<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Health News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/health http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.com en-us Mon, 26 Jan 2015 20:10:21 -0500 Mon, 26 Jan 2015 20:10:21 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Researchers identify genetic cause of Sturge-Weber syndrome]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 11:24:32 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/NC_birthmarks0122001_1500x845.jpg Researchers identify genetic cause of Sturge-Weber syndrome, often associated with facial birthmarks, which means new trials and new hope for sufferers.]]> <![CDATA[Measles Exposure at OC School]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 12:17:47 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/web_measles_vara_90_1200x675_386439747568.jpg

Twenty students who have not been vaccinated against the measles are not be allowed on the campus of Huntington Beach High School for three weeks after a possible exposure to the virus, officials confirmed Monday.

A student with measles was on the Orange County campus in early January, and could have potentially spread the highly contagious disease according to a letter sent to parents.

Students who have been exposed and do not have the necessary vaccination to guard against the disease were sent home for three weeks, according to county health officials. They will not be allowed to attend school until Jan. 29, according to the Orange County Department of Education.

Some parents said the district was going overboard.

"I'm not a doctor so I can't say, but that seems extreme to me," one parent said. "I mean, I had the measles and I think I was out for three days."

However Orange County Department of Education Health and Wellness Coordinator Pamela Kahn  told NBC4 Tuesday that keeping the students away from school is the only thing they could do to prevent the disease from spreading further.

As carriers are contagious both four days before and four days after developing a rash, and as students could be at school for as long as 21 days before a rash develops, it is essential to keep unvaccinated pupils away from school for that period to minimize the exposure of other students from the disease.

The county has confirmed 16 cases of the disease, among 46 confirmed cases in California.

In late December an outbreak was reported among people who had visited Disneyland, but health officials in San Diego and Orange county have now confirmed the outbreak has spread beyond the initial cases.

Measles is spread through the air or contact with an infected person and is highly contagious.

It is characterized by fever, rash, cough and red, watery eyes.

Doctors advise that anyone who thinks they may be infected call their doctor immediately.

Michael Larkin and Annette Arreola contributed to this report

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<![CDATA[5 Myths About the Flu Debunked]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 22:58:16 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/denver-FLU-460977406.jpg

Flu is widespread across the United States, in a season made even more severe by a disappointing vaccine that's not very effective at battling the predominant strain that's now making people sick.

This year's vaccine is only 23 percent effective because the H3N2 strain of influenza A, a different strain from the one the vaccine protects against, began circulating just after the vaccine was created. When H3N2 is the dominant strain, it can cause more serious illness than other types of flu.

With several weeks of flu season left, here are some myths about the flu, and what you should know about them.
 

This year’s vaccine isn’t effective, so there’s no point in my getting it now.

Not so, medical professionals say. Even a less effective vaccine can still prevent hospitalizations and deaths, particularly among older people and young children. And it still might protect against strains that are not yet circulating.

I don’t need a flu shot year after year.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that you get a vaccine every year even when the viruses the vaccine protects against have not changed. Your immune protection from the vaccination will decline over time.

I’m afraid the flu shot will give me the flu.

A flu shot will not cause the flu because the viruses either have been inactivated and are no longer infectious or were made with no viruses at all. The nasal spray vaccine also won’t give you the flu because the viruses have been weakened.

Even if I do get the flu, it won’t kill me.

Flu can be a serious illness, particularly for young children, senior citizens and those with such chronic conditions as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. On average thousands die each year from the flu, a number that can fluctuate depending on which strain is circulating. The CDC has estimated from a low of 3,000 deaths to a high of 49,000 between the 1976-1977 and 2006-2007 seasons.

There are no effective treatments against the flu.

There are three antiviral drugs approved for treatment: Tamiflu, Relenza and Rapivab.

Source: The Centers for Disease Control



Photo Credit: Denver Post via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Wendy's Drops Soda from Kids Meal]]> Fri, 16 Jan 2015 17:35:11 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/SodaBan.jpg

Wendy's has won praise from children's advocacy groups for its recent move to stop displaying soda on its children's menus.

Groups such as MomsRising.org, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and the Center for Science in the Public Interest have long urged Wendy's and other fast-food chains to take soda off the children's menu as part of a push to get the restaurants to offer more nutritional meal options.

Last fall, Wendy's decided to make the change, the chain's spokesman confirmed in an email. The menu boards both in stores and online now show only low-fat white or chocolate milk, bottled water and 100 percent juice drinks, said spokesman Bob Bertini, who added that soda was never the default drink choice for the meal. 

The groups calling for the changes argue that soda is not an appropriate beverage choice for children, citing “reputational” health problems and risks that sugary drinks cause like diabetes, heart disease, obesity and tooth decay.

"While parents bear most of the responsibility for feeding their children well, restaurant chains also need to do their part," Jessica Almy, CSPI senior nutrition policy counsel, said in a statement. "Restaurants should not be setting parents up for a fight by bundling soda with meal options designed for kids.”

Almay added that Wendy's move is a “responsible step” that aims to improve the health of children and for parents to make healthier food choices for them. She hopes other food-chains including Burger King, Applebee's and IHOP will follow suit.

In 2013, McDonald's agreed to drop soda from its Happy Meal menus. That policy goes into effect this year. The moves by Wendy’s and McDonald's leaves Burger King as the only one of the top three fast-food chain to still include soda in meals for children, according to CSPI.

The groups said that next step Wendy's should take is to offer more nutritious menu options for both children and adults. This, they said, should include whole grain rolls, fruits and vegetables, and also reducing sodium across the menus. Frostys, the fast-food chain’s signature frozen dessert that is made from Grade A milk and rich cream, should also be dropped from the children's menu, the groups said.

Bertini signaled more changes could come, saying Wendy's does "intend to continue working to enhance our Kids’ Meal offerings to provide even more nutritious, great-tasting products that children enjoy and that parents feel good about serving."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Boy Finally Breathing on His Own After 65 Surgeries]]> Fri, 16 Jan 2015 11:22:50 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/NC_batteryboy0112001_700x394.jpg

After 4 years and 65 surgeries, an Arizona boy who swallowed a button battery is finally able to talk and breathe on his own.

When Emmett Rauch, of Peoria, was 1-year-old, he swallowed the nickel-sized, lithium battery from a DVD remote, NBC Affiliate AZCentral reported. It burned his esophagus and closed off his airway after becoming lodged in his throat.

In one of the major surgeries Emmett, who is now 5, underwent to correct the damage, surgeons used half his stomach to recreate his esophagus, his mother Karla Rauch wrote in an article published on "Today." However, the “tissue was so damaged it didn’t hold up.”

But with additional surgeries and recovery, Emmett had his tracheostomy tube removed in December  and now he is breathing on his own, AZCentral reported.

"I mean he can go and be a little boy and not have this thing sticking out of his neck," Karla Rauch told AZCentral. She also wrote that he "is relearning how to swallow and can almost eat a whole piece of pizza.”

Now, Emmett’s parents have made it her mission to spread awareness about the dangers of button, coin and cell batteries. They have helped start a campaign with Safe Kids and National Poison Control to support the cause.

“I am grateful that there is some sort of silver lining and that is helping to save other children from suffering and possibly losing their lives,” Karla wrote to “Today.”

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<![CDATA[Flu Deaths in U.S. Reach Epidemic Level: CDC]]> Tue, 30 Dec 2014 17:33:53 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/104718836.jpg

Fifteen children have died from flu complications, prompting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to formally declare the latest rise in the virus as an epidemic.

Of all deaths reported in a survey of 122 cities this flu season, 6.8 percent were linked to pneumonia and influenza.

Since the agency's last weekly report, the number of states that have reported escalating illnesses has also risen from 13 to 22.

“The United States experiences epidemics of seasonal flu each year and right now, all of CDC’s influenza surveillance systems are showing elevated activity,” CDC spokeswoman Darlene M. Foote said in an email. These surveillance systems monitor the numbers of virus detections, hospitalizations, and deaths across the U.S.

The report also specifically pointed to the H3N2 strain of the virus as the culprit in the latest outbreak.

This year’s flu vaccine protects against three to four strains of flu, H3N2 being one of them. However, the strain of H3N2 causing many to get sick has mutated and only about half of cases match the vaccine, the CDC has said.

“At this point, CDC is still recommending that unvaccinated people get their flu vaccines,” Foote wrote. “While some of the viruses spreading this season are different from what is in the vaccine, vaccination can still provide protection and might reduce severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death.”

Although an average of 24,000 Americans die each flu season, the CDC prefers to use a range to convey how variable the flu can be. It estimates that from the 1976-1977 flu season to the 2006-2007 season, flu-related deaths in America ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.

The latest report of illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths follow a typical pattern for a flu season, the CDC said.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[ Heart Attack or Anxiety?]]> Wed, 24 Dec 2014 11:20:33 -0500 You are probably dealing with holiday stress right about now. Meet a mother who admits she is feeling the stress and learn what to do to manage that stress.]]> <![CDATA[Enroll in Access Health CT by Midnight ]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 20:27:20 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Access+health+ct+store.jpeg

Connecticut residents who want to have heath coverage through the state healthcare exchange as of Jan. 1 have until midnight to enroll.

"The deadline to sign up for quality, affordable health care coverage that begins on January 1, 2015 is tonight at midnight," Jim Wadleigh, acting CEO of Access Health CT said in a statement. "If customers have an application started and select a plan before midnight tonight, they can still get coverage beginning January 1, as long as they complete the application and get us all the relevant information by midnight this Friday, December 19."

Residents can still buy health insurance after the deadline, but coverage won't start until March 1.

In addition, people must purchase health insurance by Feb. 15 to avoid hundreds of dollars in penalties on their income tax returns.

Access Health CT call center representatives are available at 1- 855- 805-HEALTH (4325) and in-person assistance is available at the AHCT enrollment centers in New Britain and New Haven, at 12 Community Enrollment Partner sites, and via licensed insurance brokers. More information is available on AHCT's website at www.accesshealthct.com

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<![CDATA[Drug Overdose Deaths in U.S. Double: CDC]]> Tue, 02 Dec 2014 15:16:46 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/185590966.jpg

Drug overdose deaths more than doubled over the past decade, U.S. health officials announced in a report released Tuesday. Heroin-related deaths, in particular, more than tripled.

Deaths from drug poisoning linked to opioid analgesics (such as morphine, oxycodone and methadon) and heroin have jumped to 41,502 in 2012 from 16,849 back in 1999, according to the report compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heroin-related deaths grew to 5,925 in 2012 from 1,960 in 1999.

The report also stated that of the 2012 drug-related deaths, 16,007 involved opioid analgesics. 

By comparison, there were 27,762 alcohol-related deaths in 2012, according to the report.

Another 40,600 people died from suicide, 36,415 from motor vehicle accidents, 33,563 from firearms and 16,688 from assaults. The biggest killer by far was heart disease at 599,711 deaths.

Between 1999 and 2012, the age-adjusted drug-poisoning death rate nationwide also increased, from 6.1 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 13.1 in 2012.

There were also 14 states that had age-adjusted drug-poisoning death rates above the national average, according to the report. The states with the highest rates per 100,000 population were West Virginia (32.0), Kentucky (25.0), New Mexico (24.7), Utah (23.1), and Nevada (21.0).  

Click here to see the full report



Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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<![CDATA[3-D Printing Gives Chance to Little Girl Born With Heart Defect ]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 09:31:49 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/195*120/11-24-14_Heart-Defect-Surgery-Hensel.JPG

Esther Perez was born with heart defects that could have taken her young life, but thanks to a series of breakthrough procedures at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the now-14-month-old little girl is thriving.

Using a series of conventional MRIs, 3-D MRIs and an incredible printer that reconstructed a model of the girl’s heart, doctors were able to plan her surgery, practice it and reduce her risks and increase her chances of survival.

That was the first miracle for her mother, Martha Perez, who found about her daughter's medical problem while she was still in the womb.

"I stop the pregnancy, or continue. Maybe the baby will be born for just five, 10 minutes, and then the baby maybe will be dying," she recalled, near tears.

Perez credits her faith with helping her to make it through the pregnancy, but when Esther was born, things looked bleak.

Her cardiologist said the baby just wasn’t getting enough oxygen to her body.

An early surgery provided a temporary fix, but as time went on it became clear a second, much more serious operation was needed.

Doctors decided the innovations could help, including creating a life-size model of Esther’s heart.

The paper-and-plastic model was an exact replica of Esther’s heart, so doctors could explore and strategize before the actual surgery.

"As soon as we opened the heart, it was exactly as I had seen before, so making the patch and doing the connections were quite straightforward," said Dr. Richard Kim, the cardiothoracic surgeon who operated on Esther.

Similar heart surgeries were done long before the 3-D technology was available, but doctors said it has helped increase the effectiveness and safety of similar operations.

Dr. Kim said Esther now stands a very good chance of having a healthy, normal life.

Perez said she’s grateful for the chance her daughter has been given.

"It’s a miracle," she said.

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<![CDATA[Record Number of Booster Seats Are "Best Bets": IIHS]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 15:44:06 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/185*120/%5BNECN%5DB16x9N_PY-08MO_NS_HEALTH_MINUTE_BOOSTER_SEATS_CNNWS_NECN1500kMP4_640x416_2191472863.jpg

A record number of booster seats have earned the highest rating for safety belt fit from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Out of the 41 models the agency tested, 27 earned the "best bet" designation while three were deemed "good bets."

The evaluations are based on how three-point lap and shoulder belts fit a child-size test dummy under various conditions. Crash tests were not a part of the review. The recommended seats position your child so that the seat belt is snug and safe for them in almost every car.

Booster seats that fell into the "check fit" category may provide a good belt fit for some children in some vehicles, but not as many as the boosters that earned a higher ranking, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says.

The following booster seats were named "best bets" for safety belt fit for 2014:

  • Baby Trend Hybrid 3-in-1 (backless mode)
  • Baby Trend Hybrid No Back (backless)
  • Britax Frontier 90 (highback)
  • Britax Pinnacle 90 (highback)
  • Britax Pioneer 70 (highback)
  • BubbleBum Neon (backless)
  • Cybex Solution X-Fix (highback)
  • Diono Solana (backless)
  • Dream On Me Turbo Booster (highback mode)
  • Eddie Bauer Deluxe Belt-Positioning Booster (highback mode)
  • Eddie Bauer Deluxe Highback 65 (highback)
  • Evenflo Chase (highback)
  • Evenflo Symphony 65 (highback)
  • Graco Argos 80 Elite 3-in-1 (backless mode)
  • Graco Argos 80 Elite 3-in-1 (highback mode)
  • Graco 4Ever All-in-1 (backless mode)
  • Graco 4Ever All-in-1 (highback mode)
  • Graco Milestone All-in-1 (highback)
  • Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 with Safety Surround (highback mode)
  • Kids Embrace Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (highback)
  • Maxi-Cosi Rodi AP (highback mode)
  • Maxi-Cosi RodiFix (highback)
  • Peg Perego Viaggio HBB 120 (highback mode)
  • Recaro Performance Booster (highback)Safety 1st Store ’n Go (highback mode)
  • Safety 1st Store ’n Go No-Back (backless)
  • Safety 1st Summit 65 (highback)

The IIHS says the following booster seats are "good bets:"

  • Baby Trend Hybrid 3-in-1 (highback mode)
  • Cybex Solution Q-Fix (highback)
  • Diono Rainier (highback)

Eight booster seats fell into the "check fit" category:

  • Dream On Me Coupe Booster (backless)
  • Dream On Me Turbo Booster (backless mode)
  • Eddie Bauer Deluxe Belt-Positioning Booster (backless mode)
  • Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 with Safety Surround (backless mode)
  • Harmony Folding Travel Booster (highback)
  • Maxi-Cosi Rodi AP (backless mode)
  • Peg Perego Viaggio HBB 120 (backless mode)
  • Safety 1st Store ’n Go (backless mode)

Three booster seats were not recommended by the IIHS:

  • Diono Olympia (highback)
  • Diono Pacifica (highback)
  • Kids Embrace Batman No Back Booster (backless)

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<![CDATA[Study: Too Frequent Baths Could Be Bad for Babies' Skin]]> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 07:08:33 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/baby-bath-eczema.jpg

Could keeping your baby squeaky clean cause skin problems?

A new study suggests too many baths — coupled with not enough moisturizing — could had adverse effects on young children.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers say full-body emollient therapy and fewer baths for newborn children can prevent the disease eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis.

Eczema tends to appear on the face and scalp of babies and in elbows and backs of knees in older children. According to the study, the use of emollients daily drastically reduced the average incidence of the disease. Prescribed ointments can moderate the itching and redness but there is no cure for the disease. According to The American Academy of Dermatology, an estimated 10 percent to 20 percent of children get eczema, rising up from only 3 percent in 1960.

Scientists say that the number of baths given to babies is too high, and advise people to bathe their babies no more than two or three times weekly. A recent report found that baby wash and shampoo products were used at least five times per week per household.

“People are bathing their babies too much,” said Dr. Eric Simpson, who conducted the study with a team of researchers, “If you expose skin to water and let it air dry, that leads to dryness—like the bottom of a river bed that cracks open when it dries.”

Baby soaps and shampoos, especially fragranced ones that contain sodium lauryl sulfate, are factors in the development of the disease.

In a trial conducted in the U.S. and United Kingdom, 124 newborn children who were at high risk of atopic dermatitis were studied for months. Some parents were ordered to apply full-body emollient therapy on their babies at least once a day after three weeks of birth, while other parents were ordered not to use emollients.

According to the study, emollients, like fragrance-free moisturizers and ointments, provide a safe and effective method of skin barrier improvement because they retain the skin with a source of exogenous lipids, which strengthens the skin’s barrier properties.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[UConn Health Works on Ovarian Cancer Vaccine]]> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 11:45:35 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Personalized+cancer+vaccine+UConn.JPG

For the first time ever, doctors and scientists at UConn Health hope to use state of the art genetic information to make personalized vaccines for women with ovarian cancer.

The personalized medicine might sound like science fiction, but it has already proven successful in mice.

Dr. Pramod Srivastava, director of the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at UConn Health, said they are awaiting FDA approval in the coming months to begin human trials.

“We will take about 15 women over the course of a year or so and we’ll make a vaccine for each woman, for her tumor, from her blood and her tumor samples,” Srivastava said.

Researchers chose to target ovarian cancer first because it is such a deadly and silent killer of women and is usually discovered at a later stage.

The findings involve developments in genomic medicine, which were published in September in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

Dr. Srivastava said different cancer cells have different appearances and they have found new ways to recognize that.

“We can define the fingerprint of each tumor and make a drug, make a vaccine, for that patient’s tumor based on that patient’s information” he said.

What this could mean for future cancer treatments, according to Dr. Srivastava, is “exhilarating.”
“We could not have done this even 10 years ago. This is just so new. When you have a new method appear it changes the world as you see it,” he said.
 



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Nurse Steps Out, Slams Quarantine]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 06:01:17 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Kaci-Hickox.jpg

Nurse Kaci Hickox, who recently returned from treating Ebola victims in West Africa and has challenged the legality of a quarantine, spoke outside of her Maine home after health officials announced they are seeking a court order to force her to stay home in quarantine for three weeks over public health concerns.

Hickox walked out of her Fort Kent home Wednesday night, defying the Maine CDC's protocol for health care workers who have treated Ebola patients.

"We have to make decisions based on science," she told reporters while standing outside with her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur. "You could hug me. You could shake my hand and not get Ebola."

The state wants people who have had direct contact with Ebola patients to remain home and avoid public contact until the virus' 21-day incubation period had passed, and it will seek court orders to force them to if they don't of their own accord, officials said at a Wednesday press conference in Augusta.

"Our true desire is for a voluntary separation from the public. We do not want to legally enforce an in-home quarantine unless absolutely necessary," Maine Commissioner of Health and Human Services Mary Mayhew said. "However, we will pursue legal authority if necessary to ensure risk is minimized for all Mainers."

Mayhew defended the state's effort to enforce what it continued to call a "voluntary" quarantine, saying it reflected a "common-sense approach" that would "guard against a public health crisis in Maine."

The court order seeking to force Hickox to remain home will ideally be filed Wednesday, Mayhew said.

Officials also said state troopers are outside of her door waiting to tail her and see who she comes into contact with if she leaves home.

Earlier on Wednesday, Hickox, a nurse who had first been quarantined in New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport over the weekend and was released after showing no symptoms, told Matt Lauer on "Today" that she wasn't abiding by Maine CDC's recommendation; the state's CDC recommendation is more strict than federal guidelines.

"I truly believe this policy is not scientifically nor constitutionally just, and so I’m not going to sit around and be bullied around by politicians and be forced to stay in my home when I am not a risk to the American public," Hickox said. 

Gov. Paul LePage said in a statement earlier on Wednesday that while he's concerned with the safety and health of Hickox and the community of Fort Kent, the state is "exploring all of our options for protecting the health and well-being" of Hickox and the community.

"While we certainly respect the rights of one individual, we must be vigilant in protecting 1.3 million Mainers, as well as anyone who visits," LePage's statement said.

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<![CDATA["The Martha Stewart of Marijuana"]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 08:44:39 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/6086cece1b1849ee9e44a75c6187d8ae.jpg

Beverly Hills mom Cheryl Shuman may not look like the stereotypical stoner, but she’s hoping her new crowdfunding website will be a driving force to help bring medical marijuana to the masses.

Diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007, Shuman was given just months to live. She refused hospice and started smoking marijuana. Now, she’s known as an advocate of the drug.

"My name is Cheryl Shuman and they call me the Martha Stewart of Marijuana," Shuman, founder of the Beverly Hills Cannabis Club, said.

Shuman, who has been on TV shows and in magazines promoting her business, said she frequently hears that she doesn’t fit what people think a pot smoker should look like.

"Well you don't look like a pot smoker, you don't look like a marijuana person," is what she said people tell her. "I always say, 'What were you expecting me to look like?'"

She doesn’t have a stereotypical business model either.

She credits cannabis for saving her life, and her passion for its benefits has led to her business and a 68-acre marijuana farm in Northern California.

And now she's hoping her newest venture, crowdfunding website Canna-dabba-doo, will help other potential medical marijuana entrepreneurs.

"Medical marijuana is as close to being a miracle drug and if it were discovered in the Amazon jungle today it would be heralded around the world as a miracle drug," Shuman said.

So far, the website only has three business ideas posted and no money has been pledged. But Shuman says it's just beginning.

"It allows anyone with a small business idea and a dream to post their project on the website and all the people we generate through social media can help fund it," she said.

"This is like the 90s and the dot-com boom. This is the pot-com boom!"

But the pot business comes with critics.

"The 'green rush' is nothing more than a revitalization of drug dealing in California and the U.S.," a spokesman for the group Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana said in a statement. "With fraudulent labeling of pot as medicine, we have seen increases in drug use particularly among teens and young adults."

Spokesman Scott Chipman said in a written statement that as a society "we must beat back big marijuana just like big tobacco of 20 years ago.

"It has the potential to be much more harmful and deadly," he said.

While cannabis has been shown to alleviate side effects of cancer treatments and other effects of the disease, no clinical trials on humans have shown it to be an effective treatment for cancer, according to the National Institutes of Health. The FDA has not approved the drug for cancer treatment.

Still, Shuman points to her clientele's need for the various strains of the marijuana for medicinal purposes.

"This is a legitimate medicine, that legitimately helps people," Shuman said.

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<![CDATA[More than 31,000 Pounds of Chicken Products Recalled]]> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 09:55:42 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/bell-evans-chicken.jpg

A Pennsylvania food company over the weekend issued a recall of more than 31,000 pounds of chicken products that may contain a toxin.

The recalled products are Bell & Evans gluten free chicken breast nuggets (12 ounces) and Bell & Evans gluten free chicken breast (10.5 ounces), according to a press release from the Department of Agriculture.

The chicken products have Aug. 9, 2015, expiration dates. They were shipped to stores across the U.S.

The food may be contaminated with Staphylococcal bacteria, which may cause stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

The reported contamination was discovered by the Colorado Department of Agriculture during a retail surveillance and sampling program.



Photo Credit: BellandEvans.com]]>
<![CDATA["Miracle Oil" Cures Girl's Seizures]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 23:03:38 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Glut+1+medicinal+oil.jpg

A North Texas family is touting a "miracle oil" and praising researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas for healing their little girl, who was having chronic seizures.

Spend a day with 6-year-old Chloe Olivarez and it is hard to keep up with her. Chloe's mother, Brandi Olivarez, says she never thought she would see this day.

"I don't even know that a year ago she would have been able to," Olivarez said.

Just two years ago, Brandi Olivarez had no idea what was wrong with her daughter. Video from Children's Health in Dallas shows doctors monitoring Chloe to figure out why she was having hundreds of seizures a day.

"We were looking at buying a wheelchair and diapers, because she wasn't able to be potty trained at that point," Brandi Olivarez said.

A helmet protected Chloe's head because she fell often.

"We were watching her go down this progressive slope, and she was just continually declining," Brandi Olivarez said.

Tests revealed Chloe had Glut 1 deficiency. That is a metabolic disease that depletes the brain of needed glucose, which makes most people unresponsive and slow to develop.

"It was kind of bittersweet. Finally understanding what she actually had, what we were fighting and the next step. It doesn't have a cure," Brandi Olivarez said.

But their timing was impeccable. Dr. Juan Pascual, a professor of pediatric neurology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, had just wrapped a groundbreaking study on mice with Glut 1, using an edible oil.

Pascual enrolled Chloe in his first human clinical trial, and within hours of ingesting the oil, her seizures started to subside.

"I had never seen anything like it," Pascual said.

"Speech was the first, other than seeing the seizure activity on the EEG, you could tell. She wasn't having seizures where she was hitting the floor anymore, and then speech was the next thing. Her speech, she immediately started using sentences," Brandi Olivarez said. "So then. with prolonged use, we have increased muscle tone. She's about to run a mile without stopping now."

The medicinal oil is derived from castor beans called Triheptanoin, which is used in many cosmetics in the United States. It has no smell and no taste.

All 14 participants in the study drank the oil four times a day in varying doses, and 70 percent of them saw a significant decline in seizures and improved neuropsychological performance.

The study is published in JAMA Neurology.

"Some days are very rough and some days are very happy, and I have to say that this was one of the happiest days of my life," Pascual said.

Chloe's family says watching her progress has been remarkable.

"We owe him everything. Now, we have a very vibrant, sassy little girl and I can't express my gratitude for everything they've done for us because it's been amazing to watch her," Brandi Olivarez said.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Mass. Patient Has Possible Ebola Symptoms]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 09:27:11 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/Beth+Israel+Deaconess+Medical+Center+Ebola.jpg

A patient was isolated with possible Ebola symptoms in Braintree, Massachusetts, officials confirmed Sunday afternoon.

Hospital officials say it is extremely unlikely that the patient has Ebola, but he remains in isolation in Boston.

The man, who had recently traveled to Liberia, was transported by ambulance after being isolated at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates. He was sent to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The patient told doctors at Harvard Vanguard about his symptoms, which included a headache and muscle aches. The hospital says it isolated him out of an abundance of cauation.

"This patient does not appear to meet CDC criteria to be considered someone at high risk for Ebola and the likelihood of Ebola Virus Disease is extremely low," said Beth Israel in a statement. "The patient will remain in isolation as we continue to evaluate and monitor the patient's condition."

A pregnant Rockland woman, who was inside Harvard Vanguard for a doctor's visit, told NECN she does not believe enough was done to protect people inside from any potential threat.

"One of the ladies had yelled out that there's an emergency going on, which kind of panicked all of us," said Denise DiMarzio, who said that the staff walked through the hospital with gowns and masks.

In a statement, Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan commended the work of officials to keep the public safe.

"Every precaution was taken in this case today and the patient has now been transported to a Boston hospital," he wrote. "The patient's car has been taken to a secure location where it can be monitored by law enforcement until more is known about the individual's condition."

Sullivan added that he was pleased that Braintree's public offices were able to assist the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh echoed Sullivan's sentiments in a statement Sunday night.

"Today's efforts reinforced my belief that the city is more than prepared to deal with any scenario like this," he wrote. "I have full confidence in our departments and healthcare organizations that we can keep Bostonians safe and healthy."

Brewster Ambulance Service, which transported the patient from Braintree to Beth-Israel, said in a statement that the company followed protocol.

"The interior of the ambulance was sealed with impermeable plastic sheeting during the transport, and will be chemically decontaminated before being returned to service," read the statement.

President Mark Brewster added in the statement that the company's staff has been trained to handle such a situation.

"Our staff has been carefully preparing over the last several weeks for situations like this," he said. "The actions by all emergency responders, including Braintree firefighters and police and our EMS team, went exactly according to protocol."

The Massachusetts DPH cleared Harvard Vanguard to be fully operational Monday. The building reopened Sunday after being closed briefly.

Hazmat, police, fire and EMS crews were on the scene in Braintree.

NECN will have more as this story develops.

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<![CDATA[Ebola in America]]> Sat, 25 Oct 2014 19:54:34 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/456608446.jpg

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Enterovirus-D68 Outbreak]]> Tue, 07 Oct 2014 17:13:42 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/x-ray-ENTEROVIRUS-VO---00002324.jpg

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Journalist With Ebola Optimistic]]> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 23:01:51 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Ashoka+Mukpo+Raw.jpg

There's been encouraging news for the Providence, Rhode Island, man flown back to the U.S. Monday to be treated for the Ebola virus.

The mother of NBC News freelance photojournalist Ashoka Mukpo says her son and his doctors are optimistic about his chances of recovering from the deadly virus.

"They say that compared to all the other patients that have been evacuated to the United States, Ashoka is actually in the best shape," Diana Mukpo told NECN over the phone.

His parents Diana Mukpo and Dr. Mitchel Levy say they were relieved to not only watch their son walk off the plane and wave to them as he entered the hospital, but they were grateful to be able to see him and speak with him through a video system at Nebraska Medical Center's Bio-Containment Unit.

"His spirits are good, he's tired, it's been quite a frightening experience but he's also a fighter and he said 'I'm going to get through this,' so he's really determined to get better, and I think he will," Diana Mukpo said.

Mukpo's parents say he spent two years working in Liberia, and after a short stint at home, returned about a month ago despite their urging to not go back. They say he's unsure exactly where and how he caught Ebola.

"He was filming inside the clinic and around the clinic so they had a lot of opportunity to be exposed. He does remember one instance where he was helping spray wash a vehicle with chlorine and he thinks he might have been splashed, but honestly he's not exactly sure," Dr. Levy said.

Mukpo is at the same hospital that successfully treated Holden, Massachusetts Dr. Richard Sacra, but he will be receiving a different experimental anti-viral medication.

"As far as I understand from the physicians, this is a drug that in a laboratory setting has shown to be very, very effective against the Ebola virus and also has very low incidence of side effects," Diana Mukpo said. 

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<![CDATA[W. Africa Travelers Warned on Ebola]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 14:05:57 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP645337997349.jpg

All people traveling to the United States from countries with Ebola are being warned as of Wednesday about the potentially deadly virus' symptoms, and how it is spread.

The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol will hand out a flyer with information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to all U.S.-bound travelers from those countries. 

That flyer also contains a card that any passenger who starts showing symptoms in the following days can hand their doctors, to alert them of the risk.

The first case of Ebola in the United States has been diagnosed in Dallas, in a patient who had arrived days earlier from Liberia, one of the West African nations at the center of a massive outbreak.

The announcement Tuesday by officials sparked immediate concerns about who may have been exposed and helped shed light on how the potentially deadly virus is, and isn't, spread.

Ebola can only be spread by infected people who have a fever and other Ebola symptoms, the CDC says.

Symptoms appear between two and 21 days of exposure to the virus. If an exposed person does not develop symptoms within 21 days of exposure, the person will not become sick with Ebola, according to the CDC. 

The virus can be spread to other people through direct contact with an infected person's bodily fluids, contaminated objects or infected animals, including by eating infected meat.

See the flyer that customs officials are giving travelers below.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[CDC Confirms 1st U.S. Ebola Case]]> Tue, 07 Oct 2014 17:03:53 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/ebola-dallas.jpg

A person who arrived in Dallas from Liberia a week ago tested positive for Ebola Tuesday, becoming the first person diagnosed in the U.S. with the potentially deadly virus, the City of Dallas confirmed.

The patient was hospitalized and placed in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Sunday after symptoms appeared four days earlier, on Sept. 24. Hospital officials listed him in serious condition Wednesday after previously being listed in critical condition.

Because the patient showed no symptoms of the virus when he arrived in the U.S. Sept. 20, there was no risk to fellow airline passengers, according to CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden.

"We’ve stopped every Ebola outbreak that’s ever occurred in Africa expect for this one," he said. And this one could have been stopped  if we had gotten in there earlier.

The CDC will ensure that the patient will be treated in a way that minimizes the risk of spreading infection, Frieden said. He also said a team is in Dallas to identify anyone the patient might have infected and monitor them for 21 days.

"We will stop Ebola in its tracks in the U.S.," he said.

Dallas County Health Director Zachary Thompson told NBC 5 that they are focused on 12 to 18 people who had close, physical contact with the patient while symptomatic in Dallas. He said about 10 epidemiologists from the county and CDC are investigating the patient's friends and family.

"The number that is on the ground right now to do the contact investigation is adequate," Thompson said. "If that number was to expand, we'd ask for additional resources."

Thompson said medical professionals have tested one of the patient's relatives, but did not say whether it was a "suspected case."

"I wouldn't be surprised if there was a second confirmed case," he said. "We know that several family members had very close physical contact with this patient."

The Dallas Fire-Rescue ambulance crew who transported the infected man to the hospital tested negative for Ebola, but they will be monitored for symptoms as the incubation period passes, Dallas city officials said. If symptoms develop, they too will be isolated and investigators will determine who they came into contact with and monitor those people for symptoms.

"I have no doubt that we will control this importation or this case of the Ebola so that it does not spread widely in this country," Frieden said. "It is certainly possible that someone who had contact with this individual, a family member, or other individual, could develop Ebola in the coming weeks, but there is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here."

Officials also pulled the ambulance used to transport the man from service. The number of people in the DFR crew being monitored is not known, but a traditional ambulance crew complement is two. Firetrucks can carry an additional five first responders.

The Ebola diagnosis was confirmed Tuesday after specimens were sent from Presbyterian Hospital to the Texas public health laboratory in Austin, the Texas Department of State Health Services said Tuesday. The Austin lab, which was certified last month to test for Ebola, tested the specimen and sent the sample to the CDC in Atlanta for further confirmation.

The Dallas patient will continue to be treated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, according to Dr. Edward Goodman, hospital epidemiologist at Presbyterian. On Wednesday morning, the hospital listed the patient's condition as serious.

After receiving the Ebola diagnosis, the city activated its Emergency Operations Center and is on Level 2: High Readiness. State and federal health officials said Tuesday there are no other confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola virus in the state, though.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is expected to hold a news conference at noon Wednesday to discuss the Ebola diagnosis.

According to the City of Dallas, the patient moved to Dallas a week ago, but health officials with the CDC said the patient only came to Dallas to visit family. The unidentified man's nationality is not yet known, but NBC 5 confirmed the man is a father who previously lived in the United States. His last known residence was in the Liberian capital city of Monrovia.

President Barack Obama was briefed about the diagnosis in a call from Frieden, the White House said.

Word of the infection alarmed the local Liberian community.

"People have been calling, trying to find out if anybody knows the family," said Stanley Gaye, president of the Liberian Community Association of Dallas-Fort Worth. "We've been telling people to try to stay away from social gatherings."

Dallas Patient the Fifth Ebola Patient Treated in U.S. This Year

The patient is the fifth person treated for Ebola in the country this year after missionaries Dr. Kent Brantly, Nancy Writebol and Dr. Rick Sacra all contracted the virus while working in West Africa.

Brantly and Writebol have fully recovered after they were given experimental drugs and treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta in August.  Sacra was treated at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and was released Sept. 25. He had been working in Liberia on behalf of SIM. The identity and condition of the fourth patient has not been released. It is believed that they are still being treated at Emory Hospital.

Writebol issued a statement Tuesday after learning of the new diagnosis in Dallas on Tuesday.

"We are sad for the family of the patient and pray for recovery to good health," she said. "It is a mercy that the best medical care is available. We also pray for the safety of the medical staff attending to the patient."

How is Ebola Spread?

Ebola is a severe, often fatal disease spread through close, direct contact with blood or other bodily fluids of a living or dead person who had contracted Ebola. The virus is only contagious when symptoms are present, and it is not spread through the air, through food or water.

Symptoms for Ebola virus involve a fever, severe headache, muscle pain, weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and unexplained hemorrhage. Symptoms appear anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure but the average is eight to 10 days.

If someone exposed to Ebola has not shown symptoms for 21 days they are not expected to develop Ebola.

According to the CDC, recovery from Ebola depends on the patient's immune response. People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for about 10 years.

The CDC said the United States is well-equipped to manage and treat Ebola and that the chances of an outbreak like the one in West Africa is extremely low.

NBC 5's Ben Russell, Scott Gordon Jeff Smith and Todd L. Davis contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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