Antibiotic Resistant Disease Is A Major Man Made Problem

The antibiotic-resistant bacteria Extended
Spectrum Beta Lactamase (ESBL) is killing both
people and swine in Denmark.

The bacteria has been implicated in the deaths
of a number of cancer and liver disease
patients. The number of infected patients
jumped 50 percent last year.

Health officials said the bacteria is being
transmitted to humans through pigs. The
increased use of antibiotics in agriculture may
be behind the spread of the resistant strain.

What are ESBLs?

Extended-Spectrum Beta-Lactamases (ESBLs) are
actually enzymes produced by certain types of
bacteria, which renders the bacteria resistant
to the antibiotics commonly used to treat them.

ESBLs were first discovered in the mid-1980s. At
the time they were mostly found in the
Klebsiella species of bacteria, in hospital
intensive care units. Until recently, few people
were affected by these mutated bacteria and it
didn’t appear to be a major growing concern.

That has changed, however. According to the
British Health Protection Agency (HPA), a new
class of ESBL (called CTX-M enzymes) has emerged,
which are now being widely detected among E.Coli
bacteria. These ESBL-producing E. Coli are
resistant to penicillins and cephalosporins, and
are becoming more frequent in urinary tract
infections.

Other species of bacteria that can now produce
ESBLs include:

K. pneumoniae

K. oxytoca

Salmonella

Proteus mirabilis

Pseudomonas aeruginosa

The Problem is Worse Than You Think!

According to a study published October 2007 in
the Journal of the American Medical Association
(JAMA), there were close to 100,000 cases of
invasive methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus
aureus (MRSA) infections in the United States
in 2005, which lead to more than 18,600 deaths.

To put that number into perspective, HIV/AIDS
killed 17,000 people that year.

Antibiotic-resistant disease Is a major man-made
problem.

This was the study that propelled MRSA into the
news last year, combined with a number of school
outbreaks that took place around the same time.
Discussions focused largely on reducing medical
over-use of antibiotics, and proper hygiene such
as washing your hands with soap and water to
reduce the spread of infectious disease.

But little has been said about the rampant
over-use of antibiotics in agriculture, which is
a MAJOR source of human antibiotic consumption,
and hence increased antibiotic resistance.

Agriculture as a Source of Antibiotic Resistance

Both MRSA and ESBL are being traced back to
animals raised for food production, especially
pigs.

These animals are often fed antibiotics at low
doses for disease prevention and growth promotion.
Animals receiving antibiotics in their feed gain
4 to 5 percent more body weight than animals that
do not receive antibiotics, but the price is high
for you, the end consumer, because this practice
also creates the perfect conditions for antibiotic
resistance to flourish.

Denmark’s health officials claim they’re unsure of
how farmers and veterinarians, who have not
consumed infected meat, are becoming infected.
However, according to research cited on Johns
Hopkins website, the main reservoir of these
organisms is in the lower digestive tract, and
they can persist within the gastrointestinal tract
for months. So perhaps the answer doesn’t have to
be all that complicated.

So, the meat industry practice of using antibiotics
is indeed a driving force behind the development of
antibiotic resistance in a now wide variety of
bacteria that cause human disease.

The long stalemate on this issue constitutes a
struggle between strong science and bad politics.
The FDA finally banned the use of fluoroquinolones
- a widely used class of antimicrobials — from
agricultural use August 1997, but not without the
Bayer Corporation kicking and screaming in vehement
opposition. After all, antibiotics for livestock
use is big business. It constitutes about 70
percent of ALL antibiotic use! They couldn’t
replace that market with human consumers even if
they tried.

Other Agricultural Sources of Antibiotics

Another heavily tainted meat product you should stay
away from is conventionally raised chicken. A 2006
study published in the Journal of Infectious
Diseases found that bacteria from conventional
chicken and from people who ate the chicken became
resistant to Synercid, a strong antibiotic used to
treat antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In essence, it
can cause resistance to the last lines of defense
currently available in the modern medicine cabinet.

It also found that it was rare to find resistant
bacteria among antibiotic-free chicken, while the
majority of bacterial isolates from conventional
poultry were resistant.

But, the ramifications of using antibiotics in
agriculture don’t end there. Antibiotics filter
down through the food chain in sometimes
non-suspecting ways.

Antibiotics are also being transferred, via
manure, into your food supply.

A 2007 study in the Journal of Environmental
Quality looked at whether food crops will
accumulate antibiotics from soil covered with
antibiotic-containing manure.

In a greenhouse setting, corn, lettuce and
potatoes were grown on soil that contained hog
manure with a commonly used veterinary
antibiotic added.

The antibiotics were absorbed by all three
crops, into both their leaves and tissue.
Meanwhile, the antibiotics also transferred to
the potato tubers, suggesting that root crops
like carrots, radishes and potatoes may be
particularly at risk of antibiotic accumulation.

These findings unfortunately also have
implications for organic farmers, who often use
manure as their main source of fertilizer. And,
as it stands, manure that contains antibiotics
is still allowed under the organic label.

How to Avoid Excessive Antibiotic Exposure

So how can you ensure that the food you feed to
yourself and your family is pure and healthy?

Apart from growing it yourself, your best option
is to get to know a local farmer near you — one
who uses non-toxic farming methods. If you live
in an urban area, there are increasing numbers of
community-supported agriculture programs available
that give you access to healthy, locally grown
foods even if you live in the heart of the city.

If you are looking for a safer alternative to
commercially raised beef please be sure to check
out grass-fed beef. Grass-fed cattle are not
routinely fed antibiotics. They may occasionally
receive them for an infection, but that would be
the rare exception, and even then they are only
used for a few days.

“Natural” is best, organic superior, and to learn how to undo the negative effects you already suffered.

Horse Fun and Games – The Making of a Card Game

For those of us who love everything equine, horses and games make a great entertainment combination. Creating a horse-themed card game is hard work and requires a lot of careful consideration. This article talks about the early days of discovery for the developers at Funleague Games as they embarked upon the journey of designing their very first card game called “Perfect Stride: Cross-Country!” Naturally, as with many things, the game started out as an idea. We wanted to create a fun horse game that was fanciful and stylized, yet still stayed somewhat true to the experience of riding a horse. Representing the idea of racing at high speed across country on horseback through a card game presented its share of challenges. We experimented with a lot of ideas and several times we experienced moments of “aha! This is it!” and away we’d go full-steam…only to discover a problem. The gameplay logistics were the main sticking points. We were cutting some new ground with this card game; it wasn’t closely based on any other specific game so we didn’t have a tried-and-true template to work from. Rather, we referenced bits and pieces of gameplay elements from other games we’d played and from our own vision of how we thought things should work considering the experience we were trying to emulate. Two other resources that have definitely been invaluable are Board Game Geek and Board Game Designer’s Forum. Thanks to everyone there who has posted such excellent info! Here are some examples of things we had a tough time figuring out: Our card game is essentially a race across country on horseback. You jump obstacles along the way…how do you represent that? Do you use tiles? Do you lay the cards out all at once, or one at a time? Face-up? Face-down? That kind of thing. Another element we struggled with was how the rider order was represented during the course of the race.

If you were in first, but then dropped back to third, how would you know? We tried a bunch of things such as using charts, placing a token amongst the jump cards, etc. After a lot of trial and error, we eventually figured out a system that wasn’t confusing (unlike our earlier versions). We also struggled with trying to inject some strategy into the gameplay. We definitely didn’t want this game to be all about “luck of the draw”. We wanted the players to have to evaluate each situation and choose a best course of action. Strategy does add depth to a game, but on the flip side of this, a bit of chance can really spice things up and keep you wondering as you draw that next card. As this was a racing game, we didn’t want the players to get too bogged down pondering their options. That would detract from the idea that you were all moving at high speed over terrain in a dash for the finish line. Those were just some of the many things we needed to figure out as we developed our initial idea into something fun, functional and richly thematic. After emerging from the idea phase, we entered a stage of development where we needed to examine more practical business considerations: How big should the deck be?

That has proven to depend upon a few things such as number of players, how many variables we were prepared to deal with, printing costs and art costs. We wanted the deck to have substance, yet still maintain some kind of control on the budget.
What should we price the game at?

Now that one is ongoing. Naturally we need to make some sort of profit as a reward for our hard efforts and the main way to estimate what kind of pricing is involved is by breaking down the “per-unit costs”. For example, we make an initial assumption that the first print run might be about 5000 copies. Therefore, we would get a printing quote for 5000 copies of the game. And then add to that the cost for artwork creation. And legal fees. And advertising. That sort of thing. Add all those costs together, and divide by 5000. That will be our per-unit cost.

How should we package and present the game?

We need to look at a couple of key things here. One is; what kind of presentation will be most appealing to people? We want the theme to be immediately recognizable and we want to convey the message that this is a quality game. A game where it’s a high-calibre entertainment experience made of durable materials that will be a pleasure to handle. The other consideration is how much will the packaging and materials cost? Printing/manufacturing costs are arguably THE most expensive part of creating a board or card game. And the quotes will vary widely with each print shop we approach.

Legal stuff?

A board or card game is a creative product. It’s art and entertainment, meets commerce. There’s intellectual property, copyright, trademarks and other basic business considerations. We recognize that it’s a good idea to protect our hard work and ensure that all communication is organized and in writing. Legal stuff is not only about protecting what’s ours; it’s also about being clear about obligations when engaging in business with another party. When it comes to hiring artists to create artwork for a game, copyright ownership is one of the biggest key factors. It’s important to ensure clarity about who owns the art. Paying an artist to create artwork doesn’t necessarily mean we actually own it. It’s essential to have an “Artist Agreement” in place. This is a legal document that details the rights and obligations between Funleague Games and the artist. Artists work hard to do what they do best (we know this firsthand…Jeff and I are both professional artists) and naturally will want to be clear about all the details involving the work they do.

What kind of art style am I looking for?

This is an important thing to figure out, but it can be a tough one. The style of art is heavily influenced by the style of the hired artist(s) working on your project. It’s important to choose carefully who will be creating the visuals for the game. Arguably good art will sell more copies of a bad game than bad art on a good game. People like things to look “cool” or “beautiful”. Make sure you deliver in spades in this area by having a strong vision for what your game should look like and by only hiring artists who have an art style compatible with that vision. Art style should also take into consideration the target market your game is aimed at. In the case of Perfect Stride: Cross-Country!, I’m going for a style that is distinct from other games on the market. I also want the style to be inclusive and appealing to the full range of my target audience. For example, I need to avoid an art style that is too “young” as my target audience are people ages 7 and up. I want to feature artwork that has a fun innocence to it, but at the same time possesses enough refinement to appeal to a more mature audience.

Who’s our audience?

This is important right out of the gate (now there’s a theme-appropriate expression :) . Even at the earliest design phase it’s important to know our demographic. For example, if we designed a game to include a lot of deep and subtle complexities or tons of arithmetic, chances are that kids under 7 years of age could find the game too difficult. As for Perfect Stride: Cross-Country!, I feel that this will be a game that can be enjoyed by almost everybody, but the primary audience will likely be people who love horses. And as there is an element of strategy to the game, the very young may struggle with some of the gameplay concepts.

Marketing?

This is SOOOOoooo important. If Jeff and I never bother to get the word out about our really cool game, how are we going to sell it? Entire books (and even university degrees) are devoted to the topic of marketing, but suffice it to say it’s important that we learn a little bit about how to promote our product. Not only will we not sell any (or very few) copies, but so many people will never get the chance to enjoy a super-fun horse-themed experience! As our game is very strongly based on a specific theme (or niche) one of the first things we’ll do is seek to get the word out at places where the horse-loving public like to visit such as horse-themed websites, tack shops, equestrian magazines, etc.

As you can see, we have our work cut out for us, but the creation of this card game has been a wonderful journey so far. We look forward to the time when the game is complete and ready to be enjoyed by many!

Math Activity For Fun And Learning

Math activity like drill and practice help a child gaining good mental number skills. Moreover, if the practice is done everyday through fun and games, children easily get familiar with numbers. Nowadays, we have a number of online math activities meant for children and the grown-ups alike. Teachers, parents and children have a number of games and number drill activities at hand. The online math worksheets help a child practice computing skills, number and logic, geometric and money exchange skills. The number skill in a child grows along with daily shopping skills- how they can get an object in exchange of money.

In online math activity like Dinner Time, a child can practice and grow its skill in measuring time. We have task cards, through which a child prepares a meal for dinner in a fixed time frame. He or she is assigned a specific time frame in which the food item is to be prepared. This number game is played between a small group of children and a clock pattern is maintained in playing the game. Games like Body Parts help a child know how to measure length with the help of a string and mark them in a data sheet.

Want to make your child familiar with Perimeter and Area? Now you have online math activity to help your child. Your child can measure and co-relate between area and perimeter of a particular figure. In this game, a child uses specific design shapes and blocks. These blocks are used according to the given instructions on a task card. The numbers are changed and so the area and perimeter of the given figures are also changed.
This game can be enjoyed more than two or three children in a small group. Not only solid blocks, we have number games in form of mold figures.

Play Dough is another mold figure game that children enjoy as a part of their online math activity. This game builds up number reflex in a small child easily. Through Play Dough, a child gathers number skills in measuring length, getting the volume of a particular object, area and perimeter of particular figures. Children use the playing dough to estimate and measure volume. An easy to follow task card is given to guide the children effectively. The child molds the dough to measure the lengths and areas of given figures and estimate the total circumference. The game is meant for classroom math activities and it can be played by one or more children.

Comparing Cylinders and Estimating Length are popular classroom math activity for children. Comparing Cylinders is played by children to estimate the surface area and determine the volume of given figures. Here students have to find the change in capacity of said containers made of same size of papers. In Estimating Length, children have to find the length by calculating the units of measurement. Children can estimate the measuring units to use while measuring the given objects. The game is played in a group and children have to maintain an activity data sheet.

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