Loading, please wait....

For The Health Of It - Archive

The following entries are previous blog posts. To expand an entry click the title or hide/show item.

The latest blog entry can be found here.


Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. In fact, 43% of Chenango County’s population is affected by heart disease. To prevent heart disease and increase awareness of its effects, Chenango County Public Health is proudly participating in American Heart Month. To raise awareness, Public Health is:

  • Displaying red lights in front of the County Office Building at night
  • Placing Hearts in all of the County Office Building windows facing Court Street
  • Supplying local businesses with a heart to display in their window all of February
We also encourage the community to wear red every Friday this month to help raise awareness of heart disease.

You can make healthy changes to lower your risk of developing heart disease. Controlling and preventing risk factors is also important for people who already have heart disease. To lower your risk:

  • Watch your weight.
  • Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.
  • Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  • Get active and eat healthy.

For more information, visit https://www.co.chenango.ny.us/public-health/nursing/chronic-disease-prevention.php or call Chenango County Public Health Nursing Division at (607) 337-1660.


Women who are pregnant can start off the New Year with a healthy pregnancy by quitting smoking. Chenango County Public Health Nursing Division offers the Baby and Me Tobacco Free program to help women quit smoking during their pregnancy. Women who complete this program will receive a $25 voucher for FREE diapers per month, for 6 months, if the woman remains smoke free. Quitting smoking is the most important thing a woman can do to protect herself and her baby’s health. Smoking during pregnancy causes preterm labor, a baby to be too small, and can cause sudden infant death syndrome. If you are smoking during your pregnancy and are ready to make a change call Public Health at (607)337-1660 to learn more about the program.


Zika is a disease caused by the Zika virus, which is mainly spread to people by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. However, Zika can be spread through sexual contact as well. Pregnant women or women planning on becoming pregnant who contract Zika are at greatest risk. Zika can cause serious abnormalities in a developing fetus. Women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should not travel to areas that have active Zika such as areas in Central America and the Caribbean. For a more in-depth list of all areas with Zika travel warnings, travelers should check the CDC travel advisory at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-information. Also, you may contact Chenango County Public Health Nursing Division at (607) 337-1660 or visit the webpage at https://www.co.chenango.ny.us/public-health/nursing/.


With flu activity increasing and family and friends planning gatherings for the holidays, now is a great time to get a flu vaccine if you have not gotten vaccinated yet. A flu vaccine can protect you and your loved ones. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. This season, CDC recommends only flu shots (not the nasal spray vaccine).

While seasonal flu activity varies, flu activity usually peaks between December and February, though activity can last as late as May. As long as flu activity is ongoing, it’s not too late to get vaccinated, even in January or later. An annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect against this potentially serious disease. Even if you have already gotten sick with flu this season, it is still a good idea to get a flu vaccine. Flu vaccines protect against three or four different flu viruses (depending on which flu vaccine you get).

It's not too late to get a flu vaccine to protect yourself and your loved ones this flu season. Chenango County Public Health Department: Nursing Division is offering flu vaccinations. The vaccine is free for children 18 and under and the cost for adults is $17. The December immunization clinics are on the following Wednesdays: the 7th from 4:30pm-7:30pm, the 14th from 1pm-3pm, and the 28th from 9am-11am. Please call 607-337-1660 to make an appointment for your influenza vaccination.


The CDC states: “Diabetes is a disease in which blood glucose, or sugar, levels are above normal. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose, or sugar, for our bodies to use for energy.” The pancreas is the organ that makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose move into the cells of our bodies. When someone has diabetes, their body either doesn't make enough insulin or can't use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood. This causes strain on your body and can lead to health complications such as: heart disease, kidney failure, blindness, and lower-extremity amputations.

Diabetes is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States. One in 11 Americans have diabetes — that’s more than 29 million people. Another 86 million adults in the United States are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Due to the high incidence of diabetes health professionals are now screening for those who may have signs of prediabetes.

Prediabetes is when a person’s blood sugar is elevated but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. This means that he or she is at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. One out of three adults has prediabetes, and 9 out of 10 people do not know they have it. Knowing the precursors of diabetes and changing lifestyle habits can cut your risk of diabetes in half.

If you are overweight, have high blood pressure, or are age 45 or older, you are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The good news is that making healthy changes can greatly lower your risk. To help prevent type 2 diabetes:

  • Watch your weight
  • Eat healthy
  • Increase physical activity

Talk with your physician at your next appointment about your risks for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. For more information on diabetes and what you can do to prevent this disease, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/home/index.html or http://www.diabetes.org/.


It’s that time a year again to start thinking about the flu! Although Chenango County has not yet seen the flu, now is the time to receive your flu vaccination. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. You should always aim to get your vaccination between September and the end of October. Once you receive your influenza vaccine, it takes your body about 2 weeks to build up protection. It is important to remember, you cannot contract the flu from the flu vaccine; there is no live virus in the vaccine.

The flu virus is more than just a really bad cold. Flu can lead to pneumonia, hospitalizations, and death. Children, older adults, and those with weakened immune systems are at the greatest risk for severe complications. The CDC reports that in last year’s flu season “The vaccination prevented approximately 67,000 influenza-associated hospitalizations. In addition, influenza vaccination prevented an estimated 1.9 million illnesses and 966,000 medical visits associated with influenza.” The effect of lost wages associated with the flu virus is staggering. The CDC reports an average of $16.3 billion of lost earnings annually is due to the flu virus. This is because flu is more than just a cold and can create havoc for those who are sick. Even healthy people can be severely affected by the flu virus.

The only way to protect yourself and others around you is to receive your flu vaccination. If you receive your flu vaccination, there is still a possibility you can contract the flu. Scientist try to match the vaccine with the most currently circulating strains of influenza (flu), but there is always uncertainty of which strains will come each season. Getting a flu vaccine can even protect you against flu viruses related to the viruses in the vaccine. If you were infected with a flu strain related but not identical to the flu strain in the flu vaccine, your illness may not be as severe as it would be if you had not received the flu vaccine. For more information on influenza (flu) and vaccination clinics please visit Chenango County Public Health Nursing page at https://www.co.chenango.ny.us/public-health/nursing/flu.php. Protect yourself and the ones you love by receiving your flu vaccination this year.


One in 3 children in the United States are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity puts kids at risk for health problems that were once seen only in adults, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. The good news is that childhood obesity can be prevented. In honor of National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, Chenango County Public Health encourages your family to make healthy changes together. 5-2-1-0 is a nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention initiative which promotes:

  • Make healthy meals: Buy and serve vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain foods. Consume 5 or more fruits and vegetables per day.
  • Limit screen time: Keep screen time (time spent on the computer, watching TV, or playing video games) to 2 hours or less a day.
  • Get active outside: Walk around the neighborhood, go on a bike ride, or play basketball at the park. Try for at least 1 hour per day
  • Eliminate sugary drinks and high calorie foods

Taking small steps as a family can help your child stay at a healthy weight. For more information on 5-2-1-0 visit http://www.letsgo.org. For more information on the effects of childhood obesity visit the CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/childhood/causes.html. Addressing obesity at a young age decreases the risk of acquiring obesity related diseases as an adult. Take time out of each day to meal plan healthy meals. Watch portion sizes because what is served in a restaurant can be 3 or more servings on one plate! Find exercise the family can enjoy together, such as an outdoor game or a walk.


Don’t Wait. Vaccinate!

In the United States, vaccines have greatly reduced infectious diseases that once routinely harmed or killed many infants, children, and adults. However, the viruses and bacteria that cause vaccine-preventable disease still exist and can cause illness in people who are not protected by vaccines. Every year, tens of thousands of Americans still suffer serious health problems, are hospitalized, and even die from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines. Protect your health and the health of your family. Make sure you and your loved ones are up-to-date on recommended vaccines.

Here’s why you shouldn’t wait: Many vaccine-preventable diseases are still common in the U.S. Those that are not common here are still found in other parts of the world, and can still be a threat. Some of these diseases are very contagious. Any of these diseases could be serious – even for healthy people. Certain people may be at higher risk for getting some diseases or having more serious illness if they were to get sick, like young children, older adults, and those with health conditions.

Between January and June 2014, there were over 500 cases of measles reported in the U.S., more than in the last 20 years. - In the decade before 1963 when a measles vaccine became available, nearly all U.S. children got measles by 15 years old. Each year, about 3 to 4 million people were infected, 400 to 500 people died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 4,000 suffered from encephalitis (swelling of the brain). Thanks to widespread vaccination, measles was declared to be eliminated from the U.S. in 2000. However, measles is still common in many other countries and is brought into the U.S. by unvaccinated travelers who get it while abroad. Measles is very contagious and can cause serious illness. The best way to protect yourself and loved ones from measles is by getting vaccinated.

Vaccines are our best protection against a number of serious, and sometimes deadly, diseases. Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other medical experts update vaccine recommendations for children, teens, and adults based on the latest research and evidence-based science on vaccine safety, effectiveness, and patterns of vaccine-preventable diseases.

You have the power to protect yourself and the ones you love. Talk to your healthcare professional about which vaccines are right for you and your family. Or call Chenango County Public Health at (607) 337-1660 to speak to a registered nurse. We will review your immunization history and recommend any vaccinations you may need.

Most private health insurance plans cover the cost of recommended vaccines. The Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program helps provide vaccines to children whose parents or guardians may not be able to afford them. Medicare and Medicaid also cover a number of vaccines for adults. Vaccines are available at private doctor offices, as well as other convenient locations such as pharmacies, workplaces, community health clinics, and health departments.


July 28th is World Hepatitis Day and Chenango County Public Health, Nursing Division, would like to take a moment to explain what hepatitis is. The Hepatitis virus types are A, B, C, D and E which cause infection and inflammation of the liver which can lead to severe disease and death. Hepatitis A and E are spread mainly through eating food or drinking water contaminated by the feces of an infected person. Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person. Both Hepatitis A and B are preventable through vaccination which has greatly reduced the incidence of disease. Hepatitis D is found in those who are already infected with hepatitis B and is rare in the U.S. The most common hepatitis seen in Chenango County is Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), a blood borne disease which can cause a lifelong infection. Chronic Hepatitis C can cause severe liver problems such as cirrhosis, liver failure, or liver cancer. A scary fact about this disease is 75% of people who contract this virus are unaware they are infected! The lack of early treatment can greatly increase their risk for complications. There has been a dramatic incline in new cases per year as shown in the yearly Hepatitis C graph.

Yearly Hepatitis C Cases in Chenango County

Hepatitis C Graph

This is a blood borne disease; therefore any exposure to blood can increase a person’s risk. The HCV virus can live outside of the body for two weeks, making this a very hardy virus. Who’s at risk? The increasing rates of HCV in Chenango County are primarily due to intravenous drug use (IVDU). Another population at risk are people born during 1945-1965. There is no vaccine for the HCV, but there is treatment which can help rid the body of the virus. The reason for this elevation in this population is not clear but the CDC believes that many in this population became infected between the 1970s and 1980s when rates of Hepatitis C were the highest. For more information on HCV visit CDC’S webpage at http://www.cdc.gov/knowmorehepatitis/learnmore.htm. Also, visit Chenango County Public Health Nursing page at https://www.co.chenango.ny.us/public-health/nursing/ for more information on hepatitis and immunization clinics.


Warm weather is in the forecast! Many will be rejoicing and partaking in many fun summer outdoor activities. Chenango County Public Health wants everyone to have a safe and enjoyable summer. Therefore, we would like to refresh everyone on the topic of heat-related illnesses. As the temperature rises, it is important to listen to our body’s cues to prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion can include: muscle cramping, heavy sweating, weakness, cold and pale clammy skin, a fast and weak pulse, nausea, or fainting. If you experience any of these symptoms there are a few things that you can do to help relieve the symptoms. Move to a cooler location and, if needed, lie down. Do not stress your body any further. Loosen your clothing and sip water. Apply cool cloths to your body to help bring your body temperature down. If you have vomited and it continues, seek medical attention immediately. This can be a sign of a more severe condition known as heat stroke.

Heat stroke can occur when warning signs of heat exhaustion are ignored. Heat stroke can happen when your body temperature is above 103 degrees F. A sign of this condition is hot and red skin, without sweating. Your heart beat can be rapid with a strong pulse. You can experience a throbbing headache and dizziness as well. A person can become sick to their stomach and confused. It is even possible to lose consciousness. If any of these symptoms are experienced, move to a cooler place and call 911 immediately. This is considered a medical emergency and needs to be treated as soon as possible by a medical professional.

Everyone is at risk for heat-related illness but infants, children, elderly, and outdoor workers are at the greatest risk. Keep these signs and symptoms in the back of your mind as you enjoy your summer. Heat-related illness is preventable by drinking plenty of water throughout the day, taking breaks in cool areas, wearing light clothing, and avoiding sugar, alcohol, and caffeine. Have a great summer and for more information contact the Chenango County Department of Public Health at 337-1660, Follow us on Facebook and Twitter (Public Health@CheangPubHealth), or visit our website www.co.chenango.ny.us/public-health/nursing/.


Spring is in the air, and people are picking up their live baby poultry to bring home. Raising live poultry such as ducks or chickens is becoming more and more popular. However, these cute little babes can carry Salmonella. Salmonella is a germ that can make people sick with diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps. This germ can cause severe illness and may require hospitalization, especially in children under age of 5, older adults, and those who have a weakened immune system or are pregnant. Salmonella may not cause symptoms in birds, so you cannot tell that the poultry may be carrying this germ in their droppings and on their feathers, beaks, and feet. The germs can also be on their cages, in their water dishes, or anything near their living area. Salmonella is spread by putting hands that are soiled and contaminated with feces containing salmonella into our mouths. To protect yourself and your family from this germ, institute a stringent hand washing policy. As soon as a family member has been near the chickens or any objects that come into contact with their living environment make sure hands are properly washed. Children should be supervised to make sure they are washing their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. If running water and soap are unavailable use hand sanitizer until you can wash your hands. Poultry can be fun for the whole family when proper safety measures are followed. Keeping safety in mind, enjoy the little babes and their peeps, quacks, and chirps. For more information contact the Chenango County Department of Public Health at 337-1660, Follow us on Facebook and Twitter (Public Health@CheangPubHealth), or visit our website www.co.chenango.ny.us/public-health/nursing/.


Zika is a disease caused by the Zika virus, which is mainly spread to people by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. However, Zika can be spread through sexual contact as well. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, joint pain, rash, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Only 1 out of 5 people show symptoms of Zika. However, if Zika is contracted during a pregnancy, it can cause serious abnormalities in a developing fetus. If you are planning to travel outside the country, check the CDC travel guidance to view areas with active Zika. If a trip to an area with active Zika is unavoidable, use an EPA registered insect repellant and wear long-sleeved shirts and pants. Stay in places with air conditioning, or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitos outside. There has been no locally required mosquito-borne Zika virus disease cases reported in the US states, but there have been travel-associated cases.

Chenango County Department of Health is encouraging all community members to help reduce the mosquito population by stopping mosquitos from breeding. We can all help by removing any stagnant or standing water. As our warmer weather comes, start preparing by emptying things such as: buckets, barrels, flower pots, tin cans, bottles, jars, paint cans, tires, etc. These all are great examples of breeding grounds for mosquitos. Other tips include emptying and refilling bird baths and pet water dishes daily, maintain pools and ponds properly. Also, do not dispose of grass clippings, leaves, branches, litter or other items in catch basins, storm drains, or ditches. Let’s all do our part to help reduce our mosquito population which will help reduce the risk of Zika. For the most up to date information about the Zika virus visit the CDC’s website: www.cdc.gov/zika/, or contact the Chenango County Department of Public Health at 337-1660, Follow us on Facebook and Twitter (Public Health@CheangPubHealth), or visit our website www.co.chenango.ny.us/public-health/nursing/.


Antibiotics have been used for the past 70 years to help reduce illness and death from infectious diseases. However, if antibiotics are not used properly they can actually be harmful to our health. If you are ill, antibiotics are not always the best treatment option. Antibiotics cannot cure viral illnesses such as the flu and colds. Using an antibiotic to treat anything but a bacterial infection will not cure you; it will not make you feel better; and it will not make you less contagious. The overuse and misuse of antibiotics has caused major health concerns.

What are these health concerns from the overuse of antibiotics? Using an antibiotic when it is not needed causes some bacteria to survive and become resistant to the antibiotic. Resistant bacteria are stronger and harder to kill. They can stay in your body, which may cause severe illnesses that cannot be cured with traditional antibiotics. These resistant bacteria may even lead to death. The CDC reports that in the United States, there are at least 2 million people that become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics and at least 23,000 people die each year as a direct result of these infections.

Healthcare professionals are taking steps to help reduce antibiotic resistance by reducing antibiotic use for illnesses attributed to viruses. Also, they are reducing the use of medical devices/equipment that help bacteria enter the body. One example is the use of urinary catheters that drain a person’s bladder. Urinary catheters contribute to many urinary tract infections which increases the use of antibiotics. Apart from these examples, there are steps for the general public to take as well.

The first step is to stop the spread of germs. Frequent hand washing is the most important step a person can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Another step is when you are prescribed antibiotics be sure to take all the medicine as prescribed. If only part of the prescription has been used then only part of the infection has been treated. Not finishing the medicine can cause resistant bacteria to survive and develop. Individuals should understand that they will not always be treated with antibiotics and understanding why they won’t be treated is very important. Individuals should follow their health care provider’s recommendation as to why antibiotics are not always necessary. These steps can greatly reduce bacterial resistance to antibiotics and help stop the spread of these bacteria.

For more information contact Chenango County Public Health at 337-1660, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or visit our webpage.

Zika is a virus that is spread by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes are found in Central and South America. The mosquito that is the most efficient at spreading Zika virus (Aedes aegypti) is not found in New York State. However, there is another mosquito known as Aedes albopictus that can also transmit the virus and is found in the southern parts of New York State and the southern areas of the country. This type of mosquito is not as efficient at transmitting Zika virus. Both are aggressive daytime biters, but they may still bite at night. Zika can also be spread by a man to his sex partner. Clinical illness is usually mild. 4 out of 5 people with Zika virus will show symptoms. The most common symptoms include fever, rash, joint and muscle pain, headache, and/or redness of the eyes. There is no specific treatment or vaccine for Zika and most individuals recover on their own.

The real concern is the effect Zika has on a mother’s fetus during pregnancy. Zika has been linked to birth defects in babies, such as microcephaly. Women who are pregnant or are thinking of becoming pregnant should refrain from traveling to high risk Zika areas. Follow Chenango County Public Health on Facebook or Twitter at Public Health@ChenanPubHealth for continual updates on Zika, community events, and other health concerns.


February is American Heart Month and Chenango County Public Health Department would like to increase awareness in the community about living a healthier lifestyle. Chenango County ranks high in obesity and heart disease; however, we can manage or positively change these issues if we begin to make healthier life choices. Losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight is very important. This doesn’t mean eating only kale and doing extreme workouts for multiple hours! There are some simple steps a person can take to help improve their health.

The initial step for weight loss is to set realistic goals. Start off in small increments, such as setting your weight loss goal at 5 or 10 pounds and keeping it off. The next goal would be to continue this cycle of weight loss until reaching a satisfactory weight. This is not a race! Make your healthy lifestyle achievable. Another helpful step is keeping a food diary. A food diary helps us understand what foods we are getting calories from and how much we actually eat in a day. The information collected can shed light on problem eating or poor food choices. Identifying these problems will help to develop improvement plans. Also, you can contact a registered dietician to help you make healthier food choices without depriving yourself. Understanding appropriate portion sizes is equally important. It is easy to overeat, especially when you are served large portions of food. A meal at a restaurant is a good example of being served too much food to eat at one sitting.

Adding in physical activity is also very important. This does not mean running a marathon immediately. A simple walk can do wonders for you. Besides burning calories, walking can also boost your mood. Start out small and gradually increase your speed as well as your length of time. You can switch up your activity to reduce the risk of boredom, just make sure whatever you choose is something you enjoy. A few other things you can add along with these changes are: quit smoking, lower your salt intake, control your cholesterol, and blood pressure.

Let’s change our community statistics and start improving our health one step at a time. The journey to a healthy lifestyle is a very personal journey. Find what works for you, what makes you feel confident, and enthusiastic. There will be days when we may overindulge or skip our exercise but don’t let that lead you off your course to self-improvement. Just keep moving forward and enjoy each day. The healthier you become the more energy you will have. Making these healthy life style changes can greatly lower your risk of developing heart disease. For more information contact your primary health care provider or call the Chenango County Department of Health, Nursing Division at 607-337-1660. Follow us on Facebook for healthier lifestyle ideas.


Img The National Cervical Cancer Coalition reports that cervical cancer affects about 12,000 women per year in the United States and of these women, 4,000 will die. Cancer of the cervix is one of the top cancers seen in women. However, cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. Cervical cancer is frequently caused by the human papillomavirus, commonly known as HPV. This is a very common sexually transmitted infection that is seen in 80% of women by age 50 and can be contracted even if a condom is used. If a woman has HPV it does not mean she will necessarily develop cervical cancer, but it does increase her risk. Many women and men carry the virus and show no sign of the disease. In many cases the body rids itself of the virus within two years; however this is not the case for everyone. This is where the danger lies, and the risks for cancer greatly increases.

What can women do to decrease their chances of cervical cancer? Women need to contact their physicians for regular pap screenings to monitor for any signs of abnormal cells. These screenings can save lives, because early detection leads to early treatment and cancer prevention.

Another avenue that can reduce the risk of cancer is the HPV vaccine. This vaccine helps protect against high risk HPV types that are most known for causing cervical cancer. The vaccine is recommended for males and females from ages 9-26, and can help reduce the spread of HPV. As more people receive the HPV vaccine, there will be a greater reduction in cervical cancer rates. For more information contact your primary health care provider or call the Chenango County Department of Health, Nursing Division at 607-337-1660.