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Public Health

Top Communicable Diseases in Newton*

Influenza (256 cases)

Influenza (flu) is caused by a family of viruses that are transmitted by coughing and sneezing. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, sore throat, and nonproductive cough. You can prevent spread of the flu by:

  • Getting the flu vaccine
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
  • Staying home when you are sick
  • Covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Washing your hands often

Campylobacteriosis (31 cases) and Salmonellosis (17 cases)

Campylobacter and salmonella are bacteria that are primarily transmitted by eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated with feces. Person-to-person spread can also occur, especially among household contacts, preschool children in daycare, and older adults and developmentally disabled persons living in residential facilities. Reptiles can be sources of infection for salmonella. Symptoms include diarrhea, stomach cramps/pain, fever, nausea, vomiting, and malaise. You can prevent spread of campylobacter and salmonella by:

  • Cooking food to the right temperature
  • Washing your hands often (especially before and after preparing food, before eating, after using the toilet, after changing a diaper, and after touching animals or their food or feces)
  • Washing kitchen work surfaces and utensils with soap and water immediately after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry
  • Keeping raw meat away from other foods
  • Not drinking unpasteurized milk or untreated water

Human Granulocytic Anaplasmosis (11 cases)

Anaplasmosis is caused by a bacterium that is transmitted to humans by tick bites primarily from the black-legged tick (deer tick). Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle pain, malaise, chills, nausea, abdominal pain, cough, and confusion. You can prevent the spread of anaplasmosis by:

  • Avoiding direct contact with ticks
  • Wearing insect repellent
  • Doing tick checks after outdoor activity

*Note: Not all cases of communicable disease are diagnosed so actual number of cases is higher. These numbers represent laboratory-confirmed cases in 2017. Data from MA Department of Public Health Bureau of Infectious Disease.


Zika virus

Zika is a virus spread by mosquitoes. Most people infected with Zika virus do not even get sick. The kinds of mosquitoes known to carry Zika virus are generally not found in Massachusetts. For more information about Zika virus, including recommendations for pregnant women and people traveling, see the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Mosquito and Tickborne Illness

Mosquitoes and ticks are more than pests; they can carry diseases which can make you very sick.  Common mosquito-borne diseases in Massachusetts are West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.  Common tickborne diseases in Massachusetts include Lyme Disease, Babesiosis, and Anaplasmosis (Ehrlichiosis).  Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from mosquito and tick bites and the illnesses they can cause.  Visit the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (ticks, mosquitoes) to learn more.


Bats & Rabies

The warmer summer months occasionally bring bats into the living spaces of homes. Because bats can carry rabies, it is important for bats to be tested if they come into contact with a human or a pet. Rabies is serious and important to prevent, but rabid bats are rare.

 Click here for more information if you may have had contact with a bat

 Questions? Call Animal Control at 617.796.2109 or the Health Department at 617.796.1420.

 Bat information for Residents Flyer 

Mass Dept of Public Health Bats & Rabies information


Sharps Disposal

Sharps are needles and lancets used at home to inject medicine into people or pets. Properly disposing of sharps helps keep potentially harmful products out of the waste stream. A new state regulation went into effect on July 1, 2012 that prohibits people from disposing of needles and lancets in the trash.

Newton residents may bring sharps in proper containers to the Rumford Avenue Resource Recovery Center. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For information and directions, click here.


Medication Disposal

Most medication, unless indicated otherwise on the package, may be disposed of in your regular household trash (blue bin) after removing it from the container and mixing it with something undesirable such as coffee grounds or kitty litter. Do not flush medication down the toilet. Here are some instructions.

Unwanted or expired medication can be dropped off in kiosks at the Newton Police Department (1321 Washington St) or the West Lobby of Newton-Wellesley Hospital (2014 Washington St). Solid medication only, no liquids or needles.  Also, the Newton Police Department and the Health & Human Services Department periodically collaborate with the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to collect unused and expired medication.


Falls Prevention

Each year, more than 1.6 million older US adults go to emergency departments for fall-related injuries.  Among older adults, falls are the number one cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, loss of independence, and injury deaths.  Fortunately, falls are often preventable.

Four things you can do to prevent falls:

  1. Exercise to improve your balance and strength
  2. Have your health care provider review your medications
  3. Have your vision checked
  4. Make your home safer

More information:

  1. Click here for a list of falls prevention resources in Newton
  2. Click here to learn more about what you can do to prevent falls
  3. Click here to check your risk for falling
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