Health Compass


What Does it Mean for You?

NY State of Health, The Official Health Plan Marketplace, is where New Yorkers can shop for, compare and enroll in health insurance coverage.  You have a choice of health plans and help finding the plan that is right for you.  It’s the only place to get financial assistance to reduce the cost of coverage.Health insurance offered in the Marketplace includes a comprehensive set of benefits. To learn more, visit or call         1-855-355-5777.



When should pets be given their rabies vaccinations?  All pets should receive their first rabies shot no later than 4 months of age.  Their second shot (or booster) is due no later than 12 months after the first.  After that, boosters are given every three years.  If boosters are not given when they are due, your animal is considered unvaccinated.

My cats are indoor cats only, do they still need a rabies shot?  Yes!  ALL indoor pets must be vaccinated against rabies.  Rabid bats can easily find their way inside your home and expose both you and your pets.

Livestock like cattle, horses and sheep should also be vaccinated. If vaccinating all of your livestock is too expensive, you should vaccinate any animals that are especially valuable, animals that often come into contact with people and/or any animals that are housed in structures that might be occupied by raccoons or bats. If you are a hunter, be aware of your surroundings. Never capture, skin or eat an animal that is acting abnormal. Also, bring disposable gloves with you for handling and skinning animals or when you are handling game meat. Remember, all meat should be cooked thoroughly before eating. If you trap, consider getting rabies pre-exposure vaccination.

What do I do if I, my family, or my pets are exposed? Exposure means that you have been scratched or bitten by a wild or sick animal, or that you have gotten saliva from an animal that may have rabies into an open wound or mucous membrane (i.e. eyes, nose, mouth). If you believe that you or someone you know has been exposed:

·     Wash the exposed wound thoroughly with soap and running water.

·     Seek medical attention immediately. DO NOT WAIT FOR SYMPTOMS TO APPEAR!! By the time symptoms are apparent, it is too late, and the virus will likely result in death.

·     If possible, try to capture the animal without further exposure. Be careful not to damage the animal’s head. This way, authorities can observe the animal and/or test it for rabies.

·     Disinfect any surfaces or items that have been contaminated with tissues or fluids from the animal with a fresh solution of 1 part household bleach to 9 parts water.

·     A dead rabies-suspect animal can be kept on ice and double bagged in plastic until it can be tested.

If your pet has been exposed, but has received proper vaccinations, a booster shot is needed within five days of the exposure. This exposure must also be reported to the Lewis County Health Department. Any animals that have been exposed but have not received proper vaccinations will need to be confined strictly for 6 months or destroyed immediately. This is why we urge you to get your pets vaccinated!

 For More Information:  

The New York State Department of Health: 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:



DEET Tips for Proper Protection:

The chemical N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide- more commonly known as DEET- is an insect repellent that can reduce the risk of mosquito bites, but must be used with caution. DEET comes in many different concentrations, with percentages as low as five percent or as high as 100 percent. By using products with lower concentrations of DEET and by applying as little of the product as needed for your outdoor activities, you can reduce your exposure to DEET. Products containing DEET have been occasionally associated with some health problems (skin reactions, including rash, swelling and itching; eye irritation; and, less frequently, slurred speech, confusion and seizure). Frequent reuse or saturation is unnecessary for effectiveness. Use only what and how much you need for you situation.

In addition, the New York State Department of Health recommends taking these precautions when using repellents that contain DEET:

·     Store out of the reach of children, and read all instructions on the label before applying.

·     Do NOT allow children to apply DEET to themselves.

·     Do NOT apply DEET directly on children. Apply to your own hands, and then put it on the child.

·     When applying DEET to children, avoid putting it on the child's hands.

·     Avoid prolonged and excessive use of DEET products. Use sparingly to cover exposed skin or clothing.

·     Do NOT apply repellents in enclosed areas.

·     Put product on hands to apply on the face, and avoid the eyes, nose and mouth.

·     Do NOT use on skin that is damaged by sunburn, cuts, rashes or skin conditions, such as psoriasis or acne.

·     DEET may be applied to clothing, but may damage some synthetic fabrics and plastics.

·     Wash treated skin with soap and water after returning indoors. Launder treated clothes seperately.

·     If you believe you or a child is having an adverse reaction to a repellent containing DEET, wash the treated area immediately, and contact your health care provider or local poison control center.

Remember, the use of DEET is only one way to reduce the risk of mosquito bites. The State Health Department also encourages other precautions- such as wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts when in areas of high mosquito activity. Try to reduce the use of repellents on children, since they may be at greater risk for reactions to repellents, in part, because their exposure may be greater. Also, eliminate items on your property in which standing water can collect and serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.




Prevent Lyme Disease:

What is Lyme disease? Lyme disease is an infection that can cause skin, joint, heart and nervous system problems.

What causes Lyme disease? Lyme disease is caused by bacteria spread by the bite of an infected deer tick. The adult tick is the size of a sesame seed. The nymphal (young) tick is the size of a poppy seed.

How can I avoid getting bitten? When in wooded, grassy and brushy areas, avoid contact with low-lying vegetation. Wear light-colored long pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Tuck pants into socks or boots, and shirt into pants. Repellents containing DEET (on skin) or permethrin (on clothing) may provide some protection. Read and follow label directions carefully. NEVER let children apply repellents themselves. Check yourself, children and pets for ticks often while outside. Do a complete body check again at home.

What should I do if I find a tick attached to me? Using tweezers, grasp the tick near the mouth parts, as close to the skin as possible. Pull steadily and firmly until the tick lets go. Apply rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to the bite site. Never twist or squeeze the tick. Don't use petroleum jelly, kerosene or matches to remove ticks.

What are the early warning signs of Lyme infection? A common early sign is an expanding rash resembling a solid patch or "bulls-eye" (60-80% of cases). Flu-like symptoms, including fever, muscle and joint pain, fatigue and headache, are other early symptoms. See your health care provider if you experience any of these symptoms.

Can Lyme disease be treated? Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics. The earlier treatment begins, the easier it is to prevent the disease's long-term effects.


Sun Safety:

Now that summer is upon us, here is some useful information about how to play it safe while being out in the sun. Summertime heat can be dangerous for anyone. Some people are at risk of serious health effects- even death- from getting overheated. Here's what you need to know about the effects of hot weather and what you can do to keep cool.

What can I do during a heat wave? Use air conditioning to cool down or go to an air-conditioned building (supermarkets, libraries, etc.). If you don't have air conditioning in your home, open windows and shades on the shady side and close them on the sunny side to try to cool it down. Drink plenty of fluids but avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugary drinks. Take regular breaks from physical activity, and avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day (between 11 am and 4pm). Never leave children, pets or those with special needs in a parked car, even briefly. Temperatures in the car can become dangerous within a few minutes. Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing to keep cool. Wear sunscreen and a ventilated hat (e.g. straw or mesh when in the sun, even if it is cloudy).

How can I protect my child from the sun's harmful UV rays?

1.   Keep infants out of the sun for the first 6 months of their life.

2.   Limit the amount of time your child spends in the sun.

3.   Schedule outside activities for early morning or late afternoon. Avoid the hours of 10 am to 4 pm when the sun's UV rays are strongest and most harmful.

4.   Keep your children in the shade. Use a tree for natural shade or make your own shade with an umbrella or a tent. Carriages and strollers with hoods and canopies provide for babies and toddlers.

5.   Dress your children to minimize exposure to the sun's rays. Choose: clothes that are made from tightly woven fabrics, such as unbleached cotton; wide-brimmed hats that shade your child's face, scalp, neck, and ears (not baseball caps); sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher and sunglasses (rated to black close to 100% of the sun's UV-A and UV-B rays) to protect your child's eye and skin around eyes.

6.   Cover as much skin as possible with long-sleeved shirts and long shorts.

Sunscreen Tips: Choose a sunscreen that offers both UVA and UVB protection. Put sunscreen on 30 minutes before going outside. Rub a generous amount of sunscreen on all uncovered skin (except eyes) and even on areas that will be covered by light clothing, which does not filter out all UV rays. Use a sunscreen stick or lip balm on sensitive areas like the lips, nose, ears, hands, and feet. Choose a water-resistant or waterproof sunscreen if your child is playing in the water. Sunscreen should be re-applied every two hours. Towel-dry your child before re-applying sunscreen, if your child is sweaty or has been swimming.


Car Seat Safety:

How long do children need to ride rear-facing in a car seat?  Children must be BOTH at least 12 months of age AND 20 pounds before they can face forward in their car seat.

Growing Up Safe: As children grow, how they sit in your car, truck, or SUV should change. Save your child from injury or death by observing all four steps:

1.   Rear-facing Infant Seats: in the back seat from birth to at least one year old and at least 20 pounds

2.   Forward-facing Toddler Seats: in the back seat from age one and 20 pounds to about age four and 40 pounds

3.   Booster Seats: in the back seat from about age four to at least age eight, unless 4'9"

4.   Safety Belts: in the back seat at age eight or older or taller than 4'9"


Cancer Services:

When should I get screened for colon cancer?  Colon cancer screening is recommended beginning at age 50 for both men and women.

Is colon cancer preventable?  Colon cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. If the individual is screened and a polyp is found and removed, the cancer risk is virtually eliminated (certain types of polyps can turn cancerous over time).

Is a colonoscopy the only screening test for colon cancer?  No, if an individual has no personal or family history of colon cancer or polyps in a first degree relative (mother, father, and siblings), a simple at-home test kit is an adequate screening tool. This must be done annually.

Will my insurance pay for colon cancer screening?  Most health plans, including Medicaid and Medicaid Managed Care Plans, reimburse for age- and risk-appropriate colorectal cancer screening tests.