<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Health News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/health http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Wed, 22 Oct 2014 16:16:50 -0700 Wed, 22 Oct 2014 16:16:50 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Breast Density Screenings Urged for Cancer Prevention]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 21:58:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/224*120/10-21-14-breast+density+screening.JPG

Many doctors and patients alike will say that diagnosing breast cancer early saves lives, and part of that is knowing enough to make informed decisions, including when a person has dense breast tissue.

Breast density refers to the amount of fat and tissue in the breast as seen on a mammogram, according to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The organization says women with dense breast have an increased risk of breast cancer.

"When you have dense breast tissue it turns up as white, but cancer turns up as white," Eydith Kaufman said referring to mammogram images. Kaufman lost her partner Janina Hurtado, 45, to an aggressive cancer that she says began as breast cancer. She says Hurtado had a mammogram two months before her diagnosis.

"She knew had some cysts but she was never told that she had dense breast tissue," Kaufman said.

A new law in California now makes talking about dense breast tissue mandatory and a push to have a similar law is going national.

Dense breast tissue laws are now popping up across the country, in 19 states including California according to areyoudenseadvocacy.org, and 40 percent of women have dense breast tissue.

The law in California passed in 2012 and went into effect April 2013. It requires a facility performing a mammogram to tell a patient she or he has the condition and suggest speaking about further screening options.

"I think most women, if they are educated and they are aware of what the options are, at least they can have a meaningful dialogue with their physician and come up with a plan," Kaufman said.

Plans can include automated whole breast ultrasound screenings, innovative technology called Sonocine. Developed by Dr. Kevin Kelly from the Breast Ultrasound Center in Pasadena, the software takes precise, equally spaced images and can find masses as small as 5 mm.

"It's a computer hand on the technologist hand getting the right speed and coverage of the entire breast," Kelly said.

The cost of this screening runs from $250 to $350, Kelly said, and is covered by some insurance companies.

Density laws in general have been criticized for their potential for malpractice cases and false positive diagnosis.

A patient or Kelly who works with him, Chiqueeta Jameson, carries the memory of a misdiagnosed lump around the country.

"Two gynecologists and one breast surgeon, not one of them did an ultrasound," she said.

She and two other women run the non-profit group called The Dangerous Boobs Tour.

“We want to educate every women in this country,” Jameson said.

And that education can be empowering. Kaufman says it can also save lives.

"Everybody agrees that the best thing for cancer is early detection," Kaufman said. "Nobody disagrees with that and Janina didn't have that gift."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, is a co-sponsor of federal legislation that would create a national dense breast tissue standard and make reporting mandatory across the country. A Feinstein spokesperson says the bill will be reviewed after the elections in November.

<![CDATA[Flu Vaccine Urged Over Ebola Worries]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 07:24:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/LAgenerics+health+medical+doctor+01.jpg

With all the news and worry about Ebola, doctors say many people are ignoring a much greater health threat in the U.S. - the flu.

Flu season has arrived in Southern California, and it kills far more Americans each year than Ebola. It's also preventable.

Many local emergency rooms are testing for the flu because of the Ebola fears, and the hospitals are seeing more cases of flu than expected.

But unlike the deadly virus, the simple fact is that the flu can be prevented by vaccine, which can be given by shot or by the inhaled mist. The treatment can prevent 60 to 90 percent of flu cases.

There are only eight known Ebola cases in the U.S., and most of those cases were contracted in West Africa.

Those eight cases have spurred fears across the country, yet 5 to 20 percent of all Americans get the flu every year, or 15 million to 6o million people.

And although reporting is not mandatory, the CDC estimates that between 3,000 and 49,000 flu deaths in America each year are preventable. Yet less than 50 percent of Americans get the flu vaccine.

People choose to avoid the vaccine, arguing that it causes aches and pains, isn’t worth it, they never get the flu or that they already got it last year.

The vaccine only lasts one year, however. It prevents the flu 60 percent of the time and it may cause a few aches and pains, but it never causes the flu itself.

The CDC suggests everyone get the vaccine unless they have an egg vaccine, due to the vaccine’s egg base.

It is most important for pregnant women and young children, the elderly, people with medicla problems and health workers.

The shot contains dead virus, so it can be given to everyone who is not allergic to eggs

The mist contains live virus it is only for people aged 2 to 49 years old

This years vaccine contains protection against h1n1 and a number of influenza viruses, and health professionals are encouraging everyone to take advantage of the vaccination.

<![CDATA[Dallas Nurses Speak Out on Ebola Care]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 20:38:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/N6P_SOTVO_DALLAS_EBOLA_SOUND_web_1200x675_345540163525.jpg Initially criticized for their handling of the first Ebola case on U.S. soil, a group of nurses at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas spoke out in solidarity on Monday, asking for a restoration of trust in the hospital. Randy Mac reports from Dallas for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 20, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Dallas Community Overcoming Fears of Spread of Ebola]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 00:08:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/141019-9pm-randy-mac-ebola_1200x675_345074243751.jpg There have been no new infections reported among those who worked directly with the three Ebola patients treated at a Dallas hospital. While no one is saying they're completely out of the woods, there's a sense that the community is turning the corner on their fears as the first quarantines are lifted. Randy Mac reports from Dallas for the NBC4 News at 9 on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Helicopter Lands For Blood Sample in Ebola Cruise Scare]]> Sun, 19 Oct 2014 00:16:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/141018-11pm-ebola_1200x675_344767555894.jpg A helicopter landed aboard a Carnival Magic cruise ship Saturday to pick up a blood sample of a health care worker who may have handled fluids from Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan. Randy Mac reports form Dallas for the NBC4 News at 11 on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014.]]> <![CDATA["Unnecessary Panic": Some Dallas Residents Not Giving In to Ebola Fears]]> Sun, 19 Oct 2014 00:15:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/141018-6pm-randy-mac-ebola_1200x675_344755267998.jpg Some residents in Dallas say there’s an “unnecessary panic” over Ebola in their city after the latest scare that prompted the closure of a train station. Randy Mac reports from Dallas for the NBC4 News at 6 on Sunday, Oct. 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Voluntary Quarantines Requested of Dallas Hospital Workers]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 21:59:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/N5PPKGDALLASEBOLAforweb_1200x675_344415811508.jpg Health officials are asking about 75 people who were in close contact with Eric Duncan at the Dallas hospital where he was treated to voluntarily quarantine themselves just days before friends of the Ebola victim are end their mandatory 21-day quarantine. Randy Mac reports for NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. from Dallas Friday, Oct. 17, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Just the Facts: Meningitis]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 20:00:55 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/N5PSOTPIXELMENINGITISforweb_1200x675_344404035957.jpg NBC4's Chuck Henry has the facts on bacterial meningitis for NBC4 News at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 17, 2014.]]> <![CDATA["Liana's Looms of Love" Raises Money for Cancer Therapy]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 22:03:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Capture7.JPG

Liana Clayton is watching her mother fight to survive cancer first-hand.

She wanted to help her mother, Che Clayton, who's received rounds of painful treatment for breast cancer, but ended up helping many more people. Liana sells her colorful, handmade bracelets to raise awareness and give back to the doctors who helped her family cope with the disease.

"They ask how money much is it and I just go, it's just a donation, you can give me whatever you want," said Liana, 10.

Liana's business, Liana's Looms of Love, has earned over $2,000 so far, all of which has gone back to the treatment center where Liana, Che and the rest of the Claytons have have received therapy and support.

Clayton is now undergoing more than 35 rounds of radiation. She has been through multiple surgeries and chemotherapy, and continues to tackle an aggressive form of the disease.

"I have enjoyed my life, very much so, and so for me it's a fight to get it back," said Clayton, 43.

Though her family stays at home in Murrieta, Liana's colorful masterpieces guide her along the way.

Liana said she started the business because she knew how hard breast cancer was on her mother.

"I don't think it feels very good," she said of her mother's disease.

Liana's Looms of Love is a family affair, involving the Claytons and their new family, gained at the Simms/Mann-UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology, part of UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The Simms/Mann Center offers physical and psychological therapy to cancer patients and the people close to them, to empower them as they try to manage cancer and get well.

"What Liana has done is taken that empowerment sort of place," said Dr. Anne Coscarelli, director of the Simms/Mann-UCLA Center.

Coscarelli said providing free therapeutic services for a patient and one family member costs about $1,000 a year, so Liana's donations have more than covered what she and her mother have received.

Photo Credit: Pete Garrow]]>
<![CDATA[HIV Investigation Halts Porn Production]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 16:26:56 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/WEB_CONDOMS_BY_MAIL.png

Production on adult films has been suspended through Monday as a trade group investigates a possible exposure to HIV.

The Free Speech Coalition, an adult-industry trade group that calls for the moratoriums on porn production, has halted filming since Wednesday. On Friday it extended the moratorium through Monday to wait for conclusive test results on the performers who may have been exposed.

"We need to err on the side of caution" for the sake of the performers, said Diane Duke, president of the coalition, in a statement.

The coalition didn't say where the possible HIV exposure was, or when, only noting in the statement that it will continue to work with "producers, performers and the health department" during its investigation.

Porn actors are routinely tested for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, which is done to keep the pool of performers safe.

When an actor tests positive, retesting is ordered for all the other actors he or she has worked or had sex up to 14 days before their last negative HIV test, according to the Free Speech Coalition. Performers who've had sexual contact with the positive actor have to wait 14 more days before acting in another adult film.

The last time the coalition called a moratorium was in late August, when a test on an actor came back with a false positive, according to the coalition.

The Free Speech Coalition says that HIV hasn't been transmitted on a porn set in over 10 years -- meaning actors may have been infected on their own time, but haven't given it to other actors during filming.

Photo Credit: File photo]]>
<![CDATA[SDSU "Deeply Saddened" by Student's Meningitis Death]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 20:54:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Sara+Stelzer+1017.jpg

San Diego State University officials issued a warning for students who might have been exposed to a meningococcal infection after the death of an 18-year-old classmate from Moorpark hospitalized earlier this week due to flu-like symptoms.

The student, who previously was healthy, was admitted to a hospital Tuesday. Hundreds of San Diego State University students were told to get antibiotics after the student was hospitalized in critical condition with meningococcal disease, school officials confirmed Thursday.

School officials confirmed Friday the death of 18-year-old Sara Stelzer, a Moorpark High School graduate.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of our students to this terrible illness," said Eric Rivera, vice president for student affairs. "After speaking with her family, we know that Sara was a vibrant young woman who loved San Diego State, her friends and the time she spent at our university.  It is always difficult when a young life is lost, especially when that person is part of our SDSU family. 

"We will do all we can to support Sara's family and our campus community during this difficult time."

The university said later Friday the teen was on life support for a short time while the hospital looked for organ recipients. SDSU released the following statement:

"The university has been supporting and in ongoing communication with Sara's family to monitor her condition. The family informed us last night that they had decided to say farewell to their daughter and they gave us permission to put out a statement this morning to that end.

"There was a possibility that Sara would be kept on life support for a short time while the hospital looked for recipients of some of her vital organs. Our message this morning was acting in accordance with the family's wishes to offer condolences to our university community and provide information to our grieving students."

Several Facebook and Twitter posts from people identifying themselves as friends and classmates, including several from Moorpark High School in Ventura County, expressed condolences. Stelzer was identified in SDSU's statement as a freshman studying pre-communiciations.

The county Health and Human Services Agency and SDSU health officials  were working to notify anyone who may have been exposed to the meningococcal bacteria. Officials at Moorpark High School confirmed she was at her Ventura County home last weekend, and that county health officials have identified at least 10 people who had contact with her during that time.

All have been examined by doctors and were provided antibiotics, according to high school officials. Stelzer was helping friends with their hair and makeup before a high school dance, which she did not attend, during her hometown visit, said Carrie Pentis, Moorpark High School principal.

The school district confirmed that Stelzer attended the Moorpark High School homecoming football game last Friday night.

Approximately 300 to 400 people are being notified including all members of the Kappa Delta sorority and anyone who attended two specific fraternity parties on Oct. 8 and 9. The university sent a campus-wide notification to alert students of the health threat.

Meningococcal disease refers to any illness caused by the type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitis, also known as meningococcus, according to the CDC.

These illnesses can be life-threatening infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord as well as bloodstream infections.

The disease can be spread by sharing cigarettes or pipes, drinking out of the same water bottles or beverage containers or through other intimate contact like kissing.

"While meningococcal disease can be serious and deadly, it is not spread through casual contact. Therefore, the risk to those who were not in close, direct contact is minimal," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County public health officer. "Meningococcal disease is spread through close contact with the infected individual. We are working to notify all who may have been exposed to the disease."

Because it takes one to 10 days for someone exposed to the disease to see symptoms, others may have it and not know it.

<![CDATA[Facts vs Myths: Ebola]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 20:00:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/N5PPKGDRBEBOLAwebHENSEL_1200x675_343852099524.jpg NBC4's medical expert Dr. Bruce Hensel discusses the information and misinformation out there about Ebola for NBC4 News at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Flaw in Dallas Hospital's Handling of Ebola Patient: Officials]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 19:54:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/N6PPKGEBOLATEXASLATESTwebMAC_1200x675_343859267767.jpg Health care workers from the Dallas hospital where an Ebola patient died and infected two nurses with the deadly disease say they weren't given proper training or gear to deal with such a high-risk case. Randy Mac reports for NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. from Dallas Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[LA County Prepared to Handle Ebola Cases]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 19:53:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lacountyebola.JPG

As the CDC and Texas health officials are being criticized for their handling of the three Ebola cases in America, Southern California officials are trying to reassure the public they are prepared should Ebola arrive.

Health officials say urgent care clinics in South Los Angeles would be the front-line defense against Ebola.

If someone were infected, they would likely walk into one of these clinics first. And the county says it will be ready.

Ebola is not here.

That was the most important message from LA County health officials Thursday. Health care workers said if Ebola arrives, they'll be ready.

"We are much better prepared today than we were yesterday and in working with our other partners we will be even more prepared tomorrow," said Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, LA County's interim health officer.

They say three key measures have been put in place in ERs and urgent care clinics.

First, checking if patients coming in with flu-like symptoms have traveled to West Africa.

Those who have it would be isolated and quarantined.

Also, if there's an Ebola case, making sure health care workers have proper protective gear.

"We have gowns that are thinner and paper-based but those are permeable," said Fred Huicochea, a registered nurse at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. "We can't use those. They have to be impermeable."

That means full body protective suits, the kind that nurses complain weren't available at the Texas hospital where two nurses contracted Ebola from a man who was being treated there.

LA County officials say they have those suits and are getting more.

Dr. Christina Ghaly, the deputy director of the LA County Health Services department, said that while cases are somewhat less likely to occur here, "we do recognize that it is indeed a very real possibility that there could be a case here in LA County."

Officials say protocols for cleaning, decontamination, and waste disposal are also being put in place.

Much of it is already in effect for other infectious diseases. But everyone here acknowledges Ebola is new and different.

<![CDATA[Up to 400 Exposed to Meningococcal Disease at SDSU]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 07:03:48 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Aztec-Student-Union-Unveile.jpg

Hundreds of San Diego State University students have been told to get antibiotics after a fellow student was hospitalized in critical condition with meningococcal disease, school officials confirmed Thursday. 

The 18-year-old female undergraduate student was hospitalized Tuesday, Oct. 14 and is said to be gravely ill. School and hospital officials are not identifying her at this time.

School officials who are in direct contact with the parents, the county and the hospital could not confirm a local television report of the student's death.

SDSU was aware of the student’s condition as of Tuesday evening and began working with San Diego County Health and Human Services to identify others who may have been exposed.

Approximately 300 to 400 people are being notified including all members of the Kappa Delta sorority and anyone who attended two specific fraternity parties on Oct. 8 and 9.

Those who may have been exposed should receive preventative medication, officials said.

The university sent a campus-wide notification to alert students of the health threat.

Meningococcal disease refers to any illness caused by the type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis, also known as meningococcus, according to the CDC.

These illnesses can be life-threatening infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord as well as bloodstream infections.

The disease can be spread by sharing cigarettes or pipes, drinking out of the same water bottles or beverage containers or through other intimate contact like kissing.

Because it takes one to 10 days for someone exposed to the disease to see symptoms, others may have it and not know it.

Symptoms include fever, intense headache, neck stiffness and rashes.

Anyone experiencing symptoms should go directly to a hospital emergency room and explain the possible exposure, school officials said.

San Diego State University is providing some free preventative antibiotics and extended hours at its on-campus clinic.

Any student can be seen without an appointment at Student Health Services on the first floor of Calpulli Center, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. Hours have been extended to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

For more information on meningococcal meningitis and the vaccine, call SDSU Student Health Services at (619) 594-4325.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 News]]>
<![CDATA[Concerns After 2nd Healthcare Worker Tests Positive for Ebola]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 22:17:27 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/N5PPKGTXEBOLA2NDCASEnewforweb_1200x675_343202371572.jpg Anxiety over the spread of Ebola has intensified in the U.S. with the discovery of a second Texas healthcare worker testing positive for the deadly virus and flying on a commercial airline while possibly contagious. Randy McIlwain reports for NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. from Dallas Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[SoCal Nurses Fear Lack of Ebola Prep]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 22:08:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP968232748518.jpg

With the news that a second American nurse has contracted Ebola, Los Angeles-area nurses are concerned that Southern California hospitals aren't ready.

Some nurses at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica say they've never seen a threat like Ebola and they're not prepared to handle it.

"We aren't prepared to deal with Ebola," nurse Lizabeth Wade said.

As labor and delivery nurses, Wade and Deborah Breetwor Peters are exposed to a lot of bodily fluids. And while they're trained to handle many different types of infections, they say Ebola is different.

"I really don't know if these are going to be the only two nurses that ever get infected," Wade said.

They were stunned to hear that two nurses have Ebola after helping treat a Liberian man who died at a Dallas hospital.

Their worries have only increased since a rally in Las Vegas, where nurses argued America was being caught off guard.

"Now, it's here, and we're completely unprepared," Wade said. "Every hospital in America should have policies and procedures and standards of care in place."

The California Nurses Union says it's sending a letter to President Obama with a list of demand, including that nurses have full hazmat suits when treating Ebola patients; that there be two nurses for each patient; and that there be interactive training.

The nurses say what they wear puts them at risk.

"There's lots of areas that would be exposed to body fluids, Breetwor-peters said." around the neck donning the gown and taking it off .. we don't know how to do it properly for this particular kind of virus

Nurses say they're not trying to cause panic, but simply protect those who are on the front lines.

"I don't know that the next person that comes through my emergency room is gonna be somebody that was on one of those airplanes and been infected," Wade said.

Both Kaiser and St. John's hospitals say they are providing enhance training, but it was not clear whether there will be a change in protective gear.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[LAX Travelers Express Concerns Over Ebola]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 21:34:04 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/N5PPKGEBOLAAIRLINEPROTOCOLforweb_1200x675_343198787994.jpg Travelers at LAX expressed their concerns over Ebola spreading in flight the same day it was confirmed that a healthcare worker from Texas flew from Cleveland to Dallas-Fort Worth on a commercial airline while infected with the deadly virus. John Cádiz Klemack reports for NBC4 News at 5 p.m. from the Los Angeles International Airport Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Manure Used to Protest Health Insurance Rate "BS"]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 19:28:48 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/10-14-14-prop45manure.png

Supporters of Proposition 45, the ballot initiative that would require health insurance companies to publicly disclose rate changes, brought a truckload of steer manure outside the El Segundo offices of Blue Shield on Tuesday to protest the insurance company’s stance against the ballot measure.

Supporters say the company has given $9.5 million to campaign against Proposition 45, and they wanted to "return to Blue Shield the B.S. that it has been spreading around California."

"The voters need to know that they’re being deceived by fraudulent advertising," said Jamie Court, a campaigner for the ballot measure.

A message left for Blue Shield spokespeople was not immediately returned.

In addition to requiring public disclosure of rate changes, Proposition 45 would allow California’s insurance commissioner to control rates for health insurance. Supporters say this initiative will stem skyrocketing healthcare costs.

Opponents of Proposition 45 say Covered California has already helped keep rates under control.

"We’ve already solved the problem. Let’s not add another layer of bureaucracy which really gives power to one person and enriches trial attorneys," said Dr. Sam Fink, an opponent of Proposition 45.

Proposition 45 is sponsored by Consumer Watchdog, which has spent $3 million on the campaign compared with the $38 million spent by insurance companies and medical groups opposed to the measure.

Photo Credit: Consumer Watchdog]]>
<![CDATA[Cutting-Edge Breast Cancer Treatments Yield Positive Results]]> Wed, 08 Oct 2014 10:39:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/N5P_BREAST_CANCER_MARGIN_PROBE_FIXED_WEB_1200x675_339074115693.jpg

When Melanie Humbree learned she had breast cancer, she had no doubt she was going to survive.

“I know there’s been so many advances in surgery for breast cancer that I felt confident,” said Humbree.

Melanie’s diagnosis came only a few months after her daughter, Michelle Kahn, completed her surgery and chemotherapy for the very same disease. But while both women shared the same diagnosis, their treatment would be very different.

Michelle and her physician opted for a complete mastectomy. Michelle was worried about not getting all the cancer, disfigurement to her breast, and possibly needing another surgery if her doctor failed to remove the entire tumor. And while she is happy to be in remission, it wasn’t an easy process.

"I didn’t want my mom to go through what I went through," explained Michelle.

She didn’t. Melanie was able to undergo a less invasive lumpectomy. That’s because her surgeon, Dr. Michele Carpenter, program director of the Breast Program at St.Joseph Hospital in Orange, used a device called the MarginProbe. It’s a new technology that can help a surgeon remove a tumor without leaving any cancer behind. After Carpenter removes the tumor, she uses the probe to test the sides of the tissue.

"The MarginProbe sends a signal into the tissue and it takes the signal back. The cells that are cancerous give a different signal than the cells that are normal," Carpenter said.

One beep means there is still some cancer. Two beeps means she got it all. If there is some left on the tumor, there may be some left inside Melanie so Dr. Carpeneter removes a little more tissue to be safe.

"By using this probe, we’re able to get all of the tumor and not take too much breast tissue and to hopefully avoid another operation," Carpeneter said.

That’s a big benefit for many women, including Melanie, who can keep their breast and hopefully avoid any more surgeries.

“I’d be very happy if I didn’t have to go for another surgery,” explained Melanie.

<![CDATA[Enterovirus-D68 Outbreak]]> Tue, 07 Oct 2014 15:13:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/x-ray-ENTEROVIRUS-VO---00002324.jpg

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Journalist With Ebola Optimistic]]> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 21:01:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Ashoka+Mukpo+Raw.jpg

There's been encouraging news for the Providence, Rhode Island, man flown back to the U.S. Monday to be treated for the Ebola virus.

The mother of NBC News freelance photojournalist Ashoka Mukpo says her son and his doctors are optimistic about his chances of recovering from the deadly virus.

"They say that compared to all the other patients that have been evacuated to the United States, Ashoka is actually in the best shape," Diana Mukpo told NECN over the phone.

His parents Diana Mukpo and Dr. Mitchel Levy say they were relieved to not only watch their son walk off the plane and wave to them as he entered the hospital, but they were grateful to be able to see him and speak with him through a video system at Nebraska Medical Center's Bio-Containment Unit.

"His spirits are good, he's tired, it's been quite a frightening experience but he's also a fighter and he said 'I'm going to get through this,' so he's really determined to get better, and I think he will," Diana Mukpo said.

Mukpo's parents say he spent two years working in Liberia, and after a short stint at home, returned about a month ago despite their urging to not go back. They say he's unsure exactly where and how he caught Ebola.

"He was filming inside the clinic and around the clinic so they had a lot of opportunity to be exposed. He does remember one instance where he was helping spray wash a vehicle with chlorine and he thinks he might have been splashed, but honestly he's not exactly sure," Dr. Levy said.

Mukpo is at the same hospital that successfully treated Holden, Massachusetts Dr. Richard Sacra, but he will be receiving a different experimental anti-viral medication.

"As far as I understand from the physicians, this is a drug that in a laboratory setting has shown to be very, very effective against the Ebola virus and also has very low incidence of side effects," Diana Mukpo said. 

<![CDATA[Ebola Cases Stoke Air Travel Fears]]> Fri, 03 Oct 2014 04:31:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/N6P_PKG_EBOLA_TRAVEL_web_1200x675_337208899854.jpg Anger over revelations that the patient diagnosed with Ebola in Texas was allowed to fly from Liberia has prompted worry about air travel. Dr. Bruce Hensel explains why the chances of catching the feared Ebola virus are so low for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Ebola in America]]> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 14:14:27 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/456608446.jpg

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dr. Bruce Hensel: About Enterovirus]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 13:32:48 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/10-01-2014-hensel-bruce.jpg A look at what parents need to know about enteroviruses. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on Wednesday Oct. 1, 2014.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[W. Africa Travelers Warned on Ebola]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 12:05:57 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP645337997349.jpg

All people traveling to the United States from countries with Ebola are being warned as of Wednesday about the potentially deadly virus' symptoms, and how it is spread.

The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol will hand out a flyer with information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to all U.S.-bound travelers from those countries. 

That flyer also contains a card that any passenger who starts showing symptoms in the following days can hand their doctors, to alert them of the risk.

The first case of Ebola in the United States has been diagnosed in Dallas, in a patient who had arrived days earlier from Liberia, one of the West African nations at the center of a massive outbreak.

The announcement Tuesday by officials sparked immediate concerns about who may have been exposed and helped shed light on how the potentially deadly virus is, and isn't, spread.

Ebola can only be spread by infected people who have a fever and other Ebola symptoms, the CDC says.

Symptoms appear between two and 21 days of exposure to the virus. If an exposed person does not develop symptoms within 21 days of exposure, the person will not become sick with Ebola, according to the CDC. 

The virus can be spread to other people through direct contact with an infected person's bodily fluids, contaminated objects or infected animals, including by eating infected meat.

See the flyer that customs officials are giving travelers below.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Two Cases of Enterovirus Confirmed in LA County]]> Thu, 02 Oct 2014 05:27:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/10-01-2014-health-enterovirus-doctor-medical.jpg

Two cases of enterovirus D68 have been confirmed in Los Angeles County and both involve children, one of whom suffered limb weakness that made it difficult to move, doctors said.

"The child appeared to have normal respiratory fever, runny nose and then after almost a week having those symptoms woke up unable to move a limb," said Dr. Grace Aldrovandi,
infectious disease chief at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles.

It has not been determined whether the enterovirus infection caused the weakness, and doctors are hopeful the child will regain full movement in all limbs, she added.

On Wednesday, an official with Children's Hospital confirmed the second case of infection in Los Angeles County. The child, who is between the age of five and 10, was admitted in August about a week after suffering an upper respiratory infection, doctors said.

The first confirmed case of the respiratory illness in Los Angeles County involves a child younger than 5 years old, who was treated at Miller Children's Hospital in Long Beach. David Michalik, a pediatric infectious disease specialist, said the child, who was hospitalized for a week and is now fine at home, needed one-on-one care, the Associated Press reported.

"This child had wet cough, had trouble breathing was breathing fast had a fast heart rate, and had a high fever," Michalik said.

Enterovirus 68 can cause mild to severe illness, with the worst cases needing life support for breathing difficulties. Children with asthma have been especially vulnerable.

The virus has been reported in more than 40 states.

Symptoms of D68 infection are similar to those of a cold and include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough and body and muscle aches. More severe symptoms include wheezing and difficulty breathing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The virus spreads through an infected individual's saliva, nasal mucus or sputum, according to the CDC. Infants, children and teens are most likely to be infected and become ill, the CDC reported.

"It is important to note that while enteroviruses are very common, especially among children, most cases of enterovirus will not lead to serious illness," Gunzenhauser said. "Acute limb weakness and other neurological symptoms are uncommon with any enterovirus, including EV-D68.

"The best way to prevent the spread of this illness is through simple hand washing, and other basic hygiene. We recommend that all residents, especially children, wash their hands frequently with soap and water; avoid touching their face with their hands; and stay home when sick."

Parents who are just now hearing of the virus are taking heed to the warnings.

"Wash your hands, keep washing your hands, sanitizers keep clean," said Erma Sandoval.
"And not too much contact with other kids."

Fact Sheet: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

NBC4's Hetty Chang contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV]]>
<![CDATA[CDC Confirms 1st U.S. Ebola Case]]> Tue, 07 Oct 2014 15:03:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ebola-dallas.jpg

A person who arrived in Dallas from Liberia a week ago tested positive for Ebola Tuesday, becoming the first person diagnosed in the U.S. with the potentially deadly virus, the City of Dallas confirmed.

The patient was hospitalized and placed in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Sunday after symptoms appeared four days earlier, on Sept. 24. Hospital officials listed him in serious condition Wednesday after previously being listed in critical condition.

Because the patient showed no symptoms of the virus when he arrived in the U.S. Sept. 20, there was no risk to fellow airline passengers, according to CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden.

"We’ve stopped every Ebola outbreak that’s ever occurred in Africa expect for this one," he said. And this one could have been stopped  if we had gotten in there earlier.

The CDC will ensure that the patient will be treated in a way that minimizes the risk of spreading infection, Frieden said. He also said a team is in Dallas to identify anyone the patient might have infected and monitor them for 21 days.

"We will stop Ebola in its tracks in the U.S.," he said.

Dallas County Health Director Zachary Thompson told NBC 5 that they are focused on 12 to 18 people who had close, physical contact with the patient while symptomatic in Dallas. He said about 10 epidemiologists from the county and CDC are investigating the patient's friends and family.

"The number that is on the ground right now to do the contact investigation is adequate," Thompson said. "If that number was to expand, we'd ask for additional resources."

Thompson said medical professionals have tested one of the patient's relatives, but did not say whether it was a "suspected case."

"I wouldn't be surprised if there was a second confirmed case," he said. "We know that several family members had very close physical contact with this patient."

The Dallas Fire-Rescue ambulance crew who transported the infected man to the hospital tested negative for Ebola, but they will be monitored for symptoms as the incubation period passes, Dallas city officials said. If symptoms develop, they too will be isolated and investigators will determine who they came into contact with and monitor those people for symptoms.

"I have no doubt that we will control this importation or this case of the Ebola so that it does not spread widely in this country," Frieden said. "It is certainly possible that someone who had contact with this individual, a family member, or other individual, could develop Ebola in the coming weeks, but there is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here."

Officials also pulled the ambulance used to transport the man from service. The number of people in the DFR crew being monitored is not known, but a traditional ambulance crew complement is two. Firetrucks can carry an additional five first responders.

The Ebola diagnosis was confirmed Tuesday after specimens were sent from Presbyterian Hospital to the Texas public health laboratory in Austin, the Texas Department of State Health Services said Tuesday. The Austin lab, which was certified last month to test for Ebola, tested the specimen and sent the sample to the CDC in Atlanta for further confirmation.

The Dallas patient will continue to be treated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, according to Dr. Edward Goodman, hospital epidemiologist at Presbyterian. On Wednesday morning, the hospital listed the patient's condition as serious.

After receiving the Ebola diagnosis, the city activated its Emergency Operations Center and is on Level 2: High Readiness. State and federal health officials said Tuesday there are no other confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola virus in the state, though.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is expected to hold a news conference at noon Wednesday to discuss the Ebola diagnosis.

According to the City of Dallas, the patient moved to Dallas a week ago, but health officials with the CDC said the patient only came to Dallas to visit family. The unidentified man's nationality is not yet known, but NBC 5 confirmed the man is a father who previously lived in the United States. His last known residence was in the Liberian capital city of Monrovia.

President Barack Obama was briefed about the diagnosis in a call from Frieden, the White House said.

Word of the infection alarmed the local Liberian community.

"People have been calling, trying to find out if anybody knows the family," said Stanley Gaye, president of the Liberian Community Association of Dallas-Fort Worth. "We've been telling people to try to stay away from social gatherings."

Dallas Patient the Fifth Ebola Patient Treated in U.S. This Year

The patient is the fifth person treated for Ebola in the country this year after missionaries Dr. Kent Brantly, Nancy Writebol and Dr. Rick Sacra all contracted the virus while working in West Africa.

Brantly and Writebol have fully recovered after they were given experimental drugs and treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta in August.  Sacra was treated at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and was released Sept. 25. He had been working in Liberia on behalf of SIM. The identity and condition of the fourth patient has not been released. It is believed that they are still being treated at Emory Hospital.

Writebol issued a statement Tuesday after learning of the new diagnosis in Dallas on Tuesday.

"We are sad for the family of the patient and pray for recovery to good health," she said. "It is a mercy that the best medical care is available. We also pray for the safety of the medical staff attending to the patient."

How is Ebola Spread?

Ebola is a severe, often fatal disease spread through close, direct contact with blood or other bodily fluids of a living or dead person who had contracted Ebola. The virus is only contagious when symptoms are present, and it is not spread through the air, through food or water.

Symptoms for Ebola virus involve a fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and unexplained hemorrhage. Symptoms appear anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure but the average is eight to 10 days.

If someone exposed to Ebola has not shown symptoms for 21 days they are not expected to develop Ebola.

According to the CDC, recovery from Ebola depends on the patient's immune response. People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for about 10 years.

The CDC said the United States is well-equipped to manage and treat Ebola and that the chances of an outbreak like the one in West Africa is extremely low.

NBC 5's Ben Russell, Scott Gordon Jeff Smith and Todd L. Davis contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Dallas Ambulance Crew Who Brought Ebola Patient to Hospital Is Quarantined]]> Tue, 07 Oct 2014 15:03:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Dallas-Fire-Rescue-Vehicle.jpg

The Dallas Fire-Rescue ambulance crew who transported the man infected with Ebola to the hospital have tested negative for the Ebola virus, according to the City of Dallas.

The City of Dallas said Tuesday that the crew took all safety precautions and was isolated and tested following the discovery.

The three members of the ambulance crew are restricted to their homes while their conditions are observed and while the virus' incubation period passes.

The patient was vomiting when the ambulance got to the hospital, Dallas city spokeswoman Sana Syed said. 

The ambulance crew is among 12 to 18 people being monitored after exposure to the man. Some are members of his family, but not all, Syed said.

Should the ambulance crew members develop symptoms, investigators will then determine with whom they came into contact and monitor those people for symptoms as well.

The ambulance used to transport the man has been pulled from service at Station 37 in 6700 block of Greenville Avenue.

Chopper 5 showed Dallas Fire-Rescue ambulance 37 parked away from all other vehicles at the training center in the 5000 block of Dolphin Road. The ambulance was wrapped in red caution tape and blocked in.

The City of Dallas said it has activated the city's Emergency Operations Center and is on Level 2: High Readiness after receiving confirmation that Dallas has the first diagnosed Ebola case in the nation. The person moved to Dallas from Liberia a week ago.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[How Is Ebola Spread?]]> Sat, 18 Oct 2014 21:30:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/456202288.jpg

The first confirmed case of Ebola in the United States sparked immediate concerns about who may have been exposed and helped shed light on how the potentially deadly virus is, and isn't, spread.

Ebola can only be spread by infected people who show symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. If an exposed person does not develop symptoms within 21 days of exposure, the person will not become sick with Ebola, according to the CDC.

"There is no risk to people who have been in contact with those who have been sick with Ebola and recovered, or people who have been exposed and have not yet shown symptoms," the CDC's director Dr. Thomas Frieden explained Tuesday, after confirming that a patient in Dallas had tested positive.

That patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, recently flew to the United States from Liberia, one of the West African countries now grappling with a deadly Ebola outbreak. Because he showed no signs of sickness until four days after landing in the U.S., however, officials are not worried about travelers who were on the plane with him. Duncan died on Oct. 8 in a Dallas hospital.

The initial spread of the Ebola virus to humans is unknown, although researchers believe that "patient zero" in the recent West Africa outbreak became infected through contact with an infected animal, possibly a bat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How Ebola Is Spread:

Once a person is infected, the CDC said there are several ways Ebola can spread to other people:

  • Touching the blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola, including but not limited to urine, saliva, feces, vomit and semen. To become infected with the virus, you would need to get some of the ill person’s bodily fluids into your mouth, nose, or eyes, or into your body via a cut or a needle stick. Doctors say that there is no evidence anyone has ever been infected via sweat.
  • Touching objects contaminated with the virus, like syringes or other medical equipment
  • Touching infected animals, by contact with blood or fluids or infected meat
  • A cough from a sick patient could infect someone close enough to be sprayed with droplets of mucus or saliva. People dealing with anyone who may be ill are told to stand at least three feet away, preferably six. Being within three feet of a patient for a prolonged time, without wearing protective gear, is considered direct contact, according to Frieden.

Direct contact through broken skin or mucus membranes is key, as the CDC said Ebola cannot be spread through the air (the virus doesn't drift through the air like germs that cause measles or tuberculosis) or by water or food. However, that may not have been the case in some cases in Africa, where Ebola may have been spread through the handling of wild animals hunted for food and contact with infected bats, according to the CDC.

What Are the Symptoms of Ebola:

The following symptoms can appear from two to 21 days after exposure:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising
  • Muscle pain

Generally, after 21 days, if an exposed person has not developed symptoms, he or she will not become sick, the CDC said.

However, the Ebola virus has been found in semen for up to three months after exposure, so those who have recovered from the virus are advised not to have sex, or else only to have sex using condoms, during that time, according to the CDC.

Are Patients Who Recover From Ebola Immune for Life?

Evidence shows that people who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years, or longer, according to the CDC. But it's not known if people who recover are immune for life or if they can become infected with a different species of Ebola.

Can Ebola Mutate to Become Aiborne?

According to experts, it is very unlikely that the virus would mutate to become airborne. The Ebola virus has not previously mutated in this way, and experts say there is no other virus that has changed from non-airborne to airborne in humans.

Can Mosquitoes Spread Ebola?

There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit the virus, according to the CDC. Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys and apes) have shown the ability to spread and become infected with Ebola virus.

How Long Does the Ebola Virus Live:

The virus can survive for a few hours on dry surfaces like doorknobs and countertops, according to the C.D.C. It can, however, survive for several days in puddles or collections of body fluid at room temperature. It is not clear how long it may survive in soiled linens and clothing.

A thorough cleaning with hospital-grade disinfectants (such as household bleach) will kill Ebola.

How Can Travelers Protect Themselves:

The CDC said travelers can do several things to protect themselves when visiting the area where the outbreak is occurring, including:

  • Wash your hands frequently or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Do not touch the blood and body fluids of an ill person or the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
  • Do not touch bats and nonhuman primates or their blood and fluids and do not touch or eat raw meat prepared from these animals.
  • Avoid hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated. The U.S. Embassy or consulate is often able to provide advice on facilities.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you develop fever (temperature of 101.5oF/ 38.6oC) and any of the other following symptoms: headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bruising or bleeding.

There is no vaccine for the Ebola virus, but researchers are currently testing two.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Boy Losing His Sight Travels to See Northern Lights]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 01:26:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NC_northernlightsboy0930_1500x845.jpg Young boy travels to Alaska to view Northern Lights and nature before he goes blind. Blake Essig reports.]]> <![CDATA[DEA, Police Team Up to Collect Unused Prescriptions]]> Sat, 27 Sep 2014 07:55:01 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/481663349.jpg

Police departments in Southern California have teamed up with the Drug Enforcement Agency to collect unused and unwanted prescription drugs Saturday in an effort to prevent pill abuse as part of the DEA’s National Take-Back Day.

The drug take-back events will take place between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in conjunction with various police departments, including those in Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Anaheim, Long Beach, Seal Beach and San Gabriel.

This initiative is an effort to curb medicine diversion, misuse and abuse. According to studies, a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained by family and friends, sometimes directly from the home medicine cabinet.

Disposing the unused medicine by flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash can pose potential safety and health hazards.

During the last take-back event in April, Americans turned in more than 780,000 pounds of prescription drugs at more than 4,100 locations. In the eight previous Take Back Days combine, the DEA and its partners collected 4.1 million pounds of prescription drugs.

The service is free and anonymous.

Drop-Off Locations

  • Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center – Parking Lot #3 - 6941 Cadiallac Ave., Los Angeles CA 90034
  • Kaiser Permanente Panorama City Medical Center – Front of North 3 Medical Office - 13652 Cantara St., Panorama City, CA 91402
  • Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center – Parkview Medical Office Building - 25825 S. Vermont Ave., Harbor City, CA 90710
  • Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center - 4760 West Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90027
  • Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills Medical Center - 5601 De Soto Ave., Woodland Hills, CA 91367
  • San Gabriel Police Department - 625 S. Del Mar Ave. San Gabriel, CA 91776
  • Manhattan Beach Police Department - 420 15th Street, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
  • Kaiser Permanente Anaheim Medical Center – Kraemer Medical Office Building 1 - 3460 E. La Palma Ave, Anaheim, CA 92806
  • Long Beach Memorial - 2801 Atlantic Ave. Long Beach, CA 90806
  • Seal Beach Police Department -911 Seal Beach Blvd., Seal Beach, CA 90740

To find a location not listed or find the location nearest you, visit the DEA website for more details

Photo Credit: UIG via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Stanford Researchers Find New Cancer Treatment]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 07:09:37 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/0925-2014-Stanford.jpg

Researchers at Stanford University say they have found a new way to stop the spread of cancer.

Jennifer Cochran is one of the co-authors of the study. She says they engineered a protein, multiplied it and then injected it into mice.

"Most patients succumb to metastatic disease when the cancer has spread to other areas of the body. This process is known as metastasis.

“What we've done is create an engineered protein that will interfere with these biochemical signals and will prevent metastasis from happening,” Cochran says.

The treatment stopped the spread of cancer in 90 percent of the mice with ovarian cancer in the study and 80 percent of mice with breast cancer. Great numbers, Cochran says, because cancerous tumors are harder to remove once the harmful cells spread.

"Which we were excited about but again, these are animal models. We need to see if those results would hold up in humans,” Cochran says.

Cochran says the treatment is also different than chemotherapy because it didn’t appear to leave toxic side effects.

"Chemotherapy is very non-specific in that it targets all cells in the body including healthy cells," she says. "And that's what makes it so toxic."

The next phase of the study will include human trials and could take several years for FDA approval.
The hope is this treatment could give cancer patients a longer life.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Enterovirus Confirmed in N. Texas ]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 22:26:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Enterovirus1.jpg

Several cases of Enterovirus-D68 have been confirmed in North Texas after test results came back positive from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to Dallas County Health and Human Services.

Thirty-five samples were sent to the CDC from North Texas, including some from Children's Health System of Texas, and 10 came back positive.

The unusual and potentially severe respiratory illness has appeared in more than a dozen states nationwide.

Enteroviruses, which usually cause mild cold-like symptoms that last about a week, are common, afflicting up to 15 million people in the U.S. each year, but the CDC says this particular strain of the virus is unusually severe.

Michelle Palomino said her 11-year-old daughter was admitted to Children's Health with similar symptoms.

"It started off with, 'Mom, I have an itchy throat. It feels like it's burning,'" Palomino recalled.

Her symptoms started days ago and began to worsen. Her mother grew concerned when the sixth grader was staying up at night coughing.

"I don't want to be that parent here, my baby getting admitted and seeing those machines on her," said Palomino.

The latest information from the CDC and Dallas County Health Department is even more reason to be alarmed for Palomino.

Doctors say there is some positive news in the finding of Enterovirus-D68 in North Texas. It's not showing up in masses like the other communities are seeing it.

"We are very fortunate that we haven't seen a surge of infected patients," said Dr. Michael Sebert, an infectious disease doctor at Children's Health in Dallas.

The Dallas County health director said it is concerning that the results come as the flu season nears, and he urges parents and school districts to be vigilant.

"The next step is to encourage our medical providers who are doing a great job, to again do the testing for it, get the samples to us, the specimens, so we can send it out," said Dallas County Health Director Zachary Thompson.

Infants and children are at particular risk of Enterovirus, and though most affected people recover on their own and have no future problems, those with weakened immune systems or underlying medical conditions such as asthma may need to be hospitalized.

There is no vaccination. Prevention involves hand-washing, disinfecting surfaces and any usual steps to prevent the spread of flu.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Plague Detected in Squirrels at Palomar Mtn.]]> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 17:41:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Squirrel-Thumb-052714.jpg

Plague-ridden squirrels prompted a classic hiker’s reminder from health officials: Don’t feed the animals.

During routine monitoring, county officials discovered two squirrels that tested positive for plague in the Palomar Mountain area. The little creatures were trapped last week in the Doane Valley Campground.

County Environmental Health Director Liz Pozzebon has some tips on how to keep yourself and pets safe from the disease while hiking and camping.

“People need to remember not to feed or play with squirrels when you come across them outdoors,” she said.

She recommends avoiding squirrel burrows when you play or set up your tent, and report dead squirrels to camp rangers when you find them. Never touch a sick or dead animal.

As for your pets, keep them on a leash, use flea controls or just leave them at home.

Warning signs in the area help hikers keep that in mind.

The bacteria that causes plague, Yersinia pestis, is not as rare as you may expect in San Diego’s higher elevations, county officials say. While it mainly affects wild rodents, it can spread to humans if fleas feed on infected animals and then bite people.

Plague can also be transmitted if people like hunters touch an infected animal’s tissue or body fluid.

Environmental Health Vector Control crews have dusted the animals’ burrows to kill fleas that transmit plague from rodents to people.

Symptoms of the disease include sudden onset fever, chills and tender lymph nodes. If a person contracts plague, he or she can become seriously ill and possibly die unless treated quickly with antibiotics.

Health officials say you should immediately call your doctor if you become sick within a week of visiting an area with plague.

<![CDATA[Study: Should Pregnant Women Get Prenatal Tests? ]]> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 21:07:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/202*120/09-23-14_Prenatal+Testing+Hensel.JPG

A new study shows pregnant women might not get prenatal tests if they knew more about some risks associated with them.

The study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association involved 700 women. Half of the women were shown a "decision support guide" and were offered free prenatal testing afterward.

The remaining women were not shown the guide or offered free testing.

"Women who had the opportunity to view the program were less likely to undergo diagnostic testing than women who did not have a student intervention," said Dr. Miriam Kuppermann of the University of California, San Francisco.

Kupperman developed the computerized decision support guide along with Dr. Mary Norton of UCSF to provide women with detailed information on prenatal testing.

"It contains information about Down syndrome and other conditions for which testing is available," Kupperman said.

About 5.9 percent of women who used the guide decided to get tested, even though the tests would have been free for them.

Dr. Bruce's advice: If you are pregnant, ask your doctor if you are at risk for developmental defects. This is more often the case with older mothers.

If your doctor suggests testing, ask:

  • What does the test look for?
  • How accurate is the test?
  • What are the risks associated with the test?

Then weigh the risks and benefits to decide if testing is right for you.

<![CDATA[Flu Vaccines Urged as Flu Season Approaches]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 10:06:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/01-flu.JPG

According to a new report from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, too many people are not getting the flu vaccine.

Last year, less than half of all Americans got vaccinated.

Flu vaccines could saves tens of thousands of lives, but many people don’t get them because they hear things about the vaccines that are untrue, said NBC4’s Dr. Bruce Hensel.

Young people, the elderly, pregnant women, people with underlying illnesses and health workers are especially encouraged to get the vaccine.

“While those groups need it most, the vaccine is actually recommended for all people over the age of six months who don’t have an egg allergy,” Hensel said.

According to Hensel, getting the vaccine will prevent 60 to 90 percent of all flu cases, and in turn, save tens of thousands of lives. It also protects against H1N1 and other flu bugs.

Contrary to popular belief, the vaccine does not cause the flu. It may cause body aches or other side effects, but it does not cause the flu.

The flu vaccine can be given by shot or through a nasal mist. Those ages 2 through 49 can opt for the nasal mist, and anyone who doesn’t have an egg allergy can be given the shot. If you are ill, wait to recover before getting the vaccine.

Because flu season is just around the corner and because the vaccine takes three weeks to work, Hensel urges people to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

<![CDATA[Doctor Infected With Ebola Expected to Make Full Recovery]]> Tue, 07 Oct 2014 15:03:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Sacra+1.jpg

A Massachusetts aid worker who contracted Ebola in West Africa is now expected to make a full recovery, according to the doctors treating him at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

Wednesday night, NECN interviewed Dr. Rick Sacra's brother, Doug Sacra of Wayland. Doug says his brother's appetite is starting to come back, he's mentally sharper and more talkative.

"Oh it's great, we are very pleased," said a smiling Doug Sacra.

Dr. Sacra's wife, Debbie, has been briefing the family from Nebraska, where he's been in isolation since returning from Liberia.

Wednesday, Doug said he spoke with his brother over the phone for a half hour.

"He sounded perfectly normal, Dr. Rick at his best. On the other hand he's just laying there in his bed, so he is totally with it mentally, and now he can talk to you for a while, where a week ago he could talk to you for a minute and a half and then doctor said he has to lay back down."

Just last week, doctors explained how Dr. Sacra has been getting blood transfusions from Dr. Kent Brantley, another Ebola survivor. He's also taking another experimental drug, which doctors refused to identify, saying it's uncharted territory.

Over the past week, Dr. Sacra has done so well that doctors are now working to keep him entertained. They've brought in books, a stationary bike, chess board and Nerf hoop, even Ben and Jerry's chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.

Doctors are now awaiting results of a second set of blood samples. There must be two negative blood tests done within 24 hours apart for Dr. Sacra to be released.

Photo Credit: SIM USA]]>