Thursday, June 24, 2010


Rabies is an infectious viral disease that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. People get rabies from the bite of a rabies infected animal (rabid animal). Any wild mammal, such as raccoon, skunk, fox, coyote or bat can have rabies and transmit it to people through a bite. Bats are the most common carriers of rabies in Colorado and Jefferson County, however there has been an increase in skunks also reporting positive.

Rabies: Rabies can only be confirmed in a laboratory. Because of the deadly nature of rabies, JCPH strongly encourages citizens not to allow their pets to roam free and to keep their pet cats, dogs and ferrets current on their rabies vaccinations. Do not handle wild animals and keep them from entering your home by using screens or closing windows, doors and other openings. If you find a dead animal, use a shovel to place bat in plastic bag, tie knot in bag and dispose of bag in outdoor trash container.

Bites and Exposures: If bitten by a bat, skunk, dog, cat, raccoon or other mammal, wash the affected area thoroughly and seek medical advice immediately. Contact local animal control agency and notify them of location of animal so that the animal can undergo appropriate testing or quarantine.

For more information on Rabies and other animal-borne diseases, visit our website at

Monday, June 14, 2010

West Nile Virus and Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE)

These diseases are carried by mosquitoes and passed to humans through a mosquito bite.
Not all mosquitoes carry disease, the mosquitoes of greatest concern in Jefferson County are Culex (medium-sized mosquitoes) that feed primarily around dawn and dusk. These mosquitoes are monitored by JCPH’s integrated mosquito control program.

Symptoms: develop between 3 & 14 days after being bitten.

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Tiredness -lasting 2-7 days.
Most people who are infected with mosquito-borne viruses
do not become ill or have any symptoms.

In some cases:
The virus can cause a serious brain infection such as aseptic meningitis or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain and lining of the brain/spinal cord). These infections begin with:
  • Sudden onset of high fever
  • Headache
  • May progress to stiff neck
  • Disorientation
  • Tremors
  • Coma

Severe infections can result in permanent impairment or death.

There is no specific treatment for infection
these viruses except supportive care.


  • Mosquito proof your home and backyard.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and insect repellent.
  • Use insect repellent even in your own back yard.
  • Eliminate any standing water weekly. Culex mosquitoes breed in almost any source of standing water, including old tires, flowerpots, tree holes, or any puddle. Mosquitoes lay up to 250 eggs at a time, which hatch in as few as 2-3 days.

For more information on West Nile Virus and other animal-borne diseases, visit our website at

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a rare disease caused by a bacterium, Rickettsia, and transmitted to humans through the bite of a tick. Ticks that carry the spotted fever organisms can infect humans at any time during the year.

Symptoms: "Flu-like"

Incubation Period - 3 to 14 days
  • Sudden onset of high fever
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Rash - often appearing a few days later. Rash spreads rapidly over the entire body, may be seen on the palms and soles of the feet.

The illness can be treated with antibiotics, but can be fatal if treatment is delayed.

Prevention: When going into the mountains-

  • Wear light-colored clothing
  • Tuck trousers into the tops of socks and shirttails into trousers
  • Apply a small amount of an insect repellent containing DEET on clothing
  • Frequent "tick checks" should be performed every two to three hours especially in key areas: back, scalp and behind the ears.

Once embedded in the skin, a tick can be removed by using a pair of tweezers to grasp the tick and, gently, but firmly, pull backwards without crushing the tick or leaving the mouthparts in the skin. Avoid crushing tick between fingers as infection can occur if the bacteria enter the skin. Washing hands and applying an antiseptic to the bite after removal is advised. Ticks should always be removed carefully and as soon as possible to prevent disease transmission.

A tick must be attached for several hours for the disease to be spread.

For more information on Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and other animal-borne diseases, visit our website at

Colorado Tick Fever

Colorado Tick Fever is an illness caused by a virus carried by small mammals, such as ground squirrels, porcupines, chipmunks, and ticks. The virus can be transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected Rocky Mountain wood tick. Colorado Tick Fever is the most common tick-borne disease in Colorado, it is believed , however, that most cases go unrecognized.

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Nausea and abdominal pain
  • Lethargy

Symptoms usually last 4-5 days, followed by an apparent recovery, then a relapse with symptoms for 2-3 more days. Complete recovery can take 2 or 3 weeks.

The disease is not life threatening and infection results in life-long immunity.

For more information on Colorado Tick Fever and other animal-borne diseases, visit our website at

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a serious respiratory disease caused by a virus (hantavirus). which is carried by wild rodents, particularly deer mice. It is present in their droppings (feces), urine and saliva and when dried droppings or urine are stirred up in dust it can be breathed in by people. People then may get hantavirus when they breathe in the contaminated dust. Hantavirus has not been shown to infect other kinds of animals, such as dogs, cats, or farm animals.

The disease is not contagious and does not spread from human to human.

Incubation Period - Varies, ranges from 1 to 6 weeks.

First symptoms include:

  • Fever

  • Headache

  • Muscle pain

  • Severe abdominal, joint and lower back pain

  • Nausea and vomiting.

  • A cough and shortness of breath usually develops 1 to 5 days after the onset of symptoms.

  • Difficulty in breathing due to fluid build-up in the lungs. This can quickly progress to respiratory failure.


  1. Control the presence of rodents in and around the home by sealing up rodent entry holes or gaps; trapping mice and rats.

  2. Be careful not to create food sources for the rodents, i.e. putting away pet food.

  3. Do not sweep or vacuum when cleaning vacated sheds, cabins or other enclosed areas, this can stir up dust. Use gloves to wet contaminated areas with a bleach solution or household disinfectant. Once wet, the area can be mopped or sponged.
  4. Contaminated gloves should be disinfected before taking them off. Wash hands with soap & warm water.

For more information on Hantavirus and other animal-borne diseases, visit our website at

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Tularemia is a bacterial disease associated with various animal species, especially rodents, rabbits, hares and beavers. People can get tularemia from many different sources: through the bite of an infected insect (usually a tick or deerfly), handling infected animal carcasses, consuming contaminated food or water, or by inhaling the bacteria. This disease can occur throughout the year; the peak times correspond with tick season (in spring and summer) and with the rabbit hunting season in early winter.

Tularemia is not spread from person to person.

Symptoms: Usually 3-5 days after exposure

  • Sudden high fever

  • Headaches

  • Swollen lymph nodes

  • Muscle and joint pain

  • A sore or lesion at the site of infection.

  • If the bacteria are ingested, a person may have a sore throat, abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea.

If any of these symptoms are noted after handling dead animals or swallowing untreated drinking water (as you find in a creek), contact your physician.

Tularemia is treatable with appropriate antibiotics.


  • Do not handle sick or dead animals.

  • Instruct children to leave wildlife alone.

  • Wear rubber gloves when skinning or handling animals, especially rabbits.

  • Thoroughly cook meat from wild game.

  • Use protective clothing and insect repellents.

  • Conduct frequent "tick checks".

  • Avoid untreated drinking water.

  • Use DEET or other tick repellant during the Colorado tick season. Ticks emerge in the mountains of Colorado in late March and are present throughout the summer with the peak season occurring in late May through early June.

For more information on preventing tularemia and other animal-borne diseases, visit our website at

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bubonic Plague

Bubonic Plague is a disease caused by a bacterium named Yersinia pestis and can be transmitted to humans by infected fleas or direct contact with infected animals. Plague is frequently detected in squirrels, prairie dogs, wood rats and chipmunks.

Incubation Period - Usually 2-6 days.

Typical symptoms:

  • Sudden onset of fever and chills

  • Severe headache

  • Muscle aches

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • A general feeling of illness.

  • Possible Lymph node pain and swelling

Treatment with antibiotics is effective during the early stages of disease.

Restrict dog and cat contact with squirrels, rodents, rabbits, prairie dogs, and other small mammals. Maintain good flea control - use flea control products recommended by a veterinarian. Avoid contact with any species of wild rodents, especially sick or dead rodents.
If a suspicious dead animal is found, do not directly handle the animal. Use gloves and place in a plastic bag. If these reasonable precautions are taken, the probability of contracting plague is extremely low.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Recently, skunk rabies has reemerged as a concern in Colorado and Jefferson County. Skunks may contract their own strain of rabies or serve as a “spillover” species for the raccoon variant. It's important to take proper precautions by calling your local animal control officer if you observe a sick, disoriented skunk.

Bats are the primary reservoirs of rabies in Colorado. Instances of rabies among other wild and domestic animals are rare. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, (CDPHE) the first reported cases of rabies occurred in Colorado in the following animals: dog (2003 - imported from Texas), cat (1985), raccoon (1963), fox (2005), skunk (2008 - see skunk surveillance protocol), and human (1931).

Friday, March 26, 2010


Making healthy food choices by increasing consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is important. It may also lend to the possibility of eating more organic foods. So what is organic and are organic foods necessarily better for you?

The label “organic” certifies that the product contains at least 95% organic ingredients. “Organic” foods are produced under the guidance of the USDA National Organic Program regulations (NOP). However this certification does not determine nutritional status or food safety for the organic products. Current reviews of nutritional quality for organics and conventional foods show that the nutrients are essentially the same. Thus, shop for the best values and be less concerned with organic or non-organic and more concerned with getting 5 fruits and vegetables daily. Here are a few insights to help you make the best decision for you and your family:

  • “Locally grown” does not indicate that the food is organically grown or meets the NOP regulations. The word “natural” also does not mean it is organic. Cage-free eggs do not mean they are organic.

  • Generally, both organic and conventional foods have good food safety records. Pesticide residues as well as hormones, antibiotics, fungicides, and herbicides are usually less on organic foods but contamination by E. coli is similar for both. However, it is better to eat fruits and vegetables with pesticides than to not eat any fruits or vegetables.

  • Generally the cost for organic foods, particularly milk and produce, is higher than for conventional foods. Consumers must judge for themselves what the value of the cost difference is.

  • Organic foods with the best benefits include:
    Peaches, nectarines, apricots
    Apples, pears
    Sweet bell peppers, celery
    Strawberries, raspberries, cherries
    Spinach, lettuce

Jefferson County is offering it’s employees access to discounted organic produce available for pick up at several county office locations. Please visit and/or contact Lise Melbye, MS, MPH LiveLife Wellness Coordinator


  1. American Dietetic Association, Hot Topics, October 2009,

  2. United States Dept of Agriculture, The National Organic Program,

  3. University of Michigan, Health Minute Update, March, 2003,

  4. Nutrition Action Healthletter, Organic food: worth the price?, July-August, 2007, David Schardt

Provided by JCPH Nutrition Services. Over 50 years of helping Jefferson County residents with nutrition education and services, including the Women, Infant & Children Program assuring pregnant women and children ages five and under in the County have access to healthy foods and nutrition education. Call Nutrition Services Manager, Sara Lemley, RD 303-239-7137 for more information.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Meatless Meals Improve Health and Help Stretch Food Dollars

Jefferson County Public Health Nutrition Services encourages everyone to increase fruits and vegetables in their diets. A diet high in vegetables and fruits can help improve health by increasing nutrients and fiber. There are lots of ways to get your five a day, the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. Meatless recipes provide an excellent way to stretch your food dollars while also improving your nutrition. Public health nutritionists advise families begin by cutting down on meals in which meat is the main course. Instead, try adding meat to whole grains, rice, beans and vegetables. Here are some resources and recipes to help you:

Links to Vegetarian/Meatless Recipes:

• Fruits and Veggies More Matters

• - Vegetarian Cooking

• Veg Cooking - Vegetarian Recipes, Products, Restaurants, and Much More!

• Vegetarian Times - Eat Green Live Well

• Colorado Dept of Agriculture - Colorado Proud

Provided by JCPH Nutrition Services. Over 50 years of helping Jefferson County residents with nutrition education and services, including the Women, Infant & Children Program assuring pregnant women and children ages five and under in the County have access to healthy foods and nutrition education. Call Nutrition Services Manager, Sara Lemley, RD 303-239-7137 for more information.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Why Buy Local?

Buying local has multiple health and community benefits. Besides the fact that most people say food tastes better when it’s fresh, it also is packed with nutrition. Buying local also helps protect the environment and supports community family farms and ranches.

Four Good Reasons to purchase from local farmers and ranchers:

  1. Help the environment. Environmental impact from carbon
    dioxide emissions and packaging waste is reduced because
    food purchased locally doesn’t have to travel far.

  2. Strengthen our local economy. Buying local keeps your food dollars circulating in the community.

  3. Support your local family farm. More than an important piece of the American tradition, local
    farmers also supply local jobs and spend their money with local merchants.

  4. Make informed decisions about your family’s health. Knowing where your food comes from
    allows you to have better control over foods selected including pesticide or hormone free foods.

Get started on living healthier, learn more from these web sites:
Colorado Market Maker will start you on your search for local ranches and farms that provide meats, poultry, produce and dairy.
Colorado Dept of Agriculture - Colorado Proud
Home Food Service Plans will provide information on how to know that meats sold door to door are safe for you and your family
Seafood Watch will help you choose seafood that is abundant in supply, and caught or farmed in
environmentally friendly ways
Are all fish and seafood safe for all people? Check out guidelines for pregnant and breastfeeding women, and infants and children
Wanting to choose a fish that is healthy for your family and the environment, but your recipe calls for one on the “avoid” list? Check out this link for recipe substitutions!
Recipes to use our wonderful Colorado meats and poultry, as well as healthy seafood ideas.

Provided by JCPH Nutrition Services. Over 50 years of helping Jefferson County residents with nutrition education and services, including the Women, Infant & Children Program assuring pregnant women and children ages five and under in the County have access to healthy foods and nutrition education. Call Nutrition Services Manager, Sara Lemley, RD 303-239-7137 for more information.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Healthy and Affordable Grocery Shopping

Healthy and Affordable Grocery Shopping
WIC educator and retail food coordinator, Shellie O’Brien Laws shopping for fresh produce.

Jefferson County Public Health Nutrition Services offers the following helpful tips for making grocery shopping healthy and affordable.

Plan Ahead, Make a Grocery List: Having a grocery list helps with menu planning and decreases impulse buying. A list also helps you to remember needed items and can cut down on gas-guzzling trips to the grocery store.

Tips for planning ahead:
· Keep a running list of the groceries that your family needs
· Before going to the grocery store, check what foods you already have
· Consider what meals and recipes can be made with the foods on hand
· Find healthy recipes, plan a menu for the upcoming week, and add needed ingredients to your shopping list
· Stick to the list
· Plan one night every week for leftovers

Resources for healthy recipes and planning ahead:

Shop the Perimeter - Fresh and whole foods are stored around the perimeter of the grocery store. Look for fresh produce, lean meats, low-fat dairy and whole grain breads. These foods contain fewer additives and more nutrients than the more processed foods found in the aisles.

Tips for shopping the perimeter
· Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables, and buy only what you’ll use. Produce has a short shelf-life and may spoil if bought in bulk.
· Buy lean meats. Lean cuts of beef include chuck, round, sirloin, and tenderloin. Lean cuts of pork include tenderloin or loin chops. The leanest poultry is white meat from the breast with no skin. When choosing ground meats, look for at least 90% lean meats.
· Check sell-by dates on fresh foods and buy the freshest food possible to reduce waste.

Resources for shopping the perimeter:

Choose Whole Foods –Whole foods are foods that are unprocessed and unrefined as much as possible before being consumed. Whole foods do not contain added ingredients, such as sugar, salt, or fat and give you more nutrition for your dollar. Whole foods include fruits and vegetables, unprocessed meat, and non-homogenized milk.
Tips for using whole foods
· Cooking from scratch is better for your health and your budget. When compared to its whole food counterpart, the processed food is often higher in price, sodium, fat, and calories.

For more information on whole foods:

Check the Entire Shelf for Best Prices– Grocery stores often place higher priced items at eye-level. Be sure to look at the shelf from top to bottom to find the best deals.

Tips for shopping the shelves:
· Consider store brands. They are often cheaper while still providing comparable quality.
· Buy in bulk. Buying bulk items that you know you will use before they spoil can help save money.
· Don’t buy an item just because it’s on sale. Buy foods that are on your list and that are needed.

Don’t Shop on an Empty Stomach – If your stomach is growling, you’re more likely to buy more food and choose less healthy options.

To learn more about strategic shopping:

Budget for your Food – It is important to determine how much money will be available for food each week or month in order to shop wisely.

Tips for budgeting
· Calculate the resources you have to spend on food
· Make a shopping list that fits into your budget for the week
· Buy only the amounts of fresh foods that you can use before they spoil
· Consider frozen fruits and vegetables, look for deals on day-old whole-grain breads, and check the meat counter for manager’s specials and the meat mark-down bin.

For more information on budgeting for food:

Use Coupons – Check newspaper ads and grocery store websites for weekly specials and coupons. Also, sign up for a discount card if you don’t already have one.

Tips for using coupons:
· Cut coupons for items that you typically buy.
· Keep coupons in an envelope that is easy to retrieve when you’re ready to check out.

For free coupons:

Friday, February 26, 2010

March is National Nutrition Month . . . "Nutrition from the Ground Up."

Jefferson County Public Health reminds everyone of the importance of making informed food choices and developing good eating and physical activity habits. This year’s National Nutrition Month, March 2010 theme "Nutrition from the Ground Up" offers excellent resources for parents and children. The American Dietetic Association campaign also includes, Registered Dietitian Day, March 10, 2010 which raises awareness of the important role registered dietitians play in our communities. Do you know who your family nutritionist is? Learn more about nutrition services and how dietitians help people live healthier. >>

Jefferson County Public Health Nutrition Services Program dietitians have compiled information on a variety of topics they feel everyone should pay some attention to. “The importance of healthy eating and active living really cannot be over-emphasized, says Sara Lemley, RD Nutrition Services Manager. “We hope people take some time to learn about food choices and nutrition. There is a lot of information out there and all of us thought compiling some of the best resources could help consumers make informed decisions.”

Throughout the month of March, Nutrition Services will provide nutrition advice and resources. Please check Jefferson County Public Health’s web site for upcoming articles and resources on stretching your food budget while improving nutrition with meatless meals and on the benefits of buying local.>>

The first of four articles provided by JCPH Nutrition Services and their team of Registered Dieticians encourages all of us to plan ahead and shop smarter. Check in next week for the latest article titled - Healthy and Affordable Grocery Shopping.