Idaho receives $1.6 million to support oral health activities

Idaho has been awarded $1.6 million to develop and implement innovative programs to address oral health workforce needs of designated dental health professional shortage areas (dental HPSAs). Forty-two out of 44 Idaho counties are designated dental HPSAs, according to the Bureau of Rural Health and Primary Care in the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW).

The funding, which will be administered over four years, was awarded to the Idaho Oral Health Program in IDHW’s Division of Public Health by the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA). The program serves as the primary source of oral health surveillance and population-based oral disease prevention programs. The Idaho Oral Health Program provides the infrastructure essential to create, implement, and evaluate oral health initiatives and specific policies.

The goals of this award include:

  • Fostering programs that promote oral health or science professions to youth.
  • Increasing oral healthcare services by providing funding to medical or dental professionals, health systems, Federally Qualified Health Centers, dental education institutions, and other entities in dental HPSAs to implement teledentistry.
  • Increasing utilization of silver diamine fluoride, a minimally invasive dentistry technique. Silver diamine fluoride is an inexpensive topical treatment and is recommended by the American Dental Association as a method for arresting certain instances of tooth decay.
  • In addition, an evaluation on the effectiveness of implementing teledentistry to increase access to oral healthcare and the potential cost savings of utilizing silver diamine fluoride in dental HPSAs will be conducted.

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Health officials warn of Hepatitis A outbreak in southern Idaho

Public health officials are investigating an outbreak of hepatitis A in southern Idaho. Twelve people infected with hepatitis A virus have been reported to public health officials since Jan. 1, 2019. In 2018, only eight people were reported with hepatitis A in Idaho. Epidemiologists are working to determine possible links between the cases and are encouraging people in high-risk populations to get vaccinated.

Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for people who might be at increased risk of being exposed to the virus, including:

  • Men who have sex with men
  • People who use drugs (injection or non-injection)
  • People experiencing unstable housing or homelessness
  • People with chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C

“We’re monitoring the situation closely,” said epidemiologist Randi Pedersen. “The best protection is to be vaccinated, but everyone can reduce their risk by practicing good hand hygiene. This means thoroughly washing your hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food.” Continue reading

Outbreaks of hepatitis A in several states prompt reminder to protect yourself by getting vaccinated

Since 2016, more than 15,000 people nationwide have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with hepatitis A, and 140 have died. This is a dramatic increase in hepatitis A infections and is caused by person-to-person spread of the virus. Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection. Large-scale outbreaks have been reported in several states, including Utah and California. Since it is on the rise, it’s a good time to check your immunization status and get the vaccine if you still need it.

What are some of the most common symptoms of hepatitis A?

Symptoms can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, diarrhea, clay-colored stools, and yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice). People with hepatitis A can feel sick for several months.

How do you get hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A virus can be picked up from objects, surfaces, food, or drinks contaminated with fecal matter from an infected person. Hepatitis A can also be spread through person-to-person contact with an infected person by having sex or caring for someone who is ill. Continue reading

It’s National Poison Prevention Week: Tips to protect your children from a poisoning emergency

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Most poisoning emergencies are unexpected and happen quickly in our homes. A majority of non-fatal poisonings involve children younger than 6. And for adults, poisoning is the No. 1 cause of injury death in the United States. This week is National Poison Prevention Week, so it’s a good time to think about what you would do in a poisoning emergency.

Are young children most at risk for a poisoning accident?

In 2017, poisoning was the second-leading cause of unintentional injury deaths among all Idahoans, with children younger than 6 being most at risk. It is extremely important for parents of small children to keep potentially poisonous items out of their reach. The Nebraska Regional Poison Center, which receives all of Idaho’s poison emergency calls, had more than 14,000 calls in 2018 from Idaho residents. Most of those calls were from parents of children ages 6 and younger.

What are the most dangerous poisons for children?

The leading causes of poisoning for Idaho children are things we commonly have in our homes and include household cleaning supplies; cosmetics and personal care products; aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen; vitamins/supplements; and toys and other foreign objects children can swallow. In 2018, the poison center received 833 calls related to children younger than 6 and household cleaning supplies, with liquid dishwasher detergents at the top of the list. The center received 751 calls for cosmetic/personal care product exposure. Continue reading

It’s time to talk to your doctor about colorectal cancer

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March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s a good time to figure out when you should be screened. Getting screened for colorectal cancer is something Idahoans age 50 and older should consider because it is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among adults in Idaho. In fact, 3 in 60 Idaho adults will develop colon cancer and, sadly, one of those three people will die.

Who should be screened?

It is recommended that everyone should get screened starting at age 50. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you should talk to your medical provider about getting screened earlier. All Idaho adults should get into the habit of regular screenings.

Why is screening so important?

As with all cancers, the key is early detection — your chances of beating the disease and surviving are better if it is found early. You don’t have to have a family history of colon cancer to be at risk. Colorectal cancer can begin anywhere in the large intestine as pre-cancerous polyps, with no symptoms.

Is a colonoscopy the only reliable test you can do?

Several different kinds of tests are available, including those that can be done annually from the comfort of your home. There are advantages and disadvantages for each one, so you should talk to your doctor about which is right for you. It’s also important to know that preventing colon cancer or finding it early doesn’t have to be expensive. Simple, affordable tests are available, and most health insurance plans cover the life-saving, preventative tests. Continue reading

It’s American Heart Month. Do you know your heart health?

February is the month of the heart, in more ways than you might think. Matters of the heart are celebrated on Valentine’s Day, but also throughout the month because it’s American Heart Month. So it’s a good time to talk to your medical provider about your blood pressure and cholesterol so you determine your risk for developing heart disease. Nationally, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. In Idaho, it is the second leading cause of death for women, after cancer, and the leading cause of death for men.

Heart disease, as we all know, can lead to heart attack. Can you remind us about the symptoms of a heart attack?

Not everyone who has a heart attack will have all of these signs. In fact, men and women often have different symptoms. The most common signs of a heart attack include chest pain or discomfort, pain or discomfort in the upper body, trouble breathing, feeling sick to your stomach or vomiting, stomach ache or heartburn, feeling light-headed or unusually tired, and breaking out in a cold sweat. If you have any of these symptoms and think you might be having a heart attack, call 911 immediately and get to a hospital. Continue reading

Measles outbreaks highlight need to be vaccinated

measles-infographicMeasles is one of the most highly contagious diseases in the world, and it is literally just a state away. Washington is reporting an outbreak, and cases of the dangerous disease have been reported in Oregon. Knowing this, it’s very important to make sure your measles vaccination is up to date.

What is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones?

Measles is a vaccine-preventable disease. Getting an MMR immunization, which protects you against measles, mumps, and rubella, is the best way to protect yourself and your family, as well as your friends and community.

Who should get the vaccine?

You should talk to your medical provider about whether your family members already are immune or need to be vaccinated. Otherwise, all children should get one dose of vaccine when they are 12-15 months old and a second dose when they are 4 to 6 years old before they begin school. All school-aged children and students entering college should have received two doses of the MMR vaccine. And adults born after 1956 who are not sure they had measles or if they were vaccinated should receive at least one dose of the vaccine.

Adult healthcare workers and international travelers should receive two doses. Babies may receive the vaccine as early as 6 months if they are traveling internationally. Continue reading