Review Category : Health

Employers Need to Prepare for Flu Outbreak Now

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — No one’s telling Americans not to take Ebola seriously. However, millions can start preparing now for another contagious disease: the flu.

John Challenger, CEO of the outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas, says that if this year’s flu season is anything like last year’s, it will be tremendous drain on the economy.

Overall, a seasonal flu outbreak costs the nation’s economy $10.4 billion in direct costs for hospitalization and outpatient visits, not to mention another $7 billion dollars annually in lost productivity at work.

Obviously, Americans at risk of catching the flu, such as the young and those over 50, can reduce the risk of contracting the flu by getting vaccinated.

Challenger also advises employers to start taking steps to stop the flu from spreading.

For instance, he recommends “encouraging employees to wash their hands, offering free or low-cost flu vaccination shots, and routinely washing and disinfecting work surfaces.”

Perhaps even more important than all that, managers and supervisors should make it a point to tell workers early on that if they’re sick, stay home.

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Coffee and Beer May Affect Some Couples’ Ability to Conceive

FogStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — Coffee and beer are a couple of America’s favorite beverages but one may possibly be better than the other when it comes to couples who are having problems conceiving.

According to a surprising study out of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, coffee consumption by men seems to impair infertility treatments. However, a man’s beer drinking might increase the odds of pregnancy, although researchers are not suggesting they imbibe in great quantities of suds.

In a study of 105 men involved in vitro fertilization treatments over seven years, couples in which men drank at least 24 ounces of coffee daily were half as likely to conceive than those in which males drank less than an eight-ounce cup daily.

Meanwhile, couples enrolled in IVF had more luck with live births when the man had the equivalent of two 12-ounce beers daily compared to other couples with limited alcohol consumption among men.

Why do beer and coffee have these effects? Scientists admit they’re stumped and with a small sample size, they’re not about to make any recommendations until further studies are conducted.

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Coffee and Beer May Affect Some Couples’ Ability to Conceive

FogStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — Coffee and beer are a couple of America’s favorite beverages but one may possibly be better than the other when it comes to couples who are having problems conceiving.

According to a surprising study out of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, coffee consumption by men seems to impair infertility treatments. However, a man’s beer drinking might increase the odds of pregnancy, although researchers are not suggesting they imbibe in great quantities of suds.

In a study of 105 men involved in vitro fertilization treatments over seven years, couples in which men drank at least 24 ounces of coffee daily were half as likely to conceive than those in which males drank less than an eight-ounce cup daily.

Meanwhile, couples enrolled in IVF had more luck with live births when the man had the equivalent of two 12-ounce beers daily compared to other couples with limited alcohol consumption among men.

Why do beer and coffee have these effects? Scientists admit they’re stumped and with a small sample size, they’re not about to make any recommendations until further studies are conducted.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Employers Need to Prepare for Flu Outbreak Now

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — No one’s telling Americans not to take Ebola seriously. However, millions can start preparing now for another contagious disease: the flu.

John Challenger, CEO of the outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas, says that if this year’s flu season is anything like last year’s, it will be tremendous drain on the economy.

Overall, a seasonal flu outbreak costs the nation’s economy $10.4 billion in direct costs for hospitalization and outpatient visits, not to mention another $7 billion dollars annually in lost productivity at work.

Obviously, Americans at risk of catching the flu, such as the young and those over 50, can reduce the risk of contracting the flu by getting vaccinated.

Challenger also advises employers to start taking steps to stop the flu from spreading.

For instance, he recommends “encouraging employees to wash their hands, offering free or low-cost flu vaccination shots, and routinely washing and disinfecting work surfaces.”

Perhaps even more important than all that, managers and supervisors should make it a point to tell workers early on that if they’re sick, stay home.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Drawing Attention to the Risks of Drowsy Driving

Tomwang112/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — When it comes to drowsy driving dangers, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday that Americans need to wake up.

The NTSB, for the first time, held a forum on drowsy driving in Washington, D.C.

Mark Rosekind, a board member, said one of the biggest problems is that people underestimate just how tired they are.

“Humans are just horribly inaccurate if we have to self-diagnose fatigue,” Rosekind said. “That’s what allows us to put ourselves in life-threatening situations.”

According to the AAA, 40 percent of drivers have admitted to falling asleep at the wheel.

Losing two hours of sleep in just one night can affect a person’s reaction time by 20 percent, the NTSB said.

All that can add up to one of the most under-reported problems on the road. One study has suggested that 20 percent of crashes — one out of every five accidents — involves a tired driver.

On test tracks at Virginia Tech, researchers are assessing drivers for alertness and signs of fatigue.

Cameras are also being tested to see whether they can look at a person’s face and find telltale signs of a lack of sleep. Some cars have even been equipped with technology that can sense a driver drifting into another lane.

For now though, the NTSB is issuing this bit of advice: If a driver has not had enough sleep, they should not get behind the wheel.

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Family Denies Teen Was ‘Scared to Death’ at Haunted House

iStock/Thinkstock(MIDDLETOWN, Ohio) — The 16-year-old girl who collapsed and died after visiting an Ohio haunted house was not “scared to death,” her family says.

Christian Faith Benge was on a family trip last week to the Land of Illusions haunted house in Middletown last week when she collapsed.

Benge’s mother, Jean Benge, said she and a paramedic performed CPR on the teen before she was taken to a local hospital. The teenager was pronounced dead after arriving at the hospital.

Benge said she has been frustrated by early news reports insinuating that her daughter was “scared to death.” Benge, however, cited a life-long congenital defect as being responsible for her daughter’s not-surprising death.

Benge said her daughter was born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia. The condition means abdominal organs move into the chest because of a hole in the diaphragm, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The defect had been fixed when Christian Faith Benge was an infant, Jean Benge explained, but there was long-term damage related to the condition, including an enlarged heart and one nonfunctional lung. She said her daughter was never told to avoid certain stressful situations, such as so-called haunted houses.

“It had enlarged four times her natural size,” Jean Benge of her daughter’s heart. “It kicked out. When she collapsed, she died instantly.”

After talking to the coroner, Benge said she believes her daughter’s heart could have given out anywhere and that they just happened to be at a haunted house.

The Warren County Coroner in Ohio will not officially release a cause of death until toxicology tests return.

Benge said she is trying to focus on her daughter’s managing to survive far longer than expected and the many friends in her school and local church. She said doctors had not been optimistic that the girl would live past infancy and even sent her home to die when they couldn’t do anything else to help her, Benge said.

“My husband named her [because] Christian faith is the reason why she lives,” Benge said. “People rule out miracles in our society. She was a living proof that God still works miracles.”

There are some cases where patients with cardiac conditions should avoid stressful situations, but such cases are rare, according to Dr. Sahil Parikh, a cardiologist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland.

Parikh, who did not treat Christian Faith Benge, said the most common reason for sudden death is an arrhythmia, when a heart’s electrical system malfunctions and can cause the heart to stop beating or to beat irregularly. In cases similar to the one described by Jean Benge, when the heart is enlarged, the patient can be more at risk for sudden heart failure.

“The heart gets bigger and bigger as it gets weaker and weaker,” Parikh said. “It was trying to compensate.”

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Utility Workers Indicted Over Brain-Eating Amoeba Testing

File photo. iStock/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) — Two Louisiana utility workers have been indicted for allegedly failing to test the water supply for a brain-eating amoeba and then lying about it.

In late August, St. John the Baptist Parish officials told 13,000 people in three Louisiana towns that the deadly amoeba, called Naegleria fowleri, had been found in their water supply. The following month, state police officers began to inspect inconsistencies in the water inspection data, according to ABC New Orleans affiliate WGNO.

Utility workers Kevin Branch, 54, and Danielle Roussel, 43, were both indicted Monday on one count of failing to perform a duty required of a public employee and another count of creating and maintaining false public records, according to the indictment obtained by ABC News.

“It’s unbelievable really because we trust them. We thought they were doing their jobs, and I’m kind of shocked,” resident Sandra Remondet told WGNO. “I can’t believe it.”

Naegleria fowleri causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, an extremely rare but almost invariably fatal brain infection, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The amoeba thrives in warm freshwater and enters the brain through the nose. This infection is not caused by drinking water contaminated by the amoeba.

A 4-year-old boy from a nearby parish died last year after contracting the amoeba while playing on a Slip ‘N Slide. Afterward, New Orleans flushed its water supply with chlorine.

According to the grand jury indictment filed Monday, investigators compared the water inspection logs with data from the GPS devices on Branch’s and Roussel’s parish vehicles and concluded that Branch did not stop at 30 of the 48 water inspections he claimed to have done between Aug. 1 and Aug. 27. And Roussel did not stop for three of the six inspections she claimed to have completed over the same period, the indictment states.

Both Branch and Roussel were given 24 hours to surrender to the parish jail, according to a statement from the Louisiana attorney general.

There have been 132 other reported cases of Naegleria fowleri infections between 1962 and 2013, with only a handful occurring each year, according to the CDC. By comparison, about 10 people die in unintentional drownings per day, the agency said. Four of those Naegleria fowleri cases occurred in Louisiana.

In July, 9-year-old Hally Yust died after being infected with the amoeba in Kansas.

Neither Branch nor Roussel could be reached for comment. The Louisiana attorney general’s office said information on their attorneys was not available.

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Ashoka Mukpo Says He Doesn’t Know How He Contracted Ebola

Ashoka Mukpo(OMAHA, Neb.) — The freelance cameraman who contracted Ebola while working with NBC in Liberia may be released from an isolation ward in Nebraska this week.

Ashoka Mukpo was transported from Liberia to the Nebraska Medical Center’s biocontainment center on Oct. 6 and could be released this week if new tests confirm he no longer has the virus.

The 33-year-old has opened up via Twitter about how he still is not sure how he contracted the disease but does not regret going to Liberia to help spread the word about Ebola’s impact on West Africa.

He also wrote about the “endless debt, endless gratitude” he owes to his supporters, mentioning how the head of Doctors Without Borders’ burial team took time to visit Mukpo while he was still being treated in Liberia.

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Study Investigates What Traits Make a Kid a Future Killer

iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) — Is there any reliable way to predict whether a child will grow up to be a murderer?

Alex Piquero, a University of Texas at Dallas criminologist, says trying to figuring that out is extremely difficult.

About the only two factors that many killers have in common is that their IQ is usually lower than other criminals and they were generally exposed to extreme violence at some point in their lives.

Piquero says in studying 1,350 serious juvenile offenders who mostly committed felony crime, the average IQ of the 18 convicted of murder was 79 compared to 85 for the others. The young killers were also more apt to witness a crime such as assault or rape.

However, Piquero contends that so-called risk factors such as drug use or mental illness are not good indicators of whether a juvenile will turn into a murderer because so many young criminals also have these problems.

Murder, he concludes, is usually driven by the situation.

Piquero says the best way of dealing with the problem is by improving education and lowering neighborhood violence.

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Those Who Feel Good About Aging Take Better Care of Themselves

iStock/Thinkstock(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) — Middle-aged Americans who don’t have a problem with getting older tend to take better care of their health.

Eric Kim, a University of Michigan doctoral student, says in a study that too many people 50 and older seem resigned to the fact that a certain amount of physical and mental decay is inevitable so to them, it makes little sense to take advantage of preventative health care services.

That’s why Kim says it’s important to have a positive mindset about the aging process. He explains that when people are comfortable in their own skin and hope to remain vigorous and healthy in their 50s, 60s and 70s, they get their cholesterol checked regularly and undergo colonoscopies.

For men, higher aging satisfaction also involves prostate exams while women will undergo a mammogram/X-ray or pap smears.

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