CDC Warns of Pool Parasite This Summer

pashapixel/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A hardy parasite has led federal health officials to warn pool goers to be careful in the water this summer.

Outbreaks related to pools, hot tubs and other recreational uses of water can be dangerous, and according to a new report released on Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 90 outbreaks between 2011 to 2012 resulted in 1,788 illnesses, 95 hospitalizations and one death.

A major cause of the outbreaks in treated water, including hot tubs and pools, is a hardy parasite called Cryptosporidium, which is encased in a tough shell and causes acute gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea.

Michele Hlavsa, chief of the CDC's Healthy Swimming Program, said the parasite is particularity troubling due to how long it can live in treated water.

"It can survive for 10 days," Hlavasa told ABC News, noting that other bacteria including E. coli are killed in minutes to hours in a treated pool.

"With these outbreaks, we see they disproportionately affect young children," Hlavasa said. "They’re the ones who can go to a pool and young children tend to carry lots of germs."

The parasite can be cleared from the body in about two to three weeks, Hlavasa said, but in a person with a weakened immune system the condition may become chronic or even fatal.

Because of gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, "you’re losing so much and your body isn’t able to absorb nutrients," Hlavasa said.

To stay safe, pool goers should look to see if their pool's most recent inspection was posted through their local health department or even look into buying their own chlorine tests that can be used to test if the water is properly treated.

"If you’re worried about the restaurant's [ratings] ... it’s the same thing with pools you’re putting your body in that water," Hlavasa said.

More information on water safety can be found at here.

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Meet the Pint-Sized Vaccine Supporter Who Gives a 'Damn' About Vaccine Bill

Rhett Krawitt made his adorable plea to keep unvaccinated kids out of schools, as California considers state legislation to abolish personal-belief exemptions. KGO-TV.(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- A controversial California bill to end personal-belief exemptions for students who are unvaccinated has been helped by one very important, yet pint-size supporter.

Rhett Krawitt, 7, became one of the faces for the new bill aimed at raising vaccination rates by ending personal-belief exemptions for students at California schools. He gave multiple speeches on vaccines, even though he usually needed a chair to reach the podium microphone.

Rhett told ABC News that the bill overcoming a major hurdle by passing the California State Assembly was “exciting.”

“Vaccines save lives,” he told reporters before taking a petition to end personal-belief exemptions with 30,000 signatures to California Gov. Jerry Brown’s office earlier this week.

"My name is Rhett and I give a damn!" he said at the end of his speech.

For the last six months, Rhett and his family in Corte Madera, California, worked to highlight the importance of vaccines by telling Rhett’s story.

For three-and-half years Rhett remained extremely vulnerable to common diseases as his immune system was ravaged by leukemia treatments. After finishing his treatment, he was finally able to be vaccinated this year although he won’t be fully up to date till later this year due to the vaccine schedule he’s on.

Rhett’s father, Carl Krawitt, said he never expected for Rhett or his family to be advocates but said he was “proud” to have been involved with helping get the bill through the legislature.

“At the time we were a little overwhelmed,” by media attention, said Krawitt. “But when I stepped back, we had an opportunity to tell our story.”

Krawitt said he remembered when Rhett was getting leukemia treatment in 2010 there were a few weeks when babies with whooping cough filled the pediatric oncology floor because there was no room for them on other floors.

“That didn’t have to happen," Krawitt said. "It’s because people don’t vaccinate."

While vaccination levels remain high over all, pockets of unvaccinated people -- including in relatively well-to-do communities -- have contributed to outbreaks of disease, including measles and whooping cough in recent years.

Rhett attends school in Marin County in California, where just over 84 percent of kindergartners are fully vaccinated, according to the California Department of Public Health.

The bill to ban personal exemptions is expected to pass the state senate, which passed an earlier version of the bill. After that vote, Gov. Brown will have 12 days to sign the bill into state law.

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How to Watch Out for 'Flesh-Eating' Bacteria This Summer

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A potentially deadly bacteria made headlines again this week after a Florida man reportedly died from an infection related to vibrio vulnificus, sometimes referred to as a "flesh-eating" bacteria.

But state health officials balked at attributing the death to "flesh-eating" bacteria, causing some confusion. Officials explained that the man did die of an infection related to vibrio vulnificus, but it did not lead to necrotizing fasciitis -- the medical term for a "flesh-eating" infection.

It turns out that vibrio vulnificus is one of many kinds of bacteria that can lead to necrotizing fasciitis -- a dangerous infection in which the fascia or “cellophane” like wrapper around the muscles becomes infected, which can result in a patient needing amputation to survive.

For those concerned about the infection, experts said there a steps people can take to reduce the risk and specific signs that should prompt you to seek medical attention immediately. Additionally, they pointed out the infection is still very rare.

Many kinds of bacteria can lead to necrotizing fasciitis, including Streptococcus (group A strep), Klebsiella, Clostridium, and E. coli, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said it’s a good idea to stay out of the ocean, river or community pool if you have an open wound, due to how much bacteria may be in the water, especially if the water is warm.

Additionally, make sure to keep wounds -- even smaller injuries like blisters -- clean and protected as they heal, the CDC advises. Those with lowered immune systems from cancer treatment, diabetes or kidney problems should especially be on guard because the bacteria may be able to spread before the immune system can fend them off.

“If there is a theme here, it’s wounds that are less slicing wounds and less abrasive wounds and rather more puncture wounds,” Schaffner said of the types of wounds that are more likely to lead to necrotizing fasciitis. “They’re the ones that provide a track beneath the skin into the deeper layers.”

Schaffner explained that the reason the disease is so frightening is that the infection can start off with subtle symptoms before doctors realize how serious the infection is. Classically, the disease starts when the fascia, the membrane covering muscles, is infected. But the fascia is so thin and spread so far over the muscles that an infection can be hard to spot and treat.

“You can think of cellophane-like cover of the muscle,” Schaffner explained of the fascia. “Necrotizing fasciitis slides along that sheath in a horizontal fashion and may not be evident on the surface.”

The main symptom is intense pain that doesn’t seem to match the severity of the wound, Schaffner said.

For example, a simple bug bite or small cut could lead to a large infection under the surface but may not appear red or swollen during examination. If doctors are concerned about necrotizing fasciitis, they can order an x-ray or CT scan to aid the diagnosis, Schaffner said.

“Below the surface of skin you might see gas or air, from metabolism of bacteria or [you] might see altered anatomy indicating something is going on at deeper layers at muscle or fascia,” Schaffner explained.

Treatment can include antibiotics and surgery. In rare cases if the infection has spread to the muscle, amputation may be needed to stop the disease.

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C-Sections Likely Not Linked to Autism After All, Study Says

Pixelistanbul/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Several studies in the past have linked the risk of developing autism spectrum disorder with the possibility of birth by cesarean section – a link that has appeared to be further supported by a steady rise in the rates of both cesarean sections and ASD diagnosis over the last 20 years.

Now, Swedish researchers who looked at more than 2 million babies born in Sweden between 1982 and 2010 found that this link is likely just coincidental, and that there is no strong evidence that cesarean sections lead to autism, according to the study published in JAMA Psychiatry.

While researchers did confirm previous findings that children born by cesarean section were 20 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ASD, they also note that the same association between cesarean births and ASD did not exist when siblings were compared.

This suggests that this association is much more likely to be due to genetic or environmental factors that increase the likelihood of both cesarean sections and ASD.

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Antidepressants for Menopausal Symptoms May Up Fracture Risk

Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are a common class of antidepressants that doctor use for another purpose as well – to treat hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause.

But in a new study published in Injury Prevention, researchers have found that SSRIs might increase the risk of fracture among middle-aged women.

The study compared more than 130,000 women between the ages of 40-64 who were on SSRIs to curb menopausal symptoms to women in the same age group who were on a different class of drugs used to treat indigestion – another common symptom that accompanies menopause.

The fracture rate was 76 percent higher among those prescribed SSRIs one year after starting treatment, and the risk continued to be higher over several years, according to the study.

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New Tool in the Fight Against Ebola

kasto80/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The results of the field trials of the long-awaited bedside “rapid test” for Ebola are in, and they confirm that this quick and easy diagnostic tool is as accurate as a standard laboratory test.

Up until now, diagnosis of Ebola has required a blood test, transportation to a laboratory and testing on specialized equipment— all of which amounts to time, cost and potential exposure to infected blood.

Most importantly, a person who does not have Ebola may be exposed waiting for results in the clinic.

The new test could circumvent many of these critical problems in diagnosis and infection control.

However, scientists caution in the study published in the journal Lancet, the test is not perfect.

Although it performed as well as a standard laboratory test in the field, more rigorous tests showed that both tests missed patients with low levels of the virus, according to researchers.

Even so, advocates say the rapid test still has a role in diagnosing Ebola patients with higher viral loads – the most infectious patients – allowing them to be isolated immediately.

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The B-Vitamin That May Boost Acne

AlexRaths/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers have suspected for decades that too much vitamin B12 can increase the risk of acne – but how it does this has been a longstanding mystery.

Now, a new study published in Science Translational Medicine finds that vitamin B12 changes the natural microorganisms on the skin, potentially tipping the scales toward acne.

Researchers studied the microbes on the skin surface of four people with acne and five with clear skin.

What they found was that vitamin B12 tends to change the microenvironment of the skin in a way that favors acne bacteria.

In a small follow-up study, they gave 10 healthy participants a shot of vitamin B12 – enough to last for weeks – and checked in with these participants after a week. One of the participants who previously had clear skin had developed acne.

These new findings suggest that if acne sufferers don’t need the extra vitamin B12, it might be a good idea to skip it.

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Smelly Fridge Sends 10 People to the Hospital

iStock/Thinkstock(LEXINGTON, Ky.) -- The University of Kentucky got a stinky surprise.

A haz-mat team was brought in to decontaminate 10 people this week after a smelly refrigerator made them nauseated and irritated their eyes, a university official told ABC News.

The fridge had been left unplugged overnight after being moved from a different building. That's what caused employees to be overwhelmed by the smell in the animal pathology building in the morning.

One of them pulled the fire alarm and the building remained evacuated for a few hours while the Lexington Fire Department sealed the fridge and decontaminated 10 people, Battalion Chief Joe Best told ABC News.

“The smell came from a chemical residue left in the fridge. It was tested and we couldn’t 100 percent determine what the chemical was,” university spokesperson Carl Nathe said.

The 10 people experienced symptoms were taken in the fire department’s mass casualty bus -- which hadn’t been used since 2005 -- to the UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital, where they were treated and soon released, Nathe said.

“It was one of those things where the actions were taken as a precaution and it was all to be on the safe side,” Nathe said.

The Lexington Fire Department typically makes haz-mat responses after car crashes and Best said they’ll deal with larger incidents, like this, two to three times a year.

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Your Body: Bridging the Brain Gender Gap

iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Men are terrible listeners.

"What’s that? You didn’t hear me?" That’s exactly my point.

There are actually receptors in the brain -- little docking stations for hormones -- and they act differently. But within terms of brain development and function, women tend to have more verbal centers in the brain and men tend to need more processing time.

If you want to be heard in your next conversation, pick the right time -- not just based on the time of day, but what someone is doing.

Second, be concise and get to the point. Short and sweet is the way to be.

Lastly, make sure you communicate the good, old-fashioned way: in person. Having conversations via text or e-mail risks that the real message will get lost.

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Study: Americans Working More, Sleeping More, Watching More TV

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Turns out, our complaints that we're too busy working to exercise, take that night class or write that book are bogus. At least, that's what the government says.

The new American Time Use Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics finds that while we are, indeed, working longer hours than ever before, we're also watching more TV than ever before. Compared to 2013, we worked 10 additional minutes a day last year, for an average of seven hours, 45 minutes. That's if you're employed, of course.

However, we also watched two hours, 49 minutes on average of TV every day in 2014, three more minutes than the year before. Just hanging out with friends came in at a rather distant second, at just 43 minutes a day.

Men spent more time every day in leisure activities than women did last year -- six hours versus five hours, 12 minutes. Not surprisingly, households with no kids reported more time for fun than those with kids, by almost an hour.

What may come as the biggest surprise is how much sleep we say we're getting, on average. The study, which surveyed nearly 12,000 U.S. adults, says we got an average of eight hours, 48 minutes of shut-eye every day, four more minutes than in 2013.

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