Oregon ends nearly 50-year participation in federal Title X program in response to Trump administration gag rule

Malheur County Health Department is affected by the termination of Title X funding, but will continue to provide reproductive health services, including birth control, STI testing and treatment, at low to no cost with other funding. Call 541-889-7279 to schedule an appointment.

Published on Oregon Health Authority External Relations August 27, 2019

After the Oregon Health Authority declined to use federal dollars in the wake of new Trump administration rules that prevent health practitioners from discussing abortion with their patients, the federal Department of Health and Human Services directed Oregon to give up its Title X grant or face grant termination. In response, Oregon has no choice but to relinquish funding and end its Title X grant.

Health clinics that received Title X funding provide comprehensive reproductive health care that helps their patients plan the timing and size of their families, prevent unwanted pregnancies, diagnose and treat sexually transmitted infections and detect cancer. Last year Title X-funded clinics served 44,241 Oregonians.

Patrick Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority, issued the following statement regarding the new federal gag rule and OHA’s decision to leave the Title X program:

Yesterday the Oregon Health Authority faced a deadline imposed by the federal government to withdraw from the Title X family planning program, or face termination for non-compliance. Last week Oregon informed the United States Department of Health and Human Services that we had suspended the use of the federal funds to avoid imposing the administration’s newly implemented gag rule on Oregon women. The federal government has rejected Oregon’s plan.

The new federal gag rule, which was not informed by evidence-based medical practice, bars health care providers from fully informing Oregon women about their most personal reproductive health choices and denies them access to a comprehensive range of health services. Oregon is the lead plaintiff, joined by 19 other states and the District of Columbia, as well as Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the American Medical Association, in a lawsuit challenging the Title X rule.

The federal deadline leaves Oregon no choice but to end our nearly 50-year participation in Title X and relinquish our grant. We cannot violate our own state laws that guarantee Oregon women full access to reproductive health services and prohibit any restriction on benefits, services or information regarding a woman’s right to choose to terminate a pregnancy.

Yesterday the Oregon Health Authority faced a deadline imposed by the federal government to withdraw from the Title X family planning program, or face termination for non-compliance. Last week Oregon informed the United States Department of Health and Human Services that we had suspended the use of the federal funds to avoid imposing the administration’s newly implemented gag rule on Oregon women. The federal government has rejected Oregon’s plan.

The new federal gag rule, which was not informed by evidence-based medical practice, bars health care providers from fully informing Oregon women about their most personal reproductive health choices and denies them access to a comprehensive range of health services. Oregon is the lead plaintiff, joined by 19 other states and the District of Columbia, as well as Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the American Medical Association, in a lawsuit challenging the Title X rule.

The federal deadline leaves Oregon no choice but to end our nearly 50-year participation in Title X and relinquish our grant. We cannot violate our own state laws that guarantee Oregon women full access to reproductive health services and prohibit any restriction on benefits, services or information regarding a woman’s right to choose to terminate a pregnancy.

Oregon stands in solidarity with other states in maintaining that the new Title X rule will reduce access to birth control, cancer screenings and reproductive choices. Oregon is fortunate to have funds available to continue offering comprehensive reproductive health care services. Every person in Oregon should know this federal action will not prevent health clinics and care providers from continuing to offer the full range of high-quality, personalized and trusted reproductive health services they have always delivered.

Vaping Sicknesses Rising: 153 Cases Reported in 16 States

Sean Bills, a West Valley City, Utah resident, on life support in Jordan Valley Hospital. Bills’ family said he was admitted to the hospital Saturday after vaping gave him lipoid pneumonia. More on his story HERE.

Sixteen states have now reported 153 cases of serious, vaping-related respiratory illnesses in the past two months, and many of the patients are teenagers or young adults.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that all of the cases occurred in people who acknowledged vaping either nicotine or tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC, the high-inducing chemical in marijuana.

Federal and state officials say that they are mystified as to what is causing the illnesses, but that it does not appear that an infectious disease is responsible. No one product or device is common among the cases, the agency said. It also was unclear whether a contaminant in a used cartridge or a home-brewed concoction of vaping liquids contributed to some of the ailments.

The patients, most of whom were adolescents or young adults, were admitted to hospitals with difficulty breathing. Many also reported chest pain, vomiting and fatigue.

The most seriously ill patients had serious lung damage that required treatment with oxygen and days on a ventilator. Some are expected to have permanent lung damage. Some severe cases were earlier reported in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and California.

In an email, the C.D.C. said that while more study was needed, vaping either cannabis or nicotine could be dangerous.

“E-cigarettes are still fairly new, and scientists are still learning about their long-term health effects,” said Brian King, deputy director for research translation in the agency’s smoking and health office. “Adverse respiratory effects associated with e-cigarette use could be the result of a variety of factors, including intended and unintended constituents of these products.”

Mr. King said numerous ingredients in e-cigarette aerosol could harm the lungs, including ultrafine particles that could be inhaled deeply, heavy metals like lead, volatile organic compounds and cancer-causing agents.

The C.D.C. urged doctors to report suspected cases to their state health agencies. The Food and Drug Administration is also collecting information about illnesses related to e-cigarettes and vaping.

“Oftentimes people are vaping both nicotine and the THC products, so it’s unclear which may be responsible,” said Dr. Michael Lynch, medical director of the poison center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “Probably this has been happening occasionally and we haven’t been aware of it, because the association with vaping wasn’t necessarily made. Now people are on the lookout, which is good, because we want to make sure we have an understanding of how prevalent an issue this is.”

Article adapted from The New York Times. A version of this article appears in print on Aug. 21, 2019, Section A, Page 13 of the New York edition with the headline: More Youth Getting Sick From Vaping, C.D.C.

7 Things You Should Know About Bats and Rabies

70% of Americans who die from rabies in the US were infected by bats – CDC Vital Signs. But bats are not bad! We need to know more to prevent infection and protect this species that protects us from other diseases.

As the weather warms up, adult bats come out of hibernation, baby bats are learning to fly, and humans get outdoors, which means a big increase in human-bat interactions compared to other times of year. Bats can be infected with rabies and can spread that infection to humans who have bare skin contact with bats or bat saliva. 

Oregon has 15 species of bats. Learn more about them at the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. Bats are flying mammals that can reach speeds of 20 to 30 mph. Some of Oregon’s species migrate south in winter while some remain here and hibernate. Bats have ecolocation which allows them to make high-pitched sounds then listen to the echo of those sounds to locate where objects are. Echolocation helps them find even the smallest insect. 

Kate Cole from Public Health Insider compiled seven important things to know about bats and rabies. Please share this information with your friends, family, and children to make sure they know how to protect themselves from rabies in bats.

7. Bats are the main source of rabies in the United States. 

All mammals can get rabies, but in the United States, bats are the primary animal source of rabies. 

6. If you see a bat, do not touch it!! 

Any bare skin contact with a bat or its saliva, or waking up to a bat in your room, could put you at risk for exposure to rabies. Teach your kids not to touch bats, or any wild animal, and be sure to keep your pets away from bats. Talk to your family about the importance of respecting wildlife from a distance.  

5. If you think you or your children or pets may have touched or picked up a bat, take immediate action: 

  • Immediately wash the area that came into contact with the bat thoroughly with soap and water.  
  • Call your medical provider. If a person has been exposed to rabies, an injection of immune globulin and a series of rabies vaccinations need to be given as soon as possible to prevent infection and death. 
  • If you think you had contact with a bat, try to trap it! Trapping it means it can be tested for rabies and people potentially exposed can get the treatment they need. “How am I supposed to trap a bat?” you ask. Good news – there’s a how-to video.

4Pets are at-risk for getting rabies from bats, too. 

Vaccinate your pets against rabies to protect them in case they are exposed. Talk to your veterinarian to see if your furry family members need to update their rabies vaccine.  

Keep your pet under direct supervision so they don’t come into contact with bats. If you suspect your pet has come into contact with a bat, call your veterinarian, even if your pet is up to date on its vaccinations. Your veterinarian may need to give it a booster shot to protect it! 

3If you have problems with bats getting inside your house, you can do a lot to make your home more bat-proof. 

Putting screens on windows can prevent bats from accidentally flying into your home. Sometimes, bats are attracted to nesting in attics or inside a wall. The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has excellent tips on easy things you can do to your home or building to prevent bats from getting inside

2. Most bats don’t have rabies. 

Although exact numbers are not known, it is estimated that less than 1% of bats are infected with rabies. Unfortunately, you cannot tell if a bat has rabies by looking at it; only testing the brain tissue on a dead bat can confirm if a bat has rabies (live bats need to be humanely euthanized before they can be tested for rabies). So, assume all bats may have rabies and never touch them. 

1. Bats are a vital part of our local ecosystem.  

Don’t let all this information about rabies give you a negative opinion on bats. What bats enjoy is eating large amounts of night-flying insects like mosquitos, termites, and agricultural pests, diminishing mosquito-related diseases and the need for pesticides in our community. In fact, some people try to attract bats to their property to help reduce the number of insects. For information on how to build a bat house for your yard, check out this resource.

Article adapted from Public Health Insider.

Identity-first vs. person-first language is an important distinction

Tara Haelle, the Association of Health Care Journalists medical studies core topic leader, recently wrote a post on the AHCJ’s blog, Covering Health, on how to use respectful language when it comes to how we identify the people who are living with various conditions or disabilities.

Haelle’s post was in response to a question about the acceptability of referring to someone with a condition as a descriptor, such as “epileptic child” or “diabetic adults.” Those constructions are called “identity-first” language, as opposed to “person-first” language where the person literally comes first: “children with epilepsy” and “adults with diabetes.”

The use or not of person-first language is a sensitive, important discussion, not unlike discussion of appropriate and respectful gender terminology in stories involving individuals who self-identify with a non-binary gender (something other than “male” or “female”).

This is a particularly relevant concern in the disability community, where a long history of erasure, exploitation, stigma and misunderstanding has led to strong emotions about how people with disabilities — or disabled people, depending on what someone prefers — are identified and discussed.

This is also true for the importance of person-first language when discussing addiction. “People who use intravenous drugs” or “woman with opioid use disorder” or “person with alcohol addiction,” as opposed to “drug users” or “opioid addict” or “alcoholic.”

As is already clear, person-first language is a complex issue depending on the condition and the person. Usually, with clear diseases like epilepsy and diabetes, it’s always best to use person-first language: men with diabetes, children with epilepsy. Although some controversy exists about obesity as a disease state, person-first language is also recommended: “man with obesity” is preferred to “obese man.”

With mental health disorders, it’s usually best to use person-first: a man with schizophrenia (not schizophrenic) or woman with bipolar disorder (not a bipolar woman). However, when you get to conditions that relate to different ways of perceiving or interacting with the world, person-first is often discouraged by those in that community, the source Haelle prioritizes highest. Two examples are autism and deafness.

Most deaf people prefer identity-first language, not person-first, and they reject “hearing impaired” because many do not perceive an inability to hear as a deficit. It’s always best to confirm with the person if there’s one person involved. If there isn’t, then I default to what the community at large generally uses. For Haelle, a community’s preference trumps even “official” sources, since agencies such as the CDC do not always recommend what the community itself prefers (e.g., deafness here.)

Autism is trickier, and Haelle has relied heavily on the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. Many autistic people see autism as an intrinsic part of their identity — a disability, yes, but one that also confers benefits and is simply a different way of perceiving and interacting with the world. This is where one can most frequently run into challenges.

But this preference isn’t across the board, as the ASAN essay notes. Some may prefer “person with autism,” and sometimes parents prefer “child with autism” while their child prefers “autistic child.” Yet the former can (but not always) connote a perception of autism as an unfortunate disorder or disease that someone wants to be cured while the latter connotes “aspect of my identity that is important to my sense of self.” Hence the importance of asking.

Article adapted from AHCJ blog post by Tara Haelle. July 31, 2019.

Housing as a Platform for Health and Equity

Recently in the American Journal of Public Health, Diana Hernández PhD, and Carolyn B. Swope MPH, assess the current state of research on housing and health disparities, and share recommendations for achieving opportunities for health equity centered on a comprehensive framing of housing.

The links between housing and health are now known to be strong and multifaceted and to generally span across 4 key pillars: stability, affordability, quality and safety, and neighborhood opportunity. Housing disparities in the United States are tenaciously patterned along axes of social inequality and contribute to the burden related to persistently adverse health outcomes in affected groups. Appreciating the multidimensional relationship between housing and health is critical in moving the housing and health agenda forward to inspire greater equity.

Despite the vastness of existing research, we must contextualize the housing and health disparities nexus in a broader web of interrelated variables emerging from the same roots of structural inequalities.

Source: Am J Public Health. Diana Hernández PhD, and Carolyn B. Swope MPH. Published online ahead of print August 15, 2019: e1–e4. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2019.305210

A Framework for Increasing Equity Impact in Obesity Prevention

One of the most pressing unmet challenges for preventing and controlling epidemic obesity is ensuring that socially disadvantaged populations benefit from relevant public health interventions. Obesity levels are disproportionately high in ethnic minority, low-income, and other socially marginalized US population groups. Current policy, systems, and environmental change interventions target obesity promoting aspects of physical, economic, social, and information environments but do not necessarily account for inequities in environmental contexts and, therefore, may perpetuate disparities.

In THIS ARTICLE recently published in the American Journal of Public Health, Shiriki K. Kumanyika, PhD, MPHI, proposes a framework to guide practitioners and researchers in public health and other fields that contribute to obesity prevention in identifying ways to give greater priority to equity issues when undertaking policy, systems, and environmental change strategies. The core argument is that these approaches to improving options for healthy eating and physical activity should be linked to strategies that account for or directly address social determinants of health. Kumanyika provides research and practice examples of its use in the US context. The approach may also apply to other health problems and in countries where similar inequities are observed.

Source: Am J Public Health. Shiriki K. Kumanyika. Published online ahead of print August 15, 2019: e1–e8. doi:10. 2105/AJPH.2019.305221

Local Health Departments on the Front Lines of the Opioid Epidemic

According to the National Association of County and City Health Officials, local health departments play a critical role in responding to opioid misuse and overdose within their own communities and are well suited to serve as conveners or supporters of coalitions and partnerships.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2018 report, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 47,600 Americans died because of opioid-related overdoses in 2017—far outpacing the mortalities associated with car crashes in 2017 and those of the peak years of the AIDS epidemic. While success has been made in recent years to curb the severity of the epidemic, these recent numbers are a stark reminder of the continued suffering of individuals, families, and communities across the country.

On the “front line” of the epidemic, LHDs are well suited to serve as conveners or supporters of coalitions and partnerships. This is critical, given that collaboration at the local level is essential to address the multifaceted nature of the opioid epidemic. The coordination of federal, state, and local partners, along with the engagement of community agencies and organizations, is imperative in implementing strategies to prevent and respond to opioid misuse and overdose.

Activities located within a local health department are beneficial because opioid use looks different across jurisdictions. To support individuals living with Opiod Use Disorder (OUD), local health departments can help their communities build out treatment options, including medication-assisted treatment, and can improve community linkages to care for OUD treatment, as well as for other physical and mental health services related to opioid use. They are also well-suited to support active drug use communities and to develop and enhance support systems for individuals engaging in treatment.

The opioid epidemic skyrocketed to public consciousness on the back of the immense suffering addiction has inflicted on American communities. There will always be another crisis, and the lessons learned from a variety of domestic drug use epidemics tell us that when we fail to prepare, we fail far too many. Instead of reactionary responses to each new public health emergency, local health departments have a unique opportunity to harness the national conversation around opioids to push for structural improvements in our official response to drug use of all kinds.

Article by Evans, Higgins, and Stanford. Adapted from Journal of Public Health Management & Practice.

For Sibling Battles, Be a Sportscaster, Not a Referee

Narrate what’s happening. Repeat back what your kids say to you. Try to be neutral.

For the most part, sibling conflict is normal and to be expected: Home is a safe testing ground for social dynamics. Siblings often want to play together, but it takes skill and patience when they’re different ages.

It’s our job to let kids know we see and hear them, but we’re not necessarily going to solve siblings’ conflicts for them (or else they never get the practice). When squabbles start, imagine you’re a sportscaster and describe what you see in front of you, without judgment and without taking sides. This simple practice lets your kids know you acknowledge and respect their struggles, but you’re not immediately jumping in with a solution.

Example: You hear shouting and walk in to find your kids looking upset with each other.

Instead of: Hey settle down in here! Jack, what did you do this time?

Say: I’m hearing really loud voices in here. Alex, you’re looking mad with your hands on your hips. Jack, you’re laughing. There’s a pack of Pokémon cards on the floor.

Narrate what’s happening. Repeat back what your kids say to you. Try to be neutral.

Ah, got it. You’re telling me he always takes the best cards. You feel like he’s the boss all the time. I see. Jack, you wanted to play the game you usually play and Alex wanted to change it up. Alex, you got frustrated and threw the cards. Am I missing anything?

When you repeat back their grievances, it helps kids start to hear each other and work on their own solutions.

It’s a knee-jerk reaction for many parents to insist siblings be nice to each other, and try to smooth over tricky or unpleasant feelings. But siblings can feel love, anger, frustration and connection to each other all within the same day. If they get the message that we accept only their sunny feelings, they will either put more oomph into the darker ones so we hear them, or repress and hide them from us. Neither of these is a good outcome. Accept the negative feelings without judgment. The warm, loving ones will naturally resurface.

Example: He always ruins everything! I hate him!

Instead of: Hey, watch it. You need to calm down and apologize to your brother.

Say: Wow, you are super angry at him. What was it that made you this mad?

Example: I don’t want this new baby. I wish she were never born.

Instead of: Oh, you don’t mean that. You’re going to love her, you’ll see.

Say: I get it. Things feel so different now. It used to be just the three of us and it seems like everything changed. I feel it too sometimes!

If you feel as if your kids’ relationship is bordering on emotional or physical abuse, it’s important to intervene quickly and be ready to separate them if necessary. But for the brothers and sisters who are merely annoyed, pause and listen. When voices start to rise and conflict is escalating, those are signs you may need to step in. Start with something like,

Do you guys need help figuring this out?

Can you give me some information about what’s happening here?

Kids are capable problem solvers, even the youngest ones. Assume they have good ideas and you’re there for support.

Kids’ words and behaviors are only the tip of the iceberg. They’re the easiest to see and the part we fixate on. Usually, there’s something more telling under the surface. One sibling pushes the other not just to be mean, but because he’s angry, he’s testing boundaries, he’s been pushed at school, he’s tired, he’s overstimulated, he’s trying to get attention. As we teach and uphold family rules, it’s also our job as parents to look deeper.

Approaching the situation with curiosity will help you get to the root of the issue, and it also brings the family closer and makes the lessons stick.

The above are a few of the tools my co-author, Julie Wright, and I teach clients to help them tune in and understand what kids are feeling. But you need more for true conflict resolution. We call this strategy the A-L-P model, for the steps of attuning, limit setting and problem solving. Attuning means you lead with understanding, limit setting states the rules and realities, and problem solving is for coming up with alternatives and solutions:

Ouch, that looked like it hurt. Let me check and make sure you’re O.K. You were really mad and you slammed the door on his arm? Tell me what was going on. O.K., got it. You were angry and you wanted space from him. (Attune to both kids).

We absolutely cannot slam doors, because it’s dangerous. Remember that’s a family rule. (Limit Set).

Let’s get your brother some ice. Pause. What could you say, in clear, strong words, when you need space? Let’s write those down, because it’s really hard to remember when you’re mad. (Problem Solve).

This system helped a mom in our practice to feel empathy for her “problem child” — her middle son, who seemed to find every opportunity to provoke and aggravate his little sister. He was downright mean to her in a way that made the mom furious. She sometimes felt as if she didn’t like him.

We had her sketch an iceberg and fill in the possible sources of her son’s behaviors. As she did this exercise, she started to cry. She had written notes like, “Resentment toward little sister for being the baby of the family, attention from adults always on her, jealousy for her easygoing nature, overwhelmed at school, anger at recent family changes.” She worked on seeing him through this lens of curiosity and it made her less reactive and able to acknowledge his struggles.

Eventually, he started opening up and telling her more about how he was feeling. When she reminded him of family rules, rather than sending him to his room, she asked him what he could do instead of provoking his sister, and he actually started coming up with his own ideas.

As time went on, she still heard them fighting, but she also heard them working things out, chatting and laughing. The ratio of enjoyment to conflict was going up. Her empathy for her son was spreading through the family.

Article by Heather Turgeon. Adapted from The New York Times.

10 Ways to Lower the Cancer Risk of Grilling

If you plan to grill often experts suggest taking some small steps to make a big difference in lowering your exposure to compounds that are tied to cancer.

Many people would be surprised to hear that grilling carries potential cancer risks. But each year, the American Institute for Cancer Research publishes guidance for “cancer-safe grilling,” cautioning consumers to avoid two types of compounds that have been tied to cancer. These compounds, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines, get generated when food, especially meat, is cooked on a grill. They have not been proven to cause cancer in people, but lab studies have shown they alter DNA in a way that could lead to cancer.

“Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are formed when any kind of organic matter,” primarily fat that drips off meat and down into the grill grates, “gets burned, because the carbon inside is being combusted in the flames, and those hydrocarbons get carried up in the smoke,” said Rashmi Sinha, senior investigator in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute. The resulting smoke can envelop the meat and coat it in the potentially carcinogenic compounds.

The black char we’ve all seen on grill grates and grilled food? That’s the heterocyclic amines, or HCAs, which occur when high temperatures meet muscle meat, which includes red meat (pork, beef, lamb, goat), poultry (turkey, chicken) and fish. “Grilling — or even pan-frying — at these high temps causes amino acids found in the meat to react with another substance found in meat called creatine,” said Colleen Doyle, managing director of nutrition and physical activity at the American Cancer Society and a registered dietitian. Creatine is found only in muscle meat.

“It’s the reaction of those amino acids and the creatine that form the HCAs, which is why we don’t see HCAs formed when grilling asparagus, squash, peppers and other vegetables.”

As with most lifestyle choices related to dialing up or down one’s cancer risk, the dose makes the poison. Which means if you’re grilling once or twice a year, don’t sweat it. But if you plan to grill often — once or twice a week throughout the summer, say — experts suggest taking some small steps to make a big difference in lowering your exposure to these compounds.

Grill fish, seafood, poultry or plant-based foods rather than red meat and especially processed meats like hot dogs; the World Health Organization considers processed meats a carcinogen and red meat a probable carcinogen. While HCAs are still formed while grilling fish and seafood, Ms. Doyle pointed out that you typically don’t have to cook seafood as long as beef and chicken, which reduces the accumulation of the compounds.

Research suggests that marinating for at least 30 minutes can reduce the formation of HCAs on meat, poultry and fish. The reason for this is not entirely clear to researchers, but one possibility is a kind of shield effect. “If you put a barrier of basically sugar and oil between the meat and the heat, then that is what becomes seared instead of the meat,” said Nigel Brockton, vice president of research at the American Institute for Cancer Research. It also makes your meat more flavorful.

Many kinds of fruits and vegetables are actually protective as far as cancer risk, and they don’t form HCAs when grilled. Several experts recommend using meat as a condiment. Think of alternating cubes of chicken with peppers and onions or peaches and pineapple on a skewer, for instance. This trick, which also works when pan frying, reduces the surface area of meat exposed to the hot surface, Dr. Brockton explained, since the meat is also touching other ingredients throughout the cooking process.

According to Dr. Brockton, cooking your meat with herbs, spices, tea, chili peppers and the like — ingredients with phenolic compounds — can be a helpful approach because “it seems they quench the formation of the potentially carcinogenic compounds because of the antioxidant properties of those ingredients.”

Try to minimize how much smoke you’re breathing in, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recommends as part of a helpful resource on healthy summer picnic practices.

The black, crispy crust that you often see on the bony edges of ribs or steak is more likely to contain a higher concentration of potentially carcinogenic compounds. Ms. Doyle also recommends cleaning the grill grates ahead of time, to remove any previously generated char.

“The longer you cook something, the longer the chemical reaction is happening, the higher the amount of HCAs are formed,” Dr. Brockton said. If you partially precook your meat, such as by baking or cooking in the microwave, the layer of HCAs that gets formed won’t be as thick. The same goes for meat cut into smaller pieces, such as with kabobs, because it cooks faster. Grilling in foil can also help protect the food from smoke and speed up the cooking time, according to the Harvard resource on healthy picnics.

“Types of wood can influence HCA formation,” Ms. Doyle said. “Hardwoods, such as hickory and maple, and charcoal all burn at lower temperatures than soft woods, such as pine. Cooking with wood that burns at a lower temperature is desirable.”

To minimize your exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, experts recommend selecting leaner cuts of meat or trimming any visible fat, which can lower the amount that drips down through the grates and comes back up in the smoke. To minimize dripping, Ms. Doyle suggests not piercing your meats while they’re on the grill.

According to guidance from the National Cancer Institute, fewer HCAs are formed if you turn meat over frequently while cooking it on high heat.

Article by Sophie Egan. Adapted from The New York Times.

West Nile virus detected in Canyon County mosquitoes

Because of Malheur County’s proximity to Canyon County, Idaho, we will share health advisories from neighboring areas to alert people to local concerns. Thanks to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare for the important information.

Mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus (WNV) were detected in Canyon County on June 14, 2019, prompting public health officials to remind people to take precautions to “Fight the Bite.” The positive mosquitoes, which are the first detected in the state this year, were collected by the Canyon County Mosquito Abatement District. The positive lab results were confirmed Tuesday.

Last year, one death was reported because of WNV complications, and 11 counties across Idaho reported finding mosquito pools that tested positive for West Nile virus. Sixteen people and five horses were infected. This first detection of 2019 occurred in western Idaho, an area where positive mosquitoes have been found almost every year since West Nile virus was first detected in Idaho in 2004.

West Nile virus is contracted from the bite of an infected mosquito; it is not spread from person-to-person through casual contact. Symptoms often include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash. In some cases, the virus can cause severe illness, especially in people over the age of 50, and may require hospitalization. On rare occasion, it can lead to death. 

“This is the time of year we expect West Nile virus-positive mosquitos to be found in Idaho,” says Dr. Christine Hahn, Idaho Division of Public Health Medical Director. “Avoiding mosquito bites is the best protection against infection with the virus.”

To reduce the likelihood of infection, take steps to avoid mosquitoes, particularly between dusk and dawn when they are most active. In addition, you should:

  • Cover up exposed skin when outdoors and apply DEET or other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved insect repellent to exposed skin and clothing. DEET may be used on adults, children, and infants older than 2 months of age. Carefully follow instructions on the product label, especially for children. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
  • Insect-proof your home by repairing or replacing screens.
  • Reduce standing water on your property; check and drain toys, trays, or pots outdoors that may hold water and harbor mosquito eggs.
  • Change bird baths and static decorative ponds weekly as they may also provide a suitable mosquito habitat.

WNV does not usually affect domestic animals such as dogs and cats, but it can cause severe illness in horses and certain species of birds. Although there is no vaccine available for people, there are several vaccines available for horses. People are advised to have their horses vaccinated annually.

For the latest information, visit www.westnile.idaho.gov. Article adapted from the DHW blog.