Health

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A dog in Ada County has tested positive for plague. It’s the first case – human or canine – of the bacterial disease since officials reported an outbreak in ground squirrels south of Boise two weeks ago.

Epidemiologist Sarah Correll is with the Central District Health Department. She says a preliminary test came back positive, which means the dog likely has the plague. Results from a second test will come back next week.

USAF Airman Shane Phipps

Idaho health officials say ground squirrels south of Boise have tested positive for plague. They say humans and pets should avoid the area.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare in a statement Friday says the bacterial disease can be spread by the bites of fleas or by direct contact with infected animals, including rodents, rabbits and pets.

“We have investigated reported mortalities of ground squirrels in the area southeast of Boise during May,” State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Mark Drew said.

UGA College of Ag & Environmental Sciences / Flickr

Norovirus has been found in samples from an outbreak at a Nampa Middle School two weeks ago. The Southwest District Health Department confirms two stool samples came back positive for the virus.

It started two weeks ago when children at Lone Star Middle School came down with vomiting and diarrhea. By that Thursday, more than 150 kids stayed home sick. The next day, close to 500 students missed class.

kevinkarnsfamily / Flickr

A drug, alcohol and mental illness treatment center for residents in north-central Idaho could open as early as this summer.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that the Latah County commissioners have challenged a group of community members to open the recovery center as soon as possible after state funding is approved in July.

Back in the 1960s, the U.S. started vaccinating kids for measles. As expected, children stopped getting measles.

But something else happened.

Childhood deaths from all infectious diseases plummeted. Even deaths from diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea were cut by half.

Scientists saw the same phenomenon when the vaccine came to England and parts of Europe. And they see it today when developing countries introduce the vaccine.

Some women may be paying hefty fees for birth control pills, vaginal rings and emergency contraception, despite a federal requirement that insurers pay their full cost. And some women only have coverage for a less effective type of emergency contraception, according to a report released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Stethescope, Health Care, Doctor, Medical
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Patients seeking care at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Boise have some of the longest waits for care in the entire VA system according to government data reviewed by The Associated Press.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs statistics show that about 1 in every 16 patients seeking care during a six-month period at the Boise facility had to wait 31 days or longer. That compares to a national average of about 1 in 36 patients.

During that time period there were more patients waiting three months or longer for care in Boise than there were in 45 states.

Morgan / Flickr Creative Commons

Latinos in Idaho experience barriers that make the process of enrolling in healthcare through the state's  insurance exchange more challenging. That's according to a report released Thursday by a liberal advocacy group, the Idaho Community Action Network (ICAN).

Data: U.S. Census Bureau | Map: Emilie Ritter Saunders

The share of uninsured Idahoans ticked up slightly in 2013, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Small Area Health Insurance Estimate from Census shows 18.8 percent of Idahoans under the age of  65 didn't have health insurance in 2013. That's the year before health insurance subsidies took effect through Idaho's insurance exchange.

Idaho ranked among the top 15 states with the most uninsured people, tying with Arkansas at 11. Census data show Massachusetts had the lowest rate of uninsured people, while Texas had the highest.

According to the Census measure, Idaho's uninsured rate in 2012 was 18.5 percent.

Katherine Jones / Idaho Statesman

The company that manages mental health services for Idaho Medicaid patients is resuming a series of mental health trainings around the state. Optum has been doing what it calls mental health first aid classes for about a year. After taking a few months off, the classes begin in Weiser this Thursday.

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Idaho lawmakers are requesting the federal government to ensure that all genetically modified food labels are voluntary.

The Senate passed the non-binding resolution by voice vote Friday.

Republican Sen. Jim Rice from Caldwell told lawmakers that a patchwork of state labeling laws would be too complex for manufacturers and could raise food prices.

Rice says the Food and Drug Administration should make the rules standard across the county.

The House has already passed the request 41-24 last week.

Stethescope, Health Care, Doctor, Medical
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Between 2013 and 2014, the number of Idahoans who went without health insurance fell by 4.7 percentage points.

The Idaho Statesman reports on a new Gallup poll that shows the Gem State saw a jump in insurance policies purchased in that timeframe. The uninsured rate went from 19.9 percent in 2013 to 15.2 percent the following year.

Kevin Richert / Idaho Education News

Mississippi has the nation’s highest kindergarten vaccination rate. Idaho’s rate is among the nation’s lowest.

What separates these two states — so often neighbors in national demographic rankings?

The answer can be found in the states’ laws. Mississippi essentially requires all parents to immunize their children before kindergarten. In Idaho, parents can use three different types of waivers to get out of immunizing their children. And Idaho schools have no recourse but to accept the paperwork and enroll these students.

Some Northwest lawmakers want to make it harder for parents to opt out of vaccinating their children.

Lance McCord / Flickr Creative Commons

The Centers for Disease Control says a measles outbreak that spread from California's Disneyland has now reached 14 states and infected 102 people. No cases have been confirmed in Idaho, but many neighboring states are on the list including Utah, Washington and Oregon.

"We worry that it’s only a matter of time before we do see measles cases in Idaho," says Dr. Christine Hahn, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare's medical director for the division of public health.

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