Thursday, June 06, 2013
Do research before you get a cat

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Many people have cats. Cats can be a wonderful pet but they can also be associated with some medical issues. There are several illnesses that can be transmitted by cats. Fortunately, most of them are rare. The one that is the most concerning is called Toxoplasmosis. It is a disease caused by an organism in the protozoa family. Most adults have had the disease at some time in their life. It is usually benign in adults. However, it can be a major issue during pregnancy. An infected fetus can be born with multiple problems such as blindness and neurological issues. This is the main reason why pregnant women should never be involved in doing anything with kitty litter. The one that causes the most concerning symptoms is cat scratch fever. As its name suggests, this is an illness that is associated with a cat scratch. Kittens are the usual offenders. It consists of high fevers usually to 104 degrees. The fever lasts for about two weeks. It can be associated with marked swelling of the lymph glands. Individuals with this illness can have significant symptoms. Other illnesses are relatively uncommon but they still can occur. They include Salmonella, ringworm, other protozoal illnesses, a rabies and a worm called Toxocara cati. Fortunately, all of these illnesses are not that common. What is more common are cat bites. Cats have dirty mouths and most cat bites get infected. The infections can be severe. The most common bacteria involved is called Pasteurella multocida. Even the name sounds evil. For this reason, cat bites should not be ignored. Antibiotics are indicated early. If the bite is left untreated, there could be serious consequences to the infection. The most common issue with cats is allergy to cat dander. Many people are allergic to cat dander and dog dander as well. However, the severity of allergy to cat dander is pretty significant. Individuals who are allergic to cat dander may be in a room with that dander for only a few minutes before having a bad allergic reaction. We used to teach interns and residents how to put in breathing tubes. We used anesthetized cats because their breathing passages were similar in size to newborns. People who had cat allergies often could not finish the training because the closeness to the cat dander was sometimes disabling. I once had a patient with severe asthma. She was being admitted to the hospital every two weeks with severe asthma attacks. We found out that she was allergic to the cats she had at home. Her mother decided that she would rather have her daughter in the hospital with breathing problems every two weeks than find a new home for her cats. Perhaps the way to have avoided that decision was to not have a cat in the first place. People who decide that they want cats as pets need to do their homework in advance. It is like any other major decision. There are things that support the decision and things that do not. It is important to make sure that the decision is the right one.

Spendley receives DAISY Award Robyn Spendley, RN, of Lewes received the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses in a ceremony at Bayhealth Milford Memorial in May. She was nominated for the award based on her reaction during an exceptional event at Milford Memorial. When a water pipe broke, 22 patients needed to be transported to different rooms throughout the hospital, and Spendley was at the forefront of the transportation team moving patients and equipment. A Bayhealth employee for nearly three years, Spendley is an admissions nurse for patients being admitted through the Emergency Department or directly from their physician. She also helps nurses place IVs, make beds, give baths, discharge patients - basically anywhere else she is needed. Before coming to Bayhealth, she was a critical care nurse for 28 years at Hunterdon Medical Center in Flemington, N.J. She received her associate's degree in nursing from Union County Technical Institute (now Union College) in New Jersey. Each DAISY Award winner receives a certificate, a DAISY Award pin and a serpentine stone sculpture hand-carved by Shona artisans in Zimbabwe.

Hospice 5K Run & Family Fun Walk Delaware Hospice will celebrate the 5th anniversary of the opening of the Delaware Hospice Center in Milford at its popular 5K Run & Family Fun Walk on Wednesday, July 10. Registration opens at 5:30 p.m., the race begins at 6:30, and the post-event cookout and party will go on until evening. Early registrants will pay $18 for individual entries until July 8. After July 18, individual entries are $20. Team rate for a group of four or family rate for a group of four or more from the same household is $50. Sponsorships are welcome. There will be medals for winners and door prizes for everyone. For more information, contact Peggy Dolby, assistant director of development, at 856-7717 or

Diabetes Wellness Center opens Bayhealth's Diabetes Wellness Center is now open in the Outpatient Rehabilitation Building at 560 S. Governors Ave., Dover. The center is staffed by certified diabetes educators, who may also be registered nurses, pharmacists or nutritionists working to support physicians caring for diabetics. Physicians may refer their adult patients to the Diabetes Wellness Center. For more information, please call (302) 744-6773.

Hospice holds support workshop Delaware Hospice will hold a Family Support Workshop on "Antidotes to the Deadly Impact of Stress" on Friday, June 21, from 1 to 4 p.m., at the Delaware Hospice Center, Milford. Dr. Judy Pierson, clinical psychologist, will present this workshop, which will feature a video produced by PBS called, "Stress: Portrait of a Killer." In the beginning, the stress response saved lives, making us run from predators and enabling us to take down prey. Today, human beings are turning on the same life-saving physical reactions to cope with 30 year mortgages, $4 a gallon gasoline, final exams, and traffic jams. Understanding how stress works can help us figure out ways to combat it and mitigate negative impacts on our health. Family Support Workshops are free and open to the public. Registration is required as seating is limited. Register by Wednesday, June 19, by contacting Vicki Costa at 856-7717, ext. 1129, or

Hospice offers grief workshop Delaware Hospice invites anyone coping with a loss to attend a session, "Tear Soup - Video and Discussion," on Wednesday, June 19, from 1 to 2:30 p.m., at the Delaware Hospice Office in Millsboro "Tear Soup," a beautiful video, speaks to every generation about the universality of grief. Tear Soup offers a recipe for healing for anyone who has had a loss or anyone who is supporting someone who has had a loss. During this 90 minute workshop, participants will watch the video and have a follow-up discussion. Handouts will be provided which address loss as it pertains to everyone. There is no fee for this workshop which is provided as a community outreach by Delaware Hospice. Registration is requested by Monday, June 17, by contacting Midge DiNatale, bereavement counselor, at or 302-416-0581.

Cinema Therapy session Movies can be simple, but effective tools to get us "in touch" with our feelings. On Monday, June 10 at 1 p.m., VITAS Innovative Hospice Care of Delaware and Cancer Support Community Delaware invites you to join us in some Cinema Therapy and discover together how our shared experiences with grief and loss can move us forward in our journey of healing. After the movie there will be an open group discussion. The film, "We Bought a Zoo," and discussion are free and open to the public. Movie snacks will be provided. This collaborative program will be hosted at Cancer Support Community's Sussex facility, which is located at 18947 John J. Williams Hwy., Ste. 312, Rehoboth. To register, call 645-9150.

'Miracle Mile' Cancer Survivor Walk In celebration of National Cancer Survivors' Day, Beebe Medical Center's Tunnell Cancer Center will host its 10th annual Miracle Mile cancer survivors' walk, on Saturday, June 8, on the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk. Because this year's walk marks a decade milestone, plans are under way to make it a special one. As part of the festivities, a Spirit of Hope Award will be presented. The event will begin at 7:30 a.m. at All Saints' Episcopal Church on Olive Avenue in Rehoboth Beach with registration. Participants will gather at 8 a.m. and proceed to the boardwalk where they will gather for a ceremony and then a short walk. They will return to the church for a light breakfast. Everyone is welcome to this free event. Contact the Tunnell Cancer Center at 302-645-3770 for more information, to register, or for special assistance the day of the event. To nominate someone for the Spirit of Hope Caregiver Award, nomination forms are available at the Tunnell Cancer Center.

Hospice offers Camp New Hope Delaware Hospice has spaces available at its Camp New Hope, which will be held from Aug. 6-9, at Killens Pond State Park, for children and teens who have suffered the recent loss of a loved one. Since 1990, Delaware Hospice's New Hope program has offered individual and family grief counseling to more than 1,500 children and adolescents aged 6-17. The New Hope program, including Camp New Hope, is a free, community outreach program. New Hope supports children referred from the community as well as members of Delaware Hospice families. Camp New Hope is the annual highlight of the New Hope Program. This inspirational day camp takes place over four days, connecting children in similar age groups in order to help them process their feelings of loss and grief. Many of the children in New Hope have lost a parent, sibling, or grandparent due to illness or sudden death. Learn more about Camp New Hope by contacting New Hope Coordinator for Kent and Sussex Counties, Robin Murphy at 302-678-4444 or

Alzheimer's Caregiver Support Group Cadia Rehab Renaissance near Millsboro is hosting and facilitating an Alzheimer's Association Caregiver Support Group that meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. All meetings are open to the public and interested parties are invited to attend. Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. One person out of eight who reaches the age of 65 will develop Alzheimer's, as will one person out of every two who reaches the age of 85.

Asthma Awareness Workshops The Sussex Coalition, Telemon, Department of Public Health, Nemours and the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club are sponsoring Family Fun Nights to facilitate a series of asthma workshops and promote asthma awareness. Family fun nights and asthma training workshops will be held on Friday, June 7 and Friday, June 21 from 6 to 9 p.m., at the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club in Seaford. Admission, activities (bring a swimsuit) and dinner are free. Presenters include Sheelagh Stewart, Nemours asthma educator; Denese Bell, public health educator and trainer; and Bill Leitzinger, Office of Healthy Environments. For more information, call Troy Hazzard at 302-444-9175 or Cathy Van Sciver at 302-262-9459.

CPR classes offered Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer community CPR classes to anyone interested in learning CPR at the Nanticoke Training Center on Water Street in Seaford. Participants will learn how to perform the basic skills of CPR on adults, children, and infants and how to help an adult, child, or infant who is choking and use of the AED. This classroom-based, video, and instructor-led CPR course offers families, friends, and community members the opportunity to learn CPR and need a course completion card. Classes are open to participants ages 12 and up. This program is specifically designed for those who prefer to learn in a group environment with feedback from an instructor. The target audience is those who have a duty to respond to a cardiac emergency because of job responsibilities or regulatory requirements. Cost is $45. Payment and registration is required by no later than five business days prior to the class. Late registrations may be accepted if seating is available. To register and to obtain a listing of class dates/times, contact the Nanticoke Memorial Hospital's Training Center office at 629-6611, ext. 8919. Pre-registration is required.