Battle the Growing Tick Health Threat with Free TickTracker App

tick-482613_960_720_tick_handHealth officials are warning ticks and the diseases they carry are spreading across the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, report the number of tick-borne disease cases has more than doubled in the last 13 years.

The CDC describes tick-borne illnesses as a public health threat proving difficult to control. While these diseases occur across the United States, the Northeast, Midwest and southern areas of the nation seem to be most at risk.

detail-3370931_960_720+tick2Olivia Goodreau knows a lot about the health threat ticks pose. The teenager was bitten by a tick in Missouri in the summer between first and second grade and it took 51 doctors and 18 months to figure out she had Lyme disease.

Health professionals are seeing more cases of Lyme disease. The CDC estimates that roughly 300,000 Americans are infected with Lyme each year, which is eight to 10 times higher than the number of cases actually reported. Lyme disease has 6 times more new cases each year than HIV/AIDS, yet it receives less than 1% of the funding.

tick-1271763__340_ticerOWhile living with Lyme disease, Goodreau is working to raise money for kids that cannot afford their Lyme medication and for research to find a cure. As a twelve-year old, she started the LivLyme Foundation in 2017 after she was told that she would live with the debilitating symptoms of Lyme disease for the rest of her life, or until a cure is found. Her efforts to help others include developing an app to help track, report, and educate about ticks. TickTracker is free to the public to download via the Apple and Android App Stores.

Learn more about helping Olivia Goodreau’s battle on ticks, the LivLyme Foundation and TickTracker at http://livlymefoundation.org

Healthy to Age 100: 5 Tips from a Top Doctor

Wearable_fitness_JOUR_36253_448800Thinking about improving your health? You might listen to David Carr, M.D., the clinical director for the Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science for Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Dr. Carr has reviewed thousands of medical studies in his practice and has some positive news about healthy aging: we can achieve significantly healthier outcomes with easy lifestyle changes and less effort than you might think.

“Exercise is number one,” Dr. Carr says. “There are studies that suggest regular physical activity can have positive effects on physical health, quality of life, and cognition. Even as little as 20 minutes of walking a day can yield great benefits.”

Thirty minutes of exercise, 5 times a week, is the minimum bar set by the Department of Health and Human Services.IMG_20151028_113009

It is easy to build up gradually in your regular routine. For example, choose the stairs instead of the elevator. Park at the distant side of a parking lot instead of circling until a spot near an entrance opens.

Dr. Carr’s longevity prescription also includes a workout for your brain and social life. “Cognitive and social stimulation are number two,” he says. “There is simply not much stimulation if you stay home alone and watch TV. The brain is like a muscle — it needs to be used, stimulated, and pushed.”

In his medical practice, Carr has found having a “care” is part of the “cure”, because people who have social connections live longer.1000102_10201651982325609_766739615_n

“Interacting with other people in social situations is crucial. It’s also important to keep your hobbies going – board games, puzzles, cards, playing a musical instrument or staying active in volunteer work,” are a few of the suggestions Dr. Carr offers.

caroline-attwood-225496-unsplash - CopyDr. Carr’s number 3 tip is focused on your plate: “A good heart healthy diet will probably also turn out to be great for the brain,” he says. “You should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables every day and consume fish at least a couple of times a week.”

His next tip for living to 100 or more includes regular health checks to catch diseases early when they’re still treatable.

202874“Controlling risk factors for vascular disease is tip number four. We know the number one killer of the brain and heart is vascular disease or atherosclerosis. If you have high blood sugar, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, you should see your family doctor for treatment, and keep those risk factors under control.”

Dr. Carr finds relaxation to be vital. “I’m convinced that high stress levels over a lifetime can have a very negative impact on our organ systems,” he says. “So trying to keep stress under control is probably the fifth leg of the table.”DEYVTHFARF

A Lifetime of Love With The Special Bonds Between People and Pets

Healthy Pets Are Part of Happier, Healthier Families

cropped-img_20180205_011823-1.jpgCompanionship may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a pet. Life with an animal can boost wellness and health too. There is considerable evidence animals can reduce heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol and regularly interacting with animals can reduce anxiety and promote calmness. It isn’t just cats, dogs and rabbits offering heart healthy benefits of lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels; researchers discovered viewing fish tanks led to noticeable reductions in heart rate and blood pressure too.

Pets are also social connectors for owners acting as a conversation starter. Multiple studies reveal just being in the presence of a pet increases the frequency of social interactions, especially with strangers.ffurriest

Personally I’ve found my pets often provide comic relief from life’s daily stresses. It is the reason animal videos are a top category of viral content every year.

A video captures some of the wonderful things about companion animals in our lives. It is produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association, the organizer of National Pet Week®. The video and observation celebrates the special bonds between pets and people.

To celebrate the 35th anniversary of National Pet Week®, the American Veterinary Medical Association spotlights things every pet owner should consider to ensure that their pet lives the longest, healthiest life possible. Learn more at http://petweek.org

The Centers for Disease Control also emphasizes keeping pets healthy keeps people healthy too. Visit  https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/ for resources.pup_kiss_StockSnap_HMOI9OUX4J

National Pet Week® is observed the first full week in May. Created in 1981 by the American Veterinary Medical Association, National Pet Week® is dedicated to celebrating America’s more than 200 million pets that enrich our lives each and every day and encourage responsible pet care every day of the year.

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Want to Pamper Your Pet? Tips to Use to Find the Right Groomer

Pets are not just our best friends, for many people, their animals are family. The proper grooming is important to keeping pets healthy.226839_206959559337335_5114370_n

Pet owners will spend more than $6 billion dollars on pet grooming services and products in the United States in 2018 according to the American Pet Products Association.

Although it’s rare, recent deaths of pets in the care of groomers have many animal lovers concerned. Some animal advocates and lawmakers are considering ways to protect pets.

There are some steps pet owners should take before you make an appointment at a groomer according to animal experts.

I’m fortunate to have a long relationship with an animal advocate with more than 25 years in animal care and twenty plus years of grooming experience.  Betty Pettey-Schlereth has groomed three of my pets at Bow Wows Unlimited in Saint Louis. She recommends pet owners ask questions and make visits before booking an appointment.

“I would suggest making a list of questions when looking for a groomer for your pet. The first question I would recommend would be, may I come and look at your facility? Then follow up with asking how long they’ve been grooming pets and where they got the training,” adds Pettey-Schlereth.

After your phone calls, follow-up and make an appointment with prospective groomers. Pettey-Schlereth says groomers should be willing to show people around and answer questions about the type of equipment they use and what procedures they follow.

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Experience and training is not the only factor. Spend some time in the grooming shop, observing and talking with other pet owners. This can be as informative as a tour of the facility.

On the tour you can check the facility’s cleanliness and inquire about any safety procedures in place or special requirements your pet may require.

My dogs have been rescues and initially after adoption they had special needs. Pettey-Schlereth works with many animals who have medical issues including anxiety. It is vital animal owners discuss medical concerns or behavioral issues with prospective groomers.

Several times, Pettey-Schlereth has noticed a different behavior with one of my pets and suggested there might be a medical concern to be checked out. It is this attention to wellness, as well as grooming, I appreciate.

Nut tongue“I compare it to being a nurse caring for a baby. They can’t talk, and you have to look at behavior and physical cues while grooming. No one wants to tell pet parents their pets were not behaving normally because you don’t want to upset them. But we get to know pets and we can spot potential health issues that need attention” explains Pettey-Schlereth .

Asking other pet owners about their favorite groomer is one way to find the right fit for your pet. Another is the National Dog Groomers Association working with pet groomers since 1969 to promote education and professional standards. They offer an online groomer locator at  https://www.nationaldoggroomers.com/locator/index.html

 

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New Bug Barometer Predicts A Bad Year for World’s Deadliest Pest – Mosquitoes

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 What to Know About Dangers of Mosquitoes for Your Family and Pets 

It is time to ready your pets and family for spring and more mosquitoes. The National Pest Management Association is out with its biannual Bug Barometer and it looks like it could be a big season for mosquitoes.Mosquito_pexels-photo-169357

Drawing on weather patterns and long-term predictions, the entomologists believe everyone’s least favorite neighbors will arrive in full force as our weather warms up.

Scientists say a wet winter and La Niña, the cool phase of a natural climate pattern in Pacific Ocean, are creating conditions favorable to mosquitoes which spread misery and disease to people and animals.

This is how the conditions for pests are shaping up across the United States.

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Jim Fredericks, Ph.D. explains, “Residual moisture is a prime attraction for pests, especially home-damaging termites and mosquitoes known for transmitting disease, and conditions are ideal for when these pests typically flourish in the springtime.”Big_tiger-mosquito-mosquito-asian-tigermucke-sting-86722

Mosquito-borne diseases are among the world’s leading causes of illness and death. Viral encephalitis, the West Nile virus, the Zika virus and malaria are just a few of the illnesses mosquitoes spread to people.

Heartworm is a deadly, but preventable parasite spread by mosquitoes to animals. Heartworms primarily infect dogs, cats and ferrets. They also infect a variety of wild animals. This is important to know because they can only be transmitted from animal to animal by mosquitoes.

Since heartworms are spread by mosquitoes, any pet exposed to mosquitoes should be tested. Because mosquitoes can also get into homes, this puts indoor-only pets at risk of infection as well.

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Indoor pets also need heartworm medication

The American Heartworm Society recommends testing pets every 12 months for heartworm and giving your pet a heartworm preventive 12 months a year.

Heartworm is a progressive, life-threatening disease. The earlier it is detected and treated, the better the chances a pet will recover and have less complications. You can learn more about heartworms in animals at https://www.heartwormsociety.org/  or your veterinarian’s office.

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Unleash New Possibilities in Your Life

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Elaine likes to start her morning at the window and thinking about the possibilities of the day ahead. While her sight may be fading, Elaine’s search for the promise of each day is strong. The glimpse of a new flower in the garden or a bird sighting brings a smile to her face.

It is a philosophy that has served her well for more than eight decades. Elaine had two children and lost her husband in a war when both youngsters were still in diapers. She found new possibilities in the tragedy and went to work while earning a degree in nursing. Elaine went on working and helping people until her faltering sight took her independence and ability to drive. That is when Elaine moved to the senior community she now calls home.

fold-63623_960_720One of her favorite new friends is Clyde. Elaine sometimes forgets his name, and just calls him “Sweetheart”, but Clyde doesn’t ever seem to notice. Clyde always sits as close as possible to Elaine’s wheelchair. So close, some people stop and watch their sweet exchanges of affection in the lobby of the senior community.

Clyde and Elaine have a lot in common. She likes to share stories of her family and Clyde likes to listen. Both are avid birdwatchers. Elaine knows the names of the various species and Clyde seems eager to learn more about one of his favorite past times.

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Clyde is one of the few visitors Elaine ever has. She has outlived most of her family and friends. She looks forward to school and church groups who might visit the senior community on special occasions. But week after week, she knows she can count on her faithful friend Clyde to come see her. Elaine shares some of her favorite stories over and over again, and Clyde never tells her he’s heard that story before. He is the most patient and polite conversation companions one could ask for.

Clyde’s love of birdwatching comes naturally, but not his skills as a great companion. You see Clyde is a bird dog. He is a Pointer mix and a therapy dog, trained to visit hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and rehabilitation centers. Clyde’s intensive training equips him to work with all kinds of people in a variety of situations.

Clyde and wheelchairClyde and his owner enjoy volunteering in pet therapy. They are part of the Animal Protective Association of Missouri or APA Adoption Center PetReach Program. Since 1983, PetReach has sent APA staff, volunteers and their pets into senior care facilities and convalescent centers. PetReach was the first no-fee, pet-assisted activity program in the St. Louis area. You can get more information about volunteering, pet education, pet adoption and PetReach therapy dogs at the APA website: http://www.apamo.org/

Another nonprofit in the Saint Louis area with free dog therapy teams is C.H.A.M.P. Assistance Dogs, Inc. CHAMP provides free assistance dogs and also offers a disability awareness education program, facility dogs and a reading program utilizing dogs. These are just a few of the services CHAMP has offered since 1998. Learn more volunteering, pet therapy, assistance dogs and other services at their website:   http://www.champdogs.org/ Spring_CHAMP5

Both nonprofits are a great way to help someone else. Sometimes it’s the best thing you can do for yourself too! You never know what you’ll learn in the process. Think of the ‘pawsibilities’ of volunteering with or without a dog.

 

Simple Steps to Protect Your Sight

IMG_e9a6ypAfter a long winter, the sun’s warmth feels great. Just as our skin needs sun protection, the eye’s surface is vulnerable for potentially blinding sun-related diseases. The long days of sun filled recreation and many other spring activities can also lead to an increased risk of eye damage.

Dr. Mary Kay Migneco, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences instructor at Washington University School of Medicine, advises sunlight is a risk factor for several eye diseases including cancer: “Exposure to ultraviolet radiation can increase the risk for development of cataracts and macular degeneration. While non-vision threatening, lesions on the lids such as basal cell carcinomas are also at increased risk.” 202874

It is important to start wearing proper sun protection at an early age to protect eyes from years of damaging rays. To be eye smart in the sun, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends you wear 99 percent and higher UV (ultraviolet radiation) absorbent sunglasses to protect your eyes:

  • Choose wraparound sun-glass styles so the sun’s rays can’t enter from the side.
  • If you wear UV-blocking contact lenses, you’ll still need sunglasses.
  • Add a hat to maximize protection; broad-brimmed hats are best.
  • Limit exposure to UV-intense conditions: sunlight is strongest mid-day, higher altitudes, and reflected off water, ice or snow.

Anyone of any age and skin pigmentation is susceptible to ultraviolet damage and some people may be at a greater risk. Many factors influence sun sensitivity including medications. There are drugs that can make your eyes more vulnerable to light explains Dr. Migneco, “Photo-sensitizing drugs can lead to photophobia.”

If you are taking any of the following common drugs, Dr. Migneco says it is vital to wear sunglasses and a hat whenever you go outside:

• Psoralens (used in treating psoriasis)
• Tetracycline
• Doxycycline
• Allopurinol
• Phenothiazine

Spring is often a time to tackle outdoor chores. Lawn mowers propel objects at high rates of speed. Regardless of the debris thrown by a mower, it will penetrate the cornea, cause intense pain and inflammatory response. These eye injuries are easily preventable with safety eyeglasses that are worn during yard work. Wear safety glasses while doing home improvement projects that involve grinding metal, sandblasting, power washing or leaf blowing.

Chores inside your home may present an eye injury risk too. Using hazardous products such as oven cleaner and bleach can impact your eyes. Common household products cause 125,000 eye injuries each year.

picnicThe aroma of barbecues and fish fries are a part of outdoor fun. Take care around the grill or fire pit, often the sparks or ashes that fly through the air can get into your eyes. Cooking foods that can splatter hot grease or oil can also put your eyes at risk.

Cookouts and picnics may take you into contact with poison ivy, poison sumac, or poison oak. If you come in contact with any of these plants keep your hands away from the eyes. Exposure directly to your eye will require medical attention.

major-league-baseball-469468__340Popular sports can also pose a risk to your eyes. A national survey by the American Academy of Ophthalmology finds more than forty percent of eye injuries every year are related to sports. Most people do not wear protective eye-wear when playing sports like tennis or baseball. According to the U.S Eye Injury Registry, 5% of all eye injuries result from baseballs. Doctors say the smaller the ball, the greater the risk of an eye injury. Golf balls, tennis balls, and paint balls are the causes of common sports related eye injury.

Hitting the road on a trip? Put goggles in the trunk for car trouble. Spewing radiators can project steam at the eyes. Snapping bungee cords can hit the eye at 50 mph.
Everyone is at risk for eye damage and injuries but a few simple steps can help protect your sight for many seasons to come.mississippi-423903_960_720