Flu season has arrived in Idaho – Get your annual vaccination by end of October!

Flu ShotsWe at the Department of Health and Welfare have started tracking flu season, and you know what that means — it’s time to get the annual flu vaccine. We have had some indications that the season may hit us earlier this year than in recent years, so don’t delay. Flu season can last from October to May, and it typically peaks anytime between December and March. Getting vaccinated now is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from what can be a serious infection, even for otherwise healthy people. Continue reading

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Northern Idaho man dies from flu-related illness as flu season gets an early start

A northern Idaho man over the age of 50 has died from an influenza-related illness.

“The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is warning residents that the flu season appears to have arrived early this year, with this first influenza-related death of the season and early reports of flu activity from other parts of the state,” said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, the state influenza surveillance coordinator. “This underscores how important it is for all of us to take precautions now to avoid influenza infections. In addition to washing your hands and staying home if you are sick, visit your health care provider, local public health district, or pharmacy to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Getting vaccinated today will help protect you and your family now and for the rest of the influenza season.”

This is Idaho’s first influenza-associated death of the season. The first reported influenza-related death last season didn’t occur until December. Last flu season, 72 people were reported to have died from flu-related illnesses in Idaho. On average, 23 people die from flu-related illness each year, based on data from 2009-2010 through 2015-2016 flu seasons.  Continue reading

Director Russell Barron kicks off IDHW employee’s United Way charitable giving campaign

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Russell Barron visited the United Way of Treasure Valley Basic Needs Pantry in Boise recently to announce the kickoff of the 2017 Idaho State Employee’s Charitable Giving Campaign and to demonstrate how IDHW employees collectively give back in the communities where they live and work, and the many organizations that are part of the United Way’s United We Care/United We Fight campaign. Continue reading

Living with – and safely treating – chronic pain

ChronicPainSometimes we blame it on age, a friendly basketball game that got a little too competitive or simply just not being in great physical condition, but just about everyone feels a little pain now and then. But what about when the pain doesn’t go away even after the injury heals? September is Pain Awareness Month, so it’s a good time to understand what chronic pain is, how it can interfere with daily life, and the safest ways to treat and manage chronic pain. Continue reading

Safely canning foods at home: When in doubt, throw it out!

CannedGreenBeansIt’s harvest time, and if you’re lucky, you have plenty of produce from your garden to go around. Canning it is a great way to preserve it and share it with family and friends, but it can be risky if it’s not done correctly. Before you get started, it’s important to be knowledgeable about proper canning techniques so you can make sure your home-canned vegetables aren’t contaminated by the germ that causes botulism.

What is botulism?

Botulism is a rare but serious illness caused by a bacteria that produces powerful toxins that can lead to serious illness, including paralysis, and even death. The bacteria produce hardy spores that can survive in soil. Fruits, meats, fish, and vegetables could be contaminated with the bacterial spores before they are canned. The spores can survive, grow as bacteria, and produce toxins in improperly canned jars of food. It can be deadly to take even a small taste of food that has this toxin in it.  Continue reading

Pathways Community Crisis Center set to open in December

The Department of Health and Welfare is pleased to announce that Pathways Community Crisis Center is on track to open in early December in Boise. Pathways of Idaho has been awarded the contract to operate the community crisis center, which is the fourth to open in the state.

“Community crisis centers are critical access points to services for individuals experiencing a mental health or substance-use crisis,” said DHW Director Russ Barron. “Pathways Community Crisis Center will fill a much-needed service gap in the Treasure Valley, and I am grateful for the Legislative and community support for all of the community crisis centers across the state.”

The crisis center will provide assessment, intervention, and referral services to individuals 18 years and older who are experiencing a crisis related to mental health or substance-use disorders. The facility, at 7192 Potomac Drive, Boise, is centrally positioned and accessible by public transportation.

The overarching goal of the crisis center is to work collaboratively with local law enforcement, hospitals, social service entities, and other community partners to provide a supportive and more cost-effective approach to crisis services. Services will be available around the clock 365 days a year and will be accessed either by self-referral or referral by family, friends, law enforcement, or other concerned community members. Continue reading

“When I was 15, I broke my pinky and the doctor prescribed hydrocodone. And I loved them.” Idahoans talk about #Recovery

The 2nd annual Recovery Month Awards and Proclamation celebration was held Sept. 1, 2017 at the Idaho State Capitol to kick off national Recovery Month this month, dedicated to strengthening families and communities through hope for recovery from drug, alcohol and substance use addiction and mental illness.

During the program, several Idahoans spoke about their personal journey to recovery and how it has impacted their lives, families and communities. Continue reading