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...

EKU environmental health science students honored by National Environmental Health Association

Three Eastern Kentucky University students from the Department of Environmental Health Science were recognized at the 81st National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) Annual Education Conference and Exposition. Only five students receive student research award honors at the national conference. Amos Kosgey (master’s of public health student) and Ambrose Maritim (undergraduate), both of whom...

State teens lagging behind nation average in getting vaccines to prevent cervical cancer

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Fewer than half of Kentucky’s teenagers are getting the human papillomavirus vaccine, which is known to prevent several cancers, including cervical cancer — a disease for which Kentucky leads the nation. A federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, using data from the 2016 National Immunization Survey for teenagers, found that 48 percent...

Swimmer’s ear often a part of the summer season, but there are ways it can be prevented

One of the best parts of summer is swimming, but it can cause a condition called swimmer’s ear that can be extremely painful. Acute otitis externa, or swimmer’s ear, happens when water stays in the ear too long, which creates a perfect environment for bacteria to grow. “Swimming is a significant risk factor, especially in fresh water,” Kara Jones-Schubart, a clinical assistant...

Water Safety Tips: Drowning is top cause of accidental death among young children

Summer fun often includes heading to the swimming pool or lake, but it’s important to remember that all water activities come with a risk of drowning. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that every day, about 10 people die from unintentional drowning. Of these, two are children under 15 and most are between 1 and 4. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy...

Tick season is expected to be more dangerous this year; here are some tips to keep you protected

Warm weather and outdoor activities go hand in hand, but it also mean tick season is upon us — and it’s expected to be a bad one this year because the winter was so mild. Tick season in Kentucky runs through August. The lone star tick and the American dog tick are the most common ticks in Kentucky, and are commonly found in wooded or grassy areas. The dog tick can transmit Rocky Mountain...

Kentucky leads nation in percentage of residents who smoke, leading to highest cancer rate in U.S.

Smoking rates have fallen dramatically in the United States, with reports by the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) finding that 17.9 percent of the population smoke. However, more recent research has put that number even lower at 15.1 percent. This rate is slightly less than that of the United Kingdom at 16.9 percent , and significantly less than Germany (24.5) and France (25). Of...

Study says only way to protect children from nicotine exposure is to not smoke in house — or quit

Children carry significant levels of nicotine on their hands even if their parents don’t smoke around them, according to a recent study by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and San Diego State University. “Parents may think that not smoking around their child is enough, but this is not the case. These findings emphasize that the only safe way to protect children from smoke...

Study shows diabetes’ deaths may be four times higher than reported; state has 12th highest rate

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Diabetes may be responsible for nearly four times as many American deaths as reported on death certificates, which would move diabetes from the seventh-leading cause of death to the third, according to a recent study. Kentucky has the 12th highest diabetes death rate in the nation. “We argue diabetes is responsible for 12 percent of deaths in the U.S., rather...

Nonprofit evaluation shows Kentucky improved slightly in national ranking for hospital patient safety

By Traci Thomas Kentucky Health News A nonprofit group that rates hospitals has released its latest patient-safety grades, giving most Kentucky hospitals a B or C. The scores are similar to grades released in October, but the overall score for Kentucky hospitals rose from 35th to 32nd among the states. The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., evaluated 2,639 hospitals nationwide,...