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Health Department warns of rabies upswing
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The Barton County Health Department continues to deal with what officials believe to be an increased number of potential rabies cases, Health Director Shelly Schneider said. 

In June and July, the BCHD conducted 19 rabies investigations. None of these turned out to be positive, but each case is unique. Sometimes the animal is not available, so the treatment is started anyway. It is normal to err on the side of caution, she said.

Barton County enforces the one-year rabies vaccine. “Barton County continues to see more and more animal bites, so it is imperative to get or keep your pets up to date on the rabies vaccine,” she said.

Schneider couldn’t speak to the cause of the increase. But, she did say the department has strong educational programs in place and a good partnership with healthcare providers who report incidents, so there is more awareness.

In addition, she said, the public has reported suspicious-acting animals that have tested positive,but there was no human exposure.

The treatment regimen for humans isn’t as involved as it once was. Today, there is an initial shot, followed by a series of four or five vaccines in the arm over two to three weeks.

The topic came up as part of County Administrator Richard Boeckman’s biweekly departmental update. Other highlights included:

Road and Bridge Director Dale Phillips 

Road and Bridge

• Road and Bridge began sand/chip sealing on Aug. 5 and continued during the reporting period. (All available staff participated in operations.)

• Mowing continued near Odin and Beaver area moving west towards Susank and Galatia. Mowing crews will be assigned to the sealing crew for two weeks beginning Aug. 14.

• Emergency sign work was performed as needed.

Noxious Weed 

• Noxious Weed continued with right of way spraying and worked at Memorial Parks during the first week of the reporting period.

• Beginning Aug. 10, Noxious Weed staff were assigned to the sand sealing crews. Noxious Weed will assist Road and Bridge for approximately two weeks.

Solid Waste Director Phil Hathcock

During the recent reporting period, the landfill took in:

• 1,043 tons of municipal solid waste

• 387 tons of construction/demolition waste

• 175 tons of special waste

• 570 loads of waste received for disposal

• $58,632.73 of revenue generated through disposal fees

For information regarding recycling, household hazardous waste, or regular household waste, one can call the landfill at 620-793-1898.

Emergency Management Director Amy Miller

• On July 20, the Barton County Local Emergency Planning Committee, sponsored by Barton County Emergency Management, held its quarterly meeting. The agenda included a report on facilities that are required to submit reports on hazardous materials that are stored on location, held an annual review of Emergency Support Function Oil and Hazardous Materials, reviewed the by-laws of the committee and discussed the Kansas State Animal Response Team and related planning efforts for pets. 

• On Aug. 3, an applicant’s briefing was held for townships, cities, the county, school districts, and certain non-profit organizations within Barton County that sustained storm-related damages for the time period of May 4 through June 21, 2015.

The meeting allowed entities to complete applications for public assistance funds that are available as a result of the federal disaster declaration. The next step in the process will be to hold a kickoff Meeting where local officials will meet with representatives of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to determine the eligibility and repair costs of the damages. 

Any entity that was not able to attend the briefing had until Wednesday to apply for public assistance. For more information, contact Emergency Management Director Amy Miller at 620-793-1919. 

Health Director Shelly Schneider

• The nurses attended a Personal Protective Equipment training sponsored by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and provided by the Civil Service personnel. This was informative and allowed the BCHD nurses to experiment with the PPE that was provided. The department received a KDHE grant to purchase this equipment.

• Great Bend has been designated as a “Communities Who Support Breastfeeding.” The Central Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition (task force of Central Kansas Partnership) announced that it met the requirements of the designation and received notice of the award in late June. 

The effort and support to enable the community to receive this family-friendly recognition is appreciated, Schneider said.

• Clinic services contacts:

2015 June and July 

Adult health, 16 

Child care licensing, 36 

Communicable disease, 15 

Child health, 10 

Family planning, 182 

Healthy Start, 59 

Immunizations, 577 

Kan-be-healthy, 10 

Maternal and infant, 121 

Sexually transmitted infections, 49 

Tuberculosis, 138 

Rabies investigations, 19 

Totals, 1,232 

• Vaccine back to school time is well underway. Barton County is seeing an upward trend in vaccination rates.