UK's collaborative nature has allowed the ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) program, which provides emergency support to patients, to thrive.

UK leads the way in life-saving ECMO transport

Technology plays an enormous role in advancing the quality and effectiveness of medical treatment. New technology tends to arrive first in larger, academic medical centers and subsequently spreads into the smaller city and community hospitals. As the technology continues its march to the far corners of the world, many academic hospitals consider it a moral responsibility to support the smaller hospitals, much like a big sister teaches her little sister how to ride a bike.

ECMO is a fitting example of this process. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) technology provides emergency mechanical support for desperately ill patients by mimicking the natural function of the heart and lungs. This allows the patient to rest and heal from a variety of severe cardiac and respiratory illnesses, such as flu, pneumonia, cardiomyopathy or heart attack. External pumps and oxygenators remove carbon dioxide from the blood, replace it with life-saving oxygen and then return it to the patient’s circulatory system. The patient’s heart continues to beat, but stress on the heart and lungs is diminished because the ECMO machine does much of the pumping. While ECMO doesn’t fix the underlying problem, it supports the patient hemodynamically until they can get treatment or heal on their own.

A patient on ECMO is supported around the clock by a large, highly coordinated team, including specialized nursing care, nurse practitioners, physicians and perfusionists, as well as respiratory, physical and occupational therapists. It’s an expensive process, and hospitals with smaller patient volumes often cannot support its cost.

As the technology has been adopted by more hospitals around Kentucky, they have turned to UK HealthCare for support. UK HealthCare has been using ECMO to treat its patients since 1993, and today it offers an innovative, coordinated program to assist surrounding hospitals.

Getting the program off the ground

In some cases, a hospital already has ECMO technology but doesn’t have the infrastructure to support patients long-term. In other cases, a patient needs ECMO, but the hospital doesn’t have the technology. In both cases, a place like UK is well-suited to assist.

Michael Sekela, MD, now surgical director of the UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute, first conceived the idea of ECMO transport in the early 1990s. But at that time, ECMO technology had not yet matured. “It took a long time to get the ECMO technology reliably to that level,” he said, “and it is best undertaken by a hospital with high treatment volumes and a relatively large catchment area.”

2016 data from Vizient (a think tank of hospitals around the country that embrace information sharing for performance improvement) ranks UK HealthCare No. 10 in adult ECMO patient volume, treating more patients than centers with loftier reputations, such as Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins.

As Sekela’s email inbox filled with requests for help, he recognized the need for a more formal model to support smaller hospitals and the patients they serve. “There is a large unserved need, as many institutions do not have the infrastructure in place to embrace this service,” he said. “We have the skills and the resources, and we already serve large swaths of regional and rural hospitals in and adjacent to Kentucky.”

But building such a program from the ground up would be no easy feat.

Positive reactions

For more than a year, a team at UK HealthCare worked on a blueprint for transferring ECMO patients safely to UK. The team included Sekela, Dr. Jay Zwischenberger (chairman of the Department of Surgery), Dr. Paul Tessmann, Dr. Anil Gopinath, Dr. Walt Lubbers and Patti Howard from Emergency Medicine, as well as EMS Manager Matt Ward, Mechanical Circulatory Support (MCS) Manager Julia Akhtarekhavari, MCS Coordinator Thomas Tribble and Chief Perfusionist Chuck McClendon. The plan had to support multiple scenarios (hospitals that offered ECMO but could not support a patient long-term, and hospitals that did not offer ECMO but had a patient who needed it). Any patient transport needed the space and equipment to accommodate a highly skilled team of EMTs, paramedics, critical care nurses trained in ECMO, and perfusionists. If the patient was at a hospital without an ECMO service, a surgeon was added to the transport to connect the patient to the ECMO equipment before they were transported to UK.

UK is the only center in Kentucky offering adult ECMO transport – in fact, you’d have to travel more than three hours in any direction – as far east as Charlottesville, as far north as Indianapolis, as far west as Nashville – to find another center with the same service.

Initial response to the fledgling program has been extremely positive. Wayne Lipson, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Baptist Health in Madisonville, Ky., says the service helped save one of his desperately ill patients earlier this year. He describes the transfer process – from the phone call to patient transport – as seamless. “Mike [Sekela] showed up with his team at 2 a.m., less than five hours after we made the call,” he said. “Transporting a patient like this is a very difficult process, and it’s a testament to UK HealthCare that their system is so responsive.”

“Having this service available enables our team to treat more complex patients closer to home. We are armed with the knowledge that the UK HealthCare team will support us when we need it,” Lipson said

Sekela credits the team’s methodical approach to transport issues and meticulous planning and training for the service’s fantastic early success.

“This program exemplifies the collaborative culture at UK,” Sekela said. “Many months of planning and training with Emergency Medicine, Cardiovascular Surgery, Nursing and Perfusion were significant factors in the program’s success.”

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stroke

6 ways to prevent a stroke

When it comes to preventing a stroke, simple lifestyle changes can make all the difference.

Strokes occur when blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to the brain burst or are blocked by a clot. When that happens, brain cells begin to die, affecting a person’s memory and ability to control muscles.

Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and in Kentucky, but there’s good news: Nearly 80 percent of all strokes are preventable.

In celebration of American Stroke Month, we’ve put together a list of things you can do to live a healthier lifestyle and better your chances of avoiding a stroke.

1. Get moving.

Regular physical activity will help lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, two of the biggest risk factors for stroke. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity five times a week. Something as simple as a brisk walk or bike ride with a friend will work wonders for your overall health.

2. Stop smoking.

Smokers are twice as likely to experience a stroke as nonsmokers. That’s because smoking thickens blood and increases the likelihood of clots. If you’re struggling to quit smoking, ask your doctor for help. And check out our blog with tips and resources that can help you or someone you know start on the path toward success.

3. Eat your vegetables.

And beans, whole grains and nuts, too – all of which are staples of a healthy diet. Improving your diet will help lower your cholesterol and blood pressure and help you maintain a healthy weight. Check out our guide for kick-starting a healthy diet.

4. Drink less.

Alcohol can increase blood pressure and the risk of stroke. Moderation is the key: For men, no more than two drinks a day, and for women, no more than one.

5. Learn about Afib.

Atrial fibrillation, also known as Afib, is a type of irregular heartbeat. If left untreated, Afib can cause blood clots in the heart that can move to the brain and cause a stroke. Talk to your doctor about Afib if you experience symptoms such as heart palpitations or shortness of breath. Learn more about the UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute’s Heart Rhythm Program and listen to a podcast with our Afib specialist, Dr. Ted Wright.

6. Understand the things you can’t control.

Although improving your diet, ramping up your activity and living a healthy lifestyle can all decrease your risk for stroke, there are some risk factors you cannot control. Things like age, gender and race all play a role in stroke risk, and even though you can’t change those factors, it’s important to understand if you’re more susceptible.

Click the icon below to see our Stroke Quick Facts inforgraphic.

Stroke quick facts infographic from UK HealthCare


Next steps:

  • At the UK Comprehensive Stroke Center, we offer treatment, prevention and rehabilitation services for stroke patients. Learn more about our program.
  • Dr. Gretchen Wells, director of UK’s Women’s Heart Health Program, writes about why knowing your family health history can help you understand your own risk of disease. Read her blog.

 

Dr. Michael Karpf, UK’s executive vice president for health affairs, was recently awarded the Kentucky Hospital Association's Distinguished Service Award.

Karpf receives Kentucky Hospital Association’s highest honor

Dr. Michael Karpf, UK’s executive vice president for health affairs, was given the Kentucky Hospital Association’s highest award last week in honor of his exceptional service to UK HealthCare, the community, the state and the association.

Karpf was given the KHA’s Distinguished Service Award on May 19 during the 88th Annual KHA Convention in Lexington. Since coming to UK in 2003, Karpf’s leadership has led to unprecedented growth and expansion for UK HealthCare. In the past 14 years, UK has invested close to $2 billion for faculty recruitment, program development, technology acquisition and facilities, while also fostering partnerships with leading regional health providers across the state to extend care to those who need it most.

UK HealthCare is a thriving super-regional referral center with aspirations to become a medical destination and one of the nation’s best healthcare providers, due in large measure to Karpf’s vision and leadership. Last fall, Karpf announced his decision to retire later in 2017. A national search for his successor is currently underway.

Karpf has served on the KHA Board of Trustees from 2010 until 2015, and he continues to support and serve KHA through the System Presidents’ Forum.

Recognition for UK HealthCare volunteer

UK’s Snow Bunny Baby Project was also honored by the KHA, earning the HANDS Award (Helping Accomplish Noteworthy Duties Successfully), which is given to outstanding volunteer and auxiliary programs in hospitals across the state.

The Snow Bunny Baby project, created in 2015 by dedicated UK volunteer Sunny King, provides holiday gift baskets to families of babies in the Kentucky Children’s Hospital neonatal intensive care unit.

Betty Rucker, chair of the KHA Committee on Volunteer Services, presents a 2017 HANDS Award to Sunny King (middle) and Katie Tibbitts of UK HealthCare.


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UK is researching how a mobile application teaches patients diaphragmatic breathing, a technique which may alleviate muscle tension in victims of violence.

UK study looks to mobile app to help victims of abuse manage pain

Women who have suffered from sexual or physical abuse often have residual muscle tension and pain, a symptom of extended stress and activity within the body. Now, two UK researchers are studying how a smartphone app could help these women manage chronic pain.

Charles Carlson, the Robert H. and Anna B. Culton Endowed Professor in the UK Center for Research on Violence Against Women, says a significant portion of the clinic’s female patients have suffered from sexual or physical abuse at some point in their lives, which often results in tension throughout the body that can lead to pain.

Trauma often causes a prolonged state of increased sympathetic tone within the body,” Carlson said. “The chronic hypervigilance may be associated with scanning for danger around every corner. [This can lead] to a state of prolonged and unnecessary muscle tension and eventually, if unchecked, may contribute to muscle-based pain conditions such as myalgia. It is not surprising, therefore, that a significant number of our patients with chronic pain reported experience with physical or sexual abuse.”

Carlson, who is also a professor of psychology in the UK College of Arts and Sciences, and Matt Russell, a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology, want to help patients learn to calm their hypervigilance through strategies that can manage the excessive activation of muscle-based pain. Their previous research shows that patients with chronic pain can find relief through self-regulation strategies that include slow-paced, diaphragmatic breathing – a form of relaxation training.

App teaches self-guided breathing

With the help of a smartphone app that teaches users how to do diaphragmatic breathing, the researchers are currently conducting a clinical trial at the UK Orofacial Pain Clinic, working with patients experiencing myalgia and other chronic pain in the head and neck regions.

Diaphragmatic breathing is a practice most people can learn, so Carlson and Russell are exploring whether patients can help manage their pain by learning to breathe diaphragmatically without the use of a professional therapist. By providing patients with a mobile application that teaches the diaphragmatic breathing approach, the team hypothesizes patients will learn to self-regulate their body’s sympathetic tone to manage their pain.

“We designed the smartphone application to teach patients the basics of paced, diaphragmatic breathing with audio directions only,” Russell said. “Then, we use a visual aid to help pace their breathing, an important piece of strengthening the parasympathetic response.”

The current project will examine the effectiveness of the smartphone health intervention to improve treatment outcomes above standard dental care. The participants recruited through the Orofacial Pain Clinic will receive either standard dental care alone, or standard dental care plus the mobile application on their iPhone/iPad or a provided iPod Touch. Patients using the application will track their daily breathing practices and pain levels, while those receiving standard dental care alone will track only their pain levels. All participants will complete weekly assessments, and at each clinic follow-up visit, participants’ progress will be monitored by collecting measures of their current self-regulation skills.

While a quick iTunes search can result in hundreds of apps that promote breathing strategies to treat various ailments, Carlson emphasizes the importance of empirical evidence.

“To our knowledge, there are no published studies empirically validating that these applications can deliver on their promises,” he said. “As clinical scientists, we believe that before we tell our patients our application will help, we need evidence from a scientific study.”


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UK scientist joins program that promotes diversity in research

Dr. Brittany Smalls, an assistant professor in the UK Center for Health Services Research, has been selected as a scholar in the 2017-18 Programs to Increase Diversity among Individuals Engaged in Health-Related Research Advanced Health Disparities Research Training program.

As a scholar for this program, Smalls will receive advanced training that facilitates successful team science and contributes to decreases in health disparities through research. This year-long mentoring experience will offer training that includes experiential skill development in grantsmanship, scientific writing strategies, epidemiological/bio-statistical methods and more.

The program was established to provide junior faculty from backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical research with opportunities to gain the knowledge and tools they need to carry out independent and meaningful research and advance their careers.

This initiative is sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The institute provides global leadership for research, training and education programs to promote the prevention and treatment of heart, lung and blood diseases and enhance the health of all individuals so that they can live longer and more fulfilling lives.


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New Lexington Shriners facility

New Shriners facility enhances patient care, strengthens collaboration with UK

On Sunday, patients, medical center staff and doctors, donors, and UK HealthCare leaders came together to dedicate the new Shriners Hospitals for Children Medical Center Lexington facility, which opened earlier this spring on the UK HealthCare campus.

While healthcare providers at Shriners Medical Center and Kentucky Children’s Hospital have collaborated for decades, the opening of the new facility will better accommodate follow-up appointments for patients seeing multiple doctors for complex medical conditions.

“Shriners Medical Center moving to the UK HealthCare campus allows for seamless care to occur across institutional boundaries,” said Dr. Ryan Muchow, a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at Shriners and UK HealthCare. “The patients are benefited tremendously when two excellent institutions combine mission and service to advance the pediatric orthopaedic care.”

Continuity of care

When the new facility opened earlier this year, patients like Zayleigh Hancock were the first to benefit.

Zayleigh, a longtime patient at Shriners, was born with a complex medical condition called hemiplegia cerebral palsy (CP), a brain impairment that impacts a person’s ability to control movement and posture. Traveling to Lexington from her hometown of Morristown, Tenn., the 10-year-old has received ongoing treatment and numerous surgical interventions at both Shriners and KCH to improve her mobility and quality of life.

Earlier this year, Zayleigh’s head started slumping to the side, a symptom caused by overlapping bones in her neck. The condition required an inpatient surgical procedure at KCH and follow-up care and assessment at Shriners.

This close connection between KCH and Shriners, which is now connected by a pedestrian bridge to UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital and KCH, enabled seamless inpatient treatment and post-surgical care for Zayleigh. In addition, Zayleigh benefited from continuity of care, seeing familiar orthopaedic surgeons who have monitored her condition for years while also having access to advanced pediatric specialists at KCH.

A history of collaboration

Shriners has operated in Lexington since 1926. Transitioning from its former location on Richmond Road, Shriners now occupies 60,000 square feet of space on the bottom three floors of the new building on South Limestone. UK HealthCare leases the top two floors for ophthalmology services. The new Shriners includes a motion analysis center, 20 patient exam rooms, two surgical suites, a rehabilitation gymnasium, a prosthetics and orthotics department, therapy rooms, and interactive artwork. The energy-efficient building has geothermal heating and cooling, LED lighting and occupancy sensors, and automated equipment and controls.

UK HealthCare and Shriners have forged a longstanding collaborative relationship through years of service to Kentucky’s children. Pediatric specialists in the fields of orthopaedics, anesthesiology and rehabilitation serve on the medical staff of both organizations.

Mark D. Birdwhistell, vice president for administration and external affairs at UK HealthCare, called the new facility a win for UK, Shriners and the Lexington community.

“The building we are dedicating today will allow us to collaborate in a whole new way,” Birdwhistell said during the dedication, “bringing together Shriners Medical Center’s pediatric orthopaedic expertise and the Kentucky Children’s Hospital’s specialty and subspecialty care for children with complex conditions.”

Watch the video below to hear Dr. Henry Iwinksi, the chief of staff at Shriners and pediatric surgeon at UK HealthCare, discuss the longstanding relationship between Shriners and UK and what the new facility will mean for kids and families in the Commonwealth.


Next steps:

  • Learn more about the pediatric orthopaedic care provided by the experts at KCH and Shriners.
  • When your child is sick or hurt, you want the best care possible. That’s exactly what you get at Kentucky Children’s Hospital. Learn more about KCH.
Dr. Lattermann, director for Cartilage Repair and Restoration at UK HealthCare, spoke about what inspired his career in sports medicine.

Watch: 5 questions with sports surgeon Dr. Christian Lattermann

Each day brings something different for Dr. Christian Lattermann; that’s one of the things that keeps him passionate about his job.

As director of the Center for Cartilage Repair and Restoration at UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, Lattermann treats patients, does community outreach, conducts research and mentors students.

Even though he’s a leader in the field, he says his patients teach him something new every day.

Watch this episode of “Five Questions” to learn how a semi-professional soccer career inspired Lattermann to become an orthopaedic surgeon and why he’s so excited about the sports medicine research happening here at UK.


Next steps:

  • Learn more about the UK Center for Cartilage Repair and Restoration, which offers operative and nonoperative treatments for a wide array of cartilage-related conditions.
  • After a torn meniscus and a failed surgery, marathon runner Lisa Hall was told she would need a knee replacement. Not willing to give up on her goals, Lisa turned to UK Sports Medicine and Dr. Lattermann for help. Read Lisa’s story.
Many people know the dangers that exposure to sunlight can pose to the skin, but did you know it can also severely damage your eyes?

Here comes the sun! Get outside, but be sure to protect your eyes

Written by Shaista Vally, OD, an optometrist at UK Advanced Eye Care.

Dr. Shaista Vally

Dr. Shaista Vally

The weather is warming up, and sunshine, swimming and the great outdoors are on everyone’s mind. While there is a lot of fun to be had in the summer, we must also consider how to adequately protect our eyes and skin, which can be damaged by prolonged exposure to sunlight.

Wear sunglasses with UV protection

Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation can cause sunburns and in some cases lead to cancer. UV radiation can also be a catalyst for cataracts, an eye condition marked by blurred vision. The best way to keep your eyes safe in the sun is to wear sunglasses with UV protection that prevent UV rays from entering the eye.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) determines the safety of ophthalmic sunglasses and verifies that they can prevent ultraviolet radiation from damaging the eye. Look for the “ANSI” symbol and “UV protection” when purchasing sunglasses. Keep in mind that cheaper shades are more affordable and trendy, but they may not offer you any protection from ultraviolet radiation.

In fact, wearing sunglasses without protection from ultraviolet radiation can actually do more harm than wearing nothing at all. When you wear nothing over your eyes, your tendency is to squint or keep your eyes closed, and the brightness naturally makes your pupils constrict, allowing fewer harmful rays to enter your eye. But your eyes dilate slightly when you wear tinted lenses, which lets more harmful rays enter your eye.

Apply sunscreen around your eyes

Additionally, the eyelid and eyebrow region is especially susceptible to basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, which make up 5 to 10 percent of all skin cancers. Because the skin around the eye is very thin and contains very little subcutaneous tissue, it makes it easier for tumors to spread to nearby nasal and orbital cavities. Sunscreen with SPF is a simple way to prevent damage to the skin, but people often overlook applying sunscreen to their eyelids and area around their eyes as it often irritates their skin.

Buying facial lotions formulated for sensitive skin and applying a small amount with your eyes closed can prevent it from burning. Some people find that applying their daily facial cream first and allowing it to dry before applying SPF lotion helps prevent sunscreen irritation.

Get out there and enjoy the sunshine, but don’t forget to apply SPF sunscreen around your eyes and wear some UV-protected sunglasses!


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RB2

UK’s new research facility will target Kentucky’s health concerns

Lisa Cassis

Lisa Cassis, PhD, UK vice president for research

Written by Lisa Cassis, PhD, UK vice president for research.

If you’ve driven along Virginia Avenue in Lexington, toward the main UK campus, you’ve probably seen the steel skeleton of the new research building under construction. This is Research Building 2, or RB2, a precious resource and a vehicle for UK to reduce the health disparities that most impact Kentucky.

This building will house researchers that focus on the following health disparities: cancer, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and stroke, and substance abuse. These conditions have a major adverse impact on the health of Kentuckians, contributing to death rates from each disease that rank within the top 11 states in the nation.

RB2 will enable multidisciplinary research that approaches these disparities from numerous fields and perspectives healthcare researchers (both basic and clinical), public health, behavioral sciences, agriculture outreach and extension, economics, and engineering working in close proximity and collaboratively to develop solutions to these complex problems.

This $265-million building (funded half from the state of Kentucky, half from university resources, including private gifts) is scheduled to open in summer of 2018.

Thoughtful design and collaboration

The design of this modern research facility embodies a lifestyle that reduces health disparities, including a healthy food choice restaurant, a room to house bicycles for travel to and from the facility, and prominent staircases to encourage physical activity.

Within the laboratories, the design and focus comes with a specific scientific underpinning: Much of discovery today, whether at the cellular or community level, happens at the intersection of disciplines. By placing investigators together in “neighborhoods,” this facility is designed to foster discovery and collaboration so that what happens in the course of basic research can be translated to answers and solutions at the community level.

When researchers who are working on the same problem say, cancer but from different angles (economics, biomedicine, public health), work next to each other in a single building, it facilitates communication and promotes new avenues for problem solving. Through this design, the project will improve the lives of Kentuckians by providing modern space that lends itself to multidisciplinary research that is needed to address entrenched health problems.

Tackling Kentucky’s worst problems

While each of these major diseases influence citizens across the Commonwealth, they are of immense concern to our citizens residing in rural Appalachia, a region with some of the most pronounced rates of chronic diseases in the country.

A recent report from the University of Washington showed rates of death from cancer in the United States dropped by 20 percent between 1980 and 2014. However, these gains were not distributed equally across the country. Clusters of high mortality were found in many states, including Kentucky.

Four main factors are thought to drive these disparities: socioeconomic status, access to healthcare, quality of available healthcare and prevalence of risk factors, such as smoking, obesity and lack of physical activity. The Appalachian region of Kentucky experiences a perfect storm of these factors driving disparities.

A primary focus of research within the new building will be determining factors that drive more disease risk and burden in Appalachia, and developing preventive and therapeutic approaches that are optimized to have greater benefit to those living in this region.

Harnessing our strengths

RB2, the Biological Biomedical Research Building and the Lee T. Todd Jr. Building will be linked in complex, to further foster collaborative and multidisciplinary research. The connecting conduit building, serving as the spine of the complex, has been named the Appalachian Translational Trail, as it will house the nucleus of translational researchers who bring together all disciplines.

The real power of research is realized in bringing different groups of experts together, and in order to tap into that power, we applied a multidisciplinary approach to the planning of this new building. We began by aligning our work with the goals of UK’s 2015-2020 Strategic Plan. These goals invest in UK’s existing strengths and areas of growth in selected focus areas that benefit and enrich the lives of the citizens of the Commonwealth; recruit and retain outstanding faculty, staff and students; improve the quality of the research infrastructure across campus; and strengthen engagement efforts and translation of research. The planning and implementation of RB2 touches on each of these goals.

The health disparities we are targeting are areas of current UK strength in research and healthcare. We have strong individual investigators across all colleges at UK, as well as existing collaborative research centers that can bring intensified focus in these areas. We’ve tapped these experts, based on thematic areas in each of these health disparities, to use data to evaluate our current resources and identify areas in which we could strategically invest to expand resources and hire new investigators, who will most likely be housed within RB2, to make the biggest impact for Kentucky.

By growing our research enterprise to focus on the most critical health needs of Kentucky, we can translate basic science findings to clinical practice and to the community to fight these devastating health disparities and improve the quality of life for Kentuckians. We thank Kentucky legislators for their support of RB2, and we will do everything in our power through this precious resource to make that difference.


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UK scientists are encouraging Kentuckians to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites, which can cause irritation and spread disease.

Protect yourself against mosquito bites this summer

Recent warm weather and heavy rains have given mosquitoes a head start on summer, UK scientists say. Thanks to the weather, mosquitoes are appearing earlier than normal this year, and UK entomologists are encouraging Kentuckians to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites on themselves and their families.

Mosquito bites can cause skin irritation in the form of itchy, red bumps at the location of the bites, and the insects can also spread harmful diseases like Zika, West Nile virus and others.

Mosquitoes’ early arrival

This past week, UK entomologists captured Asian tiger mosquitoes in Central Kentucky. These mosquitoes normally appear in this area in mid-June, and populations begin to climb throughout the summer, peaking in late July and early August. The mosquitoes tend to arrive in Western Kentucky a little earlier and appear in Eastern Kentucky a little later than in Central Kentucky.

This Asian tiger mosquito is responsible for 85 percent of the bites Kentuckians receive.

“The Asian tiger mosquito is opportunistic; it feeds on several species of animals in addition to humans,” said Lee Townsend, UK extension entomologist. “It tends to bite humans around the ankles, an area that is often overlooked when applying repellents.”

Tips for protection

Take the following measures to protect yourself and loved ones this summer:

  • Use Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellents.
  • Drain any standing water, as it is a potential breeding site for mosquitoes. This includes bird baths, bottles and any other items with water-holding capacity like old tires or trash.
  • Fill in holes, depressions and puddles in yards.
  • Keep gutters in proper working order.
  • Make sure door and window screens are in good condition.
  • Stay indoors between 4 and 8 p.m. when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear pants and long-sleeve shirts when outdoors.

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