A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky Health News: Celebrity suicides raise concerns; Kentucky rate higher than most states

“The suicides of fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain just days apart . . . have mental health professionals worried about the potential for what’s known as a ‘contagion’ effect, but at the same time they say media coverage may lead people to seek help,” Marek Mazurek and Laney Ruckstuhl report for The Boston Globe. Click to enlarge “Anytime there’s...

Ten Kentucky counties under outbreak status for Hepatitis A; 629 cases reported since November

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today The Hepatitis A outbreak has become a concern for people because the virus is so rare, yet 10 counties in Kentucky are currently under outbreak status and will receive extra funds for vaccines, a state official said. 
Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Jeffrey Howard provided an update on the situation Thursday on Facebook Live with the heavily traveled Memorial Day...

Governor’s office names winners in statewide opioid awareness public service announcement contest

Gov. Matt Bevin’s office today announced the winning teams in the “Find Help Now” / “Don’t Let Them Die” marketing challenge, a public service announcement (PSA) competition for Kentucky high school students designed to create awareness about the dangers of opioid use. Sponsored by the Governor’s Office, the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center (KIPRC), the U.S. Centers for...

April is Minority Health Month in Kentucky; health status report reveals alarming statistics

Governor Matt Bevin has proclaimed April as Minority Health Month in Kentucky. The Department of Public Health (DPH), within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) joins Governor Bevin, public health professionals and advocates in heightening awareness of health issues affecting minority populations in Kentucky. During Minority Health Month, DPH’s Office of Health Equity releases the 2017...

Centers for Disease Control study ranks Ky. at or near top in several measures of binge drinking

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News Binge drinking in Kentucky, which has been rising in recent years, is now among the heaviest in the nation, and tops in one measure. That’s according to the latest study of the topic, by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC defines binge drinking by consumption of alcoholic drinks in a two-hour period: five or more for men, and four...

Rural Blog: Appalachia at high risk of HIV, hep C, but many factors hamper testing, monitoring, treatment

Bloodborne diseases like HIV and hepatitis C are an increasing threat to public health in Appalachia, but the stigma associated with such diseases may be hindering monitoring, testing and treatment, ultimately increasing the risk of outbreaks. A big part of the risk comes from sharing needles while shooting opioid drugs such as heroin. In 2016 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that...

Only 54 percent of Ky. high schools have full-time nurse; poll shows support for one in every school

Barely half of Kentucky’s high schools have a full-time registered nurse, according to the School Health Profiles compiled by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says 45 percent of Kentucky high schools had a part-time registered nurse, while 29 percent had a school-based health center. The latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll found that Kentucky adults “overwhelmingly...

Coalition for Smoke-Free Tomorrow says $1 tax will actually reduce impact of smoking on health

A Coalition of more than 150 organizations is calling on the Kentucky legislature to help reduce smoking rates among low-income and other vulnerable populations by raising the excise tax on cigarettes by at least $1 per pack. The Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow says an increase of at least $1 is necessary to reduce the impact of smoking on Kentuckians’ health and the economy; much less,...

Pew Trusts: Overdose deaths have declined in 14 states; Kentucky records a 14 percent increase

By Christine Vestal Special to KyForward New provisional data released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that drug overdose deaths declined in 14 states during the 12-month period that ended July 2017, a potentially hopeful sign that policies aimed at curbing the death toll may be working. In an opioid epidemic that began in the late 1990s, drug deaths have been climbing...

UK Cooperative Extension goes red to promote heart health during American Heart Month in February

By Carol Lea Spence Special to KyForward In myriad ways, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension has opened its Big Blue heart in February to celebrate and promote American Heart Month. In luncheons awash in red, in all-day knitting sessions and at health fairs, Cooperative Extension spread the important message: take care of your heart. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists heart...

Rise in HIV among N.Ky. drug users sparks outbreak fears; officials renew calls for syringe exchanges

Health officials in Northern Kentucky have renewed their cry for syringe exchanges following a huge surge in cases of the human immunodeficiency virus among intravenous drug users in Kenton and Campbell counties. “HIV cases were up nearly 50 percent to 37 in 2017; the HIV cases among drug users rose 260 percent to 18,” reports Terry DeMio, who covers drug abuse for the Cincinnati Enquirer. The...

Over-use, over-prescription of antibiotics bad in KY, which leads nation; how to avoid serious infections

An infection-control activist offers a dire warning about drug-resistant bacteria and offers tips on how to protect yourself from these deadly super-bugs in an op-ed piece for the Lexington Herald-Leader. “There is a war going on, reminiscent of a zombie apocalypse,” writes Dr. Kevin Kavanagh, who is also the board chairman of Health Watch USA. “The insidious agent is spread easily...

KyCIR: Legislature to get a bill that would tightened laws around child marriage in Kentucky

By Eleanor Klibanoff Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting Kentucky’s laws around child marriage would be tightened significantly under a new bill proposed by state Senator Julie Raque Adams, a Republican from Louisville. Under the bill, Kentucky minors would have to wait until they turn 18 to get married, except under certain circumstances when 17-year-olds could petition a judge for permission....

Commentary: Breath of fresh air — and better oral health too — are benefits of a Smoke-Free Kentucky

By Dr. Laura Hancock Jones, Dr. O. Wayne Mortensen and Rick Whitehouse Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow Most of us, when we think about the dangers of smoking, see lung cancer as the biggest risk. And it’s a fact that in Kentucky, cancer and smoking frequently go hand in hand. A higher percentage of Kentuckians get lung cancer than in any other state, and Kentucky has one of the highest smoking...

Health officals urge vaccinations, hand washing as widespread flu activity being reported across region

Kentucky Department for Public Health officials are reporting “widespread” flu for the first time this flu season. Widespread activity is the highest level of flu activity, which indicates increased flu-like activity or flu outbreaks in at least half of the regions in the state. The traditional flu season lasts from October through May. Increased flu activity began earlier this season than usual...

Pilot project will target men in eight Kentucky counties in an effort to prevent lung cancer

Eight Kentucky counties have been chosen to be part of a pilot program that will target males in the workplace to decrease lung cancer in the state, Renee Beasley Jones reports for The Messenger-Inquirer in Owensboro. “Kentucky has the highest rate of new cases and deaths from lung cancer in the nation, and in many counties throughout Kentucky, the rates are significantly higher in males than...

HIV outbreak in Appalachian Ky. ‘just a matter of time;’ majority of counties have no syringe exchange

An outbreak of the human immunodeficiency virus, which leads to AIDS, is “just a matter of time” in Appalachian Kentucky because of conditions in the region and the lack of syringe exchanges for intravenous drug users in most vulnerable counties. That’s what Dr. Jennifer Havens, an epidemiologist at the University of Kentucky, told the Courier Journal’s Laura Ungar for a story updating...

52 Weeks of Public Health: Encouraging Kyians to get flu shots during National Influenza Vaccination Week

Officials with the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) are encouraging Kentuckians to get a flu vaccination during National Influenza Vaccination Week, Dec. 3-9, to reduce the spread of illness this holiday season. “Getting a flu vaccine is an early holiday gift you can give to yourself and your family,” said Jeffrey Howard, M.D., acting commissioner of DPH. “During the holidays...

School Boards Association says it will support any legislation to make all schools in state tobacco-free

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Usually opposed to statewide mandates on schools, the Kentucky School Boards Association says it will support any legislation that proposes a statewide tobacco-free school law in the 2018 legislative session, because the majority of its members support such a law. “We really try to protect local decision-making on these things,” Eric Kennedy, director...

Eye physicians stress importance of annual eye exams during Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month

People with diabetes are at increased risk of developing serious eye diseases, yet most do not have sight-saving, annual eye exams, according to a large study. This is especially timely as the Kentucky Academy of Eye Physicians and Surgeons (KAEPS) joins the Academy in reiterating the importance of eye exams during the month of November, which is observed as Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month. Researchers...