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R.G. County Public Health updates BOCC

Posted: Thursday, Jun 12th, 2014

DEL NORTE – Emily Brown, director of Rio Grande County Department of Public Health, (DPH) updated the Rio Grande County Commissioners at last week’s meeting on the recent cases of Hantavirus that have occurred.

“We have comxpleted all investigations for the Hantavirus death that occurred in Saguache County, but exposure was suspected in Rio Grande County,” said Brown. “A second case in Costilla County was also confirmed. That individual was seriously ill and hospitalized, but has since been released.”

Brown said she received notification that Colorado Parks and Wildlife found two deceased prairie dogs that tested positive for plague.

“They were found on BLM property, about five miles south of Monte Vista,” said Brown. “A press release will be released after discussing the case with parks and wildlife.”

In other disease-related news, Brown said the San Luis Valley Regional Epidemiologist worked with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and animal clinics/vets in the region to determine if all departments were up to date on their pre-rabies vaccines. The CDPHE had free pre-rabies vaccines available for any city or county employees who handled animals. All departments were either up to date or didn’t need the vaccine.

Brown said social services has been seeing an increasing number of babies born to mothers using drugs and approached her department to look at prevention options.

“We are working with Rio Grande County Department of Social Services to put on a neonatal drug exposure awareness symposium on Aug. 8,” said Brown. “Invitations to the symposium will be from across the SLV, and the goal of the event will be to provide information on the problem and brainstorm ideas to curb the issue.”

Brown said public health’s website is finally getting up to date. They will be continuing to add more information about programs and partnerships. The website can be accessed at http://www.rgcph.org or http://www.riograndecounty.org/departments/public-health.

The DPH staff has been involved in multiple trainings including: active shooter training in Monte Vista, CPR/first aid updates, lactation management training and digital two-way radio usage according to Brown.

Brown’s department has been given a new generator for a back-up system and asked the commissioners for some assistance in transporting it from Alamosa to the offices in Del Norte.

“It won’t fit in my car,” said Brown. “We are trying to figure out the best way to get it here.”

Commissioner Doug Davie said he knew of someone with a pickup truck that had a lift gate that would be able to help.


Attorney Bill Dunn told the commissioners he would suggest getting an advisory opinion from the Attorney General’s office as to any proposed activity regarding the Summitville Mine and possible violation of the environmental covenant.

“That way you have protected yourself in advance,” said Dunn. “Not only is the state of Colorado involved, but the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also.”

Dunn said any action or inaction may have to be run by the EPA also to make sure no penalties to the county are present.

Suzanne Benton said after the mine went into bankruptcy, the mine was deeded to the county.

“We have had people come in and inquire about buying some of the land and have had to tell them no,” said Benton. “We just can’t do anything with it right now until these things are taken care of.”

For the complete article see the 06-12-2014 issue.

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