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Tag Archive | "Kent County Health Department"

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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Hearing and Vision Screening


 

Kindergarten entrants for the 2017-2018 school year will need documentation of Hearing and Vision Screening through the Kent County Health Department (KCHD).   The KCHD will be at Cedar Trails Elementary on the following dates:

June 1, 2017      August 23, 2017

Please call Cedar Trails Elementary at 616.696.9884 or the Registrar’s Office at 616.696.7317 to schedule an appointment.  Additional appointment times can be scheduled by calling the KCHD at 616.632.7047

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New dental center coming to Cedar Springs


 

There will soon be another option for area residents looking for affordable dental care.

The Kent County Board of Commissioners recently approved the expansion of a partnership with My Community Dental Centers (MCDC) that will include the addition of a new center in the strip mall at 14111 White Creek, just north of 17 Mile Road.

MCDC opened a state of the art dental center at the Kent County Health Department’s South Clinic in September of 2014. More than 8,500 patients have made nearly 27,000 visits since. Many of them are residents of northern Kent County who were forced to travel to find affordable oral health care.

“Partnering with MCDC at South Clinic has provided thousands of uninsured and Medicaid clients with much-needed dental care since opening in 2014,” said Jim Saalfeld, Chair of the Kent County Board of Commissioners. “The County Board, Administrator’s Office and Health Department staff have been dedicated to finding solutions to this critical issue. We are glad that this partnership continues to grow, and will soon provide our residents in rural northern Kent County with a closer, more convenient location.”

“Studies have found that people with low incomes are more than twice as likely forgo dental care because of cost,” said Adam London, Administrative Health Officer at the Kent County Health Department. “This center will make quality dental care affordable and more accessible for many families.”

The new six chair dental center is slated for opening in early summer.

MCDC is already accepting patients for the Cedar Springs center. People can call 877-313-6232 and get pre-registered for scheduling.

“We are here to serve everyone,” said Kim Singh, Director of Community and Governmental Affairs with MCDC. “We encourage anyone in Kent County who does not have a dental office that they call home to contact us.”

 

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Hearing and Vision Screening


 

Kindergarten entrants for the 2017-2018 school year will need documentation of Hearing and Vision Screening through the Kent County Health Department (KCHD). The KCHD will be at Cedar Trails Elementary on the following date:  April 14, 2017. Additional dates to be added

Please call Cedar Trails Elementary at 616.696.9884 to schedule an appointment. Additional appointment times can be scheduled by calling the KCHD at 616.632.7047

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Free Radon test kits for residents


n-radon-kit

The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) is teaming up with the Grand Rapids Griffins to stop a silent killer—lung cancer caused by radon gas. This Friday, January 6, 2017, at Van Andel Arena when the Griffins take on the Charlotte Checkers at 7:00 p.m., KCHD staff will be there armed with thousands of radon test kits. They will be situated in the upper concourse near section 128, and will give the kits away while supplies last.

For those not attending the Griffins game, KCHD is offering free radon test kits to Kent County residents at all three of its locations until the supply runs out.

Colorless and odorless, radon gas kills more Americans annually than drunk driving and drowning combined according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says more than 20 thousand deaths are caused by radon each year making it the nation’s second leading cause of lung cancer next to smoking.

The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) recommends that all homes should be tested for radon every few years.

Testing is the only way to know if radon is present in your home.

“Testing for radon is an easy and important step in protecting the health of your family,” says Sara Simmonds, Supervising Sanitarian with the Kent County Health Department. “The kit is easy to use. Simply hang a filter inside your house for a few days, then send it in a self-addressed, pre-stamped envelope for testing.”

People using the kits will receive their results via email once the kit is received and tested. Residents can use the information when deciding on how best to pursue remediation. For help understanding the test results, please contact the KCHD Environmental Health Division at 616-632-6900.

Radon occurs naturally in the ground. It seeps into buildings through cracks or openings in foundations or floors. It occurs in both new and old homes. Radon has been found in houses built over a basement, over a crawlspace or built on slab-on-grade. The EPA and the U.S. Geological Survey have developed a map of risk zones for the United States. You can view the risk maps by clicking here. Kent County is typically categorized as having moderate to high levels of radon.

The kits are available Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. at the:

Kent County Health Department, 700 Fuller Avenue NE, Grand Rapids.

KCHD North County Clinic at 4388 14 Mile Road NE, Rockford.

KCHD South Clinic at 4700 Kalamazoo SE, Kentwood.

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Health Department warns of potential scam


 

Scam targeting restaurants

On Monday November 28, 2016 the Kent County Health Department (KCHD) was contacted by a local restaurant who said they had received a phone call from a person claiming to be a representative of KCHD. The caller told an employee that the restaurant would have to pay a $5 “rescheduling fee” for an inspection. The caller insisted that the fee be paid immediately by credit card. This call did not come from a KCHD employee.

The Kent County Health Department does not charge a “rescheduling fee” and KCHD inspectors do not demand immediate credit card only payments for any fees.

The Kent County Health Department is urging restaurant owners and employees to be cautious.

“Our concern is that a restaurant owner or an employee could easily be caught off guard especially since this is a very busy time of the year for them,” said Adam London, Kent County Administrative Health Officer. “A five dollar charge might seem so insignificant to someone that they simply agree to pay it. It is very possible though, that whoever is making these calls has larger plans for your credit card such as selling your information or running up huge bills on your account.”

If you are contacted by someone who claims to represent the Kent County Health Department and they are asking for money over the phone, please request a call back number and contact the Kent County Health Department immediately at 616-632-6900.

KCHD also urges anyone who believes that they have been a victim of this scam to contact the Kent County Sheriff’s Department at 616-632-6100.

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