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health & wellness

Health Department issues advisory after 2 horses infected with West Nile Virus

Posted 17 September 2017 at 10:09 pm

By Nola Goodrich-Kresse, Health Educator and Public Information Officer for Orleans County Health Department

Although we are moving into fall, conditions are still conducive for mosquitoes. Recent reports of confirmed positive pools of West Nile Virus (WNV) mosquitoes have been reported across the region including two unvaccinated horses in Orleans County which acquired West Nile Virus. The horses had not been outside of the county. Both are doing well and recovering.

Take action

“You can prevent WNV and other mosquito borne diseases by properly using insect repellant, wearing long sleeves and pants when practical, screening windows and draining standing water,” stated Paul Pettit, Director of the Genesee and Orleans County Health Departments.

Typically the mosquitoes that transmit WNV breed in very small and dirty pools of water (as opposed to ponds and lakes).  Common breeding sites include old tires, roof rain gutters, bird baths, wheelbarrows, and any other item that will hold small amounts of water for several days. Make sure all areas where there is standing water are drained frequently or removed to limit mosquito breeding areas.

“Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn, try to minimize exposure by staying indoors during these hours or making sure you are properly using an effective insect repellant,” reminded Pettit.

Choose an effective insect repellant

The CDC recommends a variety of effective products to avoid mosquito bites.  Check the label for one of the following active ingredients: DEET, Picaridin, IR 3535 and oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Most pediatricians recommend using products with 30 percent or less of these ingredients on children. Once you’ve bought an insect repellent, read the instructions carefully and use it whenever you and your children are outdoors. Put a few bottles or packets of repellent anywhere you might need them – in the car, by the door, in your bag. Make it easy so you’ll remember.

Most individuals, 70 to 80 percent, who contract WNV do not develop any symptoms. Those who do develop symptoms, about 1 in 5, will experience a fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash for several weeks or months. In rare cases, less than 1 percent, experience serious neurological illness, such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues). If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or have specific concerns about WNV, talk with your healthcare provider.

For more information about vector-borne diseases (transmitted by mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas), click here.

If you have additional questions or concerns about flooding health risks contact:

  • Orleans County Health Department at: 589-3278 or check out our website by clicking here. Visit Facebook and Twitter: the user name for both is OrleansCoHealth.
  • Genesee County Health Department at: 344-2580 ext. 5555 or visit their website by clicking here. Visit Facebook at Genesee County Health Department and Twitter at GeneseeCoHealthDept.

2-county mass casualty drill planned for Saturday in Barre

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 September 2017 at 5:44 pm

BARRE – There will be dozens of firefighters and other first responders on Hill Road in Barre on Saturday morning in a mass casualty drill.

The scenario will include a school bus laying on a truck. Firefighters will practice extrication with the bus, removing chunks of the bus to remove passengers. Firefighters and other first responders will also practice a triage setup.

Firefighters from Orleans and Genesee counties will be joined in the drill by law enforcement officers, Department of Health staff, doctors and workers from Medina Memorial Hospital and the United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia, and emergency management personnel.

First responders are expected to start the drill on Hill Road at about 8 a.m., said Al Cheverie, the county’s emergency preparedness coordinator.

The county will handle emergency communications through the backup dispatch center at the Orleans County Emergency Management Office on West Countyhouse Road. The drill will give dispatchers a chance to test the backup equipment, which has recently been upgraded, Cheverie said.

Lyons Collision in Medina is bringing a school bus to the scene. Firefighters will practice using equipment to make openings on top of the bus and on the bottom.

“We will review our mutual aid plan,” Cheverie said about the drill, which is expected to include firefighters from Albion, Barre, Carlton and East Shelby in Orleans County, as well as Elba and Oakfield in Genesee County. “We are looking for our strengths and our weaknesses.”

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Local FLED Foundation donates clothing, toys to Golisano Children’s Hospital

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 September 2017 at 10:06 pm

Provided photos

ROCHESTER – Representatives from the FLED Foundation presented 17 bags of children’s clothing, toys, blankets and two baths to the Golisano Children’s Hospital this morning.

The FLED Foundation raises funds and awareness to fight childhood leukemia, and also supports families affected by the disease.

FLED – Fight Like Elaina Dixie –was formed in memory of Elaina Webb of Albion, who was 2 ½ when she passed away on Feb. 7 after battling leukemia for nine months. She is the daughter of Kyle and Beth Webb of Albion.

Pictured in the top photo include, from left: Kiersten Kunick, Parent Advocate with CURE; Beth Webb, Vice President of The FLED Foundation; Kim Dudrak, Pediatric Physician’s Assistant; Trisha LaLonde, Pediatric Nurse Manager on 7North; Dr. Asante, Pediatric Hematology Oncology Specialist; and Kyle Webb, President of The FLED Foundation.

Beth Webb said she appreciated the many donations that will go to all the floors and wings of the Golisano Children’s Hospital.

“We are truly thankful to our supporters and we are in awe of the generosity shown with these donations,” she said.

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Parents urged to add vaccines to back-to-school list

Posted 24 August 2017 at 3:59 pm

By Kristine Voss, epidemiology coordinator for Genesee County Health Department

Back-to-School season is here! It’s time for parents to gather school supplies and back packs. Whether it’s a baby starting at a new daycare, a toddler heading to preschool, a student going back to elementary, middle or high school – or even a college freshman – parents should also check their child’s vaccine records.

These settings are highly susceptible to outbreaks of infectious diseases. Children can easily transmit illnesses to one another due to poor hand washing, uncovered coughs, dense populations and other factors

“Kids entering 7th, 8th and 12th grades must be up-to-date with the meningococcal vaccine,” said Brenden Bedard, Director of Community Health Services for Genesee and Orleans County Public Health.  “This is a new requirement from the NYS Department of Health and without it they cannot begin school.  Even kids who have had a shot before may need a booster. This is why it is important to check with your child’s doctor now.”

Meningococcal disease refers to any illness caused by the bacteria called Neisseria meningitides. These illnesses are often severe and can be deadly. They include infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, as well as the bloodstream. Such bacteria are spread via the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions like spit. Keeping up to date with recommended vaccines is the best defense against these diseases and others.

To celebrate the importance of all immunizations for people of all ages, the Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming County Health Departments are joining partners nationwide in recognizing August as National Immunization Awareness Month.

Vaccines protect against a number of serious and potentially life-threatening diseases. When children, teens and adults are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for diseases and can also spread diseases to others in their classrooms and community – including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated, and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer or other health conditions. Talk to your doctor to find out which vaccines are recommended for your child and you!

For more information about the recommended vaccines for each age group, click here.

For information on NYS Immunization Requirements for School Entrance/Attendance, click here:

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Woman who won housecleaning prize gives it to someone else battling cancer

Staff Reports Posted 22 August 2017 at 4:12 pm

Provided photo: Carol Murphy, left, was given a certificate for a year of housecleaning services. The prize was won by Michelle Bokman, right, and she decided to give it to Murphy.

ALBION – Michelle Bokman in May won a prize for a year of free housecleaning services by Dazzling Dust Bunnies.

Bokman won the prize at the For Women Only event in May, which is organized by Orleans Community Health.

Bokman, however, decided to give the prize away to Carol Murphy of Albion, who is fighting cancer and receiving treatment services.

Carol was thrilled with this donation. “It will be so helpful to me especially while I am still working and going through treatment.”

Bokman said it was a “heartwarming experience” to meet Carol and help her in this small way.

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UR Medicine, Oak Orchard Health announce collaboration

Posted 15 August 2017 at 12:58 pm

Patients in Albion, Brockport, Lyndonville and other Oak Orchard sites could have access to UR specialists

Press Release, Oak Orchard Health, UR Medicine

Patients of Oak Orchard Health clinics in four Upstate New York counties could soon gain access to more UR Medicine specialists and services under terms of a collaboration agreement announced today.

Oak Orchard provides primary, dental and vision care for more than 21,000 adults and children in rural areas and small communities across Western New York and the Finger Lakes.

Oak Orchard started in 1966 as a small health project serving migrant workers and has grown into an integrated, federally funded health center with locations in Albion and Lyndonville, Orleans County; Brockport, Monroe County; Hornell, Steuben County; and Warsaw, Wyoming County.

Oak Orchard Health has worked closely with UR Medicine physicians and hospitals for a number of years. The new agreement formalizes their institutional collaboration, and is expected to make it easier for Oak Orchard’s adult and pediatric patients to receive care from UR Medicine professionals—including telemedicine consultations for specialty care services such as behavioral and mental health.

“As we look to reduce barriers and address other critical gaps in rural health care, collaborations such as this make good sense,” said James J. Cummings, chief executive officer of Oak Orchard Health. “This is not just great news for our patients; it is great news for our communities at large, especially during this time of concern and uncertainty regarding health care.  This relationship enhances the high quality primary care, dental care and vision services for which Oak Orchard has become known.”

Mark B. Taubman, M.D., CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center and UR Medicine, said the Oak Orchard agreement supports URMC’s strategy for increasing access to high-quality UR Medicine care for families across Upstate New York. Along with Strong Memorial and Highland hospitals in Monroe County, URMC’s affiliates include F.F. Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua, Noyes Memorial Hospital in Dansville, and Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville. UR Medicine professionals also provide care to patients at the Strong West medical campus in Brockport, St. James Mercy Hospital in Hornell and Wyoming County Community Hospital in Warsaw.

“UR Medicine has outstanding providers in a full range of specialties,” Taubman said. “The goal of our regional strategy is to make these services as accessible as possible to patients throughout the region. We have great regard for the Oak Orchard Health organization and look forward to expanding the range of services available to Oak Orchard patients as part of this agreement.”

Oak Orchard Health will continue to maintain previously established relationships with other area health care providers and social service agencies.

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Naloxone, which helps reverse opioid overdoses, will be cheaper in NY starting Aug. 9

Staff Reports Posted 7 August 2017 at 5:14 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a first-in-the-nation program to provide no-cost or lower-cost naloxone at pharmacies across New York. Beginning August 9, 2017, individuals with prescription health insurance coverage, including Medicaid and Medicare, will receive up to $40 in co-payment assistance, resulting in reduced cost or no cost for this lifesaving medicine.

Uninsured individuals and individuals without prescription coverage will still be able to receive naloxone at no cost through New York’s network of registered opioid overdose prevention programs.

“This first-in-the-nation program will help put this lifesaving treatment in more hands and is one more prong in this administration’s efforts to battle heroin and opioid abuse,” Governor Cuomo said. “This is one more step toward a stronger, healthier New York for all.”

Naloxone is a medicine used to reverse opioid overdoses. Reducing the cost of this lifesaving medication builds on Governor Cuomo’s previous action to make naloxone available in pharmacies without a prescription which began in January 2016. Previously, New Yorkers could only receive naloxone with a prescription or through a registered opioid overdose prevention program.

As of August 9, 2017, New Yorkers can find co-payment information at pharmacy counters across the state by clicking here. Individuals should provide this information to the pharmacist when asking for naloxone in order to receive it with no or lower out-of-pocket expense. The Naloxone Co-payment Assistance Program is funded by New York State’s Opioid Overdose Prevention Program.

Additionally, through New York’s network of registered opioid overdose prevention programs, uninsured individuals and individuals without prescription coverage will be able to receive naloxone at no cost. A full list of these programs is available by clicking here.

In the 2017 State Budget, Governor Cuomo invested over $200 million to fight the heroin and opioid epidemic. This unprecedented support is directed at prevention, treatment and recovery programs that address chemical dependency, expand residential service opportunities and promote public awareness and education.

Naloxone Saves Lives

Naloxone is a prescription medication used to reverse the effects of overdoses caused by heroin, prescription pain medication and other opioids. In 2014, state agencies began working together to develop a statewide program to train law enforcement personnel on how to administer naloxone. Since the trainings began, over 10,000 officers have been trained to administer the drug and 3,091 officers have been certified to train other officers.

Trained law enforcement officers across New York are saving lives with the naloxone they carry. Since April of 2014, 2,036 officers have administered naloxone to over 3,100 individuals, saving the lives of nearly 90 percent of the individuals that required assistance.

New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez said, “By guaranteeing affordable Naloxone to all New Yorkers, we will save thousands of lives and help repair the damage done to our communities by the opioid epidemic.”

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NY bans e-cigarettes from all school grounds

Posted 26 July 2017 at 9:15 am

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday signed legislation (S.750 / A.611), which will immediately ban the use of electronic cigarettes on all public and private school grounds in New York State.

“Nicotine use in any form has shown to be damaging to teens and this measure will close a dangerous loophole that allows e-cigarettes to be used in New York schools,” Cuomo said. “This measure will further this administration’s efforts to combat teen smoking in all its forms and help create a stronger, healthier New York for all.”

Prohibiting electronic cigarettes on all school grounds will diminish youth access to electronic cigarettes and help bolster New York’s commitment to preventing childhood and teenage smoking. School grounds includes any building, structure and surrounding outdoor grounds contained within a public or private pre-school, nursey school, elementary, or secondary school’s property, and any vehicles used to transport children or school personnel.

In March, the Governor announced a survey released by the New York State Department of Health, which found that e-cigarette use by high school students nearly doubled in the last two years, from 10.5 percent in 2014 to 20.6 percent in 2016. Additionally, a recent U.S. Surgeon General’s report shows the number of high school students using e-cigarettes soared 900 percent between 2011 and 2015, becoming the most commonly used form of nicotine among youths.

Electronic nicotine and vapor delivery systems, which include e-cigarettes, vaping pens, e-hookah and similar devices, typically contain nicotine. Nicotine exposure during adolescence can cause addiction and harm the developing adolescent brain.

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Health Departments issue advisory, warning to leave wildlife alone

Posted 25 July 2017 at 12:58 pm

By Nola Goodrich-Kresse and Kristine Voos, Genesee-Orleans Public Health Education Team

RABIES ALERT!  STOP! and THINK!  Do NOT touch!  It can kill!

Any mammal is able to get rabies, it is very important to get your pets vaccinated and not to touch or handle any stray or wild animals including bats, deer, and baby animals.

Rabies is a virus that attacks the nervous system of mammals, ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. There are over 4,000 different species of mammals, all of which are vertebrates (they have a backbone or spine), are endothermic (“warm-blooded”), have hair on their bodies, and produce milk to feed their babies.  Humans are mammals.

Transmission of the rabies virus usually begins when infected saliva of a host infected with the virus is passed to an uninfected mammal.  The most common way rabies is transmitted is through the bite and virus-containing saliva of an infected host.

“The only way to know for sure if an animal or person has rabies is by testing the brain tissue,” stated Sarah Balduf, Director of Environmental Health for Genesee and Orleans counties. “Therefore, if a wild animal bites or it is determined there may have been an exposure; it will have to be put down (euthanized) to rule out rabies.”

It is illegal to possess any wild animal that naturally lives in the state. Not only do these animals have the potential to spread rabies, but they often carry parasites, ticks or may carry diseases that can be spread from animal to human.

It is important to leave wild animals alone! More times than not baby animals are not orphaned but are kept hidden while the parents can hunt for food or stay away to protect them from predators. Nature will take care of nature.

Wild animals have had to be put down because humans have interfered in their lives. Leave them alone!  For more information about young wildlife visit the Department of Environmental Conservation web site at

If you are bitten or get saliva on you from an animal, (wild, stray or domesticated but not known if it has been vaccinated against rabies) it is important to wash the area carefully with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately. Report all animal bites to your county health department, even if they seem minor. If treatment is initiated promptly following a rabies exposure, rabies can be prevented. If a rabies exposure is not treated and a person develops clinical signs of rabies, the disease almost always results in death.

By avoiding contact with stray or wild animals, saving the bat/animal that may have had contact with humans/domestic animals, and reporting an incident to your local Health Department, we may be able to avoid unnecessary medical treatment that averages over $3,000 per person.

Rabies is 100% preventable!  Here are some ways to protect your families and animals.

  • Don’t feed, touch or adopt wild animals, stray dogs or cats, including the babies.
  • Be sure your pet dogs, cats and ferrets as well as horses and valuable livestock animals are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations. Vaccination protects pets if they are exposed to rabid animals.  Pets too young to be vaccinated (under 3 months old) should be kept indoors and allowed outside only under direct observation.  Keep family pets indoors at night.  Do not leave them outside unattended or let them roam free.
  • Do not attract wild animals to your home or yard. Keep your property free of stored bird seed or other foods that may attract wild animals.  Feed pets indoors.  Tightly cap or put away garbage cans.  Board up any openings to your attic, basement, porch or garage.  Cap your chimney with screens.  Bats can get in spaces as small as the width of a pencil.
  • If nuisance wild animals are living in parts of your home, consult with a nuisance wildlife control expert about having them removed. You can find wildlife control experts, who work on a fee-for-service basis, in your telephone directory under pest control.
  • Teach children not to touch any animal they do not know and to tell an adult immediately if they are bitten by any animal.
  • If a wild animal is on your property, let it wander away. Do NOT feed it, do NOT touch it!  Bring children and pets indoors and alert neighbors who are outside.  You may contact a nuisance wildlife control expert who will remove the animal for a fee.
  • Report all animal bites or contact with wild animals to your local health department. Do NOT let any animal escape that has possibly exposed someone to rabies.  Depending on the species, it can be observed or tested for rabies in order to avoid the need for rabies treatment.  This includes bats with skin contact or found in a room with a sleeping person, unattended child, or someone with mental impairment.  Bats have small, sharp teeth and in certain circumstances people can be bitten and not know it.

For more information on rabies and a video on how to catch a bat safely and much more visit

Upcoming FREE rabies clinics are in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming Counties:

Orleans County Clinics are held on Saturdays from 9 to 11:30 a.m.

  • August 26, Town of Shelby Highway Building, 4062 Salt Works Road, Medina
  • October 14, County Highway Building, 225 West Academy Street, Albion

Genesee County Clinics are held on Thursdays from 4 to 7 p.m.

  • August 17, Genesee County Fairgrounds, 5031 East Main Street, Batavia
  • September 21, Pembroke Highway Department, 1145 Main Road (Route 5)
  • October 19, Le Roy Village Highway Garage, 58 North Main Street

Wyoming County has a clinic scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 14, from 9:00am – 11:30am, Wyoming County Highway Department, 4328 Route 19, Rock Glen. (Registrations are not accepted the last 15 minutes.)

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Gillibrand says bipartisan support to combat opioid crisis by limiting prescriptions to 7 days

Posted 24 July 2017 at 11:55 am

Press Release, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

JAMESTOWN – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand visited the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County to announce the Opioid Addiction Prevention Act, bipartisan legislation to crack down on one of the most dangerous root causes of the opioid addiction crisis – the over-prescription of opioids for patients with short-term, acute pain.

The bill, modeled after New York State law, would limit the supply of an initial opioid prescription for acute pain to seven days. Many individuals become addicted to opioids after taking prescriptions for acute pain, such as a broken bone or wisdom tooth extraction.

The Opioid Addiction Prevention Act would require medical professionals to certify, as part of their DEA registration, that they will not prescribe an opioid as an initial treatment for acute pain in an amount that exceeds a seven-day supply, and may not provide a refill as part of that initial prescription.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data this month that shows that the over-prescription of opioids continues to be a serious public health problem in the United States. While the overall amount of opioids prescribed in the U.S. decreased between 2010 and 2015, the amount prescribed in 2015 was still three times as high as the amount prescribed in 1999. In response to this latest report, CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat said the amount of opioids prescribed in 2015 was enough “for every American to be medicated around the clock for three weeks.”

“The bipartisan Opioid Addiction Prevention Act would target one of the root causes of the opioid addiction crisis, which is the over-prescription of powerful and addictive opioid drugs for acute pain,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Too many lives have been destroyed, too many families have been torn apart, and too many communities all over New York are suffering because of this epidemic. This fight is urgent, and I will do everything I can in the Senate to pass this bill.”

“The (Mental Health Association) in Chautauqua County is happy to see bipartisan support for preventative care opioid addiction,” said Kia Briggs, Executive Director of the MHA in Chautauqua County. “We would like to thank Senator Gillibrand and Senator McCain for introducing this legislation.”

Under current federal law, a medical professional must register with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in order to be allowed to prescribe a controlled substance in the United States. This registration must be renewed every three years. This legislation would require medical professionals to certify, as part of their DEA registration, that they will not prescribe a schedule II, III, or IV opioid as an initial treatment for acute pain in an amount that exceeds a seven-day supply, and may not provide a refill as part of that initial prescription.

This limit does not apply to the treatment of chronic pain, pain being treated as part of cancer care, hospice or other end of life care, pain treated as part of palliative care, or addiction treatment.

The Facts on the Growing Opioid Epidemic:

  • In Western New York between 2004 and 2015, the number of prescription opioid-related deaths rose by over 1,600 percent, from 16 deaths in 2004 to 277 deaths in 2015, based on data from the New York State Department of Health.
  • In 2015, more than 15,000 people died in the United States from overdoses related to opioid pain relievers, over 3.5 times the number in 1999, according to CDC.
  • In 2015, 2.1 million more Americans started misusing prescription opioids, including 415,000 adolescents and 596,000 young adults, according to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). Every day, roughly 3,000 more young people misused a prescription opioid for the first time.
  • Nearly 2 million Americans abuse or are addicted to prescription opioids, and nearly half a million more are addicted to heroin, according to SAMHSA.
  • The increase in opioid addiction is linked to an increase in opioid prescriptions. The amount of opioid prescriptions in 2015 is three times as high as the amount of opioid prescription in 1999, according to CDC.
  • In 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain relievers – enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills, according to CDC.
  • Teenagers who receive an opioid prescription by 12th grade are 33 percent more likely to abuse opioids after high school. The risk for opioid abuse is even higher among teenagers who report little to no previous use of illicit substances, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
  • Over half of people aged 12 and older who misused prescription pain relievers in the last year obtained the opioids from a friend or family member. Over one-third obtained the opioids from a doctor, according to SAMHSA.
  • In a paper published by the American Dental Association in 2011, 64 percent of dentists surveyed preferred prescribing hydrocodone with acetaminophen for patients to use as needed after a wisdom tooth removal, a procedure common in young adulthood. The average prescription was for 20 pills.
  • 4 in 5 individuals who use heroin report prior abuse of prescription opioids, according to SAMHSA.
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