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Hultgren commends Illinois’ heroin state of emergency declaration

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Washington, D.C.—U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren (IL-14) recently commended the Illinois State House for unanimously passing a resolution declaring a “heroin state of emergency” across the state, and pushed for the community to come together to finalize a plan to combat heroin and opioid abuse. In recent years, heroin has seen a striking reappearance in the Chicago area, including in the collar counties.

“Heroin and opioid abuse is a growing threat to our communities in Illinois, as we found out at my community leadership forum last month. I applaud the Illinois House for recognizing the seriousness of the situation, but we must act now to stem the tide of heroin deaths and overdose,” Rep. Hultgren said. “What we need is an action plan that our entire community can pursue, and I encourage everyone to review the community forum’s draft action plan and send their recommendations to my office so we can finalize a solution to move forward and coordinate our efforts across northern Illinois. I will be sharing this draft action plan with the state legislators for their review. Together, we can combat heroin and opioid abuse and provide hope for the victims and their families caught in its trap.”

Hultgren on March 7 convened a Community Leadership Forum on Heroin Prevention in Geneva to bring together a diverse array of experts and local and state leaders—including law enforcement, drug courts, elected officials, educators, treatment providers and recovery centers—to share resources and ideas to tackle the growing threat of heroin addiction and opioid abuse in northern Illinois. Participants represented all seven of the collar counties, including Lake, McHenry, Kane, DuPage, Kendall, DeKalb and Will counties.

Following the event, Hultgren launched an event summary and working draft action plan, available at, based on the breakout discussion groups and ensure community coordination and follow-up to what was discussed.

Student urges community to ‘Seize the Purple’

in Health & Wellness/Kaneland/Regional/Sugar Grove by

Photo: “I personally feel that epilepsy doesn’t get the awareness that it deserves. It affects over six million people worldwide, and it’s just as common as breast cancer is. And I just think it really does
deserve more awareness than it is given.”
Samantha Havlin, Kaneland High School junior photo by Lynn Logan

KANELAND—People can learn more about epilepsy this month thanks to Samantha Havlin, a junior at Kaneland High School.

Havlin, an Elburn resident, recently organized “Seize the Purple,” a DECA project that is a 5k walk-and-run event intended to create epilepsy awareness in the local community. The event will take place on Saturday, April 19, at Kaneland Harter Middle School, 1601 Esker Drive, Sugar Grove.

Why purple? It’s the color of epilepsy awareness.

“I personally feel that epilepsy doesn’t get the awareness that it deserves,” Havlin said. “It affects over 6 million people worldwide, and it’s just as common as breast cancer is. And I just think it really does deserve more awareness than it is given.”

Havlin said she has noticed KHS students who have epilepsy.

“I would say a hundred percent, they are exactly like you and I,” Havlin said. “They’re normal people. They just have frequent seizures.”

Josh Marczuk, an eighth-grader at Kaneland Harter Middle School, was diagnosed with epilepsy during his basketball season this year.

Marczuk acknowledged that having epilepsy can sometimes be hard.

“Always having to be aware of stuff,” he said.

Marczuk pointed out that he has to sleep eight to 10 hours so that a seizure won’t be triggered. And what should a person do if they happen to be around Marczuk while he has a seizure?

“Call my mom,” Marczuk said. “Or 911. And put me on my side.”

Marczuk said he experiences a “black out” during a seizure. Sharon Marczuk, Josh’s mom, described what it is like to see her son suffer a grand mal seizure in front of her, shaking and biting his tongue for “a minute or so.”

“It seems forever,” Sharon said. “Probably one of the most traumatizing things to see.”

Sharon expressed her gratitude for the upcoming 5k event.

“I do know from my younger child (Jimmy), being diagnosed with cancer as a baby that until it touches you, you really don’t understand the whole concept of having a child who is sick,” she said. “So the fact that she doesn’t (know the concept first-hand) and wants to raise all this awareness for a good cause is just awesome.”

Havlin’s mom, Melissa Hubbard, said that she is proud of her daughter.

“(Samantha) really, really wants to make a difference,” Hubbard said. “And I think learning the awareness and bringing it in our area definitely stands for a lot.”

The walk will begin at 9 a.m., with the run scheduled to kick off at 9:15 a.m.

A free Easter Egg Dash will take place on the school’s track prior to the walk. Children aged 10 and under are invited to participate in the dash. They will have an opportunity to seek colorful eggs—particularly purple—filled with candy treats. Free pizza and water will also be available.

Both Josh and Sharon plan on being at the race.

“Well, I definitely don’t think I’ll be running,” Sharon said with a laugh. “But yeah. I’m hoping to walk in it.”

The registration fee is $30, which includes a T-shirt and goodie bag. Those interested in participating can register the day of the event or by visiting and typing the event name “Seize the Purple.”

Not too late to get a flu shot

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KANE COUNTY—The Health Department continues to offer a walk-in flu clinic at its Aurora office, 1240 N. Highland Ave. Clinic hours are from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday. No appointment is necessary.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that flu activity is still elevated across the country and recommends that if you haven’t received your flu vaccine yet, you should do so now.

The Health Department accepts many insurance cards. Call the Health Department’s “Bee Wize, Immunize” phone line at (866) 233-9493 or at (630) 264-7665 to learn if your insurance is accepted, or you can log on to the Health Department website at Bring your insurance card with you. Without insurance the cost of the vaccine is $15, payable by check or cash.

Public health officials recommend that everyone six months of age and older should be vaccinated against influenza, especially pregnant women, young children, people 65 years of age and older, and anyone with underlying health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or a weakened immune system.

The Kane County Health Department provides a wealth of information about influenza at You will find the weekly report that details flu-like illness activity in Kane County, a locator map for additional locations where you can receive the vaccine, educational materials and more.

Don’t delay—test for radon today

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KANE COUNTY—January is National Radon Action Month, and the Kane County Health Department, in conjunction with the Kane County Healthy Places Coalition, recommends that it is a good time to test your home for the presence of radon. Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that occurs naturally from the breakdown of uranium and is one of the leading causes of lung cancer in the world, along with smoking and secondhand smoke.

Rocks and soil can contain uranium. Radon gas can enter through cracks in homes/buildings/schools and expose people to the radiation. Because of the geology in the Midwestern United States, homes in Kane County have the potential for higher levels of radon.

The Health Department’s Community Health Improvement Plan targets chronic diseases such as cancer as threats to the community’s health and wellbeing, and the department recommends that all homes in Kane County be tested for radon. Testing kits are available for $15 from the Kane County Health Department and Kane County Development Office. This cost includes the kit, cost of mailing to a certified lab for analysis, and results. Kits are available at these locations:
• Aurora Health Department Office, 1240 N. Highland Ave., Suite 5, Aurora, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
• Kane County Development Office, 719 S. Batavia Ave., 4th Floor, Geneva, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
• Elgin Health Department Office, 1750 Grandstand Place, Suite 2, Elgin, Tuesdays, 9 a.m. to noon

Test kits also are available at most local hardware stores.

A speakers bureau has been created to offer free radon presentations to the community. Questions, contact Terry Roman at (630) 264-7653 or More information and resources about radon is available on the Health Department’s website at

The Kane County Healthy Places Coalition is a group of community residents and stakeholders interested in environmental health. You can participate in the next Kane County Healthy Places Coalition Meeting from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30, at the Kane County Government Center, Building A, Ground Floor Auditorium, 719 S. Batavia Ave. Geneva.

Take extra precautions as temperatures drop below freezing

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Elburn Herald photo by Patti Wilk

Warming Centers in Kane County >
Note: Many local municipalities offer more warming centers, too. Call your local municipality to find out the nearest center in your area.

CHICAGO – Dangerously low temperatures are in the forecast and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wants individuals and families to be safe when faced with the hazards of cold temperatures.

“Subfreezing temperatures can be dangerous and even life-threatening for people who don’t take the proper precautions,” said Andrew Velasquez III, FEMA Regional Administrator. “It is important for everyone to monitor their local weather reports and take steps now to stay safe during times of extreme cold temperatures.”

During cold weather, you should take the following precautions:

• Stay indoors as much as possible and limit your exposure to the cold;
• Dress in layers and keep dry;
• Check on family, friends, and neighbors who are at risk and may need additional assistance;
• Know the symptoms of cold-related health issues such as frostbite and hypothermia and seek medical attention if health conditions are severe.
• Bring your pets indoors or ensure they have a warm shelter area with unfrozen water.
• Make sure your vehicle has an emergency kit that includes an ice scraper, blanket and flashlight – and keep the fuel tank above half full.

You can find more information and tips on being ready for winter weather and extreme cold temperatures at

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Health Department to offer walk-in flu vaccine clinics

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AURORA—The best way to celebrate Vaccine Illinois Week (Dec. 8-14), and protect yourself and your family from the flu this season is to get a flu shot. From now through Tuesday, Dec. 31, the Kane County Health Department will offer walk-in flu clinics at its Aurora office, 1240 N. Highland Ave. Clinic hours are from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, while supplies of flu vaccine last.

The Health Department accepts many insurance cards. Please call the Health Department’s Bee Wize, Immunize phone line at 1-866-233-9493 or at (630) 264-7665 to learn if your insurance is accepted. Please bring your insurance card with you. Without insurance, the cost of the vaccine is $15, payable by check or cash. Public health officials recommend that everyone six months of age and older should be vaccinated against influenza, especially pregnant women, young children, people 65 years of age and older, and anyone with underlying health conditions like asthma, diabetes, or a weakened immune system. The Kane County Health Department provides a wealth of information about influenza on its website at You will find the weekly report that details flu-like illness activity in Kane County, a locator map for additional locations where you can receive the vaccine, educational materials and more.

If you have questions, please call the Health Department’s Bee Wize, Immunize phone line at 1-866-233-9493 or at (630) 264-7665.

Kane County Health Department awarded national accreditation status

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KANE COUNTY—The Kane County Health Department announced today that it has received national public health department five-year accreditation status through the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). With this achievement, Kane County becomes the first county health department in Illinois to reach this status.

To receive accreditation, a health department must undergo a rigorous, multi-faceted, peer-reviewed process to ensure it meets or exceeds a set of quality standards and measures.Hundreds of health departments are preparing to seek national accreditation through the program, which launched in September 2011 after more than a decade in development. So far only 22 health departmentshave been granted accreditation status, out of a total of more than 3,000 in the U.S.

“Accreditation is the gold standard for health departments and demonstrates our commitment to providing quality services and better serving our community. National accreditation signifies the incredible efforts the Kane County Health Department puts forth every day to improve and protect the health of the public,” said Health Department Executive Director Barbara Jeffers. “Achieving accreditation opens the door to a number of benefits, including increased credibility, accountability, and possible funding advantages. Having reached this milestone will provide us with valuable, measurable feedback to further our commitment to continuous improvement.”

“The Kane County Health Department is one of the first of many health departments that we look forward to being able to recognize as a high-performing public health department,” said PHAB President and CEO Kaye Bender, PhD, RN, FAAN. “The peer review process provides valuable feedback to inform health departments of their strengths and areas for improvement, so that they can better protect and promote the health of the people they serve in their communities.”

While public health departments provide expert leadership in protecting and promoting the health of people in communities across the country, there has not been a set of nationally recognized standards until now. The Public Health Accreditation Board (PHA) established in 2007, was created to serve as the national public health accrediting body, and is jointly funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The development of national public health accreditation has involved, and is supported by, public health leaders and practitioners from the national, Tribal, state and local levels.

More information about accreditation is available on the Health Department website at and the PHAB website at

The controversy of pet vaccinations

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ILLINOIS—Vaccinations are a critical component to the preventive care of your companion animal. Your health, as well as your pet’s, depends on it. While this may seem like common knowledge to some, the topic of pet vaccination can be quite controversial, making it a hot topic in veterinary medicine today.

Most veterinary professionals agree that vaccinating your pets is the best way to protect them from various life threatening illnesses.

“Controversy about vaccinating your pet is usually centered around misinformation or the false concept in humans that suggest vaccinations cause autism,” said Dr. Bethany Schilling, Clinical Instructor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

Choosing vaccinations specific to your animal’s health and lifestyle should be an informed decision made between you and your veterinarian.

Many pet owners believe that the possible dangers of pet vaccinations outweigh the positive aspects. One risk that worries pet owners is the chance that their pet will have a negative reaction from the vaccination. While this is a viable concern, Schilling and many other veterinarians agree that this occurrence is rare.

“Vaccine reactions are usually non-life threatening, are easily treated, and can typically be prevented in the future,” Schilling said. “Reactions in dogs are typically swelling of the face or hives, and reactions in cats are typically vomiting or diarrhea.”

Vaccines do not guarantee that your pet will not become sick, just like a human getting the flu vaccine can still catch the flu, but it will likely minimize the seriousness of illness in your pet.

Vaccines help build up your pets’ immune system so that their chances of becoming ill when exposed to disease are much lower. They can prevent many upper respiratory diseases in cats such as herpes, calicivirus, and panleukemia, as well as feline leukemia and rabies. There are vaccines to prevent various diseases, such as parvovirus, leptospirosis, Lyme disease, Bordetella and rabies, in dogs as well. Bordetella is found to be one of the causes of “kennel cough,” a highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs.

The two classifications of pet vaccines are core and non-core vaccines.

“Core vaccines are things the entire pet population should be vaccinated against, due to universal risk,” Schilling said. “Non-core vaccines are recommended based on region of the country in which the patient lives and individual patient risk factors, like lifestyle and travel.”

Core vaccines would include vaccines against common diseases, like rabies, whereas vaccines against Lyme disease or kennel cough are among the non-core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are not usually considered necessary, but are available to pets that are at risk for illness due to geographic locations or specific lifestyle needs.

Another debate among many pet owners is whether performing at-home vaccinations on your pet is easier and more efficient than taking them to a veterinary clinic. When making this decision, it is important to keep in mind that vaccines are extremely sensitive to handling. Various factors such as extreme temperatures can inactivate them, and vaccines purchased at a feed store are not guaranteed to be effective.

“Vaccines administered at a vet clinic are handled appropriately and care can be made to make sure the pet is vaccinated at appropriate intervals to ensure protection,” Schilling said. “The pet is examined prior to receiving vaccines each visit to make sure they are healthy.”

Salad products recalled because of possible health risk

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ILLINOIS—The Kane County Health Department is alerting residents that Reser’s Fine Foods of Beaverton, Ore., is recalling approximately 109,000 cases of refrigerated ready-to-eat products due to possible contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

The company announced that these products are being recalled in conjunction with other foods regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A full list of products being recalled can be found on the FDA’s website.

There have been no reported cases of illness related to this recall. Listeria is an organism which can cause serious and sometime fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and individuals with weakened immune systems. Healthy people may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant woman.

The products were distributed to retailers and distributors in Illinois, Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

The problem was discovered through microbiological testing by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. A traceback investigation and follow-up testing by FDA at the facility determined there was potential cross contamination of products with Listeria monocytogenes from product contact surfaces. FSIS and the company have not received reports of illnesses due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an illness should contact a healthcare provider.

Consumers and media with questions about the recall should contact the Reser’s Fine Foods Consumer Hotline at 1-888-257-7913 (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST).

Bat found in Batavia yard tests positive for rabies

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BATAVIA—A bat recently found in a Batavia yard tested positive for rabies. There was no human exposure.

This is the first rabies-positive bat seen this year. One rabid bat was discovered last year, and one in 2011.

Bats are the most common carrier of rabies in Illinois. Rabies affects the brain and will cause unnatural behavior in mammals. Children especially should be reminded to avoid contact with wild animals that are acting unusual, such as a bat that is outside in the daytime or one that cannot fly. It is important to keep all pets—dogs, cats, ferrets, etc.—up to date with their rabies vaccinations. Not only does the vaccine protect the pet, it also serves as barrier of protection for people. Even indoor pets should be vaccinated, as illustrated by the fact that some of the bat cases are found indoors. The last human case of rabies in Illinois was reported in 1954

Information about exclusion—keeping bats from entering your home—can be found by logging on to the Illinois Department of Public Health website, health/pcbats.htm.

For information about a referral for capturing bats or for submitting specimens for testing, call Kane County Animal Control at (630) 232-3555.

Mosquitoes found in Elgin trap test positive for WNV

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KANE COUNTY—The Kane County Health Department recently reported that a batch of mosquitoes collected in a trap in Elgin, Ill., tested positive for West Nile Virus. This is the second time this summer a trap in northern Kane County yielded evidence of the disease. The first, a trap set in July near Algonquin, Ill., administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health, was found to contain mosquitoes that tested positive for the disease.

The Health Department monitors for WNV activity in the area. Also, as part of its West Nile program, the Health Department is collecting dead birds to be sent to the state lab for testing. Call (630) 444-3040 to report the presence of freshly-dead birds (such as crows or blue jays) to determine if WNV testing is recommended. The birds must not show any signs of decay or trauma.

You can view more detailed monitoring results from this and previous years by visiting

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Most people with the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three-to-14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Only about two persons out of 10 who are bitten by an infected mosquito will experience any illness. Illness from West Nile is usually mild and includes fever, headache and body aches, but serious illness, such as encephalitis and meningitis, and death are possible. Persons older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease.

The best way to prevent West Nile disease or any other mosquito-borne illness is to reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Precautions include:
• Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, especially between dusk and dawn. Use prevention methods whenever mosquitoes are present.
• When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to label instructions. Consult a physician before using repellents on infants.
• Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or other openings. Try to keep doors and windows shut, especially at night.
• Change water in birdbaths weekly. Properly maintain wading pools and stock ornamental ponds with fish. Cover rain barrels with 16-mesh wire screen. In communities where there are organized mosquito control programs, contact your municipal government to report areas of stagnant water in roadside ditches, flooded yards and similar locations that may produce mosquitoes.

Additional information about West Nile virus can be found on the Kane County Health Department’s website,, and the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website, Also available is the IDPH West Nile Virus Hotline at (866) 369-9710, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

West Physical Therapy’s guidelines for backpack safety

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KANE COUNTY—With the start of the new school year, West Physical Therapy would like to remind parents of safety needs for their child when carrying a backpack to school.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 24,000 people were treated in U. S. hospitals and doctors’ offices for backpack-related injuries in 2012, and more than 9,500 of those patients were aged 5 to 18.

Backpacks are a popular and practical way carry school supplies and books. They are designed to distribute the weight of the load among the body’s strongest muscles. When they are too heavy or worn incorrectly, backpacks can cause problems. Improperly used, backpacks may injure muscles and joints, which can lead to severe back, neck, and shoulder pain, as well as postural problems.

When choosing a backpack, look for one that is lightweight and an appropriate size for your student. Make sure it has 2-inch-wide, padded shoulder straps, and a waist strap. Another option would be to choose a rolling backpack.

To properly carry the backpack, tighten the straps to comfortably fit the student. Always pack lightly. Carry only the books and supplies that you will need. Ideally, the backpack should not weigh more than 15 percent of the child’s body weight. Heavier items should be packed first, close to the body. If the child needs to lean forward to carry the pack, it is too heavy. Remember to lift the backpack properly. Never lift and swing the backpack while twisting at the same time.

Scammers try to make Obamacare confusion an opportunity for identity theft

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CHICAGO—With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, commonly labeled “Obamacare,” on the horizon, scammers are finding it to be the latest opportunity to steal people’s identities.

“Scammers are calling consumers claiming they are eligible for health insurance cards in exchange for personal information,” said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Consumers should ignore these calls because providing information puts you at risk for identity theft.”

Bernas explained the scams work like this: You receive a call from someone claiming to be from the federal government. The scammer says that you have been selected to be part of a group of Americans to receive insurance cards. But before the card can be mailed, your bank account and social security numbers are required. Once they get this information, they can sell it or use it to access your accounts.

“Affordable Care Act scammers are able to easily make consumers think that their calls are legit, especially with such a hot topic like Obamacare,” Bernas said. “Consumers need to realize that the government rarely calls individuals. If you receive this type of call, hang up.”

The BBB offers the following tips to people who experience the affordable healthcare scams:
• Hang up the phone. If you get one of these calls, just hang up. You may be tempted to call back, but this will only give the scammer another opportunity to steal your information. Also, be sure not to press any buttons that the scammer instructs.
• Never give out personal information. Never give out your bank account numbers, date of birth, credit card number or social security number.
• Don’t rely on caller ID. Some scammers are able to display a company’s name or phone number on the caller ID screen. Don’t trust that the information you see is true.
• The government rarely communicates via phone calls. Most of the time, the government uses traditional snail mail to communicate to consumers. The government rarely calls, emails or texts, so don’t give your information to these types of government messages.

For more tips and information about affordable healthcare scams, visit

Seafood products recalled due to possible health risk

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KANE COUNTY—The Kane County Health Department recently noted that Prime Food USA of New York is recalling Latis Brand Seafood Products due to confirmed and suspected contamination with listeria monocytogenes.

Listeria can cause serious complications for pregnant women, such as stillbirth. Other problems can manifest in people with compromised immune systems. Listeria can also cause serious flu-like symptoms in healthy individuals. No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem.

The recalled Latis Brand Seafood products are packaged in various sizes plastic oval type containers. All container sizes are affected. The UPC numbers for the products begin with “75100407.” The product was sold nationwide. They are products of Latvia.

The recall was initiated after routine sampling by New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Food Inspectors and subsequent analysis of the products by Food Laboratory personnel found various products to be positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

Consumers who have purchased Latis Brand Seafood Products should not consume them, but should return them to the place of purchase. Consumers with questions may contact the company at (718) 439-0376.

Better Business Bureau: Don’t get scammed when donating to tornado victims

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CHICAGO—In the wake of a tragedy, scammers like to rise and take advantage of kind, giving people. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) is alerting consumers of the possibility of phony charity scams related to the Oklahoma tornado.

“Tragedies bring people together and inspire many to help out by giving,” said Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the BBB serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Unfortunately, the aftermath of natural disasters is also a time when scammers find ways to take money from good people.”

The BBB recommends asking the following questions before choosing to donate to a specific charity:

• Is this a charity I can trust? Look at the appeal carefully—some charities have similar sounding names. Don’t be fooled by names that look impressive or that closely resemble the name of a well-known organization. Check with your appropriate state government authorities (this is usually a division of the state’s office of the attorney general) to verify the charity is registered to solicit in your state. Also, visit the website of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance ( to find out whether a national charity meets the 20 BBB charity standards that address charity governance, finances, fund raising, donor privacy, and other accountability issues.
• How will the charity use my donation? Ask questions about how your donation will be used. Beware of appeals that bring tears to your eyes but give few details of what the charity is doing about the problem it describes so well. For example, if the charity says it’s helping the homeless, do they explain how (shelter, food, medical care) and where this is taking place?
• Watch out for statements such as “all proceeds will go to the charity.” This can mean that only the money left after expenses, such as the cost of written materials and fundraising efforts, will go to the charity. These expenses can sometimes be high, so check carefully.
• Is my donation tax deductible? If you want to take a charitable deduction for federal income tax purposes, make sure the organization is tax exempt as a charity under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. A charity appeal will usually include a reference to this. To verify a charity’s tax status, access an IRS database of organizations by viewing Publication 78 on the IRS website at Consult your tax advisor for details.
• Can the charity actually use what I’m donating? All charities welcome the receipt of monetary donations, but some also solicit in-kind donations such as clothing, food and toys. If you’re planning to donate items to a worthy cause, make sure you know the in-kind contributions your charity prefers. For example, a food bank may prefer food items that are not perishable such as canned goods.
• Am I feeling pressured to give? Don’t succumb to pressure to give money on the spot, either immediately over the phone via credit card or by allowing a “runner” to pick up a contribution. Take the time to research the charity fully—the charity that needs your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow.

The BBB is asking anyone who receives a suspicious charitable solicitation to report it to BBB Report a Scam. For more advice on giving and to view reports on charities visit

FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams to visit Kane County

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GENEVA—Beginning this week, FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams (DSATs) will be in Kane County to provide information and provide residents affected by last month’s flooding with an opportunity to register for federal disaster assistance.

These teams will be visiting homes, businesses and high-traffic locations in the affected areas providing support to disaster survivors directly in the communities where they live and work.

DSAT members may offer residents the opportunity to use a tablet computer to register for assistance. Residents will not be required to share personal information unless they wish a DSAT team member to enter the data for them. Residents are reminded to ask for federal identification before providing personal information.

Don Bryant, director of the Kane County Office of Emergency Management, said that the DSAT teams will give residents the opportunity to ask a FEMA representative directly about the disaster assistance process and register for the program.

If residents prefer to use their own personal computer or telephone to register for FEMA assistance, they can do so by calling 1-800-621-3362 (TTY 1-800-462-7585) or by visiting

Governor Quinn proclaims May as Older Americans Month in Illinois

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SPRINGFIELD—Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has proclaimed May as Older Americans Month in Illinois, and joins the Illinois Department on Aging to honor more than two million adults, aged 60 years or older, who live in the state.

The governor’s proclamation coincides with the national observance of Older Americans Month. Since 1963, the observance each year in May has proven a proud tradition in honoring the value that older adults contribute to various communities.

“This year’s Older American Month theme is ‘Unleash the Power of Age’ to highlight the significant contributions made by older adults. On behalf of the Governor, I am pleased to honor older adults who have contributed to make Illinois great and to better our country. I encourage they stay positive and remain productive,” said John K. Holton, director of the Illinois Department of Aging.

In recognition of the annual observance and to raise awareness, Director Holton and department staff have granted interviews, served on information panels and spoken at events to highlight state programs that support independent living and other protections to seniors.

Older Americans Month is celebrated with ceremonies, events, fairs and other such activities.

Allergic to eggs? Try these ‘eggcellent’ ways to celebrate Easter and Passover

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NORTH AURORA—Easter and Passover traditions often include eggs, either as part of a fun holiday activity or a recipe. For people with life-threatening egg allergies, the key to staying safe is to be aware and prepared for an unexpected exposure.

“Approximately 1.5 percent of young children have life-threatening egg allergies,” said Sakina Bajowala, M.D., board-certified allergist & immunologist at Kaneland Allergy & Asthma Center in North Aurora. “Creating Easter and Passover traditions without the threat of egg exposure is easy to do. A little planning and creative thinking is what’s required to have a fun and tasty celebration.”

Kids with egg allergies can participate in Easter games and Passover activities. Consider the following ideas:

• Coloring eggs is a safe activity as long as the person with egg allergies does not eat the eggs. Touching the hard shell poses no threat.

• Instead of placing a hard-boiled egg on a Seder plate, consider using a flower or a plastic egg as a substitute.

• Use plastic eggs for your Easter egg hunt and fill them with toys, money, stickers or candy. Just be sure to read candy labels first.

• Use plastic eggs instead of real ones when playing the “egg in a spoon” race.

Getting together with family for the holiday? Be sure to include egg-free recipes when cooking meals, and ask about ingredients in recipes made by others. For each egg required in a recipe, substitute one of these mixtures:

• One and one-half tablespoons water, one and one-half tablespoons cooking oil and one teaspoon of baking powder
• one teaspoon baking powder, one tablespoon water and one tablespoon vinegar
• one teaspoon apricot puree
• one packet of plain gelatin mixed with two tablespoons of warm water.

“Easter and Passover celebrations should be fun and inclusive, but everyone with life-threatening food allergies should be prepared for the unexpected accidental exposure,” Bajowala said. “Preparation includes always carrying two doses of your prescribed epinephrine auto-injector and knowing what the signs and symptoms are of an anaphylactic reaction.”

Editorial: Think like an optimist

in From the Editor's Desk/Health & Wellness by

by Mark Underwood, neuroscience researcher, president and co-founder, Quincy Bioscience
Have you ever wondered how some people manage to be in a good mood all the time? What is it that they know that you don’t about seeing the glass as “half full” instead of “half empty?”

Many people work at getting physically fit, but not everyone practices “mental fitness.” Many don’t consciously know how to keep a positive attitude going in spite of problems we all come up against.

So what are these happy thinkers doing that many people are not? Let’s start with lifestyle. No matter where you live or what chapter of your life you’re in, it’s easy to get the doldrums from time to time. In some parts of the country winter blahs are blamed while others lead an overly scheduled lifestyle which brings on daily challenges.

Research has found that the difference between people who remain cheery when faced with challenges that life doles out and those who can’t switch off negative thoughts, is the difference in mindsets.

David Snowdon, a professor of neurology at the University of Kentucky, has said that when optimists face problems they are able to “switch off” negative thoughts and “switch on” a happy state of mind.

Health benefits for optimists
Optimism is good for you health; pessimism is not. Stress can be harmful, yet it is nearly impossible to avoid. As we age, the effects of stress take a greater toll on our health, from increasing cholesterol to disrupting sleep.

Individuals that turn a difficult situation into a workable solution may actually be protecting themselves from the harmful effects of stress and other health problems.

A 2011 Harvard School of Public Health study found a significant increase of risk for various health problems including heart disease in people with negative outlooks.

Studies have also shown that people who can see humor in difficult situations where others see only anxiety and failure benefit from keeping a light-hearted outlook.

Living life like the way you want
There are various degrees and forms of negative thinking, but results are often the same. It can destroy motivation and energy, concentration skills, and feelings of self-worth. For some people, they’ve lived for years with a constant lack of positive thoughts. Instead, they have replaced them with continual negativity.

Living like this is difficult especially if you do so every day of the week. Negative thoughts may make you want to avoid deadlines and responsibilities. You put off daily tasks like cooking and cleaning and feel like not going to school and work.

Tips for ramping up positive thinking
It’s one thing to say to say you want a positive attitude, but it’s another thing to practice optimistic thinking when times are tough. How do you go from complaining to having a sunny disposition?

Like most things, the more you practice the better at it you get. Open the door to being more enthusiastic about life. The more you consciously put positive thoughts in your head, the more intuitive it will get.

Positivity may be easier than you think because you can practice it anywhere, anytime without any special equipment or training.

Use these tips to start being a new you.
• Listen for negativity. Find one place in your daily routine where you often run into negativity. Listen for your internal voice emerging that is looking at troubling news as failure. Ignore it. Change the channel and find a new internal voice that says, “I will get through this and in the meantime, I’m grateful for what I have.” Do this daily.

• Learn to laugh. Laugher is one of the most enjoyable ways to let the day’s stressors melt away. Humor has been studied extensively for its major effect on our well-being. As social beings we thrive with positive contact with others. Make sure you have people in your life that make you laugh and can help you lighten the day. Positive people are contagious.

• Do something nice (and unexpected) for someone. Research studies have found that five good deeds a day can make you happier. Look for ways to go out of your way to be kind to someone. It could be something simple like opening a door for a shopper whose hands are full or signing up to be a volunteer at a local organization that gives back to the community.

• Exercise for mind and body. If you feel fit and healthy, you’re much more likely to want to feel up beat less and less likely to wallow in everyday problems. Exercise has a profound effect on our ability to cope with stress. Exercise elevates our moods and helps fuel positive thinking.

Positive thinking is about placing your mind in readiness to find the good and upbeat in negative situations. It is not just window dressing for a problem—it is a technique as well as a lifestyle that can potentially change your life for the better.

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