West Virginia Bureau for Public Health

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West Virginia health officials are encouraging providers to ensure their patients over six months old get flu vaccinations.

Cynthia Goldsmith / CDC/ Dr. Terrence Tumpey

West Virginia's health officer says the flu outbreak has increased statewide and is expected to peak in a few weeks.

Dr. Rahul Gupta, state health officer and commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health, says flu activity is widespread in the state.

Holding Hands, Hold Hands, Baby, Baby Hand, Hand Holding
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New data from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources shows fewer women in the state are smoking while pregnant now compared to a few years ago. 

DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health says the rate of West Virginia women who smoke while pregnant fell by four percent between 2014 and 2016. 

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Source water protection plans are mandates water utilities are required to follow to keep drinking water safe. However, before 2014, following these plans in West Virginia was voluntary. Since the January 2014 Elk River chemical spill, though, legislation was put in place requiring about 125 water systems in the state to have these plans. The law also made what was already on the books much stronger.

Friday, July 1 is the deadline for water and sewer utilities to submit their new plans to the state Bureau for Public Health. Liz McCormick has been following this story and brings us a look into how two utilities – large and small – have been dealing with the new regulatory landscape.

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A Northern Panhandle pain doctor is suing two state government agencies after he was stripped of his medical license and his clinic was closed.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that Dr. Roland Chalifoux is suing the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health and a medical board. The suit states their actions forced him into debt and damaged his reputation.

The civil action filed in Marshall County Circuit Court seeks lost wages and damages.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

State officials have kicked off a push at redefining the mission of public health in West Virginia.

The Bureau for Public Health held an initial meeting of the public health impact task force Wednesday.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, Ashton Marra talks with the state’s new chief health officer, Dr. Rahul Gupta about his plans to improve the overall health of the state’s citizens.  And we’ll visit a car-building competition at WVU that has students already being recruited for jobs in the auto industry. 

These stories on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.


  The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health, along with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, is investigating foam observed on the surface of the Coal River. 

According to a news release from DHHR Friday evening,  intakes at both Lincoln County Public Service District and City of St. Albans water systems have been closed. 

The DHHR says foam samples have been collected by Lincoln PSD and the Department of Environmental Protection. Testing of the samples is ongoing and initial results are expected this evening.

CDC / Dr. Erskine Palmer / wikimedia Commons

  State health officials are urging the public to take extra precautions before school starts next week to prevent the spread of the flu.

“As children return to school, West Virginia could see further increases in flu activity and influenza outbreaks in schools,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, State Health Officer and Commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health.

Gupta was appointed to the position in late December and assumed the role at the beginning of the New Year.

Cynthia Goldsmith / CDC/ Dr. Terrence Tumpey

  West Virginia public health officials say one strain of influenza is making an early appearance in the state.

As a result, the number of people seeking medical care for flu-like symptoms at West Virginia medical facilities is on the rise.

Shannon McBee is an epidemiologist and the influenza coordinator for the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health.

AP

  A federal report says West Virginia public health officials weren't trained to respond to a January chemical spill along the Elk River.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the state Bureau for Public Health had no epidemiologists trained specifically to deal with chemical or natural disasters. Instead, those who focus on infectious diseases led the bureau's response to the spill Jan. 9 spill at Freedom Industries.

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State health officials say they've confirmed West Virginia's first case of a nasty mosquito-borne virus.

  The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health says the case involved a person who traveled from western West Virginia to Haiti and became symptomatic when the person returned.

The Bureau for Public Health says it has sent letters to health departments and health care providers advising providers of the confirmed case along with clinical information and prevention messaging.   

Freedom Industries
AP

With little known about the chemical compound MCHM, public health was—and remains—the focus of January’s spill of MCHM by Freedom Industries into the Elk River. Dr. Rahul Gupta of the Kanawha Charleston Health Department and other public health officials gathered Tuesday for an online presentation hosted by the National Association of County and City Health Officials to detail past and on-going efforts.

Gupta began his portion of the webinar to outline the timeline of the spill before moving on to data collected on the event. He said a recent survey shows that, while some residents were using the water to do laundry or for other purposes, many of those affected weren’t drinking the water at the beginning of March.

Aaron Payne / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

State health officials are seeking patient data from physicians who might have treated people affected by the Jan. 9 chemical spill.

The Charleston spill contaminated 300,000 people's tap water in nine counties.

The House passes a bill known as the Pregnant Workers' Fairness Act--but not without fierce debate over an amendment that sought to include "fetus" in the bill's language, The Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on State Water Resources hears from Kanawha-Charleston Health Depart chief Dr. Rahul Gupta and the state Bureau for Public Health's Dr. Letitia Tierney. Also, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin provides an update on the chemical spill and water crisis with officials from the CDC and EPA.

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Officials from the Bureau for Public Health and West Virginia American Water released separate statements regarding Dr. Scott Simonton's testimony Wednesday to Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on State Water Resources, calling his remarks on the discovery of formaldehyde in the water of a Charleston restaurant "unfounded", "misleading", and "irresponsible."

CDC / Dr. Erskine Palmer / wikimedia Commons

Flu activity is widespread in West Virginia and a state epidemiologist says this year's season could be severe.
 
     Widespread activity means increases in flu-related outpatient visits, lab-confirmed flu cases and incidents of influenza outbreaks have been reported in at least half of the state's eight surveillance regions.
 

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, based on a letter sent to Secretary Karen Bowling from the CDC, is advising pregnant women in the West Virginia American Water service area affected by last week's chemical spill in the Elk River to drink bottled water.

A news release says the Health Department consulted with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the CDC recommends pregnant women continue drinking bottled water until there are no longer detectable levels of the chemical in the water distribution system.