Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Governor and members of his staff traveled to various areas of the state yesterday that have been affected or are anticipated to be impacted by floods and high spring runoff.

"Unfortunately, our fears about the flood season appear to be taking shape," said Utah Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr. "I felt it was important to send personnel throughout the state to get an assessment of as many of the flood-troubled areas as possible. That will help with our responses in the coming weeks. We will continue to monitor all areas as closely as possible."
8:02:14 AM    

Utah Department of Agriculture and Food Commissioner, Leonard Blackham, stresses the importance that consumer make wise choices when it comes to the foods they eat. The UDAF announces its support of the USDA's MyPyramid campaign. (http://www.mypyramid.gov/) Commissioner Blackham encourages teachers, parents and children to examine their eating habits and make healthy food choices.

According to the USDA, nearly one-third of America's children are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight.

"I am concerned with the growing number of children who are overweight, which is putting them at risk of contracting life-shortening diseases such as diabetes and heart disease," said Commissioner Blackham. "If we don't change this trend, our children may be the first generation whose life span will actually be shorter than their parents," he added.

MyPyramid replaces the Food Guide Pyramid introduced in 1992 and is part of an overall food guidance system that emphasizes the need for a more individualized approach to improving diet and lifestyle.
MyPyramid recommends children and adults eat foods from each food group and focuses on making smart food choices. Physical activity is an important new element of the symbol.

Commissioner Blackham points to a balanced, three-legged approach to agricultural production that ultimately includes wise consumer choices.

"First there is the proper land stewardship by farmers and ranchers. Second, processors offer a safe and nutritious product. And third, the public must make wise choices about what kinds of foods and how much they consume," said Commissioner Blackham.

The USDA web site offers an interactive chart that suggests what kinds of foods we should be eating based on our age, gender and level of physical activity.

7:59:40 AM    

SALT LAKE CITY (April 28, 2005) — Myxobolus cerebralis, the parasite that causes whirling disease, has been discovered in rainbow trout at the Springville State Fish Hatchery, fish pathologists with the Division of Wildlife Resources announced today.

The discovery was made during a routine, annual inspection of the hatchery in April. The Springville hatchery is in the town of Springville in north-central Utah. The hatchery has been considered at risk since the discovery of whirling disease in the Provo River and Hobble Creek, which are adjacent to the hatchery.

In response to the finding, all stocking of fish from the hatchery has ceased while an emergency response team evaluates the extent of the infection and explores options for disposition of the fish with the Utah Fish Health Policy Board.

Hatcheries producing additional fish

Recently remodeled state hatcheries at Kamas and Fountain Green have greatly expanded their fish production, which will lessen the impact of closing the Springville hatchery. A recent pilot study also has shown more economic methods for disinfecting hatchery water supplies. It's hoped these affordable methods will allow the DWR to reopen the Springville hatchery sooner than it could in the past.

"The remodeled hatcheries at Kamas and Fountain Green are providing more fish than they ever have, and the Midway and Mammoth Creek hatcheries have recently reopened and are producing fish again," said Jim Karpowitz, director of the Division of Wildlife Resources.

"We also have the best water conditions we've had in Utah in years, so there are plenty of reasons for Utah anglers to be excited about fishing this year," he said. "It should be a great year to gather your family together and go fishing."

7:57:34 AM    

Spring has arrived and so have thousands of birds that visit Utah's wetlands during their annual spring migration.

On May 14, the Division of Wildlife Resources, Utah Partners in Flight and several other organizations will celebrate the beauty of birds and the wonder of wetlands during the Twelfth Annual International Migratory Bird Day. Naturalist-led bird and wetland walks, information and activities for the entire family will be offered at events across Utah. Activities will be held at the following locations:

  • Great Salt Lake Bird Festival, Davis County Fairpark (May 12–17)
  • Tracy Aviary, Salt Lake City (May 14)
  • Utah's Hogle Zoo, Salt Lake City (May 14)
  • Mill Race Park, Taylorsville (May 14)
  • Ouray National Wildlife Refuge, Randlett (May 14)

Details about the events are available on this Web site; by calling Bob Walters, DWR Watchable Wildlife coordinator, at (801) 538-4771; or by visiting the Web sites for the organizations hosting the events. Web site addresses are as follows:

7:56:39 AM    

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Utah’s water drought woes may be over this year but the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) is concerned that the increase in moisture could create additional habitat for mosquitoes. Combined with the right biological and climate factors, the extra moisture could lead to an increased risk for West Nile virus (WNV) infection.

The peak time for water runoff is in May and June and Utah’s water managers expect high runoff levels. During these months, mosquitoes begin pestering humans and wildlife. With the potential for more standing water for breeding, Utah could have more mosquitoes to contend with this summer. The long-term mosquito forecast cannot be predicted as that will be based on ongoing rain and the temperatures. Currently, the state is at a "low" risk level for WNV, which means that the mosquito season is beginning and there has been no viral detection in 2005.

The risk level will be adjusted throughout the season and may vary throughout the state. Preparations for bird, mosquito and sentinel chicken testing will be widespread throughout the state by May 23, 2005. Local mosquito abatement districts are already trapping mosquitoes in southern Utah as the temperatures are warmer there than in other areas of the state. The UDOH and the local health departments will notify the public through the media when detection of WNV occurs. This information will also be posted on the UDOH website each Wednesday (through October) by 1 p.m. at www.health.utah.gov/wnv.

Utahns can take measures now and throughout the summer to help prevent the spread of WNV by finding and getting rid of standing water. Suggestions for reducing mosquitoes include turning over or removing containers in yards where water collects, cleaning out birdbaths and wading pools at least once a week, cleaning clogged rain gutters and downspouts, and repairing door and window screens if torn.

While the 2004 WNV season was relatively mild, it’s difficult to predict mosquito and virus activity. In 2004, WNV was detected along the densely populated Wasatch Front for the first time. (See attached 2004 WNV Season Summary.) In neighboring states with similar climate and geography, the second year of WNV activity has often been more severe, signaling a potential increase in WNV in parts of the state this season.

The UDOH and Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF), along with local health departments, local mosquito abatement districts, and the Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) are working together to monitor WNV in Utah. WNV activity will be actively monitored throughout 2005 as follows:

  • State and local health departments will track possible human infections throughout Utah.
  • The UDOH Utah Public Health Laboratory will test mosquito, bird and human samples.
  • The UDAF will test for the virus in horses and chickens.
  • The Utah Mosquito Abatement Association has placed sentinel chickens throughout the state, which help to monitor for WNV.
  • Mosquito abatement will monitor mosquito numbers and the mosquitoes will be trapped and tested for viral detection. Some districts are now actively trapping mosquitoes.
  • The DWR will respond to public reports of dead birds.

In addition to reducing mosquitoes around the house, public health officials urge Utahns to Fight the Bite by using repellents with DEET and wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoor in the evening and early morning. (See attached WNV Prevention Facts.)

Efforts taken in 2004 to inform the public about West Nile virus will continue this year. Activities include the Fight the Bite media campaign, retailer promotions for purchase of DEET products, billboards, posters, fliers, presentations, and media notification.

For more information, call your local health department or the UDOH Health Resource Line at 1-888-222-2542 or visit www.health.utah.gov/wnv.

7:52:19 AM