Ontario County Public Health In the News


Despite the winter season, please continue to protect yourself against ticks.
- Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin. Permethrin can be used to treat boots, clothing and camping gear and remain protective through several washings. Alternatively, you can buy permethrin-treated clothing and gear.
 - Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. EPA’s helpful search tool can help you find the product that best suits your needs. Always follow product instructions.
 - Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months old or products containing OLE or PMD on children under 3 years old. 

Learn more from the CDC: Click here

To view the interview with 13WHAM: Click here

(Updated 11/29/2018)

Opioid Deaths

One Death is Too Many

Every resident lost to the opioid crisis is a preventable tragedy. In 2016, Ontario County experienced 17 opioid overdose deaths. The number of opioid related deaths jumped to 30 in 2017. As of June 2018, Ontario County had 13 confirmed opioid deaths and several more fatalities pending toxicology. The average age for an opioid related fatality for 2016 until June of 2018 was 37 years old. Each life cut short leaves loving family members and friends left to grieve.

Opioids, used to relieve pain are made of opium poppies. They work by lowering the number of pain signals your body sends to your brain. They also change how your brain responds to pain. Opioids may include codeine, fentanyl, heroin, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, oxymorphone or tramadol. Overtime, opioids can change the chemicals in your brain making you develop a powerful urge to use the drug. In an opioid overdose, high levels of opioids mask the need to breathe. The drug Narcan (Naloxone) is used to reverse an overdose.

Drug dependence develops when the neurons in your brain adapt to repeated drug exposure and only functions normally in the presence of the opioid. When the drug is withdrawn, symptoms such as sweating, nausea or vomiting, chills, diarrhea, shaking, pain, depression, insomnia and fatigue occur. The term often used to describe withdrawal symptoms is “dope sick” which is described as the worst flu you have ever had, multiplied by 10.

As a community, let us celebrate our opioid addiction success stories. Many of our residents have made a commit to quitting; they have received help from doctors, counselors and drug treatment centers and they received recovery support. Seek help if you are struggling with addiction. Local drug addiction resources include FLACRA, the Addictions Crisis Center, and the Center of Treatment Innovation (COTI) Mobile Crisis Unit. For more information and immediate assistance contact: FLACRA 833-4-FLACRA (833-435-2272), Clifton Springs Chemical Dependency Services: Outpatient Services: 315-462-1060 & Inpatient Services: 315-462-3000 or The Council on Alcoholism and Addiction of the Finger Lakes at 315-789-0310.

Preventing addiction prevents opioid deaths. Everyone has a part in preventing addiction. As a community member, reach out to a faith-based community, connect to your neighbors, volunteer, encourage and support drug prevention programs or join the programs available through the Partnership for Ontario County.

To view the article in the Daily Messenger: Click here

To view the article in the Finger Lakes Times: Click here

(Updated 10/10/2018)

West Nile Virus

One case of West Nile Virus (WNV) has been confirmed in a horse in Ontario County. West Nile Virus is spread by bites from infected mosquitoes. Like horses, humans are susceptible to WNV.

About 1 in 5 people infected with WNV will develop symptoms (fever, headache, tiredness, rash, diarrhea, vomiting, body aches). Only 1 in 150 will develop serious or life-threatening illness (severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, confusion, seizures, coma). There is no licensed vaccine for use in humans and there are no medications to treat WNV infections.

Reduce your risk of WNV by preventing mosquito bites. Remove standing water from around your home and be sure screens on windows and doors are in good shape.

While outside:

  • Avoid dusk and dawn
  • Use an effective insect repellent (https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents)
  • Keep skin covered-wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • Cover your infant's stroller or playpen with mosquito netting

If you own horses, be sure they have received WNV vaccine.

For more information: https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html

(Updated 9/27/2018)

Blue Green Algae

The presence of algae blooms is impacting the designated swim areas of Deep Run Beach (Town of Gorham) and Onanda Park Beach (Town of Canandaigua) resulting in closure of swimming in these parks. Sandy Bottom Beach on Honeoye Lake is also closed for the swimming season due to algae blooms. Please be alert and avoid contact with Blue Green Algae blooms. It is safe to swim and boat in areas of the lake without visible algae.

New Channel 13: Click here

(Updated 8/29/2018)

Tobacco 21

Tobacco 21 is a national campaign aimed at raising the minimum legal age for purchasing nicotine products to 21 years old. (Enforcement for Tobacco 21 is at the point of purchase only.)  Tobacco 21 includes all tobacco and nicotine containing products. Including but not limited to cigarettes, vaping, mod & JUUL devices, smokeless tobacco or snuff and cigars. Public policies like Tobacco 21 is the single most effective way to influence behavior. 

Why Tobacco 21?

Approximately 96% of smokers begin smoking before age 21 with the most beginning before age 16. Smokers frequently transition from experimentation to addiction between the ages of 18 and 21. Most youth get their cigarettes and vaping products from peers ages 18 to 20. Today, there are more 18 and 19 year olds in high school than in past years. Making it easier for under age kids to obtain tobacco and nicotine products. Very few 21 year olds travel within the high school social circles. Tobacco 21 will remove this source of tobacco preventing the addiction.

To view the article in the Daily Messenger: Click here

To view the article in the Finger Lakes Times: Click here

(Added 8/3/2018)

Tobacco 21 on News Channel 8

Tobacco 21 was featured on News Channel 8 on August 2, 2018. 

Click the arrow below to watch the video clip.

(Added 8/3/2018)

(Video added 8/3/2018)

Parents Beware: Vaping Appeal Growing Among Teens

In 2014, 21.6 percent of New York’s middle and high school students had used an electronic nicotine delivery system. In 2016, that number rose to 43.8 percent.  Studies show that twelfth graders who use these devices are four times more likely to smoke cigarettes within one year. Additionally, using them to try to quit smoking often results in the use of both tobacco cigarettes and vaping devices.

To view the article in the D&C: Click here

To view the article in the Finger Lakes Times: Click here

(Updated 6/12/2018)

Blue Zones pic

Essay: Report Will Show if Ontario County is Ready To Go ‘Blue’

The Blue Zones Project is a community-led, well-being improvement initiative that strives to simplify healthy lifestyle choices through permanent changes to environment, policy and social networks. Ontario County is being considered for this prestigious designation. In fact, if we are selected, we will become the first community in New York state — and the Northeast region — to earn the Blue Zones Project distinction. We would join 42 other communities in nine states that are Blue Zones Project designated.

To view the essay written by Mary Beer, Director of Ontario County Public Health in the Daily Messenger: Click here

To view the essay in the Finger Lakes Times: Click here

(Updated 5/15/2018)

Teresa and Henry

City of Geneva Helps Food Justice Find A Home        

Geneva City Council approved a $20,134 allocation to the organization, which includes, among other things, funds for a walk-in cooler and rental money for space at the Geneva Enterprise Development Center. The walk-in cooler will help to store gleaned produce during harvest season. Gleaned produce is distributed those in need during the fall harvest.

To view the article in the Finger Lakes Times: Click here

(Updated 5/10/2018)

Suicide Prevention Forum Set in Bloomfield

Ontario County Public Health, Ontario County Mental Health, The Partnership for Ontario County, Bloomfield Central Schools and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention collaborate to bring Talk Saves Lives to the Bloomfield community. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention advocate, Donna Besler lost her son to suicide. Donna Besler encourages the audience to "Seize the Awkward," follow your instincts and directly ask about suicidal ideation. Suicide prevention, mental health resources and suicide prevention training were made available to the community. Talk Saves Lives ended the forum with a question and answer panel provided by Donna Besler and Christy Richards (Registered Nurse and Health Educator for Ontario County Public Health).

To view the article in the Daily Messenger: Click here

Pictured to the right is Donna Besler and her son Brennan.

(Updated 5/10/2019)


Blue Zones

With your help, Ontario County could be a Blue Zone. Blue Zones are areas with the highest concentration of people living to 100 years or older. The Blue Zones Project uses information and data collected from these areas to help transform communities into thriving places to live, work, eat and play. Blue Zones staff work with communities to help them improve everything from work sites to parks to stores to streets to schools, all to promote the highest level of health and well-being.

Learn more about Blue Zones: Blue Zones   View Video Here

To  view Dr. Kerri Graff's Guest Essay in support of Blue Zones in the Daily Messenger: Click here

To view the April 5, 2018 article in the Daily Messenger: Click here

To view the April 11, 2018 article in the Daily Messenger: Click here

To view the April 24, 2018 article in the Finger Lakes Times: Click here

(Updated May 1, 2018)

National Public Health Week: Changing Our Future Together

April 2-8, 22018

Join us in celebrating National Public Health Week and become part of a growing movement to create the healthiest nation in one generation. We're celebrating the power of prevention, advocating for healthy and fair policies, sharing strategies for successful partnerships and championing the role of a strong public health system.

To view the article in the Finger Lakes Times: Click here

Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OCPHealth/

Follow us on Twitter: @ChooseHealthOC

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County Health Rankings

The County Health Rankings is a report from the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that breaks down health factors in nearly every county in the United States. Ontario County ranked 12th out of 62 counties for our health outcomes and 11th for both our length of life and health factors. Ontario County's obesity rates are 28% and we currently rate 24th out of 62 counties. The County Rankings validate the work we are doing through our Community Health Improvement Plan surrounding obesity.

To view the article in the Daily Messenger: Click here

To view the County Rankings for Ontario County: Click here

Flu Cases Continue To Climb

With the number of flu cases in Ontario County continuing to rise, public health officials are still encouraging people to get a flu shot.

Mary Beer, the county’s public health director, said both A and B flu strains are prevalent in the area. Most circulating strains match this season’s vaccine.

“Vaccination against flu lessens your chance of flu complications like pneumonia and sepsis (blood infection),” Beer said. “It is not too late to vaccinate.”

To view the article in the Finger Lakes Times: Click here

(Updated 2/13/2018)

Report links overdoses, Rx drugs

According to a new report from Rochester-based Common Ground Health — formerly the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency — 54 percent of people who overdosed in the nine-county Finger Lakes region in 2016 had a prescription for opioids in the previous two years.

For non-heroin opioid overdoses, the relationship was even stronger — 68 percent of people who overdosed had prior prescriptions for painkillers. The numbers are from a study period of 2014 to 2016.

To view the article in the Finger Lakes Times Click here

To view the Common Ground Health Report  Click Here

(Updated 2/1/2018)

Gleaning picture 2

Geneva Food Justice Coalition

The Geneva Food Justice Coalition is a volunteer group that collects and distributes produce for the needy. Led by co-chairs Henry Farro and Teresa Shaffer (Ontario County Public Health Nurse), the Coalition gleaned 18,535 pounds of produce from local farms in 2017, compared to 9,850 the previous year.

“We doubled everything this year,” said Farro as he spoke at Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church on Clark Street, where he serves as a deacon and which has been used as the base of operations by the group. Ontario County Public Health is very proud to work along side this grassroots effort to help provide food to those in need. 

To view the article featured in the Finger Lakes Times: Click here

(Updated 1/25/2018)

Narcan Training

Ontario County Struggles With Opioid Abuse

As overdose deaths rise, Public Health nurses teach residents the steps to provide the lifesaving drug, Narcan. Narcan is a medication used to reverse and opioid overdose. Ontario County Public Health works in collaboration with The Partnership for Ontario County to prevent drug use, FLACRA to treat drug abuse and various community agencies to administer the lifesaving drug Narcan.

To view the article in the Daily Messenger: Click here

(Updated 1/25/2018)

Flu is on the Rise This Holiday Season

CDC Warns of Increased Flu

Ontario County Public Health Director, Mary Beer urges the public to get their flu shot as soon as possible. 

Flu cases have been confirmed in Ontario County.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Ontario County Public Health warns that the number of flu cases are on the rise.  Holiday travel and family celebrations will likely cause flu cases to continue to increase.  Both A and B strains of flu have been detected.  Currently, most circulating strains match this season’s flu vaccine.

Children are at high risk for complications from influenza (especially children younger than 2 years old).  Adults over 65, pregnant women or people with a medical history of asthma, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, HIV or AIDS and cancer are also at high risk of complications from the flu virus.

The best protection against flu is vaccination. The 2017-2018 flu season vaccine includes  protection from two types of flu A and one or two types of flu B, depending on the vaccine. Unvaccinated individuals should seek out flu vaccine from their healthcare provider or local pharmacy. 

Symptoms of the flu usually occur suddenly and may include headache, fever, chills, body and muscle aches, severe fatigue, congestion and cough. Antiviral medications may shorten the length of illness and severity of symptoms.  Residents with illnesses compatible with influenza should contact their healthcare providers.

CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. Get vaccinated against the flu now. Additional strategies to prevent the flu include frequent hand washing or when not available, alcohol-based hand gels,  avoiding contact with sick people, covering coughs and sneezes and staying home from school, holiday parties and work when ill.

For more information in English: Click here

View the article featured in the Finger Lakes Times: Click here

(Updated 12/4/2017) 

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Geneva Food Justice Coalition

Ontario County Public Health is proud to support efforts to improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Geneva Food Justice Coalition has been hard at work gleaning fresh fruits and vegetables and redistributing them to groups like:

  • Families living in the Geneva Foundry contamination zone
  • Geneva Free Lunch Program
  • Geneva Salvation Army
  • Geneva Boys and Girls Club
  • Elmcrest Apartments
  • Phelps Community Center
  • Canandaigua Churches in Action

A very special "Thank You" to the Geneva Food Justice Coalition, Teresa Shaffer (Ontario County Public Health Nurse) and Henry Farro for your efforts to provide nutritious foods to people in need. (Teressa Shaffer and Henry Farro are pictured on th left. Photo credit Finger Lakes Times) 

Want to help?

Call the Ontario County Public Health if you or your service organization would like to help with the Geneva Food Justice Coalition at 1-800-299-2995.

View the article featured in the Finger Lakes Times (9/18/2017): Click here

(Updated 9/19/2017)

School bus safety

 Children's Lives Are in Your Hands

Ontario County Public Health encourages residents to share the road with school buses. Important bus safety laws to remember:

  • When a school bus displays flashing red lights, all motorists approaching the bus from either direction must come to a full stop.
  • Drivers must remain stopped until red lights are turned off and the school bus resumes motion, or until signaled to do so by the bus driver or a police officer. 
  • Simply waiting for kids to board the bus is not sufficient. Red flashing lights  must be OFF.

Section 1174 of the Vehicle & Traffic Law applies to quiet country roads and busy city streets. It also includes  four-lane roads with medians. 

View the article featured in the Daily Messenger (9/1/2017): Click here

View the article featured in the Finger Lakes Times (9/3/2017): Click here

Updated 9/3/2017

Baby Café Celebrates World Breastfeeding Week

Ontario County Public Health  works with Child & Family Resources and UR Thompson Health to provide families with parenting support, connection to community resources and no cost breastfeeding help at the Canandaigua Baby Cafe.  The Baby Cafe is open on the first and third Wednesdays of every month from 10:00-11:30 at the  Child & Family Resource center (514 South Main Street in Canandaigua). A Clinical Lactation Counselor (CLC) is available free of charge at every Baby Cafe to help mothers reach their breastfeeding goals.  All mothers are welcome to attend the Baby Cafe.

Read the entire article today! Click here

(Updated 8/3/2017)

Look Before you Locke

Look Before You Lock! 

Ontario County Public Health encourages residents to check the back seat for baby every time you get out of your vehicle. Ask your childcare provider  to call you if your baby doesn’t show up as planned. Always keep cars locked and the keys out of reach of children. If a child is missing – quickly check your car. Lastly, a car is not a babysitter. NEVER leave a child alone inside a vehicle, not even for a minute.

View the article featured in the Daily Messenger (7/19/2017): Click here

View the article featured in the Finger Lakes Times (7/19/2017): Click here

Updated: 7/20/2017

Lead Poisoning Prevention 2017 Graphic

Guest essay: Lead poisoning tests essential for children’s health

Ontario County children with high lead levels almost always have been  poisoned by lead paint in their homes after ingesting lead chips or  dust. Dust and chips can be released simply by opening a window  previously painted with lead paint. Unsafe repair practices in homes  built before 1978 can release lead dust into your home, as well. Lead  dust can poison your children.

Have your child’s blood tested for  lead, twice. For children exposed to lead, blood lead levels tend to  increase in the first two years of life and peak by 18-24 months.  Because children with lead poisoning usually don’t act or look sick, New  York State Public Health law requires all children be tested at ages 1  and 2. Repeat testing at 2 is important, because toddlers are active  explorers and put everything in their mouths. In 2016, only 50 percent  of children living in Ontario County received lead testing at age 2.

View the entire guest essay in the Daily Messenger (July 14, 2017): Click here

Updated: 7/20/2017

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Blue Green Algae

Press release pertaining to Blue Green Algae and the temporary closure of Sandy Bottom Beach on Honeoye Lake. 

View the article from the Daily Messenger (July 12, 2017): Click here


Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE's)

Every Positive Interaction With Youth Matters. Help make kids resilient!

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention notes that both positive and negative childhood experiences significantly impact adult wellness. Findings from the study note that the higher an adult ACE score,  the higher the chance of becoming a victim of violence or committing a violent act. High ACE scores are  also linked to a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, drug abuse, obesity, type 2 diabetes, pulmonary disease, stroke, cancer, heart disease and cancer. This makes ACEs  an important public health issue that merits attention and action. To know your ACE score is to know your risk.

In 2006, a group of childhood service providers, pediatricians,  psychologists and health advocates of Healthy Start in Augusta, Maine, developed a survey  to measure a person’s resiliency score. Resiliency factors like asking for help, developing trusting relationships, a positive attitude and listening to one’s feelings can  help improve a person’s life. 

Every positive interaction you have with a child has the potential to impact that child’s risk to chronic disease 20 years down the road. Foster care  workers, volunteers for Boy Scouts, Big Brother/Big Sister, sports team  coaches, community centers — these interactions matter. 

View the article featured in the Finger Lakes Times (June 28, 2017): Click here

View the article featured in the Community Health Magazine (June 28, 2017): Click here

Take the ACE and Resiliency questionnaires: Click here

Updated: 7/20/2017

Choose Health Ontario Award Presented to Geneva Resident

Deacon Henry Farro Honored for Community Work

On March 28, 2017, Jack Marren (Victor), Chairman of the Ontario County Board of Supervisors and Mary Beer, Director of Public Health, presented the Choose Health Ontario Award to Henry Farro of Geneva for his commitment to supporting nutritional health in the community.  The award was presented at the 54th Annual Safety Awards Dinner sponsored by the Ontario County Safety Council. (Submitted March 29, 2017)

Mary Krause Mary Beer Pam Helming

2017 Women Who Make America (Makers) Award

Mary Beer Wins Award
Mary Beer, Director of Ontario County Public  Health has been formally recognized for her tireless efforts in the  field of Public Health. Mary Beer, was one of ten women honored at the  March 10, 2017 award ceremony held at the Women’s Rights Historical Park  in Seneca Falls. Mary was nominated for her laser-focus on public  health needs during her tenure as Ontario County Public Health Director.  She has worked tirelessly to adopt a local law prohibiting smoking,  including the use of e-cigarettes, on County property – efforts that  have reduced smoking rates countywide. She has developed creative  programs aimed at decreasing obesity, managing hypertension, preventing  suicide, and fighting the scourge of the heroin crisis. A leader in her  field, she is an active member of the S2AY Rural Health Network working  on national accreditation procedures for public health departments in  the region. Mary also believes in the importance of volunteering. She  serves on a number of local boards and is an active Hospice volunteer,  dedicated Rotarian, and a bell choir member.

Congratulations Mary and thank you for years of services as the Director of Ontario County Public Health. (March 24, 2017)

Read the full article in the Finger Lakes Times: Click here

2016-2018 Community Health Improvement Plan

Top Three Priorities in Ontario County Identified

In 2016, Ontario County Public Health (OCPH) worked with area hospitals, S2AY Rural Health Network and other community leaders to complete a Community Health Assessment (CHA) and develop a Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). Through this effort, three priorities areas were identified.

  • Priority 1: Prevent chronic diseases (including hypertension) by  reducing the rates of obesity and tobacco use.
  • Priority 2: Increase access to preventative healthcare.
  • Priority 3: Promote mental health and prevent substance abuse.

View the full article from the Finger Lakes Times (January 3, 2017): Click here

Updated 7/20/2017)