Greene County Public Health took a break from celebrating its centennial in March to bring you an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s time that we continue our journey through the decades of public health in Greene County. We are catching up by looking at activities and events that took place during the 1940s.
In 1940 the health district opened the first health clinic in the entire state. Dr. Savage started a venereal disease clinic paid for with funds from Social Security. According to the Annual Report of 1947, 221 individuals attended the clinic that year and there were 1,043 visits. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sexually transmitted diseases have long been problematic in healthcare and public health. More than 50 percent of the diseases occur in individuals age 15 to 24 years of age in the United States. Serious long-term health consequences and billions of dollars are spent annually coupled with deteriorating infrastructure and funding that previously brought disease rates to record lows.
It was early in the decade that the health commissioner took action to address rabies. Regulations for animal control, quarantine, sanitation, food service and retail food establishments were drafted at the local level. Animal heads were removed by the county dog warden for $1.50 per head.
Board of health meetings continued to occur quarterly. The format for the meetings included attendance, approval of previous minutes, paying bills, considering budgets and receiving reports from health district employees. Letterhead read Greene County – Xenia City Health Districts. A 10 percent increase in salary was given to the health commissioner. In 1942, the budget commission recommended a 5 percent increase in salary for health district employees bringing the total budget to $6,185. By 1947, the board of health was meeting in the basement of the courthouse. Dr. Savage became health commissioner for both Greene and Fayette counties.
The board discussed having restaurants “graded” to help improve conditions within a facility. The permit fee for a food service operation was $1 for every six months then later $1 per year. Milk regulations recommended by the U.S. Public Health Service were considered and adopted. Additional items included the introduction of the plumbing code in late 1943, the health concerns over the sanitary conditions of Yellow Springs, and the adoption of camping permit fees.
Also during this time, the health commissioner approached the Greene County Extension Office regarding Bangs disease control. Bangs disease is also known as contagious abortion and brucellosis. The disease primarily effects cattle, pigs, deer and elk. Three species of the bacteria brucella exist. The disease localizes in the reproductive organs and udders of the animal and is spread by shedding in milk, or aborted birth. Unpasteurized milk is frequently associated with exposure to the disease in humans. The disease is prevented through vaccination to the animal by a veterinarian.
Care for the children was also a focus with school nursing service contracts being approved for Bellbrook, Bath, Caesar Creek, Clifton, Ross, Cedarville, Xenia Township and Bowersville if funds were available. Additional jurisdictions were added, and the schools were charged 10 cents per pupil. One hundred fifty infants and 175 children ages 1-6 years were seen at a well-baby clinic.
Next time, we’ll visit public health events and activities from the 1950s. After that, the 1960s. Please remember during this difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic, to visit www.gcph.info, along with social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn for the most accurate and up to date information. You can also visit www.coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.
Melissa Howell is the health commissioner for Greene County Public Health. Laurie Fox is the public information officer for Greene County Public Health.