Vilas County Public Health - Home

Don't Wait. Communicate. Make a family emergency plan today. September is National Preparedness Month.

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Back to School Tips

The first day of school is right around the corner.  Now is a great time to help your child get back on a healthy and safe plan for school.  Following a few tips below will help your child stay healthy and safe during the school year. 

Healthy Lunches

  • Pack your child's lunch with whole grains, such as whole-grain bread, wraps or pita pockets.
  • Provide lean meats, cheese or hummus to make sandwiches.
  • Provide several fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, snap peas, cucumbers, fresh fruits that are in season.
  • Have your child choose milk in order to get calcium and Vitamin D.
  • Variety is the key!

Getting Enough Sleep

  • A couple of weeks before the first day of school, slowly begin to have your child go to bed earlier. 
  • Preschool-age kids need 11 - 12 hours of sleep.
  • School-age kids need at least 10 hours of sleep.
  • Teens need 9 - 10 hours of sleep.
  • Set rules on when electronic devices need to be turned off.

 Preventing Sickness  

  • Make sure your child is up-to-date on his/her shots.
  • Remind your child to wash their hands after using the restroom, before they eat and wiping their nose.
  • Have them cover their cough and sneezes using their inner arm by their elbow. 

School Bus Safety Tips

  • Get to the bus stop early. Do not run to the bus.
  • Wait until the bus has come to a complete stop before walking toward it.
  • If crossing the street, wait for a signal from the bus driver.  Look both ways to make sure there is no moving traffic from either direction.
  • Always cross in front of the bus so the driver can see you.
  • If the bus has lap and shoulder belts, use them.
  • Once the bus is in motion, remain in your seat.
  • If the window is open, keep your arms and head inside the bus at all times.
  • Do not stand up to get off the bus until it has completely stopped.
  • Only get off the bus at your assigned spot.

 Walking Safety Tips

  • Children should only walk to school alone if they are old enough and ready to make the walk safely. Note: Children may not be ready to walk to school without an adult until they are at least 10 years old.
  • Younger kids cannot be trusted to make smart traffic choices on their own.
  • Plan and practice a safe walking route with your child until she knows it well.
  • Use streets with sidewalks, crosswalks and crossing guards. Avoid as many intersections as possible.
  • Have children walk with a friend or in a group.
  • Talk to your child about what to do if they are approached by a stranger.

Safety Tips for Drivers

  • Drivers should be aware of children walking to school or to the bus stop.
  • When backing out of the driveway, watch for children.
  • On streets without crossing guards, watch out for children trying to cross the street.
  • Be careful on streets without sidewalks or streets with on-street parking. It might be hard to notice a child behind a car.
  • Be alert. Children may dart into the street without looking.
  • Slow down!

Source: Nationwide Children's Hospital & American Public Health Association

Crow Tests Positive for West Nile Virus in Vilas County

Vilas County Public Health Department reports a dead crow found in Vilas County last Tuesday (8/9/16) has tested positive for West Nile virus.  This is the first bird that tested positive for West Nile virus in Vilas County this year.

West Nile virus is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes acquire the virus by feeding on infected birds. 

Take some simple steps to protect yourself against mosquito bites and limit exposure from mosquitoes.  Also, get rid of breeding grounds for mosquitoes.  The Health Department recommends the following steps:

  • Limit time spent outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Use insect repellant on clothing as well as exposed skin since mosquitoes may bite through clothing.
  • Make sure window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquito entry.
  • Properly throw away items that hold water, such as tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, or discarded tires.
  • Clean roof gutters and downspouts for proper drainage.
  • Turn over wheelbarrows, wading pools, boats, and canoes when not in use.
  • Change the water in birdbaths and pet dishes at least every three days.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas, and hot tubs; drain water from pool covers.
  • Trim tall grass, weeds, and vines since mosquitoes use these areas to rest during hot daylight hours.
  • Landscape to prevent water from pooling in low-lying areas.

The majority of people (80%) who are infected with West Nile virus do not get sick. Those who do become ill usually experience mild symptoms such as:

  • fever,
  • headache and muscle aches,
  • rash, and
  • fatigue (being tired).

Less than 1% of people infected with the virus get seriously ill with symptoms that include:

  • high fever,
  • muscle weakness,
  • stiff neck,
  • disorientation,
  • mental confusion,
  • tremors,
  • confusion,
  • paralysis, and
  • coma.

Older adults and those with weak immune systems have a greater chance to develop a central nervous system illness that can lead to death.

The Department of Health Services has monitored the spread of West Nile virus since 2001 among wild birds, horses, mosquitoes, and people.  During 2002, the state documented its first human infections and 52 cases were reported that year. During 2015, 9 cases of West Nile virus infection were reported among Wisconsin residents.West Nile virus infections in people have been reported from June through October; however, most reported becoming ill with West Nile virus in August and September.

The Wisconsin Division of Public Health will continue surveillance for West Nile virus until the end of the mosquito season. To report a sick or dead crow, blue jay, or raven, please call the Dead Bird Reporting Hotline at 1-800-433-1610. 

For more information on West Nile virus:


Farmers' Market


Are you looking for fresh, local produce?  Northwoods LEAN (Linking Education, Activity and Nutrition) and the Vilas County Health Department would like to celebrate National Farmers’ Market week.  Farmers markets are an excellent way to provide consumers with healthy, fresh, affordable and convenient, locally grown food. 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack stated, “Farmers markets are an important part of strong local and regional food systems that connect farmers with new customers and grow rural economies.  In many areas, they are also expanding access to fresh, healthy food for people of all income levels.  National Farmers Market Week recognizes the growth of these markets and their role in supporting both urban and rural communities.”  This year marks the 17th annual National Farmers’ Market Week!

The best news is Northwoods Farmers’ Markets will be running until mid-October so there’s plenty of time for you to reap the benefits of the market.  With several locations throughout Oneida and Vilas County there’s sure to be one for you. 

  • Eagle River Farmers’ Market (runs through 10/15/16)
    • Wednesdays; 8:30am – 1:00pm just north of the bridge on HWY 45
    • Sundays; 10am – 2pm just north of the bridge on HWY 45
  • Minocqua Farmers’ Market (runs through 10/14/16)
    • Mondays; 3pm – 6pm at the north end of Torpy Park – HWY 51
    • Fridays; 8am – 1pm at the Minocqua Park Complex – HWY 70 W
  • Hodag Farmers’ Market (runs through 10/15/16)
    • Saturdays; 8am – 1pm at Pioneer Park in Rhinelander

For more information on Farmers’ Markets visit and click on the “what’s new” tab. 

Zika virus

Zika virus is a virus that most commonly comes from the bite of a certain type of mosquito.  It has been seen in high numbers in most of the Caribbean and the northeastern parts of South America.There isn't any known spread of the Zika virus due to mosquitos in the continental United States.

The virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms or signs of Zika virus disease are:

      • Fever,
      • Rash,
      • Joint pain, and
      • Conjunctivitis (red eyes).

Only about 20% of people with Zika virus feel sick, so they may not know they have the virus in their body. If a person gets sick, it will happen anywhere from a few days to a week after coming into contact with the virus. Although Zika virus may not be harmful to the person who gets ill, it may have serious side effects on the developing baby, if a woman who is pregnant is infected with the Zika virus.

The Zika virus infection during pregnancy is a cause of microcephaly and other serious brain anomalies.  However, all the health effects of Zika virus infection during pregnancy is not yet known.  The CDC is continuing to study Zika virus.

Pregnant Women with Any Lab Evidence of Zika Virus Infection*   

  • US States and DC: 731    
  • US Territorieries:  1,156

*Source: Pregnancy Registries as of September 8, 2016

Zika Virus Disease Cases Reported to ArboNET*

  • US States and DC: 3,176
  • US Territories: 17,694   

*Source:  ArboNET as of September 14, 2016

In addition to spreading through the bite of an infected mosquito, Zika virus is also spread through sexual contact. For men that have traveled to areas where Zika virus is common, they should avoid sexual contact with any pregnant partners or use a condom with any sexual contact until their partner is no longer pregnant. Women traveling to areas where Zika virus is present are encouraged to avoid becoming pregnant until after travel. If women are currently pregnant, they should consider not traveling to these areas until no longer pregnant. 

If you have traveled to an area that has Zika virus in the past 2 weeks and feel ill, or you traveled while pregnant, contact your medical provider for follow up. For more information:

"If You See Something, Say Something™"

"If You See Something, Say Something™" is a national campaign to prevent crimes of terrorism.  Not only does the campaign raise awareness on possible crimes related to terrorism, it stresses the importance of reporting suspicious activites to law enforcement.

Informed, alert communities play a critical role in keeping our nation safe.  To report suspicious activity, contact your local law enforcement agency. Describe with as many details as you can what you saw and include:

      • Who or what you saw;
      • When you saw it;
      • Where it occurred; and
      • Why it's suspicious.

If there is an emergency, call 9–1–1.  For more information on the campaign visit: