Review Category : Health

WHO Warns Certain STIs Becoming More Resistant to Antibiotics

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The World Health Organization has released new guidelines on how to treat three sexually transmitted infections due to the growing threat of antibiotic resistance.

WHO issued the new guidelines for chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, which are all caused by bacteria. The infections traditionally have been treatable with antibiotics, but WHO warns that new strains and spotty testing have resulted in many people not being diagnosed early and subsequently becoming more likely to harbor an antibiotic-resistant form of the infection.

“Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are major public health problems worldwide, affecting millions of peoples’ quality of life, causing serious illness and sometimes death,” Ian Askew, director of reproductive health and research at WHO, said in a statement Tuesday. “The new WHO guidelines reinforce the need to treat these STIs with the right antibiotic, at the right dose, and the right time to reduce their spread and improve sexual and reproductive health. To do that, national health services need to monitor the patterns of antibiotic resistance in these infections within their countries.”

In total, the infections afflict more than 200 million people every year, with 131 million contracting chlamydia, 78 million contracting gonorrhea and 5.6 million people contracting syphilis annually, according to WHO.

In recent years, all three infections have become more resistant to antibiotics, with certain strains of gonorrhea resistant to every available antibiotic.

The WHO guidelines include calling on countries to update tracking of these different infections, use certain medications that will quickly knock out an infection and promote safe sex to help combat the spread of these antibiotic-resistant STIs. The complete guidelines can be found here.

These new guidelines bring WHO in line with recommendations from the CDC that were issued in 2015.

Health officials across the globe have been warning that antibiotic-resistant bacteria could severely impact human health as the effectiveness of current antibiotics continues to wane.

In the U.S., there is currently just one antibiotic treatment recommended by the CDC to treat gonorrhea. In 2006, there were five recommended antibiotic treatments, four of which have mostly been made obsolete by the infection becoming resistant to treatment.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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What Oprah’s Weight Loss Means for Boyfriend Stedman

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) — Oprah Winfrey’s weight-loss journey has hit a distinct milestone.

The media mogul and Weight Watchers spokeswoman talked to People magazine Monday night and was asked what her recent weight loss means for her beau Stedman Graham.

“I would like him to pick me up and carry me to the pool,” she said. “I’ve lost enough weight, he can pick me up and carry me to the pool. I can straddle him without breaking his back.”

Winfrey announced in January that she had lost more than 25 pounds, all while still eating one of her favorite staples — bread.

It’s because of this and the program she feels she can keep the weight off.

“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,” she said back in May.

Along with her work for Weight Watchers, Oprah is also featured in a new scripted show for OWN, Greenleaf, which she is also producing. The show is generating a lot of positive buzz and she couldn’t be happier.

“I am actually doing it. I really only do what I want to do when I want to do it. That’s the best life,” she said earlier this summer.

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Hepatitis A Outbreak Linked to Frozen Strawberries from Egypt

iStock/Thinkstock(RICHMOND, Va.) — At least 40 people have been sickened in a Hepatitis A outbreak that health officials believe is linked to frozen strawberries, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

The outbreak was first identified on Aug. 12 when officials from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention noticed multiple people sickened by the same strain of hepatitis A. The outbreak has now been linked to frozen strawberries from Egypt that were used in smoothies at Tropical Smoothie Cafe locations in Virginia, according to the state health department.

The 40 people reported sickened are between the ages of 15 to 68 and all said they had consumed a smoothie before exhibiting symptoms.

At least 55 percent of those who tested positive for the virus and had their information available to health authorities had to be hospitalized, the health department said on Monday.

The strawberries have been voluntarily removed from all restaurants, according to company officials.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe CEO Mike Rotondo addressed customers in a statement.

“‘Eat better feel better’ is not just a marketing slogan, it’s a promise and it’s something I believe in very dearly. Recently. some strawberries may have made their way into the supply chain that could challenge that concept. I sincerely apologize for any issues this may have caused for any of our customers,” Rotondo said in a statement on video on the company’s Facebook page on Aug. 21. “We voluntarily and immediately removed all of those strawberries from all of our cafes and we have sourced new strawberries for every location. We take this issue very seriously. Your health and your safety is our top priority.”

In a statement earlier this month, company officials said the Egyptian strawberries were a “small fraction” of the company’s overall supply.

“Egyptian strawberries represent a fraction of our overall strawberries purchased, and were predominantly distributed to stores in the Virginia market. Today, our strawberries are primarily sourced from Mexico and California,” company officials said in an Aug. 19 statement. “However, in an abundance of caution, we voluntarily pulled all strawberries sourced from Egypt from every cafe in our system, not only the Virginia cafes. Our primary concern is for the safety and well-being of our guests and crew members and we will continue to cooperate with the health authorities.”

The Hepatitis A virus can cause inflammation of the liver. Symptoms can develop within 15 to 50 days of exposure to the virus and can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, vomiting and abdominal pain. There is a vaccine and immunoglobulin treatment for patients who have been exposed to the virus, which can help offer protection against the virus if taken early enough.

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iPads as Effective as Medication for Reducing Anxiety in Kids Before Surgery, Study Says

iStock/Thinkstock(HONG KONG) — Kids stressed out before getting their tonsils out? Give ’em some Angry Birds to play.

Doctors may soon find themselves reaching for an iPad instead of the prescription pad for managing anxiety in children before they receive anesthesia for surgery, thanks to findings reported Sunday at the World Congress of Anesthesiologists in Hong Kong.

Researchers from the Hospices Civils de Lyon in France compared two groups of more than 50 children, each about to undergo surgery. In one group, the children received the sedative midazolam 20 minutes before anesthesia. The second group was given an electronic tablet to play with, and no sedative. Researchers then compared anxiety levels in the children and their parents at multiple time points, as well as the quality of the induction of anesthesia and parents’ satisfaction with the anesthesia.

Results: giving children tablets was equally effective as the sedative in managing their anxiety. The researchers also found a 22 percent increase in anesthesia nurse satisfaction with the process of anesthesia, and a 5.5 percent increase in parent satisfaction with the anesthesia process.

Proponents say the study, which was not published in a peer-review journal, provides justification for a cheap intervention that avoids given children medication.

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Dad Spoofs Jason Bourne With Hilarious (Baby) ‘Bjorn Identity’ Video

iStock/Thinkstock(MONTREAL) — David Freiheit, of Montreal, Canada, is taking parenting to the next level by spoofing the Jason Bourne movies with his hilarious new video called “The Bjorn Identity.”

The hardcore dad uses relatable parenting puns while wearing his Baby Bjorn carrier to emulate the elusive crime fighter Jason Bourne, played by Matt Damon.

“The funny thing is I got the Bjorn and the pun came to my head one day and then I wanted to work the pun into the plot of the movie,” Freiheit told ABC News of what inspired him to put the dad angle on the famous film series. “When you become a parent, you develop overnight a whole new set of skills you’ve never had before.”

These superpower skills include surviving solely off just the leftovers your kids leave behind after meals and “actually functioning when you’re totally sleep-deprived,” he explained.

Freiheit, a lawyer by day, said the video took about a month to shoot. The idea for the spoof came to him as he’s been wearing his trusty Baby Bjorn much more recently after the birth of his newborn son, Ethan.

“It’s a fun hobby and a great opportunity to bond with the kids,” he said of creating YouTube videos with his family.

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Millions of Depressed Americans May Be Slipping Through The Cracks, Study Says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Nearly three in four American adults who would meet the clinical criteria for depression may not be getting tested for it, according to a new report out of The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Researchers conducted two annual household surveys in 2012 and 2013, screening 46,417 adults for depression using a widely used questionnaire known as the PHQ-2. They also took note of what forms, if any, of treatment these subjects received for depression.

Of those surveyed, 8.4 percent screened positive for depression – yet only 28.7 percent of those who had a positive screen reported receiving any form of treatment (drugs and/or psychological therapy). Of those who were not treated for depression, 78.5 percent had seen a medical provider in the last year.

Conversely, the survey also looked at those individuals that received treatment of any form, and only 29.9 percent of these adults turned out to be PHQ-2 positive.

Adults most at risk for severe psychological distress included those in the lowest income bracket, less than a high-school education, those with public health insurance, and those who were separated, divorced or widowed. These were the same groups that were less likely to receive treatment for their depression, with the addition of the uninsured, racial/ethnic minorities, and men.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health and the Centers for Disease Control, more than 15 million Americans suffer from depression, a disease that claims more than 41,000 lives annually. The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends depression screening for all adults using a the PHQ-2.

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Congressional Committee Launches Investigation Into EpiPen Pricing

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Democratic and Republican lawmakers on the Congressional House Oversight Committee have launched an investigation into the price surge for EpiPens.

In a letter sent to the CEO of EpiPen maker Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, are requesting documents and internal communications regarding the “unreasonable” EpiPen price hike — describing the company as having a “virtual monopoly” over the auto-injector market.

The news comes as Mylan Pharmaceuticals announced it will release a generic version of the EpiPen later this year that will cost approximately $300 for a pack of two. The drug price for a two-pack EpiPen has increased from $100 in 2009 to approximately $600 this year, according to medical literature and various pharmacies.

The committee is asking the company to provide documents on its revenue, expenses and lobbying disclosures. The Congress members also asked Mylan executives to brief the committee by Sept. 6.

“Mylan has a virtual monopoly over the epinephrine auto-injector market,” the Congress members wrote in the letter released Monday. “While families and schools are struggling to keep up with your company’s unreasonable price increases, Mylan has profited richly from its pricing strategy.”

Requests for comment from Mylan Pharmaceuticals were not immediately returned.

In the announcement for the new generic EpiPen, Mylan CEO Heather Bresch said they want to help patients immediately reduce out-of-pocket costs.

“We understand the deep frustration and concerns associated with the cost of EpiPen to the patient, and have always shared the public’s desire to ensure that this important product be accessible to anyone who needs it,” Bresch said in a statement Monday. “Our decision to launch a generic alternative to EpiPen is an extraordinary commercial response, which required the cooperation of our partner. However, because of the complexity and opaqueness of today’s branded pharmaceutical supply chain and the increased shifting of costs to patients as a result of high deductible health plans, we determined that bypassing the brand system in this case and offering an additional alternative was the best option.”

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Generic EpiPen Could Still Be Costly for Families

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The pharmaceutical company criticized for increasing the price of the EpiPen announced Monday that it will create a generic version of the emergency allergy treatment that will cost about $300 for a pack of two injectors and will be available within a few weeks.

Mylan Pharmaceuticals’ EpiPen, by far the most popular epinephrine auto-injector on the market, is used to help counteract life-threatening allergic reactions. The company has come under scrutiny in recent weeks after news surfaced that the price of a two-pack EpiPen has soared, rising from approximately $100 in 2009 to around $600 and more today, according to medical literature and various pharmacies nationwide.

“We understand the deep frustration and concerns associated with the cost of EpiPen to the patient, and have always shared the public’s desire to ensure that this important product be accessible to anyone who needs it,” Mylan CEO Heather Bresch said in a statement Monday. “Our decision to launch a generic alternative to EpiPen is an extraordinary commercial response, which required the cooperation of our partner. However, because of the complexity and opaqueness of today’s branded pharmaceutical supply chain and the increased shifting of costs to patients as a result of high deductible health plans, we determined that bypassing the brand system in this case and offering an additional alternative was the best option.”

Here are some key points on the issues around the EpiPen and the planned generic version of it:

Why Would a Company Release a Generic Version of Its Own Drug?

The company’s decision to create a generic may seem surprising considering that many drugmakers often seek to protect their brand name drugs from competition in the marketplace. But experts say creating a generic version can be a smart move that allows the company to dominate the market.

To create its own generic, a pharmaceutical company will usually partner with another manufacturer that will produce a generic drug that is virtually indistinguishable from the name brand. Mylan Pharmaceuticals said it would coordinate with a partner on the generic drug.

“It is strategic,” generally for a company to produce a generic version of its brand name drug, said Dr. Aaron Kesselheim, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a faculty member in pharmacoepidemiology and pharmacoeconomics at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “It makes the market look less hospitable for other generic alternatives.”

There is currently one generic epinephrine injector on the market. Kesselheim said having two generics available is typically not enough to cause a major fall in prices.

Prices generally “don’t drop until there are more than three or four generic competitors,” said Kesselheim.

Many Pharmacists Cannot Just Swap Out EpiPen for a Generic

Rejoicing patients should be careful to check in with their doctors about the option of using a generic EpiPen.

Since the EpiPen is both a drug and a medical device (a BX designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,) pharmacists in many states can’t simply swap out a name-brand for a cheaper generic in the same manner they will for other medications that are not medical devices. In 29 states, doctors will have to give out new prescriptions specifically for the generic EpiPen.

Generic drugs must have the same active ingredients as name-brand drugs and it’s commonplace for pharmacists to substitute generic medications for name-brand medications for patients, according to doctors.

Generic EpiPen Cost Remains High

While the estimated cost for the generic EpiPen will be approximately half of the name-brand price, it still could be a struggle for families to buy multiple injectors as each pack of two will cost approximately $300. While Mylan has announced different savings programs to help uninsured or under-insured customers gain access to the name-brand drug, it’s not clear to what extent these programs will also be available for the generic EpiPen users.

The estimated cost for the only generic epinephrine two-pack auto injector currently on the market, according to GoodRx, ranges between $140 and $379, even with a coupon.

Mylan has not currently released a name for the generic EpiPen expected to be released later this year.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last week that examined U.S. drug prices found multiple reasons for high drug prices in the U.S. including patents on name-brand drugs and limited negotiating power for the consumer. In foreign countries with nationally regulated health systems, the health system can negotiate a bulk price for medication so that the price is regulated.

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How to Make It Work When Your Millennial Moves Back Home

Purestock(NEW YORK) — There are a growing number of parents that still support their adult children who live at home.

Living with parents is now the most common arrangement for millennials, the term used to refer to adults currently between the ages of 18 and 34, according to a May report from the Pew Research Center.

Ramona Emerson, 29, made a decision to leave the New York magazine industry after five years and move in with her parents, Sharon and Charlie Emerson.

“They were so excited when I said I was going to move home,” Emerson told ABC News.

Because the move is only temporary while Emerson takes pre-med classes before starting nursing school in the fall, she thought the move would be fine.

After a few months in, she said she realized the living space at her parents’ home was much smaller than she anticipated.

Emerson is an only child and says that her parents are “a little bit obsessed” with her, but “thankfully we do have a shed in the backyard where sometimes I like to go.”

Debbie Pincus, a New York and Connecticut-based psychotherapist, suggests setting boundaries to avoid conflicts at home.

“Clarify from the start, you know, let them know what you are okay with, what you’re not okay with,” Pincus advised parents.

Emerson said her new living situation proves challenging after years of living independently.

“When you’ve been independent and then to come back and have people watching your every move and I imagine silently judging me, that’s probably been the biggest challenge,” she said. “The eternal thing is, ‘Oh don’t you want to put on an jacket?’ I get that probably every time I leave the house.”

Emerson’s father told ABC News he feels his daughter needs some real world advice.

“She also has issues with practical things,” Charlie Emerson said. “She lit a chicken on fire…we’re pretty knowledgeable about you know how to keep from burning the house down.”

Pincus said that clarifying expectations such as curfew, expenses and cleanliness will help make it all work. Another recommendation is setting clear household contributions for adult children, such as doing the dishes, cooking and acting their age.

“You feel so much better if you try as much as you can to act like an adult and your parents will be very happy about that as well,” Emerson said.

Sharon Emerson said she would advise other parents to make sure they see their child living at home as an adult.

“If you don’t think you like your kid at the stage they’re in now…don’t do it,” she said.

Emerson said she is glad she’s had the “really positive” experience of getting to know her parents more as an adult, but is ready to be back on her own.

“I’d do it again…well maybe not again, but I’m glad that I did it,” she said.

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Why Parents Aren’t Vaccinating Their Kids, According to New Study

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The belief that vaccines cause autism — which has been debunked by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others — is no longer the primary reason parents are refusing vaccines for their children, according to a new study Monday from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Instead, a growing number of parents believe vaccinations are “unnecessary,” researchers found.

The AAP surveyed more than 600 pediatricians in 2006 and then again in 2013, asking them to estimate the percentage of parents they encountered who wished to refuse or delay vaccines and the parents’ rationale for doing so. Pediatricians were also asked how often they dismissed patients from their practice for continuing to refuse vaccines.

By 2013, nearly 9 out of 10 pediatricians (87 percent) say they were asked by at least one parent in their practice to alter their child’s immunization schedule. Pediatricians in the study responded that 73 percent of parents refusing or delaying vaccines for their children in 2013 were doing so because the parents believed the vaccines were unnecessary, whereas that number was 64 percent in 2006.

Dr. Lolita McDavid, medical director of child advocacy and protection at the University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, said the findings did not surprise her.

“In the past, people were scared of polio and whooping cough, but parents aren’t now because they don’t see it anymore,” McDavid, who was not involved in this study, told ABC News. “It’s a very uninformed way to approach a child’s health.”

Dr. Catherine Hough-Telford, lead author on the paper and a pediatrician with the Pediatric Health Care Alliance in Tampa, Florida, told ABC News that “it will be interesting to look in future studies at how parents’ perceptions change after the Disneyland measles outbreak.” Disneyland is owned by Disney, the parent company of ABC News.

Vaccinations have prevented an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths for Americans born between 1994 and 2013, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Communicable diseases that previously afflicted the population are now largely a distant memory due to the development of vaccines.

Pediatricians reported in 2013 being able to persuade hesitant parents to allow scheduled vaccinations only one-third of the time, according to the study. Understanding why parents are refusing or delaying vaccines is critical for doctors so they can tailor their counseling accordingly, researchers said.

“When I talk to families … I always emphasize vaccines are safe, effective and they save lives,” Hough-Telford said. “We all want the same thing — for the child to be healthy.”

Other reasons for vaccine delay were parental concern about causing discomfort for the child or concern for burdening the child’s immune system. The fear of autism as the reason for delaying vaccines fell to 64 percent in 2013 from 74 percent in 2006.

The study did not mention the specific vaccines that parents were refusing, which will be important for health care providers to explore. A study published this month in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention reported that many parents wanted to opt out of the Gardasil vaccine for HPV — approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2006 — because they thought the vaccine was unnecessary for their sexually inactive child. It is unclear if parents refusing the HPV vaccine would feel similarly about vaccines that protect against measles, whooping cough and tetanus.

Pediatricians in suburban and rural settings were more likely to see children whose parents wished to delay or avoid vaccinations than parents in urban settings, according to the AAP study, and the percentage of pediatricians “always” dismissing patients from their practice for continued vaccine refusal nearly doubled from 6 percent to 11 percent between 2006 and 2013.

McDavid said she is one of those physicians.

“[The parents and I] are partners, from the child’s newborn exam until they are 18 [years old],” she said. “I can’t treat a child in a way that I feel is not best for that child.”

To help inform parents about the importance of vaccination, McDavid said she gives parents an assignment to go on a field trip to a graveyard.

“I want you to go to an old cemetery, walk through, look at the headstones of the babies that died at age 1, 2, 3 years of age,” she said, but thanks to vaccines, “people don’t see this anymore, so people don’t know what to be afraid of.”

The study was published as the AAP called on public health authorities today to universally eliminate all vaccine exemptions, unless they are medically necessary. While public school students in the U.S. are required to receive various vaccinations before attending classes, in most states the requirement can be waived by “non-medical” vaccine exemption forms because of a parent’s beliefs or religion.

Dr. Geoffrey Simon, board-certified pediatrician and lead author of AAP’s policy statement today, and chairperson of the AAP’s Committee on Practice and Ambulatory Medicine, explained the decision as necessary to protect people via herd immunity, where the majority of people being protected helps guard against an outbreak.

“We disenfranchise children and adults who are medically unable to receive the vaccine,” Simon said of diminishing herd immunity from lowered vaccine rates. “Who’s to say that creating a risk of developing preventable disease is fair. They deserve a safe school and work environment.”

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