Review Category : Health

Allergists Warn Against Using ‘DIY EpiPen’

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The rising cost of EpiPens has driven some families to search for ways to save money on the expensive devices. Online tutorials that teach people how to make their own EpiPens have been watched by tens of thousands, but experts warn that using a homemade injector could be dangerous.

While these devices are a seemingly low-cost solution for those with allergies, allergists point out there are a host of other issues with making a DIY epi-injector. Among these risks are potentially dangerous effects of wrong dosage, reliability of a DIY device and risks of non-sterile handling of the device.

EpiPens are by far the most popular ephinephrine autoinjector on the market, but the cost for a two-pack has risen dramatically. In 2009, a two-pack of EpiPens cost $100, but today it costs approximately $600, according to medical literature and various pharmacies.

However, Dr. Lolita McDavid, pediatrician and medical director of child advocacy and protection at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, said even as a trained physician she would never use a DIY epi-injector on a family member.

“There’s a lot of problems with it,” she told ABC News. McDavid pointed out that in one video online the instructor didn’t even sterilize the vial before filling the syringe, meaning it could possibly cause infection if used.

“I can’t imagine a school would allow a parent to bring that in for their kids,” said McDavid. She pointed out that for these devices, patients would have to prefill the syringe, which could be dangerous if they over or underfill the syringe with the wrong dose of medication. Additionally, to prep the DIY epi-injector a person would have to pre-calibrate the injector so that the needle reaches a specific point in the muscle about 11 to 15 millimeters deep. A miscalculation could mean injecting the drug into a dangerous area like a vein.

“This is a serious drug, you can die,” McDavid said of epinephrine. “[Overdose] symptoms include worsened breathing trouble sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body, buzzing in the ears, confusion and shortness of breath.”

It can also cause extremely high blood pressure, which can be dangerous for a patient.

Dr. Scott Sicherer, Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe professor of pediatrics, allergy and immunology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said in a previous interview that technically parents could use a syringe and vial of epinephrine to stop an anaphylactic reaction, but that it was better to leave that up to medical professionals.

“We know in emergency situation it can be hard to draw up, there might be problems with under-dosing or overdosing and it’s not practical for most people,” he said. “It is hard to do that and expect people to do that in an emergency situation.”

This week, the CEO of Mylan Pharmaceuticals, which makes EpiPens, addressed Congress about the price hike.

“Price and access exist in a balance, and we believe we have struck that balance,” Mylan CEO Heather Bresch said at the hearing, explaining that, under Mylan, access to the EpiPen product had expanded dramatically. The company announced this month it will offer a generic version of the drug for $300 and said it has given away 700,000 EpiPens to schools for free.

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Officials Investigate Leprosy Case in California

iStock/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — California health officials reported on Thursday that a child in Jurupa Valley, California, has been diagnosed with leprosy and another child is suspected of having the disease.

Leprosy, also called Hansen’s disease, is rare in the U.S., with 175 new cases reported in 2014, the most recent data available, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Riverside County Health Department has not listed a source or suspected source of the disease, but leprosy can remain in the body for three to 10 years before symptoms develop, according to the HHS.

“None of our recommendations to the school or parents have changed,” Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County’s public health officer, said in a statement Thursday. “It is incredibly difficult to contract leprosy. The school was safe before this case arose and it still is.”

Leprosy is very difficult to transmit and those infected are treated with standard antibiotic drugs, according to the HHS. Symptoms of the disease include red skin lesions, fever, malaise, joint pain and edema, according to the Riverside University Health System.

Approximately 95 percent of people are naturally immune to the bacterial disease.

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Your Body: Are Antibacterial Soaps Dangerous?

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

Step away from the antibacterial soap.

The Food and Drug Administration recently banned the use of 19 chemicals found in the common household item, saying not only do they not really do any good, they may actually do harm. We’re talking most notably about the ingredients triclosan and triclocarban.

The FDA says some data suggests that long-term exposure to these two ingredients could pose a danger to health.

My take: Plain, old soap and water for washing your hands works fine.

As for the alcohol-based hand sanitizers, I use them often. Before scrubbing for surgery, they’re actually the product that we use in the operating room. Either way, good hand hygiene is key.

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Cancer-Stricken Girl in Remission After Family Raises $180K for Experimental Treatment

Courtesy Seattle Children’s(SEATTLE) — A cancer-stricken girl from the U.K. is in remission after her family raised $180,000 to get her to the U.S. for an experimental treatment.

Erin Cross, 6, was released from Seattle Children’s Hospital last week after undergoing an experimental treatment designed to utilize her immune system to fight cancer. The girl was diagnosed with a virulent form of leukemia called acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at age 2. While initial treatment put Erin in remission, her doctors warned the cancer was likely to return. Erin’s mother, Sarah Cross, said the family started to look at other options and became more interested in technology where doctors re-engineer a patient’s own t-cells to fight cancer, part of a growing treatment field called immunotherapy.

“When she relapsed, that’s when all that research [helped],” Erin’s mother Sarah Cross told ABC News.

Erin’s doctor contacted the team at Seattle Children’s Hospital to see if Erin could be entered into an experimental medical trial where doctors re-engineer the t-cells so that they recognize a specific protein on leukemia cells called CD19+. The engineered t-cells are designed to attack the leukemia cells, similar to how they attack other viruses or bacteria in the body.

While the experimental treatment itself was covered by the hospital, any other traditional treatment for Erin would have to be covered by the family. Cross said they did not have insurance that would cover medical treatment in the U.S. since they live in the U.K., which has a national health care system. In order to raise medical funds, Cross turned to social media to get her daughter to Seattle. An online campaign shared on Twitter helped raise $180,000 for Erin, her mother said. Celebrities in the U.K. retweeted Erin’s story, drawing attention to the fundraiser.

“The majority of the money was raised in a few days,” Cross said.

Cross and Erin arrived this summer at Seattle Children’s Hospital to get the experimental treatment. In a Phase I trial of the experimental treatment, which is designed to test if a treatment is safe rather than effective, 93 percent of the patients experienced remission.

However, after a year, approximately 50 percent of these patients had some kind of relapse, according to Dr. Rebecca Gardner, who is leading the study at Seattle Children’s Hospital. The treatment is still experimental and Erin is taking part in a Phase II trial, where researchers examine how effective a treatment is. Only children and young adults with ALL who had exhausted standard options of cancer treatment are allowed to participate in the trial, since the treatment is not the medical standard of care for leukemia treatment.

“She got here and towards the end of July,” Gardner said. “Then there is a series of eligibility requirements … then she was able to get her t-cells within a month” of arriving.

The cells are taken in a three-hour process where they’re separated from the blood. Once re-engineered to recognize the CD19+, they are able to be infused back into the blood and hopefully start attacking the leukemia. The process to get the infusion is just a few minutes, compared to hours of infusion for chemotherapy. Cross said hospital staff even brought a “T-bear” with Erin’s t-cells to put the girl at ease.

“There’s a huge build up for the day the t-cells came through the door in the hospital room,” Cross said.

After the infusion, Erin was able to go back to the Ronald McDonald House, where the family was staying, without any immediate reaction. But within a few days, the girl developed a persistent fever, likely a result of the t-cells fighting the leukemia.

“It’s as if you were fighting a bad infection,” said Gardner, who said symptoms can be mild to severe. “It can be persistent fevers to more severe [complications] like needing ICU care.”

For three weeks the girl remained in the hospital. At one point Erin was so sick she started suffering seizures and was on a ventilator. Doctors were able to treat the immune response and eventually Erin’s symptoms subsided and she was taken off the ventilator.

“She all of a sudden got her energy,” Cross said. “We were hoping and praying that the bone marrow would be clear. “

Last week, Gardner was able to test Erin’s bone marrow. Before the infusion, 26 percent of Erin’s bone marrow cells were leukemia cells, last week, Erin had no sign of leukemia in her cells.

“As the days progressed from then, she’s just gotten stronger,” Cross said. “It’s the first time she’s been leukemia-free since March.”

Going into remission does not mean Erin is cured of the disease, and Gardner said they will continue to watch how she progresses and look to see if the engineered t-cells remain in her body or if she relapses.

Cross said her daughter still shows some side effects from the treatment, including a tremor, that doctors will monitor before they return home. When back in the U.K., Cross said Erin is expected to get a bone marrow transplant to help fight any remaining cancer.

“She’s a normal 6-year-old, fun-loving,” Cross said. “She wants to arrange a dance off,” with a nurse.

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‘Just Like Me’: 9-Year-Old and Her Puppy Getting New Prosthetic Limbs

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — One 9-year-old and her puppy best friend will both receive new prosthetic limbs, after their shared distinction brought them together.

“Averie immediately fell in love with her,” mom Kimberly Mitchell of Hugo, Oklahoma told ABC News. “She said, ‘Mom, Hattie’s just like me.’ That pretty much sealed the deal. She bonded with her. I knew I couldn’t say no.”

Averie Mitchell was born with a condition called pseudarthrosis of the tibia. At age two, her parents opted for amputation, so that she could grow up with a prosthetic. And although her daughter has lived with a prosthetic most of her life, Mitchell said she never lets it slow her down.

“She’s in gymnastics competing level 4 this year and she’s just still growing strong,” she added.

Averie and her puppy Hattie Mae met in February during one of Averie’s appointments at Celerity Prosthetics in Oklahoma City to be casted for a prosthetic socket.

Like Averie, Hattie was at Celerity because she’s missing her right [back] leg. The company also works with animals who are in need of prosthetics.

“At that appointment, there was a foster mom there with Hattie,” Mitchell said. “Hattie was a puppy and she was also missing her right back leg. While Averie was getting casted, Hattie laid her head on Averie’s lap and sat there with her.”

After a long talk, the Mitchell family decided to adopt Hattie in May from The Underdogs Rescue in Oklahoma City.

“It’s a match made in heaven, that’s all I can say,” said Meike Parker, founder of The Underdogs Rescue. “Since our name is The Underdogs, we usually take in the ones that no one else wants. In Hattie Mae’s case, the physical ailment never stopped her from being the dog that she is, a happy puppy, a social butterfly.”

Averie’s new prosthetic will be ready in the coming days. Hattie’s is currently being built.

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Police Release Video of Toddler Trying to Wake Mother From Alleged Drug Overdose

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Massachusetts police released a video showing a toddler trying to rouse her apparently unconscious mother from an alleged drug overdose. The video was released by the Lawrence Police Department in Massachusetts in an effort to draw attention to the dangers of drug addiction.

In the video, a young girl in a pink outfit cries as she tugs on her mother’s arm, attempting to wake her up. She was filmed by bystanders, who called 911. The mother has not yet been identified.

“It’s heartbreaking, obviously, to watch that video,” Lawrence Police Chief James Fitzpatrick told local ABC affiliate WCVB-TV.

Fitzpatrick told WCVB-TV that the child has been removed from the mother’s care and that the woman will likely face charges of child endangerment.

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Premature Baby’s First Year of Life Documented in Adorable Video

Pixelistanbul/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — When Bradley Mitchell’s daughter was born six weeks premature, he and his wife were unsure whether she would survive and wanted to preserve every moment with her they could.

Mitchell decided to document her first days, which turned into a full 365 days of her first year, in a video that’s now gone viral.

Mitchell’s daughter was born on Sept. 10, 2015, six weeks early.

The video starts with his daughter attached to breathing tubes inside an incubator. As the days roll by, she grows stronger, eventually able to leave the hospital on Oct. 4, 2015.

What follows are adorable videos of the newborn in different outfits and poses, at home and about with family, friends and even the family dog.

The video also shows how the baby celebrated trying on various onesies, playing with new toys, swimming, traveling and even celebrating first holidays like Christmas.

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Nine-Year-Old Twin Sisters Dance With Bone Marrow Donor Who Saved Them

(Michele Girtler) Elizabeth and Kathryn Girtler of Minnesota City, Minnesota, are seen here with bone marrow donor, Ingo Gruda of Munster, Germany, who saved their lives thanks to the non-profit organization, Be the Match. (MINNESOTA CITY, Minn.) — A pair of identical twin sisters from Minnesota were able to thank the man whose life-saving donation gave them the ability to be kids again.

“They fell in love with him right away,” mom Michelle Girtler, 43, of Minnesota City told ABC News Thursday. “They took to him like they knew him their entire life. It was emotional, all of us were emotional. Lots of tears, a lot of gratitude.”

Elizabeth and Kathryn Girtler, both nine, were born without any blood platelets because of a condition called congenital amegakaryocytic thrombocytopenia (CAMT). A bone marrow transplant to alter the girls’ DNA was their only chance for a cure.

“It meant that they didn’t get to be normal children,” Girtler said. “Bumps and bruises and cuts harmed them because they didn’t have the clotting agent to stop them from bleeding. Without the bone marrow transplant, their liver and everything was going to shut down.

“It was extremely dangerous,” she added. “They could’ve died from it.”

Girtler’s son, LeeRoy, 13, had tested negative as a possible donor match for his sisters. Elizabeth and Kathryn’s mother and father Brett Girtler, 45, could not donate bone marrow because they were carriers of CAMT, their mom said..

Just under four years later, the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, signed Elizabeth and Kathryn up on Be the Match to be possible bone marrow recipients.

About 90 days later, Girtler received word that the girls had a match.

Elizabeth had the transplant first at the age of 3 in May 2011 and Kathryn followed at age 4 in June 2012. Girtler said doctors didn’t want to perform the transplant at once to avoid the confusion of two siblings with the same last name and same condition in the hospital together.

In addition, Girtler would have to divide her time caring for each twin.

This year, Elizabeth and Kathryn’s doctor, Dr. Shakila Khan of the Mayo Clinic, submitted their story to Be the Match in hopes of setting up a meeting between them and their then anonymous donor.

The man, Ingo Gruda of Munster, Germany, was flown to Minnesota to meet with the girls over four years after their transplants, Be the Match confirmed to ABC News.

The gala was hosted by the organization last week where the three got acquainted, and celebrated the twins’ good health.

Girtler said Gruda spoke to her family via a translator. “He had told us his story about when he got the phone call when he was at work,” she said. “He’s a construction worker and was on the scaffolding. He sat down and started to cry. That touched me.

“He said that someone asked if somebody got hurt and he said, ‘No, someone’s going to be reborn.’ For me, that showed he knew the meaning of what he was doing.”

Now, both girls are thriving and even danced with Gruda at the gala.

“My girls understand how sick they were,” Girtler said. “Elizabeth broke down watching a video montage of everything they’ve been through. They are very, very much 9-year-old little girls now; very typical. They’re rambunctious, swimming, playing with their brother. There’s really no words to describe being able to see your child live life. It’s amazing.”

Girtler hopes her twins’ story will encourage others to become donors.

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CDC Spent $2.5 Million in August to Increase Zika Testing Capabilities

Credit: WILL & DENI MCINTYRE/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention purchased about $2.5 million in supplies and equipment intended to increase its ability to test for the Zika virus in the month of August.

The CDC publicly announced the spending figure earlier this week, saying that the purchases were made to “help to ensure that states can meet the growing demand for testing and rapid identification of Zika infection.” As of September 8th, 732 pregnant women had shown some laboratory evidence of possible Zika infection in the United States and Washington, D.C.

That figure does not include 1,156 pregnant women who exhibited laboratory signs of the virus in U.S. territories, with many of those coming from Puerto Rico.

Currently, the CDC says, “relatively few labs in the U.S. are certified to test for Zika.” Because of that, many samples have to be sent to a local health department lab for testing, and if that local department doesn’t test for Zika, the sample is then sent to the CDC. Getting a result back from the CDC could take between two and four weeks.

For now, the CDC says it has sent materials to expand lab capacity to use the CDC-developed Zika test, with laboratories in 43 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and nine Department of Defense labs receiving those materials. Equipment for a second Zika test was sent to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and 16 DOD labs. All but two states have completed the process necessary to utilize that test, the CDC adds.

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Mom Calls Police on 3-Year-Old over Wearing Her Seat Belt

ABC News(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) — When 3-year-old Camille Fortin unbuckled her seat belt during a recent car trip, mom Michelle Fortin decided to call in reinforcements.

Fortin, of Arizona, enlisted in the help of Scottsdale police, to teach her toddler an lesson in safety.

“Her safety was at risk,” Fortin told Good Morning America. “It was the first time she’d done it, but it was something that could affect her life and her health and it was not an issue I was going to compromise on and I felt like by me just telling her … it wasn’t quite getting through.”

She continued: “She knew she did something wrong, but to have another authority figure back up what mom was saying was really beneficial for her. She’s 3 years old and she’s learning the boundaries and she needs to know what’s right and what’s wrong and it’s my job to tell her that and to teach her and to raise her to respect authority. And so, any nervousness she felt toward the police officers were out of respect.

“It went really well,” Fortin added. “She promised to not ever unbuckle her seat belt again.”

Fortin said she called the non-emergency number for Scottsdale police. She later made and appointment with an officer and his partner who came out and spoke to both Camille and her sibling about the importance of buckling up.

Camille said she understood what the police officer was talking about.

“Yes,” she whispered during a Skype interview on GMA.

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