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Highland Heights Learns Procedures if Someone Comes Down with Zika Virus

The Northern Kentucky Health Department briefed Highland Heights City Council last Tuesday evening on its plan to respond in the event of an outbreak of the Zika virus.

There have been 4 confirmed Zika cases in Northern Kentucky. Of those cases, all were reported to have contracted the virus outside of the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area.

The mosquito-borne illness, which shows symptoms in 1 in 5 persons infected, poses a particular threat to pregnant women and their unborn children. Some of the most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes).

According to local health officials, the virus can also be transmitted through sexual contact.

The Zika virus is spread when someone is bitten by an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus, including Aedes aegypti, more commonly found here in Kentucky, and the Aedes albopictus (Asian Tiger) mosquito.  

On Tuesday, Dr. Lynne M. Saddler, District Director of Health, and Steve Divine, Director of Environmental Health, gave to city council a full rundown of what should occur if a case of Zika was discovered in the city of Highland Heights.

"One of our primary areas we are responsible to address in the community is to stop or prevent the spread of diseases. And our efforts around Zika fall into that category,” said Saddler. “Earlier this Spring we were monitoring the global spread of the Zika virus in other parts of the globe and began our planning process for addressing Zika here in Northern Kentucky.”

Once handed over to Mr. Divine, the council was briefed on specific steps which would occur.

“Once there is a confirmed a case of Zika, The NKY Health Department will immediately contact the State Health Department and local health institutions. We would then contact the patient to obtain personal data to include recent travel. Included in the plan is for NKY Health officials to visit the patient at their residence to ensure that the area is not conducive of additional infection.”


The health department was heavily criticized by police and city leaders in neighboring Alexandria when a resident was diagnosed with Zika and local leaders were not informed of the steps taken to prevent its spread. The Health Department stood by its procedures.

Other notes:

City council unanimously approved a budget amendment to expand asphalt work in the parking lot of the Highland Heights Municipal campus. 

The Department of Public Works identified that their lot is in immediate need of improvements. The cost of this project is estimated to be $10,875.

In addition, construction will move forward to re-open Carmak Park and the city plans to use interest from Treasury Bills to cover the $35,000 price tag for the project.  

A beloved and recently retired police officer is coming out of retirement to rejoin the force. Dave Fornash retired from the Highland Heights Police Department just 2 months ago, but rejoined the force as a patrol sergeant. He will also assist with the city’s efforts to enforce code violations.  

“To have an officer who knows the streets and has worked in the community, and is able to tap into those resources to provide support, it makes things a lot easier.” said Highland Heights Police Chief Bill Birkenhauer.

Written by K.A. Simpson, RCN contributor
Photo: Highland Heights city council (RCN file)