Make this a healthy and safe summer in Idaho with these tips and resources

Summer Safety

Despite the fits and starts of sun and showers, spring has arrived in Idaho. Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of the summer season; increased time outdoors can come with some risk. From biking and camping to picnicking and swimming – all of these outdoor activities may present risks that are avoidable. Here’s our annual list of tips to make this a healthy and safe Idaho summer: Continue reading “Make this a healthy and safe summer in Idaho with these tips and resources”

Memorial Day Weekend is the start of summer – let’s make it a safe one this year

DworshakCampIdaho experienced one of the harshest winters on record and this spring has been unseasonably soggy, but Memorial Day weekend has finally arrived as the unofficial start to the summer season. As you get ready to hit the road, pack coolers for picnics and camping trips, and enjoy the sun, water and great outdoors, here are some health and safety reminders so you and your family have an enjoyable summer.  Continue reading “Memorial Day Weekend is the start of summer – let’s make it a safe one this year”

Make sure your family is protected against tetanus

Summer fun often includes lots of time outside, and more than likely some of that time is spent barefoot. When shoes are optional, cuts and scrapes happen more often. Bacteria in the soil can work their way into your body through those cuts and scrapes and make you sick with tetanus.

What is tetanus?

Tetanus is a bacterial infection that affects your nervous system. The bacteria invade the body and produce a toxin that causes your muscles to tighten and cramp painfully. Infection mainly affects the neck, chest, and stomach. Complete recovery can take months, and if it’s not treated it can be deadly. The last reported case in Idaho was in 2013. Continue reading “Make sure your family is protected against tetanus”

West Nile virus discovered in Southwest Idaho

Mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus (WNV) have been detected this week in Canyon and Payette counties, prompting public health officials to remind people to take precautions to fight the bite. The positive mosquitoes are the first detected in the state this year.

“West Nile Virus can cause serious illness so it is very important that people take precautions to avoid bites and mosquito-proof their homes,” says Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, from the Idaho Division of Public Health. “With our recent warm weather we could see an increase in mosquito activity over the holiday, so we urge people to be careful.” Continue reading “West Nile virus discovered in Southwest Idaho”

Most important thing you can do to keep kids safe in the water? Pay attention.

(Note: A Closer Look At Your Health airs most Tuesdays at 6:50 a.m. on KBOI News Radio 670. This is the segment from June 7.)

It’s hot, so we’re all headed to the pool later today, right? Before you go, you may want to brush up on some tips to keep you and your family safe from drowning, but also 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. The most important thing to do is to simply pay attention. About 75 percent of drownings that involve children happened because an adult failed to pay attention for less than 5 minutes. Swimmers who are struggling to breathe and keep their heads above water likely won’t be able to wave their arms or call for help in an obvious way. They’ll be concentrating on keeping their heads above water. Watching your children carefully while they swim is important so you can see if they are struggling.  Continue reading “Most important thing you can do to keep kids safe in the water? Pay attention.”

Charts for children and adults help determine activity when air is smoky


Wildfire smoke and poor air quality are going to be with us for a while. The people who are most affected by poor air quality are also the most vulnerable: Children, the elderly, the disabled, and people with respiratory and heart conditions.

Air quality can fluctuate daily around the state, but it  is not expected to significantly improve anytime soon. Please be aware of current conditions and keep children inside when the air quality is unhealthy. Also, check on your elderly and vulnerable neighbors to be sure the air quality is not causing them undue distress.

If you coach children or run a daycare or a school, it’s especially important to be aware of outside air conditions. Sending a child with asthma out to play when air quality is listed as orange (unhealthy for sensitive populations) or red (unhealthy for everyone) could lead to serious health effects for that child. You can check real-time air quality in many Idaho communities through the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality’s air monitors here.

If you’re not sure, the smoke activity guidelines above and below can help:  Continue reading “Charts for children and adults help determine activity when air is smoky”

Idaho Public Health and DEQ officials: Wildfire smoke is affecting air quality throughout the state

Smoke from wildfires in Idaho and neighboring states is affecting the air quality in nearly every Idaho community in the northern and southwestern parts of the state, and officials from public health and environmental quality are reminding residents to be aware of the conditions so they can take precautions.

The strongest smoke impacts are currently occurring across the Latah, Nez Perce, Lewis, Clearwater, and Idaho counties, as well as in southwest Idaho and east toward Twin Falls and north toward Garden Valley and McCall. Air quality is ranging from moderate to unhealthy across these areas, and impacts are from ongoing fires burning in Oregon, Washington and California, and a multitude of local fires that started this week.

“Air quality throughout the state is changing depending on weather patterns and wildfire activity,” said Jim Vannoy, environmental health manager for the Department of Health and Welfare. “Idahoans should be aware of this and check air quality on a regular basis so they can take precautions if they are planning to be outside. We’re especially concerned about children, the elderly and people with chronic health conditions who might be more sensitive than most to the smoke in the air.”  Continue reading “Idaho Public Health and DEQ officials: Wildfire smoke is affecting air quality throughout the state”

Payette County Woman Hospitalized With West Nile Virus Infection

A Payette County woman in her 40s was hospitalized and is now recovering from a neuroinvasive West Nile virus infection. The woman is the second reported human case in as many days, prompting health officials to warn people to take precautions and avoid mosquito bites. (Read about the first case here.)

A neuroinvasive infection can cause severe illness characterized by encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), or meningitis (inflammation of the linings of the brain or spinal cord).  Symptoms of neuroinvasive infections caused by West Nile virus may include a rapid onset of high fever, headache, body aches, neck stiffness, disorientation and tremors. Most people suffering from neuroinvasive infections require hospitalization. Continue reading “Payette County Woman Hospitalized With West Nile Virus Infection”

Washington County Reports First Human Case of West Nile Virus Infection

Idaho’s first human case of West Nile virus infection this year has been confirmed in a Washington County woman in southwest Idaho. The woman, over the age of 50, is recovering from West Nile fever and did not require hospitalization.

Nine Idaho counties in Idaho have reported West Nile virus-positive mosquitoes during routine surveillance which began in mid-June. In addition, a horse, also from Washington County, tested positive for the virus.

Mosquito abatement districts and public health officials are concerned the unseasonably hot weather in late June followed by instances of heavy rains has resulted in increased mosquito populations and an elevated risk of West Nile infection.  Continue reading “Washington County Reports First Human Case of West Nile Virus Infection”

Bat in Boise tests positive for rabies

A bat found in Boise has tested positive for rabies, Central District Health Department reported this afternoon. The dead bat was recently discovered in a residential area in southeast Boise, and is the first one of the year in Idaho to test positive for rabies.

Rabid bats are discovered statewide each year. Public health officials want to remind people to take precautions around bats and make sure that their dogs, cats and horses are up to date on their rabies vaccine. Last year in Idaho, 11 bats and one skunk tested positive for rabies, with two of the bat reports occurring in Ada County, and two in neighboring Canyon County.

“Bats are the main source of rabies exposures in Idaho, and every year we receive reports of rabid bats,” says Sarah Correll, Central District Health Department (CDHD) epidemiologist. “We encourage parents to talk to their children about the importance of not touching bats or other wild animals.”

One warning sign that a bat may carry rabies is daytime activity, which is unusual for healthy bats.

Rabies can cause a fatal illness. People should call their health care provider immediately if they have been bitten or scratched by a bat. Medical therapy given to people soon after a possible rabies exposure is extremely effective in preventing rabies.

To protect yourself and your pets, CDHD offers the following tips:

  • Do not touch a bat with your bare hands.
  • If you have had an encounter with a bat, seek medical attention.
  • If you come in contact with a bat, save the bat in a container without touching it and contact your district health department to arrange testing for rabies. You can wear leather gloves if you must pick it up with your hands. Whenever possible, the bat should be tested to rule out an exposure to rabies.
  • Always vaccinate your pets, including horses. Pets may encounter bats outdoors or in the home.
  • Bat-proof your home or cabin by plugging all holes in the siding and maintaining tight-fitting screens on windows.

For more information on bats and rabies, visit

To track the number of rabid bats in Idaho, visit: