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Archive for August, 2010

Dogs a Distraction, AAA Says

August 29, 2010

It’s a common sight. Fido’s head hanging out of the window, or pacing the back seat of your car.  However, a new study by AAA indicates that your pup may be as big a danger as many other distractions like texting while driving.

It’s called DWA (driving with animals). It only takes looking away for two seconds to double your risk of being in a crash and pets are the third-worst distraction. The study also  found that 80 percent of drivers admit to bringing their pets along for car rides, but less than a quarter keep them restrained.

It’s not only dangerous for the driver, but your pet as well. Think about it, an 80 pound dog thrown through the air at 30 miles per hour exerts 2,400 pounds of force. Not good.

So, if you must drive with your dog, here are a few tips from Keep these in mind, especially if you are driving back and forth from the shore this Labor Day.

— Never allow your cat to roam freely. They like to sit on your lap or repose on the dashboard — making them as distracting as cell phones. Always transport felines in a travel crate designed specifically for cats.

— Use a pet-designed harness or seat belt to tether your dog. If not, a sudden stop could send it hurtling forward, placing itself and other passengers in danger. Plus, a harness will prevent your dog from distracting driving-attention with licks to the ear, or, depending on size, curling around your feet near the brake and gas pedals.

— Never leave your pet in a parked car during the summer.

— Don’t let your dog hang its head out a side window. Although amusing, it becomes a driver distraction, and depending on which window, a hindrance to seeing the traffic around you. Plus, it’s not safe for the dog.

— Never attach a restraining device to your pet’s collar while inside a vehicle.

Avoid Aggressive Driving This Labor Day

August 28, 2010

With Summer having it’s final hurrah and Labor Day fast approaching, you’ll be finding many more people on the roads. That means it’s even more important to watch out for speeding and other aggressive driving behaviors. And it’s not just the other guy. You may be the one driving badly. Yes, I know, it’s not possible, but still…

Here are few questions to determine if you are driving aggressively, courtesy of Drive Safe PA:

  • Do you speed excessively?
  • Do you tailgate slower vehicles?
  • Do you race to beat red lights or run stop signs?
  • Do you weave in and out of traffic?
  • Do you pass illegally on the right?
  • Do you fail to yield the right of way to oncoming vehicles?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be an aggressive driver and are putting yourself, your passengers and other people on the road with you at increased risk of a crash.

To deter aggressive drivers and make Pennsylvania´s highways safer for all who use them, PennDOT partners with Pennsylvania State and local police departments to conduct aggressive driving enforcement. Since the project was launched in 2006, more than 400 roadways have been targeted with additional enforcement and education.
If you encounter an aggressive driver, PennDOT offers these tips for what to do.

  • Get out of their way and don´t challenge them. You can avoid an accident or a road rage incident.
  • Stay relaxed, avoid eye contact and ignore rude gestures.
  • Don´t block the passing lane if you are driving slower than most of the traffic.

Teenage Drinking Increases Chance of Breast Disease

August 28, 2010

Parents, you may never get your kids to listen to this, but please try.
A study in the journal Pediatrics (Story in USA Today), found that frequent alcohol consumption by teenage girls may increase the chances that they will develop non-cancerous breast disease in their 20s and possibly breast cancer later in life. Girls who drank the most alcohol during their teen years — daily or nearly every day — were five times more likely to develop benign breast disease as young adults than were their peers who never drank or drank less than once a week. Here’s the kick. Study co-author Catherine Berkey, a biostatistician at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said that benign breast disease is known to boost the risk for breast cancer.

Toyota Recalls Another 1.13 Vehicles

August 28, 2010

An article in the Washington Post (Fri., Aug. 27) says that Toyota will recall 1.13 million Corolla and Matrix cars for a flaw that U.S. regulators said may cause stalling “at any speed without warning.” The recall affects vehicles from the 2005-2008 model years in the United States and Canada and follows at least three reported accidents linked to the defect.

One in Five Americans Admit To Drinking and Driving

August 27, 2010

According to the Washington Post one in five Americans admit to drinking and driving. The piece cites a survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that also found that eight percent of all drivers, as many as 17 million people, have driven drunk at least once during the past year. Not surprisingly, 16 to 20 year-olds drank almost six alcohol beverages at one sitting. Eight percent of those 16 and older said in the past year they have been the passenger of a driver they thought may have consumed too much alcohol to drive safely.

Personally, I’ll take the train…

Egg recall may indicate problems in US food safety oversight

August 25, 2010


The New York Times (8/25, B1, Martin) reports on the front page of its Business Day section that as the FDA begins investigating the salmonella outbreak linked to recalled eggs, “some consumer advocates say the huge egg recall highlights a broader and continuing problem at the heart of the nation’s largest food recalls: a highly complicated and often dysfunctional food safety system.” While the “FDA oversees the safety of eggs still in their shells…the Agriculture Department regulates liquid eggs that are used in industrial food production,” and has responsibility “for chickens and the grading of eggs for quality.” Yet, neither the FDA nor the Agriculture Department inspected either farm. And, although FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said that earlier implementation of new egg safety rules may have averted the outbreak, former FDA official Dr. David Acheson expressed doubts.


Know the Symptoms of Salmonella

August 24, 2010

Over 1,300 cases of Salmonella have been linked to tainted eggs in recent days. So, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the symptoms. Here they are courtesy of

Salmonella can cause three different kinds of illness:  gastroenteritis, typhoid fever, and bacteremia.

Symptoms of Salmonella gastroenteritis include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, nausea, and/or vomiting. In mild cases diarrhea may be non-bloody, occur several times per day, and not be very voluminous; in severe cases it may be frequent, bloody and/or mucoid, and of high volume.

Fever generally occurs in the 100°F to 102°F (38°C to 39°C) range. Vomiting is less common than diarrhea. Headaches, myalgias (muscle pain), and arthralgias (joint pain) are often reported as well. Whereas the diarrhea typically lasts 24 to 72 hours, patients often report fatigue and other nonspecific symptoms lasting 7 days or longer.

Study details risks of certain nuclear-based breast imaging exams

August 24, 2010


The New York Times (8/24, D5, Rabin) reports that, according to a study published Aug. 24 in the journal Radiology, “certain nuclear-based breast imaging exams that involve injecting radioactive material into patients expose women to far higher doses of radiation than regular mammography, increasing their risk of cancer in vulnerable organs beyond the breast, like the kidneys, bladder or ovaries.” For example, “a single breast-specific gamma imaging or positron emission mammography exam exposes patients to a risk of radiation-induced cancer that is comparable to the risk from an entire lifetime of yearly mammograms starting at 40.” A second study published in the same issue of Radiology found that “overall, the United States population’s annual radiation dose from medical procedures increased sevenfold between 1980 and 2006.”


Senators reach agreement on food safety bill

August 22, 2010


This is good news for food safety, but it’s unfortunate it came too late to prevent the salmonella outbreak.
The AP (8/13, Freking) reports, “A bipartisan group of senators said Thursday they have reached agreement on legislation designed to enhance the safety of the nation’s food supply,” which “would give the Food and Drug Administration the power to order a food recall rather than merely request one. The agency would also increase the frequency of inspections at processing plants and other facilities.” It “does not contain a proposal by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to ban…Bisphenol A from baby bottles, baby food and infant formula.”


Salmonella Illnesses linked to eggs will likely grow

August 21, 2010

The Associated Press reported that the salmonella linked to tainted eggs from an Iowa firm (Editor’s note: two firms have now been identified and are part of the recall) will likely grow, federal health officials said Thursday.

That’s because illnesses occurring after mid-July may not be reported yet, said Dr. Christopher Braden, an epidemiologist with the federal Centers for Disease Control.

Almost 2,000 illnesses from the strain of salmonella linked to the eggs were reported between May and July, about 1,300 more than usual, he said. No deaths have been reported. The CDC is continuing to receive information from state health departments as people report their illnesses.

Minnesota, a state with some of the best food-borne illness investigators in the country, has tied at least seven salmonella illnesses to the eggs. California has reported 266 illnesses since June and believes many are related to the eggs. Colorado saw 28 cases in June and July, about four times the usual number.

Other states have seen a jump in reports of the same type of salmonella. Spikes or clusters of suspicious cases have also been reported in Arizona, Illinois , Nevada, North Carolina , Texas and Wisconsin.

So far, no cases have been reported in Pennsylvania, New Jersey or Delaware, however. Officials are warning individuals to throw away or return eggs provided under the following brand names:

  • Albertsons in dozen and 18-egg cartons size large eggs in California or Colorado
  • Bayview in 5-dozen egg cartons size large eggs
  • Boomsma’s in dozen egg cartons size large eggs
  • Dutch Farms in dozen egg cartons size large eggs distributed at Walgreens stores in Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, South Dakota and Arkansas, although the majority of Dutch Farms eggs are not affected by the recall
  • Farm Fresh in dozen and 18-egg carton size M to  Jumbo eggs
  • Hillandale in 18-egg carton size XL eggs
  • Kemps in dozen egg cartons size large eggs
  • Lucerne in dozen and 18-egg cartons size large eggs (Safeway store brand)
  • Lund in 6-egg, dozen and 18-egg cartons size M to Jumbo eggs
  • Mountain Dairy in 5-dozen egg cartons size medium eggs
  • Mountain Dairy in dozen and 18-egg cartons size large eggs
  • Nulaid in 5-dozen egg cartons size medium eggs
  • Ralph’s in dozen and 18-egg cartons size large eggs
  • Shoreland in dozen egg cartons size XL and Jumbo eggs
  • Sunshine in dozen egg cartons size XL eggs
  • Sun Valley in 5-dozen egg cartons size medium eggs
  • Trafficanda in dozen egg cartons size M to Jumbo eggs

The most common symptoms of salmonella are diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within eight hours to 72 hours of eating a contaminated product. It can be life-threatening, especially to those with weakened immune systems.

The form of salmonella tied to the outbreak can be passed from chickens that appear healthy. And it grows inside eggs, not just on the shell, Braden noted.