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Ask Doctor Cory.

Dear Dr. Cory:

On the way home from vacation I yawned three times. Can you tell me why people yawn?

Kim Wong--Shing Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Dear Dr. Cory:

Why do people yawn?

Nicholas Sherer Osseo, Michigan

Dear Kim and Nicholas:

Yawning is a way for the body to get extra oxygen and to help wake us up. When we yawn we breathe in slowly and deeply and then let air back out.

Yawning also helps to open our eustachian (u-STAY-shun) tubes. These are the small tubes that connect your middle ears to the back of your throat. We feel the need to open our eustachian tubes when there is a change in air pressure, such as when going up or down in an airplane or an elevator.

Dear Dr. Cory:

I was wondering; do animals get poison ivy?

Jennifer Hroneck Cleveland, Ohio

Dear Jennifer:

Animals do not develop poison ivy rashes, the itchy patches of tiny blisters caused by urushiol (u-ROO-she-ol), the oil secreted by poison ivy. But they can carry the oil on their fur and transfer it to you.

Pets should be washed after touching poison ivy, poison oak, or similar plants, so you don't suffer just as if you had petted the plant instead of your dog.

Dear Dr. Cory:

We just bought three turtles, and I was just wondering if the disease you get from turtles and their water and tank is contagious or serious. Should we put the turtles outside because of this? If it is dangerous, please tell us how we can avoid catching it. (My mom already told me and my younger brother to always wash our hands handling the turtles.) Please help me ASAP!

Tabitha Espina Dededo, Guam

Dear Tabitha:

Most reptiles and many birds shed the bacteria, Salmonella, in their stools. Even healthy-looking reptiles (turtles, snakes, and lizards) can carry Salmonella, which causes a very contagious bacterial infection with severe abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. People become infected when food, hands, or other objects that have come in contact with Salmonella bacteria are placed in the mouth. Young children and people who have a hard time fighting infections are at greater risk for more serious problems with Salmonella.

To avoid infection with reptile-associated Salmonella, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you keep reptiles out of your home if members of your family include children less than five years old, pregnant women, or people who have trouble with infections. Salmonella can be picked up by handling anything that reptiles have had contact with, so you should always wash your hands after handling your turtles, their tanks, or items in their tank. They should not be allowed to run around in the house. And don't use the kitchen sink to bathe them or wash their dishes, cages, tanks, or aquaria.

The CDC says that chicks, ducklings, and other young fowl may not be appropriate pets for young children because they can also spread Salmonella.

See you next issue! Your friend,

Cory SerVaas, M.D.
COPYRIGHT 2000 Benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2000 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:SerVaas, Cory
Publication:Jack & Jill
Date:Sep 1, 2000
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