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Category Archives: Health

KDHE, KDWPT issue public health advisories for blue-green algae for 2 Osage County lakes

TOPEKA, Kan. – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks have included two Osage County lakes in public health advisories for Kansas lakes due to blue-green algae.

Melvern Outlet Pond, below Melvern Dam, was upgraded July 22, 2021, to a warning advisory for blue-green algae, while Overbook City Lake, at Overbrook, remains under a watch status.

When a warning is issued, water is not safe to drink for pets, livestock, or people (humans should never consume lake water regardless of blue-green algae status), and all water contact should be avoided. If lake water contacts skin, wash with clean water as soon as possible. During a blue-green algae warning, fish may be eaten if they are rinsed with clean water and only the fillet portion is consumed; all other parts should be discarded. Pets should not be allowed to eat dried algae. People are advised to avoid all areas of visible algae accumulation.

A watch status means that blue-green algae have been detected and a harmful algal bloom is present or likely to develop. People are encouraged to avoid areas of algae accumulation and keep pets and livestock away from the water. During a watch, swimming, wading, skiing and jet skiing are discouraged near visible blooms. Areas of algae accumulation, including dried algae, should be avoided and pets and humans should not consume the water. Clean fish well with potable water and eat fillet portion only.

Signs of a possible bloom include scum, a paint-like surface, or bright green water. These are indications that a harmful bloom might be present. If these conditions are present, avoid contact and keep pets away. Pet owners should be aware animals that swim in or drink water affected by a harmful algal bloom or eat dried algae along the shore may become seriously ill or die.

KDHE investigates publicly-accessible bodies of water for blue-green algae when the agency receives reports of potential algae blooms in Kansas lakes. Based on credible field observation and sampling results, KDHE reports potentially harmful conditions.

RCIL program loans medical equipment for short or long-term disabilities

OSAGE CITY, Kan. – Resource Center for Independent Living Inc. works with individuals, families, and communities to promote independent living and individual choice to persons with disabilities. As a service to the community, RCIL has durable medical equipment available for loan, free of charge, through the Anita Casey Loaner Equipment Program. The equipment is provided as a service not only to RCIL’s consumers but also to any member of the community who is experiencing a short-term or long-term disability due to illness, injury or rehabilitation after surgery.

Items RCIL has available include wheelchairs, bath benches, commodes, transfer benches, walkers, grab bars, canes, and other equipment.

The Anita Casey Loaner Equipment Program is funded by Osage County and other donations. RCIL accepts monetary donations and gently used equipment for the program inventory. For more information about the program or to borrow equipment, contact RCIL at 785-528-3105.

Eat Well to Be Well:Letting go of the ‘all or nothing’ approach to nutrition

An “all or nothing” mindset about nutrition may sabotage your health goals

We all have that friend who’s always making comments about their food intake such as, “I really shouldn’t be eating this,” or “I’ve been so good on my diet lately,” or maybe they might say, “I’ll get back on track Monday after my ‘cheat’ weekend.”

Comments like these are often a way for people to rationalize eating certain foods they deem as “bad” by saying how “good” they’ve been, vowing to get back on schedule soon. These same individuals often live by an “all or nothing” attitude in regards to dieting or losing weight. They will tell themselves they can never eat cake, candy, fried food, or any favorite foods again, hence a set-up for an all or nothing way of thinking.

Unfortunately, pledging to give up certain foods is problematic and unrealistic to follow. There is always going to be somebody’s birthday party where cake is served, or a festive holiday buffet decked out with sweets and treats tempting you away from your all or nothing eating plan. Do you have a plan on how to handle those situations?

However, all or nothing nutrition is a surefire plan for excessively obsessing over what you should be eating and how much, which rarely ends well. That’s because the “all or nothing” voice in your head will deceptively tell you “You’ve already had a piece of cake, so you might as well have the entire cake,” or “You’ve skipped breakfast and lunch, so go ahead and binge at dinner and all evening long.”

The good news is none of us need to follow an “all or nothing” mindset to succeed at meeting health goals. When common sense reigns and food restrictions are liberated allowing you freedom to eat what you want without judgment, all foods can be part of a healthy diet. Keep your focus on healthy eating the majority of time while permitting yourself a small and guilt-free indulgence on most days of the week, if not every day.

Eat Well to Be Well:How to build a delicious, nutritious, and filling smoothie

You may think building a healthy smoothie is easy. Grab a blender and throw in a bunch of fruit, add sweeteners, and milk or juice, and call it good. But think again. When done right, smoothies can indeed be very healthy. Plus, they’re a convenient and easy way to pack in essential fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants all in a drinkable form.

However, when done wrong, drinking what you perceive as “healthy,” might backfire. When packing smoothies with a bevy of ingredients, a super healthy smoothie easily becomes a disastrous overload, pushing in excess of 500 calories plus and a surplus of sugars sabotaging attempts at both weight loss or keeping blood sugar under control.

Could you be making these same “smoothie mistakes” and not know it? If so, you’re not alone. Smoothies are a commonly made concoction in many households and often used as a meal replacement. But to avoid bungling a smoothie, learn the right way to build a delicious, nutritious, and filling smoothie, keeping everything in balance.

Common smoothie mistakes to avoid

To understand the art of healthy smoothie-making, it’s important to know mistakes to avoid. See if you might be guilty of any of the following:

Putting in too much fruit: I’ve listened to plenty of clients who proudly describe in detail the overabundance of fruit they add to a smoothie recipe. More is better, right? Wrong. Fruits are a mainstay of smoothies offering a variety of nutrients your body needs. But remember, moderation is key. Too much of a good thing will disrupt the balance between calories and carbs. The rule of thumb is to use about one cup of no more than one to two fruits per smoothie.

Adding in too many sweeteners: A sugar is a sugar, no matter what form it’s in.  If you like sweetening-up your smoothie by adding in honey or maple syrup or coconut sugar, as examples, a heavy hand will up the calorie and carb ante – a lot. Whatever fruit you’re using should be “sweet enough” without needing to rely on added sugars.

Drinking a smoothie with a meal: Most smoothies are consumed early morning for breakfast. A high protein, fruit and veggie-packed smoothie can be a nutritious way to begin your day, and likely has sufficient calories to meet your needs for that meal. But if you’re also having that smoothie along with a bowl of cereal or oatmeal or a plate of eggs, bacon, and toast, either cut out the smoothie or significantly lighten it up to still enjoy it alongside your other foods.

Going overboard with nutrient boosters: Some smoothie zealots like to “beef up” the nutritional value by adding in extras like protein powders, peanut or almond butters, or chia seeds. While these can be used, if amounts are unchecked, calories add up quickly. Consider that just one tablespoon of peanut or almond butter contains 100 calories. Again, moderation rules.

Eat Well to Be Well:Rethink your drink with refreshing beverages healthier than soda

If soda has been your go-to for quenching your thirst, it’s time to rethink your drink. Drinking sugary soda is simply a bad idea for supporting good health. Multiple studies have found time and again that consuming soda, including artificially sweetened or “diet” soda, can be harmful to your health. This finding was published in a 2019 JAMA Internal Medicine article that showed people who drank two or more glasses of diet or regular soda had higher risks of dying from cardiovascular disease including stroke. Besides increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, the study also found consuming beverages sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners is positively associated with all-cause deaths, raising the risk of premature death by 17 percent compared to those who sip them less than once a month.

What other studies have found

This is far from the first time research has shown a link between soda’s subtle and insidious effect on human health. For instance, obesity is often linked to individuals who consume soda, as found in a 2017 study published in QJM, an International Journal of Medicine. Another study published in the journal Appetite found an association of sweet cravings being triggered by drinking soda leading to a vicious cycle of eating other sugar laden foods and beverages.

Then, there’s a major study published in the journal Circulation which followed more than 118,000 men and women for 30 years. At the end of the study, researchers concluded that each daily 12-ounce serving of a sugar-sweetened beverage – including soft drinks, lemonade and other sugary fruit drinks – raised the risk of death by seven percent, including a five percent increased risk for cancer death, and a 10 percent increased risk for death from cardiovascular disease. This same study also concluded that “sugary drinks lead to weight gain and anything that leads to weight gain increases risk of conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers.”

Bottom line, there are few if any health benefits from drinking soda. Soda is devoid of any nutrients other than offering calories. Consider the fact that the average soda beverage will contain at least three to four tablespoons of sugar in a 20-ounce container. It’s doubtful any of us deliberately would add that amount of sugar on our own to a glass of water with flavoring. But also take into consideration an interesting study in the journal Diabetologia that found that swapping one sugary drink a day for an alternative healthier drink such as water, coffee, or tea, may reduce a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes by 25 percent.

Try healthier ideas to replace sugary and artificially sweetened beverages

So, what can you do to curb soda consumption? Look into healthier, alternative beverages replacing soda for good. However, it’s vital to refrain from simply replacing soda with other beverages high in sugar too, such as sweetened tea, sugary coffee drinks, or high-sugar fruit juices. These beverages still offer just as many (if not more) sugar and calories as sodas do and defeat the purpose of cutting back on overall sugar intake.

Kansas adopts CDC guidance on mask-wearing; vaccine now available for 12 and older

TOPEKA, Kan. –  Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced last week that Kansas will follow the CDC’s latest guidance regarding individuals who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

“Effective immediately, Kansas will adopt the CDC’s latest guidance that fully-vaccinated Kansans are no longer required to wear masks indoors or outdoors or physically distance, except in circumstances such as those required by businesses, public transportation, or health care facilities,” Kelly said. “Should fully-vaccinated Kansans feel more comfortable wearing a mask, they are welcome to continue doing so.”

Also announced last week was that due to increasing evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for young people, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will now be available to those ages 12 and older in Kansas.

“Health experts’ thorough, deliberate review process demonstrates that safety continues to be the number one priority in vaccine approval – and my administration is confident that opening the vaccine to young Kansans is the right move,” Kelly said. “I encourage all eligible Kansans to roll up their sleeves and do their part to ensure we can continue getting back to work, back to school, and back to normal.”

“This is an incredible step forward in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Lee Norman, KDHE Secretary. “We are now able to protect our younger populations against this deadly disease.”

The announcements follow last week’s expansion of the emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration. The FSA issued the original emergency use authorization Dec. 11, 2020, for individuals ages 16 and older. Kansas providers should now begin opening their vaccine supply to people age 12 or older. Those under 18 need written parental consent for vaccination.

Eat Well to Be Well:Learn the truth about 5 food myths

Discerning between food truths and food myths is really hard sometimes. From excellent nutrition advice to extremely bad to downright dangerous nutrition advice, what’s a consumer to do? Since all of us have to eat and all of us are consumers of food, knowing the truth of how to follow a healthy, nutritious diet can get lost in the shuffle of nutrition myths – which have grown exponentially over the years.

Unfortunately, there will be those who, without any nutrition degrees or backing of science, feel compelled to enlighten us on their opinion on what a healthy diet should be. But don’t be swayed. Here are some common diet and food myths you deserve to know the truth behind the tale:

KDHE issues air quality health advisory due to prescribed burns

TOPEKA, Kan. – Prescribed burning within the Flint Hills region yesterday has contributed to elevated air pollutant levels for parts of Kansas this morning, April 14, 2021. Additional burning today will continue to impact air quality for the southern Flint Hills westward, including Wichita, the Red Hills region, and perhaps as far west as Liberal.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) will likely range from moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups, and even unhealthy at times for localized areas today through Thursday. The most significant impacts will occur during the evening, overnight and mornings hours. View the current air quality and AQI for specific areas on www.airnow.gov.

Burning within the Flint Hills occurs annually to help preserve the tallgrass prairie, control invasive species such as eastern red cedar and sumac, and provide better forage for cattle. Prescribed burning minimizes risk of wildfires and is used in managing rangeland resources. Smoke from the burns can influence the air quality of downwind areas and can be carried long distances.

Prescribed burns release large amounts of particulate matter and substances that can form ozone. Particulate matter and ozone can cause health problems, even in healthy individuals. Common health problems include burning eyes, runny nose, coughing, and illnesses such as bronchitis. Individuals with respiratory issues, pre-existing heart or lung diseases, children, and elderly may experience worse symptoms.

Steps to protect your health on days when smoke is present:

  • Healthy people should limit or avoid strenuous outdoor exercise.
  • People with respiratory or heart related illnesses should remain indoors.
  • Help keep indoor air clean by closing doors and windows and running air conditioners with air filters.
  • Keep hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  • Contact a doctor if showing symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath or severe fatigue.

KDHE and partners continue to implement the Flint Hills Smoke Management Plan to help mitigate air quality impacts that result from burning. The plan includes recommendations to minimize and disperse the smoke produced by burning. For more information about the burning in the Flint Hills and the Flint Hills Smoke Management Plan, see www.ksfire.org.

Kansas pauses Johnson & Johnson vaccine administration

TOPEKA, Kan. – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced that Kansas will pause administration of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine following an announcement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration this morning. There are reports of six recipients in the United States who developed a rare disorder involving blood clots within about two weeks of vaccination. No known cases have been reported in Kansas to date.

“Just as important as getting vaccines into arms is making sure those vaccines are safe,” Gov. Laura Kelly said. “While this appears to have affected six people in the nearly seven million doses administered, out of an abundance of caution, Kansas will suspend Johnson & Johnson until the CDC and FDA clear it for use again. In the meantime, we anticipate our shipments of Pfizer and Moderna to continue and we will build on the one-third of Kansans who have already received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

The federal government will further study links between the vaccine and the rare blood clotting disorder. An emergency meeting of the CDC’s advisory committee has been scheduled for Wednesday.

KDHE asks providers with Johnson & Johnson vaccine to pause administration of the vaccine immediately and to place the supply into storage while material is reviewed. After KDHE has reviewed the findings from the federal government, further guidance will be given to providers on next steps.

Those who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine should contact their health care provider if they have any symptoms and report any illness to the VAERS Reporting System, vaers.hhs.gov.

The week of April 19, 2021, Kansas is anticipated to receive the following doses: 39,780 Pfizer Prime, 38,610 Pfizer Boost, 29,000 Moderna Prime, 27,800 Moderna Boost.


Joint statement from CDC and FDA

As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S. CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. In these cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia). All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. Treatment of this specific type of blood clot is different from the treatment that might typically be administered. Usually, an anticoagulant drug called heparin is used to treat blood clots. In this setting, administration of heparin may be dangerous, and alternative treatments need to be given.

CDC will convene a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Wednesday to further review these cases and assess their potential significance. FDA will review that analysis as it also investigates these cases. Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution. This is important, in part, to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot.

Eat Well to Be Well: 5 snacks with misleading health halos

Starting with rice cakes, for one …

Americans love their snacks and the snack industry knows this. If you look at the global snacks market in 2018, it was valued at $439.9 billion and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.2 percent from now to 2025.

The demand for snacks is driven by changing diets and busy lifestyles. Many of us are replacing meals with long shelf-life, on-the-go snacks as the demand for more allergen-free and vegan products increase.

If you fit into the category of someone who chooses a “snack” as a meal replacement, how healthy is that snack you’re choosing? Before you stock up on snacks you believe to be healthy, here’s a look at five supposedly “healthy” snacks that rarely meet that criteria.

Rice cakes

Rice cakes are often deemed as healthy due to their minimal ingredients. One reason why they are low in calories is because they do not carry a laundry list of ingredients – the main ingredient is obviously … rice.

If you crave something crunchy, then rice cakes fit the bill. But nutritionally, they offer little more than carbohydrates for energy. They contribute calories but lack fiber and important key vitamins or minerals. Flavored rice cakes are going to have either added sugar or artificial flavors or both. Avoid rice cakes drizzled with chocolate or other sweet flavors as they then are really no better than candy.

How to improve this choice: Opt instead for unflavored, lightly salted rice cakes made from brown rice or other grains such as quinoa. Quinoa is a fair source of protein and brown rice offers a bit more fiber than white rice. And stay away from “sugared up” rice cakes.

KDHE issues social guidelines for Kansans who are vaccinated

TOPEKA, Kan. – In conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance issued Monday for those who have been vaccinated, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is issuing similar guidance in Kansas.

Two weeks after Kansans receive their completed vaccination (two weeks after the second dose for Pfizer and Moderna, two weeks after the single dose for Johnson & Johnson), Kansans may begin to gather in their private homes with other fully vaccinated people, in small groups, without masks or social distancing.

The guidance also allows for vaccinated people to gather in private homes with unvaccinated people so long as the unvaccinated people are from a single household and are at low risk for developing severe disease.

“These changes are an important step in moving forward,” said Dr. Lee Norman, KDHE Secretary. “This will allow grandparents to socialize with families, friends and neighbors to gather.”

While private home guidance has changed for those who are fully vaccinated, public health measures in public still apply to everyone, including those vaccinated. It is advised to:

  • Wear a mask.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Avoid poorly ventilated spaces.
  • Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.

“Thank you for continuing to keep your fellow Kansans safe,” Norman said.

Health Advisory: Safety tips issued during Flint Hills burning season

Kansas range fire. Flint Hills Smoke Management photo.

Smoke modeling tool to be activated March 1

TOPEKA, Kan. – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is reminding Kansans that March and April are a time when large areas of the state’s Flint Hills rangeland are burned. These burns help preserve the tallgrass prairie, control invasive species such as Eastern Red Cedar and sumac, and provide better forage for cattle. Prescribed burning minimizes risk of wildfires and is effective in managing rangeland resources. Smoke from the burns can influence the air quality of downwind areas. The use of smoke management techniques reduces impacts.

KDHE will activate the Kansas smoke modeling tool March 1, 2021, prior to widespread burning in the Flint Hills. The computer models use fire data and current weather conditions to predict the potential contribution of smoke to downwind air quality problems. There are approximately 2.1 million acres burned on average in the Flint Hills of Kansas and Oklahoma each year.

“We encourage ranchers and land managers to take advantage of this smoke modeling resource to spread out their burns more effectively and mitigate potential air quality impacts,” said Douglas Watson, meteorologist at the KDHE Bureau of Air. “For burns to be safe and effective, weather and rangeland conditions must be ideal. Many landowners will burn at the same time when such conditions are met. Air pollutants from the burns can affect persons in the Flint Hills and can be carried long distances to more populated areas.”

Prescribed burns release large amounts of particulate matter and substances that can form ozone. Particulate matter and ozone can cause health problems, even in healthy individuals. Common health problems include burning eyes, runny nose, coughing and illnesses such as bronchitis. Individuals with respiratory issues, pre-existing heart or lung diseases, children and elderly may experience worse symptoms.

Steps to protect your health on days when smoke is present in your community include:

  • Healthy people should limit or avoid strenuous outdoor exercise.
  • People with respiratory or heart related illnesses should remain indoors.
  • Help keep indoor air clean by closing doors and windows and running air conditioners with air filters.
  • Keep hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  • Contact your doctor if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath or severe fatigue.

ECKAAA nutrition program joins nationwide ‘March for Meals’ celebration

East Central Kansas Area Agency on Aging Nutrition Program has announced it will participate in the 19th annual March for Meals – a month-long, nationwide celebration of Meal on Wheels and senior neighbors who rely on this essential service. ECKAAA Nutrition Program’s celebration will include various activities throughout the month of March.

ECKAAA Nutrition program serves six counties in Kansas including Anderson, Coffey, Franklin, Linn, Miami, and Osage. In those counties there are 24 nutrition sites. The program delivers meals to these sites three to five days a week; the number of meals that goes out daily is about 700, not including frozen meals delivered for weekends. The program serves the most vulnerable population in this area, who depend on the meals to remain healthy and independent at home, now even more so amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual March for Meals celebration commemorates the historic day in March of 1972 when President Nixon signed into law a measure that amended the Older Americans Act of 1965 to include a national nutrition program for seniors 60 years and older. Since 2002, community-based Meals on Wheels programs from across the country have joined forces for the annual awareness campaign to celebrate this successful public-private partnership and garner the support needed to fill the gap between the seniors served and those still in need.

“The pandemic has introduced many of us to the newfound and harsh realities of food insecurity and social isolation – something that far too many seniors experience as their daily norm,” said Ellie Hollander, president and CEO of Meals on Wheels America. “More than ever, we must rally around our essential community-based programs that serve as lifelines to a growing number of people in need, to enable their own long-term vitality. Even when we make it through this unprecedented time in our nation’s history, there will still be millions of vulnerable older adults who will rely on that familiar knock on the door that provides peace of mind and hope beyond the meal itself. Please join us in celebrating the power and importance of Meals on Wheels this March and always.”

For more information on how to volunteer, contribute or speak out for the seniors in your community this March, visit ECKAAA at www.eckaaa.org to find local senior nutrition sites, or learn more about supporting the Meals on Wheels program through volunteering or monetary donations.

To see the local nutrition sites’ daily menu, click here: Osage County Nutrition Sites Daily Menu

Update: Boil water advisory rescinded for city of Overbrook

Update Feb. 23, 2021: OVERBROOK, Kan. – The Kansas Department of Health and Environment rescinded a boil water advisory for the city of Overbrook public water supply system this morning, Feb. 23, 2021. The advisory was issued Feb. 16 because of a waterline break resulting in a loss of pressure in the distribution system.

Laboratory testing samples collected from Overbrook indicate no evidence of bacteriological contamination and all other conditions that placed the system at risk of contamination are deemed by KDHE officials to be resolved.

For more information, contact Overbrook City Hall at 785-665-7328 or KDHE at 785-296-5514. For consumer information, see KDHE’s PWS Consumer Information at www.kdheks.gov/pws/emergencyresponse/water_disruption.htm.

Eat Well to Be Well: Help men show their hearts some love

Here’s a fact that should get the attention of men and those who love them: About one in every four male deaths is due to heart disease. To make matters worse, half of men who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms.

Men need help – specifically when it comes to their heart health. Being neglectful of heart health is not in a man’s best interest. This vital organ needs tender loving care throughout a man’s life. However, for the past 90 years, heart disease is still the leading cause of death in men (and women).

Fortunately, thanks to the American Heart Association getting the message out on heart health, fewer Americans are dying of heart disease than ever. But there is still a long ways to go and every little bit of information, awareness and encouragement makes a huge difference in reducing a man’s risk of this killer disease.

Here are some  steps that can boost a man’s heart health helping him live a longer, healthier life:

Encourage him to get an annual checkup

When is the last time a man you love in your life got an annual physical? The American Academy of Family Physicians survey found that more than half of all men don’t get regular checkups. If they are not going to the doctor annually, they will not know what their risk factors are.

Every man should know what his blood pressure number, his heart rate, total cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglyceride level. Men should know that once he hits the age of 45 (or younger age for black men), blood pressure begins to climb increasing his risk of a heart attack or stroke. An annual checkup gives a man the opportunity to talk with his doctor about any concerns he has such as erectile dysfunction that can actually be an indicator of heart disease.

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