<![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, 28 Aug 2014 18:12:45 -0700 Thu, 28 Aug 2014 18:12:45 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![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]]>
<![CDATA[Ebola Outbreak Unlikely in California: Expert]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:11:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/6PW_VO_EBOLA_MEETING_KNSD4HOQ_1200x675_313738307967.jpg

The Ebola virus has killed more than 700 people in Africa, but one San Diego doctor says an outbreak in California is very unlikely.

Dr. Nancy Crum-Cianflone, an infectious disease physician at Scripps Mercy Hospital, says the chances are so small because of how the disease is spread.

“It's not transmitted through the air, It's not transmitted simply by touching someone. You really have to have contact with someone's bodily fluids," Crum-Cianflone said.

This means you couldn’t catch this from someone sitting next to you on an airplane unless they are coughing and sneezing so much, you inhale or ingest their secretions.

“Just us sitting here talking, there's really no risk. That's the big difference between this and things that are much more contagious, like the influenza viruses, which you can pick them up just by breathing the air," she said.

As of Thursday, more than 1,200 were infected with the virus in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Dr. Crum-Cianflone says at this point, the biggest concern for health care workers is travel history.

“If someone has recently come back the last week or two from West Africa or has been in contact with someone who's been sick from West Africa and has a flu-like symptoms, I think we should think about Ebola and then do the appropriate testing," she said.

The Group to Eradicate Resistant Microorganisms – or GERM – Commission, a group of infectious disease doctors in San Diego County, met Wednesday night to discuss how to be proactive in the rare chance of an outbreak here.

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<![CDATA[Dirty Water: Health Risks of the Westwood Flooding]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 19:40:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/UCLA-Acosta-after.jpg

Although the water is no longer gushing in Westwood, there are new potential health dangers because of the flooding and standing water. Even when the water is turned off, people need to be cautious when walking through the flooded areas.

The first concern is hidden debris under the water and around the area. It’s easy to cut or injure yourself because you can’t see what is under the surface. Dirty debris also increases your chance of infection. If you do cut yourself, you may need a tetanus shot and antibiotics.

The risk of electrocution is also increased when there is a lot of standing water in an area. If an electrical wire drops into one of these flooded areas, it could cause and potentially life-threatening electrical shock. Pay attention to your surroundings and look for downed power lines or electrical wires. If possible, avoid the area altogether.

Summer heat and humidity combined with pools of standing water are perfect breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitos. These insects reproduce quickly and can spread diseases such as West Nile and Chikungunya through their bite. We can expect to see an increase of mosquitos in the area in the coming days and weeks.

The best ways to avoid being bitten is to always wear insect repellent when outdoors and avoid walking in the flooded areas during dawn and dusk when the mosquitos are most active.

Finally, you may want to drink bottle water for a few days or until the water lines are repaired. Although the Los Angeles DWP says the tap water is safe to drink, backwash into the pipes can result in bacteria, debris and minerals entering the water system. Although this risk is minimal, it may be better to be safe than sorry.



Photo Credit: Gadi Schwartz]]>
<![CDATA[Parents Desperately Seek Medical Marijuana]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 10:14:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/charlottes+web+child+with+seizures+dose.JPG

California has the oldest and most liberal compassionate care law among the 23 states plus Washington, D.C. that allow the use of medical marijuana. So why are the state's youngest -- and arguably most needy --patients not getting it?

"Charlotte's Web" is a marijuana strain that won't get you high, but parents say it has had a profound effect on the lives of many children who suffer severe seizures.

At 8-months-old, Oceanside infant Connor Dalby began seizing 50 to 75 times a day.

“There was no joy. There was no smile. There was no laugh,” Connor’s father Randy Dalby said.

Near Chula Vista, the Benavides family was struggling with their son Robby. Robby’s multiple "drop attack" type seizures came without warning at a similar daily rate.

“He loses all muscle tone and just falls, falls hard to the ground. He’s had stitches on his eye, even bit off his tongue,” Robby’s mother Allison Benavides said.

Both families say they tried every mainstream medicine drug treatment and every combination available. Nothing worked.

Somehow, Charlotte's Web Oil, made from a marijuana strain of the same name, has changed their lives.

“My son is seizure free. He is four months seizure free today,” Benavides said.

Dalby recorded Connor sitting up on his own for the first time just a few months ago.

“We're watching a miracle. We have almost lost him a couple times,” Dalby said.

The Dalbys and Benavides get Charlotte's Web through the California Chapter of the "Realm of Caring."

Chapter Director Ray Mirzabegian hosted the first fundraiser for the non-profit organization at the Universal Hilton in Los Angeles just last month.

In the crowd were some guests you might not expect at a cannabis event. At one table were members of the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles. At an adjacent table were UCLA's top pediatric neurologists.

Assistant Clinical Professor Dr. Shaun Hussain with frank honesty in a somewhat defeated tone shared his frustration.

“I feel like a carpenter without a hammer. We don't have medications that are good enough,” Hussain said.

However, Charlotte's Web is hardly a universally accepted treatment.

The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes the use of marijuana to treat children. Chief Policymaker Dr. Sharon Levy says she gets a lot of hate mail for it, but that medical marijuana has not been FDA approved or even tested.

“Instead of that rigorous testing and the Federal Drug Administration, we're just approving it by state ballot initiative,” Levy said.

The cannabinoid or CBD holds the therapeutic benefits to these children. Charlotte's Web is a marijuana strain high in CBD and low in THC. THC is the psychoactive part of the plant that makes you high.

“That is the moneymaker in a dispensary, high THC strains, not what Charlotte's Web is,” Dalby said.

Only Realm of Caring is selling Charlotte's Web. The group charges patients what it costs to make it. Still, state law requires Mirzabegian’s organization to operate like a dispensary.

Local laws restrict the number of dispensaries in an area, so Mirzabegian can treat only 27 patients. He says the waiting list is 1,000 families.

“Every month, I have a parent or two calling me and saying, ‘Ray take my child off the waiting list. He didn't make it,” Mirzabegian said.

While California has no such legal limits, medical marijuana advocates say keeping more than six mature plants and a half pound of processed cannabis per patient could invite a police raid.

Marijuana remains on the federal government's controlled substance list. If you are in possession of more than 99 plants, the punishment is a five-year mandatory prison sentence.

“Who cares if you have 1,000 sick children dying? You have to grow 99 plants only is that logic. It doesn't make sense to me,” Mirzabegian said.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics opposes the use of medical marijuana, Dr. Levy says as a mother, she would not discourage parents from trying it if their children are suffering life-limiting illnesses.

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<![CDATA[Teen Battling Cancer Rings NASDAQ Bell]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 14:18:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/nasdaq2.jpg

There are the plethora of Disneyland wishes. One boy wanted to be a Yosemite National Park ranger for a day. And of course, the world is familiar with Batkid.

But a 17-year-old who is battling cancer is dreaming of becoming an investment banker; and the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Greater Bay Area in San Francisco paved the way for him to ring the NASDAQ bell in New York City on Monday afternoon. On Tuesday, he's making the rounds of the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

"I want to go to Wall Street," Terry "Tre" Grinner said in an interview last week from his home in Alamo, California, 30 miles from San Francisco. "I wanted a wish that will last forever. I didn't think it was going to be this big."

While in Manhattan, Terry, who goes by Tre, will be given a "mini internship" in Goldman Sachs, even attending a Yankees game with Goldman Sachs employees who are working on a deal with the team. He'll also visit investment bank, BlackRock, and spend half a day at CNBC. He's already met the CFO of Facebook. Tre will also be suited up in custom made suits by Ralph Lauren and shoes by Michael Toschi International— which were donated by the designers themselves.  

Tre was diagnosed in January with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and will finish his chemotherapy this month. Like other children with life-threatening illnesses, Tre was asked what he wished for while he was in the hospital. Knowing it's hard to make it on Wall Street, Tre asked for some early career help.

 "I just want to see him smile and be motivated after a really rough year after he's done with chemo," said said Tre's mother, Amy Perazzo, who referred to her son as the "Wall Street pup." "His wish is to be an investment banker.

Despite his illness, Tre graduated from high school in June, where his favorite classes were economics and history. His mom said he was especially jazzed about a virtual trading class.

But Tre also has another love - Italian sports cars - and the Make-a-Wish folks gave him a taste of that, too.

A team of volunteers from the Ferrari Owners Group drove to his home in a caravan of Ferraris, let him inspect each car under the car and gave him a ride in one.

As for Tre, his parting words before heading off to New York were that he knows he's strong and can get through his disease. When he realizes his dream of becoming a full-time investment banker, he said he'll donate 25 percent of his income back to Make-A-Wish.

Before that, though, he has just one more wish.

"I just don't want this to happen to anyone in my family," he said. "I'd rather it be me."



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[How to Protect Yourself From Lightning Strikes ]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 20:32:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/nb+lightning.jpg

Lightning strikes may cause immediate injury or delayed problems that can take a day or two to appear. Dr. Bruce has advice on how to protect yourself.

Injuries from lightning are caused by:

  • A direct hit or strike
  • A "splash" where the lightning bounces off an object, then hits you
  • Currents traveling through the ground
  • A shock wave traveling through the air

About 10 to 30 percent of people die from lightning strikes, but most recover. And while some people may look lifeless after a direct hit, many wake up soon after, highlighting the importance of CPR and immediate transportation to help.

Immediate injuries include:

  • Skin burns that may have the shape of flowers
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Cardiac arrest, but the heart will often start beating again on its own

A victim may look fine but have internal injuries, such as:

  • Internal burns that harm organs
  • Injuries in the ears or eyes
  • Memory problems or dizzIness, which may last for years

Dr. Bruce's prevention advice:

  • Sound travels slower than light, so when you see lightning, count the second until you hear thunder. If less than 30 seconds pass between light and sound, the lightning is close by, and you should seek shelter.
  • Avoid wet and high areas.
  • If you are near a lightning strike but feel fine, drink as many fluids as possible to prevent internal injuries.
  • If you have symptoms after seven days, see a doctor.
     

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<![CDATA[Feeling the Pain of Lightning Strikes, Again and Again]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 05:38:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/72814+Lightning.jpg

Jeryll Hadley and a friend were trying to set up a tent over a campfire along California’s Gualala River 25 years ago, their hands on the metal center pole, when lightning struck the tree next to them, throwing them about 30 feet apart.

Both still standing, they looked at each other and he said, “’I think we’ve been zapped,’” she said. “The only thing I remembered during the event was my left hand, the one on the pole, was neon blue.”

“Of course I heard the loud noise, but it just felt like an implosion, very strange,” she said. “But other than that I didn’t feel anything and we went on through our camping trip.” 

Hadley, 67, of Ukiah, California, was left with burn marks on her throat and forehead, she said. Only later did she start having terrible pains in her shoulders, short-term memory loss, and a new anger that once led her to throw a wooden salt shaker at her first husband.

“That is not me,” she said.

On Sunday, a 20-year-old man from Los Angeles, Nick Fagnano, was killed and eight others hospitalized after a rare lightning storm on the beach in Venice.

“Those people that got hit, their life is going to be much different, I hate to say,” said Sandra Hardy, another California woman who survived a lightning strike. “It isn’t a one-time event.”

Sixteen people have been killed by lightning across the United States this year, according to the National Weather Service. Six of the deaths were in Florida, two in Colorado, and the others in Texas, New Mexico, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Mississippi and Georgia.

About 10 percent of those who are struck die. Survivors, who primarily suffer from an injury to the nervous system, can have symptoms ranging from mild confusion and dizziness to long-term problems processing new information, chronic pain form nerve damage and depression.

Hadley did not start attributing her symptoms to the lightning strike until attending a conference with survivors. She is now on medication for her anger, sometimes garbles her speech and said that a doctor once compared her experience to an electric lobotomy. On the other hand, all symptoms of polycystic kidney disease that she had have disappeared, she said.

“For the most part I’m living a normal life,” she said.

Last year was a record low for lightning fatalities. Twenty-three people died, fewer than in any other year on record, data from the National Weather Service showed. That contrasted with the 432 people killed in 1943, the deadliest year.

Officials attribute the drop to a variety of factors, from better lightning protection to fewer corded phones to more awareness among emergency medical providers and advances in medical treatment. CPR and defibrillators are keeping people alive, said John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist with the National Weather Service.

"We feel very glad that we've brought the number down but there's still many people out there that are unnecessarily either killed or injured by lightning," Jensenius said. "If they would just simply follow the simple guidelines, if you hear thunder you need to be inside, the simple saying, 'When thunder roars, go indoors,' there would be many more lives that would be saved and fewer injuries."

More than 9,200 people have been killed by lightning in the United States since 1940, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began keeping records, NBC News reported. In the last 30 years, there have been 51 deaths on average each year.

The ground current is what kills or injures most people, Jensenius said.

"When lightning strikes a point, it doesn't disappear deep into the ground, it spreads out along the ground surface," he said.

Hardy, now 70, was driving home from California’s Mammoth Mountain in June 1998, when she got caught in a heavy rainstorm in Owens Valley.

“I could see the lightning strikes coming down on the ground, coming straight down, it was a heavy, heavy rainstorm, so I took off my watch, took off my glasses, I took the collar off my dog,” she said.

A lightning strike hit power lines at the side of the road and her car, she said.

“It just paralyzed me,” she said. “It killed the engine to the car and the car just rolled off to the side and I couldn’t really move or anything and a motorist came up behind me right away and he’s pounding on my door to open up the door.”

Hardy, who was a facilities manager for the Los Angeles County schools, could barely talk or remember how to get home and her kidneys were hurting her, she said.

“From that day on my body started to deteriorate,” she said.

Hardy, of Manhattan Beach, developed problems with her hearing, her vision, her bladder, her memory and by October of 2002, had acute symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Her dog survived a year, but died after developing tumors, she said.

“The myth that you’re safe in a car, it should be corrected,” she said. “It’s not going to kill you but you’re not safe.”

The conference that Hadley attended was organized by Steve Marshburn, who was himself struck in 1969 in Swansboro, North Carolina, when lightning hit the drive-through window of the bank where he worked. He was sitting inside and it broke his back, he said. Other injuries became evident over the years, he said.

At the time there was little information for lightning strike survivors, but since then he has formed a group, Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors.

“There is help out there,” he said.



Photo Credit: Joey]]>
<![CDATA[Vaccines for Children Ahead of New School Year]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 20:01:49 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/new+measles+photo.jpg

As a new report from the Center for Disease Control found more parents are getting their children vaccinated, here is what parents should know about vaccines and exams while the new school year approaches.

Needed vaccines:

  • Polio: Three to four doses
  • DTP: Three to five doses
  • Booster shot: One dose after age 7
  • MMR: One to two doses
  • Hepatitis B: Three doses after age 4
  • Varicella (chickenpox): One dose
  • HPV: Before sexually active, no later than 14
  • Meningitis: College age

Tuberculosis: Testing sometimes necessary

Needed exams:

  • First general exam: 18 months 90 days after entering school
  • Vision, hearing and dental exams
  • Developmental exams and cholesterol testing
  • Sugar test
  • Blood and urine test
  • Blood pressure test



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Preparing for Surgery With 3-D Printing]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 10:20:35 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/bone-3d-printing.jpg

What if your Orthopedic Surgeon could make a copy of your damaged bone and practice your surgery before heading to the operating room? It sounds like science fiction, but it's actually a new trend in medicine. Doctors are now using 3-D printing to create plastic models of their patient's damaged bones and body parts.

Dr. Russell Petrie, an Orthopedic Surgeon with Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Orange County, is using the technique to better prepare for his complex surgical cases.

"Rather than just looking at something on a CT scan, 3-D printing gives us the ability to hold something in our hand and physically practice on an anatomy that is specific to the person," said Petrie.

Petrie doesn't simply study the plastic replica, he practices the surgery on the model prior to operating on the patient. This allows him to create a plan of attack that may improve safety and the results for patients. He says the technique has helped him with difficult shoulder surgeries.

"You mess this up as a surgeon and their shoulder is messed up for life," Petrie said. "For me, (that is) the whole driving factor behind taking the time to go through all of this."

The process begins with a CT scan. It provides the doctor with a three-dimensional image of the damaged bone. That image is then sent to a 3-D printing company where they covert the data into a plastic replica using a high-tech 3-D printing system. In less than a day, the model is delivered to the doctor. He can then study the actual anatomy of his patient and better plan his surgical approach.

"I think it's going to be common place to some extent. It by no means needs to be in every single case but for the complex cases, it's extremely helpful," said Petrie.

No everyone agrees. Some medical experts say printing plastic models does little to improve outcomes or safety. But insurance companies are starting to pay attention and they could eventually cover the cost of having the models produced. If that happens, 3-D printing would become commonplace for many medical specialties.

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<![CDATA[Chikungunya: What You Need to Know]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 03:40:24 -0700 Aedes aegypti mosquito.]]> Aedes aegypti mosquito.]]> http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/181*120/tlmd_virus_mortales_03.jpg

A person caught the mosquito-borne virus chikungunya in the United States this month, health officials say — marking the first time mosquitoes in the U.S. are believed to have spread it.

Other cases of the illness, which is relatively new to the Americas, have been reported in travelers returning home to FloridaNew YorkTexas and elsewhere, often after trips to the Caribbean.

Here is some key information about chikungunya and the virus that causes it.

How do you get chikungunya? Mosquitoes transmit the virus between people. The two species usually responsible, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, bite mostly during the day. In the U.S., they are found in the Southeast and in some parts of the Southwest, though Aedes albopictus also is found up through the Mid-Atlantic and in the lower Midwest.

What are the symptoms? The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain, often in the hands and feet; also possible are muscle aches, headaches, joint swelling and a rash. Symptoms, which can be severe, usually begin three to seven days after a person is bitten. Most people feel better within a week, and death is rare, though joint pain can persist.

How do you treat chikungunya? There is no specific treatment and no vaccine. Medicines like ibuprofen, naproxen, paracetamol and acetaminophen can relieve fever and pain, though.

How do you avoid getting chikungunya? To protect yourself, try to avoid being bitten. Use air conditioning or window screens. Use insect repellant, and if possible, wear long sleeves and pants. Get rid of standing water, where mosquitoes can breed.

Who is most at risk for a severe case? Newborns exposed during delivery, people 65 and older and those with high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease are at the highest risk.

What does the name mean? It is derived from a word in the Kimakonde language, spoken in southern Tanzania, where the virus was first detected. It means to become contorted or bent, describing the stooped appearance of someone suffering from joint pain.

Where has it been reported? Outbreaks have occured in Africa, Asia and Europe and on the islands in the Indian and Pacific oceans. The first case transmitted in the Americas was reported in the Caribbean in late 2013.

How do you pronounce chikungunya? Like this: chik-en-gun-ye.

Source: Centers for Disease and Prevention, World Health Organization



Photo Credit: wikicommons]]>
<![CDATA[Babies Get Herpes After Ritual: DOH]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 02:10:56 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NC_Circumcision0906_722x406_2119014932.jpg

Two more infants were diagnosed with herpes in New York this month after undergoing ritual Jewish circumcisions, the Health Department says.

In both cases, the infant boys were born to mothers with full-term pregnancies and normal deliveries. They were circumcised using the direct oral suction technique practiced by some Orthodox Jews eight days after their birth, and developed lesions on their genitals shortly thereafter, the Health Department said.

Their conditions Wednesday weren't immediately clear.

NYC to Require Consent for Oral Suction Ritual

There have been 16 confirmed cases of herpes since 2000 in newborn boys after circumcisions that likely involved direct oral suction, including three in 2014, according to the Health Department. 

Two of the infants died and at least two others suffered brain damage.

During the ancient ritual, the person performing the circumcision attempts to cleanse the wound by sucking blood from the cut and spitting it aside. Authorities say the saliva contact could give the infant herpes, which is harmless in adults but could kill newborns.

In 2012, the Board of Health voted unanimously to require anyone performing circumcisions that involve oral suction to obtain written consent from a parent or guardian. The consent form delineates the potential health risks outlined by the Health Department. 

A group of Orthodox rabbis sued in an attempt to block the regulation, but a judge sided with the city.

The parents have to sign a form acknowledging that the city Health Department advises against the practice because of risks of herpes and other infections.

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<![CDATA[Fruit Sold at Trader Joe's, Costco Recalled]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:02:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/07-21-2014-peaches-recall.jpg

If you love stone fruits, there's a new recall you should know about.

Wawona Packing Company, based in California's Central Valley, is recalling white and yellow peaches, white and yellow nectarines, and plum varieties.

The whole fruits were all packed between June 1 and July 12, and shipped to Trader Joe’s and Costco stores.

The concern is the fruit could be contaminated with listeria. The bacteria can cause dangerous, flu-like symptoms. Children, pregnant women and the elderly are especially susceptible.

More information – including a list of the specific products recalled – is available on the FDA website.
 



Photo Credit: FDA]]>
<![CDATA[Braces Options Grow for Special Needs Children]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:58:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/special+needs+braces+crop+84.JPG

For the parents of children with disabilities who need braces, finding an orthodontist who understands their child’s special needs can be challenging.

Because these children often have hypersensitivity to sensation and pain and have difficulty sitting still, some parents may choose to ignore their child's dental issues over fears the process will be too difficult and anxiety-ridden.

But there can be consequences to not fixing a child’s crooked teeth, as they may make eating difficult and can result in food being stuck inside the mouth. This can lead to decay and gum disease and also negatively impact a child’s self-esteem.

Parents should know options are available for special needs children.

A growing number of dentists and orthodontists are modifying their practices to help children with special needs including Orange County Orthodontic Specialist Dr. Ken Fischer, who has a practice in Villa Park catered special needs patients.

"We make them comfortable in the position they're in," said Fischer. "And we do our work to their comfort level, not necessarily ours."

Fischer will often substitute the metal braces with a plastic alternative.

"Metal braces will be uncomfortable and unmanageable for their special needs kids," Fischer said. "The plastic trays are nothing more than a very thin layer of plastic encasing a tooth. It’s smooth. It’s comfortable."

The plastic trays move the teeth a little bit at a time. They can be removed for cleaning and are replaced every 10 to 14 days with a new version. Most treatments can take one to two years.

Fischer has also made his office wheelchair accessible and gives his patients the option to stay in their wheelchairs when they’re visiting the office. He doesn’t penalize parents for missed office visits and has replaced the traditional gooey molds used to make impressions with an all-digital system.

"I want more people to adopt a treatment protocol for these kids and (more parents) to know that successful treatment can be accomplished," Fischer said.
 

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