Review Category : Health

Zookeeper Becomes ‘Mother’ of Orphaned Kangaroo

Chahinkapa Zoo(WAHPETON, N.D.) — When Amanda Dukart wakes up in the morning to get ready for work, she does the daily routine of brushing her teeth and eating breakfast. But before she even gets herself ready, she has a little mouth to feed that sits on her hip.

“It’s quite an adjustment,” Dukart, 25, told ABC News Wednesday about caring for a baby kangaroo. “It’s like a new baby.”

Dukart, a zookeeper and animal trainer at the Chahinkapa Zoo in Wahpeton, North Dakota, has become a human mother to Barkly, a 4-month-old baby kangaroo, after her mom died unexpectedly about a week ago. The orphaned joey is still in the midst of developing, and needs to be in a pouch 24/7 to survive.

“It’s a little different than human development, where it happens inside,” Dukart said. “Joeys are very underdeveloped when they’re born.”

Their lungs, bones, sight and hearing are just some of the areas in which joeys are still developing when they are in their mothers’ pouches for the first 10 months of their lives, Dukart explained. The other kangaroos at the zoo all have joeys already in their pouches, and the zookeepers “don’t know a ton about,” other marsupials being surrogates.

And so, for the next six months Barkly and Dukart are attached at the hip, with a pouch and sling the zoo staff made with polar fleece, so it “doesn’t dry out the skin too much,” according to Dukart.

“We spend a lot of time together,” Dukart said. “I have a new appreciation for mothers.”

Dukart acts very motherly for the joey, covering Barkly up with her jacket when she has to pump gas, or hiding her under a sweatshirt at the grocery store so she doesn’t have to leave her outside. Dukart even has Barkly in the pouch next to her when she sleeps.

Barkly also accompanies Dukart on her zoo duties when it’s not too cold outside.

“I’m working full time with a baby,” she said. “I think my cats are starting to feel a little neglected,” Dukart laughed.

Barkly will still need to be in the pouch after 10 months, when she will wander in and out of it, and will slowly be weaned off by the time she is 18 months old, according to Dukart. But in the short amount of time the two have been together, Dukart believes they “have a special bond.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Your Body: Obstacles to Getting Healthier

Fuse/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Most Americans want to make an effort to be healthy.

In a male clinic survey, 74 percent of respondents said they hope to eat healthier, while 73 percent said they wanted to exercise more.

But when it comes to following through on those goals, work causes the greatest obstacle — more so than the cost of healthy foods, the time spent caring for other family members, or even a lack of time for sleep.

Here are three things you can do get right now to be healthier starting today:

  • Commit to at least seven hours of sleep a night — no matter what.
  • If it’s not fuel for your body’s machine, don’t eat it. Try sticking to just fruits, vegetables and lean proteins for one week.
  • If possible, find a doctor or health care provider you really like.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Origami Inspiring Smaller Surgical Tools

iStock/Thinkstock(PROVO, Utah) — Techniques used in ancient art of origami are being folded into the high-tech world of modern medicine, thanks to a partnership between robotic surgical device developer Intuitive Surgical and Brigham Young University.

In a video promoting the partnership with the company that created the groundbreaking da Vinci surgical robot, BYU mechanical engineering teams are using folds familiar to experts of the paper art to create a new generation of tiny tools. “The whole concept is to make smaller and smaller incisions,” professor Larry Howell explains. “To that end, we’re creating devices that can be inserted into a tiny incision and then deployed inside the body to carry out a specific surgical function.”

Just as origami inspired NASA engineers to fold solar arrays and other gear for launch into space — and unfold them again in orbit — these techniques are being used along with 3D printing to create cutting edge, sometimes literally, surgical instruments.

Professor Spencer Magleby says in the video, “These small instruments will allow for a whole new range of surgeries to be performed — hopefully one day manipulating things as small as nerves.”

The team showed off one such prototype, a robotically-controlled pair of pincers small enough to fit through an incision about the thickness of two pennies stacked together.

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BMI May Not Give Accurate Body Fat Reading, Study Says

iStock/Thinkstock(MONTREAL) — Which is more accurate, body fat measurement or body mass index (BMI)?

Your BMI has been the gold standards for predicting overall health. Patients and doctors routinely calculate BMI, and some employers even use it to determine health care costs.

Some recent studies stand that on its head, however, saying high BMI may actually be associated with longevity. While this “obesity paradox” continues to be debated, it seems clear that BMI does not always give the most accurate reading of body fat content.

A new study published in Annals of Internal Medicine had researchers in Montreal looking at roughly 5,000 women and 1,000 men who had a bone mineral density testing done. Researchers are using those scans for another purpose; they, of course, estimate bone density, but also calculate body fat percentage.

High body fat percentage went hand in hand with higher chance of death from any cause – although high BMI did not. Low BMI was linked to a higher risk of death from all causes.

The findings suggest that the BMI is not a good measure of overall health at all, and is a poor estimate of body fat content to boot.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Chipotle Restaurant Closed After Workers Become Sick

iStock/Thinkstock(BILLERICA, Mass.) — A Massachusetts Chipotle restaurant has voluntarily shut down after four employees became ill, possibly with the norovirus.

In a statement, a Chipotle spokesman said the restaurant would undergo a “full sanitization” and that no customers have been reported sick.

“After learning that four of our employees were not feeling well, our restaurant in Billerica, Mass. was closed for a full sanitization,” a Chipotle spokesman told ABC News. “We do not know if the employees are ill with norovirus and no customers illnesses are connected to this restaurant. Any employees who reported feeling ill will be tested and held out of the restaurant until they fully recover.”

The restaurant chain implemented new safety procedures last year after dealing with multiple food-borne outbreaks including multiple E.coli and norovirus outbreaks.

The new safety measures include testing fresh produce with DNA-based tests, end-of-shelf-life testing to ensure ingredients are safe throughout their shelf life, while also looking to improve the supply chain by measuring performance data of vendors and suppliers, and enhancing employee training in food safety and handling.

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To Combat Zika Spread, WHO Strengthens Guidelines for Pregnant Women

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — To fight the effects of the ongoing Zika virus outbreak, the World Health Organization is strengthening its guidelines for pregnant women traveling to affected areas.

The WHO said Tuesday that pregnant women are “advised not travel to areas of ongoing Zika virus outbreaks” and women with partners who live in or travel to areas affected by Zika should abstain from sex or use safe-sex practices for the duration of the pregnancy. The WHO previously warned pregnant women to discuss travel plans with their health provider and consider delaying travel.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have already issued similar guidelines for women in the U.S.

The announcement comes after new studies strengthened the link between the Zika virus and the birth defect mircocephaly, which is characterized by an abnormally small head and brain. The birth defect can lead to developmental delays.

WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan and Dr. David Heymann, chair of WHO’s Emergency Committee, spoke to reporters Tuesday about the new guidelines. They said there has been a growing body of evidence linking the virus to microcephaly after it was found in amniotic fluid. Recent studies have found the virus to be “neurotropic,” meaning it affects tissues in the brain and brain stem of a developing fetus and that microcephaly is just one abnormality that is associated with Zika infections during pregnancy.

Chan also said that new reports “strongly suggest” sexual transmission of the Zika virus is more common than previously thought.

The virus has also been linked to an increase in a rare paralysis syndrome called Guillain-Barré syndrome. Chan said nine countries are reporting an increase of cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome and that some labs have seen an increase of the syndrome in patients with Zika symptoms.

The Zika virus usually results in mild symptoms including fever, headache, rash and fatigue that last about a week. Approximately four out of five people infected show no symptoms of the virus.

The virus has been associated with an increase in rates of microcephaly in Brazil.

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Two Starbucks Items Voluntarily Recalled Due to Bacteria, Allergen Risk

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Two food items sold at Starbucks are being voluntarily recalled by the companies that supplied them to the coffee chain due to concerns about contamination with bacteria and allergens.

A breakfast sandwich is being recalled due to concerns that the product could potentially be contaminated with a dangerous bacteria called listeria and a fruit and cheese box is being recalled due to potential allergens that are not listed in the ingredients, the company said.

The breakfast sandwich with sausage, egg and cheese was made by Progressive Gourmet Inc. and sold at Starbucks in three states, Starbucks said.

The listeria was found on a surface at the manufacturer’s facility and the product itself has not tested positive for the bacteria, a Starbucks spokeswoman told ABC News Tuesday.

There have been no reported infections to date related to the sandwich, Starbucks said.

“This recall is being issued out of an abundance of caution,” the company spokeswoman told ABC News. “As soon as we were made aware of a potential supplier issue with a specific lot of Sausage, Egg and Cheddar Breakfast sandwiches, we removed the impacted product from the select Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas area stores that carried it.”

Symptoms of listeria infection can include fever, muscle aches and gastrointestinal symptoms. The infection is particularly dangerous for younger children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. Pregnant women who are infected are at risk of miscarriage or still birth.

Progressive Gourmet, which is based in Wilmington, Massachusetts, voluntarily recalled the sandwiches sold on March 3 and 4 in 250 Starbucks stores in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma.

Another Starbucks food item called “Cheese & Fruit Bistro Boxes” from Gretchen’s Shoebox Express is also being voluntarily recalled due to potential allergens that were not disclosed on the label.

The boxes sold in Washington state may have contained cashews, which may cause “serious or life-threatening reaction” for people who are allergic to tree nuts, according to a release from Gretchen’s Shoebox Express.

The items being voluntarily recalled have the label Cheese & Fruit Bistro Box (Item #11015085) with “enjoy by” dates up to March 4, 2016.

No illnesses have been reported to date due to that item, Starbucks said.

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Loose Lips Sink Safety Trials, Study Finds

Top Photo Group/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The history of weight loss drugs is littered with unexpected side effects — with perhaps the most notable example being the 1990s drug fenfluramine, which was pulled from the market due to cardiovascular risk — so it’s little surprise that weight loss drugs have continued to be under scrutiny.

Now, a new report on a randomized control trial studying the possibility of adverse cardiovascular events with the weight loss drug Contrave — a combination of naltrexone and buproprion — reveals how a safety trial was ended prematurely due to the early release of data.

The study of 8,910 overweight or obese patients showed favorable early phase results. In fact, patients actually had fewer cardiovascular events on these medications. However, when the company released this favorable data, this breach of confidentiality led the Food and Drug Administration to end the trial early.

The result? At this point the safety of this drug combination continues to remain uncertain.

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What to Know About Maria Sharapova’s Banned Drug Meldonium

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Tennis star Maria Sharapova made the shocking announcement on Monday that she had tested positive for a banned substance called meldonium. The highest-paid female tennis player in the world said she had been taking the drug for years and was not aware that the substance had been banned this year before going to the Australian Open.

The announcement has already led to Sharapova being suspended from tennis and to lost endorsement deals, including a multi-million contract with Nike.

Here’s some key facts about the little-known drug at the center of the issue.

What Is Meldonium?

The drug is called meldonium or mildronate and was created for patients with coronary heart disease as a way to relieve chest pain.

The drug is designed to open up blood vessels to get oxygen and blood to muscles and relieve chest pain and strain on the heart.

Where Is the Drug Legal?

The drug is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but it is available in Russia.

The World Anti-Doping Agency put the drug on its prohibited list starting this year. However, it had been a part of the monitoring program for drugs “which are not on the Prohibited List, but which WADA wishes to monitor in order to detect patterns of misuse in sport,” WADA said in a statement last year.

Does the Drug Improve Athlete’s Performance?

There is not much conclusive medical literature about how the drug impacts athletes, so it’s full effects are not yet known.

However, one medical paper published last year said the drug has been linked to improved endurance in athletes as well as “improved rehabilitation” or ability to recover quickly after exercise.

Another study found that patients with a history of heart problems could exercise longer on a treadmill than their counterparts taking a placebo, but the gains were modest.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Maria Sharapova’s Banned Drug Meldonium: What to Know About the Medication

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Tennis star Maria Sharapova made the shocking announcement on Monday that she had tested positive for a banned substance called meldonium. The highest-paid female tennis player in the world said she had been taking the drug for years and was not aware that the substance had been banned this year before going to the Australian Open.

The announcement has already led to Sharapova being suspended from tennis and to lost endorsement deals, including a multi-million contract with Nike.

Here’s some key facts about the little-known drug at the center of the issue.

What Is Meldonium?

The drug is called meldonium or mildronate and was created for patients with coronary heart disease as a way to relieve chest pain.

The drug is designed to open up blood vessels to get oxygen and blood to muscles and relieve chest pain and strain on the heart.

Where Is the Drug Legal?

The drug is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but it is available in Russia.

The World Anti-Doping Agency put the drug on its prohibited list starting this year. However, it had been a part of the monitoring program for drugs “which are not on the Prohibited List, but which WADA wishes to monitor in order to detect patterns of misuse in sport,” WADA said in a statement last year.

Does the Drug Improve Athlete’s Performance?

There is not much conclusive medical literature about how the drug impacts athletes, so it’s full effects are not yet known.

However, one medical paper published last year said the drug has been linked to improved endurance in athletes as well as “improved rehabilitation” or ability to recover quickly after exercise.

Another study found that patients with a history of heart problems could exercise longer on a treadmill than their counterparts taking a placebo, but the gains were modest.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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