Review Category : Health

POLL: Ebola Worries Ease a Bit Despite Preparedness Concerns

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Ebola worries have eased slightly in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, despite a broad sense among Americans that their local hospitals are unprepared to deal with the virus — and continued preference for a more robust response by the federal government.

After the difficulties at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, where two nurses were infected, just 29 percent in this national survey think the staff at their local hospitals is adequately trained to deal with Ebola cases. Six in 10 think not.

[See PDF with full results, charts and tables here.]

The fact that both nurses recovered — and just one further case has been identified — may have done at least a little to calm fears of a broad outbreak. In interviews Thursday through Sunday, 36 percent of Americans expressed worry that they or an immediate family member might catch the Ebola virus, down by 7 percentage points from two weeks before. And while 60 percent are concerned about an epidemic occurring in the United States, that’s eased from 65 percent.

Further, the new poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, shows an 8-point increase in Barack Obama’s approval rating for handling the issue, to 49 percent, now exceeding the 41 percent who disapprove. There’s a closer division on the response by the federal Centers for Disease Control, 47-45 percent; it’s said it could have moved more forcefully in providing oversight in Dallas.

Another result shows steady majority confidence — 63 percent — in the ability of the federal government to respond effectively to an outbreak. That said, 61 percent also say the government should do more to try to prevent further cases in the United States.

The public by 46-37 percent also says the United States is not doing enough to try to stop the spread of Ebola in Africa; on this question 17 percent have no opinion.

Interviews for this survey were conducted before debate erupted over moves by some state governments to impose greater restrictions than the CDC’s on people who’ve been to West African countries affected by Ebola. Regardless, 70 percent support restricting entry to the United States by such people — similar to the level two weeks ago — indicating general support for aggressive efforts to prevent spread of the disease.

AWARENESS and WORRY – This survey also finds a high level of awareness about the disease: Eighty-one percent feel that they understand how the Ebola virus is transmitted among humans — an important result, because feeling informed relates to concern.

Specifically, worries about catching the virus, and about a U.S. epidemic, are substantially lower among those who say they understand how it’s transmitted. These concerns are lowest among the 37 percent who feel they know “very well” how transmission occurs, underscoring the role of education in quelling public fears.

Education factors into feeling informed — among college graduates, 91 percent say they’re well informed about how Ebola is transmitted, including 51 percent “very” well informed. Those numbers decline to 76 and 30 percent, respectively, among those who lack a degree.

GROUPS and CHANGES – Concerns about Ebola are concentrated in some groups. Worry about catching the disease remains particularly high among less-educated adults — nearly twice as high among those without a college degree (42 percent worried) compared with college graduates (24 percent). Concerns about a U.S. epidemic, similarly, are 23 points higher among the less-educated group, 68 vs. 45 percent.

That said, some of the greatest changes from two weeks ago are among more-concerned groups. Worry about catching Ebola is down by 8 points among non-graduates compared with earlier this month, and concern about an epidemic is down by 6 points in this group.

Among other groups, worry about an epidemic has subsided among Republicans and conservatives, by 11 and 8 points, respectively. Nonetheless, both remain much more apt than others to say the government should do more to try to stop the spread of the disease in the United States — putting these groups in the somewhat unusual position of favoring more, not less, government action.

Women are 10 points more likely than men to express worry that they or a family member might catch the disease, and 9 points more apt to say they’re concerned about an epidemic. There’s also a sharp racial division, with worries about catching Ebola 22 points higher among nonwhites than whites.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Oct. 23-26, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,204 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3 points, including the survey’s design effect.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y.

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Researchers Consider Bluetooth Technology as Means of Monitoring Athletes’ Hearts in Real Time

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Researchers in Germany were able to used portable electrocardiograms and Bluetooth technology to study how marathon runners’ hearts are stressed during a race.

The study, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, looked at data from 10 runners continuously during a marathon. The data collected via Bluetooth was comparable to that gathered by the EKG attached to the runner. One-hundred percent of heart abnormalities found by the direct EKG were also found via Bluetooth.

Researchers wonder whether the technology could hold implications for real-time monitoring of athletes, perhaps working to prevent sudden cardiac arrest.

The study was small, in that it only looked at 10 runners, and collecting data on thousands of runners at an event like the upcoming New York Marathon could be difficult, requiring hundreds of cardiologists and putting a strain on cell phone towers.

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Study: Mammography Plus Tomosynthesis More Effective at Preventing False-Positive Breast Cancer Diagnoses

monkeybusinessimages/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A study partially supported by the National Cancer Institute found that while more expensive, women with dense breasts are better served by receiving a mammogram combined with a process called tomosynthesis than a mammogram alone.

The study, published in the journal Radiology, found that adding the tomosynthesis to a standard mammogram can reduce over-diagnosis of breast cancer in women ages 50 to 74 with dense breasts. Researchers used data from the NCI’s Breast Cancer Surveillance to compare the effectiveness of the two screening options.

The tomography and mammography combined prevented 405 false diagnoses per 1,000 women through 12 rounds of screening, according to the study.

This method, researchers say, while more expensive than just a standard mammogram, could eliminate unnecessary diagnostic work-ups and invasive procedures — and the costs that accompany them — that result from false-positive diagnoses.

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Kaci Hickox Won’t Follow Maine Ebola Quarantine Rule, Lawyer Says

Handout Photo(FORT KENT, Maine) — Kaci Hickox, the nurse who was quarantined at a New Jersey hospital despite exhibiting no Ebola symptoms after arriving from West Africa, won’t follow the quarantine imposed by Maine officials, her attorney said Tuesday night.

“Going forward she does not intend to abide by the quarantine imposed by Maine officials because she is not a risk to others,” her attorney Steven Hyman said. “She is asymptomatic and under all the protocols cannot be deemed a medical risk of being contagious to anyone.”

Hickox will abide by all the self-monitoring requirements of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state of Maine, Hyman said.

Maine requires that health care workers such as Hickox who return to the state from West Africa remain under a 21-day home quarantine, with their condition actively monitored, Gov. Paul R. LePage said in a statement.

“We will help make sure the health care worker has everything to make this time as comfortable as possible,” he said.

Hickox left University Hospital in Newark Monday afternoon and was taken to Maine, where she lives.

Hickox, 29, was the first person forced into New Jersey’s mandatory quarantine after arriving at Newark Liberty International Airport Friday. She had previously treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone for Doctors Without Borders, but never registered a fever, leaving no medical reason to keep her quarantined, another of her attorneys, Norman Siegel, told ABC News.

She was held in a tent structure outside of University Hospital.

“Her civil rights were violated,” Siegel said. “At a minimum, she could bring an action for damages. But I think her goal is to try to revise the current policies with regard to, for example, mandatory quarantines.”

Siegel criticized New Jersey and New York governors Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo for enacting quarantine policies, despite criticisms from the Obama administration and medical experts that the measures were unnecessary.

“When you look at what happened and how it happened, you come away with the sense that this policy was based on fear and politics rather on medical fact, and we can’t have the politicians directing these kinds of important issues,” Siegel said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the federal government has established Ebola guidelines that are “based on solid science,” but he declined to classify states’ quarantine efforts as a mistake.

“I don’t want to use the word ‘mistake’ because I think when people do things, the governor of New York, the governor of New Jersey, they’re doing it in good faith to try and do what they feel is the best for their constituents,” Fauci said in an interview with Good Morning America. “What we’re trying to do is set the bar that’s based on scientific data, but that’s not to criticize or to put down a decision that an official might make wanting to go the extra mile. That’s just judgment on their part.”

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Women May Be More Likely Than Men to Ignore Heart Attack Symptoms

michaeljung/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health say that women may ignore the symptoms of a heart attack for too long.

Heart disease is the most common cause of death for American women, but researchers say that in studying men’s and women’s responses to chest pain, women were slower to seek medical attention. Chest pain is a sign of a possible heart attack, and the study, presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Society Meeting, found that women were 1.5 times as likely to wait until their symptoms got worse before seeking medical help.

While both men and women initially were uncertain that chest pain was related to a heart attack, women in the study stayed in the denial phase longer. In some cases, researchers said, women waited for others to tell them to seek help before going to a doctor.

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Researchers Say Milk May Not Be as Effective at Strengthening Bones as We Think

capdesign/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Researchers in Sweden believe that milk may not be as effective in helping women build stronger bones, and that in some cases the sugars in milk may increase stress on bones.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, looked at dairy consumption among over 106,000 subjects, including 61,433 women. The researchers then followed the male subjects’ health for 11 years and the females’ medical health for 20 years. Women who drank three glasses of milk or more each day had no reduction in their risk for fractures, and may have even shown a slightly increased risk for breaking a hip.

Men who drank higher quantities of milk, by contrast, did not show any increased risk of fracture.

Looking at subjects who ate milk products like yogurt and cheese found that those products were associated with decreased risk of both fractures and death. Researchers believe that lactose and D-galactose — sugars present in milk but not yogurt or cheese — may increase oxidative stress and inflammation in bones. That could, in turn, increase risk of fractures.

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Creator of Polio Vaccine Would Have Turned 100 on Tuesday

Google(NEW YORK) — Happy birthday, Jonas Salk, who got a Google doodle on Tuesday.

The man who discovered the polio vaccine would have celebrated his 100th birthday on Tuesday.

Salk was born in 1914 in New York City. He died in 1994 at age 80, according to the Salk Institute.

Salk was the director of the Virus Research Library at the University of Pittsburgh when he realized he could kill the polio virus with formaldehyde but still have it trigger an immune response.

Polio was an epidemic in the U.S. for many years, leading to paralysis in thousands of people. In 1955, the vaccine Salk developed went public and Salk was hailed a hero. The epidemic was stopped in its tracks.

Salk never patented the vaccine, and didn’t earn any money from it.

He founded the Salk Institute in 1967, devoted to the study of biological sciences.

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Woman Recovering from Paralyzing Injury Walks Through Her Front Door

Frank Carnucci(NEW YORK) — There’s no place like home, something Jaime Carnucci learned the hard way. After suffering a spinal cord injury in August that paralyzed her left side, she returned home walking last week after 70 days of surgeries and rehabilitation.

“It was unreal, especially being able to walk through my front door,” the Hooksett, New Hampshire, woman, 37, told ABC News. “From the beginning, they were always talking about how we needed to raise money in case we had to put up a ramp and there was never one minute I thought I would need it. …I refused to put ramps up in any part of my house because I wanted to walk through my front door — and I actually reached that goal.”

Carnucci was vacationing with her husband, Frank Carnucci, and friends when she and her girlfriends decided to go for a nighttime swim. She dove into the shallow lake, hitting the bottom at an odd angle.

“I remember hitting the bottom of the lake and it was just a weird feeling,” she said. “I never felt any pain; it was just a ringing in my ears. I felt like I was floating.”

Her friend dragged her out and they kept her body still until ambulances rushed her to emergency surgery, which ended up saving her ability to move.

“When I had come out of the water, the only movement I had was from my elbows to my shoulders,” she said. “And when I woke up from surgery the next morning, I could move my right foot. And from then on, slowly, things just started to wake up.”

Jaime Carnucci moved to a rehabilitation center for several weeks where she painstakingly regained the ability to walk. Her husband stayed with her the entire time, commuting back and forth to work an hour each way, every day.

“I have the best husband in the world. He was amazing. It really takes something like this to show how close. I have no words,” she said. “He did everything I could think of and he never got tired of it and he was always there. He’s the hero here, not me.”

During their time at the rehabilitation center, her husband started a Facebook movement under the hash tag #CarnucciStrong, in reference to the #BostonStrong movement. Family members, friends and even strangers from across the world began sending Carnucci photos, cards and flowers for support. People even stepped up and took care of their two children for the first month before her parents could come up from Maryland.

“If I didn’t have that support, I definitely would not have been anywhere near where I am now,” she said. “Before I knew it, there were hundreds of people with the ‘Carnucci Strong’ signs and shirts. It was everywhere. It was nonstop. I was in complete disbelief.”

“It’s just little me; I had an accident,” she said, “and yet hundreds of people were just coming up with these pictures and my neighbors were making signs to put up on their lawns, even people I don’t know. Every day, [there are] new cards and new pictures of people we don’t even know.”

Moving forward, Carnucci is trying to return to normal while regaining full function of her left side.

“I still have issues with my left leg, and my left hand isn’t working so well so I still have a lot of rehab to do,” she said. “I’ve got a ways to go — but it’s coming.”

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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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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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