iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Mary Johnson was on one of her regular runs last August when her eyes became itchy and her tongue started to swell. Soon, her body was covered in hives as her eyelids, lips and throat started to balloon, too.

It was happening again.

Johnson, 27, has what is called exercise-induced anaphylaxis — a rare exercise allergy.

“My throat was so swollen that I had gone from having a normal-sounding voice…to almost no voice at all in a matter of minutes,” Johnson wrote on her blog, itsamarython.com. “In the past, my voice had always been intact.”

Her in-laws rushed her to the emergency room as her eyes became so swollen she could barely see. Once there, doctors injected her with epinephrine and intubated her to keep her airway open as her throat closed. She wound up staying in the intensive care unit overnight amid fears that she would have a second reaction.

Although Johnson is a marathoner who runs up to six times a week, she has had only three serious exercise allergy attacks in her life, each one worse than the last, she told ABC News. She also has the occasional “mini-attack” with just a tingly mouth and some swelling that she can treat herself with some Benadryl at home, she said.

The first one happened when she was 18 and went out for a morning run before breakfast. Because she hadn’t eaten anything and didn’t test positive for any food allergies, doctors eventually diagnosed her with exercise-induced anaphylaxis.

Dr. Kent Knauer, an allergist at UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland, said exercise-induced anaphylaxis is so rare that what exactly triggers it is unknown. He’s never met Johnson, and said he’s seen only four or five cases in his 25-year career.

Some exercise-induced anaphylaxis cases are tied to food, Knauer said. Others, like Johnson’s, are not. He said he had one patient who only had an allergic reaction if she ate corn a few hours before exercising.

“In her case, if she eats corn, it’s no problem. If she exercises, it’s no problem,” he said. “If she eats corn within one or two hours of exercise, she has a mild form of anaphylaxis.”

Johnson said she has met a few other people with exercise-induced anaphylaxis, and that she considers herself lucky not to have more frequent attacks. But her attacks are more severe than those of other people she knows with the allergy.

Although Johnson’s been told to consider slowing down from time to time, she said she loves to run. And she’s good at it. She qualified for the Boston Marathon in 2013 and ran it in 3 hours, 8 minutes and 34 seconds. That’s a 7-minute-and-12-second mile. And when she runs a half marathon, she can run a mile in 6 minutes and 45 seconds.

Still, she said, her allergy requires her to be extra careful. She never runs too far from home, always knows where her epinephrine pen is, and never leaves for a run without telling someone where she’s going. Although she’s had three serious attacks, she reminds herself that she has had hundreds of workouts over the years with no attacks at all.

“Don’t let it shape who you are,” she said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The World Health Organization warned Tuesday that unless the Ebola outbreak in West Africa isn’t immediately contained, there could be as many as 10,000 new cases per week by December.

The only way to reverse the worst outbreak of the disease since it was first discovered in 1976 is to isolate 70 percent of the cases within two months, according to WHO assistant director-general Dr. Bruce Aylward.

Since last March, 4,500 people have died from Ebola with the number of current cases at 9,000, although that figure could be well underestimated.

Complicating matters is that the death rate from the disease, which was originally 50 percent, has now risen to 70 percent.

The hardest hit countries are Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, and the WHO is especially concerned of how Ebola continues to spread in each nation’s densely-populated capital.

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shironosov/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Researchers say that patients’ attempting to make an appointment with a psychiatrist is incredibly difficult, regardless of the patient’s insurance status, with just 26 percent of attempts successful.

According to the study, published in the journal Psychiatric Services, researchers posed as patients suffering from depression and used the Blue Cross Blue Shield website to reach out to in-network psychiatrists in three major cities — Boston, Houston and Chicago. In their first calls, all made during normal business hours, only 33 percent of their calls reached the psychiatric provider.

A series of second attempts to contact those who did not initially answer was made, and only 26 percent of calls reached the psychiatrists.

Researchers noted that 16 percent of the phone numbers in the Blue Cross Blue Shield database were incorrect, leading patients to unrelated businesses.

The study also found that there was no significant difference in the ease of making a psychiatric appointment whether a patient had Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance, Medicare or were paying for services themselves.

Researchers did not reach out to non-psychiatrist mental health providers.

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Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Probiotics may be the next big thing in skin care treatments, making their way from your digestive system into topical products and onto beauty-aisle shelves near you, thanks to dermatological researchers. The upshot: skin care treatments are popping up on the market with some science behind them.

“We are going to see it in face masks, face washes, creams, serums and more,” says Alexis Wolfer, editor-in-chief of The Beauty Bean and author of The Recipe for Radiance: Discover Beauty’s Best-Kept Secrets in Your Kitchen. “The way probiotics helps with your digestion is the same way it will help with your skin.”

Just as they are said to calm stomach inflammation, probiotics are billed as having a calming effect on skin redness and irritation like stubborn acne or rosacea flare-ups. Probiotics send signals that stop your skin cells from reacting to bad bacteria, reactions that cause, you guessed it, acne or rosacea, the American Academy of Dermatology reported this year and the Journal of Clinical Microbiology reported in 2009.

Probiotics in topical products can also act as a protective shield for your skin’s surface, keeping your skin healthy and putting a halt to future breakouts, the early research shows.

“When you apply a probiotic directly it can actually act as a barrier because it’s competing with the bad bacteria from taking hold,” says Whitney P. Bowe, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York.

“The skin is the largest organ in the body and when it’s compromised, then moisture can get out and bad bacteria can get in,” Bowe says. “Probiotics can help keep the bad bacteria out and the good in.”

In addition to market skin care products, Wolfer says to look no further than your own kitchen for a quick treatment.

“I like putting full fat Greek yogurt onto a pimple as a spot treatment to help reduce inflammation,” she says. “It contains lactic acid that fights dull skin and healthy fats that’ll moisturize without clogging your pores.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — The Centers for Disease Control has developed a faster test for enterovirus D68 that will reduce the time to confirm a diagnosis from weeks to days.

The CDC has a backlog of about a thousand specimens awaiting a lab test. Since the results will now come quicker than before, public health officials expect the number of confirmed cases to skyrocket.

But that doesn’t mean the respiratory illness is getting worse. Rather, it means the CDC will have better data to track the outbreak, which is expected to decline by late fall.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly has donated the plasma in his blood to three patients in the last month, echoing what one of his former patients did for him before he left Liberia.

Brantly was caring for sick Ebola patients with the aid group Samaritan’s Purse in Monrovia, Liberia, when he became the first American diagnosed with Ebola in late July.

His condition was worsening before he was flown to the United States in an air ambulance. But before he left, one of his former patients, a 14-year-old Ebola survivor, gave him “a unit of blood” for a transfusion, according to Samaritan’s Purse.

Since his recovery and release from Emory University Hospital on Aug. 21, Brantly has donated his plasma to Samaritan’s Purse colleague Dr. Rick Sacra and freelance cameraman Ashoka Mukpo, both of whom were receiving treatment for Ebola at Nebraska Medical Center. They received his plasma transfusions on or around Sept. 11 and Oct. 8, respectively — about 27 days apart.

The latest American Ebola patient, Dallas nurse Nina Pham, who contracted the virus while treating Thomas Eric Duncan, received a blood donation of some kind from Brantly, according to health officials.

Plasma is a component of blood that contains virus-fighting proteins called antibodies. When someone donates plasma, their blood is drawn into a machine that separates out the plasma and returns the red blood cells to the donor.

“There is a strong theoretical possibility that this could help, particularly if this is given early,” said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

Here’s how it works: When confronted with a virus, the immune system creates antibodies to specifically target that virus, kill it and keep it from coming back, he said. Once a person has antibodies, they stay in their blood for life. If the Ebola antibodies found in an Ebola survivor’s blood can be imported into a struggling Ebola patient’s body, those antibodies can theoretically help the patient’s immune system fight off the deadly virus.

“What those antibodies do is bind to the virus,” Schaffner said. “They find the virus and bind to it and prevent it from multiplying further.”

Schaffner said even though the sick person’s body is trying to make antibodies, an infection can be so overwhelming that the sick person’s immune system might not be able to keep up with the invading virus. As a result, the sooner someone gets a plasma transfusion, the more likely it is to help that person recover, he said.

During his battle with Ebola, Brantly also received the experimental drug ZMapp, a cocktail of three synthetic antibodies to attack Ebola, before leaving West Africa for Emory University Hospital. Brantly was declared virus-free and discharged on Aug. 21, but the hospital epidemiologist, Dr. Bruce Ribner, said it wasn’t clear what roles ZMapp and the transfusion played in his recovery.

A person can donate plasma up to 13 times a year, or every 28 days, unlike whole blood donations, which must be spaced between two and four months apart, according to the American Red Cross. Though Brantly’s first two plasma donations were spaced about a month apart, his last two were barely a week apart. But it’s also possible Brantly donated excess plasma during one of his donations, which then went to Pham.

Though blood type O is considered the universal donor for whole blood, type AB is the universal donor for plasma, according to the Red Cross. According to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where Duncan was being treated, Duncan did not receive any kind of blood transfusion because his blood type was not compatible with any of the donors.

In September, the World Health Organization said blood therapies should be “considered as a matter of priority.” Since then, the number of people who have been infected with Ebola since March has doubled to 8,399, and 4,033 of them have died, according to the latest WHO figures.

“There is a real opportunity that a blood-derived product can be used now and this can be very effective in terms of treating patients,” said Dr. Marie Paule Kieny, WHO’s assistant director general, said on Sept. 5.

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Courtesy Pham Family(DALLAS) — Dallas nurse Nina Pham’s dog Bentley has been taken into custody by an animal shelter as she is being treated for Ebola, officials said.

The King Charles Spaniel was first kept in Pham’s apartment while Dallas County officials assessed the situation this weekend. But it has been cause for concern since a Spanish nurse who contracted the disease had her pet euthanized out of fears that it could be a carrier of the deadly virus.

It does not appear that any similar action will be taken in Texas, however, as Judge Mike Rawlings said that they will be taking good care of the pet while the 26-year-old nurse is in treatment.

The city’s animal shelter is now caring for the dog at an undisclosed location, officials said. The Dallas Animal Services and Adoption Center posted a note on its official Facebook page confirming their involvement and they wrote that they will be posting pictures “once we’ve shown the owner he’s okay.”

They also shared photos that showed a team of people in hazmat suits collecting the dog from Pham’s apartment Monday afternoon.

“It was a bit of a challenge,” the caption reads.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — If you tax it, they’ll drink less of it.

That’s what seems to be happening in Mexico, according to The Wall Street Journal, after the government slapped a tax on sugary drinks to reduce consumption.

A survey by public health advocates reveals that just over half of Mexicans who drink sugary beverages say they’ve cut back compared to a year ago.

According to 2013 statistics, one in four Mexicans consumed three liters of soda weekly with the number now falling to one in five.

People have also gotten the message that too much sugar is bad for your health. The survey said that 98 percent of Mexicans are aware that these drinks can boost the risk of diabetes and obesity.

That being said, Mexico has one of the unhealthiest diets in this hemisphere with 75 percent of the population reportedly overweight and nearly a fifth of adults over 50 diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — One of the health lessons drummed into kids’ heads is that proteins are essential nutrients in building strong bodies while providing an important fuel source.

That lesson sticks with a lot of people well into adulthood given how much Americans consume animal protein.

As it happens, the NPD Group found out in a survey that six in 10 respondents eat some kind of animal protein on a daily basis.

Tops on the list compiled by the NPD Group are beef, followed by chicken, fish, pork, shellfish and lamb.

What’s more, at least one in two adults clamors for more protein than what they’re already getting. However, they’re less inclined to turn to dairy products even though health experts say milk, cheese and yogurt and eggs are good sources of the nutrients, not to mention they’re loaded with calcium and many are fortified with Vitamin D.

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Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — A plane arriving at Boston’s Logan Airport from Dubai was met by a hazmat team Monday after five passengers reportedly displayed flu-like symptoms, according to an official from Massport, which runs the airport.

Pictures on social media showed medical crews in hazmat suits as they arrived at the scene and boarded the plane, Emirates flight 237. The plane was surrounded by ambulances and emergency responders in white and yellow suits.

None of the five sick people had been traveling in West Africa, the official said.

The Boston Public Health Commission said in a statement Monday that it “has determined that the patients who arrived on United Emirates Flight #237 at Logan International Airport do not meet the criteria for any infections of public health concern, including Ebola, meningococcal infection, or MERS.”

The Ebola virus has already killed more than 3,000 people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

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