Kansas Department of Health and Environment

America’s Health Rankings/United Health Foundation

Kansas was the only state where the obesity rate went up significantly in 2015, according to an annual report, and state officials are trying to figure out why and how to reverse the trend.

The state also lagged on vaccination rates and remained stuck in the middle on overall health, according to the America’s Health Rankings Report, which was released Thursday.

kdhe.gov

A new report shows the infant mortality rate in Kansas has reached a historic low.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says 230 infant deaths were reported last year, the lowest figure ever recorded.

That put the infant mortality rate at 5.9 per 1,000 live births in 2015—down from 6.3 from a year before. It’s slightly better than the national rate, and below the target rate of 6 set by the federal health initiative Healthy People 2020.

Abigail Beckman / KMUW

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment held a meeting last night in Wichita after several domestic wells near Central and Tyler were found to be contaminated by underground petroleum storage tanks leaking a chemical component of gasoline called MtBE. 

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The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is studying two areas in west Wichita where the groundwater is thought to be contaminated with the synthetic chemical tetrachloroethylene, or PCE. The agency is holding two public information sessions on the issue next week.

kdhe.gov

Health insurance costs for state employees in Kansas will be rising again next year.

The increases vary depending on the plan, but rate hikes range from around 9 to 30 percent, with additional increases for dental and vision coverage. Rebecca Proctor, with the Kansas Organization of State Employees, says there are some state workers making around $12 to $14 an hour, so the rising costs really hit their bottom line.

Lake Afton Listed Under Blue-Green Algae Warning

Jul 29, 2016
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, flickr Creative Commons

Lake Afton in western Sedgwick County is under a blue-green algae warning.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has also issued warnings for Atchison County Park Lake in Atchison County and Overbrook City Lake in Osage County. The lakes under warning aren’t closed, but according to the KDHE, contact with the water can cause serious illness and should be avoided. Pets that swim in or drink the water, or that eat dried algae along the shore, may become seriously ill or die.

Kansas Declines Some Federal Sex Education Funds

Jun 28, 2016
Nicola Ochsenbein / flickr Creative Commons

Public health officials in Wyandotte County and Johnson County say they are seeking funds to continue comprehensive sexual education programs into 2018 after the state declined to renew a federal grant.

cdc.gov

Saline County residents peppered state and local health officials with questions about lead exposure at a public meeting Tuesday evening in Salina. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment organized the meeting after tests by local doctors this year found elevated lead levels in the blood of 32 Saline County children — most of them from Salina.

One audience member asked during the meeting whether officials were investigating the Exide Technologies plant on Salina’s southern edge, where batteries are manufactured.

Elana Gordon / KCUR/File photo

Kansas has “reconsidered” its decision to terminate the participation of 11 Planned Parenthood physicians and other medical providers in the state’s Medicaid program, although it’s still trying to cut off Planned Parenthood itself.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment

State health officials have released warnings about two lakes in south central Kansas because of high levels of toxic blue-green algae. Blooms have been found in Cheney Lake and in Marion Reservoir.

According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, both lakes are still open, but contact with the water is strongly discouraged for people, pets and livestock. Ashton Rucker with the KDHE says blue-green algae can take on a variety of different appearances.

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