Alabama Department of Public Health

The Alabama Department of Public Health is investigating a case of meningococcal disease, the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children between the ages of 2 and 18 in the United States.

In a news release yesterday, the department’s immunization division said the case was found at Scottsboro Junior High School in Jackson County. No other cases have been identified.

Medical Officer Dr. Karen Landers says the department has already started contacting parents to make them aware of the exposure.

State health officials say Alabama’s infant mortality rate is on the rise.

The Alabama Department of Public health issued a news release yesterday saying last year’s rate of 9.1 infant deaths per thousand live births is the highest in the state since 2008. Acting State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris says “Our infant mortality rate is troubling and disheartening and trending in the wrong direction.”

APR

“I hurt so bad, and I just stayed in bed like, for years I stayed in bed. I couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t wait on myself.”

We’re sitting at the dining table with Fay. She asked us not to use her real name. During our visit, one of her favorite songs plays in the background on an old portable CD player. Fay is seventy two and following her first ever mammogram in the year 2000, she found she had breast cancer.

“And then they told me I had the worst kind," says Faye. "And, I said ‘cancer? What is the worst kind? It’s bad no matter you look at it.”

Stan Ingold / Alabama Public Radio

All year long the APR news team has been looking at rural health across the state. One of the major problems is that rural residents lack access to medical care. A big reason for this is a lack of doctors. However, there is an effort underway to try to address the issue. The University of Alabama has something called the rural medical scholars program and it is bringing the next generation of doctors who will be practicing in rural Alabama.

Wallace Epp
UAB

All year long on Alabama Public Radio, we’ve been looking at rural health care. Advocates of rural health in Alabama say one of the biggest issues is access to health care in rural areas. The state is facing a massive shortage of physicians, and the doctors we do have are largely concentrated in metropolitan areas.

The situation gets worse when it comes to specialty and subspecialty care. The vast majority of the state’s specialists are in Birmingham, Huntsville or Mobile. But doctors are now starting to use technology to bring specialty care into rural Alabama.

Alabama health officials have announced a new program to more readily identify and treat patients with highly infectious diseases.

Al.com reports Huntsville Hospital, the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital and the University of South Alabama Medical Center in Mobile will be the three assessment hospitals in a new Serious Infectious Disease Network. The Alabama Department of Public Health announced it’s establishing the network in response to several national disease outbreaks.

APR

Advocates working to fix problems with rural health care say Alabama is ground zero nationally. Studies say Alabama has the highest infant mortality rate in the U.S. The state also leads the nation for diabetes. Alabama is also home to Gadsden which had the lowest life expectancy in the nation in 2016. Despite all this, rural hospitals in the state receive among the lowest reimbursements nationally from Medicare. That’s blamed for eighty percent of Alabama’s hospitals that are operating in the red.

The Alabama Department of Public Health is warning Centre residents about potentially unhealthy levels of two synthetic compounds in its water.

The Department announced earlier this week that the compounds, known as PFOS and PFOA, were recently found in the city of Centre's water. It says residents should consider "using alternate sources of drinking water."

Centre Water has begun buying water from the Cherokee County Water Authority and blending the two to drive down the PFOS and PFOA numbers. The water will continue to be tested.

Authorities say dozens of athletes and coaches from across the South have fallen ill at a college baseball tournament in Alabama, and the cause is -- as of now -- a mystery.

The Alabama Department of Public Health said people affected by the outbreak are from Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

WSFA-TV reports the athletes and coaches were competing in the Southern States Athletic Conference championship tournament in Montgomery when they became ill.

UA Student Health Center
University of Alabama

Several students at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa have been diagnosed with the mumps, according to state health officials.

The Alabama Department of Public Health issued a news release Friday saying it's investigating those cases and working with the school to contact additional students and faculty members that may have been exposed to the disease.

The Alabama Department of Public Health says wedding food was probably behind a salmonella outbreak that sickened about 100 people in north Alabama.

Officials say Salmonella was found both in cooked chicken and green beans following the event in Colbert County.

About 150 people were at the wedding, which was held in Tuscumbia, and the department says at least 99 people got sick. Of those, 22 people were hospitalized. Four people remain hospitalized.

A sharp increase in syphilis cases has led the Alabama Department of Public Health to issue a health advisory for north Alabama.  

The ADPH says there's been a 90 percent increase in reported cases over 2015 in Madison County. The department announced Friday that 54 cases have been reported in Madison County in 2016.

Health officials say infection can occur after a person has direct contact with a syphilis sore during sex. Syphilis can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her baby.

Gadsden’s water utility is filing suit against dozens of area companies over pollution in the city’s water supply.

The Gadsden Water Works and Sewer Board filed a lawsuit yesterday saying more than 30 area carpet and textile companies are responsible for elevated levels of two chemicals in the city’s water supply. That’s prompted health advisories from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other groups.

The state of Alabama has been selected to take part in a national project to help combat the opioid epidemic across the country.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley announced earlier this week that the state will participate in a National Governors Association learning lab to address the opioid issue. The project aims to reduce the number of overdoses and deaths related to heroin and prescription opiates like fentanyl. Current data shows 78 people nationwide die of an opiate overdose every day.

Alabama officials testing 540 Hyundai workers for TB

Aug 30, 2016

The Alabama Department of Public Health is testing for Tuberculosis among 540 workers at Hope Hull Hyundai Motor Manufacturing facility today. One worker tested positive for the active form of the respiratory disease.

TB is an airborne illness that affects those who are in close contact with it. As a result, ADPH says they are only testing workers in the paint shop.

Alabama health officials are planning to test for tuberculosis at an automotive plant near Montgomery after one employee was confirmed to be infected.

Pam Barrett, the director of tuberculosis control with the Alabama Department of Public Health, says testing and evaluations will begin today at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama outside Montgomery. Barrett says only the employees who were in close contact with the infected worker will need to be tested.

The Alabama Department of Public Health gave Spring Valley Beach Water Park in northeast Alabama the all-clear to reopen this weekend, according to reports from the park and WHNT News.

The Blountsville water park was shut down last week due to the presence of the parasite cryptosporidium, also known as "crypto". WHNT says Spring Valley Beach voluntarily shut down last Sunday after reports of possible contamination.

Alabama State House
Jay Williams / Flickr

Alabama’s Senate and House of Representatives are back in Montgomery once again to try and find a solution to the state’s budget woes.

Governor Robert Bentley called the special session of the state’s legislature to find funding for Medicaid, infrastructure and state debt repayment. One of the most popular plans is to amend the state constitution to set up a lottery, with revenue directed into Alabama’s ailing General Fund.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley
Alex AuBuchon / APR

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley visited two Tuscaloosa mental health facilities yesterday. He wants to stress the need for Medicaid funding in the state.

The Governor visited the Arc of Tuscaloosa County and Indian Rivers Mental Health Clinic. Both facilities help individuals with mental illness and intellectual and developmental disabilities. And both organizations depend heavily on Medicaid funding in order to provide services. Bentley is advocating for an increase of at least $85 million in Medicaid funding to stave off cuts.

Alabama Department of Public Health officials say a new law allows people and businesses to keep epinephrine injectors on hand in case of an allergic reaction.

A new state law allows people and organizations including camps, child care centers, restaurants and others to keep single-dose epinephrine auto-injectors on hand.  It’s in case someone has an allergic reaction because of anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is often caused by insect stings, foods and medication.

Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise

A new report on sanitation and drinking water has singled out Lowndes County, Alabama for its widespread lack of sewage systems for its residents.

According to the report from the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, around 80 percent of Lowndes County residents don’t have access to municipal waste treatment and have to install their own septic systems. Those systems can cost up to $30,000 thanks to the type of soil in the area, and the median household income in Lowndes County is just $26,000.

mosquito
Wikimedia

Mosquito season is approaching, and public health officials in Alabama are working to get a better understanding of what resources are available for mosquito control efforts amid rising concerns over the Zika virus.

Alabama Department of Public Health Emergency Preparedness Director Andy Mullins says his office is awaiting the results of an assessment to determine what kinds of mosquito control resources are available at the city and county level throughout the state.

LCS USS Montgomery
Thigpen Photography

The U.S. Navy has awarded Austal USA the contract to build Littoral Combat Ship 26.

The additional warship is part of a contract modification increasing Austal USA’s block-buy contract with the Navy to 11 ships.

When LCS 26 is built, it will be the 13th LCS built by Austal USA at its shipyards in Mobile. The company currently has ten warships in different stages of production: seven Littoral Combat Ships and three Expeditionary Fast Transport vessels. Three LCS vessels have already been delivered to the Navy, and a fourth will be delivered later this year.

House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s ethics trial has been postponed once again. APR’s student reporter Miranda Fulmore has more.

Hubbard’s trial was originally scheduled to begin next month, but has been postponed by Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker. Walker postponed the trial after the state’s lead prosecutor faced a knee injury and needs time to recover from surgery.

A tuberculosis outbreak is continuing in the small Alabama town of Marion.

Alabama Department of Public Health officials say two more people have tested positive for TB in Perry County. Division of tuberculosis control director Pam Barrett says one case of the infection was diagnosed in a child less than 15 years old.

Officials say the tuberculosis outbreak has killed three people since 2011, prompting more aggressive screening efforts in Marion. Those efforts included paying residents to get tested, attend follow-up appointments and complete necessary treatment.

A Muslim advocacy group is asking to meet with  Governor Robert Bentley about statements he made on a refugee resettlement program that they call insensitive.

During his State of the State address Tuesday, Bentley criticized the federal refugee resettlement program for not disclosing refugees' background information to officials in states they settle in.

Bentley mentioned terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, and said one of the killers and some refugees in Alabama came from "terrorist nations."

Tomorrow is the last day for residents in a small Perry County town to be tested for tuberculosis and get paid for it. APR’s MacKenzie Bates has the latest on what officials are doing to eradicate the respiratory illness in Marion,

New numbers released by the Alabama Department of Health say 85 people have tested positive for the TB infection. Nine of those people have active cases. The Health Department is paying residents $20 for each screening and more money for follow-ups.

The Alabama Department of Public Health is contesting reports that two Alabama counties rank among the nation’s top three for lead levels in children.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from 2014 compiled by Vox shows Houston County, Alabama having the highest rate of child lead poisoning in the country. The data shows seven in twelve Houston County children having lead levels high enough to qualify as lead poisoning. Dallas County ranked third in the country in CDC lead data, with seven in twenty children qualifying for lead poisoning.

       

The Alabama Department of Public Health will be holding a town hall meeting tonight to discuss an outbreak of Tuberculosis.  Twenty-six people have been diagnosed in the Marion, Centreville and Tuscaloosa areas in the past two years.  Pam Barrett is the Director for the Division of TB control with the Alabama Department of Public Health. She says keeping track of those infected has been a problem.

Eric Parker
Brynn Anderson / AP

The Alabama Department of Public Health will be holding a town hall meeting tonight to discuss an outbreak of tuberculosis.

26 people have been diagnosed with TB in the Marion, Centreville and Tuscaloosa areas since last January.

Pam Barrett is the director for the Division of TB Control with the Alabama Department of Public Health. She says keeping track of those infected has been a problem.

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