Health

Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility / Dartmouth College

Here in the Northwest, you hear lots of complaints about the abundant rain. But this year's cool March weather and above normal rainfall in April may have eased the suffering of people with pollen allergies.

Idaho, Washington and Oregon are among the 44 states splitting a $100 million settlement with pharmaceutical giant Abbott Labs. The agreement announced Monday resolves a dispute over the company's marketing of a drug called Depakote.

The medication is federally-approved to treat certain mental illnesses. But a multi-state investigation found that Abbott used a flawed study to promote the drug as a way to treat other illnesses, such as schizophrenia and dementia.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho has had its first death from pertussis in three years. An eastern Idaho infant died last week from the disease also known as whooping cough. But  Idaho is not experiencing the epidemic some of its neighbors are.

A month ago Washington State’s Secretary of Health Mary Selecky declared a statewide epidemic of pertussis. She told KUOW more than 600 cases had been confirmed and 20 people had been hospitalized.

“If this pace continues we’re on track to have the highest number of whooping cough cases in our state in decades,” Selecky said.

Washington State University / Northwest News Network

The chance of a woman getting ovarian disease may be tied to the toxic chemicals her great-grandmother was exposed to. That’s according to a new study by researchers at Washington State University.  The study could help explain the role of environmental factors in inherited diseases.

Here’s how it works. Picture your great-grandmother. Now let’s say, while pregnant with your future grandparent, she was exposed to some toxic chemical. Pesticides, phthalates -- that stuff in plastic -- or maybe jet fuel. Those are some of the things the researchers looked at.

CDC to Investigate WA Whooping Cough Epidemic

May 7, 2012
twenty_questions / Flickr

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has sent two epidemiologists to Washington State. The investigators will try to find out what’s causing the state’s rapid rise of whooping cough cases.

The investigators are in Washington to help the state figure out how the number of whooping cough cases has reached epidemic levels. They’re here at the request of Washington Secretary of Health Mary Selecky, and U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell.

Brett Sayer / Flickr

New figures from the Alzheimer’s Association show 75-thousand people in Idaho - usually family members - are helping care for a patient with the disease.  An organization known as the Idaho Alzheimer’s Planning Group is working on a state plan to help patients and those caregivers.

Washington Steps Up Fight Against Whooping Cough

May 4, 2012
prashant_zi / Flickr

The number of whooping cough cases in Washington State is rising rapidly that the Governor has gotten involved.  Thursday Governor Chris Gregoire announced she’s releasing $90,000 in emergency funds to step up the state’s public awareness campaign.

Under the watchful eye of her mother, TV cameras, and the Governor, four year-old Kimberly Magdeleno reacts as the nurse gives her a series of shots. One of them is the vaccine for pertussis, or whooping cough.  Her crying quickly fades when the nurse rewards her with a set of stickers.

jdlasica / Flickr

The federal government has agreed to pump nearly two billion dollars into Oregon's experiment at changing the way it delivers health care to low income people. The news today came after Governor John Kitzhaber and three other state officials flew to Washington to personally lobby for the cash.

http://www.cedars-sinai.edu

A judge has a denied a motion for a retrial in a $52-million lawsuit involving Boise based St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. Last year, the center lost a jury trial in the suit brought by MRI Associates, a medical imaging company it had partnered with in the past. Late last week, Fourth Judicial District Judge Mike Wetherell said no to a retrial.

Seventy people in Washington legally ended their lives in 2011 with the help of a physician. That continues a steady increase in each of the last three years. The latest numbers come from a report out [today] Wednesday on Washington's so-called Death with Dignity Act. The annual release of statistics on the law says 80 physicians wrote a total of 103 such prescriptions in 2011.

jdlasica / Flickr

Four Idaho health centers will pick up some cash today from the federal government.  The U.S. Health and Human Services Department is giving more than $9.5 million dollars to build and expand health centers.  The hope is to help serve 16-thousand new patients.   

Centers for Disease Control

The federal government’s top health officers are making an appeal to the Northwest’s medical community to boost vaccination rates. The deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control’s immunization branch spoke at a public health conference in Coeur d’Alene Friday as part of the national campaign.

Last year, Washington and Oregon immunization rates were among the lowest in the nation. Idaho’s was average. That’s according to a CDC survey.

RamberMediaImages / Flickr

Blue Cross of Idaho has teamed up with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana to buy two companies, one in Coeur d’Alene and one in Montana.  Peak 1 Administration and Insurance Coordinators of Montana will merge together to provide ancillary support services for the insurance companies.

Those include running Flexible Spending Accounts, Health Reimbursement Accounts, and COBRAs, where employees can temporarily continue their health coverage after they leave their job.  Blue Cross says the acquisition will allow it to increase services to more clients in more areas.

University of Idaho

Author Raj Patel says the problem with the world’s food supply is not the amount of food available, but how to get that food to the people who need it. He spoke at the University of Idaho’s Borah Symposium on Tuesday.

Flu Season Hangs On In Parts Of Northwest

Apr 11, 2012
basaldigitalthermometer.com

Flu season is hanging on longer than usual in parts of the Northwest. That’s shown in cases of the flu -- and also via web searches. Google queries for terms like “muscle aches,” ”flu symptoms” and “thermometer” are being used to track where flu is hitting now.

Google and the Centers for Disease Control have found that flu-related searches go hand-in-hand with confirmed cases of the flu. Up-to-the-minute data is available on the web for anyone to track at a site called Google Flu Trends.

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