Posts tagged with "public health"

Rapidly detecting invisible dangers to food

When food is recalled due to contamination from bacteria such as salmonella, one may wonder how a tainted product ended up on store shelves. New technology being developed at the University of Missouri could give retailers and regulators an earlier warning on dangers in food, improving public health and giving consumers peace of mind.

The biosensor provides a rapid way for producers to know if this invisible danger is present in both raw and ready-to-eat food before it reaches the store. Annually, more than 48 million people get sick from foodborne illnesses in America, such as salmonella, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Current tests used to determine positive cases of salmonella — for instance culturing samples and extracting DNA to detect pathogens — are accurate but may take anywhere from one to five days to produce results,” said Mahmoud Almasri, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the MU College of Engineering. “With this new device, we can produce results in just a few hours.”

In this study, researchers focused on poultry products, such as chicken and turkey. The biosensor uses a specific fluid that is mixed with the food to detect the presence of bacteria, such as salmonella, along a food production line in both raw and ready-to-eat food. That way, producers can know within a few hours — typically the length of a worker’s shift — if their products are safe to send out for sale to consumers. The researchers believe their device will enhance a food production plant’s operational efficiency and decrease cost.

“Raw and processed food could potentially contain various levels of bacteria,” said Shuping Zhang, professor and director of the Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. “Our device will help control and verify that food products are safe for consumers to eat and hopefully decrease the amount of food recalls that happen.”

Researchers said the next step would be testing the biosensor in a commercial setting. Almasri said he believes people in the food processing industry would welcome this device to help make food safer.

The study, “A microfluidic based biosensor for rapid detection of Salmonella in food products,” was published in PLOS ONE, one of the world’s leading peer-reviewed journals focused on science and medicine. Other authors include Ibrahem Jasim, Zhenyu Shen, Lu Zhao at MU; and Majed Dweik at Lincoln University. Funding was provided by a partnership between MU, the Coulter Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.

This study details the latest findings for this interdisciplinary team of researchers who have developed multiple biosensors and published results of their previous findings in Scientific Reports, Biosensors and Bioelectronics and Electrophoresis.

Majority of Adults Stressed by Mass Shootings

ONE-THIRD OF U.S. ADULTS SAY FEAR OF MASS SHOOTINGS PREVENTS THEM FROM GOING TO CERTAIN PLACES OR EVENTS

Hispanic adults more than twice as likely as white non-Hispanics to say they experience mass shooting-related stress often or constantly

A large majority of adults in the United States are stressed by mass shootings, and a third of U.S. adults say that fear of mass shootings stops them from going to certain places and events, according to a new survey on stress and mass shootings by the American Psychological Association. “It’s clear that mass shootings are taking a toll on our mental health, and we should be particularly concerned that they are affecting the way many of us are living our daily lives,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, APA’s chief executive officer. “The more these events happen in places where people can see themselves frequenting, the greater the mental health impact will be. We don’t have to experience these events directly for them to affect us. Simply hearing about them can have an emotional impact, and this can have negative repercussions for our mental and physical health.”

To better understand the impact of mass shootings on stress and health in the aftermath of the recent tragic El Paso and Dayton shootings, APA commissioned the nationally representative survey. It was conducted online by The Harris Poll between Aug. 8 and 12 among 2,017 adults ages 18 and older who reside in the U.S. The survey found that more than three-quarters of adults (79%) in the U.S. say they experience stress as a result of the possibility of a mass shooting. Additionally, many adults report that they are changing their behavior due to fear of mass shootings. Nearly one in three adults (32%) feel they cannot go anywhere without worrying about being a victim of a mass shooting, while just about the same number (33%) say fear prevents them from going to certain places or events. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of adults report changing how they live their lives because of fear of a mass shooting.

When asked which places they are stressed about the possibility of a mass shooting occurring, adults most commonly say a public event (53%), mall (50%), school or university (42%) or movie theater (38%), with only one in five (21%) saying they never experience stress as a result of the possibility of a mass shooting. “Mass shootings are a public health issue, and we need to take a comprehensive public health approach to understand and devise lasting policy solutions,” Evans said. “It is important that people and policymakers realize that this is not an insurmountable issue; it is something we have the power to change.”

Hispanic adults (32%) are more likely than white non-Hispanic adults (15%) to say they experience stress often or constantly related to the possibility of a mass shooting. Hispanic adults and African American adults also are more likely than white non-Hispanic adults to say they do not know how to cope with the stress they feel as a result of mass shootings (44% of Hispanic adults and 43% of African American adults vs. 30% of white adults). Black adults are more likely to feel that they or someone they know will be a victim of a mass shooting (60% compared with 41% of white adults and 50% of Hispanic adults). Women report feeling stressed more often than men about the possibility of a shooting (85% vs. 71%), and parents of children under the age of 18 are nearly twice as likely as those without children under 18 to say they experience stress often or constantly because of the possibility of a mass shooting (28% vs.16%). Further, 62% of parents say they “live in fear that their children will be victims of a mass shooting”.

Lacking Self-Discipline?

5 Ways To Develop It And Reach Your Goals

Americans are known to overeat, abuse credit cards, marinate for hours in social media, and break New Year’s resolutions before the end of January. Self-discipline doesn’t seem to be a national strength.

And achieving self-discipline – and the success that can come with it – may never have been harder than it is in this instant-gratification age, says Dr. Rob Carter III.

“Self-discipline is an undervalued trait in a modern society that wants everything now,” says Carter, co-author with his wife, Dr. Kirti Salwe Carter, of The Morning Mind: Use Your Brain to Master Your Day and Supercharge Your Life (www.themorningmind.com). “Self-discipline is the ability to motivate and coordinate our efforts to improve our quality of life, but unfortunately most people are not taught it.

“It is, however, a skill that everyone can learn. Self-discipline is the skill that will allow you to reach any goal you set.”

Carter offers five ways to develop self-discipline:

Be aware of your resistance. Resistance, Carter says, is the biggest obstacle to developing self-discipline, and it often comes in the form of discouraging internal self-talk such as, “I can’t do it” or “Why should I have to change?” “The next time you embark on a new project that causes resistance,” Carter says, “fight it by asserting or writing down your intended goal and the benefits it will bring.”

Plan for every outcome. Plans go awry when people let excuses get in the way. “An example is having a goal of running in the morning for 30 minutes, but you have bailouts such as it’s raining, cold, or you don’t feel like it,” Carter says. “Developing self-discipline is recognizing and planning for these self-created obstacles and actively choosing to work through them. So when you set a goal to achieve, have chart in place listing “Even ifs.” List the potential obstacles to achieving your goal and counter each one with a promise to yourself that you’ll achieve your goal even if these challenges arise.”

Prepare to give something up in order to gain. Carter suggests compiling a list of the pros and cons of sacrificing for a certain goal. “To reach your goal, Carter says, “you will more than likely have to impose certain limitations on yourself in order to gain something. These limitations could be less free time, socializing, money or television. The upside is that seeing the rewards of the sacrifice on the pros list will keep you motivated and disciplined.”

Reward yourself with self-compensation. “Rewards are an incredibly powerful tool for motivating yourself to reach your goals,” Carter says. “Consider them the carrot on the stick. Have a reward in place for when you achieve a goal or part of a goal, and make sure it’s appropriate.”

Break your goal down into manageable steps. “If you break your goal down into bite-sized steps,” Carter says, “you’re much more likely to stay disciplined enough to complete every sub-goal. Each step accomplished gives you an encouraging boost. Consider using SMART goals — specific, measurable, attractive, realistic, timed. This makes the goal more definitive and puts the steps in tangible action.”

“Self-discipline includes structured planning, organization, delayed gratification, and the willingness to step outside your comfort zone,” Carter says. “These things can appear scary, but don’t worry, you’re not alone. And once you take the first step, you have ventured onto a beautiful path that offers many rewards.”

About Dr. Rob Carter III and Dr. Kirti Salwe Carter

Dr. Rob Carter III and Dr. Kirti Salwe Carter are co-authors of The Morning Mind: Use Your Brain to Master Your Day and Supercharge Your Life(www.themorningmind.com). Rob Carter is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army, an expert in human performance and physiology, and has academic appointments in emergency medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, in public health and health sciences at Los Angeles Pacific University, and in nutrition at the University of Maryland, University College. He holds a PhD in biomedical sciences and medical physiology and an MPH in chronic disease epidemiology.

Kirti Carter was born in Pune, India, and received her medical education in India, where she practiced as an intensive-care physician before moving to Texas to complete postgraduate training in public health. She is a Fellow of the American Institute of Stress (FAIS), has more than 18 years of experience in meditation and breathing techniques, and has been facilitating wellness seminars for the past decade.