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Friday
Feb052016

Pregnant Woman in Puerto Rico Diagnosed with Zika Virus

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico) -- As the Zika virus outbreak continues, including in wide swaths of Central and South America, concerns are growing, especially for pregnant women because the mosquito-borne virus has been linked with a serious birth defect called microcephaly, characterized by an abnormally small head and brain.

In Puerto Rico, a pregnant woman in her first trimester was diagnosed with the disease, health officials said. In addition, a man has also been diagnosed with Zika and has developed a rare paralysis syndrome sometimes associated with viral or bacterial infection.

Called Guillain-Barre syndrome, it is an immunological reaction that has been associated with influenza, among other illnesses.

At least 22 people have been reported to have been infected with the Zika virus in Puerto Rico, health officials said.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., there are at least 54 people infected with the virus. In all except one case, the infection was acquired while out of the country, according to health officials.

In one case in Dallas, Texas, the virus is believed to have been transmitted through sexual contact from an infected traveler to a partner.

Florida has the highest number of cases in the U.S., with 12 people infected. Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in five counties and ordered thousands of tests that will help identify the disease.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Feb052016

Sexually Transmitted Zika Virus Case in US Prompts CDC to Issue New Guidelines

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — After the Zika virus was transmitted through sexual contact in Dallas, Texas, officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released new guidelines for travelers to and from outbreak regions.

The disease primarily is transmitted by mosquitoes, but in rare instances it has been reported to be transmitted through blood transfusions and sexual contact. The officials from the Dallas health department said that a traveler came back from a Zika-affected country and passed the disease to a partner.

Guidelines released Friday gives new information about avoiding sexual transmission of the virus.

The CDC advises men with a pregnant partner to use condoms if they have traveled to an area with "active Zika virus transmission."

Additionally, couples where a male partner who has traveled to an area with Zika transmission "may consider using condoms consistently and correctly during sex or abstaining from sexual activity," if they are concerned about sexual transmission of the Zika virus.

"The science is not clear on how long the risk should be avoided," CDC officials said in a statement. "Research is now underway to answer this question as soon as possible. If you are trying to get pregnant, you may consider testing in discussion with your health care provider."

The Zika virus usually results in mild symptoms, including fever, rash and fatigue that resolve in approximately one week. However, the virus has been associated with a worrying rise in a birth defect, called microcephaly, in Brazil. The birth defect is characterized by an abnormally small head and brain.

Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, told reporters Friday that the guidelines are focused on preventing transmission to pregnant women due to the dangerous birth defects associated with the virus. He said men who may have been infected with Zika virus should either use condoms or abstain from sex for the length of the pregnancy.

"We don’t know how long Zika persists in semen," said Frieden, noting that studies into this are ongoing. "It will be weeks to months before we know more."

Frieden also said there is a growing body of evidence linking the Zika virus to the microcephaly birth defect, although all cases of the birth defect have been reported in Brazil or a woman who went to Brazil before giving birth in Hawaii.

"Finally, Zika reminds us that over and over nature is a formidable enemy," he said. "We wish we knew more we wish we could do more. We know this is anxiety provoking for pregnant women and their families."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Feb052016

Study: Whooping Cough Vaccine Protection Wanes Quickly

iStock/Thinkstock(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- Children in the U.S. receive five doses of the DTaP vaccine (diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis) up until the age of 6. Afterwards, they receive another vaccine, Tdap, for protection against pertussis.

But despite the high Tdap vaccine coverage among teens in California, the state experienced large pertussis, or whooping cough, outbreaks in 2010 and 2014.

A new study of 1,207 pertussis cases at Kaiser hospitals in California revealed that though Tdap vaccine effectiveness during the first year was about 70 percent, after four or more years, it was 9 percent.

The researchers recommended a new approach: give Tdap when a local pertussis outbreak is imminent.

It’s important to note that the overall message should not be that the vaccine is less effective than previously thought.  Rather, the effectiveness of the vaccine wanes, and it should be timed wisely. The vaccine still remains an important tool and people should consult with their physicians about the ideal timeline for vaccination.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Feb052016

Is the College Dining Hall Healthy?

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif.) -- Most people don’t associate healthy meals with college cafeterias. So researchers at the California Polytechnic State University looked at several on-campus and off-campus venues to see how healthy the meal choices are.

They used the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey (NEMS), which focuses on the availability, affordability, and quality of healthful food. Entrées and main dish salads were defined as healthy if they had the following components:

  • 800 or less calories (650 or less for burgers and sandwiches)
  • No more than 30 percent of calories from fat
  • No more than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat

The results of the campuses varied widely. Only 12 percent of entrées and 36 percent of main dish salads served at on-campus locations were classified as healthful. Only nine of the 18 on-campus venues offered healthy entrées at all.

On campus food courts achieved higher scores than restaurants and fast food venues, chiefly by offering more healthful side dishes and beverages.  The researchers did note, however, that fast-food restaurants had a wide variability in the healthfulness of their offerings.

After the study, they concluded: “Given students’ necessary dependents on the campus food environment, universities have a responsibility to provide a food environment that facilitates and supports healthful eating.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Feb052016

Meditation May Soothe Anxiety, Pain During Breast Biopsy

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A breast biopsy can be a very stressful, anxiety-provoking, painful, and exhausting experience for a woman.  But new research suggests that there are easy and inexpensive measures women can take to ease these problems.

Researchers say meditation and music interventions may help make breast cancer biopsies, which are done while the woman is awake, more tolerable without the use of additional medications.

Researchers looked at 121 patients, divided into three groups: group 1 received guided medication, group 2 listened to music, and group 3 got standard care with no music or meditation.  The tests showed both meditation and music interventions reduced patient anxiety and fatigue.  Meditation also caused lower pain levels during the biopsy procedure.

It’s important to note that this study is small, and therefore, may not be generalizable to the public without more research.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Feb052016

Your Body: The Successes of In Vitro Fertilization

iStock/ThinkstockDR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Are you struggling to get pregnant and trying in vitro fertilization (IVF)? According to a new report in Journal of the American Medical Association, the procedure may work better than previously thought.

Data shows that most women or couples drop out of IVF after about three cycles because they're discouraged. But researchers found that the chances of achieving a live birth actually continue to go up even after three unsuccessful cycles.

Here's my fertility prescription: If you've been trying to conceive for more than six months without success, talk to your OB/GYN. Depending on your age, referral to a board-certified infertility specialist may be appropriate.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb042016

Zika Virus: First Cases Reported in Spain

Popartic/iStock/ThinkStock(NEW YORK) -- Spain says it has confirmed a case of the Zika virus, the first in Europe, says BBC News.

A pregnant woman was diagnosed with Zika after she had recently returned from Colombia.

The virus is currently spreading through the Americas and it is believed that it is linked to a birth defect called microcephaly. The World Health Organization recently declared microcephaly a global public health emergency.

The Spanish health ministry said that woman was one of seven confirmed cases, says BBC News.

All of the cases were "imported" and therefore there is no risk that the virus will spread, BBC reported.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb042016

Nurse Sweetly Sings 'A Whole New World' to 4-Year-Old Cancer Patient

Jose Torres(NEW YORK) -- A video of a nurse in Houston singing to a 4-year-old girl with leukemia, who could not fall asleep, went viral this week after her father posted it on Facebook.

Brandon Waterhouse, a hematology-oncology nurse at Texas Children's Hospital, sang Aladdin's "A Whole New World" to the delight and comfort of four-year-old Sophia Torres, who listened attentively while perched in her wheelchair.

"Sophia was in the hallway with her dad that night, unable to sleep. As is usual for her, she had her iPad playing music. At the time, she was listening to 'Let it Go' from Frozen which, I’m sad to say, I do not know all the words to," Waterhouse told ABC News. Sophia asked if he could sing a song for her and he said he knew all the words to Aladdin's "A Whole New World."

Jose Torres, Sophia's father, filmed Waterhouse singing and uploaded it on Facebook. "I posted it on Sophia's page for family members and friends, but I never thought it would reach out that far," Torres told ABC News.

The father explained that music has become a huge source of comfort for the young girl.

"She loves to listen to music," Torres told ABC, "On December 14 she suffered a stroke....It damaged some of her eyesight, so now the music is what she wants. She doesn't really want to watch movies, she just loves music."

Despite spending most of her time confined to a wheelchair and inside of a hospital building, Torres told ABC, Sophia still has a bright, positive personality.

"She is so happy," Torres told ABC, "She loves princesses, my little pony, and she just loves to listen to music."

Waterhouse, the male nurse who sang both the male and female parts of the Disney ballad told ABC News, "The last time I had a singing performance was during my 5th grade play ... I am definitely not a singer."

Waterhouse explained that even when there are no cameras rolling to catch the act, the hospital staff is always singing and playing with the kids at Texas Children's Hospital.

"It’s definitely not uncommon to catch some of the staff singing or dancing throughout our shifts but honestly it’s because we all truly love what we do. There is not a single person on this unit who wouldn’t go above and beyond for any one of our patient."


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Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb042016

Painful Symptoms Persist After Zika Virus Infection, Virginia Woman Says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A Virginia woman recounted her painful ordeal with the Zika virus and said she still has some lingering symptoms related to the earlier infection.

Heather Baker told ABC News that she is still dealing with health issues after being diagnosed with the Zika virus earlier this year.

Baker was diagnosed after going on a mission trip to Guatemala in November, according to ABC affiliate WHSV-TV.

“After I got home from my trip, I discovered as swollen lymph node on this side of my head and so I just knew immediately that my body was fighting something,” Baker told WHSV-TV.

She was tested for multiple diseases, including the tropical disease Chikungunya, but none of those tests turned up positive. She then heard about the Zika virus and was tested for that virus.

“When [the Chikungunya test] came back negative, by that point, I had heard the name Zika, and I was like, ‘I think that’s what it is,’” Baker said.

While the symptoms of the Zika virus generally last less than a week, Baker said some of her symptoms have persisted for nearly eight weeks.

“There are a lot of unknowns right now and we are just doing the best we can with what we have, and my hope is that there’s someone out there somewhere who has studied this,” Baker told WHSV-TV.

Baker declined to speak in detail to ABC News, due to feeling ill. She did say she wanted to share her story to encourage other people to take precautions when visiting Zika-affected countries.

The Zika virus usually results in mild symptoms including fever, rash and fatigue that rarely last longer than a week, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The virus has been associated with a worrying rise in a birth defect called microcephaly in Brazil.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University, said there may be multiple reasons that Baker has continued to have symptoms weeks after the virus. He explained that she may have unknowingly had a complication or a secondary infection that caused her symptoms to worsen.

"I haven’t heard of anything like this," Schaffner said. "I’m not sure how long and which symptoms have persisted. But everything is possible and some things are very common and some things are unusual."

He said another possibility is that Baker had an inflammatory immune response where she felt symptoms long after the virus has left her body.

"We don’t know if the virus can persist or if it can set up an inflammatory response that can continue to make you ill for a period of time," he explained.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb042016

Dad’s Photo of Baby's Swollen Toe Raises Awareness of Rare Syndrome

Scott Walker(WICHITA, Kan.) -- One dad's photo of his baby's swollen toe is sparking conversation among parents across the Internet.

Scott Walker, 32, of Wichita, Kansas, told ABC News that he posted a picture of his infant daughter's foot after finding a strand of hair wrapped tightly around one of her toes.

"I was pretty freaked out," Walker said. "I was lucky to have my wife Jessica there because she handles these situations like a pro. It's never fun to see your child in pain, but for something like a hair tourniquet, it was a different feeling than the other [injuries] your kid may go through. It was something I've never seen before, so that helplessness kind of sunk in."

Walker said it was the afternoon of Jan. 21 when his daughter, Molly, 5 months, was crying uncontrollably.

"Molly was screaming, crying and we just went through the normal checklist of feeding, changing, pacifier," Walker recalled. "We noticed her right sock was wet and her left sock was dry. Her foot was sweating. Once we removed the sock, we immediately saw her toe was swollen."

Walker said a hair tourniquet was attached to Molly's foot, causing it to swell up.

Walker's wife Jessica, who works as a registered nurse, was present during the incident and used a magnify glass and a pair of tweezers to carefully remove the hair from her daughter's toe.

"The sooner you can find it the better chances you have to keep your kid from being injured or having to go through surgery or anything," Walker said. "I've been researching non-stop."

In an effort to raise awareness of hair tourniquets, Walker shared a photo on Facebook of Molly's toe 45 minutes after the hair was removed.

In two weeks, the post was shared over 24,000 times.

Dr. Lolita McDavid, medical director of Child Protection and Advocacy at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, told ABC News that hair tourniquets, or acute digital ischemia, are "pretty rare" occurrences.

"You see on it on toes more than on fingers because a lot of parents have long hair and the baby will pull on the hair," she said. "A lot of hair tourniquets that you see on feet my be strings from socks. "When you see a baby and the baby may be truly inconsolable, you may want to undress them to see if there's something constricting that's really upsetting to the baby."

She continued: "What can happen is you can cut of the blood supply...so you could end up losing that toe. What parents can do is if they have it, try to take something very small and break it, but if it's been there for a while and there's swelling around it, you'll want to head to to the emergency room, where somebody can actually get it off."

Walker said Molly's toe healed in less than a week.

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