Tippecanoe County Health Department

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Tippecanoe County Health Department officials Friday tried to bar reporters from the public building where the county’s needle exchange had begun operating.

Reporters were able to talk with public health nurse Khala Hochstedler until a few minutes before 1 p.m. Friday, when she claimed they had to leave the building.

But because Tippecanoe County decided to start its program over the objections of Lafayette and West Lafayette officials, it had to be in a county-owned space – one that, by definition, is open to the public.

Gretchen Frazee / IPBS

After months of struggling to secure a location, the Tippecanoe County Health Department plans to inaugurate a needle exchange program in its building this Friday. 

The program comes nearly a year after a public health emergency was issued for the county.

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Even though the number of hepatitis C cases in Tippecanoe County has doubled since 2013, location concerns keep blocking implementation of a syringe exchange program that could help stem the spread of disease.

That was the message from a Wednesday night meeting in Lafayette on the county’s battle against addiction and its ancillary health issues.

Indiana State Department of Health Chief Medical Consultant Dr. Joan Duwve  says hepatitis C is much easier to transmit than HIV, which is another concern that follows opioid epidemics.

Gretchen Frazee, Indiana Public Media

An increase in the number of hepatitis C infections attributable to injection drug use has prompted Tippecanoe County Health Officer Jeremy Adler to start developing a plan to stem the spread of the virus.

County data show 61 percent of new hepatitis C cases last year occurred in people who had injected drugs, an increase from 50 percent in 2014, and 37 percent in 2013.

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Purdue University is the latest school to offer free mumps vaccines to help combat the spread of a campus outbreak of the highly contagious virus

Four people at Purdue came down with the virus this week, bringing the total number of confirmed cases on Indiana college campuses to 50.

Mumps is of particular concern for schools this time of year, says Tippecanoe County Health Department Administrator Craig Rich. Events such as Little 500 and Purdue’s Grand Prix mean a higher likelihood the virus could be passed between schools.

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State health officials Friday were pressed into releasing numbers showing a statewide increase in the number of syphilis cases, after the Tippecanoe County Health Department announced a spike.

Tippecanoe County has seen 12 cases of the sexually transmitted disease this year. That’s a big increase over the last four years – none of which registered even five cases for the whole year.

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The Marion County Health Department has asked Tippecanoe County officials to partner with them on a new initiative designed to disseminate information about public health events more quickly.

Tippecanoe County Health Administrator Craig Rich says hospitals currently report concerns to the state Department of Health, which eventually disseminates the information to county health departments.

West Nile Virus Found In Mosquitoes In Tippecanoe County

Aug 18, 2014
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Three mosquito groups found in Tippecanoe County last month have tested positive for West Nile Virus.

The Indiana State Department of Health informed the County Health Department of the results today.

This is the first time this year that a positive test has been reported in Tippecanoe County. 

Health officials are encouraging residents to use insect repellent and dress in long sleeves and pants when outdoors, particularly between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

New Director Named For Tippecanoe County Health Department

May 19, 2014

The new director of the Tippecanoe County Health Department says his biggest challenge will be earningfederal accreditation for the department through the Public Health Accreditation Board.

Craig Rich says that involves a rigorous assessment process to ensure the department meets or exceeds a set of quality standards and measures.

He says eventually only accredited health departments will be eligible for federal funding.

Of the nation’s more than 3,000 public health departments, only 31 have achieved national accreditation so far.

None of them is in Indiana.

A set of standards about when antibiotics should be prescribed has been developed for doctors in the Lafayette area.

Indiana University Health Arnett, Franciscan St. Elizabeth Health, the Tippecanoe County Health Department and Unity Healthcare are working together on the “Get Smart About Antibiotics” campaign.

IU Health Internal Medicine doctor Sarah Hallberg says often patients think they need an antibiotic to feel better.

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