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Another Ebola Patient Headed to Emory Isolation Unit

Another Ebola Patient Headed to Emory Isolation Unit

Jack Kearse/Emory University(ATLANTA) — Another American Ebola patient is headed to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for treatment, according to a statement from the hospital. The patient is expected to arrive Tuesday morning.

The patient, who has not been named, will be the fourth known American to have contracted the virus in an outbreak that has killed 1,848 people and sickened 1,849 others, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization.

The patient is traveling via air ambulance from West Africa to receive treatment where two other American Ebola survivors — Dr. Kent Brantly and missionary Nancy Writebol — received supportive care and were later declared virus-free. Writebol was discharged on Aug. 19 and Brantly went home two days later.

Brantly and Writebol both contracted the virus while tending to patients in Monrovia, Liberia. It is not yet clear where in West Africa the latest American patient contracted the virus.

Last week, Dr. Rick Sacra became the third American — and the second American doctor — to contract Ebola. He, too, was treating patients in Monrovia, Liberia, but he was treating them in the ELWA hospital maternity ward, not the Ebola facility. Sacra is undergoing care at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

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Do Designer Sunglasses Provide Better UV Protection than Cheaper Shades?

Do Designer Sunglasses Provide Better UV Protection than Cheaper Shades?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Designer sunglasses are the epitome of cool. They look good and promise to block 100 percent of UV rays. But how do cheaper sunglasses compare? Do they provide less protection than their designer counterparts?

Dr. Dennis Fong, a professor at the School of Optometry at the University of California, Berkeley, says UV light can cause an onset of cataracts, macular degeneration and even growths on the cornea.

“Ultraviolet light will age your eye faster,” Fong told ABC News.

To see if cheaper sunglasses can protect against the vision issues Fong detailed, ABC News’ Good Morning America bought 11 cheaper sunglasses — from mall kiosks, pharmacies, mainstream fashion stores and even street vendors. Most of the shades cost about $10, but none was more than $20.

All the glasses claimed to block 100 percent of UV rays.

GMA also bought sunglasses from Coach, Ray-Ban and Smith, each of which cost well over $100.

GMA took all the glasses — the cheaper and pricey ones — to Fong, who used a spectrophotometer to measure the UV light going through the lenses.

First, he tested the expensive glasses, finding that they all block transmission of UVA and UVB rays, providing 100-percent UV protection.

Then he tested the cheaper glasses. The 11 pairs of discount glasses that GMA bought performed just as well as the more expensive pairs, Fong said, after measuring the UV light passing through the lenses with the spectrophotometer.

So what do people get when they spend a lot of money of sunglasses?

Fong explained that pricier glasses often do have more durable frames and a higher-end design, and are a more comfortable fit.

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Trendy Avocado Toast Is a Nutritional Powerhouse

Trendy Avocado Toast Is a Nutritional Powerhouse

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Avocado toast — loved by celebrities and health foodies alike — is most certainly the “it” breakfast food of the season.

Olivia Wilde’s posted avocado toast to her Instagram, as has model Karolina Kurkova. Gwenyth Paltrow called the version of the dish that appears in her cookbook It’s All Good “the holy trinity of Vegenaise, avocado, and salt that makes this [avocado toast] like a favorite pair of jeans.”

And perhaps most flattering, it’s been named the “most annoying food on Instagram.” According to Google trends, searches for avocado toast have gone up 31 percent since the beginning of the summer.

In its simplest version, avocado toast is simply smashed or sliced avocado on whole grain bread with a dash of olive oil and sea salt. Some people like a squeeze of lemon and a dash of red pepper flakes. That’s how it’s served at New York’s Cafe Gitane on Mott Street, where a Les Petits Plats of Avocado, lemon juice, olive oil and chili flakes on seven grain toast costs $7.25. Incidentally, its Cafe Gitane’s version that Olivia Wilde loves.

But whether you prefer the simple version or one with a bit more flair, it’s a nutritional powerhouse, say experts. Nutritionist Lisa Goldberg told ABC News she had it several times for breakfast this week alone, sliced or mashed on Ezekial (sprouted grain) bread.

“I love it for breakfast because avocado has protein and healthy monounsaturated fat, and its also high in fiber so combined with the Ezekial toast it keeps me full for a good 3-4 hours. Plus it’s high in other nutrients like Vitamins B, C, E, K and potassium,” she said.

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How to Handle Life’s Challenges with Elegance and Grace

How to Handle Life’s Challenges with Elegance and Grace

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Everyone has challenges in life, but not everyone handles them well. And many of us look back on some of our life’s most difficult moments and wish we had handled them with just a little more refinement.

“We all have moments where we don’t love how we responded to a situation or how we acted,” said Dr. Sherrie Campbell, psychologist and author of Loving Yourself, The Master of Being Your Own Person. “Many of us are emotionally out of control, lacking presence of mind, allowing life to take us on an emotional roller coaster where we feel crazy and at the mercy of our life situations, people and emotions.”

Campbell has shared her seven steps to “inner elegance.” To be elegant, she said, “essentially means that you know who you are and are grounded and comfortable in that person.”

Here are seven steps to the development of your inner elegance:

1. Mindfulness

In order to find and express your inner elegance, you first have to envision yourself as an elegant person. To start this change, you have to begin thinking of yourself in the way in which you wish to be perceived. Once you start this thought process, everything else will fall into place.

2. Grace

When you think about displaying an inner elegance, gracefulness is one of the qualities to express this. When you are graceful you move slowly, have a positive but quiet confidence about your aura and you think and speak with poise, charm, dignity, and beauty. You are deliberate in who you are without being pushy.

3. Self-Control

Do not have tantrums or play emotional games. You do not need to manipulate to get what you want. Being in control and owning who you are is what draws love and opportunities to you. When you show you have self-control and are emotionally intelligent, you are viewed as smart, and smart is sexy.

4. Classy-Sexy Style

An elegant woman does not show all her assets. Dress in a way that provides some sex appeal by provoking curiosity and professionalism. Your style should exude sophistication. Do not overtly use your appearance to be noticed. Become more by being less. Elegance is not conservative. It is refined, sexy and tasteful.

5. Inventive

Use your intelligence and be dynamic in your speech, neatness, and in your complicated simplicity. As a woman, use all the intricacies of your personality. You are clever, which brings out your charm, intelligence, innocence and cuteness.

6. Be Clear

Do be not afraid to be yourself. Give little thought to what others think of you. A big ego is not part of your plan, nor do you need to court attention, and this is exactly why you will get it. When you are clear about whom you are, your inner elegance shines through. Demonstrate you have high standards and will not accept less than the treatment you deserve.

7. Self-Sufficient

Do not expect anyone to take care of you emotionally, physically, or financially. You must have the confidence, courage, and motivation to be self-sufficient. To truly possess this quality and not have it be an act, you have to walk your talk. You have to be passionate about your life, your independence, and also your ability to love. When you embody this you can give yourself to relationships without losing your own ground, your passion for your life and the achievement of your dreams. You come first and everyone else comes second. You know that if you love yourself, you can better love others.

As you focus on yourself, you learn to love yourself. When you love yourself you become that elegant, confident, graceful, desirable woman who commands the right kind of attention and praise. Why? Because people can feel you have it together inside and out.

Her advice: Handle your emotions like a business, rather than like a little girl who needs nurturing and reassurance.

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How Suicide Hotline Operators Talk Callers Down from the Edge

How Suicide Hotline Operators Talk Callers Down from the Edge

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Suicides are more common on a Monday than on any other day of the week.

“If we go with the triggers of loss and change, Mondays have a higher rate than the end of the week,” John Plonski, a suicide hotline supervisor with 30 years of experience, told ABC News.

He also cited the “common misconception” that there is a spike in suicides around the holidays.

“Springtime is where the number of suicides actually increases,” Plonski said.

But it’s a year-round issue as National Suicide Prevention Week starts Monday, witnessed by the recent high-profile suicides of pop singer Simone Battle and actor Robin Williams.

For suicide prevention hotline operators like Plonski, they follow a set of cues when trying to determine a caller’s risk level: whether they’ve experienced a recent loss or change, and the start of a new time of year — or even week — all come up as contributing factors in suicides.

Plonski, who’s director of virtual crisis supervisors at the Kristin Brooks Hope Center, a Washington, D.C.-based suicide prevention charity and hotline, said he has spoken to a “few thousand” distressed individuals over various hotlines since his first call on July 7, 1984.

More than 800,000 people worldwide commit suicide every year, with about 39,000 cases in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most callers to hotlines, Plonski said, do not immediately start talking about their suicidal thoughts, leading to a longer, more incremental conversation.

“One woman one time called me from the other side of the country and talked about breaking a nail,” Plonski said. “I’m saying ‘OK, breaking a nail isn’t a big thing for me, but what else is going on?’”

The woman went on to explain how she was cleaning her house after hosting the reception following her slain son’s funeral, and broke a nail in the process, serving as a proverbial breaking point.

“The whole idea was she wanted to be with her son,” Plonski said. “She didn’t initially identify [as suicidal]. You want to engage the person, you want the person to trust you, you want the person to be able to share with you.”

Talking through issues, specifically addressing the reasons callers feel like they want to end their lives, is an important role of the crisis operator. That step is largely skipped, however, when the caller says there is a reason to believe his or her life is in danger by, for example, saying that he or she has a gun or has swallowed pills.

“That’s not a crisis situation, that’s not intervention; that’s an emergency,” he said. “We need to get a mobile crisis unit out there immediately.”

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Kate Middleton’s Hyperemesis Gravidarum Explained

Kate Middleton’s Hyperemesis Gravidarum Explained

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Once again, the royal family was forced to announce Kate Middleton’s pregnancy early, thanks to a rare but severe form of morning sickness.

Middleton has hyperemesis gravidarum, which is diagnosed when a pregnant woman loses more than 10 pounds due to extreme and persistent nausea and vomiting, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

News of Middleton’s first pregnancy broke in December 2012 when she was admitted to King Edward VII Hospital in London with the same illness. She gave birth to her son George the following July.

The duchess is not yet 12 weeks into her second pregnancy, royal officials told ABC News, and doctors are treating her at Kensington Palace. They said she “may require supplementary hydration, medication and nutrients.”

Although every pregnancy is different, having hyperemesis gravidarum during one pregnancy may make a woman more likely to have it in subsequent pregnancies, according to Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a practicing OB/GYN and senior medical contributor for ABC News. And it may be worse the second time around.

“Sometimes subsequent pregnancies have it starting sooner, lasting longer and being more severe,” said Ashton, adding that the debilitating pregnancy disorder is morning sickness “like a hurricane is a little bit of rain.”

Hyperemesis gravidarum occurs in between 1 and 2 percent of all pregnant women and poses little danger to the tiny heir when properly treated, but it can be torturous to endure, according to Dr. Nancy Cossler, an OB/GYN at University Hospitals in Ohio.

“The biggest problem with this is how it interferes with your life,” Cossler said. “Constantly feeling sick and puking is difficult.”

Although the cause of hyperemesis gravidarum is unknown, it may be related to high levels of the pregnancy hormone, hCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, Cossler said.

The disorder is usually diagnosed about nine weeks into the pregnancy, and in most cases resolves itself by 16 or 20 weeks, according to Dr. Ashley Roman, a professor and OB/GYN at New York University Langone Medical Center. In rare cases, it can last the whole pregnancy.

Roman said doctors often prescribe vitamins and ginger capsules at first. If that doesn’t stop the vomiting, they will prescribe antihistamines and stronger anti-nausea medications.

Women with hyperemesis gravidarum are also treated with fluids, according to Dr. Jessica Young, an OB/GYN at Vanderbilt University. If left untreated, a pregnant woman who is severely dehydrated for a long period of time could die “just like any person,” Young said.

In extreme cases in which the woman is losing weight and unable to eat, doctors will treat her with intravenous nutrition, Young said.

Hospital stays can vary, and women will often have to be admitted more than once before the condition passes, doctors said.

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New Survey Looks at American Eating Habits

New Survey Looks at American Eating Habits

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Forget about money and sex, food is our real passion, judging by a new poll in Parade magazine.

The “What America Eats” survey is chock full of tidbits from “What We Pack In Our Kids’ Lunch Boxes” (mainly sandwiches, salty snacks and fruit drinks) to “The Most Popular Celeb Chef” (Rachael Ray crushes Gordon Ramsay, 29 percent to 16 percent.)

Other notable revelations:

  • Twenty-five percent of Americans now eat organic food, double that from a decade ago.
  • Pizza is the number one fast food.
  • Seven percent say they eat breakfast on the run.
  • Iced coffee is ordered with five percent of all breakfast meals.
  • Forty-one percent of Americans claim they’ve been on a diet in the past year while 30 percent say they’ve gone on a diet.
  • When it comes to washing produce before eating it, 30 percent say they always, 41 percent say every chance they get and 15 percent will wash produce if it looks like it needs washing.
  • Forty percent of all snacks consumed are either eaten with or instead of a main meal.

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Unidentified Respiratory Virus Likely to Hit Kids Across Country

Unidentified Respiratory Virus Likely to Hit Kids Across Country

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A respiratory illness that has already sickened more than a thousand children in 10 states is likely to become a nationwide problem, doctors say.

The disease hasn’t been officially identified, but officials suspect a rare respiratory virus called human enterovirus 68. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus is related to the rhinovirus, which causes the common cold.

According to Mark Pallansch, director of the Division of Viral Diseases at the CDC, similar cases to the ones in Colorado have been cropping up across the U.S. At least 10 states — Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Georgia — have reported suspected outbreaks of human enterovirus 68 and requested CDC support.

“Viruses don’t tend to respect borders,” ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser said. “It is only 10 states now, but it’s going to be across the country. So if your state doesn’t have it now, watch for it, it’s coming.”

Doctors say they are not even sure yet how this particular virus spreads, though the back-to-school season is a normal time for illnesses to spread among children.

“This is a very common time for outbreaks. Kids come back to school, they like to share things, they bring them home to their little brothers and sisters, and enteroviruses tend to occur in the summer,” Besser said. “But this one, this particular Enterovirus 68, is very rare and they have no idea why it showed up this year.”

At Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver, officials say that between Aug. 18 and Sept. 4, doctors saw more than 900 pediatric patients with symptoms of the respiratory virus in the emergency room. Of those who came in, 86 were admitted into the hospital and a handful ended up in the intensive care unit.

“It can start just like a cold — runny nose, sneezing, coughs — but it’s the wheezing you have to watch out for,” Besser said.

Dr. Christine Nyquist, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Colorado, said the virus usually ends up appearing similar to a severe cold but can be particularly dangerous for children with asthma because of how it affects the respiratory system.

“The kids are coming in with respiratory symptoms, their asthma is exacerbated,” Nyquist said. “Kids with no wheezing are having wheezing.”

At Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, Dr. Raju Meyappan, a pediatric critical care physician, said he’s seen at multiple children end up in the pediatric intensive care unit after being infected with the virus and that children under the age of 5 or those with asthma appear to be most at risk.

In one particularly severe case, Meyappan said a 13-year-old asthmatic patient ended up in the emergency room just one day after showing basic cold-like symptoms, including cough and runny nose.

His asthma became so severe on the second day the teenager turned blue and was rushed to the emergency room, where doctors gave him an emergency breathing tube.

The patient was one of multiple asthmatic pediatric patients who ended up sedated in the intensive care unit with a breathing tube, Meyappan said. Patients who needed breathing tubes spent between four to seven days sedated and intubated as they recovered, he said.

“As a pediatric ICU doctor, we try our best not to intubate kids with asthma at any point in time,” said Meyappan, who added that only the most severe cases warranted intubation. “They all needed it. The onset [of the virus] is severe.”

Meyappan said currently four patients were in the pediatric ICU recovering.

There are multiple reasons why the outbreak was hitting Denver now, instead of later in the fall or winter when infections start to rise, Nyquist said.

In addition to school starting, Nyquist said, some children with asthma could have seasonal allergies that are exacerbated by the virus.

“Any kind of viral infection can kick off wheezing and asthmas,” she said. “People with asthma know what triggers their asthma. A viral infection is one thing and this is the one that is circulating.”

To stay healthy, the CDC recommends basic sanitary practices to avoid spreading the virus, including washing hands, avoiding those who are sick, and covering the nose and mouth during sneezes or coughs.

Meyappan said parents of asthmatic children should make sure that their children’s inhalers are easily accessible and that there is a treatment plan in place if an asthma attack continues to get worse.

“Make sure [parents] talk to all their caregivers about what to do if [the child has] an asthma attack and where to go if they need help,” Meyappan said. “I think having a game plan in place helps.”

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American Doctor with Ebola ‘Slightly Improved’

American Doctor with Ebola ‘Slightly Improved’

iStock/Thinkstock(OMAHA, Neb.) — The latest American doctor to be infected with Ebola in West Africa is “slightly improved,” his wife said after visiting him in a Nebraska hospital Saturday.

SIM missionary Dr. Rick Sacra, who contracted EbolaVirus Disease in Liberia, arrived in Nebraska Friday and was brought to the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

His wife, Debbie, and her oldest son Maxwell, 22, visited Sacra — isolated in the hospital’s biocontainment unit — for about 25 minutes over a video link.

“Rick is very sick and weak, but slightly improved from when he arrived yesterday,” Debbie Sacra said. “He asked for something to eat and had a little chicken soup.”

She said he did not remember much from the trip, and that the priority now is for him is to rest.

She said she was “relieved to see his face and hear his voice again.”

Debbie Sacra added that and her husband were most interested in keeping the focus on the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

“We don’t want this story to be about Rick,” she said. “The story is the crisis in West Africa. That is what is most important. The world is coming to this fight late.”

Sacra, 51, was treating pregnant women in the ELWA Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, when he became infected with the deadly virus, according to SIM, an international, interdenominational Christian organization based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Sacra, an assistant professor at University of Massachusetts Medical School, was not treating Ebola patients in the hospital’s separate Ebola isolation facility, the group said, adding that it was unclear how he contracted the virus. All infected U.S. health workers were working at the ELWA hospital when they contracted the virus.

He was isolated in the ELWA Ebola ward after becoming infected.

Sacra specializes in family medicine and practices in Worcester, Massachusetts, but he traveled to Liberia in August.

“I knew he needed to go,” Debbie Sacra said, adding that he knew there was a risk he would contract Ebola but he wanted to help people with malaria and pregnant women amid the outbreak.

“He is not someone who can stand back when there is a need that he can take care of,” she said.

Sacra is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Medical School and spent nearly two decades working in Liberia, according to the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Sacra’s colleagues at the medical school called him a “gifted physician” who took on extra work to treat pregnant women in the rural country.

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Respiratory Virus Sickening Children in Colorado

Respiratory Virus Sickening Children in Colorado

iStock/Thinkstock(DENVER) — A respiratory illness sweeping through parts of the U.S. has landed in Colorado, sickening hundreds of children, according to local doctors.

The disease hasn’t been officially identified but officials suspect a rare respiratory virus called human enterovirus 68. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus is related to the rhinovirus, which causes the common cold.

According to Mark Pallansch, director of the Division of Viral Diseases at the CDC, similar cases to the ones in Colorado have been cropping up across the U.S. At least 10 states — Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Georgia — have reported suspected outbreaks of human enterovirus 68 and requested CDC support.

At Children’s Hospital Colorado in Denver, officials say that between Aug. 18 and Sept. 4, doctors saw more than 900 pediatric patients with symptoms of the respiratory virus in the emergency room. Of those who came in, 86 were admitted into the hospital and a handful ended up in the intensive care unit.

Dr. Christine Nyquist, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Colorado, said the virus usually ends up appearing similar to a severe cold but can be particularly dangerous for children with asthma because of how it affects the respiratory system.

“The kids are coming in with respiratory symptoms, their asthma is exacerbated,” Nyquist said. “Kids with no wheezing are having wheezing.”

At Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, Dr. Raju Meyappan, a pediatric critical care physician, said he’s seen at multiple children end up in the pediatric intensive care unit after being infected with the virus and that children under the age of 5 or those with asthma appear to be most at risk.

In one particularly severe case, Meyappan said a 13-year-old asthmatic patient ended up in the emergency room just one day after showing basic cold-like symptoms, including cough and runny nose.

His asthma became so severe on the second day the teenager turned blue and was rushed to the emergency room, where doctors gave him an emergency breathing tube.

The patient was one of multiple asthmatic pediatric patients who ended up sedated in the intensive care unit with a breathing tube, Meyappan said. Patients who needed breathing tubes spent between four to seven days sedated and intubated as they recovered, he said.

“As a pediatric ICU doctor, we try our best not to intubate kids with asthma at any point in time,” said Meyappan, who added that only the most severe cases warranted intubation. “They all needed it. The onset [of the virus] is severe.”

Meyappan said currently four patients were in the pediatric ICU recovering.

There are multiple reasons why the outbreak was hitting Denver now, instead of later in the fall or winter when cold and flu infections start to rise, Nyquist said.

In addition to school starting, Nyquist said, some children with asthma could have seasonal allergies that are exacerbated by the virus.

“Any kind of viral infection can kick off wheezing and asthmas,” she said. “People with asthma know what triggers their asthma. A viral infection is one thing and this is the one that is circulating.”

To stay healthy, the CDC recommends basic sanitary practices to avoid spreading the virus, including washing hands, avoiding those who are sick, and covering the nose and mouth during sneezes or coughs.

Meyappan said parents of asthmatic children should make sure that their children’s inhalers are easily accessible and that there is a treatment plan in place if an asthma attack continues to get worse.

“Make sure [parents] talk to all their caregivers about what to do if [the child has] an asthma attack and where to go if they need help,” Meyappan said. “I think having a game plan in place helps.”

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New Drug Could Fight Flu in One Dose

New Drug Could Fight Flu in One Dose

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Doctors could soon have a new weapon to fight one of the deadliest viruses in the United States after researchers announced the latest drug to treat the flu.

Peramivir, which only needs to be administered once as an intramuscular shot, could be safe and effective at alleviating most flu symptoms, including fevers — if taken within 48 hours of contracting the flu — according to Doctor Rich Whitley of the University of Alabama, Birmingham, who led the research on the new drug.

“If we don’t get immunized and we get influenza or if we get immunized and we still get influenza, we need to have anti-viral drugs available for the purposes of therapy and the goal is to keep people out of the hospital and to keep people from dying,” Whitley said.

Approximately 36,000 people die and 200,000 are hospitalized because of the flu every year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While vaccines are an effective way of controlling the virus’ spread, the formation of new viral strains can outpace the creation of new vaccines.

Whitley’s study of 427 adults with flu symptoms found that a single dose of Peramivir significantly reduced flu symptoms within 22 hours and reduced fever within 24 hours, according to a statement released by the American Society for Microbiology.

These results show that Peramivir could be a potentially exciting alternative to existing flu treatments. Tamiflu and Relenza, the two current FDA-approved flu treatments, require two doses per day for five days to do the same thing.

The drug is only in clinical trials and has not yet been approved by the FDA. But doctors are hopeful it can be a powerful weapon against the flu.

The drug “would be a terrific boon … a wonderful addition that we could have for the amelioration of influenza and its complications,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University.

“It would give us the opportunity to initiate treatment very, very early. That is one of the hang-ups that we currently have,” he said.

If approved, Peramivir would be the first single-dose flu treatment in the United States, but it has already been approved in some countries.

Peramivir was approved in Korea and Japan in 2010. It is estimated that 1 million Japanese patients have received the drug, according to the American Society for Microbiology.

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E-Cigarette Debate Reignites With New Vaping Report

E-Cigarette Debate Reignites With New Vaping Report

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) –  British researchers say electronic cigarettes could save 6,000 lives per year for every million smokers, a claim that has reignited the debate over the health impact of vaping.

In an editorial published in the British Journal of General Practice, the research team from University London College argued that the public health community was jumping the gun in their rush to regulate e-cigarettes the same as tobacco products.

“Given that smokers smoke primarily for the nicotine but die primarily from the tar, one might imagine that e-cigarettes would be welcomed as a means to prevent much of the death and suffering caused by cigarettes,” they wrote.

The editorial adds to a growing controversy in the scientific community about the safety of e-cigarettes. Just last week the World Health Organization called for a ban on e-cigarettes in public spaces – a move endorsed by more than a dozen public health groups calling for tighter regulations of “vaping” products.

But in an open letter to the WHO back in May, more than 50 researchers cautioned against overregulation, asking the organization to “resist the urge to control and suppress e-cigarettes.” The devices could be a significant health innovation and classifying them as tobacco will do more harm than good, the letter stated.

But the science on e-cigs as a smoking cessation tool is mixed. Earlier this year, the UCL team found that smokers were about 60% more likely to quit if they used e-cigarettes. But other studies have found that smokers who switched to e-cigarettes were less likely or no more likely to quit than if they used a patch or gum.

Perhaps most alarmingly, a recent study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found e-cigarette use among school age children has tripled in the last three years, with half of kids who report vaping stating that they intended to smoke conventional cigarettes within the next year.

A second editorial published Saturday in The Lancet concluded that there isn’t enough evidence to claim e-cigarettes are safe or that they reduce levels of tobacco use.

“A credible case can therefore be made that, unless reliable evidence shows e-cigarettes to be effective cessation aids, there is little justification for their sale,” the editorial reads.

Many major health groups have expressed concerns over the rising use of e-cigarettes. Last week, The American Lung Association along with nearly twenty other public health organizations issued comments to the Food and Drug Administration, urging the agency to speed up the oversight process of vaping products.

“E-cigarettes are guilty until proven innocent,” said Erika Sward the assistant vice president of the American Lung Association said, adding that regulation can’t come soon enough.

“For instance, we don’t know if people who use them would otherwise quit smoking altogether or if they eventually lead them back to using tobacco,” she added. “There are too many things about the medium and long term health effects we simply don’t know about yet know.”

Dr. Leonard Lichtenfeld, the deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, said “we cannot forget the lessons of the past where modified cigarettes were supposed to be less harmful and instead created greater harm.”

“We’re not trying to predict the future but we need to step back and understand the potential benefits and possible risks of e-cigarettes,” he said. “What we need is well done research and high quality evidence to answer the fundamental questions about the health risk of e-cigarettes and their role in smoking cessation.”

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Child Cancer Survivor Takes Message of Support, Hope for Cure on the Road

Child Cancer Survivor Takes Message of Support, Hope for Cure on the Road

iStock/Thinkstock(RALEIGH, N.C.) — In August 2010, Ashley Burnette was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma, a cancer that begins in immature nerve cells. She was 7.

“I went through many, many treatments,” said Ashley of Raleigh, North Carolina. “It was just very hard for me and my family. … Now I am happy to say I am cancer free and I’ve been that for two years now.”

Ashley said she has been on a daily medication, but should be finished this month.

These days, the 11-year-old spends her time speaking as a national youth ambassador for Hyundai Hope on Wheels, a nonprofit organization that raises money for childhood cancer awareness and seeks out advocates to share its message.

“I travel all across the country and spread awareness for cancer and I pretty much just meet kids and go to children’s hospitals and make them feel comforted because, I mean, they are going through a lot right now,” she said.

The group’s 2014 goal is to award $13 million in pediatric cancer research grants. Car dealerships and Hyundai Motor America make a contribution to Hope On Wheels each time a new Hyundai is sold in the U.S.

“Childhood cancer affects not only the patients. It affects families, friends, doctors, nurses. It affects everybody and that’s really why we need to find a cure. … That’s why I’m so supportive of this organization,” Ashley said. “I just want to try to find a cure someday. I hope that day will be soon.”

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What Happens When a Plane’s Cabin Depressurizes

What Happens When a Plane’s Cabin Depressurizes

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It is still unclear why the pilot of a turboprop plane flying from Rochester, New York, became unresponsive during flight, eventually crashing off the coast of Jamaica on Friday.

One possible scenario is that the cabin may have lost air pressure for some unknown reason, incapacitating all on board.

Aviation expert and ABC News consultant John Nance said the pilot’s requests to air traffic controllers to get to a lower altitude and his subsequent debilitation “clearly shows a progressive hypoxic situation,” a condition in which the body does not get an adequate supply of oxygen.

The pilot was refused permission to fly lower because of traffic below him, but when asked by air traffic controllers if he wanted to declare an emergency – which would have given his request priority – the pilot said it was not necessary. Moments later the pilot passed out.

Nance said it wasn’t clear whether the pilot was incapacitated by the rapid depressurization of the cabin or fumes in the cockpit.

Under ordinary circumstances, most aircraft cabins, whether in a small plane or a large commercial jet, are pressurized to the equivalent of 8,000 feet above sea level or lower. At a pressure that is the equivalent of 8,000 feet, it lowers the amount of oxygen in the blood by about 4 percentage points, according to a recent New England Journal of Medicine report. This may lead to some discomfort, but no ill health effects for a person in good health.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, pilots lose decision making ability fairly quickly at higher altitudes.

“The ability to take corrective and protective action is lost in 20 to 30 minutes at 18,000 feet and 5 to 12 minutes at 20,000 feet, followed soon thereafter by unconsciousness,” the FAA states.

But if there was an air leak or the plane flew too high, it would have had detrimental effects, leading to an oxygen deficiency known as hypoxia, said Randy Padfield, a licensed pilot with more than 10,000 hours of flying experience and the chief operating officer of Aviation International News.

“What happens first is your brain is not as quick. You’d get very confused and stop thinking clearly,” he explained. “Then you’d fall asleep and eventually die due to lack of oxygen.”

Padfield said depressurization can happen quickly or slowly.

If it happens quickly, there is little time to react, although pilots are trained to keep an eye on cabin pressure and adjust the plane’s oxygen levels accordingly. Once pressure dips below acceptable levels, oxygen masks drop down and people put them on to breathe in pure oxygen for as long as it lasts. Protocol dictates that the pilot fly to a lower cruising altitude, usually below 10,000 feet, so that breathing would no longer be a problem for a healthy person.

If depressurization happened slowly, passengers might not notice right away, Padfield said. They might feel woozy and drift into unconsciousness. Anyone with asthma, a heart condition or who is elderly would feel the effects much sooner.

When a cabin depressurizes, the percentage of oxygen in the air stays about the same, but the molecules get further and further apart, Padfield explained.

“Imagine a balloon at sea level, then take it up to 10,000 feet. The balloon gets bigger because there is less pressure pushing in against it,” he said.

The aircraft’s engines pressurize the cabin with outside air, according to Air and Space magazine. Compressed air gets hotter and hotter as it runs through a series of fans and rotors. Some is diverted to de-ice the wings and the rest goes through a cooling system similar to a car radiator.

Then the air expands through an expansion turbine that cools air in the same way you can cool air by blowing it out of puckered lips. Finally, the air goes into a mixer, or manifold, and is recirculated through the cabin with a series of fans.

Padfield said that if a door or window blew out during flight, the cabin might be enveloped in a misty fog and loose articles like paper and small items might fly around the cabin. Passengers would presumably be wearing their seat belts and therefore be in little danger of being sucked into the sky.

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Study: Lifetime of Outdoor Activity May Lead to Eye Disease

Study: Lifetime of Outdoor Activity May Lead to Eye Disease

iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — Spending prolonged hours in the sun can lead to a common eye disease, according to a new study.

Residential geography and sunglass use can help exlpain why individuals develop exfoliation syndrome (XFS), an eye condition that is linked to secondary open-angle glaucoma and an increased risk of cataract and cataract surgery complications.

The study, published Thursday in JAMA, Ophthalmology, explored the connection between residential history, solar exposure, and XFS.

Using participants in the United States and Israel, researchers examined the average latitude of their homes and the average number of hours a week they spent outdoors. Volunteers were all 60 years or older and white.

For each hour per week they spent outdoors during the summer, participants were associated with a 4 percent increased odds of XFS. However, sunglass use decreased the risk in the United States, though not in Israel.

“Lifetime outdoor activities may contribute to XFS,” said lead author Louis Pasquale. “The association between work over snow or water and the lack of association with brimmed hat wear suggests that ocular exposure to light from reflective surfaces may be an important type of exposure in XFS etiology. If confirmed in other studies, there could be reason to consider more widespread use of UV-blocking eyewear in these cases to help prevent XFS.”

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Bras Not to Blame for Breast Cancer Risk, Study Says

Bras Not to Blame for Breast Cancer Risk, Study Says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Bra-wearing may not be linked to breast cancer risk in women, according to a new report.

The study, published Friday in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, found no link between bra cup size, bra band size, and the disease, among other factors.

“There have been some concerns that one of the reasons why breast cancer may be more common in developed countries compared with developing countries is differences in bra-wearing patterns,” said Lu Chen, researcher in the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “Given how common bra wearing is, we thought this was an important question to address.”

“The risk was similar no matter how many hours per day women wore a bra, whether they wore a bra with an underwire, or at what age they first began wearing a bra,” said Chen.

Researchers asked more than 1,000 women between the ages of 55 and 74 of their undergarment habits. The participants had either one of two common types of breast cancer — invasive ductal carcinoma or invasive lobular carcinoma.

“The findings provide reassurance to women that wearing a bra does not appear to increase the risk for the most common histological types of postmenopausal breast cancer,” the authors added.

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Commercial Flight Crews at Heightened Risk for Melanomas

Commercial Flight Crews at Heightened Risk for Melanomas

Adam Berry/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) — One of the lesser known occupational hazards of being part of a commercial flight crew is that workers are more susceptible to melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Dr. Martina Sanlorenzo of the University of California, San Francisco and her colleagues pored over 19 studies over nearly 25 years and discovered that the rate of pilots and cabin crews contracting melanoma is more than double that of the general population.

Moreover, those in flight-based occupations had a 40 percent greater likelihood of dying from melanoma compared to others.

What accounts for the bigger risk to pilots and flight crew? The researchers say it’s probably due to them being exposed to greater amounts of ultraviolet radiation for greater periods of time.

In fact, at 30,000 feet, the UV level is twice as much of what people on the ground are exposed to.

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Blood From Ebola Survivors Eyed as Weapon Against Virus

Blood From Ebola Survivors Eyed as Weapon Against Virus

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The mounting death toll from the worst-ever Ebola outbreak has health officials eyeing a radical remedy: blood from Ebola survivors.

The World Health Organization on Friday announced that the use of blood therapies should be “considered as a matter of priority” amid the outbreak that has killed more than 2,100 people.

“There is a real opportunity that a blood derived product can be used now and this can be very effective in terms of treating patients,” Dr. Marie Paule Kieny, the agency’s assistant director general, said at a press briefing Friday.

The idea is not as bizarre as it might sound. A viral infection triggers an immune response — an attack by the body against its microscopic intruder in the form of antibodies. Those antibodies block the virus from infecting new cells, and they linger in the blood long after the infection.

Dr. Kent Brantly, an American aid worker infected while working with a missionary group in Liberia, reportedly received a blood transfusion from a child who survived the virus. He also received the experimental drug ZMapp, which is a cocktail of three synthetic antibodies designed to mimic an immune response. No one knows what role — if any — the treatments played in Brantly’s recovery.

There is evidence, however, that antibodies against Ebola linger in the blood of survivors. A 2009 study of blood samples collected during three Ebola outbreaks in Gabon found that levels peaked 30 days after exposure and “declined slowly over several years.” But not all antibodies are created equal, according to Thomas Geisbert, a virologist studying Ebola at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas.

“It’s possible that some people have antibodies that are directed against more important parts of the virus in terms of slowing it down. It could vary from person to person,” he said, explaining how different antibodies hone in on different parts of the sly virus. “In an outbreak scenario, it may difficult to identify who the best donors would be. It would have to be studied in a lab.”

And that’s what WHO officials intend to do, explaining that such studies in West Africa “should be based on the aim to learn as much as we can as fast as we can without compromising patient care or health worker safety.”

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Millenials May Be Most Distrusting of All Generations

Millenials May Be Most Distrusting of All Generations

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) — Millennials have definite views of the world they live in and they’re apparently not very positive in a study by San Diego State University researcher Jean Twenge.

Back in the mid-1970s when Baby Boomers were still young, about a third of high school seniors agreed that most people could be trusted even after Watergate and the Vietnam War.

Flash forward to present day and just 16 percent of high schoolers in 2012 said most people could be trusted.

Twenge, author of the book, Generation Me, maintains that, “Young people today feel disconnected and alienated,” which could be due a litany of reasons, including the Great Recession, dysfunction in Washington and public figures from sports and the arts who can’t stay out of trouble.

Just 22 percent of high school seniors in 2012, compared to 49 percent in 2000-2002, felt that Congress was doing a “good” or “very good” job.

Millennials’ attitudes are also less positive than Boomers or Gen Xers on a host of other institutions as well, including corporations, universities, religions and the media.

Twenge’s study will appear in the journal Psychological Science later this month.

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Does the Alcohol Industry Really Advocate Responsible Drinking?

Does the Alcohol Industry Really Advocate Responsible Drinking?

iStock/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE, Md.) — The alcohol industry may claim to look out for the best interests of consumers but a new study charges the opposite is actually true.

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health claim the brief public service messages at the end of beer or liquor ads that say “drink responsibly” or “enjoy in moderation” aren’t very effective at all.   

Study leader Katherine Clegg Smith contends the problem is that the alcohol industry doesn’t define what entails responsible drinking nor does it inform consumers about the health risks that come with drinking too much.

The Johns Hopkins team says that about 87 percent of alcohol ads that appeared in magazines from 2008 to 2010 did convey a message of responsibility. However, there was not once instance of what that meant or how and when to abstain from drinking.

Furthermore, the font size of the message was smaller than the ads’ slogans or taglines 95 percent of the time. In addition, the researchers felt that 88 percent of the ads advocating responsibility were actually promoting the product since photos depicted the fun people were having with alcohol.

As a result, health experts believe that the ads should contain “real warnings about the negative effects of excessive alcohol use.”

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