<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Health News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/health http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Fri, 30 Jan 2015 04:36:09 -0800 Fri, 30 Jan 2015 04:36:09 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Lens Marks Vision Treatment Breakthrough]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 20:24:25 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Hensel_Vision_Web_1200x675_391263811932.jpg For the first time, a lens that can improve your far, near and reading vision all at once. Dr Bruce Hensel reports for the NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[Bill Would Boost CA Smoking Age From 18 to 21]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 19:12:00 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/generic-smoking-teen.jpg

A Southern California lawmaker wants to increase the legal smoking age in the state from 18 to 21 in an effort to make it harder for teens to get their hands on cigarettes.

Democratic State Sen. Ed Hernandez introduced Senate Bill 151 on Thursday, the Sacramento Bee reports.

“We can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines while big tobacco markets to our kids and gets another generation of young people hooked on a product that will ultimately kill them,” Hernandez said in a statement.

The bill is likely to face opposition from tobacco companies, who have again become major players in Sacramento, the newspaper reports.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Possible Ebola Patient Treated in Sacramento ]]> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 19:21:11 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/sacramento-ebolla---21060026.jpg

A patient being treated at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento is suspected of having Ebola.

Hospital staff could be seen outside the facility Thursday morning wearing protective medical suits.

“A patient with symptoms consistent with Ebola infection was transferred to UC Davis Medical Center Thursday morning from Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento,” UC Davis said in a statement. “UC Davis, identified by the California Department of Public Health as a priority hospital to treat confirmed Ebola patients, is fully prepared to safely assess and treat the patient if necessary in accordance with guidelines established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

The public can still access other parts of the medical center.

The emergency room at Mercy General was closed for cleaning, a hospital spokesperson said, KCRA-TV reporter Sharokina Shams wrote on Twitter. The spokesperson said the ER was expected to reopen sometime Thursday afternoon, Shams reported.

The patient, who recently traveled abroad, is considered "low risk" and had no known contact with infected people, according to a Sacramento County Health Department spokesperson.

UC Davis has not released information on who the patient is or how he or she possibly contracted the deadly virus, but county health officials in Sacramento also confirmed the possible Ebola case.

"Whenever there is a person displaying symptoms that may be Ebola, who has recently traveled to Sierra Leone, Liberia or Guinea, certain precautions are taken," said Dr. Gil Chavez, state epidemiologist for California.

The possible Ebola case came to light on Thursday, the same day the World Health Organization reported Ebola cases in three of the worst-hit West African countries are at the lowest level in seven months.

Photo Credit: KCRA-TV]]>
<![CDATA[CA Declares E-Cigarettes Public Health Threat]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 20:01:48 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/454246108.jpg

A new report from the California Department of Public Health is calling e-cigarettes a significant public health concern and encouraging all Californians to avoid using the devices.

E-cigarettes are battery powered devices that turn flavored liquid into vapor. They often contain nicotine.

While there popularity is soaring, public health officials worry about the long-term consequences.

The 21-page report focused on the impact of e-cigarettes on young people.

State officials say e-cigarette use has tripled among high school students and more teens are now using e-cigarettes as opposed to traditional tobacco products.

CDPH Director and State Health Officer Dr. Ron Chapman points to a 1,200 percent increase in the amount of money spent on e-cigarette advertising as one of the reasons.

"E-cigarettes contain nicotine and other harmful chemicals, and the nicotine in them is as addictive as the nicotine in cigarettes," Chapman wrote in an news release announcing the report. "I am advising Californians to avoid the use of e-cigarettes and keep them away from children of all ages."

But not everyone agrees with the state's assessment of e-cigarettes.

Jason Talley, manager of The Vapor Spot in Hollywood said e-cigarettes are not dangerous.

"E-cigarettes are helpful," he said. "E-cigarettes got me off cigarettes. They got many of my friends off cigarettes."

Talley said that he believes the devices are a healthier alternative to traditional cigarette smoking and that the industry is not targeting young people.

On the door of his store, a note indicates that only those over 18 are allowed inside.

He said he discourages young people from using the product.

The Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association, a trade organization for the vapor product industry, also disagrees with the CDPH report.

"We are extremely disappointed that the California Department of Health has taken this step with regards to its position on vapor products," said Phil Daman, president of the organization, in a statement to NBC4. "We remain concerned that the department confuses these technology products with tobacco, and in its advisory has ignored years of well established research that shows the safety of the products and the public health benefit they may offer the millions of Californians who use them as an alternative to tobacco."

Dr. Bruce Hensel said, "Many people report that the E-cigarettes helped them to stop smoking. As a stopgap device they may be helpful. But that doesn't mean that they are harmless and people have to weigh the risks against the benefits."

The report identified a variety of potential health risks from using the devices.

Chapman said nicotine is a highly addictive neurotoxin that can potentially harm brain development.

While many people think the aerosol that comes out of the e-cigarette is water vapor, the report found that it contained at least 10 chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects and reproductive harm.

The report also found that the number of calls to poison control centers involving children drinking the e-cigarette fluid tripled in one year.

CDPH officials said that because most of the e-cigarette liquid is fruit or candy flavored, it may entice small children to accidentally ingest it.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[CSULB Confirms One Case of Measles]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 15:30:49 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/measles-vaccine-0123.jpg

A California State University, Long Beach student has been diagnosed with measles, the latest case in an outbreak that has affected dozens in the state, the university confirmed Wednesday.

A small group of students were exposed to the virus at an off-campus location during winter break, the week of January 12, a school news release stated.

The student lives in Orange County and attended an off-campus field trip with CSULB. Twenty students may have been exposed to the virus at that time, a doctor with the Long Beach Health Department said.

The student diagnosed with the measles does not live on campus and has since recovered. The university’s class schedule has not been affected, and health officials said they don't believe the student went to the campus after getting measles.

CSULB administrators and the Long Beach Department of Health said they are "working closely together."

More than 70 cases of measles have been reported in California in less than two months. At least 50 of the cases have been linked to a mid-December outbreak that began at the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, state health officials said.

It was not immediately clear whether the Long Beach student's case was linked to Disneyland.

Measles is an airborne disease spread through sneezing or coughing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Study LinksGood Health and Marriage]]> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 18:45:51 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/HENSELHEALTH_1200x675_389406275812.jpg Today is National Spouse Day; and you may want to thank your partner for improving your health. New research finds that marriage has a connection to wellness. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 26, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[Measles Patient May Have Exposed Hundreds to Virus]]> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 19:14:17 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/generic-measles.jpg

Santa Clara County health officials say a person infected with measles might have exposed hundreds of people as he or she visited big box stores and a restaurant during the contagious stage.

It can take up to four days before measles symptoms present themselves. County health officer Sara Cody said an infected person may have unwittingly exposed shoppers at Walmart and Costco in Gilroy and a Dave and Buster’s restaurant in Milpitas.

Authorities said the infected person went shopping at the Gilroy Costco and Walmart stores on Camino Arroyo between the hours of 4 and 6 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 18. The patient visited the restaurant at the Great Mall in Milpitas between 6 and 9 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 19.

The patient entered the restaurant through an outside entrance and did not walk around the mall, authorities said.

The Santa Clara County Department of Health says hundreds of restaurant-goers and shoppers may have been exposed to measles. This is the second case of the illness for the county since the outbreak with links to Disneyland.

Flyers are alerting people. Some are alarmed. “I’m over here all the time, and my daughter, I’m afraid my daughter might get it,” said Walmart shopper Maria Estrella.

It appears that in this case, and the one prior, both adults who separately came down with measles did have their shots.

“The second case also most likely was vaccinated, so this is the rare instance in which someone is vaccinated and develops measles in spite of that,” Cody said.

It also appears both cases have no links to Disneyland, but as is illustrated in the Costco and Walmart cases, simply casual contact with someone who has measles can bring on the disease.

“So, for an hour after someone’s been there, others who enter that same air space could be exposed,” Cody said.

Seventy-three Californians have already been sickened from this measles outbreak, which originated last month at Disneyland, according to the state health department. Of those 73, 50 of the cases are connected to Disneyland.

In the Bay Area, there are confirmed cases in Santa Clara, San Mateo, and Alameda counties.

On Friday, a Santa Monica High School baseball coach was diagnosed with measles, but school officials said all the students on the team have been vaccinated. Also in Southern California, CSU Channel Islands is urging everyone on campus to get vaccinated after a student there came down with the virus.

The risk of catching measles from brief encounters with people who have it is low, but as a precaution, people should check if they have been vaccinated against it if they have never had the disease, health officials said. People who have had measles are immune to it afterwards, but those who have not been infected before or never received a vaccination are at a higher risk after being exposed.

The department advises people who show symptoms to remain at home, call their health care provider immediately to inform them of the infection and have the provider report the case to the Public Health Department.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children be vaccinated for measles twice, once at age 12 to 15 months and then again at ages 4 to 6. The prevention of the spread of measles is especially important for infants under 12 months old who are too young to be vaccinated, public health officials said.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Confirmed Measles Case at CSU Channel Islands]]> Sat, 24 Jan 2015 00:12:36 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Sick-Flu_generic.jpg

Students were warned to immediately get measles vaccines at California State University, Channel Islands, Friday after one student was diagnosed with the preventable virus, according to a campus alert sent by the school.

Measles has spread through California and beyond in an outbreak originally linked to people who visited Disney theme parks over a few days in December, though the outbreak has since spread to people who didn’t visit the Anaheim theme parks, health officials have said.

Students at the Ventura County school who took classes in the Bell Tower and Del Norte buildings or studied in Broome Library were at highest risk, according to the 3:17 p.m. alert. The infected student took classes “History of Rock” and “Money & Banking” classes Tuesday and Thursday and studied in the library for five hours Tuesday.

The student lives off campus, according to the alert.

Spread by air or through direct contact, measles can be prevented by a vaccine. The alert recommended that anyone at the CSU Channel Islands campus get a measles vaccine or booster shot if they’d previously had none or only one in the past.

Free shots were offered on campus, according to the alert, which warned that “you need to receive it by today, Jan. 23, 2015, to be protected.”

The university is working with the Ventura County Public Health Department to inform staff, students and faculty of the university, according to the alert.

If one develops measles symptoms like fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes or blotchy rash develop – though they usually take eight to 12 days to develop – health officials advise that they contact a local healthcare provider and stay at home.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Researchers identify genetic cause of Sturge-Weber syndrome]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 08:24:32 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NC_birthmarks0122001_1500x845.jpg Researchers identify genetic cause of Sturge-Weber syndrome, often associated with facial birthmarks, which means new trials and new hope for sufferers.]]> <![CDATA[Timeline of Disneyland Measles Outbreak]]> Wed, 28 Jan 2015 16:28:37 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/sarampion-disneyland.jpg

Jan. 7 — Officials warned the public that a Disneyland visitor may be linked to at least seven confirmed cases of the measles throughout California and two in Utah. Six of the seven California patients were not vaccinated for measles. Doctors suspected the first infected person visited the park sometime between Dec. 15 and Dec. 20, 2014.

Jan. 8 — A Utah Department of Health spokeswoman said both cases in their state were not vaccinated.

Jan. 9 — The Orange County Healthcare Agency reported five more people who visited Disneyland parks were diagnosed with measles. The number of cases in the state goes up to a dozen.

Jan. 10 — Colorado health officials confirmed one patient was diagnosed with measles at a Colorado Springs hospital after visiting a California theme park.

Nineteen people from three states (16 in California, two in Utah, and one in Colorado) contracted measles, health officials said.

Jan. 12 — The Long Beach Health Department confirmed one measles case in the city.

The California Department of Public Health said 26 people in four states have been linked to the Disneyland outbreak.

Jan. 13 — The state health department warned residents of three new cases, two in San Bernardino County and one in Long Beach. At least 22 cases have been linked to the Disneyland visitor in December.

Jan. 23 -- The Ventura County Star, citing bank officials, reports that an employee at a Citibank branch in Camarillo contracted the virus, possibly infecting others who visited the bank.

Jan. 16 — Seven new cases in San Diego were linked to Disneyland outbreak. Two of six infected siblings had visited the park.

Jan. 17 — Health officials reported at least 51 measles cases have been diagnosed since the December outbreak. All but nine were connected to Disney theme parks. Forty-five of those cases have been in California.

Jan. 19 — Sharp Rees-Stealy Rancho Bernardo Urgent Care is closed as a result of a suspected case of measles.

Jan. 20 — After the Department of Health confirmed a student with measles was at Huntington Beach High School sometime between Jan. 6 and Jan 8., administrators told 23 unvaccinated students to stay home for 21 days, the incubation period for measles.

Jan. 21 — Orange County confirmed two new cases of measles, raising its total to 20.

Disney said it will consider refund requests on a "case-by-case" basis.

San Diego County has three new cases, a total of 13.

California health officials say California has now 59 cases of measles this year, 42 of which are related to an initial exposure at Disneyland.

Five Disneyland employees are diagnosed with measles. The Orange County Healthcare Agency said there is still "ongoing measles transmission at Disneyland."

Jan. 27 — The number of reported measles cases in California has grown to at least 73, with 50 of them linked to the Disney theme park outbreak, state health officials said.

Jan. 28 — California State University, Long Beach confirms that a student has been diagnosed with measles. The student, who lives in Orange County, may have exposed at least 20 other students to the virus during an off-campus field trip with the university. It was not immediately clear whether the Long Beach student's case was linked to Disneyland.

<![CDATA[Measles: What You Need to Know]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 20:22:16 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/HENSEL_-_MEASLES_EXPLAINED___548_WEB_1200x675_387473987648.jpg As the spread of measles continues to grow with many cases linked to Disneyland, we explain what you should and shouldn't worry about. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for the NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[Disneyland-Linked Measles Spreads]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 19:55:24 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/KLEMACK_-_DISNEYLAND_MEASLES_-_Web_1200x675_387455043998.jpg Measles cases linked to Disneyland continue to spread, including to park employees. John Cádiz Klemack reports for the NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[Five Disneyland Employees Contracted Measles]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 01:05:10 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/web_gadi_measles_11p_1200x675_387011139711.jpg Five Disneyland employees contracted measles during outbreak, health officials confirmed. Gadi Schwartz reports for the NBC4 News at 11 o nJan. 20, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[Five Disneyland Employees Contracted Measles]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 15:56:10 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/186*120/01-20-15_Disneyland-Measles.JPG

Five Disneyland workers contracted measles at the Anaheim park, including two employees who had vaccinations, health officials said Tuesday, as the number of confirmed cases in the on-going outbreak rose to 53.

A statement from the Orange County Healthcare Agency said there is still “ongoing measles transmission at Disneyland."

At least one family visiting the amusement park Tuesday said they were going to try to get a refund.

“Who knows if we are going to get our money back or not, but we are going to try,” said Matthew Smith, who said it just wasn’t worth risking his daughter’s fragile immune system.

The Smiths traveled all the way from El Paso, Texas, to show their special-needs daughter the attractions featuring the movie “Frozen.”

Smith said his family called to check in with representatives from the park before making the trip, and were told the outbreak had dissipated and that it was safe to visit the park.

Others visiting the park said they weren’t too worried about the highly contagious virus.

“I feel pretty safe walking around,” said one Australian visitor.

Disney said it is taking each request for a measles-based refund on a case-by-case basis.

The health department said while there is a risk of contracting the disease at the park, with the continuing outbreak, the risk exists across the county.

Photo Credit: KNBC]]>
<![CDATA[Measles Exposure at OC School]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 09:17:47 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/web_measles_vara_90_1200x675_386439747568.jpg

Twenty students who have not been vaccinated against the measles are not be allowed on the campus of Huntington Beach High School for three weeks after a possible exposure to the virus, officials confirmed Monday.

A student with measles was on the Orange County campus in early January, and could have potentially spread the highly contagious disease according to a letter sent to parents.

Students who have been exposed and do not have the necessary vaccination to guard against the disease were sent home for three weeks, according to county health officials. They will not be allowed to attend school until Jan. 29, according to the Orange County Department of Education.

Some parents said the district was going overboard.

"I'm not a doctor so I can't say, but that seems extreme to me," one parent said. "I mean, I had the measles and I think I was out for three days."

However Orange County Department of Education Health and Wellness Coordinator Pamela Kahn  told NBC4 Tuesday that keeping the students away from school is the only thing they could do to prevent the disease from spreading further.

As carriers are contagious both four days before and four days after developing a rash, and as students could be at school for as long as 21 days before a rash develops, it is essential to keep unvaccinated pupils away from school for that period to minimize the exposure of other students from the disease.

The county has confirmed 16 cases of the disease, among 46 confirmed cases in California.

In late December an outbreak was reported among people who had visited Disneyland, but health officials in San Diego and Orange county have now confirmed the outbreak has spread beyond the initial cases.

Measles is spread through the air or contact with an infected person and is highly contagious.

It is characterized by fever, rash, cough and red, watery eyes.

Doctors advise that anyone who thinks they may be infected call their doctor immediately.

Michael Larkin and Annette Arreola contributed to this report

<![CDATA[Sitting Too Often Could Be More Harmful Than You Think]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 00:40:31 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/01-19-15-Hensel-Sitting.JPG A new study suggests sitting too long can be even more harmful than previously thought. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for the NBC4 News at 5 on Jan. 19, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[OC Students Asked to Stay Home After Possible Measles Exposure]]> Mon, 19 Jan 2015 21:54:30 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/web_measles_vara_90_1200x675_386439747568.jpg Some Orange County students have been asked to stay home for a few days after possible measles exposure. Kathy Vara reports for the NBC4 News at 5 and 6 on Jan. 19, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[Common Measles Questions Answered]]> Mon, 19 Jan 2015 21:56:11 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Measles-vaccine-0116.jpg

As the number of confirmed measles cases grows in Southern California, NBC4’s Dr. Bruce Hensel answers common questions about the disease:

Q: What is the measles?
Dr. Bruce: Measles is a disease caused by a virus. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, cough, sneezing and a typical red rash.

Q: Why are we seeing more cases now?
Dr. Bruce: At one point, measles was eradicated from America, but we are seeing more cases now simply because people have failed to get the needed vaccine and/or booster.

Q: I was born in 1956. Do I need a vaccine?
Dr. Bruce: Probably not. The CDC says anyone born before 1957 either had or was exposed to the measles and is likely immune for life.

Q: I had one vaccine, but have not had the booster. Am I at least a little protected?
Dr. Bruce: Probably not. It is important to have both the initial vaccine and the booster to be protected.

Q: Is it true that someone could spread the measles even before he or she knows they have it?
Dr. Bruce: Yes! This is one of the biggest reasons I advise people to get the vaccine. You are contagious 3 - 4 days before symptoms start to show, and again for 4 days after the symptoms appear.

Q: How easily is it spread?
Dr. Bruce: Very easily. Measles is one of the most contagious diseases. It can be spread through the air or by direct contact

Q: If I was in the market that was mentioned, am I at risk?
Dr. Bruce: There is a small risk because it can live in the air. But if you entered the market long after the infected person was there, you are probably safe.

Q: How do I know the difference between measles and chicken pox?
Dr. Bruce: There are a lot of differences.

  • Chicken pox rashes “crust” so they are irregular and can scar. A measles rash is flat and red.
  • A measles rash starts on the face and trunk; chicken pox starts on the arms and legs.
  • Measles is much more severe, causing sore throat and high fevers as well as rash.
  • Once you have the measles you are immune for life.
  • Chicken pox can return as shingles.

Q: If I think I have the measles, what should I do?
Dr. Bruce: Call your doctor before you head into the office or go anyplace you might spread it.
There is no specific treatment. Fluids, fever control, isolation and rest are the best steps.

<![CDATA[Suspected Case of Measles Closes Urgent Care in RB]]> Mon, 19 Jan 2015 18:04:49 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Urgent-Care-Closure-0119.jpg

The Sharp Rees-Stealy Rancho Bernardo Urgent Care is closed due to a suspected case of measles, Sharp Rees-Stealy tweeted.

The center, located on Via Tazon, will reopen at 3:30 p.m. Monday and the suspected measles patient has been discharged. All other departments at the location are open. 

The unidentified patient came into the urgent care on Via Tazon just before 10:30 a.m. according to  Sharp Health Care spokesperson Curtis Ippolito. The center closed at 9:30 a.m., Doctor Daniel Smith said, and 20 other patients were inside at the time.

The individual was seeking treatment for "measles symptoms" but Ippolito did not give specific details.

The patient was being interviewed at the center. Officials said test samples will be sent to county.

There has been no information about whether this specific individual has a connection to the outbreak that has been linked to Disneyland.

More than two dozen people in four states have contracted the measles after visiting the Disneyland theme parks between Dec. 17 and Dec. 20.

Several people who were in the urgent care center were released after they were able to show documentation of immunization.

However "up to a few dozen" are still inside being interviewed by staff before being released, Ippolito said.

Typically, a location will be shut down for a minimum of two hours before re-opening.

The County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) announced Monday that there are three new possible cases of measles in San Diego County. Health officials have released locations in the North County where residents may have been exposed to the virus.

The HHSA announced they are awaiting test results to confirm the cases. If they are confirmed, the total number of cases in the county will rise to 13.

Measles is a highly contagious disease that spreads through the air by coughing and sneezing. Symptoms can develop between seven and 21 days from exposure.

Early symptoms include a high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two to three days in, tiny white spots may develop inside the mouth. After three to five days, the distinctive rash begins to form.

Anyone who develops symptoms after being at one of the locations listed above should contact their health provider by telephone, county officials said.

This is a developing story. Check back here for more updates. 

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Measles Outbreak Spreads Beyond Disney: Officials]]> Sat, 17 Jan 2015 19:39:49 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/measles+wednesday.jpg

A total of 51 measles cases have now been reported in the wake of an outbreak linked to Disney theme parks in Anaheim this December, with all but nine cases directly connected to the park, health officials said.

The total rose to 51 after Orange County confirmed that 16 people have come down with the measles there as of Friday afternoon.

The source of six of those cases was unknown, in a sign that the illness's outbreak was more widespread than previously thought, Orange County health officials said -- the sick people hadn't been to Disneyland or been in contact with confirmed cases that were associated with Disney.

The measles outbreak is expected to continue spreading, since the six non-Disney cases "indicates exposure to measles is more widespread throughout the county," the Orange County Health Care Agency said in a press release Friday.

There were 45 cases in California as of Friday night, health officials said, nine of which were unrelated to Disney theme parks.

There were measles cases in the following California counties: San Diego (10), LA (8), Alameda (4), Ventura (3), Riverside (2) and San Bernardino (2). Six other cases related to the Southern California outbreak were confirmed in three U.S. states and Mexico.

Because health agencies have different reporting requirements, up-to-the-minute information can be hard to come by; by Saturday, the OCHCA reported higher numbers in Orange County than the state did.

The extent of the outbreak was tabulated by combining reports from the California Department of Public Health, OCHCA and Associated Press. It was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

People with measles are contagious for about four days before a characteristic rash appears, along with fever, cough and watery eyes, health authorities say. Anyone who thinks they have measles should call a doctor before seeking help, so they don't expose others to the illness.

The illness was mostly eradicated in the U.S. through vaccines. Authorities think measles comes to the country from overseas -- there were 644 measles infections in 27 U.S states last year, many brought over from an epidemic in the Phillipenes, the Associated Press reported.

NBC4 reporter Matthew Glasser and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[5 Myths About the Flu Debunked]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 19:58:16 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/denver-FLU-460977406.jpg

Flu is widespread across the United States, in a season made even more severe by a disappointing vaccine that's not very effective at battling the predominant strain that's now making people sick.

This year's vaccine is only 23 percent effective because the H3N2 strain of influenza A, a different strain from the one the vaccine protects against, began circulating just after the vaccine was created. When H3N2 is the dominant strain, it can cause more serious illness than other types of flu.

With several weeks of flu season left, here are some myths about the flu, and what you should know about them.

This year’s vaccine isn’t effective, so there’s no point in my getting it now.

Not so, medical professionals say. Even a less effective vaccine can still prevent hospitalizations and deaths, particularly among older people and young children. And it still might protect against strains that are not yet circulating.

I don’t need a flu shot year after year.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that you get a vaccine every year even when the viruses the vaccine protects against have not changed. Your immune protection from the vaccination will decline over time.

I’m afraid the flu shot will give me the flu.

A flu shot will not cause the flu because the viruses either have been inactivated and are no longer infectious or were made with no viruses at all. The nasal spray vaccine also won’t give you the flu because the viruses have been weakened.

Even if I do get the flu, it won’t kill me.

Flu can be a serious illness, particularly for young children, senior citizens and those with such chronic conditions as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. On average thousands die each year from the flu, a number that can fluctuate depending on which strain is circulating. The CDC has estimated from a low of 3,000 deaths to a high of 49,000 between the 1976-1977 and 2006-2007 seasons.

There are no effective treatments against the flu.

There are three antiviral drugs approved for treatment: Tamiflu, Relenza and Rapivab.

Source: The Centers for Disease Control

Photo Credit: Denver Post via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Wendy's Drops Soda from Kids Meal]]> Fri, 16 Jan 2015 14:35:11 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/SodaBan.jpg

Wendy's has won praise from children's advocacy groups for its recent move to stop displaying soda on its children's menus.

Groups such as MomsRising.org, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and the Center for Science in the Public Interest have long urged Wendy's and other fast-food chains to take soda off the children's menu as part of a push to get the restaurants to offer more nutritional meal options.

Last fall, Wendy's decided to make the change, the chain's spokesman confirmed in an email. The menu boards both in stores and online now show only low-fat white or chocolate milk, bottled water and 100 percent juice drinks, said spokesman Bob Bertini, who added that soda was never the default drink choice for the meal. 

The groups calling for the changes argue that soda is not an appropriate beverage choice for children, citing “reputational” health problems and risks that sugary drinks cause like diabetes, heart disease, obesity and tooth decay.

"While parents bear most of the responsibility for feeding their children well, restaurant chains also need to do their part," Jessica Almy, CSPI senior nutrition policy counsel, said in a statement. "Restaurants should not be setting parents up for a fight by bundling soda with meal options designed for kids.”

Almay added that Wendy's move is a “responsible step” that aims to improve the health of children and for parents to make healthier food choices for them. She hopes other food-chains including Burger King, Applebee's and IHOP will follow suit.

In 2013, McDonald's agreed to drop soda from its Happy Meal menus. That policy goes into effect this year. The moves by Wendy’s and McDonald's leaves Burger King as the only one of the top three fast-food chain to still include soda in meals for children, according to CSPI.

The groups said that next step Wendy's should take is to offer more nutritious menu options for both children and adults. This, they said, should include whole grain rolls, fruits and vegetables, and also reducing sodium across the menus. Frostys, the fast-food chain’s signature frozen dessert that is made from Grade A milk and rich cream, should also be dropped from the children's menu, the groups said.

Bertini signaled more changes could come, saying Wendy's does "intend to continue working to enhance our Kids’ Meal offerings to provide even more nutritious, great-tasting products that children enjoy and that parents feel good about serving."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[7 New Measles Cases in SD Tied to Disneyland Outbreak]]> Fri, 16 Jan 2015 13:53:11 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/disneyland_722x406_2203916154.jpg

San Diego County health officials have confirmed the sickness that shut down a La Mesa urgent care Wednesday was indeed measles, tied to an outbreak at the Disneyland resort.

Seven new cases surfaced in the county this week, bringing the total of confirmed instances to ten. Six siblings visited the Sharp Rees-Steely Urgent Care in La Mesa on Wednesday for measles symptoms, and once employees found they had the telltale rash, they temporarily closed the facility.

On Thursday, health officials said a person "closely connected" to the family also had measles.

Two of the six infected siblings had visited Disneyland between Dec. 17 and Dec. 20, 2014, when more than two dozen people from four states caught the disease.

Now, the county health department is worried the patients may have infected others. The county Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) released the following list of times and places where people may have been exposed:

  • City of San Diego Operations Building, 1222 First Ave., San Diego, Jan. 12 from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Jan. 13 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and Jan. 14 from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • CVS Pharmacy, 2760 Fletcher Parkway, El Cajon, Jan. 14 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Vons, 2800 Fletcher Parkway, El Cajon, Jan. 14 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Sharp-Rees-Steely Urgent Care Clinic, 5525 Grossmont Center Drive, La Mesa, on Jan. 3 between 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and Jan. 14 from noon until the clinic was closed at 1 p.m.
  • Rite Aid Pharmacy, 1665 Alpine Blvd., Alpine, Jan. 13 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Trader Joes, 5495 Grossmont Center Drive, La Mesa, Jan. 12 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Absolute Personal Fitness, 2000 Main Street, Julian, Jan 9 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Julian Fitness Center, 2216 Main Street, Julian, Jan. 9 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Parkway Plaza Mall in El Cajon, Dec. 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. only, especially in or around GameStop, Sunglasses Hut and the carousel in the mall.

        "This is extremely scary, especially when we come here a lot since we live right across the street," said Vons shopper Lucie Cishugi, who was visiting the El Cajon grocery store on Thursday.

Others, like shopper Ashton Lawrence, were not as concerned. "I know I was vaccinated, and I tend to stay pretty healthy," said Lawrence.

The HHSA says none of the locations has a current risk for measles. So far, no cases have been linked to those sites.

Earlier this month, two other siblings reported coming down with measles after a trip to Disneyland. Health officers warned they may have exposed others at the Parkway Plaza Mall in El Cajon. The third confirmed case came to light on Tuesday.

Only one of the local patients had been vaccinated for measles.

“The best prevention measure for measles is to get vaccinated,” said Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten, MD, MPH. “No vaccine is 100 percent effective, but if you’re vaccinated and you acquire measles the symptoms will be far less severe.”

Measles symptoms can develop seven to 21 days after exposure. Early symptoms include a high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two to three days in, tiny white spots may develop inside the mouth. After three to five days, the distinctive rash begins to form.

Measles has not been endemic to the U.S. since 1997, but health officers told NBC 7 they expect the number of California cases to grow as they confirm new instances of the virus. A local pediatrician called the outbreak "alarming" and blames the recent anti-vaccine movement for spreading a disease for which there is already an immunization.

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<![CDATA[Flu Vaccine Effectiveness Weighed]]> Thu, 15 Jan 2015 21:26:34 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/flu+shot+generic.jpg For some who got this year's flu vaccine, they're not seeing the same protection. The reason is because not all strains were included in the vaccine. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for the NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Boy Finally Breathing on His Own After 65 Surgeries]]> Fri, 16 Jan 2015 08:22:50 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NC_batteryboy0112001_700x394.jpg

After 4 years and 65 surgeries, an Arizona boy who swallowed a button battery is finally able to talk and breathe on his own.

When Emmett Rauch, of Peoria, was 1-year-old, he swallowed the nickel-sized, lithium battery from a DVD remote, NBC Affiliate AZCentral reported. It burned his esophagus and closed off his airway after becoming lodged in his throat.

In one of the major surgeries Emmett, who is now 5, underwent to correct the damage, surgeons used half his stomach to recreate his esophagus, his mother Karla Rauch wrote in an article published on "Today." However, the “tissue was so damaged it didn’t hold up.”

But with additional surgeries and recovery, Emmett had his tracheostomy tube removed in December  and now he is breathing on his own, AZCentral reported.

"I mean he can go and be a little boy and not have this thing sticking out of his neck," Karla Rauch told AZCentral. She also wrote that he "is relearning how to swallow and can almost eat a whole piece of pizza.”

Now, Emmett’s parents have made it her mission to spread awareness about the dangers of button, coin and cell batteries. They have helped start a campaign with Safe Kids and National Poison Control to support the cause.

“I am grateful that there is some sort of silver lining and that is helping to save other children from suffering and possibly losing their lives,” Karla wrote to “Today.”

<![CDATA[Winemakers Worried About FDA Rules For Calorie Counts]]> Thu, 15 Jan 2015 06:44:42 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/wine+bottles2.jpg

New rules requiring calorie counts for alcoholic beverages on restaurant menus are worrying American winemakers, who say that testing each batch of fermented grape juice would be too expensive.

Under the Affordable Care Act, restaurant menus would need to publish calorie counts for drinks like chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon.

But the wine industry is pushing for the FDA to allow wineries to publish "an estimated range" of calories, rather than an exact tally, according to the Washington Post.

Wine trade group WineAmerica says that it could cost as much as "$500 per wine" to "conduct testing for detailed calorie information," according to the newspaper.

The rule for calorie counts applies at restaurants with "alcoholic beverages listed on menus." It does not apply to drinks ordered at the bar, and it does not require winemakers to put calorie counts on bottles of wine sold at stores, the newspaper reported.

Wineries say that they would be in a bind when asked by the restaurant chain to give a calorie count, according to the Post.

Photo Credit: Nathaniel Hamilton for NewsWorks]]>
<![CDATA[Dr. Bruce Hensel Health Headlines]]> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 19:19:26 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/MEDICALROUNDUPHENSEL_1200x675_384526403751.jpg Everyone binge eats from time to time. But if you do it too often, it can cause serious health problems. Also, a new study finds that an ADHD drug may actually prevent it. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[Measles Cases Linked to Disneyland Climb to 22]]> Tue, 13 Jan 2015 20:06:01 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/HENSELMEASLES11315_1200x675_383979075718.jpg There are now at least 22 cases of measles linked to a Disneyland visitor in December. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015.]]> <![CDATA[Measles Exposure Warning Issued]]> Tue, 13 Jan 2015 17:44:19 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/measles+outbreak+nyc.jpg

A bank, market and casino were among the places where the public may have been exposed to measles in connection with the Disney theme park outbreak, health officials said Monday.

People confirmed to have the measles in San Bernardino County and Long Beach may have come in contact with other people while contagious, officials said.

The new cases confirmed Monday by the California Department of Public Health brings the total to 26 people in four states. Officials say 22 of the cases are in California and two are in Utah, with one apiece in Colorado and Washington.

The new cases include two in San Bernardino County and one in Long Beach.

The Long Beach resident was at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim between Dec. 16 and 20, the Long Beach Health Department said in a news release.

Officials were trying to get in contact with people who may have been exposed to the patients.

The Long Beach patient visited the following locations in Long Beach on Saturday, Jan. 3 between 9 and 11:30 a.m.:

  • Total Wellness Club at 6447 E. Spring St.
  • Stater Brothers at 6501 E. Spring St.
  • Bank of America at 6351 E. Spring St.
  • Wells Fargo at 6402 E. Spring St.

The San Bernardino County patient was at the following locations:

  • Morongo Casino at 49500 Seminole Drive in Cabazon from 6 to 11:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 4.
  • Magic Wok at 12029 Central Ave. in Chino from 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 6.
  • Jimmy’s Warehouse Sportscard at 12327 Whittier Blvd. in Whittier from 3 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 7.
  • Urgent Care at Pomona Valley Health Center at 3110 Chino Ave. Suite 150 in Chino from about 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 8.

Health officials said anyone who was at the locations during those time periods to monitor themselves for illness with fever and/or an unexplained rash from seven to 21 days after their exposure. If symptoms develop, stay at home and call a health care provider immediately.

"It doesn't spread like dominoes throughout the community, but it is highly contagious and people who may have been exposed to the person or in the immediate area need to be vaccinated," said NBC4's Dr. Bruce Hensel.

State health officials said a person with infectious measles was likely at one of the parks and spread the disease. All of the infected people visited the locations between Dec. 15 and 20.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images]]>
<![CDATA[Family Still Gets Whooping Cough After Vaccination]]> Mon, 12 Jan 2015 18:39:05 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Whooping+cough+pic+0112-PIC_0.jpg

A Del Mar mother of two thought she did everything she could to keep her kids healthy.

After vaccinating her two young sons, Preston and Parker, Jackie Combs and her sons came down with whooping cough. It’s especially scary for Parker, who’s 6 months old -- an age when whooping cough can be deadly.

“It’s just frustrating as a mother to think you’re taking all the right precautions and doing the right thing and keeping your kids safe,” she said.

The mother isn’t alone in her frustration. The number of Pertussis cases has started climbing again in recent years to epidemic levels.

Nationally, the number of whooping cough cases dropped in the 1940s to fewer than 10,000, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Last year, however, that number spiked to more than 28,000.

So what’s the problem?

Dr. Wilma Wooten said the current vaccine used in the United States is only 80 percent effective. She believes the vaccine itself is more to blame than the perception that fewer people are getting vaccinated.

“The Pertussis outbreak has no relationship to personal belief exemption,” she said. “This really is about the effectiveness of the vaccine itself.”

Wooten still recommends that people get vaccinated because even if they get whooping cough, it will be less severe for those immunized.

Fortunately, Combs and her family are feeling much better after their scare.

<![CDATA[Firefighter's Wife Battles Cancer After Giving Birth]]> Mon, 12 Jan 2015 10:35:53 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Marin-Mejia-0111.jpg

Hundreds gathered in Oceanside Sunday to show their support for a firefighter’s wife who is battling cancer after just giving birth.

Marin Mejia gave birth to baby Owen on November 25.

Halfway through the pregnancy, she and her husband learned the worst. Marin was diagnosed with anal cancer.

“I was terrified,” Marin admits.

“I went through all possible emotions at least 3 times.”

After countless check-ups, doctors delivered the baby two months early and after five weeks in the hospital ICU, Owen finally grew strong enough to come home. He is now happy and healthy.

But for Marin, it was just the beginning.

That's what brought hundreds of people out in the rain to the Bagby Beer Company in Oceanside for "The Pint Project." The organization helps raise money to benefit families in need who are are a part of the fire, EMS, or military family.

Those who attended know it could be another six months before treatment is over and Marin can get back to work. With a new child in the family, the added cost is a challenge for Marin and her husband Mike, a National City firefighter.

It was a gesture that nearly overwhelmed the new mom and dad.

"Thank you doesn't even begin to touch it," Marin said. "It doesn't feel like it's enough to say thank you."

For more information about "The Pint Project" and how you can help the family, click here.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Doctors Advise Knowing Measles Symptoms]]> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 18:38:18 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/new+measles+photo.jpg

With the measles scare in Disneyland earlier this week, doctors have pointed out that the illness is on the rise all over California and the rest of the U.S., but are also quick to say the increase in cases does not mean a widespread outbreak is likely.

There is no danger at Disneyland now from the cases reported in December, but Californians should know the warning signs that someone may be infected with measles.

In any case there's no danger of this case causing an epidemic; but if you are exposed to this virus you need to know the facts because the measles is very contagious and it’s possible to catch it four days before symptoms come on.

Anyone who finds out they were exposed to the measles should ask their doctor about the vaccine.

The good news is that everyone born before 1957 had the measles and is immune for life. All others can get a simple blood test to see if they need the vaccine.

Although a red rash on the face and chest is what most people think of as the prominent indications of measles, it’s rarely the first symptom.

The first symptoms are usually cough, fever, a sore throat and sensitive eyes. Eyes are so sensitive most people don’t like to open them because the light hurts. The throat is so sore that swallowing is almost impossible.

Measles is a much more serious disease than chicken pox, but the good news is that if someone born before 1957 is exposed to the virus, they likely don’t need a vaccine. Most of the rest of the population would just need a booster shot.

Dr. Bruce’s advice: If you were close to and exposed to the infected people at Disneyland you need a vaccine unless you were born before 1957. If you were not exposed don’t worry, it’s not spreading widely.

But, do get tested next time you see a doctor and see if you need a booster. That should be a guideline for all childhood vaccines, which may not last a lifetime.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Acetaminophen Not Best Choice for Arthritis: Study]]> Mon, 05 Jan 2015 20:21:09 -0800 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/150105-5pm-4-your-health_1200x675_380377155854.jpg When knee pain from arthritis becomes too much, many people reach for acetaminophen. However, a new study confirms the drug is not necessarily the best choice. Dr. Bruce Hensel reports for the NBC4 News at 5 on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015.]]>