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Employment History


Coconino County

Chief Health Officer

Coconino High School

County Department of Health Services Director

Coconino High School


Coconino County Board of Health


Coconino County Department of Health Services

Web References (85 Total References)

Flagstaff News Releases

www.south-of-flagstaff-arizona.com [cached]

said Barbara Worgess, CCHD Director.

Plague, an acute infection of rodents, rabbits and certain carnivorous animals caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, can be transmitted to humans either by flea-bites or by direct contact with infected animal tissues during skinning or handling of game animals.

Arizona Daily Sun-

www.azdailysun.com [cached]

Coconino County Department of Health Services Director Barbara L. Worgess will ask the Coconino County Board of Supervisors to allow an eight-week quarantine requiring pet owners to cage, tie up, or keep their cats and dogs inside beginning April 17.

The main concern is that rabies, which Worgess deems the single most deadly disease without treatment, could spread from a skunk to a household pet, a mammal, and then to the pet's owner and family.
While skunks nest now, rabies has an opportunity to spread
among groups below ground and emerge in the coming weeks, Worgess said.
"We anticipate that we will see more skunks with rabies," she said.
Instead, Worgess proposes dispersing 1,700 edible vaccines wrapped in plastic that are about half the size of ketchup packets.
It's the first such field experiment with skunks in the country.
The vaccines give off a fishy odor, won't harm pets, and are passed through an animal's body without any problems in lab experiments, Worgess said.
But rabies also usually kills its victims within a matter of months, which is why the re-emergence of this same type of rabies is a mystery to Worgess.
Worgess acknowledged that some won't be pleased with these rules.
"Declaring a quarantine is a very serious action to take because it imposes restrictions on people's lives," she said.

Antitobacco ads vanish as state budgets shrink | csmonitor.com

www.csmonitor.com [cached]

While officials tried to prepare for the expected shortfall by leaving staff vacancies unfilled, the reductions "mean that we've lost our ability to provide these necessary services to the community," says Barbara Worgess, director of the Coconino County Board of Health.

A similar controversy is swirling in Massachusetts, whose vigorous tobacco program is funded in part from voter-approved sales taxes on cigarettes.Hard-hitting ads that include testimonials from dying smokers are credited with helping reduce tobacco use by 5 percent in the 1990s.But now, Gov.

Arizona Daily Sun

www.azdailysun.com [cached]

"The issues that have arisen since the anthrax scare have highlighted the need for infrastructure," said Barbara Worgess, director of the Coconino County Department of Health Services.

That means a coordinated local, state and federal to detect infections, conduct testing to confirm them, offer mass treatments and vaccines and even make quarantines.
But even with such an infrastructure in place, Worgess said that much of the process of responding to a biological threat will be "on the fly" -- adapting to the nature and the scope of the threat.
In a smallpox scenario, Worgess said the first step is to detect the disease.Health care workers not familiar with symptoms of some of the diseases -- like the eradicated smallpox virus -- are being asked to become familiar.Among resources for doctors are Websites set up by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and John Hopkins University.The county health department on King Street also has literature.
Worgess said the county's 12-member emergency management team would move into action, and all of the 120 county health department employees would be called to duty.Additional county employees could also be called into service for up to three days at a time.
Law enforcement agencies would be called in to keep the peace and do any investigations regarding the release of the smallpox virus.
The CDC's Health Alert Network would burst fax and e-mail the information to local health departments in this country and abroad, and it would be involved in any outbreak that happened in the world.Worgess said she currently gets three to five e-mails a day from the HAN regarding the recent anthrax scare.
The first phase of the response would involve the mass treatment of people exposed to the smallpox virus, or anthrax spores.Worgess said several sites in the city and county have been identified as places to treat large numbers of people, but using them as treatment sites still has not been formalized.Besides the heath department building, sites include other county buildings and schools.
Next, Worgess said the team would make a request to the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile for release of medicines or vaccines to fight the outbreak.The NPS sends not only the equipment to package the medicines or vaccines into individual doses, but it also sends staff to offer technical assistance anywhere in the country within 12 hours.
Any hospitals and clinics in the affected area would be put under the auspices of the health department per state statute.
The next consideration would be levels of quarantine, which would depend on the volume of affected individuals, Worgess said.
Flagstaff Medical Center has limited quarantine capability, perhaps only able to handle less than 10 cases, Worgess said.Other alternatives would be homes where the affected people live, or established shelter locations similar to the treatment sites, but not the same ones.
It could even mean quarantining entire sections of the city, she added.
Once the outbreak reached local capacity in manpower, supplies and money, additional help will be sought.
"We'd begin to feel it pretty quickly," Worgess said.The county board of supervisors would declare a state of emergency and seek help from the state.And should the state, with the spread of the disease, reach its limit, the governor would declare a state of emergency and seek federal aid.
Educating the community would be key, Worgess said.The local print and broadcast media would be notified and kept up to date on the outbreak, and information lines at the health department would be manned 24-hours a day for the public to call.
Because Flagstaff has such a large volume of tourists from other states and countries, it would be impossible to contain the outbreak within the city, the state or even the country, Worgess said.
The NPS currently has 12 million doses of the smallpox vaccine, and Worgess said she is unsure if enough vaccines could be sent in the event of an outbreak to inoculate everybody.That would force the team to make the tough decisions on who would get the vaccines and who wouldn't.Among those who would receive the vaccines would be the health care workers themselves as well as law enforcement officials.
To test the measures put into place, Worgess said a simulated smallpox outbreak will be conducted in December to show their effectiveness and areas that need more work.
"We may not be totally prepared but we kind of have an idea on what we need to do and we're working on it," she said.

When a skunk in Flagstaff, Arizona, ...

www.owra.org [cached]

When a skunk in Flagstaff, Arizona, died of rabies in 2001, wildlife specialists thought it was a "freak accident"undefineddue to a one-off, run-of-the-mill bat biteundefinedsaid Barbara Worgess, director of the Coconino County Health Department.

Lab tests later showed that the virus had adapted to the skunk physiology and become contagious within the species.
"It shouldn't have been able to pass from skunk to skunk," Worgess said.

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