A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

New CDC report indicates rural Americans dying more frequently from preventable causes

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service More than 46 million American s live in rural areas, and a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says these residents tend to be older and sicker compared with people living in urban areas. In Kentucky, the report says excess deaths from preventable causes jumped by more than five percentage points in all counties. Rural Americans report...

E-cigarette users need to watch for symptoms of lung injury, seek medical care immediately if detected

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News If you use electronic cigarettes, contrary to current warnings, it’s important to watch for symptoms of lung injury, and to immediately seek medical care if you have any of them: cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, fever or abdominal pain. That was one of the main messages on a Nov. 1 “Lung Injury with Vaping”...

With rates of depression rising in U.S., mental health experts say online screenings are an important tool

More Americans are using online screening tests to gauge whether depression is playing a role in their health, and mental health experts say that’s a good thing. Just as people might screen for diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure, a depression screening provides a quick way to spot the first signs of what might be a serious mental health issue. Marcie Timmerman, executive director...

Kentucky Poison Control Center launches new 24/7 hotline to help combat state’s opioid crisis

Kentucky has a new resource to battle the Commonwealth’s opioid epidemic. The Kentucky Poison Control Center of Norton Children’s Hospital has launched a 24/7 support hotline for health care providers, patients and first responders on opioid-related issues. The Kentucky Opioid Assistance & Resource (OAR) Hotline — (800) 854-6813 — is staffed by toxicology-certified nurses and pharmacists...

Youths using e-cigarettes more likely to try marijuana; connection increased with refillable e-cig pods

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Young people who use electronic cigarettes are more likely to use marijuana, and the odds are even greater for those who start using e-cigarettes early, according to newly published research. The analysis of 21 separate studies, published in JAMA Pediatrics, found that the odds of marijuana use were 3½ times higher among youth who used electronic cigarettes,...

Skin-cancer rates have spiked among young women; experts advise limiting sun exposure, tanning beds

New research shows that skin-cancer rates have surged among young women, likely because they use tanning beds, but health experts warn that exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays puts us all at risk, so it’s important to always take precautions when out in the sun. The research, presented at the summer meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, found that between 1970...

CDC reports significant annual increase in Crypto cases; many are linked to treated swimming water

Outbreaks of Cryptosporidium (Crypto) in the United States increased an average 13 percent each year from 2009-2017, according to a report published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Photo courtesy of the CDC Crypto, a parasite, is spread through the feces of infected humans or animals. People can get sick after they swallow the parasite in contaminated water or food or after contact...

Hepatitis outbreak on the decline in Ky; 57 have died across the Commonwealth as result of the disease

The good news about hepatitis in Kentucky is that the number of hepatitis A cases is dropping. The bad news is that there are still as many cases each week as were once seen in a year’s time, and the state is by the far the leader in deaths from the liver disease. According to the state’s weekly report, the number of hepatitis A cases in Kentucky has dropped to around 20 per week for several...

CDC says ground beef probably caused E.coli outbreak but source unknown; KY has most cases

Kentucky Health News Investigation of people stricken by the recent outbreak of E. coli “suggests that ground beef is the source of this outbreak,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Friday. “At this time, no common supplier, distributor, or brand of ground beef has been identified.” The outbreak, centered in Kentucky, has sickened 109 people and sent 17...

Kentucky accounts for about half the cases in an odd, 5-state outbreak of E. coli; here are precautions

Kentucky has about half of the cases in an outbreak of infections from a strain of E. coli bacteria that has also sickened people in Ohio, Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the source of the 72 infections has not been identified. The CDC said Kentucky had 36 cases as of Friday, but the day before, the state Department for Public Health...

Older Kentuckians demanding lawmakers intervene to regulate high cost of prescription medications

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service AARP members in Kentucky are calling on lawmakers to stop price-gouging by pharmaceutical companies. New surveys from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and AARP show nearly three-quarters of Americans over age 50 worry about the rising cost of prescription drugs. Of those surveyed, 80% said they regularly take at least one prescription drug – yet...

Department for Public Health reminds Kentuckians that March 24 is World TB Day

As part of its ongoing work to educate the public about tuberculosis (TB) and prevent the spread of the disease, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) is reminding Kentuckians that March 24 is World TB Day. This year’s theme from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is “It’s Time,” in an effort to encourage latent TB testing among providers and raise awareness for...

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,...