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330 Court Street Eagle River Wisconsin 54521
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Public Health Department

Click Here For COVID-19 Information 
Or go to the tab on the left and click COVID-19


Due to COVID-19, the Water lab at the Health Department Is closed. 


September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
Here are five steps you can take to #BeThe1To help someone in emotional pain:
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Blastomycosis
 

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Blastomycosis is caused by a fungus that may cause disease in people and animals, particularly dogs.  The fungus grows in nature and is typically found in:

  • Acidic, sandy soils;
  • Decaying wood and other vegetation; and
  • By waterways with changing water levels. 

It produces microscopic spores under certain conditions of temperature and humidity, typically in the spring and fall of the year.  These spores become airborne when the soil or debris becomes disturbed.  Blastomycosis develops when you breathe in the disturbed spores.  Symptoms, however, do not typically occur until 1 - 3 months later.  Blastomycosis is not known to spread from person to person.

Although anyone can be infected with Blastomycosis, the risk of getting this infection is low.  Your chance of getting Blastomycosis may be higher if you are in construction, farm, log, hunt, or camp in areas with moist soils containing rotting leaves and wood.

As there are currently no effective ways to prevent Blastomycosis, it is important to know the symptoms of the disease:

  • Fever and dry cough which may progress to weight loss, chest pain and a persistent cough with thick sputum. 

Other symptoms may include:

  • Muscle aches,
  • Night sweats,
  • Coughing up blood,
  • Shortness of breath and
  • Chest tightness.
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Blastomycosis symptoms look like pneumonia and other lung conditions, but it can affect other parts of the body, including skin and bone.  People with health conditions, such as a weakened immune system, asthma or other chronic lung conditions, smoking or diabetes, and the elderly may have severe illnesses. And some people may not have any symptoms. 

Contact your health care provider if you experience any of the symptoms listed above. 


Swimmers Itch

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What is swimmers itch (also called cercarial dermatitis)?

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

How does water become infested with the parasite?
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Adult microscopic parasites live in the blood of animals such as ducks, geese, gulls, swans, and certain mammals such as muskrats and raccoons.

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

What are the signs and symptoms of swimmers itch?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can swimmers itch be spread from person-to-person?
You cannot get swimmer’s itch from another person.

Who is at risk for swimmers itch?  

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

What can be done to prevent swimmers itch? 

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


Indoor Mold

The Key to Mold is Moisture Control
Tiny mold spores are all around us, both indoors and outdoors. Mold spores travel easily through the air and begin to grow indoors when moisture is present. There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores from the indoors, so the best way to control mold growth is to control indoor moisture. When indoor conditions are just right, mold spores can grow and become a problem. By taking important steps, you can prevent and control mold growth inside your home.

Mold spores need 3 things to grow:

  1. Moisture
  2. A nutrient source (i.e., wood, paper, or other materials)
  3. The right temperature

Of these three conditions, the most important to control is moisture. Indoor mold growth is really a sign that moisture is present. If indoor moisture is controlled, mold will not grow.

Fixing the Mold Problem
Since moisture is essential for mold growth, do all you can to quickly identify and fix any source causing too much indoor moisture. Common household problems that lead to indoor moisture issues include:

  • Roof leaks.
  • Leaking pipes or plumbing fixtures.
  • Condensation due to high indoor humidity.
  • Indoor flooding.

After all moisture and water problems have been fixed, clean the moldy area and keep the area dry.

If you cannot identify the moisture source, or if you are dealing with a large mold and water problem, consider a professional home inspection. Visit our Wisconsin Mold Contractor's page for a listing of indoor air consultants and mold remediation contractors.

Preventing Mold Growth
Important actions can be taken to prevent indoor mold from becoming a problem:

  • Keep indoor spaces well ventilated and dry. Air conditioners and dehumidifiers can help.
  • Keep indoor humidity levels below 50%.
  • Clean bathrooms often and keep surfaces dry. Run the bathroom ventilation fan during and after showers.
  • Promptly fix water leaks.
  • Clean up and dry your home fully and quickly (within 24-48 hours) after any flooding event.

Testing for Mold

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services does not recommend testing for mold because:

  • Federal standards or limits for airborne mold concentrations or mold spores do not exist.
  • Mold spores are everywhere around us, indoors and outdoors.
  • Mold testing can be expensive.

If you see or smell mold, it is present. In any situation, your approach should be to find the moisture source, fix it, and clean what you can.

Fact Sheets:

For more information, visit: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/mold/index.htm


Tips for Food Safety in a Power Outage

For more information, visit: https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/food-safety-during-power-outage

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