Review Category : Health

Synthetic Marijuana Sends Dozens to the Hospital in Texas

Wendy Galietta/The Washington Post via Getty Images(DALLAS) — Dozens of people were hospitalized in Texas after smoking a new, over-the-counter synthetic drug meant to mimic marijuana.

On Friday, officials in Dallas, Texas said patients overdosed in one day on a product called K-2. Symptoms include sedation, overwhelming anxiety, and even psychosis, ranging in people who were very sedated to very agitated.

Baylor Medical Center’s Dr. James D’Ettienne warned that K-2 is difficult to regulate because of its ever-changing ingredients from makers.

“We don’t know what they’re putting into these synthetic drugs,” D’Ettienne said.

One victim is a pregnant woman in her third trimester, according to ABC affiliate WFAA.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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First Confirmed MERS Patient in US in Stable Condition

Creatas Images/Thinkstock Photos(CHICAGO) — The man who brought the first known case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome into the United States is in an Indiana hospital in stable condition.

Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, Illinois’ Public Health Director, told ABC News that the patient is “requiring a little supplemental oxygen,” but that he is not on a ventilator.

Hasbrouck says that it’s not terribly likely that the man transmitted the disease to too many other people. “If you had a flight around that time, and were walking through O’Hare, you know chances are pretty negligible that you would have any risk whatsoever.”

Dr. Jessica Ridgeway from the University of Chicago says that its likely many people who have the disease “don’t have symptoms or…aren’t sick enough to go to the hospital.” Ridgeway says the mortality rate — believed to be nearly one-third of the 300 people diagnosed with MERS — “is likely inflated.”

Still, Hasbrouck says, MERS “is a rare but very serious, very dangerous respiratory infection, number one. We want people to know that we are tracking it.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Boy Going Blind Gets Help to Fulfill Sightseeing Wish List

Thaden Pierce/ABC News(NEW YORK) — The family of a 9-year-old boy going blind and on a mission to see sights from around the world has raised thousands of dollars to fund trips to his final sightseeing wish list.

Ben Pierce was born extremely prematurely and as a result his eye sight has slowly been diminishing since birth. Last year his doctors finally told Ben and his family that he was out of time and his eyesight would be gone before adulthood. Since getting the news, the Pierce family — which has six children including Ben — has been on a mission to take Ben to all the places he wants to see before he goes blind.

“Ben made his list and we said ‘Dream big buddy.’ We know we can’t get to everything on here [but] we’re not going to tell him no,” said Ben’s father Kit Pierce.

While the Pierce family eventually set up a fundraising site, Kit Pierce said he was surprised at how supportive people have been by helping to get Ben access to NASA, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and a major league soccer match.

“So many wonderful people have stopped us and said we can give you a hand. It’s really amazing,” said Pierce. “A friend of ours said I know a person, I can let him see a soccer match. … There’s so many great people who are just coming out of the woodwork.”

Additionally, after getting requests on the family blog for a fundraising site, the family has raised nearly $20,000 to fund Ben’s adventures.

“We’re trying to get as much in as we can. We have no timelines and no guarantees. He could wake up tomorrow and be blind,” Kit Pierce said of his son.

The family is still preparing Ben to go through life without sight.

“We hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” said Pierce, who said Ben works with a Braille tutor and is being taught how to use a cane.

But the Pierce family is not ready to stop yet. In the next few weeks they are going on a road trip to Colorado to see family and have a few important stops on the way.

“We’re going to see the mountain [and] Arches National Park [in Utah]. That’s definitely something he’s got to see,” said Pierce. “We’re going to hit Albuquerque, because it’s the name of a favorite Weird Al song.”

There is one big trip that the Pierce family is still working on putting together: a family trip to England. Among the sites Ben is hoping to see is Big Ben, the Globe theater, Van Gogh’s Sunflower painting and the studios where the long-running British TV show Dr. Who is filmed.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Mentally Ill Men Allege ‘Shocking’ Isolation in Mass. Prison Hospital Lawsuit

iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — Three men who have been involuntarily committed to a Massachusetts prison for the mentally ill have filed a class-action suit on behalf of 150 other inmates against two state officials, alleging that they were subjected to harsh conditions of confinement that would “shock the conscience of a reasonable person.”

The three plaintiffs in the case have never been convicted of a crime, according to the lawsuit, which alleges that Bridgewater State Hospital systematically confines inmates for weeks and even months in solitary confinement without reading materials, exercise or “virtually any contact with human beings.”

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Norfolk Superior Court against Department of Correction Commissioner Luis Spencer and Department of Mental Health Commissioner Marcia Fowler, alleging that prolonged isolation is a violation of state law. Also named in the lawsuit are Robert Murphy, superintendent of Bridgewater State, the Massachusetts Partnership for Correctional Healthcare and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Department of Correction officials told ABCNews.com Friday, “We are reviewing the complaint closely.”

“While we cannot comment on specific patients, we can say that the use of seclusion and restraint at Bridgewater State Hospital is a clinical decision and one we view as a measure of last resort,” said Darren Duarte, a spokesman for the DOC, which operates Bridgewater State. “These clinical decisions are based on each individual’s specific mental health treatment needs.”

Department of Mental Health spokesman Julie Kaviar said Friday, “We have received the lawsuit and are reviewing it carefully. The Massachusetts Department of Mental Health is a national leader in behavioral health and we are committed to providing quality, safe evidence-based care and services to individuals in our inpatient and community systems.”

Officials with the Massachusetts Partnership for Correctional Healthcare, which provides mental health services to the DOC, were not immediately available for comment.

One plaintiff, identified as 31-year-old Jeffrey Doe, has autism, an intellectual disability and schizophrenia and has been isolated for 1,700 hours since November, according to the lawsuit.

“It’s one of the worst cases I have seen in my 33 years of practice,” Roderick MacLeish, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs, told ABCNews.com Friday. “Obviously, this man has no impulse control and functions at an extremely low level and is really not verbal. He was charged with assault and battery – this man who has limited or no executive function. He goes to Bridgewater prison but he is clearly incompetent to stand trial and will never get convicted.”

Doe was set to go to a group home last summer when doctors at a state mental health facility reduced his medication dosage and he hit a psychiatrist in the eye, according to his lawyer.

MacLeish alleges that according to prison records, Doe was put in seclusion for infractions like being “slow in responding to interview questions.”

“He has very limited verbal skills, cannot understand directions and lacks the ability to toilet himself or even express feelings of pain when he experiences an injury,” he said. “He is often left in a cell with urine and feces.”

Another plaintiff who suffers from paranoia schizophrenia, Felipe Zomosa, has spent more than 4,000 hours in isolation since May 2013, according to the lawsuit. In January of 2014, he was subjected to 136 hours of mechanical restraint over six days.

Zomosa was sent to Bridgewater because he “lunged” at a psychiatrist after going off his medication. “He had a driver’s license before he did this,” MacLeish said. “He lived at home.”

MacLeish said an analysis of the statistics at Bridgewater State revealed two of the plaintiffs had spent more time in solitary confinement in 2013 than all 650 patients in Department of Mental Health facilities combined. “It shows that seclusion and isolation are out of control,” he said.

The lawsuit also alleges that the use of seclusion and restraint at Bridgewater State is “100 times greater” on a patient hour basis than at five other facilities run by the Department of Mental Health.

A third, Peter Minich, was isolated in a locked seclusion room at the intensive-treatment unit for at least 6,300 hours from January 14, 2013 to March 12, 2014, and restrained him to objects like his bed for 815 hours.

Minich, 31, was placed in isolation for reasons that included “bothering other patients,” having seizures; yelling; licking the floor; having auditory hallucinations and other non-violent behavior, according to a separate lawsuit filed March 31 by his family.

“People say it’s a hospital, but it’s not a hospital. It’s a prison,” his mother, Joanne Minich told ABCNews.com at the time. “I don’t think they are helping him at all. It’s torture.”

He has since been transferred out of Bridgewater State and placed in another facility.

Among other things, the plaintiffs are asking for a complete overhaul of how isolation and restraint are administered at Bridgewater State Hospital, including the appointment of a monitor entitled to make unannounced visits to the facility and report back to the court. The plaintiffs also want to be transferred to a therapeutic facility not run by the DOC.

They have also asked the court to issue a permanent injunction against transferring any mentally ill individual from a DMH facility to Bridgewater, unless they have been convicted of a crime.

“It’s just unbelievable,” lawyer MacLeish said of the treatment of the mentally ill. “There are patients like this all over the country who would go to group care facilities run by the department of development services. They deal with people with behavior management problems and intellectual disabilities.”

“The governor has been aware of this for months, if not years, and nothing is being done,” he said. “It is definitely in our social contract to provide services for our more vulnerable people.”

Rachael Dane Neff, a spokeswoman for the Gov. Deval Patrick, said Friday he “had been clear that seclusion and restraint should only be used for the most exceptional situations, and only as a measure of last resort to keep individuals from harming themselves or others. We are committed to ensuring individuals suffering from mental illness are provided the appropriate treatment in the appropriate settings.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Wines in US Not Required to List Animal Byproducts

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Winemakers and merchants overseas are increasing transparency on labels in an effort to help vegetarians and those with severe allergies find wines made without animal byproducts.

Most vintners use albumen (egg whites), casein (milk proteins) and isinglass (fish bladders) to filter their wines. It’s a process known as fining, in which an agent is passed through the wine to help separate free particles from the liquid. For those who are meat- or dairy-free, this can pose an ethical dilemma.

But the Food Standards Agency in the U.K. is now stating that “wines produced from the 2012 vintage onwards that are made using milk or egg-derived fining agents must say this on the label if they are present in the wine in quantities greater than 0.25 mg per litre,” according to a recent article in The Telegraph.

Additionally, British retailers are taking up the cause by labeling wines as vegetarian friendly or not.

Back in the states, the issue is still a murky one that requires some detective work on the part of the consumer, as wines are not required to list ingredients on their labels.

“Some wines may not be fined, or may be fined with a clay-based ingredient like bentonite,” explained Eric Asimov in a New York Times column last fall on the subject. “But it is difficult to know for sure unless a wine is labeled ‘unfined,’ or includes an ingredients list. Few wines list ingredients, but producers like Ridge, Bonny Doon Vineyard and Shinn Estate are leading the way. And their wines are very good.”

An online directory called Barnivore offers more expansive recommendations for the meat-free set, with 16,321 listings that “have been checked and often double or triple checked by the Barnivore community” the site writes on its welcome page.

Domestic vintners such as Alchemy, Airlie and Frey appear in a 51-page alphabetized list alongside international winemakers such as Marche Trebbiano Moncaro, with each labeled as “vegan friendly,” “not vegan friendly” or “unknown,” and many featuring a corresponding statement from the winemaker. Beyond vino, Barnivore also tracks vegan beer and liquor.

If you’re curious to learn whether a label you prefer uses animal byproducts in its filtration, Barnivore also offers a standard query in multiple languages that can be sent to vineyards via e-mail.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Five Things to Know About the MERS Virus Now That It’s Here

(CHICAGO) — A deadly SARS-like virus spreading through the Middle East has landed in the U.S., health officials said Friday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this afternoon confirmed the first U.S. case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or MERS – a viral infection that has killed more than 100 people worldwide.

The case involved a healthcare worker who had been working in Saudi Arabia, the CDC said Friday. The patient, whose name and gender have not been released, flew from Saudi Arabia to London on April 24, and then flew to Chicago before developing a fever, cough and shortness of breath on April 27. The patient sought emergency medical care at a hospital in Indiana April 28, where he or she remains in stable condition receiving oxygen.

“We should not be surprised if additional cases are identified,” U.S. Assistant Surgeon General Dr. Anne Schuchat said at a media briefing Friday.

While details of the case and the potential for spread are still emerging, here are five things you need to know about MERS.

It’s Spreading

Saudi Arabia is ground zero for the outbreak, with 378 cases and 107 deaths. But at least 14 other countries have reported infections, including Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia, Malaysia, Oman, France, Greece, Italy, the United Kingdom, the Philippines and now the U.S.

The virus spreads from person-to-person through close contact, but might also be transmitted to humans from animals, according to the CDC.

It’s Deadly

Roughly one-third of the people known to have contracted the MERS virus have died from it, according to data from the World Health Organization. Most of the fatal cases have involved the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions.

It Can Look Like the Flu

Symptoms of the MERS virus include fever and cough, which are also symptoms of the flu. MERS can also cause diarrhea and shortness of breath, and can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure.

It Might Have Come From Camels, Bats or Both

While the source of MERS remains a mystery, scientists suspect that it came from an animal. Camels and bats in Saudi Arabia have tested positive for the virus, according to the CDC.

There’s No Cure

There’s no treatment for MERS. People who get sick are given supportive treatment to address the infection’s various symptoms, according to the CDC. There’s no vaccine, either.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Wearable Robots on the Rise to Help Paraplegics Walk

Ekso Bionics(NEW YORK) — Wearable robots that help paraplegics walk seem to be much more common these days. Just this week they helped paralyzed veterans cross the stage at a Boston hospital, and a new mind-controlled model is expected to debut at the World Cup opening ceremony in Brazil next month.

One manufacturer, Ekso, said its version of the high-tech exoskeleton has helped paralyzed patients walk 7 million steps — that’s up from 1 million steps less than a year and a half ago.

“Ekso is becoming more commonplace,” Ekso Bionics spokeswoman Heidi Darling told ABCNews.com. “We are approaching 50 [rehabilitation] centers and 2,500 users.”

But that doesn’t mean patients should throw away their wheelchairs just yet, experts say. While wearable robots like Ekso and ReWalk can help propel patients forward as they shift their weight from side to side, they’re not perfect.

“They’re still at a point where we would not be comfortable saying people are absolutely independent in any environment they might want to operate them,” said Allan Kozlowski, who leads the Mount Sinai exoskeleton-assisted walking program in New York City.

For one, exoskeleton batteries only last between two and three and a half hours, Kozlowski said. And users can’t walk quickly, either. The farthest he’s seen anyone walk with an exoskeleton device was a mile, but it took at least 50 minutes and usually much longer.

Still, Kozlowski said people who use the devices reap health benefits like better circulation, increased oxygen intake, pain relief and better bowel function. And the act of simply being upright and looking people in the eye has psychological benefits, Kozlowski said.

At the very least, people can use the devices to take brief walks. But some terrain can be a challenge, Kozlowski said. The ReWalk, for instance, can go up and down stairs, but it requires “a fair amount of skill” for the user, who has to take one stair at a time and hold onto the hand rail.

“It’s not pretty but it works,” Kozlowski said.

The wearable robots have a few differences, but the Ekso and the ReWalk are currently only available in rehabilitation centers. The ReWalk is awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration for home use, and it has already been approved in Europe. Another device, called the Indego, is also awaiting FDA approval for rehab and home use.

Still, Kozlowski said exoskeletons could cost patients up to $100,000. And since they won’t replace wheelchairs, it’s unclear how much of the price tag insurance companies will cover.

But it’s hard to know what the future will hold. Just three years ago, very few rehabilitation centers had exoskeletons at all.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Bollywood Meets Fitness in New BollyX Workout

iStock Editorial / Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A dance fitness workout that started with a class in Berkeley, California, has moved east and south. And if its plans for expansion pan out, to a city near you very soon.

It’s called BollyX, and it’s a cardio workout that draws from the music and dance of Bollywood, the film industry of India.

“It’s totally bad ass,” said the president and co-founder, Minal Mehta. “One 50-minute BollyX session will burn about 500 — 800 calories.”

Bollyx came to New York City earlier this year, and it’s rapidly expanding. Classes are offered in Boston, New York, Richmond, Va., San Francisco and Chicago. Immediate expansion includes Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New Jersey.

The class involves Bollywood-inspired dance moves combined with alternating high-and-low-intensity training intervals. Each section of class ends with a pose, much the way Bollywood dancing does. It’s one of the many ways the instructors encourage attendants to “unleash their inner rock star.”

Lisa, a first-time attendee from Staten Island, said she was invited to a class by a friend. She’s a breast cancer survivor looking for ways to get her strength back. Zumba’s her go-to, but she said BollyX is “much more of a workout. It’s much more energetic, much more fun, much more body movement.”

“We find people with no dance background will come into class and pick up moves that we do and then progress to the level of getting a full workout,” said Mehta.

Despite being challenging, many first-timers said they’d be back for more, which is exactly what Mehta predicted they’d say.

“Bollyx encourages you to get back into fitness, we make it really fun for you. You come to class, get a really effective cardio workout and you’ll feel like a rock star doing it and want to come back for more,” Mehta said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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How to Win Rock-Paper-Scissors, Study Shows

iStock/Thinkstock YORK) — If you are about to engage in a game of rock-paper-scissors with a friend or loved one, do not let them read this article. You, however, will want to take notes.

A team of researchers from China have just released the results of the first large-scale study of the game and their conclusions on player behavior could help you win the next round.

The study, led by three researchers at China’s Zhejiang University, recruited 360 undergraduate and graduate students to play a total of 300 rounds of rock-paper-scissors while their actions were recorded.

When a student won a round, the researchers found, they tended to stick with the same action (i.e. rock, paper or scissor) instead of switching to another.

When a student lost a round, they most often switched to another action, rotating in a clockwise direction, from rock to paper to scissor.

So, if you can think fast enough during each round’s three-second countdown, you can anticipate your opponent’s next move by whether they won, and thus would stay with the same action, or lost, and thus would switch to the next action, which you’d be able to determine by going clockwise.

The findings upend the previously held notion that rock-paper-scissors followed classical game theory, or mixed-strategy Nash equilibrium (NE), “in which every player chooses the three actions with equal probability,” the study’s authors write.

Instead, according to this study, those who win at rock-paper-scissor appear to exhibit “collective cyclic motions” and “conditioned response.”

“Our theoretical calculations reveal that this new strategy may offer higher payoffs to individual players in comparison with the NE mixed strategy, suggesting that high social efficiency is achievable through optimized conditional response,” the authors write.

Translation: You can beat the pants off your opponents if you think it through properly.

The researchers say the work they did on just rock-paper-scissors could be extended in future studies to human psychology.

“Whether conditional response is a basic decision-making mechanism of the human brain or just a consequence of more fundamental neural mechanisms is a challenging question for future studies,” they conclude.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Teen With Kidney Failure Can Attend Prom After Social Media Pressure

WTVD(LOUISBURG, N.C.) — A North Carolina boy with kidney failure is looking forward to attending his senior prom Saturday night, thanks to a Change.org petition created by his aunt.

Benaiah Massey has been physically unable to attend classes at Louisburg High School this past semester and, his family told ABC News affiliate WTVD in North Carolina, he received word from the school that he would not be welcome at the prom.

So Massey’s aunt, Kristy Bradley, took to social media to rally support for her nephew. In a petition she created on Change.org, she addressed Dr. Cheryl Benson, the Franklin County’s assistant superintendent and wrote, “Let Benaiah Massey Attend His Senior Prom.”

The petition accumulated more than 800 signatures, with comments by classmates, community members and strangers in support of the cause.

“I personally know Benji…He is one of the smartest, coolest, funniest people I know. He is one of my closest friends. I miss him so much and I have been so worried about him,” posted one classmate, Emily Harris.

Franklin County School District spokesman Joe Baisley told ABC News that the situation was a misunderstanding and Massey can attend the prom.

“We can’t comment on student matters, but we cleared up the miscommunication, we resolved it as soon as we were notified,” Baisley said.

Community members told WTVD that Massey should have been able to attend the prom in the first place.

“They should bend [the rules] for this boy under these circumstances,” said Louisburg resident Carolyn Perry.

“It’s ridiculous. It’s outrageous,” said another Louisburg resident, Paul Calamacl. “It’s not like he chose to get sick.”

Benaiah Massey told WTVD off camera that he was appreciative of those who came to his aid. ABCNews.com was unable to reach him for further comment.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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