Public Health

Mary Krause Mary Beer Pam Helming

2017 Women Who Make America (Makers) 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.

MAker award group shiotJPG

Annual Report, 2016

Ontario County Public Health staff members were busy in 2016. Find out what we accomplished with the help of our community partners! Check out our Annual Report.


Common Questions about Lead in Drinking Water

How much does it cost to test my drinking water for lead?

New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) has a new pilot program. As long as funds continue to be available, lead testing for water is being offered for free by NYSDOH. For more information on how to get your drinking water tested for lead visit:
Click here for more information about free lead testing for water

How does lead get into the water we drink? 

In most cases, lead in drinking water does not come from the source itself but from a plumbing system such as water fixtures, pipes and solder. Water in the plumbing system can dissolve lead from fixtures, pipes and solder. This is called leaching. Soft, corrosive or acidic (low pH) water is more likely to cause leaching. Water left standing in plumbing systems over a long period of time also increases leaching. The longer the water stands in the pipes, the greater the possibility of lead being dissolved into the water.

What can I do to reduce the lead level in my drinking water? 

If the lead level is higher than 0.015 mg/l only in your “first-draw-sample”, then the source of lead in your drinking water is likely from the fixture.
You should:

  1. Run your water to flush out lead

    . Run water for at least 30 seconds or until water is cold to the touch or reaches a steady temperature before using it for drinking or cooking if it hasn’t been used for several hours. This flushes lead-containing water from the fixture.
  2. Use only cold tap water for cooking, drinking or making a baby's formula

    . Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap; lead dissolves more easily into hot water.  DO NOT USE WATER FROM THE HOT WATER TAP TO MAKE BABY FORMULA.
  3. Do not boil water to remove lead

    . Boiling water will not reduce lead.
  4. Replace your plumbing fixtures if they are found to contain lead

    . Plumbing materials, including pipes, new brass faucets, fittings, and valves, including those advertised as “lead-free,” may contribute lead to drinking water. The law allows plumbing products (such as pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings and fixtures) with a weighted average of the lead content of wet surfaces of up to 0.25% lead to be considered “lead free.”

If the lead level is higher than 0.015 mg/l in both first-draw and flush samples, your home may be served by a lead service line and/or plumbing materials in your home may contain lead. Refer to the step 4 above. You may also want to consider purchasing bottled water or a water filter. Read the package to be sure the filter is approved to reduce lead or contact NSF International at 800-NSF-8010 for information on performance standards for water filters. Be sure to maintain and replace a filter device in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions to protect water quality. Any measure you take to reduce your exposure to lead should be continued until the lead source(s) has been minimized or eliminated.

Where can I get more information?
New York State Department of Health
Click here

Lead Poisoning Prevention
Click here

Certified Product Listings for Lead Reduction
Click here

Updated: 2/21/2017


Are you washing your hands the correct way?

Learn more:
Click here

Updated 1/25/2017

Hot Health Topics

What is norovirus?

  • 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.
  • Norovirus is the #1 cause of diarrhea and vomiting outbreaks spread by direct contact (shaking hands) with an infected person or touching a contaminated surface.
  • Norovirus can also spread by eating or drinking contaminated food or water and touching things that have the virus on them. (About 50% of all outbreaks of food-related illness are caused by norovirus.)

Is norovirus new?

  • Norovirus is not new. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that each year the norovirus causes 19–21 million cases of acute gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach or intestines or both). The diarrhea and vomiting leads to 1.7–1.9 million outpatient visits and 400,000 emergency department visits, primarily in young children.

What are the symptoms of norovirus?

  • A person usually develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to norovirus. Most people with norovirus illness get better within 1 to 3 days.
  • Symptoms of norovirus include:
    • Diarrhea
    • Throwing up
    • Nausea
    • Stomach pain
    • Fever
    • Headache
    • Body aches

What if I get sick from norovirus?

  • There is no specific medicine to treat norovirus. Norovirus infection cannot be treated with antibiotics because it is a viral infection.
  • Drink plenty of liquids to replace fluid lost from throwing up and diarrhea. This will help prevent dehydration.
  • Call your doctor if you or your child develop signs of dehydration (not urinating often, dry mouth and/or eyes, fast heartbeat, child that is less active, irritable or you notice bloody stools.) Also call your doctor for the following:
    • A fever for 12 or more hours and also is not able to drink fluids, throwing up or having diarrhea.
    • Sick infant that is less than two months of age
    How can I prevent norovirus?
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 15 seconds.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables and cook seafood thoroughly. Food can get contaminated with norovirus at any point when it is being grown, shipped, handled, or prepared.
  • Cook oysters and other shellfish thoroughly before eating them. Be aware that the noroviruses can survive temperatures as high as 140°F.
  • Foods that are commonly involved in outbreaks of norovirus illness are:
    • Leafy greens (such as lettuce)
    • Fresh fruits
    • Shellfish (such as oysters)
    • Any food that is served raw or handled after being cooked
How can food workers prevent norovirus from spreading?

  • Food workers can follow some simple tips to prevent norovirus from spreading:
    • Avoid preparing food for others while you are sick and for at least 48 hours after symptoms stop.
    • Wash your hands carefully and often with soap and water.
    • Rinse fruits and vegetables and cook shellfish thoroughly.
    • Clean and sanitize kitchen utensils, counters, and surfaces routinely.
    • Wash table linens, napkins, and other laundry thoroughly.
Are types of people are at risk of becoming sick?

  • The elderly (especially those in long term care facilities), small children, and those with immune system disorders are at higher risk of becoming ill and requiring hospitalization.
Is there a vaccine to prevent norovirus?

  • Currently there is not vaccine for norovirus.

Looking for more information on norovirus?

Updated 1/25/2017

Lower Your Blood Pressure Today!

In Ontario County, 3 out of 10 people with high blood pressure do not have it under control.
Check out this quick video for ideas to decrease your blood pressure.  It just might save your life!

Unused Medication Drop Box Locations Can Be Found Here!

Unused Meds

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Dogs from CDC      dog 2jpg

The holidays are bringing us cold weather. Take precautions this winter when the temperature dips. This winter, be sure to check on elderly family members or neighbors and bring pets indoors. Avoid traveling when the weather service has issued advisories.

Snow shoveling is a known trigger for heart attacks.  Symptoms of a heart attack include squeezing pain in the chest, shortness of breath, pain that radiates up to the left shoulder and down the left arm, or a cold sweat. Other signs that are equally common include jaw pain, lower back pain, unexplained fatigue or nausea, and anxiety. If you experience these symptoms stop what you are doing and call 911 immediately.

 Indoor safety:

  • Check your carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that often goes undetected, striking victims in their sleep.
  • Use generators outside. Never operate a generator inside the basement or garage.
  • The kitchen is for cooking. Never use a stove or oven to heat your home.
  • Prevent  fire.
    • If you are using a fireplace, use a fire screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs.
    • If you are using a space heater, place it on a level, hard surface and keep anything flammable at least three feet away.
    • Turn off space heaters and make sure fireplace embers are out.

 If you must go outdoors:

  • Wear appropriate outdoor clothing: wear a tightly woven, preferably wind-resistant coat or jacket; inner layers of light, warm clothing; mittens; hats; scarves; and waterproof boots.
  • Stretch first and work slowly when doing outside chores.
  • Take a buddy and an emergency kit when you are participating in outdoor recreation.
  • Carry a charged cell phone.
Please visit the following websites for more information.

English: Winter Weather
Español (Spanish):Invierno Saludable

2016-2018 Community Health Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plan (CHA/CHIP)

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.
Click on the picture below to read the 2016-2018 Community Health Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plan (CHA/CHIP).
CHIP 2016

Get Vaccinated Against the Flu Today!

Flu cases have been confirmed in Ontario County.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  anticipates cases of flu to rise in the next few weeks due to holiday travel and celebrations.  Both A and B strains of flu have been detected.  Currently, most circulating strains match this season’s flu vaccine.

Who is at risk for flu complications?

  • Children (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 if complications from the flu virus.

 Who should be vaccinated against the flu?

  • EVERYONE 6 months and older!

 Where can I go to get my flu shot?

  • Your healthcare provider
  • Local pharmacy (18 and older)
  • Health department
  • Find the flu vaccine near you!

Are there other ways to protect myself from the flu?

  • Wash their hands often and thoroughly using soap and water or when not available, alcohol-based hand gels.
  • Avoiding contact with sick people
  • Covering coughs and sneezes
  • Staying home from school, holiday parties and work if you are ill

What are the symptoms of the flu?

  • Symptoms of the flu usually occur suddenly and may include headache, fever, chills, body and muscle aches, severe fatigue, congestion and cough. Contact your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of the flu. Antiviral medications may shorten the length of illness and severity of symptoms.
  • See your healthcare provider if you think you have the flu. Antiviral medications may shorten the length of illness and severity of symptoms.

Where can I go for more information?

Updated 12/1/2016

Lets talk about diabetes......

Almost 86 million US adults have pre-diabetes, and 90% of them don’t know it. The numbers are staggering; 1 in 3 adults has pre-diabetes and is at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Read more...
Diabetes 10percent

Zika Virus

Zika is usually transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito in countries where the virus is prevalent in the mosquito population. It can also be shared during sex by men who are infected with the virus. Unborn babies are at risk for birth defects if their moms get Zika during pregnancy. Read more.

Resources for Providers

To order testing for Ontario County residents, call  585-396-4343 and ask for the Communicable Disease Coordinator.    

What's New with Flu?

Click here for weekly flu updates from New York State Department of Health.

Updated 12/1/2016

Stay Informed About the Former Geneva Foundry Site 

For the latest updates on the former Geneva Foundry site, visit:                  New York State Department of Environmental Conservation:
Click here 
Register for news and updates from the Department of Environmental Conservation,  Division of Environmental Remediation
Click here 
Do you have specific site related health questions? 
     Anthony Perretta
     Corning Tower, Room 1789
     Albany, New York 12237

Updated 11/23/2016