iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The Water Quality and Health Council, and the National Swimming Pool Foundation are ushering in the swimming season with a campaign to stop people from peeing in the pool.

To do that, they’re busting a couple of common myths associated with the act.

According to a new survey conducted by Survata on behalf of the Water Quality and Health Council, nearly half of Americans surveyed incorrectly believe that there is a chemical that is added to pools that turns a conspicuous color in the presence of pee.

What’s more, 71 percent also incorrectly blame chlorine for causing swimmers’ eyes to become red and irritated after taking a dip — when in fact it’s something far more gross at work.

“Chlorine and other disinfectants are added to a swimming pool to destroy germs,” explains Michele Hlavsa, chief of CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program. “Peeing in a pool depletes chlorine and actually produces an irritant that makes people’s eyes turn red.”

“There isn’t a dye that turns red. It’s the eyes that turn red. Swimmers’ eyes are the real color indicator that someone might have peed in a pool,” said Thomas M. Lachocki, CEO of the NSPF.

Oh, and that “chlorine” smell at the pool, it turns out, isn’t actually chlorine.

“What you smell are chemicals that form when chlorine mixes with pee, sweat and dirt from swimmers’ bodies,” says Chris Wiant, Chair of the Water Quality and Health Council. “These chemicals — not chlorine — can cause your eyes to become red and sting, make your nose run and make you cough.”

“The solution, adds Hlavsa, isn’t rocket science; it’s common courtesy. Swimmers should use the pool to swim, the restroom to pee, and the showers to wash up before getting in the pool. It’s that simple.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Stacy Weiss(MINNEAPOLIS) — After a stressful year of waiting to adopt a child, YouTube sensations Joe Morales and Joey Famoso are now proud parents of a baby boy.

The Minneapolis couple announced the arrival of their son, Jackson Rudy, last Monday via Facebook, complete with a video.

“It was definitely really exciting because things happened so quickly,” said Morales, of Minneapolis. “The moment we met him and met his mother, it felt very natural. We got to name him and the entire process felt really right. Ever since, it’s been deep, unconditional love at first sight. He’s perfect, healthy and very, very sweet.”

In March, Morales told ABC News that he and Famoso began taking a unique approach by creating a video to capture the attention of potential birth mothers, after their first adoption fell through in November 2014.

Their video, “Dear Future Baby …(Meghan Trainor Parody),” has since racked up more than 370,000 hits on YouTube.

“I think it absolutely worked,” Morales said. “I believe he [Jackson] was created and intended to be our son, but this video did create a huge amount of energy, support and encouragement behind us and the universe to help propel the situation in the way it was supposed to happen.

“We can’t help to think: If we wouldn’t have created this video, how would his mother have found us and how long would it have taken?” he added. “So it’s kind of neat to think about.”

Morales and Famoso plan to use their experience for a good cause by creating a foundation to financially and emotionally assist families who are waiting to adopt.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Turns out there’s scientific proof you crave a Bloody Mary when you fly.

According to Cornell University researchers, the high noise levels of a flight lead to our brain more intensely tasting umami, or savory, flavors.

“We didn’t test whether it tastes better, just whether it tastes intense. So it tastes more intense absolutely,” study author and Cornell University assistant professor of food science Robin Dando told ABC News. “All meats, cheeses, soups, soy sauce.”

Anything high in umami, basically, which explains why people want to order Bloody Mary’s on a flight. Tomato juice, olives and the drink’s other ingredients’ tastes are all enhanced when on an airplane. What’s interesting is that it’s not the pressure or altitude that affects our taste buds: It’s the high noise level.

A typical jetliner is 85 decibels, much higher than the average room. The reason behind how this affects our sense of flavor is a bit convoluted, but it boils down to our ear drums actually being connected to our taste buds.

“Basically the nerve that takes two-thirds of information from the tongue, when it goes into the brain it actually happens to go right across the ear drum. So it actually makes physical contact as it crosses the ear drum,” study author and Cornell University assistant professor of food science Robin Dando told ABC News. “We postulated that perhaps these loud noises are stimulating this nerve in some way, making it either activate or become hyperactive depending on the taste.”

Conversely, our ability to taste sweetness is diminished when flying high.

“You would have to actually oversweeten something to give it the equivalent taste. So if things are tasting less sweet, then if you want them to taste the same without these loud noises, it would make sense to add more sugar. Of course that inherently implies you’re adding more calories – which is never a great thing – so it might be better to go with something not quite so dominated by the sweetness,” Dando explained. “This might be happening on a subconscious level that people don’t realize that things are tasting differently. They might just think, ‘I’m not really feeling this can of soda today.’”

The moral of the story is: reach for more savory foods when on a flight – think tomatoes, olives, Parmesan cheese, Portobello mushrooms, meat -– rather than a dessert, since you’ll get more enjoyment out of the heightened flavors instead of wasting calories on sweets you may not taste as well.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Hemera/Thinkstock(KOCHI, India) — A former Afghan soldier who lost his hands while diffusing a bomb now has two new hands after a rarely performed transplant was carried out at a hospital in India’s southwestern town of Kochi last month.

“It was a real team effort,” Subramania Iyer, head of the plastic surgery department at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, told ABC News. “The procedure took about 15 hours and nearly 20 doctors and assistants were involved.”

The patient, Abdul Rahim, 30, approached Iyer and his team nearly six months ago after scouting for hand transplants in several countries, including Iran, Iyer said.

After months of counselling, the operation was conducted on April 10 and Rahim is now recuperating. He is already using his new hands for day-to-day activities, hospital officials say.

The donor was a 54-year-old man who lost his life in a traffic accident.

“We will need to monitor Rahim for several months,” Iyer said, noting that there was always a risk of rejection.

The most challenging part of the operation, Iyer added, was the logistics.

“The donor’s hands was in another department so we had to transport them, all the while preparing Rahim for surgery,” Iyer said.

It’s not the first hand transplant performed at Amrita Institute. The first was done in January, and the recipient is progressing extremely well, doing all routine activities, according to a written statement from the hospital.

“Since difficulty was anticipated in getting hands to be donated, an awareness campaign was initiated through public meetings, newspaper articles and TV talks,” the statement continued.

The price for Rahim’s operation was set at $23,500 (1.5 million Indian rupees).

While Iyer said his team improved between the first and the second transplants, he added that this kind of operation is not suddenly going to become popular.

“We need to be very cautious with these types of transplants,” he said, “as they require a lot of physical therapy and medication.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

TongRo Images/Thinkstock(WAUKEE, Iowa) — An Iowa teenager’s high school graduation on Monday will be nothing short of a miracle when she accepts her diploma after overcoming a traumatic brain injury.

Nearly four years ago, Taylor Hale was like any high school freshman, excited to spend time with friends after a high school football game.

“I begged my mom to go,” Hale, who was 14-years-old at the time, recalled to ABC News.

Hours later, Hale’s mom, Stacey Henningsen, got a phone call from one of her daughter’s friends saying that Hale had been in a car accident and was being taken to the hospital by ambulance.

Hale, of Waukee, Iowa, had playfully jumped on the hood of a friend’s car to keep him from leaving. Her family says she was flung off of the vehicle and onto the pavement, where she hit her head and would remain unconscious.

“They said it was a very severe traumatic brain injury,” Hale’s father, Chuck Hale, said of the diagnosis from doctors.

Hale spent a week in a medically-induced coma before taking a turn for the worse.

“They woke me up about three in the morning to say that they had been doing CPR and lifesaving measures for probably about an hour-and-a-half to two hours,” said Chuck.

“That’s when it was finally starting to sink in that she might actually not wake up,” said Henningsen.

When all seemed lost, Hale’s parents invited a chiropractor, Dr. Jeff Stickel, to come to the hospital to help their daughter.

“Her aunt had been in for chiropractic adjustments and they just were asking if there was anything I can do,” Stickel explained of how the family found him.

Just hours before doctors were scheduled to take Hale off life support, Stickel met the teen for the first time.

“I just felt like if I could get my hands on her head and neck that there was maybe a chance that there was an interference in there in her healing and that’s why she wasn’t waking up,” he said. “I just remember my fingers kind of moving.”

“I could feel Taylor’s energy and she was definitely alive,” Stickel said. “She was not dying.”

A few hours after Stickel left the hospital, doctors began taking Hale off life support. What happened next, Hale’s family says, shocked everyone.

“The nurse came in and said, ‘I don’t know how to tell you this but she’s breathing on her own and we don’t know how or why,’” Henningsen recalled. “Within an hour she kind of opened her eye to her grandpa. Then the next hour she would kind of just lift her arm up.”

Hale continued to stun her doctors with her recovery, walking and talking just five weeks after the accident.

Leading experts say that recoveries from traumatic brain injuries like Hale’s are becoming increasingly more common.

“We are learning now that these previous notions we had of what’s impossible really are obsolete and the human brain is much more resilient than we have ever given it credit for,” said Dr. Stephan Mayer, a neurosurgeon and the director of the Institute for Critical Care at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

Hale, who will turn 18 next month, says she is excited to graduate and is looking forward to her future, including the continuation of her education at a local community college.

“Afterwards I’m going to be the happiest person in the world because I did do it and I fought for my life,” she said. “I finished high school and I can go on to bigger and better things in my future.”

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

PaulCowan/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced a final rule on Wednesday that will require labeling of mechanically tenderized beef products in grocery stores.

Mechanically tenderized beef, like steaks and roasts, are repeatedly pierced by small needles or blades to tenderize, increasing the risk of spreading dangerous bacteria like Ecoli 0157:H7 and salmonella.

The constant piercings can cause bacteria on the surface to be transferred inside the beef, according to the USDA.

So far, these products are not labeled, so consumers have no way of knowing it has been mechanically tenderized and that it needs to be cooked at a higher temperature to make sure it’s safe to eat.

“Labeling mechanically tenderized beef products and including cooking instructions on the package are important steps in helping consumers to safely prepare these products,” Deputy Under Secretary Al Almanza said in a statement. “This common sense change will lead to safer meals and fewer foodborne illnesses.”

The new labeling requirements will also include safe cooking instructions when they appear in grocery stores in May 2016.

Since 2000, the USDA said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has received reports of six outbreaks attributable to needle or blade tenderized beef products prepared in restaurants and consumers’ homes.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(RICHMOND, Va.) — An expectant mother from Virginia is following the trend of using laughing gas as a way to help ease labor pain.

Samantha Corfield has been preparing for the birth of her first child with a nursery ready so far and a car seat bought. The soon-to-be mom and nurse has noticed the trend in expectant mothers using laughing gas as pain relief while giving birth.

“I like the idea of not using an epidural if possible and doing more of a natural birth, but having something to take the edge off,” she said to ABC News affiliate WRIC-TV.

According to Dr. Keith Berkle of the Virgina Women’s Center, laughing gas, or nitrous oxide, arrived in Richmond about a year ago and has now become a part of a push for safe, pain control alternatives.

“Obstetrics is turning into a choose your own adventure sort of game and nitrous oxide is really facilitating that for lots of women,” Dr. Berkle said to WRIC-TV.

Dr. Berkle said each time Corfield has a contraction, she can breathe in the laughing gas for relief. The effect would then wear off when she stopped.

“I can take as much of it as I want and as little as I want, which I like,” Corfield told WRIC-TV.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — New technology that could easily administer insulin to diabetics as an “artificial pancreas” has the potential to change millions of lives, but researchers are warning they could also leave patients open to potentially dangerous attacks by hackers.

For Type 1 diabetics the promise of an “artificial pancreas” could mean finding a way to live without daily blood sugar monitoring. However, some researchers are concerned that these new pumps could leave patients open to hackers who could tamper with insulin levels that are sent from a glucose monitor to the insulin pump.

In an article published in the journal Diabetes, Technology and Therapeutics, Dr. Yogish Kudva along with other researchers reviewed the cyber security of these devices that are currently being tested.

“We wanted to make sure that this important aspect of the field was adequately addressed as we get ready at scaling up on our studies,” Kudva said.

In the closed-loop systems of these devices, nearly all are still being researched. A person’s blood sugar can be measured by a glucose meter which would “talk” to their insulin pump to either raise or lower their insulin dose depending on blood sugar. While the devices are currently in the testing phase, Kudva said he and his team were concerned researchers were not considering security systems for the devices.

In the article, Kudva and his team pointed out that if data is not encrypted in a wireless system, a hacker could add in wrong data that could change the insulin level in the device, potentially to dangerous levels.

“I think the most important issue is to get security people more involved,” said Kudva. “I don’t think there is enough security expertise at this time.”

Sarah Ann MacLeish, an endocrinologist and osteopath at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, said with these new machines patients could be at higher risk for becoming sick from cyber attacks, since they will not be checking their blood sugars as regularly as they are with the current devices that require blood sugar monitoring daily.

“They’ll know right away if there’s a problem,” MacLeish said of current insulin pumps. “If they aren’t checking their blood sugar they can be very sick if there’s a problem.”

One possible option for these “artificial pancreas” devices currently being tested is adding some kind of back up or warning system to help ensure they are safe, MacLeish said.

An alarm could be triggered “if there’s something programmed in there that doesn’t seem right,” MacLeish said. For example, if the insulin dose doubled, the machine could alert the patient who would manually confirm or deny the dosage.

Potential complications from the wrong dosage could be too much insulin, which can lead to seizure, or too little, which can lead to dangerously high blood sugar levels.

One extremely simple closed-loop device is already on the market, Kudva said, and he expects more advanced versions to enter the market in about three years. He said he hopes that device makers will consider more security options or be more transparent about security measures they have already taken.

“I think that’s the next step,” Kudva said of the closed-loop “artificial pancreas” development.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Jamie Squire/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Affected by the listeria outbreak that killed three people and sent seven others to the hospital, Blue Bell Creameries announced Friday that it will lay off 37 percent of its staff.

Blue Bell voluntarily recalled all products on April 20. It shut down operations to “embark on an intensive cleaning program” and begin a reboot on April 27. The Brenham, Texas-based company announced that this process is taking longer than expected, and it’s not clear when production will resume. When it does, it will be limited and gradual.

“The agonizing decision to lay off hundreds of our great workers and reduce hours and pay for others was the most difficult one I have had to make in my time as Blue Bell’s CEO and President,” said Blue Bell Creameries CEO and President Paul Kruse.

“At Blue Bell, our employees are part of our family, and we did everything we could to keep people on our payroll for as long as possible. At the same time, we have an obligation to do what is necessary to bring Blue Bell back and ensure its viability in the future. This is a sad day for all of us at Blue Bell, and for me personally,” he added.

The company said it will lay off 750 full-time and 700 part-time employees and furlough 1,400 others. The overall workforce had included 3,900 people.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

CDC/Preventing Chronic Disease Journal(NEW YORK) — A new map has revealed the most distinctive causes of death for each state from black lung in coal-heavy states to influenza in a few cold-weather states.

The map was created by looking at the causes of death for each state, calculating the rate of death per capita, and then comparing them against national rates. The findings were published Thursday in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, Public Health Research, Practice and Policy.

Francis Boscoe, a research scientist at the New York State Health Department and lead author of the study, told ABC News that they looked for outliers in each state to determine the most distinctive cause of death.

“In Alaska, the number of deaths due to accidents by boat or plane is 41 per million but in rest of country it’s six [deaths] per million so it’s seven times higher,” said Boscoe, explaining one notable outlier.

Other unusual outliers include higher rates of tuberculosis deaths in Texas and HIV-related deaths in Florida. Three states — New Mexico, Nevada and Oregon — reported having higher than the national average death rates related to “legal intervention,” meaning a death caused by police and other persons with legal authority to use deadly force. This can include the death of the officer or a bystander.

Boscoe said he came up with the idea for the map in part to start a conversation about causes of death that may not get as much attention as more common causes of death, such as cancer or heart disease.

“Mashing them together on the same map is a colorful way to do that,” he said. “The map does … provoke this conversation.”

Alicia McDonald, a researcher of epidemiology at the Department of Occupational Medicine at the North-Shore-LIJ Health System, said this kind of map can provide clear information about where public health departments can devote their resources.

“State health departments can design prevention programs or even creating programs to identify programs who may have that particular disease,” said McDonald, who was not involved in this study.

McDonald said she was especially surprised by deaths linked to treatable diseases such as syphilis that can be treated with antibiotics, or HIV, which can usually be managed by anti-retroviral therapies.

“Wait a minute, what’s going on in this population? Why is this the common cause of death?” McDonald said of the questions the study can raise. “You start to question, ‘Are there interventions in place where you can prevent [this?]'”

McDonald said she was also alarmed by the higher rates of fatal tuberculosis cases in Texas and deaths related to nutritional deficiencies that were found in Vermont, New Hampshire and North Carolina.

“That’s surprising [because] that’s a developing country leading cause of death,” McDonald said of both TB and nutritional deficiency. “To see [TB deaths] in Texas in the U.S. is somewhat surprising.”

McDonald said she hopes researchers will dig further into the data to find out which populations are most at risk for these diseases and if they fell into certain patterns along age-related, sociological or racial lines.

“This map is very useful to all of us as health professionals to really see common causes of death that we may not think are issues in our particular state,” said McDonald. “This allows us to further investigate to see how the disease conditions are affecting” local residents.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →