The Almanac

Health

So-called adult day-care centers, which provide nonresidential health care, meals, therapeutic services, and activities for elderly people (and others) who are functionally or cognitively impaired, will come under scrutiny this month, as an accreditation program begins. Although about 4,000 such centers exist, until now there has been no nationwide accreditation system. Surveys will be administered by the Rehabilitation Accreditation Commission. Facilities must demonstrate, among other things, that they employ qualified personnel and provide adequate space and individualized treatment plans. Some 200,000 adults currently attend day-care centers. The centers free up their clients' usual caregivers to work or attend school, and allow impaired senior citizens to postpone moving to a nursing home.

Demographics


doghouse Animal shelters usually receive more calls about missing dogs in the aftermath of July 4 fireworks than at any other time of year. The noise sends many dogs running from home (cats, too, may be frightened, but they tend not to stray far). The American Humane Society urges that pets be kept indoors during fireworks and that they carry identification -- not only tags but also microchips implanted subcutaneously in the scruff between the shoulder blades. The chips contain codes that can be read by scanners, which are used increasingly in animal shelters, veterinary clinics, and police departments, and can be checked against pet-owner databases. One kind of microchip has helped to return more than 17,000 dogs and cats to their homes since 1995.

Environment


fishing July 10: The recreational salmon-fishing season begins today along the coast of Washington State. This year fishermen will have to adhere to a new regulation, one of several rules (many others are already in place in the Northwest) intended to help protect nine distinct populations of salmon that were recently listed as either threatened or endangered under the 1973 Endangered Species Act. In parts of Puget Sound, fishermen may not use weights of more than two ounces, so that hooks will not sink far enough to attract chinook, a deep-running fish. Residents of Seattle and Portland may also have to make accomodations in salmon's behalf: ideas under consideration range from restricting building permits, pesticide use, and water use to raising taxes in order to buy and protect land near waterways and spawning areas. In terms of both geographical scope and impact on human beings, this is one of the broadest applications of the act ever.

Food

July 3-4: Americans will eat more hot dogs -- 150 million -- this weekend than during any other weekend of the year. For some this fare may not be a wise choice: since last December a record amount of hot dogs and other processed meats, 35 million pounds, has been recalled because of contamination and at least 20 people have died. In most people the bacterium causes only flu-like symptoms; however, in pregnant women, newborns, people with weakened immune systems, and the elderly it can cause blood infections, meningitis, and encephalitis, and the mortality rate among infected people in these groups exceeds 25 percent. It is unclear whether the spate of recalls is due to a rising incidence of contamination or merely reflects improved surveillance procedures. Increases in the amount of time products are permitted to remain on shelves may also be a factor: unlike many other bacteria, Listeria grows at refrigerator and freezer temperatures. Experts recommend reheating hot dogs and cold cuts until they are steaming.

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