Public Health on the Move

“Every day, our staff engage and educate the community on important public health topics.  Whether it’s raising awareness about the importance of ‘Baby Boomers’ getting tested for Hepatitis C, working with homeowners on how they can properly care for a septic system or providing HIV and STD testing and prevention education, we are ready to mobilize in a moment’s notice.  We strive to be a center of excellence for public health by preventing disease, promoting health, protecting the environment and preserving vital records in our community.  This webpage will feature just a few of our many public health outreach efforts.”

Deborah McMahan, MD
Allen County Health Commissioner

An informational media event was hosted in coordination with the Allen County Health Department, Lutheran Health Network and Parkview Health to educate the public on a common respiratory virus currently on the rise in the community.

Stefanie Paulson, MD and Tony GiaQuinta, MD joined Dr. Deborah McMahan to discuss common symptoms, transmission and treatment of RSV, or respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus.

The highly contagious respiratory virus is common this time of year in both children and adults, and usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. RSV is also the most common cause of bronchiolitis, or inflammation of the small airways in the lungs, which can often become more serious especially for children under two-years-old.

Dr. McMahan said that while RSV numbers are not monitored by the department of health, she’d started to hear from other local doctors about an uptick in cases and wanted to get the word out to help educate the community on the contagious virus. She emphasized the importance of washing hands regularly, using hand sanitizer when regular handwashing isn’t possible, and regularly disinfecting door knobs and other hard surfaces like counters, crib rails and toys to help prevent the spread. RSV is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and it can live for several days on hard surfaces.

Dr. GiaQuinta, a pediatrician with Parkview Physicians Group, spoke on the common signs and symptoms of an RSV infection, including excessive mucus, coughing, sneezing and fever. He stressed that because it is a virus, antibiotics or medications like albuterol or prednisone – a steroid often used for asthma – are not helpful in treating RSV. He said parents should not hesitate to talk to their healthcare provider about symptoms their children are experiencing, however, because doctors know what to look for and will be able to help them assess the seriousness. He also emphasized the importance of keeping children at home (and out of daycare and school) while they fight the virus to avoid further spread.

Dr. Paulson, a pediatric hospitalist at Lutheran Children’s Hospital and Dupont Hospital, discussed some ways she monitors and treats RSV in young children and when she might determine additional medical support is needed to help him or her fight the virus. She said that while most cases of RSV in children will clear up with at-home care, some young children with more severe symptoms may require brief hospitalization to get assistance in breathing with an oxygen mask or hydration through intravenous (IV) fluid replacement or a nasogastric tube (NG tube). She said that is sometimes necessary in very young children because they cannot blow their noses and have not yet developed the coordination to breath, swallow and suck simultaneously.

The Department of Health partnered with Tobacco Free Allen County, McMillen Health Center and other local medical specialists to hold an informational media event on the increasing use of e-cigarettes in youth.

Media heard from several local public and children’s health experts, educators and behavior specialists on the trends connected to the increased use of tobacco among youth, the health impacts and how parents should address it with their children.

The Department of Health partnered with the city of Fort Wayne utilities for a media event to share information on lead testing in the home after random water tests done by city utilities in several homes were found to have lead.

National Day of HIV Testing was held June 27, 2018. The Health Department partnered with Walgreens on Creighton Ave. to provide free HIV and Hepatitis C screenings to the public. Walgreens provided free incentive giveaways.

The annual workshop for certified septic system installers was held in February 2018. The Health Department staff educates installers on any new regulations/ordinances, information for repairs and alterations to septic systems, and ensures installers are up-to-date on the department’s inspection process.