<![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 Tue, 30 Sep 2014 08:58:09 -0700 Tue, 30 Sep 2014 08:58:09 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[DEA, Police Team Up to Collect Unused Prescriptions]]> Sat, 27 Sep 2014 07:55:01 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/481663349.jpg

Police departments in Southern California have teamed up with the Drug Enforcement Agency to collect unused and unwanted prescription drugs Saturday in an effort to prevent pill abuse as part of the DEA’s National Take-Back Day.

The drug take-back events will take place between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in conjunction with various police departments, including those in Los Angeles, Manhattan Beach, Anaheim, Long Beach, Seal Beach and San Gabriel.

This initiative is an effort to curb medicine diversion, misuse and abuse. According to studies, a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained by family and friends, sometimes directly from the home medicine cabinet.

Disposing the unused medicine by flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash can pose potential safety and health hazards.

During the last take-back event in April, Americans turned in more than 780,000 pounds of prescription drugs at more than 4,100 locations. In the eight previous Take Back Days combine, the DEA and its partners collected 4.1 million pounds of prescription drugs.

The service is free and anonymous.

Drop-Off Locations

  • Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center – Parking Lot #3 - 6941 Cadiallac Ave., Los Angeles CA 90034
  • Kaiser Permanente Panorama City Medical Center – Front of North 3 Medical Office - 13652 Cantara St., Panorama City, CA 91402
  • Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center – Parkview Medical Office Building - 25825 S. Vermont Ave., Harbor City, CA 90710
  • Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center - 4760 West Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90027
  • Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills Medical Center - 5601 De Soto Ave., Woodland Hills, CA 91367
  • San Gabriel Police Department - 625 S. Del Mar Ave. San Gabriel, CA 91776
  • Manhattan Beach Police Department - 420 15th Street, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
  • Kaiser Permanente Anaheim Medical Center – Kraemer Medical Office Building 1 - 3460 E. La Palma Ave, Anaheim, CA 92806
  • Long Beach Memorial - 2801 Atlantic Ave. Long Beach, CA 90806
  • Seal Beach Police Department -911 Seal Beach Blvd., Seal Beach, CA 90740

To find a location not listed or find the location nearest you, visit the DEA website for more details

Photo Credit: UIG via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Stanford Researchers Find New Cancer Treatment]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 07:09:37 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/0925-2014-Stanford.jpg

Researchers at Stanford University say they have found a new way to stop the spread of cancer.

Jennifer Cochran is one of the co-authors of the study. She says they engineered a protein, multiplied it and then injected it into mice.

"Most patients succumb to metastatic disease when the cancer has spread to other areas of the body. This process is known as metastasis.

“What we've done is create an engineered protein that will interfere with these biochemical signals and will prevent metastasis from happening,” Cochran says.

The treatment stopped the spread of cancer in 90 percent of the mice with ovarian cancer in the study and 80 percent of mice with breast cancer. Great numbers, Cochran says, because cancerous tumors are harder to remove once the harmful cells spread.

"Which we were excited about but again, these are animal models. We need to see if those results would hold up in humans,” Cochran says.

Cochran says the treatment is also different than chemotherapy because it didn’t appear to leave toxic side effects.

"Chemotherapy is very non-specific in that it targets all cells in the body including healthy cells," she says. "And that's what makes it so toxic."

The next phase of the study will include human trials and could take several years for FDA approval.
The hope is this treatment could give cancer patients a longer life.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Enterovirus Confirmed in N. Texas ]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 22:26:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Enterovirus1.jpg

Several cases of Enterovirus-D68 have been confirmed in North Texas after test results came back positive from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to Dallas County Health and Human Services.

Thirty-five samples were sent to the CDC from North Texas, including some from Children's Health System of Texas, and 10 came back positive.

The unusual and potentially severe respiratory illness has appeared in more than a dozen states nationwide.

Enteroviruses, which usually cause mild cold-like symptoms that last about a week, are common, afflicting up to 15 million people in the U.S. each year, but the CDC says this particular strain of the virus is unusually severe.

Michelle Palomino said her 11-year-old daughter was admitted to Children's Health with similar symptoms.

"It started off with, 'Mom, I have an itchy throat. It feels like it's burning,'" Palomino recalled.

Her symptoms started days ago and began to worsen. Her mother grew concerned when the sixth grader was staying up at night coughing.

"I don't want to be that parent here, my baby getting admitted and seeing those machines on her," said Palomino.

The latest information from the CDC and Dallas County Health Department is even more reason to be alarmed for Palomino.

Doctors say there is some positive news in the finding of Enterovirus-D68 in North Texas. It's not showing up in masses like the other communities are seeing it.

"We are very fortunate that we haven't seen a surge of infected patients," said Dr. Michael Sebert, an infectious disease doctor at Children's Health in Dallas.

The Dallas County health director said it is concerning that the results come as the flu season nears, and he urges parents and school districts to be vigilant.

"The next step is to encourage our medical providers who are doing a great job, to again do the testing for it, get the samples to us, the specimens, so we can send it out," said Dallas County Health Director Zachary Thompson.

Infants and children are at particular risk of Enterovirus, and though most affected people recover on their own and have no future problems, those with weakened immune systems or underlying medical conditions such as asthma may need to be hospitalized.

There is no vaccination. Prevention involves hand-washing, disinfecting surfaces and any usual steps to prevent the spread of flu.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Plague Detected in Squirrels at Palomar Mtn.]]> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 17:41:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Squirrel-Thumb-052714.jpg

Plague-ridden squirrels prompted a classic hiker’s reminder from health officials: Don’t feed the animals.

During routine monitoring, county officials discovered two squirrels that tested positive for plague in the Palomar Mountain area. The little creatures were trapped last week in the Doane Valley Campground.

County Environmental Health Director Liz Pozzebon has some tips on how to keep yourself and pets safe from the disease while hiking and camping.

“People need to remember not to feed or play with squirrels when you come across them outdoors,” she said.

She recommends avoiding squirrel burrows when you play or set up your tent, and report dead squirrels to camp rangers when you find them. Never touch a sick or dead animal.

As for your pets, keep them on a leash, use flea controls or just leave them at home.

Warning signs in the area help hikers keep that in mind.

The bacteria that causes plague, Yersinia pestis, is not as rare as you may expect in San Diego’s higher elevations, county officials say. While it mainly affects wild rodents, it can spread to humans if fleas feed on infected animals and then bite people.

Plague can also be transmitted if people like hunters touch an infected animal’s tissue or body fluid.

Environmental Health Vector Control crews have dusted the animals’ burrows to kill fleas that transmit plague from rodents to people.

Symptoms of the disease include sudden onset fever, chills and tender lymph nodes. If a person contracts plague, he or she can become seriously ill and possibly die unless treated quickly with antibiotics.

Health officials say you should immediately call your doctor if you become sick within a week of visiting an area with plague.

<![CDATA[Study: Should Pregnant Women Get Prenatal Tests? ]]> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 21:07:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/202*120/09-23-14_Prenatal+Testing+Hensel.JPG

A new study shows pregnant women might not get prenatal tests if they knew more about some risks associated with them.

The study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association involved 700 women. Half of the women were shown a "decision support guide" and were offered free prenatal testing afterward.

The remaining women were not shown the guide or offered free testing.

"Women who had the opportunity to view the program were less likely to undergo diagnostic testing than women who did not have a student intervention," said Dr. Miriam Kuppermann of the University of California, San Francisco.

Kupperman developed the computerized decision support guide along with Dr. Mary Norton of UCSF to provide women with detailed information on prenatal testing.

"It contains information about Down syndrome and other conditions for which testing is available," Kupperman said.

About 5.9 percent of women who used the guide decided to get tested, even though the tests would have been free for them.

Dr. Bruce's advice: If you are pregnant, ask your doctor if you are at risk for developmental defects. This is more often the case with older mothers.

If your doctor suggests testing, ask:

  • What does the test look for?
  • How accurate is the test?
  • What are the risks associated with the test?

Then weigh the risks and benefits to decide if testing is right for you.

<![CDATA[Flu Vaccines Urged as Flu Season Approaches]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 10:06:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/01-flu.JPG

According to a new report from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, too many people are not getting the flu vaccine.

Last year, less than half of all Americans got vaccinated.

Flu vaccines could saves tens of thousands of lives, but many people don’t get them because they hear things about the vaccines that are untrue, said NBC4’s Dr. Bruce Hensel.

Young people, the elderly, pregnant women, people with underlying illnesses and health workers are especially encouraged to get the vaccine.

“While those groups need it most, the vaccine is actually recommended for all people over the age of six months who don’t have an egg allergy,” Hensel said.

According to Hensel, getting the vaccine will prevent 60 to 90 percent of all flu cases, and in turn, save tens of thousands of lives. It also protects against H1N1 and other flu bugs.

Contrary to popular belief, the vaccine does not cause the flu. It may cause body aches or other side effects, but it does not cause the flu.

The flu vaccine can be given by shot or through a nasal mist. Those ages 2 through 49 can opt for the nasal mist, and anyone who doesn’t have an egg allergy can be given the shot. If you are ill, wait to recover before getting the vaccine.

Because flu season is just around the corner and because the vaccine takes three weeks to work, Hensel urges people to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

<![CDATA[Doctor Infected With Ebola Expected to Make Full Recovery]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 23:01:20 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/Sacra+1.jpg

A Massachusetts aid worker who contracted Ebola in West Africa is now expected to make a full recovery, according to the doctors treating him at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

Wednesday night, NECN interviewed Dr. Rick Sacra's brother, Doug Sacra of Wayland. Doug says his brother's appetite is starting to come back, he's mentally sharper and more talkative.

"Oh it's great, we are very pleased," said a smiling Doug Sacra.

Dr. Sacra's wife, Debbie, has been briefing the family from Nebraska, where he's been in isolation since returning from Liberia.

Wednesday, Doug said he spoke with his brother over the phone for a half hour.

"He sounded perfectly normal, Dr. Rick at his best. On the other hand he's just laying there in his bed, so he is totally with it mentally, and now he can talk to you for a while, where a week ago he could talk to you for a minute and a half and then doctor said he has to lay back down."

Just last week, doctors explained how Dr. Sacra has been getting blood transfusions from Dr. Kent Brantley, another Ebola survivor. He's also taking another experimental drug, which doctors refused to identify, saying it's uncharted territory.

Over the past week, Dr. Sacra has done so well that doctors are now working to keep him entertained. They've brought in books, a stationary bike, chess board and Nerf hoop, even Ben and Jerry's chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.

Doctors are now awaiting results of a second set of blood samples. There must be two negative blood tests done within 24 hours apart for Dr. Sacra to be released.

Photo Credit: SIM USA]]>
<![CDATA[CDC Confirms Case of Enterovirus in Connecticut]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 06:44:57 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/yale+new+haven+children+hospital+2.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Cases of Enterovirus Confirmed in NY, NJ, CT: Officials]]> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 12:50:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/CDC-generic.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

Enteroviruses, which usually cause mild cold-like symptoms that last about a week, are common, afflicting up to 15 million people in the U.S. each year, but the CDC says this particular strain of the virus is unusually severe.

Infants and children are at particular risk, and though most affected people recover on their own and have no future problems, those with weakened immune systems or underlying medical conditions such as asthma may need to be hospitalized.

There is no vaccination. Prevention involves hand-washing, disinfecting surfaces and any usual steps to prevent the spread of flu.

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

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

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A debate is brewing over ways to prevent breast cancer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[What You Need to Know About Enterovirus]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 07:52:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/enterovirus+fear.jpg An outbreak of an uncommon virus, Enterovirus D68, has made children in a dozen states ill and has left some hospitalized, according to NBC News. Children with asthma are particularly affected. Andrew Siff has the story.]]> <![CDATA["Shop With Your Doc" Program Teaches Healthy Grocery Shopping]]> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 20:23:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/grocery-cart.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The first step is making wise choices.

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

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

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

The lessons from the excursion are needed, Araceli said.

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

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

<![CDATA[Enteroviruses: What You Need to Know]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 07:12:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Will-Cornejo.jpg

An outbreak of an uncommon virus, enterovirus-D68, has made children in 22 states ill and has left some hospitalized, according to NBC News. Children with asthma are particularly affected.

Here are key things to know about enterovirus-D68 from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.

  • From mid-August through mid-September, there have been more than 150 confirmed cases of respiratory illness caused by enterovirus-D68. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not know how many cases occur each year in the United States because health-care officials are not required to report them.
  • Enterovirus-D68 is thought to be uncommon, and less is known about it than other of the more than 100 kinds of enteroviruses. In all, enteroviruses cause about 10 to 15 million infections each year in the United States.
  • Enterovirus infections occur more often in the summer and fall. Enterovirus-D68 infections will probably decline later in the fall.
  • Infants, children and teenagers are more likely to become infected. That is probably because they do not have immunity from previous exposures to the virus.
  • Among the cases in Missouri and Illinois, children with asthma seemed to have a higher risk for severe respiratory illness.
  • To protect yourself from enteroviruses, wash your hands often, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, do not share cups or utensils with people who are sick, avoid kissing or hugging those who are sick and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, including toys and door knobs.
  • Enterovirus-D68 appears to be spread the same way other respiratory infections are spread, through saliva and mucus when someone sneezes or touches something. The new school year is likely helping the virus to be transmitted.
  • It can cause from mild to severe respiratory illness.
  • Symptoms include fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing and body and muscle aches. Most of the children who got very ill had wheezing and difficulty breathing.
  • There is no vaccine.
  • There is also no specific treatment and no antiviral medications. For mild respiratory illness, you can take over-the-counter medications to help allieve pain and fever. Children should not take aspirin.
  • If you have asthma, make sure to take your prescribed medications. If you develop new or worsened symptoms and they do not go away, call your doctor.
  • Enterovirus-D68 was first identified in California in 1962 and since then clusters have appeared in Asia, Europe and the United States.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

According to the company website, the recall includes: 

Style# Brand Colors

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

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

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

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

Hinds remembered doctors telling her something was wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

<![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.

<![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
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<![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.

<![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.

<![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
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<![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
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<![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

<![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
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<![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.

<![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


<![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]]>