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Healthy people in a healthy community without health disparities


Healthy Community Compass 


Fall 2013

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In This Issue
Communicable Disease Bulletin
Get Covered Illinois
On-Line Food Inspection Reports
Lead Poisoning Prevention
Flu Shots
Great American Smokeout
4th Annual Back To School Clinic

Communicable Disease


Communicable Disease Bulletin  

Holiday Food Safety Success Kit


Everything you'll need for a festive and delicious food-safe celebration

  Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving to you and Your Family

Environmental Health Message 


Illinois Private Sewage Disposal Code

As of January 1, 2014, the Winnebago County Health Department will

be adopting the new revisions of the Illinois Private Sewage Disposal Code. The major revision this Code is the implementation of scheduled maintenance for all new/replacement septic system installations and addressing water softener discharge directly into a subsurface leach field.

November Health Observances

Public Health Preparedness Message



What You Need To Know About CO Poisoning


The Quiet Killer

Vital Signs
Director's Briefing: Testing to Prevent Colon Cancer
CDC's Director's Briefing:
Testing to Prevent Colon Cancer


"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 

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Mike Bacon

Dear Community Resident: 

Welcome to the 2013 Fall Edition of the
"Compass" Newsletter.

Understanding the Science of Violence Prevention 

Violence affects us all, but it does not have to be inevitable. The burden that violence imposes on the health of communities makes it a public health issue and reminds us that the spread of violence is not dissimilar from the spread of infectious outbreaks / epidemics. The more we recognize that violence is transmitted person-to-person, neighborhood to neighborhood, community to community, the more opportunities there are to provide new and more effective interventions.


Studies are finding that the greatest predictor of violence is involvement in a previous violent incident. Further, a person's social network is a key indicator of whether an individual will become involved in violence. This is even a greater predictor of involvement in future violence than race, age, gender, poverty or gang affiliation.


The first step in intervening, as in an infectious disease outbreak, is to find the disease carrier(s) (i.e. those previously exposed / involved in violence). This can work in all forms of violence (e.g. gun violence, domestic violence, bullying, etc).  The second step, using those trained / qualified, to develop a relationship with the carrier(s) to dissuade or mediate further use of violence. The remaining strategy then addresses the underlying social and behavioral norms and environmental factors related to violent events. 


WCHD has just released (2013) a review of "Homicide and Suicide Trends and Disparities in Winnebago County, 1968 - 2010" (see www.wchd.org, Publications). The report, for instance, finds that the homicide rate in Winnebago County for the most recent five year period (2006-2010) averages 6.4 per 100,000 pop., which is marginally higher that the U.S. rate at 5.7 and about the same as Illinois at 6.6 per 100,000 pop. The highest homicide rates over the last 40 years were in the mid to late 90's when the local homicide rates were above or near 8 per 100,000 pop. The 15 to 34 age group is at greatest risk of homicide where rates are about twice as high as the overall rate. This rate varies dramatically by race, with African-American rates for this age group being about ten-fold greater than the white rate.  The proportion of homicides involving a firearm over the last 25 years, using five year average rates, has increased significantly from 49% to 62.8% of all homicides. This has remained consistently above 60% since the mid to late 90's.


Prevention does work when the right strategies are applied.  Violent events are not random, but rather strongly related to who you hang out with which determines the likelihood for risk of violence. WCHD has an active Violence Prevention Collaborative working to promote these concepts.


Bacon's signature
J. Maichle Bacon
Public Health Administrator

 Get Covered Illinois 

Starting October 1, 2013, consumers in all states were able to apply for new affordable health coverage options granted through Affordable Care Act (ACA) that was signed into law on March 23, 2010. The State of Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace is called GetCoveredIllinois.gov and it allows for Illinois residents to apply and enroll in coverage that will begin on January 1, 2014.


Consumers will be able to get live, in-person help as they go through the process of applying for and choosing new coverage options in the Marketplace. Individuals applying for coverage can seek help from trained personnel in a variety of roles: Navigators, In-Person Counselors, non-Navigator assistance personnel, or certified application counselors. In addition, agents and brokers can also help consumers enroll in new coverage options. To read the entire story, click here

Coming In 2014. On-Line Food Establishment Inspection Reports

There is a growing trend among governmental agencies, including Local Health Departments, to have a high degree of transparency regarding the activities in which they are engaged. This is to notify you that in the coming year (sometime after January 1, 2014) Winnebago County Health Department intends to make available a summary of food establishment inspection essential findings such as critical sanitation violations on its website at www.wchd.org. The intention for this is to allow consumers to have access to inspection findings. If you have questions or concerns, you may contact the Winnebago County Health Department Environmental Health Director at (815) 720-4110. Thanks for your cooperation in maintaining the highest quality of food sanitation in our County.

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week  

Childhood lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among young children, and yet an estimated 250,000 U.S. children have elevated blood-lead levels. Elevated blood lead levels in children have been linked to learning drawbacks, behavior disorders and eye-hand coordination problems. National

Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW) was October 20 -26 and the theme was "Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future," which underscores the importance of testing your home, testing your child, and learning how to prevent lead poisoning's serious health effects. For more on the story click here 
Time For A Flu Shot  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Winnebago County Health Department recommend all individuals 6 months and older receive a flu shot. This vaccination is the single best way to prevent getting the flu. 


"It is not too early to get your flu shot. The flu season can begin as early as October, but most commonly peaks in the January or February, however, the peak may come earlier or later. Flu vaccine provided in October will give protection throughout the season. The 2012-2013 flu season began early, and provides a good example of the unpredictable nature of the flu season. You can do your part to protect yourself and those around you by getting your vaccination before flu starts spreading in our community. Influenza affects everyone differently; even healthy individuals can get the flu and it can be serious. By being vaccinated you can protect yourself from influenza and help to prevent spreading it to others," said   Winnebago County Health Department Public Health Administrator, Mike Bacon.

Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory disease that infects the nose, throat, and lungs and can lead to serious complications (ex. Pneumonia and bronchitis), hospitalization, or even death. Influenza is spread by coughing, sneezing, or nasal secretions. Anyone can get influenza but rates of infection are highest among children. For most people symptoms last only a few days. The symptoms include: fever, sore throat, chills, fatigue, cough, headache, and muscle aches. The flu also can cause certain health conditions, like diabetes, asthma, and heart and lung disease, to become worse. These conditions also put you at greater risk of flu complications. To read more on flu shots click here. 
Why Is the Great American Smoke Out Important  

The third Thursday of November annually marks the Great American Smokeout. Initiated by the American Cancer Society, the Great American Smokout encourages smokers to quit smoking - for at least one day - and to consider quitting



Still the number cause of preventable death in the U.S., smoking kills hundreds of thousands here - nearly six million worldwide - each year. And another 8.4 million are hospitalized in the U.S. each year with smoking-related illnesses. Although it can be very difficult to quit smoking, there are a variety of resources and programs - many of them totally free - to help smokers do so. Call the Winnebago County Health Department at 1-815-720-4269 for information about professionally-led quit programs and resources available locally. Or you can call the Illinois Tobacco Quitline at 1-866-QUIT-YES (784-8937) and talk with their trained counselors who will provide phone assistance and materials to assist smokers in quitting.


Don't forget that more than 47 million of your fellow Americans have been able to quit. Only about 18% of adults continue to smoke today; down from nearly 50% in the 1960's. Move into the holidays and the New Year by quitting this habit. Make 2014 your best year ever to improve your health for your family, your friends, and most of all for yourself. 






The "Head Over Heels for Good Health"
Back-To-School Health Clinic served over 100 Children on August 14, 2013. 

The 4th Annual Back to School Health Clinic, "Head Over Heels for Good Health," was held on Wednesday, August 14, 2013. The annual Clinic provides an opportunity for local children to receive school physicals, dental exams, and immunizations, which meet State of Illinois requirements for entrance into school. Also provided are vision and hearing screenings, lead screenings, and car seat safety checks. 

The 2013 Clinic provided 104 school physicals, 48 dental exams, 51 dental sealants, 137 immunizations, 24 vision screening, 20 hearing screenings, and 9 lead and hemoglobin tests. Thirteen car seat safety checks were conducted on 13 car seats in 7 cars. Five car seats were replaced due to recalls, car seat age, or other unsafe conditions. For more on the story click here.

Please visit our website at www.wchd.orgfor our Healthy Community Compass Archive Pages. 
Contact Sue Fuller at sfuller@wchd.org for any suggestions on future articles or how we can improve our newsletter. 
Contributors and writers for this edition include: Juliana Barker, Kara Biery, Larry Swacina, Larry Didier, Lisa Sprecher, Mike Bacon and Sue Fuller.