Idaho’s simmering summer: Keep your cool in extreme heat

eh-03-508We’ve already seen triple-digit temperatures across Idaho this summer along with emergency room visits for heat exhaustion, so it’s a good time to take note of how to avoid heat-related illness in the hottest summer months. Heat-related illnesses and deaths are preventable. Continue reading

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Harmful Algal Blooms: When in doubt, stay out!

Central District Health and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality issued the first harmful algal bloom health advisory of the summer season on June 23 because of cyanobacterial blooms in Little Camas Reservoir. Most of the year, Idaho’s lakes and reservoirs are safe to enjoy. But when water temperatures increase and the right type of nutrients are available, some bodies of water can produce harmful algal blooms, which can be dangerous for humans, pets, livestock, and wildlife.

What is a harmful algal bloom?

They are bacteria (not algae) that can produce toxins. The blooms are also referred to as cyanobacterial blooms. When weather conditions are calm and there is an increase in water temperature and nutrients, they can rapidly increase in number and produce a bloom. Blooms can occur at any time, but they most often occur in late summer or early fall.

What do these blooms look like?

Harmful blooms can be blue, bright green, brown, or red and may look like paint or anti-freeze floating on the water. As the bloom matures, it may look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of freshwater lakes and ponds. If you or pets or livestock swim in or drink from water that contains a bloom, the effects can be dangerous.

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Elmore County cat recovering from plague infection

Laboratory tests indicate an Elmore County cat was infected with plague. The cat had recent contact with a rodent, which may have been a ground squirrel, or “whistle pig,” before becoming ill. The cat was treated promptly by a veterinarian and is recovering. No additional pets or people are ill.

While Idaho wildlife officials have not detected any ground squirrel die-offs in the state so far this year, the infected cat lives within an area of southern Idaho identified in previous years as a plague-affected area. This is a reminder that plague circulates in fleas, which can affect ground squirrels, voles, and mice, every year in Idaho.

“It is important to take precautions to avoid contact with ground squirrels and their fleas,” said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, Idaho State Public Health veterinarian. “Make sure your pets have proper flea control and keep them away from ground squirrel habitat, if possible.”  Continue reading

Expectant mothers: Reduce your risk of contracting CMV to protect your baby

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What is CMV?

CMV is short for cytomegalovirus, which is a virus that infects people of all ages but it can be especially devastating for women of child-bearing age because of the impact it can have on their unborn children. The month of June is National CMV Awareness month and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is now working to raise awareness of CMV so that expectant mothers, adults and healthcare workers can take basic prevention measures that guard against CMV infection. Continue reading

Rabies in Idaho: Handle bats with care (and very thick gloves)!

rabiesmapWe haven’t had a report yet, but since this seems to be around the time of year we start to receive reports about rabid bats, so it’s a good time to talk about rabies. Many people still associate getting infected with rabies with domestic dog bites, but since 1960 the majority of all rabid animal cases in the U.S. have been in wild animals and bats. 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, 2018, that raise household income eligibility limits to help offset cost of living increases. This is an annual adjustment.

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 $38,443 annually; under the old guidelines a family of three could have earned up to $37,777 annually. Continue reading

Camp cooks: As summer heats up, protect yourself & your family from foodborne illness

ucm567102Summer in Idaho means sunshine, warm weather and long days, with lots of opportunities to cook and eat outdoors, whether you are backcountry camping, whitewater rafting or enjoying a family picnic in the local park. But as food heats up in the warm weather months, bacteria multiply faster, creating a risk of foodborne illness. So, we thought it was a good time to talk about safe food handling when cooking or eating outdoors. Continue reading