Winnebago County Public Health turns 150

2004 marks the 150th anniversary of public health in Winnebago County. Created in response to the 1853 outbreak of cholera in Rockford, the first Board of Health charter started on June 13, 1854.

Led by Newton Crawford, the initial charter of the Board of Health was to focus on sanitary issues in public buildings and streets. This focus resulted in establishment of garbage collection, weed control and the sanitation of public wells in the middle and late 1800s.

In the early 1900s, public health issues continued to focus on infectious disease control efforts. Immunization, quarantine, milk pasteurization and routine inspections of food establishments were utilized to fight the transmission of diseases such as tuberculosis, pertussis and infantile paralysis.

The middle 1900s saw the creation of the Winnebago County Health Department we know today. During this time, the charter of the Health Department expanded to include a broader chronic, non-infectious disease, health screenings and health promotion.

Today, Winnebago County Health Department continues to provide the latest in disease prevention and health promotion services.

Some of our recent successes in partnership with others have been a reduction in infant mortality, low birth weight, and teen birth rate, as well as continued reduction in communicable diseases and improvements in environmental programs such as: food protection, drinking water and indoor air quality.

As a result of the efforts by public health from the last 150 years people in our community are living longer, healthier lives.

150th celebration activities for this year include an open house the week of June 13, a timeline/pictorial wall, and a 150th anniversary booklet. The health department and the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District will hold their annual Earth Day celebration with nationally known guest speaker Dr. Red Duke. Many other activities are also planned.

Info: 401 Division St., Rockford, IL 61104, 720-4000 or visit

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