<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Health News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/health http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.com en-us Thu, 02 Oct 2014 00:34:25 -0400 Thu, 02 Oct 2014 00:34:25 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[W. Africa Travelers Warned on Ebola]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 15:05:57 -0400 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]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 12:08:05 -0400 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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<![CDATA[Dallas Ambulance Crew Who Brought Ebola Patient to Hospital Is Quarantined]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 12:44:11 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Dallas-Fire-Rescue-Vehicle.jpg

The Dallas Fire-Rescue ambulance crew who transported the man infected with Ebola to the hospital have tested negative for the Ebola virus, according to the City of Dallas.

The City of Dallas said Tuesday that the crew took all safety precautions and was isolated and tested following the discovery.

The three members of the ambulance crew are restricted to their homes while their conditions are observed and while the virus' incubation period passes.

The patient was vomiting when the ambulance got to the hospital, Dallas city spokeswoman Sana Syed said. 

The ambulance crew is among 12 to 18 people being monitored after exposure to the man. Some are members of his family, but not all, Syed said.

Should the ambulance crew members develop symptoms, investigators will then determine with whom they came into contact and monitor those people for symptoms as well.

The ambulance used to transport the man has been pulled from service at Station 37 in 6700 block of Greenville Avenue.

Chopper 5 showed Dallas Fire-Rescue ambulance 37 parked away from all other vehicles at the training center in the 5000 block of Dolphin Road. The ambulance was wrapped in red caution tape and blocked in.

The City of Dallas said it has activated the city's Emergency Operations Center and is on Level 2: High Readiness after receiving confirmation that Dallas has the first diagnosed Ebola case in the nation. The person moved to Dallas from Liberia a week ago.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[How Is Ebola Spread?]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 20:29:45 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/456202288.jpg

The first confirmed case of Ebola in the United States 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 show symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. 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.

"There is no risk to people who have been in contact with those who have been sick with Ebola and recovered, or people who have been exposed and have not yet shown symptoms," the CDC's director Dr. Thomas Frieden explained Tuesday, after confirming that a patient in Dallas had tested positive.

That patient recently flew to the United States from Liberia, one of the West African countries now grappling with a deadly Ebola outbreak. Because he showed no signs of sickness until four days after landing in the U.S., however, officials are not worried about travelers who were on the plane with him.

The initial spread of the Ebola virus to humans is unknown, although researchers believe that "patient zero" in the recent West Africa outbreak became infected through contact with an infected animal, possibly a bat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Once a person is infected, the CDC said there are several ways Ebola can spread to other people via direct contact with:

  • Blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola, including but not limited to urine, saliva, feces, vomit and semen
  • Objects contaminated with the virus, like syringes or other medical equipment
  • Infected animals, by contact with blood or fluids or infected meat

Direct contact through broken skin or mucus membranes is key, as the CDC said Ebola cannot be spread through the air or by water or food. However, that may not have been the case in some cases in Africa, where Ebola may have been spread through the handling of wild animals hunted for food and contact with infected bats, according to the CDC.

The following symptoms can appear from two to 21 days after exposure:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising
  • Muscle pain

Generally, after 21 days, if an exposed person has not developed symptoms, he or she will not become sick, the CDC said.

However, the Ebola virus has been found in semen for up to three months after exposure, so those who have recovered from the virus are advised not to have sex, or else only to have sex using condoms, during that time, according to the CDC.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Boy Losing His Sight Travels to See Northern Lights]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 04:26:18 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/NC_northernlightsboy0930_1500x845.jpg Young boy travels to Alaska to view Northern Lights and nature before he goes blind. Blake Essig reports.]]> <![CDATA[Enterovirus Confirmed in N. Texas ]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 01:26:19 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Enterovirus1.jpg

Several cases of Enterovirus-D68 have been confirmed in North Texas after test results came back positive from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to Dallas County Health and Human Services.

Thirty-five samples were sent to the CDC from North Texas, including some from Children's Health System of Texas, and 10 came back positive.

The unusual and potentially severe respiratory illness has appeared in more than a dozen states nationwide.

Enteroviruses, which usually cause mild cold-like symptoms that last about a week, are common, afflicting up to 15 million people in the U.S. each year, but the CDC says this particular strain of the virus is unusually severe.

Michelle Palomino said her 11-year-old daughter was admitted to Children's Health with similar symptoms.

"It started off with, 'Mom, I have an itchy throat. It feels like it's burning,'" Palomino recalled.

Her symptoms started days ago and began to worsen. Her mother grew concerned when the sixth grader was staying up at night coughing.

"I don't want to be that parent here, my baby getting admitted and seeing those machines on her," said Palomino.

The latest information from the CDC and Dallas County Health Department is even more reason to be alarmed for Palomino.

Doctors say there is some positive news in the finding of Enterovirus-D68 in North Texas. It's not showing up in masses like the other communities are seeing it.

"We are very fortunate that we haven't seen a surge of infected patients," said Dr. Michael Sebert, an infectious disease doctor at Children's Health in Dallas.

The Dallas County health director said it is concerning that the results come as the flu season nears, and he urges parents and school districts to be vigilant.

"The next step is to encourage our medical providers who are doing a great job, to again do the testing for it, get the samples to us, the specimens, so we can send it out," said Dallas County Health Director Zachary Thompson.

Infants and children are at particular risk of Enterovirus, and though most affected people recover on their own and have no future problems, those with weakened immune systems or underlying medical conditions such as asthma may need to be hospitalized.

There is no vaccination. Prevention involves hand-washing, disinfecting surfaces and any usual steps to prevent the spread of flu.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Clinic Helps Men Battle Prostate Cancer]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 15:30:10 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/StFrancisHospital.JPG A men's clinic associated with St. Francis Hospital has been open for five years and is helping men battle prostate cancer. One important took is the PSA test.]]> <![CDATA[Doctor Infected With Ebola Expected to Make Full Recovery]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 02:01:20 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/214*120/Sacra+1.jpg

A Massachusetts aid worker who contracted Ebola in West Africa is now expected to make a full recovery, according to the doctors treating him at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

Wednesday night, NECN interviewed Dr. Rick Sacra's brother, Doug Sacra of Wayland. Doug says his brother's appetite is starting to come back, he's mentally sharper and more talkative.

"Oh it's great, we are very pleased," said a smiling Doug Sacra.

Dr. Sacra's wife, Debbie, has been briefing the family from Nebraska, where he's been in isolation since returning from Liberia.

Wednesday, Doug said he spoke with his brother over the phone for a half hour.

"He sounded perfectly normal, Dr. Rick at his best. On the other hand he's just laying there in his bed, so he is totally with it mentally, and now he can talk to you for a while, where a week ago he could talk to you for a minute and a half and then doctor said he has to lay back down."

Just last week, doctors explained how Dr. Sacra has been getting blood transfusions from Dr. Kent Brantley, another Ebola survivor. He's also taking another experimental drug, which doctors refused to identify, saying it's uncharted territory.

Over the past week, Dr. Sacra has done so well that doctors are now working to keep him entertained. They've brought in books, a stationary bike, chess board and Nerf hoop, even Ben and Jerry's chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.

Doctors are now awaiting results of a second set of blood samples. There must be two negative blood tests done within 24 hours apart for Dr. Sacra to be released.



Photo Credit: SIM USA]]>
<![CDATA[CDC Confirms Case of Enterovirus in Connecticut]]> Thu, 18 Sep 2014 09:44:57 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/yale+new+haven+children+hospital+2.jpg

A mysterious respiratory illness that has hospitalized children in several states has surfaced in Connecticut, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed.

The state Department of Public Health received confirmation from the CDC on of a case of Enterovirus D68 infection involving a Connecticut child. The child, a 6-year-old girl, was treated at Yale-New Haven Hospital, according to a hospital spokesperson.

Doctors at Yale-New Haven Hospital's children's emergency department said the girl was treated there last week and discharged.

A statement from the state Department of Health said it is likely the virus is already causing respiratory illnesses in many places across Connecticut because of this confirmed case and reports of suspected cases involving children at four other Connecticut hospitals, and confirmed EV-D68 cases in New York State and New Jersey.

"As per the CDC recommendation, we are testing children who experience severe respiratory symptoms difficulty or fast breathing, who are admitted to the hospital and there has been several cases at our hospital and others that we have sent to the CDC to be tested," said Dr. Paul Aronson, of Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Five Connecticut hospitals are still waiting on results from the CDC, including Danbury Hospital.

Officials from Connecticut Children's Medical Center said last week that they were treating suspected cases of Enterovirus D68.

As of Sept. 17, the CDC was reporting 140 lab-confirmed cases in 17 states since mid-August. The states affected at this point include Connecticut, New York, Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Most people who are infected with non-polio enteroviruses do not get sick, or they only have mild illness, according to the CDC. Symptoms of mild illness may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, skin rash, mouth blisters, and body and muscle aches.

DPH is working with health care providers and local health departments to closely monitor for increases in respiratory illnesses in hospitals across the state.

Laboratory specimens from patients with respiratory illnesses that could be due to EV-D68 at four other Connecticut hospitals are in the process of being sent to the CDC for confirmatory testing.
 



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Cases of Enterovirus Confirmed in NY, NJ, CT: Officials]]> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 15:50:11 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/CDC-generic.jpg

Officials Wednesday confirmed cases of enterovirus EV-D68 in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut as the unusual and potentially severe respiratory illness continues to sweep across the U.S.

Officials said that at least one of the 12 confirmed cases of the virus previously confirmed in New York state is in New York City, another case is on Long Island and one is in Westchester. Cases have been reported in more than a dozen states nationwide.

The CDC also confirmed a case in New Jersey on Wednesday. That case was identified from a specimen sent to the CDC from a Philadelphia hospital, the CDC said. The child was discharged from a hospital after their condition improved.

On Long Island, a girl from North Hempstead was hospitalized earlier in the month and is now recovering at home, according to the Nassau County Health Department. 

Connecticut health officials also said that a child in that state also contracted the virus. The child was being treated at Yale-New Haven Hospital, but it's not clear what town that child was from..

Enteroviruses, which usually cause mild cold-like symptoms that last about a week, are common, afflicting up to 15 million people in the U.S. each year, but the CDC says this particular strain of the virus is unusually severe.

Infants and children are at particular risk, and though most affected people recover on their own and have no future problems, those with weakened immune systems or underlying medical conditions such as asthma may need to be hospitalized.

There is no vaccination. Prevention involves hand-washing, disinfecting surfaces and any usual steps to prevent the spread of flu.

There are more than 100 types of enteroviruses. EV-D68 was first identified in California in 1962.

Health officials urge anyone who has trouble breathing, or notices a child does, to call a doctor immediately.  

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Connecticut



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Second Human Case of West Nile Virus in Connecticut This Season]]> Wed, 17 Sep 2014 16:54:40 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/tlmd_mosquito_virus_nilo_condado_orange.jpg

A Stamford resident has tested positive for West Nile Virus, according to the Department of Public Health.

It is the second human case of West Nile in Connecticut this season.

The patient was hospitalized and has already been released, according to a release from the Stamford Department of Health and Social Services. It was not clear when the person was hospitalized.

Symptoms of West Nile Virus include fever, headache, body aches and nausea. In rare cases, patients can develop severe symptoms, such as high fever, neck stiffness, tremors, coma and paralysis, according to Stamford's health department.

The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes.  Several mosquitoes infected with West Nile have been trapped throughout Connecticut this season.

The state's first human case of West Nile Virus was in a patient in Bridgeport.

]]>
<![CDATA[What You Need to Know About Enterovirus]]> Fri, 19 Sep 2014 10:52:23 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/enterovirus+fear.jpg An outbreak of an uncommon virus, Enterovirus D68, has made children in a dozen states ill and has left some hospitalized, according to NBC News. Children with asthma are particularly affected. Andrew Siff has the story.]]> <![CDATA[Enteroviruses: What You Need to Know]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 10:12:51 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Will-Cornejo.jpg

An outbreak of an uncommon virus, enterovirus-D68, has made children in 22 states ill and has left some hospitalized, according to NBC News. Children with asthma are particularly affected.

Here are key things to know about enterovirus-D68 from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.

  • From mid-August through mid-September, there have been more than 150 confirmed cases of respiratory illness caused by enterovirus-D68. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not know how many cases occur each year in the United States because health-care officials are not required to report them.
     
  • Enterovirus-D68 is thought to be uncommon, and less is known about it than other of the more than 100 kinds of enteroviruses. In all, enteroviruses cause about 10 to 15 million infections each year in the United States.
     
  • Enterovirus infections occur more often in the summer and fall. Enterovirus-D68 infections will probably decline later in the fall.
     
  • Infants, children and teenagers are more likely to become infected. That is probably because they do not have immunity from previous exposures to the virus.
     
  • Among the cases in Missouri and Illinois, children with asthma seemed to have a higher risk for severe respiratory illness.
     
  • To protect yourself from enteroviruses, wash your hands often, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, do not share cups or utensils with people who are sick, avoid kissing or hugging those who are sick and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, including toys and door knobs.
     
  • Enterovirus-D68 appears to be spread the same way other respiratory infections are spread, through saliva and mucus when someone sneezes or touches something. The new school year is likely helping the virus to be transmitted.
     
  • It can cause from mild to severe respiratory illness.
     
  • Symptoms include fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing and body and muscle aches. Most of the children who got very ill had wheezing and difficulty breathing.
     
  • There is no vaccine.
     
  • There is also no specific treatment and no antiviral medications. For mild respiratory illness, you can take over-the-counter medications to help allieve pain and fever. Children should not take aspirin.
     
  • If you have asthma, make sure to take your prescribed medications. If you develop new or worsened symptoms and they do not go away, call your doctor.
     
  • Enterovirus-D68 was first identified in California in 1962 and since then clusters have appeared in Asia, Europe and the United States.

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<![CDATA[Bacteria Found in Water at East Hampton High School]]> Mon, 08 Sep 2014 14:08:59 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Fecal-Coliform.jpg

"Total coliform" was found in the water at East Hampton High School and the school is bringing drinking water is as a precaution, according to the Superintendent of Schools in East Hampton.

Supt. Diane Dugas said total coliform, a naturally occurring, non-harmful bacteria, was found during routine water testing, and there is no concern about hand-washing or cooking. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coliform bacteria are microbes found in the digestive systems of warm-blooded animals, in soil, on plants, and in surface water. They typically do not make you sick.

Microbes that do cause disease are hard to test for in the water, so "total coliforms" are tested instead, according to the CDC. If the total coliform count is high, it is possible that harmful germs like viruses, bacteria, and parasites might also be found in the water.

The school is bringing an alternate drinking water source as a precaution and flushing the system with chlorine.

They expect the situation to be cleared up in a day and Dugas said it has occurred before at this school. 



Photo Credit: NBC Philadelphia ]]>
<![CDATA[New Drug Fights Melanoma]]> Tue, 09 Sep 2014 08:30:40 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/160*120/melanoma_448x336.jpg

The FDA approved a new drug Thursday that could change the way melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is treated.

The drug, Keytruda, was considered a breakthrough and approved after it was tested on more than 600 patients who had melanoma spread throughout their bodies.

"I was on oxygen. I was in a wheel chair. I couldn't walk. I didn't eat. I was thinking, I didn't have much longer to go," said melanoma patient Tom Stutz of Sherman Oaks, who was part of a clinical trial at UCLA.

According to the American Cancer Society, although melanoma only accounts for less than 2 percent of all skin cancer cases, it causes the majority of skin cancer deaths.

Melanoma cells protect themselves with a special protein called PD-1. This protein prevents the immune system from recognizing and killing the cancer cells.

The Keytruda drug is an antibody that targets the proteins. Without being guarded by the protein, the immune system has a greater chance of attacking the cancer cells.

"It's important because it's a new tool that is going to be very powerful in designing future regiments for melanoma," said Dr. John Glaspy of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The drug uses the body’s own immune system which means it likely has fewer side effects and more benefits than some regular chemotherapy.

"We have long believed that harnessing the power of our own immune systems would dramatically alter cancer treatment," said Judith Gasson of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Seventy-two percent of patients involved in the study responded to the drug and experienced tumor shrinkage. More than one-third of the patients had tumors that shrunk more than 30 percent and did not re-grow.

The treatment is given intravenously every three weeks. It is unclear how long patients have to stay on the medicine.

Stutz, who in June 2011 had melanoma that had spread to his lung, liver and other parts of his body, currently experiences no signs of the cancer.

"The bottom line is it saved my life. I would not have been here were it not for that drug," Stutz said.

Statistics show approximately 76,100 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2014 and nearly 10,000 Americans will die from the disease this year.

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<![CDATA[Kids' Sunglasses Recalled]]> Fri, 05 Sep 2014 08:36:14 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kids-glasses-recall2.jpg

A Rhode Island-based sunglasses company on Thursday issued a recall of more than 200,000 sunglasses due to an excessive amount of lead in the paint.

The glasses are made by FGX and feature designs from Disney movies, TV shows and some comic book characters.

CVS and Walgreens stores were among those that sold the sunglasses from December 2013 to March 2014 for between $7 and $13.

According to the company website, the recall includes: 

Style# Brand Colors

  • S00014SVS999 -- Marvel Spider-Man Red, blue
  • S00014SVSBLU -- Marvel Spider-Man Blue
  • S00014SVSRED -- Marvel Spider-Man Red
  • S00021LKC999 -- SK2 Sears /Kmart Private Label Blue
  • S00021SVS999 -- Marvel Spider-Man Red/black, silver/blue
  • S01551SDB999 -- Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Red/white, silver/black
  • S02964SJN440 -- Disney Jake and the Never Land Pirates Blue
  • S02964SJN999 -- Disney Jake and the Never Land Pirates Blue
  • S03683SDC999 -- Disney Cars Blue, black, red
  • S04611SDC001 -- Disney Cars Red/black
  • S04611SDC080 -- Disney Cars Red/Silver
  • S04611SDC400 -- Disney Cars Blue/teal/yellow
  • S04611SDC999 -- Disney Cars Blue/teal/yellow, red/black, red/silver
  • S07786SMS500 -- Disney Doc McStuffins Purple/pink
  • S07786SMS650 -- Disney Doc McStuffins Pink/blue
  • S07786SMS999 -- Disney Doc McStuffins Purple/pink, pink/blue
  • S07840SDC999 -- Disney Cars Red/black
  • S07841SDC001 -- Disney Cars Black/silver
  • S07841SDC440 -- Disney Cars Blue/red
  • S07841SDC999 -- Disney Cars Blue/red, black/silver, black/red

Customers can contact FGX International toll-free at 877-277-0104 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday to arrange a replacement or refund.



Photo Credit: FGX]]>
<![CDATA[Kraft Recalls Some American Singles Cheese]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 11:57:36 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP091109173400.jpg

Kraft is voluntarily recalling 7,691 cases of four varieties of its regular American Singles cheese product.

The recalled products have a "Best if Used By" date of Feb. 20, 2015, and Feb. 21, 2015.

Kraft traced the recall back to one of the company's suppliers. Kraft Foods Group Inc., which is based in Northfield, Illinois, said the supplier did not store an ingredient used in the cheese product at the company's standards.

Kraft said it's unlikely but the product could spoil prematurely, and it could lead to food-borne illness. However, Kraft said no one has reported getting sick.

Kraft spokesman Russ Dyer said the company issued a nationwide recall, but he can't specifically cite a city or state that received the potentially problematic cheese.

"We can tell you that very little product was shipped, so there is a limited amount of product, if any, on shelf," Dyer said.

Kraft said you can return the cheese to the store you purchased it at for a refund. Customers can also call Kraft at 800-396-5512.

Below is a list of package codes associated with the recall.

  • 0 21000 60464 7
  • 0 21000 61526 1
  • 0 21000 61526 1
  • 0 21000 63360 9



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Boston Marathon Dream Wedding]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 13:27:12 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.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.nbcconnecticut.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.nbcconnecticut.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.nbcconnecticut.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.nbcconnecticut.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
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<![CDATA[Almond, Peanut Butter Recalled]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:04:50 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.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[Whole Foods Lied About Sugar in Yogurt: Lawsuit]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 03:39:43 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.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
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<![CDATA[MRSA Breaks Out Among Firefighter Trainees in New York]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 07:10:37 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.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.nbcconnecticut.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.nbcconnecticut.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.nbcconnecticut.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.nbcconnecticut.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.nbcconnecticut.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.nbcconnecticut.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.nbcconnecticut.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.nbcconnecticut.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]]>