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Sunday
Jan142018

Hurricane Maria's devastation includes national shortage of a critical medical supply

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN JUAN) -- Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico nearly five months ago, but its devastating impact continues to be felt, including in a national shortage of critically important, small medical fluid-filled bags for delivering nutrients or medicines to patients intravenously.

Medical-supply giant Baxter International, one of the leading manufacturers of IV bags, has three factories in Puerto Rico. After Maria hit the island on September 20, bringing down its power grid, Baxter's three factories there were temporarily shut down. Only recently has the company been able to fully restore operations in the last of the three.

Daily, hospitals go through hundreds or thousands of IV bags filled with a solution of nutrients, antibiotics or painkillers and which are typically fastened to a pole and connected intravenously to a patient. Medical centers for cancer treatment and dialysis as well as homebound patients also need IV bags.

Concern spread when shortages of the small bags meant that orders by various health facilities and hospital weren't always being completely fulfilled.

"Some facilities are getting virtually zero," David Chen, a pharmacy director with Promedica which operates 13 hospitals in Ohio and Michigan said. "Others are having them trickle in. You never know what you're going to get."

Because of the limited number of the drip bags, some hospital staffs instituted workarounds such as giving pills instead of drips or using syringes to inject critical fluids; but that has threatened to cause a shortage in syringes.

"I have never seen anything quite this bad," Connie Sullivan, head of research and innovation at the National Home Infusion Association said.

"I see it as a crisis,” Deborah Pasko, director of medication safety and quality at the American Society of Health System Pharmacists said.

With the arrival of a powerful strain of the flu there is even more demand for critical hydrating fluids, Pasko said.

"If we can't support patients coming in emergency rooms who have the flu, more people are going to die," she said.

The FDA admitted the "production situation in Puerto Rico remains fragile" and has attempted to boost the supply of IV by allowing two additional companies beyond Baxter to start selling saline bags over the next few months.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Jan132018

How a mountain lion injured by CA wildfire shows that fish skin could help heal burn wounds

UC Davis(DAVIS, Calif.) -- The wildfires that roared through California's arid landscape caused devastation in terms of human life, property damage and wildlife, but amid the destruction -- an innovation. It's an experimental treatment for animal burns, and it's something that might be tried on humans soon.

A five-month old mountain lion with second and third degree burns on all four paw pads from the Thomas fire that burned through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties is being treated with a "bandage" first tried in Brazil: fish skin.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife rescued the young cat, reaching out to University of California, Davis' Veterinary Medicine department to treat all the animals they had found suffering from burns.

Dr. Jamie Peyton decided to try the Brazilian experiment.

“I thought to myself, ‘Well, I’ve been looking into this for a while,’” Peyton told ABC News. “No one has treated wildlife burns to this extent.”

Sterilized tilapia skin was brought to operating table, working as a “biological band-aid” for the mountain lion known internally as "Charmander."

In a three-hour procedure, they cleaned the wound, sewed the fish bandages in place, and gave the cat a standard check-up. The mountain lion woke up with a bandage of fish skin stitched onto the good tissues surrounding the burns on his hind right paw.

The tilapia skin provides three benefits: excellent protection (the scales are tough), help with pain (it covers nerve endings), and two types of collagen that promote faster healing, Peyton said. Fresh fish was bought from a market before the harvested skin went through a sterilization process, making it ready for medical use, she added.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Peyton, who hopes to get donations to fund research. “This treatment can be used not just in California, but around the country, to help others learn to use this.”

In Brazil

The clinical studies in Brazil started last year after a researcher realized that tilapia, an abundant fish in the country, was being harvested for food while having its skin tossed aside.

This is why scientists at the Federal University of Ceara in northern Brazil started to use the fish skins as bandages for burn wounds.

"We don't have many skin banks in Brazil," said Odorico de Moraes, a professor at the university that leads the research, claiming that the fish skin bandages are 60 percent cheaper than going to the few skin banks which offer human or pig skin..

After doing tests on animals, the trial on humans started, and now Brazilian doctors have successfully treated 129 patients.

De Moraes claims their fish skin studies prove that tilapia has five times as much collagen as human skin, so it protects against scarring.

De Moraes said, "To improve the process of healing, prevent infection and loss of liquids from the body, and decrease pain," fish skin was an improvement over cloth bandages. The fish skin doesn't need to be changed as the burn heals, and changing bandages is one of the most painful parts of recovery.

Clinical trials at four locations in Brazil will show whether the fish skin is safe and effective.

They're aiming to get 150 patients treated at their hospital, said de Moraes.

In the United States, however, Peyton doesn’t foresee this tilapia skin bandage getting FDA approval.

In the U.S.

“It’s unlikely to be predominant in the U.S.,” said Peyton. “We have a lot of banks of human donor grafts.”

Dr. Peter Grossman, medical director of the Grossman Burn Centers, agrees, and said that skepticism about any new treatment is important.

"Sometimes it can be a pretty big fish tale," he joked, but explained, "It's not a replacement for skin graft, but it could be a good tool."

Grossman notes that human skin given by donors and pig skins are the more established treatments in the U.S., which makes the idea of putting fish skin onto people hard to envision.

There are a lot of new biological treatments that are FDA-approved and made from mammals, unlike the fish skin, in the U.S., Grossman said.

"I still think it is going to take some time before it is socially accepted even in animals," said Grossman of tilapia bandages. But "sometimes simpler can be better, so we have to keep an open mind," he said, despite the wider options of skin grafts available in the U.S.

Given the studies' results, Grossman added that "it's not a bad idea" for partial thickness wounds, which are wounds where some of the tissue and nerve-endings are still intact.

For more severe, third degree burns, however, tilapia bandages wouldn't be as effective in his opinion.

"I think it has significant benefit globally," said Grossman. "Throughout the world, burn injuries are among the leading causes of death because they don't have the ability to treat like we do."

It is tough and expensive to have a treatment approved by the FDA, Grossman said.

In veterinary medicine

"I think if we can use something on cutting edge to help animal patients ... I'm excited by the idea," said Dr. Elisa Mazzaferro, a clinical professor Cornell University Veterinary Specialists. "I think it's potentially very beneficial."

Mazzaferro said that standard treatment for burns is a cloth bandage, and animals tend to chew at them -- often needing surgery to remove the bandages from their system. Other burn treatments, surprisingly, include table sugar, honey, and extremely expensive seaweed cream.

"I always like to think out of the box, especially in emergency and critical care medicine when things can take a turn in the other direction," Mazzaferro said of the fish skin bandages' potential.

Applying treatments and using anesthesia, particularly in cases of wild animals, causes an animal a lot of stress, so this experimental bandage could be beneficial if it could cause less stress and minimizes pain, she added.

"Availability is the most limiting thing," Mazzaferro said. Acquiring tilapia in Ithaca, New York, where she practices, would be a barrier.

She also fears that someone may hear of the treatment and try it on their own without taking measures to sterilize the fish or seeking a medical professional.

On the other side of the country, in California, Peyton is passionate about continuing research at the UC Davis after seeing how well it has worked for Charmander the mountain lion.

“He’s doing great,” she said. “He’s a funny little guy.”

The team of vets agreed that it’s been helping the wound heal well, despite the fact that the mountain lion managed to chew off the fish skin after a few days.

“He is a cat, and whether domestic or wild, they do not like things on their feet,” said Peyton, explaining that "it's fish, so it's safe for him to eat."

The veterinary team and students at UC Davis are working with the CDFW, compiling research and results from the other two animals undergoing the fish skin treatment for their severe burns from the California wildfires.

But once they've got the skin, what happens to the rest of the tilapia?

"I always joke that we feed it to the students," laughed Peyton.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Jan132018

Pharma giant Pfizer to end research into drugs for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- One of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies is ending its research into new drugs for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

Pfizer announced it is shuttering the company’s neuroscience program. At least 300 jobs are expected to be eliminated, primarily at facilities in Cambridge and Andover in Massachusetts, as well as Groton, Connecticut, according to Bloomberg.

The New York-based pharmaceutical giant said it will continue its support of tanezumab, a late-stage pain treatment in development with Eli Lilly & Co., and the fibromyalgia drug Lyrica.

The company said it plans to start a venture fund dedicated to neuroscience, according to Bloomberg.
  
Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Jan122018

Expecting mom takes hilarious maternity photos at Taco Bell 

Kelly Daniels/Strollersandstilettos.blog(ATLANTA) -- One expecting mother spent so much time in Taco Bell thanks to her pregnancy cravings that she knew exactly where she'd shoot her maternity photos.

Kristin Johnston, who lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia, posed at sunset in front of her local Taco Bell in a bright red floor-length gown and a string of pearls.

The now-mother of two said she was inspired to have her maternity shoot there after looking up ideas on Pinterest, where she spotted an elderly couple who shot their senior portraits at the restaurant.

"I want to do something a little different," Johnston, 33, explained to ABC News. "So I said, 'I have to take my maternity pictures there. I’m spending so much time and money there with my cravings. That's the place I've got to go.'"

Johnston -- who was already a mother to a 1-year-old son named Sawyer with her husband of nearly three years, Cody -- tapped her best friend Kelly Daniels to trek to Taco Bell with her for the shoot.

"She loves everything Taco Bell," Daniels, 33, told ABC News. "I was not at all surprised."

Last month, the two met outside of the restaurant at sunset "so it can be really good lighting," Johnston noted.

Daniels recalled, "She steps out of her huge mom mobile and she steps out of it in her floor-length red gown and [the Taco Bell is] right at one of the busiest intersections. We got quite an audience every time a red light came around."

Johnston, who welcomed the baby -- Theodore Johnston -- featured in the photo shoot last week, said she's thrilled with how the photos turned out. She noted that even her husband was amused by the photo shoot.

"He can’t wait to get a picture in a frame on his desk," she said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Jan122018

Flu now considered epidemic in US as hospitalizations climb during peak season

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes the nation is at peak flu season, as the disease is now considered to be an epidemic, based on its medical impact, the federal agency said Friday.

The rate of hospitalizations for pneumonia and the flu is continuing to climb amid a CDC warning of several more weeks of significant flu activity.

"What we're seeing this year -- the influenza season started earlier and seems to be peaking right about now,” Dr. Daniel B. Jernigan, director of the Influenza Division in the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) at the CDC, told "GMA" Wednesday.

"That's about a month earlier than it normally would be peaking," he said, "so lots of cases [are] happening, in lots of states, all at the same time."

There were seven pediatric flu deaths last week, bringing the total to 20 for the flu season, the CDC said.

Trips to the doctor for flu-like illnesses might be starting to stabilize; 26 states are reporting high-levels of outpatient visits, the same as last week.

High flu activity has been reported in New York City as well as Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming, the CDC said.

Outbreaks of the flu have closed some schools in states including Alabama, Idaho, North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

Antiviral drugs are also approved and recommended for treatment if taken within 48 hours of the beginning of symptoms. They can prevent serious complications from the flu, the CDC said, particularly for people in the highest risk groups: children younger than 5 and adults older than 65.

Influenza H3N2 has been the most common strain in this cycle, which is usually more severe, the CDC said.

"Whenever [H3N2] shows up, it causes lots of disease, lots of hospitalizations, lots of cases and lots of deaths," Jernigan said.

Over the past couple of years, H3N2 had not been as prevalent.

"We know that the influenza vaccine is the best way to prevent, but in this season it is not as effective as it is for the other viruses that circulate," Jernigan said.

Though a recent Australian study raised the idea that the vaccine might be only 10 percent effective against this year's flu, he said that estimate does not necessarily apply to the United States, or to other strains of the flu that are circulating.

"The 10 percent is a very low estimate that came out of Australia over their season last summer," Jernigan said. "The same kind of virus that we had last year was around 30 percent to 33 percent effective for the H3 component. It’s actually more effective for the other parts of the vaccine that are trying to prevent the other flus circulating."

The flu vaccine is still recommended, the CDC said, explaining it's not too late to get the shot because many weeks of flu season remain.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Jan122018

Teens consuming laundry detergent pods in viral 'challenge'

ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) -- A new online challenge that involves teens putting Tide laundry-detergent pods in their mouths is raising concerns among experts.

“Teens trying to be funny are now putting themselves in danger by ingesting this dangerous substance,” Ann Marie Buerkle, acting chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, told ABC News.

The detergent packets are designed to dissolve when wet, so even putting them in one's mouth can be dangerous.

Already in 2018 there has been a steep spike in the number of cases of teens misusing laundry pods. The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) said approximately 40 cases have been reported so far, "of which around half were intentionally ingested."

Laundry-detergent packets commonly known as "pods" have been flagged before as a safety issue for young children. The small, colorful pods can be mistaken for candy by children.

In 2017, the AAPCC said there were reports of more than 10,000 exposures to highly-concentrated packets of laundry detergent by children ages 5 and under.

Children who consume pods can quickly become very sick and lose consciousness, according to Dr. Alfred Aleguas, managing director of the Florida Poison Information Center.

Consuming the pods can also be lethal.

"Currently we are aware of about 10 deaths since laundry pods came out into the market many years ago," said Buerkle.

Procter and Gamble, maker of Tide Pods, told ABC News in a statement that the pods “should not be played with, whatever the circumstance is.”

“Nothing is more important to us than the safety of people who use our products,” the statement read. “They should not be played with, whatever the circumstance is, even if meant as a joke.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Jan122018

Celebrity trainer Latreal Mitchell shares her top workout tips for getting children active

ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) -- Celebrity trainer Latreal Mitchell shared some of her favorite workout moves you can do from home to help get the whole family in shape on "Good Morning America" Friday.

Mitchell, who is the personal trainer for "GMA" anchor Michael Strahan, is also the founder of the non-profit organization Fitness Bunch, which aims to fight childhood obesity.

Mitchell, a trainer on E!'s “Revenge Body with Khloe Kardashian,” said one way she recommends making exercise fun for children is by turning it into a game, so that they may not even realize that they are working out.

Here are her top-3 tips to help get the whole family moving and active in the new year.

'GMA' grab bag workout game

This fun workout game can help get children moving even while they are just watching TV.

Simply fill a bag with pieces of paper that are each labeled with a simple workout move you can do from home. During commercial breaks, ask children to draw a piece of paper out of the bag and then do the workout move listed on the slip of paper continuously until the commercial is over.

Some fun workout moves Mitchell recommends including are a simple drop kick (or semi-squat) to front kick, and twist hops (or hopping and twisting your body from side to side).

Work out with a partner

Having a good workout partner is also one of Mitchell's key tips for getting in shape. A workout partner can help hold you accountable for every workout, according to Mitchell.

One fun move that is great with a partner are partner planks and hop overs.

To do this move, have one person hold a plank, and then have their partner step over their body. Swap positions and repeat.

Dance party workout

The final way Mitchell recommends turning fitness into fun for the whole family is to do a dance party workout.

Mitchell says this can be done anywhere, and the only rules are to not stop dancing during the entire time a song is playing.

Some fun dance moves Mitchell recommends throwing in to work various muscle groups are the running man, the bird, the lasso and the water sprinkler.

Mitchell's top-10 health and fitness tips for children and adults

The celebrity trainer also broke down her top-10 tips for staying healthy in the new year, emphasizing the importance of sticking to your health goals in the long term, saying, "Living a healthy lifestyle is a marathon, not a sprint."

1. Cut out soda and juices! Supplement those drinks with sparkling water infused with fresh fruit, water and caffeine-free teas.

2. Make better snack choices. Instead of chips and cookies, go for the veggies with guacamole or hummus and fresh fruit.

3. Be careful of “sugar free” stuff. Most of those products contain artificial sweeteners that you want to avoid. Read the labels!

4. Do something active every day! Take a walk, have a dance party or do the “GMA gym grab bag," but move!

5. Set a weekly plan with the family and post it on the fridge with the person who should be in charge of the activity. This way kids and parents will hold each other accountable for their daily activities.

6. After dinner, instead of screen time, do something active like take a walk around the block.

7. Don’t buy junk food when you go grocery shopping -- if it’s not in the house you will not be tempted to eat it. Make it an activity to go get a treat if you want it. ... Work for it!

8. Avoid fast food and start cooking healthy meals at home.

9. If you have a bad day, don’t quit. You and your family are worth it!

10. Lead by example and start making one healthier choice a day. Living a healthy lifestyle is a marathon, not a sprint.



Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Jan112018

Australian woman who died after battling rare cancer had penned inspirational viral letter: 'Each day is a gift'

(Courtesy of Holly Butcher/Luke Ashley-Cooper) Holly Butcher posted this photo to her Facebook account on March 27, 2017.(NEW YORK) -- A 27-year-old Australian woman who lost her battle with a rare form of cancer had asked her family to share the last letter she wrote on her deathbed.

Holly Butcher's last words soon went viral on Facebook after being posted on January 3, one day before she passed away, with more than 131,000 people sharing it on the social network.

Butcher, who resided in Grafton in New South Wales, Australia, began her lengthy note by saying that she planned to write "a bit of life advice."

"It’s a strange thing to realize and accept your mortality at 26 years young. It’s just one of those things you ignore," she started. "The days tick by and you just expect they will keep on coming; until the unexpected happens."

Continuing, she wrote, "That’s the thing about life. It is fragile, precious and unpredictable and each day is a gift, not a given right. I’m 27 now. I don’t want to go. I love my life. I am happy. I owe that to my loved ones. But the control is out of my hands."

Butcher then encouraged her family and friends to stop whining "about ridiculous things."

"Be grateful for your minor issue and get over it," she suggested. "It’s okay to acknowledge that something is annoying but try not to carry on about it and negatively effect other people’s days."

Butcher also advised that people don't "obsess" over their bodies and what they eat.

"I swear you will not be thinking of those things when it is your turn to go," she wrote. "It is all SO insignificant when you look at life as a whole."

After advising her family and friends to use their money "on experiences" instead of presents, Butcher closed her letter by encouraging them to give back.

"Oh and one last thing, if you can, do a good deed for humanity (and myself) and start regularly donating blood," she wrote. "It will make you feel good with the added bonus of saving lives."

Butcher then closed by writing: "'Til we meet again."

Butcher's older brother Dean Butcher said he's proud that his sister's message has resonated with so many around the world.

"I would say Holly’s words have made our family immensely proud," he told ABC News.

"In her final weeks," Dean Butcher, 30, continued, "I sat at Holly’s bedside and asked her if she had any big picture dreams that she wanted me to work towards on her behalf. She happily replied, ‘No. I was going to live a simple life. I didn’t have big plans, I just wanted to live happily.’"

Dean Butcher added that "it is therefore incredibly ironic that a woman content with life’s simplicities ... has had such a huge impact."

"She left us with a powerful message that has resonated with people from all walks of life and from countries across the world. That will always be her legacy," her older brother noted.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Jan112018

Why you should beware the raw water trend

Hyrma/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  First, it was juicing. Then it was souping. In 2018, it's raw water.

Selling for as much as $15 a gallon, raw water is all the rage in this basic life necessity. Like black water and boxed water before it, some people are jumping on the trend.

But unlike the other so-called health trends that came before it, raw water from an unknown source has many potential health hazards, Dr. Sarang Koushik, a resident in ABC News' medical unit, said.

"Raw water is essentially untreated or unfiltered water, containing natural minerals,” Koushik said. “This water is absent of the additive fluoride. Raw water can be found in springs, rivers or wells.

“Unfortunately, this water could contain dangerous pesticides, bacteria, and animal waste products."

Translation: If it hasn’t been tested, it may have contaminants that can make you very sick.

"Raw water may contain bacteria and parasites such as E. Coli, giardia, or cholera,” Koushik added. “The health effects can range from diarrhea and dehydration to organ failure.”

But what about raw water sold in stores? People are buying it in droves. The New York Times reported that Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco is regularly sold out.

Live Water, the company that provides the raw water to places like Rainbow Grocery, also delivers in a small area of Northern California, the company says. In response to questions about its bottled water, Live Water posted this statement on its website:

“Opal spring where we source our water is from an ancient aquifer that we have extensively tested and has shown no harmful contamination what so ever. Water is collected from the covered spring head, so there is no chance for surface bacterias to enter the water. Our bottling facility is a sterile environment in which we triple rinse and wash our glass jugs. We also test each batch for harmful bacteria, and no one has ever gotten sick from drinking the water we bottle. The town of Madras Oregon trusts the water so much that they have been drinking unprocessed Opal Spring Water from the tap for over half a century.”

But for those outside the delivery area, the company also offers to sell customers a jug to "collect living water yourself."

"Imagine going to collect your water and receiving the earths [sic] wisdom in any space that you travel through," the Live Water website reads.

But going to untested and untreated water sources is potentially dangerous, Koushik said, because raw water does not undergo surveillance and testing by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Koushik said, "The role of the Environmental Protection Agency is to protect and purify the public water supply. Per CDC [Centers for Disease Control] data in 2013-2014, there were 124 hospitalizations and 13 deaths related to water contamination. Compare this to the developing world where clean water access is sparse and outbreaks of waterborne illnesses occur in the millions."

And while enthusiasts and purveyors of the trend claim health benefits ranging from increased brain function to increased beauty, Koushik said, there is "currently no scientific evidence demonstrating any benefit from raw water consumption."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Jan112018

Grandmother can't figure out 'bun in the oven' pregnancy announcement

(Shantelle Dozier) Cynthia Dozier examines a hot dog bun her son and daughter-in-law put in an oven to reveal their pregnancy.(MONTZ, La.) -- Wesley and Shantelle Dozier found out just before Christmas that, after years of infertility struggles, Shantelle Dozier was pregnant.

In order to share the goods news with Wesley Dozier's mom, Cynthia Dozier, the Montz, Louisiana, couple put a hot dog bun in the oven.

Cynthia Dozier, a grandmother of 11, was quick to get the bun out of the oven but then had a hard time putting the clue together.

“A bun’s in the oven," Cynthia Dozier says in a video shared by the family. "Who put a bun in the oven?”

“You put the bun in the oven?” Cynthia Dozier asks Wesley Dozier.

“Maybe not that oven,” Wesley Dozier replies.

After more than a minute of additional questioning and family laughter in the background, Cynthia Dozier puts it together and gives her son a tearful hug.

"It actually played out exactly like we thought it would," Shantelle Dozier told ABC News. "We knew she wasn’t going to get it right away."

Shantelle Dozier said the family frequently plays jokes on Cynthia Dozier. This time, though, the family matriarch had a very good reason not to even consider that it would be a pregnancy announcement.

Shantelle Dozier and her husband had nearly given up trying for a baby after many years of unsuccessful fertility treatments. They decided to try a final treatment but did not tell any family members.

After sharing their pregnancy news with Cynthia Dozier last month, Wesley and Shantelle Dozier discovered they are having twins.

"The funny thing is when [Cynthia] grabbed the bun out of the oven, it broke in half," Shantelle Dozier said. "That was our first sign."



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