<![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 Thu, 18 Sep 2014 18:52:45 -0700 Thu, 18 Sep 2014 18:52:45 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Doctor Infected With Ebola Expected to Make Full Recovery]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 23:01:20 -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]]>
<![CDATA[CDC Confirms Case of Enterovirus in Connecticut]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 06:44:57 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/yale+new+haven+children+hospital+2.jpg

A mysterious respiratory illness that has hospitalized children in several states has surfaced in Connecticut, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed.

The state Department of Public Health received confirmation from the CDC on of a case of Enterovirus D68 infection involving a Connecticut child. The child, a 6-year-old girl, was treated at Yale-New Haven Hospital, according to a hospital spokesperson.

Doctors at Yale-New Haven Hospital's children's emergency department said the girl was treated there last week and discharged.

A statement from the state Department of Health said it is likely the virus is already causing respiratory illnesses in many places across Connecticut because of this confirmed case and reports of suspected cases involving children at four other Connecticut hospitals, and confirmed EV-D68 cases in New York State and New Jersey.

"As per the CDC recommendation, we are testing children who experience severe respiratory symptoms difficulty or fast breathing, who are admitted to the hospital and there has been several cases at our hospital and others that we have sent to the CDC to be tested," said Dr. Paul Aronson, of Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Five Connecticut hospitals are still waiting on results from the CDC, including Danbury Hospital.

Officials from Connecticut Children's Medical Center said last week that they were treating suspected cases of Enterovirus D68.

As of Sept. 17, the CDC was reporting 140 lab-confirmed cases in 17 states since mid-August. The states affected at this point include Connecticut, New York, Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Most people who are infected with non-polio enteroviruses do not get sick, or they only have mild illness, according to the CDC. Symptoms of mild illness may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, skin rash, mouth blisters, and body and muscle aches.

DPH is working with health care providers and local health departments to closely monitor for increases in respiratory illnesses in hospitals across the state.

Laboratory specimens from patients with respiratory illnesses that could be due to EV-D68 at four other Connecticut hospitals are in the process of being sent to the CDC for confirmatory testing.
 



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Cases of Enterovirus Confirmed in NY, NJ, CT: Officials]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 16:26:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/CDC-generic.jpg

Officials Wednesday confirmed cases of enterovirus EV-D68 in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut as the unusual and potentially severe respiratory illness continues to sweep across the U.S.

Officials said that at least one of the 12 confirmed cases of the virus previously confirmed in New York state is in New York City, and another case is on Long Island. Cases have been reported in more than a dozen states nationwide.

The CDC also confirmed a case in New Jersey on Wednesday. That case was identified from a specimen sent to the CDC from a Philadelphia hospital, the CDC said. The child was discharged from a hospital after their condition improved.

On Long Island, a girl from North Hempstead was hospitalized earlier in the month and is now recovering at home, according to the Nassau County Health Department. 

Connecticut health officials also said that a child in that state also contracted the virus. The child was being treated at Yale-New Haven Hospital, but it's not clear what town that child was from..

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.

Infants and children are at particular risk, 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.

There are more than 100 types of enteroviruses. EV-D68 was first identified in California in 1962.

Health officials urge anyone who has trouble breathing, or notices a child does, to call a doctor immediately.  

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Simulating Surgery to Save Lives]]> Mon, 15 Sep 2014 21:50:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/LAgenerics+health+medical+doctor+01.jpg

Every year, as many as 440,000 Americans die because of mistakes that occur in hospitals.

Now, with the use of high-tech simulators, physicians and their medical teams can practice procedures without risking the lives of their patients and potentially avoiding dangerous errors.

"It’s similar to a football team," says Dr. Alistair Phillips, a pediatric heart surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. "It’s making sure everyone is on the same play in the playbook and what their role is and how they are going to deliver the best level of care."

Phillips and his cardiac surgical team practice their complex procedures on a regular basis at Women’s Guild Simulation Center for Advanced Clinical Skills at Cedars-Sinai.

The $15 million dollar facility is a fully functional operating room with one big difference: the patients are state-of-the-art mannequins. Their skin feels and behaves like human skin; they have exact replicas of human organs; and they can be programmed with vital signs and medical problems. They can even bleed, talk, hyperventilate and give birth.

It’s as close to the real thing without putting a human patient at risk.

"If you’re doing complex surgeries you’re able to simulate the actual surgery you’re going to do,"Phillips explains.

During the simulation, the medical team is challenged with a series of complications including equipment problems, patient complications, and emergencies. Working through these problems in advance of the actual surgery, not only improves their teamwork, but helps them prepare for the unexpected. Dr Bruce says "That means cutting down on risks and complications and improving results."

In the case of Phillips, who specializes in newborn and infant cardiac surgeries, simulations are especially helpful when working with small organs and tiny bodies. But the Simulation Center can also be used to practice a host of adult procedures and surgeries including childbirth and ER visits.

Dr. Bruce’s Advice: "I’ve learned and I’ve taught doctors to care for trauma patients on mannequins and it does save lives. But not all hospitals have these simulators because they are expensive. If you or a family member needs surgery, find out how many of the same procedures the doctor has done and if the hospital uses medical simulators to practice."

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<![CDATA[Genetic Testing to Fight Breast Cancer]]> Thu, 11 Sep 2014 03:28:52 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tlmd_cancer_mamapng_bim.jpg

A debate is brewing over ways to prevent breast cancer.

Current guidelines discourage screening unless a woman has a cancer or a history of it. However, some doctors say all women over 30 should have genetic testing to determine their risk for breast cancer, even if they have no family history.

"If there is any suggestion the risk factor, like a family history or personal history of breast cancer at a particular age and ovarian cancer, then genetic testing is really the standard of care. We’re trying to figure out ways to make it more broadly available to the community," said Dr. Stephen Gruber, Director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Julie Culver is a genetic counselor at USC’s Keck Medical Center. Culver said she has been genetic testing save lives, but adds that this kind of testing should be accompanied by counseling.

"The women who find out they have mutations are going to be in a situation where they need a lot of information about what they can do to protect themselves," Culver said.

For women who do have mutation, drastic surgery is not the only option.

"For women who do have a BRC1 and 2 mutation, we would recommend to do breast MRI screening in addition to mammography every year," Culver said. "We do not tell women that they need to get a bilateral mastectomy because screening works so well."

Dr. Gruber believes it won’t be long before genetic testing becomes more widely available. He adds that it’s best to talk to your doctor to decide the best course of action.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[What You Need to Know About Enterovirus]]> Tue, 09 Sep 2014 07:18:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/enterovirus+fear.jpg An outbreak of an uncommon virus, Enterovirus D68, has made children in a dozen states ill and has left some hospitalized, according to NBC News. Children with asthma are particularly affected. Andrew Siff has the story.]]> <![CDATA["Shop With Your Doc" Program Teaches Healthy Grocery Shopping]]> Mon, 08 Sep 2014 20:46:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/grocery-cart.jpg

The latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows obesity is still dramatically rising in kids. One reason is that as families try to navigate their way through economic hardships, it is increasingly harder to shop for healthy food that is economical.

Now, one local group of hospitals is trying to make it easier, by having families shop with their doctors.

Fatty food with preservatives is cheaper and often easier to prepare, but St. Joseph Hoag Health in Anaheim is trying to help families think about healthier options. The "Shop with Your Doc" program launches Tuesday, Sept. 9, and pairs residents with doctors and nutritionists at supermarkets across Orange County.

At a preview of the event Monday, Ariceli Padilla said her family could use such a program to make some diet changes.

Padilla shops often with her son Gavin. As a busy small business owner and mother, she finds making the right choices challenging.

“It’s very difficult to know what to buy,” she said. She said her son’s tastes are also a challenge.

“I like beans and dip and potato chips and pretzels,” said Gavin, 7.

Dr. Jason Jilk joined the pair Monday, and said changing food habits is a way to make a larger difference to the community.

“We want to help them change habits, and to do so we are targeting the families who have little or no time to actually visit their doctors,” he said.

The first step is making wise choices.

“Read the labels carefully,” Jilk said. “There is a lot of misleading stuff.”

Especially in cans, frozen foods and packages, which are often high in salt and calories.

Better choices are the grocer’s area with meat, fish and poultry, Jilk said. The best choices are produce, which are high in vitamins and nutrition and likely to decrease the risk of some cancers.

The lessons from the excursion are needed, Araceli said.

“It’s a win-win situation, where I get healthy, and he gets what he wants to eat.”

The “Shop with Your Doc” program will be held Tuesday, Sept. 9 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Ralphs supermarket at 2030 E. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim and at Ralphs supermarket at 2741 W. MacArthur Blvd., Santa Ana; Wednesday, Sept. 10 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Food4Less at 2140 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana.

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<![CDATA[Enteroviruses: What You Need to Know]]> Wed, 10 Sep 2014 06:10:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Will-Cornejo.jpg

An outbreak of an uncommon virus, Enterovirus D68, has made children in a dozen states ill and has left some hospitalized, according to NBC News. Children with asthma are particularly affected.

Here are 11 things to know about enterovirus 68 from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.

  • Enteroviruses, among them enterovirus D68, cause about 10 to 15 million infections each year in the United States, most often in the summer and fall. Because Enterovirus 68 is uncommon, less is known about it than other of the more than 100 kinds of enteroviruses.
     
  • Infants, children and teenagers are more likely to become infected.
     
  • To protect yourself from enteroviruses, wash your hands often, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, avoid sharing utensils with people who are sick and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, including toys and door knobs.
     
  • It appears to be spread the same way other respiratory infections are spread, through saliva and mucus when someone sneezes or touches something. The new school year is likely helping the virus to be transmitted.
     
  • It can cause from mild to severe respiratory illness; the full spectrum of illness associated with it is not clear.
     
  • Symptoms can include wheezing and difficulty breathing.
     
  • Enterovirus D68 can also cause neurologic symptoms, including paralysis, but those not been linked to the current strain.
     
  • So far there have not been any fatalities.
     
  • There is no vaccine.
     
  • Asthma should be well controlled.
     
  • Enterovirus D68 was first identified in California in 1962 and since then clusters have appeared in Asia, Europe and the United States.

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<![CDATA[FDA Approves Breakthrough Drug That Fights Melanoma]]> Tue, 09 Sep 2014 05:30:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/melanoma_448x336.jpg

The FDA approved a new drug Thursday that could change the way melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is treated.

The drug, Keytruda, was considered a breakthrough and approved after it was tested on more than 600 patients who had melanoma spread throughout their bodies.

"I was on oxygen. I was in a wheel chair. I couldn't walk. I didn't eat. I was thinking, I didn't have much longer to go," said melanoma patient Tom Stutz of Sherman Oaks, who was part of a clinical trial at UCLA.

According to the American Cancer Society, although melanoma only accounts for less than 2 percent of all skin cancer cases, it causes the majority of skin cancer deaths.

Melanoma cells protect themselves with a special protein called PD-1. This protein prevents the immune system from recognizing and killing the cancer cells.

The Keytruda drug is an antibody that targets the proteins. Without being guarded by the protein, the immune system has a greater chance of attacking the cancer cells.

"It's important because it's a new tool that is going to be very powerful in designing future regiments for melanoma," said Dr. John Glaspy of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The drug uses the body’s own immune system which means it likely has fewer side effects and more benefits than some regular chemotherapy.

"We have long believed that harnessing the power of our own immune systems would dramatically alter cancer treatment," said Judith Gasson of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Seventy-two percent of patients involved in the study responded to the drug and experienced tumor shrinkage. More than one-third of the patients had tumors that shrunk more than 30 percent and did not re-grow.

The treatment is given intravenously every three weeks. It is unclear how long patients have to stay on the medicine.

Stutz, who in June 2011 had melanoma that had spread to his lung, liver and other parts of his body, currently experiences no signs of the cancer.

"The bottom line is it saved my life. I would not have been here were it not for that drug," Stutz said.

Statistics show approximately 76,100 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2014 and nearly 10,000 Americans will die from the disease this year.

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<![CDATA[Kids' Sunglasses Recalled]]> Fri, 05 Sep 2014 05:36:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/kids-glasses-recall2.jpg

A Rhode Island-based sunglasses company on Thursday issued a recall of more than 200,000 sunglasses due to an excessive amount of lead in the paint.

The glasses are made by FGX and feature designs from Disney movies, TV shows and some comic book characters.

CVS and Walgreens stores were among those that sold the sunglasses from December 2013 to March 2014 for between $7 and $13.

According to the company website, the recall includes: 

Style# Brand Colors

  • S00014SVS999 -- Marvel Spider-Man Red, blue
  • S00014SVSBLU -- Marvel Spider-Man Blue
  • S00014SVSRED -- Marvel Spider-Man Red
  • S00021LKC999 -- SK2 Sears /Kmart Private Label Blue
  • S00021SVS999 -- Marvel Spider-Man Red/black, silver/blue
  • S01551SDB999 -- Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Red/white, silver/black
  • S02964SJN440 -- Disney Jake and the Never Land Pirates Blue
  • S02964SJN999 -- Disney Jake and the Never Land Pirates Blue
  • S03683SDC999 -- Disney Cars Blue, black, red
  • S04611SDC001 -- Disney Cars Red/black
  • S04611SDC080 -- Disney Cars Red/Silver
  • S04611SDC400 -- Disney Cars Blue/teal/yellow
  • S04611SDC999 -- Disney Cars Blue/teal/yellow, red/black, red/silver
  • S07786SMS500 -- Disney Doc McStuffins Purple/pink
  • S07786SMS650 -- Disney Doc McStuffins Pink/blue
  • S07786SMS999 -- Disney Doc McStuffins Purple/pink, pink/blue
  • S07840SDC999 -- Disney Cars Red/black
  • S07841SDC001 -- Disney Cars Black/silver
  • S07841SDC440 -- Disney Cars Blue/red
  • S07841SDC999 -- Disney Cars Blue/red, black/silver, black/red

Customers can contact FGX International toll-free at 877-277-0104 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday to arrange a replacement or refund.



Photo Credit: FGX]]>
<![CDATA[Mothers, Unborn Babies Saved With Innovative Procedure ]]> Wed, 03 Sep 2014 20:47:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/Babies+Hinds+Anthony+H1N1+Procedure.JPG

Ashley Hinds and Shelly Anthony were in the middle of their pregnancies when they became deathly ill with the worst form of the H1N1 flu.

Hinds remembered doctors telling her something was wrong.

"I remember coming to the hospital, them telling me that i had double lung pneumonia, double pneumonia," Hinds said.

When the doctors made the diagnosis of severe H1N1 flu, they tried everything.

Antibiotics failed, other therapies failed. But as the women's health got worse and the lives of their unborn babies became more at risk, doctors and staff at San Antonio Community Hospital in Upland suggested using a machine that is usually used on newborns and had only been tried on fewer than 100 adults before them.

The machine acted like a heart/lung bypass machine for the mothers and their babies. IVs took the moms' blood into the machine, added oxygen to then returned it to their bodies.

"Without this device, neither the mom nor the baby would have survived," said Dr. Hossein Shayan, the specialist in charge.

The husbands watched as Hinds and Anthony were connected to the machines.

"Once they put her on the machine, immediately she just, she started...her color started coming back," Ashley Hinds' husband Andy said. "She started returning to normal, and things were looking good. That was the beginning of, I think, the hope."

That hope lasted weeks as the women's bodies slowly fought and defeated the deadly H1N1 bug.

As they healed, their bodies and the now-healthy blood kept their babies alive.

"She looked at me, and she didn't have to say a word," Andy Hinds said. "She just looked at me, and I just...she just kind of cracked a smile as she always does and I just knew that she was back."

Months later, the families and their newborn children celebrated with every member of the staff who helped save them.

"It was a miracle, plain and simple," Andy Hinds said. "It was two miracles, you know. She was the first one, and the baby was the second one, and we couldn’t be happier."

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<![CDATA[Double Mastectomy: How Necessary Is the Procedure? ]]> Wed, 03 Sep 2014 16:33:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Mastectomy1127_HD_722x406_10293827732.jpg

More women are choosing to opt for a double mastectomy to prevent or treat localized breast cancer, but a new report suggests that may not be the best option for all women.

Angelina Jolie very publicly opted for a double mastectomy after learning she had the breast cancer gene.

While the procedure is a courageous decision that helps peace of mind, experts along with a Journal of the American Medical Association report say the surgery may not prolong life or be necessary.

"What we don't know is what happens to those women afterward and whether they gain any benefit in terms of survival," said Dr. Allison W. Kurian of Stanford, who authored the study.

Kurian and Dr. Scarlett Gomez of the Cancer Prevention Institute of California studied 18,900 women diagnosed with breast cancer, with early-stage cancer diagnosed in one breast. They compared results for a double mastectomy, single mastectomy and local tumor removal with radiation.

"Women who had a double mastectomy did not seem to have any better survival than women who had the other two surgical procedures," Gomez said.

A separate study showed that women who have the breast cancer genes but did not yet have cancer would live as long and as well as those who had double mastectomies -- if they got early and frequent mammograms to detect and cure the cancer early.

Dr Bruce's Advice: Women who have the cancer gene but no cancer should consider early screening tests. Those who get cancer need to weigh the risks and benefits of double mastectomies versus local treatment of the tumor. In some cases, local treatment may be better. Cancer treatment is not "one size fits all." Get all the information and make your individual decision.
 

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<![CDATA[Kraft Recalls Some American Singles Cheese]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 08:57:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP091109173400.jpg

Kraft is voluntarily recalling 7,691 cases of four varieties of its regular American Singles cheese product.

The recalled products have a "Best if Used By" date of Feb. 20, 2015, and Feb. 21, 2015.

Kraft traced the recall back to one of the company's suppliers. Kraft Foods Group Inc., which is based in Northfield, Illinois, said the supplier did not store an ingredient used in the cheese product at the company's standards.

Kraft said it's unlikely but the product could spoil prematurely, and it could lead to food-borne illness. However, Kraft said no one has reported getting sick.

Kraft spokesman Russ Dyer said the company issued a nationwide recall, but he can't specifically cite a city or state that received the potentially problematic cheese.

"We can tell you that very little product was shipped, so there is a limited amount of product, if any, on shelf," Dyer said.

Kraft said you can return the cheese to the store you purchased it at for a refund. Customers can also call Kraft at 800-396-5512.

Below is a list of package codes associated with the recall.

  • 0 21000 60464 7
  • 0 21000 61526 1
  • 0 21000 61526 1
  • 0 21000 63360 9



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Eyes Prone to Sun Damage While Driving]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 19:59:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/N6PPKGSUNDAMAGETOEYESforweb_1200x675_323021891968.jpg New studies suggest that driving without sunblock and eye protective gear could cause damaging effects to a person's skin and vision. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for NBC4 News at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Boston Marathon Dream Wedding]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 10:27:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/edt-KJWedding1.jpg If something good could come out of the Boston Marathon bombing, James Costello and Krista D'Agostino seem to have found it.

Photo Credit: Prudente Photography]]>
<![CDATA[Orange County Woman Dies From West Nile]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 23:38:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lagenerics-genericsla-nbc4-logo-2.jpg

An elderly Orange County woman who died last week had the most severe form of the West Nile virus, tests results have confirmed.

The Seal Beach resident died from complications of the virus, making her the first fatality in the county from the disease this year.

The woman also had underlying medical conditions, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency.

She contracted the most severe form of the infection, West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease. Orange County has recorded 40 reports of West Nile Virus to date this year, compared to five last year. Four of the cases were discovered in blood donors as part of a regular screening process, the OCHCA said.

"This unfortunate death shows how serious West Nile Virus infection can be,” said Dr. Eric G. Handler, county health officer, in a statement. “West Nile Virus activity tends to peak in August and September in Orange County, but we continue to have cases occur throughout the fall. It is important for people to remember that the end of summer does not mean the end of West Nile Virus season.”

Officials urged residents to use caution as the season continues, and to take steps to mitigate mosquito breeding and access, including:

  • Use insect repellent or lemon eucalyptus oil on children under the age of three to deter mosquito bites.
  • Be aware and avoid outdoor activities during peak mosquito hours, which are generally dawn and dusk.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants to protect skin when outdoors.
  • Drain standing water, empty unused flower pots and pools.
  • Keep tight-fitting screens closed.

Orange County has recorded 36 cases of West Nile patients exhibiting symptoms this year.

Vector Control officials say Seal Beach isn't a hotbed of mosquito activity. They've had two positive results from traps set at the Naval Weapons Station. Santa Ana remains the biggest concern, where 22 people have tested positive for West Nile.

The American Red Cross says they've uncovered 4,400 cases of West Nile in donors across the country over the last decade. The blood is usually destroyed.

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<![CDATA[Sam's Club Caesar Salads Recalled]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 11:28:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/sams_club1.jpg

A California firm is recalling chicken Caesar salad kits sold at Sam's Clubs nationwide for possible listeria contamination.

APPA Fine Foods is recalling more than 92,500 pounds of fully-cooked chicken Caesar salad kit products, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Thursday.

The salad kits were shipped nationwide and sold at Sam's Clubs' in-store cafes according to the USDA.

The following products are subject to recall were in 11oz. clear plastic containers and 6.5-lb. boxes labeled, "APPA Fine Foods/Sam’s Club Daily Chef CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD KIT" with case codes 141851, 141922, 141951, 141991, 142021, 142201 or 142131 with use by dates of 8/14/14, 8/21/14, 8/27/14, 9/1/14, 9/3/14 or 9/17/14. The kits were produced on July 4, July 11, July 14, July 18, July 21, July 25, Aug. 1 and Aug. 8, 2014.

The USDA's FSIS and the company said there have been no reports of illnesses, but anyone concerned about an illness should contact a healthcare provider.

Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. The invasive infection can spread beyond the gastrointestinal tract. In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn. In addition, serious and sometimes fatal infections in older adults and persons with weakened immune systems.

Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics.

More: California Firm Recalls Chicken Caesar Salad Kits For Possible Listeria Contamination



Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Whole Foods Pulls Yogurt Over Sugar]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 11:35:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/whole+foods+yogurt+allegations.JPG

Organic supermarket giant Whole Foods has removed a version of its store-brand yogurt from shelves after lawsuits were filed in local courts over the dairy product's sugar content.

A company spokesperson tells NBC10.com Friday that the Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt is not being sold as they investigate how much sugar is in each serving.

Two class-action lawsuits were filed earlier this month on behalf of Pennsylvania and New Jersey shoppers.

The suits were brought forth after testing by Consumer Reports found yogurt samples to contain six times the sugar content that was displayed on the nutrition label. The label said 2 grams of sugar was in one container of the product, but the group's analysis found 11.4 grams per serving.

The lawsuit alleges the supermarket knew the label was wrong, but continued to sell the product.

Whole Foods has declined to comment on the specifics of the case, but the spokesperson previously said they were working to determine the discrepancy between their test results and what Consumer Reports found.

Attorneys for the lawsuits are seeking $100 per plaintiff and could represent some 35,000 people. Should they win, the supermarket chain could be forced to pay $3.5 million.

The company spokesperson said several other Greek yogurt options remain stocked for customers in the meantime.

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<![CDATA[Sacramento Patient Tests Negative for Ebola]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 14:32:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tlmd_ebola.jpg

Health officials said Thursday a patient who was being tested for Ebola in Sacramento has tested negative for the virus.

There are currently no confirmed cases of the Ebola virus in California.

"We are pleased with the negative outcome of the Ebola test and wish the patient a speedy recovery," Dr. Ron Chapman, California Department of Public Health Director and state health officer, said in a statement. "The case in Sacramento County demonstrates that the system is working. This patient was quickly identified, appropriate infection control procedures were implemented, and public health authorities were notified."

State and federal officials earlier in the week said they will not divulge which West African country the patient traveled to or from in order to protect the individual's privacy.

Officials also said they will not be releasing the patient's identity, gender or whether the patient is an adult or minor.

On Tuesday, health officials announced that the patient who was admitted to a South Sacramento hospital may have been exposed to the Ebola virus. The Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center worked with the Sacramento County Division of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test blood samples from the patient.

For more information about Ebola, please visit the CDPH home page's "Other Hot Topics" and the CDC's page on information and updates.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SoCal Man Shares ALS Reality]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 08:42:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ALSchallenge.JPG

It starts off hilarious: A jocular guy in a bikini challenging Ellen DeGeneres and Miley Cyrus to the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Then, it gets personal, real and heartbreaking.

Anthony Carbajal, a Murrieta native and owner of a Temecula wedding photography business, shares in a new YouTube video about a family history of ALS and how he was diagnosed with the debilitating disease earlier this year at age 26.

“I hate talking about it. That’s probably why no one talks it. Because it’s so challenging to watch,” Carbajal says in the video. “No one wants to talk about it. They don’t want it to ruin their day.”

His YouTube video has reached more than 4 million views in just three days and has been spotlighted by Time, BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post, among other media outlets.

The video is a challenge to naysayers of the ubiquitous ALS Ice Bucket Challenge — those who express annoyance that the craze is filling up their Facebook newsfeeds.

“I promise your newsfeed will go back to cat videos and ‘Let It Go’ covers,” he says. “But now, for once, the ALS community has the main spotlight. And for once in my entire life, I’ve seen it in the forefront.”

“Eventually I won’t be able to walk, talk and breathe on my own,” he says. “And that’s the real truth of what ALS is.”

Since the Ice Bucket Challenge took over the Internet, the ALS Association has received $41.8 million in donations from July 29 to Thursday. That's compared to $2.1 million in the same time period last year.

You can watch the video here. (Warning: It contains some profanity.)
 

His YouTube video also drew the attention of Ellen DeGeneres, who accepted his challenged and tweeted this morning:



Photo Credit: YouTube]]>
<![CDATA[Device Helps Sinusitis Sufferers Breathe Easy]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 20:49:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/189*120/sinusitis+treatment+3.JPG

If you are having trouble breathing on a regular basis, don’t assume it’s just allergies.

One in seven people suffer from chronic sinusitis, a condition that is caused by inflation and the swelling of the sinuses. This can make is difficult to breathe, hard to sleep and result in facial pain and headaches.

"A lot of my patients who come in here aren’t sure that they even had a problem," said Dr. Farhad Sigari, a Los Angeles-based ear, nose and throat specialist.

The problem can be so severe that it requires surgery to be fixed. One common procedure is called a balloon sinuplasty. The doctor uses a small inflatable balloon to force open the sinuses, which can sometimes resolve the problem but doesn’t always work as planned.

"In the past, surgeons have struggled with how to maintain the quality and the health of the sinuses after the procedure," Sigari said. "Often there’s a lot of scarring that can occur due to the chronic inflammation and clots and not being able to keep the sinuses passages clean after the surgery."

To reduce those risks, Sigari is using a new device called Propel, a dissolvable implant that he inserts into the patient’s sinuses right after the surgery.

Once inside, the mesh springs open and pushes itself against the sinus walls, keeping the nasal passages open during the healing process. At the same time, the implant delivers a dose of steroids to the tissue in the nose, which can reduce inflammation and scarring during recovery.

"The beauty of it is that it stays in the nose. It does not really go in your system so it has a really low chance of causing any systemic side effects that people worry about with steroids," Sigari said.

The implant dissolves completely in three to four weeks. and the patient never feels the device. It also eliminates the need to pack the nose with gauze or other material after the surgery.

"It’s not for every patient that needs a sinus procedure, but for the patients that qualify, it is wonderful and it continues to help them move along get to the point where they can feel normal like everybody else," Sigari said.

Dr. Bruce's advice: Don’t assume your breathing problems are the result of allergies. Chronic sinusitis can be treated with medications and in some cases surgery. The problem can seriously impact your life and it will not go away without treatment. See a specialist if your suffering. A CT scan can determine if your sinuses are impacted and need more aggressive treatment.
 

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<![CDATA[UC Berkeley Student Diagnosed with West Nile Virus]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 12:06:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/bb82f013a5e54a7cbed54729d2487f36.jpg

A woman who contracted the West Nile Virus and fell ill while on BART has been identified as a UC Berkeley student, according to reports.

The Oakland Tribune reports that the unnamed "female student" is recovering from meningitis -- which is one of the worst illnesses the mosquito-born virus can cause.

She'll miss school but she is expected to recover.

The woman "vomited and passed out" while traveling on a BART train, but she's not considered to be contagious, the newspaper reported.

Health officials said West Nile has no cure and no vaccine. In addition, the virus can't be spread by casual contact.

The student's case is the first documented case of West Nile in Alameda County since 2012, the newspaper reported.

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<![CDATA[Costco Donates $10M to Help Young Heart Patients]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 13:26:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/baby+children+hospital+la+heart+surgery.jpg

Costco Wholesale pledged to donate $10 million to help Children's Hospital Los Angeles better care for heart patients from infancy -- and sometimes even before that -- to adulthood in what the hospital called its largest single corporate gift.

The donation will benefit the areas of the hospital most in need, including the open-heart surgery institute where doctors have performed surgeries on babies before birth. Children's Hospital Los Angeles has performed heart surgery on a 25-week old baby while in utero.

Doctors in the video said the baby's heart was the size of a walnut at the time.

Costco's donation was so significant that the hospital, founded in 1901, planned to rename the second floor the "Costco Wholesale Floor." The second floor at Children's Hospital Los Angeles is home to the Heart Institute where pediatric heart surgeries take place.

Eileen Garrido, a 15-year-old heart patient at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, has been on that floor before. She was just one month old when she underwent open-heart surgery at the hospital for a congenital heart condition.

In June, she had a third successful heart surgery, and is expected to speak during a ceremony Wednesday announcing the donation.

"I want to make sure every child has a healthy beating heart," Garrido said in a news release.



Photo Credit: Children's Hospital Los Angeles]]>
<![CDATA[Calif. Patient May Have Ebola Virus]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 18:55:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tlmd_ebola.jpg

Health officials said Wednesday a patient who was being tested for Ebola in Sacramento is at low risk for the virus.

Speaking to the media during a conference call, state and federal officials said they will not divulge which West African country the patient traveled to or from in order to protect the individual's privacy.

Officials will not be releasing the patient's identity, gender or whether the patient is an adult or minor. Health officials are also contacting those who may have come in contact with the Sacramento patient.

"It is unlikely that Ebola presents a significant risk to Californians," said Dr. Gil Chavez, deputy director for the Center for Infectious Diseases and State Epidemiologist at the California Department of Public Health. Chavez said that the CDPH has not received any reports of high-risk patients being treated in California hospitals.

He said that the results of the testing of the Sacarmento patient would be available in three days.

Health officials announced Tuesday that the patient who was admitted to a South Sacramento hospital may have neem exposed to the Ebola virus. The Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center is working with the Sacramento County Division of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test blood samples from the patient.

"In order to protect our patients, staff and physicians, even though infection with the virus is unconfirmed, we are taking the actions recommended by the CDC as a precaution, just as we do for other patients with a suspected infectious disease," Dr. Stephen Parodi, director of hospital operations for Kaiser Permanente Northern California, said in a statement. "This includes isolation of the patient in a specially equipped negative pressure room and the use of personal protective equipment by trained staff, coordinated with infectious disease specialists. This enables the medical center to provide care in a setting that safeguards other patients and medical teams."

The Ebola virus got worldwide attention earlier this month when two United States aid workers were infected in Liberia. The aid workers were move to an Atlanta hospital for treatment in a specially equipped plane. Both patients are recovering, officials said.

The Ebola outbreak started in December of last year in West Africa. Since the outbreak, some 2,200 people have been diagnosed with the virus and nearly half o those people died.

Even though the Ebola virus can be deadly, doctors said, survival rates are improving because people are getting checked if they feel they have come in contact with the virus.

Chavez told reporters that any hospital in California should be able to treat Ebola patients. The Sacramento case is the first case in Caifornia linked to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Chavez said.

"We knew it was a matter of time before we had a case in California," he said.

For more information about Ebola, please visit the CDPH home page's "Other Hot Topics" and the CDC's page on information and updates.

NBC Bay Area's Cheryl Hurd and Riya Bhattacharjee contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Almond, Peanut Butter Recalled]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 13:04:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/100308-peanut-butter-attack.jpg

A unit of Hain Celestial Group Inc. is recalling some peanut and almond butter because of possible salmonella contamination.

The company said Tuesday that there have been reports of four illnesses that may be related to the nut butters.

They were sold under the brand names Arrowhead Mills peanut butters and MaraNatha almond butters and peanut butters. Also being recalled were some lots of private label almond butter from grocers Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Kroger and Safeway. A total of 45 production lots are affected.

They were sold in Canada, the Dominican Republic, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates as well as the U.S.

The Lake Success, New York, company said it learned of the contamination risk after routine FDA testing.

The Food and Drug Administration said it did not know how many jars of nut butters were recalled. The company would not comment.

Typical symptoms of salmonella infection are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. These symptoms generally develop within one to three days of exposure to the bacterium and may last for up to a week.  While anyone can become ill from exposure to salmonella, health officials say the risk of infection is particularly high for children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

There have been several major salmonella outbreaks in recent years, including infected peanuts that sickened more than 700 people in 2008 and 2009 and Foster Farms chicken that is linked to a strain of salmonella that has made more than 500 people sick over the last year and a half.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this Associated Press report incorrectly identified some of the nut butters recalled.  The error has been corrected in the above report.  We regret the error.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Embryo Scope is Breakthrough in Treating Infertility]]> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 09:59:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/243*120/Embryo_Scope_0814.JPG

Couples who are having trouble getting pregnant often turn to fertility specialists for help.

One option that is often recommended by doctors is In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). It’s a process where the egg is fertilized by the sperm outside the body to create embryos. The embryos are allowed to grow inside an incubator for several days until two or three of them are implanted in the womb.

The odds of success from IVF are often less than 40 percent. One reason for the low success rate is the challenge of selecting the embryos most likely to result in a pregnancy. But now a new device called the Embryo Scope is improving the odds by giving doctors a better look at the developing embryos in real time.

“The embryo scope allows us to take time lapse photography continuously of embryo development over six days,” said Dr. Mark Surrey, a fertility specialist at the Southern California Reproductive Center in Beverly Hills.

In the past,a specialist had to open the incubator and perform a spot check of the embryos as the developed. The doctor would look for clues about the ones that gave the couple the best chance of getting pregnant. There was a lot of uncertainty about what was happening to the cells while in incubator. Changes from hour to hour could impact success.

By being able to monitor the embryos in real-time inside the incubator, Surrey can study subtle changes in the cells and select the ones he wants to implant in his patients without causing stress to the developing cells.

“By watching the way in which the cells and the embryo divide, there’s a difference between the cell divisions in a normal embryo and an abnormal embryo,” he explains. “By doing that, we can select out the embryos that are most likely to cause a pregnancy.”

Surrey’s Los Angeles-based center is one of only 28 facilities currently using the Embryo Scope including Cleveland Clinic which has been a pioneer in using the new technology.

“We’ve seen a drastic increase in our pregnancy rates,” said Dr. Nina Desai, who runs one of Cleveland Clinic’s IVF laboratories. “I think this is going to revolutionize the way that we practice IVF.”

NBC4’s Dr. Bruce says: “Any couple who is having trouble getting pregnant should see a specialist. The man and the women should each be evaluated because 50 percent of fertility problems may be due to male issues. The good news is that many of these problems are treatable.” 

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<![CDATA[New Procedure Helps Restore Vision in Kids ]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 12:57:49 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/eye+vision.PNG

Millions of children are born with a condition that affects their eyesight. Some cases are so severe, it’s difficult for the child to walk and impossible for them to learn.

Seven-year-old Grace Nasser suffered from nystagmus which resulted in an uncontrollable shaking of the eyes.

"She didn't look at us and her eyes rolled into the back of her head," Grace’s mother Athena Nassar said.

Grace said she sometimes had trouble reading and doing other things.

"If a child cannot keep their eyes still on a word, they're not going to be able to see that word clearly," ophthalmologist Robert Lingua said. 'So they learn to see the world in a blur."

In the past, doctors may have tried taking a muscle of the eye and reattaching it elsewhere. According to NBC4’s Dr. Bruce Hensel, however, that approach would not have solved Grace’s problem completely.

Dr. Lingua, who works at the Gavin Herbert Eye Institute on the University of California, Irvine campus, tried a unique approach. Under Dr. Lingua’s care, Grace underwent a procedure that would change her life.

"What we did with Grace was to remove the forward portion of the primary muscles that dealt with shaking," Lingua said. "By removing them and not allowing them to reattach to the eye, we were able to quiet the eye."

According to Grace, the results were immediate.

"I had to go to the bathroom, I'm all like, ‘no I don't need anyone to carry me or my wheelchair,’ I just walked over," Grace said.

Her mother called the results "unbelievable."

"She's happy, she's healthy, she's in school, she's doing many things she could never do before," Lingua said.

Grace has gone from walking with a cane to now learning how to surf.

"We're just ecstatic. We feel so blessed and just so happy for her," Grace’s mother said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

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<![CDATA[Whole Foods Lied About Sugar in Yogurt: Lawsuit]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 00:39:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/whole_foods.JPG

Whole Foods Market knowingly sold its store brand yogurt containing a sugar content that was nearly six times the amount stated on the product's nutritional label, according to two class-action lawsuits filed this month.

The Austin, Texas-based supermarket chain advertised its Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Plain Greek Yogurt as having only 2 grams of sugar per serving. But a Consumer Reports analysis published in July revealed the food item had an average of 11.4 grams of sugar per serving.

"No yogurt on the market actually has only [two] grams of sugar per serving," court documents read. "The lowest sugar content of any Greek yogurt for sale is 5 grams per serving."

Even though the specialty supermarket was aware of Consumer Reports' findings, it failed to remove the mislabeled yogurt from store shelves and continued to sell the product in 12 locations in New Jersey and 10 others in Pennsylvania, the lawsuits allege.

Both class-action suits -- filed on behalf of Mark Bilder in New Jersey and Carmine Clemente and Samantha Kilgallen in Pennsylvania -- could represent as many as 35,000 plantiffs who purchased the mislabled product in the Garden State between Aug. 6, 2008 and present and in the Keystone State from Aug. 11, 2008 to present, according to estimates provided in the lawsuit.

The attorney is calling for a $100 penalty per plantiff -- totaling a possible $3.5 million.

A Whole Foods spokeswoman declined to comment on the pending litigation citing company policy. However, she said the supermarket is working to determine why its test results differed from those reported by Consumer Reports.

The suit also alleges Whole Foods officials were fully aware the labels underreported the greek yogurt's sugar content since nutrition labels on all of its store brand products -- sold under the motto "Health Starts Here" -- are evaluated for correctness.

"Whole Foods Market's website brags to consumers about how thoroughly [it] checks the accuracy of the labels of its store brands, telling consumers: 'Our Private Label registered dietician reviews each nutrition label for accuracy and completeness before the label is printed," court records show.

The inaccurate label gave Whole Foods, which specializes in natural and organic food, a competitive advantage and justified the higher prices the specialty market charges consumers, the suit alleges.

The yogurt in-question typically retails for $1.29.

"It was [the] defendant's conscious intent to induce consumers to purchase 'Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Plain Greek Yogurt' by falsely stating that the sugar content per serving was only [two] grams," court documents show



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[MRSA Breaks Out Among Firefighter Trainees in New York]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 04:10:37 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/randalls+island+mrsa.jpg

A handful of the more than 300 FDNY probationary firefighters training on Randall's Island have contracted the antibiotic-resistant bacteria MRSA, officials confirm.

A type of staph infection, MRSA can spread quickly in highly populated environments like schools, gyms and hospitals. At medical facilities, MRSA can cause life-threatening bloodstream infections, pneumonia and surgical site infections.

The FDNY would not say exactly how many trainees were infected on Randall's Island, but says those infected are being treated and extra precaution is being taken for them to continue to train.

The department said in a statement, "We take this issue very seriously and we are acting aggressively to combat this problem by increasing our schedule of cleaning and disinfecting of facilities and equipment and educating our Instructors and Probies at the Fire Academy about how to prevent open wounds and the spread of MRSA."

Anyone can get MRSA through direct contact with an infected wound or by sharing items such as towels or razors that have touched infected skin.

Dr. Stephen Morse of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University says while staph is very common and that many people carry it in their nasal passages, MRSA is less common and harder to treat.

The probationary firefighters "should be watchful if their condition changes or if they get worse," he said. "It can be very nasty."

The doctor said infected facilities should be cleaned thoroughly with typical household detergents or disinfectants in case of outbreaks.

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<![CDATA[Georgia Firm Recalls 15K Pounds of Chicken Nuggets]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 12:40:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ApplegateRecall.jpg

A Georgia-based meat company is recalling over 15,000 pounds of frozen chicken nuggets after reports surfaced that consumers found small pieces of plastic in the meat.

Perdue Farms and the USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service said they have not received any reports of injury from the consumption of the 8 ounce box of "Applegate Naturals Chicken Nuggets" with the establishment number P2617.

The product was produced on Feb. 5, 2014 with a sell by date of Feb. 5, 2015, according to a press release from the FSIS.

Applegate withdrew the frozen chicken from markets on Aug. 8, 2014, but consumers may still have the product in their possession since it is a frozen item, the statement said.

Consumers with questions about the recall should contact Gerry Clarkson, Applegate Consumer Relations Specialist at (800) 587-5858.



Photo Credit: USDA.gov]]>
<![CDATA[Suicide Prevention: Helpful Resources, Links]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 21:39:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/nbc4-generic-open-nbcla.jpg

Use the links below for more information about suicide prevention and agencies that provide crisis intervention.

  • Crisis Text Line: Text "LISTEN" to 741741


 

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<![CDATA[How to Reduce Concussion Risks ]]> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 20:46:30 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/concussion-study.jpg

With the start of a new school year, parents are being urged to help their children take precautions to prevent concussions.

Anything that causes a sudden jarring of the head can cause a concussion, as violent shaking may make the brain swell. There may be time lag between the injury and the display of symptoms.

The person injured does not always lose consciousness after the injury, and may feel confusion, weakness, or experience memory or vision problems.

Any person who suffers a concussion should not return to normal activity until they have been evaluated with physical, memory and intelligence tests.

Dr. Bruce's advice for reducing the risk of concussions:

  • Have an expert teach your children neck exercises. Neck strength prevents shaking and jarring of the head.
  • Teach your children balance training, which will also help protect the brain.
  • Limit contact in all sports
  • Limit violent movements
  • If you see anyone who seems confused or weak after playing sports, make sure they sit out and recover before returning.
     



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[School Lunches Around the World]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 08:54:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LunchPakistan2.jpg Photographers captured the lunch fare for students in several countries earlier this month, showing a range of foods, customs, and nutritional standards.

Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS]]>
<![CDATA[Ebola Researcher Confident in Drug]]> Sat, 09 Aug 2014 09:26:33 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/inside-Ebola-lab-san-diego.jpg

A La Jolla lab is on the front lines of the fight against the Ebola Virus.

The outbreak in West Africa has killed at least 961 people and prompted the World Health Organization to declare an international public health emergency.

On the other side of the world from ground zero, researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla are looking at how the Ebola virus attaches to parts of the body and how it multiplies and replicates.

Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire is part of the team spanning 25 labs across the globe that is making images of how the virus works.

Their work that has led to a medicine taken by two Americans infected with Ebola. The Sorrento Valley lab Mapp Bio used the images created at Scripps to come up with the experimental medicine called Z-Mapp.

Saphire works as director with the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium, a global partnership with labs at Tulane University, Harvard and on the ground in Sierra Leone. She spoke to NBC 7 Thursday about the virus she’s worked on for 10 years.

Saphire says the cocktail of antibodies and proteins worked in mice and primates but wasn't supposed to be tested on humans until 2015.

"I know exactly what’s in it, how it works. I would take it myself in a heartbeat," she said.

While ZMapp provides hope, the director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the federal government is looking "very carefully" at experimental Ebola treatments. It's too early to tell whether they are helpful or even safe.

Even so, Mapp Bio is ramping up production, Saphire said, and they’re working with all the regulatory agencies involved.

“The logistics of making more are straightforward and solvable,” Saphire said.

The antibodies are made using tobacco leaves that are then put into a giant juicer. Scientists then strain the antibodies from the juice.

“That whole process would take about two or three months,” she said, adding that researchers need “time and the funds to do it and are expediting the process. You can believe it’s a priority.”

The antibodies in Z-Mapp were developed by Mapp Bio, the U.S. Army and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Mapp Bio has been operating for 11 years. In all, there are nine employees.

ZMapp is not FDA-approved. Its use was granted under the FDA's "compassionate use" clause, only given in extraordinary circumstances, and there are only a handful of doses of it available.

The two American aid workers who were flown to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and received doses of ZMapp – Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol – are said to be getting a little better every day after their treatment.

The current outbreak in West Africa is the largest and longest ever recorded of Ebola, which has a death rate of about 50 percent and has so far killed at least 961 people.

The WHO declared similar emergencies for the swine flu pandemic in 2009 and for polio in May.

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<![CDATA[9 Questions You Should Ask About the Drug "Molly"]]> Fri, 08 Aug 2014 09:00:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_191826866.jpg

Just a week ago, two young men -- a 17-year-old and a college student -- died after attending a music festival in Columbia, Maryland. As friends and families grieved, authorities said the two may have overdosed on a drug called "Molly."

It's one of the most popular party drugs in circulation at the moment, but what is it? Is it a new danger or old news? There's a lot of misinformation out there, so we talked to an expert to find out what you need to know -- especially as the summer music festival season remains in full swing, and students prep to head back to campus.

1. What is Molly? Is it the same thing as ecstasy?

Molly is a slang term for MDMA, an illegal drug that is classified as both hallucinogen and a stimulant. It's generally accepted that the name Molly is derived from "molecule."

MDMA is a synthetic drug with the full title "3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine," but it's also commonly referred to as ecstasy. However, Molly may be a little different than ecstasy -- it depends on whom you ask.

Molly is usually a white powder inside a capsule, whereas ecstasy is usually a pill (tablet). Both drugs contain MDMA, but Molly is considered by some users to be "purer" than ecstasy because it is in powdered form.

2. So is Molly "purer" than ecstasy?

Confusion about the drug's purity is what makes MDMA especially dangerous, said Dr. Joni Rutter, the director of Basic Neuroscience and Behavioral Research at The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

"Even in its purest form, it can cause fatalities," she said. "It's still a drug and we don't know a lot about its effects."

The assumption that Molly is purer is controversial. Both drugs can be mixed with ("cut with") other substances, which can be extremely dangerous. Ecstasy can be harder to tamper with once it is in pill form -- but as a powder, Molly can be mixed with many other substances.

Some experts suggest that due to Molly's popularity, it is now also just as likely to be cut with other substances as ecstasy.

3. What does Molly do?

MDMA is a popular drug at parties because of the euphoric effects it has on the user. It has become an increasingly common concern for concert promoters, campus police and local officials in the last few years.

Dr. Rutter said that party-goers favor MDMA because it will make them feel "energetic and euphoric."

"It wreaks a bit of havoc on the brain," she said.

The effects can be different for different people, but MDMA works by increasing the activity of three neurotransmitters in the brain.

"Users have overall good feelings towards others," Rutter said. "The hormones that are released make people feel more social."

But with the good feelings come some nasty side effects. Rutter said users often report feeling anxious and confused. She also said that some people lose their grip on the passage of time. More information on the effects of MDMA is available from NIDA's website.

The drug is addictive, but different people will experience differing sensitivity to its effects.

4. Is Molly new?

No. Molly appeared as an alternate form of MDMA in the 1990s, but it gained popularity in the last decade.

It was considered an "it" drug about a year ago and The New York Times documented MDMA's popularity with adults in New York, as a supposedly "clean" drug.

5. Then why have I heard about Molly a lot lately?

MDMA has been linked to a spate of recent deaths that may have been caused by the drug.

Two people, ages 17 and 20, recently died in Maryland, after being taken from the Mad Decent Block Party at Merriweather Post Pavilion in early August. Police said they thought both victims had used MDMA, but were awaiting toxicology tests. Twenty other people were also taken to hospital for apparent drug-related problems from the music festival.

These incidents followed several other deaths that may have been linked to MDMA abuse. A man reportedly overdosed on MDMA at the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, and police in Canada are currently investigating whether two deaths at the Veld music festival in Toronto were related to MDMA.

USA Today reported in January that Molly was increasing in popularity among young people. Some celebrities, including Miley Cyrus during her Bangerz tour, have been accused of glamorizing the use of Molly and other drugs in recent months.

There have also been studies this year that suggest MDMA may have some therapeutic uses, such as in the treatment of PTSD.

6. Who uses Molly?

MDMA is popular with many different kinds of people because of its energizing effects, but it is most often found at music festivals and parties.

Molly is especially popular on the EDM (electronic dance music) festival scene due to its reputation as a party drug. Concert organizers for the upcoming Electric Zoo festival in New York are even requiring attendees to watch a brief PSA about the dangers of Molly.

A recent study by the University of Michigan, funded by NIDA, also suggests that the use of MDMA may be on the rise among 10th through 12th graders.

7. How dangerous is Molly?

Molly can be extremely dangerous, especially if it is mixed with other drugs.

NIDA's Dr. Rutter said that the biggest risk to users will be hyperthermia, or extreme overheating, probably caused by blood vessels failing to dilate enough.

Rutter said that this was especially an issue in a club or festival environment, where users are exposed to high temperatures and enclosed environments.

One of the other big dangers with taking Molly is that some do it consider it a safer, purer form of ecstasy, which might not be true -- especially if it's been mixed with other substances, unknown to the user.

"Drug interactions are a big problem," Rutter said. "We're seeing drugs cut with lots of other things, even so-called 'bath salts'."

Another risk with MDMA is that due to the euphoric feelings and reduced anxiety that users might experience, they may make poor choices, such as practicing unsafe sex.

8. What are the long-term effects of Molly?

The effects of using Molly or ecstasy can last for days. The most common include anxiety and depression. But Rutter said there are more insidious effects that people should know about.

"One of the big problems is disrupted sleep," she said. "The long-term effect that this has on the brain can make it even harder to recover from the MDMA's effects. It might even prompt the cycle of drug addiction and cravings."

Rutter said that some other effects on users can be memory loss and a decline in serotonin transporters, which can lead to longer-term depression.

"Basically a little bit of fun now can lead to a lot of trouble down the line," she said.

9. What are the legal implications of using Molly?

MDMA is a schedule 1 illegal drug. Information about federal trafficking penalties is available from the DEA's website.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Cancer Patient's One Direction Wish]]> Thu, 07 Aug 2014 08:21:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/6yo+cancer+patient.jpg

Six-year-old Madison Bergstrom of Stoughton, Massachusetts, is like any other girl her age, dancing and lip syncing to One Direction and dressing up like a princess.

But Madi has been battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia off and on since she was 19 months old.

"She’s been through a lot for her age and she still has about two years of treatment to go," said her mother, Shauna McLaughlin.

McLaughlin has been through a lot, too, as a single parent and primary caregiver fighting this battle right alongside her pint-sized hero.

"It’s hard, it’s scary but she is resilient, and inspiring and that’s what helps – she makes me strong," she said.

So when some friends bought Madi One Direction tickets for her and her mom to go see the band at Gillette Stadium this Saturday, they were thrilled.

In home video from earlier this year Shauna asked Madi, "How much do you love One Direction?"

"Like to the moon!" Madi said.

"And how much do you want to go to their concert?" Shauna asked.

"I’ll ride to there as fast as I can!" said Madi.

"You want to go so bad?" asked Shauna asked.

"Yes!" exclaimed Madi.

"We are totally going!" Shauna said.

But sadly, Madi ended up back in the ICU this week at Dana-Farber Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and she won’t be able to go to the concert.

Madi’s focused on the positives, such as ice cream sundaes in her hospital bed. But her mom was bummed, and posted a message on Facebook asking if anyone wanted to buy the tickets, figuring she could use the money to do something special with Madi once she feels better.

That post has led to another page with thousands of "likes" asking "One Direction" to visit Madi in the hospital.

"To see that there’s so much good in so many people and that they care, Madison has an army of people behind her," Shauna said.

Shauna says while it would be awesome to see the sparkle in her daughter’s eye from meeting her favorite band, she has much bigger hopes and dreams for her little princess.

"I want to see her grow up to be normal and I’m sorry," said Shauna tearing up, "I just want to see her be -- the range of normal – there is no range and this is our normal, but I want her to grow healthy, I want her to grow happy."



Photo Credit: Shauna McLaughlin]]>
<![CDATA[Scientists Closer to Ebola Vaccine]]> Wed, 06 Aug 2014 19:23:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NIH+Scientists+Ebola+Vaccine+080614.jpg

Doctors say just one plane ride can bring the Ebola virus to the United States. In Bethesda, Maryland, scientists are studying blood samples and measuring antibodies as they work on a vaccine.

"Someone can get infected in one of these West African countries, feel reasonably well, get on a plane, get off and then all of a sudden get sick here,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. “That's feasible, and I don’t think anybody can deny that."

But the U.S. is much better equipped to prevent the spread of the virus, health officials say.

"Extraordinarily unlikely that it will be an outbreak at all because of the way we take care of people, how we have the capability of isolating them, how we understand what one needs to do to protect the health care providers and the kinds of health care facilities we have," Fauci said.

With no effective treatments available, one of the best ways to stop the spread of Ebola is prevention in the form of a vaccine.

National Institutes of Health scientists have been working for more than a decade on an Ebola vaccine. As the latest outbreak continues to grow, so does the pressure to create a vaccine to prevent a disease that can kill up to 90 percent of its victims.

It's a complicated process of finding the right combination of genes from the virus that's effective with few side effects, but they are closer than ever, Fauci said.

"Vaccine has been tried in monkey models, and it seems to be really quite promising," he said.

The vaccine is made with genetic material from the virus, meaning there's no live virus involved.

"You don’t inject the entire virus of Ebola because that would be dangerous, so what you do is you get a very small component of the virus, which is a protein that coats the outside of the virus," Fauci said.

Scientists hope to be testing the vaccine on humans as early as the end of September, Fauci said. If it proves to be safe and effective, they hope to make it available by 2015. The first group to get it would be health care workers.

"It's difficult to vaccinate an entire population because you don’t know who's going to be at risk because you don’t know where an outbreak is going to be,” Fauci said. “But when you have health care workers who are putting themselves in clear and present danger of getting infected, those are the ones you want to protect."



Photo Credit: NBCWashington.com]]>
<![CDATA[Ebola: What You Need to Know ]]> Tue, 05 Aug 2014 20:02:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ebola+resized.jpg

With the recent report of two American citizens having Ebola and a possible third case in New York, many worry whether they're at risk. But the disease is very difficult to spread. Unless a person has visited West Africa, had direct prolonged contact with an infected person or eaten meat from a fruit bat, they are likely safe.

The symptoms include:

  • Fever and headache
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach Pain

These symptoms may also come with the flu and other viruses, but Ebola may lead to:

  • Internal and/or external bleeding
  • Shock
  • Organ failure
  • 60 to 90 percent mortality rate

Dr Bruce's advice: Don't panic. There is minimal risk unless you've been to West Africa, eaten meat of a fruit bat or exposed to someone with the disease.
 

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<![CDATA[Safety Study: Dangers of Texting and Walking ]]> Tue, 05 Aug 2014 10:56:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP080729033573.jpg Researchers discovered teenagers are more at risk of getting hit by cars while distracted than any other demographic they have studied in the past.]]> <![CDATA[Mass. Doctor Going to Fight Ebola]]> Sun, 03 Aug 2014 19:22:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Nahid+Bhadelia.jpg

Dr. Nahid Bhadelia is taking her knowledge about infectious disease to Sierra Leone, where she'll be in the trenches, treating people who are suffering from the deadly Ebola virus.

"My parents are scared, but they know that this is something that I've wanted to do since - as long as I can remember," she said.

Bhadelia is with Boston Medical Center and Boston University's National Emerging Infectious Disease Laboratories. She'll be doing the same kind of work as Dr. Kent Brantly, who was infected with Ebola in Liberia and returned to the United States Saturday, walking on his own from the ambulance into Emory University.

"I was so glad, not only to see him walking, but the fact that he's here and he's going to get the advanced supportive care that I think he should be getting," said Bhadelia.

Infected American relief worker Nancy Writebol will be coming home Tuesday, as well. The cases are raising worries in the U.S. about a potential outbreak.

Hospitals like Massachusetts General say they are prepared. Still, Dr. Paul Biddinger says the chances of an Ebola outbreak here are small, given that it's spread only by contact.

"There is a chance that this could spread because of how globalization of air travel and how fast people move around the globe is changing, but any one person is at very, very low risk," said Biddinger.

That's not be the case for Bhadelia. She'll be working in a country where they've declared a state of emergency and troops have been called in to quarantine victims.

But the doctor is getting her shots and reviewing her safety protocols, convinced even more than ever that she needs go.

"We're going there to contain that epidemic, but we're also doing it because by containing it there, we're keeping folks on this side safe," Bhadelia said.



Photo Credit: NECN]]>