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Vaccinating your pet

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ILLINOIS—Even though they may be taken for granted, pet vaccinations are vital for your pet’s health. Properly vaccinating your pet is an important part of pet care because vaccines can potentially help protect your pet against some serious health conditions and diseases.

“Vaccines are a suspension of altered microorganisms which will prevent, lessen, or treat disease without causing the disease,” said Dr. Mark Stickney, clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

Vaccines are considered the cornerstone of preventive medicine. Knowing the different types of vaccinations and how they work can help pet owners provide the best care for their animals.

“There are live, killed, modified live and recombinant vaccinations,” Stickney said. “By exposing the immune system to bacteria or viruses that are genetically similar to the ones that will cause disease, the immune system will develop antibodies that protect the body when it encounters the actual disease-causing organism.”

Stickney said some pet vaccines can be purchased over-the-counter and given by non-veterinarians. However, there may be quality control issues with vaccines if you are not familiar with the correct way to store and use them.

“By law, certain vaccines, like the rabies vaccine, can only be given by your veterinarian,” Stickney said. “Your veterinarian is also the best person to determine the vaccines your pet needs and how frequently they should be administered.”

According to Stickney, all puppies and kittens should receive the rabies vaccine at three months of age, and again at one year of age. Vaccination schedules vary depending on the area of the country you are in and the prevalence of different diseases in that area.

Puppies should be vaccinated for distemper virus, adenovirus, parvovirus and parainfluenza, while kittens should be vaccinated for viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia. Other vaccinations may also be recommended depending on the lifestyle of your pet.

“Booster shots are necessary in puppies and kittens to overcome ‘maternal immunity,’ where the antibodies that the puppies and kittens acquired from their mother provide some protection but eventually break down,” Stickney said. “Vaccines are ineffective in the face of maternal immunity; therefore the puppy and kitten vaccine series is necessary to protect the pet during the time when the maternal immunity disappears. Booster shots remind the immune system of diseases it is supposed to protect against.”

The frequency at which adult animals should receive booster vaccines has been a topic of debate among veterinarians for years. Increasingly, there is evidence that most vaccines do not need to be boosted every year, and that the risk of an animal catching certain diseases decreases with age. Your veterinarian will be able to tailor a vaccine protocol to the specific lifestyle of your pet.

“No vaccine is 100 percent effective,” Stickney said. “It is possible to overwhelm any vaccine and immune system with exposure to enough disease-causing organisms.”

Additionally, adverse reactions can occur from vaccinations. These reactions are most likely to occur the second time an animal receives a vaccine. They usually occur within a few minutes to six hours of vaccination.

“There are two types of reactions commonly seen: anaphylactic and delayed hypersensitivity,” Stickney said. “Delayed hypersensitivity reactions are more common and less serious. The pet becomes itchy and the face and ears swell. These reactions can usually be treated with antihistamines. Anaphylactic reactions are less common, and are serious and life-threatening. The animal collapses and goes into shock. Epinephrine and intravenous fluids are necessary to treat the animal.”

If your pet has had an allergic reaction to a vaccine, it is important to let your veterinarian know. Even pets that are allergic to a specific vaccine typically have no problems if they are treated with antihistamines before vaccinations.

Remember, vaccines are health products that signal protective immune responses in your pet. Your veterinarian can best guide you in the use and scheduling of vaccinations for your pet.

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 now 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, 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 thru Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

• Kane County Development Office, 719 S. Batavia Ave., Geneva, Monday thru 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.
More information and resources about radon is available on the Health Department’s website, kanehealth.com/radon.htm.

Federal government takes action on radon gas to prevent lung cancer in 2013

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ILLINOIS—January is Radon Action Month, according to the Surgeon General. Health agencies throughout the United States have joined forces to promote awareness of the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. The American Lung Association, Centers for Disease Control and National Cancer Institute all agree that radon is a national health problem, and encourage radon testing during the January awareness drive.

Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible and odorless gas. One in 15 American homes contains high levels of radon. Millions of Americans are unknowingly exposed to this dangerous gas. In fact, a recent Harvard University study ranks radon as America’s No. 1 in-home hazard. By taking simple steps to test your home for radon and fix it if necessary, this health hazard can be avoid.

Radon gas is not isolated to certain geographical areas or home types. Radon problems have been detected in homes in every county of the U.S. It caused more American fatalities last year than carbon monoxide, fires and handguns combined. If a home hasn’t been tested for radon in the past two years, EPA and the Surgeon General urge you to take action. Contact your state radon office for information on location qualified test kits or qualified radon testers.

The federal commitment made by EPA, the General Services Administration and the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior and Veterans Affairs will focus efforts on radon reduction and mitigation in homes, especially those of low-income families, many of whom do not have the resources to make the simple fixes necessary to protect their homes and loved ones.

Learn more about the Federal Radon Action Plan at www.radonplan.org.

Pets and the holidays

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ILLINOIS—Many people are decorating their homes for the holidays, but pet owners should be aware that some plants used for holiday decorating can be dangerous to cats and dogs. Understanding which plants are toxic and which are not can help bring home the festive spirit and avoid danger for pets.

One of the most popular holiday plants often considered poisonous are poinsettias. But in fact, they are “non-to-mildly” toxic and do not deserve their bad reputation. Pets that ingest poinsettias generally have no clinical signs or mild gastrointestinal discomfort. A mild rash may develop if rubbed on the skin, but they are considered safe to keep in the home.

“Poinsettias are usually referred to as highly toxic, but they really aren’t. Feel free to display them at Christmas,” said Dr. Dorothy Black, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (CVM).

Christmas trees are also generally safe for pets. However, pine needles can cause damage to eyes, such as a corneal laceration, if pets should run into the tree. Should pets ingest the sap produced by the tree, mild gastrointestinal discomfort may occur, but natural trees are generally non-toxic for cats and dogs.

Mistletoe, on the other hand, can be quite poisonous to pets. If ingested, pets may experience gastrointestinal upset, or show clinical signs of poisoning such as a change in mental function, difficulty breathing or a low heart rate.

“If you see these symptoms in your pet and suspect or know they ingested mistletoe, you should seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible,” Black said. “Mistletoe shouldn’t be used where pets could possibly reach it.”

Another holiday decorative plant, holly, can be dangerous for pets and is considered poisonous. Clinical symptoms may be displayed as vomiting, diarrhea, decreased energy, and general upset stomach. Owners should seek veterinary assistance if they suspect their pets of ingesting holly.

Amaryllis and daffodils are also considered poisonous for pets. If ingested, pets may vomit, appear depressed, or show signs of a painful abdomen and a loss of appetite.

“Some pets who consume amaryllis or daffodils will show symptoms of tremors,” Black said. “This can be a sign of severe toxicity.”

Lilies are particularly toxic to cats. The ingestion of any part of any type of lily can lead to kidney failure. The clinical signs can include vomiting, depression, or loss of appetite. If you suspect your cat of ingesting lilies, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. There is no antidote, and intense supportive care is needed for cats to recover.

“The more toxic the plant, the more careful you should be with displaying them in your home. While Poinsettias and Christmas trees are generally safe for pets, holly, mistletoe, amaryllis, daffodils and lilies should be considered quite toxic,” Black said. “Pets should not be allowed to come in contact with poisonous holiday plants, and if they are displayed in the home. they should be kept out of reach. (The) pet’s behavior should be monitored to make sure they do not show symptoms of poisoning.”

How to safely remove snow from your roof

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ILLINOIS—If heavy snow is left on your roof, it can result in costly water damage, or even cause your roof to collapse. Safely remove snow from your roof by using the following guidance from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS).

Find additional resources to prevent roof damage during severe winter weather at www.disastersafety.org/freezing_weather/prevent-roof-collapse/.

Snow removal equipment meant for pavement should never be used on the roof since they can damage the roof cover system. Stay grounded. Use a snow rake with a long extension arm that will allow you to remove the snow while standing on the ground. You are likely not a tightrope walker, so don’t use a roof rake while on a ladder.

Hire a snow removal contractor if you feel uncomfortable removing snow from your roof. Look for an established, licensed and bonded professional. Be sure to check references, and ask to see the contractor’s certificates of insurance.

Visit DisasterSafety.org for more information about how to make your buildings more resistant to a variety of disasters, large and small.

True Taste, LLC, recalls fish products due to possible health risks

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KANE COUNTY—The Kane County Health Department is alerting residents that True Taste, LLC of Kenosha, Wis., is recalling vacuum-packaged Hot Smoked Rainbow Trout, Hot Smoked Whitefish, Hot Smoked Herring, Hot Smoked Mackerel, Hot Smoked Salmon Steak, Cold Smoked Mackerel and Cold Smoked Whitefish because they have the potential to be contaminated with clostridium botulinum, a bacterium which can cause life-threatening illness or death. Consumers are warned not to use the product even if it does not look or smell spoiled.

Although no illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this recall, it was distributed in Illinois. The recalled product is vacuum packaged and can be identified with either the True Taste Label or the Lowell Foods Label in Illinois. The recalled product has a white sticker applied to the package with two sets of numbers. The first set of numbers represents the date of processing; the second set of numbers represents the best if used by date. This recall includes all production dates beginning on Jan. 1, 2012, through current.

Botulism, a potentially fatal form of food poisoning, can cause the following symptoms: general weakness, dizziness, double vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing. Difficulty in breathing, weakness of other muscles, abdominal distension and constipation may also be common symptoms. People experiencing these problems should seek immediate medical attention.

The potential for contamination was identified following routine sample collection by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Consumers that may still have packages of the recalled smoked fish in their homes should not consume the product and are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

True Taste LLC has voluntarily halted production and is cooperating fully with the involved regulatory authorities. This recall is being conducted with the knowledge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

More information is available at www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/default.htm.

Cherry Tomatoes recalled due to possible salmonella contamination

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KANE COUNTY—The Kane County Health Department recently announced that Capital City Fruit, Inc. of Norwalk, Iowa, is voluntarily recalling cherry tomatoes shipped by Rio Queen Citrus Inc. on Nov. 10. Capital City Fruit, Inc. received notification from Rio Queen Citrus, Inc. following the discovery of a potentially pathogenic organism salmonella by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in random testing of an incoming load of cherry tomatoes. There have been no reported illnesses attributed to the items listed in this recall.

Capital City Fruit, Inc. is issuing this voluntary recall linked to the Rio Queen Citrus, Inc.’s recall to minimize any risk to public health. The recalled product was sold in retail stores in Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Cherry tomatoes associated with the Rio Queen Citrus, Inc. recall received on Nov. 12, 2012, and used in the packaging of certain lots of Capital Brand Clamshell Cherry tomatoes have the potential to be contaminated with salmonella. These cherry tomatoes were shipped to retail stores from Nov. 14 through Nov. 18.

Capital City Fruit, Inc. has notified the retailers who have received the recalled product and directed them to remove it from their store shelves. Consumers who purchased affected products should not consume them and should destroy or discard them.

Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.

For more information about food safety, visit kanehealth.com/food_safety.htm.

Thanksgiving poses potential problems for pets

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CHICAGO—BluePearl Veterinary Partners urges people to practice caution over the Thanksgiving holiday, as many of the items prepared for humans to feast on may pose serious problems to their furry and feathered friends.

During the holidays, BluePearl sees a significant uptick in pet-related emergencies, many of which are avoidable.

Some of these problems include gastrointestinal irritations with vomiting and diarrhea, pancreatitis from eating foods high in fat, and an increase in animals being struck by vehicles.

By practicing these safety precautions and tips, you may just save your furry friend’s life:
• Make sure to seal garbage bags and place them in a tightly covered container to prevent your pets from getting into something that could injure them.
• Turkey bones, chicken bones and ham bones can splinter and cause the intestinal track to become perforated.
• It is best to keep your pets on their normal diets. Many spices and foods that are safe for humans are not safe for animals. Onions, garlic, chocolate, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, the sugar substitute xylitol, and raw or undercooked food can create major problems for pets.
• Foods high in fat content can cause pancreatitis in companion animals.
• As guests and deliveries come and go, make sure pets remain safely inside. Doors that are left unintentionally open can result in your pet being hit by a car.
• Poinsettias are also toxic to pets.
• If traveling with pets, make sure they are comfortable. Get them acclimated when they are young by taking them on trips. If needed, herbal remedies or medications can be provided by your veterinarian to assist with calming a pet.

Take care to enjoy holiday feasts

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KANE COUNTY—What would the holidays be without a sumptuous family feast? But as you prepare that large meal, you should take precautions to prevent food borne illness. The Kane County Health Department offers the following food safety tips to help ensure your holiday meals are prepared in a safe manner.

The meal should be planned days in advance, especially if you need to thaw large quantities of frozen food. The safest way to thaw frozen food is in a refrigerator at 41 F or below. Be aware, though, that if you are thawing something large (say a 20-pound turkey) you must allow enough time for it to thaw completely. It takes approximately 24 hours for each 5 pounds of frozen food to thaw in a refrigerator, so a 20-pound turkey will take three to four days to completely thaw. Never thaw your food at room temperature. The outside of the food will be warm while the inside is still frozen, allowing potentially disease-causing bacteria to grow. After thawing, the turkey may be cleaned and trimmed, and the stuffing may be prepared.

It’s a good idea to cook the stuffing separate from the turkey. Stuffing placed inside a turkey during cooking may not reach the required 165 F and could cause an illness.

Poultry and stuffed foods should be cooked so that they reach an internal temperature of at least 165 F; cook meat and fish to at least 145 F; cook pork, ground meats and ground fish to at least 155 F. If you are cooking a beef roast and like it rare, it should be cooked to at least 130 F for 121 minutes. A very important and inexpensive piece of equipment that every kitchen should have is a metal stem thermometer, which is available at any grocery store. How else will you know if your food is cooked to the proper temperature if you don’t use a thermometer? Don’t rely on guessing.

When preparing a holiday feast, or any meal, you should remember to frequently wash your hands during food preparation. Always wash your hands after using the restroom, when switching between working with raw food (such as poultry) and working with ready-to-eat food (such as vegetables or cooked foods), after touching parts of your body, after handling soiled equipment or utensils, and after coughing, sneezing, eating, drinking or smoking. Hands should be washed for about 20 seconds (about the amount of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice) with soap and warm water by vigorously rubbing the hands together.

You should also take precautions to avoid cross-contamination. Cross-contamination is the transfer of harmful microorganisms (germs) from one food to another. Contaminated hands, utensils or equipment can transfer microorganisms. Examples of cross-contamination are handling raw poultry or meats, and then handling some other food with juice from the meat or poultry still on your hands, or cutting raw poultry with a knife, then using that knife to cut vegetables without first washing the knife. That’s why it is important to frequently wash hands, counters and cooking utensils as a meal is prepared.

Once the meal is over, cool down leftovers to 41 F or below within six hours. The best way to do this is to place the leftover food in shallow pans (no thicker than 3 inches) before placing it in the refrigerator or freezer. Also, slice large cuts of meat and de-bone poultry before cooling or freezing. Avoid leaving leftovers out at room temperature once the meal is over.

Food borne illnesses can be serious enough to require hospitalization and may even be fatal. Apply safe food handling principles and practices to every meal you prepare to help avoid illnesses during this holiday season and throughout the year.

More information about food safety is available at kanehealth.com/food_safety.htm.

KHS community helps aid Sandy victims

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To help Allyson and Girl Scout Troop 466 with “Hats Off for Hurricane Help”
contribute to the Red Cross’ Sandy relief effort by texting “REDCROSS”
to 90999 for a $10 donation or visit www.redcross.org/charitable-donations

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—Kaneland High School Assistant Principal Diane McFarlin considers herself a “Jersey girl” at heart. Her husband is from New Jersey, and she grew up near the eastern seaboard.

It’s these ties to the New Jersey area that inspired McFarlin to take action when Hurricane Sandy struck a large part of New York metropolitan area two weeks ago.

McFarlin asked everyone in the KHS community to donate any warm outerwear (all sizes, including coats, gloves and scarves), childrens clothes (all sizes, emphasis on baby clothes) that they have laying around. She currently has a donation box outside of her office.

“We have a lot of friends and family in New Jersey. We vacation there. We’re ocean folks, and we love the east coast,” McFarlin said. “When the hurricane hit, it affected everyone I knew out there. My friends in the northern part of New Jersey—their community was decimated. They were spared themselves, but they experienced lots and lots of damage to their homes. It was like people didn’t have anything out there.”

All donated goods were sent to McFarlin’s friend Johnna and her husband Larry, who live in Highland, New Jersey, and have been helping members of the community who have lost their home and belongings.

“Homes (there) have been destroyed, gasoline is nonexistant and the community needs help. When Johnna can find the time and the power to text and message folks, she says that she and Larry are trying to help the most needy, but it seems everyone needs something,” McFarlin said. “I told her that I work in a very giving community, and said that I would put the word out to (everyone in the community) to find it in their heart to help.”

Many have found it in their heart to do just that, as McFarlin has already shipped over 20 boxes to New Jersey. Kaneland Secretary Laura McPhee said KHS staff went into “full commando mode” and brought in clothing, blankets and baby supplies. McFarlin then shipped out the items at her own expense.

“Johnna and Larry traveled back and forth to give the items to people in the shelters and those that stayed in their homes,” McPhee said.

McPhee’s daughter Allyson decided she wanted to get involved with the Sandy relief effort, too, and with her mom came up with “Hats Off for Hurricane Help.” And with Diane’s blessing, the McPhees began to reach out to members of their family, as well as Allyson’s friends in Girl Scout Troop 466.

“We have been sending carloads of clothing to Jersey, and just yesterday Diane learned that Fort Monmouth (Military base) will be opened up to house-displaced New Jersey residents, as all shelters and temporary housing are used up,” McPhee said.

Allyson also asked her dad to find out if his boss would help defray the cost of shipping goods out to New Jersey. George Flolo of the The Flolo Corporation in Bensenville, Ill., agreed to send the remaining boxes to Johnna and Larry.

“Without his generous donation of shipping costs, we would be forced to take what little monetary donations that have been received and use it for shipping,” McPhee said. “I have been amazed at everyone’s continued goodwill.”

Allyson and Girl Scout Troop 466 now wants to focus on helping the Red Cross, and will post “Hats Off for Hurricane Help” flyers around Maple Park and Elburn. People interested in contributing to the Red Cross’ Sandy relief effort can text “REDCROSS” to 90999 for a $10 donation or visit www.redcross.org/charitable-donations.

McFarlin called the generosity of the Kaneland community “overwhelming,” and said Johnna would like to thank each and every person who has contributed.

“For me, this gathering of supplies reminds me why I live in this community,” McFarlin said.

Dole Fresh Vegetables recalls salad product

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KANE COUNTY—The Kane County Health Department is announcing that Dole Fresh Vegetables will voluntarily recall a limited number of cases of Dole American Blend salad in 12-ounce bags, coded A275208A or B, with Use-by date of Oct. 17, and UPC 7143000933, due to a possible health risk from Listeria monocytogenes. No illnesses have been reported in association with the recall. Consumers who have any remaining product with these product codes should not consume it, but rather discard it.

The product code and use-by date are in the upper right-hand corner of the package; the UPC code is on the back of the package, below the barcode. The salads were distributed in 10 U.S. states (Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin).

This precautionary recall notification is being issued after a sample of Dole American Blend salad yielded a positive result for Listeria monocytogenes in a random test.

No other salads are included in the recall. Retailers and consumers with questions may call the Dole Food Company Consumer Response Center at (800) 356-3111.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause foodborne illness in a person who eats a food item contaminated with it. Symptoms of infection may include fever, muscle aches and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea. The illness primarily impacts pregnant women and adults with weakened immune systems. Most healthy adults and children rarely become seriously ill after exposure to Listeria monocytogenes.

November is National Pet Diabetes Awareness Month

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CHICAGO—November is National Pet Diabetes Month, and BluePearl Veterinary Partners encourages pet owners to become more aware of the signs and symptoms of diabetes.

Diabetes is a relatively common disease in which the body doesn’t use glucose properly. If left untreated, diabetes is life threatening. It is manageable, and if detected early enough, pets with diabetes can live a normal life when treated and medicated properly. In some cases with cats, diabetes can actually be reversed.

Signs and symptoms of diabetes that owners should be aware of include the following:
• Increase in water consumption
• Increase in urination
• Increase in appetite
• Weight loss
• Cataracts may be present if diabetes has been existent for a longer period of time

Certain steps can be taken to prevent diabetes. For example, obesity is a risk factor that can be controlled.

In cats, diabetes is similar to the human version of diabetes and can often be managed with a change of diet recommended and supervised by a veterinarian. In dogs, diabetes must be managed with insulin.

“If you notice any of these symptoms, we highly recommend seeing your family veterinarian as soon as possible,” said Dr. Neil Shaw, chief medical officer of BluePearl.

Zumba classes a hit in Maple Park

in Featured/Health & Wellness/Maple Park by

Photo: Certified Zumba instructor April Espe leading a class in Maple Park. Photo by Susan O’Neill

Zumba Classes
Wednesdays, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays, 8 to 9 a.m.
Maple Park Civic Center, 302 Willow St.
Schedule may vary, so call (815) 827-3286

by Susan O’Neill
MAPLE PARK—Twice a week, a core group of about 10 Maple Park women get together at the Maple Park Civic Center and dance to a mix of salsa, merengue, as well as other Latin music and current hits.

This, folks, is Zumba class.

Maple Park resident Terry Thorne, who has been a dedicated Zumba participant since April Espe began teaching the class last March, said she joined gyms when she was younger, but it just “never took.”

“I’ve been taking the (Zumba) classes for eight months, and I’ve never been committed to anything this long, except my husband,” Thorne said.

According to Maple Park resident Jamie DeStefano, one of the reasons the women keep coming back is the fact that participants laugh and have fun during the class.

Another reason is the way the class makes them feel.

Thorne, 55, said Zumba keeps her joints loosened up, and that she can bend over and touch the ground—something she was previously unable to do.

“One week off makes a difference,” she said. “I don’t want to stop doing it now.”

Espe, a Sycamore resident, had been teaching dance classes for girls, ages 3 to 12th grade, when she decided to teach their mothers some dance routines. She held the classes for the moms without telling the children. During the next student show, the parents surprised them with their own performance.

Espe saw how much fun the adults had, so when Maple Park resident Beth Miller posted on the village’s Facebook page that she was looking for a Zumba class, Espe put two and two together. She was already a dance teacher operating a school—“Just for Kix,” in DeKalb—so she obtained a certification in January to teach Zumba and started to get the word out about the class.

Espe participated in all kinds of sports while growing up. She did gymnastics for 15 years, ran track and played volleyball. She also has five years of dance experience.

According to Espe, Zumba class is aerobic, but participants really don’t think too much about their workout.

“It’s fun and you’re moving,” Espe said. “You’re dancing yourself into shape.”

Through the village’s Facebook page, flyers and word of mouth, Espe has developed a following in the area. In addition to the classes in Maple Park, she also teaches a Zumba class in DeKalb.

Espe makes sure that the dance steps are simple enough so that people can easily follow them. She also talks beginners through the steps and repeats them often.

“A lot of people are scared off because they think dance skills are required,” Espe said. “As long as you’re moving, that’s what counts.”

She said the class appeals to all ages, and that she even has a few people over the age of 70 in her classes.

DeStefano said she has lost 40 pounds with Weight Watchers, and the class has helped her with her weight loss.

“This gets my day going,” she said.

For more information about Zumba classes in Maple Park, call (815) 827-3286.

4 West Nile cases bring the total in Kane County to 9

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KANE COUNTY—The Kane County Health Department recently reported four more cases of West Nile Virus, bringing the total so far this season to nine.

The most recent cases are a 67-year-old man and 61-year-old man, both from Elgin; a 50-year-old St. Charles man and a 59-year-old Geneva man. The Health Department will report new cases once a week on Wednesdays until the end of the West Nile season, which ends with the first hard frost of the year.

Other cases this year include a 71-year-old man from Aurora, a 61-year-old Geneva woman, a 70-year-old Aurora man, 16-year-old Batavia girl, and a 64-year-old Elgin man, who died in August.

This summer was hot and dry—the perfect combination for the Culex mosquito, the species that is known to carry the virus. West Nile Virus will likely continue to see activity until the season is over. The Health Department monitors for WNV activity in your area and throughout the county. You can visit www.kanehealth.com/wnv_surveillance.htm to view a map of the trap locations throughout the county, as well as other surveillance activities. Surveillance updates are posted once a week.

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 people 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, 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, www.kanehealth.com/ west_nile.htm, or the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website, www.idph.state.il.us/ envhealth/wnv.htm. People also can call the IDPH West Nile Virus Hotline at (866) 369-9710, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Kaneland community comes together for teacher

in Featured/Health & Wellness/Kaneland by

Photo: Kaneland High School teacher Bridget Sweeney, her husband Matt, daughter Lilly and son Jack. Courtesy Photo

by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—Kaneland High School teacher Bridget Sweeney had gotten used to dealing with cancer.

Twenty years ago, when she was a high school senior, she was diagnosed with a malignant soft tissue sarcoma in her right arm. At the time, the doctors removed her tumor and she underwent radiation treatments. A year later, the cancer came back and spread to her lungs. Again, she had surgery to remove it.

In September 2011, Sweeney had just given birth to her second child and was set to come back to work around Thanksgiving when the cancer came back for a third time in her arm. Although she has had several recurrences of the cancer and multiple arm and lung surgeries, this time her doctors suggested that she have her arm amputated.

She opted instead for an aggressive arm surgery in which the doctors removed her soft tissue and replaced it with rods and skin and tissue grafts from her leg.

She had another round of radiation treatments and additional surgeries to rebuild her arm, as well as therapy to strengthen her arm and leg.

“It’s been a watch game for 20 years,” Sweeney said. “You get used to it.”

What she wasn’t used to was the outpouring of love and support from the Kaneland High School community.

English teacher Brooke Simon, a friend of Sweeney’s who lives near her, said multiple people and organizations at the high school came together to help Sweeney and her family through her recovery.

Fellow teacher Jenny O’Hara created a website where people could sign up to cook meals, as well as donate time and money.

While Sweeney was in the hospital, her husband had to pay $20 for parking every time he came to visit her. With the mounting medical and hospital bills, child care for their baby and 5-year-old son Jack, as well as other expenses, the donations came in handy.

When she came home, it was still a long time before her arm would heal and regain its strength. She was unable to hold her three-month-old daughter Lilly, so cooking was definitely out of the question.

Simon would bring the meals to her a couple of times a week on her way home. Often, people would put together an entire meal, complete with a salad and side dishes. Simon would also often bring messages and cards with good wishes from faculty, students and parents. People gave gift cards for groceries, meals out at restaurants, and a gift certificate for Merry Maids to clean her house.

“She was dealing with all of this and trying to be a mom at the same time,” Simon said. “We could empathize. We did anything and everything that we could to help her.”

Graphics teacher Nikki Larson said the website made it easy to coordinate the meals and donations.

“You could see what others were making so you didn’t overlap with them,” she said.

Larson said that Sweeney is such a positive person, everyone wanted to pitch in to help.

“We were happy to provide small moments of some sort of normalcy for them,” Larson said.

Sweeney said that this was the first time that she has shared her battle with cancer so widely.

Not many of the students were initially aware of Sweeney’s situation. That changed when Kaneland baseball coach Brian Aversa asked the seniors on the team if they wanted to raise money to help Sweeney and her family.

Each year, the seniors decide which individual, charity or organization will receive the proceeds of a Senior Night game the team plays with Batavia High School at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark in Geneva. Aversa said the students were overwhelmingly in favor of donating the money to Sweeney.

The team raised $5,000 for Sweeney during its “Pack the Park” game at the stadium in May.

Sweeney came back to Kaneland at the beginning of this school year. Simon said she is doing very well.

“It’s great to see her teaching again,” she said. “She’s a great teacher. The kids love her.”

Sweeney takes her cancer in stride. She said she knows that for some people, it’s a death sentence.

“For me, it’s a chronic illness,” she said. “It’s a condition that is manageable.”

She said that her cancer is not something that she dwells on. While it has been a long and challenging road, she said she has never allowed cancer to get in the way of her life.

“I have a loving husband, supportive family and two beautiful children,” she said. “I have a wonderful career teaching with a generous community of coworkers and amazing students,” she said.

She is still amazed by all that people have done for her and her family.

“It was a huge outpouring of support that was so unexpected and humbling,” she said. “I have never been in a community that has gone to such lengths to help. What was especially touching is that the students chose to offer their fundraising and giving opportunity to help us out.”

More mosquitoes test positive for West Nile Virus

in Health & Wellness by

KANE COUNTY—Three more batches (or pools) of mosquitoes collected recently have tested positive for West Nile Virus. The mosquito batches were collected in Kane County Health Department traps in Aurora, Montgomery and Carpentersville, Ill. This brings the total to five positive batches this year; the second from Carpentersville. These positive mosquito batches usually are the first indicators of West Nile activity.

With this year’s hot, dry weather, these results come as no surprise. First evidence of West Nile typically begins in July or August. And although it has been extraordinarily dry, the few intermittent showers experienced in the area are enough to leave small pools of stagnant water where the Culex mosquito, the species associated with the disease, can breed. Now is a good time to inspect your yard for areas that can collect water and remove it.

The Health Department monitors for WNV activity in your area. You can visit www.kanehealth.com/wnv_surveillance.htm to view a map of the trap locations throughout the county. 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.

In 2011, Kane reported one human case and five cases in 2010. In 2009, an unusually mild summer with cool temperatures, there were no human cases of West Nile Virus reported in Kane County. There were three cases of the virus reported in 2008, 13 in 2007, four in 2006, 17 in 2005, two in 2004, none in 2003 and nine in 2002. You can view more detailed monitoring results from previous years by visiting http://kanehealth.com/west_nile.htm.

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 people 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, meningitis and death, are possible. People 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, according to label instructions, includes DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. 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, www.kanehealth.com/west_ nile.htm, or the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Web site, www.idph.state.il.us/ envhealth/wnv.htm. People also can call the IDPH West Nile Virus Hotline at 1-866-369-9710, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Public buildings to serve as cooling centers

in Featured/Health & Wellness by

KANE COUNTY—On the heels of the powerful storms over the weekend that knocked out power to numerous homes, and with the outlook of hot weather for the rest of the week, the Kane County Health Department is urging residents to be especially cautious in dealing with the oppressive heat.

If your home still is without power, a list of cooling centers can be found at kanehealth.com/heat.htm. The county is urging residents to check on the well-being of their neighbors, especially those who are elderly, have special needs or are otherwise unable to access this information. Also take special care to see that your pets have plenty of water and shade.

The health effects of extreme heat are cumulative, which is why it is important to follow the tips below to ensure you avoid dehydration, heat exhaustion or heat stroke:

• Always wear light-weight clothing that has plenty of ventilation—the fabric should “breathe.” Stay well hydrated; always ensure you consume an abundance of liquids in the summer.

• Exercise or schedule other strenuous activities when the heat and humidity are lowest, usually early morning and late evenings.

• Rest in cool, shady places frequently. If you’re hot, go cool down—get indoors, drink cool liquids, enjoy the air conditioning for a few minutes, or take a cold shower.

• Eat light, heart-healthy foods to replace minerals and nutrients that may be lost. Give your heart a little extra break during the summer months with a healthy diet.

• Watch out for those at greatest risk, such as very young children, the elderly, persons who may have health conditions. Certain medications may put you at greater risk of heat-related illnesses, so be aware of how medications may interact with the heat.

Be on the lookout for these potential risk factors when spending any time outside during periods of extreme heat and humidity:

• Dehydration— ehydration occurs when more water leaves the body that you put back in. Stay well hydrated throughout the day, and drink extra fluids when exercising or simply being outdoors on hot days.

• Heat exhaustion— ymptoms may include headaches, weak pulse, rapid pulse, excessive sweating, dizziness, and in some instances, fainting, clammy skin, chills, cold, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps or very fast or very shallow breathing. If you suspect you have heat exhaustion, take action immediately to cool down. If possible, immerse yourself in cool water.

• Heat stroke—Unlike heat exhaustion, victims of heat stroke have warm skin that is dry to the touch because they’ve sweated out all their extra water, leaving the body’s natural cooling system without a key cool-down mechanism. High fever, severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, and a strong, rapid pulse all accompany heat stroke. Victims may become confused and can lose consciousness. Heat stroke is a very serious condition. Cool the victim and seek immediate medical assistance.

More information about the effects of heat on your health is available by visiting the heat page on the Health Department website.

Topinka: Developmentally disabled will be prioritized

in Health & Wellness/Regional by

SPRINGFIELD—Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka on Tuesday announced that she has directed her staff to prioritize payments for day programs, child group homes, community living facilities and other programs serving the developmentally disabled.

The direction from the state Fiscal Officer comes after the Department of Human Services notified service providers of payment delays caused by an insufficient appropriation in the fiscal year 2012 budget. The department noted that payments would not be processed until after July 1, and then be subject to ongoing state payment delays.

“Those serving the developmentally disabled should know that we will make their payments as soon as the information reaches our door,” Topinka said, noting her policy of prioritizing payment for the state’s most vulnerable residents. “People literally rely on these programs for survival, and they will take priority.”

Topinka noted that, while services for the developmentally disabled will be prioritized, her office today has more than 164,000 unpaid bills totaling $4.4 billion to businesses, schools, hospitals and service agencies throughout the state.

Delnor Health and Wellness Center offers hot stone massage

in Health & Wellness/Regional by

GENEVA—Delnor Health and Wellness Center is offering hot stone massage therapy.

Hot stone massage is a specialty massage in which the therapist uses smooth, heated stones on key points of the body. This type of massage uses traditional massage strokes while incorporating the healing effects of the warm stones.

Hot stone massage may help with:
• Alleviation of stress
• Release of toxins
• Improved circulation
• Calming of the mind and nervous system
• Deep tissue and muscle relaxation
• Treatment of tight muscles due to overexertion

Hot stone massage is available to both members and nonmembers of Delnor Health and Wellness Center. Member pricing is $110 for a 70-minute massage. Non-member pricing is $120 for a 70-minute massage.

Delnor Health and Wellness Center massage therapists are certified and trained in hot stone massage.

For more information about hot stone massage or to schedule an appointment, contact Delnor Health & Wellness Center at (630) 208-3933. TTY for the hearing impaired, (630) 208-4399.

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