DHW is accepting public comment on Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant application through July 14

MCHBlockGrantApplicationThe Title V Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Block Grant Program is one of the largest federal block grant programs and the longest standing public health legislation with the goal of improving the health and well-being of mothers, infants, and children, including children and youth with special health care needs, and their families. Title V supports a spectrum of services, including infrastructure-building services such as quality assurance and policy development, and filling in gaps in direct health care services for children and youth with special health care needs.

Whether you are a parent, government official, advocate, service provider, or member of the general public, the Idaho MCH Block Grant likely touches you or a family member’s life. Its success lies in the strength of partnerships, collaborations, and involvement of Idaho families. Continue reading

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West Nile virus detected in Canyon County mosquitoes

Mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus (WNV) were detected in Canyon County on June 14, prompting public health officials to remind people to take precautions to “Fight the Bite.” The positive mosquitoes, which are the first detected in the state this year, were collected by the Canyon County Mosquito Abatement District. The positive lab results were confirmed Tuesday.

Last year, one death was reported because of WNV complications, and 11 counties across the state reported finding mosquito pools that tested positive for West Nile virus. Sixteen people and five horses were infected. This first detection of 2019 occurred in western Idaho, an area where positive mosquitoes have been found almost every year since West Nile virus was first detected in Idaho in 2004.

West Nile virus is contracted from the bite of an infected mosquito; it is not spread from person-to-person through casual contact. Symptoms often include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash. In some cases, the virus can cause severe illness, especially in people over the age of 50, and may require hospitalization. On rare occasion, it can lead to death.  Continue reading

Mosquito and tick prevention: How to avoid getting bitten

rocky-mountain-wood-tick

Warm summer days means more time outdoors as we take advantage of the weather and longer daylight hours. Unfortunately, the nicer weather also brings out ticks and mosquitoes. A bite from either can cause diseases that might seriously impact your health. It’s important to do everything you can to avoid getting bitten.

Tick- and mosquito-borne diseases can vary by region in the United States. Besides West Nile virus, are there other insect-borne diseases we should be informed about in Idaho?

That is a great question – before you head into the outdoors, you should learn more about the diseases associated with local ticks and mosquitoes. In Idaho, public health officials are most concerned about West Nile virus, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, tick-borne relapsing fever, and tularemia.

What about Lyme disease?

We often hear about Lyme disease in the national media, but cases in Idaho are rare and mostly occur in people who traveled to other areas of the country where infected ticks have been found. The tick that carries Lyme disease is not known to live in Idaho, but since cases are tracked by where a person lives rather than where they were infected, Idaho will have some cases over the years, usually in people returning from trips in the eastern or midwestern U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an excellent resource if you want to learn more about the risks of insect bites in a different state or country. Continue reading

Idaho WIC makes annual adjustment to income guidelines

Idaho’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) will implement new income guidelines effective July 1, 2019, that raise household income eligibility limits to help offset cost of living increases. This review and adjustment happens annually.

To be eligible for the WIC program, an individual must be a pregnant or breastfeeding woman, a woman who has recently been pregnant, or an infant or child younger than 5 years old. In addition, the individual must live in Idaho, have a need that can be helped by WIC foods and nutrition counseling, and have a low-to-moderate income.

To be eligible on the basis of income, an applicant’s gross income (e.g., before taxes are withheld) must fall at or below 185 percent of the U.S. Poverty Income Guidelines. For example, under the new guidelines a family of three can earn up to $39,461 annually; under the old guidelines a family of three could have earned up to $38,443 annually. Continue reading

Rabies in Idaho: Teach your children to avoid bats

​​This is the time of year the department starts to receive reports about rabid bats, so it’s a good time to talk about rabies with your kids. They are out of school by now and playing outside more, so it’s a great time to teach them to avoid bats and to immediately tell an adult if they do find one.

Why is rabies so scary?

The virus is 100 percent fatal for people and animals who do not get timely medical attention. A couple of people in the United States die each year from a rabies infection, usually because they’ve been bitten or scratched by an animal and didn’t seek medical attention soon enough.

What animals in Idaho carry the rabies virus?

In Idaho, rabies is most often found in bats, but the virus also has been found in other animals. In other states, raccoons, skunks, and foxes are natural carriers of the virus, in addition to bats. Continue reading

Rabid bat found in Bingham County

Southeastern Idaho Public Health (SIPH) has confirmed that a bat has tested positive for rabies in Bingham County.  This is the first bat to test positive for rabies in Idaho this year. Last year, 12 bats tested positive for rabies in Idaho.  While most bats are do not carry rabies, rabies is a virtually 100% fatal viral illness in humans and other animals. Continue reading

An update on Idaho’s flu season

Idaho’s flu season typically lasts from October through May, and the Department of Health and Welfare has received reports of 57 flu-related deaths this season. That makes it the third most severe flu season in a decade. Idaho typically sees an average of 22 flu-related deaths each season. Now that this season is winding down, I encourage all Idahoans to plan now to get an annual flu vaccine in the fall. We would love to see an increase in the percentage of Americans who get the flu vaccine each year because that means fewer people will require hospitalization from flu complications.

How does the seasonal flu vaccine, which is not 100 percent effective, help us avoid getting the flu?

The flu vaccine works! It reduces your risk of getting the flu, and even more critically, it reduces your risk of landing in the hospital with complications from the flu. This is especially important for people at high risk of getting very sick — for example, children with asthma, adults with heart disease, and elderly people. Just over 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized for flu-related complications every season, on average.

Do you have to get it every year?

Yes, because immunity decreases over time, and because the viruses in your community are always changing. Flu infects anywhere from 5-20 percent of the population every year. Continue reading