Current Health Issues
West Nile Virus
West Nile Virus is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. It is one of several mosquito-borne diseases in Minnesota. In 2021, there was an increase in human cases statewide. Although no human cases have been identified in Ramsey County, the virus has been found in metro mosquito traps monitored by Metropolitan Mosquito Control District.
Many people with West Nile Virus either have no symptoms or mild flu-like symptoms. A small amount of people (less than 1% of cases) will develop a serious illness that impacts the nervous system, called encephalitis or meningitis. Contact your doctor or clinic if you are experiencing symptoms.
Reduce the risk of being infected by avoiding outdoor activities at dusk and dawn from July to September, which are peak feeding times for many mosquitoes. When you are working or spending time outdoors in high risk areas, wear loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts and pants and use an EPA-registered bug repellant containing DEET. Find more information about the West Nile Virus.
- Enfermedad del virus del Nilo Occidental
- Kab Mob Vais Lav West Nile
- Cudurka Fayraska West Nile
- Karen (PDF)
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is highly-contagious virus with symptoms that range from mild (or no symptoms) to severe illness and death. The vaccines are highly effective in preventing hospitalization or death from COVID-19. All Minnesotans 6 months and older are eligible for the vaccines, which are widely available at locations throughout the state.
For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, ways to protect yourself from COVID-19 and prevent its spread, visit the county’s COVID-19 page.
RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus)
There is an increase in RSV and RSV-associated emergency department visits and hospitalizations in Minnesota. RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has identified 21 cases of measles in unvaccinated children since June 2022.
Mpox, previously known as monkeypox, is a rare disease caused by infection with the mpox virus (Orthopoxvirus). Mpox virus is part of the same family of viruses that causes smallpox and not related to Chickenpox or Herpes.
Avian Influenza H5N2
Avian influenza viruses are spread to people through direct contact with infected birds or their environments. Person-to-person spread is extremely rare. There is no food safety risk associated with this virus; the only risk is for workers at commercial farms or, potentially, owners of small urban flocks.
Adults can be exposed to lead through certain jobs. Lead dust can be carried home in their car or on their clothes, shoes, skin and hair. This lead dust can be passed on to children and other family members. "Take-home" lead can have serious effects on children's and adults' health.
Private wells tested for dioxane in Gem Lake area
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) have completed additional testing for 1,4-dioxane in private wells in the Gem Lake area. Testing results show that private wells on 13 properties have 1,4-dioxane above the MDH Health Risk Limit (HRL) of 1 part per billion (ppb). These concentrations are just above the HRL and present a low health risk. A map of the current status of 1,4-dioxane well sampling results is on the MPCA webpage: Protecting Gem Lake residents from contaminated drinking water.
Affected residents have been contacted and will receive bottled water. The distribution of the 1,4-dioxane in the private wells makes the source unclear. Additional sampling efforts to identify the source are ongoing.
Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in Battle Creek
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has determined through recent testing that exposure to Perfluoroalkyl Substances, or PFAS, while swimming in Battle Creek and Battle Creek Lake is not a health concern. New MDH testing has also reconfirmed the human health risk as minor and infrequent for people coming into contact with foam containing PFAS.
Elevated levels of Perfluoroalkyl Substances, or PFAS, were initially found in foam in Ramsey County’s Battle Creek through testing conducted by MDH and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) in 2019. MDH and the MPCA determined that PFAS-containing foam on surface water did not pose a risk to human health if skin contact with the foam is minor and infrequent. Surface water concentrations also tested in 2019 were much lower, indicating the water was safe for recreation.
Additional testing and analysis conducted in 2020 by MDH reconfirm their initial findings. MDH has the following recommendation about foam found on Battle Creek waters:
- Be aware that foam with PFAS looks like any other foam that occurs naturally in a stream or lake.
- People and pets should avoid contact with foam on surface waters in this area.
- Wash skin that has come into contact with PFAS-containing foam with soap and water.
Drinking water for homes in Maplewood and Saint Paul near and along Battle Creek is provided by the Saint Paul Regional Water System, which has not been impacted by PFAS. Individuals with private wells can complete an online well testing form to request free water testing MDH is offering to individuals who live in the East Metro sampling area.
Hepatitis C and Hepatitis A
A deadly consequence of the opioid crisis is increased incidence of blood-borne infections, including hepatitis B, virus and hepatitis C, and HIV. Using contaminated needles is a primary transmission route for both HIV and hepatitis C. With injection drug use on the rise, new populations, including young people, are at risk.
Ramsey County Public Health is working to stop the spread of infectious diseases among people who inject drugs (PWID). Our syringe services program provides access to prevention and treatment services for HIV and other blood-borne diseases, such as hepatitis C and hepatitis B.
Outbreaks of hepatitis A have been reported among PWIDs; such outbreaks are believed to occur through both percutaneous and fecal-oral routes. There are currently widespread person-to-person outbreaks of hepatitis A affecting PWID across the United States.
Since May 2019, there has been an increase in Hepatitis A diagnoses among people in Minnesota who are living homeless or injecting drugs. Minnesota’s outbreak-associated cases have risk factors that are consistent with other outbreaks nationwide. For up to date case counts go to the Minnesota Department of Health’s Hepatitis A outbreak webpage.
Ramsey County has experienced a significant increase in multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in recent years. The majority of cases have impacted Hmong American residents, and Public Health works directly with community partners, hospitals and healthcare facilities to prevent future cases through appropriate screening and treatment.
Our clinic provides screening for persons that have been in contact with active TB disease, as well as treatment and case management of persons with either latent TB infection or active TB disease. This clinic is by referral only: You will be notified if it has been determined that you may have come in contact with someone with active TB and you should be seen in our clinic.
- Learn more about TB (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Facts about TB (PDF poster in English and Hmong)
Mercury poisoning linked to skin products
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning about skin creams, beauty and antiseptic soaps, or lotions that might contain mercury. Skin products containing mercury have been found in Minnesota and at least six other states. They are manufactured in other countries and marketed as skin lighteners and anti-aging treatments that remove age spots, freckles, blemishes and wrinkles.