Tag Archives: environmental health division

Prevent Ticks from entering your yard:

Image courtesy Kirby Stafford III, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

Protect your property

  • Modify your landscape to create Tick-Safe Zones.  Some ticks only survive in moist environments.
  • Create a dry barrier between your yard and the woods.  Laying down wood chips or gravel in a 2-3’ wide perimeter around the yard will reduce the number of ticks that enter the grassy area.
  • Keep the yard mowed and clear of underbrush and leaf litter.
  • Keep play areas away from shrubs and other vegetation.
  • Use a pesticide in the yard. Contact Chatham County Cooperative Extension for more information about pesticide use (919-542-8202).
  • Use bait boxes that treat wild rodents with acaricide (pesticides that kill ticks).  When used properly, these boxes have been shown to reduce deer ticks around homes by more than 50%.  The pesticide does not harm the rodent.
  • Prevent deer from entering your yard by constructing physical barriers or clearing away vegetation that attracts the deer.

Common Diseases Transmitted by Ticks:

Rocky mountain spotted fever– is the most severe and most frequently reported rickettsial illness in the United States. Initial signs and symptoms of the disease include sudden onset of fever, headache, and muscle pain, followed by development of rash. The disease can be difficult to diagnose in the early stages, and without prompt and appropriate treatment it can be fatal. http://www.cdc.gov/rmsf/

Southern Tick associated rash illness A rash similar to the rash of Lyme disease has been described in humans following bites of the lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum. The rash may be accompanied by fatigue, fever, headache, muscle and joint pains. This condition has been named southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI).

Tularemia Symptoms include: sudden fever, chills, headaches, diarrhea, muscle aches, joint pain, dry cough, and progressive weakness. People can also catch pneumonia and develop chest pain, bloody sputum and can have trouble breathing and even sometimes stop breathing.  Other symptoms of tularemia depend on how a person was exposed to the tularemia bacteria. These symptoms can include ulcers on the skin or mouth, swollen and painful lymph glands, swollen and painful eyes, and a sore throat.

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks; laboratory testing is helpful in the later stages of disease. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics.

Relapsing Fever Relapsing Fever is a disease characterized by relapsing or recurring episodes of fever, often accompanied by headache, muscle and joint aches and nausea.  There are two forms of relapsing fever:

• Tick-borne relapsing fever (TBRF)

• Louse-borne relapsing fever (LBRF)

Please call Chatham County Public Health Department Environmental Health Division with any questions at 919-542-8208 or visit our website at http://www.chathamnc.org/environmentalhealth



It’s Spring Time and the Ticks Are Out

What you need to know to protect you and your family from ticks and tick-borne diseases

Ticks are arachnids or to most people “bugs” that can attach to humans and transmit germs that cause Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, and other tick borne diseases.  The best way to protect yourself from getting a tick borne disease is to avoid ticks, remove ticks promptly and properly, and prevent ticks from infesting areas where you and your children play.

Avoid Ticks:     

  • Use tick repellent
  • When walking in the woods wear light colored clothing, long sleeves, and long pants.  Put your pants legs into your socks
  • Check yourself and your kids for ticks when returning from being outdoors. Be especially watchful around the waist, the groin, and the neck.
  • If you see an attached tick you should safely remove the tick. 
  • After safely removing the tick, document the location of attachment, the day the tick was removed and watch for signs of illness such as rash or fever.  If you experience these symptoms see your health care provider and let them know you were recently bitten by a tick.

Early tick removal may reduce the risk of infection of some tick-borne diseases. Follow the steps below to safely remove ticks from animals and humans:

 Remove Ticks:

1.  Use fine tipped tweezers and protect hands with a tissue or gloves to avoid contact with tick fluids


2.  Grab the tick close to the skin. Do not twist or jerk the tick, as this may cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin 3. Gently pull straight up until all parts of the tick are removedhttp://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/ticktips2005

4. After removing tick, wash your hands with soap and water (or waterless alcohol-based hand rubs when soap is not available).  Clean the tick bite with an antiseptic such as iodine scrub, rubbing alcohol, or water containing detergents.

 Major Tick Species in North Carolina



If you experience any of the above symptoms after being bitten by a tick contact your physician immediately!!

 Please call Chatham County Public Health Department Environmental Health Division with any questions at 919-542-8208 or visit our website at http://www.chathamnc.org/environmentalhealth

 Stated tuned for the next blog when we discuss how to prevent ticks from entering your yard and other tick borne diseases.


Siegner Named 2010 North Carolina Supervisor of the Year

Andrew (Andy) Siegner, III, Chatham County Public Health Department’s Environmental Health Director was named North Carolina’s Environmental Health Supervisor of the Year by the North Carolina Environmental Health Supervisor Association.  Mr. Siegner was honored in Southern Pines on April 23, 2010 at the association’s spring meeting. 

Mr. Siegner began his public health career with the Chatham County Public Health Department in 1993 as an Environmental Health Specialist; served as a Program Coordinator from 2001-2007 and was named Environmental Health Director in 2007.  During his tenure with the department, he implemented quality assurance programs to improve services, initiated the use of GIS technology in mapping onsite wastewater systems, collaborated with the Cooperative Extension Service to provide educational programs for septic system installers, well drillers, and homeowners of septic systems and wells.  He also led the revision of the Board of Health’s Well Construction Rules.  He is currently heading up the health department’s study of childhood lead exposure and land application of sewage sludge. 

He has contributed on the state level through involvement in many environmental health task forces and committees, including advising the state committee on the development of standards for pre-treatment drip wastewater systems which are now considered an option for property that could not be permitted for conventional septic systems.  Many Chatham County landowners have been able to take advantage of these systems to develop their land and build homes.

Andy grew up in Lee County, son of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Siegner, II of Sanford.  He graduated from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona, Florida.  Prior to his work at the health department, Siegner served 20 years in the U.S. Army as a pilot, aviation and ground safety officer and flight instructor.  He served on the US Army Parachute Team as a pilot for the Golden Knights.  Upon leaving military service, he flew domestic and international flights for Pan American World Airways for four years.  Andy is a resident of Chatham County where he lives with his wife, Bonnie.  He has four children and eight grandchildren.  Mr. Siegner is active in his church and community.

Chatham County Board of Health Chairman, Bill Browder praised Siegner, saying, “Andy is an outstanding professional and an outstanding citizen in the community.  His friendly, courteous manner is appreciated by everyone who comes in contact with him.  His commitment to the work that he does is always evident.”  Charlie Horne, Chatham County Manager, when asked about Andy, said, “Andy is one of the most down to earth leaders in Chatham County.  He leads by example and has high energy capacity that those around him absorb.”

“Andy is a wonderful Chatham County asset.  He is a key member of the health department’s leadership team, capably and willingly taking on tasks, leading quietly and contributing greatly to our agency, the county and the state.  It speaks loudly that the employees supervised by Andy are the ones who initiated his nomination for this award.  We are thrilled that his contribution has been recognized by his peers,” said Holly Coleman, Health Director.


Should I Have My Water Tested? Part II: What Tests Should I Request?

As yesterday’s post informed us, routine water testing for a few of the most common contaminants is recommended if your water supply comes from a private well, even if your water appears clear and tastes good.  Below you will find information about a few different water tests that you might want to consider.

Bacteria*:  This test provides a general assessment of the bacterial safety of your water. It is recommended that your well be tested for bacteria every year.  The water will be analyzed for total and fecal coliform.  The coliform group of bacteria is the indicator most widely used by public health officials to determine the safety of the water.  Fecal coliform bacteria are a serious health concern.  If present, the water should not be used for drinking or cooking.  Total coliform in the water indicate that other potential disease causing organisms may be present and are, therefore a health concern.  A bacterial test should be done if:

  • Your well is newly drilled.
  • Your well has been repaired or the pump replaced.
  • Any household member suffers from recurring bouts of gastrointestinal illness.
  • An infant lives in the home.
  • A person with a chronic illness that compromises the immune system lives in the home.
  • Your well water has never been tested.
  • You wish to monitor the performance of home water treatment devices.

Inorganic:  The parameters tested for include:  alkalinity, arsenic, calcium, chloride, copper, fluoride, iron, hardness, magnesium, manganese, lead, pH, and zinc.  These parameters can impact health or affect the quality or taste of the water.  The results of the tests are reviewed by the state toxicologist.  This test should be done if:

  • Your well is newly drilled.
  • Your water has an objectionable taste.
  • Your water is cloudy or discolored.
  • Your plumbing fixtures or pipes have a scaly residue or corrosion.
  • You notice stained plumbing fixtures or laundry.

Nitrates/Nitrites:  Nitrates or Nitrites in the water can be very dangerous.   Excessive levels can cause methemoglobinemia, or “blue baby syndrome”.  Boiling the water can increase the concentration of the nitrates or nitrites.  Sources of nitrate are fertilizer, animal waste and sewage.  This test should be done if:

  • A household member is pregnant.
  • An infant lives in or spends time in the household.
  • A household member suffers from severe heart or lung disease.
  • Your well is located near a farm field, animal barn (including chicken house) or feed lot.
  • Your well is located within 100 feet of a septic system, particularly an old system or one that has failed.

Sulfur Bacteria:  This test is recommended if:

  • Your water has a “rotten egg” or sulfur odor.  If this odor is present, the test is actually unnecessary because the odor indicates that treatment (super chlorination) is needed.
  • Your water has a bitter taste.
  • Your plumbing has pipe corrosion problems and yellow or black stains on fixtures.

Iron Bacteria:  This test is recommended if:

  • You notice a slimy build-up in the toilet tank.
  • Your water has a reddish-brown tinge or an oil-like sheen on the surface.
  • Your water has a musty, oily or “cucumber” odor.

Pesticide**:  You should request this test if:

  • Your well is near areas of intensive agriculture.
  • Your well is located within 50 feet of a termite-treated building foundation.

Petroleum**:  Petroleum products contain volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds.   You should request this test if:

  • Your well is located near an underground storage tank (UST). 
  • Your well is located near a business that has an UST or is industrial in nature.
  • Your well is located near a landfill.

*A bacteria test is recommended in addition to any other water testing you request if you have not had one done within the previous 12 months.

**These tests require prior authorization from the Environmental Health Division at 542-8208.


Should I Have My Water Tested?

If your water supply comes from a private well, you are responsible for assuring that it is safe.  Routine testing for a few of the most common contaminants is recommended, even if your water appears clear and tastes good.  Regular testing is valuable because it establishes a record of your well’s water quality. 

The Chatham County Public Health Department’s Division of Environmental Health offers water sampling services.  Upon receiving an application and the applicable fee, a representative of the Division will make an appointment to collect your water sample(s).  These samples are sent to the North Carolina Public Health Laboratory for analysis.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog for information about a few specific water tests you might be interested in requesting.