Implement Physical Activity In Your Daily Routine

With a hectic schedule, is it even possible to squeeze in physical activity and a workout? I know that it can be very difficult to take time out of your schedule, which is why today we will discuss some ways to add physical activity to your regular routine. 


The U.S Department of Health and Human Services advises that adults do one of the following for substantial health benefits. A) 150 minutes each week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity like brisk walking, B) 75 minutes each week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity like running or C) An equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. Furthermore, the department recommends two days a week of strength training that is of moderate or high intensity and involves all major muscle groups. A lot of the exercises mentioned below will be strength training type exercises, but also moderate-intensity aerobic exercises. 

It is fun and possible to ensure that you are physically fit, so let’s begin! We will outline a typical work day, of course, everyone’s day is different, this is just a basic outline that can be adjusted to fit your life. 

Getting Ready For The Day 
Give yourself the challenge to do one physical exercise before enjoying breakfast. Some quick exercises can include leg raises, wall pushups, or arm curls. Pick one activity and try to stick to it. 

The 9-5 Range 
At this point, most of us either leave for work or stay at home. Whatever you do, these following tips can still help you. 

During the 9-5 range, try walking as much as you can. Does your office have stairs? Maybe take the stairs instead of the elevators from now on. 
Try not to sit for too long. Give yourself a stretch break every hour, it doesn’t have to be any longer than 5 mins. 
What about that lunch break. Many employees have lunch breaks ranging from 30 mins to 1 hour. If your lunch break is on the longer end, take out 10-15 mins for a walk. Let’s be honest, most of us don’t take more than 30 mins to finish eating anyways. How about taking the rest of the time to take a walk down the block or even just in your office, do what fits you. 

Going Home 
If you live close to work, try forgoing the car to take public transportation. This will generally allow you to walk a bit more. 

Dinner Time 
You Are Preparing Dinner And Getting Ready To Eat. While The Food Is Cooking, You Can Challenge Yourself To Do One Physical Exercise Mentioned In The Resource Above. 

Bedtime 
Bedtime Is For Winding Down. As Much As We Want To Squeeze In Some More Exercise, Rest Is Also A Very Important Part Of Maintaining Physical Health. I Would Recommend To Slow Down And Get Yourself Ready To Sleep By Doing Some Simple Stretches. 

Furthermore, it is important to not overdo it and injure your muscles. Making sure to warm up your body and stretch before any workout is key. It is also imperative that you utilize the correct posture when doing any exercise, so make sure to look closely at the resource mentioned above. 

I hope these tips will help you to implement some more daily physical activity to your schedule. I am by no mean claiming that these habits alone are optimal for the best physical health, but they may definitely help improve your lifestyle.

Oral cancer awareness – your guide to staying healthy



Nearly 50,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with oral cancer each year. That's just about 140 per day.

When I ran my own dental practice, I occasionally came across cancer in patients. It was never an easy conversation. Seeing an oral surgeon is the first step, and the most common question I’d hear about that was, “How soon should I go?” I always told them that if I could drive them myself right then, I would.

I didn’t say it to scare them, I said it to let them know how important it was to act quickly. Oral cancer has a much higher success rate when diagnosed and treated early.

Oral cancer can be scary. But knowing the basics and how to protect yourself goes a long way in keeping you healthy.
How do I know if I’m at risk?

Here are a few of the things that can impact your oral cancer risk:
Tobacco and alcohol. These are at the top of the list, especially when used together.
Age. Most oral cancer is diagnosed in people over 40.
Diet. The foods you eat play an important role; a poor diet low in fruits and vegetables impacts your risk of oral cancer.
HPV. This is a sexually transmitted infection known as the human papillomavirus and has been linked to oral cancers, particularly in younger individuals.

The good news is you can control most of these risks, like eating right and staying away from tobacco.
What are the symptoms?

Before we talk about symptoms, it’s important to know where to look for them. Oral cancer includes both the mouth and the back of the throat. Here are several signs to watch for:
A lump, irritated area or sore
Difficulty chewing or swallowing
A red or white patch, mostly on the tongue or floor of the mouth
A feeling of numbness in the tongue or other area of your mouth
Having a hard time moving your jaw or tongue
A sensation that something is caught in your throat
A firm lump found around your jaw or neck area
Change in speech
When should I see a dentist?

Regular visits with your dentist are the first step in prevention. Your dentist can spot any early indicators of trouble. However, if you experience any of the symptoms listed above for two weeks, see your dentist right away.
What’s an oral cancer screening?

An oral cancer screening is when a dentist does a visual scan of your face, lips, tongue, under your tongue, throat and your neck. They’ll also feel for lumps along your neck, throat and sometimes along the floor of your mouth. It’s a painless exam and only takes a couple minutes.

HealthPartners Dental Group dentists perform an oral cancer screening for anyone over 18, and for teens who use tobacco.

If your dentist does find a suspicious spot, they’ll likely refer you to an oral surgeon. Typically, an oral surgeon will examine the spot, remove a small sample and send it to a lab for testing. This is called a biopsy, and it’ll help guide a treatment plan if cancer is found.

The most proven method for detecting oral cancer is to look and feel for signs of cancer. Be cautious of other practices or tools a dentist may use to screen for cancer.
Is it curable?

Just like with other types of cancer, oral cancer can be cured if caught early. Treatment may include a combination of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Other specialists may be included based on the situation.

Finding the cancer late makes it harder to treat. Too often, oral cancer isn’t found until it reaches another area of the body where problems are more easily detected.

The biggest challenge with oral cancer is that people don’t easily notice the warning signs. It’s also hard to see, especially if it occurs in the back of the throat. This gives the disease time to grow. Of the 50,000 people diagnosed each year, about 40 percent will die within five years of their diagnosis. That number has gone down over the last decade, but still shows how important it is to find oral cancer early.

HPV adds to the challenge because cancer associated with it tends to develop in the back of the mouth, throat and tonsils. Those areas are harder to check.
Is oral cancer screening and treatment covered by my dental or medical insurance (or both)?

Your routine dental checkup should include the oral cancer screening. That means it’s covered by your dental plan. If you visit an oral surgeon who performs a biopsy, that would be covered by your medical plan. Any additional treatment would then also be covered under your medical plan.
Is anyone doing research to help?

Yes, there are many studies that are looking for ways to reduce the risk of oral cancer and treat it. We’re also working on advances in radiation therapy, chemotherapy and vaccines.

HealthPartners Institute is actively researching oral cancer. One of our studies is looking into finding a way to screen for HPV in dental clinics. Another study focuses on dental oral cancer screenings to help gauge common practices among dental providers.

Is it a cold or allergies?


Each year, allergies affect more than 50 million people in the United States. The miserable symptoms are similar to cold symptoms – and that can make allergies really hard to self-diagnose. But unlike a common cold that tends to be harmless and go away on its own in a week or two, untreated allergies can lead to other problems. They can make you more prone to getting sinus infections or other upper respiratory infections. And that means you definitely want to get them treated and taken care of.
As a nurse practitioner at virtuwell.com, I see a lot of patients who think they have a cold or sinus infection. Instead, they are actually suffering from allergies.
Seasonal allergies are often triggered by pollen and mold. But there can be other allergy triggers that you may not realize. A new family pet’s dander may be the cause. Or, even a new environment or building (like if you’ve recently moved). Smoke exposure and cleaning can also trigger a runny nose and sneezing.
If you have allergies, you don’t have to tough it out. A care provider can help you diagnose the underlying issue and then help you find the best treatment.
Here are some of the common questions I get about allergies, and how I answer them. (Plus I’ve got a few tips for staying symptom-free this allergy season!)
  • 1. What is the difference between cold and allergy symptoms?

    With both, it’s typical to have a runny nose and sneeze. You may also feel a little drowsy. But other symptoms vary depending on what you actually have. Itchy eyes or ears and circles under your eyes are common of allergies, while they are rarely seen with a cold. Here are some other common allergy symptoms versus cold symptoms to look out for.
SymptomsAllergiesCold
SneezingCommonCommon
Running or stuffy noseCommonCommon
Itchy, watery eyesCommonRare
Itchy earsCommonRare
HeadacheCommonRare
CoughDryHacking
Circles under eyesTypicalNever
Muscle pain or body achesRareCommon
Sore throatRareCommon
TirednessCommonCommon
  • 2. Do I need to see a doctor for my allergies?

    No one wants to spend their days sniffling and sneezing. And left untreated, allergy symptoms can last throughout spring and summer, depending on your triggers. This can affect not only your quality of life, but your overall health, too. Because the longer symptoms last, the more likely you are to get a sinus or upper respiratory infection.
    If you aren’t sure if it’s a cold or allergies, or if your symptoms are severe or long-lasting, it’s best to connect with a care provider. This can be done through an in-person visit. Or it can be done online, like at virtuwell.com. virtuwell is a lot like a retail clinic, but it’s available 24/7. Everything is done from your phone or computer. No download or video is needed!
  • 3. What should I take for my allergies?

    A number of treatment options are available for allergies. Many can be easily built into your daily routine to help relieve symptoms. Here’s how some of the specific medicines I get questions about work:
    • Over-the-counter medications called antihistamines can usually help. Some may cause drowsiness, like Benadryl. (And for kids under age 6, it can sometimes cause hyperactivity.) But newer medications have reduced this side effect. Consider taking ClaritinAllegraXyzal or Zyrtec instead. And look into the generic versions of these medications. They are just as effective, but at a much lower cost.
      There are also antihistamines available in the form of eye dropsfor those itchy, watery eyes. There are over-the-counter drops called Zatidor (ketotifen) available. And there are several different prescription options, too. With so many choices, it can be hard to know what’s right for you. That’s why a care provider can be helpful.
    • Nasal sprays can also help. They bring down the inflammation in your nose and sinuses. They can work well with antihistamines. Flonase and Nasacort are good options for relief of swelling in the nasal passages and for relief of itchy eyes. And, they are now available in an over-the-counter option.
    • Decongestants, like Sudafed, can relieve congestion. But they can have other side effects. They can raise blood pressure, increase heart rate and irritability, or cause insomnia. They should only be used short-term when allergies are severe. That means only for 3-5 days, max!
    • Prescription medications, like Singulair (montelukast), are also available. This medication can lessen or prevent a reaction when you come into contact with an allergen like pollen. Singulair is typically taken daily to help control allergies and can be very helpful for people who suffer from both allergies and asthma.
  • 4. How can I find the best allergy medication for me?

    With so many options out there, finding the right treatment can seem like a guessing game. That’s why it’s best to consult with a care provider. They’ll be able to identify the underlying issue causing your symptoms. Then, they can work with you to find the specific treatment that’s right for you. Your local clinic or primary care provider is a good starting point. Online care options can also help diagnose and treat allergies. At virtuwell.com, I can prescribe over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines that best fit each of my patients’ unique symptoms.
  • 5. When should I take my allergy medicine?

    Take allergy medications early and regularly. Because once inflammation has occurred, it may take longer to get relief. Ideally, you want to get started on allergy medicine before your symptoms kick in and pollen counts reach their height. You can actually start taking medications as early as two weeks before the allergy season begins. And really, getting this head start will be your best defense.
  • 6. Are there any natural remedies for allergies?

    Quite a few non-medication treatments can help with allergy symptoms. A neti pot is a popular option and simple to use. A salt water solution is poured from the pot into the nasal passages washing out any allergens, which helps reduce swelling.
  • 7. How can I avoid allergens?

    • Be aware of pollen levels in your area. Online resources, like Pollen.com, can provide insight on the pollen level in your specific zip code. Local weather reports also often feature the pollen count.
    • Keep your home safe from allergens. If pollen levels are high, keep your windows closed and vacuum twice a week. Also dehumidify your home to under 50 percent using an air conditioner and/or dehumidifier. Be sure to keep you and your clothes clean by washing when you get home to remove pollen particles. And, keep pets out of your bedroom and off the couch as pollen clings to animal fur. (Washing your sheets, blankets and pillow cases in hot or warm water every one to two weeks can help, too.)
    • Be aware of pollen levels while traveling. While allergies might not be affecting you at home, pollen counts might be higher in other parts of the country or world. If you are traveling, check your destination for pollen counts. And, if pollen counts are high, be prepared with medication to ease your symptoms.
  • 8. Are there benefits to getting treatment for spring allergies versus just “toughing it out” for a few weeks?

    It’s not usually just a few weeks. You can have symptoms throughout the spring and summer – it really depends on your triggers. In addition, ongoing allergy symptoms tend to cause you to get congested, and that allows viruses or bacteria to get “stuck”. This is what can lead to upper respiratory infections and sinus infections.
  • 9. When does peak allergy season hit?

    I recommend using Pollen.com to check pollen counts in your specific area. Because everyone has different and/or multiple allergy triggers, you could experience symptoms any time of year.
If you are suffering from allergies, finding the best plan and medications can greatly improve your quality of life as well as protect you from other health problems. Talk to a care provider about your symptoms by making an in-person or online visit today. We can help you manage all of your symptoms so you can get back to work (or play!).

9 Simple Changes That Helped Me Lose 45 Pounds - and Keep It Off

Eliminate the Extras
Katie Dunlop’s journey began after college, as she found herself 45 pounds overweight and tired of the ups and downs of fad diets and trendy workout plans. She started to look for small changes that might add up over time. Her first mission was to search and destroy mindless munching. Every night as a pre-dinner snack, Dunlop used to nibble cheese and crackers while cooking. “I didn’t necessarily need that,” she says. Instead of banning this pre-dinner ritual all at once, Dunlop decided to cut out the cheese for a few days, and then phase out the crackers. “Food habits are the hardest thing to change, so finding little ‘tweaks’ became hugely important,” she says.
Here’s Why Low-Carb Diets Aren’t the Answer.

Make Smart Swaps
“I am a huge foodie—I love food,” says Dunlop, of Orange County, California. “So I had to find ways to make things I already loved healthier.” Dunlop recommends replacing taco shells with lettuce wraps or using vegetable spirals in place of starchy pasta. The U.K. National Health Service also suggests other easy food switches from ordering a skinny latte at Starbucks to replacing creamy sauces with vegetable-based toppings.

PHOTO: COURTESY OF KATIE DUNLOP OF LOVE SWEAT FITNESS

Space Out Your Meals
Dunlop used to go through the day eating virtually nothing, and then devour all her calories at night. According to a study in the International Journal of Obesity, the timing of food intake can impact the success of weight loss. Eating early in the day starts firing up your metabolism, so it runs steadily throughout the day. Eating late at night only gives your metabolism a few hours to kick in. “I feel like I actually eat more now,” Dunlop says, “and I eat more normally.”

PHOTO: COURTESY OF KATIE DUNLOP OF LOVE SWEAT FITNESS

Clean Out the Junk
An often-overlooked step of successful weight loss: organizing. Dunlop says that cleaning out old junk food in her pantries helped get her in a positive, healthy mindset. Get rid of those bags of Oreos, potato chips, and chocolate kisses. You will find that the “out of sight, out of mind” trick really does work. Research from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab shows that when food is visible, we’re more likely to grab it. The study authors also found that normal-weight women were more likely to have a designated cupboard for snack items, and were less likely to buy food in large-sized packages than those who are overweight.
Once you see what Nutella is made up of, you’ll never want to eat it again.

PHOTO: COURTESY OF KATIE DUNLOP OF LOVE SWEAT FITNESS

Consider Yoga
Dunlop loves her high-energy workouts—she’s now a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and creator of Love Sweat Fitness, a health and fitness community with some 400,000 followers, but adding yoga into her routine proved “very helpful with emotional stress and clarity,” she says. Harvard Health Publications lists numerous benefits of yoga, from achieving a better body image to becoming a more mindful eater. “Yoga is known for its ability to soothe tension and anxiety in the mind and body,” according to the website. As a bonus, it can also have boost exercise capacity.

PHOTO: COURTESY OF KATIE DUNLOP OF LOVE SWEAT FITNESS

Wake Up and Work Out
You may roll out of bed, brush your teeth, and trudge into the kitchen for coffee, but Dunlop wakes up with crunches. “I start my day focused on my body,” she explains. Even if she doesn’t have time for another workout, that one session helps her feel good about the day. You can find a link to free ab routines on Dunlop’s YouTube channel.
Plus: 7 Household Items That Are Fitness Equipment in Disguise

PHOTO: COURTESY OF KATIE DUNLOP OF LOVE SWEAT FITNESS

Don’t Go Crazy with Your Goals
Overdoing it at the gym or thinking you need to exercise seven days a week is perhaps the quickest way to derail your motivation. Instead, take baby steps. “When you start small you are able to feel more accomplished,” Dunlop says. She started out going to the gym three days a week, and then slowly ramped up the intensity of her workouts and her number of days at the gym. In fact, working out too much not only injures your body, but can also make you lazier on your non-workout days. According to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, hitting the gym too much can undo the benefits of regular workouts. Switch it up with weight training, and try eating protein-packed foods to build more muscle at the gym.
These insider tips will help you get the most out of your gym membership.

PHOTO: COURTESY OF KATIE DUNLOP OF LOVE SWEAT FITNESS

Upgrade Your Recipes
Dunlop is the first person to say that old favourites like cookies and pancakes are not off the table—but their ingredients could often use an update. “Instead of eating old cookie recipes that call for sticks of butter, use coconut oil and whole-food ingredients,” she says, noting there are some amazing sweets recipes that use healthy ingredients such as black beans, chickpeas, tofu, and avocado. For Dunlop, it’s all about making recipes as unprocessed as possible. “Eat the dishes you love while making them healthier and better for your body,” she says. If you are in the mood for something more processed, look for recipes with 10 or fewer ingredients.
Check out these eight amazing spring superfoods.

PHOTO: COURTESY OF KATIE DUNLOP OF LOVE SWEAT FITNESS

Live Life
“You can have bites of mac and cheese, you can have a bite of cake. It’s okay,” Dunlop says. Trying to lose weight should not mean barring the joys of life—or you’ll find that it’s not sustainable. Having bits of a yummy cake at one office party a month, or enjoying fish tacos with your family, generally won’t sabotage your goals. Savour these moments with friends. Don’t beat yourself up. Just make sure that when you do indulge, you take a few bites to sample the flavour and try not to eat the entire serving.

Bevin gets bill to ban most common type of 2nd-trimester abortion


FRANKFORT, Ky. -- A  House bill to ban the most common kind of second-trimester abortion has finally passed and is headed to Gov. Matt Bevin's desk for his signature. But that may not be the end of it.


Rep. Addia Wuchner

House Bill 454, sponsored by Rep. Addia Wuchner, R-Florence, would prohibit an abortion procedure known as dilation and evacuation, or D&E, after roughly 11 weeks of pregnancy except in medical emergencies. Reuters reports that 16 percent of all abortions performed in the state use D&E.

The procedure involves dilating the cervix and removing the fetus using suction and surgical tools. If the bill becomes law, abortion providers found in violation of it would be guilty of a felony that carries a prison sentence. The women undergoing the procedure would not be prosecuted.

"This law here in the commonwealth is about the humane treatment of an unborn child, to protect an unborn child from dismemberment," Wuchner said while presenting the bill to the House.



Critics of the bill said it is unconstitutional and will likely face legal challenges.

A federal court struck down a ban on the procedure in Texas, and similar bans have been temporarily blocked in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma while litigation proceeds. Mississippi and West Virginia have similar bans that haven't been challenged in court, because the bans aren't expected to have an impact on abortion services, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky.

The bill passed the House March 12 by 71-11 vote and the Senate March 22 by 31-5. A Senate change was approved in the House March 27 by 75-13 to a room full of applause. The Senate change made the definition of "unborn child" to mean from fertilization until live birth.

Opponents of the bill also say that without legal access to D&E procedures, Kentucky women will be limited to undergoing more expensive abortions that would require a hospital stay, and that by law, no publicly owned healthcare facility can perform abortions, unless it's to save the life of the pregnant woman. In addition, they say that this is part of a larger anti-abortion strategy to ban the procedure altogether.

In 2016, the state's "informed consent" law was amended to require women seeking an abortion to have a face-to-face or live-chat consultation before the procedure.

 In 2017, when Republicans took full control of the General Assembly, it passed two abortion bills that were signed into law by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, who was elected in 2015. One banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, unless the mother's life is in danger. The other required women to get an ultrasound before an abortion that included an audible heartbeat, and required the doctor to show and describe the image of the fetus to the patient before performing the abortion. This law was struck down in court, but the state has appealed.

The only remaining abortion clinic in Kentucky, EMW Women's Surgical Center in Louisville, is in a legal battle with the state over licensing issues.

No-penalty bill to require bicycle helmets dies, as some senators counted as 'yes' votes fail to show up for final committee meeting

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

FRANKFORT, Ky. – A no-penalty bill to require children under 12 to wear a helmet when bicycling has died for this legislative session, after falling one vote short in the Senate Transportation Committee March 14, and being passed over due to absences at the next meeting, on March 21.

"Adequate notice was given to members of both parties that this bill was going to be up, and some votes that I thought the sponsor could count on didn't show up," committee Chair Ernie Harris, a Republican from Prospect in Oldham County, said after the meeting. He said the bill is dead.

Democratic Sens. Gerald Neal of Louisville and Johnny Ray Turner of Prestonsburg, as well as Republican Albert Robinson of London, were absent.

Rep. Regina Huff
House Bill 52 would require children under 12 to wear a helmet when they ride a bicycle. Violation would result in a courtesy warning, not a fine.

"We had three votes that were nos, and the rest were yeses," sponsor Regina Huff told Kentucky Health News. "Somehow they all weren't in the meeting on the same day, and I don't know if that's by chance or by design quite frankly." The bill passed the House 77-5 on Feb. 2.

At the March 14 committee meeting, two senators that the Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky expected to vote for the bill voted against it, and three who were expected to vote yes were absent, according to BIAK.

The lobbying group calls HB 52 "TJ's bill" for TJ Floyd of Oldham County, who suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) when he flipped over his handlebars while not wearing a helmet at age 7 in 2010. It says 384 American children die annually from bicycle crashes, and 450,000 more are treated in emergency rooms for bicycle-related injuries, with about 135,000 of those seen in the ER related to head injuries.

"It is a bill for safety, for children at play to be safer when they are riding their. bikes," said Huff, a Republican from Williamsburg in southeastern Kentucky. "Helmets are 84 to 89 percent effective against a TBI, and prevention is the only cure for a TBI." 

But Sen. Paul Hornback, R-Shelbyville, who changed his vote to a no, said it would be "an overreach by government." He told Kentucky Health News that after talking to other policymakers and several lawyers, he became concerned about the implications for owners of private property on which children might ride bicycles and non-relatives who might be caring for them when bicycling.

Sen. Ernie Harris
Kentucky Health News asked Harris why he wouldn't hold a special meeting of the committee in the Senate chamber, when all members would likely be available. He said he had already given the bill two chances, which he had never done for a bill before – then said that it didn't have the support advocates thought.

"People have come up to me to say, 'I really don't want to vote on it, but if I have to, I will,' so the votes are not there," Harris said. "I have no explanation for why some people didn't show up. . . . I did everything I could to get people that would vote for it."

Clearly disappointed, Huff said the advocates would try again next year, and she was pleased it had received a hearing in the Senate for the first time. Similar legislation has been considered in the House for several years; last year's HB 122 passed the House 90-6 but was not heard in the Senate.

State not keeping up with 'explosion' of babies with hepatitis C

The dangerous liver virus hepatitis C "has skyrocketed among Kentucky births amid the state’s raging drug epidemic, but attempts to prevent, track and control the infectious, curable disease have fallen short," Laura Ungar reports for the Louisville Courier Journal. That means many kids don’t get the care they need, risking cirrhosis and liver cancer in adulthood — or even early death."

One in 56 Kentucky births in 2014-16 were to mothers with a history of the disease, Ungar reports, citing state records she obtained: "Those births more than quadrupled between 2010 and 2016, from 260 to 1,057 a year. The latest national rate, from 2014, was one in 308."

Just how many Kentucky children develop the disease is unknown, "because state records show most don’t get the necessary testing when they grow out of their moms’ immunity as toddlers," Ungar writes. "Research suggests Kentucky fares much worse than other states because drug use among young women is so widespread."

A federal study showed hepatitis C rose 213 percent in four years among women of childbearing age in Kentucky, from 275 cases to 862 per 100,000 women, Ungar reports: "That's nearly 10 times the national rise of 22 percent, from 139 to 169 per 100,000 women."

Courier Journal charts
“We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of cases of children exposed to hep C – an explosion,” said Dr. Kristina Bryant, a pediatric infectious disease specialist affiliated with Norton Children's Hospital, told Ungar, who notes, "The true scope of the problem is even bigger; more than half of people with hep C don’t know they have it."

Ungar discovered another problem: Kentucky officials aren't tracking, preventing and testing for the disease as diligently as they could.

"Staffing shortages have kept cases from this year and last — and a backlog of previous cases involving children — from even being entered into computers," she reports. "Moms and kids have often gone untested. Hep C screening isn’t mandatory. While it’s recommended for moms at high risk, doctors don’t always ask about drug use and women don’t always admit to it. Plus, babies whose moms have hep C commonly don't get follow-up testing, especially when they’re raised by someone else."

Ungar adds, "Overall efforts to curb hep C have failed." She notes Kentucky had the nation’s highest rate of acute hep-C infections in 2010-14, and "The state and federal governments spend a fraction of what advocates consider necessary to fight the disease; groups are asking for $100 million more at the federal level."

Ungar's story, which took up more than two pages in the Courier Journal's print edition, includes several case studies of families affected by the disease. It was initially published online by USA Today, for which she also works.