Illness & Injury
               PHAB SEAL COLOR

Search Our Site

Seasonal Illness Photo 2016

What we do

Our Disease Surveillance and Response team monitors surveillance, investigation, and response to reportable communicable diseases, outbreaks, and potential public health concerns.

We keep residents informed about diseases that are affecting Mesa County and about how to protect themselves and their families against disease.

To report a disease, call the Mesa County Health Department Communicable Disease Reporting line at (970) 254-4120.


• Each year, one in six Americans gets sick by consuming contaminated foods or beverages.

• Avoid getting foodborne illness:

   o Clean all food contact surfaces. Don't forget, your hands count as a food contact surface.

   o Be sure to rinse all fruits and vegetables.

   o Separate different foods to prevent cross contamination. Always cut fruits and vegetables on a clean surface. Wash utensils and cutting boards between uses.

   o Use a food thermometer to make sure food is cooked thoroughly.

   o Refrigerate food within two hours of cooking, so bacteria won't begin to grow.

• Symptoms of food poisoning can be as commonplace as diarrhea or as life-threatening as organ failure.

• Young children, pregnant women, older adults and people with weak immune systems have a greater chance of becoming severly sick with problems like miscarriage or kidney failure.

• See your health care provider if you have:

   o Diarrhea along with a high fever (temperature over 101.5°F).

   o Blood in the stools.

   o Prolonged vomiting that prevents you from keeping liquids down.

   o Signs of dehydration, including a decrease in urination, a dry mouth and throat or feeling dizzy when standing up.

   o Been experiencing diarrhea for more than three days.

• Hantavirus is a severe, sometimes fatal, respiratory disease.

• People can become infected with Hantavirus when cleaning out rodent-infested structures by breathing in dirt and dust contaminated with deer mouse urine and feces.

• Prevention is key - there is no vaccine or specific treatment for Hantavirus.

• These precautions can reduce exposure:

   o Employ rodent control measures and air out outbuildings before cleaning.

   o Do no sweep or vacuum areas of potential contamination.

   o Use wet disinfectants for cleaning (1 part bleach to 10 parts water).

   o Wear gloves and masks when cleaning and double-bag waste.

• Symptoms, which can occur up to six weeks after exposure, include fever, deep muscle aches and sever shortness of breath.

• Seek immediate medical attention if you exhibit symptoms after exposure.

• Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness. Serious cases can result in hospitalization or death. 

•Early symptoms, which can last for one to two weeks, include:

   o Fever or feeling feverish/chills.

   o Cough.

   o Sore throat.

   o Runny or stuffy nose.

   o Muscle or body aches.

   o Headaches.

   o Fatigue (tiredness).

   o Some people have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

• People with the flu can spread it to others up to about six feet away. Most experts think flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk.

• Avoid spreading the flu! It can be life threatening for people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, pregnant women and young children.

• Stay home if you are sick.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water.

• Get your flu immunization each year.

• Norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed, leading you to have stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea and to throw up.

• You can get norovirus from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces.

• The best way to treat norovirus is prevention.

   o Wash your hands carefully with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and changing diapers and always before eating, preparing or handling food.

   o Carefully wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and eating them.

   o Do not prepare food when you are sick.

   o Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces after throwing up or having diarrhea.

• There is no specific medicine to treat people with norovirus. Drink plenty of liquid to replace fluid lost from diarrhea or vomiting to prevent dehydration.

• If you think you or someone you are caring for is severely dehydrated, call your health care provider.

• Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing, which often makes it hard to breath.

• Pertussis can affect people of all ages, but can be very serious, even deadly, for babies less than a year old.

• The disease is spread from person to person by coughing or sneezing or when spending a lot of time near one another where you share breathing space.

• Pertussis immunizations are the most effective tool we have to prevent this disease.

• Early symptoms, which can last for one to two weeks, include:

   o Runny nose.

   o Low-grade fever (generally minimal throughout the course of the disease).

   o Mild, occasional cough.

   o Apnea – a pause in breathing (in babies).

• Later-stage symptoms include:

   o Fits of many rapid coughs followed by a high-pitched “whoop.”

   o Vomiting during or after coughing fits.

   o Exhaustion after coughing fits.

• The best way to prevent pertussis is to get immunized.

• Pertussis is generally treated with antibiotics.

• Early treatment by a health care provider may help reduce the duration of the illness and prevent the spread to others.

• Plague is a bacterial infection that naturally occurs in rodent populations in the Western U.S.

• It is transmitted to people through a flea bite or direct contact with an infected animal.

• Reduce your risk of plague:

   o Reduce rodent habitat around your home. Remove brush, rock piles, junk, cluttered firewood, and possible rodent food supplies such as pet and wild animal food.

   o Make your home and outbuildings rodent-proof.

   o Do not handle wild or dead animals.

   o Use repellant if you think you could be exposed to rodent fleas when camping, hiking, or working outdoors. 

   o Keep fleas off of your pets by applying flea controld products.

• Types of plague:

  o Bubonic plague: This form usually results from the bite of an infected flea.

       – Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headache, chills, and weakness and one or more swollen, tender, and painful lymph nodes.

  o Septicemic plague: This form results from bites of infected fleas, from handling an infected animal, or from untreated bubonic plague.

       – Symptoms include fever, chills, extreme weakness, abdominal pain, shock, and possibly bleeding into the skin and other organs. Skin and other tissues may turn black and die.   

  o Pneumonic plagueThis form may develop from breathing in infectious droplets or from untreated bubonic or septicemic plague.

        –Symptoms include fever, headache, weakness, rapidly developing pneumonia with shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, and sometimes bloody or watery mucous.

• Seek medical attention immediately if you exhibit any symptoms. Plague is a treatable, but serious disease.

• Rabies is a preventable viral disease most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal.

• Rabies virus has been found in bats, skunks, coyotes, and raccoons in Colorado.

• Always avoid handling unkown dogs and cats or wild animals.

• Rabies is a very serious, life-threatening condition, which attacks your brain. Most people who get rabies will not survive.

• If you have been bitten by an animal who carries rabies, your health care provider and Mesa County Health Department's Communicable Disease team will work together to make sure you receive the rabies vaccine series, if needed.

• Keep your dogs and cats up-to-date with their rabies vaccines.

• Animal bites can also cause rapid, serious infections. seek medical care if you have been bitten.

• Immediately report any animal bite or ill appearing stray animal to Mesa County Animal Services at 242-4646.

• Suicide prevention is a health priority in Mesa County. 

• Our county has one of the highest rates of suicide in the state.

• Mesa County Health Department and the Mesa County coroner monitor cases of suicide and the Western Colorado Suicide Prevention Foundation takes the lead in prevention efforts.

• Suicide prevention and crisis resources are available here.

• Tularemia is a potentially serious illness that occurs naturally and is found in animals, especially rodents, rabbits, and hares.

• Tularemia is spread by:

  o Being bitten by an infected deerfly or tick.

  o Handling infected animal carcasses.

  o Eating or drinking contaminated food or water.

  o Breathing in tularemia causing bacteria.

• Symptoms, such as sudden fever, chills, headaches, diarrhea, muscle aches, joint pain, dry cough, and progressive weakness usually appear 3 to 5 days after exposure to the bacteria, but can take as long as 14 days.

• Protect your family and pets by keeping them away from areas where rabbits and rodents live.

• Tularemia is a treatable infection. Contact your health care provider at the first sign of illness.

• Most people (70-80%) who become infected with WNV do not develop any symptoms.

• WNV is most commonly transmitted to humans by mosquitoes.

• About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms, such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash.

• Most people with this type of WNV recover completely, but fatigue can last for weeks or months.

• Less than 1% of people who are infected will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis.

• No vaccine or specific antiviral treatments for WNV infections are available. Contact your health care provider if you develop serious symptoms.

• Protect yourself and your family against WNV:

  o DRAIN standing water around your house weekly. Remember to drain water from tires, cans, flowerpots, clogged rain gutters, rain barrels, toys and puddles.

  o DUSK and DAWN are when mosquitoes are most active. Limit outdoor activities and take precautions to prevent mosquito bites during these times.

  o DEET is an effective ingredient to look for in insect repellents. Always follow label instructions carefully.

  o DRESS in long sleeves and pants in areas where mosquitoes are active.


Grand Junction Office: 510 29 1/2 Road,
Grand Junction, Colorado 81504
*Fruita Office: 249 N. Plum St. Fruita, Colorado 81521
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 20,000, Department 5033, Grand Junction, CO 81502-5001

Main Phone Number (970) 248-6900
Emergency Response Line (970) 254-4120
Email -


Monday - Thursday 8 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Friday 8 a.m. - Noon

*Fruita location: Limited hours & services, call (970)248-6906 for an appointment.