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Meet the Crew in Charge of Cleaning Ebola Patient’s Apartment

Meet the Crew in Charge of Cleaning Ebola Patient’s Apartment

Tom Pennington/Getty Images(DALLAS) -- A crew of hazardous materials experts called the "Cleaning Guys" are in charge of disinfecting the Dallas apartment where an Ebola victim was staying, they told ABC News Friday."It's not just another day on the job," company Vice President Brad Smith said."Obviously, I think anyone involved would be worried -- not necessarily worried, but cautious. We've had a lot of discussions and team meetings about how we're going to attack the situation. But we run into hazardous chemicals and things that could hurt us probably more often than most," Smith said.The company specializes in hazmat services as well as industrial and crime scene cleaning and power washing.Smith has a crew of six to eight people on the scene at the east Dallas apartment complex where Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with the deadly disease in the U.S., had been staying, he said.They're wearing Level B protective equipment, including fully encapsulated suits and a full-face respirator with a shield. Duncan's apartment is a two-bedroom and approximately 1,000 square feet."We're in phase one cleaning at this point," Smith said. "Taking personal belongings of the patient, and linens, and the bed where he was sleeping. The protocol is to obviously triple bag it and we will prepare it for transportation by another company to its final destination for disposal."The Cleaning Guys have been in contact with and are receiving guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dallas County health officials and the Department of Homeland Security.Friday's cleaning, which started in the morning, should take about six hours, Smith said, adding that he and his crew have not yet been briefed on what the second phase of cleaning will entail."We work closely with cities as hazmat responders and we have contracts with the city," he added. "We train for this type of thing. Obviously, we haven't trained for Ebola because there hasn't been a situation in Texas until now."Kasey Bonner, an administrative assistant for the Cleaning Guys, told ABC News that taking the job was a hard decision."It took our vice president some time to make a decision," she said. "Long and hard thinking on that one. But our team is pretty skilled."Duncan, who is from Liberia and arrived in Dallas on Sept. 20, is in an isolation unit and his family is also being monitored, authorities said. Health officials are also tracking down about 100 other people who might have come in contact with the patient.

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Dallas Boy Fighting for His Life After Enterovirus Diagnosis

Dallas Boy Fighting for His Life After Enterovirus Diagnosis

ABC News(DALLAS) -- Bryan Sotelo was playing football two months ago.Now, the 11-year-old is fighting for his life after testing positive for enterovirus. His family is awaiting test results to see if he’s suffering from EV-D68, the particular strain of the virus linked to four deaths.Sotelo is one of more than two dozen patients in seven states suffering from paralysis after contracting severe respiratory illness. He’s going through intensive physical therapy at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, too weak to speak and unable to lift his right arm.Yadira Garcilazo, his mother, said her son’s condition continues to worsen.“When he got sick, I never think that he’s going to be like that,” she said.The virus has been confirmed in 43 states and Washington, D.C. At one children’s hospital in Michigan -- C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital -- seven cases of limb weakness and paralysis were reported. Some of the patients are infants and toddlers.“We do see these problems of limb weakness with viral infections. It's too early to say whether these kids will be okay in the long run, meaning whether they'll get all their strength back,” Matthew Davis, a pediatrician at the hospital, said.Sotelo’s mother remains hopeful that he can rise above his health obstacles.“He can beat this,” she said. “He has shown me so many things … he can do it.”

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Move Over Hot Yoga, There’s (Several) New Heated Classes in Town

Move Over Hot Yoga, There’s (Several) New Heated Classes in Town

DanceFIT Studio(BOSTON) -- The temperature's falling, but workouts all over the country are heating up -- literally.From Pilates to ballet to spinning to boot camp, there's more ways than ever to work up a real-deal sweat.In Brookline, Massachusetts, Gina Fay, owner of Dance Fit Studio, was offering her ballet-inspired barre class at the Church of Our Savior, a space that has no air conditioning and was 90 degrees in the summer months before class even started.The heat wasn't a deterrent at all. "The women loved the extra flexibility and the detox of sweating," she said.When it came time to expand, she opened a new studio in a former hot yoga studio."We start the room at 92 degrees," she said of her hot barre and hot deep-stretch classes. "Our clients asked that every class we offer be a hot one." They mostly are, she said, though she thinks she'll keep Pilates at a normal temperature.Fay may want to rethink that: the demand for hot Pilates in Los Angeles is so great, a studio dedicated to the practice is planned to open in West Hollywood.

Hot Pilates claims to be the first heated Pilates studio in Los Angeles. And in Las Vegas, Inferno Hot Pilates combines Pilates principles with high-intensity interval training and is performed in a room heated to 95 degrees with 40 percent humidity.The trend extends beyond major metro areas. In Waunkee and Ankeny, Iowa, Kris Hot Yoga offers hot barre, hot cardio barre, hot ballet barre, a run-barre fusion class and a hot barre boot camp. All classes are in rooms heated to as high as 95 degrees. The hot classes were so popular, founder Morgan Phipps opened a second studio earlier this year."The hot classes are what make it different than just going to a gym and working out,” Phipps said. “I think for most clients, the more you sweat equals the harder the workout.”In North Hollywood, The Sweat Shoppe offers heated, indoor cycling classes, "inspired by heated yoga," according to its website. Rooms are heated from 80 to 83 degrees, "creating an environment which efficiently warms the body and intensifies an already challenging workout."But is that true? It's hard to say. Experts generally agree that as long as you stay hydrated and stop if you don't feel well, hot workouts are similar to working out outside on a hot summer day.Fay, the owner of Dance Fit Studio in Massachusetts, said she wore a heart monitor during a "normal temperature class" and during a hot class to see whether there was a difference: "I burned almost 200 extra calories."

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Teens Admit Distracted Walking Can Be Dangerous

Teens Admit Distracted Walking Can Be Dangerous

iStock/Thinktsock(NEW YORK) -- Parents have to warn teens about everything these days, including avoid drugs, alcohol, STDs, bullies and walking.Walking? Well, distracted walking -- as in while talking on their phones, texting, or listening to music with earphones or earbuds.Safe Kids Worldwide, which polled 1,000 youngsters ages 13-18, says 40 percent of respondents have admitted they've almost been struck by a car, motorcycle or bike while walking.A majority who admitted to this also conceded they were using their phone or headphones when it happened.As a result, Safe Kids Worldwide recommends teens put the down the phone when crossing the street, only cross when the traffic signal says it's safe, and be especially alert at night.

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Acupuncture Useless for Knee Pain, Study Claims

Acupuncture Useless for Knee Pain, Study Claims

iStock/Thinkstock(MELBOURNE, Australia) -- Acupuncture might be useful in treating various ailments, but don’t let anyone stick needles in your knee.That’s the advice of researchers at the University of Melbourne in Australia, who say the medical treatment that originated in ancient China has been shown to have no benefit for those who suffer from moderate to severe knee pain.In their study, 300 adults received one of the following for chronic knee pain: needle acupuncture, laser acupuncture, and fake laser acupuncture. The control group received no treatment.Following three months of treatment, all participants with the exception of the control group reported similar relief of knee pain but within a year, the pain had returned in all cases.Essentially, the sham treatment was just as effective as the two types of real acupuncture but in reality, nothing really worked long-term.

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Hawaii Department of Health Rules Out Ebola in Patient

Hawaii Department of Health Rules Out Ebola in Patient

Creatas/Thinkstock(HONOLULU) -- The Hawaii State Department of Health says an individual who was under evaluation for possible Ebola infection was not tested for the disease because the person "does not meet the criteria for testing."Dr. Linda Rosen, director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, said that the hospital "acted in the best interests of the community, with an abundance of caution." After evaluation, it was determined that the patient did not meet the clinical or travel exposure criteria for Ebola.The nation is on heightened alert after at least three other Americans have contracted Ebola in recent weeks. Dr. Kent Brantly, Dr. Richard Sacra and Nancy Writebol were all brought back to the U.S. from West Africa and have received treatment for the disease. A fourth patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, traveled back to the U.S. and was later diagnosed with Ebola. On Thursday, NBC News reported that a freelance journalist working in Liberia tested positive for the disease as well.

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Implantable Pump Could Reduce Need for Self-Injection in Diabetics

Implantable Pump Could Reduce Need for Self-Injection in Diabetics

moodboard/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- A Boston-based startup announced positive results in testing of an implantable pump for continuous release of a diabetes drug.According to a press release, the study found that ITCA 650, which contains the drug exenatide, is superior to a placebo in treating diabetes. The small pump is about the size of a matchstick and would be implanted one to two times per year.If approved, Intarcia Therapeutics, Inc. said, ITCA 650 "would be the first and only injection-free...therapy to deliver up to a full year of treatment in a single subcutaneous mini-pump." The company says it is developing 6-month and 12-month pumps.Robert Henry, M.C., chief at VA Endocrinology and Metabolism and professor of Medicine in Residence at the University of California San Diego, said he was "extremely pleased" with the reuslts and that the pumps could "provide sustained blood sugar control for many type 2 diabetes patients...without the need for regular self-injections."

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WATCH: What It Takes to Enter an Ebola Ward

WATCH: What It Takes to Enter an Ebola Ward

ABC News(MONROVIA, Liberia) -- Ebola is a deadly virus with no known cure, so when health workers treat patients in West Africa, they suit up in layers upon layers of protective gear to minimize their risk.The medical gear is vital for health workers because they run the greatest risk for contracting the disease. The World Health Organization reported this week that at least 377 health care workers have been infected by Ebola since the outbreak began in March. Of those infected, 216 have died.Since the virus is spread through bodily fluids, health care workers have to take special care when treating patients to ensure they are not exposed to vomit, urine, blood or other bodily fluids.Earlier this week, ABC News' Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser was able show firsthand what it takes to get inside an Ebola ward after donning the protective equipment.Here's a list of the many layers needed for health care workers to protect themselves:

Scrubs Three pairs of gloves Goggles Fully-body Tyvek suit Boots and footcovers Respiratory mask Secondary hood Heavy yellow apron

"Not a speck of skin is exposed to the air," Dr. Besser wrote in a piece for ABC News. "After just five minutes in this cocoon, I am saturated in sweat."After leaving the ward, health workers aren't in the clear. To prevent infection, each layer of protective gear is disinfected one by one. After each layer is removed, the health worker is hosed down with bleach.

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Man Thought to Have Died from Ebola Awakens After Burial Team Wraps Him Up

Man Thought to Have Died from Ebola Awakens After Burial Team Wraps Him Up

Richard Besser/ABC NewsREPORTER'S NOTEBOOK By ABC News' Dr. Richard Besser

(MONROVIA, Liberia) -- Amid the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history, it's easier to get help if you are dead than if you are alive.My producer and I were driving back from an assignment in Monrovia, where we filmed Thursday morning's Good Morning America segment, when we saw a burial team working along the roadway surrounded by crowds of angry locals.A community leader said they had been trying to get help for the dead man for days, but no ambulance ever came. When the man died, a burial team came in an hour.We watched as the burial team suited up and approached the body lying against a wall. They sprayed it down with bleach and moved it to a black, plastic sheet and began to wrap it up."We couldn't get him help when he was alive," a community leader told me. "They only come when you die."Just then, the dead man moved his arm -- just a little, but clearly a sign of life."He's alive," someone yelled.The burial team unwrapped him and put him back on the ground. The man was alive but looked like he would only last a few more hours.About 10 minutes later, an ambulance pulled up and a separate team of health workers loaded him into the back.The crowd went wild cheering.

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Fear Among Flight Attendants After First Ebola Diagnosis in US

Fear Among Flight Attendants After First Ebola Diagnosis in US

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Flight attendants across the country are on high alert and amping up safety precautions after news of the first Ebola diagnosis in the United States.Some say they've been thinking about the deadly disease and how to keep themselves safe when they board flights."It's on my mind, a lot more than the regular person who works on the ground, I'm sure," flight attendant Heather Poole told ABC News Wednesday. "Even though I know the chances of somebody being sick with Ebola on one of my flights are slim to none. But I bet nobody on that United flight was thinking about Ebola either. And there it was."The first person to be diagnosed with Ebola on U.S. soil, Thomas Eric Duncan, is believed to have flown on United flights from Brussels, Belgium, to Washington Dulles, and then from Washington Dulles to Dallas-Fort Worth, according to a United Airlines spokeswoman."When was the last time somebody threw up on you? Happens all the time where I work," Poole noted, referring to the frequency of air sickness. "On my last flight from Las Vegas to New York a passenger threw up all over himself, his seat, his shoes, and guess who had to clean it up? Me."Jeffrey Tonjes, who works for United Airlines, said he's also on the lookout for ill passengers."It's all over the news -- how couldn't you talk about it?" he said."Especially due to the fact that Ebola came over on our planes," Tonjes added."We're washing our hands more and being aware of passengers," he said.

But Ebola isn't all that flight attendants have to worry about -- enterovirus 68 is also going around, sickening school-aged children and linked to at least one death in Rhode Island.Corey Caldwell, a spokesperson for the Association of Flight Attendants, said people who work on airplanes are used to being aware of contagious diseases."This isn't the first time that we have seen a pandemic outbreak like this," Caldwell said. "Several years ago there was SARS. We had the H1N1 virus. So flight attendants are used to periods of heightened awareness for health reasons."The AFA encourages flight attendants to follow guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.The CDC recommends flight attendants wash their hands frequently, avoid touching their face and cover wounds with bandages.

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Quadriplegic Woman Defies Odds, Walks and Becomes Pregnant

Quadriplegic Woman Defies Odds, Walks and Becomes Pregnant

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WACO, Texas) -- A 32-year-old Texas woman who first proved doctors wrong by walking after she was paralyzed, is defying the odds again by expecting her first child.Liz Mitchell, of Waco, Texas, was declared a quadriplegic by doctors in 2012 after she fell 16 feet off her balcony while playing with her dog.Mitchell landed on her head and was put in a medically-induced coma for five days.“One day you wake up and you have a breathing tube in and you realize the body you thought defined who you were is useless,” Mitchell told ABC News affiliate WFAA-TV.When Mitchell awoke, it was her then-boyfriend, Bryan Mitchell, who broke the news of her condition, but in a unique way.“He didn't just say, 'You're paralyzed; you can't walk.' He specifically said, 'One day, we'll move to Waco, we'll get married, and we will have a beautiful life. And it does not matter if you are in a wheelchair,'" Liz Mitchell recalled to WFAA.Mitchell eventually moved to the Baylor Institute for Rehabilitation, where Bryan stood by her side, encouraging her to wiggle her toes and push through therapy.Videos documented every step of Mitchell’s recovery, from swimming to moving on to the bike and then the treadmill and, finally, walking on her own.“Seeing the person she became reaffirmed to me that I am in love with this girl,” Bryan Mitchell said.Liz walked herself down the aisle to marry Bryan and then the couple faced their next hurdle together: becoming pregnant.Even though Liz Mitchell describes her body as still feeling “asleep” -- she can’t feel pain or temperature from the neck down -- she became pregnant with the couple’s first child and has even felt the baby’s kick."I cannot believe it. ...It is such a miracle," she told WFAA. "It seems like a dream, but I'm ready."The couple plans to name the daughter Dorothy Marie, which means "gift of God."

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Designing Breasts from Stomach Fat Instead of Silicone

Designing Breasts from Stomach Fat Instead of Silicone

Alyssa Litoff/ABC(NEW YORK) -- When breast cancer patient Kim Jordan arrived at the Torrance Memorial Medical Center in Torrance, California, earlier this month, it was so early that it was still pitch black out. She was heading into the hospital for a complicated surgery expected to last all day and well into the evening.“I’m just worried,” she said. “I just want to wake up.”The 50-year-old Los Angeles Metro conductor was at the hospital for a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. Unlike 80 percent of women who undergo breast reconstruction, Jordan had decided against implants and instead chose a complex transplant surgery that creates natural breasts from one’s own flesh and blood.“Kim has large breasts and she also has a lot of abdominal tissue that she doesn’t want,” said Dr. Michael Newman, her plastic surgeon, just before he headed into the operating room. “Instead of giving her a tummy tuck, and throwing that tissue away, we’re going to use that tissue to give her new breasts.”It may sound a bit like science fiction, but the surgery has been around for two decades. It is called the DIEP flap -- an acronym for the type of blood vessels involved in the procedure. It is a far longer surgery than implant surgery, with a lengthier initial recovery period, but there are also advantages.“With the flap, it’s your own tissue,” said Dr. Lisa Jewell, a plastic surgeon who works alongside Dr. Newman. “So it’s going to look and change and age with you for the rest of your life.”The surgery has a higher success rate than implant surgery, with a lower percentage requiring repeat operations. And if all goes well, the results are permanent, whereas implants need to be replaced every one to two decades.“I make the analogy of an implant being like a tire in your car,” said Dr. Whitney Burrell, another plastic surgeon in the practice. “It's great. It’s not meant to last forever...DIEP flap, you're done.”Because tissue is removed from the abdomen, DIEP flap patients also get the appearance of a tummy tuck.“A lot of patients are hesitant because we tell them it’s a long surgery,” Dr. Jewell said. “But then we kind of present them with the silver lining, which is getting rid of something they’ve always wanted to get rid of and putting it to better use.”By 7:30 a.m., Jordan was ready for surgery, and she hugged her friend, Mandy, before the anesthesiologist put her under. Following a morning mastectomy performed by a different surgeon, Dr. Newman and Dr. Jewell did the painstaking work of removing her stomach tissue and forming new connections between blood vessels in the chest and abdomen tissue.“This is an organ transplant like a kidney transplant or a lung transplant,” said Dr. Jewell on one of her scarce breaks during the 15-hour surgery. “You have to connect it to a reliable and steady blood supply, Otherwise the tissue dies and we don’t have it available to make a breast. So once we do that, then we can all take a deep breath.”Depending on the amount of stomach tissue available, patients have some say in deciding the size of their new breasts, and can opt to go larger or smaller. In Jordan’s case, Dr. Newman and Dr. Jewell worked to correct unevenness in her breasts that was a byproduct of earlier surgery.Just before nine o’clock, Dr. Newman put the finishing touches on Jordan’s new breasts.“As far as volume goes, I think they’re much more similar,” he said.The cost for this type of labor-intensive and long surgery is many tens of thousands of dollars. Fortunately for Jordan, her insurance will cover it. Though the surgery could also be performed as an elective cosmetic procedure, it would be prohibitively expensive. Dr. Jewell said she does not expect to do the surgery for purely cosmetic reasons in the future.“It is a very extreme surgery to do for cosmetic purposes,” she said.The surgery finally wrapped up close to 11 p.m., and Jordan was wheeled off to the ICU for the first phase her recovery.Jennifer Fisher, a 44-year-old mother who works in special education, has been in that recovery room as one of Dr. Jewell’s patients. Fisher got the surgery in July. Her breast cancer diagnosis had come 10 years earlier, when she was busy raising a toddler.“At that moment, you become the warrior, you change,” she said. “You no longer are a mom and this and that, you become a person fighting this for everyone else and yourself.”She initially got an implant, but she never liked the way that it looked or felt. After an implant check two years ago revealed recurring cancer, she decided that she was ready for the DIEP flap. She also prepared herself for the surgery by renewing her commitment to exercise and losing 30 pounds. These days, she could not be more pleased with her transformation.“Dr. Jewell really kind of liberated me a little bit to say, ‘You deserve to have the body you see yourself having, and be grateful for that body,’" she said.

As for Jordan, nine days after her surgery, she arrived at South Bay Plastic Surgeons for her first post-op appointment. Despite some lingering discomfort, she was all smiles.“I got nice knockers,” she said, “and no stomach.”For her doctors, this is what it is all about.“It is a huge quality of life issue,” Dr. Jewell said. “Breast cancer is a terrifying diagnosis, and most of the reason why is because women imagine themselves without breasts, with horrible scars on their bodies, without that outward symbol of femininity. And our job is to take that out of the equation.”

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Caffeine Beats Loud Music in Keeping Drivers Alert

Caffeine Beats Loud Music in Keeping Drivers Alert

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Whether early in the morning or late at night, drivers will often have a cup of coffee or another caffeinated beverage to beat fatigue before driving while another way motorists fight sleepiness is blasting music in the car.Ergonomics researchers ShiXu Liu, Shengji Yao and Allan Spence set out to learn if these methods really make a difference in the alertness of drivers by designing a simulated driving test.In the study, 20 people underwent three two-hour driving sessions in which some participants used caffeine, others played music while a third group did neither.After the sessions, they all scored their fatigue levels and it became obvious that those who used neither caffeine nor music were significantly more tired.However, the two methods to fight fatigue were not equal. Liu says that the caffeine drinkers performed their tasks much better, resulting in more superior driving performance.Part of the problem with music, Liu explained, is that it can distract drivers.

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Beer Ingredient Shown to Improve Memory But There’s a Catch

Beer Ingredient Shown to Improve Memory But There’s a Catch

iStock/Thinkstock(CORVALLIS, Ore.) -- Can it be that drinking beer makes you smarter?Before you get too worked up, Oregon State University researchers say that it’s actually a compound in hops, one of the basic ingredients in beer brewing that has been shown to improve memory in young mice.In the experiment, both young and old mice were fed the flavonoid xanthohumol that is found in hops for eight weeks. Afterwards, the OSU researchers noted that the young mice demonstrated improvements in spatial memory and cognitive flexibility but not so in the older ones.So does the experiment give young drinkers license to down their favorite suds as a way of enhancing memory and thought patterns?Unfortunately, no. The researchers estimate that humans would have to drink as many as 2,000 liters of beer to get the equivalent dosage of the flavonoid the mice received.What scientists hope to do one day is isolate xanthohumol so that people with cognitive difficulties can be treated.

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Researchers Studying New Drug to Help Combat Bad Cholesterol

Researchers Studying New Drug to Help Combat Bad Cholesterol

luiscar/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers are looking into a new drug that could help patients with hard-to-control bad cholesterol levels.According to a study published in the Lancet medical journal, researchers say Evolocumab, an injectable drug, could help decrease LDL cholesterol. Many people with difficult-to-manage "bad" cholesterol levels are at higher risk of stroke and heart attack -- making the management of their condition extremely important. In 380 patients studied, LDL cholesterol was lowered by an average of 30 to 60 percent with minimal side effects. The drug would need to be injected monthly for the rest of a patient's life, making it less likely to be a first course of action.It is not yet clear how beneficial the drug will be for heart health, as researchers measured cholesterol levels but did not show a direct benefit for prevention of illness or death. Injectable drugs also often bear the risk of infection or intolerance when given over a long period of time.

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Texas Ebola Patient Thomas Duncan Prayed With Family on Phone

Texas Ebola Patient Thomas Duncan Prayed With Family on Phone

Creatas/Thinkstock(DALLAS) --  The patient who became the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States has been identified as a former chauffeur from Liberia who prayed with family members by phone on Wednesday.The patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, is being treated at an isolation unit at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.Duncan, who is in his mid-30s, spoke on the phone with family members who live near Charlotte, N.C.“We talked today (with Duncan) and we prayed together with his mother and sister here,” said Joe Weeks, who lives with Duncan's sister Mai.Weeks said that the family is concerned that Duncan was admitted to the hospital and put in isolation on Sunday, but hasn't received the experimental Ebola drugs.“I don’t understand why he is not getting the Zmapp,” Weeks said.The manufacturer of the drug has said they have run out of the experimental medicine.Duncan's former boss in Monrovia, Liberia, said the patient had been his driver for the last year or two until he abruptly left his job in early September."I really don’t know" why he left, Henry Brunson, general manager of Safeway Cargo, told ABC News. "He didn’t resign. He just left the office. He just walked away.”Brunson didn't know where Duncan went until he saw him on the news as the Ebola patient in Dallas, Texas.

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West Africa Ebola Transmission Still ‘Persistent and Widespread,’ WHO Says

West Africa Ebola Transmission Still ‘Persistent and Widespread,’ WHO Says

Pawel Gaul/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MONROVIA, Liberia) -- The World Health Organization provided a new update on Wednesday, confirming that the number of deaths in the West Africa Ebola outbreak is at 3,338, with nearly 4,000 more sickened.The disease has spread to five countries -- Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone -- infecting 7,178 people. The report also notes that 39 percent of the total number of cases confirmed, probable or suspected in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three most heavily impacted nations, have been identified within the last three weeks. That figure echoes foreboding predictions from numerous experts that if action isn't taken, the disease will only continue to spread.The WHO warns that while the U.S. and other nations have sent health care workers and other forms of support, "there are few signs yet that the...epidemic in West Africa is being brought under control." The agency notes that "transmission remains persistent and widespread in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with strong evidence of increasing case incidence in several districts."

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Ebola Patient Released from Hospital Despite Saying He Had Been in Africa

Ebola Patient Released from Hospital Despite Saying He Had Been in Africa

Will Montgomery(DALLAS) -- Even though a sick patient later diagnosed with Ebola told an emergency room nurse at a Texas hospital that he had recently traveled from West Africa, the nurse failed to pass on that information to other hospital staff, and that man was released from the hospital with antibiotics, officials said Wednesday.The first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. was initially sent home after seeking care at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital for symptoms consistent with the virus on Sept. 26, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Now, experts are asking why he wasn't immediately isolated."The CDC says ask anyone with fever whether they have traveled. That's one thing CDC will look at," said Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News' chief health and medical editor, who is currently in Liberia covering the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.The patient was only hospitalized and placed in isolation two days later after returning to the hospital by ambulance when his symptoms worsened, according to the CDC.Besser pointed to a CDC advisory sent to medical facilities and health care workers nationwide in early August advising them to flag and isolate patients who had recently traveled to West Africa, the epicenter of the outbreak, and who exhibited symptoms such as high fever, headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or unexplained hemorrhage.Anyone who has recently handled animals such as rodents or bats from high risk areas and also has symptoms should be isolated as well, the agency advised.In a news conference earlier Wednesday, Dr. Mark Lester, the executive vice president of the hospital, said the patient did not fully communicate his status to hospital staff and his overall clinical presentation was not typical at the time for Ebola.But he also said: "He volunteered that he traveled from Africa in response to a nurse operating the checklist and asking him the question. The clinicians did not factor that in. It was not part of their decision."He added that a nurse who saw the patient did ask him if he had traveled to Africa and he said yes. She did not communicate with the rest of the team. He did not offer an explanation.In a news conference Tuesday, Edward Goodman, the hospital's epidemiologist, said there was a plan in place for suspected Ebola cases."Ironically enough in the week before this patient presented, we had a meeting of all the stakeholders that might be involved in the care of such patients. And because of that, we were well prepared to deal with this crisis," he said.But if that was the case, Besser questioned why this patient was sent home with a course of antibiotics instead of being admitted and isolated."A person with fever and diarrhea who has recently returned from Liberia should be considered to be a suspect Ebola patient and immediately isolated. To not do so is a breach of protocol," Besser said.

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It’s ‘Not Impossible’ Others in US Could Contract Ebola, CDC Head Says

It’s ‘Not Impossible’ Others in US Could Contract Ebola, CDC Head Says

This undated photograph shows a CDC scientist pipetting specimens in the Biosafety Level 4 Influenza Laboratory, Atlanta, GA. (James Gathany/CDC)(ATLANTA) -- The country's top medical official who has vowed to stop Ebola "in its tracks" in the U.S., conceded Wednesday that it's "not impossible" that others will contract the disease.Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said an extensive tracking process is underway in the wake of the first Ebola diagnosis in the United States, with special focus on the patient’s family and health staff.“We have a seven-person team in Dallas working with the local health department and the hospital, and we will be identifying everyone who may have come in contact with him and then monitoring them for 21 days,” Frieden said.Frieden believes the disease will be “stopped in its tracks” in this country.The unidentified man’s safety, along with the well-being of the medical people treating him, is a primary focus, Frieden said. Since his diagnosis, the patient's condition was listed as critical. On Wednesday, the hospital upgraded his condition to serious.“What we need to do first in this particular instance is do everything possible to help this individual who’s really fighting for their life, and then make sure that we’re doing that, that we don’t have other people exposed in the hospital, identify all those contacts and monitor them for 21 days. It’s not impossible that one or two of them would develop symptoms and then they would need to be isolated,” he said.Frieden said he’s confident that passengers who flew on the same plane as the patient did not contract the disease.“That was four or five days before he had his first symptoms and with Ebola, you’re not contagious until you have symptoms,” he said.Although American Ebola patients have been treated in the United States prior to this diagnosis, they all contracted Ebola in West Africa. Ebola has killed 2,917 people and infected 3,346 others since the outbreak began in March.

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Happy National Kale Day, All You Haters

Happy National Kale Day, All You Haters

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Dr. Drew Ramsey has started a Change.org petition to declare today, the first Wednesday in October, National Kale Day.“National Kale Day is a celebration that aims to increase awareness, access, and education about the positive health benefits of eating more kale,” said Ramsey, a practicing psychiatrist who also happens to be co-author of the book, 50 Shades of Kale.Ramsey, who once spent an entire week carefully styling kale leaves with a tweezers for a series of photo shoots, said he considers kale his muse. He crusades for the coarse cruciferous veggie, he said, because it is economical, packed with nutrients and a versatile recipe ingredient.“If we all ate more kale we could save the planet,” he said.Kale is definitely having a moment. By some standards, including an analysis by Technomic, a food industry consulting group,the use of kale as a menu item has increased by over 400 percent in the past five years. And Whole Foods does a brisk business in kale, selling 20,000 bunches daily nationwide.While most nutrition experts generally agree that kale is a healthy food, some find the sudden rush of kale love puzzling.“I’m not against kale. Kale is fine. But when did kale get a public relations manager?” asked Mary Hartley, the registered dietitian in residence for the website, dietsinreview.com.Hartley said that kale is indeed a nutritionally dense food. It delivers a whopping 1,000 percent of the daily recommended allowance for vitamin K and nearly 100 percent of the daily recommended intake of both vitamin A and C, according to the U.S Department of Agriculture nutritional database. Not to mention it offers a healthy dose of at least a dozen other essential vitamins and minerals.But watercress, chard, mustard greens and even the lowly leaf lettuce rival or even surpass its vitamin, mineral and fiber content. Kale ranked a mere 15 out of 47 in a new study of super foods by William Patterson University, behind more pedestrian produce such as parsley, cabbage, and the aforementioned leafy greens.Kale is in the spotlight now because everyone -- not just nutrition nuts -- feel righteous and noble when they make chips out of it, blend it into a smoothie or build a salad around it, Harley speculated. But she still finds its trendiness baffling.“It’s raspy stuff and so darn green,” she said, adding that it’s so tough it must be massaged for several minutes to make it chewable.She also pointed out to possible evidence that overdosing on it -- or any other cruciferous veggie such as broccoli or cauliflower -- could theoretically interfere with the thyroid gland’s ability to uptake iodine potentially leading to a condition called hypothyroidism.Ramsey, however, has no patience for kale deniers.“I can’t remember this much crazy excitement about a vegetable so it doesn’t make much sense to dissuade people from having a first taste of kale in a smoothie or a sauté,” he said.Besides, Ramsey added, there’s a national day for an entire assortment of unhealthy fare such as doughnuts, pizza, bacon, pie, sticky buns and pudding.“We should have at least one day where we celebrate something that’s good for you and I will work tirelessly to promote this holiday,” he said.Hartley said she has no real argument against a National Kale Day stating, “Anything that gets people to eat more vegetables is fine with me -- though I’m holding out hope for a lentil day. Now that would be great.”

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