<![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 Sun, 23 Nov 2014 21:24:30 -0800 Sun, 23 Nov 2014 21:24:30 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Nerve Freezing Procedure Offers Alternative Pain Relief]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 18:20:20 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/LAgenerics+health+medical+doctor+01.jpg

Sharon Basham-Dominguez of Helendale, who has been struggling with knee pain for decades, says it’s "an effort to move day-to-day."

Even a walk along the beach with her grandchildren had proved impossible for the 61-year-old.

"I apologize to the grandkids that gran-gran can’t do nothing today," said Basham-Dominguez.

But Sharon no longer has to apologize for missing family moments. She underwent a unique procedure using a device called iovera that literally froze the nerves responsible for causing pain in the knee.

"It’s so practical and easy to perform, I can do it in my office," said Dr. Vernon Williams of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic. "And it doesn’t kill a nerve it just stops it temporarily from sending pain signals."

And that can significantly reduce or eliminate the pain for 3 to 6 months according to Dr. Williams. He said in some cases, the pain relief lasts even longer. And during that time, he works with his patients to fix the structural problems causing the discomfort.

"During the period of time when the nerve is quiet and not sending pain signals, we work really hard at physical therapy," explained Dr. Williams. "We try to improve strength and stability so hopefully when the procedure has worn off there is less pain or no pain."

The device works by using nitrous oxide, laughing gas, to temporarily freeze the nerves in the knee causing the pain. Dr. Williams first identifies the troubled area and then numbs those areas using an ultrasound machine to guide him. He then inserts the iovera probe into each spot and begins the freezing process. It only takes several minutes to complete.

For Basham-Dominguez, the 45-minute process fixed years of suffering.

"It’s been so long since I’ve felt normal but my knees feel great," said Basham-Dominguez.

Dr. Bruce’s Advice –

  • This procedure can help reduce the pain temporarily but it’s not a cure. You need to find out what’s causing the pain and address those issues.
  • Don’t suffer through knee pain. There are a lot of treatments available including knee replacements. You don’t have to live in constant pain.
  • This is a fairly new procedure and it’s not yet covered by insurance so expect to pay around $1,000 per treatment.

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<![CDATA[Medical Clinics Opened Inside Target]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 07:16:53 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/target+clinic.jpg

Shopping isn't the only thing you can do at the Target store in Mission Valley; now you can see a nurse.

Kaiser Permanente is teaming up with Target to open four medical clinics inside their stores in Southern California.

Two of those clinics are in San Diego County — one in Mission Valley and the other in Vista.

"It is bringing the care delivery system to where you live, work and play," said Peter Asmuth with Kaiser. "In this instance, Target is where our members and our guests play."

Asmuth said this is an evolution of the care delivery model. The clinics are not staffed by physicians but by licensed nurse practitioners and licensed vocational nurses.

But if they need to talk to a doctor, one is available over a computer screen.

Dr. Heidi Meyer is a family physician who practices "tele-medicine" with patients at the Target Clinic.

Inside the exam room is a computer screen and camera. Dr. Meyer is able to speak with patients and actually view certain procedures in high definition.

"I am surprised with how well people feel like they've been cared for and that they truly connect with us," said Dr. Meyer.

Some feel the use of clinic nurses and remote doctors is part of the evolution of care. The Target Clinic is open seven days a week.



Photo Credit: Consumer Bob]]>
<![CDATA[Study Shows Promise in Treating Heart Disease Associated With Muscular Dystrophy]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 11:38:57 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/LAgenerics+health+medical+doctor+01.jpg

Doctors at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions announced a potential breakthrough Monday, asserting that stem cells used to treat heart attacks may also help kids with muscular dystrophy.

Stem cells are immature cells that may be used on disease areas to regrow tissue, and they’ve already been used to regrow tissue in hearts injured in a cardiac arrest. This study focused on a very unique use; inspired by a mother who wouldn’t give up.

Dusty Brandom, 22, who has muscular dystrophy, said he knows his weakened muscles are just part of the problem. Over time, as with all muscular dystrophy patients, the disease caused scarring in his heart and lungs.

Refusing to accept that, Brandom’s mom searched everywhere for an answer, and may have found one in a surprising place.

"I read an article called 'Repairing Broken Hearts' and in it, it talked about Dr. (Eduardo) Marband's treatment that he was using for adults with heart attacks," said Catherine Jayasuriya, Brandom’s mother.

Jayasuriya reached out to Dr. Marban of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and not only encouraged him to consider the idea but her organization, Coalition Duchenne, raised money to help fund a study on mice with muscular dystrophy.

Marban said even he was surprised.

"It turns out the results were spectacular, much better than we expected," he said. "The mouse hearts got dramatically better."

The next step is human studies that Brandom hopes will lead to expanded uses for the treatment in the future.

"Guys like me will be able to walk again," said Brandom, of the possibilities that have arisen from the study. "That’d be really good to maybe be able to do some things I can’t do anymore."

Dr. Bruce Hensel says the next step will take time but "If it works it may save many lives."

www.coalitionduchenne.org

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<![CDATA[Affordable Care Act Re-Enrollment Begins]]> Sun, 16 Nov 2014 00:23:57 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/141115-5pm-affordable-care_1200x675_359294019515.jpg The second open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act began Saturday morning. Melissa Etezadi reports from East Los Angeles for the NBC4 News at 5 on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[All Ebola Patients in America Cleared]]> Tue, 11 Nov 2014 18:54:15 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Hensel_Ebola_Latest_Web_1200x675_356691011510.jpg All patients diagnosed with Ebola in America have been cleared of the virus, bringing the US to a total of those with Ebola to zero. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Nerve-Burning Promises Longer Pain Relief]]> Fri, 07 Nov 2014 20:24:13 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/219*120/11-06-14_Nerve-Burning-Device.JPG

For those living with chronic pain, every day is a struggle. Medications can help. But patients can become addicted and the drugs don’t always eliminate the discomfort.

Now, a new minimally invasive procedure that takes less than an hour promises pain relief for up to a year without daily medication.

The technology is called Cooled Radiofrequency Treatment. Devices like the Coolief use radio waves to literally burn the nerves responsible for sending pain signals from the body to the brain. By destroying this tissue, patients may get almost immediate pain relief.

Treatments like this make sense in theory, and have been used in other areas of medical care for years, doctors note.

"The hope is that the majority of their pain is coming from the area we are treating and that they will get relief," explains Dr. Standiford Helm of DISC Sports & Spine Center in Newport Beach.

It worked for former fire department Chief James Rada. At 89, his doctors didn’t want to perform surgery on his injured back. So instead, Dr. Helm performed a Coolief procedure. It didn’t take long for the ex-firefighter to get relief.

"It was almost instantaneous," Rada said. "No pain."

The patient is awake during the procedure. The doctor uses local anesthetic on the affected area and some sedation medication to make the patient comfortable. There’s no cutting involved either. Small needles are used to locate the nerves and guide the probe. Once the probe is inserted, it only takes a few minutes to burn and destroy the nerve tissue.

"The benefit of the Coolief is that it cools the tissues around the tip of the probe to prevent charring," explains Dr. Helm. “This allows us to burn a larger area during the procedure.”

It’s critical that Dr. Helm doesn’t damage any of the nerves responsible for movement or function. So he uses a real-time X-ray machine during the procedure to make sure he only treats the nerves responsible for the pain. Once he is certain he has identified the correct areas, he uses the machine the complete the procedure.

"I think this really provides a way of helping people for whom we really had no other proven way of providing help," said Dr. Helm.

Dr. Bruce says: "If you have a painful condition, see an expert who can diagnose the problem specifically. The choice depends on your condition, history and examination; and only an expert can help you make the choice. There are many treatment options and this is definitely one of the least complex that may produce relief with few side effects."

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<![CDATA[Record Number of Booster Seats Are "Best Bets": IIHS]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 12:44:06 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/185*120/%5BNECN%5DB16x9N_PY-08MO_NS_HEALTH_MINUTE_BOOSTER_SEATS_CNNWS_NECN1500kMP4_640x416_2191472863.jpg

A record number of booster seats have earned the highest rating for safety belt fit from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Out of the 41 models the agency tested, 27 earned the "best bet" designation while three were deemed "good bets."

The evaluations are based on how three-point lap and shoulder belts fit a child-size test dummy under various conditions. Crash tests were not a part of the review. The recommended seats position your child so that the seat belt is snug and safe for them in almost every car.

Booster seats that fell into the "check fit" category may provide a good belt fit for some children in some vehicles, but not as many as the boosters that earned a higher ranking, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says.

The following booster seats were named "best bets" for safety belt fit for 2014:

  • Baby Trend Hybrid 3-in-1 (backless mode)
  • Baby Trend Hybrid No Back (backless)
  • Britax Frontier 90 (highback)
  • Britax Pinnacle 90 (highback)
  • Britax Pioneer 70 (highback)
  • BubbleBum Neon (backless)
  • Cybex Solution X-Fix (highback)
  • Diono Solana (backless)
  • Dream On Me Turbo Booster (highback mode)
  • Eddie Bauer Deluxe Belt-Positioning Booster (highback mode)
  • Eddie Bauer Deluxe Highback 65 (highback)
  • Evenflo Chase (highback)
  • Evenflo Symphony 65 (highback)
  • Graco Argos 80 Elite 3-in-1 (backless mode)
  • Graco Argos 80 Elite 3-in-1 (highback mode)
  • Graco 4Ever All-in-1 (backless mode)
  • Graco 4Ever All-in-1 (highback mode)
  • Graco Milestone All-in-1 (highback)
  • Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 with Safety Surround (highback mode)
  • Kids Embrace Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (highback)
  • Maxi-Cosi Rodi AP (highback mode)
  • Maxi-Cosi RodiFix (highback)
  • Peg Perego Viaggio HBB 120 (highback mode)
  • Recaro Performance Booster (highback)Safety 1st Store ’n Go (highback mode)
  • Safety 1st Store ’n Go No-Back (backless)
  • Safety 1st Summit 65 (highback)

The IIHS says the following booster seats are "good bets:"

  • Baby Trend Hybrid 3-in-1 (highback mode)
  • Cybex Solution Q-Fix (highback)
  • Diono Rainier (highback)

Eight booster seats fell into the "check fit" category:

  • Dream On Me Coupe Booster (backless)
  • Dream On Me Turbo Booster (backless mode)
  • Eddie Bauer Deluxe Belt-Positioning Booster (backless mode)
  • Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 with Safety Surround (backless mode)
  • Harmony Folding Travel Booster (highback)
  • Maxi-Cosi Rodi AP (backless mode)
  • Peg Perego Viaggio HBB 120 (backless mode)
  • Safety 1st Store ’n Go (backless mode)

Three booster seats were not recommended by the IIHS:

  • Diono Olympia (highback)
  • Diono Pacifica (highback)
  • Kids Embrace Batman No Back Booster (backless)

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<![CDATA[Unused Flu Vaccines Cost CA Millions]]> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 18:54:27 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Flu+Vaccine+0101414.jpg

The California Department of Public Health provides thousands of free flu vaccines to local county health departments every year in an effort to limit the impact of the virus, which killed 300 people in the state in 2013.

But when NBC4's sister station in the Bay Area, KNTV, began looking into exactly how many of those vaccines make it out to the public, it found millions of dollars in waste with minimal oversight.

It's an inefficient system that has health experts raising this question: If counties can't effectively distribute routine flu vaccines, how prepared are they to respond to other disease outbreaks?

For the full report, click here.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Study: Too Frequent Baths Could Be Bad for Babies' Skin]]> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 04:08:33 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/baby-bath-eczema.jpg

Could keeping your baby squeaky clean cause skin problems?

A new study suggests too many baths — coupled with not enough moisturizing — could had adverse effects on young children.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers say full-body emollient therapy and fewer baths for newborn children can prevent the disease eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis.

Eczema tends to appear on the face and scalp of babies and in elbows and backs of knees in older children. According to the study, the use of emollients daily drastically reduced the average incidence of the disease. Prescribed ointments can moderate the itching and redness but there is no cure for the disease. According to The American Academy of Dermatology, an estimated 10 percent to 20 percent of children get eczema, rising up from only 3 percent in 1960.

Scientists say that the number of baths given to babies is too high, and advise people to bathe their babies no more than two or three times weekly. A recent report found that baby wash and shampoo products were used at least five times per week per household.

“People are bathing their babies too much,” said Dr. Eric Simpson, who conducted the study with a team of researchers, “If you expose skin to water and let it air dry, that leads to dryness—like the bottom of a river bed that cracks open when it dries.”

Baby soaps and shampoos, especially fragranced ones that contain sodium lauryl sulfate, are factors in the development of the disease.

In a trial conducted in the U.S. and United Kingdom, 124 newborn children who were at high risk of atopic dermatitis were studied for months. Some parents were ordered to apply full-body emollient therapy on their babies at least once a day after three weeks of birth, while other parents were ordered not to use emollients.

According to the study, emollients, like fragrance-free moisturizers and ointments, provide a safe and effective method of skin barrier improvement because they retain the skin with a source of exogenous lipids, which strengthens the skin’s barrier properties.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Study Suggests Milk May Not Be Good For You After All]]> Mon, 03 Nov 2014 21:38:56 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/holidaze11.jpg

For years, commercials claimed that "milk helps build strong bones." But now a new study suggests that drinking too much milk could actually increase the risk of bone fractures.

A Swedish research team studied the diets of more than 45,000 men for around 11 years and more than 65,000 women for up to 20 years. They found that women who drank more than three glasses of milk a day were at a higher death risk than those who drank less than one glass. Surprisingly, they also increased their risk of bone fractures.

Men were also at a higher risk of death, mainly due to cardiovascular disease.

One surprise is that other dairy products including cheese, yogurt and other fermented dairy products actually decreased the chance of bone fracture and death.

While this study didn’t prove that milk causes these health problems and other factors could be responsible, researchers believe that there could be a link between the negative effects and a sugar found in milk called D-Galactose. Research has shown that it’s linked to increased inflammation in the body and the possibility of speeding up the aging process.

"There are still many good things that come from milk, but just like water, too much of a good thing may be bad. Moderation is the key," advised NBC4’s Dr. Bruce Hensel.

When consumed in moderation, milk does provide crucial nutrients such as Vitamin D, Calcium and Potassium. But if you are worried about this study or looking for ways to drink less milk, alternatives such as soy and almond milk may be an option. If you eat a balanced and healthy diet, you should get the vitamins you need from your food without drinking milk. But in some cases, supplements may be necessary.

Dr. Bruce’s advice: "The most important supplement to consider is Vitamin D. If you don’t drink milk, get your Vitamin D checked. Eighty percent of us are low in Vitamin D. If it’s low you can get it from the sun or take 5,000 units a day. Some doctors still feel a diet rich in milk is good for you. Others say we should cut dairy out altogether and there is some evidence for that. We need more research. But I would recommend drinking less than 3 glasses of milk a day."

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<![CDATA[Importance of Evaluating Breast Cancer Gene]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 19:51:35 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/N6PKG_DR_BRUCE_BREAST_CANCER_2_1200x675_350779459838.jpg With the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, many people are wondering about the value in evaluating the breast cancer gene with a family history of the disease. Dr. Bruce looks into the topic on the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 31, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Dr. Bruce on Ebola Quarantine Debate]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 05:36:22 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/N6_PKG_DR_BRUCE_1200x675_350293059993.jpg Dr. Bruce weighs in on whether healthcare professionals who worked with Ebola patients should self-quarantine on the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Thursday Oct. 30, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Nurse Steps Out, Slams Quarantine]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 03:01:17 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Kaci-Hickox.jpg

Nurse Kaci Hickox, who recently returned from treating Ebola victims in West Africa and has challenged the legality of a quarantine, spoke outside of her Maine home after health officials announced they are seeking a court order to force her to stay home in quarantine for three weeks over public health concerns.

Hickox walked out of her Fort Kent home Wednesday night, defying the Maine CDC's protocol for health care workers who have treated Ebola patients.

"We have to make decisions based on science," she told reporters while standing outside with her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur. "You could hug me. You could shake my hand and not get Ebola."

The state wants people who have had direct contact with Ebola patients to remain home and avoid public contact until the virus' 21-day incubation period had passed, and it will seek court orders to force them to if they don't of their own accord, officials said at a Wednesday press conference in Augusta.

"Our true desire is for a voluntary separation from the public. We do not want to legally enforce an in-home quarantine unless absolutely necessary," Maine Commissioner of Health and Human Services Mary Mayhew said. "However, we will pursue legal authority if necessary to ensure risk is minimized for all Mainers."

Mayhew defended the state's effort to enforce what it continued to call a "voluntary" quarantine, saying it reflected a "common-sense approach" that would "guard against a public health crisis in Maine."

The court order seeking to force Hickox to remain home will ideally be filed Wednesday, Mayhew said.

Officials also said state troopers are outside of her door waiting to tail her and see who she comes into contact with if she leaves home.

Earlier on Wednesday, Hickox, a nurse who had first been quarantined in New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport over the weekend and was released after showing no symptoms, told Matt Lauer on "Today" that she wasn't abiding by Maine CDC's recommendation; the state's CDC recommendation is more strict than federal guidelines.

"I truly believe this policy is not scientifically nor constitutionally just, and so I’m not going to sit around and be bullied around by politicians and be forced to stay in my home when I am not a risk to the American public," Hickox said. 

Gov. Paul LePage said in a statement earlier on Wednesday that while he's concerned with the safety and health of Hickox and the community of Fort Kent, the state is "exploring all of our options for protecting the health and well-being" of Hickox and the community.

"While we certainly respect the rights of one individual, we must be vigilant in protecting 1.3 million Mainers, as well as anyone who visits," LePage's statement said.

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<![CDATA[Nurses Claim UC Hospitals Unprepared for Ebola]]> Wed, 29 Oct 2014 05:17:13 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/Ronald+Reagan+UCLA+Medical+Center.jpg

Registered nurses at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center are expected to hold a "speak out" Wednesday to voice concerns that the hospital is not properly equipped to deal with Ebola. 

The nurses believes that the UC hospitals that are now being promoted as priority hospitals for treating any potential Ebola patients in California are "far from prepared." A speak out is scheduled for 7 a.m. Wednesday at UCLA Medical Center.

The events have been organized by the California Nurses Association union and National Nurses United (NNU), which represent approximately 12,000 nurses. Similar speak outs were held at UC San Diego and UC San Francisco Tuesday.

Despite what nurses say, an official from the UC system went on the record Tuesday and said they are "far along" in their preparations, and measures are in place to deal with any cases.

Last week, officials said all five University of California medical centers are positioned to provide care for Californians with confirmed Ebola.

UCLA Registered Nurse Fong Chuu, who is a California Nurses Association board member, spoke out ahead of the event.

"Weeks after registered nurse, Nina Pham, was infected in Texas, the preparedness at our hospitals is still a work in progress. This is unacceptable," Chuu said.

The unions are calling for full-body hazmat suits that meet required standards for blood penetration, viral penetration and which leaves no skin exposed or unprotected, powered air purifying respirators with an assigned protection factor of at least 50 or higher, and at least two direct-care registered nurses caring for each Ebola patient.

They are also calling for extensive and continuous training for nursing personnel.

University of California health sciences and services head Dr. John Stobo insisted preparations were well under way. 

"We welcome constructive input from nurses, physicians and other staff as to how we might improve our preparedness," Stobo said.

NNU is demanding all hospitals implement the optimal standards in personal protective equipment and training protocols.

It is also calling on federal and state officials to mandate hospitals comply with the optimal protections for nurses, other frontline health workers, patients, and the general public.

"It is unconscionable that the hospitals do not have the optimal standards and protocols already in place to protect our caregivers," said RoseAnn DeMoro, NNU and CNA executive director.



Photo Credit: Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center]]>
<![CDATA[Local Doc Defends NY Ebola Patient's Actions ]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 13:19:18 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/craig+spencer+bellevue.jpg

A San Diego doctor is defending the actions of Dr. Craig Spencer, the man hospitalized for Ebola in New York City.

Spencer, who tested positive for Ebola on Thursday, has been criticized by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for not obeying a 21-day voluntary quarantine.

In her first on camera interview, one of Spencer’s friends defended his actions.

Dr. Liz Edelstein described Spencer as someone who is selfless, inspiring and always willing to make sacrifices.

“My heart ached and it still does and it just it hit very close to home,” says Dr. Edelstein. “It's definitely scary.”

She met Spencer at a Wilderness Medicine Retreat where students learned to prevent, diagnose and treat disease in the back country without access to modern technology.

Edelstein defends Spencer saying he followed Ebola monitoring protocols.

“He is a careful doctor he's conscientious in his job he's out there because he knows better than most doctors how to deal with this,” says Edelstein. ”What happened is a risk of his job.”

A risk, she prays he can overcome.

“A lot of us went into medicine because we want to do things like that there's a calling,” says Edelstein. “And Craig is one of the few who actually does it."

Spencer has been hospitalized and was said to be in serious but stable condition Monday. He has received a plasma transplant from Ebola survivor Nancy Writebol.

Spencer had returned to New York City from treating Ebola victims in Guinea for Doctors Without Borders. In the week after his return, he rode the subway, went bowling and ate at a restaurant.

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<![CDATA[Nurses Union: UC Hospitals Not Ready for Ebola Patients]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 13:18:12 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/nurse-PPE-ebola-uc-san-dieg.jpg

Members of a large nurses union claim the hospitals recently identified as "priority hospitals" in potential Ebola cases are far from ready to treat such cases.

Thousands of nurses at the five University of California medical centers across the state are now demanding that all hospitals step up in personal protective equipment (PPE) and training.

California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, which represents 12,000 RNs at the five UC medical center, organized "speak out" events in San Francisco and San Diego Tuesday. Nurses in Los Angeles were planning to organize a similar event Wednesday.

Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, two Texas health care workers who were infected while caring for Ebola patient Thomas Clark Duncan, underwent treatment and have been declared virus free.

At UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest, nurses warned that if the potentially deadly virus makes its way to San Diego, residents may be at risk.

"They said the equipment is going to be updated.. as of last week, the PPE equipment that my co-worker shared with me, it left the side of your face and your neck exposed, so they said that equipment is going to be changing," said Michael D Jackson, VP of National Nurses United.

Despite the claims made by nurses, officials at UCSD Medical Center told NBC 7 they are confident with their plan of action in the face of an Ebola patient.

They said the facility is "fully prepared to care for any adult patient who is confirmed to have the Ebola virus, if needed.”

Their statement goes on to say, “The hospital has invested in the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary to achieve the highest standard of safety for a select team of personnel who are designated to care for patients with the Ebola virus. These customized PPE kits are available to care teams at UC San Diego Health System and are based on the latest, scientifically driven information from the Centers for Disease Control, with additional advice from Emory and Nebraska medical centers.”  

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<![CDATA[Breakthrough Technology Treats Heart Failure]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 10:33:01 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/tlmd_doctor_paciente.jpg

A potentially life-saving medical breakthrough could treat heart failure without the patient ever having to go to a doctor’s office.

A new implantable device monitors the condition of a patient’s heart wirelessly and sends data from the patient’s bedroom to the patient’s doctor.

This new technology is being used by Dr. David Shavelle at the Keck Hospital of USC. Alfredo Delatorre is one of the first recipients of the new device.

"This will significantly improve his quality of life. It will keep him out of the hospital and it will potentially reduce visits to the clinic so he can spend more time at home with his family " Shavelle said.

Delatorre uses a special pillow that is connected to a wireless transmitter. The pillow communicates with a tiny sensor implanted inside one of his arteries, sending information about his heart health directly to a secure website. Shavelle says he simply logs in and checks on Delatorre’s condition.

"We can potentially adjust medications and intervene so they don’t have to come to the hospital," Shavelle said.

According to NBC4’s Dr. Bruce, this new technology is just one example of portable care. There are also home scales and blood pressure monitors that send information to the doctor’s office.

The new technology doesn’t replace in-person exams, but for chronic problems, it could save time, money and lives.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Beverly Hills Mom Drives Marijuana Venture]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 05:44:39 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/6086cece1b1849ee9e44a75c6187d8ae.jpg

Beverly Hills mom Cheryl Shuman may not look like the stereotypical stoner, but she’s hoping her new crowdfunding website will be a driving force to help bring medical marijuana to the masses.

Diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007, Shuman was given just months to live. She refused hospice and started smoking marijuana. Now, she’s known as an advocate of the drug.

"My name is Cheryl Shuman and they call me the Martha Stewart of Marijuana," Shuman, founder of the Beverly Hills Cannabis Club, said.

Shuman, who has been on TV shows and in magazines promoting her business, said she frequently hears that she doesn’t fit what people think a pot smoker should look like.

"Well you don't look like a pot smoker, you don't look like a marijuana person," is what she said people tell her. "I always say, 'What were you expecting me to look like?'"

She doesn’t have a stereotypical business model either.

She credits cannabis for saving her life, and her passion for its benefits has led to her business and a 68-acre marijuana farm in Northern California.

And now she's hoping her newest venture, crowdfunding website Canna-dabba-doo, will help other potential medical marijuana entrepreneurs.

"Medical marijuana is as close to being a miracle drug and if it were discovered in the Amazon jungle today it would be heralded around the world as a miracle drug," Shuman said.

So far, the website only has three business ideas posted and no money has been pledged. But Shuman says it's just beginning.

"It allows anyone with a small business idea and a dream to post their project on the website and all the people we generate through social media can help fund it," she said.

"This is like the 90s and the dot-com boom. This is the pot-com boom!"

But the pot business comes with critics.

"The 'green rush' is nothing more than a revitalization of drug dealing in California and the U.S.," a spokesman for the group Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana said in a statement. "With fraudulent labeling of pot as medicine, we have seen increases in drug use particularly among teens and young adults."

Spokesman Scott Chipman said in a written statement that as a society "we must beat back big marijuana just like big tobacco of 20 years ago.

"It has the potential to be much more harmful and deadly," he said.

While cannabis has been shown to alleviate side effects of cancer treatments and other effects of the disease, no clinical trials on humans have shown it to be an effective treatment for cancer, according to the National Institutes of Health. The FDA has not approved the drug for cancer treatment.

Still, Shuman points to her clientele's need for the various strains of the marijuana for medicinal purposes.

"This is a legitimate medicine, that legitimately helps people," Shuman said.

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<![CDATA[Race and Breast Cancer Mortality]]> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 21:15:32 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/10-27-14_Breast_Cancer.JPG

A new study finds in Los Angeles a black woman with breast cancer is about 70 percent more likely to die from the disease than a white woman, according to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

"If we don’t wake up and become involved we [black women] are going to be an endangered species," said Dr. Robina Smith, a breast cancer surgeon.

Smith attributes the disparity in breast cancer mortality rates to the fact that black women are less likely to discuss the issue with their doctors. As a result, they tend to be diagnosed with the disease at a later stage.

Smith summed up her advice in six words: "We need to talk about it."

Lajuana Brown, a breast cancer survivor, hands out cards to women to remind them to get their mammograms.

"Yes, a lot of black women will say, ‘I don’t want a mammogram because I’m afraid,' and I tell them, 'You should be afraid that you have cancer and you’re missing it,'" Brown said.

Another recent study revealed 20 percent of black women, as opposed to 12 percent of white women, will wait an entire month before returning for the necessary imaging to determine if they have breast cancer, according to Smith.

Paula Gardener, who lost her aunt to breast cancer, has committed herself to raising breast cancer awareness, especially among the black community.

"Some battles get lost, but there are so many we can win," Gardener said.

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<![CDATA[More than 31,000 Pounds of Chicken Products Recalled]]> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 06:55:42 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/bell-evans-chicken.jpg

A Pennsylvania food company over the weekend issued a recall of more than 31,000 pounds of chicken products that may contain a toxin.

The recalled products are Bell & Evans gluten free chicken breast nuggets (12 ounces) and Bell & Evans gluten free chicken breast (10.5 ounces), according to a press release from the Department of Agriculture.

The chicken products have Aug. 9, 2015, expiration dates. They were shipped to stores across the U.S.

The food may be contaminated with Staphylococcal bacteria, which may cause stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

The reported contamination was discovered by the Colorado Department of Agriculture during a retail surveillance and sampling program.



Photo Credit: BellandEvans.com]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 22:37:35 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/11p_kovacik_ebola_1200x675_347225155712.jpg A doctor who recently returned from West Africa on an Ebola for Doctors Without Borders tested positive for the virus at a New York City hospital after reporting fever and gastrointestinal symptoms, health officials said. Robert Kovacik and Dr. Bruce report for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014.]]> <![CDATA["Miracle Oil" Cures Girl's Seizures]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 20:03:38 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Glut+1+medicinal+oil.jpg

A North Texas family is touting a "miracle oil" and praising researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas for healing their little girl, who was having chronic seizures.

Spend a day with 6-year-old Chloe Olivarez and it is hard to keep up with her. Chloe's mother, Brandi Olivarez, says she never thought she would see this day.

"I don't even know that a year ago she would have been able to," Olivarez said.

Just two years ago, Brandi Olivarez had no idea what was wrong with her daughter. Video from Children's Health in Dallas shows doctors monitoring Chloe to figure out why she was having hundreds of seizures a day.

"We were looking at buying a wheelchair and diapers, because she wasn't able to be potty trained at that point," Brandi Olivarez said.

A helmet protected Chloe's head because she fell often.

"We were watching her go down this progressive slope, and she was just continually declining," Brandi Olivarez said.

Tests revealed Chloe had Glut 1 deficiency. That is a metabolic disease that depletes the brain of needed glucose, which makes most people unresponsive and slow to develop.

"It was kind of bittersweet. Finally understanding what she actually had, what we were fighting and the next step. It doesn't have a cure," Brandi Olivarez said.

But their timing was impeccable. Dr. Juan Pascual, a professor of pediatric neurology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, had just wrapped a groundbreaking study on mice with Glut 1, using an edible oil.

Pascual enrolled Chloe in his first human clinical trial, and within hours of ingesting the oil, her seizures started to subside.

"I had never seen anything like it," Pascual said.

"Speech was the first, other than seeing the seizure activity on the EEG, you could tell. She wasn't having seizures where she was hitting the floor anymore, and then speech was the next thing. Her speech, she immediately started using sentences," Brandi Olivarez said. "So then. with prolonged use, we have increased muscle tone. She's about to run a mile without stopping now."

The medicinal oil is derived from castor beans called Triheptanoin, which is used in many cosmetics in the United States. It has no smell and no taste.

All 14 participants in the study drank the oil four times a day in varying doses, and 70 percent of them saw a significant decline in seizures and improved neuropsychological performance.

The study is published in JAMA Neurology.

"Some days are very rough and some days are very happy, and I have to say that this was one of the happiest days of my life," Pascual said.

Chloe's family says watching her progress has been remarkable.

"We owe him everything. Now, we have a very vibrant, sassy little girl and I can't express my gratitude for everything they've done for us because it's been amazing to watch her," Brandi Olivarez said.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Breast Density Screenings Urged for Cancer Prevention]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 20:58:51 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/224*120/10-21-14-breast+density+screening.JPG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[Flu Vaccine Urged Over Ebola Worries]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 06:24:02 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/LAgenerics+health+medical+doctor+01.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[Dallas Nurses Speak Out on Ebola Care]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 19:38:14 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/N6P_SOTVO_DALLAS_EBOLA_SOUND_web_1200x675_345540163525.jpg Initially criticized for their handling of the first Ebola case on U.S. soil, a group of nurses at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas spoke out in solidarity on Monday, asking for a restoration of trust in the hospital. Randy Mac reports from Dallas for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 20, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Dallas Community Overcoming Fears of Spread of Ebola]]> Sun, 19 Oct 2014 23:08:33 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/141019-9pm-randy-mac-ebola_1200x675_345074243751.jpg There have been no new infections reported among those who worked directly with the three Ebola patients treated at a Dallas hospital. While no one is saying they're completely out of the woods, there's a sense that the community is turning the corner on their fears as the first quarantines are lifted. Randy Mac reports from Dallas for the NBC4 News at 9 on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Helicopter Lands For Blood Sample in Ebola Cruise Scare]]> Sat, 18 Oct 2014 23:16:11 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/141018-11pm-ebola_1200x675_344767555894.jpg A helicopter landed aboard a Carnival Magic cruise ship Saturday to pick up a blood sample of a health care worker who may have handled fluids from Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan. Randy Mac reports form Dallas for the NBC4 News at 11 on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014.]]> <![CDATA["Unnecessary Panic": Some Dallas Residents Not Giving In to Ebola Fears]]> Sat, 18 Oct 2014 23:15:19 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/141018-6pm-randy-mac-ebola_1200x675_344755267998.jpg Some residents in Dallas say there’s an “unnecessary panic” over Ebola in their city after the latest scare that prompted the closure of a train station. Randy Mac reports from Dallas for the NBC4 News at 6 on Sunday, Oct. 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Voluntary Quarantines Requested of Dallas Hospital Workers]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 20:59:23 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/N5PPKGDALLASEBOLAforweb_1200x675_344415811508.jpg Health officials are asking about 75 people who were in close contact with Eric Duncan at the Dallas hospital where he was treated to voluntarily quarantine themselves just days before friends of the Ebola victim are end their mandatory 21-day quarantine. Randy Mac reports for NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. from Dallas Friday, Oct. 17, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Just the Facts: Meningitis]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 19:00:55 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/N5PSOTPIXELMENINGITISforweb_1200x675_344404035957.jpg NBC4's Chuck Henry has the facts on bacterial meningitis for NBC4 News at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 17, 2014.]]> <![CDATA["Liana's Looms of Love" Raises Money for Cancer Therapy]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 21:03:22 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Capture7.JPG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: Pete Garrow]]>
<![CDATA[HIV Investigation Halts Porn Production]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 15:26:56 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/WEB_CONDOMS_BY_MAIL.png

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: File photo]]>
<![CDATA[SDSU "Deeply Saddened" by Student's Meningitis Death]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 19:54:05 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Sara+Stelzer+1017.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[Facts vs Myths: Ebola]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 19:00:46 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/N5PPKGDRBEBOLAwebHENSEL_1200x675_343852099524.jpg NBC4's medical expert Dr. Bruce Hensel discusses the information and misinformation out there about Ebola for NBC4 News at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Flaw in Dallas Hospital's Handling of Ebola Patient: Officials]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 18:54:26 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/N6PPKGEBOLATEXASLATESTwebMAC_1200x675_343859267767.jpg Health care workers from the Dallas hospital where an Ebola patient died and infected two nurses with the deadly disease say they weren't given proper training or gear to deal with such a high-risk case. Randy Mac reports for NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. from Dallas Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[LA County Prepared to Handle Ebola Cases]]> Thu, 16 Oct 2014 18:53:42 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/lacountyebola.JPG

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

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

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

Ebola is not here.

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

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

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

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

Those who have it would be isolated and quarantined.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[Up to 400 Exposed to Meningococcal Disease at SDSU]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 06:03:48 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Aztec-Student-Union-Unveile.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: NBC 7 News]]>
<![CDATA[Concerns After 2nd Healthcare Worker Tests Positive for Ebola]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 21:17:27 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/N5PPKGTXEBOLA2NDCASEnewforweb_1200x675_343202371572.jpg Anxiety over the spread of Ebola has intensified in the U.S. with the discovery of a second Texas healthcare worker testing positive for the deadly virus and flying on a commercial airline while possibly contagious. Randy McIlwain reports for NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. from Dallas Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[SoCal Nurses Fear Lack of Ebola Prep]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 21:08:32 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP968232748518.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The nurses say what they wear puts them at risk.

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[LAX Travelers Express Concerns Over Ebola]]> Wed, 15 Oct 2014 20:34:04 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/N5PPKGEBOLAAIRLINEPROTOCOLforweb_1200x675_343198787994.jpg Travelers at LAX expressed their concerns over Ebola spreading in flight the same day it was confirmed that a healthcare worker from Texas flew from Cleveland to Dallas-Fort Worth on a commercial airline while infected with the deadly virus. John Cádiz Klemack reports for NBC4 News at 5 p.m. from the Los Angeles International Airport Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014.]]> <![CDATA[Manure Used to Protest Health Insurance Rate "BS"]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 18:28:48 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/10-14-14-prop45manure.png

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: Consumer Watchdog]]>
<![CDATA[Cutting-Edge Breast Cancer Treatments Yield Positive Results]]> Wed, 08 Oct 2014 09:39:34 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/N5P_BREAST_CANCER_MARGIN_PROBE_FIXED_WEB_1200x675_339074115693.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[Enterovirus-D68 Outbreak]]> Tue, 07 Oct 2014 14:13:42 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/x-ray-ENTEROVIRUS-VO---00002324.jpg

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Journalist With Ebola Optimistic]]> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 20:01:51 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Ashoka+Mukpo+Raw.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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