<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - Health News]]>Copyright 2018https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/health http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego https://www.nbcsandiego.comen-usWed, 21 Feb 2018 13:15:00 -0800Wed, 21 Feb 2018 13:15:00 -0800NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Hepatitis A Outbreak]]> Wed, 20 Sep 2017 11:26:06 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/New_Campaign_Promotes_Hepatitis_A_Vaccines_and_Prevention.jpg ]]> <![CDATA[Salk, UCSD to Study Food Restriction and Firefighter Health]]> Sat, 17 Feb 2018 13:55:27 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Salk-Institute-Firefighter-Study.jpg

For the next few years, the Salk Institute and the UC San Diego School of Medicine plan to study the health of firefighters, specifically how food intake impacts their well-being.

The San Diego-based research facilities have been awarded a $1.5 million grant by the Department of Homeland Security for the study, which should take about three years to complete. The research includes an in-depth look at whether restricting food intake to a 10-hour window can improve the health of firefighters during their shift work.

Satchidananda Panda, a professor in Salk's Regulatory Biology Laboratory and co-principal investigator of the new study, said firefighters are at high risk for many chronic diseases “because of how shift work disrupts the body's natural rhythms.”

This includes a higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

“We want to understand if we can counter some of the disruptions with simple changes not only to what firefighters eat but also when they eat,” Panda explained in a press release this week. 

Salk’s research, so far, indicates that time-restricted eating can improve a firefighter’s health – including weight, blood glucose levels and cholesterol – amid the life-threatening work they endure daily. 

According to the Salk Institute, nearly every cell in the human body has a biological clock that tells it when to be active and when to rest. These 24-hour clocks produce circadian rhythms, and the clocks run on nutrients from food.

“Increasing evidence is showing that disruptions to this natural cycle caused by the modern lifestyle, with its artificial light and round-the-clock access to food, can impact our health, resulting in everything from poor-quality sleep to obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer,” Salk Institute noted.

Panda’s lab studies the molecular bases of circadian timekeeping in mammals. Previously, his research found that restricting the access of lab mice to food for eight to 10 hours a day resulted in slimmer, healthier animals compared to mice that ate the same number of calories around the clock.

Preliminary studies in humans suggest similar health benefits of so-called “time-restricted eating.”

It’s not about what or how much one eats, but more about the time period when one eats, according to the Salk Institute.

Panda is collaborating on the study with Pam Taub, MD, associate professor of medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. The duo will test the effectiveness of a circadian-rhythm-based diet intervention compared to standard nutritional behavioral counseling on firefighters' cardiovascular health.

"Shift workers, like firefighters, are a critical part of our community’s well-being and we need to identify strategies to improve their overall cardiovascular health,” Taub said in a press release. “We believe that a simple lifestyle intervention, such as time-restricted eating, can prevent or help reverse cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and coronary artery disease.

The Salk Institute said the study will incorporate an app developed by Panda’s lab that tracks food intake, sleep and exercise habits.

Then, 150 local firefighters will be randomly assigned to one of two groups: the “circadian group,” whose food intake will be limited to a 10-hour period, or the “behavioral counseling group,” which will serve as the control group.

The firefighters will have their blood glucose and lipid levels measured at regular clinic visits and will wear sensors that will continuously monitor their health.

Firefighters with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department (SDFD) will work with Salk and UC San Diego on the research.

"We are hopeful this study will give our members information they can apply to their lives, which will reduce the incidence of chronic disease that firefighters are prone to," said SDFD Chief Brian Fennessy.

The Salk Institute said the study will be closely watched by the National Fire Protection Association. Any beneficial results may be extended to other fire departments.

Nearly 20 percent of Americans are shift workers with non-traditional hours of activity and rest. Salk believes the study results could also help these workers and their families, who can also be impacted by these hectic schedules.

Photo Credit: Salk Institute
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<![CDATA[Top 4 Family-Friendly Hikes in San Diego County ]]> Tue, 20 Feb 2018 09:57:45 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/223*120/torreypines203948.PNG

With beautiful weather all year long and stunning views, it's no wonder San Diego is a favorite hiking area for many. 

But sometimes it's unclear if the hiking trail you're thinking about taking is good for kids. It might be too strenuous or even dangerous for children. That's why NBC 7 created a list of our top four local family-friendly hiking spots. 

First is Annie's Canyon Trail. If you drive to Rios Court in Solana Beach and walk about 3/4 of a mile off the road, you'll find stunning views in this hidden gem. The coastal hike is packed with a plethora of wildlife and native plants as well. 

And although the trail is close to the beach, it's one of the only places in the county with sandstone, making it seem like more of a desert terrain. 

“It’s on the coast so it’s almost always pleasant for hiking,” said Scott Turner, co-author of the 5th edition of 'Afoot & Afield San Diego County.' 

Hikers can take natural sand steps up to the top of the canyon for sweeping views of San Diego. 

“There’s great birdwatching here thanks to a combination of tidal water and fresh water merging together,"  said Turner. 

Next up is Cowles Mountain Trail in San Carlos. It's a good start for kids because the parking lot off of Navajo Road is right next to the trailhead. 

"This is a great place to go and actually get a workout and do something fun," said Kirk Riley, a hiker in San Carlos. 

The hike, which is part of the larger Mission Trails area, also has breath-taking views during sunset.

Don't forget about Volcan Mountain Trail in Julian. Here, you can get an elevation up to 1300 ft. A 5.2 mile hike here will take about 3 hours with the family. 

“During the fall, believe it or not they actually get some descent fall color from one of the trees that grows up there called the Black Oak,” added Turner. “Right around beginning of November to mid-November it will actually turn gold.” 

During the hike, kids might be interested to learn about the rich history of Julian, which was a gold mining district during the gold rush of the 1800's and now is famous for its apple orchards and pies. 

Finally, there's the famous Torrey Pines Hiking Trails. Parking at this hot hiking spot can run you $15, but most say it is well worth it. The trail is not too steep and has breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean along the way. 

“This particular hike was so peaceful,” Said Rosemary Cesarone, who was hiking the trail Friday. “People are very respectful. You get to be in the woods and then this incredible look at the ocean.” 

This is also an educational experience for kids. The Torrey Pine tree is one of the rarest native pines in the U.S., and this is one of the only places in the world where it grows. 

What's your favorite local hiking trail? Let us know by commenting below or sending us a message through the NBC 7 Facebook page. 

<![CDATA[What Mental Health Experts Say to Kids About Shootings]]> Thu, 15 Feb 2018 06:06:47 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/floridashootingvictims_1200x675.jpg

A community began mourning after a former student went on a deadly rampage and opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle Wednesday, killing at least 17 people, at a Florida high school, NBC News reported. 

For many parents, explaining a tragedy such as a school shooting to their own child can be a daunting experience, mental health experts said. Self care is the first step to having this important conversation with children, and children should often take the lead in the conversations.

"It is often best to let your child take the lead in asking questions about difficult situations so that you only share what you feel is necessary to satisfy their inquiries," said Dr. Allison Agliata, a clinical psychologist, head of an independent middle school in Tampa Bay and the mother of three children ages 12 and younger.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Joe Raedle]]>
<![CDATA[20 New Flu-Related Deaths Reported in San Diego County]]> Wed, 14 Feb 2018 19:24:40 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Flu-Vaccine-generic-getty-images.jpg

Twenty new flu-related deaths were reported in San Diego County on Wednesday bringing the total to 251 for this flu season, according to the weekly report from the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.

Thirteen percent of those who died from flu in San Diego County this season were under the age of 65, officials said. The youngest victim was 1-year-old and the oldest was 101.

The number of fatalities this flu season is the highest it's ever been for the county since officials began tracking flu-related deaths approximately 20 years ago.

The predominant strain circulating this season has been influenza H3N2, according to County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten.

She and other county health officials advise residents to get vaccinated and take other preventive measures to avoid getting sick. 

The county said this season’s flu vaccine offers protection against influenza A H3N2, pandemic H1N1-like and influenza B strains.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated.

For a list of where you can get the flu vaccine in San Diego, visit this website or call 211.

Influenza-like illnesses made up 5 percent of emergency room visits in San Diego County for the week ending Feb. 10.

Total lab-confirmed cases to date number 16,078, according to the county's weekly report.  

Avoid getting sick by washing your hands thoroughly and often. Also, clean commonly touched surfaces and stay away from sick people. If you are feeling sick, stay home and avoid contact with others. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Women Twice as Likely as Men to Have Depression, Survey Finds]]> Tue, 13 Feb 2018 07:45:30 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/CDCdepression.jpg

Women are twice as likely as men to be depressed, a new survey finds.

“Women were almost twice as likely as were men to have had depression,” the team at NCHS, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wrote. Between 2013 and 2016, 5.5 percent of men reported having had symptoms of depression, compared to 10.4 percent of women.

There were big variations depending on ethnicity and income. “Overall, non-Hispanic Asian adults had the lowest prevalence of depression (3.1 percent) compared with Hispanic (8.2 percent), non-Hispanic white (7.9 percent), and non-Hispanic black (9.2 percent) adults," the researchers wrote.

People with lower incomes were more likely to report depression. Nearly 16 percent of people living below the federal poverty level reported recent symptoms of depression, compared to 3.5 percent of those living at 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

The least likely to report depression? High-income men. Just 2.3 percent of well-off men reported depression, compared to nearly 20 percent of women living below the poverty level.

Photo Credit: CDC.gov]]>
<![CDATA['The President Saved My Life': Cancer Survivor Meets Trump]]> Sat, 10 Feb 2018 05:23:52 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/pr-2-9-potus-with-shane-in-oval_original.jpg

Don Bouvet wore a suit for the second time in his life Friday, when he visited the White House to meet with the man he credits for saving his life: President Donald Trump.

Last year, Bouvet said he couldn’t afford the chemotherapy he needed to treat his bladder cancer. But more than a year after Trump gave his family $10,000, Bouvet says he’s cancer-free.

“The president saved my life,” Bouvet said during the emotional Oval Office meeting. “And I told him that.”

Bouvet’s son, Shane Bouvet, worked with Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 by day while holding down a job as a delivery man by night.

The Republican reportedly met with president-elect Trump the night before the inauguration and shared his father’s health and financial struggles.

“His father, Donald,” Trump said Friday about what Shane Bouvet told him, “was suffering and really on a pretty final path towards losing his life.”

After his January meeting with Trump, Shane Bouvet returned to his hometown of Stonington, Illinois, with a population of about 930. Then, he got a check in the mail.

It was a personal check worth $10,000 from Trump, he said.

“Shane — You are a great guy — thanks for all of your help,” Trump reportedly wrote on presidential stationery.

Shane Bouvet told NBC4 he gave the entire sum to his father, who used it to pay the deductible on the treatment.

Now cancer-free, Don Bouvet got his own chance Friday to meet Trump, who was impressed that Shane gave all the money to his dad.

“You didn’t have anything,” Trump said to Shane. “And you gave all of it. ... That's an incredible son.”

"It's very emotional because ... one day I wanted to come here, or meet you somewhere, shake your hand, look you in the eye, and say, 'Thank you for saving my life,'" Don Bouvet told the president. "And I thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Trump was apparently so impressed that he gave the Bouvets another check for $5,000, Shane told NBC4.

The Bouvets also left with another, possibly priceless, souvenir: a plaque with a note personally signed by Trump that reads, “To Shane, Great Going!”

The Bouvets said that Trump donated his personal money, which campaign finance experts told NBC4 complies with all relevant laws.

Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead]]>
<![CDATA[Is This the Worst Bed Bug Infestation Ever?]]> Fri, 09 Feb 2018 14:47:43 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DIT+NAT+BED+BUGS+HOUSE.+THUMB.jpg

A New Jersey house may be home to one of the worst bed bug infestations ever seen. Pest control found thousands of the tiny bloodsuckers all over the house and it took three months to get rid of them all.

<![CDATA[Libraries: A Surprising New Home for Bed Bugs]]> Fri, 09 Feb 2018 14:44:02 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DIT+NAT+BED+BUGS+LIBRARY+THUMB.jpg

It may surprise you to learn that libraries have become a hotspot for picking up bed bugs. So as you turn the pages on the latest teen vampire novel, there may be an actual bloodsucker living inside.

<![CDATA[‘Plan B’ Vending Machine Coming to UCSD Campus]]> Sat, 10 Feb 2018 18:51:28 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/185*120/PlanBPill.jpg

A vending machine offering the Plan B emergency contraceptive pill will soon be installed at the University of California San Diego – an effort driven by students who believe there's a need for this kind of resource on campus.

After much back-and-forth, the vending machine is set to be installed in the Price Center at the heart of the La Jolla campus sometime this quarter.

The machine will offer Plan B pills – also known as “the-morning-after” pills – condoms, pregnancy tests and other pharmacy products. The Plan B pill is used as an emergency contraceptive, meant to be taken within three days of unprotected sex.

UC San Diego students will be able to access the so-called “Wellness Vending Machine” 24 hours a day, seven days a week with their student ID card. 

The machine will only accept “Triton Cash,” the university’s form of currency, a pre-paid spending account linked directly to a student’s campus ID card. According to the UC San Diego website, Triton Cash can be loaded onto an ID via checks, credit and debit cards. It’s available to all students, staff, faculty and visitors.

Originally, the Associated Students organization on campus pushed to get the Plan B pills loaded into an existing vending machine in the Geisel Library, but the proposal was rejected by the library director.

Students, including Sixth College Senator Caroline Siegel-Singh, then set their sights on installing the machine elsewhere on campus. Earlier this week, the University Centers Advisory Board approved the installation of the vending machine in the Price Center.

Siegel-Singh and the students behind the efforts say it’s all about giving students access to affordable and immediate care.

According to Siegel-Singh, only 28 percent of UC students currently have access to their own car. This proved to be an obstacle for one of her roommates during her freshman year who had a difficult time obtaining an emergency contraceptive following a sexual assault.

“The process of acquiring Plan B – between Uber (rides) and the product itself – was close to $100,” she told NBC 7.

No everyone agrees with the machine being on campus.

“I guess they’re maybe concerned about students being too sexually active,” said UC San Diego student Jennifer Tran.

However, Tran can see why some students support the installation of the machine.

“I feel like (being sexually active) is going to happen whether or not, and we have to do our best to help support them and give them a safe environment to do it in,” she added.

This makes UC San Diego the third university in the UC system to sell Plan B via vending machine. UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara each have machines on their campuses.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[1 in 10 Babies Disabled Due to Mom's Drinking: Study]]> Fri, 09 Feb 2018 10:51:43 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Fetal_Alcohol_Disorders_May_Be_More_Widespread.jpg

As many as one in 10 children in the United States have some type of disability due to their mother’s drinking during pregnancy, according to a new study led by the University of California, San Diego.

“Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders we think are the most common cause of neurobehavioral problems in children worldwide,” Christina Chambers, Ph. D., Professor of Pediatrics, UC San Diego said.

The study looked at 6,000 first graders in four different U.S. Regions: the Midwest, Southeast, Rocky Mountains and Pacific Southwest, which included San Diego.

The researchers sampled the students for two academic years from 2010 to 2016.

Investigators examined the children’s health and interviewed mothers, as well as close relatives.

Conservative estimates ranged up to 5 percent of U.S. children having a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

On a weighted scale, the study found that in some communities, up to 10 percent of first graders were affected. That rate is higher than the number of children identified with autism spectrum disorder, which as of 2012 was 1 in 68 children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The comparison is really important because it tells us that there's a disorder that is not uncommon, something that should be raised in terms of the public health agenda,” Chambers said, “If it is this common as we’ve demonstrated then it needs to be on the public health agenda with a high priority. This is 100% preventable.”

The CDC recommends pregnant women abstain from alcohol use, as no known amount has been proven to be safe at any point during pregnancy.

Still, the lead researcher of the study maintains that the message is not to make women feel guilty or embarrassed, rather, to bring awareness to the prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.

“I think the most important thing to think about first is, you’re not alone. It is extremely common. We know most women don’t plan pregnancy,” Chambers said. “It’s just human nature as mothers that we want to search our soul to think if my child is having difficulty in school, could this be something I did? We’re hoping that’s not the message. “

Chambers recommends women have open and honest conversations with pediatricians if alcohol was used during pregnancy. She says that way, your child’s physician has more information to work with if any disabilities present themselves.

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders range from fetal alcohol syndrome, which is the most severe form causing brain damage and physical deformities to mild disabilities such as behavioral and learning issues along with lower-than-normal weight and height.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. 

<![CDATA[UC San Diego Vending Machine to Sell Plan B]]> Fri, 09 Feb 2018 06:27:34 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/UC_San_Diego_Vending_Machine_to_Sell_Plan_B.jpg

Students have been pushing for the wellness vending machine on campus, NBC 7's Liberty Zabala reports.

<![CDATA[Carlsbad Woman Puts Petri Dish Under Bathroom Dryer, Breaks the Internet]]> Fri, 09 Feb 2018 07:13:32 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Bathroom_Bill_6p_80817.jpg

A Carlsbad woman did a little science experiment in a public bathroom that has people stunned. 

Nichole Ward claims on her Facebook page that she put a Petri dish under a hand dryer in a public bathroom for a period of three minutes. She said three days later, an alarming amount of microorganisms grew. 

On Thursday, the Carlsbad mom told NBC 7 on the phone she conducted the experiment as a microbiology student, after her professor told the class to put a Petri dish in a place of their choosing for a few minutes. She chose a hand dryer in a Carlsbad restroom. 

"And you think you’re walking out with clean hands," Ward wrote in her Facebook post. 

The photo posted shows the Petri dish filled with giant globs of cultures that are held with blue rubber gloves. 

"This post is simply for awareness not to instill fear," she added.

As of Thursday, the post had been shared over 550,600 times. It had 143,000 likes and dozens of comments. 

Horrified Facebook users commented that it was gross and eye-opening. 

NBC 7 asked experts about the contents of the Petri dish, and whether people should be alarmed based on what was shown in the picture. 

"I can tell you that hand dryers can be very unsanitary as they blow bacteria from hands all over the bathroom," said Tracey Brown, professor of biology at Cal State University San Marcos.  From what I know, the most sanitary way to dry is actually to use paper towels to completely dry your hands as the rubbing action helps (after washing correctly of course) dislodge bacteria."

Victor Nizet, MD, a professor and infectious disease expert at University of California, San Diego Scool of Medicine said bacteria are everywhere and most are harmless or even beneficial to us. 

"You can’t tell from this photo alone which type of microbes are growing on the petri dish," said Nizet. "You could leave an open petri dish just about anywhere for three days and something would grow on it, so the fact that bacteria and fungi grew after the dish was placed under a hand dryer isn’t surprising." 

However, he added that the photo raises an interesting question of whether bathroom hand dryers spread pathogenic microbes. He said scientists don't know right now. 

"It’s a hypothesis that could be tested in a scientifically controlled way—for example, by comparing the results from this one hand dryer to what might grow after exposure to multiple hand dryers with and without HEPA filters, and compared to control petri dishes that are just left open in the bathroom and petri dishes that are exposed to a hand dryer located outside a bathroom," said Dr. Nizet. 

ou can’t tell from this photo alone which type of microbes are growing on the petri dish. You could leave an open petri dish just about anywhere for three days and something would grow on it, so the fact that bacteria and fungi grew after the dish was placed under a hand dryer isn’t surprising. You can’t tell from this photo alone which type of microbes are growing on the petri dish. You could leave an open petri dish just about anywhere for three days and something would grow on it, so the fact that bacteria and fungi grew after the dish was placed under a hand dryer isn’t surprising. 

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<![CDATA[25 New Flu Deaths Reported in San Diego County]]> Wed, 07 Feb 2018 11:45:01 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/flu+shot+generic1.JPG

There have been more than two dozen more influenza deaths and a spike in influenza B cases, according to the weekly report from the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.

Twenty-five people died from the flu as of Feb. 3, county officials said, bringing the total deaths this flu season in San Diego to 231.

A third of the deaths involved people under the age of 65, officials said. The youngest victim was 1-year-old and the oldest was 101.

“We’re seeing an increase in influenza B cases which typically occur later in the flu season. That is why it’s important that people continue getting vaccinated and taking other preventive measures,” said Wilma Wooten M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer.

Of new cases reported, 40 percent were influenza B. That's double the percentage of influenza B cases reported for the whole season. 

The number of fatalities this flu season is the highest it's ever been for the county since officials began tracking flu-related deaths approximately 20 years ago.

The percentage of emergency room cases linked to the flu dropped in San Diego to 5 percent for the week ending Feb. 3.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated.

For a list of where you can get the flu vaccine in San Diego, visit this website or call 211.

Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Study of Rats Reveals Cellphone Radiation Risk Is Low]]> Mon, 05 Feb 2018 10:53:23 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_cellstudy0202_1920x1080.jpg

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health found low risk of radiations affecting human bodies, according to a new study that exposed rats and mice to high levels of radio frequency radiation nine hours a day for more than two years.

<![CDATA[Do Cellphones Cause Cancer? Maybe, in Some Rats, Anyway]]> Mon, 05 Feb 2018 08:21:58 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/cellphone_stock.jpg

The latest federal studies of cellphone radiation show that it might — in the highest doses for the longest period of time — cause a certain type of cancer in rats, NBC News reported.

But experts agree that the National Toxicology Program's finding, from reports released Friday, probably doesn't translate to people.

Male rats given high doses of cellphone radiation had a higher risk of schwannoma cancer in the nerves near the heart, but rats exposed to cellphone signals also lived longer, and were especially less prone to one kind of kidney disease.

“These draft reports are bound to create a lot of concern, but in fact they won't change what I tell people: the evidence for an association between cellphones and cancer is weak, and so far, we have not seen a higher cancer risk in people," said Dr. Otis Brawley of the American Cancer Society. "If there is a harm, it's minimal."

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock]]>
<![CDATA[Flu Worsens and It's Still Bad Almost Everywhere: CDC]]> Fri, 02 Feb 2018 10:08:50 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-2806690.jpg

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the flu season is still underway with reports of additional child and adult deaths in the last week, adding that it had seen higher numbers of hospitalizations than before and that the flu season could continue into the next several weeks, NBC News reported.

The CDC said the 16 additional pediatric deaths bring the total fatalities to 53 this flu season. There have been a higher number of hospitalizations, and the CDC saw higher than ever numbers in senior adults and children under the age of 5.

The agency said this flu season has lasted for 10 weeks and could last as long as 20 weeks.

"We continue to recommend the flu vaccine," CDC acting director Dr. Anne Schuchat said. Flu vaccines on the market protect against three or four strains of influenza, and all four strains are circulating. The most common virus putting people into the hospital is the H3N2 strain and the vaccine is not terribly effective against that strain, but it works better against H1N1, which is also circulating, and the two influenza B strains Schuchat said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Mario Villafuerte
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<![CDATA[Family Raises Concerns About Tamiflu After Teen's Suicide]]> Thu, 01 Feb 2018 17:59:59 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/tamiflu2.jpg

Tamiflu is a prescription medication that can ease flu symptoms and stop them from getting worse, and it's seen shortages this year amid a fierce outbreak that's killed at least 37 children.

But "Today" reports that a family in Indiana fears that Tamiflu's effects may have led to the suicide of 16-year-old Charlie Harp. A legal guardian of Harp's told NBC affiliate WTHR that he was happy until he got the flu.

Tamiflu has some rare side effects, including seizures, hallucinations and self-injury in children who take it. Both its manufacturer and the FDA advise that patients sick with influenza being treated with Tamiflu should be monitored "for signs of abnormal behavior."

But Tamiflu is also considered key in treating the flu in some people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that it be given to a range of people at risk of complications from the flu, including people under 2 years of age or over 65.

SUICIDE PREVENTION HELP: The National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255) is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Photo Credit: WTHR]]>
<![CDATA[Boy, 10, Dies of Flu: County Health Officials]]> Wed, 31 Jan 2018 10:20:11 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/flu+generic+germs+generic.jpg

A 10-year-old boy is the second child to die this flu season in San Diego County, according to the County Health and Human Services Agency.

He was one of 32 new flu-related deaths reported Wednesday. The total number of deaths associated with this year’s flu season stands at 206.

The unidentified boy, who died on Jan. 25, was hospitalized with influenza A/H3, officials said. The child did not receive a flu vaccine this year. He also had underlying medical conditions, county officials said.

The county said the number of fatalities this flu season is the highest it's ever been for the county since officials began tracking flu-related deaths approximately 20 years ago.

Thirty-three people died from the flu this time last flu season, officials said. 

The percentage of emergency room cases linked to the flu dropped in San Diego from 9 percent the previous week to 6 percent for the week ending Jan. 27.

The total number of lab-confirmed cases to date were 14,289 as of last week compared to 2,398 in 2016.

On Jan. 3, county officials said a 1-year-old had died of the flu. The baby was partially vaccinated. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated.

For a list of where you can get the flu vaccine in San Diego, visit this website or call 211.

Photo Credit: CDC]]>
<![CDATA[Sick? Virtual Doctors Offer Diagnoses to Your Smartphone]]> Wed, 31 Jan 2018 09:50:23 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_virtualdoctor0130_1500x845.jpg

A severe flu season blanketing the United States is overburdening hospitals and emergency rooms across the country. Many doctors are urging people to make virtual appointments instead, where patients can be diagnosed through video sessions.

<![CDATA[Experts Weigh in on Shark Attacks Along California's Coast]]> Wed, 31 Jan 2018 08:05:47 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/082715+shark+generic.jpg

There were nine unprovoked shark attacks along the West Coast in 2017, none fatal. That's according to new information released by the Shark Research Committee. 

Eight of the attacks happened along the coast of California and one from Washington State. 

In 2016, there were five reported shark attacks along the West Coast.

But experts added the higher number of attacks in 2017 does not necessarily mean there is a significant increase in shark attacks. Rather, more people could have been in the water and other factors could have lead to the increase. 

The most shark attacks for 2017 happened in July, when there were four. 

Kayakers were attacked by sharks the most in 2017, followed by surfers, paddleboarders, freedivers and swimmers. 

Experts believe the sharks might have seen the kayakers as intruders and were trying to drive them away. 

“It could also be that more people were out kayaking last year because we had great weather," added Chris Lowe, a professor of marine biology at California State University, Long Beach. "We have to start educating people that shark populations seem to be recovering and there are more white sharks around than there have been in the past.” 

However, since 2000, surfers have been the most likely to be attacked, followed by kayakers then swimmers. 62 out of 103 attacks by sharks were on surfers, about 60 percent. 

Lowe added the shark population is increasing due to protections. 

"In 1994 we started protecting sharks because we realized how easy it would be to overfish them," said Lowe. "In addition, their food source, marine mammals, have come back in a big way, so that has fueled their numbers."

Sea lion populations, a natural prey animal of sharks, have increased over the last 40 years off the coast of California, research suggests. 

The Great White Shark was most likely the suspect in all nine attacks, researchers added. 

“With sharks you want to fight back,” added Lowe. “If a shark is biting you, you want to hit it in its eyes, stick your hand in its gils, bang it on its nose. Those are all sensitive areas that might get the shark to release.”  

One shark attack was reported south of the Santa Barbara County line, with the remaining eight attacks from Santa Barbara County north.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Richard Engel Shares Heartbreaking Story of Son's Medical Journey]]> Tue, 30 Jan 2018 09:16:59 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/engel-family.jpg

NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel was with U.S. troops when his toddler's doctor told him the results of a genetic scan, "Today" reported.

"'We found something. It’s very, very severe. It’s life long, not treatable,'" Engel recalled the doctor said. "I was in a state of shock. I got back into this convoy, shaking. It was the worst day of my life."

Engel and his wife, Mary Forrest, knew that something wasn't right with their son Henry, who at nearly 2 years old couldn't talk or clap his hands.

Henry has a genetic brain disorder, a variation of Rett syndrome. Doctors have said that Henry will probably never walk, talk or dress himself. His mental capacity will likely remain at the toddler level. His parents also have been warned to expect future health problems, such as seizures and rigidity.

Forrest and Engel are hoping for scientific progress, and are trying to make Henry’s life as normal as possible despite daily physiotherapy and hospital visits, according to "Today."

“It's made our relationship stronger actually. We're all we've got,” Engel said.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Richard Engel
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<![CDATA[Virus That Acts Like Flu Needs Civilian Vaccine: Researcher]]> Mon, 29 Jan 2018 06:16:44 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/169*120/colorized-TEM-image-of-adenovirus_CDC-Dr.-G.-William-Gary-Jr.-1981_10010_lores-500x356.jpeg

A virus could be adding to the seasonal misery brought on by influenza, but it's not being identified, an infectious disease specialist told NBC News.

Adenovirus can cause severe flu-like symptoms, and the U.S. military already vaccinates recruits against two of its 52 strains.

But most people don't get the vaccine and aren't tested for it at doctor's offices, according to Adriana Kajon, the specialist at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque.

"We are seeing severe adult infections," Kajon said. "That's a big deal, especially for a disease that by all means is vaccine preventable. But this vaccine is not licensed to be used in civilians." 

Photo Credit: CDC
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<![CDATA[2 Local High Schools Warned About Tuberculosis Exposure]]> Thu, 25 Jan 2018 10:24:59 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Spring+Valley+High+School+generic.jpg

Students at two local high schools may have been exposed in two separate cases of tuberculosis, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency said Thursday. 

Someone with an active case of TB was on the campus of Crawford High School from Sept. 17 to Jan. 5 and may have exposed students and staff. 

At Steele Canyon High School, the TB exposure may have occurred from Oct. 27 to Dec. 21. 

Students and staff at both schools will be offered no-cost testing to make sure no one else has contracted the disease. Click here for details on the testing dates and times. 

TB can produce symptoms including a persistent cough, a fever or night sweats and unexplained weight loss.

However, not everyone who contracts the disease will show symptoms.

"It's important for students and staff at the high schools to be tested, "said Susanna Graves, M.D., M.P.H., TB Control Branch Chief.

Health and Human Services added that TB is not uncommon in San Diego region but has been decreasing in recent years.

There were 237 TB cases reported in San Diego County in 2017.

For more information on this potential exposure, call the County Tuberculosis Control Program at (619) 692-8621.

Photo Credit: Joe Mabel]]>
<![CDATA[1 Cigarette a Day Still Raises Heart Disease Risk: Study]]> Thu, 25 Jan 2018 06:07:25 -0800 https://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/cigarettes2.jpg

Smoking just one single cigarette a day can significantly raise your risk of heart disease and stroke, researchers said in a new report that contradicts the notion that cutting way down from heavy smoking drastically reduces risks, NBC News reported.

A team led by Allan Hackshaw at the UCL Cancer Institute at University College London went back through credible health studies dating back to 1946.

For men, smoking one cigarette a day on average raised the risk of heart disease by 48 percent over a non-smoker, while smoking 20 cigarettes a day doubled the risk.

For a woman, smoking one cigarette a day raised the heart disease risk by 57 percent and 20 cigarettes a day raised the risk 2.8 times.

"No safe level of smoking exists for cardiovascular disease,” Hackshaw’s team concluded.

The findings come as the U.S. is considering how to regulate "heat not burn" cigarettes.

Photo Credit: AP]]>