<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - Health News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/health http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.comen-usSat, 24 Sep 2016 17:28:10 -0700Sat, 24 Sep 2016 17:28:10 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[A Rare Bipartisan Agreement Reached, Briefly, on Abortion]]> Fri, 23 Sep 2016 15:45:28 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CONGRESS_GettyImages-2062515.jpg

Abortion rights advocates and opponents in Congress reached a rare bipartisan consensus at a Friday hearing: Both sides agreed on the effectiveness of a ban on federal abortion funding.

Known as the Hyde Amendment, the 40-year-old law restricting federal funding for abortions has shown to be effective in curbing the number of abortions performed, both sides agreed. For anti-abortion Republicans, the policy’s functionality proves its success. But for abortion rights supporters, it’s a sign that women are simply being denied health care, NBC News reported.

Rep. Trent Franks said the fact that abortion hasn’t become a major issue in this general election campaign is disappointing.

“The American people deserve to know where the candidates stand, in the most important election this century and in the last century,” he said. Franks presided over the House judiciary subcommittee hearing Friday morning.

Photo Credit: Getty Images ]]>
<![CDATA[Garden May Be 'Game Changer' For Vets with PTSD]]> Fri, 23 Sep 2016 12:34:06 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/08-22-16+Canine+Companions.JPG

The U.S. Navy and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center hope a newly created healing garden will soothe the bodies and minds of wounded warriors.

It’s estimated that 12 percent of all veterans live with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), according to the VA of San Diego.

Retired U.S. Navy neurologist Dr. Fred Foote has been working on the design and construction the Green Road Project in the hopes of helping those living with PTSD.

Foote has been influential in introducing holistic medicine into the military. For the past 6 years, he’s been spearheading the creation of a serene space – tucked into the wilderness behind the naval facility.

Crews transformed two acres into a healing garden – a therapy that’s the first of its kind within the U.S. military.

On Monday, there will be an official opening.

“There’s a tremendous amount of evidence recently that making art and music, and being in nature is tremendously healing for traumatized people, especially for people with post traumatic stress disorder,” Dr. Fred Foote with the Institute for Integrative Health.

Researchers will study the effects of the Green Road Project on wounded warriors, testing for markets of stress before and after experiences in the healing garden.

If it’s a success, Foote said it could be a game changer.

"Any community can heal their local vets with PTSD by creating art and music lessons for them or by involving them in a veterans’ garden," Foote said.

Nearly 20,000 veterans have received care for PTSD in San Diego since 2010. The VA San Diego offers treatment ranging from counseling and couples therapy to programs offering help with anger and nightmares.

If you or someone you know needs help, here’s a link to resources available. 

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Xencor Expanding L.A. County Operations Into San Diego]]> Fri, 23 Sep 2016 08:10:16 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-91333694-lab-microscope-generic.jpg

L.A. County-based Xencor Inc. is expanding its operations into San Diego, the company announced Thursday.

The biopharma’s new San Diego facility is now open in Del Mar Heights and staffs 17 employees, with plans to hire four more staff in the near future.

The company, which is developing engineered monoclonal antibodies to help treat autoimmune diseases, asthma, allergic diseases and cancer, will also be expanding its team headquartered in Monrovia, California, according to a company news release.

“We’re expanding our team quickly and it is a great sign of the future ahead as we prepare to advance additional candidates using Xencor's XmAb bispecific technology into the clinic by the end of 2017,” said Bassil Dahiyat, CEO at Xencor, in a statement.

Xencor currently has 10 product candidates engineered with Xencor's XmAb technology in clinical development internally and with partners.

The expansion in both sites enables Xencor to focus on its clinical-stage drug development, and broaden its pipeline of XmAb drug candidates.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Drug-Resistant Superbugs a 'Fundamental Threat': WHO]]> Wed, 21 Sep 2016 15:06:42 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/superbugmcr%281%29.jpg

While antibiotics were once hailed as miracle drugs, they've been abused and overused so much that they are now often powerless against fast-evolving bacteria. That bacterial evolution is far outpacing humans’ ability to research and develop new drugs effective enough to fight those infection-causing “superbugs,” NBC News reports.

"If antibiotics were telephones, we would still be calling each other using clunky rotary dials and copper lines," said Stefano Bertuzzi, CEO of the American Society for Microbiology.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in the U.S. alone, more than two million people are infected by drug-resistant germs each year, and 23,000 die of their infections. Globally, the death toll from antibiotic-resistant microbes is 700,000 per year.

"Antimicrobial resistance poses a fundamental threat to human health, development and security," Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the United Nations' World Health Organization, said Wednesday while opening a U.N. meeting on the problem of superbugs.

"We are running out of time," she added.

Photo Credit: Walter Reed Army Institute for Research]]>
<![CDATA[Fitness Trackers No Guarantee for Weight Loss]]> Wed, 21 Sep 2016 08:13:47 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_fitnesstrackers0920_1920x1080.jpg A new study suggests wearing a fitness tracker to tally the number of steps you take in a day doesn't necessarily mean the numbers on the scale will come down. The University of Pittsburgh recruited more than 400 overweight and obese young adults. They all went on a low-calorie diet, exercised and had counseling and support. Half were given activity monitors, worn on the upper arm, that measured energy expenditure. The theory was the devices would lead to greater weight loss. The strategy didn't work.

Photo Credit: NBC News]]>
<![CDATA[Local Stem Cell Program Researches Parkinson's Treatment]]> Wed, 21 Sep 2016 11:50:39 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Stem+cell+scripps+trial+0920.JPG

With a new $2.3 million grant, a stem cell program to aid Parkinson’s disease patients that’s being researched at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla is one step closer to FDA approval.

The program, called Summit Stem Cell, launched three years ago. The team plans to start its clinical trial in 2018, depending on the level of funding needed for the work.

How it works: researchers take a skin sample from a patient, and, using DNA, create millions of stem cells.

And while performing surgery, those cells are injected into the brain to create dopamine neurons, which are destroyed by Parkinson’s disease.

The process has worked in numerous tests with animals, though it’s never been tested on humans.

But those working on the project are confident.

“We’re going to give these people back the neuron that is going to respond to their level of activity,” said Sherrie Gould, a Scripps Clinic nurse practitioner who has worked on the project from the beginning.

One of the patients taking part in the clinical trial, Cassandra Peters, said the program could be her saving grace.

“This project – this blessed, amazing project – is my reason for being,” she said. “It would mean that I could have my life back, that I could have my body back, that I could look in the mirror and actually recognize the person and begin to reclaim some of the things this disease has stolen.”

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Smoking Leaves DNA Damage Years After Quitting: Study]]> Tue, 20 Sep 2016 15:13:53 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/smoking-stock-generic-73160938.jpg

Most — but not all — DNA damage from smoking fades over time, and the genetic changes occur in clear patterns, researchers reported in an American Heart Association journal Tuesday, according to NBC News.

The researchers examined 16,000 people who'd given blood samples before, and found that most damage faded by about five years after a person quit smoking. But smoking-related changes in 19 genes lasted 30 years, and may persist forever.

"Our study has found compelling evidence that smoking has a long-lasting impact on our molecular machinery, an impact that can last more than 30 years," said Roby Joehanes, of Hebrew SeniorLife and Harvard Medical School.

The researchers said those 19 genes could be used to see who is at risk of smoking-related diseases or as targets for drugs to treat cigarette smoke damage.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Listeria Fears Spur Whole Wheat Eggo Recall]]> Tue, 20 Sep 2016 08:18:28 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/kellogg-eggo-recall-.jpg

Kellogg is recalling about 10,000 cases of Eggo Nutri-Grain whole wheat waffles over the possibility they were contaminated with Listeria bacteria.

No illnesses have been reported in connection with the products, Kellogg said in a Monday news release, but Listeria monocytogenes can cause infections in young children and others with weakened immune systems, like the frail or elderly.

The recalled waffles can be identified by looking for UPC code 38000 40370, dated better if before used by Nov. 21 and 22, 2017.

They were distributed in the following 25 states: Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Anyone who purchased the product can receive a full recall by calling 1-800-962-1413 or visiting https://www.kelloggs.com/en_US/contact-us.html, Kellogg said.

Photo Credit: Kellogg Company]]>
<![CDATA[Zika Mosquitoes Can Survive Over Next Months in Southern US]]> Tue, 20 Sep 2016 07:55:34 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Zika-Puerto-Rico-AP_71939457309.jpg

Even as a trendy Miami neighborhood has been declared Zika-free, the mosquitoes that transmit the virus can continue to survive over the next few months across the southeast United States from Florida to Texas, research shows.

The potential for an abundant population of the Aedes aegypti mosquito remains moderate or even high through November in the southernmost cities in the country, according to a study, “On the seasonal occurrence and abundance of the Zika virus vector mosquito Aedes aegypti in the contiguous United States.”

Florida with its hot, humid weather is particularly vulnerable. In November, the threat will be high in and around Miami and moderate in Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa, in New Orleans and in Houston and Brownsville, Texas.

Only in December will the risk decrease enough so that Miami alone will have a moderate potential for a significant supply of mosquitoes. Elsewhere in Florida, Louisiana and Texas there will still be some potential, though a low one.

Winter weather will be too cold for the mosquitoes elsewhere.

“When a mosquito bites someone and gets a virus it needs a week or two depending on temperature to actually incubate a virus — for it to move from its mid gut up to its salivary glands,” said the study’s lead author, Andrew Monaghan, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. “If you’re in cooler areas, not only is that slower but mosquitoes often won’t survive it long enough to go through that extrinsic incubation period.”

The study, which looked at 50 cities within the range of Aedes aegypti, was published in March before locally transmitted cases of Zika were discovered in Florida — 70 cases in all, many in the Wynwood arts neighborhood of Miami and across Biscayne Bay in Miami Beach. Authorities in Florida say that they have found the virus in mosquitoes trapped in a 1.5-square-mile area of Miami Beach, a first for the continental United States.

On Monday, officials declared the first Zika outbreak on the continental United States to be over. No new cases of Zika have been found in Wynwood for 45 days, which represent three full incubation periods for the virus. However more cases were found in Miami Beach last week.

Monaghan and the study’s other authors had warned that the prevalence of Aedes aegypti would likely increase as the weather got warmer.

From New York to LA
Researchers found that conditions in the United States are mostly unsuitable for the mosquitoes from December through March, except in southern Florida and south Texas, where the potential for an abundant population is low to moderate.

In the peak summer months, July through September, the mosquito can thrive in all 50 cities -- as far north as New York City along the East Coast and as far west as Los Angeles across the southern portion of the country, according to computer simulations run by researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. The mosquitoes are most abundant in the Southeast, particularly southern Florida, and south Texas where locally acquired cases of Aedes-transmitted viruses have been reported previously. Higher poverty rates in cities along the U.S.-Mexico border may result in increased exposure to the mosquito.

But Zika is unlikely to spread widely in the United States as it has done in the Caribbean and Latin America, experts say. That’s because so many Americans live in air-conditioned homes and work in air-conditioned offices.

Zika was first identified in 1947 in Uganda, and has moved through tropical regions of the world over the past 10 years, according to experts.

The role of climate change
One question has been the role climate change is playing in the widespread Zika epidemic. Sharyn Stein, a climate scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, said that though many factors can affect the spread of a disease like Zika, mosquito seasons are lasting longer.

“In some places it’s lasted three or four weeks longer than usual and so people will be exposed to mosquitoes carrying Zika for a lot longer period of time,” she said.

But how a warmer warm will influence the spread of the virus is not known, she said.

Much is not known about the virus and the latest mystery is how a dying man in Utah infected his son. Doctors in Utah warned that blood and other body fluids of people who are severely ill might be infectious.

Although most people with Zika have more mild symptoms, the disease can cause microcephaly in babies — and the accompanying devastating birth defects.

“While there is much we still don’t know about the dynamics of Zika virus transmission, understanding where the Aedes aegypti mosquito can survive in the U.S. and how its abundance fluctuates seasonally may help guide mosquito control efforts and public health preparedness,” Monaghan said when the study was released.

A battle over funding
President Obama has asked for $1.9 billion in emergency funding; Congress countered with $1.1 billion but has not passed the legislation. Republicans tried to prevent money from going to clinics in Puerto Rico run by ProFamilias, a Planned Parenthood partner, as part of their approval -- a provision Democrats have refused to agree to. This week, 77 mayors, including those of Miami Beach, Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston, wrote to the Congressional leadership urging that Congress work together.

“Congress’ persistent inaction has forced the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to use more than $10 million of its funding for cancer and heart disease research for Zika,” the mayors wrote. “In total, $670 million has been diverted from other health priorities to fund Zika research. In addition, the CDC estimates that it will run out of funding to combat Zika at the end of this month, just as mosquito season reaches its peak.”

The CDC reports 20,870 cases of the Zika virus in the United States and its territories —  3,176 in the states and the District of Columbia, most of those brought by travelers, and 17,694 in the territories. So far, 1,887 pregnant women have tested positive for the virus, 731 in the states and 1,156 in the territories. Twenty-five babies are affected, according to the CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat.  

“The critical resources that President Obama has requested would help prevent the spread of the virus by allowing local governments to work in cooperation with the CDC and the NIH to enhance mosquito control, conduct tests, and deploy a critical Zika vaccine,” they wrote.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has singled out the Obama administration and Democrats for blame.

A long history in the US
The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also spreads viruses for yellow fever, dengue and chikungunya, has been in the United States since at least the mid-1600s, when the first cases of yellow fever were documented. It transmitted yellow fever up the northeastern seaboard as far as New York and dengue as early as 1780 in Pennsylvania.

“Conditions were more suitable for Aedes aegypti in the northeastern U.S. a couple of hundred years ago when piped water access was lower, sanitation was much worse,” Monaghan said. “And human exposure was higher as well. People weren’t living in air-conditioned, screened environments. The likelihood of them coming into contact with this mosquito was much higher.”

The mosquito was nearly eradicated in the United States in the first half of the 20th century but has since rebounded, though today its range has contracted to the southern tier and up the eastern seaboard.

Monaghan said he and his colleagues are working to improve their modeling so that public health and mosquito control officials could provide early warnings — not just of when the Aedes aegypti populations are elevated but also what might influence the transmission of the virus and other projections.

They noted that northern cities could become more vulnerable if a related species of mosquito, Aedes albopictus, starts to carry the virus. Aedes albopictus is more tolerant of the cold.

Photo Credit: ap
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<![CDATA[Can This Patch Stop Drunk Driving?]]> Fri, 16 Sep 2016 13:18:42 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DrunkPatch0915_MP4-147405607449700001.jpg A New Mexico company is hoping their new patch will help stop drunk driving. DermaTec has developed a patch that senses alcohol intake through sweat. It's called the ONUSBlue, as in it's "on us" to end drunk driving.]]> <![CDATA[Florida's 1st Zika Outbreak Almost Over, Officials Say]]> Thu, 15 Sep 2016 15:07:31 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-585211752.jpg

The mainland United States's first official outbreak of Zika virus may be declared over by early next week, NBC News reported.

But another, in Miami Beach, is going strong, and on Thursday Florida health officials reported seven more Zika cases acquired locally, one of which involves a visitor from out of state.

It's been almost 45 days since Zika first started spreading locally, in Miami's Wynwood district, and "the clock is ticking" on that outbreak, Lillian Rivera, of the Florida Department of Health, told a Miami Beach City Council meeting Wednesday.

If no one new is infected in Wynwood by Monday, after the 45-day period that represents three full incubation periods for Zika virus, it can be declared free of active Zika transmission. Dr. Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that countdown Thursday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Fertility Doctor Accused Of Using Own Sperm]]> Tue, 13 Sep 2016 08:01:48 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_fertilitydoctor0913_1920x1080.jpg Investigators believe a retired Indianapolis doctor may have donated his own sperm to as many as 50 patients without their knowledge. WTHR's Steve Jefferson reports.]]> <![CDATA[Emotional Support Turkey Brings Joy to Woman With Lupus]]> Tue, 13 Sep 2016 07:02:32 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Capture74.PNG Most of the time when you hear the words, "emotional support animal," you think of a dog, or some sort of cuddly animal. But a Washington woman with lupus has Sammi, her emotional support turkey, to help her go through her pain and depression. Read more on KHQ.]]> <![CDATA[Zika Affected Woman's Brain and Memory, Doctors Say]]> Tue, 13 Sep 2016 05:27:26 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/184*120/AHORA-BEBE-ZIKA.jpg

The Zika virus is known to cause devastating damage to the brains of developing fetuses and now there is evidence that the virus could be more damaging to adults than has been believed, NBC News reported.

Italian researchers say they've found evidence Zika can affect the brains of adults, and may damage memory. A letter published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases describes the case of a 32-year-old volunteer nurse infected with Zika in the Dominican Republic, who was treated for rash, headache and weakness.

"In our case, the patient reported early neurologic symptoms and moderate memory impairment in neuropsychologic examinations, all features consistent with the diagnosis of Zika virus-related encephalitis," the team at the National Institute for Infectious Diseases Lazzaro Spallanzani in Rome wrote. The doctors cited a recent study showing Zika might affect the adult brain.

Still, doctors stress that most people infected with Zika have very mild symptoms and often do not even know they have it.

<![CDATA[Hospital, Mother Team Up to Teach Importance of Wearing Helmets]]> Fri, 09 Sep 2016 18:19:31 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/kid-bike-helmets.jpg

Health officials in San Diego are teaming up with a Carmel Valley mother who knows first-hand the importance of making sure every child wears a helmet while skateboarding.

Rady Children's Hospital released statistics for pediatric injuries Thursday. Of the patients treated for falls while skateboarding, 80 percent were not wearing a helmet.

That was the case with Paige Hargis and her son, Alex, who was 13 at the time of his injury.

Alex and his friends were just hanging out on the day he was hurt in September 2013.

"He was skateboarding in front of our home," Hargis said.

Usually Alex would grab a helmet on his way out, but this day he didn't, and it proved to have some major consequences.

"He fell off his skateboard, nobody saw exactly how, hit the back of his head, and had a severe skull fracture which then caused him to have seizures where he repeatedly banged the front of his head," she explained.

Alex was immediately knocked unconscious. Once at the hospital, it was determined he needed to be put in a medically-induced coma. For 24 long days, family and friends waited for any sign of hope.

"We were told that he may remain in this vegetative state forever or he could make a full recovery," she said.

Alex started improving; day by day, getting stronger, almost making a full recovery from the nearly traumatic injury. Doctors said the extent of his injuries would've been much less if Alex had been wearing a helmet.

"He would've definitely hit his head. He could've had a concussion but the severity of his accident would not have occurred," Paige explained.

It's just one of many accidental injuries treated each year by the staff at Rady Children's Hospital.

The top threats to children and teenagers are drowning, vehicle crashes, falls and head injuries.

"Out of our skateboarders that come in, an extremely small percentage were wearing helmets, so that's definitely a target population for us," said Renee Douglas, Trauma Program Manager.

Rady Children's continues to add programs to help educate parents and kids on safety, saying even one child's life that's lost is one too many.

Hargis is teaming up with local skateboarding shops to help spread the word on the importance of wearing helmets.

The review of 2015 cases released Thursday shows death by drowning is also a major problem among children in San Diego.

In 2015, seven children died from drowning. Three of those deaths occurred in the month of August.

Rady Children’s Hospital also offers programs to help educate parents and children on the importance of water safety.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Three Physician Associations Form New Group]]> Thu, 08 Sep 2016 08:06:43 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/doctor-health-generic-1200-02.jpg

Three locally based independent physician associations have joined to create a new, for-profit administrative organization allowing San Diego County employers to negotiate directly with more than 800 doctors covering most medical specialties.

Health Excel Inc. comprises XiMED IPA, MultiCultural Primary Care Medical Group and Greater Tri-Cities IPA, each of which will continue to operate independently even as they collaborate on contracting of the group’s services and sharing of best practices.

The three groups’ combination may be just the start. A Sept. 7 news release announcing Health Excel’s formation said the organization “creates the opportunity for the more than 4,000 independent physicians in the greater San Diego area to share information and best practices.”

XiMED’s chairman, Dr. Marc Sedwitz, said in the release that although doctors aren’t typically involved in the business side of medicine, “they should be,” adding that Health Excel is about “giving voice to physicians.”

The new group is also expected to help doctors lower malpractice insurance rates and lower their health insurance costs.

XiMED CEO Thomas Sounhein asserted several trends have come together to make conditions right for Health Excel’s formation. He listed the disruption caused by broad-based efforts to control health-care costs; employer frustrations with rising health insurance rates; legal strategies allowing doctors to join in new, risk-based business models; new technologies; and medical groups’ insistence that physicians be given greater control to improve patient care.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Chemicals Used to Fight Zika Worry Some Florida Residents]]> Thu, 08 Sep 2016 05:00:34 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ZikaChems0907_MP4-147333531803900001.jpg On the front lines in the fight against the Zika virus, crews in infected areas are double-dosing chemicals to kill larva and adult mosquitoes. People are being urged to use bug sprays with the ingredient DEET as another layer of protection, but all the chemical exposure is worrisome to a lot of people. "Right now, it's the better of two evils," said new mom Rochelle Colburn. ]]> <![CDATA['Super Lice' on the Rise in Most States]]> Thu, 08 Sep 2016 11:34:18 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_superlice0907_1920x1080.jpg September is National Lice Awareness Month, but most people aren't aware of those cringe-worthy critters until they're dealing with a full-on infestation.That was the issue Stacey Cole faced when her children became infested with lice."I just didn't know what I was supposed to do, what I needed to do in the house, what I needed to do to their heads," Cole said.That helpless feeling comes at a time when a new study reports most states are overrun by what's often called "super lice."]]> <![CDATA[Zika Doubled Birth Defect Rate in Brazil, Study Shows]]> Wed, 07 Sep 2016 13:32:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_670850476149-zika.jpg

The arrival of Zika virus in Brazil doubled the rate of birth defects involving the nervous system, including microcephaly, researchers reported Wednesday.

Rates of Guillain-Barré syndrome — a rare, paralyzing side-effect of some infections — nearly tripled, the researchers said. And rates of other inflammatory conditions such as encephalitis doubled in the northeastern part of Brazil that was hardest hit by Zika, NBC News reported.

Separately, the World Health Organization tweaked its statement on Zika and the rise in rates of birth defects and Guillain-Barré syndrome, saying the virus is the "most likely explanation" for both.

"Beginning in mid-2014, we observed an unprecedented and significant rise in the hospitalization rate for congenital malformations of the nervous system, Guillain-Barré syndrome, encephalitis, myelitis, and encephalomyelitis," Brazil's Oswaldo Cruz Foundation explained in its report, which was published in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Zika Patient in Normal Heights Prompts Spraying]]> Wed, 07 Sep 2016 19:52:29 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/vector-spraying-mosquito-zika.jpg

County health officials will hand spray part of Normal Heights this week after an individual tested positive for Zika virus after returning from a trip abroad. 

The Normal Heights resident recently returned from a trip to a country where tropical, mosquito-borne illnesses, including the Zika virus, are active. The individual developed symptoms after returning home. 

The case was confirmed after testing at the San Diego County Public Health Laboratory came back positive. The case was not acquired in the U.S. 

The individual lives in the Adams North area of Normal Heights. 

When County Vector Control inspectors visited the individual's home, they found Aedes mosquito larvae and adult mosquitoes nearby.

If the Aedes mosquitoes were exposed to the virus, they could spread it to others. No infected Aedes mosquitoes have ever been found in San Diego County or California. 

“It’s really important for people to inspect in and around their homes and dump out any standing water that can give these mosquitoes places to multiply," said Rebecca Lafreniere, Deputy Director, Department of Environmental Health, in a statement.

This Friday, County officials plan to hand spray and area west of Interstate 15, north of Adams Avenue, east of 36th Street and South of Alexia Place. Officials will be going door-to-door this week, leaving notifications for residents to inform them of where the spraying will occur. 

When spraying, the County will not use naled, an insecticide previously used for similar sprayings in Florida and South Carolina. 

Officials will spray Pyrenone 25-5, derived from chrysanthemums. County health officials say the spray poses low risks to people and pets; it dissipates in approximately 30 minutes. 

To minimize your exposure to the spray, officials recommend staying inside with any pets, close doors and windows, cover ornamental fishponds, rinse fruits and vegetables from your garden and wipe down or cover outdoor items. 

In the weeks after the spraying, officials will continue to trap for Aedes mosquitoes in the surrounding area. 

Rebecca LaFreniere, Deputy Director with Department of Environmental Health San Diego County, suggested residents help the county control the aedes species of mosquitoes by routinely removing breeding areas around their home.

She suggested something as small as a toy, a lawn ornament or a saucer could provide a perfect amount of water for mosquitoes to multiply.

There have been no local cases of Zika reported in San Diego County.

<![CDATA[Family Grieves Loss of Newborn in Twins Viral Photo]]> Wed, 07 Sep 2016 08:45:13 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/baby+pacifier1.JPG

Days after a photo of Florida newborn twins hugging in a hospital went viral, the family is grieving the the loss of one of the boys, born with a rare medical condition. 

Twins Mason and Hawk Buchmeyer of St. Lucie County captured many hearts on social media thanks to a photo of the 3-week-old boys posted on Facebook on Sept. 1.

Little Mason is pictured embracing his brother Hawk and smiling.

"This picture was taken 11 days after they were born, it's the first time they have ever touched and as soon as Mason felt Hawk he reached out for his arm and smiled this big," the post reads. "We thought it was time for everyone pulling for our boy to see this picture."

The photo, showing little Hawk on a ventilator, has garnered over 100,000 likes and more than 27,000 shares.

Hawk was born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, which is a defect in the diaphragm. According to the National Institutes of Health, the diaphragm separates the organs in the abdomen from those in the chest.

Hawk had undergone numerous surgeries since his birth and was being treated at Shands Children's Hospital at The University of Florida in Gainesville.

On Wednesday morning, the parents, Brandy Guettler and Tommy Buchmeyer, posted a message on their Facebook page: "Our hearts are saddened this morning as our sweet little man was called home to be with Jesus. He went very peacefully and we know he's no longer suffering. Please give us some time to grieve and try to start the healing process."

The parents created the Facebook page for the twin brothers to keep family, friends and now strangers updated on the condition of the newborns.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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<![CDATA[Flu Season Arrives, With New Recommendations for Prevention]]> Wed, 07 Sep 2016 05:20:15 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_fluvaccines0906_1920x1080.jpg The nasal spray FluMist has been the flu vaccine preference among many parents for years, but the American Academy of Pediatrics says kids should not get it this year. The move comes after a panel of experts found that the nasal spray has not been effective the past three seasons. The AAP recommends instead that all kids over 6 months get the flu shot, which experts say was about 63-percent effective in protecting against the flu last year. ]]> <![CDATA[Industry Insiders Estimate EpiPen Costs No More Than $30]]> Tue, 06 Sep 2016 13:27:01 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/epipen1.jpg

Mylan says middlemen and suppliers have forced them to jack up the prices on EpiPens by hundreds of dollars, but two industry insiders say the company pays no more than $30 per device, NBC News reports.

Some patients are forced to pay a little over $600 out of pocket for a two-pack of the lifesaving medication. Mylan sparked outrage last month when it was revealed the company had hiked up costs for the drug by over 400 percent since it acquired the brand.

Kevin Deane, a partner with the PA Consulting Group, a global technology and design firm that sold a drug delivery technology company to Pfizer in 2004, told NBC News that the base components for each EpiPen, including the plastic cap, tube and needle, might cost between $2 to $4 to purchase. Pharmacists contacted by NBC estimate that the epinephrine inside costs less than $1.

Mylan gets $274 from each sale, but must use that money to pay for costs, according to the company and Mylan CEO Heather Bresch, in a recent CNBC interview. Mylan didn't respond to an NBC News request to itemize its costs, but a Mylan spokesperson told NBC that "all of those costs would clearly make the $274 number significantly lower."

Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Man Wearing Gas Mask Protests Spraying for Mosquitoes Capable of Carrying Zika Virus]]> Tue, 06 Sep 2016 12:58:01 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/socialprotester_1200x675_758885955883.jpg Vector control crews were faced with signs and protests in San Diego on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016.]]> <![CDATA[NY Attorney General to Investigate EpiPen Manufacturer]]> Tue, 06 Sep 2016 11:46:51 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/epipen1.jpg

New York's top prosecutor said he is launching an antitrust investigation into the maker of the EpiPen. 

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Tuesday his office was opening the investigation into Mylan Pharmaceuticals, weeks after the company came under intense public scrutiny for steady increases in the price of the life-saving drug that is administered during anaphylactic allergic reactions. 

"If Mylan engaged in anti-competitive business practices, or violated antitrust laws with the intent and effect of limiting lower cost competition, we will hold them accountable," Schneiderman said in a statement. "Allergy sufferers have enough concerns to worry about — the availability of life-saving medical treatment should not be one of them. I will bring the full resources of my office to this critical investigation.”

The inquiry comes after a preliminary review by the Schneiderman's office found that Mylan may have inserted potentially anticompetitive terms into its sales contracts with numerous local school systems.

"No child’s life should be put at risk because a parent, school, or healthcare provider cannot afford a simple, life-saving device because of a drug-maker’s anti-competitive practices," Schneiderman said.

Mylan said that it provided free injectors to more than 65,000 schools under its EpiPen4Schools program, and that at one time, schools that wanted to buy more injectors than the company provided could purchase them "with a limited purchase restriction." But the company said that no restrictions are in place now.

"The program continues to adhere to all applicable laws and regulations," the company said. 

Mylan has increased the price of EpiPens from about $100 for two doses in 2008 to more than $600 this year, drawing intense scrutiny from the public recent weeks. 

Schneiderman's inquiry also comes about a week after an I-Team investigation revealed that the drugmaker fought to keep a cheaper generic version of the drug off the market. 

Mylan has previously said it is launching a cheaper generic version of EpiPen.

Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Zika Patient +Aedes Mosquitoes Prompt Spraying in Mount Hope]]> Mon, 05 Sep 2016 09:25:19 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/vector-spraying-mosquito-zika.jpg

San Diego County has begun a “heightened response” after an individual reported to have travel-associated Zika virus is living within an area with mosquitoes known to carry the virus, county health officials said Saturday.

The Mount Hope resident traveled to a country that has Zika infections and became symptomatic upon their return, according to Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., San Diego County Public Health Officer.

The county learned of the case Monday, August 29 and reported it to the Department of Environmental Health. The patient granted permission for county officials to look around their residence and collect specimens of aedes mosquitoes.

“We ultimately found out the person was being tested, we obtained our own results and got those initial results back Friday night,” Wooten said. By that time, the patient’s symptoms were gone.

When asked if there were any immediate threat, Wooten said, “There is low risk but we want to err on the side of caution.”

She said the county is trying to prevent the spread of the infection.

“As soon as we know if a person is infectious, we notify the Department of Environmental Health so they can assess the area for this aedes species of mosquitoes to prevent the mosquito from biting the individual and then spreading it to the greater population of aedes mosquitoes,” Wooten said.

Signs were soon posted on corners warning residents of mosquito spraying scheduled for Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A 12-person team will hand-spray Pyrenone 25-5, similar to the spraying last month in South Park after a suspected case. In that neighborhood, the patient tested negative for mosquito-borne illness.

The spraying will occur within a two-block radius bordered by Market, F, Quail and Raven streets.

Rebecca LaFreniere, Deputy Director with Department of Environmental Health San Diego County, suggested residents help the county control the aedes species of mosquitoes by routinely removing breeding areas around their home.

She suggested something as small as a toy, a lawn ornament or a saucer could provide a perfect amount of water for mosquitoes to multiply.

In the Mount Hope case, Wooten said the person went to their provider but could not say who treated the patient or where the patient traveled.

“If you have a person that is infectious, and if you have the mosquitoes around their home then the mosquito can bite the infected person and then spread the virus to other mosquitoes,” Wooten said.

There have been no local cases of Zika reported in San Diego County.

<![CDATA[3 Common STDs Are Becoming Harder to Treat]]> Fri, 02 Sep 2016 15:27:42 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_1602291933356134-STD.jpg

In the United States, drug-resistant gonorrhea is a public health problem of national concern. But untreatable gonorrhea isn't the only STD that has health officials worried, according to an NBC News report.

Earlier this week, the World Health Organization released new treatment guidelines for three common sexually transmitted diseases — chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis — in response to increasing antibiotic resistance.

Gonorrhea has developed the strongest resistance to drugs, according to the WHO, but the worries about untreatable syphilis and chlamydia come at a time when rates for the three STDs are rising rapidly in the U.S, especially among young people ages 20 to 24.

Gonorrhea is even starting to show decreased susceptibility to a "last line" treatment option. This makes this bacterium a multidrug-resistant organism, often called a "superbug."

Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Obesity Rates Fall in Four States]]> Thu, 01 Sep 2016 11:23:47 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/teen+obesity+gastric+bypass.jpg

Obesity rates in Minnesota, Montana, New York and Ohio fell — the first time that any state has seen a decrease in the past decade, according to a report released Thursday, NBC News reported.

For the majority of U.S. states, obesity rates for American adults remained stable between 2014 and 2015, according to the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation annual report.

Meanwhile Kansas and Kentucky saw increases in their rates of obesity.

"Obesity remains one of the most significant epidemics our country has faced, contributing to millions of preventable illnesses and billions of dollars in avoidable health care costs," said Richard Hamburg, interim president of the Trust for America's Health.

People are considered overweight when their BMI hits 25, and they are obese when it gets to 30.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Salk Institute Co-Leads $15.4M Research Efforts]]> Thu, 01 Sep 2016 07:58:58 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/197*120/Salk-Institute-San-Diego-GoogleMaps-0901.jpg

San Diego research facility Salk Institute for Biological Studies is co-leading a $15.4 million stem cell-based effort to find drugs that work against schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

The effort, co-led with The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, will be taken on by a consortium of individuals from academic and nonprofit institutions, along with industry partners from Janssen Research & Development and stem cell manufacturer Cellular Dynamics International.

The group will be led by professors Rusty Gage of Salk and Hongjun Song of Johns Hopkins, according to a Salk news release.

The consortium plans to build a testing platform from induced pluripotent stem cells, which are cells typically taken from people's skin or blood and made to behave like embryonic stem cells. They can grow into any type of cell from there.

Once a solid platform is developed, the scientists will be able to screen existing libraries of drugs to see which are effective in treating the disorders. Johns Hopkins already maintains such a library.

"There has been a bottleneck in stem cell research," Song said in a statement "Every lab uses different protocols and cells from different patients, so it's really hard to compare results. This collaboration gathers the resources needed to create robust, reproducible tests that can be used to develop new drugs for mental health disorders."

In addition to Hopkins and Salk, the collaboration includes the University of Michigan and San Diego’s Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute.


Photo Credit: Google Maps
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<![CDATA[Diamond of California Recalls Macadamia Nuts for Salmonella]]> Wed, 31 Aug 2016 09:52:41 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/212*120/recall-nuts.jpg

Two macadamia nut products sold nationwide under the Diamond of California brand are being recalled due to possible salmonella contamination. 

Snyder's-Lance, Inc. said it was voluntarily recalling 4-ounce packages of Diamond of California Chopped Macadamia Nuts and 2.25-ounce packages of Diamond of California Macadamia Halves and Pieces. 

A laboratory contracted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration detected salmonella in a package of the 4-ounce chopped nuts during testing. 

There have been no reported illnesses so far. 

To locate the production code on the package, consumers should look on the front of the package. A list of the affected lots can be found here or seen below.

[[391894861, C]] 

Consumers can apply for a full refund online here or by calling (503) 364-0399 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT, Monday to Friday.

[[238427591, C]]

Photo Credit: FDA]]>
<![CDATA[Mylan Fought Against Generic EpiPen: Documents]]> Wed, 31 Aug 2016 08:37:16 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/epipen1.jpg

The CEO of Mylan Pharmaceuticals announced the launch of its own cheaper version of the EpiPen this week on the heels of a price hike uproar. But for years, Mylan and its business partners have fought fiercely behind the scenes to block a cheaper generic from hitting the market, NBC New York's I-Team reported.

Documents reviewed by the I-Team show the Pennsylvania-based drug firm paid for opposition research on a generic EpiPen proposed by Teva, an Israeli pharmaceutical company.

The study concluded the Teva product would have a 93 percent failure rate.

But experts on research methodology say the study has significant flaws, including the lack of any control group, the lack of any statistical significance, and the fact that study participants were instructed "not to actually manipulate the device or perform the injection."

In an email to the I-Team, Nina Devlin, a company spokeswoman, defended the integrity of the study, saying it "offered a valid examination" of Teva's product design and how the injector might be used in an emergency.

Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Can Children Benefit From Probiotic Supplements?]]> Tue, 30 Aug 2016 09:41:54 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_probiotics0829_1920x1080.jpg Billed as "good for your guts," Dr. Karpovs says probiotics help restore normal bacteria in the body. ]]> <![CDATA[MD Anderson Cancer Center Focuses on New Treatments]]> Mon, 29 Aug 2016 14:11:48 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DePinho-MD-Anderson-Cancer-Center.jpg Ronald A. DePinho, M.D talks about the types of medicines and treatments that are in clinical trials and how they could be the game-changer needed in the fight against cancer.]]> <![CDATA[San Diego Gets Cutting-Edge Cancer Center ]]> Mon, 29 Aug 2016 18:48:32 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/MDCancerCenterHouston1472482924639.jpg

Scripps Health has entered into a decades-long partnership with one of the nation’s leading cancer research centers that will lead to greater access to  treatments and clinical trials.

MD Anderson, based in Houston, Texas, is one of 45 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers.

The Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center will provide treatment options for those living in eight counties in California - from Santa Barbara to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Scripps Health President and CEO Chris Van Gorder used the word “extraordinary” to describe the opportunity to partner with one of the nation’s leading cancer centers.

“By partnering with an organization whose sole focus is cancer and all the different kinds of cancer we’re going to have the latest protocols to take care of our patients,” Van Gorder said.

There will be some recruiting and construction of buildings over the next few years. There will be a hub near La Jolla and another location near Scripps Mercy Hospital.

There is a plan is to create comprehensive Scripps MD Cancer Center locations. Officials said they will release specific locations over the next several months.

What may be most important to those battling cancer will be the access to clinical trials managed by MD Anderson.

“We’re very interested in expanding access to clinical trials in communities like San Diego,” Ronald A. DePinho, M.D., President, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center said.

“If you have advanced disease you need multi-disciplinary care and you also need access to clinical trials if you fail that standard of care,” DePinho said.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and other elected officials gathered to celebrate the announcement. He said the agreement is transformative not only for San Diegans but for the Southern California region.

“This is life-changing work that’s going to happen right here in our community,” Faulconer said.

The two companies will begin working together immediately. You can learn more about the partnership through Scripps Health.

Photo Credit: MD Cancer Center Image]]>