Review Category : Health

Infant Under a Year Old Is Latest Measles Case in California Outbreak

iStock/Thinkstock(SANTA MONICA, Calif.) — A baby in California is the latest confirmed measles case in the state, health officials said on Monday.

The baby is enrolled in the Samohi (Santa Monica High School) Infant Toddler Center, where students bring their children for day care, officials said.

The baby is under a year old, which is too young to receive the full complement of the MMR (Measles, Mumps Rubella) immunizations, according to Malibu Unified School District spokeswoman Gail Pinsker.

There are an estimated 24 infants and toddlers under the center’s care, Pinsker said.

“At least four or five of them are too young to receive their full set of boosters,” she said.

Parents were notified over the weekend about this latest case by phone and email, Pinsker said, adding that the center will be closed until the school receives guidance from the Los Angeles health department about next steps.

Pinsker said the school is asking parents to monitor their children for signs and symptoms of measles, which include fever, runny nose, pink eye and a telltale rash.

The disease is highly contagious even before symptoms appear, cautioned Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health and medical editor.

The number of confirmed measles cases in California now tops 90.

Two weeks ago, a coach at Santa Monica High School was diagnosed with the virus, Pinsker said. The coach was not on staff but came into contact with about 70 baseball players, all who were completely immunized, Pinkser said. However, she said she could not confirm if the coach had been vaccinated.

Contributing to the state’s current outbreak is a rising number of people who are refusing to vaccinate their children or at least delaying the vaccination schedule recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Communities must be immunized at a high rate to avoid widespread outbreaks, the agency noted.

About 7 percent of students at Santa Monica High School have signed “personal belief” or medical exemptions excusing them from state requirements for the MMR vaccine, Pinsker said. The exemption rate for the Malibu Unified School District as a whole is 11.5 percent, she said.

California is one of 19 states that allows for personal vaccine exemptions. Nationally, 91.9 percent of children aged 19 months to 35 months have received the CDC-recommended dose of MMR.

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How a Triathlete Who Died During a Race Is Still Alive Today

Courtesy Chris LaPak(NEW YORK) — Chris LaPak died in August. Lifeguards at the New York City Triathlon noticed that he stopped swimming in the dark waters of the Hudson River, and pulled his body onto a surfboard.

The fact that he woke up five days later and is alive today is a “miracle,” he said. A series of miracles, really.

“I’m on borrowed time,” LaPak, 53, told ABC News. “My heart stopped, and it remained stopped anywhere between 11 and 13 minutes.”

LaPak’s heart stopped in the water at around 7 a.m. that morning, but his heart attack actually happened days earlier, causing him to have an irregular heartbeat, doctors later told him. He thinks it happened during a hot yoga class because he remembers terrible chest pain and shortness of breath, he said. But he ignored it.

Both his parents died of heart attacks in their 50s, but LaPak was a self-described “workout maniac.”

“I work out so much,” he said. “I think subconsciously I thought could beat this whole thing.”

According to the American Heart Association, 359,400 people went into cardiac arrest outside of a hospital in 2013. The survival rate is 9.5 percent. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, claiming 787,000 lives in 2011.

A lifelong athlete, LaPak had run three marathons and trained with an Olympic swim coach for six months before the triathlon on Aug. 3 — an Olympic-length triathlon consisting of a 1.5-kilometer swim, 40K bike ride and 10K run. He said he remembers very little about the events leading up to his cardiac arrest. He recalled snippets of getting ready for the race the night before, but the next thing he knew, he was waking up in the hospital five days later.

Lifeguards on surfboards spotted his body in the water and pulled him onto a surfboard, taking care to keep his head above water. They took him to a jet ski and then a fire department boat before making it to the dock, an ambulance, Roosevelt Hospital and, finally, Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital.

There, doctors learned that his left anterior descending artery was 100 percent blocked, but realized they needed to save his brain before they could fix it.

Dr. Eyal Herzog happened to be at work that Sunday, and followed protocols to cool LaPak down to 33 degrees Celsius, or 94.1 degrees Fahrenheit, to protect his brain and give it a chance to recover. They cooled him quickly and then warmed him back up slowly over about 16 hours.

Five days after the attack, LaPak opened his eyes, and Herzog asked him simple questions. Could he read a clock and tell him what time it was? Did he know the names of his family members in the room.

“Everyone was in shock,” LaPak said. “My family and friends had been told there was a less than 10 percent chance I was going to live. And if I did, there was a 95 percent chance I’d be brain dead.”

He underwent a double bypass surgery and is now back to running 10 or 12 miles several times a week, he said. When he reunited with the team of people who saved him several months later, he learned that no one whose heart has stopped in the Hudson River has ever survived.

He said he’ll always have a bond with the people who saved him.

“They never gave up,” LaPak said, adding that the experience has taught him to slow down and savor his life a little more. “They never quit on me. They gave me an opportunity to have more life and to see my two kids get married and have kids.”

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Same-Sex Marriage Has Opponents in LGBT Community

Stockbyte/Thinkstock Images(NEW YORK) — Is same-sex marriage universally supported by members of the nation’s LGBT community?

The answer is no, according to a poll by the Pew Research Center of nearly 1,200 people who identify themselves as either gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

While 93 percent either strongly or somewhat approve of gay and lesbian nuptials, seven percent say they do not support them.

Just as among heterosexuals quizzed about this same topic, more people in the LGBT community who regard themselves as Democrats are in favor of same-sex marriages compared to Republicans.

Although most of those polled by Pew see same-sex marriage as a top priority, almost four in ten now say the issue is taking attention away from other issues regarded as important to LGBT Americans.

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Rehab Centers Prep for Influx After Super Bowl Sunday

pavelis/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Super Bowl Sunday can mean lots of fun with family and friends, but for alcoholics or recovering alcoholics it can also mean a hazardous night that can lead to heavy drinking.

Substance counselors prepare for big events like Thanksgiving, Christmas and even the Super Bowl because those are moments when heightened emotions and lots of alcohol can fuel a night of heavy drinking.

At University of Colorado Hospital’s Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation, the staff prepares to get an influx of calls in the hours and days after the Super Bowl.

Dr. Patrick Fehling, an addiction psychiatrist at the Denver-based center, said the day of the big game can be particularly tough on those who recently quit drinking.

“People will have recently stopped drinking and then the Super Bowl will come around,” said Fehling. “Then everyone is drinking and it’s too much for them to handle.”

Fehling said some people fall in line with the crowd thinking they can just have a few beers, while other will try to resist for as long as possible but give in once they’re alone.

“When they’re in a social setting of high amounts of binging and high amounts of alcohol all around,” Fehling said of recovering alcoholics. “Their craving is through the roof. The craving is one step before a relapse.”

Drinking while watching the Super Bowl seems to be a longstanding tradition and Americans purchased 52 million cases of beer before the big game, according to a 2009 Nielson study.

A 2014 study from the University of Buffalo found that even among approximately 100 heavy drinking men, the Super Bowl lead to especially high amounts of alcohol consumption.

The men were found to drink an average of 8.7 drinks on Super Bowl Sunday up from 6 drinks on a Saturday night, the day with the most alcohol consumption on average.

“The fact that even among adults who drink at high levels, drinking increases on Super Bowl Sunday. I think this highlights the fact that Super Bowl Sunday is associated with hazardous drinking,” said Ronda Dearing, lead author of the study at the Research Institute of Addictions at the University of Buffalo.

In Denver, Fehling said the big game can also have unexpected consequences for those new to recovery.

“We have people who discharge from treatment and want to watch the game,” said Fehling. “Just the pull for them to drink and enjoy the spectacle,” is too strong.

Origins Behavioral Healthcare, a Florida-based company which treats people with substance abuse, starts to hear from more concerned family members after the Super Bowl.

Rachel Docekal, vice president of marketing at Origins Behavioral HealthCare, said people will start to call to ask about how to get help for a loved one or how to approach the idea of an intervention.

“Problems that have been there throughout the year really come to light,” said Docekal, who said family members will be around to witness how much their loved ones are drinking on a daily basis.

“People find themselves in a situation where they feel embarrassed or had a blackout and recognized they need help,” said Docekal. In these situations, people may feel that their families will help them get treatment.

Docekal said it’s important for those who wake up on Monday and think they have a problem to seek help.

“Call their local resource and ask if they can provide some help,” said Docekal. “If they think they need help they probably do and they shouldn’t wait.”

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What’s Your Toddler Eating?

Wiktory/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) – While parents strive to feed their toddlers healthy and nutritious meals, many popular pre-packed foods and snacks contain high levels of salt and sugar.

A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics gathered data on all major commercial toddler meals and snacks, over a 1,000 formulations and brands, and found that parents may be hurting their own kids.

A staggering 72 percent of toddler dinners were found to be high in sodium, while 32 percent contained at least one added sugar, such as high-fructose corn syrup or sucrose.

A majority of toddler cereal bars and snacks were also found to have had at least one added sugar.

Pre-packed infant dinners fared better in the study, with only two being high sodium, and the majority having no added sugars.

However, over half of pre-packed infant mixed grains and fruits had at least one added sugar.

Doctors say that added sugars contribute to the growing level of obesity among toddlers, while excess salt puts kids at risk for high blood pressure; high levels of both can affect taste preferences, leading to a predilection for unhealthy foods later in life.

Researchers remind parents not to forget to look at nutrition labels.

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Bad Health in Mom May Mean Bad Health in Baby for Years

Jupiterimages/Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The health of mom may linger in children for years, according to a recent study.

The study, which appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was done by researchers in the United Kingdom who examined five obesity risk factors in moms to see what effect they might have on children.

Researchers analyzed data from about 1,000 children, and looked for five maternal risk factors such as shortened breastfeeding, maternal obesity, excess pregnancy weight, maternal smoking and low vitamin D levels during pregnancy.

By age four, children whose moms showed more of these risk factors were four times more likely to be overweight or obese.

Researchers also found that by age six, the children in the research group had a fat mass that was 47 percent higher than kids whose mothers did not have these risk factors.

The study’s authors recommend mothers should work to eliminate those five risk factors, even before conception, to help cut obesity in children.

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‘Zombie Cat’ at Center of Pet Custody Battle

Courtesy Tampa Humane Society(TAMPA, Fla.) — The so-called “zombie cat” that seemingly came back to life after being buried is now at the center of a custody dispute between his original owner and the Tampa Bay Humane Society, according to the Humane Society.

The cat, named Bart, made headlines after his owners reportedly found him hit by a car and buried him. Days later his owners reported the cat was found by a neighbor who returned the animal.

According to the Tampa Bay Humane Center in Tampa, Florida, the cat with nine lives had fairly severe injuries including a broken jaw, facial lacerations and a damaged eye that had to be removed.

The center announced they would not return to the cat to its original owners.

“Recently we have learned new information about Bart’s home environment and the circumstances leading up to his burial,” the center’s statement read. “Therefore, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay does not intend to return Bart to the Hutson family. We are prepared to fight for the best interests of this cat.”

Ellias Hutson, the cat’s owner, could not immediately be reached for comment. He previously told ABC News the family was devastated when he had to bury the animal.

“We were so close, I couldn’t stand to bury him,” Hutson said in an earlier interview. “I put him on the shoulder of the road and went and got David. He dug a hole and covered up the cat with dirt. I witnessed him bury the cat.”

The 1-year-old cat was recovering at the animal hospital and the Humane Society has started a fundraiser page for the resilient cat.

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Why Even Vaccinated People Can Catch Measles

RidvanArda/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A measles outbreak that started last December has infected at least 84 people in 14 states, including at least five people who were immunized against the virus.

Those five known vaccinated people were all residents of California where many counties are below the 92 percent vaccination rate required for “herd immunity” threshold, according to state health department.

One expert says the infections of fully vaccinated people show the need for “herd immunity.”

Herd immunity or community immunity is when a critical portion of the community is immunized against a contagious disease, resulting in less chance of an outbreak, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said herd immunity is important because no vaccine can perfectly protect 100 percent of people.

“If everyone else is vaccinated, then the weak are protected, because they are surrounded with a cocoon of protection of others,” Schaffner said. “The herd of strong protect the few weak.”

To protect against measles, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends doses of two MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) shots that will provide 99 percent protection. A single dose will protect 95 percent of people from the virus.

However, measles is one of the most infectious viruses in existence. It will infect 90 percent of susceptible people if they are exposed. The airborne virus can also remain in the air for hours, infecting people if they are in the same vicinity as someone who is ill. For every person who gets it, the virus can spread to 18 other people.

Schaffner said the fact that even a few people who were vaccinated have become infected shows how many people have been exposed to the virus.

“For every person who’s vaccinated who comes down with measles you can assume that between 40 to 80 people who were exposed,” said Schaffner.

The measles virus was declared eradicated from the U.S. in 2000 and reached an all-time low with 37 cases in 2004. However, cases of the virus have started to increase due to “clusters” of unvaccinated people and increased international travel. Last year 644 people were infected with the disease in the U.S.

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Make Surgery More Tolerable?

RossHelen/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Surgery and anxiety go hand-in-hand, but having a distraction during a procedure may also help to relieve pain.

A new study in the European Journal of Pain compares distraction — DVDs, stress balls, conversations — to see if they can relieve anxiety and if they have an effect on pain as well.

Researchers from Surrey, England recruited 400 patients that were to have the same minimally invasive surgery, such as varicose vein removal, and had them undergo different “distractions” during the procedure.

One group watched DVDs, the second listened to music, another had a nurse solely dedicated to conversation, the fourth kneaded stress balls, and the last group proceeded with surgery as usual, without intervention.

Pre and post-operative surveys on stress, anxiety and pain showed that human interaction fared best — those patients had 30 percent less anxiety and 16 percent less pain than the control group.

The stress ball group had 18 percent less anxiety and 22 percent less pain.

The DVDs helped decrease anxiety, 25 percent less than the control group, but had no effect on pain.

The most surprising result however may have been the group who listened to music. Music, usually assumed to have a soothing effect, had no effect on pain or anxiety levels in the patients included in the survey.

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New York College Student With Measles Boarded Amtrak Train at Penn Station

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — A New York college student with measles boarded an Amtrak station from Penn Station earlier this week and may have exposed other passengers to the contagious virus.

The student at Bard College in Dutchess County took Amtrak train no. 283 from Penn Station to Albany, according to state health officials. He got off in Rhinecliff, N.Y.

He has been isolated during his recovery, said officials with the college.

“In order to prevent the spread of illness, DOH is advising individuals who may have been exposed and who have symptoms consistent with measles to call their health care providers or a local emergency room BEFORE going for care. This will help to prevent others at these facilities from being exposed to the illness,” said a statement from the New York State Department of Health.

At Bard College, the Dutchess County Department of Health held a measles vaccination clinic for any students, faculty, or staff who have not been vaccinated against measles.

New York has had three cases of measles this year, the department said, one in Dutchess County and two in New York City.

New York requires that all college students show proof of immunity to measles. At Bard College, medical forms show that a student’s immunity to the disease must be documented, but they don’t state whether exemptions are allowed.

The current nationwide outbreak of measles has spread to 14 states and includes 84 cases reported this month.

Measles is one of the most contagious viruses in existence and will infect an estimated 90 percent of people who not immune to the virus. The incubation period is on average 14 days, but an infected person can be contagious up to four days before they start to show symptoms.

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