News Release: Health Department to host emergency medication dispensing exercise- 2012

The McLean County Health Department (MCHD) will host a medication dispensing exercise at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum as part of the McLean County Emergency Response Exercise Thursday, September 20.

The exercise will simulate the county’s response to a release of a biological agent at Illinois State University. Participants in the McLean County Emergency Response Exercise include the McLean County Disaster Council, McLean County Emergency Management Agency, Mennonite College of Nursing at Illinois State University, PATH211, OSF St. Joseph Medical Center, Advocate Bromenn Medical Center, the Town of Normal, Illinois State University, and volunteers from RSVP, the McLean County Health Department Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) and the American Red Cross of the Heartland.

MCHD staff and MRC volunteers will set up a Point of Dispensing (POD) site at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington to distribute antibiotics to treat those purportedly exposed. The exercise will test the health department’s capacity to mobilize staff and community response partners in the event of a widespread public health emergency and also measure the amount of clients served in the allotted time period. Community volunteers will act as the population in need of antibiotics to treat purported exposure.

What: Emergency Medication Dispensing Exercise

Who: McLean County Health Department and Medical Reserve Corps

When: 1:30 to 3:20 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012

Where: U.S. Cellular Coliseum, 101 South Madison St. Bloomington, IL 61701

Local media representatives intending to cover the medication dispensing exercise at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum are asked to register with MCHD Communication Specialist Kera Simon in advance. Media representatives should park in the parking garage located on the corner of Olive and Lee streets. Enter the coliseum from the parking garage and take the elevator to the second floor, or as directed by the signs in the elevator. Follow the signs that lead to the restaurant. Media representatives will be checked in and escorted through the POD site.

This activity is funded by the McLean County Health Department, in part by the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Grant provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


This press release was originally released on September 14, 2012. To view the PDF, click MA_Full Scale Emergency Drill 2012.


News Release: Second human case of West Nile Virus reported in McLean County- 2013

BLOOMINGTON— A McLean County man in his 40s tested positive with West Nile Virus (WNV) during hospitalization in early October. Illinois Department of Public Health laboratories confirmed the positive WNV case Wednesday. This is the second human WNV case in McLean County so far in 2013.

“West Nile Virus is still a concern for the county until the weather temperature is consistently below 55 degrees or we experience a hard frost,” McLean County Health Department Director Walt Howe said. “It is important for individuals to protect themselves from mosquito bites that could lead to West Nile Virus infection by wearing mosquito repellent with DEET, long sleeves, and pants at dawn and dusk.”

Residents are advised to take the following precautions to reduce their risk of mosquito bites:

  • REDUCE exposure—wear protective clothing at dawn and dusk (the time when the type of mosquito that carries WNV is most active), repair and replace worn screens on doors and windows, and eliminate stagnant, shallow water where mosquitoes breed (including bird baths, flower pots, wading pools, old tires and other receptacles).
  • REPEL mosquitoes—apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picardin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.

WNV surveillance by the McLean County Health Department Environmental Health Division staff, including mosquito and dead bird collections, ended Oct. 15.

McLean County is one of 73 counties across the state with indicators of WNV presence in 2013, including positive mosquito collections and positive birds. In the state of Illinois, 74 human cases of WNV have been reported in 2013, resulting in seven deaths. Previous WNV activity in McLean County this year included two WNV-positive birds— one in Bloomington and one in Normal— and five WNV-positive mosquito collections from Old Town Township, Dale Township, Lake Bloomington area, and the Ellsworth area.

Last year, McLean County had five WNV-positive birds—four in Bloomington and one in Normal— and one human case.

In 2012, 290 Illinois residents were infected with WNV, resulting in 12 deaths. Fifty-five of Illinois’s 102 counties had humans, birds, mosquitoes and/or horses test positive for the virus.

WNV is a mosquito-borne disease that causes encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. Culex mosquitoes, also known as the house mosquito, become infected with the virus by feeding on infected birds. Mosquitoes then infect humans and animals. It takes three to 14 days after the infecting mosquito bite for WNV symptoms to develop.

Mild WNV symptoms in humans include a slight fever or headache. Severe illness can lead to high fever, disorientation and even paralysis or death. Persons at highest risk for serious illness are adults 50 years of age or older and people with compromised immune systems. Anyone concerned about their risk or experiencing symptoms should contact a physician immediately and inform the doctor of any recent mosquito bites.

For more information on West Nile virus, visit or


This press release was originally released on October 18, 2013. To view the PDF, click NR_Second WNV Human case of 2013.

News Release: MCHD receives new March of Dimes grant to provide smoking cessation to women- 2014

BLOOMINGTON, IL- The McLean County Health Department will provide smoking cessation services to women of childbearing ages to assist mothers who are trying to quit smoking and improve the health of infants in McLean County through a new grant provided by the March of Dimes Illinois Chapter.

Health department staff will work together to assist pregnant mothers and women of childbearing age by offering the smoking cessation services to Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) participants and prenatal mothers enrolled in Family Case Management Services. The McLean County Health Department will partner with local OB/GYN medical offices, hospitals, churches, and other community organizations to recruit additional Freedom from Smoking participants. Varying start dates throughout the year will be offered to accommodate different groups of women.

“We’re excited to provide another avenue to help the women and infants of McLean County,” Sophie Rebert, Family Case Management Supervisor, said. “Quitting smoking is an important step in raising a healthy family, and we’re looking forward to providing new ways to help women quit smoking to reduce high-risk pregnancies, premature births, and possible birth defects associated with smoking.”

The $15,000 March of Dimes grant will help cover the costs for 50 McLean County women between the ages of 18 and 44 to participate in the Freedom from Smoking program, developed by the American Lung Association. The program is administered as a group clinic and includes eight one-hour sessions over a seven-week period. Each clinic session is designed to help smokers gain control of their behavior. The grant will also cover the costs of incentives, such as diapers and other child-related supplies, and travel vouchers to assist participants in attending all eight sessions. Additional guidance will be offered outside of the program’s sessions to keep participants on track to be tobacco-free.

Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely than nonsmokers to have an ectopic pregnancy, placental abruption, and possible stillbirth. Smoking during pregnancy exposes prenatal infants to dangerous chemicals like nicotine, carbon monoxide and tar, which can lessen the amount of oxygen absorbed by the fetus. Babies born to women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely than babies born to nonsmokers to weigh less, have possible birth defects, and be born prematurely. Secondhand smoke is also dangerous to infants after birth, creating a greater risk for asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia, ear infections, respiratory symptoms and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

The most recent data reports that 10.5 percent of pregnant women in McLean County self-reported smoking tobacco products during pregnancy in 2008, which was higher than the Illinois average of 7.9 percent. McLean County’s low birth weight (weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces) and preterm births (birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy) rates for both exceeded the state averages in 2009. In McLean County, 9.1 percent of live births in the county recorded low birth weights, which exceeded the Illinois rate of 8.4 percent. McLean County reported 13.3 percent of births as preterm, which exceeded the Illinois rate of 12.1 percent.

Health Promotion staff will work with FCM and WIC to find participants who are committed to quit smoking. The Freedom from Smoking program will be offered at no cost to McLean County women between the ages of 18 and 44 who are committed to completing all eight one-hour sessions during seven weeks. Freedom from Smoking sessions will be offered through August 2015 to reach a total of 50 women. Contact 309-888-5954 to reserve a seat in a Freedom from Smoking session.


This press release was originally released on September 25, 2014. To view the PDF, click NR_March of Dimes 2014.

News Release: CookingMatters program provided through McLean County WIC- 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— McLean County Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition, Education, and Supplemental Food Program (WIC) will provide grocery store tours to teach participants how to determine the nutrition value of foods, shop on a budget, locate WIC-approved foods in the aisles, and better prepare foods as part of a new program called “Cooking Matters at the Store.”

McLean County Health Department WIC received a $1,000 grant through No Kid Hungry to provide on-site education within grocery store aisles to practice skills such as: buying fruits and vegetables on a budget, comparing unit prices to find bargains, reading and comparing food labels, identifying whole grains, and shopping within a budget.

McLean County WIC is partnering with local Walmart and Kroger grocery stores to provide tours throughout the summer months. After a tour, participants can earn a free $10 grocery purchase, a free workbook with recipes and simple tips on buying healthy and low-cost foods, free reusable grocery bag, and WIC nutrition education credit.

“Our hope with this program is for the WIC participants who utilize the grocery store tours to feel more confident making nutritious food choices for their families and learn how to make the most of their WIC food dollars,” Tammy Brooks, WIC Supervisor with the McLean County Health Department, said. “During the grocery store tours, participants share experiences with other participants and WIC staff, so we can all learn from each other.”

Educating WIC participants about how to get the most out of their WIC coupons is essential in securing funding not only for McLean County WIC, but also the local grocery stores that support the program. Local grocers are reimbursed for food purchases processed through the WIC program. By maximizing local use of WIC food vouchers, participants support the local economy by spending $571,936 per year in WIC dollars in the community.

WIC services are provided without cost to pregnant, postpartum, or nursing women who:

  • Is a resident of McLean County
  • Is pregnant or has had a baby in the past six months
  • Has a child younger than 5 years old
  • Has physical, nutritional, and financial need as determined by an evaluation and screening
  • Meets income guidelines: a family of one earning less than $21,257 a year, a family of two earning less than $28,694 a year, a family of three earning less than $36,131 a year, a family of four earning less than $43,568 a year, and so on.

For more information, contact the McLean County Health Department at (309) 888-5457 or visit the McLean County Health Department website at


This press release was originally released on June 16, 2014. To read the PDF, click NR_CookingMatters 2014.

News Release: Parents, schedule those back-to-school appointments- 2014

2014-2015 school immunization changes align with nationally recognized recommendations

BLOOMINGTON, IL- The McLean County Health Department advises parents to schedule children’s back-to-school immunizations and dental exams before school begins in mid-August.

According to Illinois School Code, all children entering school must be immunized against measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella, and hepatitis B. Last year, Illinois School Code added a requirement to show proof of receiving Tdap, the booster shot against pertussis, for children entering grades 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th. For the 2014-2015 school year, Illinois School Code added a few more requirements to align with nationally recognized immunization recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

  • Children entering preschool or day care will be required to have the Pneumococcal Conjugate vaccine to fight against an array of illness, from ear and sinus infection to lung infection, such as pneumonia, bloodstream infections, or spinal cord infections, such as meningitis.
  • All students, grades Kindergarten through 12th grade, must show proof of receiving two doses of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine.
  • Kindergarten, 6th grade, and 9th grade students must show proof of receiving 2 doses of the Varicella vaccine, more commonly known as the Chicken Pox shot.
  • Sixth grade students must show proof of receiving the Hepatitis B vaccine shot. Previously, it was required of 5th grade students and was changed this year to match the school physical schedule.

Check your children’s Immunization Record or talk with your health care provider to assure these requirements are met. If your children received their school shots at the health department, call 309-888-5455.

The McLean County Health Department provides immunizations to all school-age children, including uninsured and under-insured families through the federal Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. The health department also provides shots to residents with private insurance, on Medicaid or Medicare, and those who wish to pay an out-of-pocket fee.

In addition to regular business hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.), the Immunizations Clinic within the McLean County Health Department will provide evening options in August to accommodate parents’ schedules and back-to-school needs. The following dates will provide immunization appointments from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Aug. 4, Aug. 11, and Aug. 18. Please call 309-888-5455 to schedule an immunization appointment with the health department.

Other back-to-school requirements include:

Dental Exam: Children entering Kindergarten, 2nd grade, and 6th grade are required to receive an oral health exam and present proof of examination by a dentist by May 15 of the school year.

The children’s dental clinic in the McLean County Health Department serves families who are without dental insurance or on Medicaid (All Kids). Experienced children’s dentists and registered dental hygienists are available to families Monday-Thursday at the health department, providing exams, cleanings, fillings, fluoride treatments, and oral health education. Call 309-888-5479 to schedule your child’s dental appointment.

Physicals: Required of Kindergarteners, 6th and 9th graders.

Eye Exam: Children entering Kindergarten are required to submit proof of exam to school no later than October 15 of the year the child is first enrolled.


This press release was originally released on July 29, 2014. To read the PDF, click NR_Back to School 2014.