Monthly Archives: August 2016

Maiming the pets

Of all the consequences of the nation’s opioid epidemic — which last year killed 33,091 people, or one overdose death every 15 minutes — the strangest may be how it has increased the abuse of dogs.

Addicts discovered that the painkiller tramadol, prescribed by veterinarians across the country for pets with arthritis or other debilitating ailments, is the same drug prescribed to human cancer patients to dull their pain.

And compared to the more widely-abused opioid oxycontin, which can cost up to $10 for a 10 milligram pill, tramadol is dirt cheap. It wholesales for less than $25 for a 1,000-pill bottle.

Its inexpensive price has already made it a scourge throughout the third world — and now the problem is moving into developed countries.

In Northern Ireland on Wednesday, one coroner said more teens there now die from tramadol than from morphine or heroin.

Here in the US, opioid abusers are finding veterinarians can be easily fooled into prescribing the drug — even if it means, at times, purposely maiming or abusing their dog to pull off their ruse.

“They’ve gotten very sophisticated in how they obtain drugs and go about their activities,” said Jim Arnold, the chief of policy and liaison for the diversion control division at the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Meningitis and the death

Health officials said a California Bay Area woman’s death was likely caused by bacterial meningitis, which would make it the second fatality linked to the illness in one week. David Robson, Laura Robson’s brother, told a local news outlet that his sister had complained of a headache and a slight fever before her death.

Robson reportedly was already dead when she was found in the back of a San Francisco Muni bus, which was located in Daly City at the time, NBC Bay Area reported. A preliminary investigation said the 53-year-old’s cause of death was likely meningitis, David told the news outlet, but a complete autopsy is being conducted by the San Mateo County Coroner’s Office.

David and his 5-year-old son received antibiotic treatment as a precaution, NBC Bay Area reported.

On January 7, Seven Phillips, a 48-year-old San Rafael resident, died of bacterial meningitis. As a precaution, more than 200 individuals who attended classes at the SoulCycle location which Phillips frequented were contacted by the spin studio. Phillips contracted the infection between December 31 and January 7, but did not contract it at the popular fitness studio. No one has reported symptoms so far, the New York Post reported.

“While the rider did not contract the infection at our studio, we have nonetheless been in constant communication with the Department of Health which has emphasized that there is no evidence of any health risk to our riders,” SoulCycle said in a statement, according to NBC Bay Area.

The disease is rare and risk of infection is low. It spreads through respiratory droplets, coughing and sneezing and can stay on surfaces.

David told NBC Bay Area that his sister had not attended a SoulCycle class at the studio Phillips had visited.

Swaps that anyone can digest

Hippocrates once said, “Let thy food be thy medicine!” but for the estimated 45 million Americans who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), that can be a tough pill to swallow. Symptoms of IBS can be uncomfortable, frustrating, and painful — and are brought on directly by the foods consumed. It doesn’t help that there is no specific test to diagnose IBS either. IBS is a sort of “subjective” condition where a lot of symptoms are clumped into one to form a diagnosis. Fortunately for those suffering from IBS, food may actually be “thy medicine”.

A new eating plan has been created, and proven with great clinical significance to help appease IBS symptoms. This belly-saving way of eating is based on “FODMAPs,” specifically “low FODMAP” foods. A 2014 Australian clinical trial published in the Journal of Gastroenterology has shown following a low FODMAP diet may reduce IBS symptoms by as much as 50 percent. The term “FODMAP” is an acronym that stands for “”Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols.”

This plan identifies short chain carbohydrates that are potentially difficult for people to digest and ferment in the large intestine causing gas and other digestive stress. These short-chain carbohydrates include excess fructose, lactose, fructans, galactans, and polyols. Such carbohydrates are considered “high FODMAP” foods and thus should be avoided by those with IBS.

No one likes hearing the word “no,” so instead of telling you what you can’t eat, here’s what you can eat. Simple swaps (high FODMAPs out for low) that may make a huge difference in ways of digestion include:

1       Apples out for blueberries: An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but it may not keep IBS symptoms at bay. Apples areeliminated in a low FODMAP diet because they contain an excessive amount of fructose. Fructose is a type of sugar found in fruits. Foods that have excess fructose are considered high FODMAP and should be avoided by people who suffer from IBS. Such foods include apples, watermelon, cherries, mango, agave, and honey. Some fruits have less fructose than others though, and can safely be incorporated in a low FODMAP eating plan.Blueberries (20 blueberries), grapes (1 cup), orange (1 small), and kiwi (2 small)all make the low FODMAP list. Although these fruits are lower in fructose, people who suffer from IBS should still limit their overall fruit consumption as fructose in lower amounts can still add up when consumed in large quantities.

2        Artichokes out for eggplant: Foods high in fructan, a substance similar to fructose, and found in many vegetables and grains, are also high FODMAP and thus should be avoided. Foods high in fructans to avoid include: artichokes, garlic, leeks, scallions, onion, peas, and certain grains, nuts, and legumes. Before you swear off salads for life, know that there are plenty of low fructan vegetables that can be enjoyed by all. Eggplant, arugula, zucchini, sweet potato, spinach, tomatoes, and cucumbers all get the green light for low FODMAP dieters.

3       Pasta out for spaghetti squash: Aside from being high in carbohydrates and deliciousness, pasta is also high in fructans. For this reason, pasta is a no-go when following a low FODMAP plan. Other grains in addition to pasta that must be avoided include wheat and rye such as bread, crackers, cookies, and couscous. To get your pasta fix, you can make spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles, as both zucchini and squash are low FODMAP foods, or use a gluten-free pasta like quinoa pasta. Other suitable low FODMAP grain products and grains include gluten-free bread, millet bread, rice, and spelt bread.

Know the potentially exposed to tuberculosis

Health officials in Ohio said nearly 50 people may have been exposed to tuberculosis (TB) in the neonatal intensive care unit at an Ohio hospital by a patient unaware of their diagnosis at the time. Those at risk of exposure include infants, visitors and staff, Fox 8 reported.

Officials said the person, who was identified as a Summa County resident, visited Akron City Hospital in November and December but was not diagnosed until January 3. TB bacteria typically attacks the lungs but can affect the kidney, spine and brain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Not all who are infected with TB exhibit signs of illness, but those that do may complain of a persistent cough, pain in the chest, blood in phlegm, weakness, weight loss, loss of appetite, fever, chills or sweating at night.

“The risk for infection is low, but because TB can be more serious in young children we would like to evaluate these infants and begin them on a protective antibiotic,” Dr. John Bower, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Akron Children’s Hospital, told Fox 8. “We have set up a clinic and are providing this care at no cost to our patient families.”

While officials stressed that there is no risk to the general public, caregivers, older children and other individuals who visited the unit during the same time period as the infected patient are encouraged to get tested for TB in 6 to 8 weeks.