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Douglas County Video Tour


Douglas County Updates Improved STD Rate

 When the Douglas County Health Department released STD rate for 2017 earlier this year, there was encouraging news. The infection rate for chlamydia appeared to be leveling off. That was a positive sign after more than a decade of battling what the Board of Health has labeled an epidemic.

Now there is even better news as recently released updated census data for 2017 shows a population increase in Douglas County. That population increase changes the infection rate. DCHD and the Adolescent Health Project now can report a decrease in chlamydia rates for last year from 662.2 per 100,000 population to 658.5 per 100,000 population.

“This is a time to recognize our success,” Health Director Dr. Adi Pour said. “This means we have been doing the right thing, but our work is far from over. We will continue to educate, test, and provide outreach to as many people as we can.”

Among the most successful programs has been free condom distribution. The health benefits of community condom distribution programs have been realized. And in the past 15 months, more than 1 million condoms have been distributed through the Adolescent Health Project. Free condoms are available at all STD testing locations as well as at more than 150 locations throughout the Omaha metro.

 “An increase in sexual health knowledge and improved health outcomes are results of providing unrestricted access to STD testing and treatment as well as free condoms to reduce STDs,” said Brenda Council, Adolescent Health Project Manager at the Women’s Fund of Omaha.

As part of the Adolescent Health Project, an initiative of the Women’s Fund of Omaha, the Douglas County Health Department and other clinical partners make STD testing accessible by screening people at locations that are convenient to them, including public libraries. There are an average of 40 outreach testing sites offered by DCHD throughout the county each month in addition to normal testing hours at the health clinic.

“This slight decrease is a bright light for our continued work in the community. We are optimistic that with access to education and safer sex resources, more people will be able to take control of their sexual health,” Dr. Pour said. “We know the only way to maintain this trend is to continue with our hard work and create sustainable, community-wide changes.”


Rabies Found in Douglas County Bat

Douglas County’s bat population appears to be plentiful and active which can be a problem for the human population.  We are approaching that time of the year when bats begin to seek shelter in homes to keep warm at night.

This week a bat found in the Dundee area tested positive for rabies. Anyone who is exposed to a rabid bat should go to a local emergency room as soon as possible. Rabies, which can be fatal, is why the Douglas County Health Department and the Nebraska Humane Society are asking residents to protect themselves from these evening invaders.

The first step is educating the public to avoid exposure. The next is to make certain proper treatment follows if someone is exposed.

The Douglas County Health Department recommends rabies treatment:

  • If a bat is found in any room with a sleeping person or an adult witnesses a bat in the room with an unattended child, mentally disabled person, or intoxicated person, the Nebraska Humane Society should be contacted and the bat should be tested for rabies. For this reason it is important to keep an eye on the bat until NHS arrives. If the bat is positive, the individual needs to be treated.
  • If the bat is not tested, it would be recommended that the potentially exposed person receive rabies post-exposure prophylaxis.

Anyone with questions is urged to call the Douglas County Health Department Epidemiology Section at (402) 444-7214.

The best option is to keep bats out of your home. You can begin to “bat-proof” a home by closing any openings larger than a quarter-inch by a half-inch. To do this, caulk the opening or use window screens, chimney caps, or stainless steel wool. Outside entry points are especially important to cover. Doors to the outside should be kept tightly closed.

Just this past week, the Nebraska Humane Society fielded more than 100 calls about bats, according to Vice President of Field Operations Mark Langan.


Anyone who finds a bat in their home should call The Nebraska Humane Society at 402-444-7800, Extension 1. A laboratory test is needed to confirm if a bat has rabies. If you are bitten by a bat or exposed to bat saliva, call the Nebraska Humane Society and your doctor.


For more information on bats and how to protect yourself from their bites, just go to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Web site at www.cdc.gov and enter bats in the search box.


Douglas County Has First 2018 West Nile Case

 The first human case of West Nile Virus in Douglas County for 2018 has been confirmed. A woman over 50 years of age was hospitalized and has been released.

 In addition to the human case, high populations of mosquitoes and multiple pools of infected mosquitoes have been found at a monitoring site between downtown Omaha and Eppley Airfield. Late summer and early fall are typically when West Nile virus cases begin to increase.

“That news means everyone in the community should follow the recommendations for protecting yourself from mosquito bites,” Health Director Dr. Adi Pour said.

     To protect yourself from mosquito bites you can:

  • Apply a mosquito repellant containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.  Be sure to follow label instructions.
  • Minimize your activities outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear loose, long-sleeved shirts, plus pants, shoes and socks when you are outdoors.

             To prevent mosquitoes from increasing where you live:

  • Remove all standing water near your home,
  • Empty buckets and pet dishes daily and bird baths on a weekly basis.
  • Clear weeds and anything else that may obstruct water from draining properly.
  • Follow proper swimming pool maintenance procedures and keep water moving in ponds or fountains.

Most people who are infected by a mosquito have no symptoms or only mild flu-like symptoms.  Less than one in 150 people who are bitten by an infected mosquito will have a serious illness. People more than 50 years old and others with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable to the disease and are more likely to suffer serious consequences.

“The West Nile Virus will be a concern until the first hard frost,” Dr. Pour said. “Please take steps to protect yourself and those around you.”


  Community Health Worker 101 Starts August 20

            In the future your doctor’s visit may include a community health worker referral or you may look to improve the way you manage your health by first talking to a community health worker.

A Community Health Worker (CHW) is a trusted community member with a close understanding of that community who contributes to a team-based approach to improve the community’s health and achieve health equity. The connections allow the CHW to serve as a link between community members and social/health services to improve quality of care and community capacity via a number of channels.

The world of health care is changing, and community health workers are at the center of this change. Some are already on the job, but for those interested in joining the field or improving their skills, the Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) is offering a four-day training – Community Health Worker 101 – at UNO’s Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center on August 20, 22, 24 and 28.

Training is from 8:30 to 4:30 each day and participants must be able to attend all four sessions. Classes will concentrate on hands-on activities and focus on core competency and skill building modules. Those elements will include communication, relationship building, and leadership.

“Community health workers play a major role as we move toward an accountable health community,” said Dr. Adi Pour, Douglas County Health Director. “Keeping people healthy by connecting them to the services they need to stay well is the new way to operate.”

This initial course is offered at no charge but the class will be limited to 20 individuals. Community Health Worker 101 is taught by DCHD staff members. For more information, including how to register, contact Patty Falcone at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (402) 444-7146.


August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month

 The evidence is conclusive - breastfeeding has tremendous benefits for infants and their mothers. Still, not all mothers who can breastfeed and many stop too soon.

            August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month, and the Douglas County Health Department is using the occasion to call attention to the benefits of the practice.

            “Mothers and their children both benefit from breastfeeding,” said Kerry Kernen, division chief of Community Health and Nutrition for the Douglas County Health Department. “There is solid evidence.”

            Studies show breast-fed children are less likely to have ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, and other bacterial and viral infections. They are less likely to contract a number of diseases later in life, including juvenile diabetes, heart disease and early cancers. The child’s neurological development is also improved by breastfeeding.

            Breastfeeding also brings the mother many immediate benefits, including an earlier return to pre-pregnancy weight and reduced chances of the weight returning once weaning occurs. It’s also easier on Mom’s pocketbook, saving the cost of buying formula. Plus, it’s always available.

In Douglas County several programs support mothers who choose to breastfeed their infants. One of those is the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. The WIC program provides breastfeeding education and support to its participants and 81 percent of the infants enrolled in the program in Douglas and Sarpy County are ever breastfeed. 

“When breastfeeding mothers have daily support within their home and community, this best practice tends to continue," Health Director Dr. Adi Pour said.


Swim Healthy? – It’s Up to You


            If you’ve ever experienced the unpleasant burning in your eyes that comes with a swimming pool trip, you probably thought it was the chlorine.

            You’re probably wrong. What you were smelling is a group of chemical compounds created when chlorine reacts with dirt, sweat, or human waste from swimmers. The combination of these chemicals irritates the eyes and respiratory tract. They also can aggravate asthma and make for a strong chemical smell at the pool.

            Healthy swimming depends in part on what swimmers keep out of the water, not just what pool managers put in the water. Swimming is an outstanding exercise, but it shouldn’t make you sick. Popular Olympic swimmers may have joked about what they do in the pool, but it’s not really funny and it can make you sick. It’s not acceptable, and when those other chemicals are mixed with chlorine, the chlorine doesn’t work as well as it should.

            Here are a few simple tips to help keep swimming healthy:

  • Don’t swim if you have diarrhea or let your kids swim if they have it.
  • Shower before you get in the water.
  • Don’t swallow the water.
  • Don’t use the pool as your toilet.

Every hour – everyone out!

  • Take children on bathroom breaks.
  • Check diapers and change them in a bathroom – not poolside.

These simple steps will help you make the most of your swimming experience and let everyone “Swim Healthy.”


 Plan Now for Safe Cookouts

             Cookouts in Nebraska generally start as soon as possible in the spring and some people never stop. The idea is to gather people around the grill and dinner table to share food and fellowship, so most people don’t plan for a family trip to the emergency room. It can happen, however, if proper food safety practices are not followed.

             Foodborne illness is a major public health concern, and while not every case involves a cookout, about 48 million Americans every year – one in six – will suffer a foodborne illness.

              In recent years well more than half the illnesses most often associated outdoor grilling were diagnosed from May to September. Most of the recommendations for safe grilling may also apply to your daily cooking. DCHD suggests these guidelines to help your cookout be successful and healthy.

            Outdoor dining safety rules:

  • Clean your grill between each use.
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure you thoroughly cook meat and poultry.
  • Beef and pork should be “rested” for three minutes after being removed from the grill to allow the heat to spread and kill more contaminants.
  • Make sure you keep the cold foods cold, 41 degrees or below, and the hot foods hot, above 135 degrees.
  • Promptly refrigerate any leftovers.

            Grilled meat needs special attention.  You can avoid cross-contamination by putting cooked meat on a clean platter and not reusing a plate that earlier was used for raw meat. If you used a sauce to marinate meat, do not reuse that same batch of sauce on cooked food. Wash your hands, utensils, and cutting boards if they were in contact with raw meat or poultry.

            The internal temperature of cooked meats should be:

  • Beef and pork, steaks, roasts and chops – 145 degrees
  • Hamburger and other ground meats – 155 degrees
  • Poultry – 165 degrees
  • If you are reheating any precooked foods, they should be warmed to 165 degrees

The only way to be certain meat is safe to eat is by using a food thermometer. You cannot tell if meat is safe to eat simply by looking at it.


A Pool Safety Reminder from DCHD

            Warm weather and summer have arrived and the coming months can be expected to test everyone’s ability to cope with the heat. Backyard pools often are used to help folks keep cool, but that option comes with some serious safety responsibilities.

            Remember this rule: If you want to keep cool, put a fence around the pool.

           How pools are maintained and installed is regulated by ordinance. Any in-ground pool and any pool greater than 24 inches tall has to be permitted before it is installed. Backyard, above-ground swimming pools that are greater than 24 inches in depth must have a fence or wall around the pool. In-ground pools are required to have a five-foot-seven-inch fence, while above-ground pools need a 48-inch high fence. Both types of pools need a self-closing latch at least 45 inches above the ground.

            A 48-inch high pool may qualify as a barrier if the access ladder is enclosed by a fence of the same height.   However there are above-ground pools that can be purchased at local retailers, and many of these are subject to the ordinance. The most common violations is that the pools are installed without a proper permit or required fences.

            “Every year we receive multiple complaints about backyard pools without fences,” said Environmental Supervisor Russ Hadan. “We investigate every complaint.”

            Drowning remains a major public health concern. The CDC reports in its most recent data that drowning accidents claimed an average of 10 lives a day in the United States, with two of them under 14 years of age.

           “The Douglas County Health Department works with pool owners to make sure all required safety measures are taken in an effort to prevent drownings,” Hadan said.

           Additional details on the regulations can be found in the home menu of the Douglas County Health Department website at www.douglascountyhealth.com. Click on Swimming Pools for more information, then go to Permits and Applications and move down to Sanitary Engineering where you will find the needed forms.



State of Public Health in Douglas County Called Encouraging

            Progress has been made in the fight against STDs, health disparities, and screening for childhood lead issues, according to the Douglas County Health Department’s 2018 State of Public Health Report.

            Health Director, Dr. Adi Pour, presented the report to the Board of Health at today’s monthly meeting.

            “The data shows significant progress has been made in addressing issues that impact the quality of life for Douglas County residents,” Dr. Pour said. “That doesn’t mean our work is anywhere near complete. We must continue to provide opportunities for everyone to be healthy and reach their potential.”

            Here are a few of the key points in this year’s report:

  • Chlamydia cases have leveled off. Despite increased testing there were only 23 more cases than in 2015-2016 when 168 additional cases were confirmed.
  • Our syphilis rate decreased to 2012 levels.
  • DCHD’s STD outreach has provided education to 22,289 individuals and distributed more than 373,000 condoms.
  • DCHD has seen a decrease of 13 infant deaths.
  • The Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program tested close to 21,000 children under the age of seven years. That’s the most ever, with 66 children found to have elevated blood lead levels.
  • We now have 12 Healthy Neighborhood Stores as part of our efforts to reduce obesity and prevent diabetes.

 “This shows how our work is making a difference,” Dr. Pour said. “Our staff works every day to make Douglas County a great place to live, work, and play.”

The complete State of Public Health Report can be found online at www.douglascountyhealth.com .

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