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Dogs Face Special Holiday Health Risk

Chocolate is dangerous for dogs — but that risk is highest at Christmas.

A study in the BMJ’s special Vet Edition warns of a “significant peak” in the risk of chocolate poisoning in dogs over the holidays.

Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, a stimulant similar to caffeine. Humans can handle it, but it’s nasty stuff for our four-legged friends. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate and even seizures.

“Humans process it very quickly, so we can eat chocolate with gay abandon,” P-J Noble, a veterinarian at the Small Animal Teaching Hospital in Liverpool, U.K., and one of the authors of the study, told CBC’s Kas Roussy.

“In dogs, they don’t get rid of it very quickly.  It hangs around and builds up to toxic levels very easily.”

Dogs face special dietary health risk during holidays

Researchers have known for some time that chocolate and dogs don’t mix. But Noble and his team wanted to find out whether dog exposure to chocolate was tied to any of the big holidays — Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day or Halloween.

After reviewing millions of electronic health records from 500 vet clinics in the U.K., they found Christmas beat them all when it came to chocolate exposure.

Santa Claus figurines, Advent calendars, and Christmas tree decorations made of chocolate were high on the doggy list of favourites.

But who can blame Fido for sticking his snout where it doesn’t belong? Dogs like sugar, and when it’s on display it’s hard to resist.

One particular furry friend likely made Santa’s naughty list. The study reports that the dog had ingested six Toblerones and six Terry’s Chocolate Oranges.

“I would feel ill after that,” says Noble.

None of the more than 300 cases of chocolate poisoning reported in this study was considered life-threatening, but too much of a good thing can be bad. When ingested in large amounts, chocolate can be fatal for dogs, especially if it’s of the darker variety, Noble said.

So, Merry Christmas to all, say Noble and his colleagues, “but keep the chocolate away from your dog. Because no one wants to be going to the vet on Christmas Day.”

source: www.cbc.ca


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Owning A Dog Is Good For Your Heart — Study Says What We All Knew

It seems unconditional love from a fluffy, drooling canine is one key to a healthier life — as many people already expected.

A study of more than 3.4-million people revealed that having a dog in the house is linked to living a longer life. The research, published in Scientific Reports by Uppsala University in Sweden, reviewed a national registry of people aged 40 to 80 for up to 12 years. Just over 13 per cent were dog owners.

By evaluating health records, it found that registered dog owners had a lower risk of having heart attacks and other life-threatening conditions. It said owning a dog cuts down the risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 36 per cent for people that live alone.

There is a slightly lower benefit to owning a canine for those who don’t live alone — the risk was cut by only 15 per cent. Researchers even considered other factors such as smoking and body weight to make sure the results were as accurate as possible.

While the study stops short of determining a direct “causal effect” between dog ownership and lower heart disease, it indicates that dog owners may have better health because they stay active by walking their pets, even in bad weather.

A new study says owning a dog can lower chances of developing heart problems.

It adds that having a fluffy friend could also help ease feelings of isolation, depression and stress.

“Dog ownership is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease in single households and with a reduced risk of cardiovascular and all-cause death in the general population,” the study concludes.

And it’s just one of many studies that have come to a similar conclusion about the health benefits of owning a dog.

Earlier this year, a study found that seniors who own a dog spend an average of 22 more minutes per day staying active and take an additional 2,760 steps per day.

Dogs have also been found to improve mental health in children, and help soothe stress for travellers nervous about their flight and students during exams.

— With files from Global News reporter Tania Kohut

By Maham Abedi   National Online Journalist, Breaking News    November 17, 2017
source: Global News


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Women are twice as likely to suffer from insomnia than men. This is mostly due to the hormonal changes that women often experience.

  • 40% of people who are rejected in a romantic relationship slip into clinical depression.

  • Dogs can see sadness in humans and often attempt to make their owners happy by initiating cuddling.

  • Having sex only 3 times a week, has proven to make you look 5-7 years younger.

~ Happy Friday!~


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Rage Disorder Linked To Common Parasite Carried By 30% of People

Around 30% of people are thought to carry the parasite often caught from a common domestic pet.

People with impulsive anger problems could have a parasite in their brain, a new study suggests.

Those who continually display behaviours like road-rage could be infected with a common parasite rather than having a psychological disorder.

Around 30% of people are thought to carry the toxoplasma gondii parasite — it is often present in, and caught from, cat faeces.

Professor Emil Coccaro, who led the research said:

“Our work suggests that latent infection with the toxoplasma gondii parasite may change brain chemistry in a fashion that increases the risk of aggressive behavior.
However, we do not know if this relationship is causal, and not everyone that tests positive for toxoplasmosis will have aggression issues.”

The conclusions come from a study of 358 adults.

The results showed that people with ‘intermittent explosive disorder’ (that’s rage issues to you and me!) were twice as likely to test positive for the toxoplasma gondii parasite in comparison to a healthy control group (22% versus 9%).

Across all the people in the study, those who tested positive for the toxoplasma gondii parasite had significantly higher levels of aggression and anger.

Dr Royce Lee, a study co-author, said:

“Correlation is not causation, and this is definitely not a sign that people should get rid of their cats.
We don’t yet understand the mechanisms involved–it could be an increased inflammatory response, direct brain modulation by the parasite, or even reverse causation where aggressive individuals tend to have more cats or eat more undercooked meat.
Our study signals the need for more research and more evidence in humans.

Professor Coccaro said:

“It will take experimental studies to see if treating a latent toxoplasmosis infection with medication reduces aggressiveness.
If we can learn more, it could provide rational to treat IED in toxoplasmosis-positive patients by first treating the latent infection.”

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Coccaro et al., 2016).

source: PsyBlog


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Believing you’ve slept well, even when you haven’t, improves performance.

  • Drinking cold water actually causes your body to burn calories, as it uses energy to warm it up to body temperature.

 

  • When feeling depressed, do some cleaning.

  • About 80% of all cats are infected with Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that can cause depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia in humans.

Happy Friday!
 source:   factualfacts.com   https://twitter.com/Fact   @Fact


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Cat Parasite May Be Tied to Human Mental Disorders

WebMD News from HealthDay

June 8, 2015 – Could a common cat parasite put people with a weakened immune system at risk for schizophrenia and other types of mental illness?

CBS News reports that new research suggests such a possible link, but doesn’t prove a cause-and-effect connection.

More than 60 million people in the United States have the Toxoplasma gondiiparasite, but most never experience any symptoms. But in people with a weakened immune system, T. gondii can cause an illness called toxoplasmosis and potentially lead to miscarriages and fetal problems in pregnant women, long-lasting flu-like illness, blindness and even death, CBS News reported.

Previous research had linked T. gondii with schiziophrenia and bipolar disorder, and two recent studies provide further possible evidence of a connection between the parasite and mental illness, the news network said.

In a paper published in the journal Schizophrenia Research, investigators analyzed three previous studies and found that exposure to cats during childhood may be a risk factor for mental disorders late in life, CBS News reported.

“Cat ownership in childhood has now been reported in three studies to be significantly more common in families in which the child is later diagnosed with schizophrenia or another serious mental illness,” E. Fuller Torrey, of the Stanley Medical Research Institute, and Dr. Robert Yolken, of Stanley Laboratory of Developmental Neurovirology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a news release.

child & cat

In a second paper, researchers analyzed 50 published studies and found a potential link between T. gondii and mental disorders. They saw that people infected with the parasite had a nearly two times increased risk of developing schizophrenia. The researchers also found a possible association between T. gondii and addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorders, CBS News reported.

“In schizophrenia, the evidence of an association with T. gondii is overwhelming,” A.L. Sutterland, who’s with the Department of Psychiatry at the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam, Holland, and colleagues said in a press release, CBS News reported. “These findings may give further clues about how T. gondii infection can possibly [alter] the risk of specific psychiatric disorders.”

Their study was published in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica.

“Children can be protected by keeping their cat exclusively indoors and always covering the sandbox when not in use,” Torrey told CBS News in an email.

Change your cat’s litter box daily and avoid feeding cats raw or undercooked meat, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises. When changing the litter box, it’s best to wear disposable gloves and wash hands thoroughly with soap and water afterwards. Pregnant women should not clean litter boxes.

source: WebMD


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Cat and dog flea treatments can be toxic to pets, humans

CBC Marketplace investigates risks to humans and pets from popular pet products

By Megan Griffith-Greene / Marketplace, CBC News Dec 05, 2014 

CBC Marketplace has discovered that more than 2,000 animals are reported to have died in North America since 2008 as a result of exposure to flea and tick treatment products, which can contain dangerous chemicals that kill fleas but can also harm pets.

Some researchers are also concerned that pesticide exposures from flea treatments could have consequences for humans, especially small children.

“It’s one of those things that is incredibly unfair — it’s unfair for families, it’s unfair for their pets, it’s unfair for kids. And the truth is, there are better options,” public health scientist Miriam Rotkin-Ellman told Marketplace co-host Erica Johnson.

“We don’t need to put our kids at risk, don’t need to put our families at risk, our pets at risk.”

According to information Marketplace obtained from the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA), Health Canada received 4,726 incident reports for cats and dogs related to topical flea treatments between 2009 and 2013.

Pesticides in flea collars ‘can get on the bedding, it can get on kids’ hands, it can go all sorts of places,’ public health scientist Miriam Rotkin-Ellman told Marketplace co-host Erica Johnson.

Health Canada receives reports about incidents related to Canadian products used domestically and in the United States. Almost two thirds (62 per cent) of these reports were for animals in Canada.

The deaths included 1,188 cats and 872 dogs, most of them in the United States.

Flea treatments can include collars, sprays, powder, shampoos and “spot-on” treatments, where pet owners dab a small amount of chemical directly onto the animal’s fur. Some of the treatments contain pesticides that target the nervous systems of fleas and ticks.

Spot-on treatments are responsible for approximately 80 per cent of the incidents, according to the PMRA. Most of the reports involve over-the-counter treatments.

Marketplace also investigated how pesticides in flea collars can transfer from the collar to elsewhere in the home, which could raise special concerns for families with small children.

“There’s mounting evidence that pesticides can be really harmful for kids at low levels,”
says Rotkin-Ellman.
“When pesticides are on pets, they come into contact with kids all the time.”

The investigation, “Paws for Concern,” aired Friday, Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. (8:30 p.m. NT) on CBC Television. The show also tested dog harnesses, evaluating popular brands on the market to see if they actually work in an accident.

CBC Marketplace: Pet Safety – Paws for Concern

child & cat

Dangers to small pets

Pet owners need to be extremely careful in how they choose flea treatments and how they use them on their pets, says Dr. Whitney Chin, a London, Ont.-based veterinarian.

Dr. Chin says one chemical common in over-the-counter dog treatments — permethrin — is of particular concern. Using too much of the chemical can be dangerous, and it is highly toxic to cats.

“I’ve seen it far too many times, unfortunately,” Dr. Chin says.

Some dog flea treatments contain chemicals that are highly toxic to cats. “People should be aware,” says veterinarian Dr. Whitney Chin. (Geoff Wiggins)

“Some people think, A cat is a small dog and I’ll just use a little dose,” Dr. Chin says.

Cats can also be inadvertently exposed if a dog in the home is treated with a product and “the dog or cat socialize, share the same bedding or if the cat grooms the dog.”

Chemicals transferred in this way can be enough to seriously harm a cat, he says.

According to the website of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), “Toxicity [to cats] from dog flea and tick products is a medical emergency.”

Symptoms of exposure can include uncontrollable shaking, and the CVMA advises taking affected animals to a vet immediately. “The longer your cat is left to shake, the greater the chance of permanent damage (death included).”

Dr. Chin advises talking to your veterinarian before choosing a treatment product, and says that not all products on the market are dangerous.

New labelling rules

New labelling rules came into effect in Canada in 2012, requiring some treatments for dogs to show a clear warning label that the product can be toxic to cats.

However, products manufactured before the new rules were introduced were not recalled and may still be on the market.

Marketplace found treatments on store shelves in fall 2014 that did not have the new labels. Health Canada says it will investigate these cases.

Dr. Chin is concerned that the new warning labels do not go far enough and should more prominently alert pet owners to the dangers of poisoning.

Pet store staff may not always tell people who have both dogs and cats about the risks of exposure to both animals.

“People should be aware,” Dr. Chin says.

Human health concerns

Some researchers are concerned that pesticides in flea collars can also pose a risk to people, even when used properly.

Rotkin-Ellman at the U.S. Natural Resources Defense Council tested pets to see how much pesticide from flea collars the rest of us may be exposed to.

“Flea collars are designed to release a toxic substance that kills fleas on the pet’s fur,” she says. However, she says, “it also can get on the bedding, it can get on kids’ hands, it can go all sorts of places.”

Her team tested pesticide residues left on fur after monitoring a pet that wore a flea collar for three days.

“We found much higher levels than we expected,” she says.

The team found that kids could be exposed to higher levels than are considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency. This was a particular concern for small children, who could be exposed to chemicals absorbed through their skin, or if they put their hands in their mouths.

Rotkin-Ellman says that exposure to the types of pesticides used in flea collars may be linked to behavioural problems, cognitive delay and problems with motor development.

She advises people who are concerned about pesticide exposure that there are other ways to control fleas, including bathing your pet and washing bedding regularly.

Based on a Marketplace investigation by Tiffany Foxcroft and Tyana Grundig

source: www.cbc.ca


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Pets a Boon for the Human Heart, Cardiologists Say

American Heart Association cites stress-busting, dog-walking benefits of companion animals
WebMD News from HealthDay   By Robert Preidt   HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, May 9 (HealthDay News) – That four-legged friend of yours may be more than a companion – he also may be boosting your heart health, experts say.

An official statement released Thursday by the American Heart Association says there is evidence that having a pet, particularly a dog, may lower your risk of heart disease.

Cardiology specialists weren’t all that surprised.

“Pets really might be man’s best friend,” said Barbara George, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Lifestyle Medicine at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.

“Studies have shown people who own pets, particularly dogs, have lower blood pressure, increased mood-related brain chemicals, better cholesterol numbers, lower weight and improved stress response,” George said.

Members of the American Heart Association (AHA) committee that wrote the statement reviewed data from an array of relevant studies. They found that pet ownership appears to be associated with a reduction in heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels and obesity – and improved survival among people with heart disease.


Dog ownership in particular may help reduce heart risk, the statement said. People with dogs may get more exercise because they take their dogs for walks. A study of more than 5,200 adults found that dog owners did more walking and physical activity than those who didn’t own dogs, and that dog owners were 54 percent more likely to get the recommended level of physical activity.

“Walking your dog is a healthy chore; it is a great way to exercise without thinking about it,” said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, clinical associate professor in the department of medicine at the Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. “Pet owners increase their physical activity simply by walking their dogs.”

Pets can also have a positive effect on the body’s reactions to stress, according to the AHA. George agreed, saying pets can be “a tool for weight loss, socialization, calming our nerves and easing anxiety and depression.”

The AHA stressed, however, that the studies they reviewed cannot prove that owning a pet directly reduces heart disease risk.

“It may be simply that healthier people are the ones that have pets, not that having a pet actually leads to or causes reduction in cardiovascular risk,” statement committee chairman Dr. Glenn Levine, a professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said in an AHA news release.

“There probably is an association between pet ownership and decreased cardiovascular risk,” he said. “What’s less clear is whether the act of adopting or acquiring a pet could lead to a reduction in cardiovascular risk in those with pre-existing disease. Further research, including better quality studies, is needed to more definitively answer this question.”

In the meantime, George said, humans can benefit from the mental and physical rewards of furry companions. “Pets tug at our heartstrings,” she said. “But they also improve our health – both mental and physical – helping us to live longer and happier lives.”

The AHA statement was published online May 9 in the journal Circulation.

source: webmd.com   HealthDay


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Are You Watering Your Garden With BPA and Toxic Chemicals?

by Jill Richardson, via AlterNet.org
What says summer like running through the sprinkler, eating a homegrown tomato off the vine, or drinking right from the garden hose? Unfortunately, those summer experiences might come with toxic chemicals like lead, bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates, and even flame retardants. That’s what the Ecology Center found out when it tested a number of different common garden products recently.
The finding that your hose might be the most dangerous tool in your garden was not necessarily what the Ecology Center expected to find.
“We’ve been looking at a wide range of products where there is a credible connection to having human exposure and we know that consumer products are a very significant source of exposure to many of these chemicals,” explained John Gearhart, the Ecology Center’s research director. “We’ve looked at everything from baby products to toys to things as big as vehicles and building materials.”
They had not yet examined garden products, and a few people had asked about them. “We started off trying to do a broader assessment and we did screen a range of products, but overwhelmingly we found that the garden hoses were of most concern.”
What is so dangerous about an innocent-looking hose? To start, one in three of the hoses tested had levels of lead that exceeded drinking water standards. And water sampled from one hose was 18 times the levels allowed in drinking water! Only there is nothing illegal about this, because hoses are not regulated by the same laws that limit lead leached by plumbing fixtures into drinking water. (Since, you know, no one is ever going to drink out of a hose or use it to water plants they might eat.) Brass, often used in plumbing fixtures, is an alloy that can contain up to 8 percent lead. In addition to its uses in brass fixtures, lead is also sometimes used as stabilizers or pigments, particularly in yellow or green hoses. Lead is a neurotoxin and children are more vulnerable to lead poisoning than adults.

The good news is that the state of California took action against three major manufacturers of water hoses over lead content in their products in 2003 and settled in 2004. Under the settlement, the companies Teckni-Plex, Inc.; Plastic Specialties and Technologies, Inc. Teknor Apex Company; and Flexon Industries Corporation were to limit the lead content in their products.

While the Ecology Center did not test any of these brands for lead leaching, presumably gardeners who purchased their hoses since 2007, when the settlement terms fully took effect, can skip worrying about lead – and instead only worry about other chemicals like BPA and phthalates.
For anyone familiar with polyvinyl chloride (PVC), nicknamed “poison plastic,” it should come as no surprise that PVC hoses contain phthalates and leach them into the hose water. According to Gearhart “most vinyl hoses are going to have phthalate plasticizers in them.” Phthalates, used as plasticizers, are endocrine disruptors, and some studies link them to liver cancer. Levels of one phthalate, DEHP, was found in the hose water at a rate of four times the amount permitted in drinking water. Several phthalates have been banned in children’s toys, but they are still used in garden hoses and garden gloves.
Another concern found was BPA, an endocrine disruptor that has gotten a lot of publicity recently due to campaigns to ban it from use in baby bottles and sippy cups. Nowadays, consumers have wised up, and many plastic water bottles are marketed as “BPA-free.” The hose industry has faced no such scrutiny, it seems. This endocrine-disrupting chemical was found at a level 20 times higher than what is considered a safe amount in drinking water by the National Science Foundation.


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Are ‘Cat Ladies’ More Likely to Attempt Suicide?

By Alexandra Sifferlin       

Women who are infected with the common cat parasite Toxoplasma gondii may be more vulnerable to suicide, a new study finds, adding to the evidence that T. gondii or Toxo, as the bug is known, may cause subtle changes in the human brain that lead to personality changes and even mental illness.
The parasite is excreted in cat feces — which is why pregnant women are advised not to change the litter box — but it also spreads through undercooked meat and unwashed vegetables. Pregnant women who become infected with T. gondii can pass it onto their fetus, possibly causing brain damage or stillbirth. Now the new study finds that expectant mothers who have the infection, called toxoplasmosis, may themselves be at higher risk of suicide.
The finding comes from a study of 45,788 Danish women who gave birth between May 15, 1992, and January 15, 1995. University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers tested the women’s babies for T. gondii antibodies, which the infants could only have acquired from their mothers, and compared infection rates to the women’s suicide rates logged in the Danish health registry. The team also cross-checked the mental health registry to find out if any of the women had been previously diagnosed with mental illness.

They found that women who were infected with T. gondii were one-and-a-half times more likely to attempt suicide than uninfected women. The higher the levels of T. gondii antibodies found, the higher the suicide risk. They were also more likely to try to commit suicide violently, with a gun, sharp object or by jumping. When the researchers took into account women’s previous mental illness, they found that those who had toxoplasmosis were more likely to attempt suicide than those who had been mentally ill.

“We can’t say with certainty that T. gondii caused the women to try to kill themselves, but we did find a predictive association between the infection and suicide attempts later in life that warrants additional studies,” lead study author Dr. Teodor T. Postolache, an associate professor of psychiatry and director of the Mood and Anxiety Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said in a statement.

The findings fall in line with previous studies on T. gondii infection in humans. (In animals also, the parasite has been shown to subvert brain chemistry and manipulate behavior, sometimes dangerously.) A Czech scientist, Jaroslav Flegr, has studied T. gondii‘s effect on human personality and mental illness for decades, as detailed in a lengthy article in The Atlantic in March. The bug resides in about one-third of the world’s population (in the U.S., 10% to 20% are infected), but it usually doesn’t cause any noticeable effects — healthy people fight off the flu-like symptoms of an initial infection, after which the parasite lies dormant in the brain. “[O]r at least that’s the standard medical wisdom,” wrote Kathleen McAuliffe in The Atlantic:

If Flegr is right, the “latent” parasite may be quietly tweaking the connections between our neurons, changing our response to frightening situations, our trust in others, how outgoing we are, and even our preference for certain scents. And that’s not all. He also believes that the organism contributes to car crashes, suicides, and mental disorders such as schizophrenia. When you add up all the different ways it can harm us, says Flegr, “Toxoplasma might even kill as many people as malaria, or at least a million people a year.”

Still, Flegr acknowledged that the effects of the parasite on personality were “very subtle” and that the “vast majority” of people wouldn’t even know they were infected. As for whether T. gondii infection could be used to predict self-harm or the odds of a car crash, Stanford neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky told McAuliffe: “[I]’m not too worried, in that the effects on humans are not gigantic. If you want to reduce serious car accidents, and you had to choose between curing people of Toxo infections versus getting people not to drive drunk or while texting, go for the latter in terms of impact.”

In the new study, researchers couldn’t establish that T. gondii infection caused increased risk of suicide, only that it was associated. And they’re not sure exactly why the link exists. “Is the suicide attempt a direct effect of the parasite on the function of the brain or an exaggerated immune response induced by the parasite affecting the brain? We do not know. In fact, we have not excluded reverse causality as there might be risk factors for suicidal behavior that also make people more susceptible to infection with T. gondii,” said Postolache in the statement.

The authors call for further studies focusing on the biological mechanisms of the parasite and how it may affect people’s suicide risk and other personality factors. If the findings hold up, perhaps T. gondii infection could be used to help prevent some of the 10 million suicide attempts that occur each year. “If we can identify a causal relationship, we may be able to predict those at increased risk for attempting suicide and find ways to intervene and offer treatment,” Postolache said.
In the meantime, people should cook their meat through, wash their vegetables and give their kitchen knives a good scrubbing to avoid spreading or contracting the parasite.
The study was published online in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

source: Time