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Understanding zoonotic diseases

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As the world grapples with the spread of COVID-19, a zoonotic virus, it’s worth taking a look at how interactions between humans and animals can affect public health.

What are zoonotic diseases?
Zoonotic diseases, also known as zoonoses, are illnesses caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, or fungi that can be transmitted between animals and humans. In addition to coronaviruses, the most well-known zoonotic diseases include:

• Rabies

• Lyme disease
• West Nile virus
• Escherichia coli (E. coli)

How are they transmitted?
Humans interact with animals every day, and the spread of harmful germs between them can occur in a variety of ways. These include:

• Coming in direct contact with an infected animal’s saliva, blood, feces, or urine
• Being stung, scratched, or bitten by an infected animal or insect
• Coming in contact with a contaminated surface and then touching your mouth
• Consuming food or water contaminated with an infected animal’s feces

If you have a pet, make sure your animal is dewormed and up to date on their vaccinations. Additionally, you should regularly check your pet for ticks and wash your hands after handling their feces or cleaning their litter box.

For more information about how to protect yourself and your pet from zoonotic diseases, speak with your veterinarian.

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Normal aging: what to expect as you get older

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From lapses in memory to joint pain and hair loss, a wide range of symptoms is often chalked up to getting old. But which changes are really considered a normal part of the aging process? Here’s some of what you can expect as you get older.

A different experience for everyone
Aging is a complex process that affects every system in the body. But while all people age, not everyone does so at the same rate. This means that people of the same age can look and feel very different as they get older. In other words, their chronological ages are identical, but their biological ages don’t match.

Noticeable signs of normal aging

It’s important to note that normal age-related changes happen gradually and aren’t the result of an underlying medical condition. Nevertheless, aging does eventually have noticeable effects on the body, including:

• Weakened vision (presbyopia)
• Gradual loss of hearing (presbycusis)
• Slight decrease in memory and learning skills
• Loss of muscular endurance and strength
• Diminished sensations such as hunger and thirst
• Increase in percentage of body fat

Tips for healthy aging
The best way to delay the effects of aging is to maintain healthy lifestyle habits. Among other things, you should avoid smoking, limit your alcohol consumption, exercise daily, get enough sleep, keep in touch with loved ones, and challenge your mind with puzzles, reading, and strategy games.

Finally, be sure to schedule regular appointments with your family doctor, optometrist, audiologist, and other health-care professionals. This increases the likelihood of medical issues being detected and treated early.

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Study: Higher opioid doses lead to longer-term dosing

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After an injury, workers who receive higher prescription doses of an opioid are at increased risk of longer-term use, according to researchers at the Workers Compensation Institute. Research focused on workers from 33 states who were injured in 2016.

The study found that among workers who received a 15-day to a 30-day supply of opioids within 90 days of an injury, about 9 percent had longer-term opioid needs. In the same group, among those who received a three-day supply or less, just 5 percent had a longer-term dosing need.

Those workers who were prescribed a dose of 500 milligrams or more were more likely to need opioids longer. About 10 percent fell into that category. Only 7 to 8 percent of workers prescribed small doses had longer-term dispensing.

Other factors contribute to longer-term opioid use and possible dependence. Among those was taking an opioid along with central nervous system depressants.

Which workers most likely to be prescribed opioids?

If you are from a small town, work in a small company, or work in the mining or construction industry, you are most likely to be prescribed opioids after an injury.

Injured workers at organizations with smaller payrolls (from 1 million to 4 million) were prescribed opioids 54 percent of the time. Those from larger companies were prescribed about 47 percent of the time.

Small-town workers with injuries were prescribed opioids 68 percent of the time, compared with larger metro areas where opioids were prescribed 54 percent of the time.

In mining, injured workers were prescribed opioids 62 percent of the time. In construction, the rate was 55 percent.

The study was conducted by the Workers Compensation Institute.

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Smartphone pinky joins list of tech injuries

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Cell Phone Elbow, Smartphone Neck Pain, Texting Claw, and now Smartphone Pinky, the newest tech injury.

No one has studied Smartphone Pinky yet, but a plethora of Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok users claim it’s real with photographic evidence.

Supposedly a dent appears in the little finger on the middle bone. Sometimes people say the position of their pinky changes, or that the finger starts to sway downward from the knuckle.

You might check yours.

Although the supposed malady is debated, notice that most people do hold their phones so that the little finger takes most of the weight.

According to The Conversation, the change in the little finger might well be just a soft tissue compression from the constant weight of the phone. Unlike Cell Phone Elbow, no one has reported actual pain from the little finger.

With Cell Phone Elbow, pain and tingling in the forearm and little finger come from holding a mobile phone up to the ear or holding it while lying in bed for a long time. The pain comes from the shoulder-rubbing the ulnar nerve, one of the major nerves in the arm. Just six minutes of those postures increase the strain on the nerve by 69 percent.

Texting Claw is a repetitive strain injury that presents as pain in the thumb and wrist. It comes from making small repetitive movements with the thumb against the screen. Reduced texting appears to alleviate the problem.

Finally, neck pain can come from staring down at a screen for a prolonged period, which increases strain on the shoulder blade.

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Women’s Health: 7 ways to move more every day

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Many of today’s jobs, hobbies, and modes of transportation make it easy to succumb to a sedentary lifestyle. Unfortunately, prolonged periods of inactivity are linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. If you find yourself sitting too often, here are seven simple ways to incorporate more movement into your daily routine.

1. Sit on a stability ball rather than the couch while you watch TV or play video games.

2. Walk around the room while you’re on the phone. For longer calls, consider taking a stroll around the block.

3. Listen to audiobooks or podcasts while you use an elliptical machine, stationary bike, or treadmill to make your workout more interesting.

4. Use a standing desk. Do simple exercises, such as calf raises, while you complete routine tasks like checking your email.

5. Time how long it takes you to do an active chore like vacuuming, and then see if you can beat your previous record.

6. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. To really get your heart pumping, climb them two steps at a time.

7. Do jumping jacks or run in place during the commercial breaks while you watch a hockey or basketball game on TV.

With a bit of creativity and effort, there are plenty of simple and fun ways to be more active.

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Leg pain could be a wake-up call for your cardiovascular health

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Everyone gets a charley horse now and again while walking. But what if you experience a painful cramping sensation more often than normal, or even every time you walk? Claudication – the medical term for leg pain while walking – is a common symptom of peripheral artery disease (PAD), an often undetected and sometimes dangerous condition, according to the Harvard Heart Letter.

PAD occurs when fatty deposits narrow and clog arteries outside the heart, most often in the legs. While some people have mild or no symptoms, cramping in the arms or legs that starts during physical activity and disappears after a few minutes of rest occurs in some PAD patients, according to the Mayo Clinic. Pain may also occur in the buttock, hip, thigh, or calf, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Other symptoms of peripheral artery disease include:

-Muscle weakness

-Hair loss
-Smooth, shiny skin
-Skin that is cool to the touch, especially if it occurs with pain while walking that subsides after stopping
-Decreased or absent pulses in the feet
-Persistent sores in the legs or feet
-Cold or numb toes

Peripheral artery disease is often a sign of fatty deposits in other areas of the body, which can reduce blood flow to the heart and brain, according to the Mayo Clinic. Contact your physician if you are experiencing these symptoms and over age 65; over age 50 and have a history of diabetes or smoking; or under age 50, but have diabetes and other risk factors like obesity or high blood pressure.

According to the CDC, a doctor may use a variety of tests and imaging techniques to diagnose this issue. Treatment may include aspirin or other antiplatelet medications, as well as lifestyle changes like tobacco cessation and exercise. In some cases, surgery may be necessary.

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High-tech mental health care: Is there an app for that?

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Nearly one in five American adults lives with a mental illness–about 51.5 million people in 2019, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health. And among those adults, approximately half do not receive treatment for their illnesses, according to Mental Illness Policy Org.

For many Americans, lack of access to providers-—whether it’s the cost, insurance coverage, or no available providers in the community–dictates whether they can seek treatment, according to a 2018 survey from the National Council on Behavioral Health.

Tech and the startup world are rushing in to fill the gap with virtual behavioral health care, with services including therapy, coaching, and even startups that prescribe and ship medications.

According to Fierce Healthcare, the COVID-19 pandemic motivated investors to pour huge sums of money into behavioral health startups as locked-down Americans looked for virtual mental health care.

The top dog among mental health startups in 2020 is Talkspace, according to The Motley Fool. Talkspace is a mental health subscription service that matches users with licensed therapists via video, audio or text, and works with some insurance carriers.

The wellness app Calm, founded in 2012, promises to help users meditate, unwind, and maybe even improve sleep, according to Quartz. Downloads spiked as the COVID-19 pandemic gained steam, and one major health insurer made it free to all members.

Brightside, a telemedicine service that specializes in mental health care, provides therapy and medication services to users in some states via a network of providers, according to The Motley Fool.

According to the Brightside website, medical insurance is not currently accepted.

While telehealth and virtual treatment options offered by mental health startups may be a welcome boost for Americans suffering from mental illness, some experts say they’re not appropriate for everyone. According to Cronkite News/Arizona Public Broadcasting, mental health experts say that some therapeutic techniques are not easy to replicate through video chat, and not all patients respond well to the format.

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Upcoming Events

Jan
29
Fri
12:30 pm Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Edu... @ Online Event
Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Edu... @ Online Event
Jan 29 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education @ Online Event
Save a Life: Free REVIVE! Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education January 29th The Northwestern Prevention Collaborative and Northwestern Community Services Board will offer a free virtual REVIVE! Training on January 29th from 12:30 pm to[...]
Jan
30
Sat
2:00 pm Paint Camellias with The Studio @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
Paint Camellias with The Studio @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
Jan 30 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Paint Camellias with The Studio @ The Studio - A Place for Learning
We will paint these beautiful camellias on Saturday, January 30th at 2 pm at The Studio. This will be the first in a series of floral paintings we will do over the course of 2021.[...]
6:00 pm Parent’s Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Parent’s Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Jan 30 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Parent's Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Help Code Ninjas Front Royal celebrate our Grand Opening! We are hosting our first Parent’s Night Out! $35 per child, space limited to 5! – Drop them off. Go have fun. Just remember to pick[...]
6:00 pm Robert Burns Night 2021 @ Virginia Beer Museum
Robert Burns Night 2021 @ Virginia Beer Museum
Jan 30 @ 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Robert Burns Night 2021 @ Virginia Beer Museum
Known in medieval Celtic culture as a storyteller, verse maker, and composer, the word ‘Bard’ has become synonymous with the world’s greatest poets. However, few are as celebrated as Scotland’s own ‘National Bard’, Robert Burns,[...]
Feb
9
Tue
10:00 am Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
Feb 9 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
The Warren Coalition, in partnership with Northwestern Prevention Collaborative, will offer area residents two opportunities to take a free, virtual Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training in February. This course is designed to provide information about identifying[...]
Feb
11
Thu
6:30 pm Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
Feb 11 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
The Warren Coalition, in partnership with Northwestern Prevention Collaborative, will offer area residents two opportunities to take a free, virtual Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training in February. This course is designed to provide information about identifying[...]
Feb
13
Sat
6:00 pm Parent’s Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Parent’s Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Feb 13 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Parent's Night Out @ Code Ninjas
Help Code Ninjas Front Royal celebrate our Grand Opening! We are hosting our first Parent’s Night Out! $35 per child, space limited to 5! – Drop them off. Go have fun. Just remember to pick[...]
Feb
15
Mon
9:00 am Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Feb 15 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free tax preparation will be available again this year through the AARP Tax Aide at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Front Royal, Monday and Wednesday mornings beginning Feb. 15th. To make an appointment, please call[...]
Feb
16
Tue
10:00 am Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
Feb 16 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training @ Online Event
The Warren Coalition, in partnership with Northwestern Prevention Collaborative, will offer area residents two opportunities to take a free, virtual Course 1 Trauma-Informed Training in February. This course is designed to provide information about identifying[...]
Feb
17
Wed
9:00 am Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Feb 17 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Free Tax Preparation @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Free tax preparation will be available again this year through the AARP Tax Aide at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Front Royal, Monday and Wednesday mornings beginning Feb. 15th. To make an appointment, please call[...]