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health and environment

Johnson County Department of Health and Environment
Vision: The Innovative Leader for Community Health and Environmental Protection.
Mission: To Protect the Health and Environment, Prevent Disease and Promote Wellness for All who Live, Work and Play in Johnson County through Exceptional Public Service.

Department News

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Johnson County maintains #1 ranking as healthiest place to live in Kansas
October 22, 2019

Johnson County maintains its top ranking as the healthiest place to live in Kansas according to the ninth annual County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, released on March 14, 2018 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI). The Rankings are available at www.countyhealthrankings.org.

“Johnson County is fortunate to have many of the key factors that contribute to a long and healthy life,” says Lougene Marsh, director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment. “However, this report is also a call to action for leaders and community members to note those areas where we can make improvements so everyone in Johnson County has a fair and just chance to lead the healthiest life possible”

The 2018 Rankings show that where you live influences how well and how long you live. Good health is influenced by many factors beyond medical care including housing, education, jobs, access to healthy foods and more.

Johnson County ranked number one in the state for another year for health outcomes like a low number of premature deaths and low birthweight babies. The county also ranked number one for health factors such as access to quality medical care and exercise opportunities, a healthy food environment and a high percentage of adults with some post-secondary education.

The report identifies areas where more work needs to be done in Johnson County to reduce obesity and heavy drinking in adults, slow down the rate of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and address the number of workers who commute in their car alone.

Marsh says Johnson County has a number of initiatives underway to address these issues: LiveWell Johnson County, a grant-funded program that addresses chronic disease prevention by promoting healthy eating and active living; and abstinence-based programs for adolescents that focus on STI and pregnancy prevention; and improved mass transit with the expansion of RideKC routes to southern Johnson County starting in April 2018.

Take precautions to prevent mosquito bites and reduce risk of West Nile Virus
December 17, 2019

Mosquitoes infected with West Nile Virus (WNV) are showing up in surveillance reports across Kansas, including Johnson County. All four traps collected on Aug. 11 in Johnson County contained mosquitoes positive with the virus.

West Nile is a virus most commonly spread to people by mosquito bites. In North America, cases of WNV occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through fall. There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV. Fortunately, most people infected with WNV (8 out of 10) do not have symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms. About 1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness. You can reduce your risk of WNV by using insect repellent and wearing protective clothing to prevent mosquito bites. More prevention tips: https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/prevention/index.html

Tips to stay safe, manage debris after a flood
July 29, 2019

The past week’s heavy rain and floods have wreaked havoc on many Johnson County homes and businesses. The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (JCDHE) offers the following tips to prevent injury and illness during cleanup and how to manage and remove the debris and trash left behind.

  • Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles during cleanup of an affected area.
  • Get a tetanus shot (Td or Tdap) if you haven’t had one in the last 10 years or can’t remember the last time you got one. You can get one at most doctors’ offices, pharmacies, urgent care clinics and at the Department of Health and Environment’s two walk-in clinics in Olathe (11875 S. Sunset Drive) and Mission (6000 Lamar Ave.).
  • Flood waters can displace animals, insects and reptiles. Be alert and avoid contact.
  • Wash clothing and all hard surfaces with hot water and detergent. Discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected (such as, mattresses, carpeting and carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, pillows, baby toys, stuffed animals, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings and most paper products).
  • Excessive moisture and standing water can contribute to the growth of mold. Be sure to properly dry out ceilings, walls and floors.
  • Cover open wounds with a waterproof bandage to avoid infection. Keep open wounds as clean as possible by washing with soap and water. Seek immediate medical attention if a wound develops redness, swelling or drainage.

James Joerke, JCDHE deputy director, advises residents and business owners to contact their local city or trash company to find out how much trash and debris can be placed at the curb and if any large item collections are being planned.

“Always ask about fees for these type of additional pick-ups,” says Joerke. “If you have a large quantity of trash, you may need to rent a dumpster and pay to have it hauled to a landfill.”  

Items that are not accepted at the curb, such as paint, cleaners, household chemicals and fluorescent light bulbs, may be brought to the Johnson County Household Hazardous Waste site for disposal. Make an appointment to drop off for these items, as well as non-working appliances and electronics: https://jocogov.org/dept/health-and-environment/environment/hazardous-materials/accepted-items

Safety after a Flood: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/floods/after.html

Mold after a Disaster: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/mold and https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/resources-flood-cleanup-and-indoor-air-quality

 

Zika Virus
July 24, 2019

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is alerting the public of the potential to contract Zika virus while traveling abroad and in Brownsville, Texas. Although sexual transmission of Zika virus infection is possible, mosquito bites remain the primary way that Zika virus is transmitted. Because there currently is no vaccine or treatment for Zika virus, the best way to avoid Zika virus infection is to prevent mosquito bites. While illness is usually mild, and severe disease requiring hospitalization is uncommon, Zika virus infection in pregnant women can cause severe birth defects of the brain, including microcephalyPregnant women should not travel to areas with Zika virus.

The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red, watery eyes) lasting from several days to a week. If you are experiencing Zika virus symptoms and have traveled to/lived in an area with Zika within the past 2 weeks, contact your healthcare provider immediately so you can be tested for Zika virus. Tell your healthcare provider when and where you traveled.

Kansas physicians and laboratories should be aware of the diagnostic testing guidance for Zika virus. Additional guidance for healthcare providers is available here. Call the Kansas Department of Health and Environment at 1-877-427-7317 to report persons with suspected Zika virus infection or to request Zika virus testing for those who meet the criteria for testing

Zika Virus in Pregnancy

Zika virus infection can cause microcephaly (meaning small head and brain) and other severe brain defects in babies of mothers who are infected with Zika virus while pregnant. This means that a woman who is infected with Zika during pregnancy has an increased risk of having a baby with these health problems. Therefore, pregnant women should not travel to areas with Zika virus.

Men and women with a pregnant sex partner who have traveled to or lived in an area of active Zika virus transmission should consistently and correctly use condoms and other barriers during sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) or abstain from sexual activity for the duration of the pregnancy to avoid giving the virus to the mother and baby.

If you are pregnant and had exposure to Zika virus in the last 2-12 weeks either from travel to a place with ongoing Zika virus transmission or unprotected sex with someone who has traveled to or lived in a place with ongoing Zika virus transmission, contact your healthcare provider immediately to discuss the need for testing for Zika virus. Tell your healthcare provider how often, when and where you and/or your sex partner traveled/lived.

Prevention

There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat Zika. Until more is known, CDC is recommending when traveling to places where Zika virus has been reported, travelers should take steps to prevent mosquito bites. All travelers, including pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding, can and should use an EPA-registered insect repellent and use it according to the product label.

Some travelers to areas with ongoing Zika virus transmission will become infected while traveling but will not become sick until they return home and they might not have any symptoms. Travelers should use insect repellent for three weeks after travel to prevent mosquito bites and stop the spread of Zika.

Zika virus can be spread sexually. Men and women with a pregnant sex partner who reside in or have traveled to an area of active Zika virus transmission should consistently and correctly use condoms and other barriers during sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) or abstain from sexual activity for the duration of the pregnancy to avoid giving the virus to the mother and baby. Men and women with nonpregnant sex partners may want to consider the following recommendations from the CDC. Women and their partners who are thinking about pregnancy, should talk to their healthcare providers about their travel plans, the risk of Zika virus infection and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites.

Local residents can protect themselves from Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases (West Nile, Chikungunya, Dengue) by wearing an EPA-registered insect repellent, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when working or playing outdoors. Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside. Use air conditioning, if you have it. Empty standing water from flower pots, buckets, gutters/downspouts, small pools and pool covers, pet dishes, discarded tires and birdbaths on a regular basis to reduce the number of mosquitoes around the home. Tightly cover water storage containers so that mosquitoes cannot get inside to lay eggs.

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