When it comes to protecting yourself against disease, education is the key

Emily Rapposelli, an epidemiologist with the Monroe County Department of Health, joined Good Morning Keys this morning on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM to talk about communicable disease education.

One communicable disease is rabies.

Rapposelli explained, “Rabies is a virus that’s 99 percent fatal. We have a very low instance rate here in the Keys, but it’s very important to learn more about it so that we can limit possible exposures to rabies.”

The virus is transmitted through saliva, associated with bites and scratches from animals that have the virus.

Rapposelli said, “The scratch would have to be from an animal that self-grooms a lot, but the virus would enter the wound through the infected saliva.”

High-risk animals for rabies include bats, racoons, skunks, foxes, and any stray or feral animals.

Prevention is the key to keeping safe from rabies. So always ask if you can pet an owned animal and injured animals should be left to the professionals.

Rapposelli said, “We love that you want to help them. The best thing you can do is call one of the animal control officers in your area.”

The incubation of rabies is quite slow and if you are bitten, you will need the shots.

Rapposelli explained, “It’s a four-dose vaccine. Typically that would be administered on day zero, three, seven and 14.”

Campylobacteriosis is a diagnosis when campylobacter bacteria causes an infection. Transmission is often through food.

Rapposelli said, “You can do this by handling or eating undercooked or raw poultry or meat, consuming unpasteurized milk or dairy products, contaminated drinking water, contact with animals or consuming of unwashed fruits or vegetables.”

Proper hygiene can help stop the spread of campylobacter.

Salmonellosis is quite similar to campylobacter – it’s a bacteria and transmission happens through ingested contaminated food or water.

Health to You brings services of the Monroe County Department of Health to the public.

Vaccines to You brings vaccinations to the public as well.

Rapposelli said, “This is where employers can request we come to their business and immunize their staff at no cost to them. We have many vaccines available, just not the flu vaccine, but the way to do this is to register on our website. There’s a section called Vaccines to You.”

Another program that is just beginning is Education to You, which brings all sorts of information to the public.

The Breastfeeding and Safe Sleep Support Services have also been created.

Rapposelli said, “We offer a lot of great free resources to families.”

For more information on the Department of Health, click here: https://monroe.floridahealth.gov/index.html