Areas of south Sacramento will undergo an aerial mosquito spray treatment on Monday and Tuesday after numerous bird and mosquito samples in the area tested positive for West Nile Virus.

The benefits outweigh the risks, says the first family to enroll in a novel, new program offered by Mercy Medical Group allergists.

Sacramento County’s latest dental-care crisis appears to have been averted for now during a meeting Monday at the Capitol.

Sutter Medical Center is just the latest health system to shut down its dental surgery program over concern for the bottom line. Its decision leaves the region with no hospital willing to brave financial losses to serve such vulnerable patients as severely autistic adults who must undergo costly anesthesia to endure dental work.

Sacramento County offers one last chance for Grant Union High School students to get tested for TB. Now, all students, not just those earlier identified as high risk, can be screened.

West Coast Avengers, a group of volunteers costumed as superheroes, helped children with cancer create colorful medals to lift the patients’ spirits. The event was staged in collaboration with the non-profit Relay For Life of Davis, a component of the American Cancer Society.

Whooping cough cases are on the upswing in California, with Sacramento County confirming nearly double last year’s caseload.

Through a yoga program, prisoners absorb what Vinyasa yoga has to offer.

You may remember us chatting about mindfulness a couple of times in Healthy Choices. Mindfulness, as in meditation and stress reduction.

Kevin Hines swears he’ll never do again what turned him into a well-known activist for mental health awareness.

Coolest mosquito video ever is developed for the blog of Bill Gates. Since we’re in the West Nile virus season, check it out.

Pertussis outbreak leads county health officials to urge vaccinations. There are more confirmed cases now than in all of 2013.

Monika Gleason and Shayla DeRenne join thousands of patients and supporters worldwide who share a deep frustration at the public and the health sector's lack of awareness of Lyme disease.

It was only the second infant fatality from pertussis this year in California – the first being in Riverside County in Southern California.

At the end of the day comes the time when Mom loses her temper, and spanking may be more common than parents admit.

Sutter General Hospital in Sacramento receives its first administrative penalty, a $50,000 fine, from the state for failure to ensure health and safety of a patient.

Community leaders are fortifying their commitment to secure better access to health care for Latinos in the greater Sacramento region.

Growing up in Uganda prepared Dr. Olivia Kasirye, the county’s public health officer, for her role in keeping Sacramento County healthy. Whether fighting the flu, or rabies, she’s always pushing education.

The tourniquet makes a comeback in Boston doctor’s look back at outcomes after last year’s marathon bombings

CalPERS board members gave Yolo County public employees a price break of about 15 percent in health care costs this week by shifting the county’s designation from being in the Bay Area to the Sacramento region.

Lesley Bunning’s story touched so many Bee readers that we wanted to keep you abreast of Lesley’s continuing odyssey while recovering from devastating complications of the H1N1 flu.

New law will release $1 billion for extended mental health services, such as 24-hour crisis help and expanded support for families living with behavioral health issues.

The man with arguably the funniest name in gubernatorial politics did not disappoint last week in front of a conference of about 500 health journalists gathered in Denver.

This week, Dr. Louis W. Sullivan dropped in on the annual conference of the Association of Health Care Journalists in Denver to share the deep wisdom that comes with decades in public health – and a story or two.

Flu activity settles down; 347 people statewide perished in 2013-2014 season

Lesley Bunning had so many close calls in the intensive care unit, she nearly gave up. It was getting too hard to breathe. Her family, too, suffered as they agonized through “quality of life” and organ-donation discussions. But something gave Bunning the will to persevere against the H1N1 flu virus, and hope to her husband and three daughters.

Reports of more flu fatalities continue to add up, with 332 Californians lost to the respiratory disease

If you think your doctor’s penmanship is atrocious, it probably is. There’s a reason for that: So her signature cannot easily be copied.

Outpatient visits and hospitalizations for the flu decrease as the influenza season winds down. But the death toll in California is still growing.

Chet Hewitt of the Sierra Health Foundation sees opportunity in Obama’s announcement of new program to help young men and boys of color.

About 85 percent of stores in Sacramento County sell tobacco and e-cigarettes

This year’s flu season has struck Sacramento County hard. Many of the deaths and hospitalizations have occurred in low-income, densely packed neighborhoods. The key commonality? Entrenched poverty.

Got clouded or double vision? Kaiser Permanente has 20 slots open for free cataract surgery for the uninsured.

Now it’s not just the flu that we have to worry about, but measles, too. Fifteen cases of the highly contagious disease have been tracked in California.

On Thursday night, strangers had joined friends and family gathered under the window of Lesley Bunning’s intensive care unit room at Kaiser Permanente to form a large circle, all holding hands, uttering healing prayers.

New walking club to meet at Westfield Galleria at Roseville; targeted for parents with toddlers in strollers.

Two more people died of the powerful H1N1 strain of the flu in Sacramento County, bringing the total to 26. County health officials are responding by offering another free flu shot clinic on Thursday in Citrus Heights.

With flu fatalities rising statewide to 202 people, California is likely to see an increase next week before leveling off. But pertussis cases have doubled, with the first death since 2010.

By the hundreds, the capital region’s residents flocked to free flu shot clinics this week, voluntarily submitting themselves to the sting of vaccines offered by health care entities confronting a particularly deadly flu season.

Sacramento County public health officials today updated the number of flu fatalities in the county to 24 residents, three more than were reported on Monday. Thirteen of the victims were women and 11 were men.

Sacramento County’s hospitals are caring for 91 area flu patients whose symptoms are severe enough to land them in intensive care units. Researchers say H1N1 makes the body’s immune system turn on itself, flooding lungs with fluid.

Yolo County seeks to beef up its volunteer force for a mass free flu clinic in West Sacramento

These were Nancy Pinnella’s last days: On Jan. 21, she felt sick, leaving work early. On Jan. 22, she went to a doctor, hardly able to speak or breathe. By 6 p.m. that day, she was in intensive care at Sutter General Hospital in Sacramento. Her kidneys were failing, her lung capacity severely reduced. Doctors sedated her, induced paralysis and put her on a ventilator and dialysis. Then, as quick as that night, doctors told her family she was in very, very bad shape.

Though the obesity rate in the U.S. is lessening, the rate of inactivity and obesity in kids still needs attention.

Yet another person was reported dead of the flu Tuesday, Sacramento County health officials said, with the total number of county fatalities under 65 years old mounting to 18, two more than what the county saw last year at this time.

Even if you’re not a member of Kaiser Permanente, you’ll get a kick out of this YouTube video about a James Bond-style flu detective:

My colleague, Claudia Buck, and I finally went for our flu shots. Apparently, plenty of people preceded us.

Don’t look now, but Google nerds are using your flu search queries to predict influenza’s trajectory in the 2013-2014 flu season

UC Davis Medical Center wins award; it’s 25th in California to earn the prestige

Once thought to be nearly eradicated, pertussis, the highly contagious respiratory disease also known as whooping cough, surged last year in many areas of California, with hundreds more cases reported in 2013 than in the previous year, state figures show.

Pertussis cases are on the rise in California -- but do you know how to identify pertussis when a baby coughs?

Public health officials are debating whether the flu is peaking early this season or whether this may be a deadlier season than normal. County, state and federal officials still say the best way to avoid the flu is getting vaccinated. Here are some helpful places to go for information on where to get a flu shot and flu prevention and tips for caring for a sick loved one.

Stressed? Sit upright in a straight-backed chair, arms by your sides and read this little meditation to yourself

Join a live chat on the flu today with Sacramento County’s immunization expert, Kate McAuley, and’s moderator Cynthia H. Craft from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Seven influenza deaths have been reported statewide – with five occurring in Sacramento County this week alone.

Fifty years after U.S. Surgeon General’s landmark report, smoking brings shame, embarrassment, study says

At Rio Americano High School, it’s a student who takes charge to organize a health care enrollment and information event

New Year’s Day was successful at drawing more and more people to a fairly new tradition called First Day Hikes, in which community volunteers lead the public on walks through parks and nature, promoting a healthy lifestyle of activity.

Sacramento County Department of Public Health says it recommends people get one flu shot per season

Making a New Year’s resolution for weight loss this year? Researchers say slowing down your eating may speed up your weight loss

A partnership between the Kings and Kaiser Permanente sports medicine doctors aims to spark health and fitness initiatives in Sacramento

CDC: Valley fever, caused by a fungus in the lungs, is likely a product of climate change and less rainfall in desert conditions

Too many people go without the flu vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, taking unnecessary health risks.

Over the past three years, deaths from prescription drug abuse have far exceeded those from traffic accidents in California and several other states, making opioid dependency in particular an epidemic in the United States, according to experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

CDC officials outline some of the most important public health issues of our time for Western U.S. journalists visiting the Atlanta campus last week

A shortage of breast milk for preemies prompted a community of lactating mothers to meet Sutter Memorial Hospital’s call for donations Friday.

The Sacramento Bee hosted a live chat to answer readers' questions about the health insurance reform law. Emily Bazar, an expert on the Affordable Care Act, and Pauline Bartolone, who covers health care for Capital Public Radio, answered questions and provided guidance. Replay the chat here.

Journalist Emily Bazar will answer Sacramento Bee readers’ questions about the Affordable Care Act in a live online chat Dec. 5 and at a Q&A session Dec. 9 at Sacramento State.

UC Davis Medical Center, Mercy Hospital in Folsom, Kaiser Permanente Roseville are ranked among the nation’s top 90 hospitals by Leapfrog Group

One simple tip on proper hand-washing can help avoid illness during the hectic holiday season, county public nurse says

One day after the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., last December, Liza Long wrote a controversial blog post urging the nation to turn its attention to treatment for the nation’s mentally ill youth. In it, she shared the story of her own son, “Michael” (not his real name). “I live with a son who is mentally ill,” she wrote.

Kaiser Permanente donates $1 million in volunteer services and cash to relief efforts helping residents recover in the Philippines

UCLA survey says 60 percent of kids 2 to 5 years old eat fast food regularly, but consume fewer sodas

El Dorado County Community Health Center receives upwards of $1 million in federal money to expand care to a new facility in Cameron Park

Will reform usher in a new model of transparent health care pricing? Experts talk it over at upcoming Sacramento event

Sacramento Kings crown Kaiser Permanente’s sports medicine doctors as the team’s doctors: nutrition, fitness and community outreach included

Be smart on Thanksgiving: Tips for how not to over-feast

Patients with autism, others get access to speech therapy after California officials tell Health Net, Blue Shield, Anthem Blue Cross to quit denying the care. Health Net is fined $300,000.

Amid the debate over whether hospital executives' salaries are too high comes the notion that, perhaps, they should be tied in some way to the quality and safety of their institutions.

Top athlete Jay Hewitt visits Sacramento to give motivational talk about fighting diabetes

State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones says consumers will benefit from a record $46 million settlement on Sutter Health’s “duplicative” billing practices.

Southside Park turns into rock concert, job and health fair for region’s homeless.

About 58.2 percent of fifth, seventh and ninth graders tested in the county had a healthy body composition last school year, up slightly from 57.8 percent the prior year.

Loved ones of pancreatic cancer sufferers, and supporters for a cure, prepare for a 5k fun run/walk called PurpleStride around William Land Park on Nov. 2.

Clean your medicine cabinet of unneeded prescription pills and drop them off Saturday at convenient locations in the Sacramento region.

Sacramento homeless people or those about to lose a roof over their heads can get help at Soutside Park health and resources fair.

Guess who’s most likely to survive a heart attack.

Watch this video to understand Obamacare

Many patients end up with infections they catch in hospitals, mainly due to unclean conditions or unwashed hands.

A free clinic Saturday for uninsured people in Sacramento offers no-cost eye examinations and, if needed, free prescription eyeglasses.

Jared Axen, 26, is slighty shy, it's been reported. But you wouldn't know it from the registered nurse's performance here. Watch this video from the Los Angeles Times for a look at real patient-centered health care:

Whether in summer or winter, a couple of cups of hot chocolate daily may be just what seniors need to boost their memory.

About Healthy Choices

Cynthia CraftCynthia H. Craft began her reporting and editing career in Columbus, Ohio, after graduating from Ohio State University. She worked at a Dallas, Texas, newspaper as an editor, and then at the Los Angeles Times, as an editor and Capitol Bureau correspondent. After working as editor in chief at the California Journal, Craft went to Lima, Peru, for three years as a visiting professor of journalism at Peruana Universidad de Ciencias Aplicadas. She was a fellow in 2012 at the National Library for Medicine in Washington, D.C. at the National Institute for Health. She's currently The Sacramento Bee's senior writer on health, a position made possible by a grant from The California Endowment.

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Phone: (916) 321-1270
On Twitter: @cynthiahcraft.

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Note: The Healthy Choices blog switched blog platforms in August 2013. All posts after the switch are found here. Older posts are available using the list below.

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