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Study Claims Lean Beef Can Reduce Hypertension

Study Claims Lean Beef Can Reduce Hypertension

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Red meat to lower your blood pressure? That’s what Penn State researchers say, provided that it’s lean beef you’re eating.The other important factor is that this protein source is part of the larger DASH-diet plan, which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.Researcher Penny M. Kris-Etherton says DASH features plenty of fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, and with the inclusion of lean beef, it becomes the BOLD+diet (Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet Plus additional protein).In order to maintain a heart-healthy diet to lower blood pressure, Kris-Etherton recommends the BOLD+diet, which includes 5.4 ounces of lean beef daily. This proved most effective compared to other diets that had a smaller daily portion of meat.A good rule of thumb to find lean or extra lean beef is shopping for meat that has round, chuck or loin in its name.
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Georgia Education Officials Say Baked Goods Should be Sold in School

Georgia Education Officials Say Baked Goods Should be Sold in School

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — Education officials in Georgia want to give schools more opportunities to sell baked goods and other foods that don’t meet national guidelines championed by First Lady Michelle Obama.
The Georgia state Board of Education, which calls new federal nutrition standards an “overreach,” wants to give schools 30 days per school year to sell sweets or fast food during fundraisers.
Even though schools have begun serving lunches with more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, some Georgia school officials are saying they depend on selling items like candy bars and baked goods to raise money for clubs, sports, and other programs.
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Busiest Emergency Rooms Have Lowest Death Rates, Study Finds

Busiest Emergency Rooms Have Lowest Death Rates, Study Finds

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — New research suggests that the busier the emergency room, the better your chances of survival.
While it may seem like chaos at a large, busy hospital would increase the risk of error, a University of Michigan study found that practice makes perfect, and that death rates at the nation’s busiest emergency rooms are 10% lower than in the calmest.And the numbers aren’t just lower for gunshot and stab wounds– researchers say death rates were 26% lower for sepsis patients and 22% lower for lung failure patients.
Overall, the study finds that if all emergency room patients were treated at the busiest hospitals, 24,000 fewer people would die every year.
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B Robert’s Foods Recalls 200 Pounds of Grilled Chicken

B Robert’s Foods Recalls 200 Pounds of Grilled Chicken

iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — A North Carolina company is recalling about 200 pounds of grilled chicken entrees because they were not properly labeled.
B Robert’s Foods, based in Charlotte, says the packages contain milk, but that was not declared on the label.
The top label of the 10-ounce packages reads “All Natural Grilled Chicken Strips,” and the bottom label says “Grilled Chicken Breast with Lemon Spaghettini.”
The product was distributed in Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
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FDA Urges Consumers to Keep Away from Powdered Caffeine Products

FDA Urges Consumers to Keep Away from Powdered Caffeine Products

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned consumers to avoid powdered pure caffeine products which they say can cause accidental overdose.The FDA says it is aware of “at least one death of a teenager who used these products.” The products are nearly 100 percent caffeine, a single teaspoon of which is about the same amount in 25 cups of coffee.Some of the side effects of caffeine overdose include erratic heartbeat, seizures and death. The FDA also urges parents to be aware that young people may be interested in these products without realizing the danger of ingesting them.
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AIDS Conference to Continue Out of Respect for Researchers Lost on MH 17

AIDS Conference to Continue Out of Respect for Researchers Lost on MH 17

BananaStock/Thinkstock(MELBOURNE, Australia) — The day after Malaysia Flight MH 17 was shot down in Ukraine, members of the tight knit HIV/AIDS community are mourning the loss of roughly 100 HIV/AIDS researchers, who were killed en route to the International Aids Society conference in Melbourne, Australia.Despite the immense toll, IAS conference officials said in a statement the conference would continue, “in recognition of our colleagues’ dedication to the fight against HIV/AIDS.”Although the IAS did not confirm the number of attendees on the plane, President Obama told reporters Friday that nearly 100 AIDS/HIV researchers and scientists were on board MH 17 when it was shot down.While the conference will continue, attendees will have “opportunities to reflect and remember those we have lost,” officials said.Nobel laureate Dr. Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, co-discoverer of the AIDS virus and president of the International AIDS Society, told reporters the conference would continue out of respect for those who were killed.“We know that it’s really what they would like us to do,” Barre-Sinoussi told reporters.Among the passengers aboard MH 17 was Dr. Joep Lange, a former president of the IAS from the Netherlands, who has been a leading expert in the field of HIV/AIDS since the 1980s.Chris Beyrer, IAS president-elect, told reporters Thursday if Lange perished on the flight “then the HIV/AIDS movement has truly lost a giant.”“In this incredible sad and sensitive time, the IAS stands with its international family and sends condolences to the loved ones of those who have been lost in this tragedy,” Beyrer told reporters in Melbourne, Australia.Lange’s partner, HIV/AIDS researcher Jacqueline van Tongeren, was also on board the downed plane.Lange’s longtime friend and colleague, Dr. Michael Merson, said the Dutch scientist was one of the first to use antiretroviral drugs to treat HIV/AIDS and became an expert in the treatment.“He really was very special and if you were to come up with the leaders in AIDS [since] the pandemic began in 1981,” said Merson, who is the director of the Duke Global Health Institute. “You’d put him among the top five leaders.”Merson said in the 22 years he knew Lange, the scientist had started numerous initiatives to combat the HIV/AIDS in Europe and Africa. After drugs to control HIV started to gain traction in the mid 1990s, Lange focused his efforts on global health initiatives to get the medication to anyone who needed it.”His second home was Africa, he worked in east Africa and Asia and Latin America,” said Merson. “He would stay it like it is. He was an outstanding scientists and fierce advocate.”Merson said he has no doubt that Lange’s work will continue.“There’s no questions there will be loss and there will be some things that slow down,” said Merson. “But he has great colleagues and dedicated scientists and researchers that are in his institute in Amsterdam. He knows that they want him to continue.”World Health Organization spokesperson Glenn Thomas was also en route to the conference on MH 17.“His twin sister says he died doing what he loved,” WHO said in a statement. “Glenn will be remembered for his ready laugh and his passion for public health.”Not all of the researchers on board have been named, but the tight-knit HIV/AIDS research community around the world is mourning the loss. The Thomas Street Health Center in Houston, Texas, observed a moment of silence for the fallen researchers. And Peter Staley, a long time AIDS/HIV activist, wrote on twitter that the missile had “ripped a hole through the heart of the international AIDS community.”
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What Is Chikungunya?

What Is Chikungunya?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Now that the first locally-acquired cases of Chikungunya have been reported in Florida, you’re probably wondering what it is and why you should care.
Here’s a break down of the mosquito-borne virus:
Why You Might Not Have Heard of ItThe chikungunya virus is new to the Americas, though it’s long been found in Asia, Africa and Europe. It was discovered in the Caribbean islands late last year, and has since made its way to the continental United States by way of mosquito-bitten travelers returning from vacation.Before July 15, there were 357 reported cases of chikungunya in the United States, including 121 in Puerto Rico, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though the Puerto Ricans contracted chikungunya locally, every other case was acquired outside the U.S.The Florida Department of Health reported Wednesday that 81 residents had contracted chikungunya while traveling to the Caribbean. And Thursday, two people who hadn’t traveled were diagnosed with the illness. This means that local mosquitos are spreading the virus.Chikungunya is not spread person-to-person, but rather person-to-mosquito-to-person.Why You Want to Avoid ItAshley Manning, one of a dozen people in Georgia who contracted the virus while traveling, called the symptoms “fiercely unpleasant.” She said her fever reached 103 degrees and her joint pain was excruciating.“I just thought I wasn’t going to be able to walk, like I was going to constantly have these pains,” Manning told ABC News affiliate WFTV in Atlanta. “My joints were hurting really bad and I was like getting really out of breath and like having a fever.”Chikungunya’s most common symptoms are fever and joint pain, according to the CDC. But it can also cause headaches, muscle pain and a rash. It isn’t fatal, but it can resemble dengue fever, another mosquito-borne virus.It takes up to a week for symptoms to appear after a person has been bitten, according to the CDC. Most people feel better in about a week, but some experience joint pain for several months.How You Can Protect YourselfIn Florida, residents have been advised to drain standing water. The mosquitos that carry chikungunya lay eggs in small water containers and bite during the daytime. To keep mosquitos outdoors, the state health department recommends repairing broken screens on windows and doors.Residents also have been advised to wear long sleeves and pants outdoors and wear insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon, eucalyptus and IR3535, according to the Florida Department of health.
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Mother and Baby Beat Odds to Survive Cancer, Heart Defect

Mother and Baby Beat Odds to Survive Cancer, Heart Defect

iStock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) — Riki Graves seemed to have everything when she woke up on her 38th birthday in September 2013. She was eight weeks pregnant with her second child, in the best shape of her life and happier than ever. But later than day, she learned that a lump in her breast was cancerous.Worse news would come at her 20-week ultrasound, when she found out that her baby girl would be born with life-threatening heart defects — if she survived the pregnancy.“It was really scary,” said Graves, 38. She called her husband sobbing. “I could barely drive myself home.”Graves remembered the anxious hospital visits that followed and how she knew the tests weren’t going well even before the doctors told her so. The heartbeats she heard on the machine didn’t sound right, she said. They sounded “squishy.”“She was safe as long as she was inside me because my heart could pump for her, but her heart was getting worse and worse,” Graves said. “They weren’t sure if she was going to survive the pregnancy.”The family moved from Corpus Christi, Texas, to Houston in March to be close to two hospitals: Texas Children’s Hospital, where doctors monitored the fetus’s heart condition and planned to operate as soon as the little girl was born, and MD Anderson Cancer Center, where Graves had already undergone a lumpectomy and planned to have radiation therapy after the birth.Baby Juliana Graves was delivered by C-section April 9, one month early.“When they delivered her, she grabbed the doctor’s coat,” Graves said. “That’s how I knew she was going to be a fighter.”Doctors whisked Juliana away to evaluate her and soon realized that her heart was inoperable, according to Dr. William Dreyer, who directs the cardiac transplant program at Texas Children’s Hospital. It was too malformed and weak to withstand the complicated surgery.“That was basically him telling you your baby’s not going to survive in a nice way,” Graves said of the news. “We were devastated…We just kind of broke down.”Juliana’s name was added to the heart transplant waiting list on April 21, but Dreyer said the medical team was frank about the unlikelihood of finding a heart in time to save her.Statistically, about 15 to 20 percent of all patients die before they get organs, he said. And even if Juliana got a new heart, there was a 25 to 30 percent chance she wouldn’t make it out of the hospital.Juliana was very sick and heavily sedated as she waited, Graves said. Because her heart couldn’t pump oxygen-rich blood to the rest of her body, her other organs began to fail, too. Her skin turned gray and her tiny feet were cold to the touch, Graves recalled.“There were days when I just sat down and cried by her bedside,” she said. “We didn’t think we were going to get a heart. I would just tell her to fight for us and be strong. We were doing everything we can and that we loved her.”Graves said her doctors reassured her that they would help her get pregnant again after her cancer treatments.“I don’t want another baby,” she told them. “I just want this baby.”Then at 4:30 a.m. April 26, Graves’s husband’s phone rang.Juliana was getting a heart.“I was so floored,” Graves said. “I was laughing and crying at the same time.”They were at the hospital by 5 a.m. to start filling out paperwork, nipping into the intensive care unit to tell Juliana the good news — even if she couldn’t hear or understand it.The transplant started at 5:30 that evening and took two medical teams.Juliana’s new heart officially started beating at 1:18 a.m., Graves said.It took months for Juliana’s body to recover from the damage of those first few weeks, which initially left her on a breathing tube. Meanwhile, Graves went back and forth across the street for radiation therapy.But both mother and daughter persevered. Graves finished radiation, and Juliana’s health slowly returned.“Any time you have a patient as sick as she was that has a good outcome, everyone is extremely pleased and happy for the family,” Dreyer said. “This is why we do what we do.”Juliana finally left the hospital June 16. The family moved to Houston permanently to be closer to the hospital.“The first time I held her was on Mother’s Day,” Graves said. “Now, she wants to be held all the time.“We felt really fortunate that we were able to be at the best facility, with the best doctors,” she said. “Even when she was at her sickest, we were like nope. She’s a fighter.”Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Sister Reveals Autistic Twin Brother’s ‘Super Powers’

Sister Reveals Autistic Twin Brother’s ‘Super Powers’

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — When Jenn Medvin asked her daughter, Avery, what she wanted to be as an adult, the 6-year-old gave a range of answers from doctor to princess. But when Medvin asked Avery what she thought her twin brother Xander would be, the 6-year-old paused for a second before saying her diagnosed-autistic brother could be “Spider-Man.”“She said it’s because he has super powers and is very good at helping people,” said Medvin.Xander was diagnosed on the autism spectrum at 18 months of age, but his twin sister has only ever viewed him as extraordinary, Medvin said.“When you think about it, autistic people have super powers. They see things we don’t see and hear things we don’t hear,” said Medvin. “They are a lot more in tune with their senses.”It was Avery’s view of her brother as “superhero” that lead Medvin to start working on a documentary about her twins. In part, the documentary was to show the twins’ strong bond and to give another perspective to the disorder.Twins have long been studied by scientists for clues about why or how children develop the mysterious condition. Even fraternal twins like Xander and Avery can be more likely to have the condition if their twin is diagnosed.Joachim Hallmayer, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at of Stanford University, said that, according to various studies, the chance of a fraternal twin having autism is anywhere between 10 to 30 percent if their sibling already has the condition.“[It’s] clearly higher than what you would see by chance,” said Hallmayer.For Jenn Medvin, it became clear that Xander was facing clear developmental challenges at 18 months. While the twins had been similar in terms of development, suddenly Xander was falling behind, unable to walk as Avery started to speed around the house.Medvin took both children to a regional center, where Xander was diagnosed as autistic.Avery was initially diagnosed as autistic as well. But, in an unexpected turn, Medvin said, she believes her daughter was actually just imitating her brother when she was diagnosed.“When he would flap his arms, she would flap back in response,” said Medvin. “As time went on, he seemed to stay in some senses around the same age [and] she was progressing…as a neurotypical child would. Now she doesn’t display any [autism] signs at all.”Medvin, a registered nurse from Los Angeles, said that despite her training she felt crushed after hearing Xander’s diagnosis and initially thought there was some cause or reason.However, experts say the disorder results from a complex mix of genetic or environmental factors that are not well-understood and likely specific for every child.Hallmayer said twins both fraternal and identical have been studied by autism researchers as a way to try and figure out how much of the condition is genetic and how much is environmental. In a 2011 study led by Hallmayer, 54 pairs of identical twins and 192 pairs of fraternal twins were examined to try to determine the extent of environmental factors on autism.In that specific study, genes only accounted for 38 percent of autism risk, with environmental factors resulting in 62 percent of risk.But Hallmayer was quick to clarify he was talking about a specific single study and that the condition is “such a complex disorder.”Xander’s autism has left him less verbal than his sister, although he is sometimes able to string together a few words.Although he is not very verbal, Medvin said Avery can almost always decipher his needs. When Medvin tries to figure out what Xander wants or needs, she sometimes relies on Avery’s interpretation.“They would share a look and she would turn to me and say, ‘Xander wants juice,’ or ‘Xander is hungry,’” said Medvin.Medvin said one struggle has been to get Avery not to “mother” Xander so much, so that he can learn to clear his plate and ask for help on his own.Last month, Medvin, also a filmmaker, started an online fund to raise additional money for the documentary about the twins. Titled, A Little Hero, the documentary will show Xander’s disorder through Avery’s perspective.“I saw the exceptional bond that they had. I noticed the majority of the films out there were from parental or adult perspective,” said Medvin. “This was so innocent and sweet. This is her own words.” Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Eyebrow Transplants Enhance Fullness in Thinning Brows

Eyebrow Transplants Enhance Fullness in Thinning Brows

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Bold brows are back. The classic Audrey Hepburn look is now framing the faces of Hollywood A-listers such as Jennifer Connelly, the Olsen Twins and Cara Delevingne.For some women, though, years of overplucking mean it’s nearly impossible to achieve those thicker brows, so they’re turning to eyebrow transplants.Ashley Wilkins, 26, began plucking her eyebrows when she was 12. Eventually, they stopped regrowing, she said.“The more I would pluck and then the more I would try to grow them out and all I would get was just a few stray hairs,” she added.It’s the same story for Grace Lee, 23, who overplucked and shaved her eyebrows for years until they stopped regrowing. The lack of brow hair affected her confidence, Lee said.“I always needed to, like, draw my eyebrows, which took about 15 or 20 minutes. And just in general the shape and, like, how thin it was and how fake it looked just drawing it on just really …,” she said.Lee and Wilkins both turned to Dr. Marc Dauer, a Los Angeles surgeon who specializes in hair restoration.Last year, each woman underwent a procedure lasting between six and eight hours. During the procedure, a small strip of each woman’s scalp was carefully transferred onto her brow area — one follicle at a time — to create a new set of brows.“We create the desired shape of the eyebrows,” Dauer said, explaining the process. “I use a needle that’s roughly a half a millimeter in diameter…It’s very, very small, and one by one we place the hairs exactly the way we want them to grow.”The procedure costs around $7,000 and, Dauer says, it can take about a year to get full results.After the procedure, both women can be seen with fuller-looking brows.Lee is happy with the change. “It just looks awesome,” she said. “It just looks beautiful. Like, it just really boosts my confidence level.”Wilkins was equally happy. “It really helped me,” she said, “and I hope that anyone out there who is looking to have the transplants done just thinks that it’s a great decision and moves forward with it because they’ll never look back.” Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Say Mutt??? Owning a Dog Can Make You Feel Younger

Say Mutt??? Owning a Dog Can Make You Feel Younger

iStock/Thinkstock(FIFE, Scotland) — Dog owners know they have to be on their toes if their pets are particularly perky.And while having a pooch can sometimes be exhausting, a researcher at St. Andrews University in Scotland says it can help people feel younger, especially if they’re 65 or older.Dr. Zhiqiang Feng isn’t ready to say that owning a dog is an automatic fountain of youth. However, he does contend that all the physical activity that goes into caring for a furry friend helps elderly folks act as if they’re ten years younger. Feng conducted an experiment with about 550 people aged 65, tracking their movements with an accelerometer for a week. Although only nine percent owned dogs, Feng discovered that they were 12 percent more active than the rest of the group.In addition to the cardiovascular and other advantages of all that activity, Feng also speculates that dog owners benefit in social development as well, another factor that seems to slow the aging process.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

It Takes More than Practice to Make Perfect

It Takes More than Practice to Make Perfect

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Practice improves performance, but it may not be enough to get you to the point of perfection.That’s the conclusion of a joint study by researchers from Rice University, Princeton University and Michigan State University, who looked into why repeated practice by those in sports, the arts, education and other professions catapults only a limited number to the very top of their fields of endeavor.On the upside, Fred Oswald, chair of psychology at Rice, says those who engage in structured activities created specifically to improve performance — that is, deliberate practice — tended “to perform at a higher level than people who practice less.”Still, the meta-analysis of 88 previous studies that Oswald and his colleagues examined also determined that one’s basic abilities are just as important as deliberate practice.The researchers did not discount the importance of practice because it does make nearly everyone better. Yet, being gifted as well is the variable that separates the exceptionally good from the merely very good.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Thirdhand Smoke Is the New Secondhand Smoke

Thirdhand Smoke Is the New Secondhand Smoke

iStock/Thinkstock(YORK, England) — Yes, there is such a thing as thirdhand tobacco smoke, and yes, it’s considered as dangerous as inhaling smoke, either firsthand or secondhand.That’s according to various researchers, including Jacqueline Hamilton at the University of York, who maintains the danger of carcinogens from cigarettes doesn’t disappear when the last puff is drawn.Hamilton maintains, “Non-smokers, especially children, are also at risk through contact with surfaces and dust contaminated with residual smoke gases and particles.”Hamilton and her team collected dust samples of thirdhand smoke and discovered that the cancer risk exceeded the EPA recommended limit in 75 percent of smokers’ homes and in two-thirds of non-smokers’ home.How did carcinogenic materials wind up in the homes of non-smokers?
Alastair Lewis of the National Center for Atmospheric Science explains it comes from shared contact with smokers, “for example between clothes and surfaces and also enter homes via airborne transport of cigarette smoke.”Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Unsubstantiated Fears Thwart Organ Donations

Unsubstantiated Fears Thwart Organ Donations

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON, Ontario) — There are a number of reasons why people don’t want to register to become organ donors, including a concern that their doctors will be less committed to treating a life-threatening condition.The ill-conceived logic is that physicians are somehow more interested in helping a patient in need of an organ transplant rather than the donor.However, Alvin Ho-ting Li from Western University in London, Ontario, contends this fear is unjustified because in reality, doctors are more likely than the general public to be registered for organ and tissue donations, at least in Canada.Li and his team found this out by going through multiple databases. As a result, he says, “showing that many physicians are registered for organ donation themselves could help dispel” the notion that doctors won’t do their all to save a registered donor who might be in grave condition.In the U.S., there are 100 million people registered as organ, eye, and tissue donors in state donor registries, with 79 transplants performed daily. However, 18 people also die each day waiting for a transplant.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Many Americans Adults Still Living with Their Parents, Study Says

Many Americans Adults Still Living with Their Parents, Study Says

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Despite the end of the recession, many American adults are still living under their parents’ roofs, a new study says. The Pew Research Center details the prevalence of “multi-generational homes,” with a record 57 million Americans (18.1 percent of the population) living with extended family members in 2012. The figures double the number of individuals living in such households in 1980. By 2012, one-in-four young adults ages 25 to 34 have lived in multi-generational households. Young men are more likely than women to be in such environments, but as the age groups increase, women’s likelihood in sharing living quarters with family increases as well. But it’s not just young people living with mom and dad, according to Pew Senior Economist Richard Fry. Many elderly parents are also moving in with their adult children. “This is a reflection of a less-than-vigorous job market,” Fry said, putting the state of the country’s employment situation delicately. “Household income, again, has still not picked up.” Experts also attribute increased immigration to the trends, as they say racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to live in familial arrangements.
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First US-Acquired Chikungunya Cases Reported in Florida

First US-Acquired Chikungunya Cases Reported in Florida

iStock/Thinkstock(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) — Florida officials confirmed the first locally acquired cases of mosquito-borne virus chikungunya Thursday, seven months after the virus first arrived in the United States from the Caribbean and Central America. The cases came out of Miami Dade County and Palm Beach County, with one man saying he had not traveled outside of the country recently. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working closely with Florida’s Department of Health to investigate how patients acquired the virus. “The arrival of chikungunya virus, first in the tropical Americas and now in the United States, underscores the risks posed by this and other exotic pathogens,” said Roger Nasci, chief of CDC’s Arboviral Diseases Branch. “This emphasizes the importance of CDC’s health security initiatives designed to maintain effective surveillance networks, diagnostic laboratories and mosquito control programs both in the United States and around the world.” While the United States has seen 28 “imported” cases of chikungunya per year since 2006, the new incidents mark the first time that mosquitoes have spread the virus within the country. The disease is transmitted by infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, and is not contagious from person to person. The virus is not life-threatening and “will likely resolve on its own,” according to officials. The Department of Health will continue statewide monitoring for local cases. Symptoms include fever, joint pain, headaches, swelling, or rash. Officials are advising residents protect themselves with insect repellent, window and door screens, and long-sleeved clothing. For more information on chikungunya, visit the CDC website.
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How Hotter Summers Are Putting Swimmers at Risk

How Hotter Summers Are Putting Swimmers at Risk

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — As families flock to pools and lakes to cool off, experts are warning about a risky consequence of climate change: waterborne disease.Just last week, a 9-year-old girl from Johnson County, Kansas, died from primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, an extremely rare but almost invariably fatal brain infection caused by the freshwater amoeba Naegleria fowleri.“It’s a heat-loving amoeba,” said Michael Beach, associate director for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s healthy swimming program. “Naegleria is kind of a classic climate change indicator.”
Once limited to the southern states — particularly Texas and Florida — Naegleria fowleri has been moving north.“It’s a pretty dramatic shift,” Beach said, citing recent cases in Minnesota and Indiana. “As water temperatures climb, we expect to see infections moving northwards.”There have been 132 known cases of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis in the U.S., with the average number of cases per year growing from 2.3 before 1998 to 3.7 after, according to CDC data.Seven of the 10 warmest years on record for the contiguous 48 states have occurred since 1998, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.The warmer weather also means more people swimming, raising the risk of bacterial, viral and parasitic infections transmitted through feces, according to Beach.There were 81 recreational water-associated disease outbreaks reported in 2009 and 2010, according to the latest CDC data. Forty-five of them were caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites. That’s up from 39 outbreaks in 1999 and 2000, 20 of which were associated with pathogens, the agency said.“Swimming is a communal bathing activity, and a lot of this [disease outbreaks] can be about who you’re swimming next to,” said Beach, describing how pathogens lurking in trace amounts of diarrhea on the skin or in kids’ diapers can get unwittingly swallowed by other swimmers.This week, health officials in Kitsap County, Washington, closed a lake after more than 200 swimmers reported stomach cramps, nausea and diarrhea. The outbreak has been called “norovirus-like” pending lab test results.But lakes and rivers aren’t the only source of waterborne infections. The leading cause of recreational water illness, a parasite called cryptosporidium, is “very tolerant to chlorine disinfection,” according to the CDC. That means pools can spread illness, too.“We’re not saying to not swim. But because you do it with other people, make sure you’re healthy before you get in,” Beach said, stressing the importance of showering before and after swimming. “And minimize how much water you swallow.”The CDC recommends the following tips for safe summer swimming:

Avoid getting water up your nose when swimming in warm, freshwater.
Keep poop, pee and germs out of the water.
Don’t swim if you have diarrhea.
Shower with soap before taking a dip.
Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
Check the free chlorine level and pH before getting into the water.
Don’t swallow the water.

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Boy Who Got Unapproved Drug Heads Home to Virginia

Boy Who Got Unapproved Drug Heads Home to Virginia

Aimee Hardy(NEW YORK) — Josh Hardy, the boy whose parents successfully fought to get him an unapproved drug to save his life last March, is heading home to Virginia after spending months living in Tennessee to be near St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.“Glory to GOD!” his mother, Aimee Hardy, wrote on the Save Josh Facebook page. “We are going home!!!! Leaving today. After 6 1/2 months, Josh finally gets to be in his house.”Josh Hardy, 8, has beaten cancer four times, his parents said. But the treatments left his immune system so weak that a common virus became life-threatening.The Hardy family said that their best hope for Josh’s survival was an unapproved antiviral drug called brincidofovir, but the company that makes the drug at first refused to give it to him. The Hardys started several online petitions to change the company’s mind.”Having survived four diagnoses of cancer, it would be an absolute travesty for him to meet his demise from a virus,” Aimee Hardy told ABC News in March. “Especially knowing there is a medicine in someone’s hands that can rid of this virus.”Josh received his first cancer diagnosis when he was just a baby: Aggressive rhabdoid tumors in both kidneys, Hardy said. He went through surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, but the cancer returned in his thalamus gland and then his lung.Then, after nearly four years of being cancer-free, Josh received bad news in November 2013, Hardy said. He had myelodysplastic syndrome, the same precancerous bone marrow disorder that ABC News anchor Robin Roberts was diagnosed with in 2012. It can be caused by cancer treatments.Josh underwent a bone marrow transplant to remedy the disorder, but he developed graft-versus-host disease, meaning the new immune cells started to attack his body, Hardy said.
“He was in complete heart failure and kidney failure and went into the ICU on January 14,” Hardy said.To stop the attack, Josh’s doctors at St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Tennessee suppressed his immune system with drugs, allowing his heart and kidneys to start healing. But with a weakened immune system, Josh came down with adenovirus, a common virus that causes colds but can also be much more serious, Hardy said.In Josh’s case, reawakening his immune system to fight the virus could bring back his graft-versus-host disease, so doctors gave him an antiviral medicine to get rid of the adenovirus. But the drug was toxic to his kidneys and wasn’t working, Hardy said.”He’s at a physical standstill,” Hardy said at the time.That was when Josh’s doctor at St. Jude suggested brincidofovir, a drug that researchers at Chimerix, a small North Carolina drug company, have been developing for the past 14 years. St. Jude had been involved in a clinical trial of brincidofovir in which children who had undergone bone marrow transplants and had early adenovirus infections took the drug and were able to decrease the amount of virus in their bodies.But Dr. Hervé Momméja-Marin, Chimerix vice president of clinical research, said the drug has not been proven to do this in more advanced adenovirus cases, like Josh’s. Chimerix President and CEO Kenneth Moch said giving the drug to Josh would mean they would have to give the drug to the hundreds of other patients hoping to get it under the Food and Drug Administration’s compassionate use rules, which allow patients to get drugs even if they aren’t enrolled in clinical trials.”We all have great compassion for this child,” Moch told ABC News on March 11. “We spent our lives trying to develop new medications for patients just like Josh…We need to make sure to get this drug available as soon as possible to as many people as possible.”But the following day, Chimerix announced that Josh’s story accelerated talks with the FDA, allowing it to launch a 20-patient open-label clinical trial. Josh was the first patient enrolled.Moch resigned from his position in April, Chimerix announced.After months in the hospital, Josh was discharged in April. But persistent problems with his kidney, lung and heart function and the need for several blood transfusions kept the family in Tennessee. Now that those problems are resolved, the family can return to Fredericksburg, Virginia.“And with a lot of hard work his strength will return,” Aimee Hardy wrote. “He can walk a nice distance holding my hands. And we anticipate the return of his immunity in a few months.”
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Exclusive: Feds Struggling to Cope with Medical ‘Breakdown’ at the Border

Exclusive: Feds Struggling to Cope with Medical ‘Breakdown’ at the Border

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The federal government is so overwhelmed by the current tide of migrants crossing the border it can’t provide basic medical screening to all of the children before transporting them — often by air — to longer-term holding facilities across the country, ABC News has learned.The director of refugee health in the federal Health and Human Services Department “has identified a breakdown of the medical screening processes at the Nogales, Arizona, facility,” according to an internal Department of Defense memo reviewed by ABC News.Inside the government, officials are sounding alarms, fearing that they and their teams who come in contact with the sick children face potential exposure to infectious diseases from chicken pox to influenza, including rare cases of H1N1, more commonly called swine flu.Two unaccompanied children were flown from Nogales to California despite having 101-degree fevers and flu-like symptoms, according to the Department of Defense memo. Those children had to be hospitalized.The memo said pointedly that officials in charge of moving the immigrants from Border Patrol processing centers to Health and Human Services facilities are “putting sick [fevers and coughing] unaccompanied children on airplanes inbound for [Naval Base Ventura County] in addition to the chicken pox and coxsackie virus cases.”The document said three other kids were in the ICU at local hospitals in California, and two of them were diagnosed with strep pneumonia.Less than a week later, that same Ventura Naval Base suffered an outbreak of pneumonia and influenza among the unaccompanied minors inside the shelter.“Preliminary reports indicate that several unaccompanied minors in the shelter had become ill with what appears to be pneumonia and influenza,” according to a statement from the Administration for Children and Families at Health and Human Services.HHS told ABC News the children were supposed to be screened for sickness before leaving the Border Patrol screening centers.“When the children arrive at U.S. border stations,” the ACF statement read, “they are screened for health problems and given medical treatment if needed.”But, according to the memo ABC News reviewed, “Curi Kim [the HHS director of the Division of Refugee Health] has identified a breakdown of the medical screening processes at the Nogales, Arizona, facility.  The  [unaccompanied children] were initially screened and cleared upon entry into that facility with no fever or significant symptoms.  They were not however re-screened and cleared for travel and placement at a temporary shelter.”While confirming to ABC News the outbreak occurred, HHS would not respond to inquiries about the DOD memo showing sick children were knowingly sent to Naval Base Ventura prior to the outbreak.“My biggest concerns are with the health of these children,” said Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health and medical editor. “They are victims going through incredibly stressful circumstances and some will have health issues that need to be treated. Some come from countries that don’t vaccinate against pneumonia or meningitis. They need those vaccines.  Some come from countries where it is flu season. They need that vaccine, too. The big health risks are among these children, not to our communities.”Once kids are in HHS custody they receive exams and vaccinations, and are screened for tuberculosis, according to ACF,  but more serious illnesses such as meningitis and polio are of little concern for causing an outbreak.“Children from this region of the world participate in comprehensive childhood vaccination programs, similar to the United States, and are generally well protected from most vaccine-preventable diseases,” ACF said in a statement.Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras each have rates of vaccination against preventable illnesses such as polio, tuberculosis, measles and pertussis consistent with the United States, according to the World Health Organization.During congressional testimony the first week of July, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said: “We’ve already had one confirmed case of H1N1 in Texas, and have been informed by our federal partners of two additional cases of type A influenza that are likely to be H1N1, in addition to reports of other illnesses at other detention facilities.”The Texas Department of Health confirmed to ABC News that there have been three flu cases, one confirmed H1N1 and two others being flu type A,  or presumptive H1N1.According to the CDC, between April 12, 2009 and April 10, 2010, the height of swine flu in the U.S., approximately 60.8 million cases occurred, with 12,469 deaths.The CDC website stated: The H1N1 virus that caused that pandemic is now a regular human flu virus and continues to circulate seasonally worldwide.
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How Scientists, Doctors Use Baby-Friendly Tricks to Study Infants

How Scientists, Doctors Use Baby-Friendly Tricks to Study Infants

Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, University of Washington(NEW YORK) — For all the impressive advancements in medical technology, researchers and scientists still face a daunting challenge when they study the habits of infants.In order to study infants without overwhelming them, scientists often try to mask the massive machines needed to view brain activity either by having the child sleep through it or by covering it in kid-friendly decorations. Other researchers have devised decidedly low-tech ways of reading an infant’s interest in a subject, even when they can’t say a single word.In a study released Monday in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, doctors used a special machine to examine infant brain activity as they start to learn language skills.Patricia Kuhl, a professor of speech and hearing sciences at the University of Washington and the lead author of the study, said the research indicated the area of the infants’ brain that controlled motor skills lit up when they heard certain words. The activity indicated that the infants are trying to mimic adults and speak much earlier before they say their first word.However, Kuhl said, the study was important because of both the surprising findings and the way researchers were able to get them. To “read” the infant’s brain activity, they used the cutting-edge device called a magnetoencephalograph, that was quiet and nimble enough to read the chaotic world of infants’ brain activity.Kuhl said unlike a MRI machine, which is extremely loud and requires a patient to be totally still, the magnetoencephalograph is nearly silent. However, the infants still had to be strapped into a chair, so to keep them entertained the researchers were tasked with making silly faces and holding up toys all in the name of science.“You want them to like the lab,” said Kuhl. “It’s decorated with fish and it’s got little stickies [on it.] It’s…very baby friendly. We wave toys and we’re very aware and of their curiosity and of their desire to play. We do everything to make them comfortable.”In a 2013 study published in Psychological Science, researchers used MRI machines to examine baby’s brain activity in response to different stimuli. However, to get the infants into a machine where they could not move, the researchers had the babies go in after they fell asleep naturally. They also used ear coverings so the loud MRI machine didn’t wake the infants.MRI machines can be so distressing for patients because of claustrophobia or other fears about being in the hospital that a New York Hospital installed a pirate-themed scanner to put children (and some parents) more at ease.“The genius is in this machine. …There’s no noise and the baby can listen and can move,” said Kuhl of the magnetoencephalograph. “The ability for the first time to do this kind of recording in this kind of technical advanced machine…[it’s like] we’re putting [on] a stethoscope.”Aside from technological advancements, researchers rely on some decidedly low-tech approaches when studying infants.Fei Xue, a professor of psychology at the University of California Berkeley, has done numerous studies examining how infants learn and react to new toys or information. She said researchers have plenty of tricks to keep babies focused on the tasks at hand.Xue said most studies only last between 5-10 minutes because the infants will get bored if they’re longer. If they want a baby to focus on an object, they darken the room and light up the object to draw the baby’s attention.“In a way, it’s easy to work with infants,” said Xue. “They’re very curious and they’re interested in the world.”To measure if babies are interested in an object or scene without getting verbal confirmation, Xue and her fellow researchers simply follow the infant’s eye movement. While there are special computer programs, Xue said often it just comes down to a researcher holding a stopwatch and watching the infant through a monitor.In spite of the infants’ inability to speak, Xue said, understanding their thought process can reveal how they learn, which could eventually help shape education programs.“When they go to preschool and elementary school…they will help us to know how to structure the school system,” said Xue of her young subjects. “Understanding these really young humans is important.”
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