<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - Health News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/health http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.com en-us Tue, 27 Jan 2015 06:52:02 -0800 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 06:52:02 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[New Numbers Released in Measles Outbreak]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 17:14:45 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/measles-vaccine-0123.jpg

California health officials released new numbers Friday in the ongoing measles outbreak.

Measles cases in California have risen to 68 total, with 48 connected epidemiologically to the Disneyland outbreak.

The California Department of Public Health said the total number of cases in the state is up from 59 cases reported two days ago. Of those, 13 were reported in San Diego County.

The state also reports a measles case confirmed in Nebraska is one of 57 cases across the U.S. that are directly linked to the exposure at the Anaheim theme park.

Initially, health officials said anyone who visited Disneyland from Dec. 16 to Dec. 20 may have been exposed to the virus. On Wednesday, Orange County health officials declared there was ongoing transmission at the theme park.

So for now, the state wants individuals who are not vaccinated, especially infants under 12 months to consider not being in places where large numbers of people congregate. Those locations include airports, shopping malls and tourist attractions like theme parks.

"It is absolutely safe to visit these places, including the Disneyland Resort, if you are vaccinated," Dr. Gil Chavez, State Epidemiologist and Deputy Director, Center for Infectious Diseases, California Department of Public Health said Thursday in a release.

Patients range in age from 7 months to 70 years.

When it comes to how many of those patients were immunized against the disease, officials said they have documentation for 34 of the cases. Twenty-eight had not been immunized. They include six babies who are too young to have received the vaccination, officials said.

Five of the patients had received two or more doses of MMR vaccine.

If you or someone you know hasn't been immunized against the measles, it's not too late.

Health officials say two doses of the MMR vaccine are more than 99 percent effective in preventing measles.

Anyone who is unsure, can call their physician and request a test to check for measles immunity or get vaccination, officials said.



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Researchers identify genetic cause of Sturge-Weber syndrome]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 08:24:32 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_birthmarks0122001_1500x845.jpg Researchers identify genetic cause of Sturge-Weber syndrome, often associated with facial birthmarks, which means new trials and new hope for sufferers.]]> <![CDATA[Medical Bills Could Cost Family Their Home]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 07:30:44 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/N6P+OAKLAND+EVICTED+FAMILY+PKG+-+00011806.jpg

Sell your house to pay for your healthcare. That's exactly the situation one East Bay family is facing.

They say the county is set to sell the family home to pay for the homeowner's healthcare.

Margot Bohanon is distraught at the thought of being forced to move from the Oakland home she has lived in with her mother nearly all her life. “I feel that our world has been turned upside down we don't have a place to go,” she said. “It is not much. It is not fancy. But it is our home.”

Bohanon’s 88-year-old mother, Louise Salvin, has Alzheimer’s disease and recently moved into a Berkeley care home, but the senior's medical care has been costly, and now her court-appointed public guardian has sent an eviction notice to her family, informing them the house needs to be sold to pay for the ailing woman's expenses.

“It has been very difficult for me to face her knowing what is happening against her wishes,” Bohanon said. “This is exactly what has happened to us. We are being made homeless.”

Bohanon, who herself suffers from a disabling autoimmune disease that makes it tough to get around, has no idea where she and her teenage daughter will go.

“This is our house, but we are not respected,” Bohanon said. “We are not respected that this is our home as well.”

Salvin’s attorney, Kathy Siegel, says the public guardian is in a tough position but worries her client's health will suffer if her family is displaced.

“It's a really sad case,” Siegel said. “It's not good for her mental health. It's not good for her physical health. I think it's a devastating thing to think you can't take care of your family."

Bohanon is getting more anxious with each passing day. With a daughter in high school, she is terrified at the prospect of being forced to the street.

“Where are we expected to go?” she said.

A spokesperson for the Alameda County Department of Social Services declined to talk specifically about this case, but did release a statement: "If any action we must take to preserve the estate assets of our conservatee affects family members adversely, we are committed as a Social Services Agency to explore all options to make favorable outcomes for all."

Siegel said there is a push to convince a judge to allow Salvin to give the house to her daughter and granddaughter, but as of now the family has been ordered to vacate the home by Feb. 13.



Photo Credit: Margot Bohanon]]>
<![CDATA[3 New Measles Cases Confirmed in SD]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 15:58:14 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Measles-vaccine-0116+%281%29.jpg

Three new cases of measles have been confirmed in San Diego County, bringing the total number of local patients to 13, health officials announced Wednesday.

The update comes after California Department of Public Health (CDPH) officials said they had tracked at least 59 cases statewide, though that number does not include San Diego’s new three patients.

The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency says the local people had not been vaccinated, but they did travel to Disneyland on Dec. 18, in the midst of an outbreak that has sickened at least 42 others across the state — including five Disney employees.

According to CDPH officials, the theme park’s visitors were exposed to the disease over a five-day period right before Christmas. The state's cases are spread across 11 jurisdictions, and eight other measles patients have been found in Utah, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Mexico.

Now, health authorities are urging those who are not vaccinated for measles to stay away from Disneyland, which includes all babies under 1 year old.

The current patients range in age from 7 months to 70 years old, and most had not been vaccinated, according to CDPH Deputy Director Gil Chavez.

As for those who were immunized and still caught measles, Chavez explained “the vaccine is 99 percent effective, so that means 1 percent of the population, despite the vaccination, those individuals will still be susceptible.”

Now, their goal is to limit the disease’s spread. CDPH section chief Kathleen Harriman said her agency is working with city and county agencies to identify patients, where they've been and who they may have contacted to check other potential victims.

The county HHSA previously released sites where the local patients may have exposed others. They are the following:

  • Vista Community Clinic, 1000 Vale Terrace Drive, Vista, on Jan. 16 from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Sprouts Farmers Market, 471 College Blvd., Oceanside, on Jan. 14 from 4 to 7 p.m.
  • Albertsons, 7660 El Camino Real, Carlsbad, on Jan. 13 from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Phil’s BBQ, 579 Grand Ave., San Marcos, on Jan. 11 from 2 to 5 p.m.
  • Regal Carlsbad 12, 2501 El Camino Real, Carlsbad, on Jan. 6 from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
  • Ice-Plex Escondido, 555 N Tulip St., Escondido, on Dec. 30 from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

The CDPH says if parents have babies who have not been vaccinated for the disease, they should avoid the contaminated areas. Symptoms of the highly infectious disease include fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes.

“Measles is not a trivial illness," said Chavez. "It can be very serious with devastating consequences." Possible complications include pneumonia and encephalitis. They are most common in pregnant women, children and people with compromised immune systems.

According to Chavez, measles was declared eliminated in 2000, and since then, California has had four to 60 cases each year, all from people who have brought the disease in from another area.

2015 is off to a bad start, he said. Finding the original person who infected Disneyland visitors is "one of those mysteries that we may never solve," Chavez told media Wednesday. State officials believe the person may have been an international visitor or a California resident who recently traveled overseas and caught measles.

The best way to stem the outbreak is through vaccinations, the CDPH says. Doctors recommend children get the first dose at 12 to 15 months and their second before their start kindergarten. If you are not sure about your vaccination status, you can have your doctor test your immunity.


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<![CDATA[Disney Employees Contract Measles]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 15:56:10 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/186*120/01-20-15_Disneyland-Measles.JPG

Five Disneyland workers contracted measles at the Anaheim park, including two employees who had vaccinations, health officials said Tuesday, as the number of confirmed cases in the on-going outbreak rose to 53.

A statement from the Orange County Healthcare Agency said there is still “ongoing measles transmission at Disneyland."

At least one family visiting the amusement park Tuesday said they were going to try to get a refund.

“Who knows if we are going to get our money back or not, but we are going to try,” said Matthew Smith, who said it just wasn’t worth risking his daughter’s fragile immune system.

The Smiths traveled all the way from El Paso, Texas, to show their special-needs daughter the attractions featuring the movie “Frozen.”

Smith said his family called to check in with representatives from the park before making the trip, and were told the outbreak had dissipated and that it was safe to visit the park.

Others visiting the park said they weren’t too worried about the highly contagious virus.

“I feel pretty safe walking around,” said one Australian visitor.

Disney said it is taking each request for a measles-based refund on a case-by-case basis.

The health department said while there is a risk of contracting the disease at the park, with the continuing outbreak, the risk exists across the county.



Photo Credit: KNBC]]>
<![CDATA[Hidden Risks of Going Gluten-Free]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 21:09:57 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/gluten-free-label.jpg

About seven percent of Americans can’t eat gluten because they have celiac disease or a diagnosed gluten sensitivity. But how good is a gluten-free diet for everyone else?

To find out, Consumer Reports reviewed nutrition labels for more than 80 gluten-free foods.

Consumer Reports’ Deputy Health, Patricia Calvo, who oversaw the study says, “People think that going gluten-free will help them lose weight or get better digestion and a whole host of other health benefits. But when Consumer Reports looked at those gluten-free products and found that they’re not necessarily healthier and they may be less so.”

One concern is some gluten-free foods contain more fat, sugar or sodium than their regular counterparts. And products made of enriched-wheat flour provide essential nutrients like iron and folic acid, but you don’t get those in many gluten-free foods.

Another important worry is many of the gluten-free products that Consumer Reports analyzed contain rice flour or other rice-based ingredients. In Consumer Reports’ tests of rice and rice products in 2012, the lab found that most contain arsenic, often at worrisome levels.

The bottom line is a small percent of people need to eat gluten-free foods. For everyone else, there’s little evidence that a gluten-free diet is a healthier choice. And one more disadvantage to going gluten-free is nearly all the gluten-free foods Consumer Reports purchased were more expensive than a regular counterpart.

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<![CDATA[Measles Exposure at OC School]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 09:17:47 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/web_measles_vara_90_1200x675_386439747568.jpg

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

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

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

Some parents said the district was going overboard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Larkin and Annette Arreola contributed to this report

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<![CDATA[Common Measles Questions Answered]]> Mon, 19 Jan 2015 21:56:11 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Measles-vaccine-0116.jpg

As the number of confirmed measles cases grows in Southern California, NBC4’s Dr. Bruce Hensel answers common questions about the disease:

Q: What is the measles?
Dr. Bruce: Measles is a disease caused by a virus. Symptoms include fever, sore throat, cough, sneezing and a typical red rash.

Q: Why are we seeing more cases now?
Dr. Bruce: At one point, measles was eradicated from America, but we are seeing more cases now simply because people have failed to get the needed vaccine and/or booster.

Q: I was born in 1956. Do I need a vaccine?
Dr. Bruce: Probably not. The CDC says anyone born before 1957 either had or was exposed to the measles and is likely immune for life.

Q: I had one vaccine, but have not had the booster. Am I at least a little protected?
Dr. Bruce: Probably not. It is important to have both the initial vaccine and the booster to be protected.

Q: Is it true that someone could spread the measles even before he or she knows they have it?
Dr. Bruce: Yes! This is one of the biggest reasons I advise people to get the vaccine. You are contagious 3 - 4 days before symptoms start to show, and again for 4 days after the symptoms appear.

Q: How easily is it spread?
Dr. Bruce: Very easily. Measles is one of the most contagious diseases. It can be spread through the air or by direct contact

Q: If I was in the market that was mentioned, am I at risk?
Dr. Bruce: There is a small risk because it can live in the air. But if you entered the market long after the infected person was there, you are probably safe.

Q: How do I know the difference between measles and chicken pox?
Dr. Bruce: There are a lot of differences.

  • Chicken pox rashes “crust” so they are irregular and can scar. A measles rash is flat and red.
  • A measles rash starts on the face and trunk; chicken pox starts on the arms and legs.
  • Measles is much more severe, causing sore throat and high fevers as well as rash.
  • Once you have the measles you are immune for life.
  • Chicken pox can return as shingles.


Q: If I think I have the measles, what should I do?
Dr. Bruce: Call your doctor before you head into the office or go anyplace you might spread it.
There is no specific treatment. Fluids, fever control, isolation and rest are the best steps.

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<![CDATA[Timeline: San Diego County Measles Cases ]]> Wed, 21 Jan 2015 19:19:53 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/measles_vaccine.jpg

A timeline of the measles cases reported in San Diego County in January 2015 after state health officials confirmed an outbreak linked to the theme parks of Disneyland and California Adventure in Anaheim, California. 

Anyone who believes they have the measles should call health officials at (866) 358-2966 before physically going to a hospital or doctor's office.

Jan. 7: The California Department of Public Health confirmed seven cases of measles in the state, and two others in Utah involving people who said they had visited Disneyland and/or Disney California Adventure Park in Orange County between Dec. 15 and Dec. 20, 2014. Patients range in age from 8 months to 21 years and live in Alameda, Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties and in Pasadena.

Six of the seven California cases were not vaccinated for measles, including two who were too young to be vaccinated, officials said. One had been vaccinated with two doses of the MMR vaccine.

Both Utah cases were not vaccinated, a Utah Department of Health spokeswoman said.

Jan. 7: San Diego County health officials report the two cases of measles linked to the Disneyland outbreak involved unvaccinated individuals. The infected siblings visited the Parkway Plaza Mall in El Cajon on Dec. 29, possibly contaminating others, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency warns.

Jan. 8: A spokeswoman for Disneyland told NBC Los Angeles that it is safe to visit the park.

Jan. 9: Officials in California said that of the 16 measles cases in the state they have only verified that two were fully vaccinated against the disease. Some were partially vaccinated and at least two were too young to be vaccinated. Eight cases were in Orange County, two in Riverside County, two in San Diego County, one in LA County, one in Alameda county, one in San Bernardino and one in Pasadena.

Jan. 10: Orange County health officials urge anyone with measles symptoms to call their doctor before seeking medical attention to avoid exposing others to the highly contagious illness.

Jan. 10: In Colorado, the El Paso County Public Health department said a patient was diagnosed with measles at a Colorado Springs hospital after visiting a California theme park.

Jan. 12: California Department of Public Health said 26 people in four states have been linked to the Disneyland outbreak

Jan. 13: A third measles case was reported in San Diego County involving an individual that did not expose the public to the disease, officials said. The patient was hospitalized and doing well.

Jan. 14: Six siblings, ranging in age from 22 months to 18 years old, came into the urgent care at 5525 Grossmont Center Drive with rashes and measles-like symptoms. Staff immediately shut the center down and took names of the patients who may have been exposed. Dr. Wilma Wooten with SD County HHSA said two of the siblings had been to Disneyland with the parent on
Dec. 18.

Jan. 15: On Thursday, SD County health officials said a person "closely connected" to the family that sought care in La Mesa also had measles.

Jan. 15: County officials release a list of locations where the family of six may have exposed others to the measles. The list includes the City of San Diego Operations Building on First Avenue as well as fitness centers in Julian.

Jan. 16: Orange County confirmed it has 16 cases of measles. Six non-Disneyland cases "indicates exposure to measles is more widespread throughout the county," the Orange County Health Care Agency said.

Jan. 16: There were measles cases in the following California counties: San Diego (10), LA (8), Alameda (4), Ventura (3), Riverside (2) and San Bernardino (2). Six other cases related to the Southern California outbreak were confirmed in three U.S. states and Mexico.

Jan. 17: A total of 51 measles cases have now been reported in the wake of an outbreak linked to Disney theme parks in Anaheim this December, with all but nine cases directly connected to the park, health officials said.

Jan. 19: Three possible measles cases were reported in San Diego’s North County. If they test positive, the total number of measles cases in the county will be 13. The locations frequented by the patients since Dec. 30 include an Oceanside supermarket, a Carlsbad movie theater and a popular restaurant in San Marcos. These three people were not vaccinated when they traveled to Disneyland on Dec. 18, county officials said.

Jan. 19: Sharp Rees-Steely closed an urgent care on Via Tazon in Rancho Bernardo due to a potential measles case. There was no information whether this case was connected to the Disneyland theme parks. Several individuals who were in the center but were not vaccinated were interviewed by health officials.

Jan. 20: Two dozen students were asked to stay home from Huntington Beach High School in Orange County until Jan. 29 after a student came to campus with the highly contagious disease. Students who have been exposed and do not have the necessary vaccination to guard against the disease were sent home for three weeks, according to county health officials.

Jan. 21: San Diego County health officials confirmed the three North County patients did indeed test positive for measles, making the local count 13. At the same time, California Public Health doctors revealed there have been 59 confirmed patients across the state, though that count did not include the new San Diego patients.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Possible Measles Cases Reported in North County]]> Mon, 19 Jan 2015 17:34:56 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/measles040511_722x406.jpg

There are three new possible cases of measles in San Diego County, and health officials have released locations in the North County where residents may have been exposed to the virus.

The County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) announced they are awaiting test results to confirm the cases. If they are confirmed, the total number of cases in the county will rise to 13.

Sharp Rees-Steely announced Monday it was closing an urgent care in Rancho Bernardo due to a potential measles case. It's not known if this closure was linked to the county's announcement.

In the meantime, health officials were releasing the locations frequented by the patients since Dec. 30. They include an Oceanside supermarket, a Carlsbad movie theater and a popular restaurant in San Marcos.

These three people were not vaccinated when they traveled to Disneyland on Dec. 18, county officials said.

More than two dozen people in four states were sickened after visits to the Disneyland theme parks in Anaheim, California between Dec. 17 and Dec. 20.

Two have recovered while one was still recuperating at home, according to the county.

Here are the locations and days of potential exposure:

  • Vista Community Clinic, 1000 Vale Terrace Drive, Vista, on Jan. 16 from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Sprouts Farmers Market, 471 College Blvd, Oceanside, on Jan. 14 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Albertsons, 7660 El Camino Real, Carlsbad, on Jan. 13 from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Phil’s BBQ, 579 Grand Ave, San Marcos, on Jan. 11 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Regal Carlsbad 12, 2501 El Camino Real, Carlsbad, on Jan. 6 from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.
  • Ice-Plex Escondido, 555 N Tulip Street, Escondido, on Dec. 30 from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

East County residents were alerted after two siblings were reported to have symptoms on January 7.

A week later, on Jan. 14, six siblings ranging in age from 22 months to 18 years old, arrived at the urgent care at 5525 Grossmont Center Drive in La Mesa.

County officials previously released the following locations as a warning of potential exposure in previous cases:

  • City of San Diego Operations Building, 1222 First Ave., San Diego, Jan. 12 from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Jan. 13 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and Jan. 14 from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • CVS Pharmacy, 2760 Fletcher Parkway, El Cajon, Jan. 14 from 4 to 7 p.m.
  • Vons, 2800 Fletcher Parkway, El Cajon, Jan. 14 from 4 to 7 p.m.
  • Sharp-Rees-Steely Urgent Care Clinic, 5525 Grossmont Center Drive, La Mesa, on Jan. 3 between 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and Jan. 14 from noon until the clinic was closed at 1 p.m.
  • Rite Aid Pharmacy, 1665 Alpine Blvd., Alpine, Jan. 13 from 4 to 7 p.m.
  • Trader Joes, 5495 Grossmont Center Drive, La Mesa, Jan. 12 from 4 to 7 p.m.
  • Absolute Personal Fitness, 2000 Main Street, Julian, Jan 9 from 5 to 7 p.m.
  • Julian Fitness Center, 2216 Main Street, Julian, Jan. 9 from 5 to 7 p.m.
  • Parkway Plaza Mall in El Cajon, Dec. 29 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. only, especially in or around GameStop, Sunglasses Hut and the carousel in the mall.

Measles is a highly contagious disease that spreads through the air by coughing and sneezing. Symptoms can develop between seven and 21 days from exposure.

Early symptoms include a high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two to three days in, tiny white spots may develop inside the mouth. After three to five days, the distinctive rash begins to form.

Anyone who develops symptoms after being at one of the locations listed above should contact their health provider by telephone, county officials said.

Many doctors are now calling for everyone who has not been vaccinated for measles to do so immediately.

"For parents who elect not to immunize their children, they're placing themselves at risk certainly, and I think other people in the county," said Daniel Smith, M.D. with Sharp Rees-Steely.

On Monday, Sharp Health Care reported it was closing its urgent care center on Via Tazon west of Interstate 15 and south of Rancho Bernardo Road. The center serves the communities of Poway, Rancho Peñasquitos, Carmel Mountain Ranch, 4S Ranch and Sabre Springs.

More details are available from the San Diego County News Center.


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<![CDATA[Measles Outbreak Spreads in Calif.]]> Sat, 17 Jan 2015 19:39:49 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/measles+wednesday.jpg

A total of 51 measles cases have now been reported in the wake of an outbreak linked to Disney theme parks in Anaheim this December, with all but nine cases directly connected to the park, health officials said.

The total rose to 51 after Orange County confirmed that 16 people have come down with the measles there as of Friday afternoon.

The source of six of those cases was unknown, in a sign that the illness's outbreak was more widespread than previously thought, Orange County health officials said -- the sick people hadn't been to Disneyland or been in contact with confirmed cases that were associated with Disney.

The measles outbreak is expected to continue spreading, since the six non-Disney cases "indicates exposure to measles is more widespread throughout the county," the Orange County Health Care Agency said in a press release Friday.

There were 45 cases in California as of Friday night, health officials said, nine of which were unrelated to Disney theme parks.

There were measles cases in the following California counties: San Diego (10), LA (8), Alameda (4), Ventura (3), Riverside (2) and San Bernardino (2). Six other cases related to the Southern California outbreak were confirmed in three U.S. states and Mexico.

Because health agencies have different reporting requirements, up-to-the-minute information can be hard to come by; by Saturday, the OCHCA reported higher numbers in Orange County than the state did.

The extent of the outbreak was tabulated by combining reports from the California Department of Public Health, OCHCA and Associated Press. It was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

People with measles are contagious for about four days before a characteristic rash appears, along with fever, cough and watery eyes, health authorities say. Anyone who thinks they have measles should call a doctor before seeking help, so they don't expose others to the illness.

The illness was mostly eradicated in the U.S. through vaccines. Authorities think measles comes to the country from overseas -- there were 644 measles infections in 27 U.S states last year, many brought over from an epidemic in the Phillipenes, the Associated Press reported.

NBC4 reporter Matthew Glasser and The Associated Press contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[5 Myths About the Flu Debunked]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 19:58:16 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/denver-FLU-460977406.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are no effective treatments against the flu.

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

Source: The Centers for Disease Control



Photo Credit: Denver Post via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Wendy's Drops Soda from Kids Meal]]> Fri, 16 Jan 2015 14:35:11 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SodaBan.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Senior Living Center Restricts Visitors Due to Flu]]> Thu, 15 Jan 2015 21:49:27 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/emeritus+senior+living+center.JPG

A North County senior care facility is turning away visitors to protect residents from a recent flu outbreak.

When residents started getting sick with influenza, the Emeritus Senior Living Center on El Camino Real contacted the county Public Health Department for advice.

Health officials recommended they place ill residents in private rooms, limit visitations, avoid new admissions, restrict group activities and serve meals in private rooms, not the dining room.

Center employees did just that, putting the facility under a “period of isolation.” A sign on the door reads, “Please refrain from visiting any of our residents unless it is an emergency.”

A county spokesperson told NBC 7 two dozen other senior living centers have experienced similar flu outbreaks. He said one strain specifically affects the elderly, which is why they are seeing more cases in this especially vulnerable demographic.

Seniors’ immune systems begin to weaken as they age, making them more susceptible to influenza and serious complications from it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 90 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths in the U.S. occur in people 65 years and older.

Scripps Hospitals have also put visitor restrictions in place to protect staff and patients from the flu.

The CDC says flu deaths in the country have reached an epidemic level.

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<![CDATA[7th Suspected Measles Case: Officials]]> Thu, 15 Jan 2015 18:13:32 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Measles_Generic_722x406_1901808010.jpg

A seventh suspected case of measles has been reported in San Diego County, health officials said Thursday.

The person is "closely connected" to the six previous cases reported Wednesday after Sharp Health Care temporarily closed its Rees-Steely Urgent Care center in La Mesa.

If confirmed, this new case would bring the county total to 10 since the outbreak began, officials said.

More than two dozen people in four states have been sickened after visiting the Disneyland theme parks between Dec. 17 and Dec. 20, 2014.

NBC 7 has learned that county health officials are working to collect a detailed account of places where the patients have been to alert residents of potential exposure.

Six siblings, ranging in age from 22 months to 18 years old, sought treatment at an urgent care center across from Grossmont Center Wednesday morning.  Test results were expected by end of the day Thursday to confirm if the six patients have the measles.

None of the seven people with measles were ever vaccinated, officials said.

Dr. Robert Bjork, a Scripps Health pediatrician, said for the first time, physicians are recommending measles vaccines for babies as young as 6 months of age.

"It’s probably wise for domestic travelers who are taking 6-month-old babies on an airliner to get them vaccinated," Bjork told NBC 7 Thursday.

Currently the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all children get two doses of MMR vaccine, starting with the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and the second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. Children can receive the second dose earlier as long as it is at least 28 days after the first dose.

Bjork said he's seeing more concern among parents and members of the medical community.

"We thought it was just going to be a small limited phenomenon, with a limited number of cases but what we've seen in the last year is a record number of 644 confirmed measles cases in the United States," Bjork said.

"We're very concerned and it's expanded much more rapidly than we thought."

None of the patients in San Diego County needed to be hospitalized.

The 40 or so people at the urgent care who may have been exposed have been identified for tracking by county officials.

Early symptoms include a high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two to three days in, tiny white spots may develop inside the mouth. After three to five days, the distinctive rash begins to form.

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<![CDATA[Boy Finally Breathing on His Own After 65 Surgeries]]> Fri, 16 Jan 2015 08:22:50 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_batteryboy0112001_700x394.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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<![CDATA[Suspected Measles Closes Urgent Care in La Mesa]]> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 22:05:49 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/sharp+urgent+care.JPG

Sharp Health Care temporarily closed its Rees-Stealy Urgent Care in La Mesa as officials investigate several reported cases of measles, which may be tied to an outbreak at Disneyland.

Six siblings, ranging in age from 22 months to 18 years old, came into the urgent care at 5525 Grossmont Center Drive about 11:45 a.m. Wednesday. The urgent care is on the first floor of a medical plaza, across the street from the hospital's emergency room.

Once employees realized all six had rashes and measles-like symptoms, caretakers masked them, isolated them and got doctors and nurses involved, according to Sharp Marketing and Communications Manager Frances Schnall.

They then closed down the facility, posting a sign and two triage nurses at the door to turn away people.

Officials also talked with those in the same room as the possible measles patients. They wrote down each person's name and asked if they are up-to-date on their measles vaccinations. Schnall said the information for about 40 people will be handed over to county health officials for tracking.

Doctors and nurses have tested the potential measles patients and sent those samples to the county. It's unclear when the results of the tests will be released.

Measles is a highly contagious disease that spreads through the air by coughing and sneezing. Since it is airborne, the urgent care had to wait a certain time before the air inside circulated and was clean. They also did a thorough cleaning of the area, disinfecting everything from top to bottom.

By Wednesday evening, all six patients were sent home, and just before 6 p.m., the urgent care was reopened.

All other departments in the Sharp complex operated as usual. Officials said their caregivers are trained to treat such cases and are taking "every precaution to protect the safety of all patients and staff."

If the tests come back positive for measles, these six cases could be linked to a measles outbreak which has been traced back to Disneyland resort. Twenty-six people in four states have been sickened after visiting the theme park between Dec. 17 and Dec. 20, 2014.

"Indeed, two of the siblings had been to Disneyland with the parent on Dec. 18, so that's the actual link," said Dr. Wilma Wooten with the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.

However, county health officials do not believe the family, if positive for measles, exposed others outside of the urgent care.

Three confirmed measles patients live in San Diego. Two of the local cases — a pair of siblings — visited the Parkway Plaza Mall in El Cajon on Dec. 29, possibly exposing others, county health officials warned. Another measles case was confirmed Tuesday. All local patients never had to be hospitalized.

Early symptoms include a high fever, cough, runny nose and red, watery eyes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Two to three days in, tiny white spots may develop inside the mouth. After three to five days, the distinctive rash begins to form.

The health officers told NBC 7 they expect the number of California cases to grow as they confirm new instances of the virus. A local pediatrician called the outbreak "alarming" and blames the recent anti-vaccine movement for spreading a disease for which there is already an immunization.



Photo Credit: Danya Bacchus
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<![CDATA[Winemakers Worried About FDA Rules For Calorie Counts]]> Thu, 15 Jan 2015 06:44:42 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/wine+bottles2.jpg

New rules requiring calorie counts for alcoholic beverages on restaurant menus are worrying American winemakers, who say that testing each batch of fermented grape juice would be too expensive.

Under the Affordable Care Act, restaurant menus would need to publish calorie counts for drinks like chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon.

But the wine industry is pushing for the FDA to allow wineries to publish "an estimated range" of calories, rather than an exact tally, according to the Washington Post.

Wine trade group WineAmerica says that it could cost as much as "$500 per wine" to "conduct testing for detailed calorie information," according to the newspaper.

The rule for calorie counts applies at restaurants with "alcoholic beverages listed on menus." It does not apply to drinks ordered at the bar, and it does not require winemakers to put calorie counts on bottles of wine sold at stores, the newspaper reported.

Wineries say that they would be in a bind when asked by the restaurant chain to give a calorie count, according to the Post.



Photo Credit: Nathaniel Hamilton for NewsWorks]]>
<![CDATA[New Measles Case Confirmed in San Diego County]]> Tue, 13 Jan 2015 17:39:40 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/98698971.jpg

Another case of measles has been confirmed in San Diego County, county health officials confirmed to NBC 7 Tuesday.

Officials say the case is linked to the outbreak at Disneyland resort last month. This brings the number of confirmed measles cases in San Diego County to three.

There was concern two siblings who contracted measles at Disney could have spread the disease to shoppers at Plaza Parkway Mall in El Cajon on Dec. 29. However, officials say the new patient did not catch the disease from the siblings.

Unlike the siblings, this latest patient did not expose the public to measles. The patient was not hospitalized and is currently doing well, according to health officials who could not release further details.

Thousands of people were exposed to the contagious disease at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure between Dec. 17 and Dec. 20, 2014. Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and a red rash that usually first appears on the face and spreads to the rest of the body, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Monday, the California Department of Public Health said 26 people in four states have been linked to the Disneyland outbreak. There are 22 cases in California, not counting the latest case in San Diego. County health officials expect the total number of California cases to grow as counties continue to confirm instances of the disease.

Last year, there were more than 600 measles cases in the United States, the highest on record in almost two decades. Some doctors are blaming the anti-vaccine movement.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[State Adopting San Diego's ER Painkiller Policy]]> Mon, 12 Jan 2015 17:50:04 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/drugs+generic.jpg

State officials want to adopt a policy started in San Diego emergency rooms aimed at preventing drug abuse by restricting painkiller use.

Emergency departments in San Diego County have limited the painkillers they dispense: Doctors there don’t prescribe painkillers if the patient is already receiving prescriptions from another provider.

Among other restrictions, ER doctors also don’t refill stolen or lost prescriptions nor do they prescribe long-acting pain medications, such as Oxycontin or Methadone.

The California Department of Public Health is working with other state agencies to adopt these guidelines statewide, calling San Diego’s model “a model for other counties in the state.”

“The county has been and continues to aggressively fight the prescription drug problem in the region to prevent abuse and deaths,” Vice Chairman Dave Roberts said in a news release.

Deaths from prescription drug abuse in San Diego County are on the decline: there were 259 deaths in 2013 (the most recent statistics available), down from 268 the previous year.

Residents are encouraged to report drug activity to police and also can call the prescription drug hotline at 888-662-6384.

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<![CDATA[Family Still Gets Whooping Cough After Vaccination]]> Mon, 12 Jan 2015 18:39:05 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Whooping+cough+pic+0112-PIC_0.jpg

A Del Mar mother of two thought she did everything she could to keep her kids healthy.

After vaccinating her two young sons, Preston and Parker, Jackie Combs and her sons came down with whooping cough. It’s especially scary for Parker, who’s 6 months old -- an age when whooping cough can be deadly.

“It’s just frustrating as a mother to think you’re taking all the right precautions and doing the right thing and keeping your kids safe,” she said.

The mother isn’t alone in her frustration. The number of Pertussis cases has started climbing again in recent years to epidemic levels.

Nationally, the number of whooping cough cases dropped in the 1940s to fewer than 10,000, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Last year, however, that number spiked to more than 28,000.

So what’s the problem?

Dr. Wilma Wooten said the current vaccine used in the United States is only 80 percent effective. She believes the vaccine itself is more to blame than the perception that fewer people are getting vaccinated.

“The Pertussis outbreak has no relationship to personal belief exemption,” she said. “This really is about the effectiveness of the vaccine itself.”

Wooten still recommends that people get vaccinated because even if they get whooping cough, it will be less severe for those immunized.

Fortunately, Combs and her family are feeling much better after their scare.

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<![CDATA[MorningStar Farms Patties Recalled]]> Mon, 12 Jan 2015 09:45:20 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/lagenerics-genericsla-nbc4-logo-2.jpg

Two vegetarian frozen patty products made by MorningStar Farms have been recalled because of an undisclosed peanut allergen, parent company Kellogg Co. said in a statement.

A third-party supplier that makes one of the spice ingredients used in Spicy Black Bean Burgers and Chipotle Black Bean Burgers may contain peanuts, which was not listed on the ingredients and can cause allergic reactions for people with sensitivity to the nut.

Affected packages include packages with June 30, 2016 expiration dates.

For details, contact information and UPC codes of the affected products, check the Kellogg’s website here.

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<![CDATA[Kaiser Mental Health Workers to Strike]]> Mon, 12 Jan 2015 20:22:41 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/kaiser_strike_raw.jpg

Kaiser hospitals and patients in California are bracing for a week-long strike, as more than 2,000 mental health workers are expected to strike Monday.

The National Union of Healthcare Workers is expected to set up picket lines at nearly three dozen Kaiser locations including sites in San Diego County.

The union is demanding more of a say in the hiring of mental health workers, from psychologists to social workers.

Kaiser said it has enough staff workers to take care of its patients.

"Kaiser has been complaining that there are not enough qualified therapists to hire, but that's simply not true," Kaiser clinical social worker Paul Shaw said. "And if that is the case, then they should be doing their best to retain the ones that are there."

"We've hired hundreds of therapists over the last three years," Kaiser Permanente Vice President of Government Relations John Nelson said. "To make sure we have adequate staffing, we're continuing to hire more. There is a national shortage of mental health care providers, but we're still able to hire folks and make sure we have people here to meet our patients needs."

A spokesman for Kaiser said its campuses will be able to meet their patients' needs and all medical offices will be open during the strike.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Women Run to Honor Second Chance at Life ]]> Sun, 11 Jan 2015 14:43:50 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Lucky-13-runners.jpg

Two North County women who have overcome significant health challenges will be running in next weekend’s Tri-City Medical Center Half Marathon in Carlsbad.

Tina Knight lost her toes, fingers and a kidney to a serious infection 16 years ago.

Melissa Cappuccilli had a heart transplant just over a year ago.

They will be donning bright green shirts as they complete what they describe as a life-changing challenge.

Neither woman was a runner before committing to a half marathon with a team known as the “Lucky 13.”

The group of individuals from around San Diego County all have or are currently overcoming health challenges. They train with fitness experts at the Tri-City Wellness Center in Carlsbad to prepare for the 13.1-mile race.

Since she’s been given a second chance at life, Cappuccilli said she saw this as a way to honor her organ donor.

Knight saw it as an opportunity to learn to run while honoring those who helped her regain her health.

“To show the nurses and doctors at this hospital for them saving my life 16 years ago, look at where I am today,” Knight said.

A blog followed the progress of the group whose members range in age from 23 to 60.

Knight and Cappuccilli gave the program rave reviews.

“I would encourage anybody that’s facing any of those challenges to apply,” Cappuccilli said.
“It’s life changing.”

Both women plan to sign up ro continue the challenge by running in a Triple Crown – three half marathons in one year.

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<![CDATA[Local Doctor Calls Measles Cases Alarming]]> Thu, 08 Jan 2015 18:19:56 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/measles+vaccination.jpg

A San Diego-area pediatrician considers nine cases of measles linked to Disneyland to be very alarming.

Sharp Chula Vista pediatrician Dr. Ahmad Bailony is troubled over the new cases that popped up after the patients visited the popular theme park in December. Two of the patients are from San Diego, and both of whom had not been vaccinated for the disease, the California Department of Public Health says.

"The problem is these days, we unfortunately have a lot of parents that are refusing to vaccinate based on their own beliefs, and that's creating a problem for the larger population," said Bailony.

2014 saw 600 confirmed cases of measles – a record amount for a virus we eliminated back in 2000, according to Bailony. The virus is a preventable epidemic, he said. Children can receive the measles, mumps and rubella combination vaccine or the measles, mumps, rubella and varicella combination vaccine.

“Certainly in San Diego it's above 90 percent,” Bailony said of the number of people vaccinated against the virus. “But for measles, to prevent sustained contagious cases from one generation to the next, you have to have really over 95 to 98 percent of the population immunized in order to really protect the public, and we're not there."

The nine cases of measles at Disneyland are very alarming, he said. Many who chose not to vaccinate their kids believe shots cause things like autism, but that premise has been scientifically disproved, Bailony told NBC 7. 

Now, county and state health officials are hoping to stop the disease's spread before it continues. The infected San Diego siblings visited the Parkway Plaza Mall in El Cajon on Dec. 29, possibly contaminating others, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency warns.

Shoppers may have been exposed to measles if they were at the mall between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., especially around the GameStop, Sunglass Hut and mall carousel. If someone contracts it, they should know within 21 days, experiencing early symptoms like a cough, runny nose and red eyes. Anyone with measles is considered contagious if they have a distinctive red rash.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[First 2 Flu Deaths of Season in San Diego Reported]]> Wed, 07 Jan 2015 16:28:45 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/influenza-vacuna.jpg

The first two flu-related deaths of the season have been reported in San Diego County, health officials said Wednesday.

The residents were an 88-year-old woman, who died on Jan. 4, and an 85-year-old woman, who died on Jan. 6, according to a news release from the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.

Both women had underlying medical conditions.

Despite a surge in influenza this season, these deaths actually occurred later than last year, when the first death was reported on Dec. 30.

Influenza caused the death of 70 San Diego residents last fall and winter – the highest number since county health officials began tracking the illness.

Still, health officials said influenza this winter is spreading and sickening San Diegans at a faster rate than last year’s flu season: there have been 263 confirmed cases to date, more than double last year’s number.

Nationwide, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has described this flu season as an “epidemic.”



Photo Credit: TELEMUNDO LOCAL]]>
<![CDATA[Measles Cases Linked to Disneyland]]> Thu, 08 Jan 2015 04:36:34 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DisneylandWeb.jpg

At least nine people confirmed to have highly infectious measles visited Disneyland parks in Southern California last month, health officials said Wednesday.

The California Department of Public Health confirmed seven cases of measles in the state, and two others in Utah. Three more California residents are also suspected to have measles, but those cases are not confirmed.

The nine confirmed to have measles said they visited Disneyland and/or Disney California Adventure Park in Orange County between Dec. 15 and Dec. 20, 2014. The source of the infection is still under investigation, but health officials said it's likely that a person with measles was at one of the theme parks during that time period.

A spokeswoman for Disneyland told NBC4 Thursday that it is safe to visit the park. The only dates in which visitors were at risk are Dec. 15 to 20, according to the spokeswoman.

"We are working with the health department to provide any information and assistance we can," said Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

A Disneyland spokesperson said further questions will be directed to the Department of Public Health.

The Borbons of San Jose visited the theme park during the infection window. No one in the family is showing any symptoms. The family also said all of their vaccinations are up to date.

"You don't ever want to get a virus," Kristine Borbons said. "It's a little scary, but I don't think it's to a hysterical point."

The confirmed cases in California live in Alameda, Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties and in Pasadena. They range in age from 8 months to 21 years.

Six of the seven California cases were not vaccinated for measles, including two who were too young to be vaccinated, officials said. One had been vaccinated with two doses of the MMR vaccine.

Both Utah cases were not vaccinated, a Utah Department of Health spokeswoman said.

People can be infectious with measles for nine days. Measles typically begins with fever, cough, runny nose and red eyes and within a few days a red rash appears, usually first on the face and then spreads downward to the rest of the body. Measles is a highly infectious, airborne disease.

Measles has been eliminated in the United States since 2000, but outbreaks have occurred in Western Europe, Pakistan, Vietnam and the Philippines, health officials said. Disneyland and other theme parks are international attractions with visitors from all over the world, including areas where measles is an epidemic.

More information about measles can be found on the California Department of Public Health website.

NBC Bay Area's Jean Elle contributed to this report.

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<![CDATA[Aethlon Device Approved ]]> Mon, 05 Jan 2015 08:21:02 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/hemopurifier-ebola_2.jpg

San Diego-based Aethlon Medical Inc., a medical device company developing therapies for infectious diseases and cancer, announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a clinical protocol to treat Ebola-infected individuals in the U.S. with the Aethlon Hemopurifier.

The Hemopurifier is a biofiltration device that targets the rapid elimination of viruses and immunosuppressive proteins from the circulatory system of infected individuals.

The device is fitted into a dialysis machine, which filters blood for people with kidney disease. In the case of Ebola, the device removes viruses, plus the proteins that suppress the immune system, from the bloodstream, according to Jim Joyce, CEO and founder of Aethlon.

The Ebola treatment protocol resulted from the submission of a supplement to an Investigation Device Exemption (IDE) previously approved by the FDA.

Time Magazine recently named the Aethlon Hemopurifier as one of the 25 best inventions of 2014. The magazine also included the Hemopurifier as one of the 11 most remarkable advances in healthcare in 2014.


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<![CDATA[Flu Deaths in U.S. Reach Epidemic Level: CDC]]> Tue, 30 Dec 2014 14:33:53 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/104718836.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[ER Visits, Flu Cases on Rise in San Diego County]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:12:18 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/159308670-1200.jpg

Emergency Department visits are on the rise this week, as our cases of influenza in San Diego County, health officials said Wednesday.

The percentage of hospital emergency room visits for influenza-like illnesses was 4 percent, compared to 3 percent the previous week, according to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.

Similarly, the number of influenza cases this week was 79, up from 45 the previous week.

Influenza this winter is spreading and sickening San Diegans at a faster rate than last year’s flu season: there have been 263 confirmed cases to date, more than double last year’s number.

Local health officials say it’s not too late to get vaccinated, as the flu season usually stretches into March or April.

Health officials also have these recommendations for avoiding sickness:

  • Wash your hands often and well
  • Use hand sanitizer
  • Avoid sick people
  • Clean commonly touched surfaces
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home if you are sick to prevent the spread

For a list of places to get a flu shot, visit the San Diego Immunization Program’s website.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>