<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Health News]]> Copyright 2016 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/health http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Sat, 06 Feb 2016 20:05:47 -0800 Sat, 06 Feb 2016 20:05:47 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Zika Scare Reopens Abortion Debate in Brazil]]> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 11:51:57 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/BrazilPregnantZika-AP_757089715997.jpg

Fears over the Zika virus are reopening the debate over abortion in Brazil, where the procedure is illegal under most cases, NBC News reported.

Brazilian bishops opposed a petition seeking to expand abortion laws to cover women infected with Zika. In a statement, the bishops said the situation doesn’t advocate abortion “for cases of microcephaly.”

Groups that want to change the laws say advising women to avoid pregnancy is not enough. Activists want the government to provide pregnant women with Zika virus testing, and the option to choose whether they wish to continue with their pregnancy.

Abortion is legal in Brazil in cases of rape or incest, if it endangers the woman’s life of if the fetus is developing anencephaly — a rare condition where the baby is missing parts of its brain and skull.  

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Company Testing Diabetes Cure]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 17:27:27 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Diabetes+cure+web+img-PIC_0.jpg

A San Diego biotech company believes it has found a possible cure for Type 1 diabetes.

The La Jolla-based company, ViaCyte, in conjunction with Johnson & Johnson, is testing a stem cell treatment to cure those with the life-impacting hormonal disorder.

ViaCyte is aiming to eliminate rigorous insulin treatment and glucose testing by engineering a type of stem cell that produces insulin and other hormones that regulate sugar levels.

“These cells are human cells, but they’re not the patient’s cells, so the patient’s immune system would want to remove those cells – attack those cells,” said ViaCyte CEO Paul Laikind.

A team of 60 employees, led by Laikind, first tested the stem cell implantation on animals, which saw success.

Then, testing turned to humans. On Thursday, the company announced a breakthrough: after months inside a human, they extracted the implantation to find the cells not only survived, but they did exactly what they were intended to do.

“We’re on the right track. I think there is a cure in sight,” Laikind said.

Developers could not pinpoint an exact timeline for the product, but said it was in the years, not decades.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[CDC's Warning for Women About Alcohol Sparks Backlash]]> Thu, 04 Feb 2016 09:17:26 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/beer+drinking+generic.jpg

A warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention meant to caution women about the risks of drinking and pregnancy has set off a firestorm of outrage, NBC News reported. 

"About half of all U.S. pregnancies are unplanned and, even if planned, most women do not know they are pregnant until they are 4-6 weeks into the pregnancy. This means a woman might be drinking and exposing her developing baby to alcohol without knowing it," the agency said in a "Vital Signs" report released Tuesday.

But the part that appears to have gone over the line for a number of women said: "More than 3 million US women are at risk of exposing their developing baby to alcohol because they are drinking, having sex, and not using birth control to prevent pregnancy."

Washington Post commentator Alexandra Petri, the Atlantic and ThinkProgress blog all took offense at the language. The CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat, a veteran of news briefings and media coverage, made it clear that the agency was not talking about women alone.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Zoran Milich]]>
<![CDATA[Experts Left With More Questions About Zika ]]> Wed, 03 Feb 2016 12:00:21 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ZikaLab-GettyImages-506977656.jpg

For decades, the Zika virus has seemed harmless. But with more birth defects in Brazil and the possibility of transmission through sexual contact, health experts are now trying to answer more questions about the illness.

So far, only two men have been detected with the virus in their semen, NBC News reported. Because the infection doesn’t last long, the possibility of it being transmitted is only likely when a person is infected.

But experts aren’t sure what’s making the virus adapt, because testing for Zika is very difficult. Health officials are now going around Brazil to collect blood samples of those actively infected to test them and save them to see what happens later.  

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA County Health Officials Deliver Zika Virus Update]]> Wed, 03 Feb 2016 12:43:37 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/VIRUS+ZIKA.jpg

Los Angeles County health officials again warned residents Wednesday to take precautions against mosquito bites, particularly if they're planning  to travel to areas experiencing outbreaks of the Zika virus.

Several doctors have contacted the Los Angeles County Public Health Department asking for blood tests for patients exhibiting symptoms of the Zika virus, the department said late last month. One confirmed case has been reported in Los Angeles County -- a girl who traveled to El Salvador in November and has since recovered, health officials said.

Outbreaks of the mosquito-borned virus have been reported in Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands and Central and South America. Earlier this week, health officials said a person in Texas was infected with the Zika virus through sex, in the first case of the illness being transmitted within the United States amid the current outbreak in Latin America.

"The most important messages concern people who may be traveling to  locations in the world were Zika virus outbreaks are currently occurring, and  advising them on measures they need to take to protect their own health and  prevent bringing the disease back here to Los Angeles County," the county's  interim health officer, Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser said.

Authorities are checking about 20 other potential cases of the virus,  but none have been confirmed.

The only known case of transmission of the virus in the United States  was confirmed this week in Texas, and it was done through sexual contact.

The unidentified person had not traveled but had sex with a person who had returned from Venezuela and fallen ill with Zika, Dallas County health officials said Tuesday. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control issued a statement saying lab tests confirmed the non-traveler was infected with Zika.The CDC said it will issue guidance in the coming days on prevention of sexual transmission of Zika virus, focusing on the male sexual partners of women who are or may be pregnant.

The CDC has already recommended pregnant women postpone trips to more than two dozen countries with Zika outbreaks, mostly in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Venezuela.

In the epidemic in Latin America and the Caribbean, the main villain identified so far is called Aedes aegypti -- a species of mosquito that spreads other tropical diseases, including chikungunya and dengue fever. It is found in the southern United States, though no mosquito-borne transmission has been reported in the continental United States to date.

The World Health Organization on Monday declared a global emergency over the rapidly spreading Zika virus, saying it is an "extraordinary event" that poses a threat to the rest of the world. The declaration was made after an emergency meeting of independent experts called in response to a spike in babies born with brain defects and abnormally small heads in Brazil since the virus was first found there last year.

WHO officials say it could be six to nine months before science proves or disproves any connection between the virus and babies born with abnormally small heads. The CDC said that in the recent Texas case, there's no risk to a developing fetus.

Zika was first identified in 1947 in Uganda. It wasn't believed to cause any serious effects until last year; about 80 percent of infected people never experience symptoms.

The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain and red eyes. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting several days to a week. Symptoms usually start two days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Originally a strictly tropical disease, Zika is carried by mosquitos only of the genus Aedes.  There is a known Aedes population in Los Angeles County, but no evidence any have been infected with Zika, Dr. Schwartz said.  Returning travelers suspected of being infected with Zika are asked to stay indoors to reduce risk of being bitten by a mosquito, which could in turn be infected and become a carrier. 

Photo Credit: TELEMUNDO 48 ]]>
<![CDATA['I Could Feel Him There': Mom Listens to Son's Donated Heart Beat ]]> Wed, 03 Feb 2016 05:50:28 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/221*120/Screen-Shot-2016-02-03-at-8.48.46-AM.jpg

Three years after her 7-month-old son Lukas tragically died, Heather Clark was able to hear his donated heart beat once again inside a little girl. 

Holding a stethoscope to 4-year-old Jordan Drake's chest, the Rancho Cucamonga, California, mother cried during an emotional meeting on Jan. 29 at the Heart Center at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. 

"The sound was so strong," Clark, 25, told People magazine. "I could feel him there with me. He is continuing on through her, no doubt."

Lukas suffered fatal injuries allegedly at the hands of a babysitter’s boyfriend. He died three days later at a Loma Linda, California, hospital.

"The only thing I can think of is: I can't save my own son," Clark said of her decision to donate his organs, according to NBC affiliate KPNX. "Why not save someone else's."

Esther Gonzalez, Jordan's mother, said the donation was a gift, though she knew it came at a price for another mother.

“Instantly you feel relief, you know, she may make it. But on the flip, it took me a half a second for me to turn and say, 'a mother lost her child tonight,'" Gonzalez said, KPNX reported.

Jordan suffered from many health issues as a baby, her mother said, including seizures, stroke, brain and stomach bleeding. 

"She had brain surgery -- so many issues," said Gonzalez.

Jordan received the new heart at 18 months, but her meeting with Clark didn't happen for another two years. KPNX showed Jordan smiling and running in the hospital. 

Clark told People her donation was anonymous and both her and Gonzalez wrote letters and social media messages trying to find each other afterward. 

"Lukas has given Jordan this chance at life and I know he is looking down, wishing her the best and telling her to live her life to the fullest," Clark told People."I could feel him there with me. He is continuing on through her, no doubt."

Jordan wasn't the only child Lukas helped, as two other lives were saved through the donation of his liver and kidney.

“He did more in 7 months in life than I've done in 25 years of life,” Clark said, KPNX reported.

Photo Credit: Donate Life Arizona]]>
<![CDATA[Need to Know: Zika Virus Spreads in Americas]]> Tue, 02 Feb 2016 11:27:00 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_670850476149-zika.jpg The spread of the Zika virus has caused worldwide concern. Health officials think Zika might be connected to the rise in a birth defects in the Americas, though it has not yet been proven, and have labeled the crisis a global emergency.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[What You Need to Know: Zika Virus Spreads in Americas]]> Tue, 02 Feb 2016 11:23:00 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/AP_88799403079.jpg The spreading of the Zika virus has caused worldwide concern. Health officials think Zika might be connected to the rise in a birth defects in the Americas, though it has not yet been proven, and have labeled the crisis a global emergency.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Prozac for Down Syndrome Babies]]> Mon, 01 Feb 2016 05:51:29 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Prozac-GettyImages-169371347.jpg

A University of Texas Southwestern study will see if giving unborn babies with Down syndrome Prozac in the womb will help improve brain functioning.

Dr. Carol Tamminga, who is leading the study at UTSW, said the medical community has been giving Prozac to children with Down syndrome for years, but the effects of giving it to children in utero haven’t been tested.

"And this will really be the first controlled trial where we will get to test does this really work or not," she said.

Mothers pregnant with Down syndrome babies will take Prozac about 18 to 20 weeks into their pregnancy. The child will continue to take Prozac until the age of 2. Throughout that time, doctors will do brain imaging studies, rate cognition and follow the general health of the child.

Tamminga said the study was first conducted on animals. The evidence in mice was so striking, researchers immediately thought it could help humans as well.

UTSW is working with obstetricians right now to find parents interested in taking part in the study. Doctors hope to have 21 mothers start taking Prozac in March.

"I think it’s a very personal decision based on what the mother and the father decide to do," Tamminga said.

Since Prozac is a standard antidepressant, Tamminga said it shouldn't hurt the mother.

Although antidepressants during pregnancy have been linked in some studies to rare birth defects, the overall risk is "extremely low," according to the Mayo Clinic.

"We think about what could be the potential downsides for the children, and what we really do is weigh the risk and the benefit," Tamminga said. "So, what if this medication had an effect that really helped the child move from an IQ of 60 to an IQ of 90? I mean, that would be a miracle from our point of view. That's what we hope would happen and we would be willing to sustain a good deal of risk for that."

Photo Credit: MediaforMedical via AP]]>
<![CDATA[Pregnant Woman Has Zika: NYC]]> Fri, 29 Jan 2016 02:01:53 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_256601441416.jpg

A pregnant woman was diagnosed with Zika virus after visiting a country stricken with the mosquito-borne illness that may cause birth defects, New York City health officials say. 

New York City Commissioner of Health Mary Bassett said that the woman was diagnosed with the virus recently, bringing the city's total of residents diagnosed with the disease to three. 

Four other people in New York have been diagnosed with the virus -- including one each in Monroe, Nassau, Suffolk and Orange Counties. 

Officials wouldn't say where the people had recently traveled, describing the locations as areas where the "virus transmission is ongoing." Bassett said that because of that, she reminded New Yorkers to be careful when picking winter vacation destinations. 

"This might be a good winter to think about a vacation in the Catskills," she said. 

One additional case has contracted the case after traveling to Colombia, health officials there say. No cases have been reported in Connecticut.

Health officials say there is virtually no risk of catching the virus in New York City because mosquitoes are not active in the winter but wanted to discuss measures New Yorkers can take when traveling to countries where the disease is prevalent.

The species of mosquito that transmits the virus is also not seen in the northeast, though it is prevalent in the southern United States.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has expanded its warning for pregnant women thinking of visiting 22 countries, most in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Countries where Zika transmission is ongoing include Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cape Verde, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Samoa, Suriname, U.S. Virgin Islands, Venezuela, 

The virus has been linked with microcephaly which can leave affected newborns with unusually small heads and abnormal brain development. The condition can usually be observed via an ultrasound in the first trimester of pregnancy. 

Photo Credit: File - AP]]>
<![CDATA['Silent Killer': Carbon Monoxide Safety Tips]]> Fri, 29 Jan 2016 03:23:14 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/012516_A_coproblems1JH_70.jpg

At least six people died from carbon monoxide poisoning since a massive snowstorm swept through the East Coast last week. The deaths included 23-year-old Sasha Bonilla, a New Jersey mother, and her 1-year old son who died while sitting in a running car that had its tailpipe covered in snow. 

Bonilla's 3-year old daughter, who was found in critical condition in the carbon-monoxide filled car, died on Jan. 27. The kids' dad was shoveling snow just steps away when he found his family unconscious. 

Know as a "silent killer," CO is found in the fumes created when fuel burning equipment like cars, stoves, BBQ grills, fireplaces, and water heaters are used. It can't can't be seen or smelled. The gas is poisonous and can be fatal for anyone who inhales it, although the elderly, infants, and chronically sick are more at risk.

Each year more than 400 people die from unintentional CO poisoning not linked to fires, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The most common symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion, according to the CDC. The CO poisoning symptoms are often described as “flu-like.” If you have symptoms that you think could be the result of CO poisoning, leave the area immediately, and call 911 or go to the emergency room.

People who are sleeping can die from CO poisoning before they become aware of any symptoms. There are steps you can take to keep you and your family safer from the risk of poisoning. 

Take a look at safety tips from the CDC and nonprofit child safety organization KidsandCars.org that you can use all year-round: 

CO Tips for the Car:

- Annually take your car to a mechanic to have the exhaust system inspected -- small leaks can lead to trouble inside of the car.

- Never run your car inside of the garage, even with the garage door open.

- When opening the tailgate on your vehicles, make sure vents or windows are open to allow CO from the exhaust to circulate and not get trapped inside of the vehicle.

- When inclement weather strikes, make sure the tailpipe of your car is not blocked with snow, ice, or other debris and don't allow others to wait in the vehicle while clearing snow from around the car.

- Be careful with keyless or press-to-start vehicles as even if the key fob is indoors, the vehicle outside could be running.

- Make sure children are not playing near the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle and always keep vehicles locked with keys out of reach of children who may want to play inside.

CO Tips for the Home:

- Install -- and monitor -- a battery-operated CO detector in your home and be sure to place it somewhere where it will wake you if it goes off. These should be replaced every five years.

- Annually service your heating systems by a professional to ensure fuels are burning properly.

- Check your chimney each year as built up debris can cause blockage and in turn allow CO to build up in your house.

- Don't use portable gas stoves designed for outdoor camping inside your home and don't burn charcoal indoors.

- If you have a generator anywhere in your home, make sure it is less than 20 feet from a ventilation system like a door or a window.  

Photo Credit: Northjersey.com
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<![CDATA[Brazil Revises Birth Defect Count in Zika Investigation]]> Wed, 27 Jan 2016 16:01:50 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/zika+virus1.jpg

Brazil’s Health Ministry reported fewer confirmed cases of a rare brain defect that may be tied to the Zika virus, NBC News reported.

In new figures released Wednesday, only 270 of 4,180 suspected cases have been confirmed as microcephaly. 

Officials in Brazil still believe there’s an increase in cases of microcephaly and suspect the Zika virus is to blame. The rare birth defect, which also can be caused by factors such as infections, malnutrition or drugs, means babies have unusually small heads.  

Concern about the virus has prompted a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning to pregnant women to reconsider travel to areas where Zika is present.

<![CDATA[Mosquito Vigilance Urged in SoCal as Zika Spreads]]> Wed, 27 Jan 2016 12:44:59 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/mosquito-cdc-012616.JPG

The types of mosquitoes that carry Zika virus are not native to anywhere in the United States, but over the years have established presences in areas of Los Angeles County, public health and vector control officials confirm.

Their goal is to minimize any possibility the county mosquito population here could become infected, as has already happened the past year in much of Latin America and the Caribbean. Currently during California's cooler winter months adult mosquito activity and breeding are minimal. 

A clearer picture could emerge at the onset of spring, when mosquito activity picks up and vector control districts can trap mosquitoes for testing.   

Once limited to the tropics between Asia and Africa, Zika in recent years has spread along the equator to the Western Hemisphere.

A travel warning issued by the Centers for Disease Control identifies 22 destinations as places where the Zika virus is present.

To date in the United States, the only known cases were acquired during travel to a number of those destinations.

The mosquitoes believed to carry Zika are members of the Aedes genus: Aegypti, which first appeared in LA County decades ago, and Albopictus, which reappeared in the San Gabriel Valley city of El Monte in 2011.

Aedes albopictus — commonly known as the "Asian Tiger" with distinctive black and white appendages — has been doubling its territory every year since then, according to Kenn Fujioka, manager of the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District.

The concern in Southern California is that a traveler returning with the virus could be bitten by an Aedes mosquito, and that infected mosquito could then transmit Zika to other people, and the disease could become established here. 

"It just adds to the level of concern for this mosquito, and another reason to control it," Fujioka said.

Unlike the native mosquito population which is most active at dawn and dusk, Aedes mosquitoes will look for food and bite throughout the day. That alone brought it disdain in LA County backyards, even before the specter of Zika virus approached the Americas.  

In the first confirmed Zika case in Los Angeles County, a teenage girl came back from a trip to El Salvador, was reported Tuesday by Public Health.

"She has recovered," according to a statement from LA County Health officials.

The statement did not identify the area of LA county where she lives.  

"If someone does become ill, we want them to stay inside, away from the Aedes mosquito to make sure they don't cause a local infection to occur," Ben Schwartz, MD, deputy director of the acute communicable diseases control program for Los Angeles County Public Health, said during an interview Friday.

The symptoms of Zika are described as "cold-like" and often mild in adults.

Four out of five do not realize they have been infected, according to the CDC.

The greater concern is for babies born to mothers infected during their pregnancy.

Zika is suspected of causing microcephaly, a debilitating birth defect in which the brain and skull do not develop fully.

In Brazil, the incidence of microcephaly has increased markedly with the spread of Zika infections.

A child born in Hawaii with microcephaly tested positive for Zika.

On Tuesday, the CDC issued specific guidelines for physicians responsible for the care of expectant mothers, including indicators for ultrasound testing to identify microcephaly.   

Aedes mosquitoes also can carry other dreaded tropical diseases, dengue fever and chikungunya, that are related to Zika.

It is perhaps small consolation that Aedes mosquitoes do not carry West Nile virus, the disease that for years has been California's most serious mosquito-borne illness.

West Nile is transmitted by the native Culex mosquito, and officials say that is reason enough for Southern Californians to be vigilant in eliminating the small pools of stagnant water where mosquitoes breed.

Stamping out the breeding grounds of the Albopictus can be even more difficult because it is able to breed in as little water as might fill a bottle cap, said Fujioka.

"People have to patrol their residences, and make sure these sources are not there," said Fujioka.

If Zika infection is identified in LA County, Fujioka expects the response to involve community education, an intense effort to eliminate potential breeding grounds in the area, and possibly also pesticide spraying.

The kind of broad scale aerial spraying that has been used in previous decades for invasive fly pests is not well suited to mosquito eradication, Fujioka said, and he would not expect to see that done for Aedes mosquitoes — even if the local population were to become infected.

Photo Credit: CDC]]>
<![CDATA[Zika Virus Spreads to 20 Latin American Countries]]> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 17:49:18 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ZikaBrazil-AP_324390883298.jpg

The Zika virus has now spread to 20 Latin American and Caribbean countries, NBC News reported.

The virus is now spreading locally in Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname, and Venezuela. Samoa, in the south Pacific, is also reporting Zika for the first time.

The spread of the virus can be expected to escalate, as the mosquitoes that carry it can be found across the region. Some popular tourist destinations have been hit and it’s likely to spread farther, according to international health officials.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday repeated its recommendation that pregnant women avoid travel to affected countries until more can be learned about whether it can affect unborn babies.  

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Senators Ask WH to 'Spearhead' Study of Crumb Rubber Turf]]> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 10:55:25 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Crumb_Rubber_Turf.jpg

Two senators have asked President Barack Obama to launch a "comprehensive" study into the potential health risks posed by "crumb rubber" turf, a surface made of recycled tires used on playgrounds and athletic fields across the country, NBC News reported. 

Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said in Thursday's letter the possibility of a link between turf and cancer "cannot be ignored" and requires more scrutiny. They asked for the White House to "spearhead" a study that draws on the expertise of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Centers for Disease Control.

A White House spokesperson said "the administration is aware of the issue and will respond to the senators soon."

No studies have linked crumb rubber to cancer or any disease, but some experts believe more tests are needed to determine whether the product is safe for use.

Photo Credit: NBC Nightly News]]>
<![CDATA[HPV Raises Risk of Head & Neck Cancers: Study]]> Thu, 21 Jan 2016 16:17:52 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/HPVVaccine-AP_701393247962.jpg

The human papillomavirus (HPV) increases the chances of head and neck cancer by at least seven times, according to a new study, NBC News reported.

The study, conducted by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, looked at records of more than 96,000 people.

Their findings showed that people infected with a strain called HPV-16 were between two and 22 times as likely to be in the cancer group. Experts believe 70 percent of all head and neck cancers are caused by HPV, likely spread by oral sex.

Two vaccines prevent infection with HPV strains 16 and 18. Both boys and girls are supposed to get three doses of the vaccine, starting at age 11 or 12.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[2 Positive Zika Tests in Ill.]]> Tue, 19 Jan 2016 15:43:56 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Zika-Mosquitoes-AP_100665838820.jpg

Two pregnant Illinois residents have tested positive for the Zika virus, prompting a warning from the Illinois Department of Public Health for anyone traveling abroad.

The two women recently traveled to countries where the Zika virus is found and physicians are monitoring their health and pregnancies, according to state health officials.

Zika, a tropical virus spread by mosquitoes, is suspected of causing severe birth defects in Brazil and has since been found in Hawaii.

"There is virtually no risk to Illinois residents since you cannot contract Zika virus from another person, but only through the bite of an infected mosquito," IDPH Director Nirav D. Shah, M.D., J.D. said in a statement. "But since this is a time of year when people travel to warmer climates and countries where Zika virus is found, we are urging residents, especially pregnant women, to take preventive measures when traveling in affected countries and check health travel advisories."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel alert for people traveling to regions and countries where the Zika virus is found. The locations include Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico.

The alert followed reports in Brazil of microcephaly in babies of mothers who were infected with the virus while pregnant, but researchers have said additional studies are needed to determine the relationship, if any, between the virus and the defect. Microcephaly can often times be a severe birth defect that can kill an unborn child or cause disabilities. The condition causes the brain and head to be smaller than usual and can be caused by genetics, alcohol use during pregnancy or infections such as rubella. 

The CDC recommends pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where the Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

Symptoms including fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis can last from several days to weeks and there is no vaccine to prevent or treat an infection.

The IDPH recommends anyone who does travel uses an insect repellent, wears long sleeves and pants, and stays in places with air conditioning or window and door screens.  

Photo Credit: File -- AP]]>
<![CDATA[Patient Forges Friendship by Posting Adele Lyrics at Hospital]]> Fri, 15 Jan 2016 12:02:35 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AdelePhoto.jpg Cystic fibrosis patient posts "Hello" lyrics in hospital window, starting a friendship with workers across the street.]]> <![CDATA[1 Brain-Dead, 5 Hospitalized in France Clinical Trial]]> Fri, 15 Jan 2016 11:52:25 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_118589362326.jpg

A clinical trial in France left one volunteer brain-dead and five others hospitalized, French officials said Friday, NBC News reported. 

All volunteers participating in the trial at the privately-licensed laboratory in Rennes have been recalled and the country's Ministry of Health said an investigation has been launched into the incident. 

French Health Minister Marisol Touraine was en route to Rennes on Friday and pledged to shed light on the circumstances of the tragedy, tthe ministry said in a statement.

It did not name the lab, saying only that the accident affected a Phase 1 trial of an oral drug.

France-based Biotrial later confirmed that "serious adverse events" related to a test drug had occurred "in some subjects" during a study for a sponsor, saying in a statement the company was in "close and regular contact" with French authorities. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Officials Consider Travel Warning as Zika Virus Spreads]]> Thu, 14 Jan 2016 10:43:26 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ZikaVirus-AP_454991380590.jpg

U.S. health officials are considering a travel warning about a virus spreading across Latin America and the Caribbean that experts say could cause a catastrophic birth defect, NBC News reported.

"We are in the process of developing a travel warning not only for pregnant women, but for everybody," said Dr. Lyle Petersen of the Centers for Disease Control.

CDC are now deciding what they should tell people about Zika. Little is known about the virus, which is spread by mosquitoes. It is a cousin of dengue fever, and there is no vaccine or treatment for it.

Zika is said to cause a defect called microcephaly — an abnormally small head and brain — which can kill babies, cause miscarriages or severe and untreatable handicaps.  

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Time Right for Obama's Ambitious Cancer 'Moonshot': Experts]]> Wed, 13 Jan 2016 12:02:31 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/JoeBidenCancer-AP_865714559233.jpg

Cancer experts are applauding President Barack Obama’s ambitious “moonshot” to cure the disease, saying it’s a good time to do it.

Obama announced the initiative Tuesday night during his State of the Union address, putting Vice President Joe Biden in charge of the effort. Biden has added $264 million to the National Cancer Institute’s budget in the 2016 spending bill, according to NBC News.

"Right now, only 5 percent of cancer patients in the U.S. end up in a clinical trial. Most aren't given access to their own data. At the same time, community oncologists — who treat more than 75 percent of cancer patients — have more limited access to cutting-edge research and advances,” Biden, whose son, Beau, died of brain cancer last year, wrote in comments about the new initiative.

Cancer researchers say the initiative will help cancer centers share data from patients. And giving people ready access to treatment can help save more lives.

“This is something the vice president can fix in six months,” the American Cancer Society's Dr. Otis Brawley told NBC News. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Perrigo Recalls Children's Cough Syrup Over Overdose Risk]]> Tue, 12 Jan 2016 10:08:51 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Coughrecall.jpg

Perrigo Company said Monday it's recalling two flavors of its children's liquid cough medicine because of a potential overdose risk. 

The recall includes two batches of children's guaifenesin grape liquid (100mg/5 mL) and three batches of children's guaifenesin DM cherry liquid (100mg guaifenesin and 5mg dextromethorphan HBr/ 5 ml) sold in 4 oz. bottles with the dosage cup in a box. The medicine is being sold nationwide under a variety of brand names, including Rite-Aid, Dollar General, CVS and Kroger. 

Take a look at the chart below or click here to check the recalled lots, along with their corresponding branded labels:

The company said in a press release that it issued the recall because some packages contain an oral dosing cup with incorrect dose markings. Perrigo said there have been "no reports of adverse events" to the syrup as a result of the incorrect dosage markings.

An overdose of Guaifenesin DM may cause hyper excitability, rapid eye movements, changes in muscle reflexes, ataxia, dystonia, hallucinations, stupor, and coma, the Perrigo statement said. It said nausea, vomiting, tachycardia, irregular heartbeat, seizures, respiratory depression, and death can also occur with overdose.

Perrigo said it is notifying its distributors and customers by verbal and e-mail communication, followed by formal FedEx-delivered communication.

Consumers who purchased the product should discard the dosing device and product and may call Perrigo, toll free, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET at 1-888-345-0479, or visit mucusreliefrecall.com. 

Photo Credit: Perrigo
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<![CDATA[Texas Traveler Diagnosed with Zika Virus: CDC]]> Mon, 11 Jan 2016 21:11:16 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/mosquito-AP_334068230276.jpg

A traveler in Houston has been diagnosed with a little-known mosquito-borne virus after returning from a trip to Latin America, health officials say.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it's the first diagnosis in the United States since an outbreak began in Latin America last year. In May 2015, the Pan American Health Organization issued an alert about the first confirmed Zika virus infections in Brazil.

Puerto Rico confirmed its first case in December, and the virus has also been transmitted in Mexico.

"It's caused by the bite of a mosquito, very similar to West Nile," said Dr. Khang Tran, chief medical officer at the Medical Center of Plano.

Unlike West Nile virus, however, Tran said the Zika virus is not deadly.

He said the symptoms, including fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes), rarely last longer than a week.

"The clinical symptoms are usually pretty mild, treated with acetaminophen or Tylenol, and symptoms usually go away within week," Tran said.

Though the symptoms are not considered serious, the CDC said pregnant women need to be especially careful when traveling to areas where the Zika virus is found.

Brazil is investigating the possible association between the infection and cases of microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with only partially developed brains.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[New Mammogram Guidelines Spark Controversy]]> Mon, 11 Jan 2016 19:30:50 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/New_Mammogram_Guidelines_Spark_Controversy_1200x675_600098371961.jpg A new mammogram guideline is causing some controversy in the medical community. Michael Brownlee reports for the NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. on Jan. 11, 2016.]]> <![CDATA[New Dietary Guidelines: Cut Added Sugar, Eat More Veggies]]> Thu, 07 Jan 2016 06:33:15 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-176501052.jpg

Added sugar in food and drink should be limited to no more than 10 percent of daily calories, according to new federal guidelines released Thursday, NBC News reported.

The new dietary recommendations, which offer advice on healthy eating while also influencing countless federal nutrition and food programs, are intended to help Americans prevent disease and obesity.

The guidelines, released every five years, suggest cutting salt and saturated fat but stop short of telling people to eat less red or processed meat — despite the strong evidence that both can cause cancer.

And the main message hasn't changed much over the years: Eat your fruits and vegetables. Whole grains and lean meats, too.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Stem Cells Show Promise For Hearts]]> Wed, 06 Jan 2016 13:13:44 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NC_heartdisease0106_1500x845.jpg Scientists at Osaka University are hard at work using stem cells to treat severe heart problems.]]> <![CDATA[E-Cigarette Ads Target Millions of Kids: CDC]]> Tue, 05 Jan 2016 10:52:26 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_34020085243.jpg

E-cigarette makers are spending tens of millions of dollars on advertising their products and their message is getting across, federal health officials reported Tuesday. 

Teens are vaping by the millions now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. The CDC said that trend threatens to derail decades of progress in helping prevent kids from taking up smoking.

"The same advertising tactics the tobacco industry used years ago to get kids addicted to nicotine are now being used to entice a new generation of young people to use e-cigarettes," said CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden.

CDC said in a statement that "during 2011 to 2014, current e-cigarette use among high school students soared from 1.5 percent to 13.4 percent, and among middle school students from 0.6 percent to 3.9 percent." Spending on e-cigarette ads rose from $6.4 million to $115 million during that time, CDC noted. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Don't Let Gyms Slim Down Your Bank Account]]> Mon, 04 Jan 2016 18:49:04 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/gym+generic.jpg

January is the month of resolutions, and the New Year brings in lots of health club memberships. More than 50 million Americans belong to a gym.

"That first month is packed," said Sidd Vivek with the Mission Valley YMCA. "January is definitely a peak, but over time that sort of dwindles out.  

That's why Consumer Reports recommends that people check out their workout options before signing any sort of long-term contract.

Mandy Walker with Consumer Reports said you should ask for free trial passes for the day to check out the gym. You'll want to visit the gym during the time you'll be using it and to see what the facilities are like or how crowded it is in the areas you'll want to use.  

And when it comes to the price: "Always assume you can get a better deal," said Walker. "You do that by asking the right questions and visiting at the right times."

January is a great time for promotions, but wait until the end of the month when sales teams may be more eager to make a deal.

Consider a month-to-month arrangement rather than lock into a year contract. 

"We want you to be here," said Vivek, "but if it's not working out, we don't want to lock you in for a year or two."

Look for discounts. Some businesses and health insurance plans are willing to share the cost. There might also be discounts for military members or family plans.

Most important, no matter where you sign up or for how long, read the contract.  What is important is not what the gym staff tells you, it's what is written down on paper.  You want to ask about the cancellation policy.

In California, you can cancel a health membership contract in writing within 5 working days.  If the contract is worth more than $1,500, then you have 20 days.

The idea is to slim down your waistline and not your bank account.

Photo Credit: Consumer Bob]]>
<![CDATA[Could Sugar Fuel the Growth of Cancer?]]> Fri, 01 Jan 2016 06:40:25 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/sugar_teaspoon_generic.jpg

Sugar is commonly found in the American diet. An average 12-ounce can of soda has 10 teaspoons of sugar.

Does sugar fuel the growth of cancer? 

Researchers have been studying what sugar does to the body. One type of sugar in particular has provided a possible link from sugar to cancer. That particular sugar is fructose.

Tests using mice show a possible mechanism for how it happens. The findings, published in the journal Cancer Research, support studies that suggest people who consume more sugar have a higher risk of cancer, and particularly breast cancer.

Yet researchers say this sole factor is harder to pin down, since "sugar" is a very broadly used term.

"A lot of patients are told it doesn't matter what you eat after you are diagnosed with cancer. This preliminary animal research suggests that it does matter," said Lorenzo Cohen of the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, who worked on the study.

Other studies show sugar-heavy diets may impact heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. 

Photo Credit: ullstein bild via Getty Images]]>