Flu-associated death in Franklin County

Debbie Blank | The Herald-TribuneBrookville board members (from left) Jennifer Profitt and Joy Bishop and health officer Dr. Michael Fain listen to comments about the written reports. Two more board members are needed. Interested county residents who are able to attend quarterly meetings on Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. may contact the supervisor at 765-647-4322.

BROOKVILLE – One flu-associated death was reported by Franklin County Health Department supervisor Angie Ruther, R.N., in the April-June quarter. She said at the July 9 board meeting, "He was elderly and I think he had COPD."

Ruther investigated 16 other communicable diseases in the second quarter. "That was a new one," she said of Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne illness usually seen in tropical areas. The affected woman "had been to southern Florida. It is very similar to Lyme disease – severe aches, pains, headaches, sensitive to light. She had a lot of muscle and joint pain still." Despite taking antibiotics, "it can drag on."

"A little boy here in town" was diagnosed with Lyme disease, caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and transmitted to humans through the bite of infected black-legged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and a characteristic skin rash. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart and nervous system, according to the CDC.

"He'd been camping a week or two before," the supervisor said. Nurse Mary Ellen King, R.N., added the teen "was actually hospitalized. He was very sick."

Health officer Dr. Michael Fain advised, "Anybody that comes in with a tick bite ... put them on Doxy (the antibiotic doxycycline hyclate) and move on." Of Lyme disease, he said, "We're still considered a low-incidence area."

Eleven animal bites were reported. One woman was nipped when she tried to give water to a raccoon. Two county residents ended up at the Margaret Mary Health emergency room after encountering bats, one in a laundry room, the other in a bedroom.

The Indiana State Department of Health recommends prophylactic rabies vaccines for persons bitten by raccoons, bats and skunks, the supervisor said.

The other communicable diseases on her report were two cases of salmonella and one of campylobacter.

King's report showed one hepatitis A case. "My other four are probably false positives."

After FCHD received a phone complaint about garbage outside a South Toner Street, Laurel, home, Fain and King plus several Franklin County Building Department employees inspected the residence June 13.

King said two police officers and the fire chief met the group at the home. "One of the co-owners jumped out of the top window and they had to tase him four times before they could catch him." King said she offered a female there "the help that she needed (resources) and she refused to do it," yelling at the nurse instead.

"We were in there less than 10 minutes."

According to Fain, there was "pooled urine everywhere, cigarettes and body hair all over the bathroom floor."

Photos of black toilets and other dirty areas were passed to board members.

King said, "Healthwise, it was not habitable." She saw "broken windows, ceilings falling down, mold growing everywhere, the smell was horrendous. ... Because of the amount of feces, urine and mold ... it was one of the worst places I've been to."

According to Fain, "You couldn't breathe. You needed a respirator. That place is a threat to public safety." He added, "They are selling drugs out of the house. The cops have been called there several times."

Attorney Gene Stewart, who advises FCHD, is working through the legal system to get the building condemned, then it will be demolished, according to Ruther.

Sanitarian Joe Meier, who was absent, investigated three complaints of possible sewage leaks in Whitewater Township, Andersonville and on Chapel Road, according to his report. Sanitarian David Fehlinger explained the Chapel Road problem: "The water was running onto the road and continued to soften the road." The road couldn't be repaired because of the constant wetness. The owner of the adjacent property said his septic system was in the backyard. "This was either a spring or water running off of a field. I'm not sure who's going to take care of it. Somehow they have to reroute the water ... so they can repair the road."

The health officer asked Fehlinger about a bed-and-breakfast inspection. The sanitarian explained there are three B&Bs in the county: Hickory Road Inn, Batesville; The Hermitage, Brookville; and Metamora Inn.

Fain asked the difference between B&Bs and "air B&Bs," homes and apartments occasionally rented online by owners. Fehlinger answered, "Air B&Bs don't serve food." Fain said, "It's very difficult to track air B&Bs" to get them to pay county innkeepers taxes.

Board member Joy Bishop, Brookville, recounted a recent scam. An older couple, planning on attending a Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, graduation, arrived in Brookville with an air B&B receipt through www.booking.com that showed Bishop's address. She has never rented the home. A scammer put it on the website and received the payment.

"There's more to the story." After a long phone call with www.booking.com to get her home removed from the site, the company wanted $600.

Public health coordinator Faye Hay announced she asked Sheriff Peter Cates to organize an active shooter training and Reid Health, Richmond, workers may possibly present a Stop the Bleed training for county government center employees.

Two Microsoft SurfaceGo laptops and a portable water filtration system for emergencies have been provided to the department by the ISDH District 9 Healthcare Coalition, Scottsburg.

After conducting a POD (point of dispensing emergency medication) drill May 9 at a chosen church, Hay observed, "I want to say how wonderful Metamora Church of God is. They do so many things for the community." In addition to volunteering the building in case of a mass health crisis, members recently have served food to volunteers searching for a river drowning victim and missing autistic girl.

Debbie Blank can be contacted at debbie.blank@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.

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