Review Category : Health

Dog Born Without Paws Gets Second Chance Thanks to Wheelchair

Kitiya Boonyung/@Maya_Siberian/Instagram(NEW YORK) — Maya, a 3-year-old Siberian husky, was born without paws on all four legs due to a congenital disorder.

“She was born from inbreeding…by [the] owner of bad farm,” owner Kitiya Boonyung told ABC News.

When Boonyung, 23, adopted her from a Bangkok, Thailand, shelter as a puppy, Maya was also dealing with hip issues and could barely stand.

Boonyung said she didn’t care about the husky’s abnormalities. When Maya turned 1, Boonyung took her to a veterinarian, who outfitted her in a wheelchair that cost around $120.

Initially the wheelchair was difficult to learn for Maya to use. But now, the dog “will use it when she goes for a walk outside and goes to exercise,” according to Boonyung.

“She can stretch her legs straight and can stand more than before [with her]… wheelchair,” Boonyung added.

Maya is “playful and strong,” the owner gushed.

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Your Body: Sugar Consumption in Kids

iStock/ThinkstockDR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

The American Heart Association says there’s been a lack of clarity in how much added sugar is recommended for kids. Now the organization has come out with its first recommendations and a daily limit for kids ages 2-18, limiting total added sugars in the diet to 25g a day.

Eating too much sugar can lead to increased risks of heart disease, obesity and high blood pressure. It’s a scary and sad reality that the average child or teen consumes 2-4 times the recommended amount every day.

By increasing awareness, the American Heart Association hopes that parents and kids will not only have a healthier diet, but may also decrease their risk of being overweight and obesity as well.

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Memphis Health Officials Investigating Legionnaires’ Outbreak

solarseven/iStock/Thinkstock(MEMPHIS, Tenn.) — Health officials in Tennessee are attempting to reach out to six thousand people who may have been exposed to Legionnaires’ disease at a Memphis hotel.

There are six confirmed cases of the disease linked to the LaQuinta Inn in South Memphis and Shelby County health officials are trying to make contact with thousands of guests who booked reservations at the hotel between July and September.

“It is a pneumonia with cough and fever requiring antibiotics to cure you of it, and may require hospitalization and some instances can lead to death,” Shelby County Health Officer Helen Murrow said.

The hotel remains closed as investigators try to determine the source of water containing the bacteria.

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Fight Back This Fall Against Ragweed Allergies

fotomem/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Colder temperatures and shorter daylight hours signal both the arrival of fall and ragweed allergy season, which means itchy eyes and runny noses for millions.

Allergies can be a year-round nuisance, but in the fall it’s the people with ragweed allergies who are especially miserable. As the ragweed plants bloom from end of August to November, ragweed pollen counts rise, according to the American college of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Dr. Yasmin Bhasin, an allergist at the Allergy and Asthma Care in Middletown, NY, said people in areas with high numbers of ragweed plants and little rain are more likely to have bad allergy symptoms.

“It has been a pretty rough season for people who are allergic to [ragweed]” pollen said Bhasin since there hasn’t been rain to clear the air of ragweed pollen. Ragweed pollen “can fly several miles a day [until] it rains.”

But she points out there are plenty of steps people can take to reduce their allergy symptoms.

Bhasin said if people know they have fall allergies they should start to use allergy nasal sprays immediately, which will help diminish symptoms as pollen counts rise. Since exposure to pollen has a cumulative effect, taking steps early to diminish your exposure could help with allergy symptoms later in the year.

Bhasin said during peak ragweed allergy season in September people should take over-the-counter antihistamines and minimize time outdoors if pollen counts are high. If people have to work outside and need to minimize exposure, Bhasin said allergy sufferers can consider using face masks and goggles.

If you end up heading outdoors during peak allergy season, you’re not doomed. Bhasin said once you’re home be sure to take a shower to diminish the amount of pollen you’re bringing into your home. Even if it seems nothing it working to reduce allergy symptoms, just remember ragweed pollen won’t be around forever. Ragweed pollen counts often peak in September before ending in October or November once frost arrives, according to Bhasin.

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Dengue Fever Infection Reported in Miami Area

iStock/Thinkstock(MIAMI) — Health officials announced on Wednesday that they have detected a case of locally acquired dengue fever in Miami-Dade county, according to the Florida Health Department.

Dengue fever is a viral disease that is mainly spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also spreads the Zika virus. The virus can cause flu-like symptoms and in rare cases can result in dangerous or deadly infections.

This is the second dengue fever case reported in the state this year, according to the Florida Health Department. One other dengue fever case was reported in Key West in June. That island battled an outbreak of dengue fever from 2009 to 2010.

Since July, the Florida Health Department has been fighting an outbreak of locally transmitted Zika virus that has infected approximately 115, according to the state health department.

For months, health officials have been trying to diminish the population of the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes to reduce the chance they will spread the Zika virus in Florida. Miami-Dade Mosquito Control is now conducting “aggressive” mosquito control practices to diminish the possible spread of the dengue fever virus, according to the Florida Health Department.

Dengue fever can result in symptoms including fever, rash, and aches and pains. In severe cases, an initial infection can turn into dengue hemorrhagic fever, in which the blood vessels become permeable. This can lead to shock or possibly death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Dozens Injured in NJ Train Crash Treated at Area Hospitals

KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images(HOBOKEN, N.J.) — At least 51 people are receiving treatment at Jersey City Medical Center after a New Jersey Transit commuter train crashed into Hoboken Terminal Thursday morning, according to hospital officials.

One person has died and there are multiple “critical injuries,” authorities said. At least 100 people were injured in the crash.

Three people are in serious condition at Jersey City Medical Center with deep lacerations and orthopedic and internal injuries, according to the hospital’s CEO Joesph Scott. One of these individuals has been placed in the intensive care unit.

None of these injuries are expected to be life threatening, according to Kenneth Garay, Jersey City Medical Center’s chief medical officer.

Eight people are also being evaluated at the hospital’s emergency department for injuries and may be admitted, Scott said. The hospital has set up its cafeteria to accommodate the “walking wounded,” he noted.

Hoboken University Medical Center confirmed that it was treating 16 patients who are all in stable condition.

One patient is being treated for head trauma at Christ Hospital in Jersey City, according to a spokesperson.

Approximately 250 people were on the train that left Spring Valley, New York, at 7:23 a.m. Thursday.

Scott said families wanting to check for missing loved ones can call a hospital hotline at 201-915-2691.

The crash seriously damaged the Hoboken Terminal building, leading to an evacuation. Service on NJ Transit and PATH trains has been suspended.

“There is heavy structural damage to the terminal, which is why it was evacuated,” said Jennifer Nelson, director of media relations for NJ Transit. “It is not safe to go in there right now.”

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Your Body: Can Eating Healthy Be Bad for Your Health

iStock/ThinkstockDR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Does trying to eat healthy encourage kids and teenagers to develop eating disorders? New research says that could be the case.

A recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics focuses on signs and symptoms that Pediatricians can use to help identify and combat things like anorexia, bulemia and binge eating disorders in teens.

The fact is that most teenagers who develop an eating disorder, did not have obesity previously. Now since being overweight and obesity are also big problems for teenagers, doctors and parents alike need to be aware of both conditions.

The report’s recommendations include discouraging dieting and skipping meals promoting a positive body image and monitoring any weight loss among teens eating frequent family meals and asking the teen about bullying.

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Drug Overdose Deaths Drive Increase in Number of Organ Donations: One Family’s Story of Hope from Despair

Courtesy Laurie Clemens(RICHMOND, Va.) — Laurie Clemens described her son, Brandon Morris, as an outgoing, all-American boy who loved to play football and go fishing.

“He was always there for me,” Clemens said, “a typical mama’s boy.”

On a spring day in 2015, Morris died after a heroin overdose caused him to stop breathing. Clemens said she was crushed to find her son brain dead in a hospital bed.

“I never expected Brandon would stick a needle in his arm,” Clemens said. “We don’t want this to happen to anyone else’s family. The heartache is just unbearable.”

At the hospital, Clemens was surprised to find out her son could be considered for organ donation, even though he was an intravenous drug user and died from an overdose. Doctors were able to match Morris’ liver to a 57-year-old grandfather named George Henderson.

Within a year of Morris’ death, Clemens met the man saved by her son’s donated organ. After losing her son, Clemens said she has found a bit of hope in her friendship with Henderson, who was previously a stranger but has since become “family.”

In recent years, so many people have died as a result of the nation’s opioid epidemic that it has caused the number of organ donations from fatal overdose victims to skyrocket — an unexpected consequence that highlights the nation’s agonizing opioid crisis.

In 1994, only 29 donors in the U.S. had died of drug overdoses. Last year, that number climbed to 848, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the nonprofit organization that manages the nation’s organ transplant system.

The rise in numbers is not due solely to the increase in opioid overdoses. Medical advances have also allowed more organs from drug intoxicated donors — which were often unusable for transplantation years ago — to save the lives of some people facing long waiting lists.

In the midst of an epidemic that remains stigmatized as a moral, or even criminal issue, rather than as a health crisis, some families have found hope after their losses through organ donations.

‘A Sad Reality’

Dr. David Klassen, the chief medical officer for UNOS, said he has witnessed the opioid epidemic unfold through the mounting number of deceased organ donors who passed away as a result of drug overdoses.

Around five years ago, Klassen said that the number of organ donors had stagnated, and UNOS studies predicted that the number of organ donors would remain “relatively flat” going forward.

“Somewhat unexpectedly, it has increased very substantially, starting around 2013, 2014, and especially last year, 2015,” Klassen said, “Some of the biggest increases in donations has been from people who have died of drug overdoses.”

From 1994, when UNOS record-keeping began, until 2015, the number of organ donors has increased by 112 percent. Meanwhile, in that same time, the percentage of donors who died of a drug overdose has increased by 2,924 percent, according to UNOS.

“It is not something that the transplant system is happy about. Society in general is not pleased with this,” Klassen said. “But from one perspective, you can see some good come out of a bad situation.”

Charles Alexander, the CEO of the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland, which helps facilitate transplants in the state of Maryland, an area hit especially hard by the opioid epidemic, told ABC News that in 2010, 6 percent of its donors died of a fatal overdose. This year, it is on track to be as high as 25 percent.

“I think we have stigmatized what a drug overdose or a drug user looks like. Many of these people lead normal lives but have a recreational drug habit,” Alexander said.

Clemens added that when her son died of an overdose, “everybody was in shock, a lot of our friends, because they never could even think about Brandon doing that.”

Clemens said Brandon was always very active and had held a job since he turned 15.

“In high school, he had a few knee injuries and that’s when doctors prescribed him pain pills. He would skip physical therapy to get back in the game,” Clemens added, noting how he started taking opioids.

Clemens said she found out in late 2014 that her son switched from pharmaceuticals to IV drugs.

Dr. Kimberly Johnson, the director of substance abuse treatment at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, said that in terms of overall use, the opioid epidemic is “similar to other epidemics.”

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is a federal agency that tries to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.

“In terms of fatalities, it’s higher, it’s much higher,” Johnson added.

Dr. Jay Fishman, the chief of transplant infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, added that in the recent opioid epidemic, “the individuals who are dying are young and are first- or second-time users.”

Medical Breakthroughs

For donor families, the choice to donate can be fraught as they struggle with both the grief of losing a loved one and concern that IV drug use means increased chance of spreading infected organs to another family’s loved one. Hilda Halstead grappled with the decision earlier this year when her daughter Nadya Zitek was found unresponsive after an opioid overdose.

Halstead, a hospital administrator, assumed that because her daughter was an IV drug user, organ donation would be off the table. But the doctors reassured her it was a possibility, though Zitek’s organs would be labeled “high-risk” for recipients.

“If something happened [to the recipient] … I don’t think I could stand it,” Halstead told ABC News. “You have this moral, ethical responsibility not to cause harm to other people even though you think you’re doing it for a good reason.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies an organ transplant from an IV drug user as “high risk” because statistically it holds a higher risk for HIV and hepatitis B or C infections.

Klassen added, “There is the assumption that for people that are involved in drug use, the quality of the organ might be substandard. But in fact, the organs really are generally in fact of better quality in comparison to the general donor population.”

“That probably has to do with the fact that donors like that are younger and maybe don’t have the other health problems that result in death,” compared to the general donor pool, Klassen added.

Recipients must specifically consent to receive a donation from a “high risk” donor, according to Klassen.

In part, risks surrounding these diseases have diminished thanks to new tests that look for genetic signs of a virus. These tests mean that the “window” period for these illnesses, when a person is infected but the disease is not yet detectable, have diminished greatly. HIV can now be detected in five to nine days after infection thanks to nucleic acid testing that identifies virus genetic material, as opposed to 22 days previously with antibody testing. Similarly, hepatitis C can now be detected in three to seven days as opposed to 66 days.

“Even though it is called ‘high risk,’ the risk, if you look at it, is actually extremely low. The risk is increased in comparison to other donors, but if you look at it, it is actually a fraction of a percent,” Klassen said.

The CDC’s “high risk” label might give some families pause, and they may choose not to accept an organ from a drug OD victim, Klassen added, especially if they are waiting for a kidney or another organ that they can survive without, at least for a while. Those who are waiting for a heart or a liver may not have as much of a choice.

Data from the New England Organ Bank show that in 2011, about 8 percent of their hearts transplanted were from donors who died due to “drug intoxication.” In 2016, so far, nearly 30 percent of their hearts transplanted were from donors who died from “drug intoxication.”

‘I Feel Brandon Around Me All the Time’

Laurie Clemens said she chose to donate her son’s organs because she knew the pain of losing her own son, and hoped that no other family would have to go through the same thing.

Clemens recalls the first time she met George Henderson and his wife, less than a year after her son’s liver was transplanted into Henderson’s body.

“I brought a picture of Brandon. I wasn’t going to show it to them unless they asked, and they did ask, and they stared at his pictures for the longest time, and then George looked up at me and said, ‘I’ve got a strong liver,’” Clemens said. “He constantly calls me and checks in on me. He is a good man.”

Henderson, 57, told ABC News, “When I met Brandon’s family in 2015, I felt so much joy. The first thing that I could think of was how much it meant for the family to give me life when they had lost Brandon.”

Henderson said prior to receiving the gift of a new liver, he was “living day-to-day,” and his wife Rosalind added, “This was his second transplant. The first one didn’t take.”

Henderson had cancer in his liver, and 30 years ago he suffered from an addiction of his own, alcoholism, he said.

Rosalind Henderson said they knew how Brandon died, but they still decided to take a “high risk” organ. “George was not going to make it. We didn’t have a choice. George was very ill,” she said.

George Henderson told ABC News that if he could’ve met Brandon, he would have tried to save him.

“I would tell him about my life when I was an alcoholic, approximately 30 years ago,” Henderson said. “I would talk to him about the reasons that I drank and how I stopped in 1987. I would talk to him about how he could stop his own addiction.”

Rosalind Henderson added that she and George have six grandchildren, and that previously, George could never travel to see them because he was so sick.

“I tell [Brandon’s] mom all the time how much I appreciate her and pray for her. That is an understatement,” Rosalind Henderson said. “She gave life, at a time when she really didn’t have to.”

Clemens said she thinks Brandon would be happy to know that he saved someone’s life.

“Even though his life ended in a tragedy, he helped someone live on,” Clemens said of her son. “I feel Brandon is a hero.”

Clemens said she and her family have since spent a lot of time advocating for increased awareness of the opioid epidemic, and of organ donations.

She said she has developed a close bond with the Hendersons, and through that friendship, “I feel Brandon around me all the time.”

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FDA Approves of First-of-Its-Kind Insulin Device That Gives Hope for ‘Artificial Pancreas’

KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a first-of-its-kind insulin device today designed to automatically deliver insulin for type 1 diabetics. The device has many in the diabetic and health care community hoping it could lead to the development of fully artificial pancreas.

“The FDA is dedicated to making technologies available that can help improve the quality of life for those with chronic diseases — especially those that require day-to-day maintenance and ongoing attention,” Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement.

“This first-of-its-kind technology can provide people with type 1 diabetes greater freedom to live their lives without having to consistently and manually monitor baseline glucose levels and administer insulin,” he added.

The device, called the the MiniMed 670G hybrid closed loop system, is designed to adjust insulin levels with almost no assistance from the user, according to the FDA.

Created by Medtronic, this device works by having a sensor measure glucose levels under the skin and using a pump and patch that can deliver varying levels of insulin at the right time, without a person manually monitoring their blood sugar. However, since a user has to manually change the insulin levels to counteract meals, the device is not considered a fully automated “artificial pancreas,” according to the FDA.

“The FDA approval of the world’s first hybrid closed loop system is a culmination of many years of hard work and close collaboration with the clinical and patient communities to generate the body of evidence needed to advance this technology for those living with diabetes,” said Dr. Francine Kaufman, chief medical officer of the Diabetes Group at Medtronic.

Derek Rapp, president and CEO of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, said that the device could be a “life-changing breakthrough.”

“Today’s announcement is a historical achievement for JDRF [Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation] and the entire T1D [type 1 diabetics] community,” Rapp said in a statement. “After years of laying the ground work, this life-changing breakthrough is a true testament to the reason JDRF exists, which is to accelerate ways to cure, prevent and treat this disease.”

Les Hazelton used the device in a medical trial and said he felt better after having his insulin automatically regulated, according to the JDRF.

“Bottom line: I feel better today and since going into this study, than at any point after I was diagnosed — physically, emotionally, confident in how I’m managing my diabetes,” Hazelton said in a statement released by the JDRF. “You can get emotional about it. On the good days, if there are enough of them, you recall how you feel — that’s how I feel almost every day now. That’s what it has done to help me.”

The FDA has been working to advance the development of an artificial pancreas systems for years.

Type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes, is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin because the immune system has attacked and destroyed cells that create insulin, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Type 2 diabetes, once called adult-onset diabetes, develops when the body starts to become resistant to the effects of insulin, forcing the pancreas to create more insulin. Eventually the pancreas will not be able to make enough insulin to respond to blood sugar levels.

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Baby Born From ‘Three Parents’ Brings Hope to Those With Mitochondrial Disease

Wavebreakmedia Ltd/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — An infant born thanks to a breakthrough procedure that used genetic material from three people could give hope to thousands in the U.S. struggling with mitochondrial disease.

The baby boy was born without a mutation in his mitochondria, which he would otherwise have inherited from his mother, and is the first infant to be born as the result of a new procedure that involves genetic material from three people. While popularly called a “three-parent” baby, the infant gets 99.9 percent of his genetic material from his two biological parents, with a fraction of material coming from a donor’s healthy mitochondria.

The breakthrough was revealed Tuesday by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), a multidisciplinary organization dedicated to the advancement of the science and practice of reproductive medicine. Dr. John Zhang, a New York-based doctor at the New Hope Fertility Clinic, is credited with performing the procedure and has submitted an abstract about the case to ASRM.

The ASRM did not reveal the sex of the infant but the New Scientist reported that it was a boy.

Zhang is expected to present more about the child and his process at an ASRM meeting in October.

The infant was reportedly born thanks to spindle nuclear transfer — in which the “spindle” of the egg that contains a mother’s chromosomes but not her mitochondria is places into a donor egg. The donor egg’s nuclear genetic material is removed. The eggs were then fertilized with the sperm of the woman’s partner, according to the ASRM.

It is a variation on a procedure approved in the U.K. in which the nucleus of a fertilized egg from a couple is transferred to a fertilized donor egg. In that procedure, the donor’s nucleus is removed and destroyed. The destruction of that nucleus reportedly was not acceptable to the couple, leading them to seek out an alternative through Zhang, according to the New Scientist report.

Zhang and the couple went to Mexico to perform the procedure, since it has not been approved in the U.S., according to New Scientist.

Every year, 1,000 to 4,000 children are born with mitochondrial disease in the U.S. and many families have no idea that their children are at risk for developing the dangerous disease until they’re diagnosed, according to the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. Symptoms include fatigue, gastrointestinal problems and seizures, and can start as key organs lack energy to function properly.

Mitochondria are the structures inside the cell that generate energy and have DNA distinct from the cell’s nuclear DNA. Mitochondrial DNA is inherited from the mother only.

Tracie Leeper, of Denver, Colorado, is a carrier for mitochondrial disease, as is her husband. The couple did not know they were carriers until their son Jack was diagnosed at 10 months old. He died last year at 18 months after being born with Leigh disease, one kind of mitochondrial disease. Leeper said she’s happy about the breakthrough so that others with mitochondrial disease may have more reproduction options. However, Leeper said she still wanted more information about the child’s health.

“It’s definitely mixed [emotions]. I’m so excited for the science,” Leeper said, noting, however, that questions remain. “Is he going to get sick in a year or is it going to manifest in a different way?”

Leeper and her husband had a 25 percent chance of having a child with Leigh disease. The couple is now undergoing traditional IVF to diminish the chance that will occur.

Mitochondrial disease often results from a mutation in the mitochondrial DNA, which can be passed solely from the mother to the child. It can also be caused by a nuclear DNA mutation in either mother or father that causes dysfunction in mitochondria. Since mitochondria are the energy sources for cells in the body, if they fail or do not work properly, it causes a range of symptoms that can be fatal in severe cases.

“This work represents an important advancement in reproductive medicine,” ASRM President Dr. Owen Davis said in a statement on Tuesday. “Mitochondrial disease has been an important, and challenging problem. If subsequent research determines the safety and efficacy of spindle nuclear transfer, we look forward to it being an option for patients who risk transmitting mitochondrial diseases to their children.”

Philip Yeske, the science officer for the United Mitochondrial Foundation, said the procedure may sound like science fiction but that people should remember the child’s DNA will be 99.9 percent from their biological parents and not the donor. For parents who risk passing this disease to their children, the procedure could literally be a lifesaver.

“First and foremost this is absolutely about the prevention about the transmission of disease from mother to child,” Yeske said. “These techniques afford [women with mitochondrial disease] the opportunity to have a biologically related child without the disease.”

However, he said researchers will need to continue to study the child to see if they develop any further complications.

“What we lack are long-term studies introducing a third genome, whether that has implications for that child,” Yeske explained.

There are an estimated 12,000 women of child-bearing age in the U.S. with mitochondrial disease, Yeske said. The procedure will not help everyone with mitochondrial disease, as some mutations arise from the nuclear DNA that is not changed in through this procedure.

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