<![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 Sun, 20 Apr 2014 23:27:40 -0700 Sun, 20 Apr 2014 23:27:40 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Pastor Creates Potentially Life-Saving Device]]> Sat, 19 Apr 2014 17:23:54 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Pastor-Swimming-Device-0417.jpg

Nearly five years after the drowning death of a 7-year-old boy, a San Diego-area pastor is making it his mission to keep it from happening to other children.

To this day, the sight of his backyard swimming pool brings back memories of one of the toughest times in Pastor George McKinney’s life.

"It was just a horrifying scene,” McKinney says while walking around his pool. "We were just having an exciting time, and then it happened.”

In September of 2009, 7-year-old Albert Jones was playing in McKinney’s pool with friends. Pastor McKinney was upstairs in his bedroom when he heard cries and screams coming from the backyard.

 "I saw my wife and her sister were doing CPR. We called 911,” McKinney explains. "They said they were able to get a pulse. I heard one of them say to the other, they got a pulse.”

Paramedics rushed little Albert to the hospital but unfortunately, that’s where he died. For years, Pastor McKinney lived with the guilt.

"I couldn't even go into the backyard. I had a hard time just walking around the pool,” he said. "The whole family was devastated and we kept asking, how could this happen. How could this happen?”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger.

The organization cites lack of swimming ability, barriers for pools and other water sources and lack of supervision are the top three reasons for drownings in the U.S.  One of the keys to preventing drowning is to have someone watch children in the water.

"I thought of an idea. What if we had a second set of eyes," he recalled.

So he went to work to create and patent a device called the Albert Jones Anti-Distress Device.

McKinney says a swimmer can wear it and it will send signals to a lifeguard or parent if the person in the water is in trouble.

"This is something that can help people respond immediately because you only have two or three minutes," he said.

The device is still in the beginning stages of development but McKinney says his mission goes deeper.

"If no one ever buys a device and we are able to bring attention to someone who can expose their children to swimming, and they can learn to swim adequately, then it's worth it,“ he said.

For more information on how to prevent drownings, click here. 

<![CDATA[ACT Today for Military Families]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 14:25:48 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/alspaugh-jackson.jpg ACT executive director Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson visits NBC 7 News Midday to discuss an event planned for Saturday, April, 19. ]]> <![CDATA[Boy Behind Playground Wish Loses Cancer Battle]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 18:00:45 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Jose-Montano-Brain-Cancer.jpg

A San Diego boy who inspired so many when he used a “Make-a-Wish request” to build a school playground has lost his battle against cancer.

Jose Montano died Sunday just five days before what would have been the third anniversary of his diagnosis, his parents announced on his foundation’s Facebook page.

In April 2011, Jose underwent brain surgery to remove a golf-ball sized tumor from the base of his brain. He woke up from surgery with a loss of strength and coordination on his left side.

Rounds of chemotherapy followed.

When Jose was approached by Make-a-Wish, he could have made any wish he wanted come true. But he wasn't thinking about himself.

Instead, he asked the organization to build a new playground for his classmates at Berry Elementary School.

When the playground opened in March 2012, NBC 7 asked Jose why he didn’t choose something like a trip to DisneyWorld or a day with skateboarder Tony Hawk.

“I felt that they needed my wish more,” the 11-year-old told NBC 7.

The school's former principal Cynthia Smith-Ough commended him on the act of kindness. His parents said they hoped Jose’s choice would inspire more families to help others instead of thinking of themselves.

On Sunday, Jose’s father posted this on the FB page for the Jose Montano Foundation:

“Five days before his third year anniversary of being diagnosed, Jose, my hero, my baby, my teacher was called to heaven yesterday. I know he is now playing in God's playground and being our guardian angel. Thank you Choncho for blessing my family and for teaching us life's most important lessons. We will remember you every single day for the rest of our lives. Te amo mi niño chulo.”

Jose was named as NBC 7's Inspirational Student in December 2011.

He also received the American Red Cross Youth Hero Award and was honored by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors with a Jose Montano Day in December 2013.

His foundation supplies healthy snacks and toys for children battling cancer in local hospitals.

Photo Credit: Jose Montano Foundation]]>
<![CDATA[10 New Whooping Cough Cases Confirmed]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 03:57:07 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/measles-vaccination.jpg

 The spread of the persistent whooping cough – also known as pertussis – continues in San Diego County as health officials confirmed ten new cases in the past week.

Even more may have been exposed, according to the county’s Health and Human Services Agency.

The confirmed cases bring the county’s total up to 198 so far this year, compared to only 39 this time last year.

All the new whooping cough cases were among children who were up-to-date on their vaccinations:

  • An infant at Kid’s Place Child Watch at the Mission Valley YMCA on Friars Road 
  • A 3-year-old at La Jolla Presbyterian Church Preschool in La Jolla
  • A 5-year-old at Franklin Elementary School in San Diego Unified School District
  • An 8-year-old at Vista Grande Elementary School in Cajon Valley Union School District in El Cajon
  • A 13-year-old at Black Mountain Middle School 
  • A 14-year-old at Patrick Henry High School
  • A 16-year-old at Hoover High School 
  • A 17-year-old at Mt. Everest Academy
  • A 17-year-old at Rancho Bernardo High School 
  • A 17-year-old at Canyon Crest Academy 

Throughout all of 2013, 430 pertussis cases were reported, and a high of 1,179 were reported 2010.

“It is extremely important that parents, caregivers and educators observe their children for symptoms of the disease so that those who are infected can get treatment immediately and don’t infect others,” said public health officer Wilma Wooten.

Signs of whooping cough start with a cough and runny nose for at least one week. That’s followed by weeks or months of rapid coughing fits that end with the distinctive whooping sound. Antibiotics can help with symptoms and prevent it from being spread.

Wooten also recommends that all parents or guardians make sure their children are up-to-date on their whooping cough vaccinations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevent recommend that children get DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) vaccine doses at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months and 4 to 6 years. Beyond that, preteens and adults can get a Tdap booster.

The sickness presents a bigger risk to infants, who have not received the full series of doses.

Photo Credit: Zheng shuai - Imaginechina]]>
<![CDATA[Tick Carrying Disease Found at Lopez Canyon]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 16:51:06 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Lopez-Canyon.jpg A tick carrying an extremely rare disease was recently found in Mira Mesa’s Lopez Canyon. The County Vector Control wants visitors to be cautious while running or hiking on the trails. NBC 7's Lauren Lee reports.]]> <![CDATA[Removing Stigma from Lung Cancer]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 07:46:26 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Molly-Golbon.jpg

Molly Golbon doesn't take much for granted these days.

The 39-year old married working mom of two knows life can take unexpected turns. For her, it came with a pain in her throat, tiredness, and cough that wouldn't go away. 

"I went in for an MRI, and that's when they found there was something on the MRI," Golbon recalled. That something turned out to be lung cancer. "I think when they told me it was lung cancer, I thought it can't be. It can't be. It's probably bronchitis or pneumonia, it's not that."

Unfortunately, it was.

Until her diagnosis, Golbon, like many people, thought only smokers got lung cancer.

"The stigma for lung cancer is that it's a smoker's cancer and it's not. I've never smoked. No one in my family ever smoked," Golbon said.

Over a three week period, after going through a series of tests and scans, Golbon learned her cancer had spread into her brain, left hip and right shoulder.

"It was just too much to handle," Golbon said. "I think I had thoughts that my 4-1/2-year-old would not have any memory of me, and I just couldn't bear that thought."

Molly Golbon and her family enjoy an afternoon together at home.

Not Just a Smoker's Disease

When it comes to lung cancer, the statistics are scary. It kills more people than colon, breast, and prostate cancer combined.

While the majority of people who get lung cancer have smoked in the past, many, like Golbon, are non-smokers.

"Our estimates were about  10 percent of men in the U.S. who have never smoked get lung cancer and about 20 percent of women," said Golbon's oncologist Dr. Heather Wakalee, a nationally renowned  thoracic oncologist at Stanford University Medical Center.

"There's a lot of work being done trying to figure out how lung cancer in never smokers differ from lung cancer in smokers," Dr. Wakalee explained. "About a decade ago we were able to identify that there were gene mutations, changes in that particular gene that led to changes in the EGFR protein, and when that happened, it would develop lung cancer. It was the driving force behind lung cancer."

Treating Lung Cancer without Chemotherapy or Radiation

Dr. Wakalee suspected Golbon had this type of gene mutation and tested her for it.

"I was EGFR positive," Golbon said, which was was some of the best news she could have received. "If there was a cancer lottery, I feel like I had won it because I didn't have to go through chemotherapy, I didn't have to go through radiation, at least not yet." 

Here's why. With this type of lung cancer, doctors usually start out treating patients with oral medications. Since December, Golbon has been taking an oral drug called Tarceva, and the results have been remarkable.

Molly Golbon takes one Tarceva pill a day.

"My tumor was down 50 percent in February," she said. Not only that, the cancer that metastasized to Golbon's hip, shoulder, and brain is now almost undetectable.

This quick response to the medication isn't surprising to Dr. Wakalee.

"These drugs tend to work really quickly, they work within a week or two and people generally start to feel better, but they don't work forever," Dr. Wakalee said.

Every patient is different. Some patients stay on the medication for years, but for other people stop seeing benefits sooner.

"I can't tell someone how long they have, but I can tell them this is their step one," Dr. Wakalee said.

Golbon understands this, but for now, she's feeling healthier and is in a lot less pain.

"I'm breathing really well. I'm back to work. I'm back to yoga. I'm back to working out and to think it was one little pill."

Lung Cancer Research

Part of the reason Golbon decided to share her story was to get more funding for lung cancer research. At any given time, there's anywhere from 15 to 20 lung cancer clinical trials going on at Stanford.

"We couldn't have all these new drugs without doing the clinical trials," Dr. Wakalee said. "We all need to be working together to figure out how do we move forward to help everyone with the disease."


American Lung Association

Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation


<![CDATA[Cruise Ship with Sick Passengers Sails Into San Diego Bay]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 16:48:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Crown-Princess-0410.jpg

A cruise ship carrying dozens of sick passengers sailed into San Diego Bay Thursday morning.

The Crown Princess reported Monday that 37 people were showing symptoms of a gastrointestinal illness. That number more than tripled to 117 in four days.

Those sick include 94 passengers and 23 crew members out of more than 3,000 people onboard.

Princess Cruises confirmed Thursday the 117 patients have contracted the extremely contagious stomach ailment called the Norovirus.

“I think it’s being blown out of proportion a little bit because we are hearing all these reports, but I haven’t actually seen or met anyone who is sick,” passenger Brandon Marcia said. “They are doing a good job of keeping everything clean.”

Princess Cruises says they now have a sanitation plan in place following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) standards.

Crew members are disinfecting the ship’s high-touch surfaces, including elevator buttons and door handles. They are also encouraging passengers to wash their hands often and confining patients to their rooms.

Passengers say crew members are now serving guests at the buffet instead of letting people serve themselves.

The ship will dock along the Embarcadero for most of the day before the group heads south to Ensenada.

On Wednesday, the ship docked in Santa Barbara. Passengers told NBC 7 that some restaurants in Santa Barbara had signs saying they wouldn’t serve Crown Princess passengers.

The ship will be back in Los Angeles Saturday.

The cruise line said it will not issue any refunds.

<![CDATA[Burns Drugs Is Closing]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 14:39:05 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Burns-Drugs-closing-0407.jpg

A familiar fixture in La Jolla is closing its doors after decades in business.

Burns Drugs, one of La Jolla's oldest independently-owned retail stores, will close on April 15.

The pharmacy is known for its customer service and for its staff who have worked with the business for years.

Resident Bob Salkin said he was sick about the news.

“I think my wife will cry, really,” Salkin said.

The store’s owner is retiring and has agreed to transfer prescriptions to the CVS pharmacy on Eads Avenue, according to The La Jolla Light.

The newspaper reports that the full-time staffers at Burns Drugs will be offered positions at CVS.

Gail Baccaglini has been a customer there since 1950.

She was horrified about the news because she sees the closure of the independently-owned drug store as a sign of a change in The Village where she enjoys having a relationship with business owners and staff.

“Burns is very symbolic of that,” she said. “I find it disappointing. I find it worrisome for La Jolla.”

For Salkin, finding a replacement pharmacy will be difficult.

“They deliver to our house. They’re responsive. They’re fantastic. They’re like family,” he said.

Even though prescriptions won’t be filled beyond next week, the store will stay open until May while it sells off its remaining inventory.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 ]]>
<![CDATA[E-Cigarette Study Causes Firestorm of Controversy]]> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 08:16:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/vaping-ecigs-smoking-san-di.jpg

Aaron Han's been cigarette free for at least two years.

"I was a cigarette smoker for 7 years," he says while puffing on an electronic cigarette at the Vape Shoppe and Lounge in Hillcrest.

He credits vaping for helping him to kick the habit.

“It curbs the need for smoking cigarettes and the nicotine," he said.

As much as the new vice may be helping former smokers, data released today by the Centers for Disease Control-- regarding e-cigarettes is creating a firestorm of controversy.

A study notes that an increasing number of people, especially young children, are falling ill after coming in contact with the liquid nicotine or juice found inside .

Because of the high concentration of nicotine, the very toxic liquid can be extremely dangerous if someone touches it or accidentally swallows it.

The CDC report found on average just one phone call per month to a poison center related to e-cigarettes in 2010.

That jumped exponentially to more than 200-per month early this year. Most of the calls involving children under the age 6.

Jesse Kovacs owns the Liquid Lounge in the Gaslamp District.

He's not blowing off children's safety concerns but says parental supervision is key.

“If it’s any other liquid like bleach you have under bathroom counter you have to be mindful
of it because you never know if you have young kids and they can get into it and it can be harmful," said Kovacs.

The California Poison Control System says e-cigarette related calls are on the rise in the state.

So far more than 140 since 2013.

They say a quarter of those likely from a four-county area that includes San Diego. 

As it stands now the refill bottles don’t have child-proof tops like aspiring or prescription drugs.

<![CDATA[3 Die of Meningitis in LA]]> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 03:55:50 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/invasive+meningococcal+disease.jpg

A day after health officials said at least eight cases of the most dangerous form of meningitis hit Los Angeles County since January, officials reported that three men died from it.

The three men, between 27 and 28, who died, contracted meningitis through sexual contact with other men, officials said. They were HIV positive.

Half the confirmed eight cases were among gay men, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Of the remaining five, four have recovered. The condition of one is still unknown.

Invasive meningococcal disease, or IMD, is highly contagious and is the most severe form of meningitis, health officials said.

The health department came under fire when asked why officials hadn't reported that three men had died in the rash of cases this year.

"If people at home knew that these infections ended in fatalities, I think it would ramp up their interest, and perhaps urgency, of seeking out information about the disease," said Ged Kenslea, a spokesman for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Health officials said they were not hiding anything. They said they only wanted to urge gay and bisexual men to get the meningococcal vaccine regardless of HIV status, especially those who share cigarettes, marijuana or use illegal drugs, officials said.

Symptoms may include:

  • High fever
  • Stiff neck
  • Altered mental state
  • Skin rash
  • Severe headache
  • Low blood pressure
  • Aversion to bright lights
  • General muscle pain

Symptoms usually occur within 5 days of the exposure, but may present as many as 10 days after exposure. The disease progresses rapidly and officials urge immediate diagnosis and treatment.

People who do not have health insurance can get free vaccinations through the health department beginning Thursday.

For a listing of clinics, call the LA County Information Line at 211 or visit http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/.

<![CDATA[8,730 Pounds of Chicken Recalled]]> Wed, 02 Apr 2014 03:57:39 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/recalled-chicken.jpg

AdvancePierre Foods is recalling approximately 8,730 pounds of frozen chicken breast products due to misprinting and undeclared allergens, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The products recalled were "Our Down Home Style Chicken Breast Fritters for Chicken Frying" with lot code 5440730403 or 5440800403, produced March 14 and 21, 2014. Only these lot codes and dates are affected.

Oklahoma-based firm said these products were distributed to food service establishments in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Virginia.
AdvancePierre Foods discovered the issue during an internal label review. The USDA said the problem occurred when AdvancePierre Foods used labels with an incorrect ingredient statement.
There have been no reports of allergic reactions.

Photo Credit: USDA]]>
<![CDATA[Obama: ACA Helped Solana Beach Man]]> Wed, 02 Apr 2014 03:57:31 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/480487973.jpg

The first person highlighted in President Barack Obama's town hall on the Affordable Care Act Tuesday was a Solana Beach man.

Sean Casey was thrilled to get a call from the White House alerting him to the fact he would be profiled by the president, according to Casey's son.

"He seemed to be real excited," Fearghal Casey said.

From what his father knew he was going to be highlighted in a blog.

Fearghal Casey says his father didn't know about being mentioned in the President's speech.

The young Casey's reaction, "That's pretty cool."

President Obama told the nation that the Casey family paid $30,000 for insurance coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

Under ACA, the family's health care costs dropped to $9,000 according to the president.

Fearghal Casy said the family will benefit from Covered California the state's program under the Affordable Care Act saying, "We're saving a whole lot of money. We are being covered more broadly than before with lower deductibles."

Sean Casey was unavailable to talk to NBC 7 because he was serving jury duty.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Popular Kids Get Bullied Too: Study]]> Thu, 03 Apr 2014 13:58:07 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/90288628A.jpg

A study from UC Davis found that middle and high school students higher up on the popularity "food chain" are at risk of being harassed and gossiped about just as much as their less connected classmates.

Researchers say as kids climb higher up in their social hierarchy, they face a greater risk of being bullied.

“Most of these adverse consequences were worse for high-status targets,” researcher Robert Faris with UC Davis said in a university article.

“A single bullying event may be particularly psychologically and socially damaging for popular students who feel that they have farther to fall,” he continued.

Researchers warned that parents should not assume everything is fine at school if their kids seem to have a lot of friends.

The study suggests the only students who may be virtually safe from bullying are the top 5 percent of the school - those students who may be considered so popular that they are out of the reach of any potential rivals.

"The very top rung offers a safe perch above the fray," Faris is quoted in the study summary.

The study, titled “Casualties of Social Combat,” was published in the latest edition of the American Sociological Review.

Photo Credit: Image Source]]>
<![CDATA[Missed the Obamacare Deadline? Here's What You Should Know]]> Tue, 01 Apr 2014 04:31:27 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ObamaCarePic.jpg

March 31 was the day.

The last day to enroll in a health insurance plan on the federal and state Obamacare exchanges has officially past.

If you procrastinated, or if you're just wondering what happens next, here's what you need to know.

What if you didn't sign up by the deadline?

If you live in a state that uses the federal exchange and you haven't signed up by Monday night, not all is lost. An honor-system deadline extension may be available.

If you need extra time, explain that you tried to enroll during the open enrollment period but were not able to finish the process in time. (Initiating the online process before midnight or leaving your number on the phone hotline, for instance, would fulfill this requirement.) 

You can also request an extension based on qualifying life events. And some state-run exchanges have also extended the deadline further and have their own sets of rules.

But I didn't even try to sign up. What will happen to me?

If you can't say you tried to get a plan in time and didn't get health insurance by the deadline, you will have to pay a fee of $95 or 1 percent of your annual income — whichever is greater — on next year’s tax return.

I signed up for insurance. When will I be covered?

You must apply by April 15 in order to receive coverage starting in May. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the consumers who are "in line" on the exchanges will still be enrolled, though, provided they pay their first month's premium in time.

What if I can't afford insurance at all?

The penalty for not buying health insurance only applies to people who can afford insurance but don't get it. If you didn't sign up by the deadline because you can't afford health insurance, you won't be charged the fee.

If that's the case, you should call (800) 318-2596 to explore your Medicaid options. If you live in a state that is not expanding Medicaid, you will not have to pay the fee — but you probably won't receive any insurance.

What happens next year?

If you didn't sign up for an insurance plan this year, the enrollment period for next year will start Nov. 15 and continue through Feb. 15, 2015.

Photo Credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Sex Harassment Study: Surprise Effect on Military Men]]> Fri, 28 Mar 2014 04:46:59 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/military+troops+generic.jpg

Frightening and threatening sexual harassment in the military may cause its male victims more distress than its female victims, a new study by the American Psychological Association has found.

The study analyzed Pentagon data from 2002, in which 6,304 service members who reported sexual harassment were asked to define how the incident made them feel. Fifty-two percent of women said they faced frightening and threatening sexual harassment, compared with 19 percent of men.

Although women more frequently reported frightening experiences of sexual harassment, men were more often distressed by them, according to the APA study, published this month in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

Researchers were surprised to find that men had more trouble coping with the incidents of sexual harassment and had more issues with work performance as a result than women did.

“Men may be less likely to think they’ll be sexually harassed, so it’s a particularly strong violation of their expectations and that could result in stronger negative reactions,” Dr. Isis Settles wrote in the study. “Another possibility is that men feel less able to cope with their sexual harassment than women, who know it’s a possibility and therefore are perhaps more emotionally prepared.”

Military members endure a lot while in combat, and that stress, in combination with sexual harassment, can leave long-lasting negative psychological effects, explained Dr. Carrie Bulger, who chairs the psychology department at Quinnipiac University.

“The types of effects after discharge would mostly be related to psychological health, such as depressive symptoms, anxiety, and even some physical health issues such as frequent headaches,” said Bulger, who has done extensive research on the prevalence of sexual harassment in different settings.

Bulger cautioned that the APA study's findings do not imply that experiences of sexual harassment are less negative for women, but rather suggest that the effects on men were more pronounced.

“Sexual harassment of men should be given more attention than it is in the military and in other work organizations,” Bulger said. “This is not just a women's issue. It should be something we are all concerned about for the health of our military members.”

Bulger added that although the study analyzed data from 12 years ago, its findings are still valid, because the issue of sexual harassment still persists in the military. However, now that the military's "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy has been repealed, it is possible that conditions may have changed for openly gay military members, she noted.

<![CDATA[First Pet Hospice of Its Kind]]> Tue, 25 Mar 2014 11:11:18 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Pet-hospice-0325.jpg

Saying goodbye to a family pet is always hard to do.

Ken Wilson lost his 13- year-old dog, Ash, last year.

“It’s so hard when you have to work and take care of a pet. A kennel wasn’t good enough because they are a member of the family and he needed 24-hour supervision," Wilson said.

Wilson says he used a hospice center in Sorrento Valley that helped him cope in the last couple of months with his dog.

Into the Sunset opened this month and is the first hospice center of its kind in the nation.

Created after the owner Vivianne Villanueva lost her own dog, Lily, to cancer, the center aims to be a one-stop shop for your pet when they are reaching the end of their life.

She realized there wasn’t a group to help her after losing what she considered a member of the family.

“I wanted this to be a place where people could come so we could address their needs and it to be a warm, serene, loving environment. We wanted it to be a place that they felt comfortable and supported,” Villanueva said,

The consulting can cost up to $300 but overall costs vary depending on your pet’s needs.

The center offers acupuncture, nutritional care and ways to memorialize your pet once they are gone.

<![CDATA[Listeria Recall Affects Parkers Farm Products]]> Sun, 23 Mar 2014 16:10:12 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/1148953.jpg

A major recall out of Minnesota is affecting foods sold at Costco, Wal-Mart, Target, Whole Foods and more stores nationwide.

Parkers Farm Acquisition has issued a voluntary recall of certain peanut butter, cheese, salsa and spreads due to a possible Listeria contamination.

A Minnesota Department of Agriculture test first detected the bacteria.

No illnesses have been reported from the tainted food, but people who have bought the following products are encouraged to return them or throw them out:

  • 16-ounce Parkers peanut butter in square plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including creamy, crunchy, honey creamy and honey crunchy varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015
  • 34-ounce Parkers peanut butter in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including creamy and crunchy varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015
  • 12-ounce Parkers spreads in round or square plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including jalapeño and pimento varieties with a sell by date before 9/20/2014
  • 8-ounce and 16-ounce Parkers cold pack cheese in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including sharp cheddar, bacon, onion, smoked cheddar, Swiss almond, horseradish, garlic, port wine, and “Swiss & cheddar” varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015
  • 16-ounce Parkers salsa in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including hot, mild, garlic, and fire-roasted varieties with a sell by date before 7/20/2014
  • 10-ounce Parkers cheese balls or logs (plastic overwrap), including sharp cheddar, port wine, ranch, and “smokey bacon” varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015
  • 10-ounce Happy Farms cheese balls (plastic overwrap), including sharp cheddar and port wine varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015
  • 16-ounce Happy Farms cold pack cheese in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including sharp cheddar and port wine varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015
  • 8-ounce Central Markets cold pack cheese in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including sharp cheddar, port wine, horseradish, and Swiss almond varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015
  • 12-ounce and 20-ounce Hy-Top cheese spread in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including pimento and jalapeño varieties with a sell by date before 9/20/2014;
    8-ounce Amish Classic cold pack cheese in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including sharp cheddar, port wine, and Swiss almond varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015
  • 14-ounce Say Cheez beer cheese in round plastic container (tub with snap on lid), including regular and hot varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015;
    10-ounce Win Schuler original variety cheese balls or logs (plastic overwrap) with a sell by date before 3/20/2015
  • 8-ounce,12-ounce, and 14-ounce Bucky Badger cheese spreads (tub with snap-on lid) including cheddar, port wine, bacon, garlic, horseradish, jalapeño, and Swiss almond varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015
  • 5-pound foodservice products including cold pack cheese foods, cheese spreads and peanut butter with a sell by date before 3/20/2015.

Listeria can cause listeriosis, a disease with symptoms including fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea. The USDA says healthy people rarely contract listeriosis, but it can prove fatal to infants, elderly people and those with weak immune systems.

It can also lead to miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women.

If you have any questions about the recall, you can call Parkers Farm at 800-869-6685 or visit its website.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Girl Inspires Nationwide Support]]> Sun, 23 Mar 2014 03:56:38 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Hannahs-Law.jpg

A fundraiser is set to take place next month for a Levittown, Pa. baby girl who captured the hearts of thousands nationwide and even inspired the proposal of a state law.

JoJo’s Ice Cream & Water Ice will host an event raising money for Hannah Ginion, a 1-year-old girl suffering from a rare genetic disorder known as Krabbe Disease.

The young girl, who was born on January 15, 2013, seemed healthy at first, according to her mother Vicki Pizzullo.

"She was progressing like a normal baby," Pizzullo said. "She was perfectly healthy."

By the time Hannah turned 4-months however, the family noticed that something was wrong.

"It came on really slow," Pizzullo said. "She started crying all the time. She hated eating out of a bottle, she was choking and she was losing her swallowing ability. She would suck on a bottle and she would start choking. When we went to go feed her again, she was scared to eat."

The family then took her to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia where they learned the devastating news. On June 17, 2013, Hannah was diagnosed with Krabbe Disease, a rare degenerative disorder that affects the myelin sheath of the nervous system. Damage to the sheath slows down messages between the brain and the rest of the body, leading to problems with mental and physical development.

Krabbe Disease is so rare that it only affects 1 in 100,000 people, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Symptoms of the disease, including feeding difficulties, fever, vomiting, limb stiffness and seizures, normally begin to show when the child is between 3 to 6 months old. Infants who suffer from the disease generally have a life-expectancy of 2 years at the most. There is currently no cure.

After being told by doctors at CHOP that they weren't familiar enough with the disease to properly treat it, the family took Hannah to Dr. Maria Escolar, a specialist in the study of Neurodevelopment in rare disorders at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. By then however, it was too late to get a transplant that could have alleviated some of the symptoms.

"Once symptoms start, it's too late to go back to a transplant," Pizzullo said. "That's why it's so important to have it when they're born."

According to the family, Hannah could have received more effective treatment if doctors knew she had the disease immediately after her birth, a message that they ultimately took to Pennsylvania lawmakers.

"We went to Harrisburg in October and went in front of the House and had a press conference," she said.

The press conference led to the introduction of a bill known as Hannah’s Law, which would add Krabbe disease and five other disorders to the list of conditions Pennsylvania hospitals must screen for newborns.

House Bill 1654, introduced by State Rep. Angel Cruz, passed the state house last January. Despite this, Pizzullo says the Senate still hasn't placed it on their agenda.

"We don't think they did it intentionally," she said. "We just don't know if they know the importance of it."

That's why Pizzullo says she and her followers have worked so hard to raise greater awareness.

"We're trying to get the word out there and let them know they need to get this on the agenda as soon as possible," Pizzullo said. "We're trying to get this law passed so that all babies born in Pennsylvania will be tested for this disease as part of their screening."

Pizzullo quit her job of 15 years to be with her daughter and dedicated her life to raising awareness for the disease. Along the way, the family gained support from the community and followers nationwide, after they created a website and Facebook page as well as a support page for the bill.

"We just love all of her followers," Pizzullo said. "They're just amazing. People are so supportive, especially our community."

As Pizzullo continues the fight to bring awareness, she's also dealing with her daughter's deteriorating health.

"She's tube fed and she's on oxygen 24/7," Pizzullo said. "She should be walking around right now and living her life. She can't because she was never tested at birth. The disease deteriorates her brain, that's why she doesn't smile or laugh. She hasn't laughed in five months."

Despite her situation, Pizzullo says she takes solace in the fact that her daughter has proven to be an inspiration and major factor in a movement that could ultimately save the lives of other children.

"If we could help other families and have her name be forever known, it would just be amazing," Pizzullo said.

A fundraiser for Hannah will take place at JoJo’s Ice Cream & Water Ice on 8801 New Falls Road, in Levittown, Pa. on April 15 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The event will include a raffle and music. You can also email the family at hopeforhannahbear@gmail.com for more information.

Photo Credit: Facebook.com]]>
<![CDATA["Polio-Like" Illness Claims SoCal Victim]]> Fri, 21 Mar 2014 20:24:37 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/107429828.jpg After another case of a polio-like illness was discovered in Ventura County, doctors are trying to learn more about the potentially dangerous disease. NBC 7's Wendy Fry reports.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/OJO Images RF]]>
<![CDATA[New Technology Means Better Knee Surgeries]]> Fri, 21 Mar 2014 10:12:12 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/181*120/146275121.jpg

New digital mapping technology is allowing doctors to drastically improve the outcome of knee surgeries and improve the fit of new knees on patients' bodies.

Knee replacement surgery has become an increasingly common medical procedure for those in their 40s, 50s and 60s. But as many as 20 percent of all knee replacement recipients say they are unhappy with the results of their operation.

That may be because the pieces of their new artificial knee don’t fit as well as they should.

Dr. Jaime Hernandez, an orthopedic surgeon at Northridge Hospital, said knee replacements are usually done by feel with surgical instruments that aren’t designed for precision measurement. As a result, some of these surgeries could have more accurate results.

To solve this problem, Hernandez is using two high-tech imaging systems that create a GPS-like map of the knee and surrounding area and provide measurements within half a degree and half a millimeter.

"The idea is that, with this new technology, we can turn that 80 percent into a 90 percent or 95 and make this an almost perfect surgery," Hernandez said.

Using infrared signals and a special pointing device, the doctor first creates a virtual map of the area. He then receives real-time live measurements of the knee and its parts as he puts the new knee together. This helps to ensure that he is putting in the pieces as accurately as possible.

Another device then checks the pressure of the new knee before he puts in the final piece.

“The most important part of a knee replacement is to have the knee nice and snug and equal on both sides,” Hernandez explained. “You don’t want your knee too loose on one side and too tight on the other. You want it nice and snug all the way around.”

Los Angeles Police Department Officer Sandra Liddy tested Hernadez' surgery method and is currently recovering with hopes to get back on the streets as soon as she can.

"I'm in constant pain so I cannot put a uniform on right now," Liddy told NBC4 before her surgery. "Because I'm in pain, because I'm on medication, I can't get into a black and white (patrol car)."

"It needs to work, it has to work, because I need to go back to normal life," Liddy said.

NBC4 spoke with Liddy's doctor, and although she needs physical therapy, she is expected to be back at work with a pain-free knee.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/PhotoAlto]]>
<![CDATA[Strangers Step Up to Help Sick Toddler]]> Fri, 21 Mar 2014 08:51:27 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Kylie-Rowland-Blurb-0321.jpg

Hundreds of San Diegans gathered on the roof of the Hard Rock Hotel in downtown San Diego to help a little girl most have never met.

A day after Christmas, Kylie Rowand was diagnosed with Stage 4 High-Risk Neuroblastoma. When her health started declining, the 21-month-old girl moved from San Diego to Los Angeles for medical treatment.

On Wednesday, she and her family flew to New York for a specialized treatment at Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital.

Over the last several months, Kylie’s story spread over social media and caught the eyes of Jamie-Lynne Knighten and Hard Rock Hotel Spa Director Krystal Champion.

“As a mother of two I wanted to try and do whatever I can. I would hope someone would do the same thing if I were in the same situation,” said Champion.

Knighten and Champion spent the last few months organizing a yoga-spa fundraiser that kicked off Thursday. More than 300 people attended. They hoped to raise between $10-$15,000.

“[Kylie’s story] just touched me so incredibly deeply,” said Knighten adding that she and Champion wanted to do something to help.

A handful of Kylie’s relatives were there including her grandfather Larry Olds.

“Most of these people have never met her. Just seeing her on the internet has drawn them to her,” said Olds. “It's just amazing. Just amazing.”

All proceeds from the event will go to help the family. Visit Kylie’s Facebook page.

<![CDATA[New Procedure Means Quicker Recovery from Hysterectomy]]> Wed, 19 Mar 2014 18:51:44 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/4PW_PKG2_NEW_HYSTERECTO_KNSD3LOI_1200x675_200474691750.jpg Hysterectomies are the second most common surgery for women after C-sections. Now, Scripps has performed the first single-site hysterectomy in San Diego. NBC 7's Megan Tevrizian reports on this new, groundbreaking procedure, which means quicker recovery and less scarring for patients. ]]> <![CDATA[Obama Reveals NCAA Picks, Touts "ACA Bracket" GIFs]]> Mon, 31 Mar 2014 01:47:25 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/pres_thumb_basketball.jpg

President Barack Obama picked Michigan State to beat defending champions Louisville in the NCAA  men's basketball tournament title game.

The nation’s first basketball fan filled out his bracket in his annual "BARACK-etology" segment that aired on ESPN Wednesday. The reveal came two days after the White House launched its own GIF-friendly, March Madness-themed Affordable Care Act bracket.

"Tom Izzo is a great tournament coach," Obama said. "I've got Michigan State going all the way. ... He knows how to motivate folks and he knows how to coach. My pick: Michigan State. Bring it home for me. It's been a while since I've won my pool."

Besides the fourth-seeded Spartans and Cardinals, Obama also selected No. 1 overall seed Florida and top seed Arizona to reach the Final Four in Arlington, Texas.

Obama's bracket is available on Whitehouse.gov, which is using March Madness to get more young people to sign up for health insurance before the March 31st deadline.

The  “ACA Bracket” called, “The 16 Sweetest Reasons to Get Covered," originally featured 16 GIFs, and on Wednesday afernoon was down to the final four. The interactive compilation allows users to vote for the top two reasons to get health coverage and is full of links to healthcare.gov.

People can vote using their Twitter or Facebook accounts for the their favorite GIFs. The “Insurance Companies are Accountable to You” GIF shows a cat dressed in a tux. The "Nobody's Invincible" GIF features an Elmo toy falling from a store shelf. The “You Might Qualify for Free or Low-Cost Coverage” GIF portrays “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon “mom dancing” with First Lady Michelle Obama. And "Women Can't be Charged More Than Men" shows the first lady slam dunking a basketball using a hoop held up by LeBron James.

The ACA bracket is part of the effort by the White House to spread the word about the health care deadline. In the first week of March, Obama sat down with comedian Zach Galifianakis for a “Between Two Ferns” mock interview meant to convince young people to get coverage.

On Thursday, the president is scheduled to appear on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" to talk about the ACA.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Legal Victory for Ramona Couple in Pot Case]]> Wed, 19 Mar 2014 10:55:11 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Pot-Couple-Ramona-Deborah-L.jpg

Dennis and Deborah Little say law enforcement has made them feel like criminals for the last two years even though the Ramona couple knew they were not guilty.

“We followed the letters of the law as we knew it," Dennis Little told NBC 7 in an exclusive interview Tuesday following the ruling that acquitted him and his wife in a challenging legal battle they’ve face since their arrest in October 2012.

Dennis and Deborah Little suffer from serious health ailments like HIV/AIDS and cancer.

In 2011, they began growing marijuana after being issued medical marijuana cards.

Two years ago, their property east of San Diego was raided by federal and state narcotics agents – with guns drawn.

Prosecutors say agents seized hundreds of pounds of useable marijuana. The Little’s disputed that claim saying they had 25 plants. They also denied allegations that they had planned to sell the drug.

"It's been rough. It's been really rough,” Deborah Littie said. “I mean, you're going in and you believe that the police are supposed to be honest and that the courts are supposed to be honest and then you're hit upside the head with, nobody is telling the truth here."

Jurors sided with the couple and acquitted the Little’s of charges of possession of marijuana for sale and of cultivation of marijuana.

Deborah and Dennis say they're glad the nightmare is finally over, but their lives have taken a beating because of it, including a laundry list of prescription medication.

"They just keep piling them on and on and on. So I have to get myself weaned off of, I mean, I'm taking some pretty heavy duty anxiety, pain, besides I haven't been able to follow up on getting the care that I'm supposed to be getting," Deborah said.

"Our lives are back on track now. I feel a huge burden off my shoulders," Dennis said.

Dennis and Deborah say they have little faith in law enforcement but they've taken the positive out of the situation and are now court supporters for others in similar situations.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 ]]>
<![CDATA[Warm Winter Brings More Rattlesnake Calls]]> Fri, 14 Mar 2014 23:56:38 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/rattlesnake4.jpg

San Diego hasn't had much of a winter this year, and the warm weather has resulted in more than triple the number of rattlesnake calls to the County’s Department of Animal Services (DAS), according to officials.

DAS says that since Jan. 1, it has received 78 calls reporting rattlesnakes across San Diego County. That’s more than three times the number of rattlesnake calls during this same time period last year, when 24 calls came in.

DAS Director Dawn Danielson said weather like the kind residents have been experiencing this season is enticing to rattlesnakes.

“Our very mild winter and several heat spells are drawing the rattlesnakes out of their dens a little earlier this year,” Danielson explained.

Typically, rattlesnakes wait until spring to come out of hibernation. DAS recommends locals discourage the critters from making themselves at home in yards by getting rid of any possible shelter or food for rattlesnakes, including heaps of trash, wood piles, mice and rats.

Also, if you spot a rattlesnake on your property, calmly back away from the critter and leave it alone. Then, call DAS for assistance in safely removing the snake.

DAS also suggests being aware of your surroundings at all times if you are walking anywhere snakes might be, which means avoiding becoming distracted by your cell phone. If you’re walking your dog,
keep it on a leash, that way you can pull your pet away quickly if you encounter a rattlesnake.

Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes while walking or hiking and stay on paths or trails, and avoid tall grass, weeds and brush where snakes might hide. Also, make sure you can always see the path ahead of you and look for snakes that might blend into the ground before picking up rocks or sticks.

Residents of unincorporated areas of San Diego County or the cities of Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, San Diego, Santee or Solana Beach can call DAS at (619) 236-2341 to report a rattlesnake sighting. All other residents can call the animal control agency for their respective city.

If you’re bitten by a rattlesnake, immediately call 911 and remove any constricting clothing or accessories like rings or watches.

Photo Credit: Josh Keppel]]>
<![CDATA[Costco Recalls Kirkland Signature Real Sliced Fruit]]> Fri, 14 Mar 2014 11:00:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CostcoResized.jpg

Costco has recalled 59,780 cases of Kirkland Signature Real Sliced Fruit from shelves after the company behind the product, Oregon Freeze Dry Inc., determined that it could be contaminated with Salmonella.

Customers who could have purchased the sliced fruit were contacted by phone or mail and news of the recall was posted on the Costco website. The remaining Kirkland Signature Real Sliced Fruit has been tested and is safe for consumers, according to Food Safety News. No illnesses related to the sliced fruit have been reported, but Food Safety News warned that it is too early to tell.

Consumers who purchased the product with “best before” dates of February 14, 2015 to March 11, 2015 are encouraged to return the product to Costco for a refund.
Salmonella can cause infections in young children, the elderly and people with sensitive immune systems. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Some people could develop Reiter’s syndrome, a disease that can lead to chronic arthritis.
Those with questions or concerns can call 1-888-641-2933 or email recall@ofd.com


Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tanya Brown: Face Stuff as it Happens]]> Thu, 13 Mar 2014 07:58:52 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Tanya-Brown-Women%27s-Week.jpg Tanya Brown, sister of homicide victim Nicole Brown Simpson, visits NBC 7 to discuss an upcoming San Diego Women's Week event and talk about her emergence from deep depression. ]]> <![CDATA[4th Measles Victim Linked to Same Original Case]]> Wed, 12 Mar 2014 18:53:58 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/doctor-health-generic-1200-02.jpg

San Diego County health officials have announced that a fourth person has been diagnosed with measles.

A San Diego resident contracted measles on a recent trip to the Philippines, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA.) The three other cases are all linked to that person.

Health officials say the fourth victim could have exposed others to the highly contagious disease at the following times and places:

  • Veterans Affairs (VA) Chula Vista Clinic, 835 3rd Ave., Chula Vista, March 3–7 and on March 10 from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • 24 Hour Fitness, 870 Amena Court, Chula Vista, March 3 and March 9 between 6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
  • Mater Dei Catholic Church, 1571 Magdalena Ave., Chula Vista, March 5 between 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and March 9 between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
  • Navy Exchange Main Store, Naval Base San Diego, 2260 Callagan Hwy., on March 9 between 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

HHSA officials say measles take between seven and 21 days to develop after exposure. Early symptoms include a cough, runny nose and red eyes.

About one to four days after early symptoms, a distinctive red rash typically appears, beginning on the face and head and then proceeding downward and outward to the hands and feet. The rash fades in the same order it began, from head to feet. Complications from the disease can include diarrhea, ear infection and pneumonia.

Health officials say there is an ongoing measles outbreak in the Philippines responsible for 1,700 cases of the disease and 21 measles-related deaths in 2013.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[PatientSafe Receives $3M Investment]]> Thu, 13 Mar 2014 09:14:02 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/hospital-patient_448x336.jpg

San Diego-based mobile health care software developer PatientSafe Solutions Inc. has received a $3 million investment from Telus Ventures, the investment arm of Canadian telecom giant Telus Communications Co.

Read: Local Business Spotlight Stories

The company closed a $27 million Series C round this past September. Other investors in the company include the Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, Camden Partners, TPG Biotech, Psilos Group and EDBI.

The investment will help PatientSafe commercialize its clinical workflow platform, PatientTouch. The system consolidates electronic health-record information and makes it accessible on a mobile device, like a smartphone or tablet, allowing caregivers to access information and communicate from a patient’s side.

The deal also will grant Telus exclusive resell rights to the PatientTouch system in Canada, and will introduce PatientSafe to international telecommunications partners.

The privately held company is headquartered in Sorrento Valley, and employs about 70. Its software is being used in more than 75 hospitals around the U.S.

 The Business Journal is the premier business publication in San Diego. Every day online and each Monday in print, the Business Journal reports on how local business operate and why businesses leaders make the decisions they do. Every story is a dose of insight into how to run a better, more efficient, more profitable business.

<![CDATA[Fresh Greens for St. Patrick's Day]]> Wed, 12 Mar 2014 07:18:03 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/St-Patrick%27s-Day-Food-0312.jpg Rachael Shemeroni with Baron's Market shares some ideas on getting fresh new greens into your St. Patrick's Day meal. ]]> <![CDATA[Thieves Eye Open Houses for Unusual Loot]]> Tue, 11 Mar 2014 15:59:44 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Open+House+sign+Generic.jpg

Home sellers are sure to lock up their jewelry and other valuables before an open house.

But what about prescription drugs?

As prescription drug abuse rises, people are finding creative ways to get their hands on them. That includes raiding medicine cabinets and nightstands during public open houses.

San Diego County law enforcement, drug treatment centers and real estate agents have launched the Safe Homes Coalition to fight the growing trend.

“Young people in particular are using prescription drugs to get high. Some move on to heroin because it gives a similar high and is a lot cheaper,” District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said at a news conference Tuesday.

According to Dumanis, cases involving prescription drugs went up 84 percent in the last five years.

The coalition recommends putting prescription drugs inside the trunk of a car during an open house.

The San Diego Association of Realtors will have special bags in all of their offices countywide. The bags include instructions on how to properly store or dispose of prescription drugs.

Anyone with unwanted prescription drugs can drop them off at 24 drop boxes around the county.

March is Prescription Drug Awareness Month in California.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Developing Chip to Shield Water Supply]]> Tue, 11 Mar 2014 17:54:52 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/l_faucet1200.jpg

Researchers in San Diego are working to develop an inexpensive chip that would be able to detect 10 to 20 different toxins in a water supply.

Jeff Hasty, director of the BioCircuits Institute at UC San Diego, told NBC 7 his lab recently received nearly $1 million from a federal grant to develop the chip.

The project will use next-generation sequencing, synthetic biology and microfluidic technologies for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

In addition to helping protect the nation's water supplies from terrorist contamination or accidental pollution, the device might well lead to patentable technology.

The hope is there will be a full model developed within 18 months. The key will be to keep the kits affordable with an ideal price point around $100.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[15% in Covered CA Haven't Made 1st Payment: Report]]> Mon, 10 Mar 2014 06:47:18 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Covered-California-health-exchange.jpg

Another problem may be shaping up for the Golden State's answer to the federal health care law.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, 15 percent of people in the Covered California program have not made their first month's payment.

The state's health care exchanges said they are trying to bill those enrollees via e-mail and by phone. These people could lose their insurance if they do not pay.

Last December, the health plans agreed to extend payment deadlines when they ran into huge numbers of applications piling up.

For people who don't have insurance right now in California, the deadline to sign up is March 31 or pay a penalty.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Researchers Embark on Kelp Watch]]> Fri, 07 Mar 2014 12:11:22 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/California+Science+Center+Kelp+Forest.jpg

California graduate students will join scientists in a study to test kelp for contamination from radioactive ocean water from the damaged Fukushima power plant.

The first-of-its-kind study, conducted with researchers from Cal Berkeley and Cal State Long Beach, is being called "Kelp Watch 2014."

Grad students from Cal State Long Beach held the first of three sample collections scheduled for this year on Thursday, which coincidences almost to the day of the three-year anniversary of the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami off the Japanese coast that sent radioactive material into the ocean.

Students collected several pounds of kelp, which will be dried and ground, and eventually sent to the Bay Area for Berkeley experts to test.

CSULB Professor Dr. Steven Manley said kelp's highly absorptive nature is ideal for his research.

"It's the ability to absorb nutrients that's exploited because they also absorb the dissolved radio isotopes that will be coming this way," Manley said.

Manley said he does not not believe the contamination levels expected in the kelp will be high enough to be harmful to humans, but he couldn't say the same for the ecosystem the kelp supports.

"The levels we project we're going to see in kelp are going to be quite low," he said. "But the effects on simpler forms of wildlife we don't know. Whatever is in the kelp will get into the bodies of those animals also."

About a mile and a half off the coast was where one of Manley's graduate students jumped off the boat to start collecting the kelp.

"It can serve as a warning that these materials that get released thousands of miles away can find a way across the oceans," Manley said of the kelp.

Two more sample collections trips are scheduled for July and October this year. Results from Thursday's samples are expected to be ready in May.

<![CDATA[E-Cigs "Gateway" to Real Smoking: Study]]> Fri, 07 Mar 2014 12:56:43 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ecigarette+woman+smoking.jpg

Teenagers using e-cigarettes are more likely to try smoking real cigarettes and are less likely to quit than kids who did not use the battery-powered devices, a new study found.

“The use of e-cigarettes does not discourage, and may encourage, conventional cigarette use among U.S. adolescents,” the study concluded.

Published online on Thursday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics, the study examined data collected from nearly 40,000 U.S. middle and high school students who completed the 2011 and 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey.

The report also found that e-cigarette use among middle and high school students doubled between 2011 and 2012, from 3.1 percent to 6.5 percent.

"E-cigarettes are likely to be gateway devices for nicotine addiction among youth, opening up a whole new market for tobacco," said lead author Lauren Dutra, a postdoctoral fellow at the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.

But not everyone agrees with the conclusion drawn by the researchers. The study did not prove that teen e-cigarette smokers used tobacco after smoking e-cigarettes, because it examined two large data pools of teens in 2011 and 2012 rather than tracking the same people over two years.

Other experts said that just because e-cigarettes are being used by young people who smoke more and have a more difficult time kicking the habit does not mean that the devices are the root of the problem, according to The New York Times.  Those experts say it is possible that young people who use e-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine through vapor instead of the smoke associated with traditional cigarettes, were heavier smokers to begin with, or would have become heavy smokers down the line, the Times reported.

“The data in this study do not allow many of the broad conclusions that it draws,” said Thomas J. Glynn, a researcher at the American Cancer Society, according to the Times.

Experts remain divided on whether e-cigarettes, which entered the market about a decade ago, are a gateway to smoking or a path for the nation's 45 million smokers to help quit. 

A large federal survey published last year found that the overwhelming majority of young people who use e-cigarettes also smoke real tobacco. Another report concluded that while e-cigarette use among youths doubled from 2011 to 2012, real cigarette smoking for youths has continued to decline.




Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[8 Marine Recruits Tested for Meningitis, Released]]> Fri, 07 Mar 2014 09:08:37 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/meningitis_P2.jpg

Eight Marine recruits training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot who were hospitalized with symptoms that looked like meningitis were released this morning, officials said.

The recruits arrived at Naval Medical Center San Diego around 9 p.m. Thursday and were held in isolation and underwent tests overnight.

By 6 a.m. Friday, hospital officials told NBC 7 5 recruits showed symptoms of meningitis and tested negative.

Three of the recruits were treated for upper respiratory symptoms and were admitted as a precaution, officials told NBC 7.

All other recruits were discharged and released back to MCRD by 2 a.m.

An official with the Naval Medical Center tells NBC 7 she was unsure if the individuals had received their vaccinations yet. Getting those vaccines is a part of the recruiting process at MCRD.

The recruits' names and hometowns have not been released.

It is unclear if other Marine recruits were affected.

Meningitis can be a serious condition and recently has proven to be fatal.

Last month, two people in San Diego County died from meningitis. Patrick Henry High School freshman Jewelean Pimentel died after contracting meningococcal disease, a rare strain often deadly in adolescents. Doctors believe Santee resident Jackie Lerma Billings, 52, died of a milder, more common strain of meningitis.

La Costa Canyon graduate Aaron Loy was one of four UC Santa Barbara students who contracted the meningococcus bacterium. He survived the outbreak but had to have his feet amputated during his recovery.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, keeping up to date with recommended immunizations is the best defense against meningococcal disease.

Officials also suggest you maintain healthy habits, like getting plenty of rest and not coming into close contact with people who are sick.

Ed. Note: A previous version of this article erroneously stated the Marines were infected with meningitis. We regret the error. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Scripps Parkinsons Study Uses Patients Own Cells]]> Wed, 05 Mar 2014 22:25:21 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/6PW_PKG2_SCRIPPS_STEM_C_KNSD3ICV_1200x675_183748163559.jpg Parkinson's disease is estimated to affect one in every 100 people over 60. A study at Scripps Clinic and the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla is trying to make stem cells from a patient’s own cells to reverse the disease. NBC 7's Megan Tevrizian has the story.]]>