<![CDATA[NBC 6 South Florida - Health News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/health http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+6+LOGO+GOOGLE.png NBC 6 South Florida http://www.nbcmiami.com en-us Wed, 23 Jul 2014 20:32:25 -0400 Wed, 23 Jul 2014 20:32:25 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Babies Get Herpes After Ritual: DOH]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 17:47:39 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/NC_Circumcision0906_722x406_2119014932.jpg

Two more infants were diagnosed with herpes in New York this month after undergoing ritual Jewish circumcisions, the Health Department says.

In both cases, the infant boys were born to mothers with full-term pregnancies and normal deliveries. They were circumcised using the direct oral suction technique practiced by some Orthodox Jews eight days after their birth, and developed lesions on their genitals shortly thereafter, the Health Department said.

Their conditions Wednesday weren't immediately clear.

NYC to Require Consent for Oral Suction Ritual

There have been 16 confirmed cases of herpes since 2000 in newborn boys after circumcisions that likely involved direct oral suction, including three in 2014, according to the Health Department. 

Two of the infants died and at least two others suffered brain damage.

During the ancient ritual, the person performing the circumcision attempts to cleanse the wound by sucking blood from the cut and spitting it aside. Authorities say the saliva contact could give the infant herpes, which is harmless in adults but could kill newborns.

In 2012, the Board of Health voted unanimously to require anyone performing circumcisions that involve oral suction to obtain written consent from a parent or guardian. The consent form delineates the potential health risks outlined by the Health Department. 

A group of Orthodox rabbis sued in an attempt to block the regulation, but a judge sided with the city.

The parents have to sign a form acknowledging that the city Health Department advises against the practice because of risks of herpes and other infections.

<![CDATA[Tragedy Inspires Family to Fight for Changes on Cruises]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 22:14:30 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/before+and+after.jpg

A woman's medical emergency aboard a cruise and her death just weeks later have inspired her daughters to push for stricter 'round-the-clock emergency care on all cruise ships.

“When you get on these boats, you assume you’re going to be treated like you are in the United States,” Amanda Butler said. “And you’re really putting your life in your own hands.”

Amanda and her family were on board the Carnival Conquest for four days when her mother went from a vibrant 51-year-old to falling to the ground in mid-sentence.

“I leaned down and realized she’s not breathing, and I can’t find a pulse,” Amanda said. “This is Mom, what do I do?”

Amanda and her father said it would take an additional 15 minutes before cruise ship medical workers showed up to help. The family said it took even longer to get inside the medical facility on the ship where the defibrillator was located.

“They had to open up the doctor’s office. The computers, the lights, everything was off,” Amanda said. “They’re only open five hours a day. So if you have an emergency outside of those five hours, God bless your soul.”

Carnival responded to the situation in a statement.

“Highly competent, well-trained medical professionals are available on board our ships 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In this particular case, there was a doctor on board when the situation occurred," it said.

The family paid for a private jet to transport the mother to Jackson Memorial Hospital. She would pass away approximately two weeks later. Amanda said no one understands what it means “to have a broken heart until they lose their mother.”

Still, Amanda and her father are taking their fight for better care on ships to Washington, D.C. Amanda is scheduled to speak to a U.S. Senate committee and is pushing for stricter 24-hour emergency care on board all cruise ships.

“They’ve got to be prepared to be able to handle emergency situations,” Butler said.

Local cruise expert Stewart Chiron said most major ships go above and beyond what’s required by law for medical care.

"What more can the cruise industry do?" Chiron said. "It looks like in some cases, persons are upset about certain responses... but you see the same types in complaints on shore."

The Senate hearing takes place Wednesday and will focus not only on medical care but also crime and safety issues aboard cruises.

Photo Credit: Amanda Butler]]>
<![CDATA[Fruit Sold at Trader Joe's, Costco Recalled]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:02:51 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/07-21-2014-peaches-recall.jpg

If you love stone fruits, there's a new recall you should know about.

Wawona Packing Company, based in California's Central Valley, is recalling white and yellow peaches, white and yellow nectarines, and plum varieties.

The whole fruits were all packed between June 1 and July 12, and shipped to Trader Joe’s and Costco stores.

The concern is the fruit could be contaminated with listeria. The bacteria can cause dangerous, flu-like symptoms. Children, pregnant women and the elderly are especially susceptible.

More information – including a list of the specific products recalled – is available on the FDA website.

Photo Credit: FDA]]>
<![CDATA[Long Lines at Pot Farmers Market]]> Sat, 05 Jul 2014 06:56:49 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/mm+farmers+market+noon.jpg

A large number of people were spending their Fourth of July in line to a unique kind of farmers market in Boyle Heights. The featured product: medical marijuana.

The lines were outside the door to the 20 to 30 medical marijuana growers inside the Boyle Heights California Heritage Market on Friday. Some people reported waiting up to an hour-and-a-half to get in.

Paizely Bradbury, the executive director of the farmers market, said she has been monitoring the line all morning long.

"I've been walking up and down the line. It's insane,” Bradbury said. “You are dealing with the growers themselves and you are going to get pretty much 70 percent off than a dispensary."

A grower, identifying himself only as Keith, said the response to the market has been tremendous so far on the first of a three-day event.

“So far this is crazy because nobody has seen the likes of this,” he said. “Neither farmers or people buying."

Membership and access to the market is free only to medical marijuana license holders, and organizers said ID’s were being checked before anyone entered.

Organizers said there is a possibility that the farmers market will be a weekly fixture if all goes well with the opening.


<![CDATA[LA Pot Dispensary Farmers Market]]> Sat, 28 Jun 2014 22:09:14 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/medical+marijuana+stock+cannabis.jpg

For some Los Angeles residents, the 4th of July weekend will be a chance to stock up on marijuana.

Patients eligible to use medical marijuana will be able to buy the drug directly from growers at a pot-centric farmers market. The California Heritage Market, which will feature 50 vendors, is open to any card-carrying medical marijuana patient in California.

“It will provide patients access to growers face to face,” said executive director Paizley Bradbury.

The market will be held in an enclosed outdoor area at West Coast Collective, a medical marijuana dispensary in Boyle Heights. Bradbury said organizers will check ID to verify that shoppers can buy marijuana before allowing them to enter.

The vendors have also been screened to ensure the market doesn’t “just let anybody come off the street.”

“A lot of people have been contacting me and saying, how are you doing this?” Bradbury said. “This is the legal way. This is what the laws are allowing us to do.”

Bradbury said the West Coast Collective decided to host the market out of frustration that the medical marijuana industry, especially in Los Angeles, has strayed from its original purpose of providing medicine to patients.

“Dispensary owners purchase medicine from growers and have created this market where their patients have no idea where their medicine is coming from,” she said.

She added that the city needs to do more to regulate growers and dispensaries, which she said often raise prices and give false information to patients. The farmers market, she said, will bring medical marijuana “back to its roots.”

A website for the event says the market "virtually guarantees that fresh medicine will be abundant and affordable."affordable.

The market, which also features food and games, will be held on July 4, 5 and 6 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the West Coast Collective. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[S. Fla. Hospitals Struggle in New Rankings]]> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 15:08:54 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/doctor-health-generic-1200-03.jpg

Starting next year, as part of the Affordable Care Act, hospitals reporting a set level of preventable infections and complications will face penalties. It’s a way to try to cut down on the complications and readmissions that can drive up hospital costs.

The hospitals across South Florida were rated this year by Kaiser Health News on the same 10-point scale that will be used next year and based on the ratings; many local hospitals need a check-up.

The higher the score in the rankings, the worse the hospital performed. Kendal Regional Medical Center (8.3), Jackson Memorial Hospital (7.4), and Broward Health Medical Center (7.7) all scored poorly in the rankings.

The worst performing hospital in South Florida was Broward Health Coral Springs, which scored 8.975 and was third worst in the entire state based on the data. Broward Health released a statement addressing the facility’s rankings.

“Significant improvements have been made by sharing the best practices of our top performing hospital, Broward Health North,” the statement said. “As an organization, we constantly strive to surpass Medicare standards.”

On the flip side, Larkin Community Hospital, Homestead Hospital, and Weston’s Cleveland Clinic all performed well in the rankings. Larkin Community Hospital executive Sandy Sosa-Guerrero said trying to keep a facility clean and safe for patients is not easy.

“You need to clean. You need to wash your hands. You need to maintain good antibiotic control,” Sosa-Guerrero told NBC 6. “So it is a large amount of things, but it is standard care for hospitals.”

Sosa-Guerrero said the new scoring system isn’t just to help hospitals improve their care and facilities, but also a much-needed tool for patients.

“The public does not know what to measure,” Sosa-Guerrero said. “They have no idea what to look at and compare one hospital to the next. So at least this is a start.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Whooping Cough Epidemic in Calif.]]> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:42:35 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/whooping+cough+vaccine.jpg

The number of whooping cough cases in California has officially reached epidemic proportions, the California Department of Public Health reported.

Whooping cough, known to doctors as pertussis, has experienced a resurgence this year with more than 3,400 new cases reported between Jan. 1 and June 10, according a statement released by the department.

The department said whooping cough is cyclical, peaking every three to five years. The last big spike in cases was in 2010.

Los Angeles County has experienced about 350 new cases so far this year with Long Beach being hit especially hard. The city has seen more than 90 new infections, making up nearly 20 cases per 100,000 people.

Pertussis is a highly infectious bacterial disease that can be spread by coughing. Symptoms of the disease vary by age group.

Adults can find themselves beset with respiratory problems that can last for weeks, while infants who are too young to be vaccinated are in danger of serious illness or death. The common name for the disease comes from the “whooping” sound children can make when experiencing the violent coughing attacks associated with the disease.

Infants may not have typical pertussis symptoms and may have no apparent cough. Parents describe episodes in which the infant’s face turns red or purple.

The organization said two-thirds of pertussis hospitalizations have been in children aged 4 months or younger. Two infant deaths have been reported.

“Preventing severe disease and death in infants is our highest priority,” said Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the department, in the statement. “We urge all pregnant women to get vaccinated. We also urge parents to vaccinate infants as soon as possible.”

The Tdap vaccine, which also guards against tetanus and diphtheria, can be administered to pregnant women to protect infants who are too young to be vaccinated.

In addition, the department said infants should be vaccinated as soon as possible, which can be as early as 6 weeks of age.

Older children and adults are also recommended to be vaccinated especially if they are regularly around newborn babies.

While Chapman said vaccination does not offer lifetime immunity, he stressed that it was still the best defense against the potentially fatal disease.

Photo Credit: NBCNewYork]]>
<![CDATA[The Health Benefits of Drinking Wine Explained]]> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 12:48:31 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/edtAP1011180117961.jpg After a long day, a glass of wine may help ease some tension. But did you know it could also help your health? One glass of red wine could actually improve your memory.

<![CDATA[Epileptic Girl Inspiration Behind Medical Pot Bill]]> Sun, 08 Jun 2014 20:57:51 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP204780883216.jpg

On good days when her epileptic seizures aren't severe, RayAnn Moseley laughs, sings, dances, swims and practices with the children's choir at her church. She easily brings smiles to the people around her.

On bad days, the 11-year-old wakes up in bloody sheets or lies down on the school floor and says nothing all day. When her seizures become particularly intense, she is rushed to the hospital.

The images of those extremes collected in a collage helped persuade Florida lawmakers to support a bill that will soon allow parents to treat their epileptic children with marijuana that has a low amount of THC, the chemical that causes intoxication. What seemed improbable a few months ago is now about to become a law with the help of a severely epileptic girl whose story melted hearts.

"When we first started this, people were like, 'Are you crazy? It's never going to pass,'" said RayAnn's father, Peyton Moseley, who along with his wife, Holley, met with dozens of lawmakers showing them the photos of RayAnn. "They could see the difference when she's having good days as opposed to when she's having bad days. It helped to really put a face on it."

Even Gov. Rick Scott, who has firmly opposed medical marijuana, welcomed RayAnn into his office, hugged her and assured her parents he would sign the bill.

Once Scott signs the bill, which passed the Legislature overwhelmingly on the last day of this year's legislative session, strains of marijuana with low amounts of THC and high amounts of cannabidiol, or CBD, which is used to treat seizures, will be legal in Florida for certain medical conditions.

Still, a handful of House members raised concerns, including a lack of U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for the drug's use and the possibility that the bill will open the door for wider spread use of marijuana.

"This could be the rifle shot that starts a massive avalanche," Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, said after the vote. "When I look at that I simply can't pull the trigger."

The journey to passage began late last year when the Moseleys traveled from the Pensacola area to Colorado and talked to parents of epileptic children whose seizures have been reduced or eliminated after treating them with oil from a marijuana strain known as "Charlotte's Web," named for the epileptic girl it originally helped in 2012. They also talked to the Stanley brothers, marijuana growers who developed the strain, which is legal in Colorado.

That's when they decided to seek the treatment's legalization in Florida, teaming up with two lobbyists and a publicist who donated their time. Simultaneously, conservative Panhandle Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz was being pressured by a Democratic colleague to support the idea of legalizing Charlotte's Web. He was skeptical, but willing to listen. He set up a phone call with the Stanley brothers, who told him about the Moseleys.

"I was not on fire for the issue until I got to meet the Moseleys," Gaetz said. "Sharing the Moseleys' story lit a fire in me that I couldn't find a way to put out until passing this bill."

Part of that story is how RayAnn came into the Moseleys' lives. RayAnn's birth mother was a prostitute and drug user. She often didn't get the medication doctors prescribed to treat the seizures that have tormented her since birth. The state took custody of RayAnn when she was 2, but it's not easy finding foster parents for a child with cerebral palsy and intractable epilepsy. They placed her at a hospital where Holly Moseley, a pediatric nurse, saw her in a crib covered with netting.

"We just connected. You just can't help but fall in love with those blue eyes," Moseley said. "You could just see inside of her that need for love."

Three days later, Moseley was off but couldn't help thinking about RayAnn stuck in a crib that looked like a cage. Christmas was approaching and she got permission to have RayAnn join her family for the holidays.

"She laughed the whole night - there was just a big smile on her face," Moseley said. Right after Christmas, the Moseleys hired a lawyer and started a three-year fight to adopt RayAnn, whose birth mother resisted giving her up. The same month Moseley gave birth to her first of two biological children, RayAnn became the couple's adoptive daughter.

"On the good days, it's fabulous," said her teacher, Angela Pettus. "She is just so much fun, she is such a joy. She keeps us laughing, she keeps us entertained."

But on the bad days she can be angry and frustrated either by the side effects of her medications or when her seizures increase in intensity.

"She will go through spurts of extreme growth where she's getting things, things are starting to click. She's doing great, she's reading, she's comprehending, she's doing math," Pettus said. "Then she'll go through a period of seizures and she'll lose a lot of it and we're back to square one again. It's hard to watch that in a child."

"There's just a lot of intelligence in there, that if they could get her seizures under control and they could get her leveled out, her doors could be wide open," Pettus said.

RayAnn's cerebral palsy affects her ability to speak and, while her parents understand her, most people have a difficult time communicating with her. The Moseleys hope that could change with help from Charlotte's Web.

"In the state of Colorado we do know that 85 percent of children who are using non-euphoric marijuana to control seizures and spasms have seen a 50 to 100 percent reduction in those seizures," Gaetz said.

"I imagine that there's this whole other inner being in RayAnn that hasn't come out yet that wants to come out, that just hasn't physically been able to come out. I just look really look forward to meeting her for the first time pharmaceutical free," Peyton Moseley said. "I don't think God has brought us this far for it not to work."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Formerly Conjoined Twins to Go Home]]> Sun, 08 Jun 2014 06:56:50 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Ezell+Twins+06.JPG

The formerly-conjoined Ezell twins are sharing an exciting milestone -- they'll soon be headed home for good.

Mom Jenni Ezell said Emmett and Owen are going home on Wednesday.

The babies were once conjoined breast bone to belly button, but a Dallas doctor was able to surgically separate them at Medical City Children's Hospital last August.

The boys are currently at Our Children's House at Baylor for rehab, but mom said the twins are strong and even breathing on their own.

The twins left Medical City in April for the inpatient rehabilitation center.

Photo Credit: Ezell Family/Medical City Children's Hospital]]>
<![CDATA[NJ Baby Latest to Die in Nap Nanny]]> Mon, 02 Jun 2014 04:54:36 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/edt-AP31966872310.jpg

An 8-month-old baby girl in New Jersey is the latest child to die in the recalled infant recliner known as the Nap Nanny. 

The Consumer Product Safety Commission said the Hopatcong baby was secured into the chair by a belt but was found hanging over its side, trapped between the chair and a crib bumper.

The agency is warning parents, again, not to use the chairs. Several children have died in them, the CPSC says.

The Nap Nanny was designed to mimic the curves of a baby car seat, elevating an infant slightly to help reduce reflux, gas, stuffiness or other problems.

The commission says the chairs are not being sold in stores any longer but are still a popular product at yard sales, online auctions or as hand-me-down gifts.

"The products are hazardous and it is illegal to sell or resell them," CPSC says.

The agency did not say when the New Jersey girl died.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[LA Residents Show No Signs of MERS After Exposure: Officials]]> Wed, 28 May 2014 15:51:40 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP13061817965.jpg

Note: The CDC said on May 28 it was incorrect in reporting that an Illinois man caught MERS from another person. See the updated story here.

At least 16 people in Los Angeles County exposed to MERS on a flight from Florida showed no signs of having contracted the virus, health officials said Thursday.

The group shared an airplane with a Florida man who worked in Saudi Arabia and was the second confirmed case in the US to have contracted the mysterious virus, according to the LA County Department of Public Health.

Health officials interviewed and tested all 16 people and said no one in the group showed any signs of having MERS, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, officials said.

"This information should alleviate any fears," a health department spokesperson said.

MERS has been confirmed in more than 500 people globally, including three recent cases in the US. At least 171 people have died, according to the World Health Organization.

MERS is a new virus, but it is not yet a global emergency or epidemic. Two of the American cases were health workers in Saudi Arabia, and the third case caught it from the first man who contracted it.

The virus spreads from one person to another, but not very well, and usually only with close and prolonged contact.

The symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. There is no specific treatment yet, but early intervention can improve chances of recovering.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Hospital Workers Test Negative for MERS]]> Tue, 20 May 2014 15:57:09 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP13061817965.jpg

There was good news Tuesday on the fight to keep MERS from gaining a foothold in the United States.

According to Orlando Health, all follow-up tests on workers who were exposed to the MERS virus have come back negative.

Seven workers, including one doctor, from Orlando Regional Medical Center were tested after a patient who had just returned from the Middle East tested positive for MERS. The disease, caused by a coronavirus, began in Saudi Arabia.

Orlando Health said testing on 16 health care workers, including two physicians, who also came in contact with the patient at Dr. Phillips Hospital also came back negative for MERS. Orlando Health required all 23 workers that were exposed to stay out of work for the 14-day incubation period.

The patient who came to Orlando with the virus was discharged from the hospital Monday. The 44-year-old Saudi Arabian man was only the second confirmed case of MERS virus to be diagnosed in the United States.

MERS stands for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and it’s caused by the same type of virus that causes SARS. The disease first appeared in 2012 and since then 571 cases have been reported and 171 deaths have been attributed to MERS.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Zero Link Found Between Vaccines & Autism]]> Mon, 19 May 2014 21:17:06 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/measles-vaccination.jpg

A new meta-analysis from the University of Sydney confirmed that there is no link between vaccinations and the development of autism spectrum disorders. The study, the largest of its kind, looked at multiple set of data involving more than 1.25 million children.

According to the study, there was no evidence to support a relationship between common vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, and whopping cough and the development of autism, according to the news.com.au.

The study, the latest to debunk the claim vaccinations lead to autism, comes as measles outbreaks are becoming more common in the United States and other countries. Other diseases once thought nearly wiped out like whooping cough are also making comebacks as the anti-vaccine movement gained a foothold in the U.S.

The link between autism and vaccines took hold in 1998 when a British “scientist” published a paper in the medical journal Lancet that the MMR vaccine could cause autism. The “study” has since been discredited and all of his research and findings were found to be false.

In addition to the study finding no link between autism and vaccinations, the meta-analysis by the University of Sydney researchers found “the components of the vaccines (thimerosal or mercury) are not associated with the development of autism or autism spectrum disorder.

Photo Credit: Zheng shuai - Imaginechina]]>
<![CDATA[Third U.S. MERS Infection Reported]]> Mon, 19 May 2014 06:56:28 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP13061817965.jpg

An Illinois resident who had contact with an Indiana MERS patient has tested positive for the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Local health officials said the Illinois resident did not seek or require medical care, showing no signs of the virus, but his health has been monitored and he is said to be feeling well, the CDC reports.

This marks the third confirmed case of the virus in the United States, after a second case was reported in Florida earlier this week.

The first reported case of the deadly respiratory virus known as MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) in the United States was discovered earlier this month after an American working as a health care worker in Saudi Arabia flew into the U.S. through Chicago.

The patient, who was treated at Community Hospital in Munster, Ind., has since been released from the hospital and is said to be doing well, officials said.

Officials are now investigating after evidence shows a MERS infection in an Illinois man who had close contact with the Indiana patient.

The Illinois resident does not have any recent history of travel outside of the United States, but met with the Indiana patient on two occasions shortly before the patient was identified as having MERS.

Officials said the patient shook hands with the Indiana man and later reported having minor cold-like symptoms.

As part of their follow-up investigation, a local health department contacted the Illinois resident, who tested negative for the virus on May 5. On Friday, however, the test result came back positive.

“The risk to the general public still remains low,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “It was out of an abundance of caution that we conducted rigorous follow-up with this individual and have identified this person to have been infected with MERS-CoV at one time. Previous MERS-CoV illnesses have not shown to be spread easily from person-to-person in communities. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), working with our local health departments, will remain vigilant for any new MERS-CoV infections and we are prepared with surveillance, guidance and testing to handle any additional infections.”

Public health officials are still working to collect blood samples from people who were identified as close contacts of the Indiana patient, according to the CDC, and efforts are under way to identify, notify, test, and monitor close contacts of the Illinois resident.

CDC officials explained that these laboratory test results are preliminary and suggest that the Illinois resident probably got the virus from the Indiana patient and the person's body developed antibodies to fight the virus.

"This latest development does not change CDC's current recommendations to prevent the spread of MERS," said David Swerdlow, M.D., who is leading the CDC's MERS-CoV response. "It's possible that as the investigation continues others may also test positive for MERS-CoV infection but not get sick. Along with state and local health experts, CDC will investigate those initial cases and if new information is learned that requires us to change our prevention recommendations, we can do so."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[2 Hospital Workers Test Negative For MERS]]> Wed, 14 May 2014 20:23:07 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP13061817965.jpg

Two employees tested negative for the MERS virus days after coming into contact with a Saudi resident infected with the second confirmed case in the U.S., a spokeswoman for an Orlando hospital said Wednesday.

One of the two employees tested after showing symptoms of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome was hospitalized Monday, said Katie Dagenais of Dr. P. Phillips Hospital. The other was discharged the same day. The hospitalized patient, identified only as a woman, was expected to be released sometime Wednesday, according to Dr. Antonio Crespo, the Infectious Diseases Specialist at Phillips.

Hospital officials were still awaiting test results from 18 other health care workers who are being monitored for potentially having the virus. The workers are based at Phillips and Orlando Regional Medical Center.

Dr. Kevin Sherin, health officer with the Florida Department of Health in Orange County said Wednesday afternoon that all of the remaining health care workers have undergone at least some initial MERS testing, and those results have all been negative. However, he said they will continue to be subjected to more testing going forward.

Sherin added that doctors tracking the case in Orlando "believe that this infection is contained" and that there was "minimal risk to the community."

MERS is a respiratory illness that begins with flu-like fever and cough but can lead to shortness of breath, pneumonia and death.

The 44-year-old Saudi resident with whom the workers came into contact arrived at the emergency room at Phillips on May 8. Three days earlier, he had visited Orlando Regional Medical Center with a friend who went to the hospital for a test.

He remained in isolation at the hospital, officials said Wednesday. He has been fever-free for 24 hours and clinically is doing well, they said.

The remaining 18 health care workers that were in contact with the man will be monitored at home for fever, chills and muscle aches.

Despite an increase in cases, the virus' spread in the Middle East and beyond isn't a global health emergency, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.

The White House also said Tuesday that President Barack Obama had been briefed on the MERS cases in the U.S. and that his team is coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control and officials in Florida.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[MERS Patient Released from Hospital]]> Mon, 12 May 2014 11:56:20 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*122/5-31-MERS.jpg

A patient who was battling the first confirmed U.S. case of a deadly new respiratory illness has been released from the hospital, officials said Friday.

“The patient has tested negative for MERS, is no longer symptomatic and poses no threat to the community,” said Dr. Alan Kumar, chief medical information officer, Community Hospital in Munster. “Community Hospital finalized its discharge plan with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Indiana State Department of Health, and the patient was discharged from the hospital. We are proud of our medical staff for recognizing and responding quickly to this incident, and we wish to thank the CDC and the ISDH for their assistance and collaboration.”

The hospital and state confirmed that the patient, who lives in Saudi Arabia and came to the United States on a planned trip to visit family, was the first confirmed case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus in the United States.

The first tests on those who came in close contact with the patient, including his family members and about 50 hospital employees, have yielded no new cases. Indiana Health Commissioner William VanNess attributed that fact to the swift response by hospital staff and the cooperation of local, state and federal authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"At this point, it appears that MERS picked the wrong hospital, the wrong state and the wrong country to try to get a foothold," VanNess said at a Monday morning press briefing.

The patient checked himself into Community Hospital on April 28 after feeling ill. Dr. Daniel Feikin, an epidemiologist with the CDC, said the patient works in a hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Ariabia. He flew from Riyadh through London to Chicago on April 24 before boarding a bus to Indiana.

The man's symptoms appeared after he was in the United States, Feikin said.

"Although we didn't know where it would happen, we're not surprised that MERS-CoV has come to the United States," said Feikin. "We know that infectious diseases do not respect international boundaries. In this day and age of global travel and trade, infectious diseases can spread almost anywhere."

Feikin said CDC officials were using the flight manifest to contact about 100 other passengers who were on the plane with the patient. About 75 of them had been reached by Monday morning and none were exhibiting symptoms, he said. Additionally, none of the "about 10" people who were on the bus were symptomic.

MERS belongs to the coronavirus family that includes the common cold and SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which caused some 800 deaths globally in 2003. Saudi Arabia has been at the center of a Middle East outbreak of MERS that began two years ago. The virus has spread among health care workers, most notably at four facilities in that country last spring.

Officials said Monday the patient did not recall working directly with a MERS patient in Riyadh but said the hospital where he worked did have some MERS cases.

Overall, at least 400 people have had the respiratory illness, and more than 100 people have died. All had ties to the Middle East region or to people who traveled there.

Officials said the disease isn't highly contagious, but there is no cure.
The MERS virus has been found in camels, but officials don't know how it is spreading to humans. It can spread from person to person, but officials believe that happens only after close contact. Not all those exposed to the virus become ill.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Synthetic Pot Proving Deadly in ER's Across the Country]]> Wed, 07 May 2014 18:25:57 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/syntheticmarijuana.jpg

It’s a mysterious, constantly-changing drug that has cops trying to keep up with dealers. And the drug can also be a mystery for ER docs trying to save users' lives.

It’s called synthetic marijuana or fake pot because the drug can interact with the brain similarly to that drug. But synthetic marijuana is unpredictable and much more dangerous than the drug it’s supposed to mimic.

Dr. Nabil El Sanadi, Chief Medical Officer of Emergency Medicine at Broward Health said, "You are playing with Russian Roulette when you are buying these things.”

Synthetic marijuana was once sold openly in convenience stores and gas stations Sales have gone underground since it was banned in Florida, but police say it is still holding its own on the black market.

Tuesday, in the Tampa area, cops showed some of the nearly 150 pounds of the stuff seized from an alleged ring of fake pot dealers getting their chemicals, police say, from China.

The chemicals come by land, sea or air, such as at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, where millions of pieces of foreign mail are x-rayed by agents from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Those packages containing powders are opened and tested.

"This one is AKB48," said Neele Shepherd, a chemist from Customs and Border Protection, showing an NBC crew a substance she detected after just an hour of searching at O’Hare.

AKB-48 is one of countless formulations of chemicals that, once in this country, are dissolved in acetone, sprayed onto something smokeable like plants then sold under names like K-2 or Spice. The branding, cheap prices and evasion of positive drugs tests for real pot and other drugs make it attractive to teens--even though they have no idea what chemical they’re inhaling.

That’s because every time one formula of the drug is outlawed, the makers in Asia go back to work literally manipulating the molecules,

"They have chemists working for them. They design a new chemical. And all of a sudden, it's a new substance that's not controlled.” said Shepherd.

"It's a cat and mouse game. They are constantly manipulating the formulas," said Brian Bell with Customs and Border Protection.

It’s also a challenge for ER docs like El Sanadi. He estimated his hospital sees patients suffering with synthetic marijuana side effects at least every other day.

"We get worried sometimes in the emergency department that we may be missing some of those cases of synthetic marijuana because our laboratory doesn’t test for every single variant," said El Sanadi.

The mystery concoctions can be addictive and deadly.

Something Kathleen Gaspar’s family knows all too well. Gaspar bought fake pot to relieve pain from a broken hip in 2011. That was when it was legally sold over the counter;

"She was my best friend for all my life,” said Shannon Sheehan, Gaspar’s daughter.

“…because of the appearance it was legal, and it was safe, and it was okay,” said Sheehan. Her mom only smoked it once.

Sheehan found her body. She had died from a massive head injury and her home looked like it had been ripped apart.

“So many things were broken and tore up and just in disarray,” said Sheehan.

“It’s 50 to 100 percent times stronger than ordinary marijuana,” said Charles Bufalino, head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement drug unit. He says the producers have plenty of incentive to keep changing new synthetic marijuana formulas.

“They can produce this at an initial investment of $5000—they can earn $100,000. it’s very lucrative.”

In Florida, new laws and enforcement have helped stem the tide of open sales but new markets for synthetic pot are springing up on line promising legal variants which you can even buy with a credit card. Sheehan says parents should be especially alarmed that something so dangerous may now be just a mouse click away.

“Just don't underestimate it,” said Sheehan.

Bufalino says the physical and mental effects can be for more stunning than from real pot --- delirium, violent outbursts incredible feats of physical strength as an overheated body and rapidly racing heart make users largely uncontrollable and, it can kill you.

Photo Credit: NBC 6]]>
<![CDATA[Drownings Puts More Emphasis on Water Safety]]> Fri, 02 May 2014 16:34:04 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/pool+generic.jpg

Besides traffic, the most plentiful thing across South Florida is plenty of water. It’s everywhere from streams to canals and pools. But safety is not always at the forefront of people’s minds when it comes to the water.

This year, 4 kids ages 5 and youngser in Broward County and 2 in Miami-Dade County have died from drowning. Just in the past two months, six children have drowned and there have been several close calls.

On March 1, a toddler in Lauderhill was taken to the hospital after being found in a pool. March 7th saw another toddler drown and another critically injured. Twin toddlers downed in Deerfield Beach on April 9th. Another two kids drowned in Delray Beach on April 25 and on Wednesday a three-year-old in Coral Springs drowned in the backyard pool. All of the children had wandered off from their parents.

Last year, 64 people, including adults drowned in Broward County and another 45 drowned in Miami-Dade. But the owner of Swim with Mr. Blue says the deaths can be prevented.

“A child is going to see things from a different perspective,” said Miss Julie of Swim with Mr. Blue. “They’re going to see things from a smaller perspective. We see the big picture. A child sees a toy. They want to reach for a ball in the water. They don’t understand the dangers.”

Five-year-old Noah is one of the students of Swim with Mr. Blue. He just started swimming on Monday. Before, he was terrified of the water, but in just four days he can swim across the pool by himself. Miss Julie said swimming lessons are an absolute must if you live in Florida.

“We have to take baby steps,” Julie said. “For a child to fall in the water and be able to go right back to the wall, that’s very, very important in the beginning.”

In addition, safety measures like a pool fence or alarm can help as well. Still, knowing how to swim, how to react quickly, and safely at a young age could mean the difference between life and death.

“The number one cause of death of children in Florida was drowning and I realized it was more than just…that was really essential we do it,” said Cristina Coy. “I know she’s so confident that if she falls in the pool, the first thing she does is swim to the wall.”

Florida offers VPK students two weeks of free swimming lessons.

For more on pool safety, click here.

Photo Credit: NBC New York]]>
<![CDATA[IKEA Recalls Children's Wall-Mounted Lamps]]> Wed, 30 Apr 2014 09:30:40 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/IKEA-recall.jpg

IKEA has expanded a previous recall of its children's wall-mounted lamps to include more than 30 million lamps sold worldwide due to a strangulation hazard.

The first recall was issued in December 2013 and it now affects about 30.2 million lamps sold in various styles, shapes and colors.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reannounced and expanded the recall on Tuesday.

The lamps have a electrical cord, about 7 to 8 feet long, and children can get entangled in the cord that hangs from the lamp, posing a hazard.

The recall was expanded after a 15-month-old baby was entangled in one of the recalled lamp's cord and nearly strangled. In the previous recall, a 16-month-old baby died after getting entangled in one of the cords of a recalled lamp. Both incidents involved the infant pulling the lamp cord into the crib.

The lamps were sold exclusively in IKEA stores, catalogs and online from May 1984 to April 2014 for between $5 and $30.

For a complete list of recalled lamps, click here.

If you have one of these lamps, stop using it immediately and contact IKEA for a free repair kit. The repair kit has self-adhesive fasteners for attaching the electrical cord to the wall.

Photo Credit: IKEA: BILEN children’s wall-mounted lamp]]>
<![CDATA[GIrl Recovers From Severe Pneumonia Thanks To ECMO Machine]]> Tue, 29 Apr 2014 21:19:00 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/victoria+bermudez.jpg

It all started with a fever and a mild cough. But it quickly turned into a lengthy stay at the hospital for six-year-old Victoria Bermudez. Now, after more than two months, Victoria can enjoy her life again, thanks to what her mom calls a miracle.

Bermudez’s mother, Judith Ferrer, said when the symptoms first started; she gave Victoria Tylenol and Motrin to relieve the symptoms. Her daughter’s symptoms began to deteriorate and when Victoria started breathing heavily, Judith took her to an urgent care.

Victoria was eventually transferred to Holtz Children’s Hospital where doctors told Ferrer her daughter had severe pneumonia from influenza and strep throat bacteria.

"Septic shock, low blood pressure, inability to get oxygen to her lungs, 3 cardiac arrests, that's as close to death as you can get," said Dr. Barry Gelma.

Ferrer said the doctors and an ECMO treatment saved her daughter’s life. ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) is a machine that takes over the work of the lungs and heart to allow those organs time to recover. According to doctors at Holtz Children's Hospital, only a handful of children receive ECMO treatment in their hospital.

"I felt that I got hit by a train at 300 miles per hour. I do remember praying for angels the entire night. I just wanted someone to come in and save my baby girl," said Judith Ferrer.

Tuesday afternoon, Ferrer thanked the doctors who she credits with saving her daughter's life and also had a message for parents.

"Listen to your children. If a child complains, most of the time they're not lying. And she was complaining that her legs were hurting her, and that her belly was hurting. And I thought ‘oh, it's probably the Tylenol.’ By Monday, I should've known better," said Ferrer.

Victoria can now breathe on her own and looks forward to playing with her sister, dancing ballet, and watching Frozen. Doctors say Victoria will be discharged by the end of the week. She is expected to make a full recovery.

Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida]]>
<![CDATA[Removing Stigma from Lung Cancer]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:24:02 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Molly-Golbon.jpg

Molly Golbon doesn't take much for granted these days.

The 39-year old married working mom of two knows life can take unexpected turns. For her, it came with a pain in her throat, tiredness, and a cough that wouldn't go away. 

"I went in for an MRI, and that's when they found there was something on the MRI," Golbon recalled. That something turned out to be lung cancer. "I think when they told me it was lung cancer, I thought it can't be. It can't be. It's probably bronchitis or pneumonia, it's not that."

Unfortunately, it was.

Until her diagnosis, Golbon, like many people, thought only smokers got lung cancer.

"The stigma for lung cancer is that it's a smoker's cancer and it's not. I've never smoked. No one in my family ever smoked," Golbon said.

Over a three week period, after going through a series of tests and scans, Golbon learned her cancer had spread into her brain, left hip and right shoulder.

"It was just too much to handle," Golbon said. "I think I had thoughts that my 4-1/2-year-old would not have any memory of me, and I just couldn't bear that thought."

Molly Golbon and her family enjoy an afternoon together at home.

Not Just a Smoker's Disease

When it comes to lung cancer, the statistics are scary. It kills more people than colon, breast, and prostate cancer combined.

While the majority of people who get lung cancer have smoked in the past, many, like Golbon, are non-smokers.

"Our estimates were about  10 percent of men in the U.S. who have never smoked get lung cancer and about 20 percent of women," said Golbon's oncologist Dr. Heather Wakelee, a nationally renowned  thoracic oncologist at Stanford University Medical Center.

"There's a lot of work being done trying to figure out how lung cancer in never smokers differ from lung cancer in smokers," Dr. Wakelee explained. "About a decade ago we were able to identify that there were gene mutations, changes in that particular gene that led to changes in the EGFR protein, and when that happened, it would develop lung cancer. It was the driving force behind lung cancer."

Treating Lung Cancer without Chemotherapy or Radiation

Dr. Wakelee suspected Golbon had this type of gene mutation and tested her for it.

"I was EGFR positive," Golbon said, which was was some of the best news she could have received. "If there was a cancer lottery, I feel like I had won it because I didn't have to go through chemotherapy, I didn't have to go through radiation, at least not yet." 

Here's why. With this type of lung cancer, doctors usually start out treating patients with oral medications. Since December, Golbon has been taking an oral drug called Tarceva, and the results have been remarkable.

Molly Golbon takes one Tarceva pill a day.

"My tumor was down 50 percent in February," she said. Not only that, the cancer that metastasized to Golbon's hip, shoulder, and brain is now almost undetectable.

This quick response to the medication isn't surprising to Dr. Wakelee.

"These drugs tend to work really quickly, they work within a week or two and people generally start to feel better, but they don't work forever," Dr. Wakelee said.

Every patient is different. Some patients stay on the medication for years, but for other people stop seeing benefits sooner.

"I can't tell someone how long they have, but I can tell them this is their step one," Dr. Wakelee said.

Golbon understands this, but for now, she's feeling healthier and is in a lot less pain.

"I'm breathing really well. I'm back to work. I'm back to yoga. I'm back to working out and to think it was one little pill."

Lung Cancer Research

Part of the reason Golbon decided to share her story was to get more funding for lung cancer research. At any given time, there's anywhere from 15 to 20 lung cancer clinical trials going on at Stanford.

"We couldn't have all these new drugs without doing the clinical trials," Dr. Wakalee said. "We all need to be working together to figure out how do we move forward to help everyone with the disease."


American Lung Association

Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation


<![CDATA[3 Die of Meningitis in LA]]> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 06:55:50 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/invasive+meningococcal+disease.jpg

A day after health officials said at least eight cases of the most dangerous form of meningitis hit Los Angeles County since January, officials reported that three men died from it.

The three men, between 27 and 28, who died, contracted meningitis through sexual contact with other men, officials said. They were HIV positive.

Half the confirmed eight cases were among gay men, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Of the remaining five, four have recovered. The condition of one is still unknown.

Invasive meningococcal disease, or IMD, is highly contagious and is the most severe form of meningitis, health officials said.

The health department came under fire when asked why officials hadn't reported that three men had died in the rash of cases this year.

"If people at home knew that these infections ended in fatalities, I think it would ramp up their interest, and perhaps urgency, of seeking out information about the disease," said Ged Kenslea, a spokesman for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Health officials said they were not hiding anything. They said they only wanted to urge gay and bisexual men to get the meningococcal vaccine regardless of HIV status, especially those who share cigarettes, marijuana or use illegal drugs, officials said.

Symptoms may include:

  • High fever
  • Stiff neck
  • Altered mental state
  • Skin rash
  • Severe headache
  • Low blood pressure
  • Aversion to bright lights
  • General muscle pain

Symptoms usually occur within 5 days of the exposure, but may present as many as 10 days after exposure. The disease progresses rapidly and officials urge immediate diagnosis and treatment.

People who do not have health insurance can get free vaccinations through the health department beginning Thursday.

For a listing of clinics, call the LA County Information Line at 211 or visit http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/.

<![CDATA[8,730 Pounds of Chicken Recalled]]> Wed, 02 Apr 2014 06:57:39 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/recalled-chicken.jpg

AdvancePierre Foods is recalling approximately 8,730 pounds of frozen chicken breast products due to misprinting and undeclared allergens, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The products recalled were "Our Down Home Style Chicken Breast Fritters for Chicken Frying" with lot code 5440730403 or 5440800403, produced March 14 and 21, 2014. Only these lot codes and dates are affected.

Oklahoma-based firm said these products were distributed to food service establishments in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Virginia.
AdvancePierre Foods discovered the issue during an internal label review. The USDA said the problem occurred when AdvancePierre Foods used labels with an incorrect ingredient statement.
There have been no reports of allergic reactions.

Photo Credit: USDA]]>
<![CDATA[Missed the Obamacare Deadline? Here's What You Should Know]]> Tue, 01 Apr 2014 07:31:27 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/ObamaCarePic.jpg

March 31 was the day.

The last day to enroll in a health insurance plan on the federal and state Obamacare exchanges has officially past.

If you procrastinated, or if you're just wondering what happens next, here's what you need to know.

What if you didn't sign up by the deadline?

If you live in a state that uses the federal exchange and you haven't signed up by Monday night, not all is lost. An honor-system deadline extension may be available.

If you need extra time, explain that you tried to enroll during the open enrollment period but were not able to finish the process in time. (Initiating the online process before midnight or leaving your number on the phone hotline, for instance, would fulfill this requirement.) 

You can also request an extension based on qualifying life events. And some state-run exchanges have also extended the deadline further and have their own sets of rules.

But I didn't even try to sign up. What will happen to me?

If you can't say you tried to get a plan in time and didn't get health insurance by the deadline, you will have to pay a fee of $95 or 1 percent of your annual income — whichever is greater — on next year’s tax return.

I signed up for insurance. When will I be covered?

You must apply by April 15 in order to receive coverage starting in May. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the consumers who are "in line" on the exchanges will still be enrolled, though, provided they pay their first month's premium in time.

What if I can't afford insurance at all?

The penalty for not buying health insurance only applies to people who can afford insurance but don't get it. If you didn't sign up by the deadline because you can't afford health insurance, you won't be charged the fee.

If that's the case, you should call (800) 318-2596 to explore your Medicaid options. If you live in a state that is not expanding Medicaid, you will not have to pay the fee — but you probably won't receive any insurance.

What happens next year?

If you didn't sign up for an insurance plan this year, the enrollment period for next year will start Nov. 15 and continue through Feb. 15, 2015.

Photo Credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sex Harassment Study: Surprise Effect on Military Men]]> Fri, 28 Mar 2014 07:46:59 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/military+troops+generic.jpg

Frightening and threatening sexual harassment in the military may cause its male victims more distress than its female victims, a new study by the American Psychological Association has found.

The study analyzed Pentagon data from 2002, in which 6,304 service members who reported sexual harassment were asked to define how the incident made them feel. Fifty-two percent of women said they faced frightening and threatening sexual harassment, compared with 19 percent of men.

Although women more frequently reported frightening experiences of sexual harassment, men were more often distressed by them, according to the APA study, published this month in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

Researchers were surprised to find that men had more trouble coping with the incidents of sexual harassment and had more issues with work performance as a result than women did.

“Men may be less likely to think they’ll be sexually harassed, so it’s a particularly strong violation of their expectations and that could result in stronger negative reactions,” Dr. Isis Settles wrote in the study. “Another possibility is that men feel less able to cope with their sexual harassment than women, who know it’s a possibility and therefore are perhaps more emotionally prepared.”

Military members endure a lot while in combat, and that stress, in combination with sexual harassment, can leave long-lasting negative psychological effects, explained Dr. Carrie Bulger, who chairs the psychology department at Quinnipiac University.

“The types of effects after discharge would mostly be related to psychological health, such as depressive symptoms, anxiety, and even some physical health issues such as frequent headaches,” said Bulger, who has done extensive research on the prevalence of sexual harassment in different settings.

Bulger cautioned that the APA study's findings do not imply that experiences of sexual harassment are less negative for women, but rather suggest that the effects on men were more pronounced.

“Sexual harassment of men should be given more attention than it is in the military and in other work organizations,” Bulger said. “This is not just a women's issue. It should be something we are all concerned about for the health of our military members.”

Bulger added that although the study analyzed data from 12 years ago, its findings are still valid, because the issue of sexual harassment still persists in the military. However, now that the military's "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy has been repealed, it is possible that conditions may have changed for openly gay military members, she noted.