Public Health Department
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Water lab Update
Effective Wednesday, June 2, 2021, private well owners can bring in water samples for testing on Wednesday Mornings from 8am – 12pm Only.
If you need samples other days, please contact Northern Lakes Services in Crandon at 1-800-278-1254.
What is swimmer’s 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?
Adult microscopic parasites live in the blood of animals such as ducks, geese, gulls, swans, and certain mammals such as muskrats and raccoons.
- The parasites make eggs that are passed in the feces of the birds or mammals.
- If the eggs land in or are washed into the water, the eggs hatch, releasing small, free-swimming microscopic larvae.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 swimmer’s 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 swimmer’s 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 swimmer’s itch be spread from person-to-person?
You cannot get swimmer’s itch from another person.
Who is at risk for swimmer’s 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 swimmer’s itch?
- Do not swim in areas where swimmer’s 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.
June is National healthy Homes Month
- Keep it dry and well-ventilated. Prevent water from entering your home by repairing leaks in your roof and interior plumbing. Run bathroom fan after showering to prevent mold and moisture build up. Ventilate the kitchen when cooking by using fans or opening windows to limit breathing in the particulates that cooking creates.
- Keep it clean. Control the source of dust and contaminants by cleaning surfaces, reducing clutter, and using effective wet-cleaning methods instead of chemicals.
- Keep it safe. Store poisons out of the reach of children and properly label. Secure loose rugs and keep children's play areas free from hard or sharp surfaces. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and keep fire extinguishers on hand. Inspect, clean, and repair your home routinely.
- Keep it smoke-free. Keeping your home free from tobacco smoke helps keep you and your family healthy and safe from heart and lung disease. For help quitting tobacco product use, or staying tobacco-free, call 1-800-QUIT- NOW or visit gov.
- Keep it pest-free. Seal cracks and openings throughout the home so pests can’t get in. Store food in pest-resistant containers. If needed, use sticky- traps and baits in closed containers, and monitor them
- Keep it contaminant-free. Reduce lead-related hazards in pre-1978 homes by fixing deteriorated paint, and keeping floors and window areas clean using the wet-cleaning approach. Test your home for radon and install a mitigation system if levels are above the EPA action-level. Safely remove any crumbling asbestos on pipes.
- Keep it temperature-controlled. Houses that do not maintain adequate temperatures may place the safety of residents at increased risk from exposure to extreme cold or heat.
- Keep it climate-friendly and energy efficient. Install weatherization (insulation, air-sealing, weather-stripping and window efficiency), maintain efficient home heating and cooling systems, transition to electric appliances, plant trees to keep your house shaded and cool, and properly grade soil around the foundation and point downspouts away from your home to keep water out of your basement.
Click here for the Healthy Home Checklist
Ticks are Out - Check Yourself!
Deer ticks can pass more than Lyme disease
Tick season is here and taking steps to protect against tick bites will help prevent Lyme disease. Lyme disease is the state of Wisconsin’s most commonly reported tick-borne disease. However, two other diseases- human anaplasmosis (formerly called ehrichiosis) and babesiosis-can also result from the bite of ticks. While these diseases are less common than Lyme’s disease, they can results in serious sickness.
According to the WI Department of Health Services, the average number of reported cases of Lyme disease has more than doubled over the past 10 years. There were 443 cases reported in Vilas County in 2020 and 9 cases reported in 2019. Estimates from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention indicate that the total number of cases could be approximately 10 times higher than what is reported.
The prime season for tick-borne disease begins when weather becomes warmer and the deer ticks begin to be more active. People are at risk for tick-borne diseases as they begin to enjoy outdoor activities in woody or brushy areas. By following the steps listed below, you can protect yourself from deer ticks and the diseases they carry:
- Know when you are in tick habitat—brushy, wooded areas, and long grasses.
- Use a good tick repellent, such as a product containing permethrin or DEET, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Wear clothes that will help to shield you from ticks. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants are best. Tuck your pants into the top of your socks or boots to create a “tick barrier.”
- Check frequently for ticks and remove them promptly. This is an important step in preventing disease.
- Remove the tick slowly and gently using a pair of tweezers. Folk remedies like Vaseline, nail polish remover, or matches are not safe or effective methods of tick removal.
Lyme disease symptoms include a bulls-eye rash, fever, headache, chills, muscle pain and joint pain. The bulls-eye rash, one of the earliest symptoms, typically appears between 3 and 30 days after the tick bite. Not everyone with Lyme disease develops the rash. Some people can develop two or more of these diseases at the same time.
If you develop signs or symptoms of a tick-related illness after spending time in areas where deer ticks are found, you should seek medical attention right away. Lyme disease, human anaplasmosis, and babesiosis can be treated with medication. Early diagnosis and treatment are important in preventing severe illness.
It is a challenging time for everyone right now and it’s hard to find stability in our lives. While many things are beyond our control, there are many things that we can control. When we are anxious and fearful, working some of these things into our lives can be empowering and comforting.
Focusing on establishing new practices of self-care can support your immune system and overall physical and mental health.
Maintain a routine
Do your best to maintain a regular routine: sleep, exercise, and diet.
- Set a regular sleep and wake schedule and stick to it as much as possible.
- If you are able, go for a walk in your neighborhood or on a trail, while keeping six feet apart from others. If you’d rather exercise at home, take advantage of the many online exercise routines available for free.
- Try at-home yoga or exercise.
- Take this time to practice new, healthy recipes. With more time at home, cooking can be an outlet that helps keep both our minds and bodies healthy.
Avoid crowds, but stay connected.
- Connect with a friend via phone or video chat. Sharing your concerns and anxieties is helpful. The other person likely has the same or similar concerns.
- Reach out to a family member or neighbor – let them know you’re thinking about them.
- Share meals with family or roommates.
- If you are able, help a neighbor who is at high-risk. Offer to pick up groceries or other necessities and leave them at the front door.
Be intentional about making time for fun and joy.
- Limit the amount of times you look at the news to only a few times or once per day from a reliable source. Watch a movie or catch up some comedies instead.
- Play a game.
- Start a new hobby.
- Have a dance party.
Nurture your mental health
Adopt new practices to care for your mental health during this stressful time.
- Take a deep breath. Practice yoga or mindfulness.
- If you meet with a therapist, let them know your concerns about coronavirus. If you don’t have a regular therapist, contact your healthcare provider.
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:
- A nutrient source (i.e., wood, paper, or other materials)
- 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.
Tips for Food Safety in a Power Outage
For more information, visit: https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/food-safety-during-power-outage