What you need to know about the Zika virus

Pregnant women and anyone else planning to travel someplace warm and tropical this winter should check travel advisories to see if their destination is included in a list of countries in Africa, Asia, the Americas and the Pacific islands. Several countries are experiencing an outbreak of Zika virus, which is a concern among public health officials.

What is Zika virus?

It is a virus transmitted through the bite of the same kind of mosquito that spreads dengue and chikungunya viruses. This mosquito species is fairly common throughout the world, so outbreaks are likely to continue. People not planning a trip to one of the countries listed in the travel advisory can rest easy: The mosquito that spreads the virus is not found in Idaho.  Continue reading “What you need to know about the Zika virus”

HHS week continues at JFAC with three more budget requests

Administrators for Medicaid, Mental Health Services and Healthcare Policy Initiatives presented the governor’s budget recommendations this morning before the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee. Links to their slides are below:

It’s prime time for respiratory infections, including colds, flu, and RSV

It’s the time of year when one germ after another makes the rounds and makes us cough. Respiratory infections are particularly troublesome, especially for children and the elderly, and there are more than cold and flu viruses to be aware of.

Respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus, or RSV, is a respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages. Healthy people who get it usually have mild, cold-like symptoms and recover in a week or two. But it can be very serious for babies and older adults. We’re starting to see some cases in Idaho, as we do every year heading into the winter months. Continue reading “It’s prime time for respiratory infections, including colds, flu, and RSV”

Nicotine is an addictive drug, no matter how you ingest it

 Electronic cigarettes and vaping have become increasingly popular over the last several years. But no matter where you stand in the debate about whether an e-cigarette is healthier than a traditional cigarette, there’s no denying that both are extremely efficient at delivering nicotine, which is a highly addictive drug, into our bodies.

Here’s a short Q&A that highlights the reasons public health officials are so concerned about vaping.  Continue reading “Nicotine is an addictive drug, no matter how you ingest it”

Idaho earns an ‘A’ on the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card

Each year, the March of Dimes releases a “Premature Birth Report Card” for every state and territory in the nation to help raise public awareness and measure progress toward reducing premature births. Each state’s premature birth rate is compared to the March of Dimes goal and given a grade based on the comparison.

The premature birth rate is calculated by taking the number of premature births divided by the total number of live births with known gestational age and multiplied by 100. Idaho’s premature birth rate for 2014 was 8.1, which is equal to the March of Dimes goal for 2020. Idaho was one of only four states that received an “A” report card rating. The other states are Oregon, Washington and Vermont.  Continue reading “Idaho earns an ‘A’ on the March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card”

Parents in Idaho may want to consider lead poisoning testing for their children

It’s National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, so it’s a good time to educate yourself on lead poisoning and have your children tested, especially if you live in a home that was built before 1978. Lead poisoning is considered the most preventable environmental disease among children, but about half a million kids in the United States have dangerous levels of lead in their blood.

The most common way lead gets into our bodies is from dust in older homes and buildings and hobbies like reloading and making bullets. The dust comes from deteriorating lead-based paint and contaminated soil that gets tracked into the places we live and work. Older homes and buildings are the most common places for exposure because of lead-based paint, but the metal also can be found in soil and water and is used to make batteries, bullets and metal products, such as pipes.  Continue reading “Parents in Idaho may want to consider lead poisoning testing for their children”

Idaho Child Support Services website gets a new look, more features

child support blog

Child Support Services has launched a redesigned website that makes it easier for parents to:

  • Find information about services
  • See account balances
  • View or print a payment history
  • Access messages from Child Support Services
  • Update contact information

This change will only affect how information is displayed and printed. It does not change  how child support payments are collected or distributed. Continue reading “Idaho Child Support Services website gets a new look, more features”

Mom is right: Eat your fruits and veggies!

It’s harvest time! We have more fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables to choose from at this time of year than at any other time of year, it seems. Eating a plant-based diet is important for our overall health, and yet most of us don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables every day. But with all the different kinds of fresh produce available now in our gardens as well as markets and grocery stores, now is a great time to make a point of eating more fruits and veggies.


Idahoans aren’t all that different from residents in other states; we all need to eat more fruits and vegetables, which would help manage many of our health issues, including  obesity. Just about 29 percent of adults in Idaho are obese, according to Better Policies for a Healthier America. Idaho ranks 29th compared to other states; Arkansas has the highest adult obesity rate at 35.9 percent, while Colorado has the lowest, at 21.3 percent. Continue reading “Mom is right: Eat your fruits and veggies!”

Idaho Foodbank estimates an additional 6-8 truckloads of food will be needed for change in SNAP issuance

Lots of communication and extra food donations at community pantries and the Idaho Foodbank will be needed as Idaho transitions from issuing benefits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) on the first day of the month to issuing them over the first 10 days of the month.

Planning for the change continued this week as the multi-day transition work group met to determine how grocery stores and community organizations such as the Idaho Foodbank and other food pantries across the state would be affected, and what can be done to support them if SNAP recipients run out of food or are unaware that their benefits are not available before they shop.

“More than anything, we don’t want anyone to be surprised,” said Karen Vauk, president and CEO of the Idaho Foodbank. Continue reading “Idaho Foodbank estimates an additional 6-8 truckloads of food will be needed for change in SNAP issuance”

Some Idahoans receiving child support payments will get a new card in the mail

ReliacardIdahoans who already receive child support payments can expect to get a new US Bank ReliaCard® Idaho Family Support Card in October. New customers will receive their cards in November. Both should be on the lookout for a plain white envelope with a return address from Indianapolis, IN. This card replaces the current JP Morgan Chase Idaho Family Support Card. Continue reading “Some Idahoans receiving child support payments will get a new card in the mail”