Monthly Archives: October 2013

  • Ten Tips for General Driver Safety

    Each year thousands of people die on the road in traffic accidents. In the first quarter of 2013, more than 7,200 people have fallen victim to car collisions. A great deal of these collisions could have been avoided if the drivers were following a set of rules to help prevent mishaps. The best protection a driver can give himself or herself is full concentration and practice of the following driver’s safety guidelines:

    1. Inspect the Vehicle Before Leaving
    A brief inspection of the vehicle before taking any trip can prevent an accident later. A driver should first check his or her tires for proper tread, slow leaks and imbedded pins and other sharp objects. Tire blowouts make up for more than 4 percent of crashes.

    While the vehicle owner is inspecting the vehicle, he or she should also inspect for leaking fluids and make sure that all turn signals and headlights are working. Drivers who have non-operational lights are more likely to get into a vehicle collision. Additionally, leaking fluids can cause the brakes or belts to malfunction.

    Image of  a Roadside Emergency Kit Do you have a Roadside Emergency Kit on your Vehicle?

    2. Adjust and Clean Mirrors
    A large majority of accidents occur because one driver experiences visibility issues. Before taking off for any trip, a driver should adjust his or her rear view mirrors and side mirrors to maximum visibility. Additionally, the person should make sure that all mirrors are free of frost, fog and dirt. No one should drive before all the windows are defrosted and clear. The rear mirrors are just as important as the front and side mirrors. Most vehicles have rear window defrosters in addition to the standard defrosters. The process takes less than 10 minutes in most cases. Taking an extra 10 minutes to preserve the safety of other drivers and passengers is honorable.

    3. Shut off the cell Phone
    Many states have instituted laws against using a cell phone while driving. The reason they put these laws into place is the amount of accidents that occurred while the driver was distracted. Even if the driver has the cell phone in the other seat, it can still cause a distraction when the person hears a notification of a call or text message. To avoid temptation, one should power off the cell phone immediately upon entering a vehicle for operation. The driver can always reply to the person once he or she reaches a safe destination.

    Driving Safety Training Programs Driving Safety Training Programs

    4. Buy a Safe Vehicle
    Some vehicles come equipped with a multitude of safety features that will help a driver prevent an accident or save his or her life in the event of the accident. Newer car models have safety features such as dual, front, and side curtain airbags for the protection of everyone in the vehicle. The Pulsar Sedan also has an antic lock breaking system that is an excellent safety feature. Owning a vehicle that is equipped to take care of the driver in the event of an accident is the best way that one can increase safety.

    5. Look Straight and Sideways
    Every driver should always keep his or her eyes in front of him or her at all times. Having the maximum amount of reaction time is important for survival. Therefore, the eyes need to be toward the vehicles ahead, in case someone decides to make a sudden movement. Additionally, the person should tune into his or her peripheral vision. One should always use this special ability while driving. If a person is able to use peripheral vision to stay aware of his or her surroundings, that person will be able to dodge a near-sideswiping incident with another person. Some people accidentally drift over into other people’s lanes. A driver who is watching the motions of vehicles to the left and right will sense the movement and maneuver the car.

    6. Increase Distance in the Rain
    The rain causes roads to become slippery within the first few seconds of rainfall. A person who increases the distance between himself or herself and other vehicles is likely to avoid a crash if hydroplaning, sliding or slipping occurs. The recommended distance between two vehicles on a dry day is one car length. In rainy conditions, one should raise this distance to two cars. The same rule applies for icy conditions. The driver will want to keep as much distance from other automobiles as possible.

    7. Avoid Speeding
    Many drivers speed because they are in a rush to work, school, or other obligations. However, many accidents occur because one of the drivers was moving too fast to avoid a collision when another driver made a mistake. The best rule for speed is to go the required speed limit. Those who made the speed limit rules were well aware of what they were doing when the made them. A driver who wishes to keep up with the flow of the traffic may be safe traveling less than five miles per hour over the speed limit. However, the police still have a right to issue a ticket for it.

    8. Avoid Driving Under the Influence
    Alcohol and illegal drugs are not the only substances that hinder a driver’s judgment and reaction time. Medication such as cough syrups, pain medications, tranquilizers and the like can have a side effect of dizziness or drowsiness. To avoid falling asleep at the wheel and causing a collision, one should wait until the effects of the drug have worn, or ask a trusted friend or family member to do the driving.

    9. Check the Blind Spot Thoroughly
    Every vehicle has a blind spot. A blinds spot is an area in which the driver has difficulty seeing another vehicle in the mirror. Before shifting into an opposite lane or making any sudden movements, one should check the blind spot several times. Another option is to ask a passenger if the path is clear before making a move to the left or the right. The passenger will have a clear view of the other car’s distance away.

    10. Listen to the Body
    A person who is sick or extremely fatigued should not operate a motor vehicle. For long trips, one should either switch drivers or stop for a rest to rejuvenate. Sometimes stopping and getting one to two hours of sleep is sufficient for a person to refresh his or her mind. One of the worst things a driver can do is continue operating the vehicle after he or she has dosed off. In such cases, the person’s body is trying tell him or her that it is time to pull over.

    The aforementioned tips provide only a generalized rule set for the safest driving experience. A driver should always keep the protection of himself or herself and the rest of the driving community in mind. If one’s vehicle is operational and can pass an inspection, then it is safe enough to operate on the roads. If a driver stays on top of what is going on in or around him or her at all times, then that person will see danger coming. More lives will be spared as drivers educate themselves on how to keep the streets safe and accident free.

  • Video Game Training Improves Brain Function

    Are you a Vidiot? Good!

    Video Game Training Improves Brain Function in Older Adults

    computergameSeniors who played a specialized 3-D video game improved their ability to focus and multitask during laboratory tests. The new findings show the aging brain’s potential to improve certain skills.

    Com04As we get older, changes can affect our ability to reason, think, and remember. One function that may be altered is multitasking—the ability to do several things at once. You’re multitasking if you write an email while talking on the phone. When driving, you’re also performing many tasks at once, such as scanning the road, steering, and braking.

    To learn more, a team of NIH-funded scientists asked a small group of healthy adults, ages 60-85, to do multitask training by playing a specialized 3-D driving game. The seniors used a joystick to drive a virtual car along a winding road. They were told to press a button only when specific road signs appeared. As the seniors improved, the game got harder.

    Seniors played the game on a laptop at home for 1 hour a day, 3 times a week for 4 weeks (12 hours of total training). The training significantly enhanced their ability to multitask in laboratory tests. Their multitasking scores were even better than those of untrained 20-year-olds. Gains were still seen when the seniors were tested 6 months later.

    The training also led to improvements in tests related to memory and attention—abilities that often decline with age.

    “The finding is a powerful example of how ‘plastic’ the older brain is,” says study leader Dr. Adam Gazzaley of the University of California, San Francisco, referring to the brain’s ability to adapt and change.

  • How to Prepare Your Home for Winter

    PreparingHomeforWinterAs the temperatures start to drop and the days get shorter, it’s time to start preparing your home and yard for winter. It’s important you are prepared for the winter months to save energy, protect your property, and to keep your family safe.

    Try some of these useful tips to prepare your home for the colder months.

    Wash Windows

    It’s not the most pleasant task, but washing the windows inside and out during the fall will not only reward you with sparkling views, but it’s also a great opportunity to check for any damaged caulking or cracks. As you won’t want to do this during the winter months for fear of the water freezing on the windows, this is the ideal time to do it until spring. You can use a commercial window cleaner or even make your own. All you have to do to create your own is mix 1/4 cup of white vinegar with 1 gallon of water. You’ll also want to use newspaper instead of paper towels or a rag to get the best clean.

    Seal Windows

    While we’re talking about windows, be sure to make your windows airtight. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 10% of air that leaks from houses comes through windows. Be sure to caulk and add weather-stripping around the window frames. This will keep more air inside, helping you to save on energy costs. Magnetic types of weather-stripping are durable and effective if you have double-hung windows. For sliding windows, try self-adhesive V-strip weather-stripping, all of which are available at your local hardware store.

    Clean Gutters

    During the spring and summer, your gutters likely accumulated dirt and other residue, while fall probably filled them with leaves. Before heavy rain and snow arrives, be sure to have your gutters cleaned. Ladder safety is an important factor to consider, so make sure you follow the do’s and donts of ladder safety. Scoop out any debris in the gutter and then flush the gutters with a strong stream of water from the hose. Also check to make sure the gutters fit tight against the house and repair and problems, like cracks or loose screws in the downspouts.

    Weatherproof the Pool

    If you have a swimming pool in the yard, you’ll need to prepare it for the coming winter season. You don’t want it to freeze, causing a burst pipe, or have anyone get hurt or drown, so take the following precautions.

    • Drain the pool or install a circulation pump that keeps it at a temperature that won’t cause the water to freeze.
    • Put away all your pool furniture or cover it up with winterized tarps or other covers.
    • Install a pool alarm.

    Check Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Alarms

    Most experts recommend changing the batteries in your smoke detectors at least twice a year. When the seasons change, it’s a good time to check the batteries. There should be at least one smoke detector on every level of your home and in each bedroom. You should place carbon monoxide detectors in similar locations. Remember, don’t put carbon monoxide detectors within 15 feet of gas appliances, near a fireplace, or near the furnace. Small, non-harmful amounts of carbon monoxide come from these fixtures and could trigger false alarms.

    Get the Furnace Inspected

    Before you turn your furnace on for the season, call an HVAC company to give your furnace an inspection. Have them check the fan belt, vacuum out dust and debris, and oil the bearings. You’ll also want to buy enough filters to last through the winter months. It’s recommended to change filters monthly, as filters become clogged with dust and the furnace won’t operate efficiently. It’s worth the expense, as dirty filters can cause your energy bill to rise.

    Protect Pipes

    Pipes that freeze and break can be expensive and detrimental. To minimize the risk of frozen pipes, wrap each pipe in foam insulation. Hardware stores carry foam tubes that have a slit on one side. Cut the foam to the length you need, pull it open, and put the tube on the pipe. If the foam doesn’t have self-adhesive, use duct tape to secure the foam.

    Is your home ready for the winter season? Start now so you’ll be ready for the colder months. Preparing your home and yard will give you the peace of mind you need to get through the winter safely.

    Personal and Vehicle

    Photo of Winter vehicle Emergency Pack Winter Emergency Preparedness Kit - Value Pack


  • Fall Warmth and Safety...

    Air Activated Warmers

    Click Here for All Warmers

    Heat Factory Hand warmer

    Air activated warmers are lightweight pouches contain a mixture of ingredients that, when exposed to air, create an oxidation process generating heat. Click here to learn more..Heat Factory Hand warmer
    Heat Factory is often asked why we don't just make one warmer for both the hands Heat Factory Hand warmerand feet. Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Each product presents its own unique opportunities and challenges. Items designed for the feet must be comfortable, easy to use, work in a restricted air environment.Handwarmers placed in a shoe or boot with restricted air will likely not generate enough heat to satisfy the user's needs. Heat Factory has developed the Footwarmer to work in a shoe or boot with restricted air. This warmer provides the warmth and convenience to provide all day warmth in most shoes, boots and waders. Everything one needs to provide warmth and comfort.

    Heat Factory Hand warmer
    The Heat Factory Mini Warmer is a Heat Factory innovation that revolutionized the U.S. warmer industry over 20 years ago. The Mini Warmers are our most popular size warmers and last 10 hours. They can be used in gloves, pockets, Heat Factory Headwear, and any place where soothing heat is desired.

    Heat Factory Hand warmer
    Heat Factory Hand warmer
    Heat Factory Hand warmer
    1. Open outer package & remove the warmer
    2. Place warmers in pockets
    3. Enjoy the HEAT... It’s that Simple!
    Heat Factory Hand warmer
    Heat Factory Footwarmers are designed for use in restricted air such as a shoe or boot. Heat Factory has specially designed Footbeds and socks that utilize the Footwarmers. Each Footwarmer generates up to 6 hours
    of heat when used in restricted air.Heat Factory separates ourselves from the competition in many ways. One of the biggest is by the sheer amount of foot warming options that we offer - far more than anyone else in the industry! Not only does Heat Factory offer single use warmers for use in footwear, it also features quality socks and orthodic footbeds which accept Heat Factory Footwarmers.
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  • Ten important items for outdoor first-aid kit

    When you’re outdoors and away from civilization, a minor injury could become a problem. Small cuts, abrasions or blisters can be an inconvenience. However, there could be an instance requiring immediate attention. Carrying along some essential items in an equipped first aid kit can save the day or possibly someone’s life.

    Compilation of first aid kit images Always have First Aid Kits on Hand!

    The Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared,” relates to outdoors men and women having the necessary gear at hand to meet an emergency should one happen. A simple first-aid kit containing the proper items will help in attending to most first-aid requirements when outdoors.

    There are many commercial first aid kits available for a modest price. Some kits offer a wide variety of supplies for minor emergencies afield. There may be some items users will want to add to fit a specific outing. Read about what to consider when buying a ready-made Camping First Aid Kit.

    “First aid kits can be customized to fit the situation,” said Glenn Wheeler, a licensed EMT and outdoor enthusiast. “Specific items can be added to off-the-shelf kits that go beyond the basic essentials.”

    1. Gloves: A few pairs of latex-free medical gloves are always an essential item. The gloves help protect you and the patient in a medical situation. Emergency gloves prevent contact with cuts and blood. They can be quickly removed and discarded for easy clean-up.

    Also, the gloves may come in handy if having to work on a greasy engine or field dressing game. Most kits usually contain at least a pair, but it is a good idea to throw in a few extras.

    2. Methods to summon help: In today’s world cell phones are common and have service even in some remote areas. Before heading out make certain the battery is fully charged and the phone is operational. Program the phone with emergency numbers for police, forest rangers, conservation officers and a nearby hospital.

    Two-way radios can be used between groups or even some emergency agencies. The Coast Guard and some marinas monitor the emergency marine channel. One issue with radios is the range is limited by terrain.

    3. Fire starters: Matches may seem out of the ordinary for a first-aid kit, but remember this is an outdoor kit. Use a waterproof match holder or plastic zip close bag to store the matches and keep moisture out. There are also fire starter kits that can be used in the place of matches.

    A fire can serve many purposes during an emergency. An injured patient can be kept warm near a fire to help reduce the stress on their body. After dark, the light from the fire can guide rescuers to your position.

    4. Paper and pen: Two other items usually not found in a first-aid kit are a pen and paper. These are used to write down important information about the patient’s injuries. It is a good idea to make notes about the injured person as to any allergies, medical history or other factors related to the injuries.

    “Make notes as to what you have done to the patient,” Wheeler said. “Give this information to the paramedics when they arrive to save time.”

    If you have contacted a hospital write down the instructions they give you relating to needed first aid for the victim. This will also help the EMT’s know what treatment has been given.

    5. Antiseptic: Hand sanitizer and/or antiseptic wipes is an important item for any first aid kid. The hand sanitizer can be used to clean up your hands before and after dealing with an injured person. The antiseptic wipes can be used to clean minor wounds and scratches on the victim. Both of these items are available in small containers or in single use packets.

    6. Basic medications: Simple over-the-counter medications can be used to help relieve pain, fever, swelling and itching. These are not prescription medications but some simple drugs to help the injured person. Individual packets of aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen can help with fever and pain.

    Also, some diphenhydramine (Benadryl) will help relieve itching or an allergic reaction. If a person has a severe allergy, they many want to visit their doctor for en Epi-pen just in case. Some OTC allergy or sinus medication could also be needed for minor symptoms when outdoors.

    Antibiotic ointment, such as Neosporin is handy for cuts, scrapes and blisters.

    7. Adhesive bandages: No first-aid kit would be complete without some Band-Aids. The simple, yet effective self-adhesive bandages are quick and easy to apply. Cuts, burns, insect bites, blisters and other minor contusions can be covered with the strips. Pack in several sizes from small strips to larger pads.

    Gauze pads and rolls can also fall into this category. The pads can be used to clean wounds and placed over cuts to help stop any bleeding. Rolls of gauze can be wrapped around larger wounds or used to immobilize broken bones.

    8. Tape: Usually a small roll of medical tape is included in most commercial first aid kits. However, there may be times when a stronger tape is required. A few feet of duct tape can be unrolled and rolled back onto itself. This takes up little room in the kit and can have many uses in an emergency.

    The duct tape can cover bandages to keep them waterproof. The tape can be torn into strips for holding splints in place or as a splint for fingers.

    9. Medical shears: These are specialized scissors also known as EMT shears. They can cut through just about any material. The scissors may be required to cut away any clothing to expose an injury. Also, the shears are used to cut gauze pads, tape, rope or small limbs to make a splint.

    10. Plastic zip close bags: Small sized zip close plastic bags have an unlimited uses in first aid. They keep the gauze and dressing fresh, dry and clean. The bags can be filled with clean water and a corner cut to irrigate wounds.

    Also, the bags can be labeled for quick identification of items in the first aid kit.

    Wheeler also suggests reading through a first aid guide before trekking off into the outdoors. Each person should familiarize themselves with some basic first aid knowledge and know what is in your kit.

    Charles Johnson is the Anniston Star’s outdoor editor
    See all Outdoor First Aid Kits

  • Flu Time

    It is Flu Season - Again...yes, it happens every year. Just think how lucky we are that the Flu is our major concern each Fall. Lucky? - True, Influenza can be fatal, Flu can spread to Pandemic or Epidemic proportions, but it is not that many years ago that we still had annual "Polio Season". Whew, I'll deal with the Flu!

    Some things to know about Influenza...

    • The flu vaccine cannot cause the flu. The viruses in the vaccine are either killed or weakened, which means they cannot cause infection.
    • If given during pregnancy, the flu shot has been shown to protect both the mother and her baby (up to age 6 months) from flu.
    • You can take 3 steps to fight flu: get vaccinated, practice healthy habits, and take antiviral medications if prescribed. Continue reading

  • Kitty Litter Cake


    Want to be forever eliminated from the guest list? Just take this to your next "pot luck" dinner!!!

    "Kitty Litter Cake" * ~
    This is *no joke*


    This is for all you cooks out there looking for something a little different..........


    On a recent visit to our veterinarian to get shots for our cat I found this recipe on the waiting room bulletin board. After recovering from hysterical laughter, I obtained a copy from the office staff so that my wife could make it, which she refused to do. I took it to work and gave the recipe to a lady at work who loves cats. The pictures below show the results of her work. It doesn't look very nice, but it's actually quite tasty, so I decided to pass it along.

    1 box spice or German chocolate cake mix
    1 box of white cake mix
    1 package white sandwich cookies
    1 large package vanilla instant pudding mix
    A few drops green food coloring
    12 small Tootsie Rolls or equivalent

    1 NEW cat-litter box
    1 NEW cat-litter box liner
    1 NEW pooper scooper

    1) Prepare and bake cake mixes, according to directions, in any size pan. Prepare pudding and chill. Crumble cookies in small batches in blender or food processor. Add a few drops of green food coloring to 1 cup of cookie crumbs.. Mix wit h a fork or shake in a jar. Set aside.

    2) When cakes are at room temperature, crumble them into a large bowl. Toss with half of the remaining cookie crumbs and enough pudding to make the mixture moist but not soggy. Place liner in litter box and pour in mixture.

    3) Unwrap 3 Tootsie Rolls and heat in a microwave until soft and pliable. Shape
    the blunt ends into slightly curved point s. Repeat with three more rolls. Bury the rolls decoratively in the cake mixture. Sprinkle remaining white cookie crumbs over the mixture, then scatter green crumbs lightly over top.

    4) Heat 5 more Tootsie Rolls until almost melted. Scrape them on top of the cake and sprinkle with crumbs from the litter box. Heat the remaining Tootsie Roll until pliable and hang it over the edge of the box. Place box on a sheet of newspaper and serve with scooper. Enjoy!

    "Kitty Litter Cake"



    "Love is quiet understanding & mature acceptance of imperfection"

    FuCa Kitty's Favorite! Includes essentials for cuts, bites, ears, scratches and much more. This essential first aid kit for cats, Me Ow™, was created at the request of Veterinarians across the country. Intended for those individuals who want the necessary emergency stabilization first aid tools to handle emergency situations. The rugged, water resistant box is perfect for the home, field, and automobile. Be prepared, your pet is counting on you. Veterinarian approved. There are few things pet owners love more than their dog or cat. When a pet is hurt, its owner needs to help. Me Ow™ First Aid Kit For Cats helps people deal with minor injuries or stabilize a cat on the way to the vet for treatment. FuCa Kitty's Favorite! Includes essentials for cuts, bites, ears, scratches and much more.
    This essential first aid kit for cats, Me Ow™, was created at the request of Veterinarians across the country. Intended for those individuals who want the necessary emergency stabilization first aid tools to handle emergency situations. The rugged, water resistant box is perfect for the home, field, and automobile. Be prepared, your pet is counting on you. Veterinarian approved.
    There are few things pet owners love more than their dog or cat. When a pet is hurt, its owner needs to help. Me Ow™ First Aid Kit For Cats helps people deal with minor injuries or stabilize a cat on the way to the vet for treatment.

    From The FuCa Kitty Website!

  • Sudden death of young Americans

    A registry of deaths in young people from conditions such as heart disease and epilepsy is being created to help researchers define the scope of the problem and set future research priorities. The National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are collaborating to create the Sudden Death in the Young Registry.

    NIH and CDC launch registry for sudden death in the young - Initiative will collect population-based information on sudden, unexpected deaths in youth.

    "The sudden death of a child is tragic and the impact on families and society is incalculable," said Jonathan Kaltman, M.D., chief of the Heart Development and Structural Diseases Branch within the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). "This registry will collect comprehensive, population-based information on sudden unexpected death in youths up to age 24 in the United States. It is a critical first step toward figuring out how to best prevent these tragedies."

    Cases of sudden cardiac death or sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) are not routinely or systematically reported, and no commonly agreed upon standards or definitions for reporting currently exist. Complete information has not been collected on the incidences, causes, and risk factors for sudden death in the young. The lack of evidence fuels disagreements about the best prevention approach. Sudden cardiac death, also called sudden cardiac arrest, happens when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating and blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs. CPR can help (Everyone should Learn CPR) but what lies beneath these deaths?nihlogo

    Researchers know that the risk for sudden death in the young increases if the person has a heart-related condition. Examples include hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (thick heart muscle), congenital abnormalities or disorders of the coronary arteries that supply the heart with blood, arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (a heart muscle problem), long QT syndrome (a disorder of the heart's electrical activity), or other heart abnormalities. Additionally, individuals who have epilepsy may die suddenly and unexpectedly, without a structural or drug-related cause of death found at autopsy. Little is known about how often SUDEP occurs or about factors that put any individual with epilepsy at risk.

    The registry will estimate the incidence of sudden death in infants, children, and young adults by collecting comprehensive data on each recorded case. The registry is an expansion of the CDC's Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Case Registry, which currently tracks sudden unexpected deaths in children up to age 1 in nine states.

    Infant CPR Anytime is an “all-in-one” learning kit that teaches the basic skills of Infant CPR, Infant choking relief and calling for help in approximately 20 minutes. Infant CPR Anytime allows users to learn these life-saving skills anywhere, either in the comfort of their own home or in large group settings. The kit teaches CPR using the AHA’s research-proven “practice-while-watching” technique, which allows users to watch an instructional DVD while practicing their skills on a personal manikin. Infant CPR Anytime is designed to be shared with close family members and friends to help extend lifesaving training to more people. Because more lives can be saved…. Product Specifications: The Infant CPR Anytime kit includes the following: · 1 bilingual (English/Spanish) Infant CPR Anytime DVD · 1 poly-bagged Mini Baby® CPR personal manikin · 1 bilingual (English/Spanish) Infant CPR Anytime skills reminder card · 1 Mini Baby replacement lung · Manikin wipes CPR Anytime is an “all-in-one” learning kit that teaches the basic skills of CPR, Available in Adult/Child or Infant Programs

    State public health agencies will be able to apply to the CDC to participate in the registry in 2014. The registry will track all sudden unexpected deaths in youths up to age 24 in as many as 15 states or major metropolitan areas. Child death review teams from each state will examine findings from death scene investigations and will review and compile information from medical records, autopsy reports, and other pertinent data sources for each case. A panel of medical experts, medical examiners, and forensic pathologists will help to develop and guide the implementation of standardized autopsy protocols and case definitions.

    Data will be entered into a centralized database managed by a data coordinating center at the Michigan Public Health Institute. After obtaining parental consent, blood samples from a subset of cases will be sent to a centralized biorepository. The data will not contain personally identifiable information. The resulting registry will become a resource for scientists to learn more about the causes of sudden death in the young and ultimately to develop better diagnostic and prevention approaches.

    The NIH's NHLBI will analyze data related to sudden cardiac death while the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) will participate in the registry by reviewing data on SUDEP.

    The Sudden Death in the Young Registry is jointly funded by the NHLBI, the NINDS, and the CDC.

  • Pet Safety a concern for the FDA

    Many of our readers don't realize that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concerns itself with the health and well being of our furry family members as well as the two-legged ones.

    Current issues of concern for the FDA and how Jerky Treats are causing Canine Illness and Heartworm issues in both Bogs and Cats.

    Pet Safety is a lot more than just having yur Dog and Cat First Aid Kits ready to go - learn more about these issues that may be affecting your pets even though you aren't aware of them.

    Why Are Jerky Treats Making Pets Sick?

    FidoThousands of dogs and some cats in the U.S. have gotten sick after eating jerky pet treats. Despite extensive investigations, the cause remains elusive. FDA scientists are broadening the search for the cause by soliciting samples and information from consumers and veterinarians.

    Herky Jerky? If you have a dog or cat that became ill after eating jerky pet treats, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would like to hear from you or your veterinarian.

    The agency has repeatedly issued alerts to consumers about reports it has received concerning jerky pet treat-related illnesses involving 3,600 dogs and 10 cats in the U.S. since 2007. Approximately 580 of those pets have died.

    To date, FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) has conducted more than 1,200 tests, visited jerky pet treat manufacturers in China and collaborated with colleagues in academia, industry, state labs and foreign governments. Yet the exact cause of the illnesses remains elusive.

    To gather even more information, FDA is reaching out to licensed veterinarians and pet owners across the country. "This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we've encountered," says CVM Director Bernadette Dunham, DVM, Ph.D. "Our beloved four-legged companions deserve our best effort, and we are giving it."

    In a letter addressing U.S. licensed veterinarians, FDA lists what information is needed for labs testing treats and investigating illness and death associated with the treats. In some cases, veterinarians will be asked to provide blood, urine and tissue samples from their patients for further analysis. FDA will request written permission from pet owners and will cover the costs, including shipping, of any tests it requests.

    Meanwhile, a consumer fact sheet will accompany the letter to veterinarians so they can alert consumers to the problem and remind them that treats are not essential to a balanced diet. The fact sheet also explains to consumers how they can help FDA's investigation by reporting potential jerky pet treat-related illnesses online or by calling the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator for their state.

    What to Look Out For

    Sporting Dog (& Horse and Cat!) First Aid Kits Sporting Dog (& Horse and Cat!) First Aid Kits

    Within hours of eating treats sold as jerky tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes and/or dried fruit, some pets have exhibited decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus), increased water consumption, and/or increased urination.

    Severe cases have involved kidney failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, and a rare kidney disorder. About 60 percent of cases involved gastrointestinal illness, and about 30 percent involved kidney and urinary systems.

    The remaining cases reported various symptoms, such as collapse, convulsions or skin issues.

    Most of the jerky treats implicated have been made in China. Manufacturers of pet foods are not required by U.S. law to state the country of origin for each ingredient in their products.

    A number of jerky pet treat products were removed from the market in January 2013 after a New York State lab reported finding evidence of up to six drugs in certain jerky pet treats made in China. While the levels of these drugs were very low and it's unlikely that they caused the illnesses, FDA noted a decrease in reports of jerky-suspected illnesses after the products were removed from the market. FDA believes that the number of reports may have declined simply because fewer jerky treats were available.

    Meanwhile, the agency urges pet owners to be cautious about providing jerky treats. If you do provide them and your pet becomes sick, stop the treats immediately, consider seeing your veterinarian, and save any remaining treats and the packaging for possible testing.

    What FDA Is Doing

    More than 1,200 jerky pet treat samples have been tested since 2011 for a variety of chemical and microbiological contaminants, from antibiotics to metals, pesticides and Salmonella. DNA testing has also been conducted, along with tests for nutritional composition.

    In addition to continuing to test jerky pet treat samples within FDA labs, the agency is working with the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN), an FDA-coordinated network of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories across the U.S. and Canada. (A summary of the tests is available on Vet-LIRN's webpage.)

    Inspections of the facilities in China that manufacture jerky products associated with some of the highest numbers of pet illness reports did not identify the cause of illness. However, they did identify additional paths of investigation, such as the supply chain of some ingredients in the treats. Although FDA inspectors have found no evidence identifying the cause of the spate of illnesses, they did find that one firm used falsified receiving documents for glycerin, a jerky ingredient. Chinese authorities informed FDA that they had seized products at the firm and suspended its exports.

    To identify the root cause of this problem, FDA is meeting regularly with regulators in China to share findings. The agency also plans to host Chinese scientists at its veterinary research facility to increase scientific cooperation.

    FDA has also reached out to U.S. pet food firms seeking further collaboration on scientific issues and data sharing, and has contracted with diagnostic labs.

    "Our fervent hope as animal lovers," says Dunham, "is that we will soon find the cause of—and put a stop to—these illnesses."

    This article appears on FDA's Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

    Prevent Heartworms in Pets Year-Round

    Dog-Catf you’ve been to a veterinarian’s office, chances are you’ve seen the photos on the wall of worms growing from the heart of a dog or cat. Although these images may be unsettling, the message is clear: Heartworm disease is fatal to pets. The good news: You can protect your pet from this disease.

    “It’s a preventable disease, which is why it’s so frustrating as a practitioner when you see a case. Heartworm disease is very serious and the treatment is not very easy on infected animals,” says Melanie McLean, D.V.M., a veterinarian at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “It’s much easier and healthier for the pet to prevent the disease in the first place.”

    Heartworms are carried by infected mosquitoes that transmit parasitic worms that grow in the arteries of the lungs and heart of dogs, cats, and other species of mammals. The heartworm larvae enter the bite wound and move through the pet's body and can grow up to 12 inches long.

    The disease is not contagious from one pet to another and heartworms in humans are very rare.

    Putting Pets at Risk

    Veterinarians often prescribe heartworm prevention medicine for pets to take year round. Due to the link to mosquitoes, some owners opt out of treating their pets during the winter months, but veterinarians see this as an unnecessary risk to the pet’s health.

    “You never know when the first mosquito is going to come out, or when the last mosquito is going to die. Heartworms have been reported in dogs in all 50 states and just because you live in a colder climate state doesn’t mean that your dog is safe,” McLean warns.

    Animal owners who stop giving heartworm prevention medication during the winter run the risk of their dog or cat contracting heartworms. If the animal becomes infected and the heartworm preventative is later resumed without testing, the owner may be putting the pet in danger. The preventive medicine can kill so many microfilariae (the offspring of adult, female heartworms) at once that it could shock the animal’s system, with potentially fatal results. Also, preventatives will not kill adult heartworms and they will continue to reproduce.

    For this reason, testing your dog or cat prior to starting a heartworm preventive medication is essential, especially since pets that have heartworms may not show symptoms right away.

    If your pet tests positive for heartworms, it’s crucial to the success of treatment to follow the veterinarian’s directions. There is only one FDA-approved drug that is marketed in the U.S. for the treatment of heartworm disease in dogs. Immiticide (melarsomine hydrochloride), which contains arsenic, is given by injection into the back muscles to kill adult heartworms.

    Angela Clarke, D.V.M., team leader in FDA’s Office of New Animal Drug Evaluation, also emphasizes the importance of yearly testing for heartworms—even if you’ve kept your pet on a steady regimen of preventatives. Dogs are tested for heartworms using a simple blood test.

    “We recommend yearly checks because no drug is 100 percent effective and we want to make sure the drugs work,” McLean adds. Also, owners often forget to give the preventative for a month or longer.

    An Indoor Issue as Well

    Another major hurdle that veterinarians face is convincing owners of pets that rarely or never go outside to put those pets on a heartworm preventative.

    “When I was in practice, I had owners who balked at heartworm preventative for their cats because they were indoor cats,” says Clarke. The team leader adds that mosquitoes that transmit heartworms can easily access the indoor environment and pets through open doors and windows.

    Although cats are considered a resistant host to heartworms because the worms do not survive as well as in a dog’s body, they are still at risk for heartworm disease. McLean said diagnosing heartworms in cats is not as easy, and testing is not as simple, or accurate. In addition to blood work, testing on cats can include X-rays and ultrasounds.

    Unlike for heartworm disease in dogs, there is no FDA-approved treatment for killing adult heartworms in cats. Because of the additional complications associated with diagnosing and treating cats, prevention becomes the only weapon against heartworms in cats. It’s best to place both indoor and outdoor cats on a year-round FDA-approved heartworm preventative.

    FDA-Approved Heartworm Preventatives for Dogs and Cats

    A variety of products are available by prescription only:

    • oral pill or tablet: ivermectin, milbemycin oxime
    • topical liquid that the owner squeezes from a tube onto the pet's back: selamectin, moxidectin
    • injectable (for dogs only): moxidectin

    Clarke says owners need to have a conversation with their veterinarian about which type of heartworm prevention is best for their pet. For example, pet owners with children should pay particular attention when using topical treatments and follow the directions carefully to minimize the child’s exposure.

    Heartworm preventatives are by prescription only—so beware of an internet site or store that will dispense medicine without a prescription, says Clarke.

    Additionally, FDA monitors all heartworm preventatives for problems that may occur with use, such as unexpected side effects. Pet owners are encouraged to report any side effects to their veterinarian, the drug company, and the FDA.

    This article appears on FDA's Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

  • Autumn Health and Safety Tips

    Seasons Change and so do safety concerns - are you prepared to enjoy the Season and know your Friends, Family, and Co-Workers are safe?

    Autumn Health and Safety Tips

    Follow these tips to help you and your family stay safe and healthy this autumn!

    Keep your kids safe and healthy.

    Get involved with your kids’ activities at home and at school to help ensure they are safe and healthy.

    Autumn Games and Health Tips for Kids and Parents

    Autumn Tips to Help Keep Your Kids Safe and Healthy

    Safe and Healthy Kids and Teens

    Healthy Schools, Healthy Youth

    Learn to Prevent and Recognize Concussions

    Take steps to prevent the flu.

    The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year in the fall. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Wash your hands often. Stay home if you get sick.

    It's Flu Season: Learn How to Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones

    Seasonal Flu Vaccination

    Preventing Seasonal Flu

    Get smart about antibiotics.

    Antibiotics can cure bacterial infections, but not viral infections. The common cold and the flu are viral infections, so avoid using antibiotics if you have one of these. Using antibiotics when they are not needed causes some bacteria to become resistant to the antibiotic, and therefore stronger and harder to kill. See your doctor or nurse to find out if your illness is bacterial or viral.

    Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work

    Have a safe and healthy Halloween.

    Make Halloween festivities fun, safe, and healthy for trick-or-treaters and party guests.

    Halloween Health and Safety Tips

    Halloween Health-e-Cards

    Halloween Scramble: Activity Sheet for Kids

    Test and replace batteries.

    Check or replace carbon monoxide batteries twice a year when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. Replace smoke alarm alkaline batteries at least once a year. Test alarms every month to ensure they work properly.

    Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention

    Fire Deaths and Injuries: Prevention Tips

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