wood county health district

Health district investigates possible sickening of people at fundraiser

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County Health District is investigating the possible sickening of guests at a fundraising event Saturday at Glass City Boardwalk. The health district has received reports of 10 to 15 people becoming ill after attending an event for the “We Are Outdoors” organization on Saturday evening. The number of people sickened is actually close to 100, according to a person who attended the event and suffered from stomach and intestinal problems afterwards. So the health district’s sanitarians and epidemiologist are trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together to determine what may have caused people to get sick, according to Lana Glore, director of the environmental division at the health district. “We have just started our investigation,” Glore said Wednesday morning, after being notified by a few people late on Tuesday of their sickness. “It’s real preliminary right now.” A health district sanitarian inspected Glass City Boardwalk, at 27820 East Broadway Road, in Moline, Wednesday morning. The business hosts events such as wedding receptions, corporate gatherings, conventions and seminars. The sanitarian collected information on any sick employees, food handling practices, food temperatures, and food storage. The menu for the Saturday evening fundraiser was reportedly steak, potatoes, green beans and salad prepared by Glass City Boardwalk. Dessert was a sheet cake from Kroger in Perrysburg. The next step in the investigation involves health district epidemiologist Connor Rittwage interviewing those attending the event who were sickened, and look for commonalities in the items they ate that evening. Samples are reportedly being sought to send to Columbus for possible pathogens. An estimated 300 people attended the event, which was the inaugural fundraiser for “We Are Outdoors,” a group that combines the interest of hunters and fisherman with the concerns of environmentalists and conservationists. “Now we just have to put pieces together,” Glore said. Glore was uncertain if any of those who became ill had to be hospitalized. She said that past sanitarian inspections at the business had not shown any significant problems. Anyone who became ill after attending the event at Glass City Boardwalk should contact Rittwage at 419-352-8402, ext. 3259.


Flu season packs a punch with a feverish pitch

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   This season’s flu strain is packing a punch and is showing no sign of giving up anytime soon. Though no “outbreaks” have been reported yet in Wood County, the flu has many local residents coughing, with fevers and headaches. On top of that, the H3N2 strain that is hitting throughout the U.S. also brings with it vomiting and diarrhea. “It’s a bad flu season, said Alex Aspacher, community outreach coordinator with the Wood County Health District. Part of the reason is that the H2N3 strain blanketing the country is resistant to the immunizations that many Americans got to ward off the flu. “The vaccine is a little less effective against that strain,” Aspacher said. Doctors’ offices and hospitals are required to report flu cases to the health district. As of last week, 38 Wood County residents had been hospitalized due to the flu. Public health officials realize there are many more local residents suffering from the flu who tough it out and do not seek medical care. No deaths have been reported in Wood County, though Lucas County has seen one child and three adults die from the flu this season. Those most susceptible to the H3N2 flu strain are people with weakened immune systems, the elderly and children. Some Toledo area emergency rooms are struggling to handle all the flu cases flooding through their doors. Some hospitals have asked that flu sufferers seek care at other sites like urgent care centers, to relieve the demands on emergency rooms. Wood County Hospital Emergency Department is handling the increased patient load so far. “We are getting several flu cases,” said emergency department nursing supervisor Renee Baker. “They are right on track with other years.” The symptoms being seen at the Wood County ER include respiratory issues and “a lot of nausea,” she said. “So far we’ve been able to handle it. We haven’t had to divert anyone,” Baker said. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found widespread influenza in all states except Hawaii and the District of Columbia. Doctors’ offices, clinics and emergency rooms all over the country are feeling the impact from the flu. Generally, people most at risk for complications are older people, children and people with weak immune systems. It has been…


Finding the recipe to cure food inspection issues

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Though the Wood County Health District has the power to shut down restaurants, the preferred outcome is that food establishments clean up their acts instead. When health sanitarians come across restaurants with serious issues, many of the violations are corrected on the spot. To make sure the problems have been solved, repeat inspections are often conducted. “It’s based on the severity of the violations,” said Lana Glore, director of environmental services at the Wood County Health District. Inspectors are sticklers for food temperatures and other issues that can lead to public health risks. The sanitarians’ biggest tool is education. But if that doesn’t clear up the problems, then restaurant owners can be called in for administrative hearings at the health district office. If the violations are serious enough, an injunction or restraining order can be issued. “Ben has the right to order immediate closure,” Glore said of Ben Batey, the county health commissioner. “Our expectation is the food license holders are responsible for knowing the rules,” Glore said. “We hold that license owner responsible for training people.” But before any license is yanked, the sanitarians will make multiple attempts to educate the owner and those in the kitchen. Sometimes there are language and cultural barriers involved. The health district has learned that the biggest cultural gap appears to occur with some Asian restaurants. “We offer handouts in Mandarin Chinese,” Glore said of the educational materials. “That’s the language that seems to be the biggest barrier.” The Wood County Health District has not had to hold an administrative hearing on a local restaurant since 2015, involving Charlie’s in Perrysburg. Glore said that restaurant agreed to a “last chance agreement” and has been doing well. But sanitarians are always on the lookout for restaurants that have ongoing critical violations. “We have a couple on our radar right now,” Glore said. The intent isn’t to shut places down, but clean them up, she stressed. In Bowling Green, one of the food establishments with the most critical violations recently is the Old Town Buffet at 1216 N. Main St. On Nov. 30, Old Town Buffet was found to have seven critical and 15 non-critical violations. The critical violations included: –          Raw shrimp was stored under raw chicken, and mozzarella sticks were…


How to protect people, pets and pipes against the cold

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   We might as well get used to it. The cold dipped down to minus 4 degrees early this morning, and temperatures aren’t expected to get to 20 or above for another week. For some, the frigid temperatures are more than a cause for discomfort. The brittle cold can lead to burst pipes, frozen paws, frostbitten fingers and car problems. Some professionals in Bowling Green accustomed to dealing with the complications of cold weather offered some advice on how to protect people, pets, pipes and vehicles during these frigid temperatures. First, how people can prevent harm to themselves … “I wouldn’t be out more than a half hour at a time,” said Kevin Hosley, registered nurse at Wood County Hospital Emergency Department. And bundle up. “Any exposed skin should be covered.” People with lung problems or the elderly should avoid being out in this brittle cold, Hosley added. The most serious risk to humans is hypothermia, when the body’s temperature drops dangerously low, said Alex Aspacher, community outreach coordinator with the Wood County Health District. “Basically, your body starts to lose heat faster than it can replace it,” Aspacher said. One symptom of hypothermia is confusion, so “somebody might not know they have it,” he added. Hunters and homeless people are susceptible, but in these frigid temperatures some people are at risk even if they aren’t outside. Especially vulnerable are babies or older people in very cold homes. “Older people lose body heat faster” and babies aren’t able to generate heat the way others can to keep themselves warm, Aspacher said. If hypothermia is suspected, the person’s temperature should be taken. If below 95 degrees, 911 should be called, he said. Any wet clothing should be removed, and the person should be placed in a warm room and bundled in blankets – an electric blanket if available. The other risk with the cold is frostbite, when skin is exposed, commonly on the face, hands and feet. Aspacher explained that in frigid weather, the body prioritizes which areas to keep warm, so the extremities are likely to suffer first. If frostbite is suspected, the area should be warmed with an electric blanket or warm water – not hot water, Aspacher cautioned. The frostbitten areas should not be massaged, and…


Pass the turkey – not food poisoning – on Thanksgiving

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Sure, Butterball has a turkey hotline for novice Thanksgiving cooks on Thursday. But it’s doubtful that their emergency operators have to tell many people not to use the hot cycle of the dishwasher to thaw out their frozen turkeys. That was one bit of advice dished out by the Wood County Health District to a local food establishment years ago. When asked last week for some tips on how Thanksgiving hosts can prepare a feast without poisoning their guests, the restaurant inspectors revisited some unforgettable turkey tragedies. In many cases, restaurants want to serve up all the holiday favorites, but just don’t have room to safely thaw out giant turkeys in their refrigerators. So they devise some creative methods. Registered sanitarian Julie Nye told about the turkeys thawing in a mop sink. That’s a no-no. Then there was the turkey in the dishwasher, with the appliance working double time to also wash all the vegetables for the trimmings. “They thought it would thaw faster,” Nye said. “There are creative ways to thaw that become a public health nightmare.” The best advice is to plan ahead, so the bird has time to thaw in the refrigerator. If you find your turkey still slightly frozen on Thanksgiving morning, don’t panic. It is safe to place a turkey under cold running water to help it thaw, registered sanitarian Jillian Bodey said. Following are more safety tips from the health district sanitarians, so your guests don’t get sick from the feast. Top on the list – wash your hands … often. “The number one thing we can remind people to do is handwashing,” Nye said. That rule is especially important in between handling an uncooked turkey and any food item raw and ready to eat. “Handwashing is top for everybody,” said Lana Glore, director of environmental services at the health district. “It’s amazing what that will prevent.” And for good measure, wash the produce even if it’s labeled “pre-washed,” Glore said. You never really know if the pre-washing was as thorough as you would like. To avoid cross contamination, make sure you wipe up turkey juice that somehow seems to get everywhere in the kitchen. Don’t cut raw vegetables on surfaces used for the turkey, unless they are thoroughly cleaned first….


‘Real Men Wear Pink’ … for an entire month

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some men are uneasy about wearing pink. Not Ben Batey. And that’s a good thing, considering Batey will be wearing pink every day during the month of October. Batey, Wood County’s health commissioner, has signed up for the American Cancer Society fundraiser called “Real Men Wear Pink.” Ten men from Northwest Ohio were asked to take the pink challenge to raise funds for breast cancer research. Batey is the only one in Wood County. In order to wear pink every day for the month, Batey is having to augment his wardrobe. “My wife went out and bought me a bunch of pink shirts,” he said. “I told her not to go too crazy, it’s just for one month.” Some days it may be a pink tie, or pink socks. So far he hasn’t purchased any pink pants or jackets. Batey was approached to take the “Real Men Wear Pink” challenge by Kami Wildman, outreach coordinator at the county health district. He agreed – and then he saw the rules. “I thought she just meant occasionally,” wearing pink – not every day. “But by then I was committed,” he said. Batey actually doesn’t mind wearing pink. “That’s never been an issue for me,” he said. Batey has decided to take the pink challenge a step further – well, many steps further. He has promised to walk one mile in Wood County for every $100 that people contribute to the cause. “If I’m going to be asking people to contribute and support this cause, I want to do something as well,” he said. The goal for each of the 10 “Real Men Wear Pink” participants is to raise $2,500. If Batey meets that goal, he will be walking 25 miles through the county. And if he raises more, he promises to walk more. “I’ll do it,” he said. In fact, several of Batey’s exercise buddies have offered to wear pink and walk with him. Batey is actually hoping that he raises more than the $2,500, even though that means more walking for him. “If I have to, I’ll hike with a sleeping bag,” he said. “I’d be ecstatic to do that. I promise I’ll do whatever we come up with.” This means, of course, that Batey will have to…


BGSU teams with Wood County to monitor mosquitoes

By BOB CUNNINGHAM BGSU Office of Marketing & Communications Notice an uptick in mosquitoes in northwest Ohio? You can thank climate change. Warmer summers mean longer mosquito seasons, and milder winters signify a higher survival rate for mosquitoes. Those conditions, which have allowed for the emergence of diseases such as that caused by Zika virus, are cause for concern — especially as mosquitoes that vector, or carry, such viruses migrate farther north. “What’s happened the last two to three years has led to a lot of concern about mosquito-borne pathogens and viruses,” said Dr. Dan Pavuk, an insect biologist and lecturer in Biological Sciences at Bowling Green State University. “South Florida last summer in mosquito season had more than 200 cases of the Zika virus in humans that were actually documented to be transmitted by mosquitoes. That has spurred the interest in revitalizing a lot of the mosquito surveillance.” The Wood County Health District recently received a $17,696 grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to study mosquitoes in Wood County. The health district contracted with BGSU to assist in its mosquito surveillance project. Pavuk and two undergraduate biology students, Erica Eskins of Bellevue, Ohio, and Hannah Alanis of Oregon, Ohio, have been working on the project all summer. They’ll set the traps throughout Wood County, including three sites in Bowling Green and one each in Pemberville, Grand Rapids, Perrysburg, Rossford, North Baltimore and Walbridge. “We go out at least once a week and set the traps and then go back the next day to pick them up,” Pavuk said. “Most people don’t want to work with mosquitoes, but Erica and Hannah were actually really excited about working with them, and they both have gained a lot from this particular experience.” When Pavuk was an undergraduate student in the late 1970s, he said, there was a large amount of mosquito surveillance in Ohio and the United States because of other viruses that are vectored by the insects. The spread of St. Louis encephalitis, California encephalitis and Eastern equine encephalitis had health officials on high alert at the time. Now, with climate change, there’s a concern that some mosquitoes that vector Zika virus are moving farther north. “Among the mosquito species we’ve been sampling for is the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, which occurs over a large part of Ohio…


Communities can work together to support breastfeeding mothers

(Submitted by the Wood County Health District) Breastfeeding is a personal choice, but communities play a vital role in informing and supporting a mother’s decision to breastfeed her baby. Returning our communities to a breastfeeding supportive culture will take efforts by family, friends, employers, educational institutions, hospitals and businesses. Wood County Health District is reminding families of the benefits of breastfeeding during Breastfeeding Awareness Month. This year’s theme, “Breastfeeding: It’s a TEAM thing!” is intended to promote the supporting role in successful breastfeeding. Research shows that if a mother’s breastfeeding efforts are supported, she is more likely to give it a try, and more likely to keep going even if things get tough. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding with the addition of appropriate solid food for the first year and beyond. Research suggests breastfeeding is a way to lower the risk of infections and diseases for both mothers and their babies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that Ohio’s 2016 breastfeeding rate of 77.7 percent ranks 38th in the nation. “In light of the monetary and lifesaving benefits of breastfeeding, all elements of the community must cooperate and support breastfeeding. Ultimately, our whole society benefits from having healthier mothers, babies and children when breastfeeding is promoted, protected and supported,” said Jackie Mears, director of Wood County’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. One of the most important things the community can do is to allow mothers to feel comfortable nursing in public. Hungry babies need to eat, and Ohio law allows breastfeeding in public. Businesses can show their support by placing the “Breastfeeding Welcome Here” universal sign for breastfeeding in their windows and educating their employees on the acceptance of breastfeeding in their establishments. They can also encourage their employees and provide a private space to pump, other than a bathroom. This will increase employee retention and reduce medical costs. Hospitals can adopt the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” to show they are dedicated to supporting new mothers who choose to breastfeed. By eliminating formula gifts to breastfeeding mothers, they send the message that they believe mothers can make enough milk to breastfeed exclusively. Educational institutions can support breastfeeding by presenting age-appropriate information on anatomy…


WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program expanded to county

(Submitted by Wood County Health District) The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) is expanding the program into two additional counties, bringing the total number of Ohio counties participating in FMNP to 61. The 2017 expansion counties are Trumbull and Wood. The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is administered by the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. Coupons are distributed to eligible WIC participants through local WIC clinics. Pregnant, postpartum and breastfeeding women and some children participating in the program are eligible to receive a one-time benefit of $20 worth of coupons to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs from authorized farmers between June 1 and Oct. 31. The benefits of the WIC FMNP are many. FMNP benefits farms by: Supporting local agriculture by increasing sales at farmers’ markets and farmstands. Promoting expansion and diversification of family farms by encouraging the production of fresh fruits and vegetables. FMNP benefits WIC participants by: Providing WIC participants with an opportunity to improve their health by eating more nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables. Introducing WIC families to farmers’ markets and farmstands and teaching them to select and prepare a wide variety of locally grown produce. FMNP benefits communities by: Helping revitalize downtown areas by supporting the farmers’ market as an activity that benefits the entire community. Promoting the development of farmers’ markets to communities lacking access to fresh produce. Providing income to farmers that in turn helps boost local economies. If you are interested in becoming an authorized FMNP farmer or want to learn more about the program, please call the ODH WIC program at 1-800-282-3435 or visit http://www.odh.ohio.gov/odhprograms/ns/wicfm/wicfm1.aspx. To learn more about WIC services in Wood County, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WCWIC/, call 419-354-9661 or go to http://woodcountyhealth.org/wic/wic.html. The Wood County Health District provides numerous services to the community, including comprehensive medical services for men, women and children.  Our Health and Wellness Center welcomes all patients and accepts most third party insurances, including uninsured or underinsured clients regardless of ability to pay.   The mission of Wood County Health District is to prevent disease, promote healthy lifestyles and protect the health of everyone in Wood County. The Health District is located at 1840 E. Gypsy Lane Rd. in Bowling Green. Normal office hours are 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, with late hours and satellite…


Sugar Ridge still under EPA orders to get sewers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For a decade now, the community of Sugar Ridge has been on the Ohio EPA’s clean up list. In 2007, the Wood County Health District got a report of a sewage nuisance in the unincorporated village located north of Bowling Green. The EPA took over sampling and “deemed it a sewage nuisance,” said Lana Glore, director of environmental services at the Wood County Health District. The area was ordered to connect to a public sewer system. But that proved to be easier said than done. The Northwestern Water and Sewer District conducted a feasibility study to find out how to make it affordable to hook up the homes to public sewer. “They found it was very costly to build the sewer” – too expensive for the average homeowners in Sugar Ridge, Glore said last week. The project recently came onto the health district’s radar again when a concerned citizen reported that a resident of the Sugar Ridge area was trying to install a new sewer without approval, on Long Street. Upon inspection, Glore found that the resident was actually trying to fix a drainage system. She also found serious ground water drainage issues that could be affecting the septic systems. Residents in the area were advised to pump their septic tanks more often and lessen their water usage if possible. Worsening the situations is a plugged ditch along Sugar Ridge Road. Middleton Township officials are looking at how that ditch may be cleaned to allow for proper drainage, Glore said. The bad news is the septic systems are not sufficiently handling the sewage. But the good news is that the residents’ water sources seem to not be affected, Glore said. Results from homeowners who had their water sampled showed that the wells have casings high enough to not be contaminated. “Those fortunately look OK at this point,” she said. So the next step seems to be revisiting the feasibility of the project. Jerry Greiner, executive director of the Northwestern Water and Sewer District, said getting sewer to Sugar Ridge is estimated to cost $1.3 million. There are about 63 homes that could be connected to the system, with 43 of those in the community of Sugar Ridge. Depending on how the project is financed and how many…


Survey of BG houses shows increase in deficiencies

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A housing survey in Bowling Green has found 795 primary deficiencies among homes – a 26 percent increase since the last survey five years ago. The deficiencies included such problems as faulty roofs, chimneys or foundations. The housing survey is performed every five years by the Wood County Health District. A sanitarian, Julie Nye, viewed each home in the city in 2016. “She walked past every one of the houses in Bowling Green,” Health District Environmental Director Lana Glore said of Nye. “I don’t think we found anything alarming,” Glore reported Monday evening to Bowling Green City Council. However, the survey showed that while the number of houses barely grew in the city, the number of deficiencies saw greater increases. That is probably to be expected, said council member Bob McOmber. “Everything is five years older,” he said. “I’m not surprised.” Each home was surveyed based on 14 primary and 10 non-primary categories. Primary categories included: Roofs, siding conditions, stairs and railings, windows, foundations, driveways, public walkways, chimneys, porches, doors, accessory structures, soffits and roof edging, private walks, and exterior sanitation. The non-primary categories included: Paint, attached garages, grading or draining, yard maintenance, siding type, gutters and downspouts, garage conditions, dumpsters, starlings and pigeons, and address present. Homes found to be substandard in two or three primary categories were classified as “deficient.” Homes found to be substandard in four or more primary categories were classified as “neglected.” A total of 5,546 homes were surveyed, with 795 having primary deficiencies. Those classified as “deficient” included 130 homes. Those classified as “neglected” included seven homes. Nearly 89 percent of the homes surveyed had no deficiencies. In the last five years, the total primary deficiencies increased from 628 to 795. The number of homes in the city increased slightly from 5,524 to 5,546. Also during those five years, the number of “deficient” homes increased from 86 to 130. The total “neglected” homes remained at seven – though they were seven different homes than on the list in 2011, Glore said. The most common primary deficiencies found involved problems with foundations (155), siding conditions (103), chimneys (100), porches (82), exterior sanitation (82), stairs and railings (76), and soffits and roof edges (64). The most common non-primary deficiencies involved problems with paint…