Part III: GCPH in the 1980s


Editor’s note: This is Part III of this month’s Centennial Celebration series covering Greene County Public Health in the 1980s.

Later in this decade, epidemiology and surveillance was introduced for chronic disease, infectious disease, and injury prevention. The program exists to collect and analyze local health data to determine preventive health program needs, set health indicators, and evaluate community and organizational efforts. Funding for the epidemiologist position came from a two-year grant.

The agency submitted for a litter control grant and the health district began supporting health fairs.

In 1981, the board considered eliminating housing inspections. The City of Fairborn was not in favor of eliminating the service. Discussion was held regarding having the cities pay for the cost of the service through contract. The housing program had been around since the mid-1960s. Local water regulations were repealed when the State of Ohio passed regulations that took effect Jan. 1, 1981. Local air pollution regulations were repealed in October 1982 when the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) was given authority at the state level to enforce the regulations. The Regional Air Pollution Control Agency (RAPCA) took over enforcement. OEPA began surveying the solid waste program which monitors the Xenia and Fairborn landfill sites and sent letters of approval for operating the program. Laws governing the disposal of infectious waste were passed.

The need for sanitary sewers in Beavercreek became apparent and were installed. The health district saw a need to conduct a study on the condition of septic systems in Greene County. Board approved installation of a Wisconsin Mound sewage disposal system if the requirements for a leaching system could not be met.

The City of Fairborn met with the Ohio Department of Health in 1985 and adopted water fluoridation.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) were found in Alpha in 1986. Small trace amounts were found in wells. Residential plumbing, nuisance abatement, school and jail inspection, rabies, air pollution, housing, mosquito, immunization, hypertension, maternity, pregnancy testing, vision, heart and hearing, dental, TB, speech, school health, health promotion and home care were all discontinued. Twenty-one positions were eliminated. The present 5-day, 7 hours per day (35 hours/week) work week was adopted. The board adopted an evaluation for the health commissioner position which was completed by a sub-committee of the board. One job applicant filed a complaint of discrimination against the health commissioner, however, the complaint was dropped. The board passed a resolution making the health commissioner the appointing authority.

Through the 1960s, measles, a vaccine preventable viral disease, was a rare occurrence. In the 1980s, there was a resurgence of measles at Greeneview Local Schools. Seven to 14 days after infection, symptoms such as high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes develop. An early sign is tiny white spots (Kolpik spots) that may appear inside the mouth two to three days after symptoms begin. The measles rash will appear three to five days after symptoms begin. The rash appears as flat red spots on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, body, arms, legs, and feet. Fever can reach 104 degrees. The biggest threat now is from travelers who contract measles abroad or in communities with pockets of unvaccinated people.

Fifteen cases of mumps were reported in the Beavercreek City Schools in spring 1982. Outbreaks of mumps have been reported among groups of people who have prolonged close contact such as sharing water bottles, practicing sports together, or living in close quarters. Mumps is a contagious disease caused by a virus. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, and loss of appetite. The swelling of the salivary glands is what causes the puffy cheeks and a tender swollen jaw.

Giardia cases were increasing in 1986. Giardia is a parasite found on the surfaces of food, soil, and water that have been contaminated by feces (poop). The most common exposure is through contaminated drinking and recreational water.

The board approved the Haemophilus influenzae b (Hib) vaccination program. Before the introduction of effective vaccines, H. influenzae serotype b (Hib) was the cause of more than 95 percent of cases of invasive H. influenzae disease among children younger than 5-years-old. Hib was the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in the United States among children younger than 5-years-old and a major cause of other life-threatening invasive bacterial diseases in this age group. Approximately 4 percent of all cases were fatal.


By Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell is the health commissioner for Greene County Public Health. Laurie Fox, public information officer for Greene County Public Health, contributed to this column.

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