Tips for safely canning your garden harvest and avoiding botulism

Canning your garden harvest 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. I know it’s early yet, but harvest time will be here before we know it, and 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 canning. 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 “Tips for safely canning your garden harvest and avoiding botulism”

Tips for staying healthy at the fair this summer

(Note: A Closer Look At Your Health airs at 6:50 a.m. most Tuesdays on KBOI News Radio 670. This is an edited transcript of segment that aired this morning, July 5.) 

Idaho fairs and festivals are starting across the state, which is exciting because they offer some of the best fun of the summer! But they also offer up some health challenges, which we hope you’ll keep in mind when you and your family head off to the fairgrounds. So today we’re going to talk about some things you can do to stay safe and healthy, especially when you’re visiting the animal exhibits or munching on the food.

Let’s start with animal exhibits. What should we know about those?

It’s important to keep in mind that seemingly healthy animals can sometimes carry germs that might make us sick. Small children should be supervised at all times in animal exhibits. They shouldn’t be allowed to put their hands or objects (such as pacifiers) in their mouths after interacting with the animals and before washing up. Simply washing hands as well as anything else that falls on the ground after being in the animal barns or the petting zoo will go a long way toward protecting yourself and your family from diseases spread by animals. You should also be aware that even animals at the fair can bite, kick, and scratch, so approach them with care to avoid getting hurt.  Continue reading “Tips for staying healthy at the fair this summer”

Memorial Day weekend means summer is here! (Yay!) Will you be safe?

As we get ready to hit the road, pack our coolers for picnics and camping trips and generally get ready for the official start to the summer (finally!), we hope you’ll take the time to brush up on some health and safety tips so you and your families have a fun and rewarding summer.

Be safe on roads and highways: Every hour, an average of two traffic accidents happen somewhere in our state, with too many resulting in fatalities. Aggressive driving contributes to almost half of all motor vehicle deaths. From Memorial Day throughout the summer, more vehicles will be traveling Idaho roads, so be patient and don’t take foolish chances to arrive a few minutes early. Other travel safety tips include:

  • Be sure your vehicle is ready for travel. Check the tire air pressure (including the spare tire), along with belts, fluids, and lighting.
  • Don’t overload your vehicle.
  • Make sure everyone in your car is wearing a seatbelt.
  • Don’t text or talk on a cellphone while you’re driving. Don’t become distracted trying to do other things as you drive. A car traveling at 65 mph covers 95 feet per second. A one-second distraction could result in a serious accident and injuries.
  • Be aware of symptoms of fatigue or “highway hypnosis.” Take a break if you feel drowsy.
  • Take your time and be patient; it’s better to get there in one piece. Allow ample space between your vehicle and others on the road and pay attention to the speed limits and other traffic signs.
  • Don’t drink alcohol and drive.
  • Don’t leave your child or your pet unattended in the car, even for just a few minutes. It can heat up quickly to dangerous temperatures.

Continue reading “Memorial Day weekend means summer is here! (Yay!) Will you be safe?”

A Closer Look At Your Health: Preventing norovirus

(Note: A Closer Look At Your Health airs at 6:50 a.m. most Tuesdays on KBOI News Radio 670. This is an edited transcript of the segment that aired April 5.)

This nasty little virus tends to be thought of as a cruise ship illness because outbreaks on ships sound like a terrible vacation — and that’s when the media tends to cover it the most. But for most of us, there’s a better chance of becoming infected in restaurants, long-term care facilities like nursing homes and in other places where people gather and share bathrooms, including day cares, schools, camps, and big events. It’s so highly contagious – a very small amount of the virus can make you sick. It’s estimated that a person will get norovirus five times in their life.

What does norovirus do to us?

It’s not pleasant. Norovirus causes gastroenteritis, which is an inflammation of the stomach and intestines. That leads to stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The virus is found in the vomit and stool of infected people. Other symptoms include stomach pain, fever, headache and body aches.  Continue reading “A Closer Look At Your Health: Preventing norovirus”

Kuna dairy begins selling raw milk again

Raw milk from a Kuna dairy in southwest Idaho is available again in the Treasure Valley after 13 illnesses were linked to the dairy during October. The Idaho State Department of Agriculture reported no deficits during an inspection of Natural Farm Fresh Dairy on Oct. 27. The Ag Department evaluated the whole process from milking to bottling. Upon passing the inspection, the dairy is now selling its milk in stores again.  Continue reading “Kuna dairy begins selling raw milk again”

Idaho Poison Center can answer your Halloween safety questions

HalloweenGhostOne of the most common calls to the Idaho Poison Center at this time of year involves glow sticks. Parents often give them to their children to make them easier to see in the dark as they trick-or-treat. However, they are soft to chew on and can break open easily. If the liquid comes into contact with your child’s mouth or the eyes, it can cause stinging and a burning sensation, but there is no need to run to an emergency room. Call the Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 and a nurse will help.

The Poison Center managed 134 calls about glow sticks last year, and the calls are on track to reach that number again this year. No spells will be cast on young spooks this Halloween with a few sensible tips from the Idaho Poison Center.  Continue reading “Idaho Poison Center can answer your Halloween safety questions”

Idaho health officials investigate raw milk as likely source of recent illnesses

Idaho Public Health officials are investigating eight illnesses in southwest Idaho likely associated with drinking unpasteurized (raw) milk. To date, four Campylobacter and four E.coli 0157:H7 cases have reported drinking raw milk produced by the Natural Farm Fresh Dairy of Kuna in the week prior to getting sick. The investigation is ongoing with Southwest and Central District Health departments, working in association with the Idaho State Department of Agriculture.

“If people have recently purchased raw milk from this dairy, we advise them not to drink it and to discard it,” says Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, State Public Health Veterinarian with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Continue reading “Idaho health officials investigate raw milk as likely source of recent illnesses”

Idaho health officials urge caution regarding recalled cucumbers: Idaho cases continue to be reported

Twenty-one Idaho residents with salmonellosis have been linked to the national cucumber outbreak, with public health officials concerned that people who are unaware of the outbreak could still become infected.

“We are concerned that not all Idahoans are aware of the recall and may have recently eaten or still have cucumbers involved with the outbreak in their homes,” said Dr. Christine Hahn, Idaho Public Health medical director. “If anyone has eaten cucumbers and suspects they may have Salmonella, they should seek medical attention immediately.”

Continue reading “Idaho health officials urge caution regarding recalled cucumbers: Idaho cases continue to be reported”

Idaho health officials warn of Salmonella illnesses linked by federal investigators to contaminated cucumbers

Eight Idaho residents with salmonellosis apparently were sickened by contaminated cucumbers, the Idaho Division of Public Health said Friday.

The affected Idahoans range in age from 2-82 and became ill between Aug. 3rd and Aug. 17th. One was hospitalized but has recovered. These cases appear to be part of a larger national outbreak linked to contaminated cucumbers being recalled. In addition, six other cases, not yet confirmed to be linked to the outbreak, are being investigated by Idaho public health districts. Since early July, 285 people in 27 states have been linked nationwide to this outbreak.

According to the California Department of Public Health, Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce of San Diego has voluntarily recalled all cucumbers sold under the “Limited Edition” brand label from Aug. 1 through Sept. 3 because they may be contaminated with Salmonella. The type of cucumber is often referred to as a “slicer” or “American” cucumber and is dark green. They were distributed to Idaho, Utah, Montana, Oregon, Nevada, and several other states.  Continue reading “Idaho health officials warn of Salmonella illnesses linked by federal investigators to contaminated cucumbers”

Are you ready for summer? Prepare for a safe and fun holiday weekend                          

Memorial Day weekend, which starts Friday for many lucky folks, kicks-off the summer and lots of outdoor activities. As everyone prepares for summer travel, outdoor recreation and other summer adventures, a few health tips can help make your activities fun and rewarding.  Continue reading “Are you ready for summer? Prepare for a safe and fun holiday weekend                          “