<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - Health News]]>Copyright 2018 https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/health http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego https://www.nbcsandiego.com en-usWed, 21 Nov 2018 05:36:45 -0800Wed, 21 Nov 2018 05:36:45 -0800NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Thanksgiving Is the Worst Day of the Year for Home Fires]]> Wed, 21 Nov 2018 05:31:00 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1002032730.jpg

Pay close attention while prepping your turkey, and exercise extreme care when setting up your holiday decorations. Statistically, you'll be playing with fire.

There are more in-home fires during the holiday season than at any other time of the year, according to data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Thanksgiving is the single worst day for fires, NBC News reported.

An estimated 2,090 home fires were reported to fire departments around the United States on Thanksgiving 2016, according to the association. That’s more than twice the daily average for the rest of the year. Of the Thanksgiving fires, three-quarters were cooking-related. On average, Thanksgiving fires killed five people, injured 25 and caused $19 million in property loss from 2014 to 2016, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. 

Distractions are the main cause of cooking fires, said NFPA, adding that hosts are inclined to talk to guests instead of managing the kitchen at all times. To stay safe during the holidays, experts suggest keeping combustible items like aprons and towels away from flames; installing, or checking, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; and paying attention while cooking.

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<![CDATA[Do Not Eat Any Romaine Lettuce: Health Officials]]> Tue, 20 Nov 2018 13:39:12 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/lettuce+thumb.jpg

Health officials in the U.S. and Canada are urging people to stay away from all romaine lettuce and products after 32 people in 11 states were sickened by an E. coli outbreak.

<![CDATA[FDA Announces Crackdown on Cigarettes]]> Fri, 16 Nov 2018 06:47:46 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_tobacco1115_1500x845.jpg

The Food and Drug Administration is making moves against the tobacco industry in an effort to crack down on smoking in teens, saying it is working to ban menthol and mint in all cigarettes, as well as flavored cigars. The agency also announced it will limit the sales of flavored e-cigarettes to youths, both in stores and online.

<![CDATA[San Diego County Reports 1st Death in 2018 Flu Season]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2018 17:55:53 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/hospital-generic-1020.jpg

The first flu death of the season in San Diego County was a 52-year-old woman, health officials reported Wednesday.

The woman lived in San Diego and died on Friday, Nov. 2, according to the County Health and Human Services Agency. 

She had underlying medical conditions, officials said. They said it was not known if the woman had received a current flu vaccination. 

“Any death is tragic. Our condolences go out to the individual’s family,” Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer said in a written statement from the county. “This death serves as an unfortunate reminder of the importance of getting a flu shot.”

Last week, the county reported the number of influenza cases in the region was down 60 percent from this time last year. 

In San Diego County, 342 residents died of flu-related causes in the 2017 to 2018 flu season.

At this time last year, the county had reported two deaths tied to influenza. 

No other information was available.

Please refresh this page for updates on this story. Details may change as more information becomes available.

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<![CDATA[First Stats in 2018-2019 Flu Season Released by San Diego County]]> Thu, 01 Nov 2018 13:41:10 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/KNSD_San_Diego_Scrambles_to_Prep_for_110209_17_mezzn_640x480.jpg

As we begin the flu season, San Diego County health officials report the number of influenza cases in the region is down 60 percent from this time last year. 

A total of 129 flu cases have been reported in San Diego County through Oct. 27, officials said Thursday. 

The region is seeing 60 percent less than the 318 cases reported at the same time last year. 

Even so, officials said now is the time to get a flu vaccine. 

“People should not become complacent. It’s too early to determine what impact this year’s flu season is going to have,” Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer said in a written news release.

In San Diego County, the 342 residents who died of flu-related causes during the 2017 to 2018 flu season represent a nearly 300 percent increase over the city's 87 deaths during the 2016 to 2017 flu season.

There have been no deaths in San Diego County in the 2018-2019 flu season. 

There are a number of clinic locations throughout San Diego County offering the influenza vaccine. Click here for the most updated list from the county. For more information, call (866) 358-2966.

Officials say you can avoid getting sick by following these steps: 


  • Wash hands thoroughly and often
  • Use hand sanitizers
  • Stay away from sick people
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Clean commonly touched surfaces
  • If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others

<![CDATA[Simple Ways to Prevent the Cold and Flu]]> Thu, 01 Nov 2018 12:11:22 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AdobeStock_135506971.jpg

With cold and flu season on the horizon, NBC 7's Whitney Southwick speaks with Dr. Jim Lavalle about simple ways to keep illnesses at bay.

Photo Credit: Antonio Guillem/Adobe]]>
<![CDATA[Health Care Prices Vary Widely Across US, Study Finds]]> Thu, 25 Oct 2018 10:15:17 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/emergency2.jpg

A patient receiving health care services in one part of the United States could pay twice as much as a patient living elsewhere, according to a new study.

Prices were highest in San Jose and lowest in Baltimore in 2016 for privately insured patients, the Health Care Cost Institute found.

The Washington-based nonprofit group analyzed nearly 1.8 billion health insurance claims filed between 2012 and 2016. It then calculated a nationwide average for health care prices and ranked 112 metros against that average.

Although prices generally were well above average on the West Coast and the Northeast, regional patterns broke down elsewhere.

Across the Midwest, prices were below the national average in most cities, including Chicago, Indianapolis and Cleveland. But Milwaukee and Green Bay, Wis., were the fourth and fifth most expensive areas nationwide, just behind San Francisco and ahead of San Diego.

“It reinforces this idea that all health care is local,” said Bill Johnson, a senior health researcher with the institute.

There is little logic to health care prices within regions. Metros with professional fees near the national average sometimes have very high hospital prices and vice versa.

In Los Angeles, professional fees are 5 percent below the national average while prices for inpatient (hospital) stays and outpatient services (emergency room and procedures such as colonoscopies) are 28 percent and 30 percent above the national average respectively.

Green Bay has the fifth highest health costs in the nation — 14 percent above the national average. But it’s too simple to say that health care is expensive in Green Bay. Inpatient and outpatient costs are below the national average there while professional fees are 43 percent above the national average.

Kevin Kennedy, a researcher at the institute, said that examples like this “help direct attention to what the right question is to ask.”

For example, in Dayton, Ohio (health care costs 11 percent below the national average), inpatient charges are 18 percent above average. In Boston (health care costs 3 percent above the national average), professional fees are 22 percent above average. In San Jose (health care costs 65 percent above the national average), outpatient charges are a whopping 117 percent above average.

“It seems like there’s a different reason (for high costs) for every area,” Kennedy said.

“Health care isn’t one big problem,” Johnson said. “It’s a series of little problems.”

The institute plans additional reports to see how usage and competition affect the price of health care.

The group analyzed health claims data from four major insurers — Aetna, Humana, UnitedHealthcare and Kaiser Permanente — representing more than 50 million individuals.

Photo Credit: jdoms - stock.adobe.com]]>
<![CDATA[6 Kids Dead, 12 Sick in 'Severe' Viral Outbreak at NJ Center]]> Tue, 23 Oct 2018 20:45:08 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/adenovirus+nj.png

Six children at a long-term care medical facility in New Jersey have died after a “severe outbreak” of adenovirus, a family of viruses that can cause mild illness, while 12 others have been infected, according to the state's Department of Health.

New Jersey Department of Health officials said children were recently infected with adenovirus at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, Passaic County. The medical institution houses the Pediatric Center.

The facility has been instructed not to admit any new patients until the outbreak ends and they are in full compliance, the DOH says.

Adenoviruses are common viruses that can cause a range of illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The viruses cause cold-like symptoms, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, and pink eye. Adenoviruses can pose serious complications to certain people, particularly those with weakened immune systems, respiratory issues and cardiac disease.

That is the case at the Wanaque Center, health officials said. 

"Unfortunately, the particular strain of adenovirus (#7) in this outbreak is affecting medically fragile children with severely compromised immune systems," the New Jersey Department of Health in a statement. "This strain has been particularly associated with disease in communal living facilities."

According to the CDC, adenoviruses are typically spread from an infected person to others through: close personal contact such touching or shaking hands; through the air by coughing and sneezing; or by touching an object or surface with adenoviruses on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.

Health investigators visited the facility over the weekend as part of their probe, officials said.

The state Department of Health further said that it is monitoring the situation “very closely” and has been in contact with the staff at the center “providing guidance on infection control and cleaning procedures.”

The Wanaque Center is a for-profit facility that, according to its website, works with "with medically fragile children" from newborn to 22 years of age. The center also serves as an adult nursing home and rehabilitation center for short- and long-term care.

A spokesperson for the Wanaque Center did not respond to repeated request for comment.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy issued a statement on the adenovirus outbreak saying that he is "heartbroken by the news that several children have lost their lives."

"I have been briefed by [Commissioner of Health] Dr. [Shereef] Elnahal, who has assured me that the Department of Health has recommended vital measures to enhance protections against the further spread of infection and will continue its active on-site surveillance," Murphy says in his statement. "I am confident that the steps being taken by state and local officials will minimize the impact to all those who remain at the facility, including patients and employees.”

The cause of the outbreak remains unclear.

Photo Credit: News 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[CDC Probes More Cases of Polio-Like Syndrome AFM]]> Tue, 23 Oct 2018 03:56:02 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-460492806+%281%29+edited.jpg

Federal health officials now have reports of 155 possible cases of acute flaccid myelitis, a polio-like syndrome that mostly affects children and that causes muscle weakness and paralysis, federal health officials said on Monday.

The latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows no change in the number of confirmed cases — 62 cases in 22 states, NBC News reported. But state health departments have reported another 28 suspected cases.

The CDC urges parents to get kids to an emergency room quickly if a child has the following symptoms: difficulty moving the eyes or drooping eyelids, facial droop or weakness, difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech, or sudden arm or leg weakness.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Unique Cancer Treatment Shows Promising Results]]> Tue, 23 Oct 2018 07:43:55 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/205*120/cancerresearch349.JPG

When Terry Gallant, 71, of El Cajon received a Stage 4 Lymphoma cancer diagnosis, he had tumors in his body so large that he couldn't sleep on his side. 

"I had 11 pounds of cancer in my body," he said Monday from his home. "I was told then I had probably a month to live." 

Sixteen years later, Gallant is in remission and feeling better than he has in decades. 

"I've had quite a few doctors say, 'what did you do? I've never seen such a successful treatment!" 

Gallant went to Dr. Robert Nagourney, the founder of the Nagourney Cancer Institute in Long Beach. 

The oncologist uses a different approach to treatment, giving each patient a unique combination of chemotherapy drugs based on what kills their cancer tissue in a laboratory setting. 

By treating the cells outside of the body first, he said he can determine which medications will work best by the time they are given to the patient. 

"We thought of cancer as cells that grow too rapidly," said Nagourney. "It turns out that cancer is really a disease of cell survival. You don't want to stop them from growing, you have to kill them." 

Using a biopsy of Gallant's tumor from his neck, lab tests allowed Nagourney to see what medications would kill it the quickest. 

"I went from having 11 pounds of cancer to molecularly unfindable in my body in three very mild chemo treatments," said Gallant. "They were so mild I barely felt any side effects." 

Local doctors call Gallant a miracle, but Nagourney said his approach has had promising results on others.

"We're one of the first to make this work," said Nagourney. "We've doubled the response rates and added 44 percent to the one-year survival in patients using available medications." 

Nagourney is hopeful that this method could be the cure to all types of cancer.

"Cancer patients have to realize when they get a diagnosis it isn't a death sentence," said Nagourney. "It's a call to action." 

<![CDATA[2.4M Pounds of Taquitos Recalled Over Salmonella Concern]]> Sun, 21 Oct 2018 13:46:23 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1005726022.jpg

More than 2.4 million pounds of ready-to-eat taquitos have been recalled due to possible contamination with salmonella and listeria, the Food Safety and Inspection Service announced.

The recall includes meat and poultry taquitos produced between July 1 and Oct. 10, 2018, by Ruiz Food Products, according to a Friday press release from the FSIS. The affected products are 4.5-pound cases of Go-Go Taquitos in “Beef Taco & Cheese Taquitos," “Buffalo Style Cooked Glazed Chicken Taquitos" and “Chipotle Chicken Wrapped in A Battered Flour Tortilla." The items were shipped nationwide.

There have been no confirmed reports of illness from customers eating the food. But the FSIS said people should not eat taquitos already purchased and to throw them away. The agency encouraged people to contact their healthcare providers if they are concerned.

Ruiz Food was notified on Oct. 16, 2018, that the diced onions used in the taquitos were being recalled by their supplier because of possible contamination.

Salmonella can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Diagnosing the illness requires a blood or stool sample, as other illnesses cause similar symptoms.

Listeria can cause diarrhea, fever and other similar foodborne illness symptoms.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Elderly Man Becomes First Confirmed West Nile Case This Year]]> Fri, 19 Oct 2018 14:06:43 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/mosquito-west-nile-zika-virus.jpg

A nonagenarian from La Jolla became the first confirmed case of West Nile in San Diego County this year, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced Friday.

The 91-year-old man was hospitalized in September for encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, but testing by the California Department of Public Health confirmed on Thursday he contracted the West Nile virus.

He has been released from the hospital and is at home recovering, according to the county.

County health officials determined the man was infected from a local mosquito bite because he had not traveled before becoming ill. Mosquitoes trapped in the area near the man's home, however, tested negative for West Nile, according to the County's Department of Environmental Health.

West Nile virus mainly affects birds but can be transmitted to humans by certain mosquito species native to San Diego that fed on an infected bird or animal and then bit a person.

The presence of the West Nile virus was first spotted in the county in 2003 but the first confirmed human infection was in 2007.

Last year, two people were infected with West Nile in San Diego, one from acquired it from outside the county and one acquired it locally, county spokesman Tom Christensen said. 

There were, however, 22 cases in 2016 and two people died.

The majority of people infected with West Nile virus don't know they were infected because they exhibit no symptoms.

About 10 percent of those infected suffer mild symptoms, such as headache, fever, nausea, fatigue, skin rash or swollen glands. In rare cases, people can become extremely ill and the disease can be fatal.

To prevent disease-carrying mosquitoes from breeding, residents were urged to dump out or remove anything inside or outside their homes that can be a breeding ground, such as plant saucers, rain gutters, buckets, old tires, wheelbarrows and toys.

Photo Credit: Alice Barr]]>
<![CDATA[Meningitis Vaccine 'Do-Over' Suggested for Some SDSU Students]]> Fri, 19 Oct 2018 10:00:40 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/Meningitis_Outbreak_at_San_Diego_State.jpg

Approximately 350 San Diego State University students will need to be vaccinated again in an outbreak of meningococcal disease after officials learned the initial round of vaccines may not be effective.

Students who received the vaccine from Walgreens on Oct. 5 and Oct 8. are being notified they will need to be re-vaccinated, a university spokesperson said.

"We recently became aware that the vaccine temperature at the time of administration was not optimal," a Walgreens spokesperson confirmed to NBC 7. "While we believe there is no associated safety risk, in order to ensure that recipients received full efficacy of the vaccine, we are in the process of contacting the students to offer re-vaccinations."

Walgreens assisted the county in vaccinating students in early October after it was confirmed that at least three SDSU students contracted the bacterial disease.

"Students who received a MenB vaccination through the various on-campus clinics by the County of San Diego and Kaiser Permanente have not been affected and do not need to be re-vaccinated," SDSU spokesperson Cory Marshall said.

Bacterial meningitis is spread by sharing items such as cigarettes or drinking glasses or through intimate contact such as kissing. 

The bacteria are not airborne, officials said, so they do not spread like germs associated with the common cold or the flu.

Those who feel they may have been exposed and suffer from a sudden onset of symptoms including fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea and/or vomiting, should go to the hospital, health officials said.

Learn more about the available meningococcal vaccines through the CDC's website.

Or you can talk with someone by calling SDSU Student Health Services 8:30 am - 4:30 pm at 619-594-4325 or by calling San Diego County Public Health Services’ Epidemiology Division at 619-692-8499.

<![CDATA[Despite the Science, Cities Are Removing Fluoride From Water]]> Wed, 17 Oct 2018 03:36:50 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/140806786-Faucet-bathroom.jpg

Fluoride prevents cavities and tooth decay, something confirmed by numerous studies, yet a small but vocal minority has gotten dozens of cities to remove the naturally occurring compound from the water supply, NBC News reported.

"Anti-fluoridationists" blame fluoride for lower IQs and diseases, despite long-established science. The American Dental Association says that 74 cities have voted to remove fluoride from their drinking water in the last five years, and proposed bans are on the ballot in two more cities this November.

"You cannot tailor public health to the whims of a small group of people," said Dr. Johnny Johnson, a retired pediatric dentist who leads the nonprofit American Fluoridation Society. "If you are doing that, you are harming a large group of people."

While nearly 75 percent of the United States gets fluoridated water, more than 80 percent of New Jersey residents do not, and the Texas Republican Party now opposes water fluoridation as well.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto, File]]>