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Monday
Jul282014

How Ebola Virus Spreads from Sick Animals and Among Humans

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The largest-known outbreak of the Ebola virus is currently underway but because so many questions remain about the true source of the disease, it is difficult to understand the timeline of the deadly infection.

There are five different strains of the disease, four of which can spread to humans while the fifth only affects primates. Experts at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention believe that the four strands that effect humans spread largely due to exposure to the blood or bodily secretions of an infected individual.

The Ebola virus was first identified in 1976 in Africa, but how the initial case came to be remains a mystery. The World Health Organization notes that some infected individuals reported having had contact with chimpanzees, gorillas, porcupines or fruit bats that were ill -- animals that were later determined to be infected with the Ebola virus.

People now caring for infected individuals -- including friends and relatives who may be taking care of infected persons at home or doctors treating the ill in hospitals -- are among the most commonly infected. Another major moment of infection, according to WHO, is burial ceremonies if mourners directly contact the corpse.

Symptoms appear anytime between two days and 21 days after infection, meaning that the possible circle of infected bystanders could include a large number of people if the individual doesn't even know that they are a carrier.

Muscle aches, fevers, headaches, diarrhea, vomiting and overall stomach pain are among the most common symptoms, but some patients also noticed a rash, red eyes, and difficulty breathing or swallowing. Once the infection is in the bloodstream, excessive internal bleeding and the ensuing loss of blood leads to death in the majority of cases. Fatality rates vary by strand and area, but ranges largely between 50 percent to 90 percent mortality rates.

A number of these symptoms overlap with malaria and cholera, which doctors reportedly guess when first treating the patients, creating a serious delay in the proper treatment.

Reston Ebola virus, the fifth strand of the disease, was recorded in Virginia where it spread aerially in a primate research facility in 1990. Researchers were investigating an outbreak of a Simian hemorrhagic fever in monkeys and they discovered the Ebola strand in the primates, but the human handlers did not develop symptoms.

The disease was named after the Ebola River in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where researchers believe has connections to the roots of the disease.

All of the known cases involving human infection have been limited to Africa, with reported infections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Liberia, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Gabon and the Ivory Coast. South Africa has only been connected as a result of the disease being imported and there were laboratory contamination cases in England and Russia.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul282014

Study Finds College Athletes Less Apt to Party than Other Students

iStock/Thinkstock(INDIANAPOLIS) -- College is a time for experimentation as has been well documented, but unfortunately, it often involves underage drinking and illegal drug use. While most who attend an institution of higher learning are intelligent enough to understand the risks involved, it seems that athletes are more cognizant about the dangers of alcohol and drugs.

At least that seems to be the upshot of a study released this month by the NCAA. From the statistics gathered by researchers over a nine-year period, those who play sports are less inclined to drink and take drugs than the general student body.

When it comes to smoking marijuana, about 32 percent of the student population admits to trying it as opposed to 21.9 percent of NCAA athletes.

It's not a huge disparity when it comes to alcohol, however. The student average is 81.4 percent compared to 80.4 percent of those who compete in sports.

The numbers for athletes in Division I are better with 78 percent having used alcohol and 16 percent who smoked pot.

Researchers believes that athletes are more health-conscious, which explains why they're less apt to abuse booze or drugs.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul282014

Estrogen May Make Some Women More Judgmental About Other Women

iStock/Thinkstock(TRIESTE, Italy) -- The hormone estrogen contained in birth control pills seems to have a curious, albeit, pretty harmless side-effect.

Researcher Valentina Piccoli of the University of Trieste in Italy says a small study she undertook with 42 women who used birth control suggests that the quantity of estrogen in the contraceptive may affect the way they view other women.

In other words, the more estrogen in the birth control they used, the more they viewed other women's looks as important to them by looking at a series of photographs.

While not establishing a direct cause-and-effect relationship, Piccoli speculated that an increase in estrogen levels might make women more guarded about potential female competitors.

More study with a bigger group may be necessary to verify the findings. Piccoli's research did not use a control group that took a placebo rather than birth control pills.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul282014

When Leisure Activities Feel Worse than Work

iStock/Thinkstock(MAINZ, Germany) -- There's nothing like "maxing and relaxing" after a hard day of work. For many, that involves plopping down in front of a TV or computer screen.

However, there's a dark side to these seemingly harmless leisure activities, according to researchers at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany and the VU University Amsterdam in the Netherlands .

Apparently, a lot of people who turn off their minds when they turn on the TV or play video games feel like they're failures because they're not doing anything constructive.

In interviews with 471 people who talked about what they do to decompress after work, the researchers discovered that rather than delivering enjoyment, TV and other electronic devices wind up as a "burden and a stressor rather than a recovery resource."

Dr. Leonard Reinecke went on to explain that the findings demonstrate "that in the real life, the relationship between media use and well-being is complicated and that the use of media may conflict with other, less pleasurable but more important duties and goals in everyday life."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jul272014

American Doctor in Liberia Tests Positive for Ebola

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MONROVIA, Liberia) -- An American doctor working with an international relief organization in Liberia tested positive for the Ebola virus.

Dr. Kent Brantly had been working as the medical director for Samaritan's Purse, an organization working to provide aid to those affected by the spread of Ebola. Brantly is undergoing treatment in an isolation center and was reported to be sitting up in his isolated hospital bed and working on his computer after he contracted the deadly virus this week.

Samaritan's Purse released a statement saying that it was "committed to doing everything possible to help Dr. Brantly during this time of crisis."

Later on Sunday, the organization announced another American contracted the disease. Nancy Writebol is employed by SIM in Liberia and was helping the joint SIM/Samaritan's Purse team that is treating Ebola patients at the Case Management Center in Monrovia.

SIM manages ELWA Hospital in Morovia, and the two organizations have been working closely to combat Ebola since the current outbreak began in Liberia in March.

Writebol is married with two children.

Also on Sunday, the disease took the life of a high-profile African doctor, Samuel Brisbane.

Ebola, a contagious and deadly disease, is spreading in part because of trade across the borders of three countries: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, health officials said. The World Health Organization reported at least 930 cases of Ebola in the three countries, with the virus causing over 580 deaths.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jul272014

Can a Jolting Wearable-Fitness Tracker Get You to Work Out? 

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  If you need a little incentive to get up off the couch, a new wearable device could give you just the jolt you need to get you to the gym.

The Pavlok device isn't on the market just yet, but its creator Maneesh Sethi said the device will have features to incentivize working out -- including a small zap for when you miss a workout.

While Sethi says the device will encourage people in a way normal fitness trackers can't, some workout professionals are apprehensive at the idea of having a painful incentive forcing people to work out.

However, Sethi stresses that the device is programmed by the user and the incentives are incrementally built. First a user will get a subtle vibration as a reminder to head to the gym. If the user still doesn't go, the alert turns into a loud beep.

Finally if the user doesn't make it to their pre-programmed workout at the gym, running trial, etc., then there is the option to get a nice sized shock, ranging from 30 to 340 volts, according to Sethi.

"It's nothing that's going to hurt you," Sethi said. "It's not pleasant but that's the point, to break you of these bad habits."

Sethi also said that because users can program the device, they set all the rules. If they just want a reminder, they can set the device to vibrate. They can also specify how often they plan to go to the gym or other workout center.

The device will also go past just workouts. If people want to set it up to keep them off the Internet, they can have their Pavlok monitor their time online.

For the hardcore users, Sethi said they can pre-program a Facebook message that tells their friends when they missed the gym and allow the friends to send in shocks of encouragement.

At least some workout professionals are concerned about the device or others like it. Jessica Smith, a wellness coach and fitness instructor who contributes to SHAPE magazine, said she found a shocking device as a "bullying" approach to fitness.

"As a wellness coach I've seen the best long-term success with health and weight loss come when clients initiate healthy lifestyle changes themselves, not because a mean boot camp instructor, spouse (or, in this case, a shocking wristband) made them do it," Smith told ABC News.

But Sethi said the Pavlok has some carrots and is not "all sticks." The Pavlok company is working on creating an online component, where users could win points for going to the gym (and lose them for missing a workout). If they get enough points, Sethi said, they could get gift cards or other rewards.

"It's really about the habits," Sethi said. "It's making your brain automatically do what it should be doing."

The Pavlok device will be available to pre-order later this year.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jul262014

Boy Battling Cancer Turns Six with 'Close to 100,000' Birthday Cards

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Danny Nickerson celebrated his 6th birthday with the one birthday present he had been hoping for: tens of thousands of birthday cards.

The 6-year-old is fighting an inoperable brain tumor and his mother made an appeal on social media to have strangers send him cards. On Friday, Danny visited the post office where close to 100,000 cards had been sent, according to a Facebook post from Danny's mother Carley Nickerson.

There were so many boxes, Danny was able to climb and play on boxes upon boxes of cards.

But Danny's birthday wasn't all about the cards. Earlier in the day, the family went to Legoland before meeting the owner of the New England Patriots, Bob Kraft, who gave Danny birthday presents.

The Massachusetts boy was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor known as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma in October, one of the most chemotherapy-resistant cancers. Danny has since stopped going to kindergarten.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jul262014

American Red Cross Issues Urgent Call for Blood Donations

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The American Red Cross issued a call for blood donations this week, saying that donations are down eight percent in the last 11 weeks, creating thee risk of a shortfall of blood.

The Red Cross says that because Independence Day fell on a Friday, many sponsors did not host blood drives in early July, as people took long weekends off. An average summer week features about 4,400 Red Cross blood drives, compared to just 3,450 on the week of Independence Day this year.

In particular, the Red Cross says donors with blood types O negative, B negative and A negative are "especially needed."

Since May, the organization has received 80,000 fewer donations than expected. As donations continue to decline, the Red Cross is concerned that it could experience an "emergency situation" within weeks.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul252014

Playing Hard to Get May Not Work for Women, Study Says 

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When it comes to dating, some may tell women play it coy, but new research shows that more responsive females are successful in the mating game.

In a report published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers simulated an early dating experience with two strangers.

A man and woman sat in the same room together, during which half the time the male would discuss a negative event from the day before and the female was told to respond in her normal behavior. The other half of the time, researchers reversed the roles.

Participants were also asked to complete a survey on their partners receptiveness, how well they were categorized into gender norms, and their level of attraction.

The study found that men perceived more receptive women as more feminine and attractive, and that the same individuals would make better long-term mates.

Women, however, did not care as much about how receptive their partners were.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jul252014

Daughter, Terminally Ill Dad, Hold Early Walk Down the Aisle

iStock/Thinkstock(KINGSTON, Tenn.) -- It was a day she'll never forget, her dad dressed in a sharp black suit accented with bright pink bowtie -- her favorite color -- hooked arm in arm as they slowly and steadily make their way down the homemade aisle placed perfectly in the backyard of the Kingston, Tennessee, home she's lived in since the day she was born.

"We had an arch and a preacher who came and spoke some of his really sweet words," Whitney Moore, 20, told ABC News of the touching ceremony she and her father held with their family on June 14.

The occasion was so sentimental to Whitney's father, David Moore, not because he was giving his away his daughter's hand in marriage, rather, it was simply so this loving dad could walk his beautiful baby girl down the aisle, to share, relish in and celebrate this momentous occasion with her, before he leaves this world.

Moore, 68, has terminal liver cancer. Diagnosed last October, he's only expected to have a handful of months left, exactly the reason Whitney wants to cherish every moment.

"I hope that that people look at this and are inspired," she told ABC News. "If they're as close with their daddies as I am, this is something they should do. I'm a true Christian believer and I have so much faith and I believe everything happens for a reason. For this to happen, yes it's devastating news and I've questioned it and I've also gotten mad, but it's truly opened my eyes to a lot of things."

Whitney has always spent quality time with her father, but since his terminal cancer diagnosis, she says it has really reinforced what matters most.

"I have no regrets with my daddy," she explained. "I have said what I wanted to say. I told him what he needed to know. And there's no shame. I believe that everything happens for a reason and God doesn't give you anything that you can't handle."

As the two stood underneath a poolside white arch, they both read personal, handwritten words they had thoughtfully prepared for each other.

"I had written out on a piece of paper what I wanted to say, and he did the same," she recalled. "When he got his little letter out he had written to me, it was just so sweet. And in mine, I told him that no matter who I marry, he will always be my number one man. He was the first man that I loved. And honestly when my wedding day comes, it's going to be hard, but there's also no regrets and I know he'll be smiling because he's there."

To top off the perfect occasion, Whitney and her daddy shared a perfect father-daughter dance to the song, "Daddy Dance With Me."

But then, a surprise.

"I had no idea. I bawled my eyes out," Whitney said of the unexpected gift her dad had arranged. "He had given me a box- a little silver plated, heart-shaped box. And it had engraved on it, 'Daddy Loves You Sugar.' When I was younger, and still to this day, whenever we're on the phone, he's like, 'Hey, sugar.' That word always stuck with him."

Inside the box was a sparkling, silver-banded ring, one to always remind her of who loved her first.

Whitney is not engaged, therefore has no plans for wedding bells ringing in the near future, but one thing is for certain.

"I would always hope my dad lives to see that day come, but if not, the special day on June 14 was like I was getting married," she explained. "It was like my wedding day, so I know on my actual wedding day, it will feel the same. He'll be there with me."

And as for Moore, he has one last goal he'd still like to fulfill, only this time-with his 13-year-old son.

"He really wants to go to the beach," said Whitney. "But he especially, really wants to take my brother to the beach. They love fishing, and he wants to catch a shark."

The family has a vacation planned in Hilton Head, South Carolina, the week of August 10.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio