Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cancer Fighting Dogs

Dogs Can Help Fight two of the most deadly types of cancer- breast and lung cancer - detecting it in exhaled breath.

A study conducted at the Pine Street Foundation, a non-profit cancer education and research group in San Anselmo, Calif., had such good results that a new research related with ovarian cancer, is currently being done. methodology is similar asw are the breeds used.
Nicholas Brofman, executive director of the Pine Street Foundation, alerts: "should your best friend display a persistent animated behaviour around a person, we do recommend medical follow-up.

Here Boffman, answers questions about his studies:

Q: How were the reactions to your study in the medical community?

A: The medical community is always looking for ways to improve your accuracy and find methods that can detect cancer at its earliest stages. Other researchers around the world are now working on the early detection of disease through scent and biological biomarketers.

Q: After your successful studies, should we worry if our pets insist on smelling our neck or breath?

A: Numerous anecdotal reports have been published and televised documenting individual cases in which dogs began to display persistent animated behaviour around specific body locations on their owners. These behaviours, on subsequent medical evaluation proved to be accurate, and in some cases life- saving. Early warning signs of cancers such as those of the breast and skin (melanoma) Therefore, should your dog display such behaviour around a person we do recommend medical follow-up.

Q: Do you think your studies can lead to a future scent detection system in clinical practice, alongside mammograms, for instance?

A: Our research will lead to the development of new diagnostic tools that can be used along currently accepted screening methods, such as mammogram and CT scans.

Q: Will dogs one day detect cancer even earlier than standard screening test?

A: The specificity and the sensitivity of the dogs involved in our 2006 study exceeded several currently accepted screening methods.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

For information on ways to decrease one's chances of contracting swine influenza, see influenza prevention.

For the 2009 outbreak, see 2009 flu pandemic

Swine influenza (also called swine flu, hog flu, and pig flu) is an infection by any one of several types of swine influenza virus. Swine influenza virus (SIV) is any strain of the influenza family of viruses that is endemic in pigs.[2] As of 2009, the known SIV strains include influenza C and the subtypes of influenza A known as H1N1, H1N2, H3N1, H3N2, and H2N3.

Swine influenza virus is common throughout pig populations worldwide. Transmission of the virus from pigs to humans is not common and does not always lead to human influenza, often resulting only in the production of antibodies in the blood. If transmission does cause human influenza, it is called zoonotic swine flu. People with regular exposure to pigs are at increased risk of swine flu infection. The meat of an infected animal poses no risk of infection when properly cooked.

During the mid-20th century, identification of influenza subtypes became possible, allowing accurate diagnosis of transmission to humans. Since then, only 50 such transmissions have been confirmed. These strains of swine flu rarely pass from human to human. Symptoms of zoonotic swine flu in humans are similar to those of influenza and of influenza-like illness in general, namely chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort.

Of the three genera of influenza viruses that cause human flu, two also cause influenza in pigs, with influenza A being common in pigs and influenza C being rare.[3] Influenza B has not been reported in pigs. Within influenza A and influenza C, the strains found in pigs and humans are largely distinct, although due to reassortment there have been transfers of genes among strains crossing swine, avian, and human species boundaries.

Influenza C
Influenza C viruses infect both humans and pigs, but do not infect birds.[4] Transmission between pigs and humans have occurred in the past.[5] For example, influenza C caused small outbreaks of a mild form of influenza amongst children in Japan[6] and California.[6] Due to its limited host range and the lack of genetic diversity in influenza C, this form of influenza does not cause pandemics in humans.[7]

Influenza A
Swine influenza is known to be caused by influenza A subtypes H1N1,[8] H1N2,[8] H2N3,[9] H3N1,[10] and H3N2.[8] In pigs, three influenza A virus subtypes (H1N1, H1N2, and H3N2) are the most common strains worldwide.[11] In the United States, the H1N1 subtype was exclusively prevalent among swine populations before 1998; however, since late August 1998, H3N2 subtypes have been isolated from pigs. As of 2004, H3N2 virus isolates in US swine and turkey stocks were triple reassortants, containing genes from human (HA, NA, and PB1), swine (NS, NP, and M), and avian (PB2 and PA) lineages.[12]

Although there is no formal national surveillance system in the United States to determine what viruses are circulating in pigs,[13] there is an informal surveillance network in the United States that is part of a world surveillance network.
Veterinary medical pathologist, Tracey McNamara, set up a national disease surveillance system in zoos because the zoos do active disease surveillance and many of the exotic animals housed there have broad susceptibilities. Many species fall below the radar of any federal agencies (including dogs, cats, pet prairie dogs, zoo animals, and urban wildlife), even though they may be important in the early detection of human disease outbreaks.

Swine influenza was first proposed to be a disease related to human influenza during the 1918 flu pandemic, when pigs became sick at the same time as humans.[16] The first identification of an influenza virus as a cause of disease in pigs occurred about ten years later, in 1930.[17] For the following 60 years, swine influenza strains were almost exclusively H1N1. Then, between 1997 and 2002, new strains of three different subtypes and five different genotypes emerged as causes of influenza among pigs in North America. In 1997-1998, H3N2 strains emerged. These strains, which include genes derived by reassortment from human, swine and avian viruses, have become a major cause of swine influenza in North America. Reassortment between H1N1 and H3N2 produced H1N2. In 1999 in Canada, a strain of H4N6 crossed the species barrier from birds to pigs, but was contained on a single farm.[17]

The H1N1 form of swine flu is one of the descendants of the strain that caused the 1918 flu pandemic.[18][19] As well as persisting in pigs, the descendants of the 1918 virus have also circulated in humans through the 20th century, contributing to the normal seasonal epidemics of influenza.[19] However, direct transmission from pigs to humans is rare, with only 12 cases in the U.S. since 2005.[20] Nevertheless, the retention of influenza strains in pigs after these strains have disappeared from the human population might make pigs a reservoir where influenza viruses could persist, later emerging to reinfect humans once human immunity to these strains has waned.[21]

Swine flu has been reported numerous times as a zoonosis in humans, usually with limited distribution, rarely with a widespread distribution. Outbreaks in swine are common and cause significant economic losses in industry, primarily by causing stunting and extended time to market. For example, this disease costs the British meat industry about 65 million every year.[22]

1918 pandemic in humans
The 1918 flu pandemic in humans was associated with H1N1 and influenza appearing in pigs;[19] this may reflect a zoonosis either from swine to humans, or from humans to swine. Although it is not certain in which direction the virus was transferred, some evidence suggests that, in this case, pigs caught the disease from humans.[16] For instance, swine influenza was only noted as a new disease of pigs in 1918, after the first large outbreaks of influenza amongst people.[16] Although a recent phylogenetic analysis of more recent strains of influenza in humans, birds, and swine suggests that the 1918 outbreak in humans followed a reassortment event within a mammal,[23] the exact origin of the 1918 strain remains elusive.[24] It is estimated that anywhere from 50 to 100 million people were killed worldwide.[19][25]
1976 U.S. outbreak

Main article: 1976 swine flu outbreak
On February 5, 1976, in the United States an army recruit at Fort Dix said he felt tired and weak. He died the next day and four of his fellow soldiers were later hospitalized. Two weeks after his death, health officials announced that the cause of death was a new strain of swine flu. The strain, a variant of H1N1, is known as A/New Jersey/1976 (H1N1). It was detected only from January 19 to February 9 and did not spread beyond Fort Dix.[26]
This new strain appeared to be closely related to the strain involved in the 1918 flu pandemic. Moreover, the ensuing increased surveillance uncovered another strain in circulation in the U.S.: A/Victoria/75 (H3N2) spread simultaneously, also caused illness, and persisted until March.[26] Alarmed public-health officials decided action must be taken to head off another major pandemic, and urged President Gerald Ford that every person in the U.S. be vaccinated for the disease.[27]

The vaccination program was plagued by delays and public relations problems.[28] On October 1, 1976, the immunization program began. That same day, three senior citizens died soon after receiving their swine flu shots and there was a media outcry linking the deaths to the
immunizations, despite the lack of positive proof. According to science writer Patrick Di Justo, however, by the time the truth was known that the deaths were not proven to be related to the vaccine it was too late. "The government had long feared mass panic about swine flu now they feared mass panic about the swine flu vaccinations." This became a strong setback to the program.[29]

There were reports of Guillain-Barr syndrome, a paralyzing neuromuscular disorder, affecting some people who had received swine flu immunizations. This syndrome is a rare side-effect of modern influenza vaccines, with an incidence of about one case per million vaccinations.[30] As a result, Di Justo writes that "the public refused to trust a government-operated health program that killed old people and crippled young people." In total, 48,161,019 Americans, or just over 22% of the population, had been immunized by the time the National Influenza Immunization Program (NIIP) was effectively halted on December 16, 1976.[31] [32]

Overall, there were 1098 cases of Guillain-Barr Syndrome (GBS) recorded nationwide by CDC surveillance, 532 of which were linked to the NIIP vaccination, resulting in death from severe pulmonary complications for 25 people, which, according to Dr. P. Haber, were probably caused by an immunopathological reaction to the 1976 vaccine. Other influenza vaccines have not been linked to GBS, though caution is advised for certain individuals, particularly those with a history of GBS. [33] [34][35] Still, as observed by a participant in the immunization program, the vaccine killed more Americans than the disease did.[36]
1988 zoonosis

In September 1988, a swine flu virus killed one woman and infected others. 32-year old Barbara Ann Wieners was eight months pregnant when she and her husband, Ed, became ill after visiting the hog barn at a county fair in Walworth County, Wisconsin. Barbara died eight days later, after developing pneumonia.[37] The only pathogen identified was an H1N1 strain of swine influenza virus.[38] Doctors were able to induce labor and deliver a healthy daughter before she died. Her husband recovered from his symptoms.

Influenza-like illness (ILI) was reportedly widespread among the pigs exhibited at the fair. 76% of 25 swine exhibitors aged 9 to 19 tested positive for antibody to SIV, but no serious illnesses were detected among this group. Additional studies suggested between one and three health care personnel who had contact with the patient developed mild influenza-like illnesses with antibody evidence of swine flu infection. However, there was no community outbreak.[39][40]

1998 US outbreak in swine
In 1998, swine flu was found in pigs in four U.S. states. Within a year, it had spread through pig populations across the United States. Scientists found that this virus had originated in pigs as a recombinant form of flu strains from birds and humans. This outbreak confirmed that pigs can serve as a crucible where novel influenza viruses emerge as a result of the reassortment of genes from different strains.[41][42][43]

2007 Philippine outbreak in swine
Please help improve this article by expanding it. Further information might be found on the talk page. (April 2009)

On August 20, 2007 Department of Agriculture officers investigated the outbreak (epizootic) of swine flu in Nueva Ecija and Central Luzon, Philippines. The mortality rate is less than 10% for swine flu, unless there are complications like hog cholera. On July 27, 2007, the Philippine National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) raised a hog cholera "red alert" warning over Metro Manila and 5 regions of Luzon after the disease spread to backyard pig farms in Bulacan and Pampanga, even if these tested negative for the swine flu virus.[44][45]
2009 outbreak in humans

Main article: 2009 flu pandemic
The H1N1 viral strain implicated in the 2009 flu pandemic among humans often is called "swine flu" because initial testing showed many of the genes in the virus were similar to influenza viruses normally occurring in North American swine.[46] But further research has shown that the outbreak is due to a new strain of H1N1 not previously reported in pigs.

In late April, Margaret Chan, the World Health Organization's director-general, declared a "public health emergency of international concern" under the rules of the WHO's new International Health Regulations when the first cases of the H1N1 virus were reported in the United States.[47] [48] Following the outbreak, on May 2, 2009, it was reported in pigs at a farm in Alberta, Canada, with a link to the outbreak in Mexico. The pigs are suspected to have caught this new strain of virus from a farm worker who recently returned from Mexico, then showed symptoms of an influenza-like illness.[49] These are probable cases, pending confirmation by laboratory testing.

The new strain was initially described as an apparent reassortment of at least four strains of influenza A virus subtype H1N1, including one strain endemic in humans, one endemic in birds, and two endemic in swine.[46] Subsequent analysis suggested it was a reassortment of just two strains, both found in swine.[50] Although initial reports identified the new strain as swine influenza (i.e., a zoonosis originating in swine), its origin is unknown. Several countries took precautionary measures to reduce the chances for a global pandemic of the disease.[51] The 2009 swine flu has been compared to other similar types of influenza virus in terms of mortality: "in the US it appears that for every 1000 people who get infected, about 40 people need admission to hospital and about one person dies".[52]. There are fears that swine flu will become a major global pandemic in the winter months, with many countries planning major vaccination campaigns. [53]


Transmission between pigs
Influenza is quite common in pigs, with about half of breeding pigs having been exposed to the virus in the US.[54] Antibodies to the virus are also common in pigs in other countries.[54]
The main route of transmission is through direct contact between infected and uninfected animals.[11] These close contacts are particularly common during animal transport. Intensive farming may also increase the risk of transmission, as the pigs are raised in very close proximity to each other.[55][56] The direct transfer of the virus probably occurs either by pigs touching noses, or through dried mucus. Airborne transmission through the aerosols produced by pigs coughing or sneezing are also an important means of infection.[11] The virus usually spreads quickly through a herd, infecting all the pigs within just a few days.[2] Transmission may also occur through wild animals, such as wild boar, which can spread the disease between farms.[57]

Transmission to humans
People who work with poultry and swine, especially people with intense exposures, are at increased risk of zoonotic infection with influenza virus endemic in these animals, and constitute a population of human hosts in which zoonosis and reassortment can co-occur.[58] Vaccination of these workers against influenza and surveillance for new influenza strains among this population may therefore be an important public health measure.[59] Transmission of influenza from swine to humans who work with swine was documented in a small surveillance study performed in 2004 at the University of Iowa.[60] This study among others forms the basis of a recommendation that people whose jobs involve handling poultry and swine be the focus of increased public health surveillance.[58] Other professions at particular risk of infection are veterinarians and meat processing workers, although the risk of infection for both of these groups is lower than that of farm workers.[61]
Interaction with avian H5N1 in pigs

Pigs are unusual as they can be infected with influenza strains that usually infect three different species: pigs, birds and humans.[62] This makes pigs a host where influenza viruses might exchange genes, producing new and dangerous strains.[62] Avian influenza virus H3N2 is endemic in pigs in China and has been detected in pigs in Vietnam, increasing fears of the emergence of new variant strains.[63] H3N2 evolved from H2N2 by antigenic shift.[64] In August 2004, researchers in China found H5N1 in pigs.[65]

These H5N1 infections may be quite common: in a survey of 10 apparently healthy pigs housed near poultry farms in West Java, where avian flu had broken out, five of the pig samples contained the H5N1 virus. The Indonesian government has since found similar results in the same region. Additional tests of 150 pigs outside the area were negative.[66][67]

In humans
Main symptoms of swine flu in humans[68]Direct transmission of a swine flu virus from pigs to humans is occasionally possible (called zoonotic swine flu). In all, 50 cases are known to have occurred since the first report in medical literature in 1958, which have resulted in a total of six deaths.[69] Of these six people, one was pregnant, one had leukemia, one had Hodgkin disease and two were known to be previously healthy.[69] Despite these apparently low numbers of infections, the true rate of infection may be higher, since most cases only cause a very mild disease, and will probably never be reported or diagnosed.[69]

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in humans the symptoms of the 2009 "swine flu" H1N1 virus are similar to those of influenza and of influenza-like illness in general. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. The 2009 outbreak has shown an increased percentage of patients reporting diarrhea and vomiting.[70] The 2009 H1N1 virus is not zoonotic swine flu, as it is not transmitted from pigs to humans, but from person to person.

Because these symptoms are not specific to swine flu, a differential diagnosis of probable swine flu requires not only symptoms but also a high likelihood of swine flu due to the person's recent history. For example, during the 2009 swine flu outbreak in the United States, CDC advised physicians to "consider swine influenza infection in the differential diagnosis of patients with acute febrile respiratory illness who have either been in contact with persons with confirmed swine flu, or who were in one of the five U.S. states that have reported swine flu cases or in Mexico during the 7 days preceding their illness onset."[71] A diagnosis of confirmed swine flu requires laboratory testing of a respiratory sample (a simple nose and throat swab).[71]
The most common cause of death is respiratory failure. Other causes of death are pneumonia (leading to sepsis)[72], high fever (leading to neurological problems), dehydration (from excessive vomiting and diarrhea) and electrolyte imbalance. Fatalities are more likely in young children and the elderly.

Thermal scanning of passengers arriving at Singapore Changi airport. This section requires expansion.
Different medical kits are available for diagnosis of swine flu.[73]
The two major tests that are being used are the nasopharyngeal (or back of the throat) swab for viral culture, the gold standard, and the indirect evidence test by detection of antibodies to novel H1N1 with PCR studies.

Prevention of swine influenza has three components: prevention in swine, prevention of transmission to humans, and prevention of its spread among humans.

Prevention in swine
Methods of preventing the spread of influenza among swine include facility management, herd management, and vaccination (ATCvet code: QI09AA03). Because much of the illness and death associated with swine flu involves secondary infection by other pathogens, control strategies that rely on vaccination may be insufficient.

Control of swine influenza by vaccination has become more difficult in recent decades, as the evolution of the virus has resulted in inconsistent responses to traditional vaccines. Standard commercial swine flu vaccines are effective in controlling the infection when the virus strains match enough to have significant cross-protection, and custom (autogenous) vaccines made from the specific viruses isolated are created and used in the more difficult cases.[74][75] Present vaccination strategies for SIV control and prevention in swine farms typically include the use of one of several bivalent SIV vaccines commercially available in the United States. Of the 97 recent H3N2 isolates examined, only 41 isolates had strong serologic cross-reactions with antiserum to three commercial SIV vaccines. Since the protective ability of influenza vaccines depends primarily on the closeness of the match between the vaccine virus and the epidemic virus, the presence of nonreactive H3N2 SIV variants suggests that current commercial vaccines might not effectively protect pigs from infection with a majority of H3N2 viruses.[76][77] The United States Department of Agriculture researchers say that while pig vaccination keeps pigs from getting sick, it does not block infection or shedding of the virus.[78]

Facility management includes using disinfectants and ambient temperature to control virus in the environment. The virus is unlikely to survive outside living cells for more than two weeks, except in cold (but above freezing) conditions, and it is readily inactivated by disinfectants.[2] Herd management includes not adding pigs carrying influenza to herds that have not been exposed to the virus. The virus survives in healthy carrier pigs for up to 3 months and can be recovered from them between outbreaks. Carrier pigs are usually responsible for the introduction of SIV into previously uninfected herds and countries, so new animals should be quarantined.[54] After an outbreak, as immunity in exposed pigs wanes, new outbreaks of the same strain can occur.[2]

Prevention in humans
Prevention of pig to human transmission
Swine can be infected by both avian and human influenza strains of influenza, and therefore are hosts where the antigenic shifts can occur that create new influenza strains.
The transmission from swine to human is believed to occur mainly in swine farms where farmers are in close contact with live pigs. Although strains of swine influenza are usually not able to infect humans this may occasionally happen, so farmers and veterinarians are encouraged to use a face mask when dealing with infected animals. The use of vaccines on swine to prevent their infection is a major method of limiting swine to human transmission. Risk factors that may contribute to swine-to-human transmission include smoking and not wearing gloves when working with sick animals.[79]

Prevention of human to human transmission
Influenza spreads between humans through coughing or sneezing and people touching something with the virus on it and then touching their own nose or mouth.[80] Swine flu cannot be spread by pork products, since the virus is not transmitted through food.[80] The swine flu in humans is most contagious during the first five days of the illness although some people, most commonly children, can remain contagious for up to ten days. Diagnosis can be made by sending a specimen, collected during the first five days for analysis.[81]

Recommendations to prevent spread of the virus among humans include using standard infection control against influenza. This includes frequent washing of hands with soap and water or with alcohol-based hand sanitizers, especially after being out in public.[82] Chance of transmission is also reduced by disinfecting household surfaces, which can be done effectively with a diluted chlorine bleach solution.[83]

Experts agree that hand-washing can help prevent viral infections, including ordinary influenza and the swine flu virus. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth with hands prevents flu. [3] Influenza can spread in coughs or sneezes, but an increasing body of evidence shows small droplets containing the virus can linger on tabletops, telephones and other surfaces and be transferred via the fingers to the mouth, nose or eyes. Alcohol-based gel or foam hand sanitizers work well to destroy viruses and bacteria. Anyone with flu-like symptoms such as a sudden fever, cough or muscle aches should stay away from work or public transportation and should contact a doctor for advice.

Social distancing is another tactic. It means staying away from other people who might be infected and can include avoiding large gatherings, spreading out a little at work, or perhaps staying home and lying low if an infection is spreading in a community. Public health and other responsible authorities have action plans which may request or require social distancing actions depending on the severity of the outbreak.

Vaccines are available for different kinds of swine flu. Although the current trivalent influenza vaccine is unlikely to provide protection against the new 2009 H1N1 strain,[84] vaccines against the new strain are being developed and could be ready as early as November 2009.[85]


In swine
As swine influenza is rarely fatal to pigs, little treatment beyond rest and supportive care is required.[54] Instead veterinary efforts are focused on preventing the spread of the virus throughout the farm, or to other farms.[11] Vaccination and animal management techniques are most important in these efforts. Antibiotics are also used to treat this disease, which although they have no effect against the influenza virus, do help prevent bacterial pneumonia and other secondary infections in influenza-weakened herds.[54]

In humans
If a person becomes sick with swine flu, antiviral drugs can make the illness milder and make the patient feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within 2 days of symptoms). Beside antivirals, supportive care at home or in hospital, focuses on controlling fevers, relieving pain and maintaining fluid balance, as well as identifying and treating any secondary infections or other medical problems. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the use of Tamiflu (oseltamivir) or Relenza (zanamivir) for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with swine influenza viruses; however, the majority of people infected with the virus make a full recovery without requiring medical attention or antiviral drugs.[86] The virus isolates in the 2009 outbreak have been found resistant to amantadine and rimantadine.[87]

In the U.S., on April 27, 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Emergency Use Authorizations to make available Relenza and Tamiflu antiviral drugs to treat the swine influenza virus in cases for which they are currently unapproved. The agency issued these EUAs to allow treatment of patients younger than the current approval allows and to allow the widespread distribution of the drugs, including by non-licensed volunteers.[88]

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

This is What Spring Cleaning Means

Spring cleaning

Spring cleaning is the process of thoroughly cleaning a house from top to
bottom once the weather has lost its winter chill. In the past, inadequate heating in homes and small living spaces often meant that certain types of cleaning had to wait for spring. For example, pioneers who used straw tick mattresses, tended to wait till spring to refill these, so that they could use fresh dry hay for filling. Before modern dryers, washing drapes or comforters was complicated by cold weather and tight living quarters. Those in cold climes and had no other choice but to wait for warm weather to hang laundry outdoors to dry.

There are several suggested origins for spring cleaning based on religious practices. One of these is traced to the Jewish celebration of Pesach or Passover, which occurs in March or April each year. Prior to the celebration, the home is usually completely cleaned, and people also get rid of any leavened bread, called chametz, which are forbidden foods during the Passover days. Even crumbs of chametz or a few leftover specks of leftover grains from forbidden flours need to be removed from the home, and typically, Jewish families hunt for any possible chametz crumbs the night before Passover begins.

Another origin for spring cleaning is dated to the Persian New Year celebration, called Nouroz, which occurs at the onset of spring. Traditionally, Persian women clean everything in the house right before Nouroz begins, including floors, drapery, furniture, and ceilings. This is called khooneh takouni which translates to “shaking the house.” Twice a year in Saudi Arabia, a thorough cleaning of the Ka’aba is conducted too, which may relate to the khooneh takouni practice.

Later in history, many Eastern Orthodox Churches conducted a week long spring cleaning right before or during the first week of Lent. Other Christians may also use this time to clean the house from floor to roof. Obviously, anyone of any religion, inspired by warmer weather may want to take the time to get a house in order after the winter months.

Spring cleaning origins probably most date back to prehistory, and represent the time when it was easiest to conduct a good cleaning of living spaces. Extra light allowed people additional time to truly see the messy state of their caves, huts, or teepees. Warmer weather also meant that people could get things thoroughly dry. In agrarian societies, spring cleaning usually coincided with the beginning of planting. It could be an ideal time to organize seeds and get the home ready for the busy months ahead.

Some groups also conducted a winter cleaning right before the dreary cold of winter sets in. This is often the last opportunity to clean things like quilts, mattresses and furniture before cold weather makes it challenging to dry wet clothing. Today many Americans may also conduct a spring cleaning or organizing of their tax materials before the federal tax deadline of April 15th. If receipts or tax documents have been scattered through the house, people may want to organize and clean the home at the same time they organize and file their taxes.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Could you have swine flu?

Could you have swine flu?

Health agency looking to get better read on how many infected
The province’s public health agency will launch a major study Friday to get a clearer picture of how many Ontarians have already had Influenza A (H1N1), also known as swine flu, and is recruiting 3,000 volunteers willing to give blood samples.
“It will give us a sense of how widespread H1N1 has been in Ontario,” explained Dr. Michael Gardam, director of infectious disease prevention at the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion.
About 4,000 Ontarians have tested positive for the swine flu virus through lab tests. But it’s believed this number is just the tip of the iceberg because most people with influenza symptoms do not visit a doctor.
Some people who have contracted H1N1 wouldn’t have even known it because they had no symptoms, said Mount Sinai microbiologist Dr. Allison McGeer.
The results will give public health officials an indication of how many people might get sick in the fall.
--> -->
Cases of swine flu among US soldiers in Iraq climb to 67, Iraqi official says
BAGHDAD - There have been 67 confirmed cases of swine flu among American troops in Iraq with dozens more suspected, Iraqi officials said Wednesday, making U.S. soldiers the single largest group in the country to come down with the virus.
American soldiers account for more than two-thirds of Iraq's 96 swine flu cases, according to figures released by the Iraqi Health Ministry, as it presented steps being taken to control the spread of the virus that last week claimed its first fatality in Iraq.
In addition to the soldiers, 23 Iraqis and six foreigners have been diagnosed with the virus, said Dr. Amer al-Khuzai, the deputy health minister. A 21-year-old woman, described in poor health, died in the southern holy city of Najaf where she had been visiting revered Shiite shrines.
All American soldiers diagnosed with swine flu have either recovered or are undergoing treatment, he said, adding that there have been no fatalities among U.S. forces.
The U.S. military confirmed the 67 cases, an increase from the 51 it reported earlier this week. It also said 71 suspected cases were in isolation.
"None have been significantly ill. None have required hospitalization or evacuation," Col. Michael D. Eisenhauer, chief of clinical operations in Iraq, told The Associated Press in an email Wednesday.
Swine flu cases have been diagnosed at six American bases in Iraq, he said.
The military has been giving the ministry weekly updates on the number of cases found on their bases in Iraq, Eisenhauer said in another email to AP this week. "There has not been a sudden outbreak," Eisenhauer said, explaining that the cases have appeared over the last three months since the military began screening for the virus.
In May, 18 soldiers on their way to Iraq were diagnosed with swine flu while in Kuwait, leading to an agreement between Iraq and the U.S. military to share information about the number of confirmed cases.
Troops heading to and from Afghanistan and Iraq are now also screened.
In Afghanistan, 14 U.S. personnel were diagnosed with and treated for swine flu in June at Bagram Air Base, the main U.S. base north of Kabul. In the western Afghan city of Herat, 22 Spanish soldiers were quarantined with suspected cases in July.
The Iraqi Health Ministry said the higher prevalence of the flu in U.S. troops than Iraqis was likely a combination of factors, such as their close living quarters and their travels.
"We think they have this many cases because they come through different countries to come here. They come from the United States. They come from Europe," al-Khuzai said.
Health officials caught 10 cases of swine flu at Baghdad's International Airport during the now routine screenings of arriving travellers, said Dr. Sabah Karkukly, who oversees the ministry's swine flu program.
Two more cases were found in the southern city of Najaf, while three others were appeared in Karbala.

The cases in the south raise concern about Iraq's ability to control the virus' spread among millions of Shiites who regularly visit the shrines in Najaf and Karbala.

Al-Khuzai cautioned Iraqis to avoid crowded places, including religious sites, where the virus can easily be transmitted.
Iraq's Cabinet on Wednesday banned trips to Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, during which millions of pilgrims will mingle at the holy sites there.
Iraq also has joined other countries in preventing children, the elderly and the chronically ill from the annual hajj pilgrimage in late November.
The World Health Organization, as of July 31, had tallied more than 162,000 swine flu cases worldwide. It counted at least 1,154 deaths, with more than 1,000 reported in the Americas, according to its Web site.
The Health Ministry also launched a public health campaign using posters, leaflets, television advertisements and radio spots to educate Iraqis about how to prevent transmission of the virus and what to do if they catch swine flu.
Iraq's Cabinet also approved the purchase of $100 million worth of the anti-viral medicine Tamiflu, which is enough for a quarter of Iraq's population, Karkukly said.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

H1N1 Virus Updates

Ottawa reports 4th death related to H1N1 but no more information released

OTTAWA - A fourth person in Ottawa has died after contracting the H1N1 virus.

Ottawa Public Health is releasing no information about the person, only saying the victim had chronic medical conditions.

There have been 361 confirmed cases of H1N1, also known as swine flu, in Ottawa, with 69 people admitted to hospital.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said as of Tuesday that 62 people with the virus had died across the country.


UPDATE: Canadian swine flu total up to 51

Canada's caseload of the virulent flu strain known as H1N1 reached 51 on Friday as British Columbia and Nova Scotia together reported 10 new cases of the disease described as a "medical condition" by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

B.C.'s four new cases involved one youngster, one teenager and two adults - all in the province's Lower Mainland, all mild and all involving people who were either recently in Mexico or in contact with people who were, said Premier Gordon Campbell.

While neither the status nor the number of cases in Canada should be considered cause for alarm, the level of worry surrounding a virus that's fuelling fears of a global pandemic is perfectly justified, Campbell told a news conference.

"We expect, and our experts expect, that the number of cases will continue to rise," Campbell said of the province's caseload, which is currently at 15.

"Unfortunately, we may see some deaths. We have deaths from flu every year. It's important for us to recognize that and it's important for us to recognize that, again, there is no reason we can't deal with this constructively and positively if we all pay attention to it."

Much the same warning came from health officials in Nova Scotia, which is where Canada's first cases of H1N1 came to light last weekend, all of them from a private school where a group of students had recently returned from a school trip to Mexico.

Indeed, all the new cases are students from the King's Edgehill private school in Windsor, N.S., said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief public health officer.

"At this point we're not seeing severe cases such as have been experienced in Mexico," Strang said. The province's total caseload is now 14, he added.

"We do expect to see new cases and we anticipate more in the coming days. As with normal flu, once the number of cases does increase, it is normal to see more severe cases and potentially even some deaths."

Ontario reported four more mild cases, all in the Toronto area, bringing the province's total to 12.

In Alberta, two more mild cases involving two women from Calgary, one a recent returnee from Mexico and the other from Tennessee, brought the total number in the province to eight, said Dr. Andre Corriveau, the province's chief medical officer of health.

Corriveau said health officials have heard that some businesses in Alberta are requiring any staff who have recently visited Mexico to see a doctor before they return to work, a step he described as unnecessary.

"We are appealing to people to be reasonable - not to clog our health-care system unnecessarily."

On Friday, the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton said it was asking parishes to make changes to help prevent the spread of infection.

Priests have been asked to stop distributing consecrated wine from the common cup and to encourage parishioners who usually receive communion wafers on their tongue to receive it in their hands instead.

"It is important to note that the Phase 5 WHO alert does not mean a life-threatening health situation in the Archdiocese and that the steps being recommended are precautionary," Archbishop Richard Smith said in his letter to priests.

An official with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said it was not immediately clear how many of the other 14 Archdiocese across the country are taking similar measures.
At an event in Edgeley, Sask., Harper said he's confident that Canadians, while taking the necessary precautions and eyeing developments with a sense of concern, are not getting carried away.

"My sense is the public is, like ourselves, concerned, but I don't sense a panic," Harper said. "I sense the public is listening very carefully to various advisories and warnings they are getting and responding appropriately and that's what we encourage."

Harper, who was asked about the World Health Organization's decision Thursday to begin referring to the virus by its formal name rather than the more colloquial "swine flu," glanced over his shoulder at an aide for confirmation of the new designation.

"This is obviously a medical condition so it makes sense to refer to it that way and I gather that's a standard that the World Health Organization is now trying to encourage," Harper said.
"The health risks here are to humans; that's the concern ... It is not the health of the hog industry in any way that is at stake here, so we will encourage that terminology."

Strang said all of the Nova Scotia students who had swine flu were now better, after spending at least seven days in isolation, and are no longer infectious.

One of the six students who became infected with swine flu was actually on the trip to Mexico, while the other five caught it after the students came back to Canada. Fifteen students at the school are still in isolation, he added.

Dr. Ken Buchholz, senior physician adviser with Nova Scotia's Department of Health. said there hasn't been a significant increase in the number of people going to emergency departments around the province.

"At this point, the (flu) cases have been mild, and nobody has been hospitalized."


Should Canada share H1N1 antivirals?

As Canada expects to have enough antiviral drugs for everyone who needs them during an H1N1 pandemic, ethicists ask whether we should consider giving some away to the rest of the world.
The Canadian pandemic plan includes a national stockpile of antiviral drugs that provincial and territorial governments plan to increase to 55 million doses to handle the increased demand for the medication due to the outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus.

“We’re actually in good shape on antivirals thanks to the foresight of the public health agency,” said Dr. Peter Singer, a bioethicist and director of the McLaughlin-Rothman Centre at the University of Toronto. “That is a good time to reflect on just how lucky we are in relationship to other countries around the world, particularly on the antiviral issue, and maybe a time to begin to reflect on what we can do to help.”

The Public Health Agency of Canada has not yet decided whether to donate any part of its antiviral stockpile to developing countries who are not as well prepared, and said it is waiting for the World Health Organization to officially ask for help.


Pandemic H1N1 vaccine development 'on track,' WHO vaccine head says

Development of swine flu vaccine is "on track" and some countries may begin administering the vaccine as early as September, the head of the World Health Organization's initiative for vaccine research said Thursday.

Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny said manufacturers have made small batches of the pandemic vaccine and are starting clinical trials to determine that the vaccine is safe and produces a protective response.

Kieny said clinical trials are already started in Australia, China, the United States, Germany and Britain and more will come on line in coming days.
Kieny declined to offer an updated prediction of how much swine flu vaccine will be available, saying at this point too much is unknown. Earlier the WHO had estimated that in a best case scenario, as many as 94 million doses a week could roll off production lines when manufacturing plants are fully engaged in making the vaccine.

"I would really like to avoid to make any projection right now," Kieny said, noting that initially the vaccine yield manufacturers were getting was substantially lower than they get when they make seasonal flu vaccine.

A new, better yielding seed strain has been developed, and shipping to manufacturers started Wednesday. The lab that made it, Britain's National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, says the new seed strain produces a yield on a par with that of seasonal flu vaccine production.

That will have to be confirmed by the manufacturers before revised production estimates could be calculated, Kieny suggested. "We need to see what are the real yields."
As well, she said, results from early clinical trials that show what dose size and number of doses each person needs will allow the WHO to make a better estimate of how much vaccine will be available.

It's one thing to have batches of vaccine made and another to be able to administer the product to people, Kieny warned, saying regulatory agencies in various countries must first license the vaccines.

Kieny gave a rundown of the fast-tracking systems various regulatory agencies have put in place, systems that have been devised in recent years in response to the realization that regulators would need to move swiftly when a pandemic starts.

She stressed that the fast-tracking won't undermine the safety of the vaccines being produced.
But countries using vaccine will need to be vigilant to look for and investigate any reports of adverse events linked to receipt of the vaccine, Kieny said.

The WHO realizes some such reports are inevitable. And while some may be real, others could be what are known as temporal associations - problems that seem like they may have been caused by the vaccine because they occurred after the person got a flu shot but which in reality would have happened regardless.

Kieny said countries will need to rapidly investigate any signals of problems related to the vaccine and communicate any findings quickly to the public.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The History of Father's Day
It would be interesting to know how Father's Day came into practice and celebrated worldwide with an equal sincerity and respect as any other significant holidays. Here's a short history on the holiday, and meaning of the different colors of roses to be worn that Day. You may even refer the page to others to share the information by clicking on the link given below.
About 4,000 years ago a young boy named Elmusu wished his Babylonian father good health and a long life by carving a Father's Day message on a card made out of clay. No one knows what happened to Elmesu or his father, but the tradition of having a special day honoring fathers has continued through the years in countries across the world.
The Countries, where the Catholic Church were of significant influence on the culture of the society, Father's Day is celebrated on St. Joseph's Day (March 19). However, a more secular celebration which is not associated with any religion is followed in recent times to highlight the increased diversity among people from all over the globe coexisting together in one place.
Father's Day is celebrated popularly on 3rd Sunday in June in many parts of the world. The idea for creating a day for children to honor their fathers began in Spokane, Washington. A woman by the name of Sonora Smart Dodd thought of the idea for Father's Day while listening to a Mother's Day sermon in 1909. Having been raised by her father, Henry Jackson Smart, after her mother died, Sonora wanted her father to know how special he was to her. It was her father that made all the parental sacrifices and was, in the eyes of his daughter, a courageous, selfless, and loving man. Sonora's father was born in June, so she chose to hold the first Father's Day celebration in Spokane, Washington on the 19th of June, 1910.
In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. President Nixon, in 1972, established a permanent national observance of Father's Day to be held on the third Sunday of June. So Father's Day was born as a token of love and gratitude that a daughter cherishes for her beloved father. Roses are the Father's Day flowers: red to be worn for a living father and white if the father has died.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Happy Mothers Day

Happy Mothers Day
Spiritual Origin of Mothers Day
The majority of countries that celebrate Mother's Day do so on the second Sunday of May. On this day, it is commom for Mothers to be lavished with presents and special attention from their families, friends and loved ones. But it hasn't always been this way.
Only recently dubbed "Mother's Day," the highly traditional practice of honouring of Motherhood is rooted in antiquity, and past rites typically had strong symbolic and spiritual overtones; societies tended to celebrate Goddesses and symbols rather than actual Mothers. In fact , the personal, human touch to Mother's Day is a relatively new phenomenon. The maternal objects of adoration ranged from mythological female deities to the Christian Church itself. Only in the Past few centuries did celebrations of Motherhood develope a decidedly human focus.
Mom is Special
Mom deserves this time now after all the years she loved and nurtured you.
Her's a poem for all the mothers out there.
A picture memory brings to me;
I look across the years and see
Myself beside my mothers knee.
I feel her gentle hand restrain
My selfish moods, and know again
A child's blind sense of wrong and pain.
But wiser now
a man gray grown,
My childhood's needs are better known.
My mother's shastening love I own

Sunday, April 26, 2009

All About Painters

Why don't professional painters put the tarp on the floor to protect the floor from paint dropping on it.

It has come to our attention that most painters don't put down a tarp to protect the floor, leaving paint drops and smudges all over the floor.

As cleaners we have to scrape and scrub, which takes a long time all because they won't clean up after them selves .

Owners of properties when hiring painters should request them to use floor coverings to protect their floors because the paint doesn't all com up.

We need to get this message out to people who hire painters.

The fact is not that it takes us more time, but that it's costing the client more money and that the floor won't look as good as it should.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Here are some kitchen cleaning tips

Non-Toxic Tricks

3 Dishwashing Formulas
For each of the following recipes, fill a 22 oz. plastic bottle with castile soap diluted with water. Add the essential oils. Shake the bottle before each use. Use as you normally would use dishwashing detergant, except that you need less than 1/2 cup of vinegar to the sink and for baked-on foods, soak with hot water and baking soda

Formula 1
Liquid castile soap
15 drops lemon essential oil
10 drops lavender essential oil

Formula 2
Liquid castile soap
10 drops lavender essential oil
8 drops rosemary essential oil
4 drops grape fruit seed exract

Formula 3
Liquid castile soap
10 drops orange essential oil
5 drops grape fuite seed extract
5 drops tea tree oil

Lime and mineral deposits
For lime and mineral deposits on the kitchen sink faucet, soak a paper towel in vinegar, wrap it around the faucet for one hour. The vinegar breaks down the mineral scale, you can wipe it off and polish the chrome.

Heavy grease
Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to your sink- full of water to help to cut grease.

For more helpful tips and hints please visit our website

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Monday, April 6, 2009



Do you know what "Spring Cleaning" really Means?

I am 45 years old, and I would be willing to bet that most people my age and younger either don't know what the term "Spring Cleaning" really means or have never even heard of it, ut in the not to distant past it was a yearly ritual in most homes.

With the arrival of spring , our moms, grandmothers, aunts - basically all the women in the family - would take everything outside of the house (and all the stuff was taken outside) and then bring everything back in. At the very least, they woulld move everything outside of a room and do te same thing one room at a time untill the entire house and everything in ti was clean.

And I mean clean. They would clean walls, baseboards, electrical outlets, light switch faceplates, light fixtures, floors - everything - and nothing was moved back into the room untill it was also cleaned thoroughly. Because the house was closed up throughout the winter allowing the germs and bacteria to proliferate, a thorough cleaning was done in the spring. Airing out the house as it was being cleaned was also part of the cleaning process, and important part as well.

Spring Cleaning actually helps keep us healthy. Do you know what causes odours in the home most of the time? It is germs and bacteria which can't really be eliminated by air fresheners and deodorizers but only by genuine cleaning.

I have worked as a housekeeper, and one thing I noticed was that people have a lot of stuff cluttering up their space, making it impossible to do a good clean. Not only clutter but in fact everything in your house is a potential haven for germs. So the more stuff, the more germs unless you can keep all those things clean of course.

It's probably not feasible for most people to move everything outside in order to sring clean the way it was done in the past. But I can tell you from experience the cleaner our homes are, the healthier we are mentally as well as physically. If you want to do spring cleaning, consider doing the following:

* Get rid of excess stuff

* Clean the bathroom regularly. Pay particular attention to the toilet, especially the outside of the bowl and the floor around it.

* Don't wait until you can see dirt to acknowledge it's existence - germs cannot be seen with the naked eye.

* If you have children no matter what age, their "stuff" and their rooms are the places where the most germ will be lurking. Clean them reugularly.

* Everyone should always wash their hands after using the toilet and wahing up for dinner isn't some quaint custom from the past - it's a necessary step in preventing the passing of germs

* If you have carpets, consider getting rid of them. As far as I'm concerned, carpets should never have been invented - they are nothing but haven for dust dirt and germs.

Once a year, even if you don't think it's necessary, clean your entire house from top to bottom as best as you can. if this isn't possible, hire someone to do it for you. Make sure that all furniture gets cleaned, as well as toys, electronics - anything that people touch a lot.

I know, I know - it might sound extreme. Talk to your grandparents or older family members. They'll tell you it's just good sense. And good sense never goes out of style.