Iowa reports two influenza-related deaths
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced on Nov. 16 that two middle-aged men from central Iowa died from influenza-related causes. Iowa has the highest number of influenza cases this season, followed by Oregon and Rhode Island.
Mumps cases continue to increase
The number of laboratory confirmed cases of mumps in Iowa continues to grow since the outbreak began in mid-July. As of Nov. 13, the State Hygienic Laboratory confirmed 149 mumps cases. Of these, 128 cases were in Johnson County.
Municipalities checking water for blue-green algae
This has been a record-setting year for the number of harmful blue-green algal blooms in Iowa’s ponds and lakes. Algal blooms create a smelly scum on the surface of water, and toxins produced by algae threaten the health of those exposed to it. As of Sept. 3, 34 state park beach advisories were issued for toxin levels that exceeded the World Health Organization’s recommended level of 20 ug/l (micrograms per liter), breaking the previous record of 24 in 2013. Suspected exposure to these algal blooms is reportable to the Iowa Department of Public Health.
What does an environmental lab do?
The Environmental Health Division of the Hygienic Laboratory in Ankeny will host an open house to give guests an inside look at the work of Iowa’s environmental and public health laboratory. The event is scheduled for Nov. 19 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Iowa Laboratories Facility on the Ankeny campus of the Des Moines Area Community College.
Hygienic Laboratory announces new Ambassador
The State Hygienic Laboratory announced on Sept. 17 that Michael Schultz will be its Environmental and Public Health Ambassador for 2015 – 2016. Through the Ambassador Program, the Hygienic Laboratory works with leaders in the state who share a common goal to raise awareness of public health and laboratory science. Schultz is associate professor in the University of Iowa Departments of Radiology and Internal Medicine, Radiation Oncology. In the honorary role of Ambassador, he will focus on possible effects from hydraulic fracking on water quality.
Arsenic testing available for private well owners
Private well owners in Iowa now may have their drinking water tested for arsenic at no cost through the Grants to Counties Program. On July 1, arsenic was added as an optional analysis to the minimum analyses for nitrate (including nitrite) and total coliform bacteria.