Category Archives: Health

Reminder for annual test to help prevent deadly horse disease spread

“All horses must have a Negative Coggins Test in order to participate in any activities on the show grounds.” That’s a common note on announcements for horse events or rodeos sponsored by many groups around the Midwest.

At first often annoyance to horse owners, requirement’s importance becomes apparent when a disease positive horse is identified. Alarm sounded loudly a couple of years ago when several Western Kansas horses were confirmed positive for Equine Infectious Anemia.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture Division of Animal Health received that confirmation from the National Veterinary Services Laboratory.

“EIA is an incurable, infectious disease caused by a virus afflicting equine species,” said veterinarian Dr. Robert N. Oglesby.

The deadly disease, also called swamp fever, affects horses, donkeys and mules.

“There are typically a small number of EIA cases in the United States every year,” Oglesby said. “But, the disease is common in other parts of the world.

“EIA is controlled in the U.S. by regular testing before traveling across state lines and before exhibition,” Oglesby explained.

That analysis for EIA is generally referred to as a Coggins Test.

“The EIA virus destroys red blood cells and is spread through blood-to-blood transfusion, not close proximity or contact,” Oglesby informed.

Clinical signs of EIA include fever, anemia and edema. However, affected horses may not show symptoms.

“All infected horses, including those which are asymptomatic,” Oglesby said, “are carriers of the disease. Transmission of the virus can be from an infected equine to a ‘clean’ equine by biting flies.”

Additionally, spread of the virus can be from using contaminated medical instruments, or through a blood transfusion.

The disease does not affect humans, KDA-DAH officials emphasized at the time of EIA confirmations in Kansas. Research has shown that the EIA virus survives for a limited time on the mouth parts of the fly vectors.

Eat Well to Be Well: The harms of going gluten-free when you don’t have to

In case you haven’t noticed, the gluten-free market has exploded within the past five years. This tidal wave of gluten-free popularity took off with endorsements from food blogs and social media hash tags. Even the food industry has played a significant role. Extensive labeling of foods as gluten-free or not has amassed such a following, an estimated one in five Americans include gluten-free foods in their diet.

Yet, most people pulling gluten-free foods off grocery store shelves do not have sensitivity to wheat, barley or rye. In fact, experts estimate that only about seven percent of Americans benefit from avoiding gluten. That means many of us eating gluten-free really don’t need to. Despite this fact, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, gluten-free alternatives to traditional foods accounted for nearly $1.6 billion in sales in 2015. Most of this growth is driven by consumers believing gluten-free is healthier and may aid weight loss. So, who should go gluten-free and who should not?

Who benefits from following a gluten-free diet?

Any person diagnosed with celiac disease through an intestinal biopsy will need to follow a gluten-free diet for the rest of their life. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder caused by an abnormal immune response to gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye that can damage the lining of the small intestine by causing inflammation. When the damage occurs, it reduces the ability of the intestinal lining to absorb nutrients, which can lead to problems such as anemia, osteoporosis, or growth delays in children.

A food label shows this product is not gluten free: Wheat flour and whole wheat flour are derived from gluten-containing wheat. USDA graphic.

Another form of celiac disease called dermatitis herpetiformis (DH), also warrants going gluten-free. DH can trigger the immune system to attack the skin, causing a chronic, itchy bumpy rash that can be quite painful.

One other reason to avoid gluten is to reduce symptoms of gluten sensitivity. Gluten sensitivity is not an autoimmune disease; instead it’s the inability to process gluten, resulting in unpleasant symptoms such as diarrhea, gas, bloating, and constipation.

Anyone who believes they may benefit from a gluten-free diet should be evaluated by their family physician and a gastroenterologist to determine if they have celiac disease, DH or gluten sensitivity. If they do, following a gluten-free diet will help them feel better with fewer symptoms.

Eat Well to be Well: Build brainpower with brain-healthy foods

“To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” This very wise and aptly spoken quote from Buddha makes perfect sense in the world today when a greater percentage of our population is developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

We always hear talk about heart health but what about brain health? Our brain needs our attention too. It needs to be nourished and fed the right kind of foods to keep us thinking clearly, focused, feeling energetic and functioning at our best.

As dementia and Alzheimer’s disease continue to rise in the United States with no cure in sight, the earlier we begin making healthy food choices, the better. Currently, Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death with 5.3 million Americans living with this condition. It is predicted that unless a cure is found, 16 million Americans will have the disease by 2050.

The brain needs adequate blood flow to enhance memory and cognitive thinking. Many studies have been conducted demonstrating how a healthy diet with proper food choices does indeed make a remarkable difference in how we think and feel, giving us a brain boost we can benefit from. By adding in foods to boost brain health, this is one way we can participate in keeping our brains healthy. Here are five foods for protecting, promoting and preserving brain health:

Drug Take-Back Day: Turn-in unused medications Saturday at Lyndon, Overbrook

LYNDON, Kan. – Local law enforcement officers will join others across the state in collecting unused medications for safe disposal 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, April 27, 2019. The collection events are part of a nationwide effort to safely dispose of leftover medications to prevent accidental or intentional misuse.

In Osage County, the Osage County Sheriff’s Office, 131 W. 14th St., Lyndon, and Overbrook Police Department, 102 W. Santa Fe Trail, Overbrook, will be collection points for the national Drug Take-Back Day.

Since the Drug Take-Back Day program began in 2010, more than 81 tons of unwanted medications have been collected and destroyed in Kansas.

“Unused medications are dangerous for kids, pets and the environment,” Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said. “Diversion of opioid painkillers, in particular, can contribute to the misuse of these drugs that has become a serious nationwide problem. Getting leftover medicines out of the medicine cabinets and safely destroyed keeps them from falling into the wrong hands and makes our communities safer.”

The National Drug Take-Back Day is coordinated by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which collects and safely destroys the medications.

Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates opioid overdoses kill 130 Americans every day. According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, pharmaceutical opioids are a leading cause of drug poisoning deaths in Kansas.

Studies show a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that traditional methods for disposing of unused medicines – flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash – pose potential safety and health hazards and should be avoided.

Unused prescriptions can be turned in year-round at many local law enforcement locations. For more information about local collections of unused medications, contact the Osage County Sheriff’s Office at 785-828-3121.

Eat Well to Be Well: Hormones in beef – Should you worry?

When it comes to food, everyone has an opinion and each of us has many questions. Take beef for instance. It seems you either eat it or you don’t. And if you choose not to, one concern for avoiding it could be the fear of hormones in beef.  How do we know beef is safe to eat and why are hormones used anyway?

The ‘beef’ over eating meat

The sensationalism surrounding beef being filled with hormones is just that – an over exaggeration.  It’s important to understand all living things – plants, animals, and people – produce hormones. Hormones are special chemical messengers necessary for controlling most major body functions from hunger to reproduction. The hormones used in beef production are only those that are also naturally produced by cattle. They include estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, as well as synthetic versions of them.

Why are hormones used?

The simple answer why cattle are implanted with hormones is to help the cattle grow faster. These growth-promoting hormone pellets, about the size of an Advil tablet, contain a small amount of hormones and are put under the skin on the backside of the ear – cattle ears are never used in food production, thus they do not end up in the food we eat.

If you’re worried about the amount of hormones in these pellets, don’t be. The amount is a fraction of the natural production of mature bulls or heifers. A 1,300 pound steer is implanted with 30 milligrams of estrogen to last 150 days and that’s it. Compare this to the amount of ingested hormones a woman on birth control pills takes for months or years. Also, hormones don’t build-up in the cow’s system so there is no residue from the pellets in your meat.

These hormones not only help the animal gain weight faster, but they also have less of an impact on the environment than a non-treated animal. This means less time, food, and water are used to finish the animal, making them less expensive to produce, a cost-savings passed on to us as consumers. Research from Iowa State University found that hormone implants have no effect on beef quality or safety.

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