Woman who confronted Tony Robbins in viral video clip says she's 'tired of being shamed'

Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images for Happy Hearts Fund(NEW YORK) -- The woman at the center of the now-viral clip of Tony Robbins, in which he seemed to dismiss the goals of the #MeToo movement, told ABC News' "Nightline" that she felt "pushed" to stand and confront Robbins for his rhetoric.

"I was really uncomfortable with what he was saying about #MeToo," Nanine McCool said. "The part that sort of pushed me out of my chair was the constant shaming of victims. ... I’m really tired of being shamed for having been a victim."

McCool, a resident of Louisiana and former lawyer, said that she "was cringing" while listening to Robbins talk about the movement during a self-help seminar March 15 in San Jose, California. McCool said that she was attending the seminar hoping for inspiration.

"I thought, 'Oh gosh, Tony Robbins, you’ve got this all wrong. You don’t understand,'" she said, "and then the next thing I knew I was on my feet and I was yelling at him."

McCool, who told "Nightline" that she'd been "sexually abused by a male baby sitter" for years when she was "very, very young," said the #MeToo movement had given her the courage she needed to speak up and help people understand the movement's significance.

"I relate to it (the movement) because I lived it and hearing all those women speak about their experiences, even though I knew intellectually that it wasn’t just me, there is something very powerful about hearing women stand up and say, 'That happened to me too,' and it feels like you’re suddenly not alone anymore," she said.

In the video, which went viral last week, McCool called out the superstar life coach, saying that he "misunderstand[s] the #MeToo movement."

Robbins, 58, responded, saying, "I’m not knocking the Me Too movement ... I’m knocking victimhood."

He then added: “What you’re seeing is people making themselves significant by making somebody else wrong."

The motivational speaker and self-help expert then shared an anecdote from a “very famous man, very powerful man” whom, he said, illegally passed on hiring a woman because she was considered attractive, despite the fact that the woman was the most qualified candidate.

On Sunday, Robbins apologized for misunderstanding the movement in a statement posted to Facebook.

"I apologize for suggesting anything other than my profound admiration for the #MeToo movement," Robbins said. "Let me clearly say, I agree with the goals of the #MeToo movement and its founding message of 'empowerment through empathy,' which makes it a beautiful force for good."

"But sometimes, the teacher has to become the student and it is clear that I still have much to learn," he said.

ABC News reached out to Robbins for comment Monday and was referred back to his Facebook statement.

Tarana Burke, who created the hashtag #MeToo and was instrumental in creating the movement, turned to Twitter on Saturday to tell her followers that she was "made aware of this video BEFORE I ever saw it because Tony Robbins people reached out to do damage control within 24 hours."

The activist added: "They wanted to 'give me context' apparently. I don’t need any. I have eyes. The full video is 11 mins. And it’s gross. Bravo to this woman."

Burke concluded her series of tweets by suggesting Robbins "talk to more SURVIVORS and less sexist businessmen maybe you’ll understand what we want. We want safety. We want healing. We want accountability. We want closure. We want to live a life free from shame. That’s the reality of the @MeTooMVMT sir, do better."

It appeared Burke's comments struck a nerve with Robbins, who said he's now "realized ... while I’ve dedicated my life to working with victims of abuse all over the world, I need to get connected to the brave women of #MeToo. I am committed to being part of the solution."

Robbins concluded: "I am committed to helping to educate others so that we all stay true to the ideals of the #MeToo movement. I will never stop examining my own words and actions to make sure I am staying true to those ideals. That begins with this brief statement but will not end until our goals are reached."

Robbins, a self-help author, became famous in part because of his celebrity clientele, which has included former President Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Olympic gold medalist Serena Williams. He's also the author of several New York Times best-selling books.

McCool, who says she paid almost $3,000 to attend the 3.5-day seminar, requested a refund. She said it was given to her "no questions asked."

She called Robbins' apology on Monday "a good start" but said she has no intention of interacting with him again.

"I hope that this discussion that has taken off from this video ... that women feel empowered by it," McCool said. "I just want that to continue because that’s what the movement is about. It’s about changing the culture through, through speaking our truth and being heard."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


3-year-old thriving after becoming first to get world's smallest mechanical heart valve during medical trial

ABC News(SEATTLE) -- For her family, 3-year-old Sadie Rutenberg is living proof that medical miracles are real.

For the first year of her life, the Seattle baby was hooked up to a machine that helped her breathe because of a heart defect.

"All expectations were... if we didn't do something fairly quickly that she was going to die," her father, Lee'or Rutenberg, told ABC affiliate KOMO-TV.

Her problems were too complicated for minor surgery and her body was too weak for a heart transplant.

"Sadie was born with a complete atrioventricular canal defect and underwent two open heart surgeries in her first few months of life," according to Seattle Children's Hospital.

Then Dr. Jonathan Chen, chief of pediatric cardiovascular surgery and co-director of Seattle Children's Heart Center, asked whether the family would try something different and take part in a medical trial for a miniature, mechanical heart valve that was manufactured by Abbott.

At the time, in 2015, the valve, about the size of a dime, had not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In May 2015, though, when she was 8 months old, Sadie had surgery to connect the mechanical heart valve. Seattle Children's said in a media statement that she was the first child in the valve trial to receive it.

Wendy Rutenberg, Sadie's mom, said the family didn't feel like they had any other option.

"Having the opportunity to try this valve was huge and so exciting," the mom told KOMO-TV.

In March, the FDA finally approved the mechanical heart valve for babies. According to Seattle Children's, the valve "is the smallest of its kind in the world."

Sadie still needs blood thinners and will need new valves as she gets older but she is active and doing well.

"Without the Sadies of the world," Chen said, "we'd never have this valve on the shelf."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


New software by MIT hopes to combat cyberbullying

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Research suggests that up to 48 percent of adolescents have experienced online bullying.

These victims endure feelings of embarrassment, worry, fear, depression and isolation -- which go along with more suicidal thoughts, self-inflicted injury and suicide attempts.

What’s worse -- internet providers, parents and the teens themselves haven’t been able to find an easy solution.

Enter scientists at MIT.

Though cyberbullying causes anxiety and depression, online peer support can make a difference, promoting mature coping skills, including humor and connectivity.

It’s that spirit of peer support that scientists at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) are hoping to harness with a new software called “Squad box,” a free online tool meant to combat online harassment.

This program allows assigned friends, known as “moderators,” to filter negative messages and emails, intercepting the negative and sparing the intended recipient from enduring the abuse.

They call this technique “friend-sourcing." Right now, blocking users, deleting comments and reporting harassment directly to site administrators seem to be the only tools.

Some social media sites may also screen for “trigger words” on public posts.

These techniques have their shortcomings, however, and are limited to the accuracy of the sites’ algorithms and speed of their response times.

One of the developers, Amy Zhang, a doctoral student in computer science at MIT, is studying how to “improve online discussion.”

Zhang said many people already use their squad to help screen their emails, and her software makes this process easier. She argues that much of the harassment she has studied is contextual, which means it is different for every individual person.

The “one size fits all” solution many websites utilize -- content moderators who don’t know the target, for example -- may not always be helpful. On “Squad box,” you can “tailor your response for what you want.”

Children and teenagers have a heightened reliance on technology, particularly on social media, and feel pressure to construct and maintain a positive online persona -- a version of themselves without insecurities.

“Squad box” allows users to manage cyberbullying in real time through their own, established support network. It intends to empower victims and solidify social connectivity.

Critics worry, though, that this new software will be just “spreading the burden” of online bullying among more teens. Proponents counter that this personal touch may unite victims and limit the negative reach of cyberbullying.

Laura Shopp, MD, a third-year pediatrics resident affiliated with Indiana University, works in the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Jamie-Lynn Sigler seeks advice, says she was forced to stop breastfeeding due to MS: 'I need some help'

Rich Fury/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- "Sopranos" star Jamie-Lynn Sigler is opening up about how having multiple sclerosis has affected her experience of motherhood.

The actress is even seeking advice from fans after she says she was forced to stop breastfeeding her newborn son, Jack, whom she welcomed 11 weeks ago along with husband, former professional baseball player Cutter Dykstra.

"All my fellow mommies that deal with MS or anything that causes them to have to make choices they didn’t necessarily want to ... this is for you," she began in a lengthy caption on Instagram.

Sigler, 36, continued, "I’m having to stop breastfeeding soon so I can get back on meds. The truth is, the toll of two kids and a newborn lifestyle is not the easiest on me and I need some help."

The actress went on to explain why it was so hard to stop breastfeeding her newborn son. Sigler is also a mother to a 4-year-old son named Beau.

"What sucks is that I live with a disease that makes decisions for me a lot, and with breastfeeding I took SUCH pride that I was able to do something really awesome with this body that I am constantly at war with," she wrote. "This little guy's tummy is struggling with the formula, and I KNOW we will both be fine, but I’m emotionally having to deal with the guilt and sadness that is coming along with weaning us both off this magical time."

Sigler then asked her more than 100,000 followers on Instagram if they had "any advice ... on how this can be any easier?"

Back in 2016, Sigler revealed that she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when she was 20 years old, while she was filming the HBO hit "Sopranos." The actress then went on to reveal in a People magazine interview just how multiple sclerosis affected her life.

"I can't walk for a long period of time without resting. I cannot run. No superhero roles for me. Stairs? I can do them but they're not the easiest," Sigler said then.

"Sometimes all I needed was like five or 10 minutes to sit and recharge but I wouldn't ask, because I didn't want them to be suspicious," she said of being on set. "Things are manageable now."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Breast cancer patients fare better if they have muscle 

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It may be the last thing that anyone struggling with breast cancer is thinking about, but it's important: Get some muscles.

A new study published in JAMA Oncology finds that women with breast cancer who have more muscle mass have a better chance of survival.

In general, when people aren’t well, they can lose a lot of weight, and much of that weight is muscle. Low muscle mass, called sarcopenia in medicine, also often occurs as we age, and it seems to correlate with poorer outcomes in people who are chronically ill, including those who suffer from cancer.

Previous studies on breast cancer and muscle mass have been done on women with more advanced cancer. This new study included younger women with less advanced breast cancer, and it found that even among this group, a smaller amount of muscle is associated with a poorer outcome.

The study included 3,241 women from Kaiser Permanente of Northern California and Dana Farber Cancer Institute, who were diagnosed between January 2000 and December 2013 with stages II or III breast cancer.

Higher muscle mass means better survival rates, regardless of a woman’s age or cancer stage, the researchers found. Lower muscle mass, on the other hand, is associated with a higher risk of death.

The researchers, who used CT scans of participants to look directly at how cancer affects muscle, aren't sure why low muscle mass is linked to lower survival. But they suggest it may have something to do with how cancer directly affects muscle tissue. Cancer-related inflammation may cause muscle mass to go down, and fat deposits to go up.

The takeaway for women, whether they have breast cancer or not, is to build more muscle.

“If we’re all going to deal with [muscle loss] as we age, better start identifying it as a risk factor now and targeting it, so we can minimize its impact,” said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, chief medical correspondent for ABC News.

Women can build muscle in multiple ways. Lifting weights at the gym, even light weights, can make a difference.

Also effective are exercises that use your own body weight to build muscle, like squats, push-ups, lunges and planks. A lot of women like yoga, Pilates or step classes for these very exercises.

Dr. Ashton recommends using an exercise vest with 2 or 3 pounds loaded in while you’re running your errands. Building muscle will help to keep you as physically strong as you are mentally strong.

Keep in mind, a good diet -- particularly one with protein -- helps build healthy muscle. Good sources of protein include lean meat, eggs, yogurt, fish, beans and nuts. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein is based on your weight. A women who weighs 125 pounds needs about 45 grams of protein in a day. That would be about 3 ounces of chicken and 3 cups of milk in a day. Eat the protein another way, and it’s 4.5 ounces of salmon and 100 almonds. No matter what foods you choose, don’t forget the protein.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Ayesha Curry opens up about difficult pregnancy with '5 hospital stays'

ayeshacurry/Instagram(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- After Ayesha Curry announced she was expecting her third child with her husband, NBA player Stephen Curry, she's now opening up about the difficult pregnancy.

The host of Ayesha’s Home Kitchen wrote in a caption on Instagram that she's now entering her third trimester and it hasn't been easy.

"6 down 3 to go!" she wrote, referencing how many months until she gives birth. "Praising God because I can finally eat and cook a little bit again! Pray that it sticks for me y’all!"

Curry, 29, wrote, "I've had 5 hospital stays since the New Year and have pretty much been sucking at life (at least that’s how it’s felt.) I think I’m starting to turn a corner though!!!! Woot woot."

The chef concluded her pregnancy update by giving props to her husband for taking the photo.

"He was being petty earlier about not getting his photo cred," she wrote to her more than five million followers, adding a laugh.

The Currys, who wed in 2011, announced they were expecting again back in February.

This baby will be the couple's third child; they're already parents to two daughters -- five-year-old Riley and two-year-old Ryan.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Eat your greens! Cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli might lower heart disease, stroke risk, study finds

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK CITY) -- If you are one of those people who move the veggies around their plate without taking a bite, sorry about this: Scientists don’t have conclusive proof about which specific vegetables are good for our health just yet. But they're getting closer.

New research from the University of Western Australia looked at whether eating vegetables might be associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.

The team recorded the diets of over 900 women above the age of 70, then measured the thickness of their carotid artery wall (the main artery in your neck). A thickened carotid artery has previously been linked to heart disease and stroke risk.

Women who reported eating three or more portions of vegetables a day had thinner artery walls, compared to women who ate fewer than two portions of vegetables a day. Thinner artery walls mean blood vessels are clearer, making them more able to move blood around.

But not all veggies appear to be equally effective. Cruciferous vegetables, a group that includes cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, seemed to have the biggest association with artery wall thinness.

Any potential effect is likely to be very small, though. The difference in artery wall thickness between women eating three portions of vegetables and those eating less than two portions was only 0.04 millimeters, equivalent to a 4.6 percent reduction.

If you were hoping fruit was linked to the same sorts of effects, it wasn’t, suggesting fruit might not be as important to this particular area of our health.

Previous research found that diets high in fruit and vegetables were associated with positive health effects, but this study is the first to look at the possible effects of specific groups of vegetables.

The research is far from conclusive. The study only shows an association between vegetable intake and artery wall thickness, not a cause-and-effect relationship. We don’t know for certain whether these associations actually have any meaningful impact on our health.

Scientists have shown that reducing the thickness of the carotid artery wall by 0.1 millimeters is associated with a 10 to 18 percent reduction in the risk of heart disease and stroke. They are hopeful that the smaller artery wall reductions seen in people eating lots of vegetables will have a similar effect, but researchers didn’t look at whether these particular women had more or less heart disease or stroke.

It is unclear exactly how vegetables might positively impact our health. The researchers speculate that the potassium and nitrates in vegetables may be responsible since the association was weakened when these factors were adjusted for.

But the mechanisms by which artery wall thickness is determined are even more puzzling. Researchers suggested that vegetables might reduce the risk of plaques forming in arteries or reduce the chances of patients developing high blood pressure. Either of these factors could cause the artery walls to thicken.

Until scientists serve up some more research next to the broccoli, we won’t have conclusive proof about which vegetables have the best impact on our health.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Couple who had 7 kids through IVF gives advice to others -- A couple who were able to conceive seven children though the process of in vitro fertilization are now hoping to add to their large family.

Julie and Lance of Minnesota are parents to Kaitlyn, 9, and three sets of twins, Cody and Caleb, 6, Chelsea and Kelsea, 4 and Caden and Colton, 10 months. Now they want two more children.

In 2007 Julie, 40, and Lance, 39, had the opportunity to receive free IVF treatments through a raffle that they won at a “family building conference” -- a summit where participants attend workshops and hear speakers who discuss the options like IVF and adoption.

"I was just in amazement and I remember going forward with my hands shaking and I remember Lance started sobbing," Julie said Thursday on "Good Morning America" of winning the raffle. "We were just in shock."

In 2007, the couple finished the IVF cycle and wound up with 10 embryos. They conceived their seven children as a result, Julie said.

Their daughter, Kaitlyn, was born in July 2008.

Lance said he thought he and Julie would just have "two or three kids like most people."

"We're very thankful," Lance added.

Julie said she has a message for other couples struggling with infertility.

"It can be very lonely at times and I just want them to be encouraged and to have hope...God has blessed us with seven miracles and we're so thankful for each one of them," she said.

The couple said that doctors will implant the two remaining embryos in the fall in hopes that two babies will be born next summer.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


These high-fiber crackers are all the rage. What to know about them

tracydauterman/Instagram(NEW YORK) -- If you see a cracker made in Norway taking over your Instagram feed, you're not alone.

The #ggcrackers hashtag for GG Scandinavian Bran Crispbread, a 20-calorie cracker beloved for its high-fiber content -- currently has more than 1,000 posts and counting.

The crackers are practical works of art on Instagram, topped with everything from avocado to eggs, fruit and salmon.

The woman behind the crackers' popularity in the U.S. is Tanya Zuckerbrot, a New York City-based dietitian and founder of the F-Factor Diet, a weight loss and health program focused on the nutrients of fiber.

"I think it’s more fiber that is what’s really being embraced and therefore this [GG crackers] is a vehicle to get fiber into your diet," explained Zuckerbrot, who said she saw the crackers go viral on social media just in the last year, when she started posting topping variations and recipes on Instagram.

Zuckerbrot discovered the crackers 20 years ago on the bottom shelf of a health food store covered in dust, she recalled. At the time, she was working with diabetic and cardiovascular patients in a clinical private practice setting and was looking for a bread alternative.

"I blew the dust off to look at the nutrition label," said Zuckerbrot, who added the crackers to her clients' diets. "All these clients returned to their cardiologists and endocrinologist and found not only were they healthier but they were all losing weight without hunger."

Zuckerbrot thinks eating fiber was the key to her clients' success.

"That was the birth of the F-Factor Diet," she said.

Each GG cracker contains four grams of fiber and 20 calories, according to the package's nutrition label.

The recommended dietary fiber intake per day is 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. Consuming fiber well beyond those recommendations could lead to abdominal pain, bloating and gas and mineral deficiencies in some cases, experts say.

Zuckerbrot featured the GG crackers in her first book, "The F-Factor Diet," published in 2006, and has watched them explode in popularity since.

"They are a vehicle to get fiber in because you want the benefits of fiber," said Zuckerbrot, who is now launching her own line of fiber-filled foods.

Zuckerbrot, whose clients have included Megyn Kelly, Katie Couric and Miss USA 2012 Olivia Culpo, advises people on the F-Factor Diet to eat between 35 and 60 grams of fiber per day.

Zuckerbrot even sells a $45 carrying case to hold the high-fiber crackers, and other F-Factor-approved snacks. She has never received compensation from the maker of the GG crackers, but is now exploring partnership ideas with the company to coincide with the release of her third book, an updated edition of "The F-Factor Diet."

Though the crackers are now popular on social media, they are not a 21st century creation.

The crackers’ namesake, Gunder Gundersen, first created the recipe for the crackers in 1935 in his native Norway, according to the company’s website.

The crackers are still made in Norway and now include variations like sunflower seed and pumpkin seed.

GG's website includes recipes for everything from salmon to pancakes, pumpkin muffins, pizza and meatloaf, with GG Scandinavian Bran Crispbread as the main ingredient.

Heather Bauer, a registered dietitian nutritionist, also recommends GG crackers to her clients.

"I like them because they give you crunch and texture but they don’t have that binge-able quality," said Bauer, also the founder of the weight loss program The Food Fix. "They're an effective way to get fiber in without putting in too many calories."

 Bauer warns her clients to not turn the GG crackers "into a party."

"You can turn them into a party if you slather them with peanut butter or brie cheese," she said. "You defeat the purpose of them."

Instead, top the crackers with avocado or eggs for breakfast, almond butter or light cheese for a snack, or crumble them in a salad as a crouton replacement, advises Bauer.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


CDC focused on finding 'nightmare bacteria' and preventing their spread: Report

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Germs can cause infections. Germs can spread. Germs can battle back against antibiotics. And germs can share their weapons with other germs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention communicated on Tuesday the early outcomes of their targeted campaign to identify infections by “nightmare bacteria” – any of several germs that cause infections that are nearly impossible to treat with currently available medications. These germs have defeated all current forms of antibiotics, which leaves doctors and hospitals almost helpless to fight their infections.

Labs in the 50 states and Puerto Rico tested 5,776 selected samples of highly resistant germs for unusual patterns of resistance. One out of every four bacterial samples was found to not only to have some antibiotic resistance, but to carry a gene capable of spreading that resistance. What surprised investigators most was that 221 of these had resistance genes described as “especially rare.” In the next step, CDC officials and local health care providers looked for “colonization” – they tested people in close proximity to the infected person (people who did not have infection themselves) to see if any were harboring the bacteria. Those who harbor an infection-causing organism but do not have an infection themselves are called “carriers.” One in 10 people tested were found to be carriers of the resistant bacteria, and many different species were detected.

This was the first nationwide testing of this magnitude searching out resistant bacteria and their genes. This was only the first part of a focused CDC initiative to address this progressively worrisome health scare.

What should you know about resistant bacteria? There are many classes of “microbes” or microscopic organisms in our environment: bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. Within these groups, many of the organisms cause no problems (or can even be beneficial) to humans. Microbes that cause disease are sometimes referred to as “pathogens” or more simply as “germs.”

The development of antibiotics to treat pathogen bacteria was a true medical breakthrough. We have been treating infections with antibiotics for over 70 years, and common infections that used to kill are now trivial, since antibiotics fight the bacteria so well. Use of antibiotics decade after decade, though, can make them less effective in the long term.

One reason there are so many antibiotics is that some have always been more effective against certain types of bacteria. You can think of these the same way you think of the many different specialized weapons available to the military for different types of combat.

The concern, however, is that some antibiotics that used to work against certain species of bacteria no longer work in certain strains of that species. And the list is growing. This occurs because bacteria can learn to put up a defense against the antibiotic. This shows up when a bacteria is exposed to an antibiotic it has seen before – or even one similar to it. The bacteria, in essence, has altered slightly, and now can avoid attack by the antibiotic. These “resistance” systems can be incredibly diverse, complex, and even be described as creative. When bacteria “resist” the drug, the germ is not killed as intended, the infection is not treated, though the antibiotic may kill other, less important, bacteria, giving the resistant bacteria free rein to multiply and spread further.

 Medical laboratories can test bacteria samples from a patient to determine which antibiotics the bacteria likely will – or will not – respond to. This is called a “resistance pattern.” When a lab finds that a germ is resistant to a class of antibiotics that are typically a good match for that organism, this is called an “unusual resistance pattern” and it can signal bad news – the potential for this germ to become resistant to all, or nearly all, antibiotics in existence.

Some germs gain nicknames based on the major antibiotic they are resistant to: MRSA stands for “methicillin-resistant staph aureus” (this strain has acquired resistance to methicillin, which is a stand-in for all drugs in the penicillin family). CRE stands for “Carbapenem-resistant enterococci”, indicating resistance to one of the more powerful classes of antibiotics available.

A bacteria resistant to multiple classes of powerful antibiotics is “multi-drug resistant.” As Dr. Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director of CDC, describes, these germs cause “resistant infections that are virtually untreatable with modern medicine.” Certain individuals are more likely to get these infections: people who live in nursing homes or other long term care facilities, or those are frequently hospitalized, are at high risk because they live in a setting where many people with infections are close together and germs can be easily shared. They also tend to have a weaker immune system to fight infections when they occur. Young adults with cystic fibrosis are another at-risk group. They have many respiratory infections in their lifetime requiring many courses of antibiotics – and many become carriers of highly-resistant bacteria as a result.

Sometimes the resistant bacteria can be treated with more powerful or less commonly used antibiotics – which can have more toxic effects and be extremely costly to the health care system. Sometimes the only options for treatment are what doctors call “supportive care,” providing measures like oxygen, medications to support blood pressure, or even ventilator or dialysis machines to support failed organs, hoping that the body’s immune system will find a way to fight the infection. Despite these measures, up to 50 percent of nightmare bacteria infections result in death.

If that’s not bad enough, scientists also have learned that germs are doing the equivalent of crowd-sourcing – one bacteria that develops resistance to an antibiotic can “share” the information for that defense system, packaged in DNA that can be passed from one cell to another. Resistance genes, or pieces of DNA, turn regular germs into nightmare bacteria. These genes are the focus of the current CDC effort.

What can be done to stop the spread? Exposure to antibiotics (“studying the enemy”) is how bacteria develop their resistance tools. For that reason, physicians know that antibiotics should only be used when they are needed and antibiotics (which specifically treat germs in the bacteria classification) should NOT be used in an attempt to treat infections caused by other germs -- like viruses. For instance, almost all “common cold” infections are viruses, yet patients want to be given something, and often insist on an antibiotic, though it has no chance of affecting the virus. As Dr. Jay Butler described, providers aim to use antibiotics in the “right clinical situations with the right drug at the right dose for the right duration.”

According to the CDC, up to 50 percent of antibiotic prescriptions violates one of these principles.

Another way that antibiotic resistance has spread is through widespread use of antibiotics in food-producing animals for the purpose of accelerating animal growth. Per the CDC website, “antibiotics…should be used in food-producing animals only under veterinary oversight and only to manage and treat infectious disease, not to promote growth.”

What is the CDC doing? In 2016, the CDC launched a landmark antibiotic resistance solutions initiative, dedicating more resources than ever before to preventing the spread of resistant bacteria. The two major features of this initiative are rapid identification of unusual resistance patterns among infection-causing bacteria, and standardized infection control measures in the involved health care facilities, including finding individuals colonized with the same germ and intensifying the steps taken to prevent spread of the most dangerous organisms.

Prevention of infections and the spread of bacteria isn’t a new concept. What is new, however, is the resources available to physicians and other health professionals to do it. Labs have more capacity to test for the presence of germs that carry resistance and get these results quickly. Dr. Schuchat said that the CDC is now “encouraging health care facilities and public health authorities to respond to even single cases of an emerging antibiotic resistant pathogen.” The analogy used by the CDC is that of a fire. In the past, public health authorities have had to dedicate their resources to fighting the wildfires - the most resistant and most widespread of the nightmare bacteria that are already out of control. This naturally has allowed for the development of even more resistant bacteria. With the increased funding available, authorities can respond to many more small "fires" and even "sparks," to prevent further spread.

In addition to additional funding, the CDC is sending 500 more local staff to partner with facilities around the country when unusual resistance patterns are detected. They described one recent example, when an Iowa nursing home resident had a urinary tract infection. The CDC Antibiotic Resistance Lab Network performed rapid testing which showed unusual resistance. The Iowa department of health worked with the nursing home to do site assessments and identify ways the germ might have spread. They tested other residents in this facility for colonization and found that 5 others were carrying the dangerous bug. They implemented aggressive infection control measures and continued testing patients until the bug was no longer detected.

Obviously this is very time- and resource-intensive, which explains why this approach is best applied to germs that are potentially very dangerous. As the CDC leadership pointed out, however, this is more effective (and less costly) if the tools are there to step in immediately after a single case is detected, rather than wait for an outbreak. Per Dr. Schuchat, “These unusual threats are the uncommon or highly resistant germs that have yet to spread throughout the U.S. We are working to get in front of them before they do become common in order to protect patients now and in the future.”

Dr. Jay Butler, Chief Medical Officer and Director of Alaska Division of Public Health and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (also known as ASTHO), put it another way: “We can’t wait until one case becomes ten or ten cases becomes a hundred. We can intervene early and aggressively to stop spread and to keep these threats out of our states.” He added, “I have heard from my state and local colleagues from across the nation that these resources have been a game changer in their states.”

The work is just beginning. For each resistant bacteria stifled, another is intensifying its own resistance. “We need to do more and we need to do it faster and earlier with each new antibiotic resistance threat,” Dr. Schuchat said. Health care providers and public health officials alike are now more equipped than ever to do just that.

Dr. Kelly Arps is a resident physician in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Kelly is working with the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

ABC News Radio