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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

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.

JCDHE is first in Kansas to receive accreditation

The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) is the first public health department in the state of Kansas to receive accreditation by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), and the second in the four-state region of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska.

PHAB sets standard goals for the more than 3,000 public health departments in the United States, requiring a strict, multi-faceted peer-reviewed process. JCDHE spent more than two years working on improvements and gathering documentation to earn accreditation status.

”We are pleased and excited to be one of the first 44 health departments in the nation to achieve national standards,” said Lougene Marsh, JCDHE director. “The seal of accreditation shows that our department has been rigorously examined and meets or exceeds national standards that promote continuous quality improvement for public health,” Marsh said.

County Manager Hannes Zacharias also commented on the news. “It’s a tremendous achievement. This designation means residents can feel confident that we are meeting the public health needs of Johnson County as effectively as possible,” he said. “Our public health department is a vital resource in the community and I’m delighted that the hard work and dedication of the employees who work there is being recognized in this way.”

PHAB is jointly supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. PHAB sets standards against which the nation’s governmental public health departments can continuously improve the quality of their services.

JCDS 2013 Annual Report

See the 2013 JCDS Annual Report here: http://mediastore.jocogov.org/JCDS/JCDS-Annual-Report-2013.pdf



Elder Abuse Awareness Day is Sunday, June 15

Elder abuse reports, particularly involving financial exploitation of older adults, have grown dramatically in volume since 2009.

Reports come to the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office from numerous sources, including the Adult Protective Service (APS) of the Kansas Department of Children and Families, from family members of the abused adults, financial institutions, the courts, and by private attorneys.

The DA’s protocol for handling this increased volume has been to conduct training with local law enforcement agencies to help them investigate reports of elder abuse, and in many cases, assign one of the DA criminal investigators to assist the local agency in the investigation.

In cases where medical records of the victim are involved, the DA will often put together a Financial Abuse Specialist Team (FAST) that includes a volunteer medical professional, a detective in the city where the offense has taken place, an Assistant District Attorney, APS, a DA investigator, and, when appropriate, an investigator with the involved financial institution.

This multi-disciplinary approach allows for a more comprehensive investigation with more resources, and is helpful in resolving financial exploitation cases that have complex medical, behavioral, and financial attributes that have to be addressed for successful prosecution. Many cases are handled by the local police agency on their own, or by DA investigators, which is typical when the medical and behavioral aspects of the case are established before the offense takes place.

Elder Abuse Awareness Day is being observed locally and nationally on Sunday, June 15.

Reports of elder abuse are typically made directly to APS via their 24/7 hotline (800-922-5330), who will conduct a preliminary investigation, and if a criminal offense is suspected, APS will refer the case to the local police agency.

The District Attorney is provided copies of all reports referred to police agencies in Johnson County so that assistance on those cases can be provided by the DA’s Office when requested by local law enforcement. When elder abuse is suspected, the local police department can be contacted and a complaint filed with them, or by contacting the Adult Protective Service at the hotline number provided above. 

If there are questions if abuse is taking place, the District Attorney operates a white-collar crime hotline at 913-715-3140, and an investigator can assess the nature of the complaint and assist the caller in proper reporting of the offense. 


As noted, the volume of offenses has increased tremendously in the past five years, and can be attributed to not only the aging population in the county, but also to increased unemployment among people inside and outside of Johnson County that have access to elderly victims with financial resources. The volume of reports is expected to grow larger with a recent change in Kansas criminal statutes that broadened the definition of financial exploitation and victims. 

Measles cases continue to rise in Johnson County

Measles are in Johnson County, Kan. The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) has identified three confirmed cases of measles in the county. The three cases are possibly linked to 10 other confirmed cases and two probable cases in the Kansas City metro area.

Measles is a highly contagious disease that causes fever, runny nose, cough and rash all over the body. Measles ranges from a pretty uncomfortable disease to a very serious one. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for every 1,000 children who get measles in a developed country like the United States, 1 to 3 of them die, despite the best treatment.

Measles can be prevented by making sure that you and your children are up to date on vaccinations. JCDHE offers the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine at its walk-in immunization clinics in Olathe and Mission. Click here for hours and locations: http://www.jocogov.org/dept/health-and-environment/health/immunizations/overview

If you believe that you have been exposed to someone who has measles, contact your local health department or JCDHE at 913-826-1303. If you believe you have measles, call your medical care provider, doctor or clinic to find out what you should do. The signs and symptoms of measles typically begin one to two weeks after someone is exposed to an infected person.

Symptoms include:

•          Fever

•          Blotchy skin rash, which spreads from the head to the trunk then to the lower extremities (measles is contagious from four days before to four days after the rash appears)

•          Cough

•          Runny nose

•          Red, watery eyes

•          Feeling run down, achy

•          Tiny white spots with bluish-white centers found inside the mouth

Read the regional news release here>

For more information about measles: http://www.cdc.gov/features/Measles/index.html

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September 22, 2014 | 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm

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