Review Category : Health

CDC to Send Team to Dallas to Assist with Control, Monitoring After Second Ebola Case

Credit: James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(DALLAS) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday that it would deploy a second team to Dallas to help assist the staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in infection control and monitoring of those staff members who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Ebola patient who died last week.

According to a CDC press release, the nine-person team will include experts in infection control, Ebola and infectious diseases, laboratory science, personal protective equipment and hospital epidemiology. The CDC notes that several individuals on the team were involved in either Ebola outbreaks in West Africa or infectious disease outbreaks at other U.S. hospitals.

The deployment comes on the same day that Nina Pham was identified as the second Ebola patient in Dallas. Pham, a nurse, was infected while treating Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

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Researchers Develop Alzheimer’s Breakthrough

shironosov/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have replicated human brain cells for use in ongoing Alzheimer’s disease research.

The study, published in the journal Nature, details the work done to create a petri dish with human brain cells that develop telltale structures linked to Alzheimer’s. That breakthrough, researchers say, could be an aid in researching the disease. Until now, they say, the only means of testing drugs to treat Alzheimer’s was by using mice that developed an imperfect form of the disease.

The petri dish is still an imperfect substitute, as it lacks immune system cells and other components of a human brain. Still, it will allow for researchers to quickly, cheaply and easily test drugs that could halt the progress of the disease, according to the New York Times.

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Concierge Medicine: How At-Home Doctor Visits Yield Savings

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It’s been a while since any member of the Basile family missed school or work for a visit to the doctor.

“We had perfect attendance two years in a row,” said mother Meredith Basile. “No lates. No sick days.”

Instead of waiting in a doctor’s office, she and husband Joe found family physician Dr. Brian Thornburg, who treats them and their two children at their home in Naples, Florida.

Thornburg is one of an estimated 10,000 concierge doctors in the U.S.

For a fee, these doctors offer personalized care and around-the-clock access, often treating their patients at home for everything from a routine checkup to the occasional stitch or two.

On top of their regular health insurance, patients pay Thornburg a $100 monthly fee for whatever home care they might need.

Although critics say the service is only for the rich and famous, ABC News’ consumer health advocate Michelle Katz disagrees. She said there could be hidden savings in concierge medicine.

“They (parents) don’t have to take off work. They don’t have to find babysitters,” Katz said. “They can be in the comfort of their own home.”

Katz estimated how the Basiles saved about $2,000 a year with concierge medicine by following two money-saving tips:

1. Combining checkups. In the Basiles’ case, they pay $100 a month to Thornburg for all of their regular care. Four separate checkups at a doctor’s office would have cost this family $750 even with their insurance.

2. Reducing ER visits.
U.S. families visit emergency rooms on average twice a year at a cost of $1,200 a visit. By saving the Basile family trips to the ER, Thornburg helped them cut their overall healthcare costs.

When their son, Luca, split open his chin on the kitchen counter, Thornburg came to their home and stitched up the wound.

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Nebraska Ebola Patient Tweets He Is on ‘Road to Good Health’

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(OMAHA, Neb.) — The freelance cameraman who contracted Ebola while working in Liberia is feeling good enough to tweet Monday that he is “on the road to good health.”

Ashoka Mukpo’s condition improved over the weekend and his Twitter posts mark the first time he has directly addressed the public.

“Back on twitter, feeling like I’m on the road to good health. Will be posting some thoughts this week. Endless gratitude for the good vibes,” he wrote in the first post Monday afternoon.

“Now that I’ve had first hand exp [sic] with this scourge of a disease, I’m even more pained at how little care sick west Africans are receiving,” he wrote. “Be on the lookout for the Ebola Diaries blog coming soon. Will compile material from long-term reporter residents of Liberia.”

Mukpo, 33, is being treated at the Nebraska Medical Center and had a blood transfusion from Dr. Kent Brantly, the first American who contracted the disease while working for a missionary organization in Monrovia. Brantly recovered from the disease.

He has also received an experimental drug called brincidofovir. Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man who was treated unsuccessfully for Ebola at a Texas hospital, received the same drug.

“The team taking care of him in Nebraska now feels he has turned the corner and with time, will make a full recovery,” Mukpo’s relatives said in a statement released to NBC News on Saturday. Mukpo was working for NBC in Liberia when he got sick.

“Ashoka has been steadily improving over the past 48 hours. He has been symptom free during that time and is increasing his physical strength. His appetite has returned and he is asking for food. His spirits are much more uplifted and continue to improve,” the family said.

Shelly Schwedhelm, the nursing director of the bicontainment unit at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, told a news conference Monday that Mukpo is improving.

“He’s doing great. Today he’s sitting up and no longer having any nausea or vomiting and feeling pretty good and having some food to eat and so feeling really good about his prognosis and his care,” Schwedhelm said.

The rest of the NBC team that was in Liberia alongside Mukpo have now been ordered into a mandatory isolation period even though the company has said that no one else on the team is showing symptoms.

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Broccoli Sprout Extract May Help Curb Autism Symptoms

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A chemical derived from broccoli sprout could help treat symptoms of autism, according to a new study from Johns Hopkins and Harvard hospitals.

The study authors say it is an “intriguing” first step that could lead to a better life for those with autism spectrum disorders, which affect one in 68 children in the United States and currently have no cure or medical treatment.

“If you tell people that you’ve treated autism with broccoli, they would say that that is a very far-fetched idea,” said study author Dr. Paul Talalay, a professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Talalay and his team treated 40 autistic boys and men with autism over 18 weeks. Twenty-six of them took pills with sulforaphane, a broccoli sprout extract, and the rest received a placebo.

Study authors found that patients who took sulforaphane improved. Almost half of the patients treated with sulforaphane had “much improved” or “very much improved” social interaction and verbal communication, and more than half exhibited less aberrant behavior. When the patients stopped taking the extract, they returned to baseline levels for these symptoms within four weeks.

Those who took the placebo did not show any improvement, according to the study.

Talalay said the way in which this extract might work in autistic patients has yet to be fully understood, but past research suggests that sulforaphane can cause the body to react as it would to a fever. Since fevers have been associated with a temporary improvement of symptoms in about a third of autism patients, sulforaphane may work in a similar way, according to the study authors.

The findings appear in the October issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Autism experts not involved with the research said the findings are encouraging, but cautioned that there are still many unanswered questions.

“The trial needs to be replicated and evaluated in larger and more age-diverse samples,” Dr. Susan Hyman, chief of neurodevelopmental and behavioral pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said in an email to ABC News. “But the data is certainly worth pursuing.”

Dr. Max Wiznitzer, a pediatric neurologist at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, agreed.

“The results are intriguing because there is an improvement in some of the subjects,” Wiznitzer said. “However, [the authors] have not shown that they have treated the core essence of autism.”

Still, Wiznitzer said these findings would be “fascinating if true.”

“It might give us a whole new group of treatments to use in these individuals,” he said.

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Sleeping on Couches Can Be Deadly for Infants, Study Says

iStock/Thinkstock(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) — Couches can be hazardous to infants, according to a new study from Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

One in eight “crib” deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome occur on the sofa, researchers said, since babies can get wedged beneath the cushions or fall asleep on their sides.

The database report, published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday, looked at the cause of infant sleeping deaths over an eight-year period from 24 states and found that more than 1,000 were associated with the sleeping position and a sofa location.

While the study says sharing a sofa with an infant is becoming increasingly common in some countries and may be done to calm or feed the child, researchers found that the children who died were more likely to be those on the couch with another person.

Experts recommend to place infants on firm surfaces while sleeping and to lay children on their back in cribs.

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Sleeping on Couches Can Be Deadly for Infants, Study Says

iStock/Thinkstock(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) — Couches can be hazardous to infants, according to a new study from Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

One in eight “crib” deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome occur on the sofa, researchers said, since babies can get wedged beneath the cushions or fall asleep on their sides.

The database report, published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday, looked at the cause of infant sleeping deaths over an eight-year period from 24 states and found that more than 1,000 were associated with the sleeping position and a sofa location.

While the study says sharing a sofa with an infant is becoming increasingly common in some countries and may be done to calm or feed the child, researchers found that the children who died were more likely to be those on the couch with another person.

Experts recommend to place infants on firm surfaces while sleeping and to lay children on their back in cribs.

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Dallas Ebola Patient’s Dog Will Be Kept Safe, Mayor Says

File photo. iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) — A dog belonging to a Texas health care worker who tested positive for Ebola will not be euthanized, unlike a recent decision in Spain, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told USA Today.

“This was a new twist,” Rawlings said. “The dog’s very important to the patient and we want it to be safe.”

The patient’s dog remains inside her Dallas apartment with local SPCA and animal control officials helping to monitor the situation, authorities said.

The decision comes days after Spanish health officials euthanized a dog belonging to a Spanish nurse’s aide who contracted Ebola after helping to care for a priest who had been working in West Africa.

The decision to euthanize the dog drew protests, online campaigns and global concern because of uncertainty over whether the dog was also infected or risked spreading the disease to humans.

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Sleeping on Couches Can Be Deadly for Infants, Study Says

iStock/Thinkstock(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) — Couches can be hazardous to infants, according to a new study from Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

One in eight “crib” deaths from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome occur on the sofa, researchers said, since babies can get wedged beneath the cushions or fall asleep on their sides.

The database report, published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday, looked at the cause of infant sleeping deaths over an eight-year period from 24 states and found that more than 1,000 were associated with the sleeping position and a sofa location.

While the study says sharing a sofa with an infant is becoming increasingly common in some countries and may be done to calm or feed the child, researchers found that the children who died were more likely to be those on the couch with another person.

Experts recommend to place infants on firm surfaces while sleeping and to lay children on their back in cribs.

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Ebola Protocol Breach Raises Questions About Where to Treat Patients

iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) — The protocol breach at a Texas hospital being blamed for a health care worker being infected with Ebola, the first person to contract the disease in the United States, raised concerns about whether hospitals are prepared to treat the virus.

The health care worker was among the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital staff who treated Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. The hospital is not one of the four in the U.S. with units specialized to handle diseases like Ebola.

“The comments from CDC [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] early on that this could be done in any hospital that is used to doing isolation just doesn’t ring true to me,” ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser said.

“Groups like Doctors Without Borders, they have incredible training in this, and they practice it, and it’s the practicing that ensures that you don’t have a slip-up,” he said. “For our first patient in America to lead already to a health care worker getting sick really raises a concern to me.”

According to National Nurses United, the largest registered nurse union, surveys of their membership indicate that most nurses feel hospital administrations have not communicated adequately with staff about Ebola response plans.

“Reports of the infection of a nurse at the same hospital where the first U.S. patient, Thomas Eric Duncan died in Dallas only heightens the concerns for registered nurses and other frontline hospital personnel who would be among the first to respond and interact with other patients about whether their hospital is doing enough to protect health workers as well as patients and the general public,” NNU Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro said Sunday.

So far, the only two cases of Ebola that have been diagnosed in the United States have been treated at Texas Health Presbyterian.

The decision to not transfer Thomas Earl Duncan, who died of Ebola last week, to a specialized care facility was criticized by members of his family.

The CDC has not said if the patient diagnosed with Ebola on Sunday will be transferred to one of four centers across the country where health care workers are trained to specialize in treating highly infectious diseases.

“We are going to look at all opportunities to improve the level of safety and to minimize risk,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said at a press conference.

While he did not rule out transferring patients to specialized centers, Frieden said that all hospitals should be prepared to safely treat Ebola.

“We do want hospitals to have the ability to rapidly consider, isolate, and diagnose people who may have Ebola,” he said.

Even before Sunday’s announcement, hospitals from New York to Iowa to California have taken steps to try to prepare for possible Ebola cases.

Some hospitals are sending memos to staff, and others are running all-out drills, many of them following guidelines from CDC to make sure staff members know everything from how to identify possible Ebola patients to how to get out of protective gear without contaminating themselves.

All the U.S. citizens who contracted Ebola in Liberia and were brought to the United States were transported to the Nebraska Biocontainment Patient Care Unit, in Omaha, and to the specialized unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Two more centers that are specialized to treat diseases like Ebola are at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland., and St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, Montana.

The protocols put in place at Texas Health Presbyterian have been used for decades to treat Ebola, according to Frieden, and can be used in other hospitals.

But Frieden conceded that the same kind of protocol breach that led to the infection announced Suday could have occurred to other hospital workers at Texas Health Presbyterian.

“Unfortunately it is possible in the coming days that we will see additional cases of Ebola,” Frieden said. “Because the health care workers who cared for this individual [Duncan] may have had a breach of the same nature of the individual who appears now to have a preliminary positive test.”

What exactly the protocol breach was has not been identified.

The female health care worker was interviewed by investigators after she was diagnosed with Ebola, but she could not identify when the breach occurred, Frieden said.

Frieden recommended that hospitals appoint individuals to oversee medical staff and ensure that all safety protocols prescribed by the CDC in treating Ebola are followed.

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