ICYMI:


Pedestrian fatalities up in states with legal marijuana, study says

Published: Wednesday, February 28, 2018 @ 7:26 AM

Five Fast Facts: Marijuana

A report released Wednesday reveals the number of people being hit and killed by cars is on the rise, specifically in states where it’s now legal to sell marijuana.

In the past several years, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has been aggressively targeting the number of pedestrian strikes in the city.

The initiatives seem to be working; the number of people involved in hits is down slightly, but new numbers just out seem to undo that trend.

>> Read more trending news 

In the seven states that have legalized recreational marijuana, pedestrian fatalities went up more than 16 percent in the first six months of 2017, versus the same time period in 2016.

That’s in direct opposition to all other states, which, collectively, saw about a 6 percent decrease in pedestrian fatalities in that same time.

The study was performed by the Governor's Highway Safety Association.

They said what they found is cause for concern.

Of course, there are many factors that come into play when a pedestrian is hit, including time of day and walkers being distracted by cellphones.

But MassDOT has been investigating a lot of money in initiatives to protect pedestrians. Media campaigns, grants and programs have all been focused on safety.

And the GHSA said the connection in fatalities with the legalization of recreational marijuana is worth another look, even as Massachusetts approaches sanctioning the sale of pot in July.

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Not a hoax: There is a tick that causes red meat allergies 

Published: Thursday, June 14, 2018 @ 4:28 PM

What You Need to Know: Ticks

Burger lovers, rib grillers, Taco Tuesday fans−listen up. The Center for Disease Control's May 2018 report that diseases transmitted by fleas, mosquitoes and ticks have tripled in recent years was bad enough, but this is even worse. One type of tick bite causes an allergy to red meat.

»RELATED: 'Tick explosion' coming this summer, expert warns

The actual ailment is galactose-alpha, or alpha-gal. It's transmitted by the Lone Star Tick, or amblyomma americanum, which the CDC says is widely distributed in the Southeastern and Eastern United States.

The news gets worse. The CDC calls the Lone Star "a very aggressive tick that bites humans." The adult female has a white dot or "lone star" on her back, and she and the nymph stage of the tick are the ones that most frequently chomp on humans and transmit disease. 

And while Lone Star ticks have been cleared from any association with Lyme disease, according to an article published in the Journal of Medical Entomology earlier this year, the Lone Star tick has its own brand of destruction. It carries a sugar called alpha-gal that humans don't have. The same sugar is found in red meat, like beef, pork, venison, rabbit and some dairy products.

A bite from the tick can trigger a person's immune system to create antibodies to the sugar that, in turn, will make their body reject red meat, setting off a serious allergic reaction.

Besides being an allergy to mammalian meat like beef, pork and lamb, which is a heart-breaker for carnivore foodies, alpha-gal can trigger dangerous anaphylactic reactions.

According to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the allergy can cause hives and swelling, as well as broader symptoms of anaphylaxis, including vomiting, diarrhea, trouble breathing and a drop in blood pressure. 

"The weird thing about [this reaction] is it can occur within three to 10 or 12 hours, so patients have no idea what prompted their allergic reactions," Ronald Saff, an assistant clinical professor at Florida State University College of Medicine, told Business Insider. In 2017, Saff said he was already seeing a couple of patients per week who had developed alpha-gal from Lone Star ticks.

Diagnosis is made more difficult because unlike, say, most seafood allergies, these red meat allergies and anaphylactic reactions caused by the Lone Star tick often seem to appear out of the blue, even occurring in the night many hours after the victim eats a burger or steak.

"They're sleeping, and they have no idea what they could be allergic to because the symptoms occurred so many hours after going to bed," Saff said.

The only simple aspect of identifying and avoiding the Lone Star tick is that the tactics are about the same as those for avoiding ticks in general. 

Here are six ways to avoid ticks, according to the CDC and outdoors experts:

  • Use an EPA-registered insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone on exposed skin, always making sure to follow the manufacturer's directions. (And do not use insect repellent on babies who aren't 2 months old yet.)
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, avoid brushy areas and walk in the center of trails when you're out in the woods.
  • Treat outdoor gear, such as boots, pants, socks, and tents, with products that contain .5 percent permethrin or use permethrin-treated clothing and gear. The protection should last through at least a couple of washings.
  • When you come back indoors, conduct a full-body tick check using a handheld or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks.
  • Use products that will control ticks and fleas on your pets, making sure you never apply topical dog flea medicine like Frontline to cats.
  • Take steps to control mosquitoes, ticks and fleas inside and outside your home, using screens on windows, for example, and turning on the air conditioning instead of opening windows when you can.
Just spraying closed shoes with permethrin can be effective, Dorothy Leland, director of communications for Lymedisease.orgtold the New York Times. "There are studies that show that just protecting your feet can do an amazing job against ticks because they tend to be low to the ground, so their entry point is that they often climb up on your shoes and keep going and get to your skin," she said.

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7 things to know about the human plague, symptoms and how to protect yourself

Published: Tuesday, June 27, 2017 @ 3:39 PM

What You Need To Know: The Plague

Two new cases of the human plague have been confirmed in New Mexico Tuesday, according to health officials.

» RELATED: Possible plague case in Georgia 

This year, New Mexico has seen three cases of the plague, the first of which was reported in early June.

>> Read more trending news 

All three cases required hospitalization, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

Here are seven things to know about the plague:

What is it?

According to Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, plague is a disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis that affects humans and other mammals.

» RELATED: Stray cat's plague death prompts 'fever watch' 

What is the history of plague?

Historians and scientists have recorded three major plague pandemics, according to the CDC.

The first, called the Justinian Plague (after 6th century Byzantine emperor Justinian I), began in A.D. 541 in central Africa and spread to Egypt and the Mediterranean.

The “Great Plague” or “Black Death” originated in China in 1334 and eventually spread to Europe, where approximately 60 percent of the population died of the disease.

» RELATED: The 'Black Death': Are gerbils, not rats, to blame for plague? 

Lastly, the 1860s “Modern Plague,” which also began in China, spread to port cities around the world by rats on steamships, according to the CDC.

In 1894, French bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin discovered the causative bacterium, Yersinia pestis.

Ten million deaths resulted from the last pandemic, which eventually affected mammals in the Americas, Africa and Asia.

It was during this last pandemic that scientists identified infectious flea bites as the culprit in the spread of the disease.

More about the history of plague.

Where in the U.S. is human plague most common?

Human plague usually occurs after an outbreak in which several susceptible rodents die, infected fleas leave the dead rodents and seek blood from other hosts.

These outbreaks usually occur in southwestern states, particularly in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico, according to the CDC.

» RELATED: Lyme disease risks could increase after mouse plague, experts warn 

According to the World Health Organization, an average of five to 15 cases occur annually in the U.S.

Since 1900, more than 80 percent of those cases have been in the bubonic form.

Worldwide, there are approximately 1,000-3,000 cases of naturally occurring plague reported every year.

More about plague in the U.S.

How do humans and other animals get plague?

Usually, humans get plague after a bite from a rodent flea carrying the bacterium.

Humans can also get plague after handling (touching or skinning) an animal (like squirrels, prairie dogs, rats or rabbits) infected with plague.

According to the CDC, inhaling droplets from the cough of an infected human or mammal (sick cats, in particular) can also lead to plague.

» RELATED: Rare tick-borne illness worries some medical professionals 

What are the types of plague and their symptoms?

Bubonic plague (most common)

  • Tender, warm and swollen nymph nodes in the groin, armpit or neck usually develop within a week after an infected flea bite.
  • Signs and symptoms include sudden fever and chills, headache, fatigue, muscle aches.
  • If bubonic plague is not treated, it can spread to other areas of body and lead to septicemic or pneumonic plague.

Septicemic plague

  • Occurs when bacteria multiply in the bloodstream.
  • Signs and symptoms include fever and chills; abdominal pain; diarrhea; vomiting; extreme fatigue and light-headedness; bleeding from mouth, nose, rectum, under skin; shock; gangrene (blackening, tissue death) in fingers, toes and nose.
  • Septicemic plague can quickly lead to organ failure.

Pneumonic plague (least common)

  • Pneumonic plague, which affects the lungs, is the most dangerous plague and is easily spread person-to-person through cough droplets.
  • Signs and symptoms (within a few hours after infection) include bloody cough, difficulty breathing, high fever, nausea, vomiting, headache, weakness.
  • If it is not treated quickly, pneumonic plague is almost always fatal.

» RELATED: What is Lyme disease and how to avoid it 

How is plague treated?

Immediately see a doctor if you develop symptoms of plague and have been in an area where the disease is known to occur.
Your doctor will likely give you strong antibiotics (streptomycin, gentamicin or others) to combat the disease.

If there are serious complications like organ failure or bleeding abnormalities, doctors will administer intravenous fluids, respiratory support and give patients oxygen.

How to protect yourself, your family and your pets against plague

You and your family

The CDC warns against picking up or touching dead animals and letting pets sleep in the bed with you.

Experts also recommend eliminating any nesting places for rodents such as sheds, garages or rock piles, brush, trash and excess firewood.

Other ways to protect yourself and your family include wearing gloves if handling dead or sick animals, using an insect repellent with DEET to prevent flea bites and reporting sick or dead animals to your local health department or to law enforcement officials.

» RELATED: Ticks the season: How to prevent, find and get rid of ticks this summer 

Pets

Flea medicine should be administered regular for both dogs and cats.

Keep your pet’s food in rodent-proof containers and don’t let them hunt or roam in rodent habitats.

If your pet becomes ill, see a veterinarian as soon as possible.

More about plague at CDC.gov.

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Stung by a jellyfish on vacation? Here’s what you should do

Published: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 @ 8:55 AM

WATCH: How to Treat a Jellyfish Sting

Contrary to popular belief, you really shouldn’t pee on a jellyfish sting.

Jellyfish stings are on the rise in Florida, according to The Weather Channel. More than 600 people were treated for jellyfish stings over the weekend along Florida’s central Atlantic coast, according to lifeguards on the beaches. Here’s what you need to do if you suspect you’ve been stung by a jellyfish, according to the Mayo Clinic:

1. SEEING A DOCTOR You don’t necessarily need to see your doctor for a jellyfish sting. Treatment for jellyfish includes first-aid care and medical treatment, depending on the type of jellyfish, the severity of the sting and your reaction to it.

» YOUR PERFECT WEEKEND: 20 things you have to do, see, eat in Cincinnati

2. VINEGAR Most jellyfish stings can be treated as follows:

  • Rinse the area with vinegar.
  • Carefully pluck visible tentacles with a fine tweezers.
  • Soak the skin in hot water. Use water — it should feel hot, not scalding. Keep the affected skin immersed or in a hot shower for 20 to 45 minutes.

3. DON’T DO THESE THINGS These are a few things that are unhelpful or unproven solutions to jellyfish stings: scraping out stingers, rinsing with seawater, rinsing with human urine, applying alcohol, rubbing with a towel, applying pressure bandages or applying a meat tenderizer.

4. SEVERE REACTIONS If someone is having a severe reaction to a jellyfish sting, they may need CPR or life support. If the string is from a box jellyfish, they may need antivenin medication, according to the Mayo Clinic.

5. EYE STINGS If a jellyfish sting occurs near or on the eye, immediate medical care is required for pain control and an eye flushing. Someone with this type of sting will likely need to see an ophthalmologist.

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An hour-by-hour, easy guide to improving your energy all day long

Published: Wednesday, June 06, 2018 @ 1:29 PM

Don't let your age determine what you can and can't do. These tricks will help you run circles around younger people.

Is “just −so −tired” your constant state of being?

Batteries drained? All out of oomph? Exhausted?

There are so many ways to describe that blah, no energy feeling that can strike throughout the day. And while sometimes the explanation is obvious (binge-watching an entire season of Santa Clarita Diet last night may not have been the best idea), other energy sappers are not as noticeable or just creep up over time.

»RELATED: 7 ways to boost your energy inexpensively 

"Stress, poor diet, poor-quality sleep, lack of exercise and limited bright-light exposure during the day can all contribute to fatigue," psychologist Shelby F. Harris, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, told Consumer Reports.

If certain symptoms accompany your fatigue, you may need to see a doctor, according to CR. They include unexplained weight gain or loss, fever, shortness of breath, morning headaches or difficulty concentrating.

For other folks who feel drained, self-help is an option. Harris and other health experts shared these quick ways to boost your energy throughout the day. Bye bye, blahs!

7 a.m.

Even chirpy morning people need some time before they're fully functioning. "It can take up to two hours to get the brain fully alert," Matthew Edlund, a doctor and director of the Gulf Coast Sleep Institute in Sarasota, Florida, told Real Simple. He explained that one reason you're lethargic is that your core body temperature has dipped during the night to keep you in deep, restorative slumber. 

To jar yourself back to peak energy more quickly, open the blinds and do a few stretches in front of the window. Light lets your brain know it's time to stop producing melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy, Edlund said. The physical activity will raise your body temperature out of the sleep-inducing range and increase blood flow to your brain.

7:15 a.m.

Take a “scentsational” shower. For a quick morning energy boost while you bathe before work or school, use bath products scented with citrus, eucalyptus or mint. "When you smell these scents, a surge of energy flows through the body, which clears the mind of clutter and gives you a quick lift," Ann Marie Chiasson, a Tucson-based integrative-medicine physician, told Real Simple.

8 a.m.

Pack in some protein. Eating lots of protein is essential for staving off fatigue, especially early in the day when your cortisol levels are high, Beverly Hills-based endocrinologist and metabolic specialist Eva Cwynar told Forbes. She suggested putting eggs on the breakfast menu, having a slice of ham on the side or adding protein powder to your oatmeal. If you eat only carbohydrates, you'll crash early and hard, explained Cwynar, who is the author of The Fatigue Solution: Increase Your Energy in Eight Easy Steps.

If you're not a breakfast person, try to manage at least a banana and about 22 raw almonds, Real Simple advised. Or sip a bottle of drinkable fruit yogurt or kefir, adding 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed for a fiber boost.

»RELATED: Want to lose weight? Give your breakfast an energy boost

10 a.m.

Shake up your routine. Any time you provide yourself with a novel experiences, your brain responds by releasing a rush of neurotransmitters, such as the dopamine that makes you more alert, according to Real Simple. Whether you hit a morning slump while watching the kiddos play in the yard or completing yet another report at the office, just taking something ordinary and switching it up can give you a quick hit of energy. Answer the phone with your other hand, for example, or skip to the mailbox or speak in just one-syllable words for five minutes. 

12 noon

Plan something to look forward to. Along with a light, protein-packed lunch like turkey chili, RS recommended taking part of your lunch hour to research something that will brighten your days to come. "Browse the Web for plane tickets. Or check out reviews for a movie you want to see over the weekend. Anticipating a pleasurable reward can set off a blast of energizing dopamine."

2 p.m.

Make a two-minute play date. Just a few minutes of fun brain-teasers will activate the reward system of the brain, which releases a surge of energizing neurotransmitters, according to RS. It recommended the Cup O' Joe brain-training app for the iPhone for memory games and reaction-time tests that are also actually entertaining.

3 p.m.

Fill out tomorrow's to do list. Rumination activates some parts of the prefrontal brain regions that have been associated with depression, Boulder, Colorado–based clinical psychologist Joan Borysenko told Real Simple. That means agonizing over what's on your must-do list for tomorrow will drain enjoyment from the evening ahead. If you take a few minutes during the afternoon slump hours to create tomorrow's to-do list, you can prevent this energy-sapping reaction. Should your mind try to dwell on what you didn't accomplish today, you can quickly get back to the fun and relaxation knowing you have a game plan in place.

(Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)

4 p.m.

Cut off the caffeine. Coffee and tea are both great pick-me-ups earlier in the day because of their caffeine content, according to CR. But it's a good idea to limit caffeine overall to about 400 mg (that's about two to four 8-ounce cups of coffee) and stop visiting the coffee machine no later than 4 p.m. or so. "Caffeine can disrupt sleep when it's consumed even six hours before bedtime," CR noted.

9 p.m.-10 p.m.

Power down, sleepyheads. To trigger your brain to start producing that sleep-inducing melatonin, about an hour before bedtime dim the lights, switch off the TV and put away (out of reach, ideally out of the bedroom) all your smartphones, tablets and computers.

10 p.m.

Listen to a meditation or relaxation app. To separate physical fatigue from the mental drain caused by life's demands and worries. Harris recommended listening to a meditation or relaxation app right before bed. (Make sure you power off the phone right afterwards.) "Mindful meditation quiets your mind, so your brain isn't hijacked by anxious or racing thoughts of the day or by what has to be done in the future," Harris said. "It centers you and helps set the stage for sleep."

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