Review Category : Health

What You Need to Know About Extensively Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A woman with extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR TB) is currently being treated at the National Institute of Health as officials race to find anyone she might have exposed to the dangerous bacteria.

The patient has been in the U.S. for approximately six to seven weeks, traveling through three states — Illinois, Missouri and Tennessee — before being diagnosed, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The woman reportedly sought treatment for TB several times in India, but did not complete her treatment regimen, which can last months.

ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser said not finishing a course of treatment is a common way this dangerous kind of TB can develop.

“This is a big deal and it’s not because this type of TB is more contagious but if you get this, 70 percent of the time it is fatal,” said Besser.

Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis is a condition where TB bacteria have changed enough to circumvent the two most potent antibiotic medicines, as well as most others, according to the NIH website.

Once this form of TB develops, doctors are left with fewer treatment options to battle the disease.

The unnamed patient is currently being treated by Dr. Steven Holland, the chief of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, according to a statement from the NIH.

“The patient will likely receive drugs with activity against TB that he/she has not previously received,” NIH officials said in a statement. “We will confer with other XDR-TB experts, including those at CDC, to determine an optimal regimen.”

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical School, said the arrival of XDR TB is “serious business.”

“We have to use combinations of drugs that are used less frequently, they may have more side effects and their effectiveness against TB bacteria is not quite as good or less certain,” Schaffner said of treating patients with this rarer form of TB.

This extreme form of TB is not more contagious but can be spread through prolonged close contact. Schaffner explained that a person can be more or less infectious depending on how the disease symptoms present.

“If the edges of your vocal chords are infected with TB you really aerosolize lots of TB bacteria,” said Schaffner, who said that happened in rare circumstances.

Tuberculosis can spread through coughs, sneezes, shouts or even singing, according to the CDC. Because it takes time for the bacteria to grow in the blood, health officials may test people multiple times to determine if they have developed the disease.

While there is a TB vaccine, it is not generally used in the U.S. due to its “limited effectiveness for preventing the most common forms of TB and in preventing TB in adults,” according to the CDC.

“The CDC will be figuring out who all those exposed people are,” said Schaffner. “And put them on a spectrum of likelihood of risk from trivial to much more serious.”

Cases of XDR TB are extremely rare in the U.S. and the NIH has admitted just about 20 patients with severe or resistant TB in the last 20 years.

Symptoms of the disease include weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats. As the bacteria affect the lungs, patients may cough, have chest pain or cough up blood.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Wisconsin Woman Makes 29-Gallon Breast Milk Donation

Amy Bormann(RHINELANDER, Wis.) — Twenty-nine gallons of breast milk is a lot of time to spend on the pump.

But for Amy Bormann of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, it was well worth it to help babies in need.

The mom of two told ABC News she was breastfeeding her second child and at some point realized she had two deep freezers full of back up supply. Not wanting to stop breastfeeding her baby yet — then six months old — and also not wanting her milk to go to waste, she asked a local lactation consultant about donation.

Over the course of her “breastfeeding journey,” as she called it, she donated 3,702 ounces to The Milk Bank donation center at Aspirus Wausau Hospital in Wausau.

“I worked in a NICU,” Bormann said, “and know how important breast milk is for premature babies.”

Susan Lindekugel, a lactation consultant at the birthing center at Aspirus Wausau Hospital who does not know Bormann, agreed.

“We’re always looking for milk,” she said. “It comes from all around the nation, the same way a blood bank works.”

Lindekugel said 29 gallons is a very large donation.

“Most women get between 2-5 ounces every time they pump and pump 8-10 times per day. You do the math,” she said.

While Bormann said it was a huge time commitment, she also said it “was an amazing experience.” She added that said the approval process wasn’t hard: some paperwork, lab tests and a note from her child’s pediatrician that he wouldn’t lack for milk if she began donating.

“It’s such an easy process and I would hope that if other moms had extra milk they would donate too. It’s totally worth it to keep at it a little longer. Every little bit goes a long way,” Bormann said.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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New Study Unveils More Puzzle Pieces on Autism and Parents’ Age

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Research on autism so far has suggested that the risk of a child developing the disorder increases as parents get older. But a new study finds that the risk may also increase if the parents are very young.

Mothers in their teens are 18 percent more likely to have children with autism, according to the study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. The risk increases 15 percent for moms in their 40s.

The age of the father matters too: Children with dads older than 50 are 66 percent more likely to be diagnosed with autism.

The risk also increases when there’s a 10-year age gap between the mother and father, whether she was the older woman or he was the older man.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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New Study Unveils More Puzzle Pieces on Autism and Parents’ Age

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Research on autism so far has suggested that the risk of a child developing the disorder increases as parents get older. But a new study finds that the risk may also increase if the parents are very young.

Mothers in their teens are 18 percent more likely to have children with autism, according to the study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. The risk increases 15 percent for moms in their 40s.

The age of the father matters too: Children with dads older than 50 are 66 percent more likely to be diagnosed with autism.

The risk also increases when there’s a 10-year age gap between the mother and father, whether she was the older woman or he was the older man.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Tim Curry Relies on His Humor While Recovering from Stroke

David Livingston/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Nearly three years after suffering a stroke that left him wheelchair-bound, actor Tim Curry made a rare appearance on the red carpet Sunday at the 19th annual Actors Fund Tony Awards Viewing Party in Los Angeles.

The veteran Broadway and film actor received the organization’s lifetime achievement award.

“I’m doing well and I’m looking forward to it,” the 69-year-old actor told Los Angeles Magazine prior to the party. “I’ve done a few benefits for the Actors Fund and I think it’s a marvelous organization. I hope not to have to use it.”

The Actors Fund is a social services organization that supports professional entertainers.

While recovering from his stroke, Curry has relied on his sense of humor, which he called “absolutely vital.”

“It’s not tough to maintain,” he told the magazine. “It is just part of my DNA.”

Curry’s storied career on Broadway includes roles in Spamalot, My Favorite Year, and Travesties, as well as his iconic turn on stage and screen as Frank ‘n’ Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The star said he looks back on the role “with a sort of bemused tolerance.”

“It’s neither a blessing nor a curse. I was lucky to get it,” he told the magazine.

He’s also grateful to be recognized for his lifetime of work.

“It means that it just sort of solidifies the kind of work the American acting community has given me for years now,” he said. “I was thrilled when they told me and I am thrilled now.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Tim Curry Relies on His Humor While Recovering from Stroke

David Livingston/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Nearly three years after suffering a stroke that left him wheelchair-bound, actor Tim Curry made a rare appearance on the red carpet Sunday at the 19th annual Actors Fund Tony Awards Viewing Party in Los Angeles.

The veteran Broadway and film actor received the organization’s lifetime achievement award.

“I’m doing well and I’m looking forward to it,” the 69-year-old actor told Los Angeles Magazine prior to the party. “I’ve done a few benefits for the Actors Fund and I think it’s a marvelous organization. I hope not to have to use it.”

The Actors Fund is a social services organization that supports professional entertainers.

While recovering from his stroke, Curry has relied on his sense of humor, which he called “absolutely vital.”

“It’s not tough to maintain,” he told the magazine. “It is just part of my DNA.”

Curry’s storied career on Broadway includes roles in Spamalot, My Favorite Year, and Travesties, as well as his iconic turn on stage and screen as Frank ‘n’ Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The star said he looks back on the role “with a sort of bemused tolerance.”

“It’s neither a blessing nor a curse. I was lucky to get it,” he told the magazine.

He’s also grateful to be recognized for his lifetime of work.

“It means that it just sort of solidifies the kind of work the American acting community has given me for years now,” he said. “I was thrilled when they told me and I am thrilled now.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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New York’s Smoking Rates Hit Historic Low

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Smoking levels in New York have hit a historic low.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that smoking levels across the state have been “reduced to the lowest rate in recorded history.” A statement from the governor’s office said that in the last four years, the smoking rate of teens has dropped 42 percent to hit 7.3 percent and the adult smoking rate dropped to 14.5 percent. The national average of adult smokers is 17.8 percent.

“With the lowest smoking rate in recorded history, it’s clear that New York State is becoming healthier than ever,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I am proud of these record results, and our administration will continue to build on this success to protect our citizens and support the public health.”

According to the statement, the low statistics are a result of New York’s Tobacco Control Program and other programs that focus on promoting “tobacco cessation through launching aggressive public awareness campaigns,” making tobacco less accessible to teens, and creating “resources for individuals looking to break this addiction.”

“This is a huge accomplishment in which we should all take pride, but our work is not done,” said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “We must stay vigilant and continue strengthening our efforts until we can rid New York of tobacco once and for all.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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New York’s Smoking Rates Hit Historic Low

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Smoking levels in New York have hit a historic low.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that smoking levels across the state have been “reduced to the lowest rate in recorded history.” A statement from the governor’s office said that in the last four years, the smoking rate of teens has dropped 42 percent to hit 7.3 percent and the adult smoking rate dropped to 14.5 percent. The national average of adult smokers is 17.8 percent.

“With the lowest smoking rate in recorded history, it’s clear that New York State is becoming healthier than ever,” Gov. Cuomo said. “I am proud of these record results, and our administration will continue to build on this success to protect our citizens and support the public health.”

According to the statement, the low statistics are a result of New York’s Tobacco Control Program and other programs that focus on promoting “tobacco cessation through launching aggressive public awareness campaigns,” making tobacco less accessible to teens, and creating “resources for individuals looking to break this addiction.”

“This is a huge accomplishment in which we should all take pride, but our work is not done,” said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “We must stay vigilant and continue strengthening our efforts until we can rid New York of tobacco once and for all.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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There’s a New Silent Killer for Skin Cancer

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — As summer gets into full swing, there’s something you should know about skin cancer as you enjoy beaches, take a dip in the pool or even go for a stroll.

Moles are no longer the main culprit of the deadly skin cancer melanoma.

Mole-related skin cancer cases are actually the minority of cases each year, according to an analysis conducted by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

The analysis showed only about 20 to 30 percent of cases were associated this moles, while the remaining 70 to 80 percent were not. This non-mole cancer, referred to as “de nova” melanoma, is known to be more aggressive, usually beyond stage 1 when diagnosed, more likely to produce thicker tumors and create more damage to the skin.

“We think that there are biological differences” between mole and non-mole melanomas, and these differences may account for the difference in aggressiveness, Dr. David Polsky, a professor at New York University School of Medicine and also the lead researcher, told LiveScience.

On the bright side, women with de nova melanoma have higher survival rates, as opposed to men and women with mole-linked melanomas. The researchers do not yet know why, but they are excited to have new questions to investigate.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Terminally Ill Child Receives an Honorary High School Diploma

Courtesy of Deanna Planitz(WAVERLY, Ill.) — A terminally ill 6-year-old from Waverly, Illinois, was honored at a local high school’s graduation ceremony last week after the senior class requested that he be given a diploma.

Jordan Planitz, 6, who suffers from MPPH syndrome (megalencephaly, polymicrogyria, polydactyly and hydrocephalus) has cognitive issues and a shortened life expectancy due to his illness. But after meeting with the graduating class of Tri-City High School in Buffalo, Illinois, earlier this year, Planitz made a lasting impression that inspired students to want to include him in their commencement.

“Earlier in the year, the principal at the time, Dustin Day, had a program called Principal for a Day where he would invite sick children to the school to act as principal,” Jordan’s mother, Deanna Planitz, explained to ABC News. “Jordan was invited, and we went and met the most amazing senior class that you’ll ever come across. They took care of him all day, surrounded him going up and down stairs. It was a wonderful experience.”

Following the Principal for a Day event, Planitz invited the senior class to Jordan’s birthday party in April. But the celebration conflicted with a pre-scheduled senior class trip.

The principal attended the party in the students’ absence and in turn invited the Planitz family to join him at the high school graduation ceremony on May 31.

“Then, a few days before the graduation, Day called me back and said ‘the seniors came to my office and told me since Jordan is terminal and won’t be able to have his own graduation ceremony, they wanted to make him part of theirs,'” said Planitz. “I was shocked. You just don’t find an entire senior class with that much sincerity.”

The experience was an emotional one for Planitz.

“It was bittersweet at first,” she said. “I was watching all of these high school students getting up, receiving their diplomas and sitting down and knew that I won’t have that. Then Dustin Day announced Jordan, who was wearing his own little cap and gown, and the class president came out into the audience and they walked him up on the stage.”

As Day presented Jordan with his own diploma, the entire gymnasium erupted with a standing ovation.

“It was so loud, you couldn’t hear yourself!” said Planitz. “I was crying so hard I couldn’t even get pictures or video. I got to see a dream come true for Jordan and for myself.”

While she cannot say how much Jordan understood, Planitz said the moment was clearly a happy one for him.

“All he knew that day was that he was on stage and everybody was standing and clapping for him,” she said. “It was one of the most tearful and emotional days of my life.”

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