Geraldo Rivera Day

A Day for Geraldo

Regarding journalism, it’s hard to match the accomplishments of Geraldo Rivera and officials in Long Island wanted to emphasize his achievements by making May 13th ‘Geraldo Rivera Day’. 

At a ceremony in Westbury, NY, honoring attorney and philanthropist Howard Fensterman for his charitable donations to healthcare research, it was an opportune time to acknowledge River for his outstanding reporting about the horrendous conditions at the Willowbrook School for the mentally disabled. 

Fensterman’s law firm, Abrams Fensterman, LLP, partially sponsored the ceremonial event along with Hudson Regional LTC Pharmacy and car manufacturer Subaru.

Rivera became nationally famous when, as a NYC reporter for ABC’s Eyewitness News in 1972, he uncovered these conditions at the Willowbrook institution in Staten Island, NY. 

As a result of Rivera’s reporting, significant policy changes materialized for the care of mentally ill patients and individuals with disabilities, ultimately leading to the deinstitutionalization movement, which moved patients from large, isolated institutions to community-based care centers. Additionally, legislation such as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (later known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, IDEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 were introduced. 

At the ceremony, Geraldo stood alongside Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman and Town of Babylon officials as they announced the special day at Life WORC’s 36th annual Geraldo Rivera Golf Classic. 

Depraved Indifference Induces Morality

WORC provides residential and community services, employment services, and financial support to patients and families who have developmental disabilities, including autism. It is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that was founded by Vicki Schneps-Yunis in 1971, whose daughter was an attendant at the Willowbrook School. 

Howard Fensterman and Vickey Schepps-Yunis
Howard Fensterman and Vickey Schepps-Yunis at the WORC ceremony in Westbury, LI

I met Geraldo at Willowbrook when my daughter was there and I was marching and picketing, and I was working on knocking on air until Geraldo came with his cameras and the power of his passionate coverage of my darling Lara and the 5400 people that lived there propelled us to a class action lawsuit Willowbrook was closed,” quoting Schneps-Yunis by the Long Island Press.

The facility was shut down due to the advocacy work of Schneps-Yunis and the reporting by Rivera, which brought this issue to the forefront. 

The Long Island Press quoted Blakeman stating “Geraldo Rivera is an amazing guy, He’s had an incredible career in journalism and as an advocate. I remember Geraldo when he was a fighting reporter. And he met Vicki [Schneps-Yunis] through his advocacy and his journalistic work at the Willowbrook Center, which was a center that was abusing children. He exposed that and he changed the whole conversation with respect to how we treat people with disabilities and with mental illness. So we’re here to celebrate him, we’re here with Vicki to to raise money and raise the consciousness of people to the plight of these individuals that could use a little extra help.

As Rivera, who is a West Babylon native, took the podium and said “For all these many, many years, we’ve been on this crusade, we’ve taken this idea, this idea of humanity, this idea of caring for the disabled, treating them with the same constitutional rights as any able-bodied person. It has changed the world with that simple concept, the concept of equality. We have changed the world. No more warehousing of humanity. No more shutting people away. Now it’s embracing, celebrating and moving forward.

Geraldo Rivera’s impact on journalism and advocacy, particularly through his groundbreaking reporting on the Willowbrook School, has left an indelible mark on society. The designation of May 13th as ‘Geraldo Rivera Day’ in Long Island serves as a testament to his contributions. The ceremony in Westbury, NY, honoring both Howard Fensterman for his philanthropic efforts and Rivera for his advocacy, highlighted the profound changes spurred by Rivera’s work. His exposure of the inhumane conditions at Willowbrook not only led to policy reforms and significant legislation but also shifted the societal approach toward individuals with disabilities, advocating for their rights and dignity.

In Conclusion

This event, supported by Fensterman’s law firm, Hudson Regional LTC Pharmacy, and Subaru, showcased the continued commitment to these ideals through organizations like Life WORC, founded by Vicki Schneps-Yunis, a fellow advocate inspired by Rivera’s work.

As Rivera eloquently stated, the fight for equality and humane treatment for all individuals, regardless of their abilities, continues to drive forward, changing the world for the better. The community’s recognition and celebration of Rivera’s legacy reinforce the enduring importance of journalistic integrity and advocacy in fostering social change. Donations to Life WORC remain a vital avenue for supporting this ongoing mission.

Which Brain Cells Require Stimulation to Support Memory?

Neurons in the Brain

We previously discussed the top foods are for brain health, but some supplements have been studied to be healthy for your brain as well. With all the advertising about this subject, let’s take a look at what ingredients are nutrients act as the real stimulants for your brain cells.

Hippocampus

Temporal Lobe - Hippocampus collage
Temporal Lobe – Hippocampus. iStock

Before we delve into brain cells, it is important to note which part of the brain has the most influence on cognitive functionality: the hippocampus. Located in the medial temporal lobe, it is associated with learning and memory functions.  

The Cells

While there isn’t a single type of cell responsible for memory, several cell types play crucial roles:

Neurons

Active neuron cell function
iStock

Neurons are the primary cells in the brain responsible for transmitting and processing information. Certain types of neurons, particularly those involved in long-term potentiation (LTP) and synaptic plasticity, are crucial in memory. These neurons form connections (synapses) with other neurons, and the strength and efficiency of these connections are believed to underlie memory formation.

Glial Cells

Glial cells, the unsung heroes of the brain, including astrocytes and microglia, are not just support staff for neurons. As recent research suggests, they also have active roles in synaptic transmission and plasticity, which are the building blocks of memory formation.

Neurotransmitters

Several neurotransmitters, such as acetylcholine, dopamine, and serotonin, modulate synaptic transmission. In layman’s terms, this means that they control the communication between neurons at the synapse, which is the gap between two nerve cells where neurotransmitters are released and received. 

This is the fundamental process underlying memory formation.

Neurogenesis

Contrary to the long-held belief that neurogenesis, the birth of new neurons, is a one-time event in the brain’s development, recent evidence suggests it’s a lifelong process in certain brain regions, including the hippocampus. These fresh neurons are believed to contribute to specific memory processes, adding a fascinating layer to our understanding of memory formation.

Stimulating specific brain regions or cell types through transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) or optogenetics can modulate neural activity and potentially enhance memory formation. However, the precise mechanisms underlying memory formation are still an active research area.

Cognitive Function Enhances

Now that we’ve grasped the functions of cells in the brain, let’s delve into some substances that bolster these cells, ensuring their vitality and health. While this compilation isn’t exhaustive, it serves as a starting point for identifying key components in brain-enhancing supplements, commonly referred to as nootropics.

Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

DHA is food for your brain cells. It’s a healthy fat that keeps the cells strong and flexible, similar to how eating veggies helps your body remain healthy. When you have enough DHA in your diet, it supports the health of all kinds of brain cells, assisting them to communicate better and work more efficiently. This can lead to improved memory, learning, and overall brain function.

DHA is part of the omega-3 fatty acid family and consequently, it helps keep the cell receptors healthy. Cell receptors are located on the surface of cells or inside the cell. They serve as “sensors” that can recognize and bind to the neurotransmitters; in other words, they help enhance the singling process of the neurons. And as an FYI, you can also help your cell receptors by eating fish, especially salmon. 

Choline

No, you don’t need to get it from a swimming pool, but you can get it in a supplement. Research has found that choline supplementation may have cognitive benefits, particularly in memory and attention. It is believed to enhance cognitive performance in adults and may reduce the risk of cognitive decline with aging.

Huperzine A

This is a natural compound derived from the Chinese club moss plant, Huperzia serrata. It works on neurotransmitters, specifically, it keeps acetylcholine alive and well by prohibiting the enzyme acetylcholinesterase from breaking it down. By inhibiting this enzyme, Huperzine A can increase the levels of acetylcholine; thus, it maintains neural transmission, which is important for memory, learning, and overall cognitive function. 
Huperzine A has been studied as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Some research suggests that it may improve memory and cognitive function in individuals with these conditions.

It is important to note that while Huperzine A shows promise as a cognitive enhancer, more research is needed to understand its effects and potential long-term benefits and risks fully. Like other nootropics, it should be used with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

B Vitamins

B vitamins, particularly B6, B12, and folic acid (B9), play a crucial role in brain function. They help the body convert food into energy for cells, including brain cells and are important for the production of neurotransmitters that regulate mood, memory, and focus. 

Summary

While the field of nootropics continues to evolve, it is evident that certain ingredients hold promise in supporting memory, focus, and overall cognitive well-being. However, further research and regulation are imperative to ensure safety, efficacy, and ethical use for some of them.


Here we gave a summary of some of the components of the brain and some potential brain enhancing ingredients. As we navigate this exciting frontier further it is essential to approach brain enhancement with a balanced perspective, acknowledging both the possibilities and limitations of these ingredients in enhancing our cognitive abilities.

Who was Typhoid Mary?

Photo of Mary Mallon ( Typhoid Mary) in hospital bed
Mary Mallon (Typhoid Mary) in hospital bed

Mary Mallon, otherwise known as Typhoid Mary, holds the title of one of history’s most notorious cases as a disease carrier. She gained infamy for being linked to multiple outbreaks of typhoid fever in the early 20th century. Mallon was born to an Irish family and worked as a cook, which is how she spread the disease when she came to the United States.

What Causes Typhoid Fever?

Composition of Medicaments Stop Typhoid showing doctor's chart
iStock

Salmonella bacteria is the ultimate cause of the disease and is found in places with unsanitary conditions. It is virtually nonexistent in the United States and other developed countries, but cases remain in Africa and Asia; however, conditions were not that optimum in the United States back in the 19th century. 

Typhoid fever was a severe and often deadly illness transmitted primarily through contaminated food and water. However, the concept of asymptomatic carriers—people carrying and spreading disease without showing symptoms—was not widely understood at that time.

About Typhoid Mary

Born in 1869 in Cookstown, County Tyrone, Ireland, Mallon immigrated to the United States at a young age. She worked as a cook for wealthy families in New York City, a profession that would ultimately lead to her unfortunate notoriety.

Despite never showing signs of the illness, she unknowingly spread the bacteria to numerous people through the food she prepared. The precise number of infections attributed to her is unknown, but it is believed to be significant.

How Was It Determined That It Was Mary?

The first documented case occurred in 1900 when she worked for a family in Mamaroneck, New York. Several members of the household fell ill, which was later determined to be due to typhoid fever. Investigators traced the source of the outbreak back to Mary. However, lacking a proper understanding of disease transmission, Mary was not held accountable, and she moved on to work for other families in the area.

Over the next several years, wherever Mary went, outbreaks of typhoid fever followed her. It wasn’t until 1906, during an outbreak at the Sloane Maternity Hospital in New York City, that her role as an asymptomatic carrier was established. George Soper, a sanitary engineer investigating the outbreak, discovered that Mary had worked at several affected households before the outbreak. He identified her as a likely source of the infection and attempted to have her cooperate with health authorities. Still, Mary vehemently denied being a carrier and refused to provide samples for testing.

Eventually, Soper enlisted the help of Dr. Sara Josephine Baker, a pioneering public health official, to track down Mary. After a lengthy investigation, Mary was located and apprehended. Tests confirmed that she was indeed a carrier of typhoid fever, although she remained healthy herself. Mary was placed in isolation against her will at a hospital on North Brother Island in New York City’s East River, where she would spend the next three years.

Lesson Not Learned

In 1910, Mary was released from isolation under the condition that she never work as a cook again and take precautions to prevent the spreading of the disease. However, Mary soon returned to her profession, using aliases to conceal her identity and continuing to work as a cook in various establishments throughout New York City.

In 1915, another outbreak of typhoid fever was linked to Mary, and she was once again apprehended and returned to isolation on North Brother Island, where she would spend the remainder of her life. Despite numerous appeals for release, Mary remained in isolation until her death in 1938.

Rights Violated? 

The case of Typhoid Mary sparked significant public debate about the rights of individuals versus the need to protect public health. Mary herself vehemently maintained her innocence and objected to being forcibly quarantined, while health officials argued that she posed a significant risk to the public.

When Was the Disease Erraticated?

The vaccine for typhoid fever was developed in the late 19th century by Almroth Edward Wright, who made the discovery that led to the development of the first effective typhoid vaccine in 1896. This marked a significant advancement in the prevention of typhoid fever and laid the foundation for subsequent research and development in vaccines.

Conclusion

Asymptomatic individuals can pose a significant risk to others who are not infected with a disease. The story of Typhoid Mary continues to be studied and debated by historians, epidemiologists, and ethicists to this day. Her case serves as a cautionary tale about the importance of understanding disease transmission and the delicate balance between individual rights and public health.

How to Overcome Sleep Deprivation

Man-having-trouble-sleeping-squeezes-a-pillow-around-his-ears Overview
Our previous article focused on what causes you to feel tired during the day. In this article, we expand on this problem by providing some additional reasons for daytime tiredness, the associated illnesses, and what you can do about it. Let’s dive in.

One of the most common reasons for feeling tired is sleep deprivation. Adults typically require seven to nine hours of sleep each night. However, some individuals may not get enough sleep due to their busy schedules or other lifestyle factors. Chronic sleep deprivation can cause several health issues, such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Lack of sleep can also affect a person’s mood, cognitive functions, and overall quality of life. We all have felt this way at one time or another.

What Illnesses Cause Sleep Deprivation?

Sometimes, the issue may not be a lack of sleep but a sleep disorder. Sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and narcolepsy are some of the common sleep disorders that can cause excessive daytime sleepiness. Sleep apnea occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep, leading to poor-quality sleep. Restless leg syndrome occurs when a person experiences an uncomfortable sensation in their legs, making it difficult to fall asleep. Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that causes excessive daytime sleepiness, which can lead to sudden sleep attacks.

Sleep ApneaObstructive sleep apnea syndrome concept vector illustration.

Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome concept vector illustration. iStock A common ailment among many people, and a good percentage don’t even know they have it; sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. When this happens, there could be a loss of oxygen in the brain. In addition, it can increase the chances of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke, not to mention the dangers of driving or handling machinery when you are not 100% awake. There are treatments for sleep apnea. The most common is the CPAP machine. It is a bulky, noisy mask that you put over your face while you sleep, but there are dental devices that can work just as well, and the latest technology is where a small device is inserted near your heart.

My Pilow, Your Bed

Woman trying to fall asleep
Image by Taras Shevchenko from Pixabay
Another possible cause of fatigue is poor sleep quality. Even if a person gets the recommended amount of sleep, the quality of their sleep can be poor. Factors such as noise, an uncomfortable bed, and temperature can all impact the quality of your sleep. Medical conditions can also cause fatigue. Chronic fatigue syndrome, anemia, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and depression are some of the conditions that can cause chronic fatigue. Anemia is when the person has a low red blood cell count, leading to reduced oxygen supply to the body.
 
Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormones, leading to fatigue and other symptoms. Depression is a mental health condition that can cause physical and emotional symptoms, including fatigue. Lack of exercise is another factor that can lead to chronic fatigue. Regular exercise can help improve sleep quality and boost energy levels. Sedentary lifestyles can lead to reduced energy levels and increased risk of health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
 

You Are What You Eat

Fast Food hamburger on a bub
Photo by Miguel Andrade on Unsplash
Poor nutrition can also cause fatigue. A diet lacking nutrients such as iron, vitamin B12, and magnesium can lead to fatigue. Eating a healthy and balanced meal can help improve energy levels and overall health. Lastly, chronic stress can also cause fatigue. Chronic stress can cause physical and emotional symptoms, including fatigue. Prolonged exposure to stress hormones can lead to the depletion of the body’s energy reserves. In conclusion, feeling tired or fatigued can indicate an underlying health issue.
 
While there are several reasons why a person may feel tired all the time, the most common reasons include sleep deprivation, sleep disorders, poor sleep quality, medical conditions, lack of exercise, poor nutrition, and chronic stress. It’s important to address chronic fatigue promptly as it can impact the person’s overall health and quality of life. Seeking professional medical advice and adopting healthy lifestyle habits can help alleviate fatigue and improve overall health.

How Healthy is Granola?

Woman eating granola
iStock

Granola is a popular breakfast and snack option that has gained a reputation for being a healthy choice that can be added to any meal. However, we need to be watchful of several factors, including its ingredients, serving size, and how it’s consumed, which will have an impact on how healthy this ingredient is. Let’s delve into the components of granola and its nutritional value to better understand its health implications.

Ingredients

Granola typically consists of rolled oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, sweeteners, and sometimes additional flavorings like spices or chocolate. Each ingredient contributes to its overall nutritional value. The following list details the usual ingredients found in granola.

    • Rolled Oats: Oats are a good source of fiber, particularly beta-glucan, which can help lower cholesterol levels and improve heart health. They also provide complex carbohydrates, which offer sustained energy.
    • Nuts and Seeds: Nuts and seeds are rich in healthy fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They can contribute to satiety and provide essential nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids (in walnuts and flaxseeds) and magnesium (in almonds and sunflower seeds).
    • Dried Fruits: Dried fruits offer natural sweetness and can provide additional fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However, they are also concentrated sources of sugar and calories, so moderation is key.
    • Sweeteners: Some granolas contain added sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, or cane sugar. While these can enhance flavor, they also contribute to the overall sugar content of the granola.
    • Add some blueberries, strawberries, or other fruity items to your dish to make it even healthier.

Nutritional Value

Container of granola with label showingThe nutritional value of granola can vary widely depending on the specific ingredients and their proportions. Generally, granola provides a mix of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Please read the label to confirm what ingredients are in it. Also, it’s important to be mindful of serving sizes, as granola can be calorie-dense.

    • Carbohydrates: Granola is typically a carbohydrate-rich food due to the oats and added sweeteners. Carbohydrates provide energy, but excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates (e.g., granola with high sugar content) may lead to blood sugar spikes and energy crashes.
    • Protein: Nuts, seeds, and occasionally grains in granola contribute to its protein content. Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues, supporting immune function, and promoting satiety.
    • Fat: Granola contains nuts, seeds, and sometimes added oils, which provide healthy fats. These fats are important for brain health, hormone production, and nutrient absorption. However, some granolas may contain unhealthy fats from added oils or processed ingredients.
    • Fiber: Oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits in granola contribute to its fiber content. Fiber is crucial for digestive health, promoting satiety, and regulating blood sugar levels.
    • Vitamins and Minerals: Granola can provide various vitamins and minerals, mainly if it contains nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. These may include vitamin E, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc.

Health Considerations

While granola can be a nutritious addition to a balanced diet, there are some considerations to keep in mind:

    • Added Sugars: Some granolas contain high amounts of sugars, which can contribute to excess calorie intake and negatively impact health if consumed in large quantities. Opt for granolas with minimal added sugars, or choose unsweetened varieties.
    • Portion Size: Granola is calorie-dense, so it’s important to be mindful of portion sizes. A small serving can provide a satisfying crunch and nutrient boost without excessive calorie intake.
    • Processed Ingredients: Some commercial granolas may contain processed ingredients, preservatives, and additives. Choose granolas with simple, whole-food ingredients whenever possible.
    • Allergens: Granola contains nuts and gluten-containing grains. If you have food sensitivities or allergies, be mindful of potential allergens.

Summary

Granola can be a nutritious and convenient option for any meal, providing a mix of carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However, choosing varieties with wholesome ingredients, minimal added sugars, and moderate portion sizes is essential. Be aware of the sugar and calorie intake, especially if you are on a diet or have certain allergies.

By incorporating a balanced amount of granola into your meal or snack alongside other nutrient-dense foods, you can enjoy its health benefits while minimizing potential drawbacks.

 

Measles: A Resurgence of a Preventable Disease

Nurse holding a newborn baby with measles
iStock

What is Measles?

Measles (MeV) is a highly contagious respiratory illness that typically spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Measles primarily affects children, but it can occur in people of any age who haven’t been vaccinated or previously infected.

Symptoms

Woman with baby with the flu
Photo: iStock

The symptoms of measles usually appear about 10 to 14 days after exposure and can include:

    • High fever
    • Cough
    • Runny nose
    • Red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis)
    • Tiny white spots with bluish-white centers on a red background inside the mouth (Koplik’s spots)
    • A red, blotchy rash that usually starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body

On Its Way Back

Once considered nearly eradicated in the US and many developed countries, the disease has recently seen a surge in cases. This resurgence poses a significant public health threat, particularly to vulnerable populations like young children.

A Disease We Thought We Conquered

Maculopapular rash on the abdomen after 3 days of measles infection
Maculopapular rash on the abdomen after 3 days of measles infection

Before widespread vaccination campaigns were initiated, measles was a common illness mainly affecting children. In the United States alone, an estimated 3-4 million cases occur annually, resulting in hundreds of deaths. However, the introduction of the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine in 1963 dramatically changed the landscape of these diseases. By 2000, measles was declared eliminated in the US, meaning continuous transmission was no longer occurring.

Why Measles is Back

The resurgence of measles is attributed to several key factors:

    • Decreased Vaccination Rates: Vaccine hesitancy, fueled by misinformation and mistrust in science, has led to declining vaccination rates in some communities. This creates pockets of susceptible individuals where the virus can quickly spread. The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated this issue, disrupting routine vaccinations and lowering overall vaccination rates.
    • Global Travel: Measles is still prevalent in many parts of the world. Travelers infected with the virus can quickly bring it into countries with lower vaccination rates, sparking outbreaks.
    • Waning Immunity: The effectiveness of the measles vaccine weakens over time. Booster shots are crucial for long-term protection, but some individuals may neglect getting them.

The Impact of the Resurgence

The return of measles is concerning for several reasons:

    • Serious Complications: Measles is not a benign illness. It can lead to severe complications like pneumonia, encephalitis (brain swelling), and even death. These complications are dangerous for young children and those with compromised immune systems.
    • Outbreaks: When vaccination rates fall below a critical threshold (around 95%), “herd immunity” (those areas where the diseases have been mostly eradicated) weakens. The virus can easily spread through a community, even infecting vaccinated people.
    • Strain on Healthcare Systems: Measles outbreaks can significantly burden healthcare systems, requiring hospitalization for some patients and diverting resources from other critical medical needs.

The Importance of Vaccination

Person getting covid injection
Photo by Frank Merino from Pexels

Many of us, especially if we live in New York State, probably don’t remember getting a measles vaccine when we were young, but rest assured we did! It is mandatory in New York State; however, that does not mean we won’t get it again. According to experts, the chances are unlikely that you will acquire it, but even if you do, your symptoms will be much milder than someone who wasn’t vaccinated. The best advice would be to talk to your doctor and see if you need a booster shot.

The good news is that measles is an entirely preventable disease through vaccination. The MMR vaccine is safe and highly effective, offering long-term protection against measles, mumps, and rubella.

Here’s what you can do:

    • Get Vaccinated: Ensure you and your family are up-to-date on your MMR vaccinations. Consult your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
    • Educate Yourself: Seek reliable information about vaccine safety and effectiveness from reputable sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO).
    • Advocate for Vaccination: Encourage others to get vaccinated and dispel myths or misinformation surrounding vaccines.

By working together to increase vaccination rates, we can prevent the spread of measles and protect ourselves and our communities from this potentially devastating disease.

Why It Is Important to Have Your Dog’s Teeth Checked

Dog looking straight with mouth open
Photo by Pixabay

You Go to the Dentist to Have Your Teeth Checked, Right, So Why Not Your Dog?

Ensuring dogs’ dental health is a crucial aspect of pet ownership. While it might not be the first thing that comes to mind when caring for our furry companions, dental care plays a significant role in their overall well-being. 

Dogs, like humans, are susceptible to various dental issues, including periodontal disease, tooth decay, and oral infections. Ignoring dental health can lead to discomfort, pain, and potential systemic health problems such as heart disease. Therefore, regular dental check-ups are essential to prevent your pet from acquiring a worsening situation.

In this article, we will explore why dogs should have their teeth checked, the importance of dental hygiene, signs of dental problems, preventive measures, and how veterinary professionals can assist in maintaining optimal oral health for our canine friends.

Start with Tooth Brushing

Toothpaste and toothbrush on a white table
Photo: SMS

Yes, you heard it right. Your dogs should brush their teeth regularly. But you need to intervene if they are having difficulty reaching their mouths with their paws.

Use toothpaste formulated for dogs and do it on a routine basis.

Additional dental care methods should also be used, such as feeding them a diet that promotes dental health, such as dry kibble or dental-specific diets, and giving them toys they can chew on.

Eating the Right Food is Essential!

Chicken Bone
Image by Rob Owen-Wahl from Pixabay

We all know that some foods we eat can harm our teeth. They may taste good, but bad things come along with them. Same with your pet.

Research what foods you can give your dog for healthy teeth. We’ll start by giving the dog a bone—an animal bone, that is, not those plastic ones.

How to Detect Bad Teeth

Dog owners must be aware of the signs of dental problems in their pets. These may include:

  • Bad breath: Persistent foul breath can indicate dental issues such as periodontal disease or oral infections.
  • Visible tartar buildup: Yellow or brown deposits on the teeth indicate the presence of plaque and tartar, which can contribute to gum disease.
  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums: Inflammation and bleeding of the gums are common signs of gingivitis, an early stage of periodontal disease.
  • Difficulty chewing or reluctance to eat: Dental pain or discomfort can make chewing painful for dogs, leading to changes in eating habits.
  • Tooth discoloration or loose teeth: These can indicate advanced dental disease and may require immediate attention from a veterinarian.

What Diseases can dogs get if Their Teeth are not Healthy?

Photo of canaine Lulu with red coat

Periodontal Disease

This is a common issue among dogs. It starts with the buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth, which can lead to gingivitis and gum inflammation. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, a more severe condition involving destroying the tissues and bones that support the teeth. Ultimately, this can result in tooth loss.

Regular dental check-ups by a veterinarian are crucial for early detection of periodontal disease. During these examinations, the veterinarian will assess the dog’s teeth, gums, and oral cavity for any signs of disease or abnormalities. 

Your Dog Health’s Summary

Black dog looking at camera
Photo by Charles

Being proactive about your dog’s dental health can help prevent serious dental issues and maintain your pet’s overall well-being. Regular dental check-ups and proper at-home dental care are crucial in ensuring that dogs have healthy teeth and gums throughout their lives.

Veterinary professionals also play a crucial role in assisting dog owners with dental hygiene. The vets can guide you on proper dental practices, recommend appropriate dental products, and perform thorough examinations and cleanings as needed. 

In cases where dental problems are detected, veterinarians can offer treatment options to address the issue and alleviate any discomfort or pain the dog may be experiencing.

A Robot Takes Over New York

Robot touching computer screen

New York City Goes Hi-Tech

In April 2023, New York City officials revealed several technologically advanced law enforcement tools. One is the robotic police dog known as ‘Digidog,’. 

This 4-legged, 70-pound robot initially faced criticism for its “eerie presence” when introduced 2 1/2 years ago., but the new addition, which includes a GPS tracker, was introduced in a manner that prioritizes transparency and collaboration with the community, according to Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell. The unveiling occurred at a Times Square press conference attended by Mayor Eric Adams—the exact location where the K5 robot was displayed sometime after this.

Digidog is back in action,” announced Adams, emphasizing that it is now an integral part of the city’s law enforcement toolkit” said Adams. He also advised that Digidog would only be deployed in high-risk situations, such as hostage standoffs.

Protests

Adams implied that he would not be influenced by the small group of people who protested the robot due to its dystopian image, but he did say he would consider their concerns. Adams noted that his commitment was based on the city’s best interests rather than bowing to a vocal minority. 

No doubt Mayor Adams is an admirer of the latest technology that the city can offer to battle law enforcement, but his opponents have several complaints, namely:

Privacy: Critics fear the Digidog could be used for surveillance, potentially infringing on citizens’ privacy. They worry about its ability to record video and audio, especially in public spaces.

Escalation of Force: Some see the Digidog as a symbol of increased militarization of the police, potentially leading to an escalation of force in situations that could otherwise be handled peacefully.

Ethical Concerns: The ethical implications of using robots in law enforcement. Critics argue that using machines for activities like entering potentially dangerous situations removes the human element of judgment and compassion.

Effectiveness: Some question the Digidog’s effectiveness in crime-fighting, arguing that its high cost outweighs any potential benefits.

Proponents of Digidog

Privacy: Supporters of Digidog have pointed out that cameras are currently everywhere, used by both private and government entities. They also say that these cameras have helped in countless arrests and prosecutions.

Escalation of Force: Proponents state this is a subjective viewpoint and not a “carved in stone” scenario.

Ethical Concerns: Mayor Adams has highlighted the strategic use of Digidog in situations involving armed suspects or barricaded individuals, presenting it as a technologically advanced approach to law enforcement where it could potentially save the lives of police officers who would otherwise have to face the suspects themselves.

Effectiveness: This is a wait-and-see to see if the robot’s functionality will outweigh the costs. Supporters state that this is progress and robots and AI are here to stay now and in the future.

Conclusion

The debate surrounding the Digidog highlights the complex issues surrounding the use of technology in law enforcement, balancing potential benefits with concerns about privacy, ethics, and responsible use. 

Despite the advancements, civil libertarians and police reform advocates raised concerns about the necessity and cost of these high-tech devices. Critics questioned the allocation of resources to such technologies, highlighting other pressing needs in the community, such as food access and housing, and criticized the perceived overspending on law enforcement technologies.

Alaskapox – Here Comes Another One (Maybe)

Alaskapox Overview

Alaskapox is a recently discovered virus from the orthopoxvirus genus family (viruses obtained by human contact with animals). The disease is mainly known for causing skin lesions. 

The Alaska Department of Health sent out a notice of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) epidemiologist Julia Rogers, who has been assigned to the Alaska Division of Public Health, stated, “Orthopoxviruses are zoonotic viruses, meaning that they circulate primarily within animal populations and occasionally spill over into humans.”

While it shares similarities with other orthopoxviruses like the variola virus (smallpox) and monkeypox, Alaskapox is still a mystery, with only a handful of cases reported.

Microscopic photo of a virus
Alaskapox Cases 

The first individuals to acquire the disease were in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 2015. Since then, only seven other cases have been documented as of February 2024, and all of them are in Alaska, most notably in the city of Fairbanks, which is perplexing.

Symptoms and Treatments

Symptoms typically involve one or more skin lesions resembling bumps or swelling accompanied by swollen lymph nodes. Additionally, joint or muscle pain may accompany it. Some cases involve the lesion persisting for six months or more, while others are resolved within weeks.

So far, there has been only one fatality in 2023, but this was an individual with an underlying health condition who succumbed to the virus. No specific treatment exists, and recovery relies on the body’s immune response, indicating that those with more healthy immune systems stand a better chance of recovering early.

Ongoing Research

Diagram showing antibodies in the human body

Much research is required, but scientists suspect small mammals like voles and flying squirrels might be carriers, although the transmission process between animals and humans is unclear. While close contact seems a possibility, further investigation is still needed.

Also, the extent of the virus’s geographic distribution and potential for broader spread is undetermined.

Preventive Measures

Given the lack of current information, practicing general hygiene as we did with COVID-19 is recommended, especially in Alaska. Frequent handwashing and avoiding contact with sick animals remains prudent, and handling wild animals or keeping them as pets is not recommended. If you experience unexplained skin lesions, particularly if you’ve been in areas where Alaskapox is known to occur, consult your doctor promptly!

Looking to the Future

Continued research is crucial to understand the virus’s biology, transmission dynamics, and potential for wider spreading of the disease, and developing diagnostic tools and potential treatments would be vital for effective management. Public health awareness campaigns educating individuals about Alaskapox and preventive measures should be enacted.

Summary

Like other diseases, scientists suspect Alaskapox was acquired through animal contact; however, the virus appears rare. At least at this time, vigilance and ongoing research are crucial to ensure preparedness for future outcomes. Consult your healthcare provider or local public health department for accurate and up-to-date information if you have concerns.

While the virus remains a mystery, ongoing research will undoubtedly contribute to better preventative care and lead to a solution, such as a vaccine. We have to wait and see!

 

What is Sarcoidosis?

Sarcoidosis Overview

Sarcoidosis is a rare disease that can affect multiple organs within the body—characterized by the formation of small abnormal masses known as granulomas, which are part of the body’s immune system.  

Diagram of people with sarcodisis
Wikipedia CC

This condition can impact various organs, leading to a variety of symptoms. Although the precise cause of sarcoidosis remains elusive, researchers believe it involves an abnormal immune response, but that is not conclusive.

In one case, a 55-year-old man who has a strong immune system was diagnosed with the disease. An MRI found he has lymph nodes in his lungs, causing him to run out of breath by just walking up a flight of stairs. Although this condition is not fatal, the question arises how a physically fit individual be infected with the disease? More studies are needed. 

Granulomas – The Explanation

As mentioned, one of the primary trademarks of sarcoidosis is the development of granulomas, a tight cluster of cells to fight off an infection or foreign substance commonly known as inflammation.

Granuloma development can be caused by pathogens, damaged cells, toxic compounds, and other conditions that infect the body. This inflammation can form in organs such as the lungs, lymph nodes, skin, eyes, heart, liver, and nervous system. The distribution of granulomas throughout the body contributes to the variability in symptoms and clinical manifestations.

The Organs

Lungs

Illustration of the lungs
Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

This organ is the most commonly affected by sarcoidosis disease, and pulmonary symptoms are among the most prevalent. Individuals may experience persistent cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain. In some cases, the ailment may advance to pulmonary fibrosis, a condition that results in the scarring of lung tissue, compromising respiratory functions.

Skin

Rashes and lesions are common symptoms of this disease. The manifestations on the skin can vary in appearance and include painful red nodules. Lupus pernio is one of these manifestations that can cause potential disfigurement. It is not essentially painful, but if other organs are affected, other symptoms could occur.

Heart and Nervous System

Diagram of the Human Heart

Cardiac sarcoidosis is a rare form of the disease, but it is concerning for individuals who have it as it can lead to cardiac complications. Studies have shown that cardiac sarcoidosis occurs in approximately 5-25% of people with sarcoidosis. However, it is a bit harder to diagnose since the developing symptoms are common with other heart-related ailments, such as arrhythmia. 

Individuals who believe they may have this form of sarcoidosis should confer with their cardiologist regularly.

Treatments

Corticosteroids, the term used to group anti-inflammatory medications, are the most commonly prescribed drugs to reduce immune activity. Prednisone is one of the most popular meds prescribed in this group. A spray may be prescribed for those with pulmonary (lung) sarcoidosis. 

Conclusion

Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disorder that can affect various organs but is most commonly found in the lungs. The exact cause is unknown, but many medical researchers believe it involves an abnormal immune response. 

Other factors may be from inheritance, and scientists are not ruling out environmental triggers, such as exposure to certain chemicals or infectious agents.

Research is ongoing to find the specific causes of this disease. Regular monitoring and medical follow-ups are crucial for individuals with this rare condition.