Scroll down to view the following topics on this page including Lead Poisoning, West Nile Virus, Food Establishment Concerns, Household Hazardous Waste, Medication Disposal, Air Quality Index, Water Quality Testing, Radon Awareness, Rabies, Bed Bugs, and Mold:
Lead is a harmful metal that can affect how your child grows and develops. It can be found in homes and other items around your home. Is your child at risk for lead poisoning?
Children can be exposed to lead by breathing or swallowing lead or lead dust. In children, lead exposure can cause:
- Brain and nervous system damage
- Learning and behavior problems
- Slowed growth and development
- Hearing and speech issues
Lead poisoning is 100% preventable. Lead may be on the loose in your home. Learn to spot the signs of lead in your home.
More than 300,000 homes in Nebraska still have lead-based paint. If your home was built before 1978, it may have lead based paint.
- Peeling paint and dust in homes built before 1978
- Soil around a home that has lead-based paint
- Dust or residue on clothing from jobs or hobbies
- Older water pipes and fixtures
- Some spices, candies, and foods that are brought in from other countries
- Some home remedies and cosmetics (such as make-up) from other countries
- Products like glazed pottery, cookware, toys, and jewelry
- Recalled items
- Visit your doctor and have your child tested for lead
- Keep children away from chipping and peeling paint
- Wash hands and toys often
- Wipe down window sills and mop floors often
- Get your home tested for lead
- Remodel safely so you don’t make lead dust
- Serve healthy foods that have iron, calcium, and vitamin C
- If you work around lead, do not wear work clothes or shoes into your home. Wash them separately from other laundry.
Information For Children and Families
- Protect Your Child From Lead English Spanish
- Keep Nebraska homes lead safe! English Spanish
- Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Brochure English Spanish
- Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home Booklet
- What You Should Know about Childhood Lead Exposure
- Kick Lead Dust Out
- Lead Inspection Services
- Keeping Your Child Safe From Lead in Products
- Full Lead Prevention Brochure
- Printable Posters Landscape or Portrait
- More information from Nebraska DHHS (in both Spanish and English)
If you think your child is at risk for lead poisoning, or have questions about lead, contact us to learn more.
WEST NILE VIRUS
Insects can not only be annoying during humid, summer months, but they can also carry harmful diseases. Some mosquitoes carry West Nile virus which can be spread to humans and cause illness. West Nile Virus activity is tracked by using mosquito traps in select areas and by collecting dead birds for lab testing.
West Nile Virus Health Information
West Nile virus is an arthropod-borne virus (arbovirus) most often spread by infected mosquitoes. West Nile virus can cause serious illness. It was first found in North America in 1999, and has since spread across the continental U.S.
Most people get infected with West Nile virus by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to humans and other animals. The risk of infection is highest for people who work outside or those who take part in in outdoor activities because of greater exposure to mosquitoes. In a very small number of cases, West Nile virus has been spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, and from mother to baby during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. People with certain health problems, such as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease are also at greater risk for serious illness.
Signs and Symptoms
If bitten by an infected mosquito, people normally develop symptoms of West Nile virus between two days and two weeks later. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that about 80% of human infections of West Nile virus cause no symptoms, while 20% cause flu-like symptoms, including fever, weakness, headache, and muscle or joint pain. A small number of people (less than 1%) will have severe neurological illness including headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures or paralysis which may last for many weeks or months and cause permanent neurological damage. About 10% of those who develop neurological symptoms will die.
The best way to avoid West Nile Virus Disease is to prevent mosquito bites.
- Use insect repellents (bug spray) when you go outdoors. Those which DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection.
- Wear long sleeves and pants from dusk through dawn when many mosquitoes are active.
- Install or fix screens on windows and doors. If you have it, use your air conditioning.
- Help lower the number of mosquitoes around your home. Empty standing water from containers such as flower pots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and bird baths.
West Nile virus prevention activities are possible through funding provided by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
- For more information visit the CDC website here.
- American Mosquito Control’s 3 D’s of Protection Handout
- Scout Activity Program for Mosquito Protection
FOOD ESTABLISHMENT CONCERNS
For food establishment concerns in the Four Corners District, contact the Nebraska Department of Agriculture at (402) 471-2341.
For more information on Food Safety and recent food recalls click here.
HOUSEHOLD HAZARDOUS WASTE
Four Corners Health Department each year applies for grand funds to hold a household hazardous waste event in the spring. Funding has been granted through the Nebraska Environmental Trust. Events are being scheduled and dates will be released soon.
Items typically taken at these events include:
|PaintBatteriesAcid / SuppliesLawn Chemicals||Antifreeze / OilLight BulbsMercuryPesticidesMiscellaneous|
WATER QUALITY TESTING
Four Corners has water testing kits available. Please contact us for instructions on how to find one. We do not test water onsite.
AIR QUALITY INDEX
To check the current air quality index, click here.
Contact Four Corners to find a radon kit near you. They are available for residents in Butler, Polk, Seward, or York counties. Radon test kits are available year-round. However, it is best to test your home when you don’t have windows / doors open (such as when your heat or air conditioning is running).
What is radon? Radon is a colorless, tasteless, odorless gas. It is found in the uranium in the soil that decays to radium, then to radon.
Where does radon come from? Radon comes from the soil, rocks, and minerals. It rises through the soil and air.
What does radon do to me?
- Increases risk of lung cancer.
- Gets trapped in your lungs and causes tissue damage.
- Linked to 15,000 to 20,000 lung cancer deaths a year; second only to smoking.
Who is at risk?
- Smokers have a 15 times greater chance of developing lung cancer.
- Children, because their lungs are still developing and are sensitive.
Where can I get a Radon Test Kit?
- Four Corners Health Department
- Polk County Health Department
- Seward UNL Extension Office
- Butler County Health Care Center
How do I test for radon? First, pick up a test kit. Follow the directions on the test kit. Mail kit to the testing lab as directed (with no additional postage or lab fees).
Where should I place the test kit? Test in the lowest level of your house that you live in. Keep windows and doors closed for a 12 hours prior to and for the duration of the testing.
How long does a test take? A short-term test takes only 3 to 7 days to complete. Send your completed test to the lab as soon as possible. We usually recommend beginning your test on a day that allows you to finish and mail your test kit to the lab on Monday.
How long does it take for me to receive my test results? You should receive results within a week from mailing the test kit. During peak season, it may take up to 2 weeks to get results. You can check your results here, or contact Four Corners for help obtaining your results.
What should I do if there is radon in my home? If your short term results are higher than 4pCi/L, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NEDHHS) recommends retesting. If your second test is above 4pCi/L, contact Four Corners Health Department for mitigation guidance or NEDHHS radon website.
Rabies is a viral disease of the nervous system which can infect humans through the saliva of infected animals. Animals that may carry the rabies virus are dogs, cats, bats, raccoons, coyotes, foxes, and skunks. Rabies is passed to humans from rabid animals through bites or saliva entering an open wound. Even after exposure, rabies is preventable if given proper medical treatment. Four Corner Health Department will help citizens, concerned about the disease due to exposure, with understanding animal testing steps and to confirm if exposure to rabies was likely and if so proper medical treatment can be sought.
- Visit your veterinarian with your pet on a regular basis and keep rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all cats, ferrets, and dogs.
- Maintain control of your pets by keeping cats and ferrets indoors and keeping dogs under direct supervision.
- Spay or neuter your pets to help reduce the number of unwanted pets that may not be properly cared for or vaccinated regularly.
- Call animal control to remove all stray animals from your neighborhood since these animals may be unvaccinated or ill.
- Teach children to never tough or attempt to catch wild animals.
- Know where your children visit and make sure adult supervision is provided when they are in contact with pets that are not known to you.
For more information on rabies, visit the CDC website.
If you have been bitten by an animal, wash the wound thoroughly and seek medical attention immediately. To speak with a disease surveillance staff member, please call (402) 362-2621.
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are small wingless insects, approximately one-fourth of an inch long that feed on blood, normally during the night. Bed bugs, a problem worldwide, are resurging, causing property loss, expense, and inconvenience. The good news is that bed bugs do not transmit disease. The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection for signs of an infestation.
Where are bed bugs found?
Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms. They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed. Bed bugs have been shown to be able to travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.
What are the signs and symptoms of a bed bug infestation?
One of the easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by the tell-tale bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts while sleeping. However, these bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area. These signs include:
- The bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting.
- Bed bugs in the fold of the mattresses and sheets.
- Rusty colored blood spots due to blood-filled fecal material they excrete on the mattress or nearby furniture.
- A sweet musty odor.
For more information on bed bugs and how to prevent or treat an infestation, visit the Centers for Disease Control.
To speak with a local environmental health specialist, please call Four Corners Health Department at (402) 362-2621.
Where are molds found?
Molds are found in virtually every environment and can be detected, indoors and outdoors, year round. Mold growth is encouraged by warm and humid conditions. Outdoors they can be found in shady, damp areas or places where leaves or other vegetation is decomposing. Indoors they can be found where humidity levels are high, such as basements or showers. Indoor mold growth should be avoided. Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and indoor air. Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet. There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture.
Can mold cause health problems?
Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. Molds have the potential to cause health problems. Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions), irritants, and in some cases, potentially toxic substances (mycotoxins). Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash (dermatitis). Allergic reactions to mold are common. They can be immediate or delayed. Molds can also cause asthma attacks in people with asthma who are allergic to mold. In addition, mold exposure can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, throat, and lungs of both mold-allergic and non-allergic people.
What do I do if I find mold in my home?
The key to mold control is moisture control. If mold is a problem in your home, you should clean up the mold promptly and fix the water problem. It is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth. Depending on the size of the area affected, you may need to hire a professional remediation service to rid your home of mold. Before attempting to remove mold yourself, seek out advice from a professional. Some mold can be toxic and it is not safe to attempt removal on your own.
For more information, please visit:
To speak with a local public health professional, please contact Four Corners Health Department at (402) 362-2621.