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ABC News(WHEATFIELD, N.Y.) — A New York woman says she hasn’t been herself since she survived being grazed by lightning while sitting on a couch in her living room.“I’m feeling the same, but…like very nervous,” Theresa Szelest told ABC News’ 20/20. “That’s not my personality. [I'm] even to the point of almost having panic attacks.”While at her home in Wheatfield, New York, last week, Szelest said her mom was rubbing her feet for her when it began raining outside.“And it was thundering, lightning. And one struck in the backyard, and I went, ‘Oh my god, Mom, that is so close,’” Szelest recalled. “I don’t remember feeling anything. I don’t remember seeing it. But it’s the sound that I remember. All I remember is the sound.”That’s when Szelest said her mom felt a jolt through Szelest’s foot.“I smelled her hair to make sure she wasn’t burning,” Lottie Waldron, Szelest’s mom, told 20/20. “And then it was too quick. We all jumped up, and the next thing I knew I was outside.”Szelest, 52, said she was unharmed, except for being in such shock that she was having trouble breathing.“It was funny because I guess I was hyperventilating, so my toes were starting to turn purple,” she said.A neighbor, who is a volunteer fireman, came across the street and had them leave the house in case it was on fire. Fortunately, there was no fire in the house, just small pieces of plaster that fell on Szelest and in the area where the bolt of lightning entered the home.Szelest’s home has no visible outside damage, but she worries it may be susceptible to another lightning strike. “Just because of the direction and the way the house sits, it’s one of the highest peaks in the neighborhood. Is it going to happen again? I hope not,” said Szelest.The overwhelming number of lightning strikes occur outside, but can also strike inside, said the National Weather Service’s lightning expert John Jensenius.“Lightning can go through the plumbing. It could easily go through water and get to you,” Jenenius told ABC News. “If it strikes outside, it can travel through the metal doorknob.”Because she has trouble remembering what happened, Szelest feels like a part of her is gone.“I just want everybody else to be aware that it can happen and to be careful,” said Szelest. “Just be aware of your surroundings.”
Watch the full story on ABC News’ 20/20 on Friday, Aug. 8 at 10 p.m. ET.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — There are many reasons to mourn the end of summer, but the threat of ashen, winter-chapped skin is chief among them.Not ready to face a ghostly complexion just yet? Neither are we.To keep our pallor at bay, we consulted the experts. Here, they offer tried-and-true tips to maintain the appearance of a summer glow.Be GentleMeredith Fish, who founded Brownberry, a salon and product line that specializes in the art of the spray tan, recommended that wannabe golden girls lightly exfoliate before applying self-tanner.”The actual activation is happening between [the product and] your epidermis, which is the outermost layer of skin. If you’re not working with the outermost layer, it’s not going to last as long,” she explained.Of her preferred exfoliation technique, Fish said: “My favorite is just using a wash cloth with a really hydrating soap. You want to be careful not to irritate your skin or dry it out, which sometimes people end up doing, because they’re just so ferociously determined to exfoliate.”Christy Cella, the vice president of education at Clarins Group and a “self-tanning client of Clarins for 18 years,” agreed. After stressing the importance of exfoliation to eliminate unsightly dry patches, she, too, encouraged users to moisturize.”People always go, ‘Why do I need to moisturize?’ The fact is if your skin already has a bit of slippage [from lotion], a self-tanner will glide on more effortlessly,” she said. “It just makes the tan look more natural and you’re less likely to have any mistakes.”Think AheadErin Griffin, a makeup artist at Tarte Cosmetics, has told clients to apply product the day before they want to see results.”[Y]ou want to ensure the product fully absorbs into your skin and has enough time to full develop a natural-looking color,” she told ABC News. “When using Tarte’s Brazilliance Skin Rejuvenating Maracuja Self Tanner, I always suggest avoiding any activities such as exercising, showering or shaving, for at least eight hours after you’ve applied the tanner.”Lay It on ThickAccording to Fish, the key to superlative sunless tanning is a willingness to “go to town!””You’re better off going back over a spot, if you think you missed it…than being cautious where you spray,” Fish said. “You just really want to get every spot — every nook and cranny. Be as thorough as possible.”For a foolproof tan, Griffin added, “always…apply the product in long, even strokes as opposed to circular motions.”Nothing Lasts ForeverLike a “real” tan, a faux glow is temporary. To extend its effects, Cella said to moisturize regularly: “Body oils are a great way to keep your skin hydrated and supple.”At Brownberry, Fish said she “would never want to deter a customer from going swimming, but the longer you soak the more quickly [your tan is] going to fade.” Be ready to reapply, she added.Fading GracefullyOf course, no matter how we cling to bronzed skin and the season with which we associate it, cooler temperatures will prevail.When it does, Cella advised users to apply tanner less frequently and consider products like Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster, which they can mix into moisturizer for a more subtle tint.”You don’t want to look like you just got back from Tahiti in January,” Fish said. “But I think it’s always nice to have a little sun-kissed glow. It’s definitely youthful looking. It’s definitely healthy looking.”Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Hemera/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — Wellbody Alliance operates the largest primary care clinic in Sierra Leone. The clinic is close to the epicenter of the deadly Ebola outbreak that is raging throughout western Africa.Raphael Frankfurter, the group’s 23-year-old executive director, returned from the country last week after spending several months there. The chief Ebola physician in the country recently died from the virus, wreaking havoc within the healthcare community there, he said. His team felt that as a non-medical person, he would be safer and more useful raising funds and coordinating programs in Boston where the organization is based.Before Frankfurter left Sierra Leone, a woman died from Ebola in a nearby hospital after attending a funeral where she likely washed and wrapped an infected corpse, as is the local custom. He was tasked with finding all 35 people she had come in contact with and convincing them to come in for testing.“People are not always receptive to us because of the aggressive way healthcare workers have met people in the community,” he said, explaining that armed military often surround the homes of suspected Ebola cases and isolate them for weeks at a time. “We tried a much more relaxed approach to engage them respectfully so they don’t feel as marginalized or intimidated.”Frankfurter said with Ebola cases on the rise, the mood in Sierra Leone is tense.“I couldn’t help feeling some of the tension myself, but rationally I was not afraid for my life. I know it is very difficult to contract Ebola unless you come into contact with a very sick person’s bodily fluids,” he said.His family is concerned but they respect his work, he said.“They are supportive and I appreciate the stress I am putting them through. I have reassured them many times that I have limited contact with patients,” he said.Frankfurter said he is planning on returning to Sierra Leone as soon as it makes sense, possibly in September or October. He said a shared sense of humanity drives him to help the people of the region through this crisis.“I’m motivated by a strong sense of ‘these people going through this in Sierra Leone could be me,’” Frankfurter said. “There is so much need. I couldn’t live with not engaging and trying to address some of these problems.”Like many humanitarian aid groups, Wellbody Alliance has removed all but essential medical personnel from the hot zone. Their doctors remain to fight one of the deadliest Ebola outbreaks in history at great personal risk, Frankfurter noted.Of the 1,711 Ebola cases currently reported, 145 of them are healthcare workers, according to the World Health Organization. There are 80 healthcare workers among the 932 confirmed deaths in all affected countries.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
iStock/Thinkstock(UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas) — Many children have natural radar systems that go into overdrive when there’s an undercurrent of tension in the house between mom and dad.Southern Methodist University psychologist Chrystyna D. Kouros says that’s all the more reason for parents to try and cool things down because their stress and bad feelings can also affect each one’s relationship with their children.In examining 200 families who wrote about their experiences for 15 days, Kouros learned that moms seemed to over-compensate when marriages were going through rocky patches and as a result, they would generally be more caring with their children.However, dads were different and not in a good way. When their wives exhibited signs of being depressed, it affected men negatively and that led to worse interactions with the youngsters.The bottom line, Kouros said, is that the quality of a marriage has an enormous effect on the entire family and parents need to be more cognizant of that fact and how children react to it.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
iStock/Thinkstock(ADELAIDE, Australia) — Parents have heard all the reasons why they should steer their kids away from certain popular beverages that are loaded with either sugar or caffeine or both. However, a study from Australia’s University of Adelaide brings up another downside of soft drinks, fruit juice and sports drinks, which is high acidity.Dr. Sarbin Ranjitkar and his team say that the acids in these drinks can cause tooth enamel to wear away, not to mention make the teeth discolored and sensitive.And if that isn’t bad enough, Ranjitkar warns of the dreaded “triple threat” that can do irreparable damage to young teeth. In addition to the effects of acid in beverages, he says that many teens also grind their teeth when they sleep and the combination of that and acids produced by the stomach because of reflux present a nightmare scenario.Ranjitkar’s advice to parents then is to limit soft drinks, fruit juice and sports drinks since enamel erosion can occur within 30 seconds of acid in contact with teeth.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Purestock/Thinkstock(ROCHESTER, N.Y.) — For years, millions of middle-aged Americans have taken a low-dose aspirin each day to help prevent heart attack and stroke. The question is: who told them to do so?Now, a University of Rochester study reveals the truth and it’s pretty shocking. Most older patients who pop an aspirin a day didn’t get that advice from their physician.The UR researchers looked at the records of nearly 3,440 people who qualified for aspirin therapy even though they didn’t exhibit any signs of heart disease. They did, however, have other health risks such as diabetes, hypertension and obesity.When asked if their doctor had told them to take a low-dose aspirin daily to prevent heart attacks, stroke or cancer, only 34 percent of the men and 42 percent of the women answered in the affirmative.So why are doctors gun-shy about recommending aspirin to middle-aged patients who could probably benefit from it? Lead author Kevin Fiscella cites several reasons, including failure to assess whether a patient is eligible for an aspirin regimen and perhaps concerns that its disadvantages such as internal bleeding might outweigh the benefits.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
iStock/Thinkstock(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — The greatest love of all, Whitney Houston once sang, is the love one has for his or herself. However, even that love can get out of hand, given how some people are enamored with themselves at the exclusion of just about everyone else.Psychologists call these people narcissists, and given the popularity of selfies on social media, it seems like an epidemic.According to Brad Bushman, an Ohio State University researcher, there’s typically a 40-question survey that is used to determine whether one exhibits narcissistic traits.However, Bushman contends that if you want to get to the meat of the matter quickly, all it takes is one question to determine if a person is truly self-centered and that is, “To what extent do you agree with the statement, ‘I am a narcissist’?On a scale of one to seven, with seven being “very true,” Bushman determined that those likely to considers themselves narcissists were generally young and males.The study did not analyze whether someone suffers from diagnosed narcissistic personality disorder, which can interfere with day-to-day living.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
iStock/Thinkstock(DANBURY, Conn.) — Do the names Synthroid and Abilify ring a bell? According to the research firm IMS health, they happen to be the nation’s top-prescribed drug and top-selling prescription drug, respectively.Synthroid, which is used to treat an underactive thyroid, averages 22.6 million prescriptions per month. Abilify, which is used to treat schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder I, and depression, had $7.2 billion in sales in the past year.IMS Health notes nothing much has changed with the top 10 lists of drugs in each category among the top 100 prescribed drugs in the U.S. from June 2013 to June 2014.Here are the top 10 drugs, per monthly prescriptions, and what they’re used to treat:
Synthroid, 22.6 million (Treats underactive thyroid)
Crestor, 22.5 million (Treats high cholesterol)
Nexium, 18.6 million (Treats heartburn)
Ventolin HFA, 17.5 million (Treats asthma, chronic bronchitis)
Advair Diskus, 15.0 million (Treats asthma)
Diovan, 11.4 million (Treats hypertension)
Lantus Solostar, 10.1 million (Treats diabetes)
Cymbalta, 10.0 million (Treats major depressive disorder, general anxiety and fibromyalgia)
Vyvanse, 10.0 million (Treats ADHD)
Lyrica, 9.6 million (Treats epilepsy, shingles)
Here are the top 10 by sales for the year and what they’re used to treat:
Abilify, $7.2 billion (Treats schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder I, and depression)
Humira, $6.3 billion (Treats arthritis)
Nexium, $6.3 billion (Treats heartburn)
Crestor, $5.6 billion (Treats high cholesterol)
Enbrel, $5.0 billion (Treats rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis)
Advair Diskus, $5.0 billion (Treats asthma)
Sovaldi, $4.4 billion (Treats hepatitis C)
Remicade, $4.3 billion (Treats rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis)
Lantus Solostar, $3.8 billion (Treats diabetes)
Neulasta, $3.6 billion (Treats low white blood cell count)
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Courtesy Hooman Noorchashm(PHILADELPHIA) — After nearly a year of campaigning to ban a procedure favored by the medical community and dealing with his wife’s life-threatening cancer diagnosis, Dr. Hooman Noorchashm said he finally feels his family is on solid ground again.”We think we’ve landed on our feet. It’s been a whirlwind for almost the past year now,” Noorchashm told ABC News.Noorchashm, a cardio-thoracic surgeon, and his wife Dr. Amy Reed, a certified-anesthesiologist, spearheaded a campaign last fall to ban the practice of using laparoscopic power morcellation in the removal of uterine fibroids or the uterus due to possible cancer risks.The couple has first-hand knowledge of how devastating the procedure can be after Reed underwent the surgery last October to remove uterine fibroids. According to the couple and confirmed by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, as Reed underwent the procedure — where the fibroids are broken up and removed through small incisions — an undetected virulent cancer called leiomyosarcoma hidden in the fibroids was ground up along with the fibroids as they were removed.As the device ground up fibroids for removal, it may have also spread the cancer throughout her abdomen.Noorchashm told ABC News he was shocked and angry after hearing in detail how the procedure spread the undetected cancer.”Within minutes of hearing of my wife’s diagnosis. I just knew this was wrong,” Noorchashm said of the procedure.At the time of Reed’s surgery, it was unclear what the likelihood a person undergoing the procedure would have undetected cancer.A 2012 study published in the Public Library of Science found that in 1,091 morcellation procedures performed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital over five years, only one woman was found to have leiomyosarcoma, the same virulent undetected cancer as Reed’s.Within weeks, Noorchashm was talking to other doctors and asking to get more information about these kinds of procedures and reaching out to other women who experienced something similar. He and Reed started a Change.org petition to get the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban the procedure.Within months, two Boston hospitals, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (where Noorchashm was employed and Reed was treated), agreed to first review the procedures and then limit occasions when the procedures would be used.But Noorchashm wanted a more permanent answer. He temporarily stopped working 90 hours a week as a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and started applying that time to supporting his wife during her treatment and working to get the procedure banned.”I basically used the same intensity I brought to work and focused it on this,” said Noorchashm. “What you’re seeing here is a large volume of time and non-stop sustained [work] in order to make a change.”In the months after Noorchashm and Reed started their petition, at least two medical articles were published in the Journal of American Medical Association questioning the safety of the procedure.A study published in July in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Columbia University researchers revealed that undetected uterine cancers were found in 27 per 10,000 women at the time of the procedure.Last April, the couple had a major breakthrough after the FDA recommended doctors stop performing the procedure due to possible cancer risks. The FDA found that 1 in 350 women were at risk of having a type of uterine cancer, called uterine sarcoma, spread throughout the abdomen if they undergo the procedure.In a statement sent to ABC News last April, the FDA acknowledged that Noorchashm brought the issue to their attention last December.”After further discussion, we involved staff from across the agency to look into the issue further,” the FDA told ABC News in a statement.Despite the FDA caution, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a statement in May that “minimally invasive surgery, including gynecologic power morcellation, continues to be an option for some patients undergoing hysterectomy or myomectomy.”The ACOG said that preoperative consults should be used to advise patients about their options and that further studies were required in the development of detecting uterine cancers before morcellation procedures.Despite the ACOG findings, in recent weeks the procedure has become more and more marginalized after a major supplier withdrew devices for the procedure and a Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance plan announced they would no longer cover the procedure due to potential cancer risks.Late last month Ethicon, the Johnson and Johnson division that makes three device models used in these procedures, announced it is voluntarily withdrawing all of its power morcellation devices from the market.According to an FDA spokesman, there are approximately 24 devices for laparoscopic tissue morcellators that have been approved by the FDA. The Johnson and Johnson withdrawal covers three devices on the market”The risk-benefit assessment associated with the use of these devices in hysterectomy and myomectomy procedures for removing fibroids remains uncertain,” Johnson and Johnson said in a statement. “Due to this continued uncertainty, Ethicon believes that a market withdrawal of Ethicon morcellation devices is the appropriate course of action at this time.”Noorchashm and Reed have not filed any lawsuit against either Ethicon or Brigham and Women’s hospital. The couple said they are focused instead on stopping the procedure altogether.However, Ethicon’s morcellators are the subject of three lawsuits filed earlier this year against the company. In one case against Ethicon was dismissed after lawyers determined that a different manufacturer made the device used in the procedure. Ethicon has said they do not comment on litigation. According to an Ethicon spokesman, the cases are still pending.The lawsuits were not a factor in withdrawing the devices, according to an Ethicon spokesman.This week the Blue Cross/Blue Shield High Mark plan available to residents of Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, announced it would no longer cover power morcellation for uterine procedures due to the possible risks.For Noorchashm and Reed, both 41, the biggest news of the past year was not one published in a headline. Instead it was the news that after surgery and six rounds of chemotherapy Reed was found to have no evidence of disease.In recent weeks the couple moved with their six children, aged 1 to 12, to Philadelphia, where their extended family lives and where Noorchashm will start at job at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals later this summer.Reed is likely to go back to work at some point in the next few weeks.As the couple start to get back to their normal lives, Noorchashm said the last year has left a mark on how he practices medicine. He and Reed are still planning on working as advocates in different aspects of the field. And Noorchashm said he wants to change the way the FDA approves devices such as the morcellation devices.Earlier this summer the couple were asked to talk at panel convened by the FDA to review the procedure.In his day-to-day work, Noorchashm said he now puts himself in his patient’s shoes more often and doesn’t write off patients who seem disgruntled about something minor.”Do I want that to happen to me or my loved one?” Noorchashm said of his new attitude. “[If] I wouldn’t want to be in that position, I’m not going to do that.”
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iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Researchers say they have identified another gene that may be linked to increased risk of breast cancer.According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the PALB2 gene may be linked to between five and eight times increased risk of breast cancer. Researchers say a mutation in the PALB2 gene, which is known to interact with the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes previously linked to breast cancer risk, led to increased breast cancer risk among all age ranges of women, even those without family history of the disease.The individual risk linked to the PALB2 gene did vary based on a number of factors, including age and family history. Women under 40 with the gene mutation were eight to nine times more likely to have breast cancer, while women over 60 were about five times greater than normal risk.
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iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MONROVIA, Liberia) — As doctors at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta fight to save the lives of two Americans infected with Ebola overseas, in Liberia, the epicenter of the outbreak, health officials are still struggling to contain the deadly virus.Liberia, where the death toll has risen to 282 people, is a ground zero for the catastrophic outbreak. Bodies of those infected litter neighborhood streets, some buried in shallow graves, others left to rot.Mark Korvaya is a Liberian government health worker fighting an uphill and increasingly dangerous battle.Workers like him have the grim task of taking samples of the dead bodies to test for Ebola. Not only are they at risk for being infected themselves, but they also have become targets for violent protests. Angry residents blame health workers for spreading the disease, or for not being quick enough to respond to requests to confiscate potentially contagious bodies.Korvaya believes the work of sampling bodies is important, because confirming an Ebola infection in a dead body helps officials track, and hopefully stop, the virus.Ebola is one of the deadliest viruses on Earth. Highly contagious, it kills up to 90 percent of the people it infects and spreads through contact with bodily fluids like blood, sweat and vomit. Symptoms begin with fever, vomiting and severe blood loss. Death comes quickly, often within a few days, for all but a lucky few.When Korvaya and his team enter a neighborhood stricken with Ebola, they suit up in full hazmat gear because even the slightest contact with the virus can be deadly.“That’s why they say don’t shake hands with anybody because you can never know who it is that you see that has been touching somebody,” said one health worker.The Liberian government’s health department workers are overworked and often undertrained. They simply aren’t able to work fast enough to keep up with the dozens of people who die each day, and they face different challenges every place they visit.In Clara Town, a small neighborhood in Liberia, enraged residents were begging the government to take away the bodies of those who have died. But in another neighborhood, angry residents, many of whom are Muslim, wouldn’t allow Korvaya’s team to have access to their dead. Muslim tradition mandates that bodies should be buried the day the person died, but Korvaya’s team wanted to make sure those coming out to mourn their dead wouldn’t become infected with Ebola.Liberia is a country in chaos, where people are terrified and full of suspicion. Many of the infected refuse to seek treatment, fearing they will be mistreated or turned away at clinics, so they lock themselves inside their homes.“It’s not easy,” said a resident named Ezekiel Kumeh. “Lost mother, lost a cousin, and then brother and sister are almost at the point of death and they’re refusing to go seek medication….We’re just going to leave it with God, there’s nothing we can do more than this.”In this poverty-stricken nation, the healthcare system is stretched perilously thin. Sanitation centers line dirt roads but offer only buckets of water and a single bottle of hand sanitizer. For every 10,000 people there is only one doctor, the worst ratio in all of Africa. In the U.S., there is, on average, one doctor for every 400 people.Doctors in the U.S. are hoping that an experimental Ebola treatment, a serum called Z-Mapp, may save the lives of the two Americans, Nancy Writebol and Ken Brantly, brought back with Ebola. It’s still untested and unapproved, likely years from widespread use. So for those caught in the outbreak, an Ebola cure remains a distant and elusive hope.
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iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Researchers have found a possible link between Vitamin D deficiency and increased risk of dementia.In a study published in the journal Neurology, researchers said they looked at over 5,000 patients and found that those with vitamin D levels that qualified as “severely deficient” were 122 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who received sufficient levels of the nutrient. Those patients who were merely “deficient” were 51 percent more likely to develop dementia. Researchers tested the results excluding certain factors — including alcohol use, education level, age, sex and smoking status — and found that their findings remained accurate.
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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A panel of World Health Organization ethicists will discuss whether to use experimental drugs in the West African Ebola outbreak that has killed 932 people since March.Two American patients have received an experimental Ebola drug called ZMapp made by Mapp Pharmaceuticals, a 9-person company in San Diego.The drug — made of monoclonal antibodies derived from plants — had been shown to work in monkeys within two days of infection, but it had never been tested in humans before. The patients, Dr. Kent Brantly and missionary Nancy Writebol, have since been flown from Liberia to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where they are reportedly improving.“We are in an unusual situation in this outbreak. We have a disease with a high fatality rate without any proven treatment or vaccine,” Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO’s Assistant Director-General, said in a statement. “We need to ask the medical ethicists to give us guidance on what the responsible thing to do is.”ZMapp is one of several experimental Ebola treatments, but there is no approved vaccine or cure for the deadly virus.Given that even unproven treatments are in short supply, the WHO panel will also discuss who should receive them.The first human clinical trial of an Ebola vaccine is set to begin sometime in September, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. If successful, it will likely take until mid- or late-2015 before a limited number of health care workers can receive the vaccine, he said.
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American Red Cross (NEW YORK) — To fight the worst Ebola outbreak in history, the American Red Cross is attempting to get ahead of the virus by creating the most detailed maps of rural towns and villages so officials can track the deadly virus as it spreads.The aid group is enlisting volunteers — maybe even you — to help map the areas hard hit by the virus through its Geographic Information System program. Anyone who wants to volunteer can join online.Dale Kunce, the leader of the American Red Cross Geographic Information System (GIS) team, said it works with input from people in the field to oversee volunteers as they detail maps by poring over satellite imagery of houses, schools and remote villages.“One of the more interesting requests was from the [World Health Organization to] start looking at cemeteries,” said Kunce. “It’s very important in the Ebola outbreak because it’s where the infection [can occur.]” Once the maps are detailed, Kunce said, they are sent out to Red Cross partners, including Doctors Without Borders and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, which are working in the field to treat victims and stop the outbreak, which has infected 1,711, killing 932.Volunteers don’t need prior experience with maps, Kunce said, adding that the sheer number of people helping means the maps are done quickly and errors are caught by hundreds of volunteers sharing the work.“A Wikipedia article can make an innocent mistake and then someone with more experience will catch the mistake,” said Kunce, comparing the website to the mapping program. ”But then it’s fixed. There’s 700 people and 1,400 eyes [on these maps.] The maps will improve over time.”People working in the remote areas will also send in notes, such as GPS locations for a village that has never been mapped before.As a result of the efforts, Kunce said, the volunteers have been able to reimagine entire cities. The original map for the remote town of Guéckédou in Guinea showed just nine roads. After mappers looked at satellite photographs, they were able to add hundreds of roads and streams to the map of the town located near the epicenter of the outbreak. The maps can be vital to fight Ebola in rural areas where road signs, maps and GPS locations are scarce. Epidemiologists can track where and how fast the disease is spreading. If an aid worker hears a person is sick in a village, he or she can pick up these new maps and figure out a route to that location.One American Red Cross volunteer, David Schindler, said the maps were key for relief workers trying to navigate rural roads, towns and neighborhoods for the first time.“The hard copy maps were very useful; they were posted up on the wall and referenced constantly by relief workers,” said Schindler, who helped provide IT support for aid workers in Sierra Leone. “And people were posting maps on to their GPS regularly.”
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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Sharks aren’t the only danger lurking at the beaches this summer. From urban runoff and fecal matter to viruses that can be spread through the water, people can become seriously ill from a simple dip in an ocean or lake.“When you swim in contaminated water, there is a grim inventory of diseases that can be associated with that, from stomach flu, to pink eye, to ear infection, to eye infection, to diarrhea, to even respiratory and neurological disorders,” Steve Fleischli, director of the Water Program for the Natural Resources Defense Council, told ABC News’ 20/20.Each year, the NRDC uses the government’s data to come up with a list of the nation’s most bacteria-laden waters.Some of the beaches featured on this year’s list included Cockle Cove Creek in Chatham, Massachusetts, Beachwood, New Jersey and the Malibu pier in California.While the nation’s beaches are usually clean, Fleischli shared some of his advice to stay safe in the water.
“A day at the beach should never lead to a night at the hospital,” said Fleischli.Check out Fleischli’s tips below:
Wait at least three days after a heavy storm to go into the water. Runoff causes increased bacteria levels.
Don’t dunk your head into the water.
Avoid getting water in your mouth or nose.
Stay out of the water when you have open cuts.
Don’t go in the water when you’re sick. You can easily infect others.
Watch the full story on ABC News’ 20/20 Friday, Aug. 8, at 10 p.m. ET.
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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Lying around all day isn’t good for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it can lead to serious illnesses, as reported in the European Journal of Epidemiology.Generally speaking, health experts recommend seven to nine hours of sleep during any 24-hour period.However, in a study of more than 39,000 Norwegians over 12 years, people who spent anywhere from 11-to-18 hours lying down daily increased their chances of dying from heart disease by more than 90 percent compared to those who were only on their backs for seven hours.What’s more, the chances of dying from any cause jumped 60 percent among those who lied down 11 hours or more.The researchers also noted that lying down for extended periods of time, which limits both muscle activity and energy expenditure, also counteracts physical activity people undertake when they’re on their feet.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — Teens think they know it all but what they don’t know about HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can really come back to hurt them.A survey by MAC AIDS Fund, which supports people who are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, finds 88 percent of its 1,000 respondents ages 12 to 17 believe they’re not at risk of contracting HIV.This is particularly disconcerting since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the 13-24 age group makes up 25 percent of new HIV cases annually. What’s more, six in ten of those infected aren’t aware they’ve contracted the disease.Meanwhile, the MAC AIDS Fund survey reveals just how misinformed many teens are about HIV with a third not understanding that it’s a sexually transmitted disease.Another disturbing revelation from the poll: just over seven in ten know that condom use helps to blunt the spread of HIV while under fifty percent realize that they can help prevent an infection by having sex with just one partner.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Hangovers are the scourge of anyone who’s ever had too much to drink. And yet, people don’t seem to learn their lesson even during the workweek.Blowfish, which makes a combined aspirin-caffeine tablet that supposedly helps cure a hangover, says that half of the 5,249 adults it surveyed last year acknowledged that they’ve shown up at work feeling lousy after a night of heavy drinking.The survey also showed that while half of men admitted they’ve gone to work hungover, 52 percent of women confessed to doing the same.As for which kinds of workers are likely come to work all headachey and nauseous, waiters ranked number one, followed by realtors, salespeople, cops and cooks.Meanwhile, among those who drag themselves to work with a hangover, 28 percent said it’s made them late for work while seven percent confessed that they’ve messed up an assignment because of their impaired physical state.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
iStock/Thinkstock(ITHACA, N.Y.) — Laughter has been described as the best medicine but nothing beats a good dose of natural light to revive the physical and mental well-being of nurses.Cornell University researcher Rana Zadeh says that due to long shifts that often run from early morning to early evening or vice versa, nurses can feel run-down, irritable and depressed.Naturally, when nurses are not at their best, it can affect patient care.Zadeh maintains the solution to this problem is as simple as a blast of sunshine or improved quality lighting in nursing areas.Those with more access to natural light, according to Zadeh, experience lower blood pressure and better communication with colleagues. Zadeh notes that nurses who “see the light” laugh more and are happier, which benefits patients.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Even with the worst-ever Ebola outbreak raging in her home country, a Liberian doctor is spending weeks in the U.S. rather than flying home as planned.Dr. Roseda Marshall, chairman of pediatrics at the University of Liberia’s A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine, said that she needs to raise money and gather supplies in America because, on a daily basis, things as simple as face masks and gloves can be in short supply in Liberia.Even before the outbreak, Elikem Tomety Archer, senior director for international partnerships and programs at the humanitarian aid group Americares, said that she saw hospitals located in the areas affected by Ebola rationing gloves so doctors only got four pairs per day, no matter how many patients.“We’ve received requests from our partners on the ground, in Liberia and Sierra Leone that they do not have equipment that they need in the quantities to prevent disease from spreading,” said Archer. “It’s creating a fear for the health workers, who on any given day [even] before this outbreak were putting their lives at risk treating HIV or hepatitis patients” without proper safeguards.Now, with Ebola ravaging the population, the situation may be even more dire.“We are dealing with an invisible enemy,” said Marshall, who spent more than 20 years in the U.S. before moving back to Liberia. “You can’t see the enemy until it kills you.”The latest Ebola outbreak numbers are staggering, with 1,440 infected and 826 deaths from those infections, according to the World Health Organization. Liberia has had 468 cases and 255 deaths.With such an emergency on its hands, the Liberian government has ordered the hospitals and a medical school temporarily closed to allow doctors to deal with infected patients.Marshall said she’s concerned about her patients with other illnesses. She often saw at least four to five pediatric patients a day with serious dehydration and fever before the Ebola outbreak at the country’s largest hospital, the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Monrovia.“People are not just dying from Ebola,” said Marshall. “Every day, you get four or five kids with malaria. What is happening to those kids now?”Hoping to get support for her country, Marshall turned a planned visit with her daughters in the U.S. into an impromptu fundraising trip. Marshall was scheduled to fly home to Monrovia, Liberia, this Friday, but instead of getting on a plane, she will be travelling across the U.S. to medical schools and churches to help explain what is going on in Liberia and within the region’s impoverished health system.“All the hospitals are closed. People are afraid if you think you have Ebola they don’t want to deal with you,” said Marshall. “I can do more here now than [there].”This week, she spoke at Johns Hopkins University about the need for more help and medical supplies to support doctors in the country.Aid organizations sending in medical supplies said under-equipped doctors have been putting their health in danger by treating patients without proper safety gear.Marshall said she also worried that the deadliest-ever Ebola outbreak could set back a generation of health workers.According to the World Health Organization, at least 60 health workers have been killed in the outbreak and more than 100 have been infected, including top Ebola doctors in Sierra Leone and Liberia.It’s a loss that can be incalculable in a place where there are only an estimated 50 doctors to treat the entire 4 million population of Liberia, according to the aid group SIM USA.Marshall said the loss of Dr. Samuel Brisbane, the top doctor in the critical care unit and a leading doctor on Ebola, will be immensely damaging.“It’s just too hard for us. I’m really heartbroken,” she said.Marshall said a top emergency room doctor is infected with Ebola and she is hoping that international organizations may provide him with the same experimental serum used on an American doctor and aid worker.Marshall, who also is president of the Liberian College of Physicians and Surgeons, which oversees medical degrees, said future generations of doctors could be affected after seeing the risks health workers have to take without proper supplies during this outbreak.“I think that’s a strong possibility, [people] being afraid of becoming doctors and health care workers,” she said.She plans on spending the next few weeks traveling across the country to raise awareness and gather supplies and is working with partners at the University of Massachusetts and other aid groups to raise funds.
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