Review Category : Health

Two Americans With Ebola to Be Flown Back to US

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — Two American patients stricken with Ebola are to be flown from Africa to the United States, ABC News has learned.

There are plans to transfer a patient with Ebola virus infection to Emory University Hospital’s special facility containment unit within the next several days, hospital officials said today in a statement. Officials added that it’s unclear when the patient will arrive in Atlanta.

“Emory University Hospital has a specially built isolation unit set up in collaboration with the CDC to treat patients who are exposed to certain serious infectious diseases,” hospital officials said. “It is physically separate from other patient areas and has unique equipment and infrastructure that provide an extraordinarily high level of clinical isolation. It is one of only four such facilities in the country.”

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Two Americans With Ebola to Be Flown Back to US

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — Two American patients stricken with Ebola are to be flown from Africa to the United States, ABC News has learned.

There are plans to transfer a patient with Ebola virus infection to Emory University Hospital’s special facility containment unit within the next several days, hospital officials said today in a statement. Officials added that it’s unclear when the patient will arrive in Atlanta.

“Emory University Hospital has a specially built isolation unit set up in collaboration with the CDC to treat patients who are exposed to certain serious infectious diseases,” hospital officials said. “It is physically separate from other patient areas and has unique equipment and infrastructure that provide an extraordinarily high level of clinical isolation. It is one of only four such facilities in the country.”

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Consumer Reports: FDA Should Make Painkillers Safer

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Consumer Reports is calling on the Food and Drug Administration to make painkillers safer.

According to Consumer Reports, every day, 46 people die and more than 1,000 go to emergency rooms because they’re taking legal drugs to kill pain.

Consumer Reports says it’s time for the FDA to require mandatory training so doctors know how to prescribe opioid painkillers — like oxycodone and hydrocodone — and also how to properly monitor patients for signs of tolerance, abuse, and dependence.

According to Lisa Gill, deputy content editor of Consumer Reports, there should also be tighter regulations on acetaminophen — the main ingredient in Tylenol — because too much can lead to liver failure.

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Why We Don’t Have an Ebola Vaccine Yet

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Though Ebola was first discovered nearly four decades ago, there’s still no vaccine that’s regularly administered to humans to prevent it.

But why?

“There’s always the layperson’s query of ‘Why don’t they rush this? ‘Why don’t these guys work a little later at night?’” said Dr. Willian Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. “It’s a little more complicated than that.”

Because Ebola cases are so rare, drug manufacturers hadn’t been interested in investing in finding its vaccine, Schaffner said. In addition, Ebola’s rarity makes it impossible for scientists to do field studies, which they were able to do with viruses like measles, which people were likely to be exposed to anyway because it was so common.

Before this current outbreak, there had been only about 2,000 cases in total since it was discovered in 1976, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.

However, the current Ebola outbreak in Africa has infected 1,323 people in three countries and killed 729 of them, making it the largest Ebola outbreak to date, according to the World Health Organization.

The dire situation in Africa has prompted more than 4,500 people to sign a Change.org petition to fast track Ebola vaccines and drugs within the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — something that’s actually been in the works since March, Fauci said.

The NIH’s Ebola vaccine has been studied in monkeys and is set to begin its first phase I clinical trial in humans sometime in September, Fauci said. If it is successful, it will take until mid- to late-2015 before a limited number of vaccine doses would be ready to administer to health care workers, he said.

The clinical trial participants won’t be exposed to the Ebola virus, Fauci said. Instead, they’ll stay in the U.S., where they’ll be given a dose of the vaccine and tested to see if their antibody levels match the levels shown in monkey studies to protect the monkeys from Ebola. Scientists will also be watching for adverse reactions to the vaccine to make sure it is safe.

Since the locals already fear the health care workers, wrongly blaming them for bringing Ebola to their villages, Schaffner and Fauci said making sure the vaccine is safe is extremely important.

“That’s the case whenever you have terror and fright and death and people being extraordinarily frightened of things they don’t understand,” Fauci said.

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CDC Issues Travel Warning to Countries Impacted by Ebola Virus

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a travel advisory warning against non-essential travel to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone due to the worsening Ebola virus.

The CDC also says it is sending 50 specialists to the West Africa countries impacted.

Two Americans, including a doctor, have been infected with the disease, and Liberia’s lead Ebola doctor died from the virus. As of Thursday, 1,323 are infected, according to the World Health Organization. Of those infected, 729 have died, meaning this outbreak has a fatality rate of approximately 60%.

But according to CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, there should be little concern over next week’s African summit in Washington.

“I don’t think people should be concerned about the visitors from Africa,” Dr. Frieden said. “Remember it’s a big place. We’re talking about three countries, relatively small countries, in west Africa.”

According to Dr. Frieden, getting Ebola under control will take time.

“It’s not gonna be quick and it’s not gonna be easy. It will take at least three to six months to get this outbreak under control even in the best of circumstances,” he said.

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Mom Raises Money to Fund Son’s ‘Smile’ Surgery

Courtesy Danielle Templer(NEW YORK) — When 5-year-old Maddox Perales poses for a photo, he has to hold up his cheeks as he yells “cheese.” Maddox’s unusual smile is a result of a neurological disorder called Moebius syndrome.

Maddox was diagnosed as an infant with the disorder, which primarily affects the 6th and 7th cranial nerves and can cause severe facial weakness or paralysis, according to the Moebius Syndrome Foundation.

The condition left him with facial muscles so weak he could not feed himself or even smile. He also could not blink or move his eyes laterally, meaning he had no peripheral vision.

In the five years since he was diagnosed, Maddox’s mother, Danielle Templer, has worked with speech and physical therapists to develop Maddox’s speech and eating ability. Even though he can now eat, read and talk, he is still is unable to smile.

“He’s so astute and I don’t want people to perceive him as not being smart,” said Templer. “I don’t want people first…to judge a book by a cover before they [know him.]”

Templer said preschool and pre-kindergarten classes have been hard for the 5-year-old because other kids don’t understand why he doesn’t smile. Even Templer had to figure out what Maddox’s laugh sounded like so she could understand when he was happy or sad.

“It makes a big, big difference,” said Templer of the ability to smile. “It’s instrumental. It’s a bond. It’s a lot of things, a smile. It does so much for you.”

While Maddox can still smile by manually holding up his cheeks, Templer is looking for a permanent solution. One possible answer is specialized surgery to treat facial paralysis.

Templer is hoping to take Maddox to be treated at the Facial Paralysis Program at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. The program helps to treat children like Maddox by grafting nerves and other muscles from other parts of the body into the facial region through multiple surgeries to try and animate the facial muscles.

Templer said she’s raised more than $21,000 but estimates the surgery and following care will be approximately $100,000. She’s currently raising money in an online fundraiser.

For Templer, the surgery isn’t just about having Maddox smile. She hopes it will help with a speech impediment that can make him unintelligible to people outside of his family and make it easier for him to interact with new people.

“This is the card he was dealt. We’re going to play our ace high,” said Templer of her plan to fund Maddox’s surgery. “[For Moebius syndrome kids], we smile with our hearts. He’s a normal boy but, gosh, it’s so important to smile.”

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Ebola-Stricken American Doctor Has Taken ‘Turn for the Worse’

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — An American doctor being treated for Ebola in Liberia has “taken a slight turn for the worse overnight,” according to Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian Charity based in North Carolina.

An “experimental serum” to treat the virus arrived for the two infected Americans, but there was only enough for one person, according to Samaritan’s Purse. Dr. Kent Brantly, who noticed his Ebola symptoms and quarantined himself last week, offered the dose to the other infected American, Dr. Nancy Writebol.

Both Brantly and Writebol are in “stable but grave condition” according to the statement.

“However, Dr. Brantly received a unit of blood from a 14-year-old boy who had survived Ebola because of Dr. Brantly’s care,” Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, said in a statement. “The young boy and his family wanted to be able to help the doctor that saved his life.”

Samaritan’s Purse is currently evacuating all but the most essential members of its organization from the region because of the outbreak.

While none of those infected landed in the U.S., the chance of that occurring is a growing concern for health officials.

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Low Fat Diets Still Trump the Low Carb Kind

Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Lose the fat or lose the carbs? That’s the question facing Americans who are trying to lose weight.

Lately, low carbohydrate diets have been all the rage but not as much as you might think, given all the publicity they’ve received.

A Gallup poll of 1,000 adults across the U.S. shows that when it comes to shedding pounds, 73 percent say it’s fats they try to avoid while 44 percent are making it a point to reduce their intake of carbs.

As for the general public, again it’s fats that are getting shunned by more Americans. Gallup says that 56 percent go out of their way to cut fat from the daily diet compared to 29 percent who are eating less carbs. And then there are those people who go the extra mile by scaling back on both fats and carbs.

Meanwhile, Americans are doing a little research on their own to determine whether fat is really the main cause of their weight problems. As it happens, the percentage of Americans who try to eat less fat has fallen about eight percent over the past few years.

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Memory Impairment Could Be Another Side-Effect of Problem Drinking

iStock/Thinkstock(EXETER, England) — Young adults who start exhibiting signs of a drinking problem might want to address their problem before they hit middle age.

That’s because a study out of the University of Exeter in England finds that too much alcohol consumption can hamper one’s memory later in life.

Researchers reviewed the drinking habits of 6,500 Americans in their 50s and 60s over two decades to measure alcohol-related cognitive damage at two-year intervals.

With 16 percent of participants admitting they had a drinking problem, it was people in this group much more so than others who demonstrated difficulties with memory on word-recall tests.

The study did not address whether drinking heavily while in your 20s was as harmful as a problem showing up during your 40s.

However, the researchers suggested that the sooner people stop drinking, the sooner they might be able to reverse the damage.

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Tennessee Teen, Once Bitten, Now Scared of Brown Recluse Spiders

iStock/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — Most bites from brown recluse spiders go unnoticed, experts say. But not the one that turned Jessica Blessing’s leg blue.

Blessing, a 19-year-old home health nurse from Nashville, Tennessee, said she woke up immediately after the tiny spider bit into her leg in bed.

“I started itching and when I got up to look at it, I could see it was swollen and blue,” she told ABC News. “Within three hours I was throwing up. I had a 103 fever and chills. It hurt to walk and I was limping really bad.”

The bite sent Blessing to the hospital for five days in May, she said, and she still makes weekly visits to the doctor to have dead flesh cut from the wound. She says she’s now terrified of spiders and keeps sticky traps all over the house.

But experts say Blessing’s experience is an extreme case.

“In rare instances, a brown recluse bite can cause a severe reaction and may even be deadly,” said Bennett Jordan, the staff scientist for the National Pest Management Association. “But in a vast majority of cases — 90 percent — the reaction is very mild.”

Rick Vetter, a University of California TK expert on the brown recluse, said rumors of a sharp rise in spider bites are greatly exaggerated and difficult to prove.

“Many times it’s a misdiagnosis,” he said, explaining that bacterial infections, diabetes ulcers, poison ivy and a myriad of other medical conditions are frequently mistaken for spider bites. “Unless you actually witness the spider chomping down, you can’t say for sure that’s what it was.”

Vetter also said that the vast majority of bites go unreported because most people don’t realize they’ve been bitten. At the same time, he said he’s skeptical about many of the occurrences that are reported to authorities, pointing to the fact that there have been over 850 spider bite reports filed in Florida over a six-year period despite only seventy confirmed sightings of the arachnid in the state in the past 100 years.

Blessing’s bite was confirmed by a doctor, and brown recluses are common in the region around Nashville where Blessing lives. The Tennessee Poison Center fields between 50 to 100 brown recluse spider bite claims a year.

Linda Rayor, an arachnologist with Cornell University, said it’s unlikely that brown recluse populations are exploding and argued that fear of being bitten is probably arachnophobia at play. She said she doesn’t doubt Blessing’s story, but said she tends to be skeptical about spider bites.

“The chances are crazy high in favor of a fly or a mosquito, but people would rather blame the spider,” she said.

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