Vilas County Public Health - Home

October is National Dental Hygiene Month, a time to recognize the efforts of dental hygienists and the work they do to raise awareness on the importance of good oral health.

This year, the focus is on four routines that can help you maintain a healthy smile:

Brush, floss, rinse and chew.  The American Dental Hygiene Association recommends brushing your teeth twice a day, for two minutes, with a soft-bristled brush.  The size and shape of the brush should fit the mouth allowing you to reach all areas easily. 

Proper brushing technique is to:

  • Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
  • Gently move the brush back and forth in short strokes.
  • Brush the outer surfaces, the inner surfaces and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.     
  • To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up and down strokes.
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and keep your breath fresh.

Flossing, or cleaning between your teeth is an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums.  Floss your teeth once a day to remove plaque and bacteria that is not removed by brushing. 

Teeth alone are less than half the mouth.  Rinsing with a non-alcoholic mouthwash can eliminate bacteria that brushing and flossing cannot.  Rinsing, along with brushing and flossing, may help reduce the chance of dental decay and infection. 

Lastly, clinical studies have shown the chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay.  Chewing sugarless gum helps increase the flow of saliva, which washes away food and other debris, neutralizes acids produced by bacteria that cause cavities.  

The Health Department is now Offering Flu Shots:


The Northwoods Dental Project is in Action!

Preventive dental services including screenings, sealants and fluoride will be provided for FREE to all participants in 2nd and 6th grades.  Sign up at Once there, click on the link that states: "Sign my child up now"


  • Phelps 9/19/2018
  • North Lakeland Elementary 10/3 – 10/4/2018
  • Arbor Vitae Woodruff Elementary 11/1 – 11/2-2018
  • Northland Pines-Eagle River 11/28 – 11/30/2018
  • Northland Pines-Land O’Lakes 12/3/2018
  • Northland Pines-St. Germain 12/11/2018

For more information, go to our Dental page:

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.                          


Make sure your child is up-to-date on all of the vaccines recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Vaccines protect against a number of serious diseases.  Children who are not vaccinated, have a higher chance of getting vaccine preventable diseases as well as spreading them to their classmates and the community.  This includes babies who are too young to be fully vaccinated and people with weakened immune systems due to cancer or other health conditions. 

Talk to your child’s doctor to find out which vaccines are recommended for them before going back to school.  Parents can find out more about the recommended vaccines at   

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 

Be Disaster Aware, Take Action to Prepare!

September is National Preparedness Month

It is time to prepare yourself and your loved ones for unexpected disasters. Vilas County Public Health Department encourages families and businesses to prepare and plan for emergencies. Preparedness is everyone’s responsibility! We hope that this September, individuals and businesses will turn awareness into action.

Taking the simple steps to be prepared will make a big difference in making sure you, your family and your business is safe during and after a disaster:

  • Be Informed
  • Make a Plan
  • Build a Kit
  • Get Involved

For more information, visit

Ticks are Still Out

The weather is becoming warmer and the deer ticks are beginning to become more active. Ticks live in wooded, brushy areas that provide food and cover for small animals and deer. Ticks are unable to jump or fly and usually attach to a host at ground level.

Common Tick Diseases

Some people can develop two or more of these diseases at the same time.

Lyme Disease

Symptoms include a bulls-eye rash, fever, headache, chills, muscle pain and joint pain. The bulls-eye rash, one of the earliest symptoms, typically appears between 3 and 30 days after the tick bite. Not everyone with Lyme disease develops the rash.

Human Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis

Symptoms include a sudden onset of a high fever (102 degrees or more), chills, severe headache and muscle aches. These symptoms appear between 1 and 3 weeks after an infectious tick bite. However, not all people have symptoms.

Although people of all ages can get anaplasmosis, it is most severe in the elderly.  If left untreated, it can result in organ failure and death.


Symptoms include high fever, muscle aches, beign tired, headache and loss of appetite. Symptoms usually appear between 1 and 6 weeks after a deer tick bite, but may take longer in some individuals. Most people infected with the babesiosis parasite will have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. People who are immune compromised may develop severe illness. Babesiosis can be fatal.

Powassan (POWV) Virus

Symptoms include a sudden fever, muscle weakness, confusion, headache, nausea, vomiting, and stiff neck. Severe illness can include confusion, paralysis, speech difficulties, memory loss, and meningoencephalitis (inflammation of the brain and meninges).  These symptoms usually appear between 7 and 14 days but can go up to 34 day, after being bit by an infectious tick. 

People who are infected with POWV may have a variety of symptoms, from mild illnesses to life-threatening complications; some people may not have any symptoms.

Steps to Protect Yourself from Tick Diseases

  1. Know when you’re in tick habitat—brushy, wooded areas—where you will need to take precautions.
  2. Use a good tick repellent, such as a product containing permethrin or DEET, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Wear clothes that will help to shield you from ticks. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants are best. Tuck your pants into the top of your socks or boots to create a “tick barrier.”
  4. Check frequently for ticks and remove them promptly.  This is an important step in preventing disease.
  5. Remove the tick slowly and gently using a pair of tweezers. Folk remedies like Vaseline, nail polish remover, or matches are not safe or effective methods of tick removal.

If you develop signs or symptoms of a tick-related illness after spending time in areas where deer ticks are found, you should seek medical attention right away.

Not all deer ticks carry the organisms that cause Lyme disease, human anaplasmosis, or babesiosis. If an infected deer tick bites you, it needs to be attached at least 12-24 hours to transmit the human anaplasmosis bacteria and 24-48 hours to transmit the Lyme disease bacteria. Not every person who is infected with these organisms will develop symptoms.

Useful Resources:

Keeping Children Safe in Open Water

What Families Can Do To Keep Kids Safe:

  1. Give kids your full attention when they are in or around water.  Keep young children and kids who do not swim will within arm’s reach of an adult. Make sure older children swim with a partner every time.
  2. Make sure children learn how to swim. Every child is different, so enroll children in swim lessons when they are ready. Consider their age, development, and how often they are around water when deciding if they are ready.
  3. Make sure kids learn these 5 water survival skills and are able to:
    • step or jump into water over their head and return to the surface;
    • turn around and orient to safety;
    • float or tread water;
    • combine breathing with forward movement in the water and
    • exit the water.         
  4. Teach children that swimming in open water is different from swimming in a pool. Be aware of situations that are unique to open water, such as limited visibility, depth, uneven surfaces, currents and undertow. These can be potential dangers.
  5. Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when boating or taking part in other activities on the water. Children should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device (PFD) appropriate for their age, weight, and the water activity. For kids younger than 5, choose a PFD with head support and a strap between the legs.
  6. Use designated swimming areas and recreational areas whenever possible. Professionals have assessed the area, and there are usually signs posted regarding hazards and lifeguard schedules.

For more information, visit:

Tips for Food Safety in a Power Outage:

Survivors of Suicide Support Group Meets in Rhinelander

Has someone you love taken their own life?  Are you troubled with questions like, “why?”, “what brought this on?”, “why my family?”.  Do you find yourself with no one to talk to about your frustrations and confusion regarding the suicide of your loved one?  Then you are a Survivor of Suicide (SOS) and have a safe place to go to discuss your issues.

The SOS support group was started in July of 2005.  The group is facilitated by Sue Mackowski, a Certified Bereavement Specialist and Consultant.  The group originated as a result of the co-founder’s need for support after the death of her son.  Tina Werres, a Rhinelander native, lost her son Paul to suicide in 2001.  In the months following his death, she struggled with the loss and understood the need for people suffering from the unique backlash of suicide to have a gathering place to meet their needs.  Those needs planted the seeds for the formation of the Survivors of Suicide support group.

The Rhinelander based Survivors of Suicide support group meets once a month, the third Saturday at the Curran Building, 315 S. Oneida Avenue, Rhinelander.  The meetings are from 10am-12 noon.  The SOS support group offers a safe and confidential environment to discuss the unique grieving process experienced by those whose lives have been touched by suicide.  It is a place where survivors tell their stories, share their experiences, and help each other move forward in their grief journey.  The meetings are informal and confidentiality is the primary guideline.  The SOS support group is free and open to the public.

Since its inception, our group has served families and individuals from the Northwood’s area.  Our goal is to provide a “safe haven” for those dealing with the death of a loved one due to suicide.  In addition to group discussions, we have a small library of books, pamphlets, and other literature dealing with grief and loss, specifically loss due to suicide that is available to attendees.

We invite all of you who are struggling with the death of a loved one who has taken their life to join us. 

If you have any questions regarding the meeting schedule or content, please call Sue Mackowski, 715-275-5399 or Tina Werres, 716-499-3002.  Remember, “YOU ARE NOT ALONE”.