India Bears the Brunt of Rabies Since Time Immemorial
Not a day passes by in our lives without fearing the bite of street dogs. I might be one of the many individuals who avoids walking on the streets and sticks to parks/building lawn area to run or jog fearing these canine ammals . There are reports of dog bites and deaths every day in newspapers but what we do is read the article, feel sorry for the victim for a few seconds and move on to the entertainment section. But why bother when its not us or any of our family members! Such carelessness, failure to report dog bite incidents or avoidance of precautionary measures have left us with one death every 15 minutes due to rabies!
Rabies is a zoonotic disease caused by the rabies virus. Though we commonly associate it with dogs, it can happen in wild animals including bats and foxes, dogs, cats and farm animals. Its passed on to individuals from the bite of an infected animal. The virus enters humans either via infected saliva from the animal into the wound of humans or through direct exposure of mucosal surface to the infected animal’s saliva. Once the virus enters the human body and reaches the brain it starts replicating and the individual starts showing signs of the disease. Hallucination, fever, headache, fatigue, confusion and paralysis are common symptoms and the presence of these confirms the fatality risk involved. The affected individual must seek immediate medical attention. A couple of shots can prevent rabies in people exposed to the virus.
Rabies is universally present across all countries worldwide with the exception of Antarctica. Although 100% preventable through vaccination, there are more than 59,000 people who succumb to death due to rabies 99% of which are dog-mediated. Among these deaths 95% of them are from the Asian and African sub-continents.
World Rabies Day
Started in 2007, World Rabies Day is celebrated each year to raise awareness about the disease which is 100% preventable yet causing thousands of deaths globally. This date seems perfect for celebration as it marks the anniversary of Louis Pasteur’s death-the proud inventor of the first rabies vaccine. Vaccination is a sure-shot way of curbing certain diseases and for more information on this, please visit the website www.firsteatright.com.
The theme for 2018 is Rabies: Share the message. Save a life. 2030 is the deadline for eradicating this disease and this year’s theme can be used to effectively spread the message to governments to take steps to go by their deadlines as well as to people urging them to vaccinate their dogs, treat bite wounds and teach children to avoid dog bites as more than 50% of victims in the Asian and African countries are children under the age of 15.
India accounts for almost 60% of rabies deaths in Asia and 36% of deaths globally. Lack of coordination and proper programs are the core reasons for such widespread attack of the disease. There are certain precautionary actions that can be taken to protect ourselves from the disease.
Visuals impact more than anything else. Seeing a child vomiting, having high fever, bleeding badly, bad injuries, diarrhoea or cough immediately makes us panic and visit the physician fearing something serious. At the same time, parents don’t find it essential to consider a few other symptoms as important or more important than the ones mentioned above. This is terrorizing and deadly as these are the ones that can cause devastating results:
Lethargy: Don’t equate lethargy to laziness! Having a lazy child sleeping on the couch is not the matter of concern here! This is sheer sluggishness that needs a bit of jostling to bring your kid back on track for which one can always make use of www.firsteatright.com. Lethargy is showing signs of sleepiness that is strange. Sick people sleep more due to antibiotic effect of medicines, tiredness or weakness. But, when a child wants to do nothing but sleep, finds it difficult to wake up from sleep or stay awake after getting up, these are never ok. Some children feel like lying down and doing nothing even when they are awake. Children who cannot sit up, walk around, interact or play must need immediate attention. A physician would be the right person to find out if lethargy is due to dehydration, infections, bad bumps in the head, chemical imbalances or toxins.
Constant pain & irritation: Sickness can make a person irritable and suffer from pain. Medications can diminish these feelings and make the child feel better. Pain and irritability come and go but when they don’t seem to vanish, it’s a matter of concern. When infants don’t want to eat or drink anything, don’t settle down for any distractions or cannot sleep, these are signs of some illness that needs to be conveyed to the paediatrician immediately. It’s the same when pain or discomfort in older kids don’t go away in sometime too.
Breathing trouble: If you are surprised by this symptom, especially when you think that every parent would surely recognize breathing problems, there are some instances that don’t turn out to be as blatant as you thought. Such situations include:
Some children become normal and brighten upon entering the physician’s place and this embarrasses the parent many a time. Its completely normal for such peculiar episodes to take place and never repent for this. It is better to be silly now than sorry later!
‘Add colors to life’ does have a strong meaning but what about ‘add colors to rice?’ We started with white rice, proceeded to brown and yellowish rice and now landed up with red yeast rice. Every time a new rice variant enters the market, there are various pros and cons about it, newspaper and magazines either boost or attack the new variant and ultimately, the frenzy surrounding it dies in sometime. But the buildup lingers until every soul is aware of the latest launch in the market!
Red Yeast Rice
Red yeast rice is an ancient Chinese culinary and medicinal product now used by people across all countries worldwide. This has lured the attention of people because it is claimed to be a ‘natural’ product used for lowering cholesterol levels but there are not many studies supporting its long-term safety and efficiency. Various types of the extract are sold as supplements but the effect of these on our system is not yet clear.
Red yeast rice is produced by culturing rice with different strains of the yeast Monascus purpureus and red yeast rice extract is a substance procured from this rice. RTRE contains various ingredients that help to control cholesterol levels and the most conspicuous among them are monacolins, specifically monacolin K. Monacolin K is chemically identical to the active ingredient present in the drug lovastatin. Lovastatin is a cholesterol-lowering drug belonging to the statin drug family. The main role of these drugs is to lower cholesterol levels by suppressing their production in the liver.
The primary reason why these drugs are not approved as cholesterol-lowering agents formally is primarily because the ingredients present in different brands of the rice extract vary vastly. Composition of the product differs depending on the culture conditions and the strain of Monascus used to produce the extract. Also, the conditions under which culinary red yeast rice is produced is completely different from the conditions and strains used to manufacture products useful in lowering cholesterol levels. FDA tests do confirm this as strains of red yeast rice manufactured for culinary use contain none or only traces of monacolin K.
Going by Science
Using red yeast rice products that contained substantial amounts of monacolin K on individuals participating in clinical trials resulted in reduced total and LDL cholesterol levels in them. Studies in USA indicate that using around 2.4 gm/day of RDRE reduces total cholesterol levels by as much as 20-25%. Another study in China on 5000 participants who took the extract twice a day for five years showed that these individuals were 30-33% less likely to die from coronary artery disease or heart attack. Whereas using extracts that contain little or no monacolin K may have no impact on the study participants. There are even studies which show that people intolerant towards statin drugs owing to side effects (weakness and muscle pain) were tolerant towards red yeast rice. This might be due to difference in monacolin K quantity in the two products (rice extract comparatively contains decreased amount).
What are Supplements without Side Effects?
The best way to lower your cholesterol levels is naturally through a healthy diet, an active lifestyle and regular exercise. Losing excess weight, avoiding smoking and exercising regularly helps to increase HDL cholesterol levels. Meeting a registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com can help you in your weight loss journey and guide you to eat the right kind of foods. Despite all these efforts if you still require medications to lower cholesterol, it is advisable to take medications as you are aware of the quantity of active ingredients in the pill and also their potential side effects and risk factors.
Nutrition is a simple word that performs complex functionalities-it adds quality and quantity to life! Hunger can make one ‘hangry’ (anger when hungry) and make one wonder if it is us who acts in such a way. Hangry/hanger is an often-witnessed phenomenon these days that can make the individual and those around him/her unhappy. Read more on ‘hanger’ at www.firsteatright.com.
All of us are aware that we find it difficult to focus on some class, meeting or job when we are hungry. There are even researches and evidences that support the fact that hungry children don’t show much focus, have decreased attention span, face behavioral issues and are subjected to disciplinary actions whereas, well-fed children excel in their performance and make a well-established difference in contributing to or disrupting the classroom situation.
Hunger is simply not the result of refraining from eating but can be due to even-more bigger concerns such as poverty, accessibility and nutrition that are complex and interconnected. Spreading nutrition through schools is effective and a sure way to success as children spend more than 900 hours per year in school, curriculum for health include nutrition and physical education and schools reinforce behavior and reach out to most children/adolescents residing in a community. Schools are the best place to show kids what we value as a society and what is important to each of us in our community.
Recent study shows that accessibility to food affects learning in a positive way as early as kindergarten. The study published in the journal Child Development reveals that children who experience food insecurity in early childhood enter kindergarten less ready than their peers who are food-secure. The study compared results of math and reading tests along with children’s skillsets such as curiosity and self-control in both, food-secure and food-insecure, groups which revealed that food insecurity in infancy and toddlerhood proved lower cognitive and socio-economic skills in kindergarten. Remember, hunger and food insecurity are two different aspects. While the first one is a physical experience the second one is a psychological experience.
Children are malleable during early years and these lay the foundations for their long-term growth and success. Helping children overcome food insecurity and promoting nutrition can help kids in multiple ways-physical, psychological and behavioral.
School-based Programs & Their Impact
Nutrition can affect brain functioning: Numerous studies reinforce this fact and prove that nutrition affects mental capacity among school-aged children. For instance:
Each student is blessed with the capacity and potential to exceed in academics and do well at school. Improving diet quality helps to improve health and learning outcomes whereas, failing to provide our kids with a proper nutritional balance puts them at risk for missing out on meeting the necessary outcomes. Schools that provide breakfast and snacks should also plan smart meal menus that attract kids yet are replete with nutrition content.
AVOID FRAUD. EAT SMART.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.