WCHD logo

Healthy people in a healthy community without health disparities


Healthy Community Compass 

 spring flower

Spring 2012

Quick Links

Facebook Page


Follow us on Twitter


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Illinois Department of Public Health 

In This Issue
2012 Public Health Month
Cottage Food Vendors Law
2012 County Health Rankings
2012-2013 New School Tdap Requirement
2012 West Nile Virus Season
Birth and Death Certificates
"Public Health Research Award"
Spring and Summer Weather Preparedness
Pollen Counts

Community Open House
Thursday, May 17, 2012

401 Division Street,
Rockford, Illinois 61104

4-6 pm


WCHD 401 Division Street
A Healthier America
A Healthier America Begins With You
(1.48 minutes)


Environmental Health 


 farmers market




A new Illinois law took effect on Jan. 1, 2012, that allows producers of food prepared in their homes to sell specific items at farmers' markets with no permit from the Winnebago County Health Department.


This new law for "Cottage Food Vendors" is an opportunity for residents to earn money by producing foods at home for sale at Illinois farmers' markets.

Sellers may not earn more than $25,000 in gross receipts in a calendar year. Sellers must register with the Winnebago County Health Department.


The Winnebago County Health Department has posted information on its website,

http://www.wchd.org about the new state law and its requirements, including:

● A copy of the law.

● A registration form with instructions.

● Information on where sellers can obtain food manager certification training, which is required by the law. 

● A list of foods that are either allowed or prohibited. 

● Food labeling requirements that must be met by sellers. Sellers must display a placard that states: "This product was produced in a home kitchen not subject to public health inspection and a kitchen that may also process common food allergens."

Food products that will be allowed for sale under the law include:

● Certain fruit-based jams, jellies and preserves.

● Fruit butters.

● Baked goods (i.e. breads, cookies, cakes, pies, and pastries).

● Dried foods (i.e. herbs and teas).


Foods sold under this new law can only be sold at farmers' markets.

Larger sellers and the foods they produce are not exempted by the new law and are still required to comply with existing regulations and obtaining proper permits.


For more information on Food Service Permits and Regulations, contact the Environmental Health Office at 815-720-4100. To report a food-borne illness to the Winnebago County Health Department, please call
815-720-4100, Monday through Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm.

Annual Pollen Count 
Commenced On
 Monday, April 16, 2012


Pollen Count Webpage

M4 Student Wins
WCHD's 2012 Public Health Research Award 


Each year WCHD encourages medical, nursing, and public health undergraduate and graduate student research to expand the evidence-base for public health practice by offering its "Public Health Research Award".

This year's Award (2012) went to Jillian Kaskavage , medical student (M4) and Sherry Falsetti, PhD (U I
Health Sciences Center - Rockford faculty/researcher) for their design and evaluation of a project entitled "Advanced Training in Mental Health: Effects on the Practice of Family Medicine Residents."

This research found that advanced behavioral health training contributes to more use of instruments for diagnosing, monitoring, and managing common behavior health disorders and may provide increased access and assistance to areas with shortages of specialized behavioral health providers.


Spring / Summer  Weather Preparedness 




Tornadoes are nature's most violent storms. Spawned from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes can cause fatalities and devastate a neighborhood in seconds. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour.

Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long. Every state is at some risk from this hazard. Some tornadoes are clearly visible, while rain or nearby low-hanging clouds obscure others. Occasionally, tornadoes develop so rapidly that little, if any, advance warning is
possible. Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still. A cloud of debris can mark the location of a tornado even if a funnel is not visible. Tornadoes generally occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

For more information from Ready.gov on what to do before, during and after a tornado, click here.


"Compass"  Newsletter
"Compass"... is a WCHD newsletter intended to provide public health partners and the broader community with information on services and resources vital to reducing preventable disease and avoidable health care costs. "Compass" strives to highlight the path of evidence-based prevention strategies and promote good health as a shared responsibility between individual healthy choices and community / public policy support to improve health at all levels.
Contact Information
Winnebago County Health Department 
401 Division Street
P.O. Box 4009
Rockford, Illinois  61110-0509 
Join Our List

Join Our Mailing List
 PH Logo

 Mike Bacon

Dear Community Resident:


Welcome to the 2012 Spring Edition of the "Compassnewsletter. 

Since the winter issue of "Compass"  County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen, based on a new Statutory requirement, appointed a seven member Mental Health Advisory Committee and asked the Health Department to facilitate their meeting.
Newly appointed Committee members include: Angie Goral, Carol Klint, Marilyn Griffin MD, Matthew Toohey, Philip Eaton, Richard Kunnert, and Susan Grans. Winnebago County is the only remaining urban area in Illinois not to have an identified local funding stream to support behavioral health services.

Mental illness, substance abuse, and developmental delays will affect more than one in four and contributes to an enormous burden for individuals, families and communities. Prevention and intervention services can greatly impede the onset or reduce the severity of these disorders. The newly appointed Mental Health Advisory Committee will be assessing the capacity of current services and gaps in such services and periodically make recommendations to the County Board on needs and systems to manage and encourage greater integration in the broader care environment. 


Happy Public Health Month,  

  Bacon's signature

J. Maichle Bacon

Public Health Administrator

Winnebago County Health Department  

 2012 Public Health Month  


Taking Small Steps Each Day Can Improve Your Health




Public Health is about helping people stay healthy. The Winnebago County Department of Public Health protects and improves community well being by preventing disease and promoting factors fundamental to good health. This is accomplished through a range of services that reach almost 70,000 clients. April is Public Health Month, and the Winnebago County Health Department encourages our community to work together to make changes to help prevent illness and live a longer and healthier life. This year's Public Health Month theme "A Healthier America Begins Today" focuses on preventing illness and enhancing overall health and well being. 


Everyone has a role to play from our own personal health habits to our community's overall health. We can achieve good health by taking simple steps in our daily routine. Over time, that can make a big difference in our health, well being and our community's health.

During Public Health Month we are encouraging everyone to raise their awareness of disease prevention and healthier living by keeping in mind the following themes:

A healthier America begins with active living and healthy eating,

A healthier America begins with living tobacco-and drug-free and preventing alcohol abuse,

A healthier America begins with preventing communicable diseases,
A healthier America begins with reproductive health and sexual health,

A healthier America begins with mental and emotional well-being. 


To read the Winnebago County Health Department's news release on Public Health Month click here.


Winnebago County Health Department is to host an
"Open House" at our 401 Division Street location on Thursday, May 17, 2012 from 4-6 pm. For more information call 815-720-4213.

2012 County Health Rankings 


Winnebago County's 2012 Overall Health Rankings


Winnebago County's overall health rankings remained about the same as last year with health outcomes in the third quartile of Illinois counties (73 out of 102 counties), according to the annual County Health Rankings by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


"This annual release of county rankings is a tool to remind us that where we live, learn, work and play greatly influences how long and how well we live. It is important to note however, in all communities health falls short of what it could be," said Mike Bacon, public health director.


Winnebago County compares well to other counties in Illinois in regards to clinical care. For example, the ratio of primary care providers to population, preventable hospital stays and diabetic screening. We also do well in the environmental area of low number of poor air quality days. We do not compare well in the area of health behaviors such as smoking, obesity, physical activity, sexually transmitted infections and teen birth rate. Socio-economic factors, such as high school graduation rates, unemployment, children in poverty, and children in single parent households, are also below the statewide mean.


It is important to get updated information each year. However, it is difficult to measure change from one year to the next. What is important is that action is being initiated to improve health. To that end, local stakeholders are working together through the Healthy Community Study of the Rockford Health Council to form nine workgroups.


"Each of these workgroups have developed intervention strategies to address contributing factors to a specific range of health problems from access to care to basic needs, to chronic disease, oral health, health equity, maternal and child health and violence and public safety," said Mike Bacon. The Rankings have served to highlight many of the same health and social and economic discrepancies that the Healthy Community Study has underlined.


The Winnebago County Health Department has prioritized improving maternal and child health in its latest Community Health Improvement Plan, "Creating Conditions in Which People Can Be Healthy...Together We Can", March 2012. These interventions target improving birth outcomes and reducing smoking and sexually transmitted infections in pregnant women. This effort requires close coordination and partnering with health care and other community-based organizations. For more information, please visit www.countyhealthrankings.org and www.wchd.org. 

2012 - 2013 New School Tdap Vaccination Requirement  


Attention Parents of Sixth and Ninth Graders 


New! - For School Year 2012-2013, all students entering sixth and ninth grades will be required to provide proof of a dose of the whooping cough (Tdap) vaccination in addition to the school physicals required at these grades.


Numerous outbreaks of pertussis (whooping cough) have occurred recently among school children in Illinois. Pertussis is easily transmitted through coughing and sneezing and may cause illness that persists for weeks to months. Pertussis does not typically cause severe illness in healthy students, but can prolong absences from school and extracurricular activities. In addition, pertussis can be transmitted from healthy students to infants and individuals with chronic illnesses, for whom pertussis can be life threatening.

Protection against pertussis begins to decrease over time. This puts pre-teens, teenagers and adults at risk for the illness. To address this increase in pertussis disease among older students, one dose of a booster vaccination (called Tdap containing tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) is required for all students in grades six and nine. However, all students in grades six through twelve should have a record of a recent dose of Tdap for their own protection.


"It's not too early to protect your child and prepare for the new school year," said Mary Weyand, RN, Family Health Supervisor for the Winnebago County Health Department. "As we are approaching the end of this school year, I encourage parents to schedule those appointments for the sixth and ninth grade physicals and shots. You will be taking steps to keep them healthy and at the same time meeting the school entry requirements." Some other immunizations that are now also recommended for this age group, include the meningococcal vaccine, a second chickenpox shot (if they never had chickenpox disease), and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine series. During flu season, it is also recommended that everyone older than 6 months receive a seasonal flu vaccine.


If a child is on Medicaid, does not have health insurance, or their health insurance doesn't cover the cost of vaccines, participating physicians or the Winnebago County Health Department can provide needed vaccinations through the Vaccines for Children Program (VFC).


For more information on the new Tdap vaccination requirement, please visit www.wchd.org or call the Winnebago County Health Department at either 815-720-4370 or 815-720-4000.

2012 West Nile Virus Season

West Nile Virus - Fight The Bite!culex mosquito


The onset of the unseasonably warm spring in Winnebago County may point toward increased mosquito activity which can lead to the risk of West Nile virus (WNV) transmission. It is still too early in the season though to know what amount of WNV activity we will have in our community this year.

Above normal temperatures appear to increase the rate of Culex mosquito production, mosquito flight activity and virus replication, thereby increasing the proportion of birds and mosquitoes infected with WNV and the risk of disease to humans.

WNV is an infectious disease that first appeared in the United States in 1999 and in Illinois in 2001. Infected mosquitoes, primarily the Culex mosquitoes, transmit WNV to humans through bites and to birds or which can store and multiply the virus.


West Nile virus is an infection that can cause serious illness, but most people infected with WNV have no signs or symptoms of illness. Those with mild symptoms may have a fever, headache, body aches, skin rash or swollen lymph glands. If West Nile virus enters the brain, however, it can be deadly. It may cause inflammation of the brain, called encephalitis or inflammation of the tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, called meningitis. Persons at the highest risk for serious illness are those 50 years of age or older.


The best way to prevent West Nile virus is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites. 

With WNV..Remember the 5 D's: 

DAWN: Avoid outdoor activity at dusk and dawn if possible. If you must be outside, be sure to protect yourself from bites.
DUSK: Mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus usually bite at dusk and dawn.
DRESS: Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin.
DEET: Cover exposed skin with an insect repellent containing the chemical DEET, which is the most effective repellent against mosquitoes.
DRAIN: Empty any containers holding standing water because they can be excellent breeding grounds for virus-carrying mosquitoes.

On April 23, 2012 the Winnebago County Health Department will once again activate the seasonal West Nile Virus hotline for the public to call and report the location of and number of dead birds. Calls from the public help WCHD determine the hot spots for WNV activity in our County. This helps the Department with door-to-door drop off of literature in high activity areas. The hotline number is 815-720-4245.

Based on nationwide experience over the past 10 years, WNV is most likely to be spread during the warm weather months when mosquitoes are most active, usually beginning in the spring and lasting until there is a seasonal hard frost. Most human cases though occur in late summer and fall.

Birth and Death Certificates  


How To Obtain A Birth Or Death Certificate


555 North Court Street


Birth Certificates

Certified copies of birth certificates can be obtained through the Winnebago County Health Department for persons born in Winnebago County, Illinois. These records may be requested and released to the mother, father, or co-parent (if listed on the certificate) person named on the certificate if over 18 years of age, and a legal guardian or representative with supporting documents.


The following information is required to obtain a birth certificate:

Name of Child:

Date of Birth:


Father's Full Name:

Mother's Full Name:

Valid state's driver's license or state identification:

Signature of requesting party:

Relationship to child:

A certified copy is $12.00 for the first copy and $4.00 for
each additional copy of the same record. For all mail or electronic copies there is an additional $3.00 handling fee.
 Please include this additional fee with your mail request.


Death Certificates: 
Certified copies of death certificates can be obtained through the Winnebago County Health Department for a death occurring in Winnebago County. These records may be requested by and released to the family or funeral home. 


The following information is required to obtain a death certificate:  

  • Name of deceased: 
  • Date of death:
  • Signature of requesting party:
  • Relationship to the deceased:
  • Valid state's driver's license or state identification

    A certified copy is $15.00 and $4.00 per additional copy of the same record. For all mail or electronic requests there is an additional $3.00 handling fee. Please include this additional fee with your mail request.  


    Certified copies may be obtained in person at:
    Winnebago County Health Department

    Vital Records Office - Suite 116 (New Location)

    555 North Court Street

    Rockford, Illinois 61103


    Monday through Friday from 8:00 am - 4:30 pm.


    Certified Copies may be obtained by mail at:
    Winnebago County Health Department
    401 Division Street
    P.O. Box 4009
    Rockford, Illinois 61110-0509


    Certified copies may be obtained electronically on-line via E-Pay.

    For more information please contact the Vital Records office at 815-720-4020. Birth and Death Certificate payments must be check, cash, money order, or electronic via E-Pay.

    Please visit our website at www.wchd.orgfor our Healthy Community Compass Archive Pages. You may also follow the Health Department on Facebook and Twitter.
    Contact Sue Fuller at sfuller@wchd.org for any suggestions on future articles or how we can improve our newsletter. 
    Contributing writers for this Edition include: Mary Weyand, Lisa Sprecher, Larry Swacina, Mike Bacon and Sue Fuller.