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Tag Archive | "Kent County Health Department"

West Nile Virus claims life of second Kent County resident


The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) reported Wednesday that a Kent County resident who was hospitalized with West Nile Virus has died due to complications of the illness.

They said that there are currently 13 suspected or confirmed cases of West Nile Virus in Kent County, and that the threat of contracting West Nile Virus through a mosquito bite is still a concern here.

This threat will remain until consistently cold weather kills the insects.

“It can take two or three good frosts to get rid of all of the mosquitoes,” said Adam London, Administrative Health Officer at KCHD. “We want to ensure that people don’t put their guard down and continue to follow precautions until then.”

There is no vaccine or cure for West Nile. The best treatment is prevention. KCHD recommends the following:

  • Applying insect repellant that contains the active ingredient DEET and always following the manufacturer’s directions for use on the label.
  • Draining standing water in the yard. Empty water from flowerpots, pet bowls, clogged rain gutters, buckets, barrels, and cans. Anywhere water can collect, mosquitoes can breed.
  • Avoid being outside at dusk and dawn when mosquito activity is high.
  • Wear light colored long- sleeved shirts and long pants.

Only about 20 percent of the people infected will notice symptoms that may include headache, body aches, joint pains and fatigue. Most people with this type of West Nile virus completely recover. West Nile can develop into a severe illness that can affect the central nervous system. Some damage to the central nervous system can be permanent. In rare instances the disease can lead to death. More information can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html.

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West Nile virus claims life of Kent County resident


The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) has learned that a Kent County resident who was hospitalized with West Nile Virus has died due to complications of the illness.

As the Labor Day weekend holiday approaches, KCHD wants people to know that it is vital to continue to protect themselves from the bite of a mosquito. Through surveillance, KCHD has noted a 400 percent increase in the number of Culex Mosquitoes trapped by the agency so far this summer. The Culex mosquito is the species that transmits West Nile Virus to humans. KCHD believes these increased numbers may signal higher numbers of human West Nile Virus cases for the 2018 season.

There is no vaccine or cure for West Nile. The best treatment is prevention. KCHD recommends the following:

  • Applying insect repellant that contains the active ingredient DEET and always following the manufacturer’s directions for use on the label.
  • Draining standing water in the yard. Empty water from flower pots, pet bowls, clogged rain gutters, buckets, barrels, and cans. Anywhere water can collect, mosquitoes can breed.
  • Avoid being outside at dusk and dawn when mosquito activity is high.
  • Wear light colored long- sleeved shirts and long pants.

Only about 20% of the people infected will notice symptoms that may include headache, body aches, joint pains and fatigue. Most people with this type of West Nile virus completely recover. West Nile can develop into a severe illness that can affect the central nervous system. Some damage to the central nervous system can be permanent. In rare instances the disease can lead to death. 

More info can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html.

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High number of mosquitoes found with West Nile virus 


 

Surveillance results concern health officials

The Kent County Health Department held an urgent news conference Wednesday to help get the word out that an unusually high number of trapped mosquitoes have tested positive for the West Nile virus this year. While there are no human cases reported in Kent County yet this year, these tests lead health experts at KCHD to believe that a rise in human cases is possible in 2018.

“Given the test results we are seeing, it may be more important now than ever to take steps to protect yourself and those who count on you from being bit,” said Adam London, Administrative Health Officer at KCHD. “We are urging people to take simple precautions to reduce their exposure to mosquitoes and the risk of West Nile virus.”

They reported that in the first 11 weeks of sampling this year, they collected 16,314 Culex mosquitoes, which are the ones that usually carry the virus. That’s about six times as many as last year. Of the eight pools of 50 tested, 26 percent had the virus.

London reportedly said he has never had West Nile surveillance data of more concern than this year’s.

There is no vaccine or cure for West Nile. The best treatment is prevention. KCHD recommends the following:

  • Applying insect repellant that contains the active DEET and always following the manufacturer’s directions for use on the label.
  • Draining standing water in the yard. Empty water form flowerpots, pet bowls, clogged rain gutters, buckets, barrels, and cans. Anywhere water can collect, mosquitoes can breed.
  • Avoid being outside at dusk and dawn when mosquito activity is high.
  • Wear light colored long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

West Nile virus is spread primarily by infected Culex mosquitoes. Only about 20 percent of the people infected will notice symptoms that may include headache, body aches, joint pains and fatigue. Most people with this type of West Nile virus completely recover, but fatigue may last for weeks. West Nile can develop into a severe illness that can affect the central nervous system. Some damage to the central nervous system can be permanent. In rare instances the disease can lead to death.

More information about prevention can be found here. https://www.accesskent.com/Health/CommDisease/pdfs/westnile_qa.pdf

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Now is the time to consider adopting a cat


The Kent County Animal Shelter (KCAS) is seeing an increase in its populations of cats and kittens. If you have considered adding a feline friend to your home, now may be the perfect time with the large selection that is currently available.

To qualify potential adopters simply need to come to KCAS and fill out an adoption form. Shelter personnel will verify that the pet is a good match for its new owner and that landlords of those adopters who rent, accept pets. Adoption fees for kittens 2-4 months of age is $40 and it’s only $5.00 to adopt a cat that is 4 months of age or older.

All of the cats available for adoption have been spayed or neutered. All have been tested for Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. Every cat is up to date on all vaccinations, has been microchipped, and has received a flea treatment.

“While there is a seasonal fluctuation to the community cat population and a summer increase is certainly normal, it’s a reminder of the importance of spaying and neutering pet cats and the cats in our community,” says Carly Luttmann, Program Supervisor at KCAS. 

The Kent County Health Department reminds potential adopters that there are health benefits that come with owning any pet. According to a University of Minnesota study that focused on cats, found cat owners were 30-40 percent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease than non-cat owners. The study also found benefits from lower stress, lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of stroke.

The Kent County Animal Shelter is located at 740 Fuller N.E. in Grand Rapids. The shelter is open Monday through Friday 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-6:30 p.m.

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North Kent Connect hosts third annual Farm to Pantry program


2017 North Kent Connect’s Farm to Pantry participants visit Plainsong Farm to pick up their CSA share.

One local nonprofit organization takes healthy food initiatives to a deeper level. North Kent Connect, a Rockford based nonprofit committed to improving the lives of all people in northern Kent County, offers its clients a hands-on opportunity to learn about eating and shopping for healthy foods through its Farm to Pantry Program.

“Through our Farm to Pantry Program, clients learn various skills including how to pick fresh fruits and vegetables, properly store and cook them, and so much more,” said Claire Guisfredi, Executive Director of North Kent Connect. “Clients also visit Plainsong Farm where they receive Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares to take home and apply their learnings to fresh produce of their own.”

“Since attending Farm to Pantry, I now know how to can my own vegetables as well as use unique spices that I wasn’t aware of before,” said Amy, frequent Farm to Pantry attendee. “I look forward to receiving fresh broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach from Plainsong Farm. The farm also introduced me to lemon thyme and oregano which I now cook with and use to add flavor to meals.”

North Kent Connect is using certified health experts to teach health-related topics focused on canning, container gardening, cooking with unfamiliar spices, preparing meals using the CSA shares, food justice, agriculture, and local food systems.

“Farm to Pantry has transformed my life,” said Addie, NKC client and program participant. “I have gained so much knowledge about healthy eating over the years of attending, and the confidence to experiment with different foods in the kitchen to share with my family. It’s

neat going to Plainsong Farm, meeting the farmers, and having access to locally-sourced produce.”

Partners of Farm to Pantry include Plainsong Farm, Access of West Michigan, Kent County Health Department and Heart of West Michigan United Way.

 

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Norovirus in both Kent and Ottawa Counties


The Post was notified Wednesday by both Kent and Ottawa County Health Departments that they are seeing the spread of a norovirus-like illness.

Norovirus-like illness (stomach bug) spreads very easily and quickly person to person and by touching surfaces contaminated with vomit or stool. Common norovirus outbreak settings are in enclosed places like nursing homes, daycare centers, schools and cruise ships. It is also a major cause of outbreaks in restaurants and catered-meal settings if contaminated food is served or people handling food are ill. Anyone can get norovirus and can have it more than once. 

“We are receiving an increase in stomach virus reporting. Primary outbreaks are within school and childcare settings. To reduce the risk of illness in our community, people need to take preventive measures to stay healthy,” said Marcia Mansaray, epidemiologist, with the Ottawa County Health Department.

In Kent County, The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) is working with Davenport University to investigate a large outbreak of Norovirus-like illness at the W.A. Lettinga Campus located at 6191 Kraft Ave. SE, in Grand Rapids. 

University officials became aware of widespread illness among students and staff Sunday Jan. 14, 2018. Since then more than 100 students, faculty and staff have complained of being ill. Because of the rapid rise in the number of cases the Kent County Health Department sent staff members to the campus on Tuesday Jan.16. KCHD employees worked to collect stool samples to confirm Norovirus. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will test the samples. Results should be available by the end of the week.

Because Norovirus spreads very quickly and very easily person to person and by touching surfaces that are contaminated with vomit or stool, KCHD has made the following recommendations to Davenport University to slow the progress of the infection: 

  • Isolate all ill individuals in their rooms from onset of symptoms until 48 hours after symptoms cease.
  • Provide in room food service for these individuals and provide appropriate cleaning agents andinstructions for cleaning shared areas (such as dorm bathrooms).
  •  Have appropriate cleaning supplies available for all students as a preventive measure.
  • Shut down or limit food service (i.e. provide box lunches) to allow for a thorough cleaning of the foodservice area (kitchen and seating areas).

The most common symptoms of Norovirus are diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach pain. A person may also have a fever, headache or body aches. Symptoms usually develop 12-48 hours after being exposed and most people will get better within 1- 3 days. 

A person infected may feel extremely ill. They may vomit or have diarrhea several times a day. This may lead to dehydration especially in young children, older adults and people with other illnesses. 

It is important to take in additional fluids if you notice a decrease in urination, dry mouth and throat or feel dizzy when standing up. 

Norovirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that a person will get norovirus about five times during their lifetime. Norovirus outbreaks occur throughout the year, but more than eighty percent of reported outbreaks occur from November to April.

Protect Yourself and Others from Norovirus

  • Wash hands with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers – and always before eating or preparing food. Hand sanitizers are generally not effective for norovirus.
  • Handle and prepare food safely. People with norovirus illness should not prepare food for others while they have symptoms and for at least two days after they recover from their illness.
  • Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces (such as toilets, counters and doorknobs). Always clean up the entire area immediately after someone with norovirus vomits or has diarrhea. Put on disposable gloves and disinfect contaminated surfaces using a bleach-based household cleaner as directed on the product label or with a solution of five tablespoons of bleach to a gallon of water.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly. Immediately remove and wash clothing or linens that may be contaminated with vomit or stool. Handle soiled items carefully – try not to shake them – to avoid spreading the virus. If available, wear disposable gloves while handling soiled clothing or linens and wash your hands after handling. 
  • Stay home if sick for at least 24 hours after symptoms end to avoid spreading the illness to others. 

How You Get Norovirus

Having direct physical contact with a person who is infected, such as caring for or shaking hands with a sick person and then touching your hands to your mouth.

Eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with norovirus.

Touching surfaces or objects with norovirus on them and then putting your hands in your mouth.

People with norovirus illness are most contagious from the moment they begin feeling ill and for the first few days after they recover. Some people may be contagious for even longer.

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/norovirus.

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How and when to seek care for Flu 


 

From the Kent County Health Department and area hospitals

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports flu is now widespread throughout Michigan and many surrounding states. Area hospitals, urgent care facilities and doctor offices are experiencing an increase in the number of people presenting with flu and flu-like symptoms. They give tips below on preventing it and caring for yourself if you get it. Also note, in order to help limit exposure to flu, area hospitals and clinics are also limiting the number of visitors patients can have visit them or accompany them. All the info is below.

It is important for our community to know how to prevent flu, when to seek care and where to seek care. Although the flu shot does not always prevent the flu, it can lessen the severity and duration. There is still time to get the flu shot if you have not done so already. 

WHAT IS FLU:

Influenza is a respiratory illness. It is especially harmful to children, people over 65 years of age, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems or chronic conditions. Common symptoms include: 

  • Fever (but not everyone will have fever)
  • Cough 
  • Sore throat 
  • Runny or stuffy nose 
  • Body aches 
  • Headache 
  • Chills 
  • Fatigue 
  • Sometimes diarrhea and vomiting 

PREVENTING FLU: 

Area health care providers and the CDC recommend the following to avoid flu: 

  • Get a flu shot. 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. 
  • If you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever/symptoms are gone and you have stopped taking fever reducers. 
  • Take extra precautions to stay away from children, people over 65 years of age, 
  • pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems or chronic conditions. 
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Throw the tissue away after it has been used and wash your hands. 

WHEN TO SEEK CARE:

Most people with flu will have a mild illness and can treat symptoms by staying home and avoiding contact with others. 

If you have flu-like symptoms and are in a high risk group or are very sick, contact your health care provider, such as a doctor, physician assistant or nurse. 

If you are in a high risk group, contact your health care provider early in your illness. 

Seek emergency medical treatment if you experience emergency warning signs, such as: 

In children 

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing 
  • Bluish skin color 
  • Not drinking enough fluids 
  • Not waking up or not interacting 
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held 
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough 
  • Fever with a rash 

In addition to the signs above, get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs: 

  • Being unable to eat 
  • Has trouble breathing 
  • Has no tears when crying 
  • Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal 

In adults 

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath 
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen 
  • Sudden dizziness 
  • Confusion 
  • Severe or persistent vomiting 
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough 

WHERE TO SEEK CARE:

Try to treat your illness at home with over-the-counter fever and pain reducers, cough medicine and other products. If you are in a high-risk group or cannot control symptoms, seek non-emergency care through one of the following: 

  • Primary care provider office 
  • Urgent care 

If you or a loved one experiences the emergency warning signs above, seek immediate care at a hospital emergency room. 

EMERGENCY SERVICES: 

If you are experiencing shortness of breath, numbness, facial or arm paralysis, slurred speech or other heart attack or stroke symptoms, call 9-1-1 for immediate medical care. 

LIMITING EXPOSURE BY LIMITING VISITORS

Grand Rapids area hospitals are working to meet the challenge of caring for our community during this CDC-declared flu epidemic. One of the most important tools in fighting the transmission of flu is limiting exposure. 

The flu can be especially dangerous to the young, frail or elderly. For the safety of patients and staff, Spectrum Health, Mercy Health, Metro Health – University of  Michigan Health, Mary Free Bed and Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services are limiting visitation to their hospitals. In addition, they are asking patients to limit the number of people who accompany them to office and clinic visits. 

Visitors are asked to respect the following restrictions: 

  • If you are ill or have been exposed to someone who is ill, please refrain from visiting the hospital. 

All visitors are expected to be healthy and the hospitals are taking active steps to protect patients, staff and visitors. A healthy visitor is someone who does not have the following symptoms: 

  • Fever, greater than 100.4 F 
  • Cough 
  • Sore throat 
  • Runny nose or congestion 
  • Vomiting or diarrhea 
  • Rash or draining sores 
  • Only healthy visitors should visit patients in the hospitals or outpatient clinics 
  • Hospitals strongly recommend only two visitors or family members visit a patient at a time in order to limit exposure to patients, visitors and family members. 

These conditions apply to visitors at all Grand Rapids area hospitals and at all Spectrum Health hospitals outside of Grand Rapids and are effective until further notice. These measures are designed to protect vulnerable patients. 

To avoid getting influenza, Kent County area physicians recommend: 

  • Get your seasonal influenza vaccine 
  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly 
  • Avoid contact with people who have flu-like symptoms 
  • Get plenty of rest 
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet 

Influenza Facts 

  • Most symptoms can and should be treated at home. Only the most severe illnesses require a visit to an urgent care location or emergency department. 
  • It will take anywhere from five to 10 days for the illness to run its course 
  • Most people who contract influenza should try to stay home, rest, drink plenty of liquids and take acetaminophen or an anti-inflammatory medicine.

For more info go to https://www.cdc.gov/flu/

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KCHD urges caution as bat and human interactions increase in August 


This bat was captured on August 17, 2017 in Kent County.

This bat was captured on August 17, 2017 in Kent County.

In the past several days the Kent County Health Department (KCHD) has started to receive reports from people who have had contact with bats indoors. While these types of encounters are not uncommon in August, any direct contact with a bat represents a potential exposure to rabies.

It is critically important to capture the bat for testing if there is reason to believe a person may have been bitten or scratched by a bat. Do not release a bat if you find it in the room of a sleeping person, an unattended child, someone who is mentally impaired or an intoxicated individual as they may have been bitten without their knowledge.

A captured bat in Kent County will be sent to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for testing. If the bat tests negative for rabies, then no treatment is required. However, if a bat tests positive, or if the bat is not available for testing then the exposed person should receive the post-exposure prophylaxis for rabies.

To safely capture a bat, experts recommend that you wear leather gloves to avoid being bit. Place a box or a coffee can over the bat and then slide a piece of cardboard under the container to trap the bat inside. Secure it with a piece of tape and contact the Kent County Health Department at 616-632-7200 during regular business hours. If you know that you have been bitten or scratched by the bat and the exposure has occurred outside of normal business hours, seek medical attention but keep the bat.

While relatively rare in the United States, human cases of rabies are almost always associated with bats.

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system and is invariably fatal once symptoms appear.

“Bat encounters rise every year during late August and early September,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer at KCHD. “We can’t stress enough how important it is to be able to perform tests on these animals. Unless you are certain that no one has been bitten by a bat you find in your home, please do not let it go.”

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West Nile Virus Found in Kent County 


 

As a result of a massive mosquito surveillance project conducted by the environmental health division at the Kent County Health Department (KCHD), this season’s first positive specimen of West Nile Virus (WNV) has been discovered. THIS IS NOT A HUMAN CASE.

The positive sample was found in a pool of tested mosquitoes from the ZIP code 49507 in the city of Grand Rapids. The sample that yielded the positive result was collected between Tuesday, August 8 and Thursday, August 10, 2017.

The Kent County Health Department has been capturing and testing mosquitoes in 11 traps strategically placed throughout the county since early June. The traps, known as a Gravid trap, were placed in the 49503, 49504, 49507 and 49519 zip codes. There are also 4 traps set in the county that are designed to attract Aedes Egypti and Aedes Albopictus mosquitos, two species known to carry the Zika virus. So far, KCHD has not found a specimen of either species. The project will continue until Labor Day.

“The fact that we have found West Nile in only one area does not mean that it is confined to that ZIP code,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer with KCHD. “We expect West Nile to be present to some degree until the first frost. We want people to be aware that they can greatly reduce their own risks by taking some simple precautions. This finding is significant because this is our first alert to the presence of West Nile as it begins to surface at this time of the year.”

Prevention is critical in the fight against WNV an illness that can be deadly in some people, especially those with weakened immune systems and the elderly. The Kent County Health Department recommends wearing a mosquito repellant that contains 10-35 percent DEET, wearing light colored clothing and staying indoors during dusk. You can help stop mosquitoes from breeding by removing any standing water in your yard and keeping your lawn and shrubs cut.

West Nile Virus was first detected in the United States in 1999. Since the first case was diagnosed in Michigan in 2001 more than 1100 people have been diagnosed with the disease. 92 people have died. In 2001 and again in 2012, Kent County had the second highest number of West Nile cases in the state. More about West Nile Virus can be found at www.michigan.gov/westnile.

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Two new businesses hold grand openings


 

Ryanne Donahue State Farm held their ribbon cutting on July 15.
Photo courtesy of the Cedar Springs Area Chamber of Commerce.

State Farm

Ryanne Donahue State Farm Agency, located at 60 N. Main Street, held their grand opening and ribbon cutting on July 15. Donahue believes in the “good old days” approach to business. “In the world of 15-minute insurance quotes, we want to take the time to get to know the people we serve,” Donahue told the Post earlier this summer. “We try to always remember that people need their insurance agent most when something bad or scary has happened, we don’t want to be a stranger in those times; we want to be a trusted friend.”

Ryanne and her employees are all local residents from Cedar Springs, to Kent City, to Sand Lake. “We know the community and have the same worries, goals, dreams, and fears as our clients. We offer a wide range of services to help cover every day risks, all backed by State Farm!” she said.

They are open from 8 am to 5 pm on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and 9 am to 6 pm on Tuesday and Thursday. You can check them out at ryannedonahueinsurance.com or give them a call at 616-696-1329.

My Community Dental Center

The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) and My Community Dental Centers (MCDC) partnered to open a new dental facility at 14111 White Creek Avenue in Cedar Springs earlier this summer. They held their grand opening on July 20, with a ribbon cutting.

According to the Kent County Health Department, gaining access to dental care is an issue for nearly 72 million children and adults who rely on Medicaid or other public insurance. The issue disproportionately affects seniors, minorities, people who are economically disadvantaged and those who live in rural locations.

The Cedar Springs location is the second MCDC location in Kent County. In 2014, MCDC opened a dental center at the KCHD South Clinic in Kentwood. More than 15,000 patients have made nearly 32,000 visits since. “Many of those patients tell us that they are from northern Kent County and have been forced to travel to find affordable dental care,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer at KCHD. “Studies have found that people often list income and transportation barriers as factors that inhibit their ability to see a dentist. This new MCDC facility in Cedar Springs will help address both of those issues for many people.”

“When dental health is ignored or neglected a person’s overall health suffers” says Dr. Zachary Brian DMD, MCDC, Cedar Springs. “With the pain comes societal costs. People tell us that their job opportunities have been limited and many times they have gone to emergency rooms when the pain has become too intense. Emergency rooms are unable to do anything for the underlying causes but carry a high price tag for individuals and taxpayers through increased healthcare costs.”

My Community Dental Center provides an array of services, and can provide care to the entire community. They are accepting new patients, and accept most insurance, including Medicaid, HMP, Delta Kids, and most private insurance.

“Our mission is to improve the lives of our patients and enhance community health by setting the highest standard of oral care,” send a MCDC spokesperson.

The center is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To register as a new patient, call 877.313.6232 or visit mydental.org and fill out a form.

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