Review Category : Health

CDC: Public Pools, Hot Tubs Rife with Health and Safety Violations

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — As the weather warms and Memorial Day looms, children and adults alike will soon be flocking to swimming pools. But just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning water-lovers to be careful before jumping into the deep end.

The CDC looked at inspection data from the five states with the most public pools and hot tubs, which included 48,632 public aquatic venues, that were inspected in 2013.

The report revealed that 80 percent of public aquatic venues had at least one violation and one in eight were closed after the inspection due to serious health and safety violations. The most common violations involved improper pH (15 percent), which is a measure of the water’s acidity; safety equipment (13 percent); and disinfectant concentration (12 percent).

“No one should get sick or hurt when visiting a public pool, hot tub, or water playground,” Dr. Beth Bell, director of the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, said in a statement Thursday. “That’s why public health and aquatics professionals work together to improve the operation and maintenance of these public places so people will be healthy and safe when they swim.”

Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told ABC News the findings emphasize how people need to be alert and aware of their surroundings when they go to a public pool.

“You take for granted that you’re safe when you go to these facilities,” said Glatter, who was not involved in the new CDC report. He said these lapses in safety can result in infections and increases in communicable diseases.

There are basic steps people can take when visiting the pool to diminish the risk of getting sick. While the CDC advises using test strips, Glatter said people can also ask a lifeguard or manager about maintenance.

“I think [you should] look around the cleanliness of the pool,” Glatter said. “If can you see the bottom when you [get to] the deep end,” it’s a sign that it’s clean.

The CDC released the Model Aquatic Health Code this year to give guidance to local and state authorities that oversee public aquatic spaces.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Yellow Fever Outbreak Called ‘Serious’ As Deaths Near 300

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) emergency committee convened Thursday to discuss the growing yellow fever outbreak and determine whether to designate it a global health concern. Though it labeled the outbreak a “serious” concern, the committee stopped short of declaring it a global public health emergency.

The WHO committee said it is a “serious public health event which warrants intensified national action and enhanced international support” but was not yet a public health emergency of international concern.

An estimated 2,267 people in Angola have contracted the yellow fever virus in this outbreak, and approximately 300 have died, according to WHO officials.

Three countries — the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and China — have reported the infection in travelers who had recently returned from Angola. The disease has been mainly spread by the mosquito Aedes aegypti, which also spreads Zika and other diseases.

Professor Oyewale Tomori, chairman of the WHO yellow fever emergency committee, said more resources were needed to deal with the outbreak.

“With 300 people dead, it reinforces the potentially explosive nature of the disease and risk internationally,” he said in a call with reporters Thursday.

There is a vaccine that prevents yellow fever but no cure for those infected. The WHO said it is working with manufacturers to stockpile more vaccine doses. It recommends that anyone visiting Angola get a yellow fever vaccination.

In most cases, the illness lasts three to six days and can have a range of symptoms, from virtually none to fever, chills, severe headache, back pain, general body aches, nausea, vomiting, fatigue and weakness, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 15 percent of cases, a brief remission can be followed by a more severe case characterized by high fever, jaundice, bleeding and eventually shock and failure of multiple organs.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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San Francisco May See Health Warnings on Some Soda Ads This Summer

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) — San Francisco residents may see warning signs on certain soda advertisements about the beverage’s possible health hazards starting this summer.

But the battle over the warnings will continue even though a federal court denied a move by the American Beverage Association and other state associations to block the warnings.

The groups had tried to block the message from the beverage ads in the city that states: “WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco.”

According to court documents, the warning will be required on paper, poster and billboard ads in areas like stadiums or bus shelters. It will not be required in newspaper, TV or radio ads, or on the internet. It will also not be required on menus or the actual containers. When featured, the warning must take up “20 [percent] of the area of each” ad, the court docs state.

After the court’s ruling earlier this week, the ABA said it “look[s] forward” to continuing its fight in court.

San Francisco would be the first city to have warnings on publicly displayed soda ads. The city may also have a ballot initiative on the November ballot for a tax on soda consumption. Other cities like Philadelphia and Boulder, Colorado, are also considering measures to institute some kind of soda tax.

Soda consumption is at its lowest level in 30 years, according to Beverage Digest, a trade publication, as consumers turn to healthier beverage options.

Last July, the ABA, the California Retailers Association and the California State Outdoor Advertising Association sued the city of San Francisco to overturn the ad law that was enacted last year, saying it suppresses First Amendment private speech and penalizes private speakers for their views on sugar-sweetened beverages, according to the complaint.

The plaintiffs had hoped for an injunction to prevent the city from enforcing the law. But on Wednesday, the court denied their motion for a preliminary injunction. Judge Edward Chen wrote in his decision that the plaintiffs “are not likely to succeed on the merits of their First Amendment claim, and it is unlikely that they would suffer irreparable harm if the ordinance were to go into effect.”

The ABA said in a statement following the court’s decision, “We are disappointed in the Court’s ruling on our motion for a preliminary injunction as we believe that the City of San Francisco’s mandate violates the constitutional rights of a select group by unfairly discriminating against one particular category of products, based on one ingredient found in many other products.

“We are reviewing the decision and look forward to making our case on the merits of this ordinance in court.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Oprah Winfrey Talks Life-Changing Weight Watchers

Discovery Communications, Inc.(NEW YORK) — Oprah Winfrey has always been honest about her struggles with weight.

The media mogul, speaking to reporters Wednesday night in a phone call promoting Weight Watchers, candidly said, “I feel like I’ll be counting points for the rest of my life.”

Winfrey, 62, wanted to drive home the point that the program she’s now following, on which she’s already lost more than 25 pounds, is no fad or a short-term diet.

“I genuinely feel that it’s been easier this time than the other 3,000 times I’ve gone on a diet because I don’t even feel like it is a diet. I just feel like, ‘OK, my life has changed,'” she said, according to People magazine.

Indeed, Winfrey regaled reporters with a recent dining-out story and how she only took a “little bite” of food that was fried or unhealthy.

Still, she slips every now and then, but that’s OK.

“Yesterday, I knew I was going to be having General Tso’s chicken for dinner, so I did an extra 30 minutes of exercise and then I walked the dogs around a couple of more times,” she added. “It’s not something I feel like I’m on or I’m off.”

Winfrey bought a 10 percent stake in Weight Watchers in October and also joined the program. She revealed in January that she had eaten bread every day and lost 26 pounds.

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Study: Healthy Lifestyle May Prevent Up to Half of Deaths from Most Common Form of Cancer

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Adopting a healthy lifestyle could prevent a huge number of cancer cases and possibly save tens of thousands of lives in the U.S, according to a study published Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School looked at 89,571 Caucasian women and 46,399 Caucasian men enrolled in two ongoing cohorts to see how much a healthy lifestyle could reduce cancer risk.

Of the people studied, 16,531 women and 11,731 men had a healthy lifestyle pattern and were determined to be low risk. These healthy patterns included moderate or no drinking, a BMI between 18.5 and 27.5, weekly physical activity that included at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity, and either never having smoked or currently not being a smoker.

The authors then studied cancer rates among the high- and low-risk groups. They found that overall, 20 percent to 40 percent of carcinoma cases and about half of carcinoma deaths can be potentially prevented through lifestyle modification. Carcinomas form in the lining of certain tissues or organs and is the most common form of cancer.

The authors clarify that more study needs to be done to ensure these findings translate to other ethnic groups.

“These findings reinforce the predominate importance of lifestyle factors in determining cancer risk. Therefore, primary prevention should remain a priority for cancer control,” the authors concluded in the study.

Dr. Ehsan Malek, a hematologist and oncologist at University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland, said this can help the medical community understand cancer risk and how to hopefully prevent future cases.

“We didn’t know what portion of cancer is caused by environmental cancer and opposed to the gene, this study highlights the importance of lifestyle change,” said Malek, who was not involved in this study. “We have a lot to do. We have the potential to change the prospect of cancer in the U.S.”

Studies like this can help health officials allocate resources to encourage healthier lifestyles and prevent future cancer cases, Malek said, noting that despite new advancements in treatment, these medications can incur a high cost.

“We have had a tremendously amount of success and prolonged survival of cancer patients,” Malek said. “However, the cost of cancer treatment stays very high. Cancer is the first reason for bankruptcy in this country.”

He pointed out that currently officials have estimated that every $1 spent on prevention may translate to $10 saved on treatment.

“We have no other option. We have to work on prevention more than treatment based on cost-benefit issues,” Malek said. “A slight change can translate to huge reduction of risk.”

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Your Body: Statins and Heart Disease

iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

We know statins are helpful for those who have heart disease. But could they help prevent heart attacks and strokes for people without high cholesterol?

Researchers suggest that even those with a cardiac risk factor could consider a daily statin for primary prevention, even if their cholesterol level alone does not dictate its use.

So what are the pros and cons?

Cardiologists have known for some time that cholesterol’s role in heart disease extends beyond just the number. It’s also true that having high or borderline cholesterol is not only about your exercise routine — there are internal and genetic reasons for having elevated cholesterol, too.

The best answer probably lies in evidence-based medicine which is then individualized for you.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Friends of Boy with Down Syndrome Fight to Attend Same School

Tena GreenFORT COLLINS, Colo.) — When an 11-year-old boy with Down syndrome was told he would not be able to attend middle school with his friends in the fall, they went to bat for him.

Brady Green’s classmates went to a school board meeting to speak about why the boy should attend Blevins Middle School with them in September. Six fifth-graders from Brady’s elementary school in Fort Collins, Colorado, took to the podium to speak about how he has enriched their lives.

“He lights up the room whenever he’s around, he helps people when they’re down and he makes us laugh. To me, it seems unfair,” Brady’s friend Ella said last month. “If we are allowed to choose what middle school we go to, why isn’t Brady allowed to? Just because he has a disability does not mean he is different than us.”

Others agreed.

“If we can choose to go to Blevins, why can’t Brady?” a fifth-grader named Dylan asked the board.

Ten-year-old Storm said, “I’m in the same class as Grady. He’s changed the whole atmosphere of the school [since he arrived two years ago]. He makes it much better, much more fun to go to school. Why can’t he choice into middle school? He has one extra chromosome and that doesn’t really mean anything.” A person with Down syndrome has 47 chromosomes instead of the typical 46.

The adults were impressed.

“They gave a very effective presentation,” Cathy Kipp, president of the Poudre School District Board of Education, told ABC News. “Brady was awesome and his friends are amazing advocates for him.”

The same friends nominated Brady for the school’s SOAR (Spirit Outstanding Attitude Respect) award, the only peer-nominated award the school gives. His mom found out he won Wednesday and Brady will receive the honor at graduation.

The board meeting took place in mid-April and the final decision about Brady’s placement was made two weeks later by the principal of Blevins, Tena Green, Brady’s mom told ABC News. The conversation about where Brady would attend school in the fall was a months-long one, and Green was met with many roadblocks along the way.

Ultimately, the decision came down in Brady’s favor and he will attend Blevins come September.

Green said that kids on an individualized education program (IEP) are funneled to a different middle school, where they are so segregated from the other students that they have a separate hall.

“No way,” Green said of that option.

“I understand the business aspect of this,” she said, referring to the way funds are allocated to schools in a district. “I own businesses. But the social aspect of middle school is just as important as academics for Brady. Why would we separate him from his friends?”

Green said she thinks one of the reasons the kids love Brady so much is “because he accepts each one exactly as they are.” They in turn do the same for him.

As for Brady, he’s very happy to continue on with his classmates next year. “We were driving by the middle school and I told Brady that’s where he was going to school next year,” she said.

“Me?” he asked his mom. “My friends, too?”

He was thrilled when she told him yes, Green said.

“The parents [of Brady’s friends] have been amazingly supportive, she said. “And the kids are so wonderful.”

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Formerly Conjoined Sisters Celebrate 1st Birthday Before Leaving Hospital

Driscoll Children’s Hospital(NEW YORK) — A pair of formerly conjoined sisters celebrated their first birthday this week before finally getting to leave the hospital for the first time.

Scarlett and Ximena Hernandez-Torres were born connected at the waist, sharing a colon and bladder — a 1 in 50 million chance — according to the Driscoll Children’s Hospital. Last month, they underwent a marathon surgery to separate them. The pair were born with a third sister as a set of triplets last May.

The plan for the separation surgery included high-tech medical devices. Doctors used a special scanner called a “spy camera” during the surgery to understand the complicated blood flow between the girls and help them stay healthy during the long ordeal. Additionally, doctors used a 3-D model from a specialized MRI, designed to help them map out the surgery.

A month after the surgery, the girls were able to celebrate their first birthday just one day before they were declared healthy enough to be able to leave the hospital for the first time, officials from the Driscoll Children’s Hospital told ABC News. They joined their sister and older brother at a nearby Ronald McDonald House as they continue to recover from their surgery.

The girls’ mother, Silvia Hernandez, told ABC News in an earlier interview that she can already see a difference in her daughters’ personalities.

“Scarlett likes to dance, sing and she smiles a lot,” she said. “Ximena is most of the time sleeping but she smiles a lot.”

The girls were born as triplets with a third sister, who was not conjoined. Hernandez said in an earlier interview that she was concerned about the girls’ health and mobility after the surgery.

“I do have to believe in God’s will, that everything will be fine,” she said. “And he will be there in the day of the surgery and he will make a miracle with them.”

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Report: Killer Superbugs Could Bring Back ‘Dark Ages of Medicine’

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — Calling the situation a “ticking time bomb,” the British government’s chief medical officer is warning the world is at a tipping point when it comes to the spread of antibiotic-resistant so-called “superbugs.”

A sobering report on the matter, the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, says such bugs could kill someone every three seconds by 2050.

Professor Dame Sally Davies urged the government to raise the issue in London next month, to the member nations attending the G8 summit. She tells the BBC, “If we don’t take action, then we may all be back in an almost 19th Century environment where infections kill us as a result of routine operations. We won’t be able to do a lot of our cancer treatments or organ transplants.”

She urged pharmaceutical companies to develop new antibiotics, despite the fact that they’re less profitable than other medicines.

For his part, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron is quoted in the scientific review as saying the international community must come together on the issue. “If we fail to act, we are looking at an almost unthinkable scenario where antibiotics no longer work and we are cast back into the dark ages of medicine.”

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Senate Advances Zika Proposal Amid Clash With House Over Funding

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Senate got one step closer today to passing a billion-dollar measure to fund the Obama administration’s efforts against the Zika virus — pushing the chamber further down a collision course with the House as they work on vastly different funding measures to combat the virus.

The Senate’s amendment, which would fund anti-Zika efforts at $1.1 billion over an open-ended period, cleared a procedural hurdle by a 68-29 vote, setting up a vote on final passage for Wednesday. A separate measure that would have provided $1.9 billion in funding — the Obama administration’s full request — failed.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives is working on its own package that would only provide a fraction of that — setting up a clash between the two chambers as the risk for transmission of the virus in the United States only increases as the summer months approach.

Sen. Patty Murray, who helped craft the proposal that passed, took to the Senate floor ahead of the vote to stress the urgency of getting one of the billion-dollar packages to the president’s desk, which the senators hope will extend the funding through the end of the next fiscal year in June 2017.

She also said the House package — which would provide $622 million for use over the next five months — is far too little.

“House Republicans have released a proposal that would provide a very meager 622 million dollars — less than a third of what is needed for this emergency without any funding for preventive health care or outreach to those at risk to Zika,” she said.

Rep. Hal Rogers, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee who led the drafting of the House proposal, defended his package by saying the administration did not provide enough information about where the money would be allocated, so his panel only funded immediate efforts, with the understanding that it would revisit the issue at the end of the funding period. The administration’s request for Zika mirrors the request made for Ebola last year. Health officials told ABC News they need flexibility to move money around quickly as the threat evolves.

The House package — which President Obama has threatened to veto — includes $350 million in unobligated funds that were originally supposed to combat the Ebola crisis.

“This legislation will make dollars available to fight the disease now, prioritizing critical activities that must begin immediately, such as vaccine development and mosquito control. The legislation funds these efforts in a responsible way, using existing resources — including excess funding left over from the Ebola outbreak — to pay for it,” Rogers said in a statement.

But the Department of Health and Human Services argues that just because the funds have yet to be used, doesn’t mean they are “unobligated,” and moving the money away from Ebola efforts could threaten a resurgence in that disease.

“Recent Ebola cases in West Africa remind us of the importance of the investments America, along with its partner nations, is making to help prevent another public health crisis like the one that reached our shores in 2014. Failure to meet our commitments endangers the health of the American people.” Kevin Griffis, assistant secretary for public affairs, said in a statement.

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