Tuesday, 27 March 2018 15:44

Flu season: A second wave might hit

Although flu cases have started to decrease since its peak early this winter, flu season may continue well into late Spring. The CDC warns a second wave of flu may be upon us as Influenza B is making the rounds.

Although first bombarded with H3N2 “A” strain influenza, Americans appear to be reporting more “B” flu cases this time of year, comprising more than 58% of cases lab-identified.

And young children are especially susceptible to B strain viruses.

 

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5 pediatric flu-related deaths have been reported this week. The CDC cites 133 influenza-related pediatric deaths for the current 2017-2018 season.

According to the CDC:

Overall, influenza A(H3) viruses have predominated this season. However, in recent weeks the proportion of influenza A viruses has declined, and during week 11, influenza B viruses were more frequently reported than influenza A viruses.

Week 11 (March 11-17, 2018) has seen the following:

The proportion of outpatient visits for influenza-like illness (ILI) was 2.7%, which is above the national baseline of 2.2%. Nine of 10 regions reported ILI at or above region-specific baseline levels. Six states experienced high ILI activity; nine states experienced moderate ILI activity; New York City, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and 17 states experienced low ILI activity; and 18 states experienced minimal ILI activity.

The trivalent and quadrivalent flu vaccines both protected against Influenza B as well as the A strains of H1N1 and H3N2 this year. However, flu shot efficacy proved poor for the 2017-18 season, being approximately 30% effective. Moreover, flu viruses can mutate as the season progresses.

It is not uncommon for one to be infected with the flu twice by two different strains circulating during the season.

What’s concerning is allergy season is beginning to overlap with flu season. Those with allergies may have a temporary weakness in their immune system, making them more susceptible to catching a cold or flu.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Published in News & Information

Donald Trump has repeatedly said he wants drug dealers to face the death penalty for their crimes, but hasn’t gone into any detail as to what sort of drug crimes would warrant capital punishment if he and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had their way.

Are we only talking about the leaders of drug cartels? Are we talking about the drug “mules” who move the drugs into the country? Are we talking about the people who cut up and deliver the drugs? Are we talking about the doctors prescribing the drugs? What about the manufacturers of opioids?

Trump’s death-penalty-for-drug-dealers plan is what he thinks will reign in the opioid epidemic. But opioid addicts don’t go straight to fentanyl and overdose. They start on Vicodin prescribed by their doctor, one in 12 of whom has received money from drug companies marketing prescription opioid medications, according to a recent study by Boston Medical Center. These doctors are just as responsible for opioid overdose deaths as other drug dealers.

More than 40,000 people died of opioid overdoses in 2016, 40 percent of which involved prescription opioids. So putting drug dealers and drug lords to death for trafficking heroin and fentanyl only addresses part of the problem. If opioid addicts don’t have access to the cheaper, stronger heroin and fentanyl, that doesn’t mean they’re going to stop using opioids. They’re just going to use more prescription opioids, whether their doctor prescribes them or not. And they can still overdose on prescription opioids.

Who Deserves the Death Penalty?

The death penalty has been and continues to be reserved almost exclusively for murderers. In fact, of the 31 states still sentencing people to death, only Texas kills people convicted of “criminal homicide” and those suffering from mental illness. Even now, a bill filed by Democratic State Rep. Toni Rose of Dallas to bar the death penalty for the mentally ill is unlikely to pass in the Lone Star State. The state would likely be the first to embrace Trump’s death-penalty-for-drug-dealers plan given the border it shares with Mexico, from where 90 percent or more of America’s heroin supply originates.

Drug Lords

Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera was scheduled to stand trial in April, but the federal judge in Brooklyn presiding over the case postponed the trial until September. It gives the prosecutors ample time to prepare their case against the most wanted drug dealer in the world, but they won’t likely need it. They have access to over 300,000 pages of documents and thousands of secretly recorded conversations to help make their case.

The real question isn’t whether “El Chapo” is guilty, but whether he actually has the $14 billion in cash from narcotic sales U.S. authorities want to seize. Most experts think this figure is too high, but the point is the man made billions of dollars selling opium around the world, and especially to Americans.

While “El Chapo” is charged with federal crimes that would subject him to the death penalty, the Mexican government wanted assurance the death penalty would not be sought when negotiating the terms of his extradition. So “El Chapo” won’t be the first drug dealer Trump gets to put to death. International drug lords are already subject to capital punishment, though, because they’d be charged with federal crimes. Drug lords like “El Chapo” certainly deserve the death penalty, but Trump isn’t just talking about killing drug lords. I’d hope he knows we can already do that.

Cartel “Security”

“El Chapo” had a 30-year career dealing illegal drugs because of his “security” detail. Not only did they keep him alive and out of jail all those years (and broke him out of jail twice), but they left no witnesses and eliminated troublemakers for the cartel.

These killers fulfill the “murder prerequisite” required by 30 of the 31 states still sentencing criminals to death, and are deserving of the death penalty. But murder charges would have to be brought in the country where the murder occurred. If no blood is shed on American soil, they are not subject to American law.

Drug Mules

Trump’s death-penalty-for-drug-dealers plan seems to be targeted at the people who don’t deserve it. Sessions did his best to implement Trump’s plan by sending a memo to federal prosecutor’s requesting they pursue the death penalty in cases “dealing with extremely large quantities of drugs.” But the people found in possession of those “extremely large quantities of drugs” are the least deserving of the death penalty. Some aren’t even aware they’re trafficking drugs.

Most drug mules are only guilty of being desperate. They’re just trying to find a better life for themselves and their family and might not have another means to do so or, frankly, a choice. I dare Jeff Sessions to refuse a drug lord’s order to traffic heroin across the border. The thought that you could be sentenced to death if arrested isn’t as bad as being killed where you stand. Plus, what if you get away with it?

Many of these people are looking to move to America just to do a job an American is unwilling to do. Drug lords “help” them realize that dream -- for a price. There are over 55 million poor people in Mexico and 15 millionaires who amass roughly 13 percent of the Mexican economy’s total value. So 45 percent of Mexico’s population is impoverished and for every millionaire in the country, there are roughly 3,660,000 poor people. Now you know why so many Mexicans are eager to move to America and work a shitty job you wouldn’t do for double or triple what they’re paid.   

Put yourself in the shoes of a poor Mexican with a family to support. Even if you don’t have kids, you still have mouths to feed in Mexico. Mexicans take care of their familial elders, and not just their parents. Aunts, uncles and other immediate family members living under one roof with their nieces, nephews, sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters is common in Mexico. So a working-aged couple could have no children but still be expected to support a family of five or more. And when it comes to feeding the family, the oldest and youngest are the first priorities. Those who provided the meal are most likely to eat the least.

Despite a 3.8-percent unemployment rate in 2017 and a 17-percent increase in the number of Mexican workers gaining access to social security in the first half of 2017, 57.2 percent of Mexican workers still have jobs in the “informal economy.” This means more than half of the country’s laborers aren’t receiving health insurance or earning retirement benefits nor are they protected in the workplace. Their wages are not collectively bargained; they are dictated. The hours they work per day are not subject to Mexican law, and neither is the condition of their workplace nor the treatment they receive from their superiors.

Even worse, the informal economy accounts for roughly a quarter of Mexico’s gross domestic product, so programs meant to help impoverished Mexicans are severely underfunded because the government is raising revenue from just 75 percent of its economy. It’s something that’s taken a long time to correct. Mexico’s congress eased restrictions on hiring and firing back in 2012, and over the next five years, participation in the informal economy fell just 2.2 percent.

And in a country where drug lords earn more than CEOs and have not only assassins but cops on the payroll, you can bet that Mexico’s informal economy will never disappear. Every country has an informal economy. It doesn’t matter where you go, there will be jobs there that pay cash under the table. Governments can’t monitor every dollar that changes hands, but countries where large amounts of illicit drugs are produced will always have larger informal economies. Since we mostly just consume drugs in America and not produce them, the informal economy created from drug trafficking in the United States is modest when compared to that of Mexico, Colombia or Afghanistan, the leading provider of opium to the world.

So when a Mexican laborer struggles to find work in the formal economy, the informal economy awaits to prey and profit on his or her desperation. At some point, any type of work for any amount of money will look a lot better than the starving, disappointed faces of your family at home. Scrape by long enough working 16-hour days for barely enough money to feed your family and trafficking a little heroin across the border to a dealer in the states sounds like an opportunity instead of a risk. And when your employer, the drug lord, a surprisingly amiable fellow, promises to send your family to join you upon your successful completion of this most simple task, you too would turn mule for a chance at the American Dream.

Just deliver a package across the border, and you’ll be working an American farm and earning more money than you ever thought was possible, even though it’s less than what most American, fast food employees earn. You’ll send some of the money from your first paycheck back to your family with a letter telling them how long it will be until you can afford a foreclosed fixer-upper you can renovate together and turn into a home. But your family won’t likely receive that letter or the enclosed American money because the cartel probably has a murderous goon holding your family captive in their own home who reviews and censors all incoming mail and pockets any money he discovers. Getting you out of Mexico allowed the cartel to “recruit” your family.

Members of your family would likely be forced to take your place working for the cartel, regardless of their health or ability. The cartel doesn’t care if they die on the job, and neither do the police. That’s the risk that comes with working in the informal economy: you are treated like slave labor. The cartel needs its laborers to be so uncomfortable that they welcome the work because it means they will eat. Threats aren’t as effective a form of persuasion as a person’s instinct to survive. Threaten your workforce with death, and they’ll soon welcome it; provide just enough for your workforce to survive, and they’ll do just that -- survive.

Those who do survive will ride off into “retirement” as a drug mule when the cartel has no use for them anymore. Everyone becomes a liability eventually, and processing heroin, from planting to harvesting the opium poppies to splitting and scraping the poppies to extract the opium, is not work suited for the arthritic. Your former employer, the drug lord, provided them with no knowledge of your whereabouts despite reviewing your mail. His only interest is in his product reaching its destination, and he doesn’t want his drug mule thinking about his brother, the American mule. The drug lord wants his mule’s mind on the job.

Unfortunately, your family member is probably better off being caught at the border and locked up in an American prison than they’d be having delivered their drugs successfully. Unlike you, they aren’t fit for the type of work available to them in the states, or anywhere else for that matter, and will likely resort to working for the cartel’s drug dealer in the states, hoping to put away enough money to try and find you and the rest of the family. That hope dissipates upon discovering the cost of living in America, eventually giving way to those survival instincts once again.

There’s no room for hope in drug cartels. Families can’t discover their escaped, American dreamer is actually living the American Dream and saving to buy a house for the family. Slave owners didn’t want their slaves learning how to read for a reason. That reason is reason -- the ability to think, understand, and form judgements logically. Your family receiving a letter from America saying how well you’re doing, how much money you’re making and, most importantly, your return address, will have them escaping north the first chance they get, consequences be damned. Hope makes people risk their lives, not because of the potential payoff, but because of the realization that they aren’t actually living. The hopeless are simply surviving, and hope makes people risk survival for the chance to truly live.

Drug mules don’t deserve the death penalty because despite being responsible for trafficking the drugs into the country, they’re usually doing so to preserve their own life or the lives of their family. To hold them responsible for deaths that result from the drugs they traffic is asinine, unless, of course, your goal all along was to limit immigration.

The people Trump and Sessions seem to be targeting are the cartel’s lowest-level, nonviolent laborers. Putting these people to death is not going to solve anything. There are plenty of mules drug lords can recruit or force across the border. You don’t think a drug lord would kidnap a man’s wife or child to persuade him to traffic some drugs?  

Drug mules are not drug dealers; they’re drug movers, and when drug movers are caught, no harm has yet come to anyone in this country because the drugs haven’t reached the drug dealer. And even the drug dealers aren’t all bad.

Drug Dealers

Drug dealers provide a service in high demand, especially in America, where roughly a trillion dollars was spent on illegal drugs from 2000 to 2010. If there’s one thing the Drug War has proved, it’s that you can’t stop people from using drugs. The opioid epidemic in this country is a perfect example of how drug users find a way to abuse drugs. Even in places where illegal drugs are hard to find like West Virginia and Indiana, Americans find a way.

Is cocaine too expensive and too stepped-on where you live? Is good heroin hard to find? No worries. Just make an appointment with your doctor and tell him or her you’re suffering from intense pain that’s keeping you up at night. You’ll have a prescription for opioids the same day, and less than a month later, you can tell your doctor the dosage isn’t working anymore and get something stronger. Within a few months, you’ll have access to the strongest opium legally available.

Drug users use drugs, regardless of accessibility or legality. In fact, the illegality of drugs makes them more desirable because of the coolness that comes with being forbidden. Illegal drugs are also more dangerous than legal ones because the people in charge of regulating the purity and dosage are the drug dealers, who do not have their customers’ interests or lives in mind.

Drug prohibition is also responsible for the violence associated with drug trafficking. Since drug dealers and traffickers risk imprisonment, the cost associated with that risk goes into the price of the drug. Every time a drug dealer is arrested, drug prices increase. Every time a drug mule is caught at the border and product is seized, drug prices increase. And every time an “El Chapo” is arrested, drug prices increase.

These inflated prices as a result of illegality make drugs less affordable, forcing drug users to come up with more money. Unlike most products, the demand for drugs doesn’t drop considerably when supply is low and prices high. Casual drug users might be turned off by high prices, but addicts care little about cost and will do just about anything to acquire the extra cash they need except wait for their next paycheck. Unfortunately, methods for acquiring money quickly tend to be illegal.  

The illegality of drugs causes more illegal activity in order to obtain those drugs. It’s responsible for convenience stores, homes and cars being robbed and purses being snatched. It results in violence, death and increased costs to the judicial and prison systems. Oh, and then there’s the costs of enforcing drug laws, which came to roughly $76 billion in 2015. That’s almost half of what the federal government spends to fund public schools.

Legalizing drugs and making them available for purchase at pharmacies that ensure purity and safe dosage for human consumption would make drugs and access to those drugs safer, cheaper, and result in less violent crime and fewer overdose deaths. Daily purchases would be limited to a safe dosage determined by health professionals, and users would be getting a pure, uncut substance that won’t kill them because the “dealer” would have their interests in mind instead of trying to maximize profit.

Drug dealers are looking to make a buck any way they can, which includes cutting up drugs with synthetic additives designed to offer a similar effect as the actual drug but at a cheaper price for the drug dealer. This is why methamphetamine ends up in Ecstasy and fentanyl ends up in cocaine and heroin: it’s cheaper. Of all drug dealers, the dealers of bad drugs are the only ones who deserve the death penalty.

Hunter S. Thompson ran for sheriff of Aspen, Colo. on a platform that included the legalization of recreational drugs, but also a plan for punishing drug dealers who sold bad drugs. He thought such dealers should be put in stocks and displayed in public places so locals could mock them and even molest them. Thompson was concerned with buying ineffective drugs, though, not dying from heroin cut with fentanyl. I think drug dealers who sell bad drugs that result in an overdose death should be tried for murder and sentenced to death if so ruled by a jury of their peers in states where capital punishment is still enacted.

If Trump sees his death-penalty-for-drug-dealers plan as a way to further limit immigration of Mexicans he thinks are “bringing drugs, crime and rapists” to the U.S., he’s going to be disappointed in its ineffectiveness. Sentencing every drug mule to death might send a message, but do you think “El Chapo” or any drug lord will have a sudden shortage of available mules because they’re scared of receiving the death penalty if arrested in America? No, they’ll be scared of the gun the drug lord is holding to their head.

But if Trump sees his death-penalty-for-drug-dealers plan as a way to hold drug dealers responsible for deaths that are a direct result of their greed and help ensure drug users get what they order and not a surprise overdose, his plan would sound less crazy.

If he sees his plan applying to doctors who blatantly overprescribe opioids resulting in the deaths of patients all while taking money from the manufacturers of those opioids, I’d have no objection. If those doctors are practicing in a state where the death penalty is still enacted, and their carelessness resulted in one of their patients becoming addicted to opioids and eventually dying from that addiction, a jury should consider the death penalty as a possible sentence for the doctor.

Hell, if by “drug dealers” Trump means the producers of prescription opioids, like Purdue Pharma, Teva, Cephalon, Johnson & Johnson, Janssen, Endo, Allergan and Watson, I wouldn’t find his plan crazy at all. The executives who created this crisis are most responsible for the resulting deaths. Whether their drugs were specifically responsible for the deaths is irrelevant. You don’t have to wield the knife to be guilty of murder.

These pharmaceutical companies not only downplayed the addictive effects of opioids in the late 1990s, but rewarded salespeople with luxury trips and $20,000 scratch tickets for getting doctors to switch patients to opioids and also paid doctors to prescribe them. The pharmaceutical CEOs and executives who made OxyContin into a billion-dollar revenue stream annually are just as guilty of murder as “El Chapo,” and perhaps more so. “El Chapo” didn’t get Americans hooked on opioids; big pharma did that by providing the “gateway” to heroin and fentanyl. Without $30 billion in OxyContin sales, “El Chapo” doesn’t become “El Chapo” -- the drug dealer worth $14 billion.  

Since Trump won’t likely enact his death-penalty-for-drug-dealers plan for his rich, pharma friends who paid for his campaign, at least someone is doing something to hold big pharma accountable. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is suing the opioid manufacturers previously listed to recoup some of what the United States has lost to the opioid epidemic big pharma created. A recent report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers found that the opioid epidemic cost America more than $500 billion in 2015. That’s in one year!


If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Free Talk Live

Published in News & Information

One of the most embarrassing, untalked about faux pas that occurs in families is the accidental witness of two parent figures having sex.

Our children see us make dinner, watch TV, argue about the in-laws, blame each other for the last cookie being eaten, drop each other’s toothbrush in the toilet (Ok I did that once!), so seeing, and hearing, two adults be intimate could potentially leave a mental scar for life.

And the moment the child is being visually and audibly traumatized, what do we do?  We scream…..”GET OUT,” or “YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE!”

Then once dressed, or finished, we hunt down the child, who’s probably hiding in their room, to try to urgently rectify the situation. My guess is many of us fail at this as well.

Telling them “Mommy and Daddy were just having a conversation,” adulterates any competency in communication skills they might have developed over the past few years.

“Mommy and Daddy were having sex” might work, but the average child who just witnessed it may choose a life of celibacy that instant.

So what should we do?

Assure the child they did NOTHING wrong

 

I don’t care if you told them a million times not to enter your room, it’s YOUR fault the door was unlocked.  Blaming the child makes the situation worse and traumatizes them more. Let them know you’re not mad and want to discuss what happened.

 

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Understand the child’s point of view

 

Children of all ages learn by mimicry.  Watching parents have sex may startle not so much because of the sexual nature, but because it’s an act they don’t want to mimic.

In a child’s mind they think that the act they just witnessed is one they need to engage in later if they want to be a grown up like you…..and it scares them. Reassure them that they do not have to do “everything Mommy and Daddy do.”

 

Don’t generalize

 

If the child thinks “all adults” do what they just witnessed (position, sounds, tools, etc.) they will extrapolate and think their teachers, clergy, and grandparents do the exact same thing. This could be traumatizing as well.  Let them know that you and your partner were experimenting and having fun and sex is different for everybody. Which brings us to….

It’s OK to call it “Mommy and Daddy time”

 

Rather than labeling it sex, calling it Mommy and Daddy time is fine.  Let them know that adults need private time and some things or acts may feel good and make them happy.

Set boundaries right away

 

The child may be more concerned about being yelled at or caught doing something they shouldn’t than actually seeing you have sex. So their first priority is making sure this doesn’t happen again. Set boundaries such as, “When our door is closed, knock first,” will give them a concrete instruction to follow.  They may then ask, “But, what happens if there is a fire?” - so let them know in an emergency, getting your attention is OK.

You don’t have to fix it all right away

 

If your child says “I got it, I got it, yeah I understand,” that doesn’t necessarily mean he/she understands. It means they want to leave the conversation. That’s fine. You can always revisit it later.  Sometimes during a drive in the car, topics such as this may be easier to discuss than at home with baby brother/sister giggling nearby. They’re a captive audience (unless they choose to jump out of the car), and you can smoothly transition to the subject by asking for permission to have a “big boy/big girl” talk.

Kids like two things, being asked permission by a parent and not being talked to like a little kid.  Capturing their attention this way may allow you to then discuss what needs to be discussed.

One more bit of advice …..when the kids are home and you can’t control yourselves, keep it down, avoid loud machinery, and keep it under the covers……

 

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Published in News & Information

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee voted this week to return the FluMist, nasal spray flu vaccine, to the recommended options for the 2018-2019 flu season.

In 2016 it was not recommended and discouraged as they found its effectiveness against seasonal flu to be approximately 46%, when 65% efficacy was touted by the injectable flu shot.  However this flu season, the current flu vaccine was found to be only 35% effective with one of the worst flu seasons in years taking the lives of healthy young adults and children.

Why was this season so severe? The H3N2 strain was the predominant one, notorious for bad flu seasons, and is crafty, able to mutate before the vaccine is finalized. Hence our flu vaccine was not able to be as close a match as desired.

The panel voted 12-2 this week to include FluMist as an option for medical providers to recommend against the upcoming 2018-2019 flu season.

Why was FluMist removed?  Experts found it to be ineffective against one of the influenza A H1N1 strains. With its overall efficacy found to be lower than the flu shot it was deemed a less ideal option than the shot.

FluMist is a live attenuated vaccine that is not recommended in infants and pregnant women. It’s indicated for those between the ages of 2-49 and introduces a live, weakened version of the flu virus to incite an immune response. This differs from the injectable flu vaccine which uses killed versions of the flu strains to induce a flu response.

Children prefer the FluMist as the nasal spray offers a less painful option than an injection.

The FluMist Quadrivalent nasal spray, manufactured by MedImmune of AstraZeneca PLC, offers protection against 4 strains of flu including H1N1, H3N2 and two influenza B strains.  According to FluMist’s prescribing information, the FluMist proved 90% effective against H3N2 as opposed to influenza B where it scored 44.3% effectiveness. Another review found its efficacy against H3N2 to be 79%.

 

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Now that’s not to say the FluMist would have been immune to the vaccine issues experienced with this year’s flu shot as H3N2 is a highly virulent and mutable virus, and could have snowed the FluMist vaccine makers as well.

Yet we may need to consider that the FluMist may be more efficacious for some strains of the flu whereas the flu shot may better protect us against others. More research needs to be done in this area. As of now choosing which flu shot to get for the next flu season may be a crap shoot.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Published in News & Information

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a list of diseases that could potentially become worldwide deadly epidemics, and “Disease X” is included in this list.

The list includes the following:

  • Zika
  • Ebola
  • Lassa Fever
  • SARS
  • MESS
  • CCHF (Crimean-Congo) hemorrhagic fever
  • Nipah / henipavirus
  • and Disease X.

Disease X represents a pathogen, not yet identified, that could turn and become one of the worst threats yet.

Citing biochemical warfare, gene editing, or Mother Nature’s ability to induce mutations, the WHO believes a benign pathogen that’s currently circulating could jump from animal hosts to humans, or evolve to become a highly virulent, infectious bug.

So the next “Disease X” could be:

  • a deadlier strain of flu
  • multiple drug resistant gonorrhea
  • an avian flu that jump from birds to humans
  • a bio-weapon such as release of anthrax

This warning helps remind the globe of the unpredictability and speed at which new epidemics arise.

WHO stated, “Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease.”

Moreover, diseases such as Zika and Ebola were discovered decades ago, but only recently did they cause fast-moving epidemics, despite smaller sporadic outbreaks in the past.  So a currently deadly virus or bacteria that causes isolated cases, if the conditions are right, can ignite a cluster, expand locally in an outbreak, or increase further and become an epidemic.

And humans lack natural immunity to chemical agents and man-made pathogens, hence can be easily overpowered when exposed for the first time.

The formal designation of Disease X will hopefully incite researchers to prepare for what could be a surprise ambush by something that’s been either under our radar for some time or about to be created.

 

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Published in News & Information

The eventual champion of the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament may not get a chance to hang a championship banner from its rafters if the Federal Bureau of Investigation wants it that way.

Given what we know about the investigation uncovering recruitment violations committed by seemingly every competitive college basketball program, 2018 might be a repeat of 2013. If you remember, Louisville emerged from March Madness as champion that year only to have that championship vacated for paying escorts to “recruit” players. While those 40 alleged acts warrant the punishment received, not all recruiting violations should be treated equally. Some shouldn’t be violations at all.

For instance, it is alleged that the FBI has a recording of Arizona head coach Sean Miller speaking of a $100,000 payment to secure freshman center DeAndre Ayton, who could be the top pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Ayton makes Arizona a legitimate title contender, and one of those teams who could win the national championship only to have it taken away. This, too, would warrant a punishment on par with Louisville’s.

Handing out bags full of money is obviously a violation of the NCAA’s “amateurism” policy -- a policy alleged to exist to preserve the “integrity” of collegiate athletics while coaches and athletic directors “earn” million-dollar salaries on the backs of slave labor. You used to have to go pro to earn pro money. Now coaches can avoid the humiliation of failing at the highest level and still live like they made the big time.

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski is one of those coaches, and many wonder how he manages to recruit the best high school players without violating NCAA rules. Being the winningest coach in the history of NCAA Division I basketball and having a chance to win a national championship every year can’t be only reasons why Duke has secured the top three high school recruits next year. He must be breaking the rules, right? Well, Krzyzewski wasn’t implicated in the FBI investigation, but one of his players was.

Duke University freshman forward Wendell Carter, Jr. is accused of violating the NCAA’s amateurism policy because his mother, Kylia Carter, had dinner with ASM sports agent Christian Dawkins and may or may not have paid for it. The meal cost $106.36, and Wendell Carter, Jr., who was a junior in high school at the time, wasn’t even there. This is where the NCAA can start revising its amateurism policy.

Buying someone food should never affect the eligibility of a student-athlete to compete in collegiate athletics, whether that food is consumed by the student-athlete or a member of that student-athlete’s family. Kylia Carter took time out of her day to accommodate Dawkins and discuss the future of her son. She shouldn’t have to pay for a meal -- a meal she might not be able to afford -- just to talk to someone about her son’s future, whether it be with a college coach or a sports agent. Wendell shouldn’t have to pay for his meals, either, regardless of who’s buying. If an agent wants to wine and dine him, Wendell shouldn’t have to say, “I can’t accept because I’m an amateur.”

Not a single collegiate athlete or high school recruit should have to pay a dime for food. This is the least the NCAA can do with its billion-dollar revenues: provide a per diem for meals to all NCAA student-athletes and stop considering meals as “benefits.”

Meals are calories; they are fuel. The athlete does not benefit from eating a meal. They might enjoy it, but there isn’t a meal in the world or a chef in the world capable of persuasion. No decisions are being made like Cypher’s decision to mutiny in The Matrix because of the juiciness of a steak. Let the student-athletes eat. Hell, for some of them, that dinner with an agent might be the last fancy meal they ever eat. They could tear their ACL the next day and never hear from another agent or college coach again.

Even when those recruits get to college they incur costs for calories. If you’re unaware of how meals work in college, here’s a crash course. Most colleges and universities include meal plans with room and board. That was the case when I attended the University of Washington as a freshman. Since I was living in the dorms, which all freshmen are required to do unless they’re living with family, I was required to pay for a meal plan. I didn’t want a meal plan. I wanted to buy groceries and cook my meals in the dormitory kitchenette, but there was no way around it. I had to buy a meal plan.

So I bought the cheapest meal plan available, and while it allowed me to buy groceries from the campus market, those groceries were much more expensive than they were at nearby grocery stores. The only way I could use my meal plan money, though, was using my student ID card, which, of course, was not accepted anywhere but on campus. It’s a convenient monopoly on food for the university, which probably helps offset the losses incurred when Amazon revealed to students the true price of their textbooks when purchased anywhere but a college bookstore.

The worst part about the meal plan is if you don’t use it you lose it. At the end of each quarter, I ended up drinking a gallon of milk every few days just to meet the minimum spending requirement of my plan so I could get the rest of my money refunded. You read that right: there’s a minimum amount you must spend in order to get your own money back from the college.

I know what you’re thinking. “Aren’t these student-athletes on scholarship?” Well, some of them are, but most aren’t. Most have scholarships covering tuition only. Some have no scholarship at all. But even those with “full-rides” aren’t getting full-rides. There aren’t meal plans for collegiate football players who need to consume more than 4,000 calories per day. And who do you think pays for something a student-athlete needs that isn’t included with their meal plan? A coach or university administrator can’t or they could be found in violation the NCAA’s amateurism policy.

Consider this: a six-foot, 10-inch, 200-pound college freshman is still growing into his body. His coaches have asked him to bulk up, which means consuming more protein. I don’t know if you’ve been to college lately, but the last I was there (2013), the cafeteria didn’t have many protein-packed options. You could usually find chicken in some way, shape or form, and hamburger, but there’s only so much meat you can eat. Fish can be found, but a student-athlete can’t be expected to pound tuna sandwiches, peanuts and jerky after a workout. Pounding a protein shake, though, provides the muscles with what they need immediately, but you won’t find protein powder for sale on too many campuses. That’s a cost incurred by the athlete to fuel the vehicle that creates the revenue they’ll never see.

Slave owners fed their slaves because their revenue depended on it, but like the NCAA, fed them just enough to do the work and nothing more. The NCAA is on the verge of suffering a similar fate as those slave owners. The chatter slaves must have heard about the Union paying runaway slaves to serve as soldiers in the Civil War after Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is an uncomfortable simile to the NCAA’s amateurism problem. The appeal of playing for money internationally is growing and costing slave owners recruits, and talk of the G-League serving as a development league for high school recruits unwilling to attend college must feel like a Gettysburg Address waiting to happen to the NCAA.

If the NCAA doesn’t do something to appeal to new recruits, they stand to lose everything, because the NCAA isn’t a billion-dollar industry without March Madness, and March Madness isn’t March Madness without the best “amateurs” in the world.


If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: View From The Couch, POP Parenting

Published in News & Information

A coyote who attacked several people in Westchester County, NY this week has been captured and killed, testing positive for rabies.

Authorities believe another coyote is on the loose presumed to be rabid as well.

A police officer, a postal worker, two bicyclists and two dog walkers, with their pets, were attacked within a 24 hour period.  Three sheep may have been mauled as well.

One dog and a sheep have died as a result of the attacks.

The two coyotes may have been travelling together, with one still being at large.

The attacks occurred in Yonkers, Hastings-on-Hudson, and possibly Somers, NY.  Residents have been asked to avoid any wooded areas and keep their pets inside.

An animal with rabies may be very aggressive, more prone to attacks as opposed to one that is not infected.

What is rabies?

 

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Rabies is a disease caused by a virus and transmitted through a bite. Although dogs are the most common animal to transmit the virus to humans, it more commonly infects bats, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, jackals, mongooses and foxes.

The animal will be agitated and many times foaming at the mouth due to hypersalivation.

The virus affects the central nervous system, including the brain, and can therefore be fatal.  Once symptoms appear it may be too late to save the affected animal or patient.

What are the symptoms and stages of rabies?

 

Once exposed to infected saliva the virus enters the peripheral nervous system (nerves in the limbs, outside of brain and spinal cord.) Then it travels to nerves in the muscle, replicates there and eventually works itself up to the brain.  Stages occur as the following:

Incubation

 

An incubation period is the time it takes from exposure until symptoms show. With rabies the average incubation period can range anywhere from a few days to years with the average lasting a few weeks. During the incubation period the patient may not know they are infected and the pathogen is multiplying and spreading.

Prodrome

 

The prodrome causes the patient to feel flu-like with symptoms including:

  • pain at the site of the bite
  • muscle soreness
  • fever
  • headache
  • anxiety
  • malaise
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • sore throat
  • cough
  • numbness
  • tingling
  • burning

These symptoms  may last anywhere from 2-10 days.

Acute neurological phase

 

As the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) become affected symptoms include:

  • anxiety

 

  • agitation
  • insomnia
  • loss of sex drive
  • priapism, prolonged erections
  • hallucinations
  • photophobia, distress while looking at light
  • paralysis
  • muscle rigidity
  • muscle twitching
  • convulsions, seizures
  • difficulty swallowing
  • difficulty breathing
  • hydrophobia – fear of water, unique to those with rabies as they fear difficulty swallowing water

Coma

 

A deep state of unconsciousness can occur within 2-7 days.

 

Death

 

Despite ventilatory support for breathing, most die of cardiac and or respiratory arrest.

Treatment of Rabies

 

Although most infections prove fatal, some may survive with an injection of rabies immune globulin that binds to and prevents the virus from replicating. Then four – five vaccines are given over the next two weeks to help stimulate the immune system.

Wild animals suspected of having rabies during an attack will be euthanized and their brain tissue examined for rabies. For domesticated animals, whose suspicion is less, they will be observed for 10 days, and if they do not elicit symptoms, most likely do not have rabies.

If one has been bit by a wild animal who has not been caught, the medical provider may wish to treat empirically with post exposure prophylaxis.

Prevention of Rabies

 

Pet owners can start by vaccinating their pets.  Avoiding wild animals, especially bats, preventing them from entering the house. Vaccinations are also available for those who work frequently with animals or travel to areas where rabies is more common.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Published in News & Information

 

I’m not advocating that anyone risk re-aggravating an injury to simply burn some calories, but there are exercises you can do stay healthy and avoid re-aggravating an injury. In fact, those same exercises you were doing prior to sustaining an injury will be more difficult and burn more calories than they did prior to the injury because they’ll be complicated by your injury.

 

I slipped while on a ladder and probably broke my left foot about a month ago. It’s forced me to abandon my cardio routine, which has severely affected the attainability of my goal of having six-pack abs by March 13. Much of my cardio workout consists of jumping. I jump rope, do X-jumps and tuck jumps, and I haven’t been able to support all of my weight using the toes of my left foot since the injury. It hasn’t stopped me from working out, though.

 

I’ve been doing the same abs workout for more than six months. It’s a slightly altered version of the 10-minute abs workout on the MyPlate app by Livestrong, available to paid subscribers. I started doing the abs workout followed by a seven-minute cardio sculpting workout, but have since switched to doing abs and cardio on separate days, because I now do each workout up to three or four times.

 

My ability to complete my abs workout wasn’t affected by my foot injury for more than a few days. I stayed off my feet for a couple days and ate Ibuprofen to decrease the swelling, but I knew my cardio workout would be an impossibility for at least a month after seeing the first day of bruising. I had to find a way to incorporate cardio into my abs workout.

You Hear Rest, I Hear Stretch

The MyPlate app calls for rest between sets of the 10-minute abs workout, but that’s not what I hear anymore. When you hear rest, I hear stretch. Instead of using the 15-second rest period between exercises to grab a drink of water or wipe sweat from my face, I use the time to stretch.

There’s still 10 seconds allowed to prepare for the next exercise, so that is now my rest period.

 

You can turn any workout into a cardio workout by eliminating rest between your exercises. Even something as simple as stretching burns between 175 and 240 calories per hour and keeps your heart rate elevated between sets and burn more calories. So during my three, 10-minute abs workouts, I stretch for a cumulative 8.5 minutes, burning an extra 30 calories. And stretching is one thing you can do despite sustaining a minor injury because you can avoid any muscle groups affected by the injury.

 

If you can perform push-ups during those 15-second, rest periods, you can keep your heart rate even higher and burn an additional 80 calories.

Engage Your Core Even More

I didn’t even realize how much harder my abs workout could be until I injured my foot. It was while performing bird dogs that I discovered how a minor injury can be good for your training regiment.

 

In the past I would use my foot to maintain stability while performing bird dogs. It provides a third point of balance to go along with my hand and knee, but doing so re-aggravated my injury. So I lifted my feet off the ground and used only my knee and hand to support and balance my weight, which doubled the intensity of the workout. You’ll find you will be forced to engage your core even more to accommodate for the lost point of balance, which burns more calories and builds more muscle.

Take Your Time

My abs workout also increased in difficulty because I slowed everything down to avoid re-aggravating my foot injury. If you take your time and really focus on performing the exercise properly, you’ll find your workout to be more effective despite performing fewer repetitions.

Focus on Muscle Groups Unaffected by the Injury

If you have a lower-body injury, focus on exercising your upper body. You can do seated weight lifting or upper-body resistance training. Focus on your arms, chest, abs, back and neck. If you have an upper-body injury, focus on exercising your lower body. Do squats, lunges and kicks.

 

So don’t waste away waiting to recover from injury. Keep your heart rate up and exercise the parts of your body that don’t hurt. Then, when you’re completely healed, you’ll be better prepared to jump back into your training regiment having hardly missed a beat.


If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Free Talk Live

Published in News & Information
Friday, 02 March 2018 20:27

Selfies make your nose look bigger

Taking a selfie at a distance of 12 inches from your face increases the size of your nose by 30%.

According to a study published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, selfies distort the nose by 30% in width in men and 29% in women.

 

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However pictures taken 5 feet away do not distort the nose.

Study author Dr. Boris Paskover, facial plastic surgeon at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, stated, “At 5 feet, the distance between your nose and the camera and the distance between your facial plane and the camera is almost the same.”

He and his colleagues are finding a huge increase in people requesting plastic surgery to improve their look in selfies.

But if the image taken provides a distorted view, thousands of people may be having unnecessary operations.

According to the American College of Plastic Surgeons, reported by USA Today, minimally invasive cosmetic procedures have increased 200% since 2000 and are rising each year. They find the top 5 cosmetic surgeries in 2017 were:

  • Breast Augmentation (300,378 procedures)
  • Liposuction (246,354 procedures)
  • Nose Reshaping (218,924 procedures)
  • Eyelid Surgery (209,571 procedures)
  • Tummy Tuck (129,753 procedures)

And the most common minimally invasive cosmetic procedures were:

  • Botulinum Toxin Type A  (7.23 million procedures)
  • Soft Tissue Fillers  (2.69 million procedures)
  • Chemical Peel  (1.37 million procedures)
  • Laser Hair Removal  (1.1 million procedures)
  • Microdermabrasion  (740,287 procedures)

Selfies may share part of the blame in our obesity crisis

 

This week BBC news reported millennials to be on track to be the most overweight generation since records began.  Millennials have popularized the selfie on social media and are the most tech savvy when it comes to marketing themselves online.  The rest of us are catching up.  And our exceptional skills at taking great selfies may unwittingly de-expose us to the truths of our appearance.  If we look at our computers more than we look at a mirror, we won’t see the enlarging waist line, large butt, full face or love handles.  We think “we’re good” rather than being reminded of our figure’s shortcomings.  Complacency leads to laziness and letting one healthy meal or workout slide could lead to down-spiral of our weight maintenance.

Selfies have overtaken how see ourselves, attract dates, entertain others, and communicate with our friends. They’re not going away anytime soon and in fact leading to an epidemic of selfitis.  And if we’re not careful we’ll see an epidemic of unneeded plastic surgery as well.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Published in News & Information

A new study reveals that toxic levels of lead and other metals may leak from the heating coil element into the vapor inhaled during e-cig use.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found these metals to include:

  • lead
  • nickel
  • manganese
  • chromium
  • arsenic

We’ve known for some time that vaping fluid could contain chemicals that turn toxic once heated, but this study shed light on e-cig metal components causing metal leakage to the vapor making contact with delicate respiratory epithelium (lining).

Reported by Forbes, Rich Able, a medical device marketing consultant, stated the following, “the FDA does not currently test any of the most popular vaping and e-cigarette instruments being manufactured at unregulated factories in Asia that source  low-grade parts, batteries, and materials for the production of these devices,” suggesting that “the metal and parts composition of these devices must be stringently tested for toxic analytes and corrosive compounds.”

These chemicals may act as neurotoxins, affecting our nervous system, cause tissue necrosis (cell death) and even multi-organ failure. Moreover they can affect how our immune system reacts to other chemicals as well as foreign pathogens, affecting our ability to fight other diseases.

Although studies have suggested e-cig vapor to be safer than tobacco smoke, not enough research has been done, in the relatively few years vaping has been around, looking at how heat-transformed chemicals and leaked metals affect our breathing, lungs and other organs once absorbed into the body.

 

Vaping Linked to Heart Disease and Cancer

 

A study from New York University found the nicotine in electronic cigarettes to cause DNA damage similar to cigarette smoking.

Dr. Moon-shong Tang and his colleagues exposed mice to e-cig smoke during a three-month period, 5 days a week for three hours a day.  They found these mice, compared to those breathing filtered air, to have DNA damage to cells in their bladders, lungs and hearts. The amount of nicotine inhaled was approximately 10 mg/ml.   That dose would be commonly consumed by many humans who vape.

 

nicotine.jpg

 

They then looked at human bladder and lung cells and found tumor cells were able to grow more easily once exposed to nicotine and vaping chemicals.

Last May, researchers from Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Nashville found e-cig smoke to increase one’s risk of bladder cancer.

In 2015, the University of Minnesota identified chemicals commonly found in e-cig vapor to include:

  • Formaldehyde (human carcinogen)
  • Acetaldehyde (carcinogen related to alcohol drinking)
  • Acrolein (highly irritating and toxic)
  • Toluene (toxic) NNN, NNK (tobacco carcinogens related to nicotine)
  • Metals (possible carcinogens and toxins)

Although electronic cigarette “juice” may appear safe, it could produce harmful chemicals once heated to become a vapor.

A lethal dose of nicotine for an adult ranges from 30-60 mg and varied for children (0.5-1.0 mg/kg can be a lethal dosage for adults, and 0.1 mg/kg for children). E-cigs, depending on their strengths (0 – 5.4%) could contain up to 54 mg of nicotine per cartridge (a 1.8% e -cig would contain 18mg/ml).

The topic of nicotine increasing one’s vulnerability to cancer is nothing new as decades ago researchers found nicotine to affect the cilia (brush border) along the respiratory tree, preventing mucous production and a sweeping out of carcinogens trying to make their way down to the lungs.

More research needs to be performed but this recent report reminds us that exposing our delicate lung tissue and immune system to vaping chemicals may not be as safe as we think.

For more on the study read here.

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Published in News & Information

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