<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Health News]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/health http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Wed, 29 Jul 2015 11:19:41 -0500 Wed, 29 Jul 2015 11:19:41 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[2 Dead, 31 Sick Amid 'Unusual' Legionnaires' Outbreak in NYC]]> Wed, 29 Jul 2015 11:11:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/legionnaires+outbreak.jpg

Nearly three dozen cases of Legionnaires' disease, a severe, often lethal, form of pneumonia spread through the air, have been reported in the Bronx over the last two weeks in what the Health Department is calling a concerning "unusual increase" in cases.

Thirty-one cases have been reported in south Bronx neighborhoods, primarily in High Bridge, Morrisania, Hunts Point and Mott Haven, since July 10, the Health Department said. Two of the people stricken with the condition died.

Legionnaires' disease is caused by exposure to the bacteria Legionella; in most cases, people are exposed to the bacteria by inhaling contaminated aerosols from cooling towers, hot tubs, showers and faucets or drinking water.

Officials are testing water from cooling towers and other potential sources in the area to determine the source of the outbreak.

Legionnaires' disease usually sets in two to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria and represents with symptoms similar to pneumonia, including shortness of breath, high fever, chills and chest pains. People with Legionnaire's also experience appetite loss, confusion, fatigue and muscle aches.

It cannot be spread person-to-person and those at highest risk for contracting the illness include the elderly, cigarette smokers, people with chronic lung or immune system disease and those receiving immunosuppressive drugs. Most cases can be treated successfully with antibiotics.

The Health Department urges anyone with symptoms to seek immediate medical attention.

"We are concerned about this unusual increase in Legionnaires' disease cases in the south Bronx," Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said in a statement. "We are conducting a swift investigation to determine the source of the outbreak and prevent future cases."

An outbreak last hit the Bronx in December. Between then and January, 12 people in Co-op City contracted the potentially deadly disease. Officials said a contaminated cooling tower was likely linked to at least 75 percent of those cases. No one died in that outbreak.



Photo Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Image Library]]>
<![CDATA[The Health Benefits of Having a Pet]]> Tue, 28 Jul 2015 12:10:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/dog-GettyImages-137551880.jpg

For centuries, humans have taken animal companions into their homes. But the utility of the animals goes beyond simple companionship. The evidence is increasingly clear that having a pet can lead to a longer, healthier life. Here are some of the ways a pet can help your health:

Pets encourage healthy habits.

Getting a furry, scaly or feathered friend can prompt lifestyle changes for the owner. While many associate getting a pet with waking up earlier to let the cat outside or extra trips to the store for dog food, studies show that pets can cause a tangible, positive impact on owners’ choices.

Own a dog? It should come as no surprise that walking your pooch has proven health benefits, and a People Pets Exercising Together study supports this. The study, conducted by the Wellness Institute at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital, concluded that people who exercised with their pets were more likely to stick their workout routines than people who exercised alone. Pets, the study said, should be considered companions that are part of one’s social support network when losing weight, just as people are.

Walking the dog also has additional health benefits besides weight loss. Regular physical activity strengthens your bones and can help fend off osteoporosis. Being outside exposes you to the sun, which is a good source of vitamin D (just don’t forget to protect your skin from the sun). If you’re a cat person, consider stretching alongside your cat, which is good for alleviating arthritis pain, according to veterinarian Amy Flowers.

One study published by the journal Tobacco Control even found that more than a quarter of pet-owning smokers tried to quit smoking once they learned about the negative health effects of secondhand smoke on their animals. Secondhand smoke exposure is associated with certain cancers in cats and dogs; allergies in dogs; and eye, skin and respiratory diseases in birds.

Pets are friends who help us feel better.

Anyone with a good friend knows that just being there for someone can make all the difference when we’re going through a difficult time. This is just as true with our animal friends as with our human ones.

If you’re in a really bad mood, consider calmly petting your cat or dog. As Prevention magazine reported, the simple act of petting or other simple interaction with your pet causes your brain to release the calming hormone oxytocin, as the stress hormone cortisol goes down. One study found that dogs’ behavior toward humans was similarly influenced by the oxytocin system, so when you and your dog spend some quality time together, you’re actually engaging in a mutually beneficial, and healthy, social interaction.

Another study focusing on cat owners found that cat ownership lowered people’s risk of cardiovascular diseases. The research, conducted by the Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Research Center at the University of Minnesota, showed that people who owned or had owned a cat at one point were at lower risk for a fatal heart attack or stroke. The study suggested cat ownership as a “novel strategy” for reducing these health risks.

If you’re trying to think of a gift to give grandma or grandpa, consider a dog: A study in the Medical Journal of Australia found that senior citizens who regularly walked or interacted with dogs boosted the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps calm and rest the body. The researchers found that even just patting and talking to a dog has this effect.

Animals have more uses to assist humans than ever before.

Although not pets in the traditional sense, service animals have been a boon to people with disabilities and other special needs for decades. Guide dogs for the blind are not uncommon, but dogs can also help those who are deaf, those with diabetes, those prone to seizures and even children with autism.

What’s more, comfort animals provide that special companionship all of our pets do for us every day, but for people who need it the most. They console mourners at funeral homes and children traumatized by the death of a classmate by suicide. 

Oscar is a therapy cat famously known for his unique ability to predict when hospital patients are about to die. Oscar has a perfect streak in correctly selecting terminally ill patients with mere hours to live, then curling up next to them to comfort them in their final moments on Earth, NBC News reported. One theory is that Oscar can detect the release of ketones, biochemicals given off by dying cells.

It’s not just cats and dogs getting in on the act, though. Therapy animals run the gamut from birds to horses. There is even at least one therapy tortoise at a Florida nursing home that the residents call a friend. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Some Cilantro Banned Over Feces, Toilet Paper in Fields: FDA]]> Tue, 28 Jul 2015 10:26:14 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_cyclospora_cilantro.jpg

It appears that cilantro contaminated by human waste is to blame for several years of intestinal illnesses among Americans, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA announced on Monday that it has identified the cause of hundreds of U.S. cases of cyclosporiasis after health officials found human feces and toilet paper in growing fields in the state of Puebla, Mexico. The administration will detain Mexican cilantro at the border from April to August and forbid products from Puebla from entering into the U.S. without inspections and certification, according to a partial import ban dated Monday by the agency.

Last August, the FDA and Texas authorities linked suppliers in Puebla to infected cilantro at four Texas restaurants. Monday’s announcement, however, confirms that the central Mexican state is the source of many more cases of the disease.

Several major U.S. restaurant companies confirmed to Bloomberg Business that the cilantro they use will not be affected by the ban. A spokesman for Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. said that all of its cilantro comes from California. Yum! Brands Inc., which owns Taco Bell, is also reportedly not affected.

As NBC reported last month, cyclosporiasis is not spread through human-to-human contact, but rather, through a host, such as contaminated food. Cyclosporiasis is caused by cyclospora, a single-celled, microscopic parasite that attacks the small intestine. According to the CDC, a cyclosporiasis infection can last from a few days to more than a month. Symptoms may go away, only to return later, and it is common to feel very tired. Cyclospora usually causes diarrhea and frequent bowel movements.

Other common symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps, bloating, increased gas and nausea. Other symptoms include vomiting, body aches, headache, fever and other flu-like symptoms. Some people who are infected do not show any symptoms.

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<![CDATA[Rise in Autism May Be Due to Semantics: Study]]> Thu, 23 Jul 2015 10:51:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-142090923_Autism-generic.jpg

A new study out of Penn State University suggests that the increase in autism diagnosis is due to kids being classified and diagnosed differently, not because something catastrophic has happened to U.S. children, NBC News reported. 

Special education enrollment figures suggest 97 percent of the increase in autism between 2000 and 2010. The study, published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics, found that the figures could simply be accounted for by reclassification — at least among older kids. 

The researchers' conclusions won't end the debate on what caused the spike, but may offer some solace to worried parents and help explain such a huge jump in cases. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Use of Morning-After Pill on Rise Among U.S. Teens]]> Wed, 22 Jul 2015 08:08:00 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/pill1.jpg

More than one in five sexually active teen girls have used the morning-after pill, according to a report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The findings, which likely reflect the ease in which teens can buy the emergency contraceptive, show that usage of the morning-after pill rose steadily from a decade ago when it was one in 12.

Morning-after pills can cut chances of pregnancy by almost 90 percent if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.



Photo Credit: UIG via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Report Names Chicago Hospital Among Nation's Best]]> Tue, 21 Jul 2015 12:45:19 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/doctor-health-generic-1200-02.jpg

Northwestern Memorial Hospital has been named among the best hospitals in the nation and the top facility in Illinois and Chicago, according to a new report.

The hospital ranked at no. 11 in the U.S. News & World Report ranking of America’s Best Hospitals.

The report examined data from nearly 5,000 hospitals and analyzed survey results from more than 140,000 physicians to rank the best hospitals in 16 adult specialties from cancer to urology. The criteria analyzed included death rates, patient safety and hospital reputation.

The top 15 hospitals with the highest scores in at least six of the specialties were name to the “Honor Roll.”

Northwestern received highest rankings for nine specialties including diabetes and endocrinology, urology, cardiology and heart surgery, orthopedics, neurology and neurosurgery, geriatrics, gastroenterology and GI surgery, and rheumatology.

It was also named the top hospital in Illinois and the Chicago metro area. Also named among the top hospitals in Illinois and the nation were Rush University Medical Center, Loyola University Medical Center, University of Chicago Medical Center, Advocate Christ Medical Center, Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital and St. Alexius Medical Center.

The top hospital on the national list was Massachusetts General followed by Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Early Drugs Halt AIDS, Prevent Spread, Studies Confirm]]> Tue, 21 Jul 2015 06:56:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/219*120/022309+AIDS+HIV+Ribbon.jpg

Two big studies detailed Monday confirm that earlier treatment for the AIDS virus not only keeps people healthy, but prevents them from infecting others, NBC News reported.

The results have AIDS experts more optimistic than ever that it's possible to put a serious dent into the pandemic of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which has killed nearly 40 million people and which has infected close to 37 million more. One study had such clear results that it was stopped last May so everyone could get the drugs.

"We have now the unique opportunity of ending the pandemic," said Dr. Julio Montaner, at a meeting of the International AIDS Society in Vancouver.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Don't Use Laundry Pods in Homes With Kids: Consumer Reports]]> Fri, 17 Jul 2015 11:16:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/laundrypods.jpg

Consumer Reports is warning parents that laundry detergent pods should never be used in homes where young children live of visit. 

Over the last several years, Poison Control Centers have fielded an increased number of calls about children eating, inhaling, or getting the laundry detergent serum on their skin.

However, Proctor and Gamble, the maker of the Tide, Gain, and Ariel laundry pods, has said the number of reports involving its pods is falling relative to sales and that most calls resulted in minor to no medical treatment actually, according to "Today."



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cities That Get the Most, Least Sleep: Report]]> Wed, 08 Jul 2015 11:18:30 -0500 BEOTIME ALARM CLOCK: No one can bemoan waking up to Bang & Olufsen's incredibly sleek alarm clock. Need to snooze? Just give it a light tap. Want to look at the time? The motion sensors will orient the display no matter which way you hold it. Pretty cool. Call for pricing and availability, Bang & Olufsen: 212-879-6161.]]> BEOTIME ALARM CLOCK: No one can bemoan waking up to Bang & Olufsen's incredibly sleek alarm clock. Need to snooze? Just give it a light tap. Want to look at the time? The motion sensors will orient the display no matter which way you hold it. Pretty cool. Call for pricing and availability, Bang & Olufsen: 212-879-6161.]]> http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/sleep_generic.jpg

Where you live could determine how much you sleep, according to new data.

Fortune, citing data gathered from Bing, ranked U.S. cities based on the average amount of time residents sleep each night.

Data showed that people who live in San Francisco get the least amount of sleep, averaging only 6.5 hours a night.

They were closely followed by those in Atlanta, who average six hours and 54 minutes of sleep, the only other city to average less than seven hours.

Chicago was ranked among the top 25 on the list, sitting at no. 15 with an average of seven hours and 49 minutes of sleep. Detroit residents also averaged the same amount.

Those in the Windy City typically wake up around 7:10 a.m. and go to bed around 11:21 p.m., according to the report.

The city that averaged the most sleep was Boston, where residents typically received more than eight hours, 90 minutes more than San Francisco.

The National Sleep Foundation reports that adults between the ages of 26 and 64 should average between seven and nine hours of sleep.  

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<![CDATA[Sugary Drinks May Kill 184,000 People Each Year: Study]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 13:11:00 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/soda+fountain.jpg

Consumption of soda, energy beverages, and other sugary drinks may be linked to 184,000 adult deaths each year worldwide, according to research published Tuesday in the journal Circulation.

“Many countries in the world have a significant number of deaths occurring from a single dietary factor, sugar-sweetened beverages," said study coauthor Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Tufts University. "It should be a global priority to substantially reduce or eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages from the diet."

The researchers looked at 62 dietary surveys conducted across 51 countries, along with data on national availability of sugar in 187 countries as well as other information. The surveys included data collected from 611,971 individuals between 1980 and 2010.

In the report, sugar sweetened beverages were defined as any sugar-sweetened sodas, fruit drinks, sports and energy drinks, sweetened iced teas, or homemade sugary drinks such as frescas, that contained at least 50 kcal per 8oz serving. Drinks that were 100 percent fruit juice was excluded.

According to the report, the researchers estimated that in 2010 sugary drinks may have been responsible for 133,000 deaths from diabetes, 45,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease, and 6, 450 deaths from cancer.

Researchers found the impact of sugar-sweetened beverages varied widely between populations. In Japan, an estimated percentage of deaths linked to such beverages was less than 1 percent in people over 65 years old, but it stood at 30 percent in Mexican adults younger than 45.

Mexico had the highest death rate attributable to sugar-sweetened beverages with an estimated 405 deaths per million adults (24,000 total deaths) and the U.S. ranked second with an estimated 125 deaths per million adults (25,000 total deaths).

In a statement, the American Beverage Association, a trade group representing soft drink manufacturers, said “This study does not show that consuming sugar-sweetened beverages causes chronic diseases and the authors themselves acknowledge that they are at best estimating effects of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption."

“America’s beverage companies are doing their part to offer consumers the fact-based information and the beverage options they need to make the right choices for themselves and their families," the statement added.

Liz Ruder, a professor of nutrition and dietetics at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, told NBC News it's not certain it was the sugar-sweetened beverages that caused the deaths since the study is not a randomized controlled trial.
"But because the authors have employed sophisticated statistical techniques and they have rich food consumption data I believe that these data are likely to be accurate," Ruder said. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Drinking Too Much Water While Exercising Could be Dangerous]]> Tue, 30 Jun 2015 10:44:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/TOO+MUCH+WATER.jpg A recently released report suggests drinking too much water while exercising could do more harm than good.]]> <![CDATA[State Takes Action Against "Miracle Treatment" For Kids]]> Wed, 24 Jun 2015 22:53:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Miracle-Mineral-Solution.jpg

The Illinois Attorney General’s office has obtained a signed agreement from a proponent for a controversial autism "cure," promising not to promote her treatment in Illinois.

Last month, NBC 5 Investigates reported on the controversial treatment promoted by former Chicagoan Kerri Rivera. Rivera, who now resides in Mexico, advocates a protocol involving a strict diet and a chemical called chlorine dioxide, sometimes marketed as "Miracle Mineral Solution," or MMS. Chemists say chlorine dioxide is, in reality, a powerful bleach with no known medicinal benefits.

"I would say it would be extremely dangerous to ingest this," said Dr. Karl Scheidt, a chemistry professor at Northwestern University. "Much less a child."

But chlorine dioxide, or "CD" as she calls it, has long been the cornerstone of Rivera’s treatment.

"Autism is treatable," she said in an interview with NBC5 Investigates. "It’s avoidable. And I believe it’s curable."

Rivera claims the chlorine dioxide treatments help to purge autistic children of pathogens and parasites. But medical experts argue it has zero benefits, with the potential for great harm.

"We don’t have a single case of autism that is linked to a virus or a type of germ or parasite," said the University of Chicago’s Dr. Karan Radwan. "I feel terrified about a procedure like this which could harm many kids."

After NBC 5 aired its report in May, the Illinois Attorney General’s office took notice.

"I’m very thankful that NBC 5 actually brought this to our attention," said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. "Because clearly, you have a situation where there are people, complete quacks, that are out there promoting a very dangerous chemical being given to young children."

Madigan’s office dispatched investigators to a Rivera appearance at a suburban Chicago hotel in late May. After her seminar, they served her with a subpoena, demanding that she substantiate the claims she had made of her protocol’s effectiveness in treating autistic children.

"I understand parents who would be desperate for, you know, some kind of treatment,” Madigan said. “But right now when you’re talking to medical professionals, there isn’t one. And somehow, ingesting what amounts to a toxic chemical, bleach, is certainly not going to cure your child.”

Madigan’s office said Rivera entered into what is known as an assurance of voluntary compliance, where she agrees not to conduct future seminars in Illinois.

In that agreement, the Attorney General’s office argues that Rivera "makes unsubstantiated health and medical claims," and that she "lacks competent and reliable scientific evidence to support her claims that chlorine dioxide can treat autism."

As part of the agreement, signed by Rivera, she agrees to no longer present at seminars and conferences or sell any products in the State of Illinois. A Madigan spokesman told NBC 5 Investigates it is the Attorney General’s opinion that that promise includes a ban on conducting paid online consultations, which Rivera offers on her website.

Neither Rivera nor her attorney would comment on the agreement. But Madigan called treatments such as the one Rivera had been advocating, "terrible scams."

"If there was a cure for autism, you could be able to go to a reputable hospital, a reputable doctor, and they would tell you about it," she said. "But if what you are relying on are complete and total quacks, that’s not going to be legitimate."

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<![CDATA[Man Wins $500K After Phone Records Doctors Mocking Him]]> Thu, 25 Jun 2015 05:30:06 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-117009763.jpg

A Vienna, Virginia, man was awarded $500,000 after he unintentionally recorded his doctors mocking and insulting him while he was under anesthesia.

The plaintiff, who chose to remain anonymous, sued anesthesiologist Dr. Tiffany Ingham and three other medical professionals, who were released from the case. Ingham, 42, and her practice were ordered by a Reston, Virginia, jury to pay the plaintiff, The Washington Post reported.

The plaintiff used his phone to record post-procedure advice and aftercare instructions from his doctors during the April 2013 colonoscopy procedure.

While checking his phone on his way home, the plaintiff found he had recorded the entire examination and heard his doctors insulting him when he was under anesthesia.

Ingham was recorded mocking the amount of medicine needed to anesthetize the plaintiff.

"After five minutes of talking to you in pre-op, I wanted to punch you in the face and man you up a little bit," Ingham is heard saying.

Ingham and others mocked the plaintiff for taking many medications. One of the plaintiff’s medications, Gabapentin, was prescribed to treat an irritation in his genital area. A medical assistant touched the man's genitals and commented she might have contracted a sexually transmitted infection.

Ingham is recorded saying the medical assistant might get "some syphilis on your arm or something," then added, "It's probably tuberculosis in the penis, so you’ll be all right."

The genital area is typically not involved in a colonoscopy.

Ingham signed a post-operative note indicating the plaintiff had hemorrhoids. According to the lawsuit, Ingham stated she planned to note hemorrhoids even though she found none.

The plaintiff claimed he experienced mental anguish, lack of focus and anxiety after the incident. He said has had to see other healthcare professionals and be placed on anti-anxiety medications.

The plaintiff sued for defamation, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, violation of Virginia health codes and medical malpractice. The Washington Post reported the jury awarded the man $100,000 for defamation and $200,000 for medical malpractice, as well as the $200,000 in punitive damages.

Ingham had worked out of the Aisthesis anesthesia practice. An Aisthesis employee told The Associated Press Ingham no longer works there.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nearly 10K Cases of Ranch Salad Dressing Recalled]]> Wed, 24 Jun 2015 10:41:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/pinnacle-foods-recall.jpg

A New Jersey-based company is voluntarily recalling nearly 10,000 cases of Wish-Bone Ranch salad dressing sold in 24-ounce bottles after a customer alerted representatives the product was accidentally mixed with Wish-Bone Blue Cheese dressing, which contains eggs -- a potential life-threatening allergen, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday. 

The product was produced on April 23 by a contract manufacturer. In total, 8,678 cases of Wish-Bone Ranch dressing, distributed nationwide, are involved in the voluntary recall, the FDA said. The product is safe to consume for anyone who is not allergic to eggs.

 All affected distributors and retail customers, as well as the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, are being notified and the affected product is being removed from store shelves.

Consumers who may have purchased the recalled product can return it for a full refund at the place of purchase. Look for a best used by date on the bottle of Feb. 17, 2016.

Consumers with questions should call (888) 299-7646 Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. 



Photo Credit: Food and Drug Administration Handout]]>
<![CDATA[City Hosts Celebration of Yoga]]> Mon, 22 Jun 2015 19:34:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Chicago-Yoga.jpg People around the globe see yoga as a tool for global health and peace. NBC Chicgao's LeeAnn Trotter reports.]]> <![CDATA[Several Brands of Bottled Water Recalled]]> Wed, 24 Jun 2015 09:39:55 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/bottles+of+water.jpg

Niagara Bottling has recalled its bottled water products after one of its spring sources was contaminated with E. coli.

The company urged customers to avoid drinking the water without boiling it first. The water should be boiled for one minute and then cooled.

While it was not immediately clear how widely the products were distributed, several major supermarket chains with stores across the northeast issued releases saying they had carried the water. 

E. coli can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches and other symptoms. Niagara says it has not received any complaints of injury or illness.

The company says the contamination was discovered in the water supply on June 10, but the spring source did not notify it in a timely manner, so they have stopped using the source.

The contaminated water was sold under the following brand names:

  • 7-Eleven
  • Acadia
  • Acme
  • Big Y
  • Best Yet
  • Morning Fresh
  • Niagara
  • Nature’s Place
  • Pricerite
  • Shaw’s
  • Shoprite
  • Superchill
  • Western Beef Blue
  • Wegman’s

All spring water products produced at the company’s facilities in Hamburg and Allentown, Pennsylvania between 3 a.m. June 10 to 8 p.m. June 18 were recalled. 

Niagara Bottling did not immediately respond to media inquiries, but several supermarkets sent out press releases addressing the recall. Bottled water products were recalled at ACME Markets in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania; at Shaw’s grocery stores in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont; and at Wegmans grocery stores, which operate in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Affected products have codes that start with the letter F or A. The first digit after the letter indicates the number of the production line. The next two numbers indicate the day, then the month in letters, the year, and then the time, based on a 24-hour clock.

To download the full list of codes for affected products, click here.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[U.S. Officials Preparing for MERS Outbreak Following S. Korea]]> Fri, 17 Jul 2015 10:04:46 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-476401196.jpg

A deadly outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Virus in South Korea is prompting health officials and experts to prepare for the possibility of more cases in the United States. 

MERS has infected 500 people worldwide since it first surfaced in Saudi Arabia in 2010, killing roughly a third of those affected, according to the CDC. Now, the virus has spread across South Korea, infecting more than 150 people and killing 11. 

That outbreak, the largest outside the Middle East, has sparked concerns about the potential for the virus to pop up in other countries, including the United States. The country, one of at least 16 to report cases since 2010, has previously handled two MERS patients. Some experts are preparing for that number to rise.

“In South Korea more people will get infected, and eventually they go on a plane and travel,” said Peter Daszak, a disease ecologist and member of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University. “The U.S. is consistently in one of the top 5 countries (to travel to); we are likely to have MERS to come to the U.S.”

MERS, part of the same family of viruses as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and the common cold, is believed to have originated in camels, officials say. The virus has since spread from human to human, particularly among people in close contact with an infected patient. The recent outbreak in South Korea, for example, has been traced to hospitals in the area that did not follow proper protocol when dealing with infections.

While officials say there is not an urgent threat of MERS to the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is taking extra precautions given the situation in South Korea and the potential that one sick traveler could bring the virus back to the U.S.

Officials are changing the way they collect data and detect cases on MERS, as well as working with the World Health Organization to better understand the virus. The CDC recommends that Americans traveling outside the country take basic precautions such as frequently washing their hands and avoiding contact with people who appear ill. The CDC is also urging health professionals to be on the lookout for potential cases, taking extra care to examine patients who have traveled recently to countries affected by the outbreaks or had contact with someone exposed to the virus. 

Because the international cases have been traced to patients who traveled after contacting the virus — all the infections so far have been linked back to countries in and near the Arabian Peninsula — the CDC has been working with airports specifically to help them identify ill passengers and report them properly to the organization. Officials caution that the virus' flu-like symptoms, such as coughing, fever and shortness of breath, can make it difficult to diagnose. 

There is currently no travel ban to South Korea or any of the Middle Eastern countries affected by MERS. In fact, travel has more than doubled from 2000 to 2010 in the Middle Eastern region, according to the United Nations World Travel Organization. 

And despite concerns about travelers carrying the virus to new places, officials in at least one major U.S. airport are currently not taking additional precautions. Nancy Suey Castles, public relations director at Los Angeles International Airport, said while the airport has six daily flights entering and exiting the Incheon/Seoul International Airport, it has not made any changes to patrons’ arrivals or departures.

Castles said that if they did come in contact with a passenger who was infected with MERS, the protocol would be the same as any other sick passenger: separating them from the public, examining them and possibly transporting the patient to a hospital.

Despite its potentially deadly effects, treating MERS as any other virus is the ticket for best possible treatment, says Marie Forszt, director of marketing for Indianapolis' Community Hospital, which handled the first U.S. MERS case in 2014.

“Because it was the first case, no one had a specific process but it was an infectious disease,” Forszt said. “It wasn’t specific to MERS, but we just did what we do with every single case.”

She said the key to dealing with any infectious disease is to remain on high alert and keeping up with the CDC protocols.

“Shortly after MERS happened, Ebola ramped up,” she said. “There’s always some type of infectious disease, the process is the same no matter what the name is. We muddy the message when we have specific processes for MERS or a specific virus.” 

Being prepared to start that process of treating and containing cases is key, experts say, cautioning that as long as the virus spreads overseas, the United States will remain at risk.

“I don’t think anything in the Middle East will change quickly, specifically in Saudi Arabia,” Daszak, who is also president of the nonprofit EcoHealth Alliance,  said. “It will continue to spill into Saudi Arabia and around the world… people think South Korea is so far away, but it’s only one flight away.”

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<![CDATA["People Just Started Fainting" at Hawks Parade]]> Thu, 18 Jun 2015 19:47:00 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000012918294_1200x675_467743811621.jpg There were tense moments at the end of the parade route when a number of Blackhawks fans succumbed to the heat and humidity. NBC Chicago's Lisa Parker reports.]]> <![CDATA[Fatality Among Expanding Meningococcal Outbreak]]> Thu, 18 Jun 2015 17:29:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/meningitis_P2.jpg

Chicago health officials on Thursday said a small but serious outbreak of Invasive Meningococcal Disease has expanded since their first alert earlier this month.

"Meningitis is a serious disease, but there is a safe and effective vaccine available," said Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Julie Morita, MD. "We are working with our partners to help stop the spread of disease, and we encourage anyone who is at risk to protect themselves and others by getting vaccinated."

Officials said there have been six confirmed cases of meningitis among men who sleep with men -- five of them in Chicago. One of those cases has been fatal. A seventh case was under investigation Thursday, with laboratory tests pending. 

Thursday's alert said African American men who sleep with men appear to be disproportionately affected by the outbreak.

The disease, less contagious than the common cold, is spread through saliva -- kissing and sharing drinks -- or through intimate contact. 

Meningococcal disease can cause symptoms including fever, headache and a stiff neck. Some people may experience nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light and altered mental status or confusion. Anyone with symptoms should seek immediate medical attention. Those without health insurance can call 311 to find a CDPH clinic or partner site.

CDPH and its partners will make no cost vaccine available at several upcoming events throughout the city. A list was posted to the CDPH website.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Dies After Wisdom Teeth Extraction]]> Thu, 18 Jun 2015 17:09:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/teeth2.jpg

A Minnesota teen who had her wisdom teeth extracted died after complications from the procedure, KARE, NBC's affiliate in Minneapolis reported.

Sydney Galleger, 17, had just finished her junior year in high school. A captain of the dive team, the swimmer was considered healthy.

However, last Tuesday, when she got her wisdom teeth removed, complications occurred. At the end of the surgery, Galleger's blood pressure rose and her heart rate dropped, her mother wrote, according to KARE. Galleger was given CPR and transferred to a hospital, where she experienced seizures and brain swelling. On Monday, she passed away.

It's not clear what caused Galleger's death.

According to a 2007 article in the American Journal of Public Health, each year about 5 million people get their wisdom teeth pulled out. Experts say the procedure requires anesthesia, which comes with inherent risks.



Photo Credit: UIG via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trans Fat Linked to Worse Memory]]> Thu, 18 Jun 2015 09:50:53 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/TLMD-grasas-trans-trans-fat-shutterstock_162622850.jpg

Men who have more dietary trans fat in their meals may have worse memory, according to a newly released study by the UC San Diego School of Medicine.

On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said they would begin to phase the acid, which they previously called unsafe, out of foods.

Dietary trans fatty acids (dTFA), which are used in foods to improve taste, texture and durability, were linked by researchers to worse memory in men aged 45 and younger.

The study looked at 1,018 men and women who completed a dietary survey and a memory test. Men that consumed trans fat aged 45 and younger saw their performance drop 0.76 words for every additional gram of trans fat consumed.

“Trans fats were most strongly linked to worse memory in men during their high productivity years,” said Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD, lead author and professor of medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine said in a statement. “Trans fat consumption has previously shown adverse associations to behavior and mood—other pillars of brain function. However, to our knowledge a relation to memory or cognition had not been shown.”

Men with the highest observed trans fat levels in the study recalled an expected 12 fewer words, compared to men that consumed no trans fats.

The results were consistent when adjusting for age, exercise, ethnicity and mood.

The acids have previously been linked to negative effects on general health and are no longer recognized as safe by the FDA.

“As I tell patients, while trans fats increase the shelf life of foods, they reduce the shelf life of people,” said Golomb.

Alexis K. Bui of UC San Diego was a co-author of the study.

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<![CDATA[Jeni's Ice Cream Finds Listeria Again]]> Fri, 12 Jun 2015 13:42:14 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/219*120/jeni%27s+ice+cream+sign.jpg

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams has halted production and will temporarily close its shops, after listeria was found once again in its production facility.

The ice cream company said it stopped production earlier this week and began investigating where the listeria came from and how it re-entered the facility.

Jeni’s CEO John Lowe said the company has a theory that is being tested, but it’s not clear when production will resume.

“Since resuming production in our kitchen on May 13, 2015, we have been testing every batch of ice cream we have made and holding it until we learned that the testing did not detect any Listeria,” Lowe said in a statement. “So it is with complete confidence that I can say all of the ice cream that has been served in our shops since reopening on May 22 has been safe and is 100% Listeria-free.”

The company said it plans to temporarily close its shops “because we don’t have enough ice cream to keep them stocked.” It’s not clear when stores will reopen.

“While we would most certainly prefer that Listeria never enter our facility, we do take solace in the fact that our protocols and testing have worked: we found the Listeria before it got into ice cream we served,” Lowe said.

Jeni’s closed all stores and recalled all retail products in April after listeria was discovered in some pints and later in the factory. The company later said the source of the listeria was traced to a spout on its pint-filling machine at the Ohio production facility.

The ice cream shops reopened Memorial Day weekend with their signature “Salty Caramel” ice cream and other flavors, but some of the usual flavors weren’t immediately available as the ice cream makers had to start from scratch.
 



Photo Credit: NBCChicago]]>
<![CDATA[Backlog In Rape Kit Testing Persists]]> Thu, 11 Jun 2015 22:27:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/02-25-2014-rape-kits.jpg

In Illinois the backlog of untested rape kits is an estimated 1600, according to a State Police official. In some cases, it takes up to a year to complete the test.

Within the next several months Illinois State Police will "ship hundreds of cases" to an outside vendor, according to Commander Arlene Hall, in an effort to cut down on the wait time.

Once a sexual assault occurs and a rape kit is done, Deanne Benos, of Test 400k, a national group promoting quicker testing, says Illinois law is clear: "That law says law enforcement has to deliver the kit to the state police crime lab in 10 days and they have six months to test it, which is beyond reasonable."

In 2010, in an effort to eliminate a large backlog of untested rape kits in the state, a new law was passed. It worked, and 4, 100 untested kits were examined.

But as old kits were being disposed of, new rape kits arrived and created a new backlog, which concerns advocates like Sarah Layden of Rape Victim Advocates.

"We have kits that are taking excruciatingly long and in the meantime these cases are hanging in limbo," Layden said.

Rape kits, which are administered at hospitals, can take three to four hours to complete, explained Benos.

"They’re exhaustive. They’ve occurred after somebody’s probably endured the most horrific experience of their life," she said, "hoping that that rape kit will result in someone being held accountable."

In 2014 brothers L.B. and Leondo Joseph were linked by DNA evidence and charged by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office in connection with six rapes, dating back to 2003. Both brothers have entered pleas of not guilty.

The case of Nikki Saez is not included in the six cases. In March of 2012, she claimed she met L.B. Joseph on a date, which resulted in a rape.

"And every time I would fight, he would punch me or hit me or choke me. Anything to get me to stop struggling," Saez said in a December 2014 interview.

Saez was taken by ambulance to Swedish Covenant Hospital.

"There was a rape kit. I don’t know if it was ever looked at but there was a rape kit," she said.

Saez positively identified L.B. Joseph but prosecutors downgraded the case to a misdemeanor battery and a Cook County judge found Joseph not guilty of the charge. Michelle Ford, Nikki’s Saez’s mother, said her daughter’s rape kit should have been analyzed.

"It was sent out but because the charges were downgraded from sexual assault to battery, they did not finish the rape kit," Ford said recently.

Six months after Saez claimed she was assaulted, the Joseph brothers allegedly raped again, the final in the six rapes with which they have now been charged.

In California, a pilot program is under way in which rape kit results are sent directly from the hospital to the state crime lab and in 15 days the results are posted. That’s 15 days compared to up to a year in Illinois.

The quicker testing and reporting, Benos said, might have made a difference for Nikki Saez whose rape kit was not completed, and for others waiting for answers.

"I think the California model could be the answer and again its something we are exploring," she said, adding, "You test no matter what."

Illinois State Police Commander Arlene Hall said the state is looking at ways to streamline the process and to get tests results quicker.  The Illinois legislature has approved legislation to increase funding by $6 million for the forensics unit of the Illinois State Police but that is currently tied up in budget negotiations in Springfield.



Photo Credit: Cheryl Hurd]]>
<![CDATA[Adverse Health Effects from Synthetic Marijuana on the Rise: CDC]]> Thu, 11 Jun 2015 15:45:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/061015_synthetic_marijuana.jpg

Adverse health effects as a result of increased synthetic marijuana use are on the rise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Thursday.

According to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, monthly calls related to the use of the substances from January to May 2015 were up 229 percent over the same period in 2014. A total of 15 deaths was reported.

Synthetic cannabinoids include various psychoactive chemicals or a mixture of such chemicals that are sprayed onto plant material, which is then often smoked or ingested to achieve a "high." The most commonly reported negative health effects were agitation, tachycardia, drowsiness or lethargy, vomiting and confusion. About four out of five of those who used synthetic marijuana inhaled it through smoking, and the remaining one in five consumed it.

These products are sold under a variety of names, such as synthetic marijuana, spice, K2, black mamba and crazy clown, and can be sold in retail outlets as herbal products. Law enforcement agencies have regulated a number of the substances, but manufacturers of synthetic cannabinoids frequently change the formulation to avoid detection and regulation.

CDC officials have expressed concern about the rapid increase in poison center calls about synthetic cannabinoids and detrimental health effects reported, and they stressed a need for enhanced efforts to remove these products from the marketplace. The CDC has urged those who have these products in their home to dispose of them in a trash can that is not accessible to pets.

Recreational marijuana use is currently legal in four states, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia. While marijuana is legal for medical purposes and decriminalized in multiple additional states, it remains illegal under federal law.



Photo Credit: NBC Washington]]>