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Sunday
Apr062014

What You Need to Know About the Measles Vaccine

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Measles, a disease eliminated from the United States through vaccination more than a decade ago, is making a comeback.

At least 21 people in Orange County, Calif., and 25 people in New York City have contracted the virus, which causes flu-like symptoms, a miserable rash and, in rare cases, death. In just three months, more than 100 measles cases have been reported nationwide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is nearly double the number of cases seen in a typical year.

Most-- but not all-- U.S. children receive the MMR vaccine, an immunization against measles, mumps and rubella. A single dose, usually administered in 1-year-old kids, is 95% effective in preventing measles. A second dose virtually eliminates the risk completely.

But if you're not vaccinated, there's a 90% chance you'll get measles if you're exposed. The contagious virus spreads through respiratory droplets — the mist exhaled during coughs and sneezes. And it can live on surfaces for up to two hours, according to the CDC.

So who's not getting vaccinated?

All 50 states allow medical vaccine exemptions for kids with severe allergies or immune disorders that can't tolerate the vaccine. Forty-eight states allow religious exemptions, and 20 states allow personal belief exemptions.

In states that allow all three types of exemptions, personal belief exemptions tend to be the most common, according to the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Such exemptions have more than doubled between 1991 and 2004. Why the rise? Most experts agree that a now-debunked 1998 study linking the MMR vaccine to autism has something to do with it. The study was retracted in 2010 after countless other found no evidence of a link, but autism fears bolstered by celebrities — not science — linger.

The MMR vaccine's most common side effects are fever, a mild rash and swelling of glands in the cheeks and neck, making it "much safer" than getting measles, according to the CDC.

Some parents opt to delay the vaccination rather than skip it altogether, but that still raises the risk of preventable infections, according to the CDC.

How do you know if you've been vaccinated? Every shot you get is recorded, so ask your doctor, your parents or your high school. Some states even have vaccine registries. If you're still not sure, your doctor may be able to test your blood for antibodies. Worst case: you can get the vaccine again just to be safe.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Apr062014

Honolulu Ambulances Have a Growing Bedbug Problem

iStock/Thinkstock(HONOLULU) -- Honolulu ambulances are frequently infested with bedbugs — and the problem is only getting worse.

To keep the pests under control in emergency vehicles, the city is expected to spend $25,200 over the next fiscal year, which begins July 1 — a nearly 50% increase from its bedbug budget over the current fiscal year.

"It is going to go into good use and it's going to keep ambulances in service, which will lead to lives saved," EMS spokeswoman Shayne Enright told Hawaii's ABC affiliate KITV.

Ambulances that have bedbugs are taken out of commission for as long as three hours while the vehicle is cleaned. Replacement ambulances are brought in, but there still is a potential risk to patients, Enright said.

"That's taking one of our 20 ambulances out of the community," she said. "Somebody nearby could be having a heart attack and that does jeopardize their care."

Paramedics have advanced tools at their disposal to avoid bed bugs, including a spray to kill them on contact, checking in with a database of known infestations, a plastic covering that keeps bedbugs from leaving patients' clothing, and a special suit that patients or paramedics can wear to keep the bedbugs from spreading.

However, paramedics do all they can to keep bedbugs out of their rigs. Every ambulance carries a spray that kills bedbugs on contact, a plastic bag to place around patients and a Tyvek suit that can be worn by patients or paramedics. They're also trained to notice the signs of an infestation.

Still, they believe they can do more, which is why they'll start handing out informative pamphlets to patients with bedbugs by the end of the month.

Honolulu does not have a major bedbug problem overall, ranking 45 out of 50 in an Orkin Pest Control list of the top cities with bedbug problems.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Apr052014

Stroke Patient Hears Doctors Discuss Organ Donation

iStock/Thinkstock(GOTEBORG, Sweden) -- A Swedish man who was paralyzed by a massive stroke has filed a complaint against the hospital that cared for him because he claimed he could hear doctors discussing whether to donate his organs just before they gave him a sedative that put him under.

Jimi Fritze said he was unable to alert the medical staff that he was conscious and could hear. He feared he would be unable to save himself as they sedated him.

"I went to sleep… I couldn't be awake. I thought I was going to die then," Fritze told ABC News.

Fritze, 42, suffered his stroke two years ago. He recently filed a complaint about the medical care he received at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Goteborg with the Swedish National Health and Welfare Board, which oversees quality of healthcare in Sweden. Calls to the Swedish National Health and Welfare Board were not immediately answered.

A spokesperson for the Sahlgrenska University Hospital sent a translated statement and said the hospital was investigating the incident.

"We cannot say much. We cooperate with the [Health and Social Care Inspectorate] about this investigation," read the statement. "We take it very seriously, as with all notifications."

Fritze still has difficulty talking, but said he clearly remembers the moment he heard doctors talking about his dire prognosis as he lay nearby, unable to move but able to hear and understand sounds around him. Experts say that is not uncommon in stroke patients.

As Fritze was in his hospital bed, he said he remembers hearing his doctors discuss the possibility of organ donation, although Fritze had not yet been declared brain dead.

Fritze had been on vacation with his now ex-girlfriend when he suddenly collapsed due to a stroke. A nurse, she sprang into action and kept his airway open as help arrived. However, once he arrived in the hospital, Fritze said doctors were discouraged by scans.

According to Fritze, they told his then-girlfriend to get his family and say their goodbyes.

Fritze said doctors even discussed the possibility of organ donation with his family. However, before further steps were taken to remove medical care, another doctor gave a second opinion and found that the swelling in his brain might be a sign that he could recover, Fritze's complaints details. Doctors were able to help bring down the swelling and Fritze eventually was able to "wake-up" and communicate with his family weeks later.

Fritze is still recovering both mobility and speech, and is still unable to walk.

"When I woke up the first time I could only move my finger. Now I can move every part of my body. I cannot walk yet," said Fritze. "That is my wish is to walk again."

Experts say Fritze's case, while rare, shows the difficulty in treating stroke patients.

Dr. Cathy Sila, director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, said doctors have to be very careful about the possibility that a patient can understand them even if they appear unresponsive.

"We are very careful what we say… in front of a patient. You need to always assume there is some level of consciousness when you are having bedside conversations," said Sila. "They may look like they're not comprehending you and they might be."

Dr. Michael DiGeorgia, professor of neurology and director for the Center for Neurocritical Care at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, said in similar cases the brain can appear to have more permanent damage due to swelling, but that as the swelling subsides there is a chance for a patient to recover.

"Often patients can look really bad early on, but can improve over the next couple of days. Most of us have been very humbled by experience where it looks really bad after the first couple of days," said DiGeorgia, who did not treat Fritze.

Additionally patients can suffer from "locked-in" syndrome, a widely recognized condition where a body is paralyzed, but the brain's "executive functions" or consciousness remains intact. In the early hours and days after a stroke, experts say it can be difficult to figure out if a patient is locked-in, permanently brain damaged or something in between.

Sila said it can be difficult to fully understand a patient's prognosis from certain scans. Particularly in the case of strokes affecting the brain stem, which can lead to "locked-in" syndrome.

"The brain stem is notoriously difficult to visualize with a CT scan because it's at the very base of the skull and there's all this bone from where your ears are," said Sila.

Sila, who did not treat Fritze, said another complication can be a person's age. A younger person may have a better chance at recovering from a massive stroke.

"The age of the patient is an incredibly important determinate for recovery," said Sila. "We have neural connections that are like the branches of the trees and it's pretty incredible how young people can survive what seem to be devastating neurological injuries."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Apr052014

Nick Lachey's Brother Who Has Asperger Syndrome is 'a Very Caring Kid'

Robin Marchant/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Nick Lachey opened up to Good Morning America about his brother, Zac, who has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism.

Now, he's explaining what his relationship with Zac, now 19, is like.

"He loves [my son] Camden. He doesn't necessarily know how to play with him, but he's a very interested uncle," Lachey, 40, told ABC News. "I think he feels a little awkward being hands-on, but he always asks about him. He's a very caring kid."

Lachey said that before opening up about Zac's Asperger syndrome diagnosis, he was sure to ask permission. Ultimately, however, they agreed that spreading autism awareness was important, and Zac said that it was OK for Lachey to give interviews about how his diagnosis affected their family.

"You have to remind yourself that he's not necessarily understanding things the way you would," Lachey said of his interactions with his brother. "It teaches understanding and patience for sure. That's something that we always like to think we all have on a daily basis, but you're reminded in situations like this that you can always do better."

To continue his support for autism awareness, Lachey became a paid spokesman for the Lindt Gold Bunny Celebrity Auction, which sells gold bunnies signed by celebrities including Blake Shelton, Tom Brady of course, Lachey himself. All proceeds benefit Autism Speaks, an autism advocacy organization that sponsors autism research.

In addition to his philanthropic work, Lachey, now the host of VH1's "Big Morning Buzz," is also making time to relax with his wife and their son. This summer, he's hoping to take Camden, 18 months, to a few Cincinnati Reds baseball games, but mostly, he's just excited to see him grow up.

"He's just a chatterbox. Literally every day, he's saying somethign I've never heard," Lachey gushed. "[My wife] Vanessa sneezed and he says, 'Bless you mommy!' It's pretty cool to see the personality take shape and see him become more expressive. It's a fun age."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr042014

As Probiotics Trend Spreads, Benefits Sometimes Diluted

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If it seems like probiotics are taking over your supermarket shelves, you're not just seeing things.

The microorganisms of the moment are being advertised on labels for everything from hot sauce to instant coffee these days. But while the digestive and general health benefits of including probiotics in one's diet have been touted by health experts and doctors, not all strains and levels are created equal. So it's important to look beyond the fancy type.

"Because it has become all the rage, I’ve seen people selling probiotic floor wash, if you can believe that," said Nancy Van Brasch Hamren, namesake of Nancy's Cultured Dairy & Soy in Eugene, Ore., which is credited as the first creamery in the U.S. to include Acidophilus and Bifidum cultures in its yogurt and was a pioneering company in the natural foods movement of the 1970s. "I'm not sure what that would do."

Nancy Hamren based the original "Nancy's" yogurt off of a sour-cream-like recipe that belonged to her grandmother. Then she added acidophilus.

For the uninitiated, probiotics are described as "a group of bacteria that have the unique ability to locate on special receptor sites in the lining of our lower digestive tract," said Hamren, who also serves as Executive Board Secretary of the International Probiotics Association. "They survive digestion, improve nutrient absorption, defend against harmful invading organisms and act as messengers to our immune system to regulate inflammation."

With all of those wonderful attributes, it's no wonder that so many brands are looking to include probiotics in their products. The trick, as a consumer, is making sure the microorganisms exist in notable amounts--as in upwards of 10 billion, said Hamren, who added that fully cultured products should always taste tart and tangy.

You should also look for companies that are using well-documented strains, she said, such as LA5 or LB3. Companies that are willing to share their assays, affirming the strain, levels and pull date are the most reputable, she said.

None of this prohibits probiotics from inclusion in non-dairy products, however.

"All of our products are dairy-free, soy-free, vegan, non-GMO and kosher," said Todd Beckman, COO and co-founder of GoodBelly, a producer of probiotic fruit beverages.

He echoed Hamren's statement.

"A popular misconception about probiotics is that all probiotic strains are the same," he said. "Recent research studies show probiotics may be beneficial for a variety of health issues, from managing colic in babies to weight loss. However, it’s important for consumers to remember that specific strains are related to specific benefits and are not created equal."

GoodBelly beverages use the probiotic strain called Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (LP299V), from Swedish probiotics supplier, ProBi. According to Beckman, "LP299V survives passage beyond the stomach’s acidic environment in order to support the rest of the digestive system, which is proven by over 16 research trials and 2 decades of use. With 70 percent of the immune system dwelling in the digestive tract, healthy gut microflora is vital to overall health."

So can one ever have too much of a good thing?

"There has never been a known overdose," said Hamren. "That being said, I wouldn’t give a baby unlimited amounts."

As with anything, those interested in adding probiotics to their family's diet should consult with a health professional beforehand. But as you consider the rows of probiotic O.J., snack mix, coffee and condiments, don't forget that the old school fermented foods eaten by our grandparents can be a boon to digestive health as well.

"Any fermented food like kimchi, sauerkraut, and cultured cheeses is easier to digest," said Hamren. "All of those contribute to better digestion, an easier breakdown of nutrients and stimulate the immune system. So try to keep fermented foods in your life. It can even be a microbeer!"

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr042014

Mother Sentenced for Killing Her Infant by Breastfeeding While on Drugs

iStock/Thinkstock(SPARTANBURG, S.C.) -- A South Carolina mother was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday for killing her 6-week-old baby by breastfeeding her while taking narcotics.

Stephanie Greene, 39, was convicted Thursday of homicide by child abuse, involuntary manslaughter and unlawful conduct toward a child. Her baby died on Nov. 13, 2010, of respiratory failure, and tests later revealed toxic levels of drugs including morphine and Klonopin in her blood, Barry Barnette, South Carolina’s 7th Judicial Circuit Solicitor, told ABC News.

“There’s no other way it could get there but breast milk,” Barnette said.

The baby, whose name was Alexis, was 46 days old, he said.

Though the baby had gained weight in her first two weeks of life, records show that she lost nearly half a pound in the month before she died, he said.

“That’s consistent with a morphine overdose over an extended period of time,” Barnette said. “I think that was the clincher for the jury.”

Greene's defense attorney did not respond to calls by ABC News seeking comment.

Greene is a former nurse who lost her license in 2003 after being convicted of obtaining controlled substances by fraud, Barnette said. She hid her pregnancy from two doctors who were giving her drugs for an ailment stemming from a 1998 car wreck, he said. Neither the doctors nor the OB/GYN knew how many drugs she was taking until the investigation into her daughter’s death, he said.

“She’s a nurse so she knows how to work it,” Barnette said.

Once she was obviously pregnant, she would miss appointments with the doctors who were giving her narcotics and send her husband to pick up prescriptions instead, he said.

The morning Alexis died, Greene’s husband called 911 and handed the phone to her.

“At that time, she was just patting the back of the child, not doing CPR,” Barnette said. “You can hear her voice is slurred.”

Greene had already lost custody of her two older children in 2003, when she was convicted of child negligence the first time, Barnette said. She has one other child with her current husband.

When Greene received her sentence Friday morning, she showed no emotion, Barnette said.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, mothers taking morphine or codeine drugs while breastfeeding should do so with extreme caution because their babies could overdose.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr042014

Body Dryer Would Do Away With Soiled Towels Forever

The Body Dryer(NEW YORK) -- A New York-based startup thinks toweling off after a shower is for amateurs, and when you see their new invention that eliminated the need for the potentially disease-spreading rags we all use post-bath time, you might just agree.

Meet the Body Dryer, a bathroom scale-like device that acts as a giant hand dryer that you stand on. The inventors claim their device will dry you off in 30 seconds or less (depending on how tall you are), using “ionized air” that you can switch from cold to hot and back again when you get a little toasty.

“The body dryer team came together to really tackle the problem of bacteria growing on towels,” project team member Tyler Overk said in a video on the website. “We realized that there are so many germs, so much bacteria that we’re reusing and putting back onto our bodies after we’ve cleaned ourselves from showers or even coming out of the pool.”

So far only a prototype has been made, but the team has started a fundraising effort on Indiegogo to help bring the dryer to homes and gyms across the country by September. The dryer is set to retail for $250, but contributors can get their hands on one for $150 while the campaign is still running for the next month.

An added feature is that the dryer acts as an actual weight scale, and there’s nothing to say you can’t also use it outside of bath time to unleash your inner Marilyn Monroe.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr042014

Lorraine Bracco: My Kids Thought My Healthy Diet Was Gross

Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images for Robert F. Kennedy Center For Justice And Human Rights(NEW YORK) -- When Lorraine Bracco lost 35 pounds, her daughters couldn't have been prouder of her.

However, that's not to say that they wanted to copy her lifestyle choices.

"They used to come to the house and go through the cabinets and go, 'What the f--- is this s---?!'" the Rizzoli & Isles star told ABC News with a laugh. "There were all these packages they'd never seen before or heard about before."

Bracco, 59, weighed 183 pounds when she realized that she wanted to change her eating and exercise habits to ensure a longer life. After caring for her parents and helping them cope with various health ailments, she went on a liver cleanse, cut out dairy and sugar, and began practicing Pilates. All of her tips will be included in a new book, To the Fullest, which Rodale Books will publish next year.

Her daughters "would laugh, like, 'What is she gonna make us tonight?' But whatever I made, we ate, and they were happy," noted the former Sopranos actress. "I had a good couple of laughs with them."

All joking aside, she acknowledges that her children are very proud of her progress and her ability to keep the weight off.

"They understood it and they see the difference in me," she said. "I'm young and have energy! I'm happy and happy with me."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr042014

Nick Lachey Opens Up About Brother Who Has Autism

Courtesy Nick Lachey(NEW YORK) -- Nick Lachey spoke out for the first time Friday morning on ABC's Good Morning America about growing up with his brother Zac, who was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, when Zac was 7.

“My family has dealt with that, and we’re inspired by his courage and strength,” the singer-songwriter said. “When you see firsthand how it affects the life of someone, my brother especially. He’s been an inspiration to me, and I see how hard and challenging it is, and [I want to do] anything I can to help.”

Lachey is now a paid spokesman for the Lindt Gold Bunny Celebrity Auction, which starts Friday and sells gold bunnies signed by celebrities like Blake Shelton, Celine Dion, George Stephanopoulos, Lucy Hale, Tom Hanks and more, including, of course, Lachey himself. All proceeds benefit Autism Speaks, an autism advocacy organization that sponsors autism research.

“The work they do in terms of research; there are so many questions where autism’s concerned. One in 68 kids will now be diagnosed, and my younger brother Zac is one of those kids,” Lachey said.

Additionally, 10 cents from every Lindt bunny sold between now and Easter will benefit the charity as well.

Lachey, 40, has been busy lately in addition to his autism advocacy. The singer has been balancing recent fatherhood, marriage and a new gig as host of VH1′s Big Morning Buzz Live.

“It’s [fatherhood] more magical than I could have ever imagined. Every single day is a new milestone, a new moment. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” he said.

Turns out one is not enough for dad Lachey, who said he and wife Vanessa Minnillo plan to give 2-year-old Cam a sibling soon.

“Yes, at some point we will definitely give him a sibling. We couldn’t be happier,” he gushed.

Lachey also plans to drop new music for his fans soon, confirming that he’s working on a solo project.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I’m back now in the studio working on another solo project.”


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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr042014

Adult Twin Sisters Share Bedroom, Wear Same Clothes

Discovery(NEW YORK) -- Amy and Becky Glass take being twins to a whole new level.

The 46-year-olds from Los Angeles live together. They get dressed together, always wearing identical, color-coordinated outfits. They buy two of everything in contrasting colors. They share a purse and a cell phone. They even share the same bedroom.

“Every time we wake up we say, ‘I missed you while I was sleeping!’” said Becky, with her sister chiming in to finish the sentence with her.

The pair appeared on the TLC show, My Strange Addiction, which highlights people with unusual addictions or behaviors. The Glass sisters’ addiction? Each other.

In the past 15 years, the sisters have never spent more than 30 minutes apart.

It makes dating interesting. “We date, we have fun,” Amy Glass said.

Added her sister: “If we date, we both go out on the date together with one guy.”

The women said they’re not interested in marrying because they consider themselves married to each other.

“It works because we have our soul mate already so, in all honesty…we’re like one person in two bodies,” Becky Glass said.

The sisters work out together and even eat matching foods.

When ABC's Good Morning America asked the Glass sisters why it was so important that everything in their lives be the same, Becky Glass said she and her sister love to live like that.

“We really do,” Amy Glass said.

Her sister added: “We think we’re the funnest people on our planet.”

Amy Glass acknowledged that people who don’t know her and her sister well could perceive them as a little neurotic, but added: “It’s so normal for us.”

“It’s like a well-oiled machine,” Becky said, with her sister chiming in to finish the sentence with her.

Their friends are concerned, and wonder how one twin would cope if something were to happen to the other.

Amy replied: “We have a deal with God. He’s taking us together.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio







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