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The Facts on Mad Cow, SARS and More!

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Every time you turn on the tube these days you hear about another crazy, new disease. If you're starting to panic - chill out. The flu kills way more peeps every year than SARS, the Bird Flu, the West Nile Virus and Mad Cow disease combined. Some of the kids at Kidzworld even thought that allen achilles had mad cow disease because of all of the crazy stuff on the site. But they were wrong, he is just a little crazy. Here are some more facts you need to know.

All About SARS

What It Is: SARS is short for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. It's a virus that can cause fever, body aches, cough and occasionally death. It is usually spread through close contact with infected peeps and scientists are still investigatin' how it started but most think that the disease probably came from Civet cats, which are eaten in Southern China.
Why You Shouldn't Freak: SARS has shown up in Asia, North America and Europe but only in a few cities. The outbreak seems to have been contained and the number of new cases has dropped dramaticly. Don't forget that, although the news reported a lot about SARS deaths, almost everyone who gets SARS survives.
How You can Protect Yourself: If you're in a city that has SARS, make sure to wash your hands a lot. And if you present any symptoms, get in to see a doctor ASAP.

All About Bird Flu

What Is It: The bird flu, scientifically named avian influenza, is a virus that is commonly found in the intestines of wild birds. Around the world, wild birds live with this virus and it doesn't seem to affect them, but when the bird flu is transferred to a domesticated bird, like a chicken or duck, things get messy.
Why You Shouldn't Freak: There have only been 120 confirmed cases in humans worldwide and transmission from human to human has happened very rarely. How You Can Protect Yourself: The best way to prevent contracting the disease is to stay away from birds that could be infected. If you have been around any birds, always be sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. Most poultry farms have taken extra precautions lately to help curb the spread of the disease as well.

All About West Nile Virus

What It Is: A flu-like disease that affects birds, horses, dogs and people. It is spread through mosquito bites from infected mosquitos. Mosquitos get West Nile from feeding on infected birds. You can't catch it from another person or an animal. It's appeared in Africa, Asia, Canada and most south eastern US states.
Why You Shouldn't Freak: West Nile Virus is usually not fatal. Most people who get it hardly get sick and lots of people don't get sick at all. Besides, no human cases have been reported in the US this year.
How To Protect Yourself: Wear mosquito repellant when you're outside. Because birds often die from the virus, tell your 'rents if you see a dead bird so they can report it to your local Disease Control.

Mad Cow Disease

What It Is: A neurological disease in cows that is thought to cause a similar disease in humans. It has shown up in European cows, four Japanese cows, one cow in Canada and one in Washington state.
Why You Shouldn't Freak: You have to actually eat a sick cow, not just pet one, so you vegetarians have nothing to worry about. Also, there are no US cases of Mad Cow Disease and very few people in other countries have gotten sick from this disease recently.
How to Protect Yourself: If there is a Mad Cow Disease outbreak in your area, don't eat beef until local health officials say it's safe.

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