Review Category : Health

Mississippi Hospital Treats More than Two Dozen for ‘Spice’ Overdoses

EyeMark/iStock/Thinkstock(JACKSON, Miss.) — More than 30 people have been treated at a Mississippi hospital since Thursday for “spice” overdose symptoms, health officials announced Monday.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi, saw at least 33 people over the Easter weekend for symptoms of “spice” overdose, a potent synthetic drug which is meant to recreate the high that comes with marijuana.

The synthetic drug is suspected as the cause of one death in Jackson, Dr. Alan Jones, chairman of the UMMC Department of Emergency Medicine, said in a news conference on Monday, according to a report by ABC News affiliate WAPT-TV.

Most of the patients are in their 20s or 30s, according to Jones, but there have been younger cases seen at the hospital over the weekend.

Hospital officials said in a news release the number of patients at the hospital is likely to go up, as additional suspected overdose patients entered the hospital’s emergency room on Monday.

Number of patients seen at our ED since Thurs. due to the synthetic #marijuana “spice” is now over 30, and rising: http://t.co/7hhxX1VeI2

— UMMC News (@UMMCnews) April 6, 2015

“The problem is we don’t know the potency of what we’re dealing with,” Jones said in a release. “Everybody will have a different reaction. I would say one puff could be bad enough to put someone in a coma.”

“Spice” is a catch-all name for a wide variety of herbal mixtures that produce experiences that are sometimes similar to what a person feels after smoking marijuana.

Symptoms of the synthetic drug include agitation, sweating, hyperactivity, hallucinations and acute psychosis. Heath officials say that in some cases, the user can fall into a coma.

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Canine Flu Outbreak Hits Chicago, Sickens More Than 1,000 Dogs

igorr1/iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — A rare epidemic of canine flu is spreading throughout the Chicago area, veterinary experts warned.

In an advisory issued by the Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control, officials said more than 1,000 cases had been identified over the past month, and five dogs have died from the disease.

The Chicago Park District began posting warning signs at dog parks last week advising dog owners to keep their pets away from any place where there is close contact with other dogs, a spokeswoman for the organization said. Over the weekend the group canceled their annual doggy Easter egg hunt held at a local dog park to prevent the spread of the illness.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in respiratory cases over the past month, about 50 to 100 between all of our partner hospitals,” said Dr. Anne Cohen, an emergency and critical care specialty veterinarian at Chicago Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center.

Canine flu symptoms are a lot like human symptoms and include fever, cough, nasal discharge and lack of energy, Cohen said. And just like human flu, it can be caught from sneezes and coughs, nose-to-nose contact or from infected surfaces. Symptoms last for about two weeks until the virus runs its course.

Canine flu is actually somewhat rare but highly contagious when it does strike, Cohen said. Dogs that spend a lot of time socializing at parks, day care or the groomers are the most likely to get sick.

A canine flu shot exists but Cohen said not all dogs need it. The two-shot vaccination spaced about three weeks apart may not ward off the illness altogether, but can reduce its length and severity. Animals need a booster shot every year for full protection, Cohen said.

“This isn’t a typical vaccination we give but because of the outbreak we’re recommending it for all high-risk dogs,” Cohen said.

Thankfully, canine flu is rarely fatal, veterinarians said. Anyone concerned about their furry friend catching a case should consult with their veterinarian.

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Wife Refuses to Give Up on Husband in Coma – Then He Awakens

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Danielle Josey Davis had been married only seven months when a devastating motorcycle accident left her husband on life support and in a coma.

Doctors recommended letting Matt Davis die because there was a 90 percent chance he would never wake up, but Danielle told ABC News she decided it just wasn’t time yet. Then, one day, he woke up.

“I’m sure glad I married her,” Matt Davis told ABC News Monday, though he doesn’t remember Danielle from before the 2010 crash that caused his traumatic brain injury.

Danielle was 24 when the accident happened, and had only started dating Matt, then 23, two months before their wedding.

Matt’s father had died two years before the accident, and his mother was too ill to take care of him, Danielle said. But Danielle made the decision to keep him on life support and eventually fought to get him into rehab and to take him home, moving back into her mother’s house.

“If we’ve got to bring him home, let’s make sure he has the best view in the world,” she remembered telling her mother. “If he’s going to be a body in a bed, let’s give him something to look at.”

Soon, Matt started following them with his eyes, and then he started communicating, Danielle said.

Three months after the accident, Danielle was holding Matt up in his bed trying to emulate what his therapist had done in rehab by asking him to reach out and grab a toy motorcycle. He’d never done it before, but this day, he did it, Danielle recalled. It was a start.

The moment Danielle really felt that her husband’s personality was still intact was when they asked him what he wanted to eat, and he responded in a barely audible whisper.

“I kid you not, he says, ‘buffalo chicken wrap from Cheddar’s,'” she said, explaining that it had been his favorite food. “We all whipped around because we all knew what he said.”

They eventually got him to another rehabilitation program for two and a half months. And he left on his own two feet with a walker, Danielle said.

It’s taken some time for Matt to regain his sense of humor and his long-term memory, but he doesn’t remember dating or marrying Danielle. He’s gotten to know her all over again. She calls him “Mattie” or “cake,” and he calls her “baby” or “doughnut.”

They play scrabble and enjoy going to yoga classes together, and he’s recently started driving a stick shift car for fun because he loves cars, she said.

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Utah Teen Diagnosed with Rare Water Allergy

Alexandra Allen(MAPLETON, Utah) — When Alexandra Allen was a little girl, she wanted to be a marine biologist and live on a sailboat. After being diagnosed with an allergy to water, the 17-year-old from Mapleton, Utah, said she realizes that dream isn’t likely to come true.

Allen said she had her first severe reaction to water when she was about 12. While on vacation with her family, she went swimming in a hotel pool and later that night woke up itching and covered in hives, she recalled.

“I remember sitting in the bathroom trying so hard not to scratch myself and make it worse until my mom came back with the Benadryl,” the high school senior told ABC News.

She said she assumed at first that she was allergic to chlorine or some other harsh chemical, so she avoided swimming pools. But she knew the problem was much larger when she broke out into hives after swimming in a lake known for having very clean water.

When Allen was about 15 she came across a medical site that highlighted aquagenic urticarial, a condition defined by a painful reaction from skin contact with water as well as dry skin and dry eyes, she said, noting that it described her symptoms perfectly. And when she took it to her dermatologist, he agreed.

“He brought in a few other doctors and they just sat around in awe,” she recalled, adding that the test to confirm the diagnosis, which involved soaking in a tub of water, felt “like being tortured.”

Aquagenic urticarial is so rare that only about 50 cases have been described in medical literature, said Dr. Barney J. Kenet, a dermatologist with the Cornell Medical Center.

“It’s a real thing. We learn about it in medical school, though I have never seen a case in my practice,” Kenet said.

While not a true allergy, it causes severe allergy-like reactions, even after exposure to rain, snow, sweat or tears, according to an article in the Journal of Allergy Immunological Practice, one of the few studies to describe the disease. It tends to affect women more than men and usually first appears during puberty.

The cause of aquagenic urticarial is not well understood, Kenet said. One theory is that the sweat glands within the skin produce a toxin that triggers the allergic response, he said. Or it could be that antigens that cause the immune system to produce antibodies are absorbed in the skin after dissolving in water to trigger the allergic reaction.

Finding ways to avoid water has definitely been a challenge, Allen said. Obviously swimming is out. She has become a vegetarian to reduce the oils in her skin, avoids sweating and can only take two to three very short, cold showers a week, she said. Even humid climates can bring on a reaction, as she found out last year during a trip to Cambodia with a humanitarian aid group.

Her condition is thought to be degenerative, meaning that it gets worse with time and repeated exposures, Allen said. She expects at some point that drinking water may become a problem. Last year, she spoke to a British woman with the same diagnosis who told her she can now only drink Diet Coke.

But Allen said she remains positive. She tries to focus on the upside of her situation.

“At least I’m not allergic to dogs — and it does get me out of doing the dishes,” she said.

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Wife Refuses to Pull Plug on Husband in Coma, Then He Awakes

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Danielle Josey Davis had been married only seven months when a devastating motorcycle accident left her husband on life support and in a coma.

Doctors recommended letting Matt Davis die because there was a 90 percent chance he would never wake up, but Danielle told ABC News she decided it just wasn’t time yet. Then, one day, he woke up.

“I’m sure glad I married her,” Matt Davis told ABC News Monday, though he doesn’t remember Danielle from before the 2010 crash that caused his traumatic brain injury.

Danielle was 24 when the accident happened, and had only started dating Matt, then 23, two months before their wedding.

Matt’s father had died two years before the accident, and his mother was too ill to take care of him, Danielle said. But Danielle made the decision to keep him on life support and eventually fought to get him into rehab and to take him home, moving back into her mother’s house.

“If we’ve got to bring him home, let’s make sure he has the best view in the world,” she remembered telling her mother. “If he’s going to be a body in a bed, let’s give him something to look at.”

Soon, Matt started following them with his eyes, and then he started communicating, Danielle said.

Three months after the accident, Danielle was holding Matt up in his bed trying to emulate what his therapist had done in rehab by asking him to reach out and grab a toy motorcycle. He’d never done it before, but this day, he did it, Danielle recalled. It was a start.

The moment Danielle really felt that her husband’s personality was still intact was when they asked him what he wanted to eat, and he responded in a barely audible whisper.

“I kid you not, he says, ‘buffalo chicken wrap from Cheddar’s,'” she said, explaining that it had been his favorite food. “We all whipped around because we all knew what he said.”

They eventually got him to another rehabilitation program for two and a half months. And he left on his own two feet with a walker, Danielle said.

It’s taken some time for Matt to regain his sense of humor and his long-term memory, but he doesn’t remember dating or marrying Danielle. He’s gotten to know her all over again. She calls him “Mattie” or “cake,” and he calls her “baby” or “doughnut.”

They play scrabble and enjoy going to yoga classes together, and he’s recently started driving a stick shift car for fun because he loves cars, she said.

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Poisoned in Paradise: A Look at the Pesticide Methyl Bromide

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Members of a Delaware family of four remain seriously ill after possibly being exposed to a pesticide, methyl bromide, on their vacation in the U.S. Virgin Islands in March.

The pesticide allegedly was sprayed in an apartment below them to fix a bug problem the same day the family arrived at their vacation rental condominium unit at the Sirenusa resort on St. John, according to Judith Enck, administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 2 Office, which covers the U.S. Virgin Islands.

By that night, Enck said, the entire family “started having adverse health effects.” Both boys had seizures, according to Enck.

Paramedics responded and took the family to a hospital on neighboring island St. Thomas. Three of the family members were put on ventilators, Enck said. The family was then airlifted to hospitals in the U.S.

What is methyl bromide?

Methyl bromide is a potent neurotoxin that affects the nervous system.

The EPA banned methyl bromide for indoor residential use in the 1980s, Enck said, but the product still is on the market for agricultural use. It’s commonly used in California on strawberries, Enck said.

“Decades ago, we established rules saying that pesticide applicators cannot use this toxic pesticide indoors because we were afraid of an outcome just like this one,” Enck said.

Enck said it’s important to educate the public about alternatives to very toxic pesticides.

“There’s something called integrated pest management where you can look at lesser toxic or non-toxic ways to deal with bug problems,” she said.

Why is methyl bromide dangerous?

According to the EPA, methyl bromide exposure can cause short-term and long-term problems including severe lung injuries and neurological impairment.

“Exposure to methyl bromide is quite serious,” Enck said, “And it can really damage your nervous system.”

Exposure can cause brain damage and comas, Enck added.

“There are a number of serious health impacts that anyone applying this would know about once they looked at the label on the product and then looked at the supporting documentation that talked about health impacts,” she said.

The EPA issued a pesticide warning in the Caribbean and is examining if methyl bromide was used in other locations in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Some vacationers or residents may not have had the very serious health response that this family has had, but it can cause headache, nausea, dizziness; it can affect whether your body shakes or not,” Enck said.

How is the EPA investigating?

Following the family’s hospitalizations, the EPA launched a “comprehensive investigation,” Enck said. Officials were sent to sample and monitor the resort’s apartments to see if any of the pesticide was left.

“We’re looking at what happened here, which we consider an illegal application of methyl bromide,” Enck said.

Sea Glass Vacations, which acts as a rental agent for several rental units at Sirenusa, said in a statement that it is “aware that authorities are actively investigating the possibility that the illnesses were due to chemicals used for pest control. The unit immediately below Villa Capri was recently treated for pests by Terminix, however, Villa Capri itself had not been so treated. … Sea Glass Vacations does not treat the units it manages for pests but instead relies on licensed professionals for pest control services. We are committed to full cooperation with all the authorities currently investigating this matter.”

The Department of Justice is investigating Terminix, the company that applied the pesticide, Enck confirmed.

Terminix has halted all fumigation in the Virgin Islands as part of the ongoing investigation, said Peter Tosches, Terminix’s senior vice president of corporate communications.

“First and foremost, the family is in our thoughts and prayers,” Terminix said in a statement. “We’re cooperating with authorities in their investigation, and we’re conducting our own thorough investigation in the matter. We’re committed to performing all work we undertake in a way that is safe for our employees, customers and the public.”

“I’ve worked on environmental protection issues for close to 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Enck said. “My heart goes out to the family that is suffering over two weeks ago with this exposure. But my head goes to the law and the science and the need for strong, environmental regulation and enforcement of the regulation to make sure this never happens again.”

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A Closer Look at Knifed Ambassador’s Futuristic Hand Brace

JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Recovering U.S. Ambassador Mark Lippert has ditched his old-fashioned splint in favor of a custom-made exoskeletal version that helps him open his hand amid nerve and possible tendon damage.

Lippert, the ambassador to South Korea, was attacked last month in Seoul when a man shouting “no to war training” lunged at him with a 10-inch blade, hitting his face and left hand, authorities said. Lippert, 42, needed 80 stitches and had to undergo surgery.

Lippert’s “dynamic splint” was custom made for him at Severance Hospital in South Korea, Lippert wrote on his Facebook page. He said it immobilizes his wrist, supports his fingers and allows him to strengthen and move his hand.

“It is an amazing apparatus, one I haven’t seen before — so innovative and creative,” he said, adding that the hospital was able to construct it quickly. “It is very comfortable and has made a huge difference in my recovery as I am able to hold things in my hand. This is of particular importance when I am walking Grigsby, as I often need two hands to manage Grigsby!”

Grigsby is his dog, a basset hound.

The splint includes a wrist brace and metal beams that stick out over the back of each of his fingers and attaches via little elastic bands, said Vanderbilt University engineering professor Michael Goldfarb, who has built several similar devices here in the United States, but did not build Lippert’s.

It is similar to the devices some stroke victims need to wear during their recovery, Goldfarb said, adding that it is not powered.

Devices like this help patients open their hands, suggesting that nerves used to open his hands — but not close them — were damaged in the attack, Goldfarb said.

“The nerves that help him grasp things to close his hand are probably unaffected by the injury,” Goldfarb said. “But the nerves that help him open his hand were probably damaged.”

Goldfarb said it’s “hit or miss” which nerves are damaged in an attack like Lippert’s. If the nerves are fully cut, he may need to wear the brace permanently. If not, they may take months to begin to come back, and more than a year to show significant progress, he said.

It’s also possible Lippert’s tendons were damaged, said Dr. John Krebbs, an orthopedic hand surgeon at U.H. Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. If Lippert’s tendons are healing, the device helps him open his hand without further injuring the tendons, Krebbs said. They have to continue to move because immobilizing them would cause scar tissue to form around them, he said.

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How to Thwart Nanny Cam Hackers

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Imagine having a stranger spying on your child as they sleep, playing them eerie music and even posting images of them online.

The hacking of nanny cameras sound like something out of a horror film but has become an all-too-common occurrence as more people rely on the surveillance cameras but don’t take the necessary steps to secure them, experts say.

In February, a San Antonio nanny reported hearing someone talking through a camera monitor, according to ABC television affiliate KSAT.

This incident is just the latest in a string of hacks that can often be prevented, Robert Siciliano, an online safety expert to Intel Security, told ABC News.

“I recommend registering your devices with the company that provides it to you. That means if they discover a vulnerability, they will usually ping everybody’s email and let them know they need to update their device,” Siciliano said.

“Another thing you can do too is set up a Google alert for the brand and if a researcher publishes a report that says, ‘Hey I discovered this is vulnerable,’ you may find out before the manufacturer does,” Siciliano said.

In addition to registering the device, Siciliano recommends making sure users change the default username and password to something that uses a string of different characters.

Siciliano said it’s important that users’ home Wi-Fi is encrypted and they ensure the firmware (that’s the hardware’s software) stays up-to-date.

Foscam, the manufacturer of the popular surveillance cameras, agreed with the above tips and also added that users should frequently check their camera’s log to make sure there hasn’t been any unauthorized access.

“Foscam cameras have embedded logs which allow you to see exactly which IP addresses are accessing the camera,” the company said in a statement on its website. “You will be able to tell if an outsider has gained access to your camera.”

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College Freshmen Survey Shows High Degree of Achievement and Ambition

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — Judging by a new survey, the typical college freshman in the U.S. is pretty serious about higher education.

More than 150,000 freshmen from 227 colleges were polled for the “The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2014″ which revealed that the typical first-year student had generally earned As and Bs in high school while also taking four years of English, three years of math, and two years of a foreign language.

Meanwhile, about 77 percent of freshmen went to public schools while most also had parents who either had a college degree or spent some time in college.

As for why they’re in college, 86 percent said it was to get a better job, 82 percent want to learn more about their interests, 77 percent are there to train for a specific career and 73 percent want to make more money.

The survey was conducted by the University of California Los Angeles’ Higher Education Research Institute’s Cooperative Institutional Research Program.

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Major Changes on the Way for World’s Major Religions

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The world is becoming more religious to the point where by 2050, just 13 percent of the planet’s population will not be affiliated with some religion.

A Pew Research Center study says that in 2010, 16 percent were not religiously affiliated.

Pew predicts that although Christianity will remain the world’s largest religion, Islam will be almost as large. By 2050, there will be estimated 2.92 billion Christians compared to 2.76 billion Muslims, up from 2.17 billion and 1.6 billion, respectively, in 2010.

The global population of Christians will essentially stay at 31.4 percent while Muslims will expand significantly from 23.2 percent to 29.7. percent between 2010 and 2050.

The primary reason: Muslims have the highest fertility rate at 3.1 children per woman with Christians second at 2.7 children per woman.

With the exception of Buddhists, all the world’s major religious groups are expected to increase in the next 35 years.

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