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Entries in Deaths (22)

Thursday
Jan172013

Overall Cancer Deaths Down 20%, Report Finds

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The number of Americans dying from cancer is dropping, according to a new annual report from the American Cancer Society.

The organization finds that overall cancer deaths in the U.S. declined 20 percent in 2009 from its peak in 1991.

"Much of that decline has come from the most common cancers.  So cancers of the lung, cancer of the breast, prostate, there have been significant decreases in deaths from those diseases," Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, the deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, explains.

The drop in lung cancers, Lichtenfeld says, can be mostly attributed to people using less tobacco.

"Clearly because people are not smoking and their not using tobacco any where near as much as they did, both men and women have had a significant decrease in lung cancer deaths, for example," he says.

But despite the good news, some cancer rates are still on the rise.

"We have seen an increase in pancreatic cancer over the past number of years consistently.  We're not quite sure why that is.  Perhaps that is because pancreatic cancer appears to be related to obesity," Lichtenfeld says, adding that increases have also been seen in liver cancer and melanoma in men.

While approximately 1.2 million deaths from cancer have been averted since 1991 thanks to early detection and prevention, and better treatments, Lichtenfeld says more needs to be done.

"We have so much to do.  The unfortunate reality is that our successes reducing deaths from cancer are not uniform across the country," he says.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov122012

Hurricane and Nor'easter Underscore Tree Hazards

Matthew Fiasconaro/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Bob Johnson and his wife Pegi were watching television weather coverage in their Allentown, N.J., home waiting out superstorm Sandy, when they saw flame-like sparks on electrical lines across the street.

"It was about 7:30 and we were talking about how so far we had escaped things around here," said Johnson, a 65-year-old retiree.

Johnson walked into the living room to find his neighbor's phone number, then stood in the doorway to make a call.

"In a span of a second, the power and the phone went out," he said. "The lights went out and 'crash, tinkle, tinkle' -- stuff was falling through the glass skylight and I yelled, 'Peg, there's a tree in the living room.'"

A 70-foot pin oak, 29 inches in diameter, ripped up 20-feet of sidewalk and plunged through the Johnson's roof, knocking out shelves, smashing furniture and burying the floor in sheet rock.

The tree had missed him by five feet. "Except for the grace of God, I would have been killed," he said. "I was in shock."

Bob and Pegi Johnson were relieved that the tree that hit their house didn't kill them.

It's not a stretch to say that on the East Coast, people are suddenly afraid of their once majestic trees, which were responsible for numerous deaths throughout the region.

"I view all trees as weapons at the moment," said Pegi Johnson, 65. "I hope never to hear that loud crash again. It took a split second to realize what had happened and to see how closely I came to actually being a widow."

In Princeton, N.J., William Sword Jr., 61, was killed by a falling tree when he went out to clear debris from another felled tree.

And in New York, two boys, ages 11 and 13, were killed when a tree struck their Westchester home where they were hunkered down in the family room.

Jessie Streich-Kest and her friend Jacob Vogelman, both 24, died underneath the weight of a fallen tree in Brooklyn, N.Y., when they were out walking her dog.

And in Queens, 29-year-old Tony Laino was killed after a huge tree crashed through his two-story house, pinning him in his bedroom.

Trees that have adorned suburban neighborhoods for years have been unearthed in two back-to-back storms, first superstorm Sandy and then a nor'easter.

Pam Robinson, a 60-year-old editor from Huntington, Long Island, was out of power for eight days during Sandy and again when six inches of heavy snow fell last week -- all because of downed trees and power lines.

One tree was so heavy with snow it collapsed on her lawn.

"We had a guy killed in town last week when a tree fell in his driveway," she said. "He was a healthy guy, trying to leave with his family -- you can get killed walking your dog."

Tree specialists who are backed up with business say that homeowners are so terrified that they are asking to have other looming trees taken down.

"People are very paranoid about their trees," said Betty Stillwell of Arbor Vision tree service in New Egypt, N.J. "Basically they want anything that is going to fall and hit their house taken down."

Bob and Pegi Johnson are taking no chances, knowing that another storm could bring down other large trees with shallow roots growing between the street and the sidewalk.

Their neighbors have already discussed taking down a looming tree, fearing it will come down. After firefighters and police arrived to evacuate the Johnsons, friends took them in and have fed and housed them for two weeks.

Days later when clean-up crews arrived to remove the tree from the roof, the crane was too small. They estimated the oak weighed 10 tons.

Johnson and his wife expect to get insurance coverage, but won't seek help from FEMA, even though they would likely qualify.

"I almost feel guilty with others who have no home -- people who lost everything," he said.

"All in all, the lesson I have learned is that I am grateful to be alive," said his wife, Pegi. "What we gained is appreciation of friends who have gone over and above any expectation to help us out. That is a real eye opener and I know that I, at least, will pay it forward at any opportunity I can."

Her husband agrees his brush with death was "unsettling," and makes them think twice about nature. But, said Bob Johnson, a former science teacher, "It's not the tree's fault."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov022012

Meningitis Outbreak: 404 Cases, 29 Deaths

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- Eighteen more people have been diagnosed with fungal meningitis in an outbreak linked to tainted steroid injections, health officials reported Friday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention increased the tally of cases to 404 in 19 states: 395 cases of fungal meningitis and nine joint infections. At least 29 people have died.

For a map of cases by state, click here.


The outbreak has been linked to contaminated vials of methylprednisolone acetate, an injectable steroid used to treat back and joint pain. Sealed vials of the steroid, made by the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., contained exserohilum rostratum, a fungus found in soil and plants.

For a full list of clinics receiving the recalled lots of spinal steroid injections, click here.


It's not clear how the fungus landed in the pharmacy's ostensibly sterile vials, some of which were shipped to clinics without sterility testing, according to an inspection by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Floor mats near sterile drug-mixing areas were "visibly soiled with assorted debris," and a leak from a nearby boiler created an "environment susceptible to contaminant growth," according to the report.

Sealed vials of two other drugs made by the pharmacy contained bacteria, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The drugs were the steroid betamethasone and a cardioplegic solution that paralyzes the heart during open heart surgery.

The pharmacy has recalled all of its products and shut down operations.

Ameridose, a sister company of the New England Compounding Center, has also recalled all of its drugs citing sterility concerns, according to the FDA. Neither Ameridose nor the FDA have received any complaints or identified any impurities in those drugs.

Meningitis affects the membranous lining of the brain and spinal cord. Early symptoms of fungal meningitis -- including headache, fever, dizziness, nausea, sensitivity to light, stiff neck, weakness or numbness, slurred speech and pain, and redness or swelling at the injection site -- can take more than a month to appear.

The longest duration from the time of injection to the onset of symptoms in the current outbreak is 42 days, according to the CDC. The tainted steroids were recalled 37 days ago.

Fungal meningitis is diagnosed through a spinal tap, which draws cerebrospinal fluid from the spine that can be inspected for signs of the disease. Once detected, it can be treated with high doses of intravenous antifungal medications.

Unlike bacterial meningitis, fungal meningitis is not transmitted from person to person and only people who received the steroid injections are thought to be at risk.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov012012

Meningitis Outbreak Still Grows: 386 Cases, 28 Deaths

Hemera/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Nine more people have been diagnosed with fungal meningitis in an outbreak linked to tainted steroid injections, health officials reported Thursday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has increased the tally of cases to 386 in 19 states: 377 cases of fungal meningitis and nine joint infections. The agency also dropped the death toll for the outbreak from 29 to 28, noting that Virginia is now reporting two deaths instead of three.

For a map of cases by state, click here.

The outbreak has been linked to contaminated vials of methylprednisolone acetate, an injectable steroid used to treat back and joint pain. Sealed vials of the steroid, made by the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., contained exserohilum rostratum, a fungus found in soil and plants.

For a full list of clinics receiving the recalled lots of spinal steroid injections, click here.

It's not clear how the fungus landed in the pharmacy's ostensibly sterile vials, some of which were shipped to clinics without sterility testing, according to an inspection by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Floor mats near sterile drug-mixing areas were "visibly soiled with assorted debris," and a leak from a nearby boiler created an "environment susceptible to contaminant growth," according to the report.

Sealed vials of two other drugs made by the pharmacy contained bacteria, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported today. The drugs were the steroid betamethasone and a cardioplegic solution that paralyzes the heart during open heart surgery.

The pharmacy has recalled all of its products and shut down operations.

Ameridose, a sister company of the New England Compounding Center, also recalled all drugs Wednesday, citing sterility concerns, according to the FDA. Neither Ameridose nor the FDA have received any complaints or identified any impurities in those drugs.

Meningitis affects the membranous lining of the brain and spinal cord. Early symptoms of fungal meningitis -- including headache, fever, dizziness, nausea, sensitivity to light, stiff neck, weakness or numbness, slurred speech and pain, and redness or swelling at the injection site -- can take more than a month to appear.

The longest duration from the time of injection to the onset of symptoms in the current outbreak is six weeks, according to the CDC. The tainted steroids were recalled five weeks ago.

Fungal meningitis is diagnosed through a spinal tap, which draws cerebrospinal fluid from the spine that can be inspected for signs of the disease. Once detected, it can be treated with high doses of intravenous antifungal medications.

Unlike bacterial meningitis, fungal meningitis is not transmitted from person to person and only people who received the steroid injections are thought to be at risk.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct262012

Meningitis Outbreak: 331 Cases, 25 Deaths, 7 Joint Infections

Hemera/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Another person has died from fungal meningitis in an outbreak linked to tainted steroid injections, bringing the total to 25 deaths, health officials reported Friday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has increased the tally of cases to 338: 331 cases of fungal meningitis and seven cases of joint infections. South Carolina became the 18th state affected by the outbreak on Sunday.

For a map of cases by state, click here.

The outbreak has been linked to contaminated vials of methylprednisolone acetate, an injectable steroid used to treat back and joint pain. Sealed vials of the steroid, made by the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., contained exserohilum rostratum, a fungus found in soil and plants. It's unclear how the fungus landed in the sealed vials.

The New England Compounding Center has recalled all its products and shut down operations. Calls to the owners were not immediately returned.

As many as 14,000 patients are thought to have received injections of the suspect steroid.

Seventy-six clinics in 23 states that received methylprednisolone acetate from the recalled lots have been instructed to notify all affected patients. The "potentially contaminated injections were given starting May 21, 2012," according to the CDC.

For a full list of clinics receiving the recalled lots of spinal steroid injections, click here.

Meningitis affects the membranous lining of the brain and spinal cord. Early symptoms of fungal meningitis -- including headache, fever, dizziness, nausea, sensitivity to light, stiff neck, weakness or numbness, slurred speech and pain, and redness or swelling at the injection site -- can take more than a month to appear.

The longest duration from the time of injection to the onset of symptoms in the current outbreak is 42 days, according to the CDC's Dr. Benjamin Park.

"But we want to emphasize that we don't know what the longest will be," he added, stressing that patients who received injections of the recalled drug should stay attuned to the subtle symptoms "for months."

Fungal meningitis is diagnosed through a spinal tap, which draws cerebrospinal fluid from the spine that can be inspected for signs of the disease. Once detected, it can be treated with high doses of intravenous antifungal medications.

Unlike bacterial meningitis, fungal meningitis is not transmitted from person to person and only people who received the steroid injections are thought to be at risk.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct192012

Meningitis Outbreak: 271 Cases, 21 Deaths

Hemera/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- One more person has died from fungal meningitis linked to tainted steroid injections, raising the death toll for the outbreak to 21.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has increased the tally of cases to 271 -- 268 cases of fungal meningitis and three cases of joint infections. The growing outbreak, which spans 16 states, has been linked to contaminated vials of methylprednisolone acetate, an injectable steroid used to treat back and joint pain.

For a map of cases by state, click here.


Sealed vials of the steroid, made by the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., contained Exserohilum rostratum, a fungus found in soil and plants. It's unclear how the fungus landed in the sealed vials.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 26 cases of Exserohilum meningitis, as well as one case each of Aspergillus and Cladosporium meningitis.

The New England Compounding Center has recalled all its products and shut down operations. Calls to the owners were not immediately returned.

As many as 14,000 patients are thought to have received injections of the suspect steroid.

Seventy-six clinics in 23 states that received methylprednisolone acetate from the recalled lots have been instructed to notify all affected patients. The "potentially contaminated injections were given starting May 21, 2012," according to the CDC.

For a full list of clinics receiving the recalled lots of spinal steroid injections, click here.

Meningitis affects the membranous lining of the brain and spinal cord. Early symptoms of fungal meningitis -- including headache, fever, dizziness, nausea, sensitivity to light, stiff neck, weakness or numbness, slurred speech and pain, and redness or swelling at the injection site -- can take more than a month to appear.

The longest duration from the time of injection to the onset of symptoms in the current outbreak is 42 days, according to the CDC's Dr. Benjamin Park.

"But we want to emphasize that we don't know what the longest will be," he added, stressing that patients who received injections of the recalled drug should stay attuned to the subtle symptoms "for months."

Fungal meningitis is diagnosed through a spinal tap, which draws cerebrospinal fluid from the spine that can be inspected for signs of the disease. Once detected, it can be treated with high doses of intravenous antifungal medications.

Unlike bacterial meningitis, fungal meningitis is not transmitted from person to person and only people who received the steroid injections are thought to be at risk.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct172012

Fungal Meningitis Outbreak Claims Four More Lives; 245 Cases Reported

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- The national meningitis outbreak continues to spread as health officials say the infection has killed four more people in Tennessee, Florida and Virginia.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are now reporting 19 people dead and 245 cases of infection from fungal meningitis tied to contaminated back pain steroid injections.

[See a map of cases by state]

The government is asking doctors to tell patients if they received the medication from the New England Compounding Center.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct082012

CDC Reports Eighth Fungal Meningitis Death

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- Health officials estimate that 13,000 people may have been exposed to contaminated lots of an epidural steroid that has been linked to a rare fungal meningitis that has infected 105 people across nine states, killing eight of them. Fourteen new cases and one new death have been reported since Sunday.

Although the number of cases has increased, the outbreak does not include any new states. The number of people with fungal meningitis, which is not spread person-to-person, has grown by 64 percent since Friday.

The outbreak of aspergillus meningitis has been linked to spinal steroid injections, a common treatment for back pain. A sealed vial of the steroid, called methylprednisolone acetate, was found to contain fungus, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The states with reported cases include Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia. Tennessee has the most cases, with 35, including four deaths.

"FDA is in the process of further identifying the fungal contaminate," said Dr. Ilisa Bernstein, acting director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Office of Compliance. "Our investigation into the source of this outbreak is still ongoing."

The steroid came from the New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass., a specialty pharmacy that has recalled three lots of the drug and shut down operations. Calls to the pharmacy were not immediately returned and its website is down.

Roughly 75 clinics in 23 states that received the recalled lots have been instructed to notify all affected patients.

"If patients are concerned, they should contact their physician to find out if they received a medicine from one of these lots," said Dr. Benjamin Park of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adding that most of the cases occurred in older adults who were healthy aside from back pain.

Meningitis affects the membranous lining of the brain and spinal cord. Early symptoms of fungal meningitis, such as headache, fever, dizziness, nausea and slurred speech, are subtler than those of bacterial meningitis and can take nearly a month to appear. Left untreated, the inflammatory disease can cause permanent neurological damage and death.

"Fungal meningitis in general is rare. But aspergillus meningitis -- the kind we're talking about here -- is super rare and very serious," said Dr. William Schaffner, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. "There's no such thing as mild aspergillus meningitis."

The disease is diagnosed with a lumbar puncture, which draws cerebrospinal fluid from the spine that can be inspected for signs of the disease. Once detected, it can be treated with high doses of intravenous antifungal medications.

"Treatment could be prolonged, possibly on the order of months," said Park, adding that the IV treatment would require a hospital stay.

Unlike bacterial and viral meningitis, fungal meningitis is not transmitted from person to person and only people who received the steroid injections are thought to be at risk.

The FDA has, however, advised health providers to stop using any product made by the New England Compounding Center during the investigation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb072012

Older Women at Highest Risk for Breast Cancer Death

Photodisc/Thinkstock(LEIDEN, Netherlands) -- Older women with breast cancer may be at greater risk than younger women of dying from the disease, regardless of the type of tumor they have or treatment they undergo, according to a study released Tuesday.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests that women's age may play a larger role in risk of death from breast cancer than previously believed.

Researchers in the Netherlands analyzed the data from more than 9,000 women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer who'd been enrolled in a five-year randomized clinical trial, during which 1,043 women died.

The researchers found the risk of dying from breast cancer in women age 75 or older was about eight percent compared with around six percent for women younger than 65 and in women between the ages of 65 to 74.

Nearly 300,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, according to the National Cancer Institute. Older post-menopausal women are at highest risk for breast cancer recurrence.

"Because breast cancer incidence increases with increasing age, changing demographics and continuously increasing life expectancy will further enlarge the number of older women confronted with breast cancer," the researchers wrote.

Larger tumors were found in older women than in younger women at the time of diagnosis, which may have contributed to their increased risk of death, the researchers noted.

"Typically, women who are older get less aggressive cancers, but this shows you can't discount aggressive diseases in older women," said Dr. Deborah Axelrod, director of clinical breast services and breast surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center.

There are many factors that may contribute to an older woman's increased risk of breast cancer death, Axelrod said.

Previous studies suggested that older post-menopausal women were less likely to receive standard chemotherapy and radiation compared with younger women.

But older women were also more likely to be overtreated with medications -- known among physicians as polypharmacy -- which puts them at higher risk to respond poorly to treatment. But researchers said this was not a contributing factor in their findings.

The women in all age groups of the study were generally healthier, because they'd received adequate hormone therapy, according to the study methods.

"So if you're finding an increased risk in this population, what are we saying about the general population of women?" said Axelrod.

The findings lend themselves to future studies on older women with breast cancer and what exactly causes higher risk of death with age, she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb032012

Malaria Deaths Twice as High as Previously Reported

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- Malaria kills 1.2 million people each year, more than twice as many deaths as previously thought, according to new research published in The Lancet.

However, according to the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, which conducted the new research, efforts to combat the disease, both through drug treatments and prevention, have resulted in a decline in malaria-related deaths.

"This runs counter to most assumptions about the disease," said Dr. Stephen Lim, associate professor of global health at the Institute.  "The good news, though, is that even though the overall number of deaths is higher, the trend is sharply downward."

Researchers also found that while many believe most malaria deaths occur in children under age 5, in fact, 42 percent of all malaria deaths occur in older children and adults.

Authors from the Institute collected data on malaria deaths over two decades, from 1980 to 2010.  They found that 1.2 million people died of the disease in 2010: twice as many deaths as reported by the World Malaria Report released last year.  The World Health Organization estimated that about 650,000 people worldwide died of the disease in 2010.

Researchers said the higher death tally is likely due to the fact that more reliable data became available.

Based on the new numbers, malaria deaths have fallen by 32 percent since 2004, dropping from 1.8 million deaths worldwide to 1.2 million in 2010.

"That's a massive decrease, and it appears to be the result of the huge scale-up in spending to fight malaria, especially by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria," Lim said.

Malaria is caused by a parasite passed to humans through mosquito bites.  The parasites then travel through the bloodstream to the liver and infect red blood cells, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The parasites multiply within the body, and then symptoms, including chills, fever, vomiting and coma, occur 10 days to four weeks after the mosquito bite occurs.  If left untreated, complications can include kidney failure, liver failure, meningitis and, ultimately, death.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio