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Halloween Safety
Trick-or-treating should be fun for people of all ages. The Doctors share tips for a happy and healthy Halloween!

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• Parents should examine their kids' treats for potential choking hazards and tampering.
Don't eat any candy unless it's still in the manufacturer's wrapper.
Only eat homemade treats if you know and trust the person who made them.
Use reflective tape to make sure your kids are visible as it gets dark.
Use flashlights while trick-or-treating.

Pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears reveals the scariest Halloween hazard, and shows you how to keep your kids safe.

More great tips for a safe Halloween!

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Killer Fungus
Cryptococcus gattii, or C. gatti, is a potentially deadly fungus that is spreading in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. While the fungus is still rare, it can be fatal to those who are infected by it. Danielle, an avid hiker from Kirkland, Washington, asks how she would know if she came in contact with the fungus.

"As is scary with a lot of infectious diseases, you don't know," E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork says. "This is a fungus that's airborne. It can be transported on tires and on shoes. You won't know [if you've come in contact with the fungus], and that's what's actually quite interesting. Experts are not 100 percent sure how people are contracting the fungus."

C. gatti lives in soil and trees but does not spread from person to person, so you cannot catch it in an enclosed area, such as an airplane. Symptoms of an infection include excessive fatigue, chest pains, a persistent cough, fever, weight loss and difficulty breathing.

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"If you're out hiking, try not to disturb the soil, which makes a lot of dust," pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears says, "because you would catch it from inhaling the spores."

If you are an otherwise healthy person and begin to experience symptoms associated with C. gatti, see a doctor, because an anti-fungal treatment is available. If left untreated, it can lead to meningitis.

Dr. Travis adds that most experts suggest not to panic about contracting a fungal infection. "You're more likely to get hurt in the drive to the hike, than get this fungus," he says. "It's very rare, and the expectation is that it's probably going to peter out."


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OAD 10/26/10