State Veterinarian Urges Horse Owners to Vaccinate Equine From Fatal Virus

If you own a horse it may be time to get a vaccination for Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis. The first case of 2016 has recently been confirmed in North Carolina, after a quarter horse in Pitt County died from infection.

EEE is a mosquito-borne disease and is preventable from vaccination. Once a horse has been infected by the disease it may take three to 10 days for symptoms to appear.

The disease causes swelling to the brain and spinal cord and is usually fatal. Symptoms a horse displays when infected are weakness, stumbling, depression and inability to stand or eat.

State Veterinarian Doug Meckes said in a release to contact your vet immediately if your horse starts showing any symptoms.

Meckes suggests getting your horses vaccinated immediately from EEE and West Nile Virus. It should be noted that the vaccinations require two shots, 30 days apart.

Keeping horses in stalls at night, using insect screens and fans and turning off lights after dusk can reduce mosquito exposure.

Chapel Hill Converting Youth Soccer Fields Amid Health Risks Study

The Chapel Hill Town Council voted to move forward with a performance agreement with Triangle United Soccer and Rainbow Soccer Associations to convert the Homestead Park soccer fields to synthetic turf at its meeting on Monday.

The council has chosen to move forward with this project despite the previous health concerns that evolved from the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Multiple government agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, are continuing to research the potential effects of the recycled tire crumbs that layer the artificial soccer fields.

Photo Via Wiki Commons

Photo Via Wiki Commons

Due to some hazardous concerns with the tire crumb-rubber infill, the project has chosen to use a new material called EPDM which is 100 percent recyclable material with studies underway to determine if this new product has health risks itself.

“All of the previous studies that people have heard, people have acknowledged that were ongoing, the EPA has determined them to be, in the past, non-conclusive, but there has been a series of issues coming forward that have questioned that stance,” Director of Parks and Recreation, Jim Orr stated, adding, “The EPA has committed that they would be doing their own studies over a period of time estimated to take two to four years before there is any public information document that would confirm that there is a health hazard or not.”

Jeff Charles, chair of the transportation connectivity board and previous board certified toxicologist wasn’t convinced that the two to four year period would make a difference, “you have to also weigh the health benefit of having six more months where these kids whether that soccer field is a safer place to play on versus the regular turf, the other pesticides, etc. that are on the turf versus this, it’s a very difficult issue but to think that in two to four years you are going to have some definitive answer, I doubt that.”

The council has decided to convert the fields due to the lack of accessibility the current natural turf fields have year-round. The park closes the fields for six months during the summer and winter to conserve the conditions of the natural turf.

Not only will the synthetic turf field enable the ability to have the fields open 365 days a year and provide less maintenance for the upkeep of the field, Orr said, “With this particular project it would allow additional revenue to be placed, as far as rental revenue for the six months that in the past we wouldn’t be renting the facilities.”

Other issues that arose during this meeting were if the facilities were properly equipped for the amount of storm water run-off and if there would be any potentially hazardous chemicals that would affect that water. As part of the agreement, council directed staff to monitor storm-water impacts of the new turf.

This Performance agreement will cost a total of $1 million with $200,000 provided by the town’s bonds funds and $800,000 from the soccer associations.

Syringes Waste Thousands of Dollars of Medicine

Poor syringe design can cost, depending on the drug, up to $2,300 per year per patient, according to a study by researchers at UNC and RTI International.

When medicine is injected a small amount of the medicine stays behind in the syringe, according to the study. Researchers say it’s not much, but depending on the syringe dead space, the leftover fluid that remains after the medicine is injected, the costs can add up.

In syringes with high-dead space, the average amount that is left behind averages to about three percent of the volume of the dose, according to a release. In syringes with a low-dead-space design, the volume leftover is almost 10 times less.

“It is a difference of fractions of a millimeter, but when some of these medications cost more than $20,000 a month, it adds up,” study author Christine Oramasionwu said in a release.

Oramasionwu advocates for low-dead-space designs, like the integrated needle or the cone-shaped plunger to become industry standards.

UNC and RTI researchers found that the median value of the wasted medicine per dose for the high-dead-space syringes was $5 and about 50 cents for low-dead-space syringes.

Over the course of a year, the cost range of medicine for high-dead-space syringes would range from $558 to $2,329 compared to $68 to $205 for low-dead-space syringes.

Overcoming Resistance

Are YOU READY…. to change jobs; start a big project; go back to school; overcome an unwholesome habit or addiction; embark on a spiritual advancement; commit to a big race; permanently adopt a healthy eating and exercise regimen; launch an entrepreneurial venture? In other words, any act that does not offer immediate gratification for long-term growth, health or integrity So what’s holding you back? It’s chatter in the form of fear, self-doubt, procrastination, addiction, distraction, timidity, ego, perfectionism, rational thinking, friends and family – yep – all of these forces are chatter. That chatter in your brain – is called RESISTANCE.

Do the Work

“Do the Work” (via Black Irish Books)

So what’s holding you back? Is it fear of failure, self-doubt, procrastination, addiction, distraction, timidity, ego, perfectionism, rational thinking, over thinking, friends, and family? That’s a long list, and I’m sure I’ve left off a few.  All of these forces are opposing forces working against us.  It’s that chatter in your brain you hear and  label as “thoughts.” Steven Pressfield, in “Do The Work” tells us to these are not our thoughts. Instead, it is chatter and to pay no attention to the rambling, disjointed images and ideas that drift in your mind.  That chatter in your brain – is called RESISTANCE.

A great quote in the book, “A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. It’s only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate.”

Are YOU Ready to get off the couch and get started? Read “Do The Work!” It’s a short, fast read that could be the driving force giving you the tools to go after your life dream.


Susan Kitchen earned a BS in Foods and Nutrition from Meredith College, and a Masters of Public Health in Nutrition from UNC-Chapel Hill.

She is a six-time Ironman finisher, Kona qualifier, Boston qualifier, and expert on sports nutrition and endurance training, whose writing has appeared in, the USA Triathlon Magazine, and online Fuel Zone, and in the book she co-authored, The Power of Transformation: Reinventing Your Life. As an author, speaker, sports dietitian, and coach, she inspires athletes worldwide.  Get more from Susan at

You can submit nutrition and fitness questions for future columns from Susan below.

Submit Your Nutrition and Fitness Question

UNC Weight Loss Study Shows Positive Results

From high-intensity training, to low-impact sports, there are many ways to go about staying in shape.

But in an effort to decide which method is best, UNC professor of health and nutrition, Deborah Tate, has compared two popular methods.

“Unfortunately, losing weight and then keeping that weight off proves extremely difficult and challenging for the majority of people. So we took a step back to think, ‘When are the high risk times when people gain weight?’”

Tate found this high risk time is between the ages 18 to 35. Young adults during this period gain an average of 30 pounds – a trend Tate says is becoming increasingly more dangerous.

“We’re getting high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease risk factors earlier than our parents’ or our grandparents’ generation and one reason they suspect this is because of the weight gain.”

The first weight loss method Tate tested was called “slow changes.”

A group of 200 people were told to add 2,000 extra steps and eat 100 less calories per day over a three year period.

“You do that every day, just a little bit, not too burdensome, but every single day. Versus the large changes – that was very periodic.”

The “large changes” group cut their calories by 500 every day and increased physical activity to four hours over an eight week period.

“It buffers you against those weight gains that are going to happen over time so that the result is that you end up at least at, or below, where you would have started.”

Tate found that both methods resulted in healthier body weights for the participants. In addition, the two groups achieved their fitness goals at a higher rate than the control group – people who were trying to lose weight on their own.

“Both of them worked better than the self-guided group over the three years and we actually cut risks of becoming obese in half.”

Tate said one of the keys to success was the daily weigh-ins where participants were encouraged to track their progress.

“You can’t know where you’re trying to go or where you’ve been if you don’t have that regular yardstick or that regular measurement.”

Aside from the improved numbers on the scale, Tate said one of the biggest triumphs of the study is the self confidence it gave the participants and anyone else looking to lose weight.

“This study shows that you can do it and that participants really were able to follow both approaches and adapt their lifestyle.”

Whether that lifestyle includes small changes, or big ones, Tate says both work just fine.

Ban Vaping In Orange County Bars And Restaurants?

It’s no longer legal to smoke inside bars and restaurants in North Carolina.

Should the same policy be extended to vaping?

The Orange County Board of Health is seeking public feedback now on a proposal to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in the enclosed areas of bars and restaurants. The board proposed the new rule in January, after considering new evidence on the risk of secondhand exposure to e-cigarette vapor (which can contain nicotine and other chemicals).

You can read the proposed rule here.

Get additional information on the rule and the broader issue here, via the Orange County Board of Health.

Not everyone is in favor of the proposed rule: Orange County conservative Ashley DeSena says she’s concerned the county would be imposing restrictions without sufficient evidence of a legitimate public health threat. She discussed the issue earlier this week with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.


If you’d like to weigh in on the proposed rule, you can take an online survey, or send an email to, through Sunday. There will also be a public hearing this Wednesday, April 27, at 7 pm in the health department’s office at 300 West Tryon Street in Hillsborough.

For more information on how you can weigh in, visit this page on the Health Department’s website.

Orange is Second Healthiest County in State According to Study

Orange County is the second healthiest county in North Carolina, according to a new study.

The study, done by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute looked at factors such as life expectancy, poverty rates, health behaviors and environmental factors among others to determine the rankings.

The study looked at almost every county in all 50 states.

Maisha Simmons is a senior program officer with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“The rankings show us that where we live matters to our health and that good health is about more than medical care, it’s also about factors like access to healthy food and reliable transportation, as well as safe and healthy schools and neighborhoods,” said Simmons.

Orange County was ranked as having the best clinical care and longest length of life in North Carolina.

But there are some areas where Orange County could improve such as quality of life where Orange County was ranked 7th and physical environment, which considered factors like air quality, housing and commute to work, Orange County was ranked 4th.

But in last year’s study, Orange County was ranked as the healthiest county in North Carolina. This year, Wake County came out on top.

“Look at the data and compare from last year’s ranking to this year but this is only part of the story,” said Simmons, “recognize that there were improvements made as well, even if there was a slip in the rankings.”

The rate of uninsured people and violent crime has gone down in Orange County over the past year.

The study illuminates some inequalities that exist in Orange County too. Income inequality in Orange County is higher than most other counties in the state and the rate of children living in poverty has risen to 13%.

“These are all things that communities can do something about but it also shows us that not everyone has the same opportunity to be healthy,” said Simmons.

Simmons said probably the most disturbing new trend nationwide is a rise in drug overdose deaths due to heroin and opiate use.

“We’ve been hearing about this in the community but the rankings also show us that this is an epidemic for us,” said Simmons, “but we know that there are things that communities can do around this factor and in particular it’s really paying attention to the rates that we are prescribing prescription drugs and thinking about training for our first responders, in terms of responding to these incidents.”

Orange County emergency services have begun using the drug Naloxone, which can reverse an opiate overdose. So far, Orange County Emergency Services have successfully reversed four overdoses with the drug.

March 12 Is Dental Health Day: Get Your Kids Checked For Free

When was the last time you took your child to the dentist?

It may not be fun, but it’s essential – and on Saturday, March 12, you can have your kids’ teeth checked for free.

UNC Walk For Health is joining forces with Piedmont Health Services to offer free dental screenings that day for kids ages 5-17. “Dental Health Day” will take place from 8:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. at the Carrboro Community Health Center at 301 Lloyd Street. Dentists Katrina Mattison-Chalwe and Heidi Cook will provide cleanings, exams, flouride treatments and more.

Organizers say it’s important to maintain good dental health, particularly at a young age – especially because your dental health affects your overall health. (Research has linked poor dental health to a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease, among other things.)

William Thorpe of UNC Walk For Health and Debra Markley of Piedmont Health Services joined Aaron Keck on WCHL last week.


Space is limited for Dental Health Day, so if you want to bring your children for free screenings, you’ll need to sign up in advance: call 919-593-1093 to make a reservation.

Health Report Card Released for NC Children

The health of North Carolina children is improving is several key areas, but in other aspects the Tar Heel state is lagging, according to a new study.

The 20th Annual Child Health Report Card was released Monday morning by the child advocacy group NC Child.

The report card found the number of uninsured children has decreased across the state, while the overall dental health improved. Also, the number of high school students graduating on time was up nearly eleven percent for the 2012-2013 academic year, when compared with 2008-2009. Another positive note was the finding the teen pregnancy rate was also down in North Carolina.

Overall health of children at birth was also improved and child fatalities, in general, were down.

There were negatives in the report. It found the percentage of children under age 18 living in poverty was up, and that 36 percent of children age 10-17 were overweight.

Teen cigarette use was down to 13.5 percent; meanwhile the number of teens using “Emerging Tobacco Products,” including e-cigarettes, was listed at 22.4 percent.

The number of high school students who said they had used marijuana in the last 30 days was 23 percent, that’s up from just under 20 percent in 2011. Meanwhile, reported alcohol, cocaine, and prescription pill use was down across the same age group.

NC Scores Low on Public Health Report Card

According to the NC Prevention report card, North Carolina residents are struggling to meet public health goals for tobacco use, nutrition, obesity and physical activity.

Rachel Zuker is the research and evaluation coordinator for the Chapel Hill-based nonprofit Prevention Partners. She says the state’s grades are not looking good.

“Right now, we’re not doing great,” says Zuker. “We have a C in tobacco, a D in physical activity and Fs in both nutrition and obesity, so there’s definitely work to be done.”

The report measures state progress on national public health goals set for 2020.

Tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of preventable death in the US, and here in North Carolina, residents are smoking at a higher rate than elsewhere.

Zuker says this year North Carolina earned a C for tobacco use, down from a B grade last year.

“In tobacco policies, other states have continued to make progress, whereas we’ve kind of stayed the same, so I think we’re seeing ourselves slide a little bit in tobacco, which is too bad, because previously we’d been at a B and we were seeing that as a great area,” says Zucker.

The report points to policy changes at the state and local levels that could lower tobacco use, including designating more smoke-free places and increasing funding for cessation support services.

When it comes to nutrition and obesity, the report suggests economic challenges are hitting families hard. Seventeen percent of North Carolina households face hunger. At the same time, two out of every three adults and slightly more than a quarter of  high school students are overweight or obese, and the problem is more significant for those with lower levels of education and income.

Zuker says obesity and poor diet go hand in hand, as it costs more to eat well.

“You can be malnourished and obese. There’s a difference between malnourishment and obesity.”

Compounding the problem, the majority of North Carolina’s adults are not getting the recommended weekly minimum amount of physical activity.

Zuker says when it comes to changing the state’s health grade, workplace programs can have a big impact.

“People spend so much of their daily lives at work, and so if we see workplaces passing policies to promote cheaper, healthy foods, time for physical activities or access to those facilities, helping employees to quit [smoking], we really see that as key.”

Prevention Partners is launching an initiative with some of North Carolina’s largest employers to try to change the workplace culture to support healthy lifestyles. Zuker says the plan, called Healthy Together North Carolina, could reach up to 20 percent of the state’s workforce.

You can read the full interactive report card here.