PHAN Award Nomination

M Jane Ford Witthoff has dedicated over 51 years of her life to the public health cause, working diligently to improve the health and wellness of the communities she has served. She began her career in 1963 as a Laboratory Technician, but quickly moved on in her career into the public health realm. Jane started in 1971 as a Food Stamp Caseworker in Norfolk, Nebraska and proceeded to advance into leadership roles within public health. She served as the Health Director for Lincoln-Lancaster Health Department for 17 years. Under her leadership, the Department achieved state and national prominence for innovative work. For the past ten years, Jane has turned her attention to improving the health of rural Nebraskans. During her tenure at Public Health Solutions, she increased the overall capacity from a department of less than ten staff members to a vibrant, diverse workforce of over 20 public health professionals. Through the course of her career, Jane has held many leadership positions at a local, state, and national level. These positions included serving in various officer positions, ultimately serving as the president for the National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO), the Public Health Association of Nebraska (PHAN), and for the Nebraska Association of County Health Officials (NACHO). In 1997, she also became a lifetime member of PHAN. Jane maintains many affiliations and memberships in multiple public health organizations.

Because of her vast work experience in advocating for underserved populations, Jane has maintained a compassionate heart and continues to advocate strongly for those without a voice. In the words of Mark Schoenrock, Public Health Solutions Board Member, “Jane has made such a positive difference in the lives of so many, whether it is young children [needing] immunizations, school children [needing] dental prevention and treatment services, communities getting [access to] health care, or elderly getting vital health services, or anywhere in between, Jane has been there for so many years to ensure these services are provided. She has been a tireless advocate for public health and has been instrumental in getting the needed resources to provide the services that public health requires.” The public will continue to benefit from Jane’s hard work through the many public health professionals that she has trained and mentored throughout the years. This is exemplified through the statements made by fellow Health Director Gina Uhing of Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department, “I became a Director five years ago. Jane soon became one of the people that I looked to for guidance on a regular basis. She has a real talent in generating novel ideas, explaining those ideas, and more importantly, she displays the drive and courage to implement the idea and to tirelessly work to recruit supporters and partners to make the project stronger.”

Those fortunate enough to know and have worked with Jane, can attest to her strong will and determination. Jane never compromises on her beliefs and does not hesitate to challenge the status quo in order to improve upon the system. Regardless of the political climate and risk to her career, Jane continues to display the drive and courage to speak out on difficult issues, and give her opinions and thoughts. This is evidenced in a story from Rex Archer, Director of Health, Kansas City Health Department, “When I became health officer I vividly remember attending an American Public Health Association meeting where Jane was presenting in her red blazer. She literally lit a fire under me…Jane stands in a small, select group of Public health officials with the skill of mobilizing their community to support Public Health.”

Few individuals leave such a tremendous impact, that they will forever be remembered as icons of public health in Nebraska. Jane’s devotion to public health has earned her this remarkable status. As a pioneer in Nebraska’s public health system, Jane has forged a path that will guide the success of public health now and for years to come. On behalf of the entire Public Health Solutions staff and Board of Health, we thank Jane for her remarkable and unselfish lifetime commitment to public health. We consider her not simply a colleague, but a mentor and friend. We will honor her legacy by continuing the important work to which she has devoted her entire life. We hope that PHAN will join us in honoring Jane with this prestigious award.

Health Alerts Continue at Bluestem Lake

High E. coli levels found at Branched Oak, Maple Creek Recreation Area Lake, Windmill Lake No. 5

Health alerts for harmful algal bloom continue at Bluestem Lake in Lancaster County. The following lakes were found to have high E. coli levels: Branched Oak in Lancaster County, Maple Creek Recreation Area in Colfax County, Windmill Lake No. 5 in Buffalo County.

The public is advised that swimming and activities which could cause accidental ingestion of water are not permitted when a health alert for toxic blue-green algae is posted.  The designated swimming beaches are closed. While recreational boating and fishing are permitted, the public should avoid activities that could cause accidental ingestion of water as well as full immersion in water.  The risks to humans come from external exposure (prolonged contact with skin) and from swallowing the water.  Symptoms from external exposure are skin rashes, lesions, and blisters.  Symptoms from ingestion can include headaches, nausea, muscular pains, central abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting.

High E. coli levels in a lake may be indicative of sewage contamination. However, affected lakes are not posted for no swimming because it has not been declared unsafe.  Rather, this notice is issued so the public is aware that the higher E. coli levels may increase the risk of illness when swimming in the affected water.

If you experience health symptoms, notify your physician. You can also contact the Nebraska Regional Poison Center at 800-222-1222 for more information. Testing results for all lakes can be found on the NDEQ website.

Algae and Bacteria Health Alert

Bacteria and Harmful Algal Bloom Results for the Week of August 21, 2017

 

Harmful Algal Blooms

Bluestem was below 20 ppb but will remain on Health Alert for at least one more week.

Swan Creek Lake (5A) and Willow Creek Reservoir have been removed from the Health Alert list.

A lake that exceeds 20 ppb of microcystin is placed on “Health Alert”. That lake will remain under  “Health Alert” Status until such time that it has tested below 20 ppb for two continuous weeks. If a lake is under a Health Alert, signs will be posted recommending people avoid full body contact activities such as swimming, wading, skiing, jet skiing, etc.

Non-contact activities such as boating, fishing, and camping are OK.

Bacteria

 Lakes that tested high for E. coli bacteria this week are listed below. E. coli  bacteria levels measured above 235 colonies/100 ml of sample are considered a higher risk for illness when swimming.  Considering the more rapid changes in bacteria conditions, signs are not posted with these higher levels although we want people to be aware and use their own judgment on their use.

Lake Name County Last Updated E.coli Bacteria
Branched Oak Lake
Lancaster 8/24/17 308
  Fremont Lake No. 10 (SRA) Dodge 8/24/17 1203
  Maple Creek Recreation Area Lake Colfax 8/24/17 388
  Pawnee Lake East Beach Lancaster 8/24/17 579
  Pawnee Lake West Beach Lancaster 8/24/17 268
  Wirth Brothers Lake (Site 27) Johnson 8/24/17 1203

Lake Health Alerts

Health Alert Ends at Pawnee; Alerts Continue at Bluestem, Willow Creek Reservoir and Swan Creek Lake 5A

High E. coli levels found at Fremont Lake #10, Maple Creek Recreation Area, Pawnee Lake, and Wirth Brothers Lake

There were no new health alerts this week for harmful algal blooms, and a health alert has ended at Pawnee Lake in Lancaster County.  Alerts continue at Bluestem Lake in Lancaster County, Willow Creek Reservoir in Pierce County and Swan Creek Lake 5A in Saline County. The following lakes were found to have high E. coli levels: Fremont Lake # 10 in Dodge County, Maple Creek Recreation Area in Colfax County, Pawnee Lake in Lancaster County, and Wirth Brothers Lake in Johnson County.

The public is advised that swimming and activities which could cause accidental ingestion of water are not permitted when a health alert for toxic blue-green algae is posted.  The designated swimming beaches are closed. While recreational boating and fishing are permitted, the public should avoid activities that could cause accidental ingestion of water as well as full immersion in water.  The risks to humans come from external exposure (prolonged contact with skin) and from swallowing the water.  Symptoms from external exposure are skin rashes, lesions, and blisters.  Symptoms from ingestion can include headaches, nausea, muscular pains, central abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting.

High E. coli levels in a lake may be indicative of sewage contamination. However, affected lakes are not posted for no swimming because it has not been declared unsafe.  Rather, this notice is issued so the public is aware that the higher E. coli levels may increase the risk of illness when swimming in the affected water.

If you experience health symptoms, notify your physician. You can also contact the Nebraska Regional Poison Center at 800-222-1222 for more information. Testing results for all lakes can be found on the NDEQ website.

Rabies Risk!

It’s bat season again. Higher levels of bat activity increases the possibility of rabies exposure.
“August is the peak month for testing bats for rabies,” said Dr. Tom Safranek, State Epidemiologist for DHHS. “It’s important for people to be careful around bats and other wild animals like skunks, foxes, coyotes and raccoons or domestic stray animals like cats and dogs which are less likely to be vaccinated. These animals could potentially have rabies and transmit it to people.”

Bats eat insects so they are a valuable to us, however they are also a natural reservoir for rabies. Rabies is caused by a virus that affects the nervous system and is transmitted by the bite of an infected animal or if saliva from a rabid animal gets directly into an open wound or a person’s eyes, nose, or mouth. Rabies is generally fatal without preventive treatment.

Help prevent the spread of rabies by following these recommendations:

  • Be a responsible animal owner. Keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all dogs, cats, ferrets, and other animals you own.
  • Seek immediate veterinary assistance for your pet if it’s bitten by a wild animal or exposed to a bat.
  • Do not touch, feed, or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter.
  • Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home. Do not try to nurse sick, wild animals to health. Call an animal rescue agency for assistance.
  • Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. “Love your own, leave other animals alone” is a good principle for children to reduce the risk of contact with rabid animals.
  • Maintain homes and other buildings so bats and other animals can’t get inside.
  • If you wake up and find a bat in your room, you should try to safely capture the bat and have it tested. The same precautions should be used if you see a bat in a room with an unattended child. Do not attempt to capture the bat unless you can do so without putting yourself at risk for physical contact or being bitten. This can be done by covering the bat with a large can or bucket, and close the door to the room.

Call Public Health Solutions at 402 826 3880, if you have  questions or concerns relative to wild animal exposure

Nitrate Violation Alert!

NOTICE OF NITRATE VIOLATION FOR STEELE CITY WATER

A Nitrate Violation Notice has been issued for users of the Village of Steele City, Nebraska Public Water Supply System. Nitrate was measured at 14 milligrams per liter on a sample collected on August 10, 2017. Parents are advised that Infants who are six months or younger, nursing mothers, and pregnant women should not consume Steele City water until further notice. In accord with State protocol, the Village of Steele City will offer an alternate source of water for infants who are six months or younger, nursing mothers, and pregnant women until the nitrates on the public water system are reduced below 10 mg/1.

Children who drink water with high nitrates can become seriously ill and die if their sickness goes untreated. Shortness of breath and blue baby syndrome are symptoms of drinking water with high nitrate levels.  Pregnant woman who drink the high nitrate tap water are told to consult with a doctor.

Water, juice and formula for children under six months should not be prepared with Steele City Tap water while this notice is in effect. Do not boil, freeze or let water stand in an effort to reduce nitrates. These actions will further concentrate nitrate levels.

Non-pregnant adults and children older than 6 months may drink Steele City tap water. Nitrate in drinking water can come from natural, industrial, and/or agricultural sources so the levels can vary throughout the year.

Contact the Village of Steele City for information regarding the status of the water system and the availability of alternate water sources.

Blue Green Algae & High E. Coli Alert

Blue Green Algae Health Alerts Issued for Bluestem lake, Pawnee Lake, Swan Creek Lake(5A),  and Willow Creek Reservoir

  High E. Coli found in Maple Creek Recreation Area Lake

The state has issued health alerts for toxic blue-green algae at Bluestem Lake & Pawnee Lake, both in Lancaster County, Swan Creek Lake(5A) in Saline County, and Willow Creek Reservoir in Pierce County. Maple Creek Recreation Area Lake in Colfax County was found to have above normal E. coli levels.

The public is advised that swimming and activities which could cause accidental ingestion of water are not permitted when a health alert for toxic blue-green algae is posted.  The designated swimming beaches are closed. While recreational boating and fishing are permitted, the public should avoid activities that could cause accidental ingestion of water as well as full immersion in water.  The risks to humans come from external exposure (prolonged contact with skin) and from swallowing the water.  Symptoms from external exposure are skin rashes, lesions, and blisters.  Symptoms from ingestion can include headaches, nausea, muscular pains, central abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting.

High E. coli levels in a lake may be indicative of sewage contamination. However, affected lakes are  not posted for no swimming because it has not been declared unsafe.  Rather, this notice is issued so the public is aware that the higher E. coli levels may increase the risk of illness when swimming in the affected water.

If you experience health symptoms, notify your physician. You can also contact the Nebraska Regional Poison Center at 800-222-1222 for more information. Testing results for all lakes can be found on the NDEQ website at http://deq.ne.gov

Blue Green Algae & High E. Coli Alerts

Blue Green Algae Health Alerts Issued for Swan Creek Lake, Pawnee Lake

High E. Coli Found in Holmes Lake, Pawnee Lake, Fremont Lake No. 10, Maple Creek Recreation Area Lake

The state has issued health alerts for toxic blue-green algae at Swan Creek Lake in Saline County and Pawnee Lake in Lancaster County. Holmes Lake and Pawnee Lake (both in Lancaster County), Fremont Lake No 10 (Dodge County), and Maple Creek Recreation Area (Colfax County) were found to have above normal E. coli levels.

The public is advised that swimming and activities which could cause accidental ingestion of water are not permitted when a health alert for toxic blue-green algae is posted.  The designated swimming beaches are closed. While recreational boating and fishing are permitted, the public should avoid activities that could cause accidental ingestion of water as well as full immersion in water.  The risks to humans come from external exposure (prolonged contact with skin) and from swallowing the water.  Symptoms from external exposure are skin rashes, lesions, and blisters.  Symptoms from ingestion can include headaches, nausea, muscular pains, central abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting.

 

High E. coli levels in a lake may be indicative of sewage contamination. However, affected lakes are  not posted for no swimming because it has not been declared unsafe.  Rather, this notice is issued so the public is aware that the higher E. coli levels may increase the risk of illness when swimming in the affected water.

If you experience health symptoms, notify your physician. You can also contact the Nebraska Regional Poison Center at 800-222-1222 for more information. Testing results for all lakes can be found on the NDEQ website.

District Farmers’ Markets are Open for the Season!

Farmers markets are underway in your area!  Buying local gives you freedom of choice for your family’s health and nutrition while supporting family farms and strengthening the local economy.  Shopping at a farmers’ market is a unique experience where you can meet your neighbors, friends, and farmers.  Check out the 2017 Guide to Local Foods brought to you by the Farmers Market Coalition of Southeast Nebraska for Fillmore, Gage, Jefferson, Saline and Thayer counties in Nebraska!  This guide contains information including the locations of local farmers’ markets to purchase fresh, healthy produce, to resources available to you such as recipes and nutrition.  See you at the farmers’ market!

Prescription for a Healthier You!

Want to learn more about living a healthier lifestyle? Public Health Solutions is teaming up with several community partners to help provide FREE sessions focused on getting healthy. See the schedule below: