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Published: Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014 11:30 a.m. CST

Officials worry over rise in unvaccinated children

DES MOINES (AP) — Iowa health officials are concerned about an increase in the number of parents who are opting not to vaccinate their children.

Parents received vaccination exemptions in the 2012-13 school year for nearly 8,000 children, which is more than triple the number from 12 years ago, The Des Moines Register reported. While the figure represents less than 2 percent of all Iowa children, health leaders say they are worried about the rise in unvaccinated children.

Rick Kozin, Polk County’s public-health director, said some parents might not realize that unvaccinated children could lead to a disease outbreak in schools.

Iowa laws allow two kinds of exemptions, and they are for medical or religions reasons.

Some children avoid vaccinations for medical reasons, such as allergies. Less than a third of Iowa’s vaccination exemptions are for a medical reason, which must be verified by a health care professional.

The rest are classified as religious exemptions, which only requires a parent to sign a statement saying the immunizations conflict with their religion.

Farm trade groups form water quality alliance

DES MOINES (AP) — Three Iowa farm trade groups have formed an organization called the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance to push farmers harder on the implementation of farm practices designed to clean Iowa’s water. The group’s goal is to get more farmers to participate in the state’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy, a voluntary program initiated Gov. Terry Branstad’s administration.

Environmental groups including Iowa Citizens for Community improvement want measurable and enforceable standards. They say the new alliance will do little to improve Iowa water. Iowa CCI says it’s a corporate public relations campaign that won’t change a thing.

Branstad announced the creation of the alliance Monday with officials from Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

The soybean group’s CEO Kirk Leeds is board chairman of the nonprofit alliance.

Nearly $1M Iowa barrier to Asian carp working

MILFORD (AP) — A nearly $1-million electronic fish barrier has succeeded in stopping invasive Asian carp from the Iowa Great Lakes, officials said.

The fish first swam into the lakes during flooding in 2011, the Sioux City Journal reported. They had previously been kept out by dams on the Little Sioux River in Harrison County and near Linn Grove.

The Asian carp species are thought to be a major threat to native aquatic species throughout the Midwest. One species, the silver carp, poses a safety hazard because they leap from the water when startled.

In 2011, commercial fishermen netted 82 bighead fish and 55 silver carp in East Lake Okoboji. Officials feared the fish would reproduce quickly, which would damage the bodies of water and threaten the $300-million tourism industry at the Iowa Great Lakes and Dickinson County.

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