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DHS Confirms Death of a La Crosse County Resident from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Close up of dog tick

 

On July 10, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (WI DHS) and the La Crosse County Health Department announced the first documented death from Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) in the state.

RMSF is rarely reported in Wisconsin and most commonly occurs in the central and southeastern regions of the United States. Most tickborne diseases transmitted in WI are spread by the blacklegged (or deer) tick; RMSF, however, is spread by the bite of the American dog (or wood) tick.  

Early symptoms of RMSF can be mild and typically include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, rash, and stomach pain. If left untreated, however, a RMSF infection can rapidly develop into a serious illness.

Please take steps to protect yourself and your family from tick bites while enjoying the outdoors:

  • Use an insect repellent with at least 20% DEET or another EPA-registered repellent (link is external) according to the label instructions.

  • Use 0.5% permethrin products on clothing, socks, and shoes according to label instructions.

  • Stay on trails and avoid walking through tall grasses and brush.

  • Wear long sleeves and pants, and tuck pants into socks and shirts into pants to avoid ticks crawling under clothing.

  • Check your entire body for ticks after being outdoors.

  • Take a shower as soon as possible after coming in from outdoors.

  • Place clothes in the dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill any ticks on clothing.

  • Use a veterinarian-prescribed tick prevention treatment on pets.

For more information on other tickborne diseases, scroll to "It's Tick Season!" below or visit our Disease Control page at http://www.vilaspublichealth.com/index.php?page=community-health-2 

 

 

Stay Safe during the Summer Weather 


 

 

 

 

Residents reminded to stay cool, hydrated, and informed during extreme heat

We have seen high temperatures over the last few weeks and it looks like summer is finally here.  Hot temperatures and humidity can be dangerous and even deadly.  Remember to stay cool, hydrated, and informed.

Follow these tips to stay safe during extreme heat:

  • Stay in air conditioning. When possible, stay in air conditioning on hot days. If you don’t have air conditioning head to a public buildings that have air conditioning. 
  • Check on loved ones. Be sure to check on older friends and neighbors who live alone and don’t have air conditioning.
  • Avoid the hottest part of the day. If you have to be outside, stick to the cooler morning and evening hours. Wear light, loose clothing and take frequent, air-conditioned breaks.
  • Beware of hot cars. Never leave a person or a pet in a parked car, even for a short time. On an 80-degree day, the temperature inside a car can reach 100 degrees in less than 10 minutes.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water on hot days. Avoid alcohol and hot, heavy meals.
  • Stay informed. Watch your local weather forecasts so you can plan outdoor activities safely. Pay attention to any extreme heat alerts.
  • Keep your pets cool. Be sure to give your pets plenty of fresh, clean water. Make sure they have a shady place to get out of the sun, or bring them indoors. If you start feeling overheated, weak, dizzy, nauseated, or have muscle cramps, you could be experiencing heat illness. Move to air conditioning, drink water, get under a fan, and put cool washcloths on your neck or forehead. If your symptoms worsen or don’t improve, go to the emergency room or call 911.

Swimmer's Itch

What is swimmer’s itch (also called cercarial dermatitis)?

Is an allergic reaction that looks like a skin rash caused by certain microscopic parasites.  These parasites are released from snails into fresh and salt water (such as lakes, ponds, and oceans). The parasite prefers to live inside specific birds or mammals, such as a duck or snail.  But if the parasite comes into contact with a swimmer, it digs into the skin which causes the allergic reaction and rash.  

How does water become infested with the parasite?

Adult microscopic parasites live in the blood of animals such as ducks, geese, gulls, swans, and certain mammals such as muskrats and raccoons.

  1. The parasites make eggs that are passed in the feces of  the birds or mammals.
  2. If the eggs land in or are washed into the water, the eggs hatch, releasing small, free-swimming microscopic larvae.
  3. These larvae swim in the water in search of a certain type of aquatic snail.  If the larvae find one of these snails, they infect the snail.  There they multiply and undergo further development.
  4. Infected snails release a different type of microscopic larvae (or cercariae) into the water. This larval form then swims about looking for a suitable host (bird, muskrat) to continue the lifecycle.
  5. Although people are not the right hosts for these microscopic larvae, they will still dig into the swimmer’s skin.  This causes an allergic reaction and rash. Because these larvae cannot develop inside a person, they soon die. 

 What are the signs and symptoms of swimmer’s itch?

  • Tingling, burning, or itching of the skin – within minutes to days after swimming.
  • Small reddish pimples – within 12 hours.
  • Small blisters – may develop.

Scratching the areas may result in secondary bacterial infections. Itching may last up to a week or more, but will gradually go away.

Do I need to see my health care provider for treatment?

Most cases of swimmer’s itch do not need medical attention. If you have a rash, you may try the following for relief:  

      • Use corticosteroid cream.    
      • Apply cool compresses to the rash.   
      • Bathe in Epsom salts or baking soda.    
      • Soak in colloidal oatmeal baths.    
      • Apply baking soda paste to the rash (made by stirring water into baking soda until it reaches a paste-like consistency).   
      • Use an anti-itch lotion.

Try very hard not to scratch.  Scratching may cause the rash to become infected. If itching is severe, your health care provider may suggest prescription-strength lotions or creams to lessen your symptoms.

Can swimmer’s itch be spread from person-to-person?

You cannot get swimmer’s itch from another person.

Who is at risk for swimmer’s itch?    

      • Anyone who swims or wades in water where there is swimmers itch.  Larvae are more likely to be in shallow water by the shoreline.    
      • Children, who tend to swim, wade, and play in the shallow water.  They are also less likely to towel dry themselves when leaving the water.

 What can be done to prevent swimmer’s itch?    

      • Do not swim in areas where swimmer’s itch is a known problem or where signs have been posted.   
      • Do not swim near or wade in marshy areas where snails are commonly found.    
      • Towel dry or shower right after leaving the water.    
      • Do not attract birds (e.g., by feeding them) to areas where people are swimming.

                    

It's Tick Season!

The weather is becoming warmer and the deer ticks are beginning to become more active. Ticks live in wooded, brushy areas that provide food and cover for small animals and deer. Ticks are unable to jump or fly and usually attach to a host at ground level.

Common Tick Diseases

Some people can develop two or more of these diseases at the same time.

Lyme Disease

Symptoms include a bulls-eye rash, fever, headache, chills, muscle pain and joint pain. The bulls-eye rash, one of the earliest symptoms, typically appears between 3 and 30 days after the tick bite. Not everyone with Lyme disease develops the rash.

Human Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis

Symptoms include a sudden onset of a high fever (102 degrees or more), chills, severe headache and muscle aches. These symptoms appear between 1 and 3 weeks after an infectious tick bite. However, not all people have symptoms.

Although people of all ages can get anaplasmosis, it is most severe in the elderly.  If left untreated, it can result in organ failure and death.

Babesiosis

Symptoms include high fever, muscle aches, beign tired, headache and loss of appetite. Symptoms usually appear between 1 and 6 weeks after a deer tick bite, but may take longer in some individuals. Most people infected with the babesiosis parasite will have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. People who are immune compromised may develop severe illness. Babesiosis can be fatal.

Powassan (POWV) Virus

Symptoms include a sudden fever, muscle weakness, confusion, headache, nausea, vomiting, and stiff neck. Severe illness can include confusion, paralysis, speech difficulties, memory loss, and meningoencephalitis (inflammation of the brain and meninges).  These symptoms usually appear between 7 and 14 days but can go up to 34 day, after being bit by an infectious tick. 

People who are infected with POWV may have a variety of symptoms, from mild illnesses to life-threatening complications; some people may not have any symptoms.

Steps to Protect Yourself from Tick Diseases

  1. Know when you’re in tick habitat—brushy, wooded areas—where you will need to take precautions.
  2. Use a good tick repellent, such as a product containing permethrin or DEET, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Wear clothes that will help to shield you from ticks. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants are best. Tuck your pants into the top of your socks or boots to create a “tick barrier.”
  4. Check frequently for ticks and remove them promptly.  This is an important step in preventing disease.
  5. Remove the tick slowly and gently using a pair of tweezers. Folk remedies like Vaseline, nail polish remover, or matches are not safe or effective methods of tick removal.

If you develop signs or symptoms of a tick-related illness after spending time in areas where deer ticks are found, you should seek medical attention right away.

Not all deer ticks carry the organisms that cause Lyme disease, human anaplasmosis, or babesiosis. If an infected deer tick bites you, it needs to be attached at least 12-24 hours to transmit the human anaplasmosis bacteria and 24-48 hours to transmit the Lyme disease bacteria. Not every person who is infected with these organisms will develop symptoms.

Useful Resources:

 

Dead Bird Reporting Hotline Is Now Open

The Dead Bird Reporting Hotline (1-800-433-1610) has been activated and will remain open through October 31, 2018. Just like previous years, the Dead Bird Reporting Hotline is available for Wisconsin residents to report sick or dead birds, and to facilitate West Nile virus (WNV) testing of corvids (crows, ravens, blue jays) to monitor WNV activity. 

Thank you for your ongoing support and assistance with arbovirus disease surveillance, prevention, and control in Wisconsin! If you have questions regarding the Dead Bird Reporting Hotline, please contact the Bureau of Communicable Diseases at 608-267-9003.

 

Keeping Children Safe in Open Water

What Families Can Do To Keep Kids Safe:

  1. Give kids your full attention when they are in or around water.  Keep young children and kids who do not swim will within arm’s reach of an adult. Make sure older children swim with a partner every time.
  2. Make sure children learn how to swim. Every child is different, so enroll children in swim lessons when they are ready. Consider their age, development, and how often they are around water when deciding if they are ready.
  3. Make sure kids learn these 5 water survival skills and are able to:
    • step or jump into water over their head and return to the surface;
    • turn around and orient to safety;
    • float or tread water;
    • combine breathing with forward movement in the water and
    • exit the water.         
  4. Teach children that swimming in open water is different from swimming in a pool. Be aware of situations that are unique to open water, such as limited visibility, depth, uneven surfaces, currents and undertow. These can be potential dangers.
  5. Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when boating or taking part in other activities on the water. Children should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device (PFD) appropriate for their age, weight, and the water activity. For kids younger than 5, choose a PFD with head support and a strap between the legs.
  6. Use designated swimming areas and recreational areas whenever possible. Professionals have assessed the area, and there are usually signs posted regarding hazards and lifeguard schedules.

For more information, visit: https://www.safekids.org/blog/keeping-kids-safe-open-water

 

Tips for Food Safety in a Power Outage:

https://www.foodsafety.gov/blog/2015/05/power-outage.html

 

Survivors of Suicide Support Group Meets in Rhinelander

Has someone you love taken their own life?  Are you troubled with questions like, “why?”, “what brought this on?”, “why my family?”.  Do you find yourself with no one to talk to about your frustrations and confusion regarding the suicide of your loved one?  Then you are a Survivor of Suicide (SOS) and have a safe place to go to discuss your issues.

The SOS support group was started in July of 2005.  The group is facilitated by Sue Mackowski, a Certified Bereavement Specialist and Consultant.  The group originated as a result of the co-founder’s need for support after the death of her son.  Tina Werres, a Rhinelander native, lost her son Paul to suicide in 2001.  In the months following his death, she struggled with the loss and understood the need for people suffering from the unique backlash of suicide to have a gathering place to meet their needs.  Those needs planted the seeds for the formation of the Survivors of Suicide support group.

The Rhinelander based Survivors of Suicide support group meets once a month, the third Saturday at the Curran Building, 315 S. Oneida Avenue, Rhinelander.  The meetings are from 10am-12 noon.  The SOS support group offers a safe and confidential environment to discuss the unique grieving process experienced by those whose lives have been touched by suicide.  It is a place where survivors tell their stories, share their experiences, and help each other move forward in their grief journey.  The meetings are informal and confidentiality is the primary guideline.  The SOS support group is free and open to the public.

Since its inception, our group has served families and individuals from the Northwood’s area.  Our goal is to provide a “safe haven” for those dealing with the death of a loved one due to suicide.  In addition to group discussions, we have a small library of books, pamphlets, and other literature dealing with grief and loss, specifically loss due to suicide that is available to attendees.

We invite all of you who are struggling with the death of a loved one who has taken their life to join us. 

If you have any questions regarding the meeting schedule or content, please call Sue Mackowski, 715-275-5399 or Tina Werres, 716-499-3002.  Remember, “YOU ARE NOT ALONE”.