News and Information


May10, 2018

MDH warns of fraudulent calls posing as health department

Minnesotans and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) appear to have been subjected to a "spoofing" attack. Spoofing is a practice used to falsify the telephone number or name on caller IDs to disguise the identity of the real caller.

MDH has received reports of such callers posing as MDH and requesting personal and business information, including credit card numbers. These calls have been designed to appear to come from MDH's main phone number (651-201-5700). These calls are not being made by MDH, and MDH urges recipients of suspicious calls to not give out any personal or financial information.

With the increased use of technology that allows people to make calls using the internet, spoofing has become more common.

If you get a call that seems suspicious, don't give out personal information in response to an incoming call. Identity thieves will pose as representatives of banks, credit card companies or government organizations to get people to reveal their personal financial information. The best response is to hang up and call the number on the agency's website to find out if the person or organization that supposedly called you actually needs the information.

Minnesotans can protect themselves by keeping the following in mind:

  • Legitimate public health calls do not ask for social security numbers, bank account or credit card numbers.
  • Legitimate callers should be able to provide specific, verifiable contact information, such as that of their supervisor or work unit.
  • If you have been the victim of identity theft, contact your local police department.


May 8, 2018

Ten Minnesota illnesses linked to national E.coli outbreak associated with romaine lettuce

Health officials are telling people not to eat romaine lettuce unless they are certain it is not from the Yuma region.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is working with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and public health agencies in other states to investigate an outbreak of E. coli O157 infections associated with eating romaine lettuce.

"Do not eat, buy, or sell romaine lettuce unless you can confirm it is not from the Yuma growing region," said Kirk Smith, manager of the Foodborne, Waterborne, Vectorborne, and Zoonotic Diseases section. "The Yuma growing region includes part of western Arizona and extends into the Imperial Valley of southeastern California, but does not include Salinas Valley or other growing regions in California." Product from the Yuma growing region should no longer be on sale; however, individuals should check their refrigerators for romaine lettuce that may have been grown in the Yuma region.

Approximately 135 cases of E.coli 0157 are reported each year in Minnesota. More information on E.coli 0157 and how to prevent it can be found on the MDH E.coli website


May 2, 2018

Annual Rabies Vaccination Clinics to be held on June 6, 2018

The annual rabies vaccination clinic for dogs, cats and ferrets sponsored by Olmsted County Veterinarians and Olmsted County Public Health Services, will be Wednesday, June 6. This year's rabies vaccination clinic will mark the 60th year that the event has been sponsored.  Dogs, cats, and ferrets will be vaccinated for $20 each.  Pet owners are encouraged to bring their animals within pet carrier devices or on a leash and to bring their previous rabies certificate. 

This is an excellent opportunity for pet owners to help protect their pet(s), their families, and their community from the risk of rabies. The Minnesota Board of Animal Health reports that the majority of rabies cases occur in wild animals like skunks, bats, foxes, and raccoons. Wild animals may often be a source of rabies exposure for domestic pets and livestock. The domestic pets and livestock most often reported rabid are cats, dogs and cattle.  View all the participating veterinarians, locations and hours.


April 3, 2018

Olmsted County Public Health Awards Annual Recognition Ceremony

In celebration of National Public Health Week (April 2-8, 2018) a recognition ceremony for the 2018 Public Health Award recipients was held on April 3rd during the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners meeting in the Government Center. The Public Health Awards honor individuals, groups, businesses, and agencies for their exceptional contributions in making our communities a healthier place to live, learn, work and play. 

The 2018 Olmsted County Public Health Award recipients are:

1) Outstanding Partnership Award:  R-Neighbors

R-Neighbors is an integral component in improving social connections among neighbors and organize a dozens of projects and community-wide efforts, along with civic engagement opportunities. R-Neighbors is active in a Litter Bit Better, NeighborWoods Citizen Forester Program and tree planting, and has partnered with Public Health on several creative crosswalk projects around elementary schools designed to slow traffic and improve safety for children riding and walking in their neighborhoods. R-Neighbors works collaboratively with the City of Rochester (i.e., mayor's office, Public Works, Police Department), School Administrations, Statewide Health Improvement Partnership and many others to create sustainable change to make our community safer, healthier, and more vibrant.

2) Public Health Champion Individual Award: Lynn Nelson

Lynn Nelson has been helping to promote health and wellness to our youth for 35 years. In addition to her teaching responsibilities within the Rochester School District, Lynn successfully wrote dozens of grants to purchase physical education and nutrition equipment, purchase specific items for special needs students, and to send students to national camps, Viking events, and statewide competitions. She founded the All City track meet to bring together Rochester schools, and started the Fuel Up to Play 60 (FUTP60) program as a platform to develop student leaders. She leads the Jamming Jumpers and a Hip Hop dance team who have performed at High Schools, RCTC games, and at the Eagles Cancer Telethon. Lynn's commitment to students has empowered students of all ages to understand their bodies, how to "fuel" for success, and gain confidence in themselves all while having a little bit of fun along the way. 

3) Public Health Champion Group Award: Recovery Is Happening

Recovery is Happening (RIH), an independent, grassroots, non-profit organization led and supported by the local recovery community, is focused on mobilizing resources that enhance long-term recovery from substance use issues through education, advocacy and peer support.  Prior to RIH, people struggling with addiction didn't have a resource for next steps. Now, RIH hosts many recovery support and discussion groups, and weekly programs run by volunteers and staff. Since the organization began, they have held 6 Recovery Coach Academies and trained 62 peer recovery specialists who made 727 recovery community connections. They've also trained 13 volunteers who made 1687 support calls to struggling individuals. In 2016, RIH opened two sober living homes: one for men and another for women. They also have a Recovery Parent Partners program and offer a one-year intensive outpatient treatment program. The strong and dedicated RIH staff, volunteers and committed supporters, are making a lasting difference in the lives of our families, friends, and neighbors.


March 15, 2018

New Rankings Show Just
How Healthy We Are

Olmsted County continues to rank in the top quartile for both Health Outcomes (today's health) and Health Factors (tomorrow's health) for the ninth year in a row, according to the 2018 County Health Rankings report released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.  Clinical care and individual health behaviors were areas of strength. The report shows several measures where we are extremely strong, and other measures where improvements in policies, systems, and environments could benefit the health of our residents. "All counties can take action to make improvements, no matter where they rank" says Dawn Beck, Associate Director for Olmsted County Public Health Services.  "It's not a race to the top; it's about progress toward better health for all."

The report demonstrates that where we live, work, learn and play matters to health. Good health allows people to fulfill their potential and thrive. The Rankings make it clear that good health is influenced by many factors that go beyond medical care such as the food environment, education, safety, social connections and access to physical activity opportunities – factors that we, collectively, can do something about. Minnesota is consistently considered one the "healthiest states", yet significant health inequities exist. The Rankings, along with the 2017 Minnesota Statewide Health Assessment and the 2016 Olmsted County Community Health Needs Assessment, help us look at how different conditions in our communities create or limit optimal health, and develop actions plans to address them.  One way is by investing in upstream health improvement efforts, such as the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP). This sustained funding to MN counties is essential to helping achieve long-term improvements in the conditions that lead to better health for all residents and help contain the rising health care costs.

The detailed County Health Rankings are available for viewing at 


January 30, 2018

Public Health Champion Award

Nominate Someone Today!

We know there are many people quietly committed to making Olmsted County a healthier place to live, work, work and play. The Public Health Awards Program helps us to give credit, appreciation and recognition to these extraordinary people and groups for their continued contributions and partnership efforts aimed at improving the health of individuals, families and communities in Olmsted County.

Public Health Champion Award recognizes, honors and thanks an individual, group or program whose service and activities have improved and strengthened the lives of families, neighborhoods and community. Nominations are simple, easy and convenient. Simply complete the Champion Nomination Form on or before March 1, 2018. Please consider nominating a Public Health Champion today! If you have questions, please call Kari Etrheim at 328-7424 or email:

The 2018 Awards will be presented on April 3, 2018 at the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners meeting.  All are invited to attend and help celebrate our local health champions and partners.


January 5, 2018

January is Radon Awarness Month

Because of our geography, soil and the construction of our homes, residents of Olmsted County may live in homes that have high levels of radon gas. In fact, over 55% of homes tested for radon in SE Minnesota have elevated levels. Mitigation systems can significantly reduce radon levels in your home. Radon is an invisible, odorless gas that can be harmful at elevated levels. Every home is different; the only way to know if your home has dangerous levels of radon gas is to test.

January is a perfect time to test your home for radon. Radon test kits are available at Olmsted County Public Health, 2100 Campus Drive SE, Rochester, for $21. This fee includes analysis and consultation with one of our radon specialists. Our test kit is easy to use -- just place the canister in an out of way location in your basement, open the top, let it sit for 4 to 7 days, and return to Public Health. We will follow up with you once the analysis is complete.


December 21, 2017

Four Simple Ways to Stay
Healthy this Flu Season

1. Get vaccinated -- it's not too late to get a flu shot. Flu shots are offered at numerous places all across the area. The flu shot is your best defense against influenza.

2. Wash your hands often. Use soap and water, lather and scrub! Alcohol-based hand rubs are a good alternative when soap and water are not readily available.

3. Cover your coughs and sneezes. Use a tissue to cover coughs and sneezes. Toss the tissue in the trash and then wash your hands.

4. Stay home when ill. If you become sick, limit your contact with others and stay home from work, school and other activities. Staying home helps keep our schools and workplaces healthy.


December 6, 2017

New study project dramatic rise in chronic disease costs

A new report from the Minnesota Department of Health projects that chronic disease treatment costs for Minnesotans older than 60 will increase to $16.1 billion a year by 2023, a 65 percent increase from the $9.8 billion Minnesota spent in 2014.

This study – the first of its kind conducted by any state – analyzed an extensive state database of health insurance claims to determine the number of people treated for certain chronic conditions: diabetes, hypertension and dementia. It also forecasted treatment costs related to obesity and smoking exposure, as well as all chronic conditions for people 60 or older. 

The study (1.06 MB) found that, with the exception of treatments related to smoking, more Minnesotans and a higher percentage of Minnesotans were treated for these conditions in 2014 compared to 2009.

"This is more evidence that Minnesota will not be able to treat its way out of our current primary health challenge, which is chronic disease," said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger. "Without a strong and continuing focus on preventing and managing chronic disease, both the costs and the impact on the quality of life for individuals and communities will only increase."


October 2, 2017 

Flu season is almost here!

The best way to protect seasonal influenza (aka "the flu") is to get vaccinated every year. Flu is a serious contagious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death. You have the power to protect yourself and your family this season with these three actions.

  1. Get a flu vaccine. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine as early as possible when it becomes available. A yearly flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against the flu. You can get a flu shot in a number of locations all across Olmsted County, including Public Health beginning October 11. Walk in clinic hours have been extended on Oct 11 and 12 and include both morning and afternoon times.
  2. Take everyday actions to stop the spread of germs. Try to avoid close contact with sick people, and if you become sick, limit your contact with others. When possible, stay home from work, school and other activities for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  3. Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them. If you get the flu, prescription medicine called antiviral drugs can be used to treat flu illness. Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications. Learn more about how you can fight flu this season.

It takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against influenza virus infection. You can fight the flu this season. Protect yourself and the ones you love with a flu vaccine … today.


August 30, 2017 

School Age Children Need Vaccinations Before School

Public Health and area healthcare clinics are extending their immunization hours to help meet the state law that requires students to have their vaccines up-to-date before school starts on September 5 (July 25 for Longfellow students). Until their vaccines are current, students will not be allowed to attend school.

More than 1,200 students attending Rochester Public Schools (RPS) need vaccines before school starts this fall. RPS mailed letters to families whose children need immunizations to remind them to get vaccinated. Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Medical Center and Olmsted County Public Health Services are working alongside RPS to ensure access for students who need to be vaccinated.

Parents should check their child's immunization records and schedule an appointment with their healthcare provider:

          Olmsted Medical Center: 507 288-3443

          Mayo Clinic: 507 284-2511

          Community Health Services: 507 529-0503

          Olmsted County Public Health: 507 328-7500
                    *for individuals who are under or uninsured


July13, 2017

MDH Confirms New Measles Case Linked to Outbreak

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has confirmed an additional case of measles associated with an outbreak that has been occurring primarily in Hennepin County since late March. The newest case is an unvaccinated, white adult who lives in Hennepin County and was likely exposed to measles at locations frequented by the last identified case.

The latest case visited several public locations in Hennepin, Ramsey and Carver Counties while infectious. MDH is working with those counties to follow up on as many exposures as possible from this most recent case.

Most Minnesotans – more than 90 percent – can't get sick from measles either because they have been vaccinated or have had the disease. But people who are unvaccinated are at risk for measles. Anyone who develops the symptoms of measles – cough, runny nose, fever and rash – should contact their health care provider immediately.

MDH today alerted health care providers to continue to be watchful for measles.

The newest case has been asked to stay home while potentially infectious. Several additional unvaccinated people who were exposed to this case have been identified, so there is the potential for more cases to develop, according to Kristen Ehresmann, director of infectious disease for MDH.

The latest case brings the total number of measles cases in the outbreak to 79. Health officials continuously monitor for measles and will need to see a 42-day period without additional cases before declaring the outbreak over.


June 13, 2017

Olmsted County Public Health Services Receives National Accreditation Status

The Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) announced today that it has awarded five-year accreditation status to Olmsted County Public Health Services (OCPHS). PHAB is the nonprofit organization dedicated to improving and protecting the health of the public by advancing and ultimately transforming the quality and performance of state, local, Tribal, and territorial public health departments. The national accreditation program sets standards towards which the nation's nearly 3,000 governmental public health departments can continuously work to improve the quality of their services and their performance, by promoting consistency across departments.

Since PHAB's launch in September 2011, only 6 local public health agencies in Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Health have achieved five-year accreditation status. OCPHS is the only local public health agency in the state outside of the metro area to achieve PHAB accreditation. 

"We are pleased and excited to be recognized for achieving national standards that foster effectiveness and promote continuous quality improvement," said Pete Giesen, Director of Olmsted County Public Health Services.  "The accreditation process helps to ensure that the programs and services we provide are as responsive as possible to the needs of our community.  Accreditation verifies that we have all the pieces in place, and can demonstrate accountability and credibility to the public, funders, elected officials and partner organizations with which we work."

Public health departments play a critical role in protecting and improving the health of people and communities. In cities, towns, and states across the nation, health departments provide a range of services aimed at promoting healthy behaviors; preventing diseases and injuries; ensuring access to safe food, water, clean air, and life-saving immunizations; and preparing for and responding to public health emergencies. 

The national accreditation program, jointly supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, sets standards against which the nation's nearly 3,000 governmental public health departments can continuously improve the quality of their services and performance. To receive accreditation, a health department system must undergo a rigorous, multi-faceted, peer-reviewed assessment process to ensure it meets or exceeds a set of quality standards and measures. 


May 31, 2017

Swim Healthy This Summer!Seasonal Pools Opening Soon

Pools, waterparks and water playgrounds are great places to have fun, be active, or just hang out with family and friends. Area pools are starting to open and Public Health officials want to make sure each trip to the pool is healthy and safe by reminding everyone to help prevent illnesses and injuries linked to the water we share.

Illnesses: we all share the water we swim in

  • Never let your kids swim if they have diarrhea, or had it recently
  • Make sure kids shower before getting into water ~ don't forget to wash their bottoms with soap
  • Make sure kids don't pee or poop in the water. Take kids on bathroom breaks every hour.
  • Remind children to not swallow the water.

Injuries: drowning is a major cause of death among children

  • Make sure everyone knows how to swim or is wearing a life jacket
  • Watch young swimmers closely for the whole time they're in the pool
  • Learn CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)

Sun Safety: ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage skin quickly

  • Seek shade using an umbrella, tree or building shelter
  • use sunscreen with at lest SPF 15 before and during the time at the pool and outdoors in general
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming
  • Wear hats, sunglasses and protective clothing, like a t-shirt or a beach cover up

 Swim Healthy ~ Be Healthy! Follow CDC's Steps of Healthy Swimming to protect yourself and loved ones from germs, chemicals, and injury when swimming or playing in the water this summer.


May 4, 2017

Measles Outbreak

Olmsted County Public Health and healthcare partners are urging parents to make sure their children are vaccinated. The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed a total of 41 cases of measles since April 11, 2017. The majority of cases are in Hennepin County, and almost all are unvaccinated. Most of the exposures have occurred in either child care, health care, or household settings. To date, more than 2,500 people have been exposed.

There are currently no cases in Olmsted County, however measles spreads easily among those who are unvaccinated. It is especially important to be adequately protected during outbreaks. Families should check their immunization records to make sure they are protected and to get vaccinated if they are not. "Measles is very contagious and can spread quickly. The good news is the vaccine is safe and highly effective," said Eva Weingartl, Disease Control Specialist for Olmsted County Public Health Services.

Measles symptoms include a high fever, cough, runny nose and watery eyes followed by a rash that typically spreads from head to the rest of the body. Measles spreads through the air by coughing or sneezing. You can get measles by just being in the same room as someone who has measles. It is important for people who think they or their child may have measles to call their health care facility before going in so they can take measures to protect other people. Most people in Minnesota are immune to measles either from having been vaccinated or from having had the disease. However, in recent years vaccine rates have declined in some communities and groups – often due to fears related to misinformation about vaccine risks.

The recommendation is for all Minnesota children 12 months and older who have not yet received the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to get it now. Adults who have never received the MMR vaccine and have never had measles should also get the vaccine now. The Minnesota Department of Health has updated their vaccination guidelines in response to the measles outbreak, and some children are eligible for an accelerated second dose. Those who need help finding their immunization records, or to see if they are eligible for accelerated vaccination should call their healthcare provider or Olmsted County Public Health at 507-328-7500.


April 13, 2017

2017 Olmsted County
Public Health Award recipients

Outstanding Partnership Award

Early Head Start Program

Olmsted County Public Health Services has a long history with Families First and their Early Head Start Program to promote healthy infant and child development.  The Early Head Start Program partnered with our Healthy Families and Children division to begin a pilot project to screen Early Head Start parents for adverse childhood experiences (ACES).  The Early Head Start program also trained their staff and developed a process to communicate with parents and families about ACES. Feedback from Early Head Start parents is positive and promising for reducing ACES for their children, which contributes to minimizing the generational impact of ACES in Olmsted County.

Public Health Champion Award 

Dr. Melanie Brennan, CEO of ExercisABILITIES, Inc.

Dr. Melanie has a passion and drive for providing a place for families to turn to when physical rehabilitation, health, wellness and recreation programming is needed to achieve effective recovery from any medical illness or physical impairment.  She saw a need in our community to provide such a place, and now ExercisAbilities is celebrating a move to a larger location where they will be able to provide even more programs.

The nomination stated.... "We are not sure what we would have done after my husband had a massive stroke 2 years ago after we left rehab. Melanie's knowledge about running a business, keeping up with the latest research, training staff, endless energy, attitude, respect and dedication to improving the quality of life for this underserved population speaks for itself."


April 10, 2017

Advance Your Food Safety Program

On May 2, 2017 from 2:00-4:00 pm Olmsted County Public Health Services will be hosting an open house to assist food service owners and operators with their food safety program.  Food service owners and operators are encouraged to drop in at any time between 2:00 and 4:00 pm!

Learn about foodborne outbreaks in Olmsted County, operator training resources, Top 2016 food inspection results, and more!  Stock up on posters and resources!

See you there!

For more information see link below:

Open House Invite and Details (PDF 726 KB)

February 15, 2017

Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee Awards Legacy Grant to Olmsted County as Part of its 52 Weeks of Giving

The Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee (MNSBHC) Legacy Fund announced Olmsted County Public Health Services and Rochester Parks and Recreation as its next Super Bowl Legacy fund grant recipient.

The $50,280 grant will help the county create an active mobile playground: a trailer loaded with interactive games and equipment that will travel to various locations, such as parks, schools and churches, year-round to engage kids and families in games and physical activity.

The grant is part of the 52 Weeks of Giving campaign, a year-long effort to make Super Bowl LII a statewide event by awarding 52 communities with grants that will help improve the health and wellness of young people in Minnesota.

The Go! Play! Explore! mobile playground project is a partnership between the Olmsted County Public Health Services and Rochester Parks and Recreation Department with support from local youth serving agencies. The mobile playground is one effort aimed at bridging the gap between neighbors in Olmsted County. It will help foster community relationships and encourage families to interact in recreational activities and with their neighbors. Children and parents will help decide the destinations and schedule along with equipment and activities for the mobile playground. The mobile playground will be run by professional staff and volunteers through various partnership efforts.

The mobile playground project in Olmsted County supports the Super Bowl Legacy Fund's key initiative to get kids more active by providing new resources for healthy physical activity, year-round.

"The concept of creating a mobile playground is such an inspiring idea for bringing community together," said Dana Nelson, Vice President of Legacy and Community Partnerships for the MNSBHC Legacy Fund. We're pleased to announce this as the second grant in our 52 Weeks of Giving campaign."


Jan 25, 2017

National Survey on Drug Use and Health to be conducted in Minnesota

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) recently announced that they will conducting the study in Minnesota in 2017.  About 200,000 households, across the nation will be randomly selected for participation. Those selected will receive a letter explaining the study and informing them that an interviewer will soon be visiting their household. This is a legitimate survey being conducted under the Public Health Service Act and is sponsored by SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).  The survey's purpose is to collect and report up-to-date information on alcohol, tobacco and drug use, mental health and other health related issues.

Participation in the study is voluntary, and names are not collected. Complete confidentially of all responses is assured. The survey takes about one hour: data is collected via computerized questionnaire. Everyone who completes an interview will receive $30 as a thank you.

NSDUH is an annual, scientific, national study of the U.S. civilian population, ages 12 and older.


January 24, 2017

Commissioner Ehlinger Statement on Governor Dayton's
Budget Proposal

Governor Dayton's 2017 budget plan tackles some of the biggest public health challenges facing Minnesotans. His plan delivers common-sense health care reforms and makes smart public health investments to protect and enhance Minnesota's biggest competitive advantage – a high quality of life for all Minnesotans. The plan includes:

  • A call for a new public option for health insurance via MinnesotaCare.
  • A proposal to restore the provider tax – the critical funding source for our Statewide Health Improvement Partnership and other initiatives essential for maintaining the quality of our health care system
  • Funding to modernize our aging drinking water systems
  • Investment in our future by investing in home visiting services proven to give at-risk parents and their kids a better shot at a healthy start – enhancing their quality of life and reducing future needs for social services spending
  • A focus on closing the state's troubling disparities in health status across racial, income and geographic lines
  • A much-needed boost to protections for older Minnesotans

Minnesota is overall a healthy state, but faces some significant challenges in maintaining that status. Governor Dayton's budget addresses these challenges in a strategic and effective way. His investments will benefit the health of Minnesotans today and into the future.


Nov 22, 2016

Minnesota's Obesity Rate Drops for Young Children Enrolled in WIC

A new study shows that 34 of 56 Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) State Agencies are seeing modest decreases in obesity among young children from 2010-2014. The percentage of low-income children (ages 2-4) with obesity enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children decreased from 15.9% in 2010 to 14.5% in 2014. The study was recently published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Minnesota's obesity rate for young children enrolled in WIC is eighth lowest in the nation. Nationally, the rate was 14.5 percent in 2014. Minnesota children participating in WIC also have lower obesity rates than children using WIC in neighboring states Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota, according to the data.

WIC promotes healthy eating and nutrition education for infants and children up to age 5 and low-income women who are pregnant, postpartum or breastfeeding. Nutrition during pregnancy and early childhood is critical for healthy child growth and development. Currently, one out of three children ages 2 to 5 are served by WIC in Minnesota.

Minnesota WIC promotes healthy weight through:

  • Individualized nutrition assessments and counseling.
  • Providing a nutritious food package that includes low-fat milk, whole grains and fruits and vegetables.
  • Monitoring appropriate weight gain and growth.
  • Discouraging use of sweetened soft drinks.
  • Encouraging families to be physically active and to limit screen time for television, computers and video games.
  • Promoting exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and breastfeeding with healthy foods for the first year of life through peer counseling and breastfeeding support.
  • Promoting appropriate weight gain during pregnancy to support healthy birth weights.
  • Referrals to community nutrition and physical activity resources.

"WIC is a public health investment that is giving children a healthy start at a healthy weight," says Lori Kratky, Olmsted County WIC Manager. "To decrease obesity, we must continue investing in healthy communities that support Minnesotans in their efforts to maintain healthy weights as they go to school and mature as adults."


Nov 10, 2017

Norovirus Spreading in Olmsted County

Olmsted County Public Health Services has seen an increase in reports of illness consistent with norovirus. Reports of illness have been received from parents, healthcare providers and schools, and investigations have begun at additional venues in Olmsted County.  In an average year, Public Health staff investigate 2 foodborne illness outbreaks. Public Health has a total of five investigations at this time. This level of activity is uncommon and indicates widespread community transmission.  "We say it all the time, but it really is true - washing your hands frequently and thoroughly does help protect from norovirus, and many other illnesses," says Leah Espinda-Brandt, Disease Prevention and Control Nurse Manager for Olmsted County Public Health Services.

Norovirus is a very contagious virus that can infect anyone. You can get it from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed which leads to stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea and vomiting. Symptoms usually resolve themselves in 1-2 days, however people can still pass the virus on to others for several days after. Norovirus outbreaks occur throughout the year, but over 80% of the outbreaks occur from November to April according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Norovirus Facts:

Norovirus is the most common cause of foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States, and there are about 200 different strains which vary from season to season.

Noroviruses are very small -- A grain of sand is about a million times bigger than a single bacterial cell, and a single bacterial cell can be 40 to 100 times bigger than a norovirus particle.

Norovirus spreads easily and quickly. It only takes 10-100 norovirus particles to cause an infection, yet it is estimated that a person may expel as many as 30 million norovirus particles during one vomiting episode. In addition, these particles are also present in the millions in the infected person's fecal matter. Norovirus is spread by eating or drinking items that are contaminated with norovirus, or by touching surfaces or objects with norovirus on them and then putting your hand or fingers in your mouth.

Norovirus can survive on objects and surfaces such as toilets, toilet "flush" levers, faucets, door handles, computer keyboards, countertops, telephones, etc. for several days, or even weeks.

Norovirus can be difficult to stop the spread. The best way to prevent getting sick in the first place is good hand hygiene.

What Our Community Can Do

  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water
  • Do not prepare food for or care for others when sick and for three days after
  • Stay home from school, work and other gatherings when ill
  • Clean and disinfect all surfaces with a diluted bleach solution
  • Immediately and thoroughly wash clothes and linens that are (or may be) contaminated with vomit or feces


November 7, 2016

Norovirus Alert

Olmsted County Public Health Services is aware of increased illness in the community and is following up on reports of illnesses that are associated with two local restaurants. The symptoms of the illness complaints are consistent with Norovirus, the leading cause of foodborne illness outbreaks in Minnesota.  Public Health staff is working with both restaurants' management and their staff to identify potential sources and ensure safe food-handling practices. Management at both establishments have been very responsive and proactive, and have reinforced existing policies and instituted additional measures:

  • Conducting a thorough cleaning and disinfection of all food and beverage equipment, prep stations, ice bins, and surfaces in the building,
  • Excluding any ill food workers from work for 72 hours after recovery from symptoms,
  • Discarding all open, ready-to-eat foods and unpackaged foods that would not be cooked prior to service, and
  • Implementing a "no bare hand contact" policy by using gloves

Symptoms of norovirus include nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea accompanied by abdominal cramps. Some people also complain of headache, fever/chills, and muscle aches. Symptoms usually begin 24 to 48 hours after ingestion of the virus, and last 1 or 2 days. However, during that brief period, people can feel very ill. Other than drinking liquids to prevent dehydration, there is no specific treatment for norovirus infection.

Noroviruses are present in the stool and vomit of infected people. They are easily and quickly passed from infected persons through person-to-person contact, or contamination of food or drink prepared by a person with the illness.  Norovirus tends to spike in the community in late fall and now is a good time to remind ourselves how to prevent transmission from person to person in the home, at work, at school and elsewhere:

Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers, before preparing food and eating.

Clean and disinfect surfaces with household bleach immediately after vomiting or diarrheal accidents. Wash and/or peel fruits and vegetables before eating them.

Avoid preparing food, handling ready-to-eat foods, or setting the table for others while you have symptoms and for at least three days after you recover. 

Olmsted County Public Health routinely works with all restaurants in Olmsted County to help owners, managers and staff assure the safety of the food during their daily food preparations and service.


November 4, 2016

A majority of teens report healthier behaviors and thriving at school

A majority of Minnesota students feel highly engaged in school, believe their school provides a supportive place for learning, report good health, and feel safe in their homes, neighborhoods and schools according to a new report on results of the 2016 Minnesota Student Survey (MSS).

The survey results continue a trend ongoing since the 1990s of teens making healthier choices related to drinking, smoking and sexual activity. However, the survey also provides important evidence that Minnesota's generally positive results hide health gaps suffered by economically disadvantaged teens and teens of color.

Every three years, Minnesota's fifth-, eighth-, ninth- and 11th-grade students complete this voluntary, anonymous survey. It includes questions on school climate, bullying, out-of-school activities, healthy eating, emotional health, substance use, connections with school and family, and many other topics. State agencies use the survey to identify important trends and target effort and resources to more efficiently improve the well-being of the state's youth.

Schools, districts, community organizations, local and state agencies rely on MSS data to identify the issues young people are facing, so that we can address those issues to strengthen student achievement. Health and safety are fundamental to students' well-being and ability to learn and thrive. Engaged students perform better academically and supportive school environments and caring relationships can foster student motivation.

Below are highlights of how Minnesota students say they are doing.

Healthy: Sixty-nine percent of Minnesota students surveyed reported excellent or very good health. Teens are engaging in fewer risky behaviors. Student smoking rates have fallen to an all-time low, though a gap continues to persist with children of color and economically disadvantaged students smoking at higher rates. The survey identifies the growing threat of e-cigarettes. Alcohol use, sexual activity and marijuana use have also fallen.

Safe: Eighty-seven percent of students say they feel safe at home, at school, in their neighborhood and going to and from school. However, 18 percent of students surveyed reported being bullied or harassed weekly in at least one way during the last 30 days. Economically disadvantaged students and LGBT students report higher rates of bullying.

Engaged: Seventy-eight percent of students feel highly engaged in school. Sixty-five percent are engaged in out-of-school time activities at least three days a week.

Supported: Seventy-five percent of students believe their school provides a supportive place for learning.

The Minnesota Department of Health has released fact sheets focusing on the survey results, including a general health overview and others focusing on tobacco and indoor tanning.

In the area of mental health, about one in five students showed signs of depression, and 12 percent of 11th grade students reported that they seriously considered suicide in the past year, up from 9.7 percent in 2013.

Summaries of parts of the survey are also available from the Minnesota Department of Health's Minnesota Student Survey webpage

About the Minnesota Student Survey

The MSS is a voluntary, anonymous survey completed by Minnesota fifth-, eighth-, ninth- and 11th-grade students. Nearly 169,000 students participated in the 2016 survey.  All school districts are invited to participate in the survey. In 2016, 85.5 percent of Minnesota's school districts participated. Schools administered the surveys from January through May of 2016.


November 1, 2016

MDH highlights health benefits   of going to a hospital after a sexual assault

New analysis from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) shows that about 1,400 men and women a year sought hospital services after a sexual assault between 2010 and 2014.

Public health officials expect that there are far more victims of sexual assault who could benefit from seeking hospital care. A 2005 Minnesota study found that only about 1 in 5 people who experience sexual assault seek medical care. The state does not have a single source for sexual assault data.

"We want women and men to know that there are many health benefits to seeking hospital care after a sexual assault," said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Dr. Ed Ehlinger. "Typically a trained nurse can provide medical help including medications to prevent infection, emergency contraception, treatment of injury and counseling about next steps."

People ages 15 to 24 were the group most commonly treated at hospitals following sexual assaults, according to the new MDH report, Sexual Violence Data Brief (277 KB).

The total number of people seeking care stayed relatively flat during the five-year period. Hospital visits by 15 to 19 year olds went down from 339 visits in 2010 to 276 visits in 2014. The seven-county Twin Cities metro area had a higher five-year average of hospital-treated sexual assault at 31.8 cases per 100,000 people compared to the Greater Minnesota rate of 22.5 cases per 100,000.

"At the time of crisis, a rape victim needs compassionate, non-judgmental, confidential support," said Jeanne Ronayne, executive director of the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault. "A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner or other trained medical provider is someone a victim can turn to for informed care and support. It is important for victims to know they have a right to access a sexual assault examination at no cost regardless of whether they report the crime to police."

Because of the range of possible injuries, long-term health consequences and emotional disorders or concerns, MDH encourages victims to seek treatment in the event of a sexual assault.

The MDH Sexual Violence Prevention Program partners with organizations and communities across Minnesota to better understand the impact of sexual violence and learn what can be done to prevent it. Prevention starts with helping people build healthy relationships and strengthening community and family support. Strategies include encouraging schools to use health relationships curriculums, engaging youth and adults as positive bystanders to speak up and out against sexism and violent behaviors and intervening when someone is at risk, and creating and enforcing policies at schools and workplaces that address sexual harassment and create safer spaces for everyone.


September 23, 2016

Potential Contamination of Private Drinking Water Wells

Olmsted County's Public Health Services and Environmental Resources Departments are alerting people that flooding, and surface water runoff from recent heavy rains and flash floods may cause contamination of private drinking water wells.  Flood or surface water that enters a well often contains harmful bacteria, viruses or chemicals.

Private drinking water wells that are most vulnerable to this type of contamination are located:

  • In a flooding or flood prone area, or
  • Where surface water may accumulate near the well, or
  • Below ground level (i.e. basements, root cellars, underground well pits) or in drainage ways or surface depressions.

In some well systems influenced by surface water contamination you may notice a change in the water's appearance, smell, or taste, however, contamination may not be noticeable. Water from a flooded well should not be used for drinking or cooking until the well and water system have been flushed out, disinfected, and tested. Until tests show that the water is not contaminated, use bottled water or municipal water as an alternate source of drinking water. 

If flood water came within 50 feet of private drinking water well, but did not reach the well, it is recommended to have the well water tested as a precaution.  Municipal water systems are not as vulnerable to such risks and are generally considered to be dependable safe water sources.

Private well owners can test their drinking water at Olmsted County Environmental Resources, located at 2100 Campus Drive SE, Rochester. Specific information about water testing can be found at Home owners may also consult professional well contractors/pump installers, and visit the Minnesota Department of Health website for more information.


September 9, 2016

County's Collaborative School-Located Immunization Program Expands to 49 Schools

Everyone needs the influenza vaccination each year, especially children. Kids easily spread influenza in school settings and then carry the virus home to their families. Research has found that although a healthy adult has around a seven percent chance of getting influenza any given season, school kids have around a twenty percent chance each year. That's why Olmsted Medical Center, Mayo Clinic, Olmsted County Public Health and area private and public schools have once again teamed up for the 8th year to offer influenza vaccinations at 49 schools throughout Olmsted County between September 19 and October 14, 2016. "This is truly a group of organizations collaborating with all their robust resources and making the health of the community a priority," says Leah Espinda-Brandt, Nurse Manager for Disease Prevention and Control at Olmsted County Public Health.

School-located immunizations are fast, easy and convenient for both parents and their children to keep this preventable disease out of the classroom. All vaccines in the schools are administered by Mayo Clinic or Olmsted Medical Center nurses. The vaccine will be billed directly to the child's insurance and will be recorded in the child's electronic medical record. This year national experts are recommending that no one get the nasal spray flu vaccine. Therefore, neither the school located clinics nor the local medical clinics will be offering the nasal spray as an option.

Instead, the staff at the School-Located Immunization Program will be offering non-medication pain-reducing topical coolant sprays and topical vibrating distraction proven to reduce the pain of injections. "We are working to make the vaccine available to all school children. Vaccination of school-aged children is the most effective way to prevent outbreaks of influenza within the community," says Dr. Robert M. Jacobson, Medical Director for the Employee and Community Health Immunization Program at Mayo Clinic.

To find out more information, which schools are participating, and to register a child, please visit:


September 2, 2016

Minnesota sees significant drop in obesity rate

 According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Minnesota's adult obesity rate has dropped significantly, from 27.6% in 2014 to 26.1% om 2015. Minnesota was the only state in the region, including North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa, to succeed in keeping its obesity rates firmly below 30 percent. According to data released today by CDC, neighboring states' rates ranged from 30.7 to 32.1 percent.

 Obesity Rate - 5 state area.jpg

Many factors play a role in obesity, making it a complex health issue to address. Across Minnesota, communities are working together through SHIP to expand healthy eating and active living opportunities along with tobacco prevention with multiple strategies, across multiple setting and sectors. SHIP spends $17.5 million per year supporting grant funding to local community partners that is in all 87 counties and 10 tribal nations. SHIP grants support locally controlled community health boards, which have linked with more than 2,570 active partner sites. These efforts support and leverage the work of a variety of partners such as community groups, schools, employers, farmers, chambers of commerce, hospitals and health care facilities, city planners, county boards, tribal officials and more.


August 24, 2016

Send Your Children Back to School Protected from Serious Diseases

Back-to-school season is here. It's time for parents to gather school supplies and back packs. It's also the perfect time to make sure your children are up to date on their vaccines. All children are required by Minnesota State Law to have certain vaccinations prior to attending school, or have an exemption on file at their school.

OCPHS provides immunizations to children and adults on Medical Assistance, Minnesota Care, Blue Plus, U-Care and Medica. We are unable to accept private insurance. 

Walk-In Clinic

Monday – Friday:        1:00 PM – 4:30 PM

Special Back to School Times

Friday, September 2, 2016:        9:00 AM – 11:30 AM

Thursday, September 6, 2016:      9:00 AM – 11:30 AM

Getting children all of the vaccines recommended by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children from serious diseases. If you haven't done so already, now is the time to check with your child's doctor to find out what vaccines your child needs. This is especially important given the recent Pertussis Outbreak in Olmsted County.

Vaccines protect against a number of serious and potentially life-threatening diseases.  When children are not vaccinated, they are at increased risk for diseases and can also spread diseases to others in their classrooms and community – including babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated, and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer or other health conditions. The need for vaccination does not end in childhood. Vaccines are recommended throughout our lives based on age, lifestyle, occupation, travel locations, medical conditions, and previous vaccination history. Parents can find out more about the recommended vaccines for all ages, by reviewing this easy-to-read vaccination schedule created by the CDC.


July 15, 2016

Pertussis Outbreak

Olmsted County Public Health continues to receive reports on new Pertussis (also known as whooping cough) cases on a daily basis.  Early in the outbreak, pertussis cases were predominately associated with a local high school, however, we are now seeing cases associated with youth summer activities and daycares. 

-------------------------------------------------------------------July 11, 2016

Demonstration Garden Plot Established at the Olmsted County Fairgrounds

In April, 2016, Sheila Kiscaden organized and challenged several local groups to come up with ways to beautify the Fairgrounds by making the space greener, more colorful and bring in more nature.  One of the resulting projects is an on-site 'demonstration garden' planted by the Alternative Learning Center (ALC) and Growing Home, with funding from the Statewide Health Improvement Program.  The ALC students are creating examples of small space gardens and reusing common items that might otherwise be discarded as a receptacle for planting.  This demonstrates how simple it can be to begin to grow your own vegetables in a pot, on a patio or in a small container. The Green Thumb Initiative is a program for ALC students who are engaged in learning through gardening.  They currently have multiple garden sites at their school including a production garden, dozens of raised beds, rain gardens and an orchard!  This year the students have embarked on two initiatives to help sustain the garden program:

  • Selling their vegetables to subscribers of weekly "Bullfrog Bags" of garden produce, referred to as a Community Supported Agriculture program.  Funds raised by the sale of the vegetables will help sustain the garden program and the skills students learn go beyond the garden to incorporate math and English, job skills and customer service.
  • Working with a non-profit, Growing Home, to mix, bag and sell compost. Not only is the compost good for the garden, the composting initiative is an effort to provide jobs, and develop job skills to unemployed, underemployed and homeless individuals in Olmsted County.  The compost was used to fill the ruins from a former building to create a garden plot.  Members of Growing Home will be available at the site to discuss the benefits of composting, its value to the soil as well as the Growing Home's objective to help people gain the skills needed to rise out of poverty.

Background: Establishing community gardens and schoolyard gardens across Olmsted County is an initiative supported by the Statewide Health Improvement Program.  Gardens and orchards provide access to fresh food and experiential learning opportunities, nutrition education and opportunities to try different types of fresh fruits and vegetables.  People who are invested in where their food comes from and how it is produced are more likely to consume these items, thus increasing servings of fruits and vegetables in the diet while lowering intake of sodium, saturated fat and added sugar from processed food.  The collaboration of these three partners is helping to make Olmsted County a better place to live, learn, work and play.


July 6, 2016

Food Safety During / After  Power Outages

Due to the severe storms that swept through the area last night, many households lost power and continue to be without power today.  Knowing how to determine if food is safe and how to keep food safe during extended power outages will help minimize the potential loss of food and reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

When the Power Goes Out . . .

  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain cold temperatures
    • The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened
    • A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full).
  • Do not eat refrigerated, perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, milk, eggs, and deli Items, after 4 hours without power

Once Power is Restored . . .

You'll need to determine the safety of your food. Here's how:

  • If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, check the temperature when the power comes back on. If the freezer thermometer reads 40°F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen.
  • If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. You can't rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40 °F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook.
  • Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than 4 hours and the refrigerator door was kept shut. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40°F for two hours or more.

Keep in mind that perishable food such as meat, poultry, seafood, milk, and eggs that are not kept adequately refrigerated or frozen may cause illness if consumed, even when they are thoroughly cooked.

Additional resources related to this topic:



MN Dept of Health


June 17, 2016

Pertussis is Still a Concern
      Despite Schools Being Off       for Summer

Olmsted County Public Health continues to see new cases of Pertussis, commonly referred to as whooping cough, in the community among elementary, middle and high school students despite schools being out of session.  There have been a total of 67 confirmed cases of Pertussis in Olmsted County since the outbreak began several weeks ago. Other parts of Minnesota are also seeing increased activity, but not to the level that is being seen here.

Pertussis can be a serious bacterial illness. Pertussis may begin with a runny nose, sneezing, mild cough, and possibly a low grade fever. After 1 or 2 weeks, the cough worsens and begins to occur in sudden, uncontrollable bursts. These coughing attacks can end in vomiting and/or in a high-pitched whooping noise. Older children and adults may have a less typical cough. The cough can continue for up to 3 months.   

It is important for the public to remember:

  • If you or a family member experiences a prolonged, persistent cough lasting more than one week, contact your medical provider and request a test for pertussis. Persons with pertussis are contagious for up three weeks or until antibiotics are taken for five days.
  • If diagnosed with pertussis you should not go to school, work, or participate in group activities until you have finished 5 days of antibiotic treatment.
  • All household members of a confirmed case are also treated with an antibiotic.
  • The disease can be less severe in adults and older children and when not recognized and treated, can be easily passed on to infants, who may become very ill.
  • A pertussis booster vaccine for adolescents and adults is now available and is given with the tetanus-diphtheria booster. Parents of children 10 years or older, and adults, should talk to their healthcare provider about Tdap. 
  • Always practice good hand washing and cover your coughs and sneezes properly

Additional information on pertussis is available on the Minnesota Department of Health website

Community residents may also call Olmsted County Public Health Services at 507-328-7500 with any questions or contact their own health care provider.


May 27, 2016

Pertussis in Olmsted County

Since May 16, 2016 Olmsted County Public Health Services (OCPHS) has seen an increase in confirmed cases of pertussis in our community. 

The best way to prevent pertussis is to make sure that you are up to date on your pertussis vaccination. Persons who have completed some or all of the recommended vaccinations for pertussis may still get pertussis disease but will generally have a milder illness. 

Also, everyone should:

  • Avoid close contact with others who are coughing or otherwise ill
  • Wash their hands often
  • Stay at home if ill
  • Cover their cough with a tissue or cough into their sleeve
  • Seek medical attention if they develop pertussis-like symptoms or have been exposed to someone with pertussis

The first symptoms of pertussis are similar to a cold: sneezing, a runny nose, possibly a low-grade fever, and a cough. After one or two weeks, the cough becomes severe as noted by the following:

  • The cough occurs in sudden, uncontrollable bursts where one cough follows the next without a break for breath.
  • Many children will make a high-pitched whooping sound when breathing in after a coughing episode. Whooping is less common in infants and adults. 
  • During a coughing spell, the person may vomit. 
  • The person's face or lips may look blue from lack of oxygen.
  • The cough is often worse at night.
  • Between coughing spells, the person seems well, but the illness is exhausting over time.  
  • Coughing episodes gradually become less frequent, but may continue for several weeks or months until the lungs heal.

If you have pertussis, avoid infecting others. Stay at home and avoid close contact with others until you have taken antibiotics for at least five full days and are no longer infectious to others. Or, if you're not taking antibiotics, stay at home for at least three weeks after your cough began.

Persons who have pertussis but have completed five days of antibiotics can no longer spread the disease.

If you would like additional information on Pertussis, please go to:


May 20, 2016

Tick, Tick, Tick: It's Lyme Time!

Warmer weather marks the beginning of the tick-borne disease season. Health officials urge anyone heading outdoors in Minnesota this spring and early summer to use tick repellents and other measures to prevent Lyme disease and other serious diseases transmitted by ticks.  Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the U.S. with over 300,000 new cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The ticks that carry Lyme disease (black-legged ticks) are found in and around Olmsted County.  When caught early, Lyme can usually be treated successfully with antibiotics. However, there are no reliable diagnostic tests for the tick-borne disease, no tests to prove that Lyme bacteria have been eradicated or that an individual is cured. 

Protect Yourself against Lyme Disease

  1. Do tick checks immediately after being outside and 3 days after outdoor activity.
  2. Consider using Deet for skin and permethrin for clothes.
  3. If you find a tick, remove it carefully and save it in a Ziploc bag with a moist cotton ball or paper towel (this helps with diagnosis of Lyme disease). 
  4. Ask your veterinarian about protection for your pets.

Early symptoms of infection include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are important to prevent serious illness and long-term complications.  Consult with your healthcare provider if you suspect you have symptoms related to Lyme disease.

Awareness, early diagnosis and treatment are critical in preventing severe illness. Lyme disease can happen to anyone, including a seasoned environmental health professional who was diagnosed with Lyme Disease last summer after visiting several parks and youth camps in Olmsted County. "I never thought Olmsted County had Lyme-infected black-legged ticks.  A week later, I got a funny rash on my scalp and thought it was an odd sunburn that didn't hurt, but it was the bull's eye rash some people get with Lyme disease," says Claire Knocke, Olmsted County resident and an employee of Olmsted County Public Health.

Knocke says, "It's been eight months and I am feeling better, but it's been a long road. I wouldn't wish this disease on anyone. Our parks are beautiful and great places for everyone to enjoy, but please protect yourself and check for ticks after outdoor activities." 

Preventing Lyme Disease and Other Tick-Borne Diseases.pdf (900 KB)
Tick Prevention When Working Outdoors.pdf (451 KB)

For more information visit


April 5, 2016

Olmsted County Public Health Awards

In celebration of National Public Health Week (April 4-10, 2016) a recognition ceremony for the 2016 Olmsted County Public Health Awards wa held on Tuesday, April 5th during the Olmsted County Board of Commissioners meeting. 

The Public Health Awards honor individuals, groups and agencies for their exceptional contributions to improving the health of individuals, families and communities in Olmsted County. Each play a critical role in making Olmsted County a healthier place to live, learn, work and play. 

The 2016 Olmsted County Public Health Partnership Award:

The Tuberculosis (TB) Clinic Physician Team: The SE MN Tuberculosis Clinic has been a longstanding partnership between OCPHS and Mayo Clinic since it opened in 2000.  A small group of dedicated Mayo Clinic physicians have been coming to the TB Clinic twice a week, every week to evaluate TB patients. Some of these physicians have been on this team for over 15 years.  These physicians, under the leadership of Dr. Timothy Aksamit, have led the way in creating and maintaining a close, collaborative partnership with all healthcare partners to effectively diagnose, treat and manage all TB patients in Olmsted County.

The 2016 Olmsted County Public Health Champion Awards:

Dr. Brian Lynch:  Dr. Lynch is a board certified general pediatrician at Mayo Clinic and demonstrates public health leadership by working tirelessly with Olmsted County Public Health Services and other community organizations on health promotion projects. Some of these projects include the development, implementation and evaluation of the 5-2-1-0 a childhood obesity project at a local elementary school and Chairing the County Communities Caring for Healthy Development Collaborative, a project intended to test sustainable models for improving care coordination and referral processes between pediatric primary care, public health, and child and family service providers offering developmental and mental health services to children age birth through 5 years. 

Dr. Lynch creates solutions to public health problems by leading grant applications and collaborating with other community organizations to promote the health of the population. 

Hy-Vee Foods (Rochester locations): Hy-Vee Inc., Rochester Area has not only been a great partner of Olmsted County Public Health Services (OCPHS), they've also shown to be a great Public Health Champion in the innovative programs and services they provide to our Olmsted County residents. 

Hy-Vee provided tobacco cessation programs to their employees and spouses of Hy-Vee and also implemented on-site Mother's Rooms at most of their Rochester locations that can be used for both employees and visitors.  Most recently, Hy-Vee Inc. began the Fresh Funds program and is partnering with Channel One Regional Food Bank and Food Shelf to provide clients with fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products. 

Hy-Vee stores have also gone above and beyond by implementing multiple in-store and community health events. They are thinking outside the walls of Hy-Vee Inc. and making important partnerships to provide health and wellness resources to all. 

Congratulations to all of our 2106 recipients!


Feb 29, 2016

Olmsted County Public Health Receives Healthy Families America Accreditation

Prevent Child Abuse America (PCA) announces that Olmsted County Public Health, Healthy Children & Families Division attained Healthy Families America Accreditation. Healthy Families America (HFA) is a nationally recognized, evidence-based home visiting program model that is best equipped to work with overburdened families who may have histories of trauma, intimate partner violence, mental health, and/or substance abuse issues. 

The HFA home visiting model is relationship based and geared toward the building of research based protective factors for families.  Establishing a trusting, consistent relationship with the parents is the key vehicle for delivering services.  "I applaud our Healthy Children and Families staff for their efforts and success in getting accredited. The process is very rigorous and based on 12 critical elements grounded in more than 30 years of research," said Margene Gunderson, Associate Director for Olmsted County Public Health Services.  "We believe that all families and all communities deserve access to quality home visiting services."  

Public Health Nurses are trained in the latest brain research and the idea that new synaptic connections can be made through the consistent use of strength-based, empowering, integrated strategies. They focus on promoting positive parenting skills which play a major role in preventing child abuse and neglect. Public Health Nurses offer education, modeling, and role playing to help parents:

  • Understand that their relationship with their child matters
  • Understand their child's capabilities at each developmental stage.
  • Understand their child's temperament and ability to self-regulate.
  • Promote parental resiliency.
  • Grow social supports.
  • Strengthen connections to community resources to meet basic needs.