Review Category : Health

Dogs Give Therapeutic Cuddles to Marysville After Shooting

File photo. iStock/Thinkstock(MARYSVILLE, Wash.) — A Washington state town is still reeling from a high school shooting last week, but three furry counselors have arrived to help.

Three golden retrievers from Lutheran Church Charities’ K-9 Comfort Dogs traveled from their native Chicago to Marysville, Washington, on Monday. Two of them, Luther, 3, and Shami, 6, also traveled to Newtown, Connecticut, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and Boston after the marathon bombing in 2013. The third, Erin, is 9 months old and still in training.

“We just let them pet the dog, hug the dog, lay on the dog many times,” said Tim Hetzner, president of Lutheran Church Charities. “As they do that, many times they start talking to the dog.”

On Friday, high school freshman Jaylen Fryberg, 15, used a .40-caliber gun to shoot five students in his school cafeteria before turning the gun on himself. Two of them have died.

Marysville-Pilchuck High School is closed this week because of the shooting, Hetzner said, but he and his colleagues will take the comfort dogs to places where students can be expected to hang out.

On Monday night, the dogs arrived at Messiah Lutheran Church, about a mile from the high school, where residents got a chance to give them a hug and say hello. The dogs will spend a week in the town.

Pet therapy researcher Mary Jo Gilmer, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said dogs’ unconditional willingness to be pet is a huge help for patients going through chemotherapy, grieving a sibling and more.

“A dog just cuddles up with them and doesn’t say, ‘You need to get on with your life,'” she said, adding that she’s done research that shows children feel just as comforted by pets as they do by their friends when they lose a sibling.

“Just that unconditional willingness of the animal to be hugged [helps],” she said.

Studies have shown that being around dogs and therapy animals makes people produce oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone”; and dopamine, the hormone and neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of love (and also lust and addiction.) Dogs have also been shown to alleviate fear, anxiety and stress in part by decreasing cortisol, the “stress hormone.”

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Pumpkin Seed Oil Creeping Up on Coconut in Popularity

Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Still using coconut oil for your skin-care needs? That’s so…a few months ago. The beauty set has moved on to a more seasonal ingredient. Time to replace your coconut oil with pumpkin seed oil, it seems.

“It’s super trendy right now,” said Alexis Wolfer, editor of The Beauty Bean and author of The Recipe for Radiance.

She said it has seen a steady growth in popularity in the past few years, especially come fall.

Jillian Wright, owner of the Jillian Wright Clinical Skin Spa in Manhattan, said she frequently uses pumpkin in her facials. Pumpkin serum, or oil, she said, is great for “tired, lifeless, dehydrated and oxygen-deprived skin.”

Wright uses it for facial massages and softening the skin before extractions.

OM Aroma & Co.’s “bestselling” Pumpkin Seed Renew Serum sells for $58 on its website. And luxury skin-care brand Soveral sells a $94 Nourishing Body Oil with pumpkin and castor oil as the main ingredients.

But far cheaper versions — in both capsule and liquid from — can be found online. An 8.5-ounce bottle of Flora organic pumpkin oil is sold for $20. La Tourangelle Toasted Pumpkin Seed Oil, meant to be used primarily on food as a salad dressing or dips, is $13.

Pumpkin oil’s popular predecessor, coconut oil, is similarly used both topically on the body and in food. There was also, of course, the recent oil-pulling craze for which coconut was a popular choice.

“Pumpkin seed oil is packed with healthy fats to hydrate and vitamin A to encourage cell turnover, which helps keep skin looking younger, prevent breakouts, and even fade scars,” author Wolfer said.

It also has vitamin E that helps to promote healing. “It’s great for both acne prone and aging skin,” she added.

And while coconut oil isn’t rich in vitamin A or E, it has lauric acid that, Wolfer said, serves a similar purpose to vitamin A when used topically. She said coconut oil is antimicrobial and antibacterial, where pumpkin seed oil isn’t.

“Bottom line, they’re both great for your skin,” Wolfer said, “and like with your diet, which you wouldn’t want to be comprised of one food, your beauty routine should similarly include more than one ingredient.”

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Study Says to Pump Up the Music at Work

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — If you sit at your cubicle making nary a sound, you may be doing yourself a disservice, according to a new study.

The study, conducted at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, suggested that listening to certain kinds of music in the office actually makes people want to work harder and take more control.

Researchers chose 31 songs from different genres like pop, heavy metal, reggae and hip-hop and then asked participants to rate how powerful each track made them feel.

The top three songs for greater performance at work were all ones with a high-powered beat, ranked as follows:

  1. “We Will Rock You” by Queen
  2. “Get Ready for This” by 2 Unlimited
  3. “In Da Club” by 50 Cent

Overall, the study found, just like an athlete would use music to get pumped up for a competition, employees can use music to make themselves better workers.

“Our work suggests that strategically listening to high-powered music can help you perform better,” Kellogg professor Loran Nordgren told ABC News.

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Not Even Pregnancy Can Stop These Marathoners from Running

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — When Kara Goucher competes at this Sunday’s New York City Marathon, she will do so with her 4-year-old son, Colt, cheering her on.

Goucher, 36, went for a run the day she gave birth to Colt four years ago. Now, she is part of an emerging trend of professional female runners maintaining a running career while raising a family.

“I had to plan in a certain window,” Goucher told ABC News of the difficulty of getting pregnant amid training and sponsorship schedules. “Every other even year is an off year [so] that’s the year we try to get pregnant.”

“It’s stressful,” she said. “If I wasn’t pregnant by a certain date, I’d have to wait another four years.”

Clara Horowitz Peterson is another elite runner who, like Goucher, gave birth without giving up her running profession.

“I ran all nine months with all three pregnancies,” Peterson, 30, told ABC News. “The babies were growing progressively and I was feeling fantastic so I went for it.”

Peterson is now pregnant with her fourth child. She says she chose to have kids earlier in life, hoping to peak later in her career.

“If I go too many days without running, it’s like I haven’t brushed my teeth for a week,” she said. “It’s just something that I need to do.”

Running while pregnant made headlines last summer when America watched Olympian Alysia Montano run the 800-meter race at the U.S. Track and Field Championships while she was 8.5 months pregnant.

Montano, then 28, drew some criticism for racing so late into her pregnancy but fellow mother-runners like Peterson say they listen to their doctors and know what is best.

“The bottom line is I’m an elite athlete,” Peterson said. “I know my body better than anybody and I know what’s OK and what isn’t.”

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CDC Issues Revised Guidelines on Monitoring Possible Ebola Patients

Credit: James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(NEW YORK) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a revised set of guidance for monitoring and moving patients with potential exposure to Ebola.

Among the most notable parts of the new guidance is the creation of risk levels based on exposure. High risk of infection involves exposure to infected bodily fluids through a needle stick; a splash into the eyes, nose or mouth; direct contact with infected bodily fluids to the skin; touching a dead body or handling bodily fluids without properly wearing personal protective equipment; or living with and caring for a person with the disease.

Those in close contact — within three feet –with a person showing symptoms of Ebola are considered at “some risk” of exposure.

The lowest degree of risk — not including those at no risk of exposure — comes from being in a country with widespread Ebola transmission in the past three weeks without known exposure; briefly being in the same room as a person showing signs of Ebola; having brief skin contact with a person showing signs of Ebola who was not believed to be contagious at the time; or coming in contact with a person showing signs of Ebola in a heavily-impacted country while wearing personal protective equipment.

The CDC also advised that returning health care workers “be treated with dignity and respect.” Those workers who return and are deemed to have been at “some risk” of exposure should be subject to “direct active monitoring” and a case-by-case determination regarding controlled movement, workplaces exclusions or restrictions on other activities.

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Bacteria in Baby Wipes Prompts Nationwide Recall

Malgorzata Biernikiewicz/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Nutek Disposables, Inc. issued a nationwide recall on Monday of baby wipes that may contain bacteria.

The company release says that the products — manufactured under brand names including Cuties, Diapers.com, Femtex, Fred’s, Kidgets, Member’s Mark, Simply Right, Sunny Smiles, Tender Touch and Well Beginnings — were distributed to stores including Walgreens, Sam’s Club, Family Dollar and Fred’s, and to Diapers.com before Oct. 21. Nutek says it received “a small number of complaints of odor and discoloration.” Those complaints prompted them to conduct microbial testing that revealed the presence of a bacteria called Burkholderia cepacia (B. cepacia) in some products.

The bacteria, Nutek says, “poses little medical risk to healthy people.” Still, those with certain health problems may be most susceptible to infections with B. cepacia.

The company has received complaints including rash, irritation, infections, fever, gastrointestinal issues and respiratory issues, though it is unclear whether those issues are related to the use of the product.

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Bacteria in Baby Wipes Prompts Nationwide Recall

Malgorzata Biernikiewicz/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Nutek Disposables, Inc. issued a nationwide recall on Monday of baby wipes that may contain bacteria.

The company release says that the products — manufactured under brand names including Cuties, Diapers.com, Femtex, Fred’s, Kidgets, Member’s Mark, Simply Right, Sunny Smiles, Tender Touch and Well Beginnings — were distributed to stores including Walgreens, Sam’s Club, Family Dollar and Fred’s, and to Diapers.com before Oct. 21. Nutek says it received “a small number of complaints of odor and discoloration.” Those complaints prompted them to conduct microbial testing that revealed the presence of a bacteria called Burkholderia cepacia (B. cepacia) in some products.

The bacteria, Nutek says, “poses little medical risk to healthy people.” Still, those with certain health problems may be most susceptible to infections with B. cepacia.

The company has received complaints including rash, irritation, infections, fever, gastrointestinal issues and respiratory issues, though it is unclear whether those issues are related to the use of the product.

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Boy, 5, Tests Negative for Ebola at NYC Hospital

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A five-year-old child at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital Center on Monday tested negative for Ebola, a statement from the New York City Department of Health and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation said.

“Out of an abundance of caution, further negative Ebola tests are required on subsequent days to ensure that the patient is cleared,” the statement notes. In addition to testing for other possible illnesses, the child will also remain in isolation until all test results are returned.

“The chances of the average New Yorker contracting Ebola are extremely slim,” the statement points out. Still, hospitals “will be using enhanced scrutiny and an abundance of caution when reviewing questionable cases.”

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Mandatory Quarantines Alarm Ebola Workers About to Come Home

Save The Children(NEW YORK) — Gregg Ramm is helping to battle Ebola in Liberia, but he fears that if he comes home like he plans to in two weeks, he will be put in quarantine and will miss Thanksgiving with his family.

He also believes that the mandatory quarantine policy by New Jersey and New York will make recruiting doctors and nurses to care for Ebola patients — already difficult — even harder.

Ramm said volunteers in Liberia are alarmed by the pictures of nurse Kaci Hickox, who treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, being quarantined in a tent at a New Jersey hospital after arriving on a flight at Newark Airport on Friday. Hickox was discharged Monday and was en route to her home in Maine.

“Of course this does not make me happy and it also doesn’t make sense,” said Ramm, the interim country director in Liberia for Save the Children.

Ramm, 52, has been in the Ebola-ravaged West African country for four weeks and plans to return to the U.S. in about two weeks. He said he is worried that he will be stuck in quarantine for three weeks.

“I was planning on spending Thanksgiving with my family,” said Ramm, who lives in Washington, D.C. “It is difficult to imagine remaining in a tent for 21 days like that nurse I saw on the news today.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Monday that healthcare workers returning from West Africa can be quarantined in their homes if they are not showing any symptoms, like a fever or vomiting. The rules for New York and other states are similar.

Hickox was held in quarantine in New Jersey because there were no immediate plans to get her safely to Maine, and she then briefly developed a fever while in quarantine.

Ramm, who would land in Washington’s Dulles Airport, said that aid and healthcare workers based in Liberia are buzzing about the new quarantine rules. Most people find them confusing and unclear, he said, and the prevailing opinion is that mandatory quarantine is an unnecessary and unscientific step.

Since the virus cannot spread unless a person shows symptoms, they believe it is a waste of time to keep people segregated when they are healthy and monitoring body temperature on a regular basis, he said. Ramm said taking your temperature several times daily is already a way of life in Liberia.

Ramm said he and others are also worried about what the quarantines will do to their recruiting efforts.

“Getting people to come here and help is already a difficult job. This will only make it harder,” he said.

It’s unclear how many foreign aid workers are currently treating Ebola patients in West Africa. Save the Children currently has 34 staff members in various parts of West Africa, a spokesman for the organization said. Spokesmen for the World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders said that both organizations have had over 700 personnel travel to affected countries since the outbreak began in March. Neither group could immediately pinpoint how many of these were American.

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Why There’s So Much Controversy Surrounding Ebola Quarantine Orders

ABC News(NEW YORK) — At least seven states have issued tougher rules for travelers returning from Ebola-affected regions, some with mandatory quarantines going above and beyond federal guidelines.

The moves are controversial and have sent politicians backpedaling and lawyers reading between the lines.

What are states doing?

A day after New York doctor Craig Spencer was diagnosed with Ebola after traveling home from treating Ebola patients in West Africa, the governors of New York and New Jersey announced that they would enforce mandatory quarantines for all travelers who had close contact with Ebola-infected people and were arriving from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — the three countries hit hardest by the current epidemic.

Later the same day, the Illinois Department of Public Health also announced a mandatory 21-day home quarantine for high-risk individuals who cared for Ebola patients in the same countries.

“This protective measure is too important to be voluntary,” Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said in a statement. “We must take every step necessary to ensure the people of Illinois are protected from potential exposure to the Ebola virus. While we have no confirmed cases of the Ebola virus in Illinois, we will continue to take every safeguard necessary to protect first responders, healthcare workers and the people of Illinois.”

Late Sunday night, the governors of New York and New Jersey stressed that they would allow home quarantines with twice-daily monitoring from health officials. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said mandatory hospital quarantines would only be required of high-risk individuals arriving to New York and New Jersey who are not from either of those states.

Florida, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Virginia also announced tougher rules for travelers returning from Ebola-affected regions with the possibility of home quarantine.

Have they quarantined anyone yet?

Yes. On Friday, nurse Kaci Hickox was returning from Sierra Leone, where she had been treating Ebola patients, when she was detained and interrogated at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. She had no symptoms but was held against her will until Monday, when they announced they would release her.

Hickox detailed her ordeal in an op-ed for the Dallas Morning News, describing how she was held for six hours at the airport as she was treated “like a criminal.”

In a text message Monday morning, she told ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser, “I’m so thankful for the immense attention and support I’ve received. I just hope this nightmare of mine and the fight that I’ve undertaken is not in vain!”

Hickox has tested negative for the virus twice but was held in a quarantine tent at University Hospital in Newark anyway. Her lawyer argued that her basic human rights were being violated.

She was released Monday to return home to Maine, where officials said they will require her to be under quarantine with active monitoring for the remainder of the 21 days — the incubation period for Ebola.

Why are the quarantines controversial?

It doesn’t mesh with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, which assume that someone isn’t contagious until Ebola symptoms appear. And even then, transmission requires contact with bodily fluids like blood and vomit.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday on ABC News’ This Week, “As a scientist and as a health person, if I were asked, I would not have recommended [mandatory quarantines].”

What are the federal rules?

The CDC announced on Oct. 22 that all airline passengers traveling from Ebola-affected nations would get Ebola kits and be required to self-monitor for 21 days, which is the maximum length of time it takes someone exposed to the virus to show symptoms. They are required to take their temperature twice daily and answer several questions about their symptoms, according to the CDC. If they do not report, they will be tracked down, the agency said.

Under CDC rules, doctors returning from treating Ebola patients in West Africa need to monitor their symptoms for 21 days, not quarantine themselves. Doctors Without Borders has similar guidelines.

“Self-quarantine is neither warranted nor recommended when a person is not displaying Ebola-like symptoms,” Doctors Without Borders said Thursday in a statement. “However, returned staff members are discouraged from returning to work during the 21-day period.”

Are the quarantines legal?

Public health lawyer Wendy Mariner, who teaches at Boston University School of Law, said the legalities of the quarantines depend on the laws in the states mandating them. In New York, the 9/11 attacks prompted the creation of stronger laws, allowing for people to be detained “even if they only might have been exposed to someone who might be sick,” she said.

“That’s a pretty broad determination, which, to my knowledge, has not been challenged,” she said, adding that her colleagues think it’s not an issue of the public panicking — it’s an issue of politicians panicking in an election year.

Still, she said that if President Barack Obama wanted to formally declare the quarantines a national security issue, he could override the states. She said because they relate to borders, it is a federal matter.

Northwestern University professor of constitutional law Eugene Kontorovich disagreed, saying that state officials have the right to keep possibly-infected individuals from moving around their territories.

“The president is not doing that and not going to do that for political reasons,” Kontorovich said. “Overriding quarantines puts it all on him if it doesn’t work out.”

Mariner said she thinks the quarantines are problematic — and could become a federal matter — because they will discourage health workers from traveling to West Africa to stop the Ebola outbreak at its source.

“It’s a little odd to single them out,” she said, adding that health workers are more likely to want to keep from spreading the disease they’ve been fighting and more likely to recognize the symptoms. “If you single out anyone who works with Ebola then you probably have to quarantine U.S. healthcare workers and U.S. hospital workers treating Ebola patients.”

Do these quarantines violate the Constitution?

Since the United States has a history of upholding quarantines, Kontorovich said the states have the right to enforce quarantines beyond the CDC guidelines. He said states wouldn’t be able to impose a quarantine for the common cold, but because Ebola is a fatal disease with no cure, strict quarantines are permissible.

Kontorovich said Hickox’s situation reminded him of a 1963 case in which a woman returning from Europe was isolated because she had traveled to a town in the midst of a smallpox outbreak. The woman, despite taking the matter to court, was quarantined for 14 days upon her return to New York even though she wasn’t sick.

The states get to decide how they want to protect their citizens, he noted, and don’t have to be conservative to do so. The greater good of the state outweighs the individual’s freedoms for three weeks, he said, adding that he’s glad New York has announced that it will be compensating the people it quarantines.

State governments can either be too strict and sacrifice a handful of people’s freedom for 21 days or be too lax and allow people to become infected, he said. As a result, it would rather err on the side of caution.

“Once people are infected, you can’t make them healthy, you can’t put them back in the box,” he said.

Self-monitoring assumes people will be compliant, he said, but there’s no need for states to trust that this will happen.

“Your neighbors are not required to trust you,” Kontorovich said.

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