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May 21, 2018

Spring and early summer are peak times for tick bites, which coincide with people venturing outdoors in the warmer weather

Kentucky Press News Service

The lone star tick is an aggressive tick species and should not be taken lightly by hunters and others who enjoy spending time outdoors. There is mounting evidence its bite can cause some people to develop an allergy to red meat.The lone star tick is an aggressive tick species and should not be taken lightly by hunters and others who enjoy spending time outdoors. There is mounting evidence its bite can cause some people to develop an allergy to red meat.

FRANKFORT — With spring now in full swing, Kentuckians are taking advantage of the warmer weather and spending more time outside.

But it's also the time when tick activity increases across the state.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the Kentucky Department for Public Health are reminding people in a news release to take precautions against tick bites, which can transmit serious and potentially deadly illnesses.

“A tick bite can spoil an otherwise great day outdoors,” Karen Waldrop, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife deputy commissioner, said in the news release. “Plan ahead to protect yourself against ticks.”

Tick awareness and prevention will be the focus of a Facebook Live discussion with state public health officials on June 4. The online event is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. EDT. To access the livestream, visit the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ Facebook page at Questions can be emailed in advance to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or posted in the comments section during the event.

“Spring and early summer are peak times for tick bites, which coincide with people venturing outdoors in the warmer weather,” said Jeffrey D. Howard, Jr., acting Department for Public Health commissioner. “It's important that people take preventive measures against tick bites and also look out for ticks after visiting affected areas. We encourage everyone to remember these four steps of protect, check, remove and watch to protect themselves and others from tick bites.”

Protect – Protect yourself from tick bites by avoiding areas where ticks live, such as wooded and brushy areas, tall grasses, woodpiles, leaf litter and areas close to the ground. Take action to decrease your risk of infection by wearing an Environmental Protection Agency-registered tick repellent containing at least 20 percent DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or one with lemon eucalyptus. When possible, wear protective clothing (light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and pants tucked into socks) when outdoors to keep ticks off your body. Clothing, boots and other gear can be treated with permethrin, a commonly used insecticide that repels and kills ticks, mosquitos and other pests.

One treatment can withstand several washings. Allow any articles treated with permethrin to dry before use. It should not be applied directly to the skin. Permethrin is safe around many animals, but highly toxic to cats. Before sure to keep any sprayed items away from cats. If you have pets talk with your veterinarian about the use of tick prevention treatments. You should regularly check your pet for ticks.

Check – Check yourself and others for ticks after spending time outdoors. Be sure to check your entire body for ticks using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body after returning from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks.

Check under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist and especially in and around the hair. Be sure to check your gear and pets for ticks because they hitchhike inside of your clothing where they are not readily visible.

If possible, change your clothes and shower after spending time outdoors. Tumble dry clothes in a dryer on high heat for 10 minutes to kill ticks on dry clothing after you come indoors. If clothes require washing, hot water is recommended to effectively kill ticks.

Remove – Remove any imbedded ticks as soon as possible. Use tweezers to grab the tick close to the skin and gently pull on the tick with steady pressure. Do not jerk or twist the tick. Wash your hands and the bite site with soap and water after the tick is removed. Apply an antiseptic to the bite site. Do not use alcohol, matches, liquid soap or petroleum jelly to remove a tick.

Dispose of a tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.

Watch – Watch for any symptoms of tick-borne illness, which can vary among individuals and differ according to the disease. A sudden fever and rash, severe headache, muscle or joint aches, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea can be signs of tick-borne illness. If symptoms arise within several weeks of removing a tick, consult your healthcare professional and tell them about your recent tick bite, when it occurred and where you most likely acquired the tick.

The recent confirmation of tularemia in a captive wild rabbit in Butler County heightens the need this year for added awareness and precautions to guard against tick bites.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife and the Department for Public Health continue to investigate a field trial enclosure where the infected rabbit carcass was recently found.

Tularemia mostly affects rabbits and rodents but is transmissible to people and pets. Exposure to this rare, but treatable, bacterial disease can occur in a variety of ways, including tick bites.

The two tick species people are most likely to encounter in Kentucky are the lone star tick and the American dog tick, but there are others found in the state, the news release said.

The lone star tick is an aggressive tick species and should not be taken lightly by hunters and others who enjoy spending time outdoors. There is mounting evidence its bite can cause some people to develop an allergy to red meat.

While incidences of tick-borne disease in Kentucky remain low, outdoor enthusiasts can never be too prepared for a potential encounter with ticks.

For more information on ticks and tick-borne diseases visit


May 19, 2018

Fewer U.S. workers are using prescription opioids, but more are using methamphetamines, cocaine, and marijuana, according to data released by Quest Diagnostics, which conducts workplace drug testing, Katie Zezima reports for The Washington Post.

The overall percentage of workers who tested positive for drug use remains unchanged since 2016 at 4.2 percent, but it’s higher than the 3.5 percent return in 2012.

Drug TestDrug TestPositives for meth have increased 167 percent in the South and Midwest in the past five years, and cocaine positives have increased dramatically in some areas: there was a spike of 91 percent in Nebraska and 88 percent in Idaho from 2016 to 2017.

Marijuana positives have increased in states where recreational use of the drug has been legalized, such as Nevada, Massachusetts, and California. Those states also saw a bump in positive marijuana tests among safety-sensitive workers such as pilots and truck drivers, Zezima reports.

“The increases come as the number of workers testing positive for prescription opioids and heroin have declined, even though the opioid crisis continues to ravage the United States,” Zezima reports. “The rate of drug tests that were positive for a prescription painkiller declined by 17 percent from 2016 to 2017. Tests for a metabolite that is in heroin dropped by 11 percent from 2016 to 2017, a three-year low.” Part of that may be because Quest doesn’t test for synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, which is driving the increase in drug overdose deaths.

Barry Sample, senior director of science and technology at Quest, told Zezima: “These changing patterns and geographical variations may challenge the ability of employers to anticipate the ‘drug of choice’ for their workforce or where to best focus their drug prevention efforts to ensure a safe and healthy work environment.”


The Rural Blog is a digest of events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism from and about rural America, from the IRJCI, based at the University of Kentucky. The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues is an extension program for rural journalists and news outlets. It takes no positions on issues and advocates only for strong news coverage, responsible commentary and things that make them possible, such as open-government laws. For more information see

May 10, 2018

Bills Will Improve Prescription Drug Monitoring, Better Treatment Options including medication assisted

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 10, 2018) – In a time where Kentucky is among the worst states in the nation for opioid abuse,  representative Danny Bentley continued his work on anti-drug issues in the Kentucky House of Representatives this session.

Rep. Danny BentleyRep. Danny BentleyBentley authored and passed two pieces of legislation in the 2018 Session that will allow the Commonwealth to take a large step forward in this fight.

House Bill 246 takes a revolutionary step forward in providing medication-assisted therapy as a treatment program for drug abuse.

This legislation establishes a pilot project to allow local pharmacies to administer this medication-based treatment, in order to test its effectiveness.

The goals of this newer, more innovative approach to drug treatment are to reduce the frequency of drug lapses, lower treatment costs by creating more options, and provide better health outcomes to those struggling from the pain of addiction. The pilot program also includes a mental health component to dealing with addiction, and also does not involve any controlled substances.

“I am excited about the new opportunities that this program will provide for empowering individuals to overcome the scourge of drug abuse,” said Bentley, who also been a leader in the House when it comes to tackling the drug issue. “Addiction is plaguing our communities, and we must be vigilant in seeking new approaches to helping our citizens in need. Further, I am grateful for Rep. Addia Wuchner’s leadership in allowing me to move this bill through her committee.”

Wuchner, a Republican Representative from Florence and Chairwoman of the House Health and Family Services Committee, is retiring at the end of 2018.

Meanwhile, House Bill 213 expands Kentucky’s prescription monitoring capabilities by allowing the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to enter into sharing agreements with other jurisdictions.

The Commonwealth utilizes KASPER, or the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting, in order to track controlled substance prescriptions that are dispensed. It serves as both a source of information for doctors and pharmacists as well as a tool for law enforcement to utilize in the fight to eradicate substance abuse.

As it presently exists, the Cabinet can only enter into contracts with states. With this legislation, Kentucky can enter into agreements with local jurisdictions, including counties.

“This legislation will open up new doors for tracking down wrongdoing and keeping prescription drug abuse in check,” said Rep. Bentley.

Bentley, a pharmacist and member of the House Committee on Health and Family Services, has dedicated his time in the General Assembly to combatting the drug epidemic. His efforts to expand the monitoring of prescription drugs as well as to provide more effective treatment options have been applauded by both Republicans and Democrats.