- Annual 4-H horse show moving to Brazos County Expo Complex for five years
- ‘Kissing bug’ on the rise: Everything you need to know about dangerous infection
Annual 4-H horse show moving to Brazos County Expo Complex for five years
By Kenny Wiley
The annual Texas State 4-H Horse Show will be at the Brazos County Expo Complex for five years beginning next summer after a 35-year run at the Taylor County Exposition in Abilene.
The Brazos County Expo won the bid to host the state show from 2019-2023, beginning July 21-27 of next year. Officials from AgriLife and Brazos County will make the formal announcement in a news conference at the Expo at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
The move was the result of a competitive bidding process, said Parr Rosson, interim director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, the educational outreach agency of the Texas A&M University System that administers the Texas 4-H Youth Development Program.
“The city of Abilene and the Taylor County Exposition have graciously hosted the show for the past 35 years,” Rosson said. “We deeply appreciate their efforts and the hospitality they have shown. The decision to move the event was based on competitive bidding.”
Brazos County Expo General Manager Carl Kolbe called the move a great boost for the facility and for the local economy.
“Bringing in these kids, their families, and county extension agents from across the state will provide an added revenue source for our local hotels and restaurants as well,” Kolbe said.
In 2017, the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated an economic impact of almost $900,000 from the show. More than 350 4-H youth participated in the 2017 event, traveling with their parents, for a hotel occupancy of 1,416 total nights of room usage.
“Thanks to the recent Expo expansion, which was completed in 2017, we were able to competitively bid for the State 4-H Horse Show this year,” Kolbe said. “That expansion gives us the flexibility to provide two covered arenas, one covered warm-up area, plus three stall barns with up to 750 stalls.”
One of those stall barns is multi-use and can be converted to a warm-up area or an arena, Kolbe explained.
“That space, and ability to be flexible with the way the spaces are used, will allow us to comfortably host a show of this magnitude, plus many others in the future.”
Courtney Dodd, Texas 4-H Youth Development Program leader, called the Texas State 4-H Horse Show the pinnacle of the 4-H horse project and said it offers many opportunities to youth participants, including up to 40 classes of competition, educational programs, scholarships and college preparation opportunities.
“The show is held every summer, and competitors must qualify through their district in order to compete in events such as Western pleasure, working cow horse, hunter under saddle, barrel racing and more,” she said.
Jennifer Zoller, AgriLife Extension horse specialist, and Chelsie Huseman, AgriLife Extension horse program specialist, manage the week-long show along with numerous county extension agents and volunteers.
“The State 4-H Horse show is supported by sponsors and donors who generously provide monetary donations, services and awards,” Dodd said. “Thanks to this generous support, we were able to implement a division scholarship program that offers scholarships for college to the highest-placing senior in each of the six major divisions.”
Dodd said Texas 4-H strives to provide horse show participants with the best possible educational and positive competitive experience.
“We feel the move to the Brazos County Expo site will allow us to expand on some existing programs and activities as well as offer new ones,” she said. “In 4-H our motto is to make the best better, and we hope to do that with the State 4-H Horse Show at its new venue.”
‘Kissing bug’ on the rise: Everything you need to know about dangerous infection
By Dawn Jorgenson
The name sounds cute, but there is nothing romantic about the “kissing bug.”
The blood-sucking triatomine bugs carry a parasite that can infect people with Chagas’ disease, which can lead to chronic heart disease in about one-third of those infected, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), and the bugs are making their mark in the United States.
AHA said Chagas’ disease has spread to areas where it was not traditionally seen, including the United States, where it is estimated that 300,000 people are currently living with the disease. In fact, Chagas’ disease is responsible for more than seven times as many disability-adjusted life-years lost as malaria.
Symptoms of Chagas’ disease include:
- Body aches
- A rash at the site where the parasite entered the body
- Swelling around the eyelids
If that’s not enough to make you quiver, there’s more.
Why is it called a “kissing bug”?
After injecting a numbing agent in their saliva, the nocturnal bug typically feeds for 20 to 30 minutes — often as you sleep — near the mouth or eyes, and the host is completely unaware they’re being bitten.
The parasite — Trypanosoma cruzi, or T cruzi — is transmitted when feces from the “kissing bug” enters the skin through a bite or in the eye. The disease can also be passed through contaminated drink or food, from mother to fetus and through blood transfusions or organ transplants.
In some, the saliva may cause an allergic reaction, leading to severe redness, itching, swelling, welts, hives or, in rare cases, anaphylactic shock.
To make matters worse, those who contract the disease can develop heart disease, including:
- Heart failure
- Life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias
- Cardiac arrest
Identifying “kissing bugs”
So what should you be on the lookout for? Most of the bugs, which range from about 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches in length, have a very characteristic band around the edge of the body that is striped with orange or red markings, Texas A&M University Agriculture and Life Sciences Texas Chagas Task Force said. However, since there are 11 different species of the kissing bug, some take on different traits.
Where are the bugs?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said because indoor structures in the U.S. are built with plastered walls and sealed entryways, the kissing bugs rarely infest indoor areas of homes.
So where are the bugs typically found?
- Beneath porches
- Between rocky structures
- Under concrete
- In rock, wood and brush piles or beneath bark
- Rodent nests or animal burrows
- Outdoor dog houses or kennels
- Chicken coops or houses
If found inside, they are likely to be:
- Near pet resting areas
- In areas of rodent infestation
- In and around beds and bedrooms, especially under or near mattresses or night stands
Combating the “kissing bug” and Chagas’ disease
Dr. Michael Merchant, with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extensions Service, said the bugs are nocturnal and may be attracted to nighttime lights, therefore turning them off around houses and kennels is recommended. It should be noted that, it will not ensure the bugs will not be able to make way into homes.
Other ways to be vigilant in keeping your home and family safe from the “kissing bug” include:
- Seal any gaps or cracks in your home, including around any openings for utility lines, plumping pipes and cables
- Replace any damaged weather stripping
- Repair damaged screens on windows, attic vents and crawlspace vents
- Make sure exterior doors are tightly closed
- Clean animal beds regularly
- Inspect your pets when they come inside the home from outside
- Move piles of wood, rocks and leaves away from the home
Should someone find a kissing bug, it’s imperative that it not be touched, as the parasite occurs in the feces, and its body may be contaminated. Instead, use a small plastic bag or a glove.
The AHA said if caught early, an infection can be cured with medications that have a 60 percent to 90 percent success rate.
“Early detection of Chagas’ disease is critical, allowing prompt initiation of therapy when the evidence for cure is strong,” said Dr. Caryn Bern, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California in San Francisco.
Anyone who suspects they may have Chagas’ disease should consult a health care provider.
Graham Media Group 2018