May 14, 2008

Health Notes: City may require muzzles for biting dogs

Dogs that bite would have to be walked with a muzzle during their probationary period under an ordinance being considered by the Board of Health.

The board voted at its meeting Tuesday to ask the city attorney to draft the ordinance. While the board seemed supportive of the change, they were skeptical that it could be enforced. There is not enough city staff to follow up on complaints and ensure owners are compling with the muzzle requirement, said Marcia Fernholz, the city’s director of environmental health.

Fernholz also told the committee she is working with the police department to get quicker notification of incidents involving dog bites. Sometimes the health department doesn’t learn about incidents until well after they occurred, Fernholz said. That limits measures that can be taken to quarantine the animal and have them tested for rabies.

City/County Health Clinic

Alderman Bob Mozol reported he’s received three or four flyers in recent months talking about the city/county health clinic, which was opened in an attempt to save local governments money. Mozol was concerned not enough was being done to publicize the clinic. The flyers were sent out in response to those concerns. “Everyone knows about that now,” said Mozol, who sits on the Board of Health.

Outbreak in Unified

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is continuing to investigate the outbreak that made about 90 students and staff sick in October. Tortillas served at three middle schools are believed to be responsible for the illnesses, though no final ruling has been issued. The health department is awaiting the FDA’s final report on the incident.

New Employees

Two new health department employees were introduced to the Board of Health. Ana Stier was hired as the healthy birth outcomes coordinator and Tara Needham was hired as the new teen parenting nurse.

Stier is filling a new position created to address the city’s high infant mortality rate. A $500,000 grant from the state is paying for the position. Stier will oversee the Racine Healthy Births Healthy Families program.

Needham is replacing Diane Lange, who left the city to take a job with Racine Unified. She started on April 21.


The city’s health department worked for 2-1/2 weeks on the measles outbreak in the city in April. Twelve people were quarantined for 21 days after the case was discovered. A second case was discovered after it had been through its infectious period, so no quarantine was required.

Public Health Administrator Janelle Grammer noted that there is an aggressive response to measles because it is highly contagious. One outbreak in 1989 infected 2,200 people in Chicago and led to eight deaths.

“Our staff was like a well-oiled machine,” Grammer said. “They did everything the right way.”

Kenosha Country Club

The city’s Health Department recently got a nice surprise. The Kenosha Country Club gave the department $10,000 to help Racine women get tested and treated for breast and cervical cancer. The city had anticipated receiving $5,000 from the country club, but found out the number doubled when they went to accept the check.

The money will be used to support the city's Well Woman program. The department has screened 75 women for breast or cervical cancer through the state-sponsored service. It’s on pace to reach a goal of serving 252 women with little or no health insurance this year. For more information about the Well Woman program, call the health department at: (262) 636-9201.

Clean Water

The city will have a graduate student from England here for the next year studying water quality at beaches and in the Root River. The student has a master degrees in civil engineering and environmental engineering. He will work with the city unpaid.

The department’s current grad student, Jenny Lavender, is leaving the department after completing her master’s degree from the UW-Parkside.

Racine continues to receive international acclaim for its work on cleaning up its beaches. Julie Kinzelman of the health department, met with representatives from the United Kingdom Environmental Agency and the Scottish Environmental Agency about her work in Racine.

Racine was also chosen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the site of a national press release about a newly created beach sanitary survey. The press release will bring national attention to Racine’s clean beaches.


Here’s a note to clarify confusion: Racine residents can recycle plastics labeled with numbers 1-7.

The news came up during a Board of Health meeting where members of the board were confused about what can be recycled in the city. One member thought it was 1-5, others had given the issue much thought.

John Berge, a member of the board and president of the local chapter of the Sierra Club, said the issue gets confusing when you start looking across communities. While the city may accept 1-7, others may accept fewer numbers. The Sierra Club is hoping to standardize recycling across local communities.

Medication collection

811 pounds of medication were collected and safely disposed last month, instead of dumped in the garbage or flushed in the lake, according to Fernholz,

The city’s Health Department sponsored a medicine collection at the same time as the household hazardous waste collection in April. Sites were setup throughout southeast Wisconsin. An estimated four tons of medicine were collected throughout the area, Fernholz said.

She added that she is working with the police department on creating a secure drop-off location for unused prescription drugs. The site would have to be inside the police department because narcotics would be involved.

“We’re looking at a more permanent solution,” Fernholz said.

Board of Health meeting

The Board of Health met May 13. Dr. Mohammed Rafiullah, John Berge, Maria Morale, Alderman Bob Mozol and Alderman Ray DeHahn attended the meeting. Dr. William Little showed up about halfway through the meeting. Dr. Sarah Fouse and Mary Sollman were excused.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks to the group who gave the City 10K!