County childhood immunizations rates high

NEW ULM-Brown County childhood immunization rates are well above the state average, according to a public health update Brown County commissioners will review at their Tuesday, May 20 meeting.

“We are in the greater than 80 percent category measuring children age 24 to 35 months that have the recommended immunizations,” Brown County Public Health Director Karen Moritz wrote in her public health update.

“The Quality Improvement project we began in 2010 has really been successful in getting those rates up,” Moritz added. The 2013 state immunization average for children 24 to 35 months old was 62.9 percent, according to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).

Brown County immunization rates climbed from Jan. 1, 2014 to May 12, 2014 for 11-12, 13-17 and 11-17 years olds, according to the update. For more information, visit

Moritz reported that all 200 free radon kits were distributed in New Ulm, Sleepy Eye and Springfield within 24 hours earlier this year. “We’re not aware how much mitigation was done or recommended due to the testing,” Moritz said.

She reported that the public health office is ensuring area healthcare providers have information about MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome corona virus), an infection that has been detected twice in the United States, recently in a health care worker who lived and worked in Saudi Arabia and traveled to the U.S.

“We are recommending testing for it if a patient with the signs or symptoms has recently worked or traveled to the Arabian Peninsula countries of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, Kuwait,” Moritz wrote in her report. She added that cases have been reported in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Greece, Tunisia, Egypt, and Malaysia in persons who were in close contact with infected travelers.”

There is currently no vaccine or specific treatment recommended for the virus. There is currently no evidence of sustained spread of MERS-CoV in community settings, according to the update.

Moritz reported that public health was proud to partner in the Springfield Public School emergency response effort last winter that included the MDH. “There was notable team work displayed during the event. There were lessons learned with communication with the MDH,” Moritz reported.

She added that Public Health worked with the Minnesota Valley Action Council (MVAC), emergency management agencies and county propane vendors to ensure people that could not afford propane were given resources they needed to be able to get propane to keep warm during the winter propane cost crisis.

The county board meeting begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 20, 2014 in the courthouse commissioner’s room. Commissioners will attend an HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning presentation at 11 a.m., Tuesday at the Brown County Museum, 2 N Minnesota. For more information, visit

Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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