Protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays

Memorial Day weekend traditionally kicks off the summer season for most Idaho families. We’ll be spending lots of time in the sun (we hope), and many of us won’t protect ourselves from its damaging rays. So I’m here to tell you that Friday is Don’t Fry Day, and it’s a good time to make a promise to yourself to be more responsible in the sun. Sunburns add up. Every time you get a sunburn, your risk for skin cancer increases.

If you’re outside for less than an hour, is it really necessary to take precautions?  

The sun’s ultraviolet rays can damage skin – especially fair skin — in as little as 15 minutes, but it can take up to 12 hours for the full effect of sun exposure to show up. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with melanoma being the deadliest form. Idahoans have a higher rate of melanoma than the national average and the highest death rate in the nation. Continue reading

Memorial Day Weekend is the start of summer – let’s make it a safe one this year

DworshakCampIdaho experienced one of the harshest winters on record and this spring has been unseasonably soggy, but Memorial Day weekend has finally arrived as the unofficial start to the summer season. As you get ready to hit the road, pack coolers for picnics and camping trips, and enjoy the sun, water and great outdoors, here are some health and safety reminders so you and your family have an enjoyable summer.  Continue reading

Wet spring may mean higher mosquito-borne virus risk – Fight the bite!

WNVLogo2007It seems like it’s just starting to warm up and feel like spring, so is it mosquito season already?

Mosquito abatement districts are surveying and treating for mosquitoes earlier than usual this year because spring has been so wet and there has been widespread flooding across Idaho. Now is a good time to go over the precautions you should take to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites.

Other than an itchy bite mark, what’s the risk of getting bit by a mosquito?

Zika virus has been in the news a lot, but in Idaho and the rest of the United States, we worry the most about mosquitoes transmitting West Nile virus. This early in the season, we’ve had no reports of West Nile in mosquitoes, humans or horses. Last season in Idaho, West Nile virus was detected in nine symptomatic people, 10 horses, and a multitude of mosquitoes located across fifteen different counties. Fortunately, there were no deaths. Continue reading

Know the ABC’s of viral hepatitis

hepatitis awarenessViral hepatitis is the leading cause of liver cancer and it’s estimated that 4.4 million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis, and most don’t know they’re infected. May is Hepatitis Awareness Month, so it’s a great time to learn more about this infectious disease, your risks of getting infected and to find out your status by getting tested.

What are the different types of hepatitis?

Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver, and there are three common types of hepatitis in the United States: Hepatitis A, B, and C. Continue reading

Are your children current on their immunizations?

This week is National Infant Immunization Week and it’s also World Immunization Week, so it’s a good time to talk about the importance of protecting infants in Idaho and around the world from vaccine-preventable diseases.

This week, the focus is on infants. Why infants specifically instead of all children?

While it’s important that all children have received the recommended vaccinations, giving babies the recommended immunizations by the time they are 2 is the best way to protect them from 14 serious childhood diseases, including whooping cough and measles. Parents are encouraged to talk to their child’s doctor to make sure their babies’ immunizations are up-to-date.

Some parents may not trust that vaccines are safe, so they may not immunize their children. What would you say to those parents?  

We know that parents want to do what’s best for their children, and if they have concerns about the safety or necessity of a particular vaccine, they should talk to their children’s doctors about that. Generally, vaccines are very safe, and they are monitored continuously to make sure they stay that way.  Continue reading

Best way to stay safe around canals? Stay away

Canal4

Across the state, Idaho is experiencing record spring run-off from a historic winter season snowpack, causing rivers and streams to run fast and full. To help water managers reduce the risk of flooding, many irrigation canals have opened early. So, it’s a good time to talk about canal safety and drowning prevention.

What’s the best way to stay safe around irrigation canals?

That’s simple: Stay away. Never, ever swim or play in a canal. And that message is not just for children, it’s for adults too. Both children and adults drown each year in Idaho canals, and records from the Idaho Care Line show that more children drown in canals than any other body of water in Idaho annually. In fact, Idaho has the nation’s second highest unintentional drowning rate for children aged 1-to-5. Continue reading

Listen up, Idaho: It’s plague awareness season!

Spring is a good time of year to enjoy the desert – it’s warm but not too hot when other parts of the state are still encased in snow. Birds are flying, lizards are sunning themselves, and ground squirrels and other animals are becoming more active. It’s a tempting respite from winter for Idahoans and our four-legged companions as spring settles in.

However, the desert in southern Idaho also contains rodents that might carry the fleas that carry the plague bacteria.  Plague can cause serious illness in people and pets if it’s not treated quickly.  It’s important to brush up on your knowledge of this deadly disease now so you can take precautions if you’re planning to spend time in the desert; particularly from March through July when ground squirrels are most active. Idaho has had no confirmed reports of plague so far this year, but the deadly disease was found in Idaho ground squirrels in 2015 and 2016.

Ground squirrel

Rodents that can become infected include ground squirrels (pictured), rats, and mice, and they readily die from the infection. Tree squirrels in Idaho are not known to carry plague. Continue reading