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Tularemia Confirmed in Larimer County (July 2018)

The Larimer County Department of Health and Environment has confirmed the first human case of tularemia in a county resident in 2018. This patient developed swollen lymph nodes, and may have been exposed while gardening at home. Soil can be contaminated by tularemia-causing bacteria from the droppings or urine of sick animals, most often rabbits. When a person mows, blows leaves, or turns up the soil, these bacteria can aerosolize and be inhaled, causing pneumonic tularemia.

All warm-blooded animals are susceptible to tularemia, including livestock and pets such as dogs, cats, and birds; however, these bacteria normally occur in nature in rabbits and hares, as well as in small rodents, voles, muskrats, and beavers. A recent die-off of rabbits or rodents in a neighborhood suggests a possible tularemia outbreak among the animals in that area. The bacteria these animals shed can persist in the soil or water for weeks, and it doesn't take many bacteria to cause an infection.

Tularemia can be transmitted to people, such as hunters, who have handled infected animals. Infection can also arise from the bite of infected insects (most commonly ticks and deer flies); by exposure to contaminated food, water, or soil; by eating, drinking, putting hands to eyes, nose, or mouth before washing after outdoor activities; by direct contact with breaks in the skin; or by inhaling particles carrying the bacteria (through mowing or blowing vegetation and excavating soil). In recent years, most human tularemia cases along the Front Range have been attributed to activities involving soil and vegetation.

Typical signs of infection in humans may include fever, chills, headache, swollen and painful lymph glands, and fatigue. If tularemia is caused by the bite of an infected insect or from bacteria entering a cut or scratch, it usually causes a skin ulcer or pustule and swollen glands. Eating or drinking food or water containing the bacteria may produce a throat infection, mouth ulcers, stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Inhaling the bacteria may cause an infection of the lungs with chest pain and coughing.

Tularemia can be effectively treated with antibiotics. Should you have any of these early signs, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Untreated tularemia can lead to hospitalization and may be fatal if not diagnosed and treated appropriately.

Gardeners, landscapers, mowers, outdoor workers, and others participating in leisure activities outside are advised to:
  • Wear gloves when gardening or planting trees, and always wash hands before eating or putting hands to mouth, nose, or eyes
  • Wear a dust mask when mowing or blowing vegetation, or excavating or tilling soil
  • Wear an insect repellent effective against ticks, biting flies, and mosquitoes (DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 are good choices)
  • Wear shoes, rather than going barefoot, on grassy lawns, especially if dead rabbits or rodents have been seen in the neighborhood
  • Never touch dead animals with bare hands

  • For more information about tularemia and how to protect people and pets, visit this webpage.
     
    Community Discussion: Rethinking Addiction on May 16 (2018)

    Join us on May 16 for a community discussion on Rethinking Addiction: Using Science to Build an Ecosystem of Treatment and Recovery. The Health District of Northern Larimer County and the Mental Health and Substance Use Alliance of Larimer County are hosting national and local experts to discuss new ways of thinking about addiction as we work to transform perceptions and treatment of substance use disorders in Larimer County. This is an opportunity to hear Dr. Corey Waller, a well-respected national expert on addictions and substance use, along with other impactful speakers. We will explore topics such as these: Does substance use treatment really work? Is addiction a brain disease?

    This event is free and open to the public. Light snacks will be provided. Please join us from 7:00-8:30 p.m. at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins. For more information and to register, go to the Eventbrite website. If you have any problems registering, please contact Wendy at wgrogran@healthdistrict.org or at 970-530-2738.
     
    Community Invited to Local 9Health Fairs on May 5 (2018)

    9Health Fair will host events across Colorado this spring. Anyone 18 and older can take advantage of free and low-cost health screenings and education that are available for people to keep tabs on their health.

    The 9Health Fair in Fort Collins will be held 7:00am-noon, Sat., May 5, at Timberline Church, 2908 S. Timberline Road. Red Feather Lakes will also have a 9Health Fair on May 5, 8:00am-noon.

    Free and low-cost health screenings address some critical health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, prostate cancer, mental health, and more. 9Health Fairs also offer eye health/vision screenings, bone density, height/weight screening, and other screenings depending on location.

    Thousands of 9Health Fair volunteers serve people from communities around the state. 9Health Fair uses phlebotomists, registered nurses, physician assistants, medical doctors, emergency medical technicians and other medical professionals to help administer a variety of health screenings and draw blood.

    To ensure proper hydration for an easier blood draw, participants are encouraged to bring their own water to drink at the 9Health Fair.

    All 9Health Fair locations include a $35 Blood Chemistry Screening, which gives you information on your blood sugar (glucose), cholesterol, triglycerides, and may show warning signs of diabetes, heart disease, and other concerns. Other low-cost screenings include a $25 Blood Count Screening and a $30 Colon Cancer Screening Take-Home Kit.

    For more 9Health Fair information, please visit www.9healthfair.org or call 1-800-332-3078 (toll-free).
     
    Mental Health Speaker Series, Feb. - April (2018)

    The community is invited to a free mental health education series, along with dinner, hosted by Connections. In this seven-week series, you will learn about important mental health issues in our community and how you can help yourself and others who may be dealing with these issues. Sessions will be led by licensed clinicians. Feel free to attend one or all of these.

    Topics include:
  • 2/28 Eating Disorders -- Learn about the complex issues surrounding eating disorders and how to bridge mind, body, and spiritual healing.
  • 3/7 ADHD -- An overview of depression in adults.
  • 3/21 Anxiety -- Learn what anxiety is and what to do about it. Strategies to prevent, minimize, and cope with the anxious mind.
  • 3/28 Opioids -- What does the opioid crisis look like in our community?
  • 4/4 Couples Communication -- Learn key principles in communicating as a couple.
  • 4/11 Trauma -- The effects of trauma in people's lives and on their brain.
  • 4/18 QPR - Question, Persuade, and Refer -- Suicide information and prevention training.

  • Meets Wednesday evenings, 5:30-6:30pm at the Health District, 120 Bristlecone Drive in north Fort Collins. For more information and to reserve a space, email Brian at blothrop@healthdistrict.org. The series is hosted by Mental Health Connections, a partnership of the Health District and SummitStone Health Partners.
     
    Start 2018 Smoke-Free!

    Every year, people all across the country make New Year's resolutions to change and improve their lives. Many of these people renew their commitment to quitting smoking, one of the best things you can do for better health.

    If you are one of those who would like to make 2018 the year that you finally kick the habit for good, there are some steps you can take to improve your chances of success:
  • First, start by making the decision to believe that you can quit smoking. One of the most important characteristics of successful "quitters" is their belief that they truly have the ability to quit smoking.
  • Remind yourself that quitting smoking is an adventure. If you approach it with this attitude, planning for that adventure can be good experience.
  • Pick a quit date. You may wish to contact your doctor for information on smoking-cessation medications/nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products, such as gum or patches.
  • Enroll in a quit-tobacco program to increase your chances of success. See the information below about the Health District's Quit Tobacco program.
  • Work to improve your nutrition and increase your physical activity. Breaking out of old patterns will help improve your health and fuel your success.
  • Finally, no matter how important it is to you to quit smoking, no matter how confident you are of your ability to succeed, your desire to quit is secondary unless you step up and just do it! Don't give up. Most smokers try several times before they are finally successful at giving up smoking for good. Quitting smoking is a process. Even lapses along the way can be used as learning experiences. Remind yourself that you can quit smoking.

  • It's a new year, it's a new beginning, and it's a great time to make that resolution to quit that tobacco habit! Best wishes for a happy, prosperous, and smoke-free New Year!


    The next Health District Quit Tobacco class begins Wednesday, Jan. 17, 6:00-7:30pm, at the Health District offices, 120 Bristlecone Drive in north Fort Collins. The six-week class includes free nicotine replacement patches, gum, or lozenges.

    If you are unable to attend this class, we offer classes periodically throughout the year, and individual counseling is also available by appointment.

    The cost for the program for residents of the Health District is $10-$100 per person, depending on income. Out-of-district residents pay $100. A "buddy discount" of 25 percent is available for district residents who enroll in the program with a friend or family member.

    For more information and to register, call 970-224-5209 or visit healthdistrict.org/quitsmoking.
     

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