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Features Health & Wellness

As warmer weather approaches, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health (DPH) encourages North Carolinians to be aware of their surroundings and practice precautions while enjoying the outdoors with family, friends and pets, to prevent the spread of rabies.

Rabies is a deadly viral disease that attacks the central nervous system of warm-blooded animals, particularly mammals. In North Carolina, raccoons and bats serve as the source for most rabies viruses. These species may infect other animals such as skunks, red and gray foxes, coyotes, groundhogs and beavers. Any animal infected with rabies poses a human health risk. In 2014, more than 350 cases of animal rabies were reported in North Carolina.

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In the midst of the holiday season, just after devouring a traditional turkey feast and right before finishing her Christmas shopping, Marian McDowell went to the doctor for a routine checkup. At just 52 years old, she expected the doctor's visit to be a quick in-and-out, but it ended up being anything but.

McDowell's doctor sat her down and told her that her life was at risk, and she needed to take immediate action to get healthy, or face devastating implications. Her cholesterol levels were concerning, and blood tests searching for other health factors such as diabetes raised some red flags. McDowell's family has a history of heart disease, and with a predisposition and family connection, McDowell's doctor told her she needed to act fast.

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Families from three Western North Carolina counties lined up in the parking lot of the Franklin Fun Factory on Sunday to have their car seats checked by certified technicians for the 2nd annual Buckle Up, Baby safety clinic.

Certified technicians with the Macon County Sheriff's Office, the Franklin Police Department, and the Highlands Police Department checked about 60 car seats on Sunday, and helped educate parents on the importance of child passenger safety. During the event, technicians found that about 60 percent of the car seats checked were improperly installed, and needed to be corrected. Five of the car seats had to be replaced by officers because they were expired, had been recalled, or had been in an accident.

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Western Carolina University recently joined 19 North Carolina universities, colleges, organizations and health agencies in the creation of a new statewide alliance designed to increase minority representation in the health professions.

Called the North Carolina Alliance for Health Professions Diversity, the partnership between academic institutions and state agencies will work to reduce disparities in health status and health care by increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the state’s health care workforce.

Representatives from the participating schools and organizations came together March 27 at Winston-Salem State University to sign a memorandum of understanding launching the new alliance. Rebecca Lasher, assistant professor of social work, represented WCU at the signing ceremony.

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