GPSAR Digital News for November / December 1997

Past issues on-line currently include...
June 1997 | July 1997 | August 1997 | September 1997 | October 1997 |



GPSAR Election For Chief Officer Held

Do You Know Me? - I Would Like To Be Lost

Reasons For Coggins Testing For Your Horse

Do Cell Phones Raise Driving Risk

Stress - Myth Or Reality?

Quotes Of The Month


On December 13, 1997, election for Chief of Greater Philadelphia Search and Rescue for the 1998/1999 term was held. Chief Labov was re-elected unanimously by all members in attandence.


I have no respect for Justice. I maim without killing. I break hearts and ruin lives. I am cunning and malicious and gather strength with age. The more I am quoted, the more I am believed. I flourish at all levels of society.


My victims are helpless. They cannot protect themselves against me, for I have no face and no name. To track me down is impossible. The harder you try, the more elusive I become.


I am nobodyís friend. Once I tarnish a reputation, it is never quite the same. I topple governments and wreck marriages. I ruin careers, cause sleepless nights, headaches and grief. I make innocent people cry in their pillows. I make headlines and heartaches.

I, am called "GOSSIP !"

So, the next time you want to tell a story about someone, think, Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? If not, please keep it to yourself and donít say it!



Some owners consider testing horses for equine infectious anemia a nuisance and an unnecessary expense when shipping horses across state lines. But testing is crucial for controlling a grave disease that could severely impact the equine industry.


EIA is tested for routinely with the Coggins test. The procedure is standard throughout the country. A veterinarian draws a blood sample and fills out forms to accurately identify the horse. Most states and all countries require a negative test within the last 6 to 12 months as a requirement for crossing their borders.


The Coggins test was developed in the early 1970ís by Dr. Leroy Coggins and is highly specific for EIA. The test takes about 24 hours to complete and the incidence of false positives is extremely low. Another test, the ELISA, is also available and can return results within hours. However, because the ELISA shows occasional false positives, the Coggins test remains the most reliable form of EIA testing.


Equine infectious anemia has not been eradicated in the United States. Infected horses appear nationwide. The disease is caused by a retrovirus, a virus in the same class as HIV, which causes AIDS. But if affects only horses, mules, donkeys, and exotic equine species, not humans.


Actual cases of EIA are uncommon. More cases are recorded in southern states due to the longer insect vector season as insects appear to be the predominant mode of transmission. Gulf Coast states identify infected animals numbering in the hundreds every year. Louisiana has instituted an eradication program requiring that all horses be permanently identified, preferably with an electronic implant, and be tested once a year.


Transmission is blood-borne. Insects, such as horseflies and deer flies, are the usual carriers due to their feeding habits. The flies usually begin feeding on one horse, then, as they are quivered off, will feed on the next, thus spreading the disease. Other modes of transmission are unsterile hypodermic needles, uncleaned tooth floats, shared tack, and close contact, including possible reproductive transmission.


The virus was likely more of a problem at the turn of the century. However, due to its similarity to other diseases, it was not actually recognized until the 1960ís and 1970ís, when the virus was accurately identified and could be tested.


The disease is characterized by the sudden onset of a high fever coupled with obvious depression. Within hours, temperatures can soar from 100 degrees Fahrenheit to 105 or even 107. The horse becomes severely depressed, drips with sweat, and breathes shallow, rapid breaths. These febrile episodes occur during periods of viremia, when the virus is reproducing.


As the disease progresses, the horse loses weight in spite of a good appetite. Fluid settles in his extremities, giving his legs a swollen appearance. Weakness causes stumbling or sometimes leads to hind-limb paralysis. Gums become pale to yellow, pulse becomes weak, and heart arrhythmia's occur. In a chronic case, a horseís red blood count drops, and the animal becomes anemic. Thirty to forty percent of all affected horses die.


Treatment is supportive only, there is no vaccine and positive horses remain infected for life. EIA can affect horses in symptomatic, chronic, and unapparent forms. The symptomatic horse runs a scalding fever, is extremely depressed, loses his appetite, and usually dies. The chronically infected animal suffers recurrent bouts of clinical symptoms, particularly during periods of stress.


The unapparent carrier (an infected horse who has no symptoms) is most commonly diagnosed. This horse shows no outward signs of the malady, but is infective to other horses. Unapparent carriers can convert to more clinical forms of the disease. Reports indicate that although horses with the unapparent form show no clinical symptoms, they suffer from poor performance.


The consequences of not testing for EIA could be extreme. Horse populations would quickly become infected, animals would become diseased, and thousands of horses could die. Horses should be tested annually and any new horses coming on and off a farm or ranch should be tested and maintained in clean, isolated stalls. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends horses in competitions and events be quartered in separate, clean, and well-ventilated stalls. Instruments should be sterilized in between horses. Separate tack should be used for individual animals or items should be cleaned with a reliable disinfectant. Biting flies, lice, and mosquitoes must be controlled. Owners should consider breeding horses with a documented negative EIA test within the last 60 days.


A horse who tests positive to EIA is reported to the state department of agriculture. A state veterinarian then performs a second Coggins test to confirm the diagnosis. Since most horses with positive tests are unapparent carriers, the horse will likely be completely asymptomatic. Studies have shown that bloodsucking flies rarely travel farther than 200 yards from their original host. Therefore, infected animals should be quarantined this distance from the nearest equine.


An owner will be offered three options for a contaminated animal. The first and most common is euthanasia, the horse will be destroyed. The second will spare the animalís life, however, he will live in isolation and be permanently identified with a tattoo or brand on the left shoulder or neck. He must be stabled no closer than 200 yards from any other equine and must be behind insect vector-proof shields during warm weather when insects are more active. The third option is slaughter. The disease affects the equine species exclusively and cannot be transmitted to humans.


Thanks to equine veterinarian Kent Tooman and Western Horseman Magazine for the above article.


Talking on a cellular phone while driving quadruples the risk of an accident and is about as dangerous as being close to legally drunk behind the wheel according to one study.


Making a call with a hands-free model is just as risky, researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.


While many people have assumed that the distraction of car phones can be dangerous, the study is the first to actually measure the hazard.


While the fourfold chance of getting into an accident is about the same as the increased risk involved in driving with a blood-alcohol level right at the legal limit, researchers noted that callers extra risk drops back to normal as soon as they hang up, while near-drunk drivers can, of course, be a menace for hours.


The researchers studied 699 drivers who had cell phones and were involved in crashes that resulted in substantial damage but no injuries. They compared each driverís phone calls on the day of the collision with the previous weekís calls.


The analysis of 26,798 calls showed that having lots of experience with a cell phone, or using a hands free model, did not lower peopleís risk.


The study also recommended that cell phones should not be banned as they also have significant benefits. In the study alone, 39% of the people had used their phones to dial 911 after their accidents.


Other results of the study calculated that if one in 10 vehicles has a cell phone by the year 2000, between 0.6 percent and 1.2 percent of all accidents may be caused by their use.


To date, Brazil, Israel, Switzerland and two Australian states have passed laws against using hand held phones while driving.



Stress. All of us have experienced it at one time or another. Being involved in the emergency services field can also create additional stress. As a result of the awareness of stress, there are a lot of myths about what stress actually is, and how it can affect us. Below, we will address some myths and stress issues.

Myth # 1 - You can keep stress for occurring:

Not really, but you can influence how you handle it. Though many of the things that cause stress are beyond your control, you can decide how you will react to stress. For instance, you cannot control a piece of office equipment breaking down. You decide whether you will become upset, angry, or amused when something unexpected occurs.

Myth # 2 - Anything that causes stress is bad:

Not true. Even positive events that lead to life changes, such as the birth of a child or a promotion at work, can be very stressful. Often, stress is what motivates and challenges us to make positive changes in our lives.

Myth # 3 - Everyone reacts the same to stress:

Experiencing a stressful event is much like going to a movie. You may enjoy the movie, while the person next to you dislikes it. In the same way, two people may have completely different reactions to a single event. One might feel motivated and challenged by the experience, while another feels powerless and depressed. Your reaction to a stressful situation is largely determined by your personal feelings about the circumstances.

Responses to Stress:

When people feel unhappy or anxious about a stressful situation, they may experience physical symptoms ranging from muscle tension, headaches, and gastrointestinal problems to changes in appetite or sleep patterns. Others turn to alcohol and/or drugs to deal with the situation. Medical research has shown that prolonged or multiple stress symptoms also may lead to more serious health problems such as increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, ulcers and even cancer.

In addition to the physical side effects, emotional symptoms such as depression or withdrawal from friends and family also may result. Frequently, negative thought patterns exacerbate the feelings of anxiety we experience when under stress. Some of these include: exaggerating a problem or situation, or making things seem worse than they are, thinking in "black and white" or generalizing a situation, focusing on what is "bad" about a situation and ignoring its good aspects, etc.

Just as negative thought patterns may increase your level of anxiety, the following positive attitudes can help you deal more effectively with stress: accepting that you cannot control many of the things that cause stress, concentrating on what you can control, putting those things that are important to you at the top of your "to do" list, not feeling guilty because you cannot do everything, etc.

Managing Your Stress:

Although it is impossible to keep stress from happening, you can manage your reaction to it more constructively if you: 1. exercise 20 to 30 minutes a day, four to five days a week, 2. eat regular, balanced meals and reduce salt, sugar, and fat intake, 3. take a step back from a stressful situation by doing something that helps you relax, such as taking a long walk, reading a book, or playing with your kids, 4. learn to say "no" to unreasonable demands, 5. schedule your time realistically and avoid procrastination, 6. turn to friends and family for support and encouragement, 7. when you anticipate a stressful even or situation, plan ahead by considering ways to cope with stress before you actually begin to experience it.

Remember, you cannot make stress go away, but you can make it a manageable part of your life.


All lies lead to the truth!

One way to get high blood pressure is to go mountain climbing over molehills.

Earl Wilson