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American Fancy Rat and Mouse Show 2017 Canceled

american fancy rat and mouse showThe 2017 American Fancy Rat and Mouse Show scheduled on January 28th has been canceled due to an outbreak of Seoul virus infection, a member of the Hantavirus family of rodent-borne illness, in the Midwest.

In December 2016, two people operating a breeding facility in Wisconsin became infected. Six employees at two Illinois-based ratteries tested positive for Seoul virus. All have since recovered.

Follow-up investigations indicate that potentially infected rodents may have been distributed or received in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Utah.

Seoul virus is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids from infected rodents. It causes a milder illness than other Hantaviruses. It cannot spread from person to person or be transmitted to or from other types of pets. For more information from the CDC, click here.

 

The show’s sponsor, the American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association (AFRMA), was founded in 1983 to promote breeding and exhibition of fancy rats and mice, to educate the public about their positive attributes as intelligent, affectionate pets, and provide information on their proper care.

AFRMA urges all breeders to maintain a closed policy until the CDC has concluded its testing and the outbreak has been contained. We hope it will be rescheduled soon! For fun, lighthearted information on AFRMA and the show, check out Worldwide Weird Holidays’ 2016 post.

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

 

 

January 14 is Caesarean Section Day

caesarean section dayToday is Caesarean Section Day. (Cesarean is a popular alternate spelling.) It commemorates the first recorded successful caesarean delivery in the U.S. On January 14, 1794, Dr. Jesse Bennett performed the operation on his wife, in his home, with no antiseptics or medical equipment.

Dr. Bennett, 24, did not intend to deliver his own baby. He engaged Dr. A. Humphrey to assist his wife Elizabeth through labor. Humphrey declared it impossible for the baby to be born naturally, after an unsuccessful attempt at delivery with forceps. He refused to assist in a caesarean operation, certain it would prove fatal to mother and baby.

Humphrey’s opinion had merit. At that point in history, statistics in the U.K. and Ireland showed that mothers had only a 15% chance of survival from the surgery.

Elizabeth was sure she would die but hoped the baby could be saved. Her husband made the difficult decision to operate. She was placed on a table and given a large dose of laudanum to make her sleepy. Her sister, Nancy Hawkins, sat by her side holding a tallow candle for light, and two African-American servants to hold her down.

Dr. Bennett performed the operation, removed the baby and stitched the wound with linen thread, which they used in the house to sew heavy clothing. Much to everyone’s surprise, both mother and baby, daughter Maria, survived. Elizabeth lived another thirty-six years. Maria died at the age of seventy-six.

Bennett felt no doctor would believe such an operation could be performed, without proper equipment, in a home in the backwoods of Virginia. He was sure he’d be branded a liar, so he didn’t submit it to a medical society for publication.

Thirty-three years later, in 1827, Dr. John Lambert, an Ohio physician, performed a caesarean delivery with modern equipment. Medical journals at the time reported it as the first caesarean operation in the U.S. Some medical societies still give Dr. Lambert credit.

After Dr. Bennett’s death in 1842, Dr. A.L. Knight, who’d grown up a neighbor of the Bennetts and heard them tell the story, decided to set history straight. He tracked down witnesses Nancy Hawkins and a servant present that evening to confirm the events, then wrote The Life and Times of Dr. Jesse Bennett, M.D., which was published in The Southern Historical Magazine in 1892.

Of course, neither Bennett nor Lambert originated the surgery; it’s been performed for millennia. The term “caesarean” has long been believed to refer to the birth of Julius Caesar, who ascended to the dictatorship of Rome before being assassinated on the steps of the Senate in 46 B.C.

That assumption is likely due to author Pliny the Elder’s referral to one Julius Caesar–ancestor of the ruler–as ab utero caeso (cut from the womb). That explained, he wrote, the cognomen, or descriptive name, “Caesar” which was then carried by his descendants, also called Julius Caesar.

The Roman Lex Caesarea (imperial law), in place roughly 600 years before Caesar’s birth, required a baby to be removed from a mother who had died in childbirth. Burying a pregnant woman was taboo.  The procedure was performed on a living woman only when she had reached her tenth month of pregnancy and wouldn’t live through delivery. There is no classical source of the period that records any woman surviving the surgery.

By all indications, future emperor Julius Caesar’s mother Aurelia lived, which would indicate a natural birthing process. Even the Oxford English Dictionary perpetuates this confusion, defining caesarean birth as “the delivery of a child by cutting through the walls of the abdomen when delivery cannot take place in the natural way, as was done in the case of Julius Caesar.” It’s understandable to assume that it refers to the Caesar we know, rather than a Caesar we don’t.

From ancient history to modern times, caesarean section deliveries have been fraught with danger. These days, we may take this surgical procedure’s safety for granted but it hasn’t always been so. Today, we say thank you to reluctant pioneer Dr. Jesse Bennett and physicians everywhere.

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

January 11 is Cigarettes are Hazardous to Your Health Day

Today is Cigarettes are Hazardous to Your Health Day. Today, this may elicit a resounding,” Duh!” But on January 11, 1964, when Surgeon General Luther L. Terry, M.D. released his report linking smoking to cancer, it was far from accepted wisdom and vehemently disputed by tobacco companies.

The report came after a year-long, comprehensive review by a committee of experts of 7,000 scientific articles about the effects of smoking. Terry chose to release it on a Saturday to minimize any effect on the stock market and maximize coverage in the Sunday papers.

Twenty years later, Terry recalled that the report “hit the country like a bombshell. It was front page news and a lead story on every radio and television station in the United States and many abroad.” Later it was ranked among the top news stories of 1964.

Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General revealed cigarette smoking was responsible for a 70 percent increase in the mortality rate of smokers versus non-smokers. It estimated that average smokers had a nine- to ten-fold risk of developing lung cancer compared to non-smokers; heavy smokers, more than twenty-fold. The risk rose with the duration of smoking and diminished after cessation.

The report also named smoking as the most important cause of chronic bronchitis and pointed to a correlation between smoking and emphysema, and smoking and coronary heart disease. It noted that smoking during pregnancy reduced the average weight of newborns.

On one issue the committee balked: nicotine addiction. It insisted that the “tobacco habit should be characterized as an habituation rather than an addiction,” in part because the addictive properties of nicotine were not yet fully understood.

While the 1964 report lacked concrete recommendations, it had an impact on public attitudes and policy. A Gallup poll conducted in 1958 found that only 44 percent of Americans believed smoking caused cancer, while 78 percent believed so by 1968. In the course of a decade, it had become common knowledge that smoking damaged health, and mounting evidence of health risks gave Terry’s 1964 report public resonance.

Here is a brief, incomplete chronology of events and efforts made to combat tobacco and the companies that peddle it.

Cigarettes in U.S. History

  • 1913 –R. J. Reynolds launches Camel, the first modern mass-produced cigarette made from blended tobacco.
  • 1917 –Free cigarettes are included in the field rations of many American soldiers in World War I.
  • 1928 –Doctors Herbert L. Lombard and Carl R. Doering offer the first detailed statistical data showing a higher proportion of heavy smokers among lung cancer patients than among controls.
  • 1938 –Raymond Pearl demonstrates statistically that smoking shortens life expectancy.
  • 1941-45 –Tobacco is again supplied to American servicemen in World War II.
  • 1946 –Doctors Alton Ochsner and Michael DeBakey publish an article in Archives of Surgery linking smoking to lung cancer and citing research articles from several countries.
  • 1950 –The Federal Trade Commission says cigarette ads that highlight health benefits are deceptive.
cigarettes are hazardous to your health day
  • 1964 –Surgeon General Luther L. Terry issues Smoking and Health.
  • 1965 –Congress mandates health warnings on cigarette packs.
  • 1969 –The Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act passes Congress, imposing a ban on cigarette advertising on television and radio after September 30, 1970.
  • 1973 –Arizona passes the first state law designating separate smoking areas in public places.
  • 1983 –Lung cancer surpasses breast cancer as the leading cause of death from cancer in women.

cigarettes are hazardous to your health day

  • 1987 –Congress bans smoking on all domestic flights of two hours or less; two years later smoking is banned on all domestic flights.
  • 1988 –Surgeon General C. Everett Koop’s report,  The Health Consequences of Smoking: Nicotine Addiction, calls nicotine “a powerfully addicting drug.” In a 618-page summary of 2,000 studies, Koop declares, “It is now clear that… cigarettes and other forms of tobacco are addicting and that actions of nicotine provide the pharmacologic basis of tobacco addiction.”
  • 1992 –The Environmental Protection Agency places passive smoke on its list of major carcinogens, making it subject to federal workplace and other regulations.

*****

  • 1994 –Seven tobacco company executives testify before Congress that “nicotine is not addictive.”
    cigarettes are hazardous to your health day

The televised panel, led by Representative Henry Waxman, questions the executives for six hours.

One executive insists that cigarettes are no more addictive than coffee, tea or Twinkies.

The difference between cigarettes and Twinkies,” Waxman replies, “is death.

*****

  • 2006 –On August 17, 2006, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler issues a 1,683-page ruling holding tobacco companies liable for covering up health risks associated with smoking and for targeting children.
    cigarettes are hazardous to your health day
    The judgment orders the companies to issue “corrective” ads admitting to the deceptive use of terms such as “light” and “low-tar,” among other things.

    The ads must state that a “federal court has ruled that Altria, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard, and Philip Morris USA deliberately deceived the American public.”

  • 2017 –The companies are still appealing the decision. They claim the findings pertain to the alleged inaccuracy of the companies’ public statements about smoking and health, not to whether anyone in the public was actually deceived by the defendants.

    Perhaps the ad should simply say, “A lie is the responsibility of the person who believes it.” That’s as good a defense of callous (and profitable) disregard for human life as any we may ever hear.

*****

It’s clear that the work of Dr. Terry and many others had a great effect on health. Since 1964, smoking rates in the United States have dropped by more than half. It’s estimated that eight million lives have been saved by tobacco control efforts — yet up to 20 million more have been lost. Until the day we all kick the habit, every day will be Cigarettes are Hazardous to Your Health Day.

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

October 18 is World Menopause Day

For women dealing with menopause, every day is World Menopause Day. The International Menopause Society (IMS), creator of the holiday, attempts to make it fun by choosing a new theme each year. It’s a little like the prom: full of sweaty, uncomfortable seniors driven crazy by hormones.

world menopause day

“What Comes to Mind: Menopause and the Aging Brain?” is a theme used recently. Is that a trick question to give English majors around the globe a collective hot flash/hissy fit? Does it mean that if it doesn’t come to mind, it’s already too late? Does it mean menopause and aging have nothing to do with each other? IMS has this to say:

During the menopause transition, there may…be modest reductions in aspects of attention, but natural menopause does not appear to lead to persistently poorer memory.

Okay, we’re done here, right?

There’s no definitive list of actions to take to help reduce memory loss but evidence does support some approaches over others. Brain health can be improved through mentally stimulating activities, such as work or leisure.

So, anything we do when we’re awake–got it.

Top 10 prevention tips

Oh no, here we go.

1.Nutrition: an antioxidant-rich Mediterranean diet with olive oil may help
2.Vitamin D and B-Vitamins: may improve brain health alongside other activities
3.Other dietary supplements: Soy isoflavones helping to improve memory
4.Physical activity: brisk walking and other forms of aerobic exercise are linked to a lower dementia risk 5.Mindfulness: Tai chi studies show positive outcomes for improving memory
6.Control alcohol consumption: moderating alcohol intake can help maintain brain health
7.Smoking cessation: reducing the intake of toxins can help boost brain health
8.Mental activity: important for boosting brain stimulation
9.Social interaction: engaging, challenging and creative communication
10.MHT: helping to alleviate distressful vasomotor menopausal symptoms

First, let us point out that #3 and #10 involve raising estrogenic activity, which can be a big no-no for anyone at risk of breast cancer. As the site states, its tips do not replace advice from your doctor.

We have a suggestion: why not integrate this holiday with two others taking place today? First, grab a razor, guys, for National No Beard Day, and shave off that chin Brillo. Skin gets delicate after menopause. No one needs the constant exfoliation your whiskers provide. Second, and most important, it’s National Chocolate Cupcake Day. Stress and hormonal changes can cause intense cravings for sugary treats. Buy a baker’s dozen for your menopausal loved ones. Don’t expect to get a cupcake for yourself unless you hide one in your car.

Have a happy World Menopause Day!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays