<![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, 21 Aug 2014 16:02:55 -0400 Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:02:55 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Almond, Peanut Butter Recalled]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 15:40:43 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/160*120/100308-peanut-butter-attack.jpg

Peanut and almond butters sold at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and other grocers are being voluntarily recalled because of possible salmonella contamination.

There have been reports of four illnesses that may be related to the nut butters, a unit of Hain Celestial Group Inc. said.

They were sold under the brand names Arrowhead Mills Peanut Butters, MaraNatha Almond Butters and Peanut Butters, and private label brands for Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Kroger and Safeway.

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

The company said it learned of the contamination risk after routine FDA testing.

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

"Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems," the FDA has said.

"Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses," it added.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Whole Foods Lied About Sugar in Yogurt: Lawsuit]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 14:23:31 -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]]>
<![CDATA[MRSA Breaks Out Among Firefighter Trainees in New York]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 14:36:11 -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]]> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 13:08:46 -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]]> Fri, 08 Aug 2014 13:31:55 -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 13:31:55 -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 01:07:45 -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 16:22:30 -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."


Get More at NBC News

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]]> Mon, 04 Aug 2014 18:43:20 -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.


Get More at NBC News

Photo Credit: NECN]]>
<![CDATA[Feeling the Pain of Lightning Strikes, Again and Again]]> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 12:06:08 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/72814+Lightning.jpg

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

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

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

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

“That is not me,” she said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“There is help out there,” he said.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Centers for Disease and Prevention, World Health Organization



Photo Credit: wikicommons]]>
<![CDATA[Babies Get Herpes After Ritual: DOH]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 05:10:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/NC_Circumcision0906_722x406_2119014932.jpg

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

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

Their conditions Wednesday weren't immediately clear.

NYC to Require Consent for Oral Suction Ritual

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Suspected Case of Measles at Middlesex Hospital]]> Wed, 25 Jun 2014 15:44:12 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/KC_Measles_Outbreak_082013_722x406_43584579651.jpg

Middlesex Hospital has notified the state Department of Health about a suspected case of measles in the hospital’s emergency department on Sunday.

Middlesex Hospital released a statement that says hospital officials “became aware very quickly of a suspected case of measles in a patient in the Emergency Department”  and isolated the patient as a precaution.

The hospital has notified the Department of Public Health and is taking “all the necessary steps to address the situation,” the statement says.

In April, a state department of health news release says there had been three confirmed cases of measles in the state.

For more on symptoms, what you can do, see the state Department of Health Web site


 

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<![CDATA[Help for Moms With Postpartum Depression]]> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 16:48:22 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Meaghan+Fazio+and+Will1200.jpg

Getting pregnant was not easy for Meagan Fazio and her husband. After suffering a miscarriage, she turned to a fertility doctor for help.  It worked, and on April 18, 2013 her dream came true.  She gave birth to a healthy baby boy. 

The first few weeks as a new mother to baby Will were, as Fazio described, crazy. She had heard of the “baby blues” and figured she was just experiencing new motherhood and the hormone fluctuations that can come with it. 

“I felt so bonded with him but something didn’t feel right, so then I felt guilty” Fazio said. 

She started getting worse and felt like she was in a constant panic attack, with anxiety, chest tightening and hot flashes. She was also worried about her lack of sleep.

“He was a really bad sleeper and it kind of went into, ‘OK, he’s not sleeping tonight. How am I going to get through tomorrow?” fretted Fazio, who was sleeping just one hour per night at one point. 

Worry turned to hopelessness and Fazio’s postpartum depression was taking a physical toll on her health.

“So then from there it went to a depression, of ‘I feel awful. I’m constantly worried.’ Physically, I felt terrible. My muscles were always clenched, My legs hurt” Fazio said.

She sought help from her doctor and her counselor, but did not feel they understood how badly she was suffering.  After doing research, Fazio ended up getting treatment in Providence, Rhode Island at Women & Infants Hospital.

Fazio checked into a Providence hotel and attended a daily outpatient program at the hospital.
Each day, she took her son and spent the day in counseling and therapy with other new mothers who were suffering from postpartum depression. 

She said she is glad she took this step and urges other new mothers to seek help if things get overwhelming.

In Connecticut, more help for women with postpartum depression is now available. 

A $450,000 grant just became available on June 1 to expand a support network and fund in-home visits from counselors. 

Karen Steinberg Gallucci, an assistant professor of Psychiatry at the UConn Health Center and a clinical psychologist, she said 10 to 15 percent of new mothers experience postpartum depression.
She urged women to seek professional help if they can’t properly care for their baby or themselves, and if they have thoughts of harming their baby.

Steinberg Gallucci said the new grant will benefit more Connecticut mothers by bringing some treatment to them.

"So these women are getting home visitation services and then are screened for depression and then we’re able to treat them in their homes” she said.



Photo Credit: Submitted]]>
<![CDATA[Be Healthy: Postpartum Depression]]> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 17:09:37 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/postpartumpic062414.jpg Postpartum depression affects 10 to 15 percent of new mothers.]]> <![CDATA[Whooping Cough Epidemic in Calif.]]> Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:42:35 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/whooping+cough+vaccine.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS]]>
<![CDATA[Technology for the Deaf and Blind]]> Wed, 11 Jun 2014 15:23:22 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/blindpic.jpg Opening a new world of communication through innovation.]]> <![CDATA[Medical Pot Bill Inspired by Girl]]> Sun, 08 Jun 2014 20:57:51 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/AP204780883216.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>