A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Widespread flu activity in Kentucky reported for 10th consecutive week; not too late to vaccinate

The Department for Public Health (DPH), within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, reports flu activity in Kentucky is at “widespread” for the 10th consecutive week. Widespread is the highest level of flu activity, indicating increased flu-like activity or flu outbreaks in at least half of the state’s regions. “With the traditional flu season running from October through May, it is...

Rise in teen use of e-cigarettes erases years of progress in curbing teen smoking

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Teens’ use of electronic cigarettes is overwhelmingly responsible for erasing years of progress in reducing teen tobacco use, according to the latest annual National Youth Tobacco Survey. The survey found that 4.9 million middle and high school students reported being current users of some type of tobacco product in 2018, a third again as many as the 3.6...

DPH continues to promote Hepatitis A vaccination; statewide outbreak continues, more deaths reported

People who are considered high risk for exposure to the Hepatitis A virus should get vaccinated as soon as possible to avoid contracting the virus and lessen the spread of the disease. High risk groups include individuals who use illicit drugs, close contacts of illicit drug users, and homeless people. The Department for Public Health (DPH) is making this recommendation as part of its efforts to respond...

American Lung Association report finds Kentucky must do more to prevent, reduce tobacco use

Tobacco use remains the nation’s leading cause of preventable death and disease, taking an estimated 480,000 lives every year. Kentucky’s tobacco prevention and cessation funding. *Source: the American Lung Association State of Tobacco Control report (click to enlarge). This year’s “State of Tobacco Control” report from the American Lung Association finds Kentucky earned nearly across-the-board...

KHIP: Nearly 90 percent of Kentuckians report having health coverage, but some still worry about losing it

Health care is an issue that’s at the front of mind for many policymakers, businesses and families in Kentucky. As health policy decisions are debated, it is helpful to understand how residents of the Commonwealth pay for health care. Thus, the 2018 Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP) asked Kentucky adults about their health insurance coverage. KHIP, which is sponsored by Interact for Health and Foundation...

Dietitians say top New Year’s resolution of quitting smoking may cause weight gain, but do it anyway

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Of the 44 percent of American adults who said they would make a New Year’s resolution this year, 12 percent said they plan to quit smoking and 10 percent said they plan to lose weight, according to a Marist College poll. Since Kentucky has the nation’s second-highest smoking rate, 24.6 percent, and the seventh-highest obesity rate, 34.3 percent, both...

Dr. Julia Richerson of Louisville named ‘HPV Vaccine Is Cancer Prevention Champion Award’ recipient

Julia Richerson, MD, FAAP, of Family Health Centers Iroquois office in Louisville, has been named an HPV Vaccine Is Cancer Prevention Champion Award recipient for her outstanding efforts to protect adolescents in Kentucky from cancers caused by HPV. Dr. Richerson is recognized for her efforts to achieve high HPV vaccination rates in her practice. Led in partnership by Centers for Disease Control and...

Pew Trusts: Kentucky among states to strengthen school-based suicide prevention laws in 2018

By Christine Vestal Pew Charitable Trusts For Portland resident Stephen Canova, thoughts of suicide came unexpectedly one December night. Then 20, a sophomore in college, unhappy and disconnected from his tightknit home community, he tried to kill himself. “I had no idea I had it in me,” Canova said. “I don’t remember a lot about that night. But I do know this — when I tried to kill myself,...

Don’t let flu ruin your holiday plans, health officials urge vaccinations for everyone six months and older

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service With the holiday season here, health officials in Kentucky are urging people to take steps to help prevent spreading the flu. During last year’s flu season, 325 adults and five children died in Kentucky due to flu or complications from the virus, and there were a record number of hospitalizations. Christa Mitchell from Central Kentucky says she spent 49 days...

National Influenza Vaccination Week is Dec. 2-8; get vaccinated to help prevent spread of flu

The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH), within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, encourages Kentuckians to get a flu shot during National Influenza Vaccination Week, Dec. 2-8, to help prevent the spread of flu this holiday season. “The flu vaccine is the single best way to protect you and your loved ones against the flu,” said Jeff Howard, M.D., commissioner of DPH. “If...

Kentucky, 26th in population among states, ranked fourth in number of drug overdose deaths in 2017

Kentucky had the fourth highest rate of drug overdoses among the states in 2017, fifth when the District of Columbia is added to the list, according to a new report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kentucky had 37.2 overdose deaths per 100,000 people. West Virginia had the highest rate, 57.8, and Ohio was second with 46.3. Pennsylvania and D.C. were close behind at 44.3...

CDC, Alzheimer’s Association release Healthy Brain Initiative Road Map, how to deal with dementia

In an effort to help state and local health departments address the growing Alzheimer’s crisis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Alzheimer’s Association have released the third edition of the Healthy Brain Initiative Road Map. State and Local Public Health Partnerships to Address Dementia, The 2018-2023 Road Map, provides public health officials with a set of strategies...

Ky. has 78 confirmed flu cases, two deaths this season; officials urge shots for all over six months

Kentucky is one of three states under an influenza threat defined as “regional,” with confirmed cases in 11 of the state’s 17 regions. During the 2018-19 flu season, Kentucky has had 78 laboratory-confirmed cases of the flu and two deaths from it, according to the state Department for Public Health’s weekly influenza surveillance report. The flu killed 325 Kentuckians in last...

Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky reacts to CDC finding historically low smoking rates among adults

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday reported that the cigarette smoking rates for adults in the United States in 2017 reached a historic low of 14 percent or 34 million adults. This is a 67 percent decline since 1965 when the adult cigarette smoking rate was 42 percent. The rate for young adults, ages 18 to 24, was 10 percent, down from 13 percent in 2016. Following is...

Department of Public Health reminding all Kentuckians to get vaccinated against flu

The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) is reminding Kentuckians to get vaccinated against the flu. “Getting the flu can be debilitating and sometimes life-threatening,” said Jeffrey Howard, M.D., commissioner of DPH. “Vaccination is the best tool we have to prevent the flu and it is also extremely important to take simple preventive steps to avoid the flu and other illnesses...

Constance Alexander: The semicolon is a valuable writing tool, that could some day save a life

“The great thing about the semicolon,” I tell my students, “is that it can make your writing look more sophisticated, and forge longer sentences that are flowing, not choppy.” But what I like best about semicolons is how Amy Bleuel transformed the symbol into a badge of hope. Thanks to her, the punctuation mark is a way to honor those who struggle with depression, suicide addiction, anxiety,...

New report shows obesity rates on the rise among Kentucky teens, improving for younger kids

A new report shows fewer young Kentuckians are obese, but the opposite is true for local adolescents. According to latest State of Obesity Report, more than 20 percent of Kentucky teens are obese, the third-worst rate in the country. That number has grown from just more than 18 percent a year ago. Meanwhile, obesity rates for younger kids are improving. Roughly 13 percent of Kentucky children ages...

New research shows binge drinking increases after college instead of subsiding, as previously thought

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks Kentucky third in the country for its level of binge drinking, and new research indicates old habits die hard. Research from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) finds that binge drinking increases after age 21, instead of subsiding after the college years as previously believed. Researcher...

Keven Moore: Southwest Airlines no longer serving peanuts — and many allergy sufferers are grateful

As of the first of this month, Southwest Airlines stopped serving peanuts on all flights, abandoning the snack that has been nearly synonymous with the carrier since its inception back in 1967. The Dallas-based airline says it’s making the change “to help protect passengers who have severe peanut allergies.” Peanuts have always been the one snack perhaps most linked to the all-airline services....