{News Briefs}

Ulmer speaks on organic nature of Alaska salmon

Lieutenant Governor Fran Ulmer went to LaCross, Wisconsin to talk about Alaska's organic salmon. She addressed the National Organic Standards Board on behalf of the State of Alaska's proposal to establish organic certification standards for wild aquatic species. Ulmer indicated that a recent report produced by the Aquatic Animals Task Force failed to take Alaska's unspoiled habitat into consideration. The Aquatic Animals Task Force is a subcommittee of NOSB that asserted that wild fish do not qualify to be certified organic because the producer cannot control the livestock origin, feed, health care, living conditions and identification. Ullmer also said she welcomes the opportunity to educate the Board and the U.S. Department of Agriculture about Alaska's sustainable fisheries regime and habitat management. The USDA will take the Board's recommendation under advisement but a decision is yet to be made.


Discharge restriction bill passes

The Alaska Legislature passed a bill that built on existing federal regulations to protect Alaska's waters. The federal law placed several restrictions on any cruise ship that carries more than 500 people. House Bill 260 extends the federal laws to smaller cruise ships and some of the state's ferries. The bill also allows the state to set effluent limits for discharge sewage and gray water, perform wastewater testing and receive reports of discharge content from both state and federal sampling.


Alaska children's trust announces 2001 grant winners

Twenty-one community based projects will receive funding for child abuse prevention in 2001 through the Alaska Children's Trust. ACT will continue to fund 14 projects and add 7 new and innovative projects this year. A committee of 5 members considered 43 proposals and sought for innovative community initiated projects that emphasized prevention of child abuse, neglect, anger and stress management. The panel aimed for equitable regional distribution in making its selection. Grants ranging from $5,669 – $29,952 will go to projects from Nome and Dillingham to Ketchikan. For more information call Shari Paul at the ACT, 1-800-643-KIDS.


CDC report claims Alaska's fight against tuberculosis is far from over

Data released by the Centers for Disease Control show tuberculosis, once called the “scourge of Alaska” has not gone away. Two outbreaks during 2000 pushed Alaska to the top state in the nation for TB. The first outbreak, detected by the Anchorage Department of Health and Human Services, occurred in a large extended Anchorage family and resulted in nine cases, including four children. Physicians at Kanakanak Hospital in Dillingham detected the second outbreak, which hit many villages in southwest Alaska resulting in 27 cases, including 13 children. Public health care providers, Native health corporations and public health authorities quickly came together to identify all those infected with TB and begin their treatment.

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These outbreaks highlight the need for the “Back to Basics” public health initiative first introduced December 2000 by Gov. Tony Knowles and the Department of Health and Social Services. This initiative reinforces Alaska's public health system by hiring more public health nurses, laboratory staff and epidemiologists to prevent and control outbreaks of infectious diseases such as TB, HIV and hepatitis. The Legislature provided one third of the requested “Back to Basics” funding this year. For more information on infectious diseases, contact Dr. Beth Funk with the Infectious Disease/TB Team at (907) 269-8000.