IDHW Division of Public Health among 11 awarded national accreditation by the Public Health Accreditation Board

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We’re pleased and excited to be recognized for achieving national standards that foster effectiveness and promote continuous quality improvement in public health. The accreditation process helps to ensure that the programs and services we provide are as responsive as possible to the needs of all Idaho residents. With accreditation, the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare’s Division of Public Health continues to promote and protect the health and safety of all Idahoans — thanks to our fantastic IDHW employees, our community partners, our state legislators and citizens across the state for helping achieve this milestone!

PHABAlexandria, VA, June 14, 2017 — A national program to improve and protect the health of the public continued its nationwide expansion this week as 11 more governmental public health departments — including the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare’s Division of Public Health — achieved five-year accreditation status through the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). The decisions bring another 19.7 million people into a rapidly growing network of communities served by health departments that meet rigorous national standards for delivering quality programs and services.  Continue reading

Rabies: What to do when you wake up and there’s a bat in the room (after you scream!)


As people head out to enjoy the outdoors this summer or stay outside later with daylight savings time, it’s a good time to talk about how to avoid being exposed to rabies, which is a fatal disease caused by a virus. While many people still associate contracting rabies with domestic dog bites, since 1960 the majority of all rabid animal cases in the U.S. have been with wild animals and bats.

Why is rabies so scary?

Because it 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 it, usually because they’ve been bitten or scratched by an animal and didn’t seek medical attention soon after. Continue reading

Think you may have strep throat? See your health care professional ASAP


Strep throat is pretty common in children, and medical professionals can do a quick test to determine if an infection is strep. The trick is to get the test and get treatment started as soon as possible to help you feel better, prevent long-term health problems such as joint, heart, and kidney disease, and prevent spreading it to others.

What differentiates a sore throat from strep throat?

Strep throat is an infection in the throat and tonsils that is caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria. Continue reading

West Nile virus detected in eastern Idaho mosquitoes

WNVLogo2007Mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus (WNV) were detected in Bannock County on June 1, 2017, prompting 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 Bannock County Mosquito Abatement District.

Last year, 10 counties across the state reported finding WNV-positive mosquito pools; nine people and 10 infected horses were reported. Although this first detection in 2017 occurred in eastern Idaho, WNV has been detected in most counties since it was introduced into the state in 2004; the majority of detections have been in central and southwestern Idaho. Continue reading

Russ Barron named to succeed Director Armstrong at Idaho Health and Welfare

(Boise) — Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter announced the appointment today of Russ Barron, deputy director and a longtime administrator at the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, to become director of the State’s largest agency with the previously announced June 30 retirement of Director Richard Armstrong.

Russ Barron

Russ Barron

Barron, who lives in Emmett, has been deputy director since April 2014, overseeing Health and Welfare’s regional directors and the divisions of Welfare and Family and Community Services. He previously was Division of Welfare administrator, statewide program manager for the Child Support Program, Child Support policy manager, financial institution data match coordinator for the Child Support Program, and a self-reliance specialist for the Child Support Program.  Continue reading

Stay safe and healthy when you cool off in the water this summer


It’s finally warming up outside, and as school ends and summer begins, you may be thinking about taking the kids to the pool, water park, lake or beach. Before you go, here are a few tips to keep you and your family safe from drowning – and from possibly getting sick.

Let’s start with drowning. What the most important thing to do to help keep people and children safe?

Ten people drown in the U.S. every day, and many are children. From 2011 through 2015, drowning was the second-leading cause of injury death for Idaho kids aged 1 to 9, exceeded only by motor vehicle accident fatalities. The most important thing to do is to simply pay attention. Continue reading

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