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Health & Wellness - page 4

Five tips for safe summer sun

in Health & Wellness by

by Kevin Ronneberg, M.D.
Summer has arrived. As the weather heats up, it’s critical for beachgoers and outdoor fun-seekers to be sun-safe. This begins with choosing the right sunscreen to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. Equally important are these five simple tips from the Skin Cancer Foundation, which also will help you mitigate sun damage and reduce the risk of skin cancer.

First, seek the shade. Simply minimizing exposure to UVA and UVB rays can go a long way toward protecting your skin. Taking a break from direct sun is especially important between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when rays are strongest. And remember, clouds don’t block UV rays.

Infants under 6 months should always be kept out of the sun and protected with clothing, an umbrella or a stroller hood. Children and adults should wear protective clothing, including wide-brimmed hats and UV-blocking sunglasses.

Second, use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher. Regardless of the season, this kind of sun protection should be used on a daily basis. Most people understand the importance of sun safety during the summer months, but many underestimate the need for year-round protection. The temperature may drop, but UV rays remains strong. And the cooler temperatures may actually prevent people from realizing the extent of the damage the sun is doing to their skin.

Next year, new regulations from the Food and Drug Administration will help consumers know they’re getting the right protection by prohibiting manufactures from labeling their sunscreens as “broad spectrum” or making claims about protecting against skin cancer and aging unless they’re SPF 15 or higher. And sunscreens with lower SPF values will have to sport a warning that the product may not offer protection against the harmful effects of exposure to the sun.

Third, apply 1 ounce of sunscreen to the entire body 30 minutes before going outside. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, for full SPF protection, sunscreen must be applied half an hour before sun exposure. If you are average size, you’ll need a full ounce—or about two tablespoons—to adequately cover your skin. Studies show that most people apply less than half that amount, losing the full benefit of the SPF protection.

Reapplication is just as important as putting sunscreen on in the first place, as sunscreens tend to break down with exposure and can be rubbed off or washed off by sweat or water. So sunscreen should be applied every two hours, and immediately after swimming or a set of tennis. During a full day at the beach, one person should expect to use at least a quarter of an 8 ounce bottle of sunscreen.

Fourth, do not let yourself burn. Sunburn is the most immediate and obvious sign of UV damage. When immune cells race to the injured skin site to start healing the damage, they produce the reddening and swelling.

Tanning is the skin’s response to this damage and may permanently affect skin cells. While many believe a “base tan” will prevent damaging burns, that’s not the case. There is no such thing as a healthy or base tan.

Finally, check your skin regularly and ask your doctor for a skin cancer exam annually. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer. Tans and burns can be the first step. Intermittent but intense UV exposure is more closely associated with melanoma, the most deadly variety of skin cancer, than chronic sun exposure. One blistering sunburn in childhood or five in a lifetime doubles the risk of melanoma.

To check yourself for signs of skin damage, inspect your skin from head to toe, looking for spots or sores that heal too slowly, new growths, and any moles or beauty marks that change in color, texture, or size. And once each year, be sure to ask your physician for a skin checkup.

Sunscreens are an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. They keep skin looking young and reduce the risk of many skin cancers. They must be used properly, however. These five suggestions will help keep you and your skin safe.

Summer heat means extra pet precautions

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As the hot days of summer come upon everyone, BluePearl Veterinary Partners recommends taking certain precautions to ensure your pet doesn’t suffer from heat related injuries.

It is best to keep pets in an air conditioned environment during the heat of the day, and limit strenuous activities such as running and playing. If your pet does become overheated, spray the animal down with room-temperature or cool water, but never ice water. Ice-cold water causes a decrease in blood flow to the skin, and heat can’t escape the body, making heat exhaustion symptoms worse.

Don’t give your pets sports drinks or electrolyte supplements. Dogs cool off by panting and do not sweat like people. Supplements like sports drinks can actually harm animals and make pets sick.

Lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea and dark red gums are all signs of heat-related distress. If your pet is panting uncontrollably or collapses, take the animal to your veterinarian or nearest emergency veterinary hospital immediately.

Pet owners should also remember to make sure their pets have access to water at all times. Also, never leave your pet locked in a vehicle with the windows closed.

HorsePower riding program helps build skills, confidence

in Featured/Health & Wellness/Maple Park/Regional by

Photo: Carrie Capes (far right) helps four-year-old Emma of Sycamore ride Tonka, a 15-year-old Belgian Cross. Helping are trainers Veronica and Karol. The program began in March. Photo by John DiDonna

by Susan O’Neill
MAPLE PARK—Maple Park resident Carrie Capes said she learned very early on with Max, her 11-year-old son with multiple disabilities, that “a child with a disability really and truly needs a village.”

“I love doing that with others,” she said.

Capes recently began providing therapeutic horseback riding lessons to children and adults with disabilities at the Fox Chase Farms horse stable in Maple Park.

The riding program is known as HorsePower.

Capes had been able to use her degree in recreational therapy while working with Max, teaching him to ride, as well as other skills that translate to his daily life. She calls what she does at the stable with Max a “work/study program” in which she gives him riding lessons twice a week. He also does barn chores, such as cleaning stalls, grooming and feeding the horses, and sweeping the stable aisles.

“He feels useful and needed and a sense of pride here,” she said. “While Max needs a service dog to navigate a trip into the grocery store, he has freedom at the barn and he is successful with his behavior. This is his happy place.”

Capes said Fox Chase Farms owner Jenise Koerner saw her working with Max, and experienced first-hand the power of horses. When Capes left another therapeutic riding job, Koerner called her to see if she would like to do her work at her barn.

“I’m new to this, but I’m a full supporter,” Koerner said.

Capes is currently working with a dozen children and adults with disabilities, using the riding to help teach her students hand-eye coordination, balance and strength, keeping their focus and other skills.

In addition to the skills the students learn, therapeutic riding helps to build their self-esteem, something that people with disabilities often have in short supply.

“It’s very empowering to lead a 1,600 pound animal to do what you want him to do,” Capes said. “It’s a great confidence builder.”

Capes recently started to work with 4-year-old Trevin, one of Sycamore resident Kalie Kuhl’s triplets. Trevin has high muscle tone in his legs, which makes walking and other activities, such as climbing up onto a couch or a chair, difficult.

Trevin’s occupational and physical therapists recommended therapeutic riding for him as a way to supplement the therapy they were doing.

“For a full hour, he is straddling the horse, which is pretty effective at stretching out the muscles in his legs,” Kuhl said. “I wouldn’t be able to replicate that at home.”

Kuhl said that, because Trevin is so young, the hardest thing is keeping him engaged in his therapy. However, with all of the external distractions involving the horse and the games Capes plays with Trevin, Kuhl said she has his full attention for a solid hour.

Because Capes uses toys, pom-poms, balls, bubbles and other non-traditional items to keep things interesting, the horses need to be well-trained and desensitized to these props.

The volunteers help with training the horses, as well as walking alongside and in front of the horse during the student’s lesson, to make sure he or she is securely on the horse and paying attention to Capes. They also pitch in with barn chores.

Marmion cadet Kyle Urbanik, a 15-year-old who has been riding horses since he was about 6 years old, is one of HorsePower’s volunteers. In the two months that he has been a side-walker, he said he has already seen the students grow and make improvements.

Many of the children have never been on a horse before, so the first challenge is to help them get over their fears, Urbanik said. One child in particular has a problem with depth perception, which made him very fearful at first. Urbanik thought it would take him months to feel comfortable, but the child was safely trotting by the third week.

“His (physical) therapists said he has made a lot of progress at school, too,” Urbanik said.

Although Urbanik’s initial goal was to obtain the service hours his school required of him, he has become passionate about what he does at Fox Chase Farms.

“I hope to change a lot of kids’ lives,” he said.

Capes said that her highest goal is to provide therapeutic riding to people with disabilities, regardless of their ability to pay.

“Our dream is to have a sliding scale,” she said. “This community is helping to make that happen.”

Capes said that area businesses and residents have been very generous in their support. Paisano’s Pizza in Elburn is helping to raise money for scholarships by giving half of every $10 ticket, redeemable for a one-item pizza, purchased between now and June 15. Their goal is to use the money to help pay for lessons for children whose families can’t afford them, Capes said. There is currently a waiting list for scholarships.

SH&D Trucking has donated $1,000 for a limestone/sand mixture to blanket the arena where the students ride. Christ Community Church has donated more than $600 for materials to build two special mounting blocks to help students get onto the horse safely. About 20 of the church’s members have committed to a work day on Wednesday, June 6, when they will help build the blocks and other tasks.

“Mounting the horse is one of the most difficult things for a person with a disability,” Capes said. “These blocks are a huge blessing. I have felt so supported by the Kaneland community.”

Carrie Capes has launched her new program, HorsePower Therapeutic Riding, at Fox Chase Farm in Maple Park. The program will teach students balance, confidence, coordination and strength. Here she helps Emma give Tonka a treat after their ride on May 14. Photo by John DiDonna

Keep cool with these hot tips

in Health & Wellness by

KANE COUNTY—The Kane County Health Department reminds residents of important health tips they can follow to ensure their time spent outdoors this summer is safe and comfortable. Here are some tips from the Health Department to stay cool:

• Always wear lightweight 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 and 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 – Dehydration 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 – Symptoms 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 Kane County Health Department website.

TriCity Family Services presents: ‘A Layperson’s Guide to Mental Illness’

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ST CHARLES— In hopes of de-stigmatizing mental illness and create further awareness, TriCity Family Services will present an educational seminar, “A Layperson’s Guide to Mental Illness.”

Attendees will learn what mental illness is, how prevalent it is nationally and locally, the economic impact of untreated mental illness,and what they can do to end the stigma of mental illness in their community.

The program will be presented by Sheri O’Brien, Sr. clinician/consultant, and Miranda Barfuss, development manager, on Tuesday, May 22 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the St. Charles Library, 1 S. 6th Ave., St. Charles. This presentation is being provided free of charge, and all are welcome to attend.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and TriCity Family Services calls on you to help to provide support and acceptance to those facing mental health issues. Mental health disorders affect one in four individuals in a given year and it can occur in any family regardless of income, race, education or environment.

Mental illness is shrouded in a stigma created by myths and false information.For additional information, call TriCity Family Services at (630) 232-1070 or visit

Provena Mercy receives Environmental Excellence award

in Health & Wellness/Sugar Grove by

AURORA—Provena Mercy Medical Center recently received the “Making Medicine Mercury Free” award from Practice Greenhealth, the national membership organization dedicated to providing environmental solutions for the health care industry.

The 2012 award recognizes Provena Mercy for its efforts to reduce mercury and for its commitment to environmental responsibility. The “Making Medicine Mercury Free” honor is bestowed on organizations that implemented proven policies to rid the facility of the harmful chemical mercury, and to prevent it from re-entering the facility.

To receive the award, a hospital must show that it has virtually eliminated mercury from its site and is committed to continue that practice.

Recently, Provena Mercy conducted a hospital-wide survey and, where possible, eliminated products containing mercury, such as thermometers and gauges. The hospital also established an Environmental Purchasing Policy that eliminates the use of products containing mercury.

“We know that the use of mercury in health care jeopardizes public health and the environment,” said Lamar Davis, assistant vice president of facilities at Provena Mercy Medical Center. “We’ve created better alternatives for caring for our patients that do not involve mercury.”

In November 2012, Provena Mercy kicked off its “Think Green” initiative to reduce waste and help the environment.

“Increased recycling efforts not only help the environment, but they also save money, which we are putting back into the community,” Davis said. “Proceeds from recyclables are going into funds to help those in need in the community.”

Proceeds from recycled paper assist Provena Mercy patients who have financial need, while proceeds from plastic, aluminum and glass go to Association for Individual Development.

“It’s just the right thing to do,” Davis said.

So far this year, Provena Mercy has recycled 834 pounds of bottles, cans and plastics; and 3,327 pounds of paper. That’s more than the weight of an elephant or small car.

May is Asthma Awareness Month

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CHICAGO—An estimated 25 million Americans—including seven million children—suffer from asthma, a chronic respiratory disease for which attacks can range from mild to life-threatening. The prevalence has been increasing over the last two decades, and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is encouraging effective management to reduce environmental triggers of the disease during Asthma Awareness Month in May.

“Asthma attacks account for nearly 2 million emergency room visits nationwide each year,” said IDPH Acting Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “It is extremely important that we continue to raise awareness about common triggers so that the disease can be effectively controlled, and environmental factors, to the greatest extent possible, can be reduced.”

The annual economic cost of asthma, including direct medical costs from hospital stays and indirect costs such as lost school and work days, amounts to more than $56 billion annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). African-Americans and Latinos are also disproportionately impacted by the disease. Approximately 3 million Latinos are affected by asthma, with the highest rate being among Puerto Ricans—113 percent higher than non-Hispanic whites, and 50 percent higher than non-Hispanic blacks, according to the CDC.

About 14 percent of Illinoisans suffer from asthma, and over the last 20 years, Illinois has had one of the nation’s highest asthma mortality rates. Asthma is triggered by indoor and outdoor allergens, irritants including secondhand smoke, dust mites, mold, gas-cooking stoves, wood smoke, cockroaches and other pests, and many household cleaning supplies.

In 1999 the Illinois Asthma Program was established to develop strategic goals and long-range planning in the effort to reduce asthma in Illinois. In 2009, the third Illinois Asthma Strategic Plan was released with long-range goals and solutions to reduce the burden of asthma for people with asthma and their caretakers.

In August 2010, the legislature passed Public Act 96-1460, making it simpler for students to carry and self-administer rescue inhalers at school. Students now need only a note from a parent or guardian and a copy of their prescription to keep their inhalers with them. Previously, they were also required to get written permission from a physician—a logistical hurdle that prevented many children from having ready access to their medication.

The Illinois Asthma Partnership consists of state and federal agencies, local asthma coalitions, national non-profits, hospitals, universities, and individuals from a diverse background of professions to address statewide goals. Statewide goals include implementing interventions to identify triggers and increase asthma awareness in the workplace and in schools, and promoting the use of asthma action plans and the adoption of asthma friendly policies and practices.

Steps toward preventing and/or reducing the occurrence of asthma attacks include:
• Talk to a doctor—Learn what triggers asthma attacks, identify triggers in the home and medications to take.
• Develop an “Asthma Action Plan”—Identify triggers, keep track of the severity of symptoms and keep medical resources handy.
• Asthma-proof your home—Manage and eliminate triggers (mold, dust mites, secondhand smoke; keep food sealed and kitchen area free of clutter to minimize pests, maintain low humidity in the home).
• Quit smoking—When a person inhales tobacco smoke, irritating substances settle in the moist lining of the airways. These substances can cause an attack in a person who has asthma. Call 866-Quit Yes for free tobacco cessation information.

To read the entire Illinois Asthma Strategic Plan, and for additional resources regarding the management of environmental triggers for asthma, visit chronic/asthma.htm.

‘I on Diabetes’

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ST. CHARLES—The University of Illinois Extension at 535 South Randall Road in St. Charles, will offer “I on Diabetes,” a series of four, three-hour sessions designed for anyone interested in preventing or managing diabetes.

This program provides information on treatment goals and self-monitoring, and managing carbohydrates, sodium and cholesterol. Additionally, it will cover meal planning, reading food labels, using artificial sweeteners and low-fat products, seasoning with herbs and spices. In each session participants receive recipes, watch cooking demonstrations and taste foods to meet their special needs.

The goal of “I on Diabetes” is to improve diabetic care and overall wellbeing. The program is meant to complement the recommendations of your health care provider and to help you and/or your loved ones manage diabetes.

Extension Nutrition and Wellness Educator, Laura Barr will help participants increase their knowledge of healthy food choices using research-based resources.

Health education is needed to understand the food relationship to blood sugar or serum glucose after being diagnosed with diabetes. So, we present relevant topics and cooking demonstrations. Plus, provide recipes and food tasting at each class.

The programs will be presented on consecutive Fridays, (June 1, 8, 15 & 22) from 9:30- 12:30. The cost is $40 for the whole series. Pre-registration and payment for the series are due by May 25. Extension programs reflect a research base without any product endorsement or sales motivation. Registration is available at:

Boot Camp for women promotes health and helps Lazarus House

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CAMPTON HILLS— Jackie Kold Fitness and Yoga is holding a Get Smokin’ Hot Boot Camp, June 9-27. The camp will be held from 9-10 a.m daily in a ladies-only setting and each class purchased individually

Camp will be held outside at the studio at 5N201 Shady Oaks Court in Campton Hills and will include nearby parks and trails.

“Because this camp is geared to women, it will address their specific fitness needs,” saidJackie Kold, studio owner and personal trainer/ yoga instructor who runs the camp. “Camp size is limited to 12 female participants to offer the highest quality of instruction.”

All enrollees are asked to bring a dry goods donation for Lazarus House. A donations list is available on the studio website at and also on the Lazarus House website at encourage donations, the studio is offering a drawing for a free boot camp day. Each time a dry goods donation is brought in, an entry into the drawing is made.

In addition to more traditional boot camp exercises, these sessions will include power yoga with bands and free weights to provide full range of motion exercises. Kold will utilize techniques she has developed over the years and specifically designed to help her son, Garrett prepare for the Air Force Special Forces. Garrett, now in the Air Force, will help lead the camp on select days while he is on leave this June.

“My workouts also have a strong ‘guts and butts’ component because these are key areas where women want to lose weight and tone up. For flexibility and strength, we warm up and cool down with yoga,” Kold said.

In addition to personal training, Kold also offers yoga classes for women at studio, including power yoga classes, which strengthens her students using free weights during yoga poses.

Daily Camp Cost is $20 if you register by May 25, and $22 to register after that date while space lasts. For more information, visit or call Jackie at the Studio at (630) 584-2254.

Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets

in Health & Wellness/Regional by

ST. CHARLES—Spring is here, and with it comes kittens. Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets (H.E.L.P.) is seeking volunteers to care for orphaned kittens in their homes. H.E.L.P. provides supplies, veterinary care, and training. These young kittens usually require bottle feeding, which must be done at regular intervals. Depending on their age, this could require feeding overnight. This is a challenging, rewarding opportunity.

Volunteers must be adults and must be able to keep the kittens in a separate room of their home. If you would like to volunteer, or for more information about H.E.L.P.’s bottle feeding program, please call Lisa at (630) 879-7130.

H.E.L.P. is a volunteer based not-for-profit organization in the St. Charles area. H.E.L.P. strives to provide medical care and a safe, happy, and comfortable living environment for as many cats and dogs possible while maintaining a high standard of care for these animals and making a best effort to ensure these animals are adopted into quality adoptive homes. More information is available on the H.E.L.P. website,

Reducing the stigma

in Featured/Health & Wellness/Regional by

Photo: Board member Rosalie Link (left to right), Development Manager Miranda Barfuss, Alderman Dawn Vogelsberg, Board President Jim Di Ciaula, former Board President Diane Gibson and Executive Director Jim Otepka. Courtesy Photo

TriCity Family Services promotes mental health awareness
by Susan O’Neill
GENEVA—May is the month designated for Mental Health Awareness, but TriCity Family Services (TCFS) works all year long to raise awareness and the importance of mental health.

“None of us is really immune from dealing with mental health crises in our lives,” TCFS Executive Director Jim Otepka said.

According to a National Institute of Mental Health statistic, one-in-four American adults 18 and over lives with a diagnosable, treatable mental health condition. They can go on to live full and productive lives; however, many people never seek or receive help due to stigma, lack of information, cost or lack of health care coverage.

Otepka said that TCFS has an important role to play in raising the awareness and reducing the stigma of mental illness. The agency offers community-centered educational programs, and agency staff conduct presentations for civic groups and organizations of all types, from mothers’ groups and Parent Teacher Organizations to church ministerial groups, as well as round tables for schools’ student services personnel.

Typical topics for the round tables include bullying, school avoidance and refusal, as well as risk factors for suicide and suicide prevention.

“Schools are 40 percent of our referrals,” Otepka said.

Counselors at TCFS offer help to students with attention disorders, depression, anxiety, incidents of self-mutilation, and for victims of bullying.

TCFS is a private, not-for-profit agency that provides mental health services to people and organizations in central Kane County, particularly those individuals and families who are uninsured or underinsured. The service area includes the cities of Geneva, Batavia and St. Charles, as well as Campton, Virgil, Blackberry and Kaneville townships. The agency offers sliding scale fees, and scholarships are available for group programs.

Approximately 90 percent of all counseling clients pay less than the full fee, nearly two-thirds of all child and adolescent clients it serves use Medicaid, and more than half of all counseling clients have reported incomes of $30,000 or less.

When TCFS was founded in 1967, teens were at the core of its services. Through the 2012 Teens Won’t Wait Project, the agency is currently working to better meet the needs of teens in the community through obtaining additional funding.

Group programs for teens include a Wilderness Challenge Program, an eight-day therapeutic adventure that provides a positive peer group experience for at-risk teens; a Young Women’s Retreat, a weekend of building self-esteem and peer support; Mindful Emotions, an eight-week class that helps teen girls strengthen their communication skills and develop healthy coping strategies; and Smart Choices, an anger management class for teens to learn new ways to handle anger that includes working with their families to help change the family dynamics.

The agency offers prevention and early intervention programs, as well as counseling, workshops and other services to promote good mental health and effective family functioning.

“Our area of specialization is working with families,” Otepka said.

He explained that gaining an understanding of the problem within the context of the family allows family members to be part of the treatment.

In addition to divorce support workshops for children, anger management for children and adults, groups for single moms and for grandparents raising grandchildren, TCFS also offers family enrichment groups, designed to build stronger ties between parents and their children and among siblings.

Offered in schools and school settings, the family enrichment groups include families sharing a meal, a discussion with the adults about parenting while the children participate in art or other forms of therapy, ending with an activity that includes both parents and children.

Simply setting aside the time to interact as a family has significant benefits, said Denis Ferguson, director of the Behavioral Health Program.

Ferguson said TCFS staff includes six full and part-time therapists for adults and six for family services.

“We also see a fair amount of couples,” he said. “That’s a key area for us.”

Ferguson explained that the philosophy TCFS staff ascribe to is that the body and the mind are interconnected, and their approach is holistic. They participate in outreach activities, such as a Children’s Wellness Fair in St. Charles and offer classes on mental health issues as part of the Batavia High School health curriculum.

The agency has recently initiated a pilot program with the Visiting Nurses Association Health Care in Aurora, in its pediatric clinics. Staff consult with doctors regarding children with physical complaints, but without a medical reason. In the first three months of the program, they have received 40 referrals for issues such as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorders (ADHD), bi-polar disorders, anxiety and depression.

Their goal is to determine if they can help people improve their general health with behavioral health programs.

“There is no health without mental health,” Ferguson said.

New rule for school: Whooping cough shot for 6th-, 9th-graders

in Health & Wellness/Kaneland/Regional by

KANE COUNTY—Beginning this fall, for school year 2012-13, the state of Illinois is requiring that all students entering sixth and ninth grades provide proof of a dose of the whooping cough (Tdap) vaccination in addition to the school physicals required at these grades.

Numerous outbreaks of pertussis (whooping cough) have occurred recently among school children in Illinois, and the numbers seem to be on the rise. While Kane’s numbers are not quite as high as some of those in neighboring counties, there have been 37 cases so far this year, compared to 54 last year.

“As we approach the end of the school year, I want to encourage parents of next year’s sixth- and ninth-graders to schedule those physicals and shots,” said Kane County Health Department Executive Director Paul Kuehnert. “You will be taking steps to keep them healthy and at the same time meet the school requirements.”

Because pertussis is so highly contagious, the infection often spreads rapidly through school environments. It is easily transmitted through coughing and sneezing and may cause illness that persists for weeks to months. Pertussis does not typically cause severe illness in healthy students, but can prolong absences from school and extracurricular activities.

In addition, pertussis can be transmitted from healthy students to infants and individuals with chronic illnesses, for whom pertussis can be life threatening. Vaccinations are available from your personal physician, from one of the Federally Qualified Health Centers and from some pharmacies.

More information on the new requirement is available by visiting, by contacting your school or calling the Health Department’s Bee Wize Immunization Program at 866-BeeWize (1-866-233-9493).

“We are encouraging parents not to wait until the last minute to get the vaccination for their sixth and ninth graders,” Kuehnert said. “Now is an ideal time to make an appointment and avoid the rush.”

Protection against pertussis begins to decrease over time. This puts pre-teens, teenagers and adults at risk for the illness. To address this increase in pertussis disease among older students, proof of one dose of a booster vaccination called Tdap (for protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) is being required by the state for all students in grades six and nine. However, all students in grades six through 12 should have a record of a dose of Tdap, as it is likely to be required in the future.

Some other immunizations that also are recommended for this age group include the meningococcal vaccine, a second chickenpox shot (if they never had chickenpox disease), and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine series. During flu season, it is also recommended that everyone older than 6 months receive a seasonal flu vaccine.

National Medication Take-Back Day at the SG Police Department

in Health & Wellness/Regional/Sugar Grove by

SUGAR GROVE—This program is part of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. The DEA works with area agencies twice a year in April and October. This one-day drop-off program will take place Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Sugar Grove Police Department, 10 S. Municipal Drive, Sugar Grove.

Last October, Americans turned in 377,080 pounds—188.5 tons—of prescription drugs at over 5,300 sites operated by the DEA and nearly 4,000 state and local law enforcement partners. In its three previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners took in almost a million pounds—nearly 500 tons—of pills.

This initiative addresses a public safety and health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. Additionally, flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

Bring your medications for disposal to Sugar Grove Police Department, located at 10 S. Municipal Drive, Sugar Grove. The service is free and anonymous; no questions asked. The following is a list of acceptable and not acceptable items.

Acceptable items: non-controlled DEA drugs, medication samples, prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, medicated ointments/lotions, vitamins, and medications for pets

Non-acceptable items: thermometers, narcotics/DEA controlled drugs, IV bags, sharps/needles (see below for disposal), bloody or infectious waste and empty containers

Medication Collection

1. Leave items in their original containers. Pill bottles, blister packs, ointment tubes and leak-proof liquid containers are all acceptable.
2. Remove or black out any personal information on the label to protect your privacy.

Year-round medication
drop-off locations:

• Naperville Fire Station No. 4
Route 59 and Brookdale Road, Naperville
9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturdays & Sundays
(except on holidays)

• Fox Metro Water Reclamation District
682 Route 31, Oswego, Ill.
8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday thru Friday
(except on holidays)

IEMA, FEMA promote National Severe Weather Preparedness Week

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SPRINGFIELD—The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) will join with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the first National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, April 22-28.

Throughout the week, federal, state and local agencies across the nation will encourage people to know their severe weather risks, take action to be prepared and set an example for others.

“Here in Illinois, we’ve already experienced nature’s fury this year with the deadly tornado in southern Illinois,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. “We can’t prevent severe weather from happening, but by being better prepared and knowing how to protect ourselves and our loved ones, we can lessen its devastating impact and save lives.”

National Severe Weather Preparedness Week coincides with the one-year anniversary of the deadly tornado outbreak in the central and southern states. Just one month later, Joplin, Mo., was devastated by a tornado.

In 2011, there were more than 1,000 weather-related fatalities and more than 8,000 injuries.

The FEMA/NOAA nationwide preparedness effort encourages people to:

Know your risk
The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could affect you and your family. Check the weather forecast regularly and sign up for localized alerts from emergency management officials. Severe weather comes in many forms, and your shelter plan should include all types of local hazards.

Take action
Be a ‘force of nature’ by taking the pledge to prepare at FEMA’s website. When you pledge to prepare, you will take the first step to making sure you and your family are prepared for severe weather. This includes developing a family communications plan, putting an emergency supply kit together, keeping important papers and valuables in a safe place, and getting involved.

Be an example
Once you’ve taken action and pledged, share your story with your family and friends. Create a YouTube video, post your story on Facebook or send a tweet. IEMA also promotes severe weather preparedness each year during March.

This year, IEMA joined with the Illinois Emergency Services Management Association (IESMA) to increase awareness of weather alert radios. The two organizations joined together to sponsor a month-long weather alert radio contest that drew more than 3,500 participants from around the state. Participants had to read information about weather alert radios and successfully complete a five-question quiz before registering for a chance to win one of 100 weather alert radios to be awarded by IESMA. The winners of the contest will be contacted in the near future by their local emergency management agencies.

Information about severe weather preparedness is available on Illinois’ Ready Illinois website at, on FEMA’s website at or on NOAA’s website,

Mazan performs ‘Dying To Do Letterman’

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GENEVA—Comedian Steve Mazan will provide an evening of laughter and inspiration as he performs his comedy show, “Dying to Do Letterman,” at the LivingWell Cancer Resource Center, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Monday, April 30.

This program will celebrate the pre-opening of the LivingWell’s new building, located at 442 Williamsburg Ave. in Geneva.

Mazan is a comedian, Emmy winning writer, and the subject of the award-winning documentary “Dying to do Letterman.” In 2005, Steve was diagnosed with cancer and given a worst-case scenario of five years to live. Rather than slow down, Steve decided to use whatever time he had left to chase his ultimate dream: to perform his comedy on The Late Show with David Letterman.

This program is open to the public and is free of charge, although registration is required by Wednesday, April 25, as seating is limited. Please call (630) 262-1111 to register.

This event will take place at the new LivingWell facility, 442 Williamsburg Ave., in Geneva. Regular programming will begin at the new facility on Monday, May 7.

Kane County Health Department community garden plots now available

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Kane County—Plots in the Kane County Health Department’s community gardens are now available, just in time for the start of the growing season. There are more than 1,300 community garden plots available throughout Kane County, primarily in the various Park District locations.

The prices and availability vary, but check out the website of your Park District for details.

“The best way to add fruits and vegetables to your family’s diet is by growing your own,” said Paul Kuehnert, Health Department executive director. “Besides having the satisfaction of growing it yourself and the savings you’ll see on your grocery bill, we know that a regular diet of fresh fruits and vegetables helps battle chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and cancer. That is why increasing access to and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is a priority in the Health Department’s Community Health Improvement Plan, recently adopted by the Board of Health.”

Plan your garden with your family. Not only will your children enjoy the family activity, they are more likely to try produce they helped grow. And you’ll enjoy the fresh air activity.

For more information on starting a garden, check out the University of Illinois Extension guide, “Ten Steps to a Successful Garden” at

West Nile Virus testing begins earlier than normal

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Mild winter, warm spring pushes up WNV surveillance
SPRINGFIELD—The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) will accept birds submitted for West Nile Virus testing two weeks earlier than normal.

The department began accepting dead birds on Monday, as opposed to May 1, the date when West Nile Virus surveillance began in years past.

“The earlier submission of birds is an effort to help detect any early West Nile Virus activity prompted by the unusually warm weather this winter and spring,” said Dr. Arthur F. Kohrman, state health department acting director.

Surveillance for West Nile Virus in Illinois includes laboratory tests on mosquito batches, dead crows, blue jays, robins and other perching birds, as well as testing sick horses and humans with West Nile-like disease symptoms. People who observe a sick or dying crow, blue jay, robin or other perching bird should contact their local health department, which will determine if the bird will be picked up for testing.

The first West Nile Virus positive results in 2011 were collected on June 8 and included two birds from LaSalle County. Last year, 19 counties in Illinois reported a West Nile Virus positive mosquito batch, bird and/or human case. A total of 34 Illinois residents contracted West Nile Virus disease, and three died.

West Nile Virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Common West Nile Virus symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. However, four out of five people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms. In rare cases, severe illness including meningitis or encephalitis, or even death, can occur. People older than 50 are at higher risk for severe illness from West Nile Virus.

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.
• When outdoors, wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535, 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.
• Eliminate all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, including water in bird baths, ponds, flowerpots, wading pools, old tires and any other receptacles. 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.

Public health officials believe that a hot summer increases mosquito activity and the risk of disease from West Nile Virus.

Additional information about West Nile Virus can be found on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website at

IHSA reviews opportunities for student-athletes with disabilities

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill.—At their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors were briefed on Monday’s first meeting of the association’s Ad-Hoc Committee studying participation opportunities for student-athletes with disabilities.

For decades, the IHSA has embraced the inclusion of student-athletes with disabilities in a wide array of competitive sports and events. It now looks to further enhancements by providing more opportunities.

“We want to ensure Illinois is a leader in providing opportunities for student-athletes with disabilities,” said Dan Klett, a principal from Wauconda High School, member of the IHSA Board of Directors and chairman of the new IHSA committee. “Our goal is to facilitate a thoughtful and inclusive discussion about participation opportunities while providing a meaningful experience for our student-athlete competitors.”

The newly formed IHSA committee is reviewing current opportunities available in Illinois for student-athletes with disabilities, evaluating the need to expand those opportunities, and will prepare recommendations to the IHSA Board to explore opportunities to incorporate student-athletes with disabilities at the state championship level. The committee will also survey member schools, stakeholders and other agencies to gather additional insight and information regarding potential participation levels.

The committee’s recommendations would build on measures the IHSA has already taken over the years to accommodate athletes with prosthetic limbs, athletes in wheelchairs, visually impaired and hearing impaired athletes, and athletes with paralysis to compete in sports like basketball, gymnastics, golf, bowling, swimming, track and field, and cross country.

One such athlete, Matthew Juskie, a student at Lincoln-Way North High School in Frankfort, Ill., is a non-sighted golfer who has been permitted a spotter to accompany him at IHSA golf competitions.

“Playing golf on my team with my teammates is a huge part of my high school experience that I will never forget,” said Juskie. “I am thankful to my coach, my school and teammates for giving me the opportunity to compete.”

The committee members represent each of the IHSA’s seven board divisions. They are Marty Bee, athletic director at Naperville (Central) High School; Mike Curtin, associate athletic director at Oak Park (Fenwick) High School; Judy Fitzgerald, principal at Moweaqua (Central A&M) High School; Kathy J. Hasson, principal at Taylor Ridge (Rockridge) High School; Bill Hook, principal at Chicago (Agricultural Science) High School; Bill Lamkey, principal at Riverton High School; and Steve Smith, principal from Marion (H.S.).

“Right now there are more than 300,000 student-athletes from our nearly 800 member schools who participate in IHSA sports and activities,” said Klett. “We’re listening to a diverse group of voices and are exploring a wide range of implementation considerations including policy, procedure and even having a census of student-athletes with disabilities.”

The committee is expected to report back to the IHSA Board of Directors by its June 11 meeting.

IDNR urges caution to prevent wildfires

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SPRINGFIELD—The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is reminding Illinoisans and visitors to the state to take precautions to prevent wildfires, especially with the unusually warm and dry weather in the state this spring.

“Our IDNR staff and local fire agencies have already been busy this spring dealing with wildfires at state sites. We’re encouraging visitors to our state parks, state forests, other state sites and federal and local forest and park land—as well as private landowners—to be extra vigilant this spring in preventing fires because of the unseasonable weather that could contribute to even more fires in the coming weeks,” said IDNR Forest Protection Program Manager Tom Wilson.

“We encourage our Illinois residents to become our eyes and ears while enjoying the beauty of our state parks and other forest preserves during warm weather. By becoming more vigilant and educated on wildfire safety, serious incidents of fires on state sites can be prevented,” said State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis.

Fires in March burned nearly 400 acres at Sand Ridge State Forest in Mason County and dozens of acres of park land at Lincoln Trail State Park in Clark County. Last November, nearly 1,500 acres of heavily wooded hunting ground burned in a wildfire at Pere Marquette State Park in Jersey County.

Among wildfire prevention/safety measures suggested by the IDNR Division of Forest Resources:
• Avoid outdoor burning when winds are above five (5) miles per hour and/or when the relative humidity is below 40 percent.
• Burn in protected areas only with no combustible materials within 10 feet around for small fires and 50 feet for larger fires.
• Prior to burning, check the National Weather Service’s fire weather forecast for expected conditions.
• Avoid welding and grinding in areas with dry vegetation, and make sure that machinery is in good working order (bearings greased, avoid dragging chains and parts).
• For vehicles, especially those with catalytic convertors, avoid parking in areas with tall vegetation.
• Campfires should be small, in protected areas, and burned during night time hours within fire grates or fire rings.
• Be careful to safely dispose of lit cigarettes, cigars or other smoking material.
• Have a bucket of water and shovel on hand and be sure to thoroughly drown out the fire prior to leaving the area.

Anyone spotting a wildfire should report it to the nearest fire department, law enforcement office, IDNR office or U.S. Forest Service ranger station.

Early warm weather means earlier bat activity

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SPRINGFIELD—With temperatures in Illinois already in the 70s and 80s this year, bats are becoming active, which means the possibility of exposure to rabies is increasing. Bats are the primary carrier of rabies in Illinois. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has already had one bat test positive for rabies, and two people are undergoing post-exposure treatment after coming into contact with that rabid bat.

“Bats are already active this year due to the early, warm temperatures,” said Dr. Connie Austin, state public health veterinarian. “It’s important to remember that you should never try to approach or catch a bat, or any wild animal, you find outside. Instead, call your local animal control agency for its recommendations.”

In 2011, 49 bats and one cow tested positive for rabies in Illinois. Any wild mammal, such as a raccoon, skunk, fox, coyote or bat, can have rabies and transmit it to humans.

Rabies is a virus that affects the nervous system of humans and other mammals. Humans can get rabies after being bitten by an infected animal. Rabies can also be contracted when saliva from a rabid animal gets directly into a person’s eyes, nose, mouth or a wound. People usually know when they have been bitten by a bat, but bats have very small teeth and the bite mark may not be easy to see. If you find yourself in close proximity to a bat and are not sure if you were exposed—for example, you wake up and find a bat in your room—do not kill or release the bat before calling your doctor or local health department to help determine if you could have been exposed to rabies and need preventive treatment.

Without preventive treatment, rabies is a fatal disease. If you have been bitten or have had direct contact with a bat, seek immediate medical attention. Treatment with rabies immune globulin and a vaccine series must begin immediately.

An animal does not have to be aggressive or exhibit other symptoms to have rabies. Changes in any animal’s normal behavior, such as difficulty walking or an overall appearance of illness, can be early signs of rabies. For example, skunks are normally nocturnal and avoid contact with people, but a rabid skunk may approach humans during daylight hours. A bat that is active during the day, found on the ground or is unable to fly, is more likely than others to be rabid. Such bats are often easily approached, but should never be handled.

The following tips can help prevent the spread of rabies:
• Be a responsible animal owner. Keep vaccinations up-to-date for all dogs, cats, ferrets and other animals you own.
• Seek immediate veterinary assistance for your pet if your pet is bitten by a wild animal or exposed to a bat.
• Call the local animal control agency about removing stray animals in your neighborhood.
• Do not handle, feed or unintentionally attract wild animals with open garbage cans or litter.
• Never adopt wild animals or bring them into your home.
• Do not try to nurse sick, wild animals to health. Call animal control or an animal rescue agency for assistance.
• Teach children never to handle unfamiliar animals, wild or domestic, even if they appear friendly. “Love your own, leave other animals alone” is a good principle for children to learn to reduce the risk of exposures to rabid animals.
• Maintain homes and other buildings so bats cannot gain entry.
• If a bat is in your home, do not release the bat outdoors until after speaking with animal control or public health officials.
• If you can do it without putting yourself at risk for physical contact or being bitten, try to cover the bat with a large can or bucket and close the door to the room.
• Information about keeping bats out of your home or buildings can be found by visiting

Information about rabies can be found at

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