<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - Health News]]> Copyright 2014 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 Thu, 31 Jul 2014 19:12:46 -0700 Thu, 31 Jul 2014 19:12:46 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Ebola Outbreak Unlikely in California: Expert]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:11:58 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/6PW_VO_EBOLA_MEETING_KNSD4HOQ_1200x675_313738307967.jpg

The Ebola virus has killed more than 700 people in Africa, but one San Diego doctor says an outbreak in California is very unlikely.

Dr. Nancy Crum-Cianflone, an infectious disease physician at Scripps Mercy Hospital, says the chances are so small because of how the disease is spread.

“It's not transmitted through the air, It's not transmitted simply by touching someone. You really have to have contact with someone's bodily fluids," Crum-Cianflone said.

This means you couldn’t catch this from someone sitting next to you on an airplane unless they are coughing and sneezing so much, you inhale or ingest their secretions.

“Just us sitting here talking, there's really no risk. That's the big difference between this and things that are much more contagious, like the influenza viruses, which you can pick them up just by breathing the air," she said.

As of Thursday, more than 1,200 were infected with the virus in the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Dr. Crum-Cianflone says at this point, the biggest concern for health care workers is travel history.

“If someone has recently come back the last week or two from West Africa or has been in contact with someone who's been sick from West Africa and has a flu-like symptoms, I think we should think about Ebola and then do the appropriate testing," she said.

The Group to Eradicate Resistant Microorganisms – or GERM – Commission, a group of infectious disease doctors in San Diego County, met Wednesday night to discuss how to be proactive in the rare chance of an outbreak here.

<![CDATA[Xtreme Eating List Headlines Cheesecake Factory French Toast ]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 15:48:11 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/cheesecake+factory_722.jpg

Is it true that what tastes good for you isn’t good for you? Well, it may be in this case.

Cheesecake Factory’s maple-butter dripping Bruleed French Toast headlined this year’s Xtreme Eating list published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The 2,780-calorie-packed Sunday brunch dish comes with “extra thick slices of rustic french bread baked and grilled golden brown” then “topped with powdered sugar and served with maple-butter syrup with bacon or grilled ham.”

If the calories weren’t belly bulging bad enough, it also has 93 grams of saturated fat, 2,230 milligrams of sodium and 24 teaspoons of sugar.

The Washington-based center compares the dish to eating the equivalent of "14 slices of Aunt Jemima frozen Homestyle French Toast with 2 ½ (8 oz.) tubs of Kraft Philadelphia Original Cream Cheese Spread."

Eating this sweet treat would mean consuming nearly one-and-a-half times the daily caloric intake as suggested by US Food and Drug Administration.

Red Robin’s gourmet burgers, BJ’s pizza creations, Famous Dave’s “The Big Slab,” are just a few of the other mouth watering entrees that made the list.

Since 2007, the Xtreme Eating Awards have been calling out the sad-fatty truth behind some of our favorite dishes.

<![CDATA[Officials: Look Before You Lock]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 09:39:03 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Lt.-Julius-Faulkner.jpg Lt. Julius Faulkner with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department talks about the dangers of leaving children and animals in parked cars during the hot summer months. ]]> <![CDATA[Pasta Sauce Recalled for Botulism Risk ]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 09:01:05 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/tlmd_b_salsa_pasta_n.jpg

A "paralytic illness" known to have deadly consequences has California health officials warning consumers to stay away from various VR Green Farms' jarred produce citing a possible botulism risk.

The consumer warning by the California Department of Public Health and voluntary recall by the San Clemente-based produce company came after two cases of suspected food-borne botulism infections possibly linked to the company’s pine nut basil pesto were reported, according to a statement released by the CDPH Wednesday.

Although rare, botulism has serious effects on the body and in some cases can result in death. The nerve toxin produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria is odorless and tasteless making it hard to detect produce contamination, according to the CDPH. Initial symptoms following infection include: blurred or double vision, drooping eyelids, and dry or sore throat.

VR Green Farms has voluntarily recalled its pine nut basil pesto, pickled farm mix, old world tomato sauce, sundried tomatoes in olive oil, Tuscan grilling sauce and pasta sauce. All of the products were sold under the VR Green Farms labels and packaged in mason-style glass jars with metal lids at stands in San Clemente and on the Internet.

In a joint effort, the CDPH, US Food and Drug Administration and the Ohio Department of Health are coordinating an investigation into the two suspected food-borne botulism infections.

Health officials are warning anyone with these products to discard them immediately by double bagging the jars in plastic bags and throwing them away in the trash -- they are not to be recycled. They also advise to wear gloves when handling the possibly contaminated products and to wash hands with soap and running water after handling.

The CDPH recommends anyone experiencing symptoms of botulism after ingesting any of the products listed to see a health care provider. As well, if anyone observes the products listed being sold they should report it to the CDPH at 800-495-3232.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Meth Use Up Among Youth in Juvenile Hall]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:29:21 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Meth-Generic-KNSD.jpg

The use of methamphetamine has increased among youth booked into juvenile hall in San Diego County, a newly-released report confirms.

According to new research by the SANDAG Criminal Justice Research Division, 10 percent of youth booked into juvenile hall locally tested positive for meth in 2013.

This is a significant increase after record lows of 4 percent in 2011 and 2012, though still far below the record high of 21 percent reported in 2005.

The report says the findings coincide with recent reports showing meth abuse rising in the region. For instance, figures from the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s office show the number of unintentional deaths due to meth have risen in the past five consecutive years.

In San Diego, meth-related deaths jumped from 142 in 2012 to 190 in 2013.

The SANDAG research shows that out of 134 youth booked into juvenile hall, 13 tested positive for meth. Of that figure, 92 percent were male and 85 percent were Hispanic. SANDAG reports that 85 percent of those youth had been arrested previously and 54 percent had a reported history of running away.

The report shows that the average age of those who tested positive for meth was 14.6 years old.

Those who tested positive said they used the drug an average of 16.3 days out of the past 30 and 50 percent said the drug was “easy” or “very easy” to obtain.

The results were collected as part of a Substance Abuse Monitoring (SAM) program. SANDAG said it’s crucial that law enforcement continues to tackle the ongoing abuse of meth in San Diego County. For more info about meth use prevention and intervention, click here.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[California Pharmacies Urged to Translate Drug Labels]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 08:55:02 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/4PM_PKG_PRESCRIPTION_DR_KNSD2RPS_1200x675_61258819722.jpg

The push is on to make prescription translations mandatory in California.

According to the United States Pharmacopeial Convention, a lack of universal standards for labeling on dispensed prescription containers is a root cause for patients misunderstanding the drugs they are taking.

"If people can't read the prescription bottle, it's a really dangerous situation," said Dr. David Margolius, who works in internal medicine and has been outspoken when it comes to pushing for mandatory translations for prescriptions. "If a label doesn't make sense to the people who are taking the medication, they are already at a disadvantage."

Statistics show more than 700,000 emergency room visits across the county are caused by not taking drugs properly. In addition, hospitals are spending nearly $6 million a year on treating those patients.

State Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, is pushing for legislation to conduct a survey on the controversial issue.

Jimmy Yuen, who owns Advance Medical Pharmacy in Walnut Creek, provides labels on his medications in both English and Spanish. He said it is not a problem for him because of the limited service he is providing for his Spanish-speaking customers.

But Yuen said making that service mandatory could become a problem.

"I think technology is not there yet to ensure a high level of accuracy," he said.

A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for Thursday in Sacramento.

<![CDATA[Limb-Lengthening Surgery Creates Controversy]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 14:10:47 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/chandler+before+and+after+edited.jpg

Walking in Balboa Park, 20-year-old Chandler Crews, who stands just under 5 feet tall, hardly draws a second glance from passersby. And that has long been her wish.

That is far different than might have been the case just a few years ago, when the college student born with achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism, was only 3 feet, 10 inches tall. It’s a time Crews associates with many challenges, among them physical ones.

“I was having hip problems, knee problems and back problems because of how bowed my legs were. I was going to have surgery down the road anyway so I decided to lengthen my legs and arms," she said.

This was accomplished with a series of three controversial bone-lengthening procedures using technology developed in Southern California. With such procedures, patients' bones in the arms and legs are surgically broken, then increasingly separated over a period of months; the body generates new bone to fill the gap, thus making the bones longer.

Chandler’s mom Cathe said the operation was crucial for Chandler, who was about to start school on a large university campus she wanted to navigate like a student of average height.

“I know she wanted to be treated differently and that she wanted to drive when she went to college. I had no idea how she was going to walk across a college campus with 14-inch legs,” her mother said.

Chandler documented her four-year journey and rigorous healing process as she became 13 inches taller with the procedures, which can cost up to $100,000. Insurance covered costs for Chandler, as is the case for many with dwarfism, because there are medical benefits associated with limb lengthening.

At Baltimore's Sinai Hospital, where Chandler was treated, doctors are quick to point out that while limb lengthening has cosmetic benefits, that is not the primary reason for the surgery.

But it is that cosmetic benefit, even if indirect, that has caused controversy and even anger in the community of little people. Critics say the procedure is often used as a vanity attempt to shed the appearance of dwarfism. A petition was started asking little people advocacy groups to denounce the procedure as painful and largely cosmetic.

Recently, at the Little People of America convention in San Diego, Rebecca Cokley and a friend wore T-shirts that read, “Short by birth, staying that way by choice." For Cokley, who has served as a national policy adviser on disabilities for the White House, it's a matter of pride.

"I would say to you that dwarfism is beautiful. Feel pride in who you are. Disability is part of life’s infinite diversity," she said.

Cokley also stresses that the Americans with Disability Act now mandates better access and accommodation for people with disabilities and that radical physical change isn’t necessary.

But Chandler Crews says she is happy with her decision and not out to proselytize. She has publicized her journey to growing more than a foot taller simply to let others with dwarfism know there are options.

"I was just tired of having my height define me," she said.

Photo Credit: facebook.com/ChandlerInBaltimore]]>
<![CDATA[Parents Desperately Seek Medical Marijuana]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 10:14:32 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/charlottes+web+child+with+seizures+dose.JPG

California has the oldest and most liberal compassionate care law among the 23 states plus Washington, D.C. that allow the use of medical marijuana. So why are the state's youngest -- and arguably most needy --patients not getting it?

"Charlotte's Web" is a marijuana strain that won't get you high, but parents say it has had a profound effect on the lives of many children who suffer severe seizures.

At 8-months-old, Oceanside infant Connor Dalby began seizing 50 to 75 times a day.

“There was no joy. There was no smile. There was no laugh,” Connor’s father Randy Dalby said.

Near Chula Vista, the Benavides family was struggling with their son Robby. Robby’s multiple "drop attack" type seizures came without warning at a similar daily rate.

“He loses all muscle tone and just falls, falls hard to the ground. He’s had stitches on his eye, even bit off his tongue,” Robby’s mother Allison Benavides said.

Both families say they tried every mainstream medicine drug treatment and every combination available. Nothing worked.

Somehow, Charlotte's Web Oil, made from a marijuana strain of the same name, has changed their lives.

“My son is seizure free. He is four months seizure free today,” Benavides said.

Dalby recorded Connor sitting up on his own for the first time just a few months ago.

“We're watching a miracle. We have almost lost him a couple times,” Dalby said.

The Dalbys and Benavides get Charlotte's Web through the California Chapter of the "Realm of Caring."

Chapter Director Ray Mirzabegian hosted the first fundraiser for the non-profit organization at the Universal Hilton in Los Angeles just last month.

In the crowd were some guests you might not expect at a cannabis event. At one table were members of the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Los Angeles. At an adjacent table were UCLA's top pediatric neurologists.

Assistant Clinical Professor Dr. Shaun Hussain with frank honesty in a somewhat defeated tone shared his frustration.

“I feel like a carpenter without a hammer. We don't have medications that are good enough,” Hussain said.

However, Charlotte's Web is hardly a universally accepted treatment.

The American Academy of Pediatrics opposes the use of marijuana to treat children. Chief Policymaker Dr. Sharon Levy says she gets a lot of hate mail for it, but that medical marijuana has not been FDA approved or even tested.

“Instead of that rigorous testing and the Federal Drug Administration, we're just approving it by state ballot initiative,” Levy said.

The cannabinoid or CBD holds the therapeutic benefits to these children. Charlotte's Web is a marijuana strain high in CBD and low in THC. THC is the psychoactive part of the plant that makes you high.

“That is the moneymaker in a dispensary, high THC strains, not what Charlotte's Web is,” Dalby said.

Only Realm of Caring is selling Charlotte's Web. The group charges patients what it costs to make it. Still, state law requires Mirzabegian’s organization to operate like a dispensary.

Local laws restrict the number of dispensaries in an area, so Mirzabegian can treat only 27 patients. He says the waiting list is 1,000 families.

“Every month, I have a parent or two calling me and saying, ‘Ray take my child off the waiting list. He didn't make it,” Mirzabegian said.

While California has no such legal limits, medical marijuana advocates say keeping more than six mature plants and a half pound of processed cannabis per patient could invite a police raid.

Marijuana remains on the federal government's controlled substance list. If you are in possession of more than 99 plants, the punishment is a five-year mandatory prison sentence.

“Who cares if you have 1,000 sick children dying? You have to grow 99 plants only is that logic. It doesn't make sense to me,” Mirzabegian said.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics opposes the use of medical marijuana, Dr. Levy says as a mother, she would not discourage parents from trying it if their children are suffering life-limiting illnesses.

<![CDATA[Feeling the Pain of Lightning Strikes, Again and Again]]> Tue, 29 Jul 2014 05:38:16 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.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[App Aims to Save Cardiac Arrest Victims]]> Mon, 28 Jul 2014 18:50:19 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/199*120/pulsepoint+app.JPG

 A free CPR smartphone app aims to help San Diegans take a beat and save victims of sudden cardiac arrest, one of the leading causes of death in the country.

City and county officials teamed up Monday to launch the PulsePoint app, which alerts anyone with CPR training when someone in their area needs help.

Despite their best efforts, first responders often cannot get to a victim in time to save their life.

Because cardiac arrest has a small survival rate of 8 percent and time is of the essence, the app is designed to send a volunteer to a victim before paramedics can reach him or her.

The American Medical Response says you can triple a patient’s survival rate by doing CPR before an ambulance arrives.

The regional PulsePoint app informs users when and where paramedics urgently need help, gives basic CPR training and shows where the nearest automated external defibrillator (AED) is.

It also uses GPS to track and alert users of emergencies within a quarter mile.

“You’re gonna get the alert, you’re gonna respond, you’re gonna start those chest compressions, and then once the emergency responders get there, they’ll take over, and that’s going to increase survival,” said Mike Rise with the American Medical Response.

Residents can learn how to use the app and how to do compression-only CPR at the County Administration Center’s waterfront park until 3 p.m. or at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas until 4 p.m. Monday.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously last December to adopt PulsePoint.

Other cities and counties across the country have activated the PulsePoint app, so if you’re on the road and you’ve signed up for the app, you may still get alerts when an emergency is within a quarter mile.

You can download the free app for your iPhone or Android phone. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, sudden cardiac arrest is so deadly because it is a fast, complete loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness. It is different from a heart attack, which happens when a portion of the heart's blood flow is blocked. 

However, heart attacks can sometimes trigger sudden cardiac arrest. 

<![CDATA[Sgt. Saves Heroin Overdose Victim With Antidote]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 07:09:44 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/narcan+naloxone.JPG

A heroin user found unconscious at his home in east San Diego was saved by a deputy who used an overdose antidote that the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department recently began carrying.

According to officials, the 37-year-old heroin user was found unresponsive by his parents in the 400 block of Bradley Avenue in El Cajon just after 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Sheriff’s Traffic Sgt. Scott Hill, who’s assigned to the Santee Sheriff’s Station, was the first deputy on scene. Hill gave the unconscious man Naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of heroin.

Shortly thereafter, the overdose victim began breathing and taken to a local hospital.

Officials with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department began carrying Naloxone two weeks ago under a pilot program, becoming the first agency in California to carry the overdose antidote.

Officials said Wednesday’s incident is the first known use of Naloxone by a deputy in San Diego County.

Naloxone, a generic form of the drug known as Narcan, is a nasal spray that can be given to victims of an opiate overdose.

The antidote comes in a small kit with an applicator to create a nasal spray. A squirt in each nostril, like a flu vaccine, puts the medication in the bloodstream. It quickly interrupts the opiate response, which restores the addict’s ability to breathe and increases the heart rate.

As part of the pilot program, deputies patrolling the East County communities of Santee, Lakeside and unincorporated El Cajon will test Naloxone for six months to determine the effectiveness of implementing the program throughout the department’s jurisdiction in San Diego County. Deputies will carry Naloxone whenever they respond to 911 calls.

Scripps Health, a nonprofit integrated health system in San Diego, donated $4,500 to purchase the antidote for the six-month trial period.

The pilot program is administered under the direction of County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Director, Dr. Bruce Haynes, who helped develop the protocol, procedures and training necessary for the deputies to safely administer the antidote, sheriff's officials said.

Under the program, deputies – who are the first to respond to a scene – are allowed to administer Naloxone to overdose victims prior to the arrival of EMS units when every second is critical.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Chikungunya: What You Need to Know]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 03:40:24 -0700 Aedes aegypti mosquito.]]> Aedes aegypti mosquito.]]> http://media.nbcsandiego.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 02:10:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.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.

<![CDATA[Go Ahead, Stay Up an Extra Hour]]> Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:55:05 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/187*120/Fetal+Position+BB.jpg

New research suggests not getting a full eight hours of sleep a night may be just fine.

For years, we've been told eight hours is about the healthy amount of sleep for the average adult to get per night.  That seems to be changing.  Multiple recent sleep studies are now showing that the ideal amount of sleep may be closer to seven hours per night.

One of those studies done by the National Sleep Foundation put the number at seven hours and thirteen minutes of sleep per night.  However, even with the lowered number, most people say they're still coming up short. 

In that particular study, most of the adults said they got about six and a half hours per night.  Sixty-nine percent said they got less than the ideal seven hours.

A change from the long-standing standard of eight hours to seven hours may not seem significant, but those are valuable minutes. Some research has suggested that losing even 20 minutes of your ideal sleep can affect memory and performance the following day.

Scientists are trying to get the word out. The Sleep Research Society and American Academy of Sleep Medicine have partnered with the Centers for Disease Control to develop new sleep guidelines and encourage people to get at least seven hours of sleep per night.

They also recommend keeping a sleep diary and keep track of what they call your weekly "sleep debt." Once you have a look at your sleep patterns, you can discuss them with your doctor.

The Sleep Research Society claims that 70 million Americans suffer from some sort of sleep disorder.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fruit Sold at Trader Joe's, Costco Recalled]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:02:51 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.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[Santee Man Infected With West Nile Virus]]> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:29:06 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/West-Nile-Virus-Santee-2014.jpg

 Health officials are testing local mosquitoes and warning residents to avoid them after a Santee man becomes the first to test positive for West Nile virus in San Diego County since 2012.

The 43-year-old patient had no symptoms, but a routine blood screening from donated blood detected the virus in his system, according to county Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) officials.

The man told officials he did not recall being bitten by a mosquito recently, but he said he had been camping outside the state the week before his blood was drawn.

“Even though it’s most likely this individual acquired West Nile outside the county, we know the virus is here in San Diego County,” said County Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten in a release.

Last week, a dead crow in the city of San Diego also tested positive for West Nile.

As a precaution, the county’s Department of Environmental Health Vector Control Program began inspecting possible mosquito breeding location near the man’s house. Workers have also set up mosquito monitoring traps in areas around Santee.

While West Nile is a potentially deadly disease, county health officials say 80 percent of people who are infected show no symptoms.

One in five will feel mild signs like a headache, fever, nausea, fatigue, swollen glands or skin rash. Less than 1 percent develops serious neurological complications that can be deadly, and the risk for complications rises for those with weak immune systems and people over age 50.

Last year, 15 people died from West Nile virus-related causes in California, but of the 11 cases reported so far this season, no one has died, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Officials say a typical West Nile season lasts from June to October and peaks in August and September.

To prevent catching the virus yourself, health officials recommend preventing mosquito breeding around your home by dumping out any backyard items like buckets and garbage cans that can hold water.

Protect yourself from bites by staying inside when mosquitoes are most active – between dusk and dawn – and use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin or oil of eucalyptus.

Finally, reports dead birds and green swimming pools to the Vector Control Program at 858-694-2888.

<![CDATA[What to Do 1 Month Before Getting Pregnant: Expert]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 15:14:03 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/39weekpregnancy.jpg NBC 7's Whitney Southwick talks with Sean Daneshmand, M.D. of Miracle Babies about what women should know before they try and conceive.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Local Students Warned of Possible TB Exposure]]> Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:13:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/tuberculosis-dfw-generic-01.jpg

Students of a San Diego-area middle school may have been exposed to tuberculosis months ago, county health officials announced Monday.

Free tuberculosis screening will be held Wednesday for students of La Mesa Middle School on Park Avenue.

A person at the school recently started treatment for tuberculosis and may have exposed students from April 23 to June 13, county health officials said. No information was given as to the person's role at the school.

Symptoms of TB range from a cough that won’t go away and a fever to night sweats. There is medication that can treat the disease.

The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) reports that it is working with the school to alert people who may have been exposed.

So far this year, there have been 84 cases of TB reported in the county. That’s far below the number of 206 reported the previous year.

For more information on this potential exposure, call the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District at (619) 668-5700 or the County TB Control Program at (619) 692-8621.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Whooping Cough Cases Nearing 900]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 17:57:52 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/6AM_VO_TZ10_WHOOPING_CO_KNSD4A6H_1200x675_293163587863.jpg

 San Diego County has seen more than double the number of pertussis cases this year compared to last, according to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA).

Nine new instances of whooping cough, which may have left others exposed, brings the county’s total to 895.

Just 120 cases were reported by this time last year, and for the whole of 2013, 431 cases were confirmed.

“The county and state are experiencing an epidemic of pertussis,” said Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., a county public health officer.

She said infants are at the greatest risk for severe illness or death from the disease. 

According to the HHSA, the new cases were reported at the following locations, and all but two patients were up-to-date on their immunizations:

  • A 7-year-old at Mason Elementary School
  • An 8-year-old at Dailard Elementary School
  • A 9-year-old who was not up-to-date with immunizations at Indian Hills Camp in Jamul
  • A 10-year-old at Normal Heights Elementary School
  • An 11-year-old who was not up-to-date with immunizations at Lincoln Acres School
  • A 14-year-old at Hillsdale Middle School
  • A 15-year-old at San Ysidro High School
  • A 16-year-old at Altus Charter School of San Diego and El Cajon Learning Center
  • A person at Boys and Girls Clubs of Oceanside

Pertussis begins with a cough and runny nose that progresses after one or two weeks to rapid coughing fits with the characteristic whooping sound.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all children get the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) vaccine at 2 months old, 4 months old, 6 months old, 15 to 18 months old and 4 to 6 years old.

Students entering seventh grade are required to show proof they got the Tdap booster shot, and experts say all pregnant women should get the booster in their third trimester.

<![CDATA[Teen Receives Specialized Cancer Care in San Diego]]> Sat, 19 Jul 2014 08:35:33 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Natalie-Wright-0718.jpg

A Utah teenager who has battled a brain tumor for the past 15 years has become San Diego's first pediatric patient to receive a specialized cancer therapy.

Natalie Wright, 17, underwent her final round of proton therapy cancer treatment at the Scripps Proton Therapy Center on Summers Ridge Road Friday morning.

The treatment was first made available to adult patients in San Diego back in February but Wright recently became the first child to receive the therapy.

Wright was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of two and has undergone numerous rounds of chemotherapy. Specialists said this new treatment, however, reached parts of the tumor that previous ones could not.

Wright’s father said her treatment began on June 6. Over the past month, the teen has had 30 treatments – one each morning – lasting about a half-hour each.

On Friday, before returning home to Utah, the teen took a moment to thank the hospital staff.

“I just think that being away from home for six weeks was a long time, and you guys were all so nice. It just made me feel so good, to have that comfort, and to have that love and support,” she said. “I’m just so grateful.”

Wright said she’s felt good throughout the proton therapy process, and her father said that is a huge relief.

“She’s felt good the whole time. That’s the great thing about proton therapy – she really doesn’t feel the effects so that’s a lot different than neurosurgery,” he told NBC 7.

Before leaving, Wright unveiled a piece of superhero artwork that she drew herself, which will stay at the Scripps Proton Therapy Center.

The artwork features a quote from iconic “Superman” actor Christopher Reeve that Wright found on the internet: “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”

Wright is one of less than 900 pediatric patients in the U.S. to receive the proton therapy care this year. The Scripps Proton Therapy Center is the newest of just 15 of its kind nationwide.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Edibles Future in San Diego Unclear ]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 10:41:10 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Marijuana-generic-medical-l.jpg

Ocean Beach resident Larry Sweet is living with stage-4 liver cancer and has been managing his pain with a combination of smoking and eating medical marijuana.

He’s relieved a ban on edibles and hash oil did not make it through San Diego’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee Wednesday.

However he’s still concerned the idea will come up again.

“Quite frankly cannabis saved my life. I wouldn't have made it through the year without it,” Lee said.

Councilmember and committee chair, Mari Emerald, initially proposed the ban. She said it was a public safety issue.

“We have a void when it comes to regulation,” Emerald said. “Until they do, I want to make sure consumers in this community is protected.”

Emerald went on to express her concerns for particularly vulnerable patients taking edibles.

“These people are more susceptible to harm, food poisoning than the general population. They're going to get sicker. They're more at risk,” she said.

In November, an ordinance on medical marijuana dealing with permits and business taxes will go before the San Diego City Council.

NBC7 heard Marti Emerald could address the issue again then, that is if the state does not do something about regulation.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Military Cigarette Benefits Under Fire]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 21:05:38 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/cig_in_hand.jpg

Cigarettes and the U.S. military have a long history, but a possible change in benefits has the habit under fire, with the relationship between big tobacco and our fighting forces possibly coming to an end.

The Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee has approved a $549 billion defense spending bill that would eliminate the 25 percent discount on cigarettes for the armed services.

The bill is creating a heated debate.

Local representative Duncan Hunter, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps before joining U.S. Congress disagrees with the move, telling NBC 7, in part:

"Service men and women do a lot in defense of this country and they ask little in return. If they want to buy cigarettes or chewing tobacco, both legal products, that's a decision they make individually."

Debra Klohe, a mother-in-law of a Marine feels the same.

“They put their life at risk and they should have any kind of discount that they have, they shouldn't have their rights and their discounts taken away from them,” said Klohe.

One U.S. senator estimates the illnesses and health care costs from smoking at about $1.6 billion a year.

Greg Gamble, a retired member of the Navy who lost family members to lung disease, agrees with the subcommittee’s call.

“I don't smoke personally never have never will and I disregard anything in regards to smoking,” said Gamble. “But in the Navy they definitely have to have their two things: cigarettes and coffee.

The U.S. military’s ties to tobacco date back to World War I, according to Debra Kelley with the American Lung Association,

“Every solider got a free pack of cigarettes with their K-rations. The use of tobacco has really been embedded in the military,” said Kelley.

Due to mounting health concerns, Kelley said the American Lung Association has been urging the military to eliminate the cigarette discount for years.

“When you look at the ultimate effect of selling low-cost tobacco products to our troops it's basically death and a discount,” she added.

The defense bill still has to pass through a number of hurdles. It’s also worth noting that the tobacco lobby gives significant funding to lawmakers.

If the bill does pass, it would go into effect Oct. 1.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Marijuana Edibles, Hash Oil Ban Considered]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 19:32:13 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/marijuana+generic.jpg

A San Diego City Council committee is considering banning edible marijuana products like cookies and brownies as well as the by-products of the plant such as hash oil.

City Councilmember Marti Emerald wants to ban edibles and hashish oils from being sold out of medical marijuana dispensaries.

She told NBC 7 she’s concerned about the safety of hash oil and food products such as brownies and lollipops.

Until there is government oversight, Emerald said, the products should be pulled off dispensary shelves.

“I think we need to have a safety net for consumers,” Emerald said. “Especially the sick, vulnerable patients who go to these stores, who look for something to relieve symptoms.”

“Here we have a growing industry that is making a considerable profit off food products and various by products of marijuana, and no government entity is watching,” she added.

Emerald is concerned that marijuana brownies and cookies could cause salmonella poisoning, just for starters. She also worries that not enough is known about what is in the hash oil.

However, medical marijuana advocates argue that the edibles and hash oil are the very alternatives used by the sickest of patients who can't or don’t want to smoke it.

Medicinal marijuana advocate Cynara Velazquez believes an outright ban is not the answer.

“In the meantime who suffers?” Velazquez asked. “People with MS, children whose epilepsy is being controlled by this. I don’t think banning is the right thing to do for something that cannot cause death by overdose.”

Advocates said they are offering a version of regulations that local leaders can consider adopting until the state issues its own regulations. The issue was discussed Wednesday at a meeting of the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee.

“Who is going to be hurt by this ban are the patients who don't smoke, who are really sick and don't use it as a recreational drug,” said one speaker at the meeting.

Meanwhile, another speaker agreed with Emerald, saying we would all be shocked if we saw how filthy some of the “pot shops” are

The ban did not make it out of committee, but an ordinance on medical marijuana dealing with permits and business taxes will go before the full San Diego City Council in November.

A spokesperson for Emerald said she could bring up the ban again at that time, if the state of California does not do something to address the lack of regulations before then.

<![CDATA[Fitness Fail: 25 Percent of Americans Do Not Exercise]]> Wed, 16 Jul 2014 14:24:40 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/184441381.jpg

Californians are slightly more active than the average American -- one in four of whom do not participate in any voluntary exercise, according to new report by the Centers for Disease Control.

The 2014 State Indicator Report on Physical Activity looked at how states support exercise in local communities.

A survey of every state and the District of Columbia found that 25.4 percent of American adults engaged in no voluntary exercise. For young people the number is 15.2 percent.

The percentage of Americans that met this more rigorous benchmark was 20.6 percent.

According to the report, Californians were a bit more active than the average American with only 19.1 percent of adults not engaging in voluntary exercise. Californian adults that met the government recommendations were 23.7 percent.

Numbers on youth exercise rates for the state were unavailable.

Physical activity guidelines released by the U.S. Department of Health recommend that adults participate in at least 150 minutes a week of aerobic physical activity and two or more times a week of muscle-strengthening activities.

The report is designed to help local governments create safe places for kids and adults to participate in physical activities, enhance activities in school and child care environments and develop policies in urban planning that allow people to walk or bike to work.

This is especially important for the quarter of adults in the U.S. who reported no physical activity at all. Mississippi, Tennessee, West Virginia, Louisiana and Alabama rounded out the top five most sedentary states in the country.

California does better than the national average of the percentage of youth that have access to parks and community centers and the state also has a policy on time spent on physical activity in PE class.

However, there is no state-provided policy guarantee for recess at school, unlike 30 other states.

Data for the report was taken from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an annual telephone survey with seven questions about exercise. For exercise behaviors in young people, data was taken from a classroom survey with questions about physical activities and education.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Local Camp Helps Kids With Autism]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 21:15:16 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Camp-I-Can-SD.jpg

If camp is a summer rite of passage for kids, there is one camp in San Diego making sure it includes all kids.

For the thirteenth year, Camp I Can is going on at the Toby Wells YMCA. More than 100 kids per summer go through the one-week-long camps at two different sites in San Diego County.

Every one of those kids has something in common: they are all on the autism spectrum.

Susie Horton’s son, Troy, has been going to the camp for six summers. She says it’s a place where the kids don’t have to feel different.

“It’s kind of a sixth sense that they have,” she said. “They all kind of know that they’re similar and they can feel comfortable to be themselves.”

The advantage of the camp is all the staff members are specially trained to work with kids who have special needs. The camp also keeps a high ratio of staff to camper to make sure the kids get enough attention.

However, that’s also the disadvantage.

Keeping the camps smaller means there’s limited space. Amy Munera with the Autism Society of San Diego said there’s a wait list every year and kids can only go for one week, rather than the entire summer.

“We don’t have that availability with the funding we have in line,” she explained. “So, we’re constantly trying to raise more money.”

The Autism Society helps subsidize the camp to make it more affordable for families. Munera said parents only pay about $250 per week, which is far less than a typical summer day camp.

Munera said she does not know of any other programs like this.

In the meantime, the number of kids diagnosed with autism in the U.S. continues to grow.

According to the most recent numbers from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in every 68 kids is now somewhere on the spectrum for Autism. Those 2010 numbers are more than double the number of one in every 150 kids back in the year 2000.

Munera said it’s still not clear if there are more cases, or better diagnoses.

“Whatever is causing it, we want to make sure we have programs and things available to these children and to their families,” she said.

Horton said her son was on the wait list this year and she worried he would not get in. She said her son looks forward to Camp I Can all year.

“He comes home with a huge smile,” she said. “He feels like this is his family.”

For more information on how you can help Camp I Can, click here.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[New Bed Designed to Help Premature Babies]]> Thu, 17 Jul 2014 07:49:16 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/premature-birth-lifestart-b.jpg

A premature baby was resuscitated in San Diego last week using a new, specialized bed designed just for preemies.

Averi Snyder was born four weeks early and not breathing. Her umbilical cord was tied in a knot.

Mom Kim Snyder said the doctor didn't immediately alert her to the dangers but dad Shane Snyder said he saw the whole thing.

Seconds after she was delivered, Averi was placed into a special bed so that the team of doctors at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital could pump oxygen into her lungs while she was still attached to her mother's umbilical cord.

Within the first minute, Averi began to “pink up."

“[I was] mesmerized by what was going on and how everything took place and how fast they had her breathing,” Shane said. “It was pretty amazing.”

Kim was able to see Averi and kiss her before the staff took the newborn to the NICU.

The Snyders are one of the first families in the U.S. to use the new LifeStart resuscitation bed.

It's designed to delay umbilical cord clamping for the sickest or most premature babies, allowing them to receive blood and other fluids from mom.

It's a modern twist to an old concept that Snyder wishes was around when she delivered her first child.

“It's amazing and it’s lucky,” she said. “Our first child could've really benefitted from it. I hope that other parents get to experience it."

Sharp Mary Birch Hospital rolled out the equipment just last week becoming the first American hospital to put them in use.

Neonatologist Anup Katheria, M.D. said the beds are part of a research study focusing on pre-term births, or those babies delivered before 40 weeks.

The idea is that if doctors can start giving a distressed baby some oxygen at birth, they can take advantage of the first minute of life outside the womb and improve the infant’s outcome.

“Once the baby begins breathing in that first minute, the blood can naturally flow into the lungs allowing more stabilization to occur,” he said.

Umbilical cord blood is full of stem cells, oxygen carrying blood cells and white blood cells that help fight infections.

The fluids also help improve the baby's heart functions and reduce the child’s need for oxygen and blood transfusions.

The beds are placed beside the mother during delivery.

Each bed has a heated pad that mimics skin-to-skin warmth and allows the infant to be warmed from above and below.

So far, 10 babies have been treated using the four beds currently in use at the hospital.

As for Averi, she was still in the hospital Monday and progressing every day.

Her parents hope to take her home from the hospital on Wednesday. 

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Friends Share Certain Genes: Study]]> Tue, 15 Jul 2014 08:10:59 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/friends_picture_generic.jpg

A new study suggests people share more than just common interests with their friends -- they may also share genes.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego surveyed nearly 2,000 people in a study and found best friends have the most genetic similarities.

"There's a lot of explanations on why we would tend to associate with other people who are similar," said Matthew Jackson, a professor of economics at Stanford University. "This sort of adds a whole other layer to it. A deeper layer than one we had anticipated."

Jackson also said one of the most interesting parts of the study is the claim friends have a similar sense of smell, which is something that can bring them together.

"So somehow evolutionary pressures must push us to sense these things and to be able to recognize them even though we don't necessarily consciously see that," Jackson said.

Photo Credit: clipart.com]]>
<![CDATA[New Procedure May Help With Obesity Disease]]> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 21:54:15 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/LAgenerics+health+medical+doctor+01.jpg

Some men and women have trouble losing weight no matter how much they diet and exercise. In some cases, it may be a fat-storage disease called lipidema.

Seventeen million women suffer from lipidema, a disease that causes disproportionate fat accumulation in the legs, abdomen and arms.

"Diet and exercise doesn't help," said Jasna Tursic, who was diagnosed with the disease a few years ago.

Another woman who with lipidema, Lisa Maria Jones, said she has struggled with her weight.

"I started dieting," she recalled. "I went on this ridiculously low-calorie diet and I was not successful." 

Both local women were treated recently for the problem with a new procedure that combines multiple techniques.

“This is not easy, typical liposuction surgery,” said Dr. David Amron, a cosmetic surgeon based in Beverly Hills at Spalding Drive Plastic Surgery, who performed both surgeries. “These are very difficult areas to do. Many (are) areas that surgeons typically will avoid unless they have a lot of experience.”

Amron does the procedure in four steps.

First, he injects numbing medicine to the affected areas. Then, he uses an ultrasound and a laser to loosen and remove some of the fat tissue. That is followed by what Amron calls "debulking" - liposuction to remove the heaviest fat.

He then does a laser procedure for additional skin tightening. The entire process takes two-and-a-half hours.

Jasna said she saw immediate changes.

“It wasn’t painful. Recovery was very quick and results were great,” she said. "I feel amazing. (It) changed my life in so many ways."

Dr Bruce says: “Since obesity is a medical problem, this treatment may sometimes be covered by insurance. Any woman or man who is having trouble losing weight should visit a specialist to see if this is a problem."

<![CDATA[Breakthrough May Revive Reading Vision]]> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 19:57:19 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/197*120/eyelens3.JPG

Reading vision can worsen with age, but a breakthrough two-step lens procedure could potentially cure the often inevitable vision problem.

The lens is part of an FDA study taking place in Southern California with Dr. Kerry Assil leading the study in his Beverly Hills office.

While nearsightedness or farsightedness can be cured by Lasik surgery, presbyopia requires a change in the eye’s lens.

NBC4 spoke to the first woman to get the procedure, who cannot be named because she is part of the FDA study.

"Within a few hours, I was already starting to be able to see without glasses," she said.

The entire procedure was done in two steps.

In the first step, Assil uses a laser to create a tunnel in the cornea to serve as a pocket for the lens. In the second step, he inserts the lens and places it on top of the cornea.

"At times it was a little bit painful," the woman said. "But it was a very short surgery."

"To date of all the procedures that I’ve performed to try and compensate for presbyopia," Assil said. "This has been the one treatment that seems to work the best."

The procedure is still experimental and is still being studied, but it may lead the way in reading vision restoration.

<![CDATA[Congressman to FDA: Lift Ban on Gay Blood Donors]]> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 20:41:00 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/07-07-2014-generic-blood-drive-blood-donation-stock.jpg

A Bay Area congressman is calling on the Food and Drug Administration to lift the ban preventing gay and bisexual men from donating blood.

Mike Honda (D-San Jose) started an online petition to try to get the FDA to overturn the ban. He says the ban is outdated, discriminatory and based on decades-old fears that have been discounted by science.

“The FDA should end the ban and revise its policy and focus on behavior and individual risk, and not on sexual orientation,” Honda said Monday.

After holding a news conference Monday afternoon, Honda was joined by other leaders - including Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen and County Supervisor Dave Cortese - for a blood drive outside the county administration building on Hedding Street.

Honda's online petition has more than 51,000 signatures so far.

The South Bay congressman is not the first Bay Area politician to take a stance against the law. In August 2013, then-mayor of Campbell Evan Low hosted a blood drive and tried to roll up his sleeves and donate. Low was turned away because he is gay.

Low said it was discrimination and called on the FDA to repeal the ban.

“I could host the blood drive but I could not donate blood myself,” Low said.

Gay and bisexual men have been turned away from blood donation centers since 1977.

Now, every pint of blood is tested for HIV/AIDS.

“There’s a lot of bias and fear associated with the issue,” Honda said. “In 2014, we need to apply science and data to this issue.”

Even with medical advances, the FDA stands by the policy, saying on its website that men who have had sex with men have an increased risk for HIV:

"FDA's deferral policy is based on the documented increased risk of certain transfusion transmissible infections, such as HIV, associated with male-to-male sex and is not based on any judgment concerning the donor's sexual orientation."

The American Red Cross and the America Medical Association support the proposal that would allow gay men to donate. The United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia allow gay men to donate.


Then-Campbell Mayor Evan Low attempts to donate blood in this file image from 2013.


Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[San Diego Deputies First in State to Carry OD Antidote]]> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 10:19:05 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/l_apnaloxone-narcan-opioidantidotex1200.jpg

Come Monday, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department will become the first law enforcement agency in California to carry an antidote that could save the lives of drug overdose victims.

According to the department, starting on July 7 deputies from the Santee Sheriff’s Station will carry Naloxone, a generic form of the drug known as Narcan, a nasal spray that can be given to victims of an opiate overdose.

Deputies will carry the overdose antidote whenever they respond to 911 calls.

The sheriff’s department said deputies patrolling the East County communities of Santee, Lakeside and unincorporated El Cajon will text Naloxone for six months to determine the effectiveness of implementing the program throughout the department’s jurisdiction in San Diego County.

Scripps Health, a nonprofit integrated health system in San Diego, donated $4,500 to purchase the antidote for the six-month trial period.

The pilot program will be administered under the director of County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Director, Dr. Bruce Haynes, who helped develop the protocol, procedures and training necessary for the deputies to safely administer the antidote, sheriff's officials said.

Under the program, deputies – who are the first to respond to a scene – will be allowed to administer Naloxone to overdose victims prior to the arrival of EMS units when every second is critical.

The antidote comes in a small kit with an applicator to create a nasal spray. A squirt in each nostril, like a flu vaccine, puts the medication in the bloodstream. It quickly interrupts the opiate response, which restores the addict’s ability to breathe and increases the heart rate.

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore believes the antidote could make a huge difference and released the following statement about the trial:

“Our goal is to save lives. Overdoses from opiate-based prescription and illicit drugs, like Oxycodone and heroin, have taken the lives of children and adults alike in San Diego County. Sheriff's Deputies will be trained to administer Naloxone when they are the first responders on the scene of an overdose. Once the immediate danger passes, there can be a path to recovery which will hopefully break the cycle of drug addiction. "

As part of the program, when Naloxone is used in the field deputies will also give victims and their families a brochure with information on how to recognize signs of an overdose, as well as treatment options.

In addition, the McAlister Institute has partnered with the sheriff’s department to provide drug prevention and addiction treatment services during the Naloxone pilot program.

As always, anyone struggling with substance abuse or trying to help a loved one coping with addiction can call the McAlister Institute at (619) 442‐0277 or (619) 987‐6393. Counselors are available 24 hours a day on the County's Crisis Hotline at (888) 724‐7240.

In March, NBC 7 reported that this antidote would soon become available to San Diego deputies.

Since more than 300 San Diegans are expected to die from heroin or prescription opiate overdoses this year alone, the local sheriff’s department has been at the forefront of a national effort to reduce those deaths.

A number of East Coast police departments have implemented the use of Narcan, but the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department will be the biggest agency in the nation to approve the drug.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Long Lines at Pot Farmers Market]]> Sat, 05 Jul 2014 03:56:49 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.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.


<![CDATA[Most People Fail to Wash Hands When Cooking Chicken: Study]]> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 06:31:39 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/raw-chicken.jpg

Instead of washing their hands, most people prefer to wash their chicken.

And that's not right -- or safe. Unless you want salmonella poisoning or other unsavory ailments.

Mistakes, miscues and other errors while handling poultry are very common, according to a study conducted by UC Davis researchers.

Almost two-thirds of people observed by researchers did not wash their hands prior to handling poultry, according to the Sacramento Bee -- and 38 percent didn't wash their hands after handling raw poultry.

Instead, about half of people observed washed the chicken, the newspaper reported.

Other crimes committed by chicken-cookers, according to Christine Bruhn, a food-safety expert at the university:

  • 40 percent did not cook the chicken to 165 degrees Fahrenheit;
  • 90 percent did not wash their hands properly.

The summertime is peak season for food-borne illnesses, as many outdoor grillers fail to follow proper procedures, according to Karen Ross, secretary of the state Department of Food and Agriculture.




Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Novel Pacemaker Could Make MRI a Safe Option]]> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 06:30:04 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/LAgenerics+health+medical+doctor+01.jpg

MRI scans save lives by detecting diseases and identifying injuries, but for millions of people with pacemakers these important tests have been off limits.

The magnet and radio frequency from the MRI damages conventional pacemakers, making it potentially dangerous for patients and sometimes impossible for doctors to read results.

That is why Dr. Raymond Schaerf of Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank is participating in a clinical study to test a new MRI-friendly pacemaker called the Accent, offering the device as an option to his patients. It is the first pacemaker in the U.S. that can scan any part of the body.

“There are various parts of the body that are very dependent upon on a good MRI to tell us what to do,” Schaerf said. “What we find is that of all people that get pacemakers or defibrillators, within 3 to 5 years, 70 percent of them can benefit with getting an MRI done.”

That could make it easier for doctors to diagnose and treat an illness or injury in their patients.

The Accent works alongside a wireless device used by the doctor. Before the patient gets an MRI, the device notifies the doctor if the pacemaker is safe to go through the scan. The doctor can also use the device to turn the pacemaker off temporarily, if necessary, or keep it on during the procedure.

The Accent is still in the first phase of testing, but Schaerf expects it to be widely available in the coming years.  

<![CDATA["Super-Toxic" Rat Poison Sale Banned in California]]> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 03:56:53 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/rats3.jpg

There’s a change coming to California stores that may help protect wildlife.

State authorities have banned the sale of a toxic rat poison after deeming it a significant danger to animals.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation imposed the ban Monday, restricting second generation anticoagulant rodenticides – commonly referred to as “super-toxic” rat poisons – from being sold to California consumers.

The products were sold under names such as d-CON Mouse Prufe II, d-CON Bait Pellets and Just One Bite, the agency said.

“They had to be removed from store shelves – only people who are trained and certified to handle them will be allowed to use them in California,” said DPR spokesperson Charlotte Fadipe.

Fadipe said that the now-banned rodenticide contained the chemicals brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difenacoum or difethialone, which DPR classified as “restrictive materials.”

“If a rat comes along and eats these poisons on a Monday, it will still be running around on a Tuesday or Wednesday – during that time if a barn owl or a coyote eats the rat, the poison ends up in their bodies,” Fadipe said. “That’s why it’s so dangerous.”

Sometimes even pets may eat the rodents, Fadipe said.

A study conducted by DPR and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife from 1995 to 2010 found residues of the poison in 75 percent of the dead animals studied.

Animals adversely affected by the poison include barn owls, bobcats, coyotes, raccoons and the endangered San Joaquin kit fox.

“There’s a whole range of methods to tackle pests, including non-chemical ones, like getting a cat or an owl, or using other products that are not a threat to wildlife,” Fadipe said.

Reckitt Benckiser, one of the 17 manufacturers of the poison, initially tried to delay the consumer ban, taking DPR to court.

But a Superior Court judge agreed with the ban and the company has agreed to phase out production nationally by next year.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[LA Pot Dispensary Farmers Market]]> Sat, 28 Jun 2014 19:09:14 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.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[Pertussis Cases Nearly Double 2013's Total]]> Fri, 27 Jun 2014 17:47:54 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/vaccine2.jpg

 The 2014 number of pertussis cases has nearly doubled last year’s total in San Diego County, according to new data from the county Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA).

Health officials warn seven new whooping cough cases popped up last week in places where the public may have been exposed, bringing the 2014 total up to 759 confirmed cases.

Last year, HHSA workers confirmed just 431 cases. If the whooping cough epidemic continues to grow, it could break 2010’s record high of 1,179 cases in the county.

San Diego's trends are tracking closely with those seen statewide. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) reports that 1,100 new cases have been seen across the state in the last two weeks.

That means 4,558 people reported whooping cough symptoms this year alone, compared to last year’s 2,532 total cases. One more infant has also died, bringing the total infant deaths to three.

CDPH officials announced last week that the pertussis cases have officially reached epidemic proportions.

The seven most recent patients in San Diego County may have exposed others at the following locations:

  • A 7-year-old and 10-year-old at Riverview Elementary School in the Lakeside Union School District
  • A 7-year-old at Rios Elementary School in the Cajon Valley Union School District
  • A 10-year-old at Innovation Middle School in the San Diego Unified School District
  • A 13-year-old at Our Lady’s School in San Diego
  • A person at Charley Brown Children’s Center in La Mesa
  • A person at Fisher Children’s Center at Camp Pendleton

All patients were all up-to-date for their age on pertussis immunizations, HHSA officials say.

“Parents should remain vigilant for signs of whooping cough to help prevent the spread of this disease,” said Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Everyone should be up-to-date on their vaccinations and booster shot.

In a typical case, pertussis starts with a cough and runny nose for one to two weeks, and then the patient develops rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with the distinctive “whooping” sound.

Antibiotics can make the symptoms less severe and prevent the spread of the disease.

<![CDATA[Study: Rote Memorization Can Lead to False Memories]]> Thu, 26 Jun 2014 15:55:57 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/brain_scan_722x406_2214458385.jpg

Most people who have crammed for a test know about rote memorization, also known as hammering the same information into your brain until it stays there.

Common sense says that going over the same thing again and again would make it easier to remember, but a new study from UC Irvine suggests rote memorization also comes at a price.

Researchers Zachariah Reagh and Michael Yassa published a study in the journal "Learning & Memory" which found that while repetition can enhance the factual content of memories, it also has the added effect of reducing the amount of detail stored in those memories.

Basically, this means that while repeated interaction with the same material highlights some ideas, it does so at the cost of specifics.

In the study, participants looked at images a different numbers of times and were tested on their memories of the image afterwards.

What the research showed is while repetition strengthened memorization of main ideas, participants who viewed the images multiple times were more easily fooled by “imposter” pictures.

The study implies that repetition shakes loose details in memory, giving credence to Competitive Trace Theory, another idea discussed by the pair of researchers.

At its simplest level, Competitive Trace Theory says that the more times a memory is recalled, the more it competes with other bits of similar memories, possibly leading to false memories being formed.

The researchers compared it to a brain version of the children’s telephone game.

Previous findings on memory supported the idea that repetitive recollection lessens the ability to remember things accurately.

Research done at Northwestern University suggests that when a person remembers something, they aren’t actual recalling the actual memory, but instead the last time they brought it to mind.

Yassa, a professor of neurobiology at UC Irvine, concludes in the study that while his findings do not discredit the entire practice of repetitive learning, it should be combined with other memory techniques for a learning experience that really sticks.