The Public Health Dept. offers the following services:

• Home and Community Based Services
• Regional and County Disaster Preparedness
• HCP for Children With Special Needs
• Nursing Services - Immunization and Vaccination Fees
• Prevention Services
• Communicable Disease Investigation and Information
• Public Health Educational Programs

Public Health Home

Air Quality Health Advisory for Blowing Dust

DATE: 3/23/2018
TIME: 1:30pm
Air Quality Health Advisory for Blowing Dust
Issued for San Luis Valley of south-central Colorado
Issued at 1:30 PM MST, Friday March 23rd, 2018
Issued by the San Luis Valley Regional Environmental Health Program
Affected Area:  San Luis Valley of south-central Colorado, including Alamosa, Costilla, and eastern parts of Conejos, Rio Grande, and Saguache Counties. Cities include, but are not limited to, Alamosa, San Luis, La Jara, Conejos, Monte Vista, Del Norte, Center and Saguache.
Advisory in Effect:  1:30PAM MST, Friday, March 23rd, 2018 to 8:00 PM MST, Friday, March 23rd, 2018.
Public Health Recommendations:  If significant blowing dust is present and reducing visibility to less than 10 miles across a wide area, People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children in the affected area should reduce prolonged or heavy indoor and outdoor exertion.
Outlook:  Strong sustained and gusty winds are producing areas of blowing dust on Friday.  Areas of blowing dust will persist throughout the region during the afternoon and into the evening hours.  The threat for blowing dust will gradually diminish across the region during evening hours.
For the latest Colorado statewide air quality conditions, forecasts, and advisories, visit:
Social Media:
Contact: Della Vieira
Alamosa County Public Health Department

Landmark FDA Ruling on the Regulation of E-Cigs

The U.S Food and Drug Administration made a landmark ruling today regarding the regulation of electronic cigarettes, cigars, hookah tobacco and pipe tobacco. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment fully supports this announcement. This historic step will help improve public health and protect future generations from the risks of tobacco use by putting additional restrictions in place that make it illegal to sell tobacco products to minors.

“Every Coloradan deserves to know what they are putting in their bodies when using an electronic cigarette - so they can make an informed decision about their health. This is the expectation for virtually every product in our country, and it’s perfectly reasonable to apply those expectations to e-cigarettes,” said Dr. Wolk, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “It’s worth noting this is not a ruling on the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as cessation devices, which at this point is still unknown. Until the data can confirm or deny their effectiveness for that purpose, we will continue to recommend proven strategies to help people quit.”

Dr. Wolk said, “Colorado continues to hold clean air as the standard in our state for both secondhand smoke and vapor, and while some studies have stated e-cigarettes may be less harmful than combustible tobacco products, the safest level of nicotine consumption for any adult in Colorado is zero.”

For more information please see the announcement from the FDA Here.

Public Health Confirms Hantavirus Associated Death


April 19th, 2016

Public Health Confirms Hantavirus Associated Death

SAGUACHE— The laboratory at Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has confirmed a recently deceased resident of Saguache County was exposed to hantavirus, according to Saguache County Public Health Director, Ginger Stringer. To protect confidentiality, public health officials are unable to disclose the identity of the deceased or exact location of exposure.

Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is a rare but serious disease caused by exposure to hantavirus. Colorado has had more confirmed cases of HPS than any other state except New Mexico. The disease is fatal for more than one-third of those people who become infected.

Hantavirus cannot spread from person to person. People are infected by breathing in the virus when stirring up dust from mouse nests or mouse droppings in areas with poor ventilation, or when handling mice, because hantavirus can be found in the urine, saliva, and droppings of infected mice.  People are at risk when going into closed spaces with rodent droppings, such as crawl spaces, attics, barns, outbuildings, and sheds, or when clearing wood piles where mouse droppings might be present.

In the San Luis Valley, the hantavirus is carried by deer mice, which have tawny backs, white bellies, big eyes and big ears. Typically, 10-15 percent of deer mice are infected, and it is not possible to tell if a mouse has the virus just by looking at it.  Rodents and household pets do not get sick from the virus.

Symptoms of HPS:

Symptoms usually start from one week to six weeks after exposure. Initialsymptoms are fatigue, fever, and muscle aches. There may also be headaches, dizziness, chills, and abdominal problems such as nausea, vomiting, and chills.  Four to ten days later,a dry cough and difficulty breathing may develop as the lungs fill with fluid. From this point, the illness can progress rapidly to respiratory failure or even death.

Because the disease can progress rapidly, it is important to seek medical care immediately if you develop fever, headache, and muscle pain within six weeks of exposure to mice or their droppings. 

Reduce your risk:

Keep mice away from areas where you live and work.  Store human food, pet food, and bird seed in lidded containers or securely closing cabinets.  Use traps baited with peanut butter to remove rodents from indoor areas. Keep garbage in tightly-covered cans.

Plug all holes (dime-sized or larger) in walls and around pipes and vents, using steel wool or metal sheeting. Repair window screens and make sure weather-stripping is tight under all doors, including pet doors.  Store hay, wood and equipment above ground at least 100 feet from the house. Remove old cars, junk and brush piles from the yard.

To clean up rodent infested areas:

Open doors and windows and allow a room to air out for 30 minutes before going inside.  Consider using a respirator mask (N-100 rating) that seals tightly to the face. DO NOT SWEEP OR DRY-VACUUM MOUSE DROPPINGS. Mix a fresh solution of one part bleach to nine parts water (or 1 ½ cups bleach per gallon of water). Wear rubber gloves and spray droppings, nests, and carcasses with the bleach and water solution. Let soak for 5-10 minutes before cleaning up with a mop, sponge, or wet vacuum.  After disinfecting, place mouse carcasses, nests and cleaning materials into a plastic bag. Tie the bag shut and put it in an outdoor trashcan.  Wash hands and clothing after clean up.

Hantavirus is a very real threat in the San Luis Valley. Take care when opening outbuildings, or when you find mouse droppings and mice around the house. For further information about protecting yourself and your family from hantavirus, contact your local Public Health Agency or go to www.cdc.gov/hantavirus.

CDC Press Release: E-cigarette ads reach nearly 7 in 10 middle and high-school students

 More than 18 million youth see e-cigarette ads; many ads use themes from cigarette ads that appeal to youth

     About 7 in 10 middle and high school students – more than 18 million young people – see e-cigarette advertising in stores, online, in newspapers and magazines, or on television and in movies, according to a new CDC Vital Signs report.

     E-cigarette ads use many of the same themes – independence, rebellion, and sex – used to sell cigarettes and other conventional tobacco products. Advertising of tobacco products has been shown to cause youth to start using those products. The unrestricted marketing of e-cigarettes and dramatic increases in their use by youth could reverse decades of progress in preventing tobacco use among youth.

     “The same advertising tactics the tobacco industry used years ago to get kids addicted to nicotine are now being used to entice a new generation of young people to use e-cigarettes,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “I hope all can agree that kids should not use e-cigarettes.”

     Data from the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) show 68.9 percent of middle and high school students see e-cigarettes ads from one or more media sources. More youth see e-cigarette ads in retail stores (54.8 percent) than online (39.8 percent), in TV/movies (36.5 percent), or in newspapers and magazines (30.4 percent).

     E-cigarettes typically deliver nicotine, which at a young age may cause lasting harm to brain development, promote addiction, and lead to sustained tobacco use. In 2014, e-cigarettes became the most commonly used tobacco product among youth, surpassing conventional cigarettes. During 2011 to 2014, current e-cigarette use among high school students soared from 1.5 percent to 13.4 percent, and among middle school students from 0.6 percent to 3.9 percent. Spending on e-cigarette advertising rose from $6.4 million in 2011 to an estimated $115 million in 2014.

     Strategies to reduce youth access to e-cigarettes could include:

  • Limiting tobacco product sales to facilities that never admit youth,
  • Restricting the number of stores that sell tobacco and how close they can be to schools,
  • Requiring that e-cigarettes be sold only through face-to-face transactions, not on the Internet, and
  • Requiring age verification to enter e-cigarette vendor’s websites, make purchases, and accept deliveries of e-cigarettes.

     “States and communities can also help reduce youth tobacco use by funding tobacco prevention and control programs that address the diversity of tobacco products available on the market, including e-cigarettes,” said Corinne Graffunder, Dr.P.H., director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “We know what works to effectively reduce youth tobacco use. If we were to fully invest in these proven strategies, we could significantly reduce the staggering toll that tobacco takes on our families and communities.”

     Other key findings in the Vital Signs report show that:

  • More than half of high school students (8.3 million) saw e-cigarette ads in retail stores, and more than 6 million saw them on the Internet.
  • More than half of middle school students (6 million) saw e-cigarettes ads in retail stores, and more than 4 million saw them on the Internet.
  • About 15 percent of all students (4.1 million) saw e-cigarette ads from all four sources: retail stores, the Internet, TV/movies, and magazines/newspapers.

    The 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate the manufacture, marketing, and sale of certain tobacco products. FDA has announced its intention to regulate e-cigarettes and other currently unregulated tobacco products as part of this Act. The rulemaking is currently under review at the Office of Management and Budget.


     Vital Signs is a report that appears on the first Tuesday of the month as part of the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The report provides the latest data and information on key health indicators.  These include cancer prevention, obesity, tobacco use, motor vehicle passenger safety, prescription drug overdose, HIV/AIDS, alcohol use, health care-associated infections, cardiovascular health, teen pregnancy, food safety, and viral hepatitis.


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

CDC works 24/7 protecting America’s health, safety and security. Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are curable or preventable, chronic or acute, stem from human error or deliberate attack, CDC is committed to respond to America’s most pressing health challenges.

Preventive health care can help Americans stay healthier throughout their lives. Those enrolled in health insurance coverage can use the “Roadmap to Better Care and a Healthier You” (English andSpanish) to learn about their benefits, including how to connect to primary care and the preventive services that are right for them, so that they can live a long and healthy life.



Colorado still the least obese state and No. 1 in physical activity

Mark Salley, Communications Director |303-692-2013|



Colorado still the least obese state and No. 1 in physical activity


DENVER — Colorado is the eighth healthiest state according to United Health Foundation’s annual health rankings, released today. The index ranks Colorado as the least obese state, No. 1 in physicial activity and second lowest in diabetes prevalence.

Gov. John Hickelooper said, "It's no surprise that Colorado retained its No. 1 ranking as the least obese state in the nation. With our abundant year-round outdoor recreation opportunities, it’s natural that Coloradans also rank first in physical activity.”

Read more: Colorado still the least obese state and No. 1 in physical activity

Bat Tested Positive For Rabies



SAGUACHE COUNTY – A bat found by a resident of Saguache County tested positive for rabies this week. Fortunately, the individual was able to contact local public health and have the animal tested before any persons were exposed to the deadly virus.   “We want to remind the public to protect themselves and their animals, and emphasize the importance of reporting animals that may have been exposed to a rabid animal or that may be showing signs of rabies, such as unusual behavior,” said Samantha Escobedo, SLV Regional Epidemiologist.

Read more: Bat Tested Positive For Rabies

West Nile Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    Linda Smith

July 29, 2015                                              719-587-5199

Protect Against West Nile

SAN LUIS VALLEY – West Nile virus has been identified in some mosquitoes tested by the Alamosa Mosquito Control District.  Local Public Health officials would like to remind the public that the most effective way to avoid West Nile Virus is to prevent mosquito bites.  

Use insect repellents when you go outdoors.  When weather permits, wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks outside.  Take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours at around dusk and dawn. Use screens to keep mosquitos out of your home, and remove standing water on your property.  Livestock water tanks and ornamental ponds may be treated with Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti), a type of bacteria that kills mosquito larvae but is safe for animals.  Do not handle dead birds with your bare hands. Birds may also carry WNV, transmitting it to mosquitoes, and on to humans.

One in five people infected with WNV may develop fever, headache, body aches, nausea, and vomiting. These flu-like symptoms usually appear within three to 14 days of being infected and often end after a few days to several weeks. Many more people are infected but do not  develop symptoms.

Of those who develop symptoms, a small percentage will develop more severe symptoms, including high fever, headache, neck stiffness, confusion, convulsions, vision loss, paralysis, coma, and even death. Serious illness can occur in people of any age, but the elderly and those with weakened immune function are particularly at risk. Symptoms may last from several weeks to years, and effects may be permanent. If any of these symptoms occur, medical attention should be sought immediately.

For more information about West Nile Virus prevention and control, including the latest guidelines on insect repellents, go to www.cdc.gov/westnile.  Or, call your local public health agency.

Alamosa County Public Health Department:  719.589.6639

Conejos County Public Health and Nursing Service:  719.274.4307

Costilla County Public Health Agency: 719.672.3332

Mineral County Public Health:  719.658.2416

Rio Grande County Public Health Agency:  719.657.3352

Saguache County Public Health:  719.655.2727

International Travel Vaccine Clinic

If you are traveling out of the country and would like to get immunizations for the common diseases in other regions of the country, then you can get immunized at the Rio Grande County Public Health. Click here for more information.

Chief Medical Officer to Expand Availability of Overdose Antidote


DENVER— In keeping with Senate Bill 15-053, Dr. Larry Wolk, chief medical officer and executive director at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, will expand the availability of naloxone, which is used to counter the effects of opioid overdoses. Opioids include prescription painkillers and illegal drugs such as heroin.

Colorado’s new law allows the state’s chief medical officer to issue standing orders for naloxone prescriptions that can be filled by pharmacists and used by:

  • A family member, friend or other person in a position to assist a person at risk of overdose.
  • An employee or volunteer of a harm reduction organization.
  • A first responder.
  • An individual at risk of overdose.

The law protects these individuals from civil or criminal liability if they provide naloxone in good faith to an individual experiencing an opioid-related drug overdose.

“This legislation will save lives,” said Dr. Wolk. “While our first aim is prevent the abuse of both illegal and prescription opioids, we now can make a life-saving antidote more readily available to people who can help someone at risk.”

Lisa Raville, executive director of Colorado’s Harm Reduction Action Center, said, “We are so thankful to the Legislature for unanimously passing this law to expand access to naloxone across the state. And a special thank you to Dr. Wolk for allowing pharmacists and harm reduction organizations – that don't have a medical provider – to work under his license as they are often better placed than doctors to reach those in need of naloxone such as opiate users, mothers and law enforcement members.”

From 2011 to 2013, an average of 7,600 Coloradans visited emergency departments each year because of drug overdoses. Annual deaths from painkillers such as morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone and fentaynl more than tripled from 2000 to 2013 in Colorado.

At a news conference in February, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced a new statewide education campaign, Take Meds Seriously, to raise awareness about the problem of prescription drug abuse in Colorado. The campaign focuses on safe use, storage and disposal of prescription pain medications.

Free Chair Exercise

Free Chair Exercise every Tuesday in the Be-Bop Studio at 1:00 p.m. Click here for more information.

Warmer Weather Brings Hantavirus Risk

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                      Linda Smith

March 16, 2015                                                                          Public Information Officer                                                                                                                          719-587-5199

Warmer Weather Brings Hantavirus Risk

SAN LUIS VALLEY— Spring cleaning can increase your risk of exposure hantavirus unless you take proper precautions. Hantavirus causes Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), a relatively rare but very serious disease that results in death for more than one-third of those who become infected.

In the San Luis Valley, hantavirus is carried by deer mice, which can move into barns, sheds, crawlspaces, and attics to keep warm through the winter. The virus can be found in the urine, saliva and droppings of infected mice. People are infected by breathing in the virus when stirring up dust from mouse nests or mouse droppings in areas with poor ventilation, or when handling mice.

To protect yourself and your family, do not sweep or vacuum mice droppings or nesting materials, because breathing dust containing infected droppings or urine is the most common way to be exposed to the virus.  Before entering or cleaning enclosed buildings and other enclosed areas where mice may have been present, open them up to air out for 30 minutes.  Wear gloves and consider wearing an N-100 rated respiratory mask (available at most hardware stores) when cleaning rodent-infested indoor areas.  Spray mouse droppings and nesting materials with a disinfectant and let them sit for a few minutes before disposing of them in a plastic bag.  Take steps to keep rodents away from your home. 

Early medical care is crucial for those who do become infected.  First symptoms of HPS appear 1-6 weeks after exposure and are flu-like:  fever, headache, muscle pain, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. A few days later, difficulty breathing develops and progresses very quickly to inability to breathe. Anyone who experiences early symptoms in the weeks following exposure to rodents, their droppings, or their nests, should seek medical care immediately and be sure tell the medical provider about the exposure to rodents. 

Since hantavirus was first identified in the Four Corners area in 1993, Colorado has had more confirmed cases of HPS than any other state except New Mexico. Last year there were two confirmed cases of HPS in the San Luis Valley.

For more information call your local Public Health agency (Alamosa County  589-6639; Conejos County 574-4307; Costilla County 672-3332; Mineral County 658-2416; Rio Grande County 657-3352; Saguache County 655-2533) or go to www.cdc.gov/hantavirus

Hantavirus Infographic May2014

Tuberculosis: Public Health Notice

This is an informational notice from Saguache County Public Health. It is *not* an emergency. A resident in our area has tested positive for Tuberculosis. Risk of transmission to others is low, but Public Health officials will be contacting those who may be at risk of TB exposure in order to see if testing is needed. If you have questions, you may call Saguache County Public Health at (719) 655-2533 or Rio Grande County Public Health at (719)657-3352, or visit www.SLVEmergency.org.

In addition, the following link may be useful to you or your constituents:

Tuberculosis: Get the Facts! Brochure
http://www.cdc.gov/tb/publications/pamphlets/tbgtfctseng.pdf (English and

Springtime in Saguache County

Hello fellow Saguache County Residents, finally the sun has come out to play!  With our delay in Spring time weather many might have forgotten that Spring & Summer are working our way.  Please remember to keep you & your families safe- wear helmets whenever on bikes, ATV's, motorcycles, ect., apply sunscreen prior to being in the sun & reapply as directed, keep hydrated at all times, increase intake of fruits & veggies & stay active, doing all of these consisently will help you & your family better live safe & healthy lives!

Read more: Springtime in Saguache County

Public Health Improvement Information

Here at Saguache County Public Health we are improving our community by working with other organazations in the community to improve over all health and health concerns in our community. We are dedicated to our community and the people, and we are striving to making this community a healthier place to live, and enjoy.  In the process we are teaming up with our schools, and making a plan for the students to live a healthier lifestyle.  We are sharing information with schools on better choices of nutrition, and exercise. This will allow students to be able to take this information home and incorporate this with their parents.  If you are interested in viewing more of what we are doing you can download this docuemnt: http://www.chd.dphe.state.co.us/CHAPS/Documents/PHIPs/Saguache_Final.pdf


Veteran Service Officer

The Veteran Service Officer James Sheeran will be in Center at the Public Health building on the 3rd Thursday of the month from 10 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  If you have questions you can call  719-655-2680

He is in Sagucahe Office on Wed, Thrs, and Fri from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00p.m.  He is also is Crestone when not in Center or Saguache, you can always reach him and see where he will be, as his schedule is subject to change.

The numbers he can be reached at are:

Saguache 719-655-2680

Saguache Public Health 719-655-2533,

Center Public Health 719-754-2773


Immunization Prices

Saguache County Public Health will be able to provide vaccines ONLY to unisured children, Native Amaericans, and children currently enrolled in Medicaid as of January 1, 2013.We are working closely with Rio Grande Public Health Department to ensure that children who are insured and would like to continue receiving vaccines form local Public Health agencies are able to do so. Please click the read more to see the list of prices for childhood immunization fees.

Read more: Immunization Prices

Healthy Communities

What is Healthy Communities?
Healthy Communities combines the best aspects of the EPSDT Outreach and Administrative Case Management program and CHP+ outreach into one model to better meet the needs of our clients. Family Health Coordinators are available statewide to serve clients through Healthy Communities. What Healthy Communities services are available to Colorado Medicaid and CHP+ clients?

Read more: Healthy Communities