Idaho Department of Health and Welfare

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the flu is now widespread in 47 states, including Idaho.  Doctor Leslie Tengelsen is Idaho’s deputy state epidemiologist.  She says the flu season has arrived early this year.  

Whether or not Idaho expands Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act, the state needs to pour more money into the program.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A nationwide investigation into contaminated drugs is expanding. The outbreak has already killed 15 and sickened 231, including one man in Idaho, with fungal meningitis.

Two health facilities in Idaho, Walter Knox Memorial Hospital in Emmett and Pain Specialists of Idaho in Idaho Falls, were identified originally in the outbreak.

Now the Food and Drug Administration has expanded its investigation of possibly contaminated drugs produced by a Massachusetts pharmacy. That means as many as nine more medical facilities in Idaho may have received suspect drugs.

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Two Idaho medical facilities received the steroid injections believed to be responsible for a deadly meningitis outbreak.  Nationally, 47 people have been diagnosed with the illness and five people have died.  No one in Idaho has reported getting sick. 

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Who will be eligible for Medicaid if Idaho expands its program under the Affordable Care Act?  That’s the question lawmakers asked Monday of state Health & Welfare Director Dick Armstrong.  He’s part of a 15 member panel studying the option. 

Armstrong says the panel has gathered a lot of information so far.  But he says the federal government has not set some of the guidelines that will determine who would get to sign up for the expanded plan.  That means officials are left to guess how many residents would eligible.  

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West Nile cases are on the rise in Idaho.  The state now has eight human cases of West Nile and five additional reports of the mosquito-borne illness are under investigation. 

Niki Forbing-Orr with Idaho’s Health and Welfare Department says the state is doing better than other states, like Texas. “So far the CDC is reporting 888 human cases there.  All 48 states of the mainland United States have reported west nile activity and nationally 87 people have died," she says.  "We’ve not had any deaths in Idaho yet, so we’re crossing our fingers that we don’t.”

'Unhealthy' Air Quality Expected For Much Of Southern Idaho

Aug 12, 2012
Idaho Department of Environmental Quality

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare says smoke from wildfires burning around the region is causing poor air quality in the southern part of the state.

Air quality levels are listed as 'unhealthy' in some parts of the state, and are expected to stay that way for much of the weekend.

The Department encourages people to limit outdoor activity, especially for people with respiratory diseases like asthma, infants, children and older adults. 

Here's their press release:

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

A new report out today says one in every eleven children will spend a portion of their lives without their parents, living instead with a relative.  That number is growing both in the U-S and in Idaho.  These kids often don’t get all the services that are available to them.  The study hopes to change that.

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