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CF alumni discuss public health issues

Chenango Forks alumni Matt Laine and Josh Phelps, both public health sanitarians employed by the New York State Department of Health visited Deb Daniels’ classes to discuss their careers at the NYSDOH and pass along helpful information.

Laine, class of 2008, works in the Food Service and Rabies Prevention program and regularly visits and inspects restaurants and other establishments that serve food to the public. While fines for violations can cause a big problem for businesses, to the tune of $500 per day according to Laine, closures due to violations are rare and only are for businesses that refuse to comply.

The job of food safety inspectors is to mitigate the instances of food-borne illnesses. Roughly one in six Americans will get a food-borne illness every year, according to NYSDOH statistics, with employee hygiene being the leading cause.

The NYDOH offers a food safety course that is required by all persons seeking to open a restaurant and available for anyone who works in one.

Phelps, class of 2003, works in the Tick-Borne Disease and Zika, Swimming Pools and Children’s Camps program. Phelps discussed his research and on tick-borne illnesses, which currently is a growing problem in upstate New York.

Phelps discussed the three most prominent breeds of ticks, their life stages and how they feed with the classes. He also discussed the various tick-borne illnesses and their symptoms, as well as how to properly remove a tick to decrease the likelihood of infection.

According to Phelps, a tick has to be attached for 36 hours or more to transmit diseases such as lyme, anaplasmosis or babesiosis. Lyme and anaplasmosis have similar symptoms that include; chills, fever, fatigue, arthritis, paralysis, difficulty concentrating and migraines. It is recommended that if you remove a tick from your body, to put it in a container and see your primary care doctor for testing.

To prevent tick bites, using a repellant with either permethrin, DEET, or even natural products containing essential oils such as geranium, cedar or lemongrass are effective when coupled with wearing long sleeves and pants, socks and closed-toe shoes.

To further prevent infection, Phelps suggested to put clothes immediately in the dryer on a high setting for 20 minutes when returning home, do a body check of your arm pits, groin, back, behind your knees and neck, and take a hot shower within two hours of arriving home. Phelps also suggested ways to mitigate tick infestations in your yard by keeping your grass cut short, removing leaf litter, creating a barrier of wood chips or gravel and fencing in your property. 

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