<![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 Fri, 29 Aug 2014 01:18:20 -0400 Fri, 29 Aug 2014 01:18:20 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Boston Marathon Dream Wedding]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 13:27:12 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/edt-KJWedding1.jpg If something good could come out of the Boston Marathon bombing, James Costello and Krista D'Agostino seem to have found it.

Photo Credit: Prudente Photography]]>
<![CDATA[Sam's Club Caesar Salads Recalled]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 14:28:39 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/sams_club1.jpg

A California firm is recalling chicken Caesar salad kits sold at Sam's Clubs nationwide for possible listeria contamination.

APPA Fine Foods is recalling more than 92,500 pounds of fully-cooked chicken Caesar salad kit products, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Thursday.

The salad kits were shipped nationwide and sold at Sam's Clubs' in-store cafes according to the USDA.

The following products are subject to recall were in 11oz. clear plastic containers and 6.5-lb. boxes labeled, "APPA Fine Foods/Sam’s Club Daily Chef CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD KIT" with case codes 141851, 141922, 141951, 141991, 142021, 142201 or 142131 with use by dates of 8/14/14, 8/21/14, 8/27/14, 9/1/14, 9/3/14 or 9/17/14. The kits were produced on July 4, July 11, July 14, July 18, July 21, July 25, Aug. 1 and Aug. 8, 2014.

The USDA's FSIS and the company said there have been no reports of illnesses, but anyone concerned about an illness should contact a healthcare provider.

Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. The invasive infection can spread beyond the gastrointestinal tract. In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn. In addition, serious and sometimes fatal infections in older adults and persons with weakened immune systems.

Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics.

More: California Firm Recalls Chicken Caesar Salad Kits For Possible Listeria Contamination



Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Whole Foods Pulls Yogurt Over Sugar]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 14:35:34 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/whole+foods+yogurt+allegations.JPG

Organic supermarket giant Whole Foods has removed a version of its store-brand yogurt from shelves after lawsuits were filed in local courts over the dairy product's sugar content.

A company spokesperson tells NBC10.com Friday that the Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt is not being sold as they investigate how much sugar is in each serving.

Two class-action lawsuits were filed earlier this month on behalf of Pennsylvania and New Jersey shoppers.

The suits were brought forth after testing by Consumer Reports found yogurt samples to contain six times the sugar content that was displayed on the nutrition label. The label said 2 grams of sugar was in one container of the product, but the group's analysis found 11.4 grams per serving.

The lawsuit alleges the supermarket knew the label was wrong, but continued to sell the product.

Whole Foods has declined to comment on the specifics of the case, but the spokesperson previously said they were working to determine the discrepancy between their test results and what Consumer Reports found.

Attorneys for the lawsuits are seeking $100 per plaintiff and could represent some 35,000 people. Should they win, the supermarket chain could be forced to pay $3.5 million.

The company spokesperson said several other Greek yogurt options remain stocked for customers in the meantime.

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<![CDATA[Sacramento Patient Tests Negative for Ebola]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 17:32:13 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/tlmd_ebola.jpg

Health officials said Thursday a patient who was being tested for Ebola in Sacramento has tested negative for the virus.

There are currently no confirmed cases of the Ebola virus in California.

"We are pleased with the negative outcome of the Ebola test and wish the patient a speedy recovery," Dr. Ron Chapman, California Department of Public Health Director and state health officer, said in a statement. "The case in Sacramento County demonstrates that the system is working. This patient was quickly identified, appropriate infection control procedures were implemented, and public health authorities were notified."

State and federal officials earlier in the week said they will not divulge which West African country the patient traveled to or from in order to protect the individual's privacy.

Officials also said they will not be releasing the patient's identity, gender or whether the patient is an adult or minor.

On Tuesday, health officials announced that the patient who was admitted to a South Sacramento hospital may have been exposed to the Ebola virus. The Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center worked with the Sacramento County Division of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test blood samples from the patient.

For more information about Ebola, please visit the CDPH home page's "Other Hot Topics" and the CDC's page on information and updates.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SoCal Man Shares ALS Reality]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 11:42:07 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/ALSchallenge.JPG

It starts off hilarious: A jocular guy in a bikini challenging Ellen DeGeneres and Miley Cyrus to the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Then, it gets personal, real and heartbreaking.

Anthony Carbajal, a Murrieta native and owner of a Temecula wedding photography business, shares in a new YouTube video about a family history of ALS and how he was diagnosed with the debilitating disease earlier this year at age 26.

“I hate talking about it. That’s probably why no one talks it. Because it’s so challenging to watch,” Carbajal says in the video. “No one wants to talk about it. They don’t want it to ruin their day.”

His YouTube video has reached more than 4 million views in just three days and has been spotlighted by Time, BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post, among other media outlets.

The video is a challenge to naysayers of the ubiquitous ALS Ice Bucket Challenge — those who express annoyance that the craze is filling up their Facebook newsfeeds.

“I promise your newsfeed will go back to cat videos and ‘Let It Go’ covers,” he says. “But now, for once, the ALS community has the main spotlight. And for once in my entire life, I’ve seen it in the forefront.”

“Eventually I won’t be able to walk, talk and breathe on my own,” he says. “And that’s the real truth of what ALS is.”

Since the Ice Bucket Challenge took over the Internet, the ALS Association has received $41.8 million in donations from July 29 to Thursday. That's compared to $2.1 million in the same time period last year.

You can watch the video here. (Warning: It contains some profanity.)
 

His YouTube video also drew the attention of Ellen DeGeneres, who accepted his challenged and tweeted this morning:



Photo Credit: YouTube]]>
<![CDATA[Almond, Peanut Butter Recalled]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:04:50 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/160*120/100308-peanut-butter-attack.jpg

A unit of Hain Celestial Group Inc. is recalling some peanut and almond butter because of possible salmonella contamination.

The company said Tuesday that there have been reports of four illnesses that may be related to the nut butters.

They were sold under the brand names Arrowhead Mills peanut butters and MaraNatha almond butters and peanut butters. Also being recalled were some lots of private label almond butter from grocers Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Kroger and Safeway. A total of 45 production lots are affected.

They were sold in Canada, the Dominican Republic, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates as well as the U.S.

The Lake Success, New York, company said it learned of the contamination risk after routine FDA testing.

The Food and Drug Administration said it did not know how many jars of nut butters were recalled. The company would not comment.

Typical symptoms of salmonella infection are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. These symptoms generally develop within one to three days of exposure to the bacterium and may last for up to a week.  While anyone can become ill from exposure to salmonella, health officials say the risk of infection is particularly high for children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

There have been several major salmonella outbreaks in recent years, including infected peanuts that sickened more than 700 people in 2008 and 2009 and Foster Farms chicken that is linked to a strain of salmonella that has made more than 500 people sick over the last year and a half.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this Associated Press report incorrectly identified some of the nut butters recalled.  The error has been corrected in the above report.  We regret the error.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[FIU Doctor Headed to Africa to Fight Ebola]]> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 16:16:45 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Ebola2.jpg

A South Florida doctor is on her way to Nigeria to help fight the ongoing outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in western Africa.

Dr. Aileen Marty, who also teaches at FIU’s College of Medicine, left Thursday after she was recruited by the World Health Organization to serve with the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network. Dr. Marty has more than 30 years of experience dealing with diseases like leprosy, dengue, malaria, and Ebola.

The Ebola epidemic in West Africa has seen 2,127 confirmed cases across the nations of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organization. Out of those cases, there have been 1,145 deaths the W.H.O. reported, a mortality rate of 53.8 percent.

However, the W.H.O. said “that the numbers of reported cases and deaths vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Whole Foods Lied About Sugar in Yogurt: Lawsuit]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 03:39:43 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/whole_foods.JPG

Whole Foods Market knowingly sold its store brand yogurt containing a sugar content that was nearly six times the amount stated on the product's nutritional label, according to two class-action lawsuits filed this month.

The Austin, Texas-based supermarket chain advertised its Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Plain Greek Yogurt as having only 2 grams of sugar per serving. But a Consumer Reports analysis published in July revealed the food item had an average of 11.4 grams of sugar per serving.

"No yogurt on the market actually has only [two] grams of sugar per serving," court documents read. "The lowest sugar content of any Greek yogurt for sale is 5 grams per serving."

Even though the specialty supermarket was aware of Consumer Reports' findings, it failed to remove the mislabeled yogurt from store shelves and continued to sell the product in 12 locations in New Jersey and 10 others in Pennsylvania, the lawsuits allege.

Both class-action suits -- filed on behalf of Mark Bilder in New Jersey and Carmine Clemente and Samantha Kilgallen in Pennsylvania -- could represent as many as 35,000 plantiffs who purchased the mislabled product in the Garden State between Aug. 6, 2008 and present and in the Keystone State from Aug. 11, 2008 to present, according to estimates provided in the lawsuit.

The attorney is calling for a $100 penalty per plantiff -- totaling a possible $3.5 million.

A Whole Foods spokeswoman declined to comment on the pending litigation citing company policy. However, she said the supermarket is working to determine why its test results differed from those reported by Consumer Reports.

The suit also alleges Whole Foods officials were fully aware the labels underreported the greek yogurt's sugar content since nutrition labels on all of its store brand products -- sold under the motto "Health Starts Here" -- are evaluated for correctness.

"Whole Foods Market's website brags to consumers about how thoroughly [it] checks the accuracy of the labels of its store brands, telling consumers: 'Our Private Label registered dietician reviews each nutrition label for accuracy and completeness before the label is printed," court records show.

The inaccurate label gave Whole Foods, which specializes in natural and organic food, a competitive advantage and justified the higher prices the specialty market charges consumers, the suit alleges.

The yogurt in-question typically retails for $1.29.

"It was [the] defendant's conscious intent to induce consumers to purchase 'Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Plain Greek Yogurt' by falsely stating that the sugar content per serving was only [two] grams," court documents show



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[MRSA Breaks Out Among Firefighter Trainees in New York]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 07:10:37 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/randalls+island+mrsa.jpg

A handful of the more than 300 FDNY probationary firefighters training on Randall's Island have contracted the antibiotic-resistant bacteria MRSA, officials confirm.

A type of staph infection, MRSA can spread quickly in highly populated environments like schools, gyms and hospitals. At medical facilities, MRSA can cause life-threatening bloodstream infections, pneumonia and surgical site infections.

The FDNY would not say exactly how many trainees were infected on Randall's Island, but says those infected are being treated and extra precaution is being taken for them to continue to train.

The department said in a statement, "We take this issue very seriously and we are acting aggressively to combat this problem by increasing our schedule of cleaning and disinfecting of facilities and equipment and educating our Instructors and Probies at the Fire Academy about how to prevent open wounds and the spread of MRSA."

Anyone can get MRSA through direct contact with an infected wound or by sharing items such as towels or razors that have touched infected skin.

Dr. Stephen Morse of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University says while staph is very common and that many people carry it in their nasal passages, MRSA is less common and harder to treat.

The probationary firefighters "should be watchful if their condition changes or if they get worse," he said. "It can be very nasty."

The doctor said infected facilities should be cleaned thoroughly with typical household detergents or disinfectants in case of outbreaks.

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<![CDATA[Georgia Firm Recalls 15K Pounds of Chicken Nuggets]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 15:40:43 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/ApplegateRecall.jpg

A Georgia-based meat company is recalling over 15,000 pounds of frozen chicken nuggets after reports surfaced that consumers found small pieces of plastic in the meat.

Perdue Farms and the USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service said they have not received any reports of injury from the consumption of the 8 ounce box of "Applegate Naturals Chicken Nuggets" with the establishment number P2617.

The product was produced on Feb. 5, 2014 with a sell by date of Feb. 5, 2015, according to a press release from the FSIS.

Applegate withdrew the frozen chicken from markets on Aug. 8, 2014, but consumers may still have the product in their possession since it is a frozen item, the statement said.

Consumers with questions about the recall should contact Gerry Clarkson, Applegate Consumer Relations Specialist at (800) 587-5858.



Photo Credit: USDA.gov]]>
<![CDATA[School Lunches Around the World]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 11:54:50 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/LunchPakistan2.jpg Photographers captured the lunch fare for students in several countries earlier this month, showing a range of foods, customs, and nutritional standards.

Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS]]>
<![CDATA[Ebola Researcher Confident in Drug]]> Sat, 09 Aug 2014 12:26:33 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/inside-Ebola-lab-san-diego.jpg

A La Jolla lab is on the front lines of the fight against the Ebola Virus.

The outbreak in West Africa has killed at least 961 people and prompted the World Health Organization to declare an international public health emergency.

On the other side of the world from ground zero, researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla are looking at how the Ebola virus attaches to parts of the body and how it multiplies and replicates.

Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire is part of the team spanning 25 labs across the globe that is making images of how the virus works.

Their work that has led to a medicine taken by two Americans infected with Ebola. The Sorrento Valley lab Mapp Bio used the images created at Scripps to come up with the experimental medicine called Z-Mapp.

Saphire works as director with the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium, a global partnership with labs at Tulane University, Harvard and on the ground in Sierra Leone. She spoke to NBC 7 Thursday about the virus she’s worked on for 10 years.

Saphire says the cocktail of antibodies and proteins worked in mice and primates but wasn't supposed to be tested on humans until 2015.

"I know exactly what’s in it, how it works. I would take it myself in a heartbeat," she said.

While ZMapp provides hope, the director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the federal government is looking "very carefully" at experimental Ebola treatments. It's too early to tell whether they are helpful or even safe.

Even so, Mapp Bio is ramping up production, Saphire said, and they’re working with all the regulatory agencies involved.

“The logistics of making more are straightforward and solvable,” Saphire said.

The antibodies are made using tobacco leaves that are then put into a giant juicer. Scientists then strain the antibodies from the juice.

“That whole process would take about two or three months,” she said, adding that researchers need “time and the funds to do it and are expediting the process. You can believe it’s a priority.”

The antibodies in Z-Mapp were developed by Mapp Bio, the U.S. Army and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Mapp Bio has been operating for 11 years. In all, there are nine employees.

ZMapp is not FDA-approved. Its use was granted under the FDA's "compassionate use" clause, only given in extraordinary circumstances, and there are only a handful of doses of it available.

The two American aid workers who were flown to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and received doses of ZMapp – Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol – are said to be getting a little better every day after their treatment.

The current outbreak in West Africa is the largest and longest ever recorded of Ebola, which has a death rate of about 50 percent and has so far killed at least 961 people.

The WHO declared similar emergencies for the swine flu pandemic in 2009 and for polio in May.

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<![CDATA[9 Questions You Should Ask About the Drug "Molly"]]> Fri, 08 Aug 2014 12:00:47 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_191826866.jpg

Just a week ago, two young men -- a 17-year-old and a college student -- died after attending a music festival in Columbia, Maryland. As friends and families grieved, authorities said the two may have overdosed on a drug called "Molly."

It's one of the most popular party drugs in circulation at the moment, but what is it? Is it a new danger or old news? There's a lot of misinformation out there, so we talked to an expert to find out what you need to know -- especially as the summer music festival season remains in full swing, and students prep to head back to campus.

1. What is Molly? Is it the same thing as ecstasy?

Molly is a slang term for MDMA, an illegal drug that is classified as both hallucinogen and a stimulant. It's generally accepted that the name Molly is derived from "molecule."

MDMA is a synthetic drug with the full title "3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine," but it's also commonly referred to as ecstasy. However, Molly may be a little different than ecstasy -- it depends on whom you ask.

Molly is usually a white powder inside a capsule, whereas ecstasy is usually a pill (tablet). Both drugs contain MDMA, but Molly is considered by some users to be "purer" than ecstasy because it is in powdered form.

2. So is Molly "purer" than ecstasy?

Confusion about the drug's purity is what makes MDMA especially dangerous, said Dr. Joni Rutter, the director of Basic Neuroscience and Behavioral Research at The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

"Even in its purest form, it can cause fatalities," she said. "It's still a drug and we don't know a lot about its effects."

The assumption that Molly is purer is controversial. Both drugs can be mixed with ("cut with") other substances, which can be extremely dangerous. Ecstasy can be harder to tamper with once it is in pill form -- but as a powder, Molly can be mixed with many other substances.

Some experts suggest that due to Molly's popularity, it is now also just as likely to be cut with other substances as ecstasy.

3. What does Molly do?

MDMA is a popular drug at parties because of the euphoric effects it has on the user. It has become an increasingly common concern for concert promoters, campus police and local officials in the last few years.

Dr. Rutter said that party-goers favor MDMA because it will make them feel "energetic and euphoric."

"It wreaks a bit of havoc on the brain," she said.

The effects can be different for different people, but MDMA works by increasing the activity of three neurotransmitters in the brain.

"Users have overall good feelings towards others," Rutter said. "The hormones that are released make people feel more social."

But with the good feelings come some nasty side effects. Rutter said users often report feeling anxious and confused. She also said that some people lose their grip on the passage of time. More information on the effects of MDMA is available from NIDA's website.

The drug is addictive, but different people will experience differing sensitivity to its effects.

4. Is Molly new?

No. Molly appeared as an alternate form of MDMA in the 1990s, but it gained popularity in the last decade.

It was considered an "it" drug about a year ago and The New York Times documented MDMA's popularity with adults in New York, as a supposedly "clean" drug.

5. Then why have I heard about Molly a lot lately?

MDMA has been linked to a spate of recent deaths that may have been caused by the drug.

Two people, ages 17 and 20, recently died in Maryland, after being taken from the Mad Decent Block Party at Merriweather Post Pavilion in early August. Police said they thought both victims had used MDMA, but were awaiting toxicology tests. Twenty other people were also taken to hospital for apparent drug-related problems from the music festival.

These incidents followed several other deaths that may have been linked to MDMA abuse. A man reportedly overdosed on MDMA at the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, and police in Canada are currently investigating whether two deaths at the Veld music festival in Toronto were related to MDMA.

USA Today reported in January that Molly was increasing in popularity among young people. Some celebrities, including Miley Cyrus during her Bangerz tour, have been accused of glamorizing the use of Molly and other drugs in recent months.

There have also been studies this year that suggest MDMA may have some therapeutic uses, such as in the treatment of PTSD.

6. Who uses Molly?

MDMA is popular with many different kinds of people because of its energizing effects, but it is most often found at music festivals and parties.

Molly is especially popular on the EDM (electronic dance music) festival scene due to its reputation as a party drug. Concert organizers for the upcoming Electric Zoo festival in New York are even requiring attendees to watch a brief PSA about the dangers of Molly.

A recent study by the University of Michigan, funded by NIDA, also suggests that the use of MDMA may be on the rise among 10th through 12th graders.

7. How dangerous is Molly?

Molly can be extremely dangerous, especially if it is mixed with other drugs.

NIDA's Dr. Rutter said that the biggest risk to users will be hyperthermia, or extreme overheating, probably caused by blood vessels failing to dilate enough.

Rutter said that this was especially an issue in a club or festival environment, where users are exposed to high temperatures and enclosed environments.

One of the other big dangers with taking Molly is that some do it consider it a safer, purer form of ecstasy, which might not be true -- especially if it's been mixed with other substances, unknown to the user.

"Drug interactions are a big problem," Rutter said. "We're seeing drugs cut with lots of other things, even so-called 'bath salts'."

Another risk with MDMA is that due to the euphoric feelings and reduced anxiety that users might experience, they may make poor choices, such as practicing unsafe sex.

8. What are the long-term effects of Molly?

The effects of using Molly or ecstasy can last for days. The most common include anxiety and depression. But Rutter said there are more insidious effects that people should know about.

"One of the big problems is disrupted sleep," she said. "The long-term effect that this has on the brain can make it even harder to recover from the MDMA's effects. It might even prompt the cycle of drug addiction and cravings."

Rutter said that some other effects on users can be memory loss and a decline in serotonin transporters, which can lead to longer-term depression.

"Basically a little bit of fun now can lead to a lot of trouble down the line," she said.

9. What are the legal implications of using Molly?

MDMA is a schedule 1 illegal drug. Information about federal trafficking penalties is available from the DEA's website.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Cancer Patient's One Direction Wish]]> Thu, 07 Aug 2014 11:21:17 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/6yo+cancer+patient.jpg

Six-year-old Madison Bergstrom of Stoughton, Massachusetts, is like any other girl her age, dancing and lip syncing to One Direction and dressing up like a princess.

But Madi has been battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia off and on since she was 19 months old.

"She’s been through a lot for her age and she still has about two years of treatment to go," said her mother, Shauna McLaughlin.

McLaughlin has been through a lot, too, as a single parent and primary caregiver fighting this battle right alongside her pint-sized hero.

"It’s hard, it’s scary but she is resilient, and inspiring and that’s what helps – she makes me strong," she said.

So when some friends bought Madi One Direction tickets for her and her mom to go see the band at Gillette Stadium this Saturday, they were thrilled.

In home video from earlier this year Shauna asked Madi, "How much do you love One Direction?"

"Like to the moon!" Madi said.

"And how much do you want to go to their concert?" Shauna asked.

"I’ll ride to there as fast as I can!" said Madi.

"You want to go so bad?" asked Shauna asked.

"Yes!" exclaimed Madi.

"We are totally going!" Shauna said.

But sadly, Madi ended up back in the ICU this week at Dana-Farber Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and she won’t be able to go to the concert.

Madi’s focused on the positives, such as ice cream sundaes in her hospital bed. But her mom was bummed, and posted a message on Facebook asking if anyone wanted to buy the tickets, figuring she could use the money to do something special with Madi once she feels better.

That post has led to another page with thousands of "likes" asking "One Direction" to visit Madi in the hospital.

"To see that there’s so much good in so many people and that they care, Madison has an army of people behind her," Shauna said.

Shauna says while it would be awesome to see the sparkle in her daughter’s eye from meeting her favorite band, she has much bigger hopes and dreams for her little princess.

"I want to see her grow up to be normal and I’m sorry," said Shauna tearing up, "I just want to see her be -- the range of normal – there is no range and this is our normal, but I want her to grow healthy, I want her to grow happy."



Photo Credit: Shauna McLaughlin]]>
<![CDATA[Scientists Closer to Ebola Vaccine]]> Wed, 06 Aug 2014 22:23:12 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/NIH+Scientists+Ebola+Vaccine+080614.jpg

Doctors say just one plane ride can bring the Ebola virus to the United States. In Bethesda, Maryland, scientists are studying blood samples and measuring antibodies as they work on a vaccine.

"Someone can get infected in one of these West African countries, feel reasonably well, get on a plane, get off and then all of a sudden get sick here,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. “That's feasible, and I don’t think anybody can deny that."

But the U.S. is much better equipped to prevent the spread of the virus, health officials say.

"Extraordinarily unlikely that it will be an outbreak at all because of the way we take care of people, how we have the capability of isolating them, how we understand what one needs to do to protect the health care providers and the kinds of health care facilities we have," Fauci said.

With no effective treatments available, one of the best ways to stop the spread of Ebola is prevention in the form of a vaccine.

National Institutes of Health scientists have been working for more than a decade on an Ebola vaccine. As the latest outbreak continues to grow, so does the pressure to create a vaccine to prevent a disease that can kill up to 90 percent of its victims.

It's a complicated process of finding the right combination of genes from the virus that's effective with few side effects, but they are closer than ever, Fauci said.

"Vaccine has been tried in monkey models, and it seems to be really quite promising," he said.

The vaccine is made with genetic material from the virus, meaning there's no live virus involved.

"You don’t inject the entire virus of Ebola because that would be dangerous, so what you do is you get a very small component of the virus, which is a protein that coats the outside of the virus," Fauci said.

Scientists hope to be testing the vaccine on humans as early as the end of September, Fauci said. If it proves to be safe and effective, they hope to make it available by 2015. The first group to get it would be health care workers.

"It's difficult to vaccinate an entire population because you don’t know who's going to be at risk because you don’t know where an outbreak is going to be,” Fauci said. “But when you have health care workers who are putting themselves in clear and present danger of getting infected, those are the ones you want to protect."



Photo Credit: NBCWashington.com]]>
<![CDATA[Safety Study: Dangers of Texting and Walking ]]> Tue, 05 Aug 2014 13:56:40 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/AP080729033573.jpg Researchers discovered teenagers are more at risk of getting hit by cars while distracted than any other demographic they have studied in the past.]]> <![CDATA[Mass. Doctor Going to Fight Ebola]]> Sun, 03 Aug 2014 22:22:21 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Nahid+Bhadelia.jpg

Dr. Nahid Bhadelia is taking her knowledge about infectious disease to Sierra Leone, where she'll be in the trenches, treating people who are suffering from the deadly Ebola virus.

"My parents are scared, but they know that this is something that I've wanted to do since - as long as I can remember," she said.

Bhadelia is with Boston Medical Center and Boston University's National Emerging Infectious Disease Laboratories. She'll be doing the same kind of work as Dr. Kent Brantly, who was infected with Ebola in Liberia and returned to the United States Saturday, walking on his own from the ambulance into Emory University.

"I was so glad, not only to see him walking, but the fact that he's here and he's going to get the advanced supportive care that I think he should be getting," said Bhadelia.

Infected American relief worker Nancy Writebol will be coming home Tuesday, as well. The cases are raising worries in the U.S. about a potential outbreak.

Hospitals like Massachusetts General say they are prepared. Still, Dr. Paul Biddinger says the chances of an Ebola outbreak here are small, given that it's spread only by contact.

"There is a chance that this could spread because of how globalization of air travel and how fast people move around the globe is changing, but any one person is at very, very low risk," said Biddinger.

That's not be the case for Bhadelia. She'll be working in a country where they've declared a state of emergency and troops have been called in to quarantine victims.

But the doctor is getting her shots and reviewing her safety protocols, convinced even more than ever that she needs go.

"We're going there to contain that epidemic, but we're also doing it because by containing it there, we're keeping folks on this side safe," Bhadelia said.



Photo Credit: NECN]]>
<![CDATA[Consumer Reports: Deadly Pain Pills]]> Fri, 01 Aug 2014 19:01:01 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/Hydrocodone-fda-generic.jpg

Prescription painkillers like OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin can make days bearable if you’re suffering, but they can be as addictive as heroin and just as deadly.

Prescriptions have soared 300 percent in the past decade. In fact, Vicodin and its generic, hydrocodone, are now the most commonly prescribed drugs in America.

46 people a day—almost 17,000 people a year—die from overdoses of opioids. And more than 500,000 people a year are admitted to the ER because of opioid use, many unconscious or barely breathing.

With numbers like that, Consumer Reports was surprised by a recent Food and Drug Administration decision. The FDA went against the overwhelming recommendation of its own advisory committee and approved another version of hydrocodone––called Zohydro ER. Doctors have been prescribing it since March.

Consumer Reports and attorneys general from 28 states are calling for the FDA to reconsider its approval of Zohydro ER. Consumer Reports says that it offers no clear advantage over other drugs that are currently on the market, and its potency makes it yet another target for misuse and abuse.

Of course, there are cases where prescribing opioids is necessary. If you and your doctor decide your condition warrants using these potent painkillers, Consumer Reports cautions—take them exactly as directed and be certain not to combine them with sleeping pills or alcohol.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 6 South Florida



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[CDC: Ebola "Poses Little Risk" to U.S.]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 21:56:41 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/ebola.jpg

Miami is one of the global entry points to the United States, which makes it vulnerable to the spread of diseases. And as a deadly Ebola outbreak in west Africa continues to grow, fears of the disease spreading through air travel are increasing.

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the disease “poses little risk to the U.S. general population.”

According to the CDC, there have been 1,201 cases of Ebola since March in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone in the largest outbreak of the virus in history. The disease in the current outbreak is yielding a mortality rate of approximately 56 percent. Some outbreaks of Ebola have had mortality rates of up to 90 percent.

A case that popped up in Nigeria over the weekend sparked fears of airlines transporting the disease. According to Reuters, a consultant for the Liberian finance ministry collapsed when he arrived at the Lagos airport on July 20 and died on Friday.

The man flew from Liberia and landed in Togo before arriving in Nigeria where he collapsed and later died. Nigeria has since stepped up at all “airports, seaports, and land borders,” and placed on “red alert,” according to the BBC. Liberia has since closed most of its border crossings, according to Reuters.

Two American health care workers in Liberia have contracted Ebola. One of the workers’ family had just returned to the United States before the person became symptomatic. The CDC said the family is being monitored for 21 days, the incubation period for the disease.

The CDC said the likelihood of the disease spreading outside of West Africa is “very low.” The CDC said the reason the disease is not likely to spread is because it spreads only through direct contact with the blood, secretions, or other body fluids of people and indirect contact with items like needles and other items contaminated with these fluids.

The CDC said it doesn’t have a projection how long the current outbreak may last, but that for the outbreak to be declared over there would have to be 42 days without a confirmed case.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/Science Photo Libra]]>
<![CDATA[FMA Endorses Medicaid Expansion: Report]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 20:51:31 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/doctor-health-generic-1200-02.jpg

The Florida Medical Association approved a resolution that endorses the expansion of Medicaid in the state, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

The vote on the politically charged issue was unanimous when it was taken on Sunday in Orlando. According to the Times, the public support for the program exists as long as the program “safeguarded patient access to care while increasing Medicaid payment rates to Medicare levels for all physicians.”

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act was legal, it left it up to states to decide whether or not to expand Medicaid coverage. Many states expanded the government program to give more insurance, but most states in the South have remained firmly opposed to the program.

According to the Times, Florida’s refusal to expand Medicaid has left 800,000 Floridians without health insurance in the so-called coverage gap. The gap exists for those that don’t qualify for Medicaid, but are too poor to qualify for federal tax subsidies to help pay for private insurance.

The Times reported that if Medicaid had been expanded, the federal government would have given the state $51 billion over the next decade.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Feeling the Pain of Lightning Strikes, Again and Again]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 08:38:16 -0400 http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/213*120/72814+Lightning.jpg

Jeryll Hadley and a friend were trying to set up a tent over a campfire along California’s Gualala River 25 years ago, their hands on the metal center pole, when lightning struck the tree next to them, throwing them about 30 feet apart.

Both still standing, they looked at each other and he said, “’I think we’ve been zapped,’” she said. “The only thing I remembered during the event was my left hand, the one on the pole, was neon blue.”

“Of course I heard the loud noise, but it just felt like an implosion, very strange,” she said. “But other than that I didn’t feel anything and we went on through our camping trip.” 

Hadley, 67, of Ukiah, California, was left with burn marks on her throat and forehead, she said. Only later did she start having terrible pains in her shoulders, short-term memory loss, and a new anger that once led her to throw a wooden salt shaker at her first husband.

“That is not me,” she said.

On Sunday, a 20-year-old man from Los Angeles, Nick Fagnano, was killed and eight others hospitalized after a rare lightning storm on the beach in Venice.

“Those people that got hit, their life is going to be much different, I hate to say,” said Sandra Hardy, another California woman who survived a lightning strike. “It isn’t a one-time event.”

Sixteen people have been killed by lightning across the United States this year, according to the National Weather Service. Six of the deaths were in Florida, two in Colorado, and the others in Texas, New Mexico, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Mississippi and Georgia.

About 10 percent of those who are struck die. Survivors, who primarily suffer from an injury to the nervous system, can have symptoms ranging from mild confusion and dizziness to long-term problems processing new information, chronic pain form nerve damage and depression.

Hadley did not start attributing her symptoms to the lightning strike until attending a conference with survivors. She is now on medication for her anger, sometimes garbles her speech and said that a doctor once compared her experience to an electric lobotomy. On the other hand, all symptoms of polycystic kidney disease that she had have disappeared, she said.

“For the most part I’m living a normal life,” she said.

Last year was a record low for lightning fatalities. Twenty-three people died, fewer than in any other year on record, data from the National Weather Service showed. That contrasted with the 432 people killed in 1943, the deadliest year.

Officials attribute the drop to a variety of factors, from better lightning protection to fewer corded phones to more awareness among emergency medical providers and advances in medical treatment. CPR and defibrillators are keeping people alive, said John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist with the National Weather Service.

"We feel very glad that we've brought the number down but there's still many people out there that are unnecessarily either killed or injured by lightning," Jensenius said. "If they would just simply follow the simple guidelines, if you hear thunder you need to be inside, the simple saying, 'When thunder roars, go indoors,' there would be many more lives that would be saved and fewer injuries."

More than 9,200 people have been killed by lightning in the United States since 1940, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began keeping records, NBC News reported. In the last 30 years, there have been 51 deaths on average each year.

The ground current is what kills or injures most people, Jensenius said.

"When lightning strikes a point, it doesn't disappear deep into the ground, it spreads out along the ground surface," he said.

Hardy, now 70, was driving home from California’s Mammoth Mountain in June 1998, when she got caught in a heavy rainstorm in Owens Valley.

“I could see the lightning strikes coming down on the ground, coming straight down, it was a heavy, heavy rainstorm, so I took off my watch, took off my glasses, I took the collar off my dog,” she said.

A lightning strike hit power lines at the side of the road and her car, she said.

“It just paralyzed me,” she said. “It killed the engine to the car and the car just rolled off to the side and I couldn’t really move or anything and a motorist came up behind me right away and he’s pounding on my door to open up the door.”

Hardy, who was a facilities manager for the Los Angeles County schools, could barely talk or remember how to get home and her kidneys were hurting her, she said.

“From that day on my body started to deteriorate,” she said.

Hardy, of Manhattan Beach, developed problems with her hearing, her vision, her bladder, her memory and by October of 2002, had acute symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.

Her dog survived a year, but died after developing tumors, she said.

“The myth that you’re safe in a car, it should be corrected,” she said. “It’s not going to kill you but you’re not safe.”

The conference that Hadley attended was organized by Steve Marshburn, who was himself struck in 1969 in Swansboro, North Carolina, when lightning hit the drive-through window of the bank where he worked. He was sitting inside and it broke his back, he said. Other injuries became evident over the years, he said.

At the time there was little information for lightning strike survivors, but since then he has formed a group, Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors.

“There is help out there,” he said.



Photo Credit: Joey]]>
<![CDATA[Chikungunya: What You Need to Know]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 06:40:24 -0400 Aedes aegypti mosquito.]]> Aedes aegypti mosquito.]]> http://media.nbcmiami.com/images/181*120/tlmd_virus_mortales_03.jpg

A person caught the mosquito-borne virus chikungunya in the United States this month, health officials say — marking the first time mosquitoes in the U.S. are believed to have spread it.

Other cases of the illness, which is relatively new to the Americas, have been reported in travelers returning home to FloridaNew YorkTexas and elsewhere, often after trips to the Caribbean.

Here is some key information about chikungunya and the virus that causes it.

How do you get chikungunya? Mosquitoes transmit the virus between people. The two species usually responsible, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, bite mostly during the day. In the U.S., they are found in the Southeast and in some parts of the Southwest, though Aedes albopictus also is found up through the Mid-Atlantic and in the lower Midwest.

What are the symptoms? The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain, often in the hands and feet; also possible are muscle aches, headaches, joint swelling and a rash. Symptoms, which can be severe, usually begin three to seven days after a person is bitten. Most people feel better within a week, and death is rare, though joint pain can persist.

How do you treat chikungunya? There is no specific treatment and no vaccine. Medicines like ibuprofen, naproxen, paracetamol and acetaminophen can relieve fever and pain, though.

How do you avoid getting chikungunya? To protect yourself, try to avoid being bitten. Use air conditioning or window screens. Use insect repellant, and if possible, wear long sleeves and pants. Get rid of standing water, where mosquitoes can breed.

Who is most at risk for a severe case? Newborns exposed during delivery, people 65 and older and those with high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease are at the highest risk.

What does the name mean? It is derived from a word in the Kimakonde language, spoken in southern Tanzania, where the virus was first detected. It means to become contorted or bent, describing the stooped appearance of someone suffering from joint pain.

Where has it been reported? Outbreaks have occured in Africa, Asia and Europe and on the islands in the Indian and Pacific oceans. The first case transmitted in the Americas was reported in the Caribbean in late 2013.

How do you pronounce chikungunya? Like this: chik-en-gun-ye.

Source: Centers for Disease and Prevention, World Health Organization



Photo Credit: wikicommons]]>
<![CDATA[Babies Get Herpes After Ritual: DOH]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 05:10:56 -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.

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<![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.

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<![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]]>