Heavy Illinois Flooding; Increase Of Syphilis; Ask A Lawyer; IL Twins Project; Porkchop The Pig

May 08, 2019
 
A statue of explorers Lewis and Clark is surrounded by floodwater along the St. Louis riverfront, Thursday, May 2, 3019. Several Mississippi River towns are seeing floods that are closing in on the historic levels reached in 1993.

A statue of explorers Lewis and Clark is surrounded by floodwater along the St. Louis riverfront, Thursday, May 2, 3019. Several Mississippi River towns are seeing floods that are closing in on the historic levels reached in 1993.

AP Photo/Jim Salter

The U.S. Coast Guard has closed the Illinois River to all traffic due to major flooding, including a major levee breach this past weekend. And, syphilis is on the rise in counties in rural Illinois. We hear more about why this treatable disease is spreading. Plus, many Americans can’t afford a lawyer to help with their civil cases, but the Ask-A-Lawyer desk is here to help. And U of I and Northwestern have teamed up to form Illinois’ first database dedicated to twins and their genetic makeup. Also, people in southern Illinois have adopted a new unofficial mascot, Porkchop the Pig.  

Southwestern Illinois and the Metro East area are continuing to see heavy flooding from the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. Yesterday the Coast Guard closed all traffic going through the Illinois River. One county, Calhoun County, which includes towns on the Illinois River, has declared a state of emergency. Governor Pritzker has also issued a disaster proclamation for 34 counties along the two rivers.

Local officials and community members are working hard to keep their towns safe and prepare for potentially more flooding in the near future. Hana Muslic has been covering this. She’s a breaking news reporter for the Belleville News-Democrat. Blake Roderick also joined us on the line. He is the County Farm Bureau Manager for Pike and Scott Counties. 

And--

We’ve been hearing a lot about the return of measles to the U.S. It’s one of many preventable diseases that we associate with another time, but that are actually back and on the rise according to public health officials. One other example? Syphilis.

The sexually transmitted disease can cause serious neurological damage. It can even be fatal. But it’s completely treatable and curable. But the new battleground for the disease is rural counties across the West and Midwest. Here in Illinois, cases have increased almost three times in a decade, with a third of those cases outside Chicago.

Lauren Weber has been reporting on this for Kaiser Health News where she’s the Midwest Correspondent. Also joining us from Springfield we had Dr. Vidya Sundareshan, an Associate Professor at SIU Medicine and an infectious disease specialist. 

Plus-- 

When we hear the line ‘you have a right to an attorney,' many don’t realize that this only applies to criminal cases. In civil cases, those who can’t afford a lawyer have limited options and often have to represent themselves. But a program called Ask-A-Lawyer has already been helping residents in Decatur and the Peoria area. Now, it is coming to Champaign County. The program will provide free assistance to those looking to navigate the legal system themselves.

Michael Bergmann spoke to us about the program. He's the executive director for the nonprofit Public Interest Law Initiative, that’s leading this effort. 

Also-- 

One in thirty births in the U.S. are twin births. That’s nearly 130,000 births according to the CDC’s latest numbers. And it turns out “twin research,” as it’s often called, can tell us a lot not just about twins, but about many different areas of life. Whether it’s genetics, child development, or health.

Now for the first time, Illinois will have its own statewide database of twins, triplets, or others who want to participate, and possibly help, researchers with their work. It’s called the Illinois Twins Project, and it’s being launched by Northwestern and the University of Illinois.

Jennifer Tackett is the co-principal investigator of the project. She’s an associate professor of psychology at Northwestern University. 

Also-- 

People in the Southern Illinois town of Herrin have lovingly adopted Porkchop the Pig as their unofficial town mascot. She’s been running around Herrin since January. In fact, she’s proven so hard to capture that both her owner and animal control have given up trying. Lucky for Porkchop, people in Herrin have taken to her. She even has a fan page on Facebook with over 2,000 members.

Madalyn Holden is well acquainted with Porkchop. Maddie’s an animal control officer in Herrin which is about 20 minutes East of Carbondale.