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Thursday
Nov292018

Does celeb facialist's at-home microneedling kit hold up to its claims?

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The woman who preps Victoria's Secret models is behind an at-home microneedling program that claims it'll help create more youthful skin.

The microneedling procedure is designed to stimulate your skin, encouraging it to regenerate and repair itself naturally, producing smoother, brighter, younger and healthier looking skin, according to celebrity laser facialist Teresa Tarmey.

"There's two different kinds of microneedling and one is in clinic, which I would do with numbing creme," Tarmey told ABC News' Good Morning America. "And then there's a really tiny needle and that's just more for delivering the product and stimulating the skin on a much slower and smaller process so you don't have any pain."

Microneedling has become all the rage in recent years. In fact, Pinterest included dermarollers in its list of top trends to try in 2018.

You can find the tool online but Tarmey said be sure to check the quality.

"Do be careful because it's really hard to see where they're coming from and you do really get better quality if you spend a little more money," she said. "It's like everything else we buy; you kind of get what you pay for."

Tarmey currently offers the kit at her new skin clinic in New York City and ABC News' Nicole Pelletiere gave it a whirl.

The black box features six new products including a silicone mask, lactic acid toner, peptide treatment, hyaluronic acid gel, a 24-carat gold-plated massage tool and a genuine dermaroller -- a tiny tool covered in little needles that Tarmey said will help penetrate products into the skin.

You first apply 6-8 drops of Tarmey's lactic love toner (a chemical exfoliation) to clean, dry skin. After it dries, apply another product called the peptide treatment which includes antioxidants, vitamins and minerals with skin-brightening mulberry extract.

But don't massage the peptide into your skin. Instead, the dermaroller does the rest.

The recommendation is to use this kit once a week for 12 weeks.

Here's what to know after three trials, as told by Pelletiere:

What does the dermaroller feel like?

My skin is a little on the sensitive side, so even with a little stimulation I became flushed. However, there was absolutely no pain.

The dermaroller feels like something abrasive grazing the skin. I felt no need to press hard. You can feel the tool doing its job.

The silicone mask will be your new BFF

The kit's instructions say to use the reusable silicone mask to achieve the best results. It's meant to help the product penetrate further.

My skin felt a little sore after the microneedling and the mask felt so calming. Even more soothing was the hyaluronic acid gel, which I applied onto the mask (as directed) two days after each microneedling session.

The takeaway

A breakdown by sessions:

Week 1: My skin felt dry and tight after the first trial. I moisturized a little extra the following day. Confession: I completely forgot to use the hyaluronic acid gel on the silicone mask two days after the first treatment.

Week 2: My skin felt less dry after the second session and this time, the gel and silicone mask combo was used.

All I have to say is, holy hydration!

Week 3: Overall, my skin feels smoother and is glowing (at least that's what a co-worker said).

Again, Tarmey says it takes 12 weeks to see full results.

The price of the kit is a little over $445 and is launching exclusively at Bergdorf’s on Dec. 10.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Nov282018

This male birth control comes as a topical gel and will be tested in a clinical trial 

Tero Vesalainen/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The National Institutes of Health recently funded a study to see if a topical gel for men could prevent pregnancy, potentially giving couples who don’t want children a new contraceptive option.

"Any time we can potentially offer couples more options for contraception is a small victory in reproductive health," said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News chief medical correspondent and a practicing OB/GYN in Englewood, New Jersey.

Humans have long used contraception to prevent pregnancy, beginning with the withdrawal method (“pulling out”) and growing to include a variety of techniques, medications and devices.

However, improvements in contraception have traditionally focused on the woman — there are many kinds of hormonal, barrier, intrauterine device and emergency contraceptive methods — leaving men with only two main options: condoms or having a vasectomy.

“A safe, highly effective and reversible method of male contraception would fill an important public health need,” said study investigator Diana Blithe, Ph.D., in a press release. Blithe is chief of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Contraceptive Development Program (NICHD).

Here’s what you should know about the promising new gel.

What types of commercial male contraceptive options are available today?

The gel, if proven effective and tolerable, would provide men with an option that is somewhat in-between condoms and a vasectomy.

Condoms are available in retail stores. When used correctly, they can prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Condoms are estimated to be 98 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, but surveys show that the rates in which they’re used are low, mostly due to reasons like being in the moment or not having a condom nearby.

Condoms can also fail; using them incorrectly can cause them to break or slip, for example. People with latex allergies may experience side effects; most of them are made with latex, though there are latex-free ones as well. Then, there’s also the common complaint that they decrease pleasure.

By comparison, vasectomies are a much more permanent solution. Having one requires surgery under local anesthesia. Doctors cut or tie-off the vas deferens duct, a tube that normally transports sperm to semen. Men can go home on the same day as surgery.

Less than one percent of men who have vasectomies have an unplanned pregnancy with their partner.

The procedure is not always permanent, but reversing it is also not always possible. Some men also complain of testicular discomfort afterward.

Is there a birth control pill for men?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 10 million women use “the pill” for contraception. Birth control pills work by releasing naturally occurring hormones, such as estrogen or progestin. These hormones stop sperm from fertilizing the woman’s egg by preventing the body from releasing eggs from the ovaries. The hormones also thicken the mucus at the cervix — the entryway to the uterus — to prevent sperm from reaching the ovaries.

The pill is 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancies if used correctly, but there is no equivalent for men to take. Plus, it’s not for all women; some don’t respond well to it.

What is this contraceptive gel all about?

The gel formulation was developed by the Population Council, a non-profit organization focused on confronting critical health and developmental issues, and the NICHD.

The gel, called NES/T, includes the progestin compound segesterone acetate (Nestorone) in combination with testosterone.

It is applied to the back and shoulders and absorbed through the skin. The progestin blocks natural testosterone production in the testes, reducing sperm production to low or nonexistent levels. The testosterone delivered through the gel maintains normal sex drive and other bodily functions that depend on adequate levels of the hormone in the blood.

Though it sounds simple, Ashton questioned the gel’s design.

“The application of this gel to the back and shoulders of the man — which is supposed to be done by himself — seems potentially problematic from a physical and logistical standpoint,” Ashton said. “How can someone reach their own back and shoulders well enough to assure transdermal penetration of [the] hormones?”

“Also, if the woman applies this to the man, she may absorb those hormones, which would and could impact her gynecological functioning,” she added.

What will the trial entail?

Researchers plan to sign up 420 couples. For the study, the men will apply the gel daily for four to 12 weeks to determine if there are any unacceptable side effects. If sperm levels have not adequately declined by the 12-week mark, the men will continue to use the formulation for up to 16 weeks.

Once their sperm levels have declined enough for the gel to be considered contraception, they will enter a 52-week trial. The couples will only be allowed to use the gel as contraception.

Once the trials are over, researchers expect to monitor the men for an additional 24 weeks after they stop using the gel.

How do I sign up?

Participants are currently being recruited for the clinical trial in Los Angeles and Seattle. You can find out more about the study and contact information here.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Nov282018

Chinese professor defends claims of genetically edited human embryos at medical conference

Photo by S.C. Leung/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A Chinese professor who claims to have successfully altered the DNA of human embryos that became twin girls has publicly defended his work against a chorus of criticism and announced there may be another "potential pregnancy."

Dr. He Jiankui, a U.S.-trained Chinese scientist, shocked the world by claiming on YouTube last week that the first-ever genetically edited human births had taken place. He’s claims have not been independently confirmed. In the video, He declined further comment until presenting his findings to a bustling auditorium filled with journalists and camera crews at a Hong Kong scientific conference on Wednesday, after fallout and international outrage over what some have called a “designer baby” experiment.

"For this specific case, I feel proud actually," He said at the second International Summit on Human Genome Editing, a gathering of genetics specialists from around the world.

He also apologized, but only for how the news broke

"I first must apologize that this result leaked unexpectedly, taking away from the community of the full data being presented immediately in a scientific venue," He said.

He and his team allegedly disabled a gene which makes a protein that makes it possible for HIV to infect people’s cells, potentially making these babies resistant to HIV. Many attendees said there were other ways to prevent the spread of HIV.

Dr. Jennifer Doudna, co-inventor of the gene-editing tool that He allegedly used, told ABC News the scientific community is "struggling to understand" his claims.

"I couldn't guarantee to you that he did what he claimed," she said. "We're all struggling to understand the implications of this work."

Doudna also called his claims, if true, a violation of accepted scientific guidelines around genetic editing.

"All of those things were ignored in this study and it's extremely disturbing," she said. "It's highly unacceptable and highly upsetting."

Though the reports are unconfirmed, the announcement has been controversial among laypeople and scientists alike.

During a question and answer session, He was asked if there was another viable pregnancy with genome editing from his clinical trials.

"There is another one, another potential pregnancy," He answered, adding that it still needs to be monitored.

He claimed he used a technique called CRISPR/Cas9, which, if true, would be the first time the technique has been used to alter genes in unborn humans.

This kind of interference with human embryos is banned in the U.S. because the implications of altered genetic traits passed on to future generations have not yet been studied. Cloning is illegal in China, but the rules around the genetic editing of human embryos are less clear.

Rice University has announced an investigation into Dr. Michael Deem, an American professor of biochemical and genetic engineering, after reports that he was involved in the alleged genetic editing case in China.

The university said that it had "no knowledge of this work" and that to its knowledge, the work was not performed in the U.S.



“I don’t think it has been a transparent process,” said David Baltimore, a biologist who chaired the Hong Kong conference’s organizing committee, when he took the stage after He’s presentation. “We only found out about it after it happened, and after the children were even born. I personally don’t think it was medically necessary.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Nov282018

Despite progress, new HIV diagnoses in Europe 'alarmingly high'

MickeyCZ/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Nearly 160,000 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in Europe in 2017, the World Health Organization's Regional Office for Europe said in a news release Wednesday, calling the latest figures "alarming."

The figures are drastically different within the European Union, though, when compared with the eastern part of the region. WHO says that within the EU, new diagnoses actually fell. They attribute that news to a 20 percent decrease in HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men since 2015.

More than 130,000 of the new diagnoses came from the eastern part of Europe.

Dr. Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, called the figures "unacceptably high," adding that the region is "not on course to meet the 90-90-90 standards by the 2020 deadline."

Those standards, proposed by the United Nations program on AIDS in 2013, would see 90 percent of all people living with HIV be aware of their status, 90 percent with diagnosed HIV be receiving antiretroviral therapy, and 90 percent of those receiving antiretroviral therapy be experiencing viral suppression. The standards were considered ambitious at the time.

“Despite our efforts, HIV still damages the lives of so many people, and causes not only much suffering and illness, but also discrimination and stigmatization," said Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety. "A lot of progress has been made, but there is still much more we must do."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Nov282018

Feeling bloated? Here's what causes it and how to prevent it 

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For many people, the Thanksgiving meal is the largest they’ll eat all year. But Thanksgiving is only the beginning of the holiday season. There’s a lot more food on the way, and if you’re not careful it can cause a lot of bloating.

Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to prevent bloating this holiday season. But first, a note: If bloating is a constant problem for you -- one that goes beyond the holiday overeating — then seeing a doctor is the best way to determine what’s causing it and how to treat and prevent it in the future.

What is bloating?

Bloating refers to the feelings of fullness, heaviness and pressure you might feel after eating. It can cause discomfort and pain, and is sometimes accompanied by visible distention in the abdomen, making your belly look swollen and larger than usual.

What causes bloating?

Bloating is a symptom; not a medical condition in and of itself. Sometimes it’s only a temporary issue -- like when you’ve eaten too much in one sitting -- while other times it can be a sign of a chronic underlying health condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease or fluid accumulation in the abdomen caused by cancer, liver disease or heart failure.

Most often, bloating is caused by your diet -- specifically excess amounts of food or drinks, or the gases that are produced when the digestive system processes these ingredients. Issues like constipation or irregularities in the way muscles move in the digestive system can contribute to bloating, too.

What are the best ways to prevent or treat bloating?

Resolving issues with bloating might involve a range of strategies, including changing the food you eat and your eating patterns. Some people might need behavioral therapies to help make these lifestyle changes. Others might need medications or supplements to put them on the right track.

Dietary changes can help a person experience less bloating in part because they can reduce the amount of gas produced in the digestive system. For example, research has shown that a low-fermentable carbohydrate diet, also known as a “low-FODMAP diet,” helps to reduce gas and bloating because it eliminates many gas-producing foods, including wheat, onions, garlic, milk, yogurt, honey, apples and cauliflower. I

f you feel bloated after eating these foods, then try cutting out FODMAP foods and slowly add them back into your diet, one at a time, to see if you can pinpoint which ones are causing the bloating. You can also try eating smaller meals more often and minimizing your intake of carbonated drinks and salt.

If you feel constipated and bloated, try adding more high-fiber foods into your diet, drinking water and exercising -- these will help to improve bowel movements, which can reduce those feelings of fullness and pressure.

Bloating may be a sign of something serious if it causes more severe problems, such as abdominal pain, recurrent vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stool, fever, unintentional weight loss, loss of appetite or chest discomfort. If you experience any of these, see a doctor as soon as possible. You’ll want to make sure that you don’t have a more serious health condition.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Nov282018

Breakthrough cancer drug may have saved 9-year-old's life

The Leeds Family(SEATTLE) -- A newly-approved cancer drug could help thousands of people every year and it's already giving hope to a family who thought they were out of options for their 9-year-old son.

Ashton Leeds was diagnosed with stage 4 thyroid cancer after doctors performed a biopsy on a lump found in his throat. Ashton was just 5 years old at the time.

"Slowly we noticed his breathing change and he kind of lost some weight and so we went back to see his doctor and they did another chest X-ray and it showed that the cancer had spread in his lungs," his mother, Kayley Leeds, told ABC News’ Good Morning America.

Ashton would undergo surgeries and treatment but that didn't stop the disease from progressing.

"The worst moment was probably seeing him after he had surgery and seeing him hooked up to all the machines," his father, Shayne Leeds, told GMA.

Doctors found that Ashton's cancer had become resistant to treatment. But a phone call last spring about a trial for a cutting-edge cancer drug changed everything.

The drug, just approved by the Food and Drug Administration and brought to the market by Bayer, targets a specific genetic mutation found in certain kinds of cancers. It inhibits the protein that's responsible for cancer growth in these tumors.

The drug will be sold as Vitrakvi or larotrectinib, which is the generic name. The FDA made the announcement Monday of the drug's approval.

"Larotrectinib actually specifically targets a change in the DNA of the tumor cells for the specific cancer types," said Dr. Katie Albert, a pediatric oncologist at Seattle Children's Hospital.

The drug was studied in three clinical trials that included 176 cancer patients. Each patient had a genetic mutation identified as neurotropic receptor tyrosine kinase (NTRK).

The Leeds family drove 700 miles from their home in Alberta, Canada, to Seattle Children's Hospital for the treatment. The results for Ashton showed that his health vastly improved.

"Traditional chemotherapy for cancer targets the machinery in cells that helps them divide and larotrectinib actually specifically targets a change in the DNA of the tumor cells for the specific cancer types," Albert explained. "So, it should only really be affecting the tumor cells and not normal cells."

Dr. Damon Reed, a pediatric oncologist at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Florida, told GMA that the drug works "almost every time" when the patient has a mutation that can be treated with larotrectinib.

This drug could provide new hope for thousands like Ashton.

"This medication has been the best thing that has happened to us in the last couple of years," said Kayley Leeds. "It really does give us hope for Ashton's future and that everything's going to be OK."

While Ashton is not completely cured, his prognosis is now considered hopeful.

For the majority of patients, monthly out-of-of-pocket costs of Vitrakvi would be $20 or less. If the medication doesn't show results within the first three months of use, Bayer said it will refund the cost.

Side effects reported by patients receiving Vitrakvi in clinical trials include fatigue, nausea, cough, constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, vomiting and increased AST and ALT enzyme blood levels in the liver.

This medication is for adults and children and must be prescribed by a doctor. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take Vitrakvi because it may cause harm to a developing fetus or a newborn baby. Patients should report signs of neurologic reactions such as dizziness.

Drugs need extensive testing in clinical trials before they can become widely available. Vitrakvi was fast-tracked because of its potential but testing will continue even while it's being prescribed.

Whether it's Vitrakvi or any other drug, people can visit the website clinicaltrials.gov where every clinical trial in the world must be listed. For Vitrakvi, people can enter the type of cancer they have and the name of the clinical trial (Navigate trial) to see if there's a trial close to them.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Nov282018

Study: Even a single season of football can damage kids' brains

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Worry over brain damage from concussions is leading many parents to keep their kids off the football field, and a new study seems to say their concern is well-founded.

According to the results, presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, brain development in young football players can be disrupted after just a single season.

At issue is a natural process called grey matter "pruning," in which the brain's unused connections are culled away. This clearing of the underbrush, so to speak, makes brains work more effectively.

However, impact sports like football can impact this process.

Gowtham Krishnan Murugesan, M.S., research assistant in the Department of Radiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, explains: "This research demonstrates that playing a season of contact sports may affect normal gray matter pruning in high school and youth football players."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Nov282018

Winter Beauty 101: Expert tips to keep your skin, hair hydrated 

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With the frigid weather officially upon us, ABC News’ Good Morning America tapped dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe for her top tips on how to keep skin and hair hydrated during the winter.

Thanksgiving is over so you may think it's time to cut down on certain fats, but eating healthy fats are essential to healthy skin, especially during the winter, according to Bowe.

Bowe recommends searching for skincare products with fats such as ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids -- the key ingredients to restore the essential fats your skin needs this time of year.

If you are looking in your pantry, Bowe recommends going for the olive oil because it's naturally rich in Vitamin E and polyphenols, and intensely moisturizing.

You can make your own shimmery olive oil body moisturizer at home by mixing olive oil with a shimmery eye shadow or highlighter that you break apart with a fork on a piece of paper. Turn that paper into a funnel and put the powder into your olive oil, then spread the mixture onto your body.

If you are going to use an oil on your face, Bowe recommends mixing it with a little moisturizer to give your skin an extra boost of hydration while still not overdoing it.

Bowe also recommends using coconut oil in the winter, but not on the face for people with acne-prone skin.

Coconut oil also has amazing benefits for the hair, according to Bowe. A DIY way to use coconut oil on your hair is to add two to three tablespoons of coconut oil to a spray bottle and fill the rest with warm water so that the coconut oil melts. Shake well and spray all over your hair and scalp before you shower, as a pre-wash, and then wash it out with shampoo in the shower.

One last trick to moisturize your whole body without putting anything on is to get a cool mist humidifier, according to Bowe. The humidifier will help your skin and hair pull moisture from the air.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Nov272018

FDA warns consumers of health issues after taking male enhancement supplement Rhino

FDA(WASHINGTON) -- Users of Rhino male enhancement supplements are reporting health issues, such as chest pain and severe headaches, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned on Tuesday.

Products with names such as Platinum Rhino 25000, Krazzy Rhino 25000 and Gold Rhino 25000 are unapproved FDA supplements that contain undeclared ingredients and are sold in gas stations, convenience stores and on websites such as Amazon, according to the FDA.

The undeclared ingredients in these products are the same as or structurally similar to the active ingredients found in FDA-approved prescription drugs for treating erectile dysfunction such as sildenafil and tadalafil in Viagra and Cialis, the FDA said in its statement. The agency has also been investigating smuggled raw materials used to produce Rhino capsules since 2015.

“Hidden active drug ingredients continue to be identified in products that are misrepresented as dietary supplements and promoted for sexual enhancement, weight loss, bodybuilding and/or pain relief,” the statement said.

The FDA has received reports of chest pain, severe headaches, prolonged erection and hospitalizations due to extreme drops in blood pressure after taking a Rhino product.

“Over the past few years, the FDA has been combating the retail sale of male enhancement drug products that are frequently misrepresented as dietary supplements and that contain hidden and potentially harmful active drug ingredients. Distributing unapproved drugs, disguised as supplements, places the U.S. public health at risk,” Donald D. Ashley, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research said in a statement. “We remain vigilant in our efforts to protect the American public from the sale of these potentially dangerous products.”

The agency encourages consumers who have experienced adverse health effect related to a dietary supplement to report it through the FDA’s MedWatch Safety Information program.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Nov272018

CDC: Don't eat romaine lettuce from Northern and Central California

iStock/ThinkstockBY: DR. SUNNY INTWALA AND TIFFANY YEH

(NEW YORK) -- Just before Thanksgiving, a multistate E. Coli outbreak in the U.S. linked to romaine lettuce was reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. Because the government agencies had no idea where the dangerous food was being produced or sold, there was little they could report. The only recommendation was to cease all sales and consumption of romaine lettuce, and to dispose of leaves and heads of romaine immediately.

Now, the CDC and the FDA are advising that U.S. consumers not eat, and retailers and restaurants not serve or sell any romaine lettuce from central and Northern California. This updated recommendation comes as the CDC, FDA, and health officials in several U.S. states as well as Canada continue to investigate the multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli illnesses linked to romaine lettuce.

The advice from the CDC remains: “If you do not know where your romaine lettuce is from, do not eat it.”

But the FDA is also rapidly changing their policy, and announced that it is taking steps to institute voluntary labeling of where romaine is grown.

“Romaine lettuce will be labeled with location information by region,” said the CDC in a statement. “It may take some time before these labels are available. When the labels are available, check labels or store signs for growing region before buying or eating romaine lettuce.”

Romaine lettuce harvested from regions outside of California’s northern and central growing regions, including lettuce grown in greenhouses or hydroponically, is not linked to this particular E. coli outbreak.

During this current outbreak, 43 people across 12 states have been reported ill. Sixteen were hospitalized, including one person who developed kidney failure from hemolytic uremic syndrome. No deaths had been reported. There are also reports that infections from this same E. coli outbreak have reached Canada, according to the CDC.

The bacteria on the lettuce is E. coli O157:H7, which is similar to a strain connected to an outbreak in the U.S. this past May. E. coli bacteria produces Shiga toxin, which can be deadly to humans.

What is E. coli O157:H7?

Escherichia coli, or E. coli, is a large group of bacteria that includes multiple strains, most of which are harmless and part of the normal flora of bacteria in the digestive tract.

Harmful strains of E. coli produce something called a Shiga toxin, which is harmful to humans. The most common strain of deadly E. coli in the U.S. -- the one linked to multiple outbreaks and fatalities over the past few years -- is E. coli O157:H7, which is often found in cattle. This strain has previously infected people through consumption of undercooked ground beef, and is best known for a deadly outbreak in 1992.

During the outbreaks in October and May of this year, however, the toxic strain of E. coli has been traced to romaine lettuce. No one knows how it was contaminated, and there is an ongoing CDC investigation.

Who is at risk?

People at any age are susceptible to E. coli infection, but very young children and the elderly are more likely to develop severe illness and complications. How does it affect people?

Symptoms of this kind of E. coli infection usually begin an average of 3 - 4 days after consuming the bacteria. The bacteria attach to the walls of the intestines and multiply, releasing the Shiga toxin. The symptoms include fever, stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea.

The good news is that most people recover in five to seven days as their immune systems kill off the troublesome bacteria. But between 5 and 10 percent of people develop a potentially life-threatening complication known as hemolytic uremic syndrome. This syndrome is associated with decreased urinary frequency, fatigue, and kidney damage. This has already occurred in one case associated with the October outbreak.

How to treat it

Since the illness is mainly due to the body’s reaction to the toxin produced by E. coli, antibiotics are not helpful for treatment. Some studies have even shown that taking antibiotics may actually increase the risk of developing hemolytic uremic syndrome. So the best advice is to treat it like any other diarrheal illness: drink lots of fluids (intravenous fluids for hospitalized cases), eat what you can, and get plenty of rest.

How to prevent infection

The first step is to avoid the source of the outbreak. The CDC recommends throwing out all romaine lettuce at home, even if you’ve eaten some of it and no one has gotten sick. This includes whole heads of romaine lettuce, baby romaine, and bags or boxes of pre-cut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including Caesar salads. Any lettuce of unknown origin should be thrown out, just in case.

Restaurants and retailers should take care to not serve or sell any salads that contain romaine lettuce.

If E. coli O157:H7 has somehow entered your kitchen, thoroughly wash and sanitize refrigerator drawers and shelves where the lettuce was stored. Wash your hands before you prepare food and again before you eat. Kitchens should be kept clean during food preparation as well. Though this outbreak is traced to lettuce, you can avoid other sources of E. coli by cooking meat thoroughly, avoiding unpasteurized dairy products and juices, and not swallowing water when swimming.

This article was written by Dr. Sunny Intwala on 5/3/18, and updated on 11/21/18 by Dr. Tiffany Yeh, an endocrinology fellow at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center and a member of the ABC News Medical Unit.

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