Having a Pet, Good for Your Health

Taking Care of Your Health Healthier Home Getting Active Dental Care Fight Breast Cancer Easter Seals Caregivers Of People With Schizophrenia

How To Keep From Catching Anything But Love From Your Pets

(NAPSI)—While pets provide many benefits, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some animals can also pass diseases to people. Such diseases are known as zoonoses. Here, Dr. Calum Macpherson, Dean and Director of Research at St. George’s University’s School of Medicine and School of Veterinary Medicine, who helped write a book called “Dogs, Zoonoses and Public Health,” offers a look at a few common problems and how to avoid them.

Cats: Cat-related diseases that make people sick include cat scratch fever and plague, but those are rare. Toxoplasmosis can come from cats, particularly if you clean the litter box or do gardening where cats roam, and cats can carry rabies, a deadly viral disease.

Dogs: Dogs can carry a variety of germs that can make people sick. For example, puppies may pass the bacterium Campylobacter in their feces. This germ can cause diarrhea in people. Dogs may carry a variety of parasites that can cause rashes or illness in people. Dogs may also carry the bacterium Leptospira and rabies, though rabies from dogs is rare in the United States.

Birds: Different types of birds can carry different diseases. For example, baby chicks and ducklings often carry Salmonella. Parakeets and parrots can carry Chlamydia psittaci. Pigeon droppings can have other germs that make people sick.

Reptiles: An estimated 3 percent of households in the United States include at least one reptile, including turtles, lizards and snakes. One of the most serious conditions you can get from these pets is salmonellosis. An estimated 70,000 people get salmonellosis from contact with reptiles in the United States each year.

Pocket Pets: Rabbits and rodents such as rats, mice and hamsters, like reptiles, may spread Salmonella to people. When choosing a pocket pet, don’t pick one that is tired, has diarrhea or looks sickly. The pet should be lively and alert, with a glossy coat free of droppings. The animal’s breathing should be normal. There should be no discharge from the eyes or nose.

Whatever the pet, whether someone gets sick can depend on two things: susceptibility and prevention.


In general, healthy pets make healthy people, but there are those who are more likely than others to get diseases from pets. These include infants, children younger than 5 years old, organ transplant patients, people with HIV/AIDS, and people being treated for cancer.


To protect yourself from pet-related diseases, Dr. Macpherson offers this advice:

• Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water after touching pets, their bedding, their saliva or their feces.

• Try to avoid scratches and bites. If you are scratched or bitten, wash the area with soap and running water right away and get medical advice.

• Remember to have your pet checked out, treated for worms and vaccinated by your veterinarian. Zoonoses are preventable, so keep yourself and your pet healthy.

• Do not eat or smoke while handling your pet.

• Do not kiss your pet or hold it close to your mouth.

• See that your pets are up to date in all their vaccinations, especially rabies.

You can find more helpful advice from Dr. Macpherson and other experts at St. George’s University, a premier center of international education on the island of Grenada.

Its Schools of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Nursing, Public Health and Preventive Medicine, along with the Windward Islands Research & Education Foundation, work together to provide a mixture of expertise and environment for the concept of “One Health, One Medicine” to flourish and to take students from residency to fellowship training to employment. The university aims to prepare its students for global health care and is affiliated with educational institutions worldwide.

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(NAPSI)—As mothers, we tend to put everyone else first. Our children and our family are often our #1 priorities—we do whatever is necessary to make sure their needs are met, often times pushing our own needs to the side, including those things we need to do to make sure we keep ourselves healthy. As we celebrate the coming of spring and the joy of Mother’s Day, we take time to reflect on what motherhood means, and now is the perfect time to think about steps you can take to better ensure that you will be there for your children, to guide and celebrate them along the way for years to come.

It’s the old airplane safety model—put on your own oxygen mask before helping your child with theirs. The same applies for your breast health. Take care of yourself first, so you can be there to take care of the ones you love.

Here’s an alarming statistic that will motivate you to make breast health a top priority: one in eight (1 in 8) women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime.1 But among those women, survival rates for those whose cancer is detected early is nearly 95 percent.2 Today, there are more ways than ever to detect breast cancer early, making successful treatment an increasingly common reality. In order to reduce risk or detect breast cancer early, each woman must KNOW YOUR RISK for developing breast cancer.

While family history is an important part of knowing your risk to develop breast cancer, 80% of women who develop breast cancer have little-to-no family history³—that’s most of us.

“Mother’s Day is a time for women to think about their role as mothers…and daughters, sisters and friends,” says Dr. Melanie K. Bone, OB/GYN at Women’s Health and Healing of the Palm Beaches in Atlantis, FL. “BREVAGen represents another way that mothers—and all women—can be proactive about knowing their own breast cancer risk and take steps to continue to be there to care for those they love.”

BREVAGen™ is a genetic-based risk prediction test for sporadic breast cancer. The test takes into account both clinical risk factors—such as a woman’s current age, age at birth of first child, breast biopsy history, as well as genetic biomarkers known to be associated with sporadic breast cancer. BREVAGen results provide refined, individualized 5-year and lifetime cancer risks of developing sporadic breast cancer, enabling women to work with their doctor to determine the breast cancer risk reduction/early detection plan that is right for them.

It’s no secret motherhood keeps you busy, but here are three simple things you can start doing today to help reduce your breast cancer risk:

• Make healthy diet choices: It’s easy to get lured into snacking from your kids’ plates and leftovers, but that’s not always the best choice for moms. Make a “mommy section” in your pantry and fridge of healthy options to help you maintain a healthy weight.

• Stay active: Motherhood keeps you on your toes, but make sure you set aside time for at least 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week. 4

• Take a BREVAGen test: BREVAGen is a quick test with results that could impact your life. Using a simple cheek swab, BREVAGen provides you both five-year and lifetime predictive risk assessments to more accurately evaluate your risk of developing breast cancer.

This Mother’s Day, why not give yourself—and your family—a priceless gift. Make sure all of your medical appointments and health screenings are up-to-date, including knowing your risk for developing breast cancer and what you can do now to reduce your risk for breast cancer, or detect it early. It’s a gift that benefits your entire family.

BREVAGen is available through doctors in all 50 states. To find a doctor near you or to learn more, visit Know Your Risk…your children and family will thank you!


1. National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health. Breast Cancer Risk in American Women. Accessed April 9, 2014 at

2. Breast Cancer. Breast cancer survival rates by stage. American Cancer Society. Accessed April 9, 2014 at

3. Breast Cancer: Early Detection. American Cancer Society. Accessed April 9, 2014 at

4. American Cancer Society. Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2013-2014. Atlanta: American Cancer Society, Inc. 2013

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Duct Facts

(NAPSI)—Be warned: Dirt, allergens and pollutants may be lurking in the cleanest home, hidden away where you can’t see them—but you can get help getting rid of them.


The mold, fungi, bacteria and dust clogging your home’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system can affect your family’s health.


Frequency of cleaning depends on whether there are pets or smokers in the house, there’s been water damage or remodeling done or anyone has allergies or asthma.


The most effective way to clean air ducts and ventilation systems is to have a professional contractor place the system under negative pressure, through the use of a specialized, powerful vacuum.


Ask if the contractor you’re considering is a member of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA). These have a Code of Ethics and follow NADCA Standard.


Find a nearby association member at

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Tips To Help You Get Active

(NAPSI)—With many people juggling the demands of work, family and other commitments, it may seem impossible to add something else—like physical activity—to the mix. You are not alone. With some planning and adjustable tips, you and your family can build physical activity into your routine.

To help, here are some tips from the Weight-control Information Network (WIN), a national information service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health:

Get Started

• Try a new activity each day, like brisk walking or dancing, to find out what you enjoy. Stick with what you like best.

• If you must spend a lot of time sitting down each day, try to take breaks to stand up and move around every 30 minutes.

Craft a Plan That Fits Your Day and Your Budget

• If you have a hard time fitting in exercise, do 10 minutes at a time. Spread these bursts of activity throughout the day.

• If cost is an issue, try activities that are cheap or free, such as walking. Also, find out if your local recreation or community center offers reduced rates or pay-as-you-go options.

Keep Up the Good Work

• Make it social. Involve your family and friends in physical activity to have fun, spend quality time together and stay on track.

• Once you start meeting your goals, reward yourself! Take a relaxing hot bath or shower, try a new healthy recipe with friends, work out to new music, or join an affordable sports team, recreation center or exercise class.

Learn more from WIN’s “Tips to Help You Get Active.” The brochure presents the federal government’s physical activity guidelines, offers more ideas to help you get active, and includes places for you to write down goals and ways to stay on track.

To find out more, visit or call 1-877-946-4627, or follow WIN on Facebook at

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Good Dental Care Is An Important Part Of A Healthier Life For Seniors

(NAPSI)—While it’s often overlooked, good dental health plays an important role in keeping older adults healthy.

Poor oral health care can lead to the deterioration of teeth and gums, infections in the mouth that turn into more serious illnesses such as pneumonia, and cardiovascular disease.

And missing teeth is no excuse to skip dental visits—experts say visiting the dentist is not just for teeth cleaning, but is also an opportunity for dentists to screen for oral cancer, check denture fittings and help with many critical issues.

Dental care tips offered by the American Dental Association are essentially the same across all age groups. Adults are encouraged to:

• Brush their teeth and gums at least twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste

• Floss at least once a day; preferably twice a day to remove food particles in tough-to-reach places

• Visit their dentist every six months for a routine cleaning and oral exam

• Use an antibacterial mouth rinse to reduce bacteria buildup.

According to leading dentists, however, there are issues specific to treating the elderly that should be addressed and closely monitored.

Dr. Scott Dickinson, Aspen Dental practice owner from Pace, Fla., has treated many elderly patients and notes that the aging process can make oral care more challenging, particularly as older adults lose some dexterity.

Dr. Dickinson offers these tips to avoid a decline in wellness due to poor oral health care:

• Certain prescriptions can affect the healing process of dental procedures. Older adults who are prescribed medicine to keep their bones strong might run the risk of a slower healing process after an extraction or cavity procedure. As a preventative measure, dentists need to consult with the patient’s doctor about their medicines and check that it’s safe to go ahead with dental work.

• A dry mouth can increase cavities. Some medications cause dry mouth, which is often seen among elderly patients. If the mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva, plaque and food do not get naturally washed away, leading to a higher incidence of cavities.

• Ill-fitting dentures can lead to poor nutrition. Dr. Dickinson often sees patients who haven’t maintained their dentures, leading to a painful chewing experience. A quick denture fitting can alleviate the pain and ensure that the patient can enjoy his or her meals—and once again get proper nutrition.

Receiving dentures is a big step, and the dentists who own and operate Aspen Dental−branded practices are committed to patients’ complete satisfaction. Through a recently introduced Denture Money-Back Guarantee program, patients have the peace of mind knowing that if they are dissatisfied with their full or partial ComfiDents® denture for any reason, their Aspen Dental practice will refund the cost of the denture, no questions asked.

For more information, call 800- ASPEN-DENTAL (800-277-3633) or visit the website at

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New Guidelines Help Fight Breast Cancer

(NAPSI)—Millions of Americans may benefit from new guideline recommendations created to help physicians more accurately diagnose breast cancer—thanks in part to a physician who is a breast cancer survivor.

The Doctor’s Story

Kimberly Allison, M.D., FCAP, was the director of Breast Pathology at the University of Washington Medical Center when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of HER2-positive breast cancer at Stage 3. Approximately 15-20 percent of all newly diagnosed breast cancers are HER2-positive. She says she felt her transformation to the “other side of the microscope” began while waiting for her pathology laboratory report to come back.

“It’s the most fearful time of the whole experience; you don’t know the details or how bad your prognosis is. Your mind goes to the worst possibilities.”

New Guideline

That’s one reason, in the updated HER2 breast cancer testing guideline that Dr. Allison helped write, there’s a patient communications section that includes key points for doctors to discuss with patients regarding their breast cancer’s HER2 status.

The new guideline:

• Recommends all patients with invasive breast cancer have HER2 testing performed on tissue samples from the tumor

• Has specific recommendations to help ensure that the highest-quality tissue sample is used and the test performance is optimized and standardized

• Helps doctors interpret challenging cases

• Encourages that testing is performed in an accredited laboratory that follows standards set for accreditation by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) or an equivalent accreditation authority.

Pathologists diagnose and characterize the biology of each patient’s breast cancer. They work with oncologists to help select treatment options that are most appropriate for each individual based on the specific biological features of each patient’s cancer.

What Is HER2 And Why Do We Test For It?

HER2 is a protein that is expressed in increased levels in a subset of breast cancers. HER2 protein overexpression is associated with more aggressive growth of breast cancers but also with a good response to chemotherapy and HER2-targeted antibody therapies. HER2 targeted therapies have dramatically increased survival in patients with HER2-positive breast cancers. A patient becomes a candidate for HER2 targeted therapies only when there is a positive HER2 pathology test result on the tumor tissue. This testing can either be done by looking at the cancer’s HER2 protein expression or testing for the number of copies of the HER2 gene in the breast cancer. Because of the critical importance of this test in determining therapy options, it is important that every new invasive breast cancer or newly metastatic breast cancer be tested for HER2 in a standardized, validated way at an accredited laboratory to ensure accurate results.

Find an Accredited Lab

The CAP accredits more than 7,600 laboratories worldwide and offers a directory at

Learn More

To learn more about Dr. Allison, read her memoir, “Red Sunshine,” available on Amazon ( To learn more about the new HER2 testing guideline, speak to your doctor and visit the CAP’s reference resources and publications tab, CAP guideline section, at

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A Step In The Right Direction To Help Others

(NAPSI)—Chances are that people you know and care about are among the estimated 54 million people living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other disabilities in America today.

Easter Seals invites you to join other families living with disabilities in its national signature event, Walk With Me. It’s all about heightening awareness around issues affecting the disability community while generating valuable support for life-changing Easter Seals services, which help people with disabilities to live, learn, work and play in their community.

How It Works

Individual walkers and teams join hundreds of others in their community for a day filled with fun, entertainment and purpose: to raise money for local Easter Seals services which impact the lives of children and adults with ASD and other disabilities. Every event is different—not just because of location and activities but because Walk participants at every event are partnered with an Honorary Ambassador, a local child or adult with a disability who benefits from Easter Seals services.

Who Is Helped

Funds raised through Walk With Me stay in the community to support local Easter Seals programs for children and adults with disabilities including Make the First Five Count®, Easter Seals’ commitment to heighten awareness of the importance of early identification and early intervention services for kids at risk of ASD, developmental delays and other disabilities. Every year, more than 1 million young children with unidentified disabilities enter school with learning and health issues that put them far behind and have a lasting, negative effect on their ability to meet their full potential. Easter Seals, the nation’s largest nonprofit provider of early intervention services, wants to be sure that kids get the treatments and therapies they need before the age of 5 so they’re ready to learn alongside their peers with a foundation for success and achievement in school—and in life!

Who Walks

Walk With Me brings tens of thousands of participants together nationwide in nearly 50 local communities.

Honorary Ambassadors are joined at the event by friends, family members, Easter Seals staff, community leaders, local companies and representatives from Walk With Me national sponsors including CVS Caremark, Amway, CENTURY 21® and MassMutual Financial Group. All share a common goal: to help bring Easter Seals one step closer to achieving its mission to provide exceptional services that ensure all people with disabilities and their families have equal opportunities to participate in their communities.

Step Up To Help!

• Anyone can participate!

• Register for a Walk With Me event in your community at or call (800) 221-6827.

• Spread the word about the event through your personal social media channels or sign up to volunteer! You can make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities through support of Easter Seals!

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Caregivers Of People With Schizophrenia Need Support, Not Stigma

(NAPSI)—An estimated 2.4 million Americans are living with schizophrenia. However, the condition impacts many more than those patients alone. It also impacts the people who love those patients, care for them and worry about them. It takes courage, compassion, and a commitment to stand and face this serious condition together. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it’s an ideal time to recognize this often overlooked caregiver population.

Caregivers act as advocates, collaborate with treatment team members and often are the main support in the daily life of their loved one with schizophrenia. Results of an online survey* among 302 unpaid caregivers to adults with schizophrenia reveal that many caregivers face challenges in caring for their loved ones, yet they strive to maintain a positive outlook.

“Caring for a loved one with schizophrenia has considerable challenges because of the stigma associated with the disease. Many people don’t understand schizophrenia and they may fill those gaps with fear. It’s a unique caregiving experience in that sense,” said Randye Kaye, mental health advocate, actress and author of “Ben Behind His Voices: One Family’s Journey from the Chaos of Schizophrenia to Hope.” Kaye is the primary caregiver for her son, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia about 12 years ago. Her book is a memoir of her experience as a mother and caregiver to her son, from the onset of his battle with schizophrenia along the hopeful road to managing his disease.

Results from the survey suggest that caring for someone with schizophrenia can be associated with significant challenges. Of caregivers surveyed, 79 percent felt their loved one has experienced isolation and 57 percent felt they have experienced isolation as a result of their loved one’s schizophrenia.

Perhaps because of the perceived stigma and social isolation, caregivers may feel they lack support from others. Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed said they wish there were more opportunities to talk to others about caring for someone with schizophrenia and more than half (57 percent) have felt nobody understands what they are going through.

Despite challenges, 94 percent of caregivers surveyed said they try to maintain a positive outlook and 68 percent would likely be as involved in their loved one’s care even if someone else was willing and able to be a caregiver. Kaye knows firsthand how important the caregiver’s role is in contributing to successful outcomes for a loved one with schizophrenia.

“I know from experience the physical and emotional burdens of caring for someone with schizophrenia, but I also know how critical my involvement is to my son’s success,” said Kaye. “I’ve learned that a caregiver’s informed input can be an incredibly valuable contribution to an effective treatment team. That’s why it’s important to develop strong and trusted relationships with members of your loved one’s treatment team.”

Feeling supported is key for caregivers, said Kaye. There is a notable difference between caregivers who feel satisfied by the support that’s available and those who do not, according to results of the survey. Compared to those who are dissatisfied by available support, caregivers who are satisfied are more likely to feel grateful (39 percent v. 23 percent), content (27 percent v. 11 percent) and proud (38 percent v. 24 percent) about being a caregiver for their loved one. They are also less likely to feel stressed (36 percent v. 66 percent), challenged (40 percent v. 58 percent), frustrated (25 percent v. 54 percent), overwhelmed (28 percent v. 40 percent), and sad (25 percent v. 40 percent), and they’re less likely to feel that nobody understands what they’re going through (49 percent v. 65 percent).

This reinforces that action is required to help provide caregivers with the support and resources they need.

“If you are caring for someone with schizophrenia, you are not alone. There are others out there who are going through what you’re going through, and there are resources that can help,” said Kaye.

If you or someone you know is struggling to provide care for a loved one with schizophrenia, visit to register for resources and find the support you deserve.

*The survey was conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. and Lundbeck. The survey was administered online within the United States between January 20 and 27, 2014, among 302 adults who provide unpaid care for an adult with schizophrenia. Data were not weighted and are only representative of those who completed the survey. Certain percentages include net values (such as those who selected “somewhat agree” and “strongly agree” on a four-point agree/disagree scale).


1. The Numbers Count: Mental Disorders in America. National Institutes of Mental Health Website. Accessed Mar. 17, 2014

2. Suresky, M. J., Zauszniewski, J. A. and Bekhet, A. K. Factors Affecting Disruption in Families of Adults With Mental Illness. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care. 2013; 49.

3. Chen, F. & Greenberg, J. A Positive Aspect of Caregiving: The Influence of Social Support on Caregiving Gains for Family Members of Relatives with Schizophrenia. Community Mental Health Journal. 2004; 40: 423-435.

4. Shor, R. & Birnbaum, M. Meeting Unmet Needs of Families of Persons with Mental Illness: Evaluation of a Family Peer Support Helpline.Community Mental Health Journal. 2012.

5. González-Torres, et al. Stigma and Discrimination Towards People With Schizophrenia and Their Family Members. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. 2007, 42: 14-23.

6. Understanding Schizophrenia and Recovery. NAMI. 2008. Available at:

April 2014 09US14EUC0039

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