September 2018 Overdose Outbreak

The overdoses were linked to drugs purchased mostly around McPherson Square and Kensington and Allegheny Avenues over Friday and Saturday. While test results are pending, officials believe a combination of heroin or fentanyl and the synthetic cannabinoid K2 were involved, according to an email alert from the Department of Health obtained by the Inquirer and Daily News.

By Aubrey Whelan

Eleven West Nile Virus Cases Found in Philadelphia Thus Far in 2018

The Philadelphia Health Department is spreading the word about the West Nile virus’ presence in the city and asking for the public’s help combatting the further spread of the disease, they are also asking for help from residents.

By Sam Newhouse

The health department is cautioning residents that mosquito season is not over. And the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has said this year marks the highest level statewide for West Nile virus activity in the mosquito population since 2000.

As a result, the city’s health department is taking steps to control mosquitoes but is asking for the public’s help too.

By Frank Kummer

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley issued a statement Friday urging residents to wear mosquito repellent and dump standing water, which is essential to breeding.

Anyone who experiences unexplained headaches, weakness or fatigue should contact their primary care physician.

The Philadelphia Health Department has treated more than 57,000 storm drain inlets with larvicide to prevent mosquito breeding. The department also has conducted four aerosol sprays to kill adult mosquitoes in areas where West Nile Virus is known to occur.

By John Kopp

Philadelphia health officials are confirming nearly a dozen cases of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus so far this year. KYW Newsradio’s Mark Abrams reports.

By Mark Abrams

Record Numbers of Teen Vaccinations

Dr. Kristen Feemster,  medical director for the immunization program at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, said vaccination rates are on target for tetanus, diphtheria and pertusis along with meningococcal disease.

“We have providers that are making strong recommendations to families. We have an immunization program here to support our providers,” said Feemster. “We have a very robust registry so that we can keep track of how well we’re doing and when you know how well you’re doing you know where you can work and improve even more.”

By Lynne Adkins

Sodium Labeling Bill Signing

By Adam Hermann

By Mike Denardo

By Tom MacDonald


By Ali Gorman

By Sarah Luoma

Opioids Crisis in South Philly

While the opioid crisis is most acute by far in Kensington, overdose deaths in South Philly increased by 41 percent from 2016 to 2017. All told, 132 of the city’s 1,217 overdose deaths last year were in the community. Jefferson Methodist Hospital’s ER on South Broad Street had the city’s third-highest volume of overdose patients in the city in 2016.

By Aubrey Whelan

Rise in Hospitalizations from Overdose

Farley said the increases in heroin overdose cases were “reflective of how the entire problem has shifted.”

“It started out as a prescription problem, but people are switching to heroin because it’s cheaper,” he said. He said doctors need to continue reducing opioid prescriptions “to stop people from getting addicted in the first place.” But, he said, those reductions must be coupled with more accessible treatment, so that people already dependent on pills don’t turn to heroin if a doctor reduces their prescription.

By Aubrey Whelan

Proposed Bill to Defund Philadelphia

“What’s insane is that the new normal in Pennsylvania is that year over year, the overdose death rate is increasing by 30 percent,” said Devin Reaves, executive director of the Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Coalition. “All solutions to save lives must be on the table.”

The city’s official statement takes the same tack. “History has proven that the way governments handled previous drug epidemics was wrong, and to repeat it will result in the same disasters,” the Mayor’s Office and Health Dept. wrote. “And just as local governments had to lead during the HIV epidemic, cities like ours will be on the forefront of saving lives in the opioid crisis.”

By Michaela Winberg