health

Kevin Meehan: Biochemist, Kevin Meehan, has a thriving acupuncture and naturopathic health practice here in Jackson Hole.  He shares with us his journey from childhood diabetes to a flourishing business producing a variety of health products

Ozone spikes lead to doctor visits, study finds

Apr 11, 2013

A study by the Wyoming Department of Health found that ozone in Sublette County causes and exacerbates health problems.

Ground-level ozone is a type of pollution, and in Sublette County, it’s caused by emissions from the oil and gas industry. The report found that as ozone levels increased, more people went to local health clinics with respiratory complaints.

Kerry Pride with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says other studies have shown the same thing, but this is the first time they’ve done a research specific to Sublette County.

Teton county residents are the healthiest in Wyoming. That’s according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute’s County Health Rankings. The least-healthy county was Fremont.

Population Health Institute researcher Kate Konkle says, overall, people in Fremont County died at a younger age, had more sick days, and were less mentally healthy than residents of other counties. Konkle says researchers considered several factors that influence the health of a community, including obesity, access to dentists, and graduation rates.

The State Senate has given initial approval to a bill that will allow out-of-state health insurance companies to offer policies in Wyoming.  The goal of the legislation is to encourage competition and possibly lower health insurance costs.

Wyoming consumers have limited health insurance choices and supporters hope the bill will fix this. However,  Senator Bill Landen of Casper says he is worried that the legislation could harm Wyoming insurers, by bringing in unwanted competition. 

Albany County saw more prescription drug overdoses in the first three months of 2012 than in all of 2011. In fact, a third of non-natural and accidental deaths in Albany County last year can be linked to prescription drug overdoses, according to County Coroner Kathleen Vernon-Kubichek, nearly triple the amount seen in 2011. 

The Natrona County health department is investigating and outbreak of a gastrointestinal illness, often known as the “stomach flu.”

State epidemiologist Tracy Murphy says several people who have reported the problem had eaten at the same Casper restaurant, but he declined to name the restaurant until the county has wrapped up its investigation. Murphy says it it’s premature to blame the outbreak on food poisoning.

A public meeting today will present preliminary results of an Environmental Health Initiative study being conducted on Wind River Indian Reservation. The Rocky Mountain Tribal Epidemiology Center initiative aims to assess environmental risks on the reservation, and develop remediation strategies. Communities on the Wind River Reservation complained of high cancer rates. Folo Akintan directs the Epidemiology Center and says they distributed surveys on the reservation and in communities immediately surrounding it, and reviewed national and local data going back up to fifty years.

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, unintentional deaths of children under the age of 19 declined by 29-percent nationally between 2000 and 2009.

However, Kelly Weidenbach, an epidemiologist with the Wyoming Department of Health, says there has not been a similar drop in Wyoming.

This week is Wyoming’s annual “Through with Chew Week,” a campaign to get people to stop chewing tobacco. Wyoming has the nation’s highest rate of smokeless tobacco use among adults. And a 2011 study shows that 1 in 5 Wyoming high school boys chewed.Wyoming Department of Health Spokesperson Kim Deti says the Wyoming Quit Tobacco Program provides folks who want to quit with an important support system—and maybe even some free gas.

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