Polk County Health Department

News & Press Releases

Sexually Transmitted Disease (Std) Weekly Totals For October 13 – October 17, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 13 - October 17, 2014, Health Department staff confirmed 45 Chlamydia cases, 10 Gonorrhea cases, 3 Syphilis cases and 1 case of HIV.

Sexually Transmitted Disease (Std) Weekly Totals For October 6 – October 10, 2014

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 6 - October 10, 2014, Health Department staff confirmed 71 Chlamydia cases, 6 Gonorrhea cases, 0 Syphilis cases and 1 case of HIV.

Think Again Before Burning Leaves: Harmful to Your Health and Illegal

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

(Des Moines, IA) – Fall is in the air. Tree leaves are dropping and piling up. Most of us enjoy the fall aroma of burning leaves. However, before you decide to light that pile of leaves on fire, think again. Burning leaves is against the law in parts of Polk County and can be harmful to your health.

“Smoke from burning leaves contains harmful chemicals such as carbon monoxide and particulates that can be toxic,” said Rick Kozin, director of Polk County Health Department. “This can increase hospital visits for individuals who have respiratory illnesses or individuals with chronic allergies and asthma.

The smoke generated by burning leaves can also cause health problems. Leaf smoke can irritate the eyes, nose and throat of healthy adults. It can be more harmful to small children, the elderly and people with lung or heart diseases. The visible smoke from burning leaves is made up almost entirely of tiny particles that can reach deep into lung tissue and cause symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, chest pain and shortness of breath. These symptoms might not occur until several days after exposure to leaf smoke.

“There are several alternatives to leaf burning that are safe, legal and not harmful to your health,” said Jeremy Becker, Air Quality Manager of Polk County Public Works Department. “Individuals can mulch the leaves to put around shrubbery and garden plants, bag leaves for garbage collection or compost the leaves to use as a fertilizer and soil conditioner.”

It is unlawful for any person to open burn or permit open burning of any refuse, rubbish, landscape waste including leaves or other combustible material within the cities of Des Moines, West Des Moines, Clive, Windsor Heights, Urbandale and Pleasant Hill.

Individuals who live in unincorporated areas of Polk County should practice the following tips to prevent potential burning problems:

  • Allow the material several days of drying time for a more effective burn and reduce smoldering.
  • Watch for favorable weather conditions and safe wind speeds. Wind speeds of 5 to 15 mph, steady from desirable direction are preferred.
  • Be aware of drought like conditions and any bands on burning that may be in place.

 

For more information regarding leaf burning, please visit Polk County Air Quality’s web site.

Sexually Transmitted Disease (Std) Weekly Totals For September 29 – October 3, 2014

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

September 29 - October 3, 2014, Health Department staff confirmed 53 Chlamydia cases, 16 Gonorrhea cases, 1 Syphilis case and 1 case of HIV.

Sexually Transmitted Disease (Std) Weekly Totals For September 22 - 26, 2014

Monday, September 29, 2014

September  22- 26, 2014, Health Department staff confirmed 59 Chlamydia cases, 10 Gonorrhea cases, 1 Syphilis case and 0 cases of HIV.

Polk County Health Department Announces Flu Clinic Schedule

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

(Des Moines, IA) –The Polk County Health Department will start hosting community flu vaccination clinics now through November 2014. The annual “drive-thru flu clinic” will be held on Saturday, October 4 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Polk County Health Department. The flu clinic schedule is available at www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health. Individuals wanting the flu vaccine will be able to visit our clinic on a walk-in basis. Clinic hours are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9:00 – 4:30 p.m. and Tuesdays until 6:30 p.m.

“The flu viruses are constantly changing, so individuals should get a flu vaccine every year to protect themselves against the most recent and common types of flu,” said Rick Kozin, director of the Polk County Health Department. “The vaccine you received last year may not protect you from this year’s flu strains.”

Flu seasons can be unpredictable and can be severe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from the flu, including an average of 20,000 children younger than five years of age. Complications from the flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, dehydration and worsening of chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or congestive heart failure.

“Anyone over the age of six months should receive the flu vaccine,” said Kozin. “The elderly, young children, pregnant women and individuals with chronic health conditions are more susceptible to serious health complications if they contract the disease.”

To speed up the process at the flu clinics, individuals can download the consent form from the Health Department’s web site at (www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health) and bring the completed consent form to the clinic. Consent forms are in both English and Spanish.

For updates or changes in the clinic schedule, please call the Polk County FluLine, (515) 286-3609. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Don’t forget to bring your insurance card to the clinic. The cost for those without insurance is $20.

For more information regarding the flu or flu clinics, please visit our web site at www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health.

 

 

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Sexually Transmitted Disease (Std) Weekly Totals For September 15 - 19, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

September  15- 19, 2014, Health Department staff confirmed 39 Chlamydia cases, 7 Gonorrhea cases, 2 Syphilis cases and 0 cases of HIV.

Polk County Health Department Media Advisory: Medical Camp Media Advisory

Monday, September 15, 2014

Des Moines, IA – The Sri Sathya Sai Center of Des Moines and partners are providing free health education, medical screenings and lunch on Saturday, September 27, 2014 from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Epworth United Methodist Church, 412 West Euclid Avenue in Des Moines.

Community members are invited to enjoy a free lunch while they talk with health specialists from several disciplines including internal medicine, pediatrics, dentistry, orthopedics, optometry and nutrition. In addition to health education, there will be blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol screenings available.

Everyone is welcome to attend this free medical camp.

 

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Sexually Transmitted Disease (Std) Weekly Totals For September 8 - 12, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

September  8- 12, 2014, Health Department staff confirmed 78 Chlamydia cases, 17 Gonorrhea cases, 3 Syphilis cases and 0 cases of HIV.

IDPH News Release: Late Summer Virus Causing Illness in Iowa

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

 

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced a virus that has caused outbreaks in Illinois, Ohio, Kansas and other states is also causing illness in Iowa. Enterovirus EV-D68, like other enteroviruses, appears to spread through close contact with infected people. Enteroviruses, including EV-D68, are not a reportable disease in Iowa or the U.S.; therefore, the number of cases of the virus is not tracked.

EV-D68 often begins like a cold and symptoms include coughing and wheezing; most people will recover at home without complications however, some people with severe respiratory illness caused by EV-D68 may need to be hospitalized and receive intensive supportive therapy. Infants, children, and teenagers, especially those with a history of asthma or those who have a condition that compromises their immune system, are most likely to become severely ill. Parents of children with cold-like symptoms that experience difficulty breathing should contact their health care provider.

There are currently no medications available for treatment for EV-D68 infections and there is no vaccine available for the virus. Most infections resolve on their own and require only treatment at home:

  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Rest.
  • Stay home so you do not spread the virus to others.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces to stop the spread the spread of the virus at home.

To help reduce the risk of getting infected with EV-D68:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.

Enteroviruses are very common viruses; there are more than 100 types. It is estimated that 10 to 15 million enterovirus infections occur in the United States each year, usually in the summer and fall.

 

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Sexually Transmitted Disease (Std) Weekly Totals For September 1 - 5, 2014

Monday, September 08, 2014

September 1 - 5, 2014, Health Department staff confirmed 44 Chlamydia cases, 5 Gonorrhea cases, 3 Syphilis cases and 2 cases of HIV.

Sexually Transmitted Disease (Std) Weekly Totals For August 25 – August 29, 2014

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

August 25 – August 29, 2014, Health Department staff confirmed 52 Chlamydia cases, 6 Gonorrhea cases, 1 Syphilis case and 1 case of HIV.

Sexually Transmitted Disease (Std) Weekly Totals For August 18 – August 22, 2014

Monday, August 25, 2014

August 18 – August 22, 2014, Health Department staff confirmed 70 Chlamydia cases, 12 Gonorrhea cases, 2 Syphilis cases and 2 cases of HIV.

Media Advisory: Polk County Health Department Hosts Diabetes Screening Day

Friday, August 22, 2014

 

Polk County Health Department Hosts Diabetes Screening Day 

(Des Moines, IA) – The Polk County Health Department will host a Diabetes Screening Day on Monday, August 25, 2014 from 8:00 – 11:00 a.m. The event will be held at the Polk County Health Department (1907 Carpenter Ave. Des Moines) and individuals will receive a free diabetes screening, access to resources to manage or prevent diabetes and immunization information.

Screenings will be available and free of charge to any Polk County resident. In order to be tested, do not eat or drink anything other than water for eight hours prior to event. Please bring all prescriptions, over the counter medications you are taking and immunization records.

For more information regarding Diabetes Screening Day, please call (515) 286-3848 or visit our web site at www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health.

 

 

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Athletes, outdoor workers and individuals without AC take precautions in the extremely hot weather

Thursday, August 21, 2014

(Des Moines, IA) –Toward the end of the week and into the weekend, Central Iowa is expected to see high temperatures and humidity. We have experienced a milder summer, so our bodies may not have adjusted to extremely hot weather which increases the risk for heat-related illness. Anyone is at risk for heat exhaustion or heat stroke during prolonged extreme heat, but older adults, people with chronic health conditions, outdoor workers and athletes practicing outdoors are at increased risk.

“With the start of school, many students are participating in athletics and practicing outdoors,” said Rick Kozin, director of Polk County Health Department. “As their bodies are adapting to new levels of exertion, extreme heat can put additional stress on their bodies.”

To prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths when practicing sports or working outdoors, we encourage individuals to follow these precautions:

   •   Be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

   •   Slowly increase practice intensity and duration.

   •   If possible move outdoor activity indoors or to morning hours.

   •   Drink water before, during and after practice.

   •   Take frequent breaks in the shade or indoors.

“With several days in a row of hot weather, like what we are experiencing this week, temperatures in homes that do not have air conditioning can get dangerously high,” said Kozin.

The best way to avoid heat related illness is to get at least two hours every day in air conditioning.  Ways to increase safety in homes without air conditioning include:

   •   Do not use appliances such as washer/dryer, dishwasher or stove during the daytime.

   •   Keep windows and blinds closed during the day to keep the heat out.

   •   Open windows when temperatures are lowest, from 4-7 a.m.

   •   Use a fan to circulate air only.  Do not sit directly in front of a fan. While you may feel cooler, it can actually dehydrate your body quicker, increasing your risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

   •   Place a cool washcloth on your head and the back of your neck. Take periodic cool baths or showers.

Signs of heat exhaustion include feeling faint, body aches, stomach pain, nausea and elevated body temperature. Heat stroke on the other hand is an emergency situation and can be life threatening. Signs and symptoms to watch for include shock, unconsciousness and seizures.  Call 911 or seek medical attention when experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion or stroke.

Remember to check at least twice each day on those on friends, family and neighbors who don’t have air conditioning.

For more information regarding extreme heat and precautions, visit our web site at www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health.

  

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Sexually Transmitted Disease (Std) Weekly Totals For August 11 – August 15, 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014

August 11 – August 15, 2014, Health Department staff confirmed 59 Chlamydia cases, 15 Gonorrhea cases, 0 Syphilis cases and 1 case of HIV.

Polk County Health Department Hosts Diabetes Screening Day

Monday, August 18, 2014

Polk County Health Department Hosts Diabetes Screening Day 

(Des Moines, IA) – The Polk County Health Department will host a Diabetes Screening Day on Monday, August 25, 2014 from 8:00 – 11:00 a.m. The event will be held at the Polk County Health Department (1907 Carpenter Ave. Des Moines) and individuals will receive a free diabetes screening, access to resources to manage or prevent diabetes and immunization information.

“It’s important for anyone over the age of 45 and overweight to get tested for diabetes,” said Rick Kozin, director of the Polk County Health Department. “Individuals who are younger, overweight and have a parent, brother or sister with diabetes should also take advantage of our Diabetes Screening Day.”

At the screening event, individuals will receive a free blood glucose screening, resources and programs that can help individuals better manage or prevent diabetes. Individuals will also receive information regarding adult immunizations and the chance to review their immunization records with our medical staff.

“Individuals with diabetes are more susceptible to complications from illnesses like influenza and pneumonia,” said Leah Gabriel, ARNP, Polk County Health Department Nurse Practitioner. “Individuals attending our screening day should bring in their immunization records, so we can discuss what immunizations are needed to keep them healthy.”

According to data from the Iowa Department of Public Health from 1990-2009 about 42% of the Iowa adult population have diabetes or pre-diabetes, many of them undiagnosed. The main reason that many cases of diabetes do not get diagnosed is because many of the symptoms seem so harmless. Symptoms include frequent urination, excessive thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, fatigue, irritability and blurry vision.

Screenings will be available and free of charge to any Polk County resident. In order to be tested, do not eat or drink anything other than water for eight hours prior to event. Please bring all prescriptions, over the counter medications you are taking and immunization records.

For more information regarding Diabetes Screening Day, visit our web site at www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health.

 

 

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Sexually Transmitted Disease (Std) Weekly Totals For August 4 – August 8, 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014

August 4 – August 8, 2014, Health Department staff confirmed 55 Chlamydia cases, 16 Gonorrhea cases, 2 Syphilis cases and 1 case of HIV.

Sexually Transmitted Disease (Std) Weekly Totals For July 28 – August 1, 2014

Monday, August 04, 2014

July 28 – August 1, 2014, Health Department staff confirmed 57 Chlamydia cases, 6 Gonorrhea cases, 5 Syphilis cases and 0 cases of HIV.

Sexually Transmitted Disease (Std) Weekly Totals For July 21 – July 25, 2014

Monday, July 28, 2014

July 21 – July 25, 2014, Health Department staff confirmed 55 Chlamydia cases, 16 Gonorrhea cases, 1 Syphilis case and 0 cases of HIV.

Sexually Transmitted Disease (Std) Weekly Totals For July 14 – July 18, 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 14 – July 18, 2014, Health Department staff confirmed 66 Chlamydia cases, 9 Gonorrhea cases, 4 Syphilis cases and 1 case of HIV.

Health Department Encourages Safety Precautions during Hot and Humid Weather

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

 

(Des Moines, IA) – Central Iowa is approaching the first significant heat event of the season. The past week has been rather cool. However, the hot and humid summer conditions will accelerate Monday and Tuesday, which can cause heat-related illnesses. Temperatures will peak in the upper 80s and lower 90s with heat index values reaching the lower 100s. 

“High heat and humidity after a period of cooler weather can be a shock to the bodies of people who aren't accustomed to the heat yet, especially older adults, very young children and people with physical challenges,” said Rick Kozin, director of Polk County Health Department. “A rapid increase in body temperature is possible if the body cannot cool itself.”

For the body to cool itself, the body sweats and the moisture evaporates off of the skin.  When it is humid out, evaporation doesn’t take place and the body cannot cool as well. Your body temperature can increase to a fatal 106 degrees in as little as 10-15 minutes. Many public places, like malls, libraries, senior centers, are air conditioned and are open to the public as daytime cooling centers. Two hours in air conditioning can significantly reduce the risk of health problems. For a full list of daytime cooling centers, visit the Polk County Health Department’s web site at /health/.

Signs of heat exhaustion include feeling faint, body aches, stomach pain, nausea and elevated body temperature. Heat stroke on the other hand is an emergency situation and can be life threatening. Signs and symptoms to watch for include shock, unconsciousness and seizures.

Health Department officials would like to remind everyone to take extra precautions during the hot and humid weather:

  • If you work or spend time outside, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening.
  • Drink a lot of cold water and take frequent breaks in the shade or air conditioning.  Do not wait until you are thirsty. If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages and instead drink cold water throughout the day.
  • Call family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning to make sure they are okay. 
  • Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in a vehicle for any length of time.

 

For more information regarding extreme heat, visit our web site at www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health.

 

 

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Sexually Transmitted Disease (Std) Weekly Totals For July 7 – July 10, 2014

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

July 7 – July 11, Health Department staff confirmed 48 Chlamydia cases, 9 Gonorrhea cases, 2 Syphilis cases and 0 cases of HIV.

Sexually Transmitted Disease (Std) Weekly Totals For June 30 – July 3, 2014

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

June 30 – July 3, 2014, Health Department staff confirmed 59 Chlamydia cases, 4 Gonorrhea cases, 0 Syphilis cases and 0 cases of HIV.

Jumpstart Back-to-School Health Fair Provides Health Services to Polk County Students

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

(Des Moines, IA) -  The Polk County Health Department and Des Moines University will host Jumpstart, a free back-to-school health fair on Saturday, July 26, 2014 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at East High School, 815 East 13th St. Families with students in grades K-12 who do not have adequate health insurance or access to health care are encouraged to take advantage of free physicals, dental screenings and immunizations. Interpretation services will be available for non-English speakers. The event involves many community partners and hundreds of volunteers.

“Summer is a very busy time for both parents and students, juggling vacations, sport schedules and getting ready for a new school,” said Rick Kozin, director of Polk County Health Department. “Jumpstart is a great way for students to get their necessary school physicals, immunizations, dental screening and other health resources all at one location.”

Jumpstart screenings help ensure students have a healthy start to the school year. Lead poisoning and other diseases can affect a child’s ability to learn and socialize with other kids. When a child has difficulty seeing, they can lose focus and miss out on important lessons during class. If they catch a contagious disease, such as the flu, measles or pneumonia, they can end up missing weeks of school and fall behind their classmates.

Health care professionals and Des Moines University students will conduct:

  • Physicals – required for children entering kindergarten, seventh grade and students playing sports.
  • Vision screenings
  • Immunizations – required for all students; ALL seventh graders need the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) booster before entering school in the fall.
  •  Dental screenings – required for children enter kindergarten and ninth grade.
  • Lead poisoning tests
  • Behavioral health screenings
  • Health and dental insurance application

 

“Jumpstart gives our medical students the opportunity to serve a diverse patient base and positively impact our community on their way to becoming highly competent and compassionate health professionals,” said Brianne Sanchez, Community Relations Manager at Des Moines University.

 

For more information regarding Jumpstart, please visit http://www.dmu.edu/event/jumpstart-school-physicals/.

 

 

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Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Weekly Totals for June 23 – 27, 2014

Monday, June 30, 2014

June 23 – 27, 2014, Health Department staff confirmed 82 Chlamydia cases, 3 Gonorrhea cases, 1 Syphilis case and 2 cases of HIV.

Polk County Health Department, Walgreens and Greater than AIDS offer free HIV Testing

Monday, June 23, 2014

POLK COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT, WALGREENS AND GREATER THAN AIDS TEAM TO OFFER FREE HIV TESTING IN SUPPORT OF NATIONAL HIV TESTING DAY

 

HIV Testing Event at Walgreens at 1330 E. University in
Des Moines on June 27, 3-7 PM

Iowa Part of the National Initiative in more than 100 Cities, June 26-28, 2014

 

CONTACTS:

 

Nola Aigner, Public Information Officer, Polk County Health Department

nola.aigner@polkcountyiowa.gov

(515) 286-3848/(515) 782-7236

 

Rakesh Singh, Kaiser Family Foundation

rsingh@kff.org

(650) 854-9400

 

Markeisha Marshall, Walgreens

markeisha.marshall@walgreens.com

(847) 315-2923

 

June 23, 2014 – The Polk County Health Department is teaming with Walgreens, the nation’s largest drugstore chain and Greater Than AIDS to offer free HIV testing at Walgreens (1330 E. University Avenue) in Des Moines on Friday, June 27 from 3:00 – 7:00 PM. The testing event is in support of National HIV Testing Day. Rapid HIV tests will be administered and individuals will receive their results within one to 20 minutes.

The Health Department is also working with other local community partners for this HIV testing event.  Staff from the Polk County Health Department and The Project of Primary Health Care will be conducting tests while other partners from the Sexual Health Awareness Group in Polk County will help to provide education and promote awareness including Family Planning Council of Iowa, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, One Iowa, Polk County Crisis and Advocacy, Eyes Open Iowa and the Iowa Primary Care Association.

“Partnering with a visible member of the health community like Walgreens strengthens the importance of HIV testing,” said Rick Kozin, Director of Polk County Health Department. “We are also thankful that our other partners are providing Polk County residents education and awareness to reduce the spread of HIV.”

This marks the fourth consecutive year Walgreens has teamed with Greater Than AIDS and local organizations to help offer free HIV testing to communities. This year’s effort doubles the number of participating markets from last year.

Of the more than 1.1 million people living with HIV in the U.S., an estimated one in six do not know that they are infected and only one and four has their virus under control with treatment[1]. Early diagnosis and treatment saves lives and is known to reduce the spread of HIV. Those with HIV who are on treatment and in care can reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others by as much as 96 percent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages everyone to know their status.

Free HIV testing is available at select Walgreens locations across the country. For more information, including a complete list of participating Walgreens locations, visit www.greaterthan.org/walgreens.

NOTE TO MEDIA: Media are invited to attend. However, to ensure individuals’ confidentiality, please park your vehicle in the northwest corner behind Walgreens.  

 

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[1] CDC. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report, Vol. 18, No. 5; October 2013. Data are estimates and do not include U.S. dependent area.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) Weekly Totals for June 16-20,2014

Monday, June 23, 2014

June 16 – 20, 2014, Health Department staff confirmed 39 Chlamydia cases, 4 Gonorrhea cases, 5 Syphilis cases and 2 cases of HIV.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) Weekly Totals

Friday, June 20, 2014

June 9 - 13, 2014, Health Department staff confirmed 49 Chlamydia cases, 6 Gonorrhea cases, 5 Syphilis cases and 3 cases of HIV.

Health Department Enourages Healthy Swimming

Thursday, June 19, 2014

(Des Moines, IA) – As swimming pools open on Memorial Day weekend, the Polk County Health Department would like to remind pool patrons that pools and other recreational waters are places where germs can be spread. The most common recreational water illness is diarrhea caused by germs such as Cryptosporidium (crypto), Giardia, Shigella, norovirus and E. coli O157:H7. Swallowing just a mouthful of water with one of these germs can make you sick.

“Last summer, we saw more cases of crypto than we had seen in a very long time. Many of these people were sick with diarrhea for 2-4 weeks,” said Rick Kozin, Director of the Polk County Health Department.

A person infected with crypto passes these parasites in their stool. And a person with crypto who goes swimming can infect other people because you can get crypto by swallowing infected pool or other recreational water. You can also get crypto by coming in contact with the feces of another person who has the parasite. It can spread when an infected person fails to wash their hands thoroughly after using the restroom and then touching surfaces, objects or food during food preparation.

To reduce the spread of crypto Kozin said, “Do not swim if you have diarrhea. Shower before entering the water and each time you return to the pool especially after using the toilet. Wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet.”

Parents are encouraged to:

  • Wash children thoroughly (especially their bottoms) with soap and water after they use the toilet or their diapers are changed and before they enter the water.
  • Change diapers in the bathroom, not at the poolside where germs can rinse into the water.
  • Take children for bathroom breaks every 60 minutes or check diapers every 30-60 minutes.

“Having fun while you swim this summer means knowing how to prevent recreational water illnesses like crypto. If we all do our part to keep ourselves, our families, friends and other swimmers healthy, it will be a fun summer,” said Kozin.

Make sure to visit your health care provider if you think you have crypto or another recreational water illness. If you have been diagnosed with crypto or another parasite, do not swim until at least two weeks after the diarrhea stops. For more information, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's web site on healthy swimming and other Recreational Water Illnesses at http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/swimming/

It is not too late to sign up for Health Insurance (But it soon it will be)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Polk County Health Department and other community partners will be holding a health insurance enrollment fair on Saturday, March 22, 2014 from 10:00am to 3:00pm at the Evelyn Davis Center for Working Families (801 University Ave, Unit 3 in Des Moines). The health insurance enrollment fair is being held as a part of the “Financial Fitness Day” being held at the Center that day.

Rick Kozin, Polk County Health Department Director said “For many people this may be the last opportunity to sign up for health insurance until the fall. We’d like to see as many people as possible take advantage of this opportunity.”

Trained Navigators, Certified Application Counselors and Health Insurance professionals will provide individuals with detailed information about available insurance options. They will also be able to help determine eligibility for Marketplace subsidies.

In order to complete the enrollment application at the fair, please bring the following information:

  • Current ID
  • Social Security Card
  • 2012 or 2013 Income Tax Returns
  • If working, last pay stub

“This is a wonderful opportunity for families to get their health and medical costs covered at a price that is affordable. By doing so they will improve their physical, mental and financial health,” said Kozin.

In 2010 it was estimated that 13% of adults in Polk County were uninsured. Many others may have inadequate insurance to meet their family’s needs. People without health insurance often delay getting necessary care until it is unavoidable and more costly. A number of our community partners have trained their staff in the details necessary to provide assistance to families so they can take advantage of this opportunity. Spanish interpreters will be available.

To learn more visit www.healthcare.gov or call Ana at 515-323-5227 with questions about the enrollment fair.

Using the Polk County Air Quality Index for Heart Health

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Polk County Air Quality (AQI) can help you protect your heart. Check it out /airquality/

“How many times have you heard a forecast that said, ‘Air pollution levels are forecasted to be unhealthy for sensitive groups”, but didn’t know what it meant if you have a heart condition?, said Rick Kozin, Polk County Health Department Director.

Sensitive groups for air pollutants include people with heart disease, older adults, and children. When exposed to air pollution people with heart disease and older adults are more likely to visit emergency rooms, be admitted to hospitals or even die. Exposure to air pollution may cause people with heart disease to experience chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, and fatigue. Air pollution has also been associated with cardiac arrhythmias and heart attacks. Major sources of these particles include motor vehicles, haze, smoke, residential wood burning, agricultural burning, some industrial processes, and other combustion process.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) is an index for reporting daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted your outdoor air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you. The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air. EPA calculates the AQI for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, particle pollution (also known as particulate matter), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. For each of these pollutants, EPA has established national air quality standards to protect public health. “Our Air Quality Index can give people with heart health issues some valuable information so they don’t put themselves at unnecessary risk”, said Jeremy Becker, Polk County Public Works Department Air Quality Manager.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S.; the risk of heart attacks may begin as early as the mid-40s for men and mid-50s for women, but heart disease is preventable and controllable.

Free Colorectal Cancer Screening Offered by Polk County - Health Department

Thursday, June 19, 2014

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and the Polk County Health Department is participating in a free and ongoing colon cancer screening program. The Iowa Get Screened: Colorectal Cancer Program helps save lives from one of the most deadly, yet most preventable diseases by providing free colorectal cancer screening to individuals who qualify.

The Iowa Get Screened program is funded by the Iowa Department of Public Health. To participate in the free screening program individuals must be between the ages of 50-64, be uninsured or underinsured, have a household income of up to 250% of the federal poverty guidelines ($59,625 for a family of 4), and have not previously been screened for colorectal cancer. For more information or to see if you qualify call 286-2192.

Rick Kozin, Polk County Health Department Director said, “Because 7 out of 10 people diagnosed with colorectal cancer had no warning signs it is extremely important to have regular screening done. In fact if everyone aged 50 or older were screened regularly as many as 60% of deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented.”

Colorectal cancer starts as a tiny growth or “polyp” in the colon (large intestines) or rectum. Screening gives doctors a chance to find and remove polyps before they turn into cancer. Most people have no symptoms at all but some people can have symptoms that include blood in their stool, belly pain for no clear reason, or unintentional weight loss. People who have a close family member who has had colorectal cancer are at a higher risk of developing it as well.

“Getting regular screenings, living a healthy lifestyle that includes healthy eating and exercise, and knowing your family history are the best ways to reduce your chances of dying from colorectal cancer” said Mr. Kozin.

Even though colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. only 64% of Iowans aged 50 and over have ever been screened. Everyone over age 50 should be screened. People who are younger than 50 and have had signs or symptoms, have a close relative who has had colorectal cancer, or has ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease or inflammatory bowel disease should be screened.

Get Healthy DSM Project

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Polk County Health Department, partnering with community organizations, such as the American Lung Association of Iowa, Easter Seals, Lutheran Services in Iowa, and West Des Moines Community Schools are implementing a series of five health events that began in November and will continue throughout the upcoming calendar year. These five events are part of the “Get Healthy DSM Project,” an effort coordinated by the Polk County Health Department that helps advance the Healthy Polk 2020 priority to empower more people to take responsibility for maintaining their health.

Click Here for the full press release

Health Insurance Enrollment Fair Success Prompts Another Event

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Polk County Health Department, A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy (AMOS), and other community partners will be holding a health insurance enrollment fair on Saturday, February 15 from 9:00am to 1:00pm at the Evelyn Davis Center for Working Families (801 University Ave, Unit 3 in Des Moines). In January, the group held a very successful event. Because of this success another event will be held.

Rick Kozin, Polk County Health Department Director said “Ninety-four people attended the event we held last month. Many of them, for the first time, were able to sign up for health insurance. We learned that having someone available to walk them through the process is what is necessary for some people to get signed up.”

In order to help individuals understand their choices and assist them with the sign-up process the health fair will be staffed by professionals from Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Coventry Health Care, Proteus, Primary HealthCare, Mercy Medical Center, UnityPoint Health Des Moines, Broadlawns Medical Center and CoOportunity Health. This enrollment fair will provide individuals with detailed information about each Marketplace health insurance plan offered in Iowa and can help determine eligibility for Marketplace subsidies.

In order to complete the enrollment application at the fair, please bring the following information:

  • Current ID
  • Social Security Card
  • 2012 Income Tax Returns
  • If working, last pay stub

“For thousands of Iowans, this is the first real opportunity they will have to get their families health and medical costs covered at a price that is affordable” said Kozin.

In 2010 it was estimated that 13% of adults in Polk County were uninsured. Many others may have inadequate insurance to meet their family’s needs. People without health insurance often delay getting necessary care until it is unavoidable and more costly. A number of our community partners have trained their staff in the details necessary to provide assistance to families so they can take advantage of this opportunity. Spanish interpreters will be available.

To learn more visit www.healthcare.gov or call Ana at 515-323-5227 with questions about the enrollment fair.

Click Here for the official press release.

Polk County Health Department to Hold 'Diabetes Screening Day'

Thursday, June 19, 2014

On Monday, January 27 from 8-11:00 am, Polk County Health Department will hold a “Diabetes Screening Day” at 1907 Carpenter Avenue in Des Moines where you can get free diabetes and dental screenings and access to resources to manage or prevent diabetes.

“Untreated diabetes can cause debilitating consequences that can affect your every-day life such as losing a foot or leg to amputation, becoming blind, or having pregnancy complications. Imagine not being able to take your dog for a walk, not reading to your grandchild a bedtime story, or not having a healthy baby,” said Rick Kozin, Polk County Health Department Director.

At Diabetes Screening Day you will get a free blood glucose screening and dental screening as well as getting connected to resources and programs that can help you better manage or prevent diabetes. If you have diabetes you can live a normal life by improving nutrition, using medications appropriately, and incorporating physical activity into every day.

“We know that early detection of diabetes symptoms and treatment can decrease the chance of complications from diabetes. But, we also know people need information and a plan to improve their eating and activity habits,” said Leah Gabriel, ARNP, Polk County Health Department Nurse Practitioner.

According to data from the Iowa Department of Public Health from 1990-2009 about 42% of the Iowa adult population has diabetes or pre-diabetes, many of them undiagnosed. The main reason that many cases of diabetes do not get diagnosed is because many of the symptoms seem so harmless. Symptoms include frequent urination, excessive thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, fatigue, irritability and blurry vision.

Screenings will be available, free of charge, to any Polk County resident. In order to be tested do not eat or drink anything other than water for eight hours prior to event and bring all prescriptions and over the counter medications that you are taking.

Flu activity increasing in Iowa, dominant strain good match to vaccine

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Surveillance data in Iowa shows that while still relatively low, influenza activity is increasing and that the dominant strain is 2009 H1N1. In 2009 this strain posed a higher risk for complications such as pneumonia and hospitalizations in very young children and pregnant women. Fortunately this strain was included in this year’s flu vaccination.

Rick Kozin, Polk County Health Department Director said “flu season typically peaks in January and February and can continue into spring months so it is not too late to get vaccinated.”

Influenza usually causes the most illness and complications in the elderly, very young and people with chronic health conditions but in the past the 2009 H1N1 strain caused the most illness among young children, young and middle-age adults, and pregnant women. Influenza is more than a stuffy nose or scratchy throat, it can cause fever, headaches and fatigue for up to two weeks and can be very contagious, even before people have symptoms.

“Because we’re seeing mostly the 2009 H1N1 strain this means that even healthy young adults can be at risk for getting very sick and passing it on to others,” said Kozin. “The best protection remains the flu vaccination but it is also extremely important to wash hands often and thoroughly and to stay home when you are sick.”

However, don’t count on everyone else getting vaccinated as your protection against the flu (herd immunity). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the beginning of flu season only about 40% of Americans had received their flu shot.

Influenza vaccinations are widely available in a variety of types at an affordable price. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone over the age of 6 months get a flu vaccination. Anyone who is at high risk for complications (pregnant women, young kids, people with chronic health conditions) should see their doctor as soon as possible if they suspect they have influenza. If given antiviral medications within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms the severity and duration of illness can be decreased. Antibiotics are not effective at treating influenza.

Flu vaccinations are available at the Polk County Health Department on a walk-in basis Monday through Friday from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm and until 7:00 pm on Tuesdays. Most types of insurance are accepted or the fee is $20 for people without health insurance however no one will be turned away because of an inability to pay.

Health insurance enrollment fair to be held

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Polk County Health Department, A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy (AMOS), and other community partners are holding a health insurance enrollment fair on Saturday, January 11 from 9:00am to 1:00pm at the Evelyn Davis Center (801 University Ave, Unit 3 in Des Moines).

Rick Kozin, Polk County Health Department Director said “Through the Affordable Care Act uninsured or underinsured individuals, regardless of their health status, could have access to health insurance. But learning about the options and getting signed up can be a difficult process for some.”

In order to help individuals understand their choices and assist them with the sign-up process the health fair will be staffed by professionals from Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, Coventry Insurance and CoOportunity Health. This enrollment fair will provide individuals with detailed information about each Marketplace health insurance plan offered in Iowa and can help determine eligibility for Marketplace subsidies.

In order to complete the enrollment application at the fair, please bring the following information:

  • Current ID
  • Social Security Card
  • 2012 Income Tax Returns
  • If working, last pay stub
  • Every client must have an email address to receive notice of coverage decisions and requests for additional information.

“For thousands of Iowans, this is the first real opportunity they will have to get their families health and medical costs covered at a price that is affordable” said Kozin.

In 2010 it was estimated that 13% of adults in Polk County were uninsured. Many others may have inadequate insurance to meet their family’s needs. People without health insurance often delay getting necessary care until it is unavoidable and more costly.

A number of our community partners have trained their staff in the details necessary to provide assistance to families so they can take advantage of this opportunity.

To learn more visit www.healthcare.gov or call Ana at 515-323-5227 with questions about the enrollment fair. If you plan on attending the enrollment fair please email HealthDept@PolkCountyIowa.gov.

Vaccine Refusal Linked to California Pertussis Outbreak

Thursday, June 19, 2014

New evidence suggests that clusters of people who refused the whooping vaccine may have been one of the factors that contributed to California's 2010 whooping cough outbreak.

See the full story

Polk County Health Department Announces Schedule for Flu Clinics

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Polk County Health Department will be holding nearly 50 community flu vaccination clinics beginning September 25 through November 2013. The annual “drive-thru flu clinic” will be held on Saturday, October 5 at the Polk County Health Department. The full schedule is available at www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health. Vaccinations are also available at the Polk County Health Department (1907 Carpenter Ave) M-F from 9-4:30 and Tues until 6:30 pm on a walk-in basis.

Rick Kozin, Polk County Health Department Director said, “We know that getting vaccinated, staying home when you’re sick, and washing your hands are extremely effective at reducing the spread of the flu in our community. When a high percentage of the community has been vaccinated against a contagious disease like influenza it is very difficult for it to be spread from person to person.”

People who get influenza are also at greater risk for catching pneumonia. The elderly, children and people with chronic diseases are more likely to get sick, and to get sicker, in addition to being at a higher risk for developing pneumonia or other serious complications that can cause hospitalization or even death.

“Getting the flu is more than just a stuffy nose or sore throat. It can cause symptoms such as coughing, headaches and fatigue that can last for up two weeks. Most people will feel miserable for at least a few days and will then recover but for some, like the elderly and kids or people with chronic diseases, the flu can cause complications like pneumonia or hospitalization. At a minimum, the flu will cause you to miss several days of work or school.” said Mr. Kozin.

Since a higher percentage of children get the flu, and because of how easily they can spread it to others, it is recommended that all children over the age of 6 months be vaccinated against flu. Older adults, and people with chronic health conditions (who are more likely to get sick and be sicker than other people) are encouraged to receive their shots sooner rather than later. “You can have the flu and be contagious before symptoms arise so to best protect yourself as well as your grandma, and your children, you should all get a flu vaccination,” said Mr. Kozin. Scientific advances in flu vaccinations have increased the options for flu vaccinations, ranging from painless to extra strength. Your doctor, a nurse or a pharmacist can help you decides which of the following types of vaccination is best for you:

  • The trivalent shot that has been the standard flu shot to protect against three strains of flu and can be used by anyone age 6 months and older.
  • New this year is the quadrivalent shot that protects against four strains of the flu and should be especially helpful for protecting children (note: this vaccination is NOT available at the Polk County Health Department clinics).
  • The nasal spray, or FluMist, is a painless option that is popular with children and includes protection against four strains of flu. It should not be used by pregnant women or those with chronic health conditions because it contains live, weakened flu viruses.
  • A high-dose vaccine, FluZone, that protects against three strains is used mainly for older adults to give them a quick boost in immune response and protection since this population is at higher risk for complications from the flu.
  • The intradermal vaccine is a smaller needle that injects the vaccine into the skin rather than the muscle and is a good option to protect against three strains of the flu for those who are afraid of needles.
  • FluBlok is a new vaccine made available this year and is made without eggs and is a good alternative for adults 18-49 with egg allergies (note: this vaccination is NOT available at the Polk County Health Department clinics).

To speed up the process at the flu clinics people can download the Consent Form from the Health Department Web Page (www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health) and bring the completed Consent Form to the clinic. For updates or changes in the clinic schedule call the Polk County FluLine, 286-3609. Most major insurance plans are accepted. The cost for those without insurance is $20. Nobody will be turned away because of an inability to pay.

Take precautions outdoors and use cool nights to avoid heat related illness

Thursday, June 19, 2014

This week is expected to bring record high temperatures however, cool overnight hours provide protection from heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Anyone is at risk for heat exhaustion or heat stroke during extreme heat but older adults, people with chronic health conditions, outdoor workers and athletes practicing outdoors are at an increased risk.

Rick Kozin, Polk County Health Department Director said, “because daytime temperatures are so high anyone working outdoors or participating in athletics is at an increased risk for heat stroke and heat exhaustion and should take precautions.”

As little as two hours in the air conditioning greatly reduces the risk of heat stroke and heat exhaustion but for those who spend time outdoors follow these precautions:

  • If possible move outdoor activity indoors or to morning hours.
  • Slowly increase practice intensity and duration.
  • Take frequent breaks in the shade or indoors.
  • Drink water before, during and after practice.
  • Be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

“People who are indoors can also protect themselves by taking advantage of the cool overnight temperatures by keep windows and blinds closed during the day and open at night. Use a fan to circulate air in your home, but do not sit directly in front of it because it can speed up dehydration,” said Kozin.

Signs of heat exhaustion include feeling faint, body aches, stomach pain, nausea, and elevated body temperature. Heat stroke on the other hand is an emergency situation and can be life threatening. Signs and symptoms to watch for include shock, unconsciousness, and seizures. To learn more visit www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health.

Health Risks from a fire at 1422 Scott Ave

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A warehouse fire at Taylor Recycling on 1422 Scott Ave last night, created a smoke plume that can cause health risks due to poor air quality.

Jeremy Becker, Polk County Air Pollution Engineer said, “Concentrations measured are high enough to be a concern for sensitive populations such as. the young, elderly and those with health issues like asthma. We are continuing to monitor the area.”

Rick Kozin, Polk County Health Department Director advises people and businesses in the immediate area, or those who can smell it, to take the following precautions:

  • Avoid prolonged exposure.
  • Avoid strenuous activity.
  • Stay indoors and use the air conditioning-the furnace filter will help filter the air
  • Schools, childcares etc. should have indoor recess periods.

Overnight cooling shelter closing due to cooler overnight temperatures

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Polk County Health Department overnight cooling shelter that has been open at Zion Lutheran Church in Des Moines will be closing today (Friday, August 30). Temperatures are expected to drop below 80 degrees by 11:00 pm tonight and Saturday night and get as low as 69 degrees. This drop in overnight temperature should be enough to provide relief from the extreme heat that the cooling shelter had previously been providing.

However, because daytime temperatures today will still be high, there are several locations that will be open until 8:00 pm tonight for cooling.

  • Polk County Health Department (1907 Carpenter Ave)
  • North Community Center (Park Fair Mall, 2nd Ave & Euclid)
  • Norwoodville Community Center (3077 NE 46th Ave)

Daytime Hours: Many public places are open during their regular business hours and allow residents to seek relief from the heat. See a complete list at www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health.

Overnight cooling shelter and extended daytime cooling shelters open

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The prolonged extreme heat that is expected this week and weekend can pose as serious risk of heat stroke, heat exhaustion or death, especially in older adults and people with chronic health conditions. As little as two hours in air conditioning each day can greatly reduce your risk. The Polk County Health Department has identified an overnight option and a number of daytime and extended hours options for individuals to seek relief from the heat.

Overnight: An overnight shelter will be open Wednesday, August 28 and Thursday, August 29 from 8:00 pm to 8:00 am at Zion Lutheran Church at 4300 Beaver Ave. Doors lock at 11:00 pm and cots, blankets, pillows, water and food will be provided.

Extended Daytime/Evening Hours: The following locations will all be open until 8:00 pm for cooling tonight (Wednesday, August 28) and Thursday, August 29:

  • Polk County Health Department (1907 Carpenter Ave)
  • North Community Center (Park Fair Mall, 2nd Ave & Euclid)
  • Norwoodville Community Center (3077 NE 46th Ave)

Daytime Hours: Many public places are open during their regular business hours and allow residents to seek relief from the heat. See a complete list at www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health.

DART is offering free rides to the overnight shelter, which is along Route 14. The offer is good on all local routes from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on both Monday and Tuesday evenings. To ride for free, passengers need only tell the bus operator that they are going to the overnight cooling shelter. Those who stay overnight at the shelter can get a free return trip in the morning by catching the bus at the nearest stop to the shelter, at the intersection of Aurora Avenue and 46th Street.

Schedule information is available online at www.ridedart.com or by calling the Customer Service Line at 515-283-8100 until 7 p.m. For calls after 7 p.m., please call 515-283-8108.

Prolonged extreme heat dangerous to athletes, outdoor workers, those without AC

Thursday, June 19, 2014

This week and into the weekend is expected to bring record high temperatures and because of the mild weather so far this summer our bodies may not be as prepared as usual to adjust to extremely hot weather, increasing the risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Anyone is at risk for heat exhaustion or heat stroke during prolonged extreme heat but older adults, people with chronic health conditions, outdoor workers and athletes practicing outdoors are at an increased risk.

An overnight cooling shelter will be open at Zion Lutheran Church, 4300 Beaver Ave in Des Moines, Monday and Tuesday night from 8:00 pm to 8:00 am. Cots, water and food will be provided, doors are locked at 11:00 pm. Many public places are open to provide respite to the heat, see the full list of daytime cooling centers at /health (note: extended cooling hours are available until 9:00 pm on Monday and Tuesday at the Polk County Health Department, North Side Community Center, Southside Community Center and the Noorwoodville Senior Center. Additionally, there are ways to stay safe in your home without air conditioning.

Rick Kozin, Polk County Health Department Director said, “Additionally, with the start of school, many students are participating in athletics and practicing outdoors. As their bodies are adapting to new levels of exertion, extreme heat can put additional stress on their bodies.”

The Korey Stringer Institute at the University of Connecticut is dedicated to reducing heat related deaths in athletes and urges parents and coaches to take the following precautions:

  • Be aware of the signs or heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
  • Slowly increase practice intensity and duration.
  • If possible move outdoor activity indoors or to morning hours.
  • Drink water before, during and after practice.
  • Take frequent breaks in the shade or indoors.

These guidelines also apply to outdoor workers. To learn more about Iowa’s athletic practice guidelines and heat exhaustion and heat stroke prevention visit http://www.ksi.uconn.edu.

“While those who are exerting themselves outdoors are certainly at an increased risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, periods of prolonged extreme heat like we are expecting this week can quickly raise the temperature to dangerous levels in homes that do not have air conditioning,” said Kozin.

The absolute best way to avoid heat exhaustion or heat stroke is to get just two hours every day in air conditioning. However, there are ways to stay safe in your home without air conditioning.

  • Do not use appliances such as washer/dryer, dishwasher, stove during afternoon hours.
  • Keep windows and blinds closed during the day to keep the heat out.
  • Temperatures will be in the 70s for just a few hours in the early morning. Open windows when temperatures are lowest, from 4-7am.
  • Use a fan to circulate air only, do not use it for your primary cooling source. Do not sit directly in front of a fan. While you may feel cooler, it can actually dehydrate your body quicker, increasing your risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
  • Place a cool washcloth on your head and the back of your neck. Take periodic cool baths or showers.
  • Most importantly, check on those who don’t have air conditioning at least twice each day.

Signs of heat exhaustion include feeling faint, body aches, stomach pain, nausea, and elevated body temperature. Heat stroke on the other hand is an emergency situation and can be life threatening. Signs and symptoms to watch for include shock, unconsciousness, and seizures.

Polk County Health Department to Hold Free Adult Screening Day

Thursday, June 19, 2014

On Wednesday, August 21 from 8-11am, Polk County Health Department will hold an Adult Screening Day at 1907 Carpenter Avenue in Des Moines where adults can receive free diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol and dental screenings.

These screening tests can provide valuable information about your health and give you the opportunity to catch a developing disease, such as diabetes or heart disease, early enough to do something about it and prevent serious complications.

No appointment is needed, please fast for 8 hours prior to screening for most accurate results. Call Sarah at 286-3895 with questions.

Cryptosporidium cases continue to rise in Polk County: Prevent spread in schools

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The number of cryptosporidium cases in Polk County has continued to rise to over 170 cases since early July. This parasite causes severe diarrhea for up to 30 days. So far this outbreak has been spreading through contaminated recreational water, but it can also be spread from person to person.

Rick Kozin, Polk County Health Department Director, said “We have been working with local swimming pools to slow down the outbreak but as summer ends we will be focusing on reducing the secondary spread of the parasite in order to keep the outbreak out of schools when classes begin. The cryptosporidium parasite is resistant to many typical disinfectants and can survive on surfaces making it possible to spread from person to person.”

Cryptosporidium can live in the intestine of humans and animals and is passed in the stool of an infected person. A person can get cryptosporidium by coming in contact with the feces of another person who has it. This can happen by changing a diaper or when a person sick with cryptosporidium fails to wash their hands thoroughly after using the restroom then touches an object or prepares food. The parasite can also be found in soil, food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with feces from infected humans or animals. A person can become infected by accidentally swallowing the parasite.

“In addition to proper pool etiquette you can reduce your risk of not only cryptosporidium but a range of other illnesses by washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and by washing fruits and vegetables,” said Kozin.

Everyone should wash their hands thoroughly often but especially before preparing or eating food, after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and before and after helping someone who has used the bathroom or has diarrhea. Because fecal matter and the cryptosporidium parasite are microscopic, fecal contamination is usually not visible to the eye.

See your health care provider if you suspect you have a parasite illness or if you are in poor health, have a weakened immune system or are pregnant. These people and young children are at higher risk for more severe and prolonged illness or dehydration. To learn more about cryptosporidium visit http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/crypto/

Polk County Health Department prevents lead poisoning through home repair assistance

Thursday, June 19, 2014

As you prepare to get your older children ready for school, it’s time to maximize your toddlers ability to have lifelong learning by making sure they live in a lead safe house now. The Polk County Health Department’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program can provide financial assistance to eligible families who have lead hazards in their home. For many families this means new siding, windows and doors and most families pay nothing for these repairs.

Rick Kozin, Polk County Health Department Director said “lead poisoning can cause permanent brain damage in young children and is one of the top three preventable causes of mental retardation. Because lead-based paint is the primary source of lead poisoning it is 100% preventable.”

Lead based paint is usually found in homes that were built before 1978 and becomes a hazard when it starts to peel or chip off the walls or window sills and becomes easy for young children to ingest. Polk County has a large number of homes built before 1978 and in some of our neighborhoods, the rate of children who are tested for lead poisoning with elevated blood levels is 3 to 8 times greater than the national lead poisoning rate.

“The best way to prevent lead poisoning in young kids is to remove the lead-based paint hazards from their home. The Metropolitan Partnership for Lead Safe housing can help pay for those repairs,” said Kozin.

Families who have a home built before 1978 and have a child under 6 who lives in or visits the home for at least 60 hours each week can check into the program. The family must live in Polk or Dallas counties and be current on mortgage, utilities and taxes. Call the program to see if you meet eligibility at 286-2115 or visit http://www.metroleadsafe.org.

To find out more about the Polk County Health Department’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program and what they can do to fix your lead hazards and provide a lead safe home for your family, please call 286-2115 or visit http://www.metroleadsafe.org

Cryptosporidium cases rising in Polk County: Swimming pool etiquette can reduce spread

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cryptosporidium is one of the most frequent causes of waterborne disease among humans in the United States and Polk County is seeing far higher numbers than usual, with 68 cases so far in July compared to just 6 in July 2012. This parasite is most commonly spread through drinking water and recreational water and can cause watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, dehydration, nausea and vomiting with symptoms lasting 2-4 weeks. Most people who have a healthy immune system can manage diarrhea by drinking plenty of fluids and will recover without treatment.

Rick Kozin, Polk County Health Department Director, said “because cryptosporidium is very tolerant to chlorine disinfection, it is not uncommon to see more cases in the summer months if people are not following proper etiquette and safety precautions when in pools and recreational water. This year we’re seeing more cases than usual and earlier than usual.”

Cryptosporidium can live in the intestine of humans and animals and is passed in the stool of an infected person. A person can get cryptosporidium by coming in contact with the feces of another person who has it. This can happen by changing a diaper or when a person sick with cryptosporidium fails to wash their hands thoroughly after using the restroom then touches an object or prepares food. The parasite can also be found in soil, food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with feces from infected humans or animals. A person can become infected by accidentally swallowing the parasite. To prevent the spread of cryptosporidium in pools, fountains and lakes follow these tips:

  • Do not swim if you have diarrhea (this is essential for children in diapers). If you have been diagnosed with cryptosporidium or another parasite do not swim for at least 2 weeks after diarrhea stops.
  • Shower before entering the water.
  • Wash children thoroughly (especially their bottoms) with soap and water after they use the toilet or their diapers are changed and before they enter the water.
  • Take children on frequent bathroom breaks and check their diapers often.
  • Change diapers in the bathroom, not at the poolside.
  • Avoid swallowing pool water.

“In addition to proper pool etiquette you can reduce your risk of not only cryptosporidium but a range of other illnesses by washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and by washing fruits and vegetables,” said Kozin.

Everyone should wash their hands thoroughly often but especially before preparing or eating food, after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and before and after helping someone who has used the bathroom or has diarrhea. Be sure to scrub fruits and vegetables rather than just rinsing with water.

See your health care provider if you suspect you have a parasite illness or if you are in poor health, have a weakened immune system or are pregnant. These people and young children are at higher risk for more severe and prolonged illness or dehydration.

To learn more about cryptosporidium visit This Link

New Vaccination Requirement for 7th Grade Iowa Students

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Beginning with the 2013-2014 school year the State of Iowa will require all students entering 7th grade and who are born on or after September 15, 2000 to provide proof of an adolescent Tdap booster vaccination before enrollment. This booster vaccination will protect students from tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).

Click Here for the full press release.

Diarrheal Illness Common Symptom of Other Parasite Diseases

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cyclospora isn't the only parasite that can cause diarrhea and stomach pains. Cryptosporidium is one of the most frequent causes of waterborne disease among humans in the United States. This parasite is most commonly spread through drinking water and recreational water and can cause watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, dehydration, nausea and vomiting with symptoms lasting 1-2 weeks. Most people who have a healthy immune system can manage diarrhea by drinking plenty of fluids and will recover without treatment.

For more information on this issue Click Here.

First Human West Nile Virus Case of 2013 in Iowa

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced the first confirmed human case of West Nile virus disease in Iowa of 2013. The case is a male middle-aged adult (41 to 60 years of age) from Linn County, who is recovering. “This case is a reminder that West Nile virus is out there and Iowans should be taking proper precautions to protect against mosquito bites,” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “Especially going into the holiday weekend when many of us will be spending time outdoors, it’s important to use mosquito repellant and to rid your yards of mosquito breeding areas.”

West Nile virus is transmitted through mosquito bites. The best way to prevent the virus is to eliminate mosquito breeding areas and to use insect repellent when outdoors. Iowans should take the following steps to reduce the risk of exposure to West Nile virus:

  • Use insect repellent with DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Always read the repellent label and consult with a health care provider if you have questions when using these types of products on children. For example, DEET should not be used on infants less than 2 months old and oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3 years old.
  • Avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, shoes, and socks whenever possible outdoors.
  • Eliminate standing water around the home because that's where mosquitoes lay eggs. Empty water from buckets, cans, pool covers and pet water dishes. Change water in bird baths every three to four days.

Approximately 20 percent of people infected with West Nile virus will have mild to moderate symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches and vomiting. Less than one percent of people infected become seriously ill and rarely, someone dies.

Since West Nile virus first appeared in Iowa in 2002, it has been found in every county in Iowa, either in humans, horses, or birds. In 2012, there were 31 human cases of West Nile virus and no deaths.

For more information about West Nile virus, visit This Link.

New Study Shows HPV Vaccine Helping Lower HPV Infection Rates in Teen Girls

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A new study looking at the prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV) infections in girls and women before and after the introduction of the HPV vaccine shows a significant reduction in vaccine-type HPV in U.S. teens. The study, published in [the June issue of] The Journal of Infectious Diseases reveals that since the vaccine was introduced in 2006, vaccine-type HPV prevalence decreased 56 percent among female teenagers 14-19 years of age.

Click Here for the Full Article

Measles Epidemic in Wales tops 1,000 Cases

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Public health officials warn that tens of thousands of children and young adults across Wales remain at risk. The number of cases in the Swansea measles epidemic has topped the 1,000 mark. Public Health Wales says the figure now stands at 1,011 but added that about 5,000 youngsters in the area aged between 10 and 18 still need vaccinating.

Click Here For Full Article

Eliminate Breeding Mosquitoes in Standing Water to Reduce Disease Risk

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Des Moines, IA – Mosquitoes that can carry West Nile Virus will be breeding in the standing water from the recent heavy rains and warm temperatures. Polk County Public Works will begin its annual “Mosquito Control Spray Program” the first week of June but the public can take steps to reduce mosquitoes in their neighborhoods.

Click Here For Full Release

Polk County Health Department to Host Unveiling of Inspirational Artwork by Local Artist

Thursday, June 19, 2014

On May 17th, from 5-8pm the Polk County Health Department is hosting a reception to unveil the first of six paintings to be completed over the next two years. “Bike Club” is a 6' x 11', oil on canvas painting by local artist, Dick Shook, of a group of cyclists making their way along a rural bike path. The series of paintings is intended to motivate visitors to be more physically active.

Click Here For Official Press Release

Polk County Health Department Hosting Heart Attack Risk Event

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Polk County Health Department will host a free heart attack risk screening event on May 8 from 8-11:00 am at the Polk County Health Department to help women understand their risk for having a heart attack. The Polk County Health Department has been awarded $10,000 from the Office on Women’s Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office to increase the number of Latino women in Polk County who recognize heart attack symptoms, call 911 when experiencing heart attack symptoms, and increase heart healthy behaviors. The Spanish language awareness campaign, “Know Your Heartbeat (Conoce tu Latido)” started in February.

Click Here For Official Press Release

Polk County Health Department Receives Adult Immunization Grant

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Polk County Health Department has received a $10,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Vaccine Program Office and JBS International, Inc. to increase vaccination rates among adults in Polk County, specifically the Tdap vaccination that protects against whooping cough (pertussis), diphtheria, and tetanus. Immunizations are proven and safe ways to avoid many contagious diseases, yet most Polk County adults are not up to date on their immunizations.

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Free Colorectal Cancer Screening Offered by Polk County Health Department

Thursday, June 19, 2014

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and the Polk County Health Department is participating in a free and ongoing colon cancer screening program. The Iowa Get Screened: Colorectal Cancer Program helps save lives from one of the most deadly, yet most preventable diseases by providing free colorectal cancer screening to individuals who qualify.

Rick Kozin, Polk County Health Department Director said, “Because 7 out of 10 people diagnosed with colorectal cancer had no warning signs it is extremely important to have regular screening done. In fact if everyone aged 50 or older were screened regularly as many as 60% of deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented.”

Colorectal cancer starts as a tiny growth or “polyp” in the colon (large intestines) or rectum. Screening gives doctors a chance to find and remove polyps before they turn into cancer. Most people have no symptoms at all but some people can have symptoms that include blood in their stool, belly pain for no clear reason, or unintentional weight loss. People who have a close family member who has had colorectal cancer are at a higher risk of developing it as well.

“Getting regular screenings, living a healthy lifestyle that includes healthy eating and exercise, and knowing your family history are the best ways to reduce your chances of dying from colorectal cancer” said Mr. Kozin.

Even though colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. only 64% of Iowans aged 50 and over have ever been screened. Everyone over age 50 should be screened. People who are younger than 50 and have had signs or symptoms, have a close relative who has had colorectal cancer, or has ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease or inflammatory bowel disease should be screened.

The Iowa Get Screened program is funded by the Iowa Department of Public Health. To participate in the free screening program individuals must be between the ages of 50-64, be uninsured or underinsured, have a household income of up to 250% of the federal poverty guidelines, and have not previously been screened for colorectal cancer. For more information or to see if you qualify call 286-2192.

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Gonorrhea Becoming Resistant to Antibiotics

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The most common sexually transmitted diseases in Polk County are gonorrhea and Chlamydia and both are usually treated easily with antibiotics. However, gonorrhea has been developing a resistance to antibiotics and doctors are now left with one antibiotic treatment option, an option that has also showed signs of resistance. If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause pelvic inflammation, severe pregnancy complications and female infertility.

Mr. Kozin said “Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that until recently has been easily treated with antibiotics. Resistance to commonly used antibiotics to cure the infection was detected several years ago in Japan and has spread to Europe and now North America.”

The Polk County Health Department tracks and investigates all cases of HIV, syphilis, Chlamydia and gonorrhea in order to ensure individuals who may have been exposed are treated in an effort to reduce the spread. Some STDs, such herpes and genital warts (HPV) cannot be cured but others, such as Chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea are still treatable but possibly not for long.

“Most sexually transmitted diseases can be prevented by practicing safe sex, which includes using a condom every time, limiting the number of partners you have, and knowing who your partners are. If left untreated STDs can be passed to others and can cause permanent health problems, such as infertility, dementia and even early death,” said Rick Kozin, Polk County Health Department Director.

Many STDs have no signs or symptoms so anyone who is sexually active should be tested at least once a year for STDs. Some people, like men who have sex with men, should be tested more frequently. Many people, especially teens and young adults, do not practice safe sex consistently. Public health professionals know that with high numbers of diseases, like Chlamydia, it only takes one time having sex without a condom to contract an STD.

“Kids are exposed to sex at younger and younger ages through TV, the internet and even their friends so it’s not a surprise that this is leading to kids having sex at younger ages. Research shows that parents have the largest impact on a child’s decision making so it’s important to start having conversations about your family’s values and healthy choices frequently and at a young age,” said Kozin.

The Polk County Health Department offers confidential STD testing and treatment. For tips on starting a conversation with your kids visit http://www/polkcountyiowa.gov/health/.

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Polk County Receives Funding for Women's Heart Health

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Polk County Health Department has been awarded $10,000 from the Office on Women’s Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office to increase the number of Latino women in Polk County who recognize heart attack symptoms, call 911 when experiencing heart attack symptoms, and increase heart healthy behaviors. The Spanish language awareness campaign, “Know Your Heartbeat (Conoce tu Latido)” will begin in February.

Rick Kozin, Polk County Health Department Director said “Even though heart disease is the number one killer among women, Latino women are less likely to recognize heart attack signs. Only 53% said that they would call 911 if they thought they were having a heart attack.”

On average one woman dies of a heart attack every minute in the U.S. and risk increases between ages 50 to 60. In men the most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. While this is true with women, they are also more likely to experience other symptoms, such as shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, unusual fatigue, and pain in the back, shoulders, and jaw.

“Because a heart attack can happen quickly, it is important that in this campaign we work directly with Latino community leaders to reduce the barriers that prevent women from calling 911. We want women to recognize that they might be saving their own life and that it is not a burden on others to call 911,” said Mr. Kozin.

The activities that the Polk County Health Department will undertake are designed to educate women on the range of symptoms of a heart attack in women; empower women to call 911 to save their own life; empower bystanders to act to save the lives of their sisters, mothers, and friends; and encourage women to adopt new behaviors to improve their health. The campaign will work directly with the Latino community through La Ley, La Reina, El Latino, health care providers and advocates. To learn more visit www.womentshealth.gov/heartattack/.

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Staying Home When Sick and Handwashing Can Reduce Spread of Flu

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Influenza season is underway and expected to be more severe than previous years. While flu vaccinations are the most effective ways to prevent influenza, staying home when you are sick and frequent handwashing are alternatives that have proven effective at reducing the spread of disease.

Rick Kozin, Polk County Health Department Director said, “During the H1N1 pandemic when vaccine was not readily available we worked very hard at spreading the message that staying home when you are sick and frequent handwashing can help reduce the spread of disease. Consequently, we saw a decrease in school absentee rates and a less severe pandemic than was anticipated.”

Influenza is an airborne virus that spreads when an infected individual coughs or sneezes so can easily be passed from person to person. The easiest way for germs to enter our body is when we touch our nose or mouth with unclean hands. Wash hands frequently for at least 20 seconds using soap and warm water.

“Washing your hands is an effective way to stop germs from entering your body. We hope that anyone unfortunate enough to get sick will take the necessary steps to make sure no one else gets sick ,” said Mr. Kozin.

If you have influenza and go to work, school or daycare you are not only bringing irritating coughs, sneezes and sniffles, you are putting others at risk of catching influenza. Some people, like young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions are at higher risk for complications like pneumonia, hospitalization or even death.

“If you have symptoms that include fever, chills, headache, runny nose, weakness or fatigue, cough, diarrhea or vomiting you should stay home from work, school or daycare. You are most contagious when you have a fever or for about five days after your symptoms appear,” said Mr. Kozin.

The best way to recover from the flu is to stay home, get plenty of rest, drink a lot of fluids, and treat symptoms such as fever and cough with over the counter medications. Local hospitals are asking community members to refrain from visiting emergency rooms for non-emergent medical care. Instead individuals experiencing non-life-threatening illnesses who are unable to see their primary care doctor should seek treatment from a local urgent care or walk-in clinic. Flu vaccinations are still available at the Polk County Health Department.

Polk County Health Department to Hold “Diabetes Screening Day”

Thursday, June 19, 2014

On Wednesday, January 9 from 8-11:00 am, Polk County Health Department will hold a “Diabetes Screening Day” at 1907 Carpenter Avenue in Des Moines where you can get a free diabetes screening and access to resources to manage or prevent diabetes.

“Untreated diabetes can cause debilitating consequences that can affect your every-day life such as losing a foot or leg to amputation or becoming blind. Imagine not being able to take your dog for a walk, not reading to your grandchild a bedtime story, or not having a healthy baby,” said Rick Kozin, Polk County Health Department Director.

At Diabetes Screening Day you will get a free blood glucose screening and get connected to resources and programs that can help you better manage or prevent diabetes. If you have diabetes you can live a normal life by improving nutrition, using medications appropriately, and incorporating physical activity into every day.

“We know that early detection of diabetes symptoms and treatment can decrease the chance of complications from diabetes. But, we also know people need information and a plan to improve their eating and activity habits,” said Leah Gabriel, ARNP, Polk County Health Department Nurse Practitioner.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health there are 120,000 people in Iowa who are living with diabetes and don’t know it and an additional 670,000 people in Iowa who have pre-diabetes. The main reason that many cases of diabetes do not get diagnosed is because many of the symptoms seem so harmless. Symptoms include frequent urination, excessive thirst, extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, fatigue, irritability, and blurry vision.

Screenings will be available, free of charge, to any Polk County resident. It is recommended that you fast for 8 hours and bring all prescriptions and over the counter medications that you are taking. Patients diagnosed with diabetes could be eligible for free care, except for medications. You will also receive assistance in finding additional free or reduced-cost medication and supplies.

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Contact Us

Phone: (515)-286-3798
Fax: (515)-286-2033
Toll free: 866-209-1300
Email:
healthdept@polkcountyiowa.gov


Address: 1907, Carpenter Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50314