Health

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Idaho’s Department of Health and Welfare has confirmed the state’s first human case of West Nile virus of 2014. A Blaine County woman in her 20s is recovering from a virus-induced fever. Eight other Idaho counties have found West Nile in mosquitoes this summer, but the Blaine County case is the first confirmed human infection.

Last year, 40 known people in Idaho contracted West Nile and two died. A 2006 outbreak saw nearly 1,000 cases and 23 deaths in Idaho.

medical stock, scale, healthcare
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho's employee health insurance plans are comparable to the federal government's most expensive option offered under the Affordable Care Act and better than what most private companies provide.

According to a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts released Tuesday, Idaho covers 93 percent of all medical costs for state employees.

That compares to private Idaho employers, where plans generally cover 80 percent of medical costs.

New York Canal
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Boise’s ethics commission next week will look into a case of a city firefighter who rescued a man from an irrigation canal, who then died several days later.

In June, Boise firefighter Brent Matthews jumped into one of the area’s biggest and fastest irrigation canals to rescue a man who had fallen in. Local TV station KTVB did a story praising Matthews for his heroism.

mosquito, bug, West Nile
Enrique Dans / Flickr Creative Commons

West Nile virus has now been reported in seven Idaho counties. The mosquito-borne virus has shown up in Adams, Ada, Bingham, Boundary, Canyon, Gem and Payette counties.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare says all instances of the virus have been discovered in mosquito pools, no human cases of the disease have been reported.

Last year, West Nile was found in 16 Idaho counties. Forty people were infected with the virus and two Idahoans died. One of the worst West Nile years on record was 2006 when nearly 1,000 Idahoans were infected and 23 people died.

Federal dollars meant to restore toxic areas like old factories, mines and gas stations are now going to clean up after another long-time industry: methamphetamine.

Ben Rauch / Flickr

West Nile virus is in Ada County. A mosquito trap near Star, Idaho tested positive for West Nile this week. It the first instance of the disease in Ada County this year.

As Boise Is Surrounded By Wildfires, Smoke Could Be Here For Weeks

Jul 17, 2014
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Smoke is settling in the Treasure Valley from wildfires burning in Idaho, Oregon, Washington and Canada. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is forecasting moderate to unhealthy air conditions for the next couple of days. 

"We’ll see higher levels in the early morning hours and before lunch," says DEQ's Michael Toole, "and hopefully if that pattern continues, we’ll see clearing in the afternoons which will give us some relief."

Health officials in southwest Idaho say norovirus is what sickened dozens of people at Eagle Island State Park last weekend.

The Central District Health Department says the likely source is a sick person who swam in the water or became sick at the park.

Department spokeswoman Kimberly Link says the virus can spread from one person to another through recreational water, food and direct contact.

She says human waste and vomit are the main sources of norovirus.

yogurt, chobani
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A fungus found in Chobani yogurt produced at its Twin Falls facility last year that led to a voluntary recall was more virulent than first thought.

In August and September 2013 more than 200 people were made sick by the Greek yogurt after a strain of fungus called Mucor circinelloides was detected in the product.

Public health officials in the Northwest say they're seeing gonorrhea infections at levels they haven't seen in years. Three counties in Washington state are now in the midst of an outbreak. Parts of Oregon and Idaho are set to top even last year's high numbers.

Amy Dowd
Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

New Mexico's health insurance exchange is hiring an Idaho official to run the online marketplace as it prepares for the next round of enrollment.

The exchange's board of director voted Friday to select Amy Dowd as its chief executive officer. Dowd has been executive director of Idaho's insurance exchange since last year.

The board is finalizing a contract with Dowd and it's uncertain when she will start her new job.

Interim CEO Mike Nunez has been running New Mexico's exchange since it was created last year.

Sint Smeding / Flickr Creative Commons

The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline (ISPH) is one step closer to being a fulltime crisis line. 

Thursday hotline staff announced they received a $50,000 grant from the United Way of the Treasure Valley. ISPH Executive Director John Reusser says the award will go a long way in helping the hotline become a 24/7 resource. He says the United Way first gave them funds when they started in 2012. 

"The United Way has been very supportive," says Reusser. "This donation will help fund operations as we get through the last leg of expansion."

A $1.5 million state-funded behavioral-health crisis center will be built in Idaho Falls in eastern Idaho

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter made the announcement Thursday morning at the Idaho Falls Regional Airport.

Boise in southwestern Idaho and Coeur d'Alene in northern Idaho had also been in the running for the center.

The center is intended to serve as a safety net to treat at-risk mentally ill people whose symptoms often land them in hospitals or jail.

cigarette, tobacco
SuperFantastic / Flickr Creative Commons

Smokefree Idaho has withdrawn its support of a southwest Idaho city's proposed smoking ban after city leaders adopted a less restrictive version.

Spokeswoman Stacy Satterlee tells the Idaho Statesman in a story on Wednesday that the amendments the Garden City Council adopted Monday mean the ordinance no longer protects all workers from secondhand smoke.

The council moved ahead with a ban on smoking in most indoor public places but not in bars and bingo halls for people age 21 and over.

The Idaho Supreme Court upheld a district court's decision Tuesday ordering a Boise hospital to pay more than $52 million for violating a partnership it had with an MRI company.

The decision is the latest development in the St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center's lawsuit involving one the largest awards to come out of Idaho district courts.

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