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HEALTH

More Germans ‘doping’ to enhance workplace performance

While Germany tries to combat doping in sports, drug abuse to boost desk jockey performance in the country is on the rise, according to a new study published by German health insurer DAK this week.

More Germans 'doping' to enhance workplace performance
Photo: DPA

As long-distance drivers on amphetamines or classical musicians on beta-blockers become less-surprising in today’s society, more people in varied industries are resorting to prescription drugs to improve workplace efficiency or simply lift their mood, the study released on Thursday said.

DAK questioned some 3,000 employees between the ages of 20 and 50-years-old and researched some 2.5 million insurance records to find out more about doping in the workplace.

Almost 2 million were found to have already used certain remedies to cope with increasing stress levels at work, while 800,000 people regularly and intentionally used antidepressants or prescriptions meant to treat dementia or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. They often named colleagues, friends, family and the internet as the sources of supply, the study revealed.

“Concentrated, creative and career-minded. The desire to be perfect all the time can’t even be fulfilled with pharmaceuticals,” DAK head Herbert Rebscher said of the results, adding that long-term use carries the risk of addiction.

Four in 10 people said they knew prescriptions meant to fight illness-related memory loss or mood swings can also have an effect for healthy people. Meanwhile, two in 10 people questioned said they considered the benefits of taking performance-enhancing prescription drugs to outweigh the risks and side effects.

The study also showed the differences in doping between men and women. While men preferred efficiency-increasing supplements, their female co-workers often resorted to sedatives.

“Men tend to increase their proficiency, women brighten up their moods,” Rebscher said.

One of the biggest problems is defining legitimate and illegitimate uses of certain drugs. While every fifth employee has had someone recommend performance-enhancing pills without medical need, only one-third of them got the recommendation from a physician.

Rebscher called the study results an “alarm signal,” although workplace doping is not yet a widespread trend due to fears of side effects. But a general increase in pharmaceutical use for ailments like hair-loss, potency and wrinkle reduction will cause the development to “speed up.”

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NATURE

EXPLAINED: How to deal with wasps in Germany

The hot weather in Germany is good news for wasps, but not necessarily for people. Here’s what you need to know if you encounter the stinging critters this summer.

EXPLAINED: How to deal with wasps in Germany

Thanks to the persistently warm and dry weather across Europe this summer, wasp populations are on the rise, with pest controllers in France even dubbing 2022 ‘the year of the wasp’.

The peak of wasp season is still to come, however, as wasps tend to reach their maximum population between September and October. Here’s what you need to know about dealing with the stripy insects in Germany.

Is it illegal to kill wasps in Germany?

In short: yes. There are hundreds of wasp species in Germany, some of which are particularly endangered and are on the so-called “red list” of threatened animal and plant species.

Since they are a protected species, killing the insects is generally prohibited under the Federal Nature Conservation Act, and anyone who gets caught deliberately killing a wasp could face a hefty fine.

In North Rhine-Westphalia and Thuringia, a wasp-killer can face a fine of up to €50,000 while in Saarland, Baden-Württemberg, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the maximum fine is up to €20,000. In the other federal states, catching, injuring or killing wasps can cost up to €5,000.

In the case of a specially protected wasp species such as the gyroscopic or button horn wasp, fines range from €10,000 to €65,000, depending on the state.

Are wasps dangerous?

Though they may be somewhat pesky, biologists and nature activists generally agree that wasps aren’t dangerous, at least to those who are not allergic to their stings. They are typically not aggressive unless threatened and will tend to flee rather than fight.

It would also take at least 50 to 100 stings to actually overdose on wasp venom, but severe allergies and accidents (while running away from a swarm, for example) could be more dangerous.

How do I keep wasps at bay?

There are a few tried and tested tricks you can use to ward off wasps.

Firstly, as wasps are primarily attracted to meat and sweets, you should keep these foods well covered as much as possible.

Wasps don’t like getting wet, so having a water spray bottle on the picnic table can come in very handy for keeping the critters at bay. Don’t go overboard with the spray, though, and don’t be alarmed if the wasp doesn’t move for a while after you’ve given it a dousing. As soon as its wings are dry, the insect will fly off.

READ ALSO: How to deal with fruit flies (and other critters) plaguing your German flat

Distraction tactics also work well: a bowl of overripe fruit – such as grapes – placed at a safe distance can be a good way to keep wasps away from you. 

One homemade deterrent you can try is a lemon cut in half, sprinkled with a few cloves, which is a particularly unpleasant scent for the insects.

How should I react to wasps?

If the uninvited guests do join your barbecue or picnic, you shouldn’t panic. “Take it easy” is the best motto when dealing with the black-and-yellow insects.

You should avoid abrupt movements and not lash out or blow in the direction of the animal as exhaled carbon dioxide makes the normally calm animals aggressive, and do not try to hit them or make any sudden movements.

What if I find a nest?

First of all, keep your distance – ideally at least five metres. Nests can host thousands of wasps and they will become aggressive if they feel threatened.

According to the Species Protection Information of the Berlin Senate Department wasps are subject to general protection and may “only be controlled if there is a reasonable reason to do so.” In other words, finding a wasp nest in your house doesn’t necessarily mean you can call pest control to come and get rid of it. 

The German Nature Conservation Association (NABU) advises those who come across a nest to seek advice, either by getting in contact with them directly or with your local environmental agencies or nature conservation authorities.

What should I do if I get stung?

If you are unlucky enough to get stung by a wasp, the first thing to do is to carefully clean the puncture site. NABU also recommends cooling the sting site and treating it with insect creams which you can get from your local pharmacy.

READ ALSO: Ticks in Germany: How to avoid them and what to do if you get bitten

Alternatively, you can use the old homemade remedy of cutting an onion in half, making an incision so that the juice can escape more easily, and rubbing it into the puncture site. This not only has a cooling effect but can also act as a disinfectant and anti-inflammatory.

For allergy sufferers, however, a wasp sting can be very dangerous. NABU recommends that allergy sufferers always carry emergency medication with them and if in any doubt, go straight to the emergency department of the local hospital.

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