Disease Prevention & Control
Controlling infectious diseases is perhaps the oldest and most basic of all public health responsibilities. For decades it was the primary duty of local health boards. Today, it remains the job of local health departments working together with the Minnesota Department of Health.
- Disease Reporting
- Lead Poisoning
- Health at Home
- Perinatal Hepatitis B
- Refugee Health Exams
- Tuberculosis Medication Program
Who needs to report a disease?
Under state law the following professionals are required to report diseases, suspected diseases and death to the Minnesota Department of Health:
- Health care facilities
- Medical laboratories
- Veterinarians and veterinary medical laboratories (in certain circumstances)
- Any person in charge of an institution, school, child care facility or camp has the option to report a disease.
Diseases That Must Be Reported
The Minnesota Department of Health created a Reportable Disease Poster (PDF) that provides the names of diseases and time-lines for the reporting.
Additional information on reportable diseases can be found on the Minnesota Department of Health website.
How to Report a Disease
There are various ways to report a disease. Visit the Minnesota Department of Health for information on How to Report.
Call Scott County Public Health at 952-496-8555 if you have questions about reporting.
Disease Information for Child Care Settings & Schools
One resource that is very helpful for settings that serve children is the Infectious Diseases for Childcare Settings and Schools. This manual, containing information on infection prevention and fact sheets on specific diseases is now online, and available at the Hennepin County website. Call Scott County Public Health at 952-496-8555 if you have questions about the content of the manual, or any other concern.
About Lead Poisoning
Lead is a metal that is found in nature and many every-day products. When people are exposed to lead, the body does not process it and the metal builds up. Even after a small amount of lead exposure, the metal builds-up and becomes lead poisoning. There is no safe level of lead exposure for children. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and school success. Children under the age of 6 are even more at risk of getting lead poisoning.
The most important thing people can do to prevent lead exposure is to learn where lead is found. While the effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected, early identification of high lead levels can help children overcome the effects.
Lead hazards may come from the following:
- Paint: Paint used before 1978 could contain lead. If the paint is chipping, peeling, or chalking it may be a problem.
- Dust: Lead dust is the main source of lead poisoning. Lead dust mixes with household dust and can gather on surfaces, in carpets, and on toys.
- Soil and dirt: Soil around homes and apartment buildings may contain lead. Children may come into contact with lead by playing in bare dirt. Lead in the soil may enter vegetables planted in the garden.
- Water pipes and solder: Some household plumbing may contain lead solder. Lead may get into the water when water sits in pipes. If this happens, the water you use for drinking, cooking, or mixing baby formula can cause lead poisoning.
- Pottery, workplaces, and hobbies: Some imported pottery and ceramic cookware may have lead in the glaze. Lead can also be brought into the home from the workplace (painters, remodelers, welders, etc.) and hobbies (stained glass solder, bullets, fishing sinkers, etc.) that use lead.
How to Keep Your Child Safe
- Keep the places where children play clean and dust free. Regularly wet-wipe floors, window sills, and other surfaces that may contain lead dust.
- Wash children’s hands, pacifiers, and toys often to remove dust.
- Have children play on grass instead of bare dirt. Take off shoes when entering a home to avoid tracking in soil that may contain lead.
- Provide meals high in iron, vitamin C, and calcium; which health prevent young bodies from absorbing lead.
- Use only cold water for drinking, cooking, or making baby formula. Run the water 15 to 30 seconds until it feels colder.
- Don’t use fold remedies or imported, old, or handmade pottery to store food or drinks.
- If you work with lead in your job or hobby, change clothes and shower before you go home.
- Bring your children in for regular well visits.
- Ask your child's doctor about blood lead tests.
Local Public Health’s Role
Blood lead test results are sent to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). When an abnormal blood lead test is found, MDH will notify the local public health department for follow-up. A local Public Health worker will then contact the family to:
- Discuss the results.
- Give information on how to prevent lead exposure in the future,
- Discuss the possible cause of lead, and how to get the lead out of your child’s body.
- Schedule a home visit if the cause of the lead exposure is unknown.
Home Health and Safety
Good health begins at home, but there are times when a home is not as healthy as it could be. There are several bugs and bacteria that can be brought into or grown in a home. Scott County Public Health can assist with these problems by providing information and assistance.
Head lice are tiny insects that make their home in human hair. Anyone can get head lice but it is most often seen in Pre-school and Elementary aged children. Head lice is not contagious. Head lice is not a sign of a dirty house or poor hygiene. Head lice is not spread by dogs or cats. Head lice is spread by head to head contact, or sharing items like combs, hats and pillows. Head lice can be difficult to get rid of, but here is information from the Minnesota Department of Health on how to treat and remove head lice.
Bedbugs are small insects that live generally live around the bed and bite people at night when they are sleeping. The bedbugs, like the mosquitoes, bite to get blood for food. Bedbugs are brought into a home from luggage, clothing, used furniture or other items. Bedbugs are not a sign of a dirty house. Resources include:
- University of Minnesota Extension: Prevention and Control of Bedbugs
- Minnesota Department of Health: Bedbug Fact Sheet
Mold is a fungus that grows naturally. Mold growth in a home is not natural and can provide severe structure and health concerns. How serious the health issues are will depend on the person and amount of mold in the home. The key to preventing mold growth is preventing the amount of moisture in the home.
Three main ways to control mold
- Identify the water/excess moisture source that is causing the mold. Dry up the area to reduce mold.
- Use a dehumidifier to reduce moisture and reduce mold.
- Mold can be easily cleaned from hard non-porous surfaces.
Mold in Rental Property
If you are a tenant living in a unit with a mold issue, you have the right to a livable and safe unit. Visit the Minnesota Attorney General website to review section 15 on tenant rights for needed repairs: Landlords & Tenants Rights and Responsibilities. If a tenant feels that there are code violations, the city may be contacted. Scott County Public Health does not routinely do inspections.
Clean-up following floods and disasters
When there has been flooding, mold issues usually arise. The Guide on Home Clean-Up (PDF) by the National Center for Healthy Housing is a helpful resource to review to ensure your home is cleaned up safely.
Other Public Health Issues
If you have additional questions about these issues or other home public health concerns, please contact Scott County Public Health at 952-496-8555.
About Perinatal Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) can be passed from an infected pregnant woman to her child during birth. Without proper treatment and follow-up, approximately 40% of these infants will develop chronic hepatitis B infection. This can be prevented when health care providers are involved starting with pregnancy and continuing through the first year of the child's life.
Public Health's Role
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is notified about any Hepatitis B pregnant women and infants born to these women. MDH then provides the information to local Public Health departments for follow-up. In Scott County, a Public Health nurse is assigned to work with the family to help complete the medical care needed and prevent the Hepatitis B virus from spreading to the infant.
While working with the mother, the Public Health nurse will:
- Ensure the infant receives medicine, immuno-globulin, at birth
- Give the infant a hepatitis B vaccine series
- Complete blood work at one-year of age to verify the infant does not have hepatitis B.
About Refugee Health Exams
A refugee is an individual from a foreign country who desires to immigrate to the United States. Before arriving in the United States, refugees:
- Request entrance into the United States because of political, religious or tribal persecution.
- Are given refugee status by the United States
- Complete a medical examination to make sure they do not have infectious diseases, physical or mental disorders that involve harmful behaviors or current problems with drug abuse or addiction.
When a refugee arrives in the United States they are encouraged to complete full physical. Refugees that reside in Scott County, are assigned a public health nurse to help them set up an exam and find a medical home.
The Arrival Exams Include:
- Immunization assessment and update
- Tuberculosis testing
- Hepatitis B testing
- Intestinal Parasite testing
- Sexually Transmitted Infection testing
- Malaria test (depending upon country of origin)
- Lead screening for children less than age 17.
- A general head to toe examination.
About the Tuberculosis Medication Program
The Minnesota Department of Health provides medications at no out of pocket cost for people with TB disease and LTBI.
What is tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by TB bacteria, which can reproduce and spread in your body, damaging tissue. The bacteria can attack any part of the body, but most often affect the lungs.
What is Active TB Disease?
People with active TB disease usually feel sick and have weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats. People with tuberculosis of the lungs usually also have a cough and chest pain and may cough up blood. Symptoms of tuberculosis disease in other parts of the body depend on the area affected.
People who have tuberculosis in their lungs can spread the bacteria to other people. It usually takes many hours in close contact with someone with tuberculosis disease to become infected. Active TB disease is treated with antibiotics for 6 months to 2 years.
What is Latent TB Infection?
People with latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) have tuberculosis bacteria “sleeping” in their body. They do not feel sick and cannot spread the infection to others. However, people with LTBI need to receive treatment to prevent the disease from becoming active. LTBI is treated with antibiotics for 4 to 9 months.
For more information, use one of these resources: