<![CDATA[NBC 6 South Florida - Health News]]> Copyright 2015 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 Sun, 26 Apr 2015 21:55:39 -0400 Sun, 26 Apr 2015 21:55:39 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Students Support Classmate’s Fight for Cystic Fibrosis Cure]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 23:59:34 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Melissa+Tamayo.jpg

A South Florida teenager is counting on friends to help her fight to stay alive.

Eight grader Melissa Tamayo, who goes by the nickname Meli, loves music, her folks, and her dad's service dog Sam.

She's a lot like other teens at Hialeah Gardens Middle School, except for one big difference that she wears around her neck.

"It says the disease that I have and some of the medicines I take," said Tamayo

Before her first birthday, doctors diagnosed Meli with cystic fibrosis. It's a life threatening condition that damages her lungs and other organs. It put her in the hospital three times already this year. Doctors only expect her to reach her 37th birthday.

"She's a fighter, she's my little trooper, she's a warrior," said Elizabeth Tamayo, Meli's mother.

Each morning before school, Meli starts her day with a breathing treatment.

"It helps like to breathe easier and like to clear your lungs," she said.

And now Meli's classmates are lining up behind the cause for her cure.

"Every year we walk like five kilometers around Miami Lakes," said one student.

Seven years ago, two people started walking in Melissa's honor to raise money, this year that number will be closer to 200.

Band members, teachers, and friends are stepping out to support Meli at the Great Strides Walkathon this weekend to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

"I've been raising money online," Melissa said.

she's already raised more than $5,000 on her walking team called Meli's Roses. Those roses want her to know something.

"She's a leader and she makes me who I am," said Jose Tamayo, Melissa's dad.

"We'll always be there for her, like no matter what happens," a friend said.

To Meli, just being there is enough, "When I'm with my friends, I don't really think about cystic fibrosis or anything," she said.

She does think about growing up to be a scientist and finding a cure to be able to celebrate many more birthdays past the age of 37.

To find out how you can help support Meli’s team, click here.

]]>
<![CDATA[Ice Cream Company Recalls All Treats, Closes Shops ]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 16:21:49 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/ice-cream-stock-79772399.jpg

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams is recalling treats and freezing sales across the country due to a possible listeria contamination. 

The Ohio-based company announced the voluntary recall on its website on Thursday, saying it is "ceasing all sales and closing all scoop shops until all products are ensured to be 100% safe." The recall covers all products bearing the "Jeni's" brand, including  ice creams, frozen yogurts, sorbets and ice cream sandwiches. 

The company said in a statement that it decided to issue a recall after a random sample test by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture came back positive for the bacteria, which can cause illness and even death in individuals with compromised immune systems. Jeni's said it is not aware of any sicknesses connected to its products to date. 

"Our top priority is guaranteeing the safety of all consumers by taking every possible precaution," John Lowe, CEO of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, said in a statement. "We have decided to recall everything currently on retailer shelves, and we are closing our scoop shops until we are 100% confident every item we sell is safe." 

Jeni's urges cutomers to throw out or return any products affected by the recall. More information is available at jennis.com/recall. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Debate Renewed Over When To Start Mammograms]]> Wed, 22 Apr 2015 13:21:36 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/mammogram+photo+for+web.jpg

The radiologists who diagnose breast cancer every day in women's imaging centers across the nation have one primary goal: finding the cancer early enough to treat it before it spreads.

Their primary weapon in this battle is mammography. For years, women have been told to get a mammogram every year starting at age 40, a screening test covered by health insurance.

Now a government panel called the Preventative Services Task Force has come up with new draft recommendations telling women to wait until age 50 to have a mammogram, and even then, to only get one every other year.

"We feel that the adoption of the Preventative Services Task Force recommendations would result in thousands of additional breast cancer deaths per year," said Dr. Shari-Lynn Odzer, a radiologist with the Memorial Health Care System.

Dr. Odzer cited a 2011 study that estimated 6,500 more women would die from breast cancer every year in the United States if mammograms were not performed on the 40 to 49 age group.

Breast cancer survivor Cherise Metz is a case in point. She thinks the task force recommendation is a huge mistake

"Well I think it's very scary, I was 46 when cancer was found in me as a result of a screening mammogram, and thank God," Metz said.

One of the biggest concerns in the medical community is the impact of the recommendations on insurance coverage. If the recommendations become official, there's a strong likelihood that private insurers will only cover mammograms for women over 50, and only every other year.

"We're concerned that this will encourage women to wait and not get a screening test that could potentially save their lives," Dr. Odzer said.

Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, herself a breast cancer survivor, released a statement Tuesday calling the recommendations "a dangerous step in the wrong direction.

"Women with significant genetic risk factors for breast cancer should not have to worry about whether their insurance will cover preventative screenings, which can catch cancers earlier and potentially save their lives," Wasserman Schultz said. "As a young breast cancer survivor who was unaware of my own increased risk before my diagnosis at 41, I strongly believe we need more, not less, preventive services available to patients who need them."

The recommendation acknowledges that screening mammograms reduce the chance of dying from cancer in the 40 to 49 age group, and says women in that age group should make their own choices about having one.

However, as Dr. Odzer points out, many women can't afford even a relatively inexpensive procedure like a mammogram, so if it's not covered, they won't have one, regardless of what their personal doctors say.

The task force says mammography in the 40 to 49 age group often leads to many, expensive procedures that turn out to be unneeded.

"I'd much rather have a false positive and have to go through a biopsy and have the biopsy come back negative than to discover too late that I had an invasive cancer," said Cherise Metz. "I actually had a couple of false biopsies before my positive biopsy that found my cancer, and I'm lucky enough that it was caught at such an early stage that I had options, and I'm thankful for that."

Doctors in the breast cancer community are also complaining that the task force included no breast cancer experts, and that it "cherry picked" data to use in its recommendations.

"The task force has seemed to limit its evidence review to studies that overestimate the impact of false positive rates and it has underestimated the life-saving benefit of screening mammography," said Dr. Odzer. "We believe, and evidence supports, that breast cancer detected early is a breast cancer more likely to be treated and cured."

(Full disclosure: Dr. Shari-Lynn Odzer is the wife of NBC6 reporter Ari Odzer.)

]]>
<![CDATA[Whole Foods Market Recalls Macadamia Nuts]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 14:39:48 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/537738815%281%29.jpg

Whole Foods Market is recalling packaged raw macadamia nuts due to possible Salmonella contamination.

The product, recalled after routine FDA testing detected the presence of the bacteria, is labeled as “Whole Foods Market Raw Macadamia Nuts” and packaged in 11 oz. plastic tubs. The recalled product, which has a best-by date of Feb. 4, 2016 and UPC code is 7695862059-1, was sold in stores in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.

The company said the bacteria causes serious and sometimes fatal infections in especially young children and the elderly, including others who have weak immune systems. Some symptoms healthy persons may experience are fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, the company said in a press release.

The Center for Disease Control estimated that there are one million Salmonella related illnesses in the United States every year, with 19,000 are hospitalizations and 380 deaths.

While no illnesses have been reported, officials are urging those who have purchased the nuts discard the container. They can also bring in their receipt for a full refund.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Deadly Tick-Borne Virus in Conn.]]> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 15:03:41 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/dfw-generic-tick-01.jpg

A rare but potentially deadly virus has made its way to Connecticut and could soon be transferred from ticks to humans, according to state officials. Human cases of the virus have been reported in other states in the northeast, including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maine.

Dr. Theodore Andreadis, director of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven, said researchers identified ticks carrying the Powassan virus as part of a study published in 2012.

According to Andreadis, 2 to 3 percent of ticks surveyed in North Branford and Bridgeport tested positive for the virus. By comparison, some 30-40 percent of ticks in Connecticut carry Lyme disease.

Although there are no known cases of the virus in Connecticut, Andreadis said he expects the state could be seeing human cases soon.

"It’s an emerging tick-borne disease that we’re going to be looking at more closely. Right now, we know it’s in the state," he explained. "We don’t know how widespread it is but we’re going to be doing more work to find out, and with reported cases in surrounding states, it’s quite likely we’re getting some human exposure here in Connecticut."

Although the Powassan virus is "relatively rare," it "has the potential to cause very serious disease" and can produce encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, Andreadis said.

The virus was first identified in 1958 in Powassan, Ontario, when a child contracted the disease and died, according to Andreadis.

Andreadis said the CEAS is expanding its survey to determine the prevalence of the virus in Connecticut.

Residents should be diligent about checking for ticks when hiking or camping the woods.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends using tick repellent and wearing long sleeves and pants when spending time in wooded or bushy areas.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blue Bell Expands Recall]]> Wed, 08 Apr 2015 07:33:08 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Blue+Bell+Ice+Cream+facility.jpg

Blue Bell Creameries is expanding its recall to include banana pudding-flavored ice cream made at the company's Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, facility after the product tested positive for listeria monocytogenes on Tuesday.

The company asked retailers on Monday to remove all products produced at the Oklahoma facility between Feb. 12 and March 27.

Blue Bell products made at the Oklahoma facility can be identified by checking for the letters “O,” “P,” “Q,” “R,” “S” and “T” following the "code date" printed on the bottom of the product package, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Blue Bell is also recalling seven other products made at the Oklahoma plant, including individually-wrapped Sour Pop Green Apple Bars, Cotton Candy Bars, Almond Bars, Vanilla Stick Slices and No Sugar Added Mooo Bars.

On Friday, the company said it was temporarily closing the Oklahoma facility, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigates.

In March, the illnesses prompted the Brenham, Texas-based creamery to issue the first recall in its 108-year history. The company and health officials said a 3-ounce cup of ice cream contaminated with listeriosis was traced to the plant in Oklahoma.

Listeriosis is a life-threatening infection caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes, according to the CDC. The disease primarily affects pregnant women, newborns, older adults and people with weakened immune systems.

In addition to the Broken Arrow plant, the company has two plants in Brenham and one in Sylacauga, Alabama. Those plants will continue to operate and supply products to retail stores.

The recalled ice cream had been shipped to Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming.

For more information, contact Blue Bell at 979-836-7977, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST.

Along with the banana pudding pints, Blue Bell said the recall now includes the following products made at its Oklahoma plant:

Ice Cream Pints: UPC # 0 71899-05101 5 / Code Date:

  • Ice Cream Banana Pudding pint / 021217S
  • Ice Cream Butter Crunch pint  /  021917S
  • Ice Cream Mint Chocolate Chip pint / 022017S
  • Ice Cream Cookies 'n Cream pint / 030317S, 030617S
  • Ice Cream Homemade Vanilla pint / 030417S
  • Ice Cream Dutch Chocolate pint / 032317S
  • Ice Cream Moo-llennium Crunch pint  / 032417S, 032517S

Sherbet Pint: UPC # 0 71899-19990 8

  • Rainbow Sherbet pint / 021717S, 021817S, 022317S, 030217S

Sherbet Quarts: UPC # 0 71899-18992 3

  • Orange Sherbet quart / 032617S
  • Mixed Berry Sherbet quart / 032717S

3 ounce Tab Lid Cup: Product # 136
*institutional/ food service cup only

  • Rainbow Sherbet / 022417S, 022617S, 022717S 

Gold Rim Half Gallon: UPC # 0 71899-03720 0

  • Ice Cream Homemade Vanilla half gallon / 030917T, 031017T, 031117T, 031217T, 031617T, 031717T, 031817T

Brown Rim Half Gallon: UPC # 0 71899-83548 6

  • Ice Cream Pistachio Almond half gallon / 031317T 

Light Half Gallon: UPC # 0 71899-73501 4

  • Ice Cream Homemade Vanilla Light half gallon  / 031917T

Consumers who purchased these items should return them. For more information or questions, call 979-836-7977 or go to bluebell.com.

For More Information

Blue Bell News Release



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Mother Warns of Brain-Eating Amoeba]]> Mon, 06 Apr 2015 19:21:43 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Koral-Reef-knsd.jpg

Twenty-year-old Koral Reef's life was just beginning. She said yes to the dress and married her high school sweetheart. But Reef never got the chance to enjoy her happily ever after when she contracted a rare, brain-eating amoeba that took her life.

Reef’s mother, Cybil Meister, believes a family trip to Lake Havasu in Arizona was the catalyst for the infection that killed her daughter.

“She started with the headaches, the stiff neck, the sensitivity to light and heat was bad,” Meister told NBC 7.

Around Thanksgiving of 2013, Reef's family noticed something was wrong. By January, things went downhill. In June 2014, she went to the emergency room.

Doctors were never truly able to pinpoint a cause behind Reef’s health issues.

“They said, ‘Oh, she’s having withdrawal from her birth control; It’s a migraine.’ They gave her medicine and sent her home and then she progressively got worse,” recalled her mother.

In September 2014, Reef started losing her vision.

"She went to Temecula Valley and they did an MRI. They showed us the MRI and the amoeba, which they didn't know was an amoeba, but there was a mass covering the entire right side of her brain and partial of her left,” explained Meister.

In October 2014, Reef died.

Doctors say she had a rare but extremely deadly amoeba called Balamuthia. Meister believes her daughter contracted the parasite on that trip to Lake Havasu.

“Balamuthia's mortality rate is very, very high. Only 13 percent of patients survive without any type of treatment,” explained Dr. Navaz Karanjia.

Dr. Karanjia is the Director of Neurocritical Care and the Neuro-ICU at UC San Diego's Health System. She also diagnosed Reef with the amoeba.

She said Balamuthia is inhaled and the parasite has been found in soil and dust. The symptoms of the infection are general – such as headache, fatigue, and a stiff neck – which make it hard to diagnose.

"Usually the initial tests come back negative for the usual bacteria and viruses so medical providers need to know if those test come back negative a parasitic infection could be present,” said Dr. Karanjia.

Reef’s mother is now devoted to raising awareness about the deadly, brain-eating amoeba in her daughter’s name. She has started #TeamKoralReef through Amoeba Awareness.

She's hoping to keep others from experiencing the pain of losing a loved one.

"We're reaching out to people trying to raise awareness because I don't think people understand how serious it can be. It's deadly,” she added.

Dr. Karanjia said a drug has been approved for treatment of another parasite, leishmaniasis, and that drug is being tried for amoebas as well. She said it has shown some promise in treating amoebas like the one that caused Reef's untimely death.



Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Gives Birth in LA Courthouse ]]> Fri, 03 Apr 2015 08:16:00 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/196*120/4-2-15-baby+born+downtown+la+courthouse.JPG

A woman who stopped inside a downtown Los Angeles courthouse to pay a bill left with a little bit more than a receipt: a newborn baby boy.

When the pregnant mom-to-be walked down the hall of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse just before noon Thursday, she suddenly felt labor pain. Onlookers watched and sprung into action.

"She goes down on the floor, she's leaning on the chair, she's like, 'No, the baby's coming right now!" LA County Sheriff's Deputy M. Oliver told NBC4. "And I'm like, 'No wait,' and she's like, 'I can't wait, the baby is coming right now."

About a dozen people scrambled to help the woman as Oliver went to get some towels and gloves.

"When we laid on the floor, on her back, she pulled her trousers down, and then I look and I see ... that's the baby's head!" Oliver said. "So I go down on my knees, cradle the baby's head, and the baby slides right into my hand, a healthy baby boy."

The sheriff's department tweeted a photo right after the birth and said "Mom & baby fine!"

Witnesses said the woman barely had to push and it took her just five minutes.

"I'm still surprised and shocked," the mother told NBC4 from the hospital as she held her newborn son, Malachi. "And it's actually hilarious ... When he was born everybody cheered."



Photo Credit: LASD Special Enforcement Bureau]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: New Heat-Sensitive Socks for Diabetics]]> Thu, 02 Apr 2015 10:50:04 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/DiabetesSocks2.jpg Remember mood rings? Researchers have developed heat-sensitive socks that change color to monitor circulation in people with diabetes. ]]> <![CDATA[Tips for Coping With Spring's "Intense" Allergy Season]]> Wed, 01 Apr 2015 14:04:34 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/allergy-season-168997935.jpg

While people across much of the country are looking forward to milder spring temps following a winter that saw record cold and snow, experts warn the seasonal shift could bring bad news for allergy sufferers.

Allergists say the majority of the country can expect higher pollen this year thanks to the bitter winter, leading to an uptick in allergy-related symptoms.

A delayed pollination season nationwide has prompted the prediction.

In the Midwest, trees that were supposed to pollinate during January to mid February, during sporadic periods of warmth, were just starting that process in March, according to Warren Filley, a board-certified allergist/immunologist at Oklahoma Allergy and Asthma Clinic. The result, Filley said, is an increase in pollen being released at once. A similar trend is being seen in the snow-battered Northeast.

“We’re looking at a compressed spring pollination season,"  Aidan Long, director of Allergy and Immunology at Massachusetts General Hospital, said. "It should be very intense but pass quickly.”

Here are some tips on how to cope with pollen-related allergies in the spring:

  • First, make sure that you take you take your allergy medication before your symptoms start. As Filley put it, "There’s an Oklahoma saying, ‘Don’t close the barn door after the horse is gone."
  • Avoid being outside during peak hours of pollen — from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m., and a second surge after 4 p.m. — recommends Donald Dvorin, a board-certified allergist and pollen counter from the National Allergy Bureau and partner at the Asthma Center.
  • When in the car, make sure to turn your air conditioner on and avoid rolling down your windows, in order to allow for better ventilation. Cabin filters should be maintained to reduce exposure.
  • Take your shoes off before you go into your house, to make sure you don’t track pollen in. After you come inside, make sure to wash your clothes and take a shower. Wash your hair, too, as it can hold a lot of pollen, according to Dr. Jim Sublett of president of American Association. Let someone who is not allergic to pollen vacuum the house, and let the dust settle for 30 minutes before coming back into the house, as Filley warns.
  • When mowing the lawn or working in the garden, wear a mask, gloves, and goggles. Try to avoid gardening on windy days.

To track pollen levels in your area click here



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: New Anti-Smoking Ads Highlight Pain, Suffering]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 13:51:57 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/smoking-stock-generic-73160938.jpg

Smokers are once again sharing their gruesome stories of pain and suffering to motivate cigarette-puffing peers to quit.

“If I’d had a crystal ball many years ago, I would never have put that first cigarette in my mouth," one woman who is losing vision due to macular degeneration says in a new video from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The cautionary tales are part of a national tobacco education campaign from the CDC, Tips From Former Smokers, which first launched in March 2012. The often cringe-worthy advertisements, on television, radio, billboards, online and in theaters, magazines and newspapers, feature former smokers sharing their painful stories of smoking-related illnesses, the agency said in a release.

In one video, a woman lies on her hospital bed, and in raspy voice, says how she developed throat cancer at the age of 40. In another, a man, with a hole in his neck, informs viewers to stand away from the showerhead. And another woman, sitting at her kitchen table, advises to suction out her tube before eating.

The ads will also highlight how quitting smoking can benefit loved ones, and the importance of quitting completely, not just cutting down on smoking.

“These former smokers are helping save tens of thousands of lives by sharing their powerful stories of how smoking has affected them,” CDC Director Tom Frieden, said in a statement. “These new real-life ads will help smokers quit, adding years to their lives and life to their years.”

Since 2012, Tips has helped millions of smokers try to quit, the CDC reports. When the CDC’s 2014 campaign aired, nearly 80 percent more people called the national quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, for free help. Over 500,000 additional calls to the toll-free hotline have been made since 2012.

“All the Tips ad participants are heroes,” said Tim McAfee, senior medical officer in CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “By courageously sharing their painful personal stories, they’re inspiring millions of Americans to make the life-saving decision to quit smoking.”

Smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans each year, the CDC reports, and remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the country. For every American who dies from smoking-related illnesses, nearly 30 more suffer from at least one smoking-related illness.



Photo Credit: FILE/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Poison Center Calls About Kids Hit 1.3 Million: Report]]> Wed, 18 Mar 2015 14:56:25 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/medicine-cabinet.jpg

Poison centers across the country get more than 1,100 calls a day that relate to children sickened by medicine, according to a new report.

In all, there were 1.3 million poison center calls about children 19 and under in 2013, the report by Safe Kids Worldwide found. The vast majority of those calls, 53 percent, involved 1 and two year-olds and medicine, a number that the organization Safe Kids Worldwide called “alarming” and “most surprising”

Older children are also at risk for unintentional medicine poisoning, the report found, sometimes experiencing far more serious outcomes. Teens 15 to 19 were six times more likely to experience "moderate or major effects" from unintentional ingestion than children 1 to 4 years old.

The report, “Medicine Safety for Children: An In-Depth Look at Calls to Poison Centers,” analyzed data from 547,042 calls made to poison centers across the country in 2013. It found that 81 percent of the children were given the wrong medicine, while the remaining got too much. More than 10,000 emergency room visits are made each year for over-the-counter medicine overdoses by adolescents, the report said.

The most common accidentally ingested items for children under age 4, according to the report, are ibuprofen, multivitamins and diaper care and rash products. Nearly half of the emergency room visits were connected to the consumption of those products, which the report said can fall into kids' hands after being found on the ground, a nightstand or in a purse.

For teens, the top medicine mistakes were related to forgetting to take drug and then doubling up, taking two medicines with the same ingredient and taking the wrong medicine.

]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Bodybuilding Mom Fights MS]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 12:21:03 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/NC_msbodybuilder0316001_1500x845.jpg Working out often isn't something you would expect from a person who has Multiple Sclerosis, but for Wendy Bordewisch, Evolutions Gym in Annapolis, Md. is often a home away from home. She's there at least four days a week doing cardio and weights.]]> <![CDATA[Youth in Rural Areas Have Higher Suicide Rate, Study Says]]> Sat, 14 Mar 2015 15:10:01 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/ambulance19.jpg

A new Ohio State University study has found that adolescents and young adults living in rural areas are more likely to commit suicide than those in cities.

The study analyzed suicides among people ages 10 to 24 between 1996 and 2010. Results show the adolescent and young adult suicide rate was almost twice as high in rural settings than in urban areas, and the gap appears be widening.

Cynthia Fontanella is clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral health at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center. She cites less access to health care, geographic isolation and stigma associated with mental illness as potential reasons for the disparities.

The researchers say the findings suggest there is an urgent need to improve access to mental health care in rural areas.


SUICIDE PREVENTION: If you know someone who needs help, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

]]>
<![CDATA[Blue Bell Recalls Ice Cream Treats]]> Mon, 16 Mar 2015 00:04:06 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/ice-cream-stock-79772399.jpg

The FDA issued a consumer advisory about some Texas-made Blue Bell ice cream products Friday, after three patients who had eaten the ice cream in a Kansas hospital died of a foodborne illness.

The illnesses prompted the Brenham, Texas-based creamery to issue the first recall in its 108-year history. Blue Bell has stopped production and distribution of ice cream products from that line and has removed them from stores and any other retail outlets.

The problem was discovered about a month ago, Blue Bell CEO Paul Kruse told NBC 5. He said the company picked up the affected products approximately three weeks ago from hospitals and stores.

The contaminated products were traced back to one machine, which has been shut down, Kruse said.

This is the first time in 108 years the company has experienced this type of problem, he added.

The affected products include the following novelty items made on the line:

  • Chocolate Chip Country Cookie
  • Great Divide Bar
  • Sour Pop Green Apple Bar
  • Cotton Candy Bar
  • Scoops
  • Vanilla Stick Slices
  • Almond Bar
  • No Sugar Added Mooo Bar (regular Mooo Bars are not included)

Consumers should not eat these items and should discard any of these products they may have in their freezers.

The advisory does not include Blue Bell cups, pints or half gallons.

Recent laboratory tests of three ice cream products from the Brenham production line — Country Cookie, Great Divide and Scoops — indicated the presence of Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that can cause severe illness.

The company is calling back additional ice cream items because they were made on the same production line.

No Texas cases have been reported in connection to any Blue Bell products.

Five people in all developed listeriosis and three of them died at Via Christi St. Francis Hospital in Wichita after eating products from the one production line at the Brenham creamery between December 2013 and January 2015, hospital officials say.

The patients who fell ill with listeriosis during their hospital stays had all initially been hospitalized for unrelated causes, hospital spokeswoman Maria Loving said.

The hospital was unaware that some items produced on one of the 25 production lines at Blue Bell's Central Texas creamery had been contaminated with listeria bacteria, Loving said.

She said all Blue Bell Creameries products were immediately removed from all Via Christi Health facilities in Kansas and Oklahoma once the risk was discovered.

"If you're worried about some sort of potential source of infection, and two weeks have gone by and nothing's happened to you, you're going to be fine," said Dr. Cedric Spak with Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.

Spak said symptoms include vomiting, nausea and muscle ache, and they can appear suddenly.

He said those that are most at risk are those with compromised immune systems.

NBC 5's Holley Ford and Ray Villeda contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["We're Related": 8-Way Kidney Swap]]> Fri, 13 Mar 2015 10:40:24 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Kidney_Transplant_CT.jpg

Donors and recipients involved in a groundbreaking eight-way kidney swap in Connecticut came face to face for the first time Thursday, greeting each other with hugs, tears and laughter.

Four women donated kidneys to four men during a series of hours-long procedures at the Yale-New Haven Transplantation Center on March 3. The group included three sets of husbands and wives.

NBC Connecticut gained exclusive access to the surgeries, and our cameras were rolling during the life-saving procedures, which began at 7:30 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m. that day.

"All eight surgeries occurred on the same day and all procedures were deemed a success," said Dr. David Mulligan, director of the Yale-New Haven Transplantation Center and professor of surgery at the Yale School of Medicine, noting that the procedure "represents the largest internal kidney transplant exchange performed in Connecticut."

It started with "altruistic donor" Patricia Menno-Coveney, 61, of Mystic, Connecticut, who said she was inspired to donate by a woman at her church who gave one of her kidneys.

What she didn't know is that she would initiate an eight-person kidney chain, including three sets of husbands and wives.

Since the husbands didn't match their respective wives, doctors used computers to pair up the donors and recipients.

Menno-Coveney was matched to Shelton resident David Rennie, whose wife, Margaret Rennie, donated a kidney to Raymond Murphy, of Old Saybrook.

In turn, Murphy's wife, Sylvie Murphy, gave a kidney to Mario Garcia, of New Haven, and Garcia's wife, Hilary Grant, donated her kidney to Stamford resident Edward Brakoniecki.

Without the swap, the men would have endured years of waiting and dialysis. Brakoniecki had already waited five years for a transplant from a deceased donor.

But the generosity of one woman from Mystic sparked a chain that quite likely saved four lives. Nine days later, everyone is in good spirits.

"Look at me," said donor Hillary Grant. "This is a week and two days later. I feel absolutely normal."

Dr. Peter Schulam, professor and chair of urology at Yale-New Haven Hospital and the Yale School of Medicine, explained that the donors and recipients seem to be well on their way to recovery.

"They're usually in the hospital one or two nights," Schulam said. "They're able to return to work in two to four weeks depending on what their occupation is."

The donors and recipients met in person for the first time Thursday ahead of a news conference at Yale-New Haven Hospital. They hugged, cried, swapped contact information and promised to stay in touch.

"I was the lucky recipient in an eight-person kidney swap," David Rennie told NBC Connecticut during an exclusive interview. "It's kind of surreal, kind of like we're related now."

]]>
<![CDATA[Ebola-Infected Worker Arrives in US]]> Fri, 13 Mar 2015 13:18:23 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/NIHClinic.jpg

An American healthcare worker infected with Ebola in West Africa arrived at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Maryland Friday morning.

The patient is in serious condition and was flown in isolation from Sierra Leone on a chartered plane and admitted at 4:44 a.m., NIH officials said in a statement. The patient's name, age and gender were not released.

The patient had been volunteering at an Ebola treatment unit in Sierra Leone when he or she contracted the disease. The patient was flown to the United States on a chartered flight and then traveled to the hospital via private charter medevac.

The NIH Clinical Center's Special Clinical Studies Unit (SCSU) is designed for high-level isolation capabilities and is staffed by specialists in infectious diseases and critical care, the NIH said.

The person is the second to be treated for Ebola at NIH. Last fall, Texas nurse Nina Pham was treated there after contracting the disease while treating the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S.

The NIH has also cared for two other people who had high-risk exposures to Ebola, but were later determined to not be infected.

The World Health Organization estimated Thursday that the virus has killed more than 10,000 people, mostly in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The current outbreak is the largest ever for the disease. While deaths have slowed dramatically in recent months, the virus appears stubbornly entrenched in parts of Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
 



Photo Credit: NIH Clinical Center]]>
<![CDATA[Promising New Autism Research]]> Thu, 12 Mar 2015 11:32:54 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/autism6.jpg

A blood-based measure could lead to a clinical test that could spot signs of autism in boys just 1 or 2 years old, a new study has found, a finding that could help children with autism get the help they need earlier on. 

The study, conducted by an international team led by UC San Diego School of Medicine researchers and published in the current online issue of JAMA Psychiatry, found that certain genetic fingerprints might lead to an earlier method of diagnosing autism in male toddlers.

Researchers were able to identify those biomarkers, or genetic fingerprints, in blood samples from boys with autism as young as 12 months old.

Researchers analyzed two different blood samples with two groups of participants. The first group had 147 toddlers and the second group had 73 toddlers.

"The mean age of autism identification in the United States right now is four to five years so by that point, a lot of brain development opportunities have passed," said Eric Courchesne, Ph.D, professor of neurosciences and director of UCSD's Autism Center of Excellence. "What you really want to do is identify the child at the youngest possible age."

Autism is four times more common in males, researchers said, so the study started with looking at young toddlers because it would be easier to recruit young boys with autism for the study.

Because the causes of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are complex and can vary, it can be difficult to conclusively diagnose a child before the child turns four. 

One parent said an earlier diagnosis in her son could have had a positive impact on his development. 

"I thought I knew how to parent boys," said Karen Heumann. "And he came along, and he was wild and he was out of control, and I thought, 'Oh, he's just trying to keep pace with his brothers,' and instead, he's autistic."

Heumann said as soon as her family found out about her son's Asperger's syndrome, which is on the autism spectrum, they were able to get him therapy. 

That was when her son was 5 years old. She said learning of the diagnosis earlier would have meant more services for him before he started school. 

In the study, researchers looked at blood-based genomic biomarkers that could lead to the development of a clinical test for ASD in boys as young as 1 or 2 years old.

Blood is expected to carry autism-relevant molecular signatures that can be used to detect early signs of autism, said the study's first author, Tiziano Pramparo.

The study found that the genes related to translation and immune/inflammation functions, as well as cell adhesion and cell cycle, were different in boys with ASD and boys without ASD. Genes such as those can have an effect on early brain development in toddlers.

The results of the study may lead researchers to diagnosing autism earlier than current methods. Early diagnosis methods could boost the efficacy of intervention and remedial treatments.

The Clinical Director for the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at Mount Sinai in New York said the study is important and suggests progress but that results should be viewed cautiously.

“Larger studies and replication of the findings are necessary before these preliminary results can be considered clinically meaningful,” said Alex Kolevzon, MD.

The study was co-authored by Karen Pierce, Cynthia Carter Barnes, Steven Marinero, Clelia Ahrens-Barbeau and Linda Lopez, from the UC San Diego Autism Center of Excellence; Michael V. Lombardo from the University of Cambridge and University of Cyprus; Sarah S. Murray from the Scripps Translational Sciences Institute; and Ronghui Xu from UCSD.

The study, partly funded by the Race for Autism and the National Institute of Mental Health, was published in the March 2015 online issue of JAMA Psychiatry.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Burger King Drops Soft Drinks From Kids' Meals]]> Tue, 10 Mar 2015 12:26:14 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/burger-king-thumb-82504247.jpg

Burger King is no longer promoting soft drinks on its kids' meal menus.

"We have removed fountain drinks from our kids' menu boards and they are no longer merchandised as part of kids' meals," the company said in an emailed statement to NBC.

The company will instead suggest the meals be accompanied with 100% apple juice, fat-free milk, or low fat chocolate milk.

The menu change does not completely prevent customers from getting sodas with the meals. Customers will still be able to request for a soft drink to accompany kids' meals, the company said.

Advocacy groups like MomsRising.org had been pressuring Burger King and other food chains to make the change. 

"Parents and families across the country are applauding as one by one, restaurants are listening to parents and public health experts and starting to do their part to help keep America’s kids healthy,” MomsRising.org director Monifa Bandale said in a statement.

Competitors McDonald's and Wendy’s have announced similar menu changes. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dunkin' Drops Food-Coloring Additive]]> Fri, 06 Mar 2015 14:16:42 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/dunkin-donuts-AP110727023936.jpg

Dunkin’ Donuts is removing a food-coloring ingredient from its powdered sugar goods, the brand announced Thursday.

The component titanium dioxide is used to brighten white substances. While certain quantities of the ingredient are permitted by regulators and commonly used in items in the U.S., according to CNBC, the use has come under fire from critics of using such substances in food.

As You Sow, a San Francisco-based advocacy group, conducted a food study in 2013 that examined the use of nanomaterial, matter broken down by technology into molecule-size particles. After finding that Dunkin’ Donuts and Hostess Donettes tested positive for the presence of the titanium dioxide materials of less than 10 nanometers, the advocacy group  brought a proposal to Dunkin’ Donuts’ shareholders urging them to eliminate nanoparticles from their goods.

Karen Raskopf, chief communications officer of Dunkin’ Donuts, confirmed that the company plans to phase out the ingredient, but disagreed with the characterization that it is a nanoparticle.

“The ingredient used in our powdered donuts does not meet the definition of “nanoparticle” as outlined under FDA guidance,” she said, “Nevertheless, we began testing alternative formulations for this product in 2014 and we are in the process of rolling out a solution to the system that does not contain titanium dioxide.”

Both the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency classify titanium dioxide as a nanomaterial. Although the FDA has approved the use of it, the agency has said it will continue to monitor the safety of nanotechnology as the science emerges. The EPA is likewise investigating the ingredient, which it says can also be found in sunscreens, cosmetics, and paints and coatings.



Photo Credit: AP Images]]>
<![CDATA["Wake-Up Call": Study Reveals Magnitude of Memory Loss]]> Thu, 05 Mar 2015 16:47:30 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/alzheimers-149679784.jpg

About 4 million American households include at least one adult with increasing memory loss or confusion, a new federal study shows,

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study is the first to report on worsening memory loss or confusion in households and could offer insight into the health and financial consequences for families. Older adults with complaints about memory have a greater risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, which is potentially a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.

Matthew Baumgart, the senior director of policy for the Alzheimer’s Association, told NBC Owned Television Stations that the findings should be a "wake-up call for the long-term care system."

“It is really important to look at these numbers, and for the public health system to take notice,”  Baumgart said. “It’s a wake-up call for the long-term care system. It should be a wake-up call for the federal government to invest more in the research so that we can change the trajectory of the disease.”

The researchers analyzed data from the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, looking at households in 13 states in which at least one adult had memory loss or confusion that had gotten worse in the last 12 months.

They found that included 12.6 percent of households. In 5.4 percent of households, all of the adults had experienced increased memory loss or confusion.

The researchers wrote that their findings highlighted the magnitude of the problem and could affect public policies.

“For example, increasing awareness about recognition of signs and symptoms of cognitive decline in self or others can allow household members to seek medical advice and plan for future needs,” they wrote.

Baumgart said that there was an epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease in the United States and that the numbers were projected to get even worse.

“We’re going to go from over 5 million Americans living with the disease today to as many as 16 million by 2050 — that’s tripling the number of people who are living with this disease,” Baumgart said. “It’s the most expensive disease in America so you can imagine the burden that this huge growing number of people with it will is going to have on our system unless we do something about it.”

Baumgart said that the CDC’s data on people beginning to have memory problems was important as a good predictor for future dementia.

“It is really important to look at these numbers, and for the public health system to take notice,” he said. “It’s a wake-up call for the long-term care system. It should be a wake-up call for the federal government to invest more in the research so that we can change the trajectory of the disease.”

A second report, also from the CDC, looked at the age and health of Americans with memory limitations and also difficulties functioning. It found that they tended to be younger.

Those researchers looked at data for people 45 years or older from 21 states that participated in the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

“Eligibility for services is often age-dependent; our findings underscore a need to ensure assistance for people who have increased confusion or memory loss and functional difficulties but who do not meet the present age-related eligibility requirements,” the researchers wrote.

NBC Owned Television Stations' Jennifer Vasquez and Evan Carr contributed to this report.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Thousands of Bassinets, Cradles Recalled Due to Suffocation Risk]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 12:46:13 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/bassinet-recall.jpg

Fall and suffocation hazards prompted the recall of thousands of two-in-one bassinets.

Dream on Me recalled nearly 13,000 two-in-one bassinet to cradle products after learning that the wire supports on the sides can disconnect and cause the fabric sides to lower, leaving infants susceptible to falling out or suffocation.

The company issued the recalled after receiving a report of one such incident. No injuries were reported.

The bassinet to cradle was sold nationwide from May 2012 to October 2014 at Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Wayfair.com, ToysRUs.com and Kohls.com.

Consumers should stop using the product and contact Dream on Me for a free repair.

For More Information:

www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2015/Dream-on-Me-Recalls-2-in-1-Bassinet-to-Cradle/



Photo Credit: US Consumer Product Safety Commission]]>
<![CDATA[Plague-Carrying Flea Found on NYC Rats: Study]]> Wed, 04 Mar 2015 10:41:42 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/101214rats.jpg

The type of flea that spread the bubonic plague across Europe in the 1300s, killing millions of people, lives in NYC, according to a study published in a medical journal.

Cornell University researchers trapped 133 rats in five different locations across the city. They then euthanized the rodents and killed the insects living on them using a vapor. Combing through the rats’ fur, they found 6.500 parasites, including the tropical rat mite, the spine rat louse, the spiny rat mite and the now infamous oriental rat flea, according to the Journal of Medical Entomology study.

Among those parasites was the oriental rat flea, which is believed to have caused the Black Death pandemic in Europe centuries ago, according to the researchers.

New Yorkers can breathe a sigh of relief, however. The report said rats in the city no longer carry the disease. But some rats do carry Bartonella, a bacterium that causes fever and flu-like symptoms. 

Diseases are spread from rats to humans via flea bites, which involve the flea regurgitating its gut matter into a human's bloodstream.

The parasite survey shows that more research is needed to determine the danger posed by rats, Matthew Frye, the study’s co-author, told The Verge.

Although such parasite surveys have been possible since the early 1900s, none have been conducted in the city since the 1920s.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Brain Surgeons Use 3-D Technology]]> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 10:07:32 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/214*120/generic-brain2.jpg

For the first time, brain surgeons at UCLA’s Neurosurgery Center can look inside the heads of their patients before they go under the knife.

Using a breakthrough tool called the Surgical Theater, doctors can create ultra-realistic 3-D virtual replicas of a patient’s brain and look inside when preparing for surgery.

"We can see the anatomy with great precision and it’s not obscured by fluid, by blood, by any of the things that can be problematic during the operation," explains to Dr. Neil Martin of the UCLA Neurosurgery Center. “That allows us to operate with greater precision and a lot more confidence.”

Some problems can be cured if the surgery is performed perfectly. This 3-D technology improves the chance of a successful procedure by giving doctors a road map for the surgery. Once the 3-D virtual brain is created by combing layers of a traditional CT scan, it’s displayed on a large touch sensitive screen.

The surgeon can then manipulate the image by touch, rotating it, resizing it and locating specific parts of the anatomy.

"We’re prepared before we even get there," Dr. Martin said. "It shortens the operative time and, in my experience, that sense of déjà vu leads you to a much better operation."

Recently, Dr. Martin used the device to prepare for two surgeries that if performed perfectly could lead to a full cure.

Sibyl Stringer was diagnosed with an aneurism - a weakened blood vessel - which could have killed Stringer if it burst.

"I didn’t have any symptoms and it was discovered while we were looking for something else," Stringer said.

Lucas Deines discovered he has a non-cancerous brain tumor when visiting his doctor because of an unrelated problem with headaches. Although benign, the tumor had the power to recur and require further surgery or even radiation, according to Dr. Martin.

"I was scared to death to be frank," Deines said.

After studying the 3-D models of each of their brains, Dr. Martin was able to successfully complete Sibyl and Deines’ difficult surgeries without any major complications.

"I feel blessed that I’m talking to you, and that it’s not a bad dream," Deines said.

Dr. Bruce says: "Lucas told us that just five days after his surgery. This breakthrough technique may soon be used in other areas of the body as well. It may save lives and cut down on risks."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>