Public Health

Howard Weiss-Tisman / VPR

Vermont Rail System is storing tanker cars filled with propane near a residential neighborhood in Bennington, and some of the people who live nearby are wondering what they can do to ensure their safety.

According to the New York Times, New Hampshire, where I live, is second only to West Virginia for the highest per capita rate of deaths from opioid addiction.

Amy Forliti / Associated Press

This weekend a seminar is being held in Stowe that critics say will spread misinformation about the risks of vaccines. It's topic in which science and emotion collide for parents and communities.

It was a cold and snowy January, and my mom was sick. My family home is on a dirt road in rural Vermont, so it took a while for Mom to go see our family physician, who sent her home with prescriptions.

Dan Sumption / Flickr

Armed with only rock, paper and scissors, participants today will face off at a fierce tournament challenge. The materials are, well, metaphorical — and it’s all in good fun, for a good cause. The proceeds from the second annual Rock-Paper-Scissors Tournament Challenge will go to benefit ANEW Place, a local homeless shelter that aims to create long term solutions for homeless men and women.

A few years ago, as I was leaving a doctor’s office, an elderly gentleman was pushing an older woman up the handicapped ramp. I held the outer door open, but even with my help, it was an awkward maneuver in a narrow passage, first to reach the inner door, then open it and push the chair in. The woman in the chair leaned aside as best she could, and the man succeeded, but muttered, “Accessible doesn’t mean convenient.”


Earlier this month, members of the Vermont Kids Against Tobacco (VKAT) group in Windsor took to the streets to pick up litter. But unlike the statewide Green Up Day effort happening around the same time, these kids were out to collect one thing: cigarette butts.

Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

Many communities talk about creating a healthy environment through wellness initiatives, but this week some Lamoille County towns are both talking the talk and walking the walk. They've invited Mark Fenton, former host of the public television show America's Walking, to conduct downtown "walking audits."

I recently talked to a mother who decided not to vaccinate her child. She said she considered vaccines unnecessary and potentially dangerous. News reports show that this mother is not alone: a growing number of parents have been telling pediatricians not to vaccinate their kids against illnesses like whooping cough and measles.

Vaccines are voluntary, but public schools require them for enrollment. Schools allow kids with compromised immune systems from things like cancer treatment to get medical exemptions.

On a beautiful October afternoon, horseback riding is a wonderful way to get off the beaten path and observe the fall foliage. But riding a horse is more than a means of transportation, and for people with disabilities horses can be an important part of their therapy.

Hippotherapy, or using horses to help treat patients, originated with the ancient Greeks in the fifth century B.C.E. It was used to help rehabilitate wounded soldiers.

I remember my quarantine experience vividly, although I was just a small kid in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. My mother was diagnosed with diphtheria, an infectious upper respiratory disease. The town police chief, Vin Hall, came to the house one day with a large red poster, a hammer and nails. He nailed the poster to the front door... Quarantined, it read. I guess it really meant isolation since we couldn’t leave for a few days, as I recall.

Sunday Alamba / AP

Grim news about the Ebola virus is filling the airwaves these days. And although the chances of contracting the disease outside of West Africa are extremely slim, American hospitals are preparing for a possible outbreak. Colleges are also starting to get questions from parents about whether international students could carry the virus to campuses.

The Vermont Public Service Board ordered Vermont Gas Systems to stop digging for its pipeline near power lines owned by the Vermont Electric Power Company, citing environmental and health concerns.

Vermont Gas approached the Public Service Board after the state Agency of Natural Resources alerted the company to the possibility that soil contaminated with Pentachlorophenol (PCP) could be disturbed by pipeline construction.

Public safety officials in Montpelier are warning residents to be vigilant around wildlife after a rabid fox attacked residents in the neighborhood of Northfield Street. The fox was killed by a resident on Saturday but not before it bit six people, including a child.

The fox's remains were tested at the Vermont Department of Health laboratory and rabies was detected. All six people are undergoing rabies treatment. Montpelier Fire Chief Robert Gowans is in contact with the victims and reports all are doing well.

Toby Talbot / AP File Photo

When the legislative session ends, the bills that manage to become law then have to get implemented. Several issues lawmakers grappled with this year are now landing on the desk of the Health Commissioner, Dr. Harry Chen.

On the next Vermont Edition, we talk with Dr. Chen about a new law about toxic chemicals in children’s products and a law that addresses treatment protocols for Lyme Disease. We also look at Vermont's heroin use rates, and how the state's physician-assisted suicide law has been used in the first year of implementation.

A group of Thetford residents would like to see the town support a community nurse.

A symposium is planned for Monday at the University of Vermont to look at the intersection of disease and society. The event brings together experts with diverse backgrounds including anthropology, epidemiology and medieval history. The idea is to look at the social and historical causes of modern disease, rather than just how the pathogens of disease are spread.

So the blood of almost 2000 American soldiers shed in Afghanistan has come to this… a new bill passed in the Afghan parliament, although yet to be signed by Karzai, will make it illegal for family members, witnesses, children, doctors, and defense attorneys to testify against anyone accused of rape or child sexual abuse in Afghanistan.

We know how to prevent the 900,000 maternal deaths that occur every year in the world. And one million babies could be saved each year if they had better nutrition and health care.

I learned this and much more while participating in a recent symposium on maternal and child health and nutrition in Emerging Markets at Oxford University. The focus was on Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Erica Berl isn’t a hunter, but she got up early on Saturday and bundled up for a long morning outside waiting for deer.

Berl’s hunt came after the deer hunters, out for Vermont’s annual youth hunting weekend, finished theirs. After pairs of hunters ­– children with their older siblings, a parent or a family friend – heaved deer onto the scale at the Department of Fish and Wildlife reporting station in Swanton, Berl and her team got to work.