living; citizenship; and science, technology, engineering and math. 4-H’ers gain skills in each of these areas throughout their 4-H experience through community service, projects and club involvement.

Why join 4-H?
Research has proven that participation in 4-H has a significant positive impact on young people. Recent findings from the Tufts University 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development indicate that, when compared to their peers, young people in 4-H are:

  • Nearly four times more likely to contribute to their communities,
  • Two times more likely to pursue healthy behaviors, and
  • Two times more likely to engage in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs in the out-of-school time.

Who can join?
Full 4-H membership starts at age seven and concludes at 18. An introduction to 4-H is available for youth ages five and six through Cloverbuds. There are 19 different clubs throughout Johnson County. There is no membership fee to join. The youth program is strongly family orientated. Parents and siblings are welcome to attend all 4-H events.

4-H girls at summer cooking campLearning life skills by doing
Valuable lifelong skills such as communication, leadership and citizenship are gained through youth projects. The Johnson County 4-H program has many different avenues for youth to become engaged in their own individual passion.

Each member chooses their projects at the beginning of the new 4-H year. With over 30 projects to choose from, and even a self-determined category, the Johnson County 4-H program can accommodate a wide variety of interests. A few of the most popular projects include: rocketry, foods and nutrition, dog care and training, clothing and textiles, and photography.

In the self-determined category, youth are able to create a project by developing the what, why, when, where, who and how into an action plan designed by and for the member. A self-determined project might be a new or different project, or an expansion of a traditional project. A few of the self-determined projects which have been done in the county in the past include:

  • bicycling,
  • Legos,
  • bee keeping,
  • entrepreneurship, and
  • sailing. 

4-H instills a strong work ethic by offering the opportunity to compete in a positive and supportive environment, interact with teen and adult mentors, and build lifelong relationships. 4-H also continues to give back to its members after membership ends. Alumni have the opportunity to apply for college scholarships to strengthen their lifelong learning habit.

Johnson County 4-H youth development has many different avenues for youth to become engaged in their own individual passion. The mission is to grow youth members into tomorrow's leaders.

The Johnson County 4-H program is the perfect choice for any youth looking to learn through doing. For more information about joining 4-H contact Tara Markley, county Extension agent, at 913-715-7000 or visit www.johnson.ksu.edu/4H.

Johnson County Catch-a-Ride Needs Your Help!

Are you interested in driving county residents to critical appointments?  We hope so, because Catch-a-Ride needs you! And Catch-a-Ride has a special need for drivers in rural areas such as Gardner, Spring Hill, and De Soto.

Catch-a-Ride is a completely volunteer-based program in which elders, people with a disability, and people in a major life transition are given rides to medical appointments, grocery stores/food pantries, and social service agencies. Clients are people who cannot drive themselves and do not have a network of people who can drive for them.

Volunteers can drive “anytime, anywhere” or only at certain intervals or in certain areas of the county. We are very respectful of driver needs and schedules.

If you are interested or want additional information, please call Brandy 913-715-8859, e-mail Brandy.Hodge@jocogov.org.

Seasonal flu vaccine available in Olathe and Mission clinics

The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment has seasonal flu vaccine available for adults and children over the age of 6 months at the immunization walk-in clinics in Olathe and Mission. The cost is $30 for a seasonal flu shot, $38 for the nasal vaccine and $50 for the high dose flu shot for those age 65 and older. Complete form online BEFORE arriving at the clinic, print it and bring it with you.

We accept private insurance from Blue Cross and Blue Shield, UnitedHealthcare and Coventry. We do not take insurance from Coventry Advantra or Humana Gold Plus. We are a KanCare provider for all managed care organizations such as Amerigroup, Sunflower and United Community. Cash, check or credit card payment is also accepted for those who are uninsured or who carry other insurance plans.

Cooling Center Locations in Johnson County

The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment, in cooperation with the Johnson County Library, encourages citizens who need a place to cool down during hot days to visit one of 13 library branches. All of these facilities will be available during normal business hours.

Libraries offer many services in addition to a cool place to rest and restore. You can read books, magazines and newspapers, or access the Internet. Library hours vary by location. Call (913) 826-4600 to check hours of operation for your nearest library branch, or visit the Library web site at www.jocolibrary.org. In addition to libraries, there are several other locations in Johnson County that offer citizens a place to cool off.

If you must be out in the heat, the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment recommends the following:

  • Drink more fluids (non-alcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Check with your doctor if you have restrictions related to fluid intake.
  • Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go somewhere cool—even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.
  • Electric fans may provide comfort, but when temperatures are in the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat-related illness.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • If you must be out in the heat, limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
  • Exercise in an air-conditioned place and drink two to four glasses of cool, non-alcoholic fluids each hour. A sports drink can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat.
  • If you have to be outside, try to rest often in shady areas.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher and wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.

Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some are at greater risk than others. Be sure to check regularly on:

  • People aged 65 or older
  • People taking certain medications, including narcotics, sedatives, and diuretics
  • Toddlers left in cars and infants less than one year old
  • Athletes who are not used to working out in warm environments
  • People who work outside
  • People who have a mental illness or are physically ill, especially with heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes
Do I need to get a measles vaccination?

This may be a question running through your mind, and the minds of your patients if you’re a healthcare provider, as reports of confirmed cases of measles in Kansas continue to rise. The best way to keep from getting the disease is by being vaccinated with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment recommends the following during this measles outbreak:

  • Children or adults born after 1957 have two doses of a measles-containing vaccine (typically the MMR).
  • Individuals who work in a healthcare setting or medical facility, have two doses of a measles-containing vaccine (typically the MMR) regardless of birth year.

JCDHE offers the MMR vaccine at the Olathe and Mission walk-in immunization clinics: http://www.jocogov.org/dept/health-and-environment/health/immunizations/overview

Bat bites on the rise in Johnson County

The bat population in Johnson County is exploding as young bats begin to leave their nests and seek shelter in trees and homes. When this happens, bat bites increase, especially in the pet population. The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) urges residents to vaccinate their pets for rabies and not to touch bats – living or dead -- with bare hands.

Bats play an important role in helping to keep the mosquito population under control, but can be tempting to pets that find a young or injured bat outdoors or in a home. If your pet comes into contact with a bat (living or dead), call animal control or a pest company to have the bat removed and tested for rabies. Call a veterinarian to find out if your pet needs post-exposure treatment.

If a bat (living or dead) is found inside your home, and contact with it is unknown, it is still necessary to call animal control or a pest company to have it removed and tested. Bat bites can be difficult to detect on humans and pets. Check with your healthcare provider and your veterinarian to discuss the need for rabies post-exposure prophylaxis, even if the bat is not suitable for testing.

If you find a dead bat outside, and no people or pets have come into contact with it, wear gloves and dispose of it in a plastic bag in the trash. Contact JCDHE at 913-826-1303 if you have additional questions.

Common bat found in Kansas: http://kufs.ku.edu/libres/Mammals_of_Kansas/eptes-fuscus.html

South Park Lake in Johnson County under Blue-Green Algae Warning

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has issued a Blue-Green Algae warning for South Park Lake in Johnson County, Kan. The lake is located north of 87th Street between Robinson Street and Riley Street in Overland Park. Samples indicate that cyanobacteria, commonly called blue-green algae, is present in the water.

When a Warning is issued, KDHE recommends the following precautions be taken:

  • Humans, pets and livestock do not drink lake water
  • Water contact should be prohibited. Avoid swimming, wading or other activities with full body contact of lake water
  • Clean fish and rinse with clean water, consume only the fillet portion, and discard all other parts
  • Do not allow pets to eat dried algae
  • If lake water contacts skin or pet fur, wash with clean potable water as soon as possible
  • Avoid areas of visible algae accumulation

Kansans should be aware that blooms are unpredictable. They can develop rapidly and may float around the lake, requiring visitors to exercise their best judgment. If there is scum, a paint-like surface, or the water is bright green, avoid contact and keep pets away. These are indications that a harmful bloom may be present.

Park drinking water and showers are safe and not affected by the algae bloom. It is generally safe to boat and fish as long as long as contact with the water is avoided. People should also wash their hands with clean water after handling fish taken from an affected lake. Dog owners are urged to be particularly mindful of the presence of blue-green algae. Dogs that swim in or drink water affected by a harmful algal bloom or eat dried algae along the shore may become seriously ill or die.

Fatal Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM) Case Reported in Johnson County resident

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) reports a fatal case of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) caused by Naegleria fowleri, a free-living amoeba found in freshwater, in a resident of Johnson County, Kan. The investigation indicates there were several potential fresh water exposures in Kansas, so the actual source of the infection cannot be determined.

Naegleri fowleri can be found in freshwater environments around the world, but infection causing PAM is extremely rare. The risk of infection is very low, but increases during the summer months when water temperatures rise and more people participate in water-related activities. The infection typically occurs when the amoeba enters the body through the nose while the person is swimming underwater or diving and travels to the brain.

Symptoms usually appear about five days after infection, but can range between one and seven days, and include headache, fever, nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance and bodily control, seizures, and hallucinations. This infection cannot be spread from person to person or contracted from a properly maintained swimming pool.

Though the risk of infection is extremely low, the following precautions might decrease the possibility of infection:

  • Hold your nose shut, use nose clips, or keep your head above water when taking part in water-related activities in bodies of warm freshwater.
  • Avoid putting your head under the water in hot springs and other untreated thermal waters.
  • Avoid water-related activities in warm freshwater during periods of high water temperature.
  • Avoid digging in, or stirring up, the sediment while taking part in water-related activities in shallow, warm freshwater areas.

There is no known way to control the occurrence of Naeglaria fowleri in freshwater lakes and rivers.

KDHE Press release, July 11, 2014

Fact Sheet about Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM)

KDHE 24-hour hotline for infectious disease information: 1-877-427-7317

For more information on healthy swimming visit the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/healthyswimming/.

County Bike Route Map

Want to ride your bicycle to a county building?  Thanks to efforts from the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment, Johnson County’s Facilities Management and Johnson County’s Automated Information Mapping System, several bike racks have been installed and a map of bike racks and nearby bike trails has been created!  Please review this MAP for your next trip and remember to wear a helmet.

Community & Social Services

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Upcoming Events

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October 21, 2014 | 7:30 am to 9:30 am

WIC Community Garden

October 28, 2014 | 7:30 am to 9:30 am

WIC Community Garden

October 29, 2014 | 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm

JCDS/Friends of JCDS Boo Bash

November 4, 2014 | 7:30 am to 9:30 am

WIC Community Garden

November 11, 2014 | 8:00 am to 5:00 pm

JCDHE Closed on Veterans Day