Columbia artist Kerry Hirth paints the music she hears

Kerry Hirth has synesthesia, a neurological condition in which one sensory experience will stimulate another sense. Hirth sees music in terms of color and uses that experience to create art.

Outbreak of flu this year is far greater than last year

The total for 2014, so far, is 1,059 cases, compared to only 85 in 2013. This flu season the H3N2 virus, part of the H3 strain, has been the most problematic for the county Health Department and the public.

E-cigarette use surpasses tobacco cigarette use among teens, survey shows

While teen cigarette smoking has decreased nearly 50 percent over the past five years, more teens now use e-cigarettes than tobacco cigarettes.

INTERACTIVE GRAPHIC: More than half of Missourians skip the flu vaccine

Vaccination rates for people age 65 and older plateaued in the 2013-14 flu season.

U.S. moves to end ban on blood donations by gay men

The lifetime ban dates from the early years of the AIDS crisis and was intended to protect the blood supply from what was a then little-understood disease. Activists say the ban is discriminatory and perpetuates negative stereotypes.

Much work still needed on health care sign-ups

Analysts believe the administration can meet or surpass its goal of 9.1 million customers in the exchange through a combination of returning customers and people signing up for the first time.

Do heart patients fare better when doctors away?

The findings were only at teaching hospitals, typically affiliated with medical schools and involved in doctor training and sometimes research.

New assistant physician law presents licensing, regulation challenges

Under a new Missouri law, medical school graduates who don't get a residency will be eligible to become "assistant physicians" and can provide primary care in underserved rural and urban communities. But the devil seems to be in the details.

Alcohol calorie counts to be on menus by next year

The new rules will not apply to drinks ordered at the bar or those that aren't listed on the main menu.

First night of Hanukkah draws dozens to MU Student Center

Several dozen people gathered around a 9-foot menorah for a lighting ceremony hosted by Chabad of MU and Mid-Missouri.

First-graders from Lee Expressive Arts Elementary spread holiday cheer at MU concert

Dozens of elementary students converged on the steps of MU's Memorial Union on Tuesday to sing holiday songs despite the day's cold weather.

New surveys show e-cigarette use now higher than regular cigarettes among teens

Researchers like University of Michigan professor Lloyd Johnson worry the progress made in reducing teen cigarette use will be undermined by e-cigarettes.

Flu vaccine not perfect but still worth getting, health officials say

At this point in 2013, the health department had a total of 273 reported cases of influenza. This year, there have been 438 reported cases since December 9.

ANY QUESTIONS: When can I send my sick kid back to school?

Flu season is upon us. How do you know when it's safe for your sick kids to re-enter school after spending a few days in bed? Turns out there's a protocol for that.

Columbia baker's cakes bring smiles to children, teens with illnesses, disabilities

Superhero and Cinderella's Castle cakes are just two edible creations Cherie Rutter, a local baker, has made for children and teens in Columbia with critical illnesses and disabilities. She bakes, decorates and delivers the cakes for free as a "sugar angel" volunteer for the nonprofit organization Icing Smiles.

Recycling Ambassadors volunteer for a greener Columbia

The program requires all ambassadors to attend a two-hour training session, complete 12 hours of community service and to promote a sustainable lifestyle. Volunteers are expected to participate at events such as the hazardous household waste collection.

Specialized mice testing gives cancer patients guidance for treatments

Private lab-bred mice that carry bits of someone's specific cancer can be used to see what drugs will work best on an individual.

Stephens senior dances toward the real world

Senior Alexus Collins started dance when she was 6 years old. Collins, who says dancing defines who she is, plans to continue performing even after graduating from Stephens College in May.

Mosey off the path to Blackwater, where a cowboy saloon brings history to life

A couple of history lovers and re-enactors created Bucksnort Trading Co. and saloon to help people step back in time to the Wild West.

Raising tobacco age, banning e-cigs indoors up for City Council vote Monday

First Ward Councilwoman Ginny Chadwick introduced the proposals in September, and the Board of Health has endorsed it. Convenience store owners are worried the measures will hurt their businesses.