September 20, 2014

Central Wisconsin hunters being urged to test deer for CWD

(PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

(PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Deer hunters are being asked to save deer heads or to use partnering taxidermists so they can test animals for Chronic Wasting Disease. This is especially true in certain central Wisconsin areas like Portage, Adams, and Juneau counties where Department of Natural Resources officials are trying to determine if the disease is spreading or has developed any patterns.

Last year, five CWD-positive wild deer were discovered in Central Wisconsin. Three of them were in Portage County and two in Adams County. Another CWD positive test was found on a captive deer in Marathon County last year. DNR Wildlife Supervisor Kris Johansen says Chronic Wasting Disease is going to be a rare occurrence, but there are precautions hunters need to take with the meat.

“What we tell folks is if an animal tests positive for Chronic Wasting Disease, The Department of Health and Family Services advises against eating that animal. It’s just better safe than sorry, so that’s the stance we take on it. If it tests positive, you’re better off not eating it.”
Johansen says the testing procedures have improved, and hunters can get the results back in a relatively short period of time…

“We’ve cut down on the amount of time it takes to get the sample processed, get it in, and get the results back, and we’re getting those back in two to three weeks now, so in most situations if folks process it and get it sampled and they put it in the freezer and they want to wait, they won’t have to wait that long to eat that good tasting venison.”

Hunters are being asked to keep the head and a small part of the neck for testing, or to take their trophy deer to a participating taxidermists where they can submit the sample to the DNR for testing.


Changes to drug takeback program

Drugs (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Drugs (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Newly approved changes to the way the federal government handles drug take back boxes may complicate things for local solid waste departments.

A rule passed earlier this year allows those drop boxes in more places than just police stations. Marathon County solid waste department director Meleesa Johnson says that may make it easier for some people to get to a place to turn in unwanted medications. “This piece of legislation changes the law and then instructs the DEA to create this new rule that allows for more locations where these can be taken back including pharmacies, some clinic and hospitals. Those type of things.”

The wording of the legislation only applies to controlled substances, which are only a portion of the drugs Johnson says they get in their boxes. There’s also no provisions in the rule that talk about how the new boxes will be funded. “Some of these issues would have to be addressed, like how is it going to be paid for, what are the logistical and administrative concerns at these additional locations, and it’s a little uncertain how that would all play out.”

Currently the DEA pays for the upkeep and transport of the drugs at boxes at police stations but will not be doing so for new facilities in the future. There are also no guidelines on how pills and drugs need to be destroyed, only that they must be rendered useless as a medication.

Johnson says her department prefers incineration as the most environmentally friendly way to destroy drugs, but that other groups may not take that route. “We certainly don’t want them in the landfill, because they are complex organic molecules, and they don’t necessarily break down the way we want them too. Incineration is the best means, and we’ll continue to pursue that in Marathon County.”

The new rules will take effect in October, after one final federally backed drug take back day September 27th.


Calls to domestic abuse hotline up 72 percent after Rice video

Patti Seger appears with Wisconsin Attorney General JB Van Hollen at Madison event (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Patti Seger appears with Attorney General JB Van Hollen at a recent Madison event (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson -file)

The dramatic 72 percent increase in phone calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline comes after a video of former NFL player Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancée was made public.

Patti Seger is executive director of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin. She says she’s not surprised by the surge in calls from victims of domestic violence as well as from their friends or family members. “The level of discourse that’s going on right now about domestic violence and the NFL related to the Ray Rice situation has been quite extraordinary, so it doesn’t surprise me that so many victims are coming forward.”

AUDIO: The silver lining is that this violent video is calling attention to domestic abuse. Seger says many women are realizing there is someone they can call, and she adds, it’s important not to blame the victim. Seger also points to a pattern of abuse among professional athletes. 1:53

That hotline normally receives 500 to 600 calls a day, according to a Huffington Post article. After the graphic video was circulated online and television Monday, more than 1,000 phone calls were answered. Katie Ray-Jones, the CEO of the hotline, tells the Huffington Post they had “an outpouring of women saying they didn’t realize this happened to other people.

Seger says that’s a common theme. She says violence in relationships is private matter. “When something like this situation really brings it out of the shadows — and really so explicitly that we see this video tape of him punching her and knocking her out and then dragging her across the floor — it really brings it home for women that they are truly not alone and that this can happen to anyone.”

Seger says there are many reasons why a victim stays with her abuser and, she says, people should not blame the victim.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:32

Flu season is around the corner, time for shots

The start of the flu season is around the corner and health officials say it’s time to start thinking about getting vaccinated.

Wood County public health nurse Jean Rosekrans says nearly everyone should be getting the shot. “The recommendation from the CDC is still everyone over six months should be vaccinated against the flu. The vaccine is still one of the best ways to prevent influenza.” Getting the vaccine helps keep not only yourself safe, but those around you who might not be able to take a vaccine.

This year the vaccine won’t just be a shot. Rosekrans says that they will also be getting a nasally administered shot for kids. “The studies that are coming out are looking that this nasal spray may work better than the flu shots in younger children.” The CDC is recommending that for kids who are 2 to 8 years of age.

Also, recent changes at the federal level mean that the county health departments will only be able to administer flu vaccines to uninsured minors. “If somebody does have insurance, they should contact their healthcare provider and they can receive the vaccine through their provider.”

Rosekrans says if you have questions, you should contact your local health department or call your primary physician.


Concerns on potential for Ebola in U.S.


Dr. Nasia Safdar

Where will Ebola fly to? It could be the U.S. Dr. Nasia Safdar, Director of Infection Control at UW Hospital, said that much depends on efforts to contain this worst-ever outbreak in West Africa. “I do think that eventually it will arrive here, but the timing of when that might depends entirely on how quickly things can be contained – or not – over there,” she said.

Safdar said that while the outbreak hasn’t yet spread beyond the initial countries that saw cases, the number of new cases also doesn’t seem to be declining. She says U.S. health care workers should be concerned.

“I think it’s huge,” she said. “It’s something that most people here don’t really have any experience with, and given how there are antiobiotics available for every other thing, we’ve become a bit, I think, cavalier in our approach.”

Safdar said wearing the appropriate protective equipment – as well as taking it off carefully – will be the most important consideration when caring for confirmed or suspected Ebola patients.