Review Category : Health

Hurricane Hermine’s Waterlogged Aftermath Prompts Zika Virus Risk Warning

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Hours after Hurricane Hermine made landfall in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott urged the public on Friday to steer clear of debris and standing water to help stop the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

Hermine, which downgraded to a tropical storm after hitting land early Friday, brought strong winds, heavy rains and flooding to a wide swath of Florida’s Gulf Coast. Any area left with standing water creates a prime habitat for mosquitoes to lay their eggs — raising the risk of spreading the Zika outbreak, which has hit small pockets of Miami-Dade County in the southern part of the state.

“It is incredibly important that everyone do their part to combat the Zika virus by dumping standing water,” Scott said during a news conference Friday morning. “Remember to wear long sleeves and bug repellent when outdoors.”

The Zika virus was first detected in a small area of northern Miami in July. A second outbreak location was found in Miami Beach in August. At least 47 people have been infected in the outbreak via mosquitoes.

On Thursday, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said mosquitoes carrying the deadly virus were discovered in the Miami area, marking the first time that Zika has been found in mosquitoes in the continental United States.

Miami-Dade County’s mosquito control team has been spraying for the insects as well as treating mosquito breeding grounds with the hope of stopping the outbreak. But the ongoing tropical system has raised fears that Florida’s efforts to fight the virus will be affected.

At Friday’s news conference, the Florida governor also warned residents to avoid unnecessary travel, as trees, power lines, road signs and traffic lights have come down across the Sunshine State. One man, who appeared to be homeless, was killed after being hit by a tree in Marion County, authorities said. Officials are still determining whether the death was storm-related.

“The number one thing is to stay safe,” Scott said.

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Girl Sobs With Joy After Learning She’ll Receive a New Heart

Patrice Wright (NEW YORK) — One Utah teen was crying happy tears this week after learning that she’d be receiving a brand new heart.

Macey Wright’s emotional reaction was captured on camera by her mother, Patrice Wright, who received the call from doctors on Monday.

“I wanted everybody else to see how amazing that call was for our friends and family,” Wright of Salt Lake City told ABC News. “She’s a pretty tender, sweet-hearted girl. I did think she’d cry tears of joy, but I didn’t think she’d be that elated.”

Macey, 14, was born with a congenital heart defect. She’s been through open heart procedures including one three years ago, her mother said.

This year however, Macey’s heart weakened. The teen was bumped up on a waiting list to receive a heart transplant, due to her showing symptoms of heart failure.

“She had high pressures in her lungs and they need to be low enough to receive a transplant,” Wright said. “If [a heart] didn’t come soon, she would have to have a heart and lung transplant,” Wright said. “There was a great urgency when the call came.”

On Aug. 29, Wright received the call that Macey needed to get ready to leave for the hospital.

Less than an hour later, the family left for Primary Children’s Medical Center in Utah after it was confirmed that Macey would get a new heart.

Wright pulled out her cellphone to capture Macey’s response to the good news. The video received 185,000 views on the Macey’s New Heart Facebook page.

The same day her heart came in, Macey underwent surgery.

Wright said her daughter is making slow, steady progress, and is awake and smiling.

“She’s very brave,” Wright said. “Macey’s been faced with many difficult emotions besides feeling sick on top of that. She’s had to realize what that means to get a donor organ. That makes her sad for the [donor’s] family. She struggles with that, [but] she’s so grateful that somebody gave her this gift.”

Macey has been documenting her journey of being a transplant patient on YouTube. The teen hopes to become an advocate for organ donation.

“She feels like it’ll save a future life down the road and she wants to be a part of that,” Wright said.

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After Student’s Suicide, Teens Leave Encouraging Notes on Over 3,600 Lockers at Ohio High School

Courtesy Mason City Schools (NEW YORK) — After a student’s recent suicide left Mason High School in Ohio reeling, five teen girls left encouraging notes on thousands of lockers as a way to start healing.

The campaign was initiated by MHS sophomore Anna Aronson, who said she and her friends — Erica English, Michelle Crispin, Ellie Uematsu and Jessica Morse — spent nearly eight hours writing messages like “You are strong” and “You are unbreakable” on thousands of Post-it notes.

Aronson told ABC News that the girls finished at 10 p.m. on Monday night, when they placed the sticky notes on over 3,600 of the high school’s lockers. They also placed notes on teachers’ doors and administrative staff members’ desks.

The following morning, smiles and tears filled the faces of students, teachers and staff who stumbled upon the surprise messages, according to MHS principal Dave Hyatt.

“It literally lightened the entire building’s heart,” Hyatt told ABC News. “It felt like this huge weight had just been lifted on Tuesday morning.”

One student posted the note she found on her locker to Twitter using the hashtag #CometStrong, referring to the school’s mascot.

“We say things like ‘CometStrong’ and ‘CometCountry’ to refer to our family,” said Erica English, one of the girls who helped with the Post-its campaign.

“Even though we’re a big school, we’re still a tight-knit community,” English told ABC News. “After this tragedy hit, everyone was hit pretty hard. We just want everyone to know that you’re not alone and you’re loved.”

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Mom’s Tearful Selfie Reveals Struggles of Parenting, Inspires Others

Allison Brothers(NEW YORK) — Parenting is hard. And a mother of two’s tearful selfie is reminding people to be kind to parents.

Allison Brothers is a mom to two toddlers: 3-year-old Bentley and 1-year-old Levi. In a post on Facebook, Brothers shared the selfie and detailed why she was in tears.

“This is motherhood. No fancy filters, no good lighting, no new lipstick,” she began. “These tears started as the cashier of Giant Eagle [Grocery Store] handed me my receipt and continued for the entire drive home.”

Brothers, 22, went on to explain that her “blonde haired, blue eyed, angel faced toddlers were not so angelic today” during a grocery shopping trip.

“Everyone’s eyes were on me as if to say ‘Can’t you control your own children,'” she continued. “The glares and whispers and judgments are hard. Sometimes I can control my children and sometimes I can’t. Sometimes they listen and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I can handle it and sometimes I break down.”

The West Virginia woman ended her viral post, which has been shared over 32,000 times, suggesting that “if you see a parent struggling…please say something nice.”

Brothers told ABC News she took the photo while she was in the car “hands on my steering wheel crying.” She decided to post it, hoping to encourage other parents like her.

“I posted it to let parents know that they’re not alone,” she added. “Parenting is an everyday struggle and battle, and we all go through the same things…so be kind to each other.”

The mother of two said she didn’t expect her post to go viral, but since it has, Brothers has received many messages from other parents, saying that she’s inspired them. And she’s glad.

As a single mother, Brothers said, “I know it will not last forever so I try to find a little peace in the chaos.”

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Hepatitis A Outbreak now up to 59 Cases in Virginia as 5 Other States Investigate Possible Links

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — An hepatitis A outbreak first identified in Virginia among people who drank smoothies containing strawberries from Egypt may be linked to cases of the virus in five other states, according to state health officials and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

State health officials in North Carolina, Maryland, Wisconsin and Oregon are investigating whether hepatitis A cases in their states are linked to the frozen strawberries used in smoothies by the Tropical Smoothie Cafe chain, as has been the case in Virginia, the CDC said. In addition, West Virginia health officials said Wednesday that they have three confirmed cases of hepatitis A linked to the frozen strawberries.

“The Bureau for Public Health has received reports of seven cases of hepatitis A that we are currently investigating in Berkeley and Jefferson counties,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, West Virginia’s public health commissioner, in a statement Wednesday. “Three of these cases of hepatitis A have been directly linked to the outbreak.”

In Virginia, meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases has risen to 59, with those afflicted ranging in age from 14 to 68, according to the state health department. Of those who have become ill, 41 percent reported having been hospitalized for their symptoms, the blog said. All reported symptoms at different times from May through August.

The hepatitis A virus can cause inflammation of the liver. The incubation period for the virus is 15 to 50 days, and symptoms can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, vomiting and abdominal pain. A vaccine and immunoglobulin treatment are available for hepatitis A, and both can help protect against the virus if they are taken soon after exposure to the virus.

The outbreak in Virginia was identified on Aug. 12 when CDC officials noticed that multiple people had been sickened by the same strain of hepatitis A. The cases have now been linked to frozen strawberries from Egypt that were used in smoothies by the Tropical Smoothie Cafe company chain.

The strawberries, sourced from Egypt, have been voluntarily removed from all restaurants, according to Tropical Smoothie Cafe company officials.

ABC News reached out to Tropical Smoothie Cafe company Thursday for comment based on the latest developments but has not yet received a response.

In August, the company’s CEO, Mike Rotondo, addressed customers in a statement.

“‘Eat better, feel better’ is not just a marketing slogan — it’s a promise, and it’s something I believe in very dearly,” Rotondo’s statement said. “Recently some strawberries may have made their way into the supply chain that could challenge that concept. I sincerely apologize for any issues this may have caused for any of our customers,” he said in a statement on video on the company’s Facebook page on Aug. 21. “We voluntarily and immediately removed all of those strawberries from all of our cafes, and we have sourced new strawberries for every location. We take this issue very seriously. Your health and your safety is our top priority.”

In an earlier statement, company officials said the Egyptian strawberries accounted for a small portion of the company’s overall supply.

“Egyptian strawberries represent a fraction of our overall strawberries purchased and were predominantly distributed to stores in the Virginia market. Today, our strawberries are primarily sourced from Mexico and California,” company officials said in an Aug. 19 statement. “However, in an abundance of caution, we voluntarily pulled all strawberries sourced from Egypt from every cafe in our system, not only the Virginia cafes. Our primary concern is for the safety and well-being of our guests and crew members, and we will continue to cooperate with the health authorities.”

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Couple Who Fostered 50 Kids Gets Disney Cruise Line Vacation Surprise

iStock/Thinkstock(MONTICELLO, Ga.) — John and Kelly DeGarmo have fostered more than 50 children over the years, but with high demand and no more room in their Monticello, Georgia, home, the pair are now opening a group home for teen boys.

Teen boys are the most unwanted of foster children, John DeGarmo said.

“When a boy hits age 9 or 10, nobody wants them. They all want a baby or a girl,” he said.

His wife believes she and her husband have a lot of “extra love” that they want to give to children.

“I’d like to help as many as we can,” she said.

In addition to Kolby, Jace and Brody — their three biological children, they’ve adopted Brailey, Cassie and Gracie after fostering them.

“We’ve had up to 11 children at one time … we’ve had up to seven in diapers at one time,” said John, adding that when children come into their home to be fostered “we give them as much unconditional love as we can.”

The DeGarmos — both of whom are educators — are also encouraging others to be foster parents.

“On any given day in America, there’s roughly 450,000 children in foster care. And there are not enough homes. And of that number, about 25,000 will go for adoption. And there are not enough people who will adopt those children,” John DeGarmo, a national expert on foster care, said.

He issued this plea for people to step in: “You don’t have to be rich, you don’t have to have a big house … you just have to be able to provide a child a safe home and love.”

Their commitment means the couple barely have enough time or money to go on vacation, so Good Morning America stepped in, surprising the pair with a five-day Disney Cruise Line getaway on Disney Dream.

The vacation took them out to sea on a ship equipped with a giant water slide. There was endless fun for the DeGarmo children and Hunter, a foster child, and then another day of fun at Disney’s Castaway Cay Island in the Bahamas.

At night, the family enjoyed Broadway-style shows, pirate-themed parties and fireworks, and the DeGarmos even enjoyed a meal without the children.

“We have so many other children in our house at any given time that it’s rare we get to spend time just us together … It’s been magical,” Kelly DeGarmo said.

The couple described the vacation as “a dream.”

“I’m still having to pinch myself,” John DeGarmo said.

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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Zika Virus Found in Mosquitoes for the First Time in Continental US

iStock/Thinkstock(MIAMI) — Mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus have been found in the Miami area, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, marking the first time that the virus has been found in mosquitoes in the continental United States.

Three mosquito samples from Miami Beach tested positive for Zika virus, according to the agency, which has also tested 95 additional samples in Miami-Dade County, but all have been negative so far.

“This find is disappointing, but not surprising,” Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam said in a statement today. “Florida is among the best in the nation when it comes to mosquito surveillance and control, and this detection enables us to continue to effectively target our resources.”

The Zika virus was first detected in a small portion of northern Miami in July. A second outbreak location was found in Miami Beach in August. At least 47 people have been infected in the outbreak via mosquitoes.

While this is the first time mosquitoes have tested positive for Zika, health authorities had already confirmed through epidemiological investigations that the virus was spreading via insects. The outbreak in Florida is the first outbreak of locally transmitted Zika virus in the continental U.S.

Miami-Dade County’s mosquito control team has been spraying for the insects as well as treating mosquito breeding grounds with the hope of stopping the outbreak.

“Miami Beach will continue to take a hardline in our fight against Zika,” Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine said in a statement today. “We are aggressively working to eliminate any and all potential mosquito breeding grounds. We are also working closely with our partners at the state and the county to ensure all resources are effectively deployed. Together we can contain and eliminate all cases of Zika.”

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Entenmann’s Products Recalled After Injury Caused by Plastic

Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images(HORSHAM, Pa.) — Bimbo Bakeries has begun a voluntary recall of various Entenmann’s products after small pieces of plastic were found in the baked goods.

According to a recall announcement posted online by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the company is recalling the brand’s Little Bites Fudge Brownies (5 pack), Chocolate Chip Muffins (5 and 10 pack boxes) and Variety Pack (20 pack) in an effort to prevent injuries.

One injury was reported because of the issue, which was blamed on “a manufacturing failure at a contract manufacturer’s bakery in Illinois.”

The products were distributed to stores in more than 20 states within the last two weeks. The recalled products are all being removed from store shelves, but no other Entenmann’s products are believed to have been affected.

Customers can identify impacted products by checking the “Best By” dates and UPC codes listed on the FDA recall announcement. Each product will also have the code number “3098” printed next to the “Best By” date on the outside of the box.

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FDA Warns of Dangers of Combining Opioid Pain Relievers and Certain Anxiety Medications

RCarner/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is requiring stronger warnings on some prescription pain relievers, cough products containing opioids and certain anxiety medications.

Among the changes, the FDA is requiring the strongest warnings and patient-focused medication guides for prescription opioid pain relievers, opioid-containing cough products and benzodiaepines. Risks of using these products at the same time, the agency says, include extreme fatigue, respiratory depression, coma and death.

“It is nothing short of a public health crisis when you see a substantial increase of avoidable overdose and death related to two widely used drug classes being taken together,” FDA Commissioner Robert Califf said in a statement. “We implore health care professionals to heed these new warnings and more carefully and thoroughly evaluate, on a patient-by-patient basis, whether the benefits of using opioids and bendzodiazepines…together outweigh these serious risks.”

The action is part of the FDA’s Opioids Action Plan focused on reversing the prescription opioid abuse epidemic without preventing patients in pain from accessing “effective and appropriate pain management.”

The FDA’s announcement is in lockstep with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which has similar clinic guidelines.

Doctors have been increasingly prescribing the two types of drugs together, the FDA says, with overdose deaths involving both drug classes nearly tripling between 2004 and 2011. Between 2002 and 2014, the FDA adds, the number of patients prescribed both an opioid pain reliever and benzodiazepine increased by 41 percent.

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What to Know About Lupus, a Disease Affecting 1.5 Million Americans

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Singer Selena Gomez announced she will take a break from performing in order to care for her health, citing lupus as the main reason for taking time off of her world tour.

Since the 24-year-old publicly announced last year that she has lupus, a chronic autoimmune disorder, she has brought much-needed attention to the often misunderstood disease.

“I’ve discovered that anxiety, panic attacks and depression can be side effects of lupus, which can present their own challenges,” the singer said in a statement to People on Tuesday, announcing she was taking a break.

Sandra C. Raymond, the president and CEO of the Lupus Foundation of America, said in a statement to ABC News Wednesday, “We applaud Selena Gomez for taking the time to take care of herself and highlighting this common, yet misunderstood aspect of coping with chronic illness.

“Life with lupus can be challenging. With symptoms that come and go, disease flares and remissions, and the uncertainty of what each day will bring, it’s normal to experience feelings of depression and anxiety,” Raymond added.

Here’s what people should know about the disease that affects an estimated 1.5 million Americans and a total of 5 million people worldwide.

The chronic autoimmune disease can cause damage to any part of the body and cause a wide range of symptoms because it can affect so many different organs, a spokesperson for the Lupus Foundation of America told ABC News Wednesday.

Ninety percent of people diagnosed with the disease are women, and the disease is two to three times more prevalent among women of color, according to the foundation.

Symptoms of the disease include extreme fatigue, headaches, painful or swollen joints, fever, anemia, and a wide range of others that come and go during the course of the disease, according to the Lupus Foundation of America.

A butterfly rash across the across cheeks and nose is also a common and more specific symptom of lupus, a spokesperson for the foundation added, stressing that many symptoms of lupus also occur in other illnesses, which often makes a diagnosis difficult.

One major challenge for people with lupus is that it is a disease of flares, meaning one day someone can feel very healthy and not well at all the next day.

“People with lupus deal with flares when the disease is particularly active. When a lupus flare occurs, many people will notice a return of the symptoms they experienced previously or they may even develop new symptoms,” Raymond said.

Another struggle people with lupus face is that the disease is often not outwardly visible, causing it to be very misunderstood by the public.

Fifty percent of people with lupus cite emotional problems as the most difficult factor in coping with lupus, according to the Lupus Foundation of America.

“Lupus can be serious and life-threatening, although signs and symptoms of the disease are not always visible,” Raymond added.

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