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The Florida Department of Health confirmed a case of the West Nile Virus, a mosquito-borne disease, in Volusia County Wednesday.

  Health officials are expecting more cases, and warn residents to get rid of standing water and wear protective clothing.

Most West Nile Virus infections are mild, but about one percent of cases can cause permanent neurological damage, paralysis and even death. There is no treatment or vaccine for the virus.

Coast Guard photo

Coast Guard and state officials visited the Florida home of one of two missing teenage boaters Wednesday, and a spokesman told news reporters the search for the boys is still “active and open.”

Capt. Mark Fedor of the Coast Guard said, “There’s been a lot of rumors that the search has been suspended. I just want to refute that. The search has not been suspended.”

The Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife officers were at the home of 14-year-old Perry Cohen for almost an hour Wednesday afternoon.

Tamara Lush/AP

As the search for two missing teen boaters from Florida entered its sixth day, Coast Guard crews on Wednesday extended the search area northward off the South Carolina coast, urging vessels in the wide expanse of the Atlantic to report any potential clues they might spot.

Beach Blame Bingo

Jul 29, 2015
Marc Haze / WUSF News

The vegetation is growing  on the beaches of Treasure Island. Researchers from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium have been told they can no longer use a vehicle to monitor turtle nests.   And the concessionaires that work on the beach, many of whom were previously allowed to use a vehicle, now have to carry their gear and clean their areas on foot.  It's what the Treasure Island City Manager calls "unintended consequences" of a judge's ruling in a lawsuit. Some of the people affected by the new policies say the city is misinterpreting the ruling.

Rays, Y Team Up For Water Safety

Jul 28, 2015

  

Nationally, Florida tops the charts for drowning deaths for children under five.  That's why the Tampa Bay Rays and the YMCA partnered again this summer to teach children in the Tampa Bay area how to swim.

There was no need for water wings at the Northeast High School Pool in St. Petersburg on Tuesday, where 75 kids received medals for learning how to swim this summer. The event was part of an initiative called "Be Water Smart From the Start," a collaboration between the Rays and the YMCA to combat the ever-rising tide of drowning deaths in Florida.  

Associated Press

Two teens missing at sea had strayed from the agreed-upon boundaries for their fishing trip, the stepfather of one of the boys said Tuesday, as the Coast Guard continued a massive search off Florida’s Atlantic coast.

Auto Insurer Pushes For Hospital Contracts

Jul 28, 2015

State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance is asking the Florida Supreme Court to take up a dispute about whether a Jacksonville hospital needs to turn over information about contracts with health insurers.

A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal last month ruled in favor of Shands Jacksonville Medical Center, which now is known as UF Health Jacksonville, in the dispute stemming from personal-injury protection auto-insurance claims.

Execution Cocktail Arguments Continue

Jul 28, 2015

Lawyers for Death Row inmate Jerry Correll on Monday backed a decision by the Florida Supreme Court to send his case back to a circuit judge, after Attorney General Pam Bondi's office asked justices to reconsider the decision.

Daylina Miller/WUSF

At the First Presbyterian Church of New Port Richey, 5-year-old George Blowers IV snaps together pieces of a toy pirate ship with the help of a Red Cross volunteer.

A Red Cross volunteer plays with George Blowers IV in the toy room at the First Presbyterian Church of Port Richey after his parent's kitchen and his bedroom flooded in their New Port Richey home.Credit Daylina Miller/WUSFEdit | Remove

Flooding in Pasco Prompts Evacuation Orders

Jul 27, 2015
Pasco County

 A weekend of unrelenting rain has left large portions of Tampa Bay flooded. Areas of Pasco County received the brunt of the impact, where an evacuation order still stands in Elfers in Southwest Pasco. Officials at the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) expect flood waters will remain in the Elfers and Trinity Oaks areas for the next few days.

For those seeking refuge from the rising tides, the American Red Cross Shelter at First Presbyterian Church in Port Richey is open; seven people have already made use of this resource in the last 24 hours. 

Fl Civil War Battle Conflict on 'Back Burner'

Jul 24, 2015
Wikipedia Commons

The Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park was the center of an outcry in late 2013, when the state held a hearing on a plan to place a Union memorial there. But now, the site of Florida's largest Civil War battle --- a Confederate victory --- might have a peaceful solution in the works.

"We have to tell both sides of the story," said Jeff Grzelak, a Civil War historian and re-enactor for more than 40 years.

As the Florida Department of Citrus turns 80 years old, the industry it represents is fighting for its survival. The insect-borne disease of citrus greening is devastating groves statewide.

David Steele, the Director of Public Relations for the Department of Citrus, spoke with WUSF's Robin Sussingham about the challenges that citrus greening poses to the state's iconic crop. Steele says that every aspect of the citrus industry is under attack because of greening, resulting in the lowest production levels in his lifetime. But there's always reason to hope, he says:

A high number of leprosy cases have been appearing in Florida. The possible culprit: armadillos. 

This year, nine cases have been reported in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Health. The state usually gets about two to 12 cases a year. 

A state health care official has criticized a proposed rate increase by private health plans that cover Florida's poorest residents.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that the plans, which work with Medicaid, say they need to raise rates by 12 percent to offset the rising cost of prescription drugs and an uptick in doctor's visits.

Authorities say a birdhouse prompted a bomb scare outside a Sarasota hospital.

Police say a “suspicious package” was reported Wednesday morning outside Sarasota Memorial Hospital. Traffic in the area was blocked off, and the building was placed on a “diversion” lockdown, meaning no patients were allowed in and out.

State Medical Pot Office Gets New Chief

Jul 23, 2015

State health officials on Wednesday announced that Christian Bax will replace Patricia Nelson as the new head of the Office of Compassionate Use, the agency charged with overseeing Florida's medical marijuana law.

Nelson's abrupt departure Friday sent ripples throughout the medical marijuana industry.

WUSF News Getting New Look

Jul 22, 2015

We’ve got a whole new look coming your way.

Starting at 2 p.m. EDT on Thursday, July 23, you might notice a few changes on the WUSF News website.

We’re launching a revamped web experience that is fully responsive, meaning pages will be easier to view across a range of mobile devices, including tablets and smartphones.

You can find the same news more you’ve come to rely on more easily and quickly.

For more information or to ask questions, email WebMaster@wusf.org.

LAMEcon Staff

The Pasco County Library System is hosting its seventh annual "Library, Anime and Manga Enthusiasts Convention" this weekend. LAMEcon is a free convention that aims to make pop culture accessible to everyone, no matter how much money they have.

Paul Stonebridge, the teen services manager for the Pasco County Library System, said the Tampa Bay area hosts a number of great conventions, like Metrocon, but not everyone can afford to attend them.

Court Backs Medical Malpractice Change

Jul 21, 2015

A state appeals court Tuesday upheld the constitutionality of a controversial change in Florida's medical-malpractice laws, ruling in part that some privacy rights are "waived" when people pursue malpractice lawsuits.

The decision by a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal stemmed from a 2013 law, which the Republican-controlled Legislature passed after a lobbying battle between groups such as doctors and plaintiffs' attorneys. A federal appeals court last year also upheld the change in a separate case.

Update 7/24/15:   More information on Florida rates under the Affordable Care Act. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation hasn't released information on more than 12 other health insurers. According to its website, "displayed rate changes may not fully reflect increases and decreases due to claims of trade secret." There are several companies that have posted requests but they are blocked. OIR handles all proposals, but those over 10 percent are posted to CMS. The state has blocked the requests from insurers who have requested rate increases under 10 percent of which several are pending.

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