<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Health News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/health http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Wed, 17 Sep 2014 20:57:08 -0500 Wed, 17 Sep 2014 20:57:08 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Scientists Develop First Blood Test to Diagnose Adult Depression]]> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 18:31:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/northwestern+scientist+depression.jpg

Northwestern Medicine scientists in Chicago have developed a blood test to diagnose major depression in adults, marking the first such test to objectively and scientifically diagnose the disorder.

The test measures the levels of nine blood markers to both identify depression and predict whether the patient will benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy. Doctors hope the test will provide more effective, individualized therapy.

“This test brings mental health diagnosis into the 21st century and offers the first personalized medicine approach to people suffering from depression,” said Eva Redei, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine who developed the test.

Redei, a co-lead author of the study being published Tuesday in Translational Psychiatry, said this marks a breakthrough, indicating that a blood-based laboratory test, similar to diagnosing high blood pressure, can diagnose depression.

Northwestern said scientists have worked for decades to find a biological diagnostic test for major depression and noted the current method of diagnosis is subjective and based on symptoms such as poor mood, fatigue and change in appetite.

The current diagnosis, Redei said, relies on patients reporting those subjective symptoms and the physician’s ability to interpret them. "But depressed patients frequently underreport or inadequately describe their symptoms," the hospital said.

“Mental health has been where medicine was 100 years ago when physicians diagnosed illnesses or disorders based on symptoms,” co-lead author David Mohr said. “This study brings us much closer to having laboratory tests that can be used in diagnosis and treatment selection.”

Mohr said scientists know drug therapy and psychotherapy aren't effective for everyone, and this test helps determine whom those options fit best.

“We know combined therapies are more effective than either alone, but maybe by combining therapies we are using a scattershot approach," he said. "Having a blood test would allow us to better target treatment to individuals.”

Northwestern says major depressive disorder affects 6.7 percent of U.S. adults in a year and is on the rise. An estimated 12.5 percent of patients in primary care have major depression, according to the hospital, but only about half of those cases are diagnosed. And with the current methods, diagnosis takes between two and 40 months.

Redei said they plan to test the study's results in a larger population and find out if it can differentiate between major depression and bipolar depression.



Photo Credit: Northwestern Medicine]]>
<![CDATA[Walk Aims to Raise Awareness of Lung Cancer]]> Mon, 15 Sep 2014 13:45:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/Lung_Cancer_Men_35sec_960_large_448x336.jpg 09/15/14: Lung cancer kills more people each year than breast, colon and prostate cancer combined.]]> <![CDATA[Officials: Washing Hands Best Way to Fight Enterovirus]]> Thu, 11 Sep 2014 20:36:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/236*120/tlmd_virus_respiratorio_ninos_illinoisjpg.png

As children across the Midwest continue to arrive at hospitals with similar symptoms, many suspected to be caused by a rare virus spreading throughout the area, health officials say basic hygiene is the best form of prevention.

Illinois is one of several states with confirmed cases of the uncommon virus, Enterovirus D68, and both Chicago and state health departments have been mobilized.

With the respiratory virus making its way through the Chicago area, city officials at a news conference Thursday couldn’t emphasize handwashing enough.

“We’re working with families and network offices to ensure that all schools and offices across the district have an abundant supply of soap,” said Stephanie Whyte, chief medical officer for Chicago Public Schools.

Whyte said an informational bulletin, detailing the virus symptoms and basic hygiene prevention tips, is being distributed around Chicago schools, though there have been no confirmed cases at CPS schools.

The reminder includes frequent cleaning of toys and doorknobs, keeping cleaning supplies handle, and warning that even healthy children are at risk.

“It’s not just children with asthma but any signs of difficulty breathing are important to acknowledge and contact your healthcare provider about,” said Dr. Julie Morita, the Chicago Department of Public Health’s chief medical officer.

Several area hospitals have implemented visitor restrictions amid the virus outbreak, including Edward Hospital in Naperville, Emhurst Memorial, Advocate Chidlren’s hospitals in Oak Lawn and Park Ridge and Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood have said no visitors under the age of 18 are allowed as that population is most at-risk for the virus.

Experts say they still have a lot to learn about this particularly aggressive strain of the enterovirus.

"This is a relatively unusual enterovirus," said Dr. Stephanie Black, medical director of the communicable disease program of the Chicago Department of Public Health. "We don't know a lot about it, so I can't give you numbers, like what percent of kids who get Enterovirus D68 will develop severe respiratory disease."

The city and state are funneling specimens from the sickest patients in pediatric ICUs to the Centers for Disease Control.

But scientists say it won’t be easy to determine how widespread the virus truly is.
 

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<![CDATA[Illinois Among Worst States to Have a Baby, Study Says]]> Thu, 11 Sep 2014 05:22:32 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/baby_feet_generic.jpg

A new report claims Illinois is one of the worst states to have a baby.

According to a recent ranking of the “Best and Worst States to Have a Baby,” released by financial services website WalletHub, Illinois is the worst state in the Midwest and the 11th worst state in the nation.

Vermont was ranked no. 1 on the list and Alabama was dubbed the worst state to have a baby.

Several Midwestern states far outranked Illinois, with Iowa listed at no. 7, Indiana at no. 23, Missouri is no. 25, and Wisconsin at no.28.

The rankings are based on three categories including state budget elements like delivery charges, infant care costs, cost of living, sales tax and milk costs; health care for new moms and babies, including the number of midwives, obstetricians and gynecologists per capita, access to pediatric service, maternity practices, infant death rates, preterm births and the number of fertility clinics per capita; and baby-friendly environments, which looked at air pollution, moms groups, the number of child centers per capita, parental leave policies and superfund sites per capita.

“With our findings, we hope to enlighten expectant parents on the costs and conditions they can anticipate where they live with a bundle of joy on the way,” the site said in the report.

See the full list on WalletHub.com.

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<![CDATA[More Chicago-Area Hospitals Restrict Visitors After Outbreak]]> Wed, 10 Sep 2014 18:49:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/236*120/tlmd_virus_respiratorio_ninos_illinoisjpg.png

Three more Chicago-area hospitals are restricting visitors in the wake of a respiratory virus infecting children across the Midwest.

Edward Hospital in Naperville, Elmhurst Memorial Hospital and Loyola University Medical Center say no visitors under 18 years old are allowed within in-patient areas until further notice.

Illinois is one of several states with confirmed cases of the uncommon virus, Enterovirus D68, and both Chicago and state health departments have been mobilized.
Experts say they still have a lot to learn about this particularly aggressive strain of the enterovirus.

"This is a relatively unusual enterovirus," said Dr. Stephanie Black, medical director of the communicable disease program of the Chicago Department of Public Health. "We don't know a lot about it, so I can't give you numbers, like what percent of kids who get Enterovirus D68 will develop sever respiratory disease."

The Chicago Department of Public Health says every school in Chicago is getting a fact sheet about the virus, and doctors are warning parents to be especially alert to breathing problems.

"If they develop symptoms like wheezing, uncontrollable coughing, shortness of breath, blue lips of course, [it] needs to be evaluated urgently," Black said.

The city and state are funneling specimens from the sickest patients in pediatric ICUs to the Centers for Disease Control.

With no anti-virals and no vaccine, messages that are shared so often we barely hear them suddenly have a new urgency.

"It's really more important than ever that people wash their hands and stay home when they're sick," Black said.
 

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<![CDATA[Enteroviruses: What You Need to Know]]> Wed, 10 Sep 2014 08:10:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Will-Cornejo.jpg

An outbreak of an uncommon virus, Enterovirus D68, has made children in a dozen states ill and has left some hospitalized, according to NBC News. Children with asthma are particularly affected.

Here are 11 things to know about enterovirus 68 from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.

  • Enteroviruses, among them enterovirus D68, cause about 10 to 15 million infections each year in the United States, most often in the summer and fall. Because Enterovirus 68 is uncommon, less is known about it than other of the more than 100 kinds of enteroviruses.
     
  • Infants, children and teenagers are more likely to become infected.
     
  • To protect yourself from enteroviruses, wash your hands often, avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, avoid sharing utensils with people who are sick and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, including toys and door knobs.
     
  • It appears to be spread the same way other respiratory infections are spread, through saliva and mucus when someone sneezes or touches something. The new school year is likely helping the virus to be transmitted.
     
  • It can cause from mild to severe respiratory illness; the full spectrum of illness associated with it is not clear.
     
  • Symptoms can include wheezing and difficulty breathing.
     
  • Enterovirus D68 can also cause neurologic symptoms, including paralysis, but those not been linked to the current strain.
     
  • So far there have not been any fatalities.
     
  • There is no vaccine.
     
  • Asthma should be well controlled.
     
  • Enterovirus D68 was first identified in California in 1962 and since then clusters have appeared in Asia, Europe and the United States.

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<![CDATA[New Drug Fights Melanoma]]> Tue, 09 Sep 2014 07:30:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/melanoma_448x336.jpg

The FDA approved a new drug Thursday that could change the way melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is treated.

The drug, Keytruda, was considered a breakthrough and approved after it was tested on more than 600 patients who had melanoma spread throughout their bodies.

"I was on oxygen. I was in a wheel chair. I couldn't walk. I didn't eat. I was thinking, I didn't have much longer to go," said melanoma patient Tom Stutz of Sherman Oaks, who was part of a clinical trial at UCLA.

According to the American Cancer Society, although melanoma only accounts for less than 2 percent of all skin cancer cases, it causes the majority of skin cancer deaths.

Melanoma cells protect themselves with a special protein called PD-1. This protein prevents the immune system from recognizing and killing the cancer cells.

The Keytruda drug is an antibody that targets the proteins. Without being guarded by the protein, the immune system has a greater chance of attacking the cancer cells.

"It's important because it's a new tool that is going to be very powerful in designing future regiments for melanoma," said Dr. John Glaspy of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The drug uses the body’s own immune system which means it likely has fewer side effects and more benefits than some regular chemotherapy.

"We have long believed that harnessing the power of our own immune systems would dramatically alter cancer treatment," said Judith Gasson of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Seventy-two percent of patients involved in the study responded to the drug and experienced tumor shrinkage. More than one-third of the patients had tumors that shrunk more than 30 percent and did not re-grow.

The treatment is given intravenously every three weeks. It is unclear how long patients have to stay on the medicine.

Stutz, who in June 2011 had melanoma that had spread to his lung, liver and other parts of his body, currently experiences no signs of the cancer.

"The bottom line is it saved my life. I would not have been here were it not for that drug," Stutz said.

Statistics show approximately 76,100 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2014 and nearly 10,000 Americans will die from the disease this year.

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<![CDATA[Sunglasses Recalled for Excessive Lead Content]]> Fri, 05 Sep 2014 07:36:14 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/kids-glasses-recall2.jpg

A Rhode Island-based sunglasses company on Thursday issued a recall of more than 200,000 sunglasses due to an excessive amount of lead in the paint.

The glasses are made by FGX and feature designs from Disney movies, TV shows and some comic book characters.

CVS and Walgreens stores were among those that sold the sunglasses from December 2013 to March 2014 for between $7 and $13.

According to the company website, the recall includes: 

Style# Brand Colors

  • S00014SVS999 -- Marvel Spider-Man Red, blue
  • S00014SVSBLU -- Marvel Spider-Man Blue
  • S00014SVSRED -- Marvel Spider-Man Red
  • S00021LKC999 -- SK2 Sears /Kmart Private Label Blue
  • S00021SVS999 -- Marvel Spider-Man Red/black, silver/blue
  • S01551SDB999 -- Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Red/white, silver/black
  • S02964SJN440 -- Disney Jake and the Never Land Pirates Blue
  • S02964SJN999 -- Disney Jake and the Never Land Pirates Blue
  • S03683SDC999 -- Disney Cars Blue, black, red
  • S04611SDC001 -- Disney Cars Red/black
  • S04611SDC080 -- Disney Cars Red/Silver
  • S04611SDC400 -- Disney Cars Blue/teal/yellow
  • S04611SDC999 -- Disney Cars Blue/teal/yellow, red/black, red/silver
  • S07786SMS500 -- Disney Doc McStuffins Purple/pink
  • S07786SMS650 -- Disney Doc McStuffins Pink/blue
  • S07786SMS999 -- Disney Doc McStuffins Purple/pink, pink/blue
  • S07840SDC999 -- Disney Cars Red/black
  • S07841SDC001 -- Disney Cars Black/silver
  • S07841SDC440 -- Disney Cars Blue/red
  • S07841SDC999 -- Disney Cars Blue/red, black/silver, black/red

Customers can contact FGX International toll-free at 877-277-0104 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday to arrange a replacement or refund.



Photo Credit: FGX]]>
<![CDATA[Planning Underway to Separate Conjoined Twins]]> Wed, 03 Sep 2014 12:07:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/conjoined-twins1.jpg 09/03/14: Knatalye Hope and Adeline Faith share a liver, diaphragm, pericardial sac (the lining of the heart) and intestines.]]> <![CDATA[Doc Cured of Ebola Thought He'd Die]]> Wed, 03 Sep 2014 17:57:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Lauer+Brantly+Interview+090214.jpg

Dr. Kent Brantly, the American doctor who contracted Ebola while working with relief organization Samaritan's Purse in Liberia, told NBC in an exclusive interview that he felt like he was about to die when he was isolated in a Liberian hospital.

"I said to the nurse who was taking care of me, 'I'm sick. I have no reserve. And I don't know how long I can keep this up,'" the Fort Worth doctor told Matt Lauer in Asheville, North Carolina, where his family has been living in seclusion since he left an Atlanta hospital almost two weeks ago.

A portion of the interview, Brantly's first ever, was airing Tuesday on "Nightly News," and another portion will air Wednesday morning on the "Today" show. The full report will air in an hour-long NBC News primetime special on Friday.

"I said, 'I don't know how you're going to breathe for me when I quit breathing,'" Brantly recalled telling the nurse in Liberia. "'Cause that was the reality. I thought, 'I— I'm not gonna be able to continue breathing this way.' And they had no way to breathe for me if I had to quit breathing."

Brantly's wife Amber, who lived with her husband and children in Liberia, and the doctors who treated him at Emory University Hospital have also spoken with Lauer, and NBC News cameras had exclusive access to the isolation room where Brantly was treated.

Amber described to Lauer how scared she had felt when she found out her husband had contracted Ebola.

"I knew what was coming," she said. "I knew how it ends. I knew how everyone had ended up so far."

Brantly was flown out of Liberia a month ago after contracting Ebola in July. He was isolated and spent three weeks being treated at Emory University Hospital before he was declared cured and discharged on what he called "a miraculous day."

Aid worker Nancy Writebol, 59, was also flown to Emory Hospital for treatment in early August and was quietly released several days before Brantly, also cured of the potentially deadly disease.

On Tuesday, NBC News reported another American missionary doctor has tested positive for Ebola, the aid group SIM USA said. The doctor was treating obstetric patients at ELWA hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, though not in the hospital’s isolation unit, NBC News reported.



Photo Credit: TODAY Show]]>
<![CDATA[Kraft Recalls Some American Singles Cheese]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 10:57:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP091109173400.jpg

Kraft is voluntarily recalling 7,691 cases of four varieties of its regular American Singles cheese product.

The recalled products have a "Best if Used By" date of Feb. 20, 2015, and Feb. 21, 2015.

Kraft traced the recall back to one of the company's suppliers. Kraft Foods Group Inc., which is based in Northfield, Illinois, said the supplier did not store an ingredient used in the cheese product at the company's standards.

Kraft said it's unlikely but the product could spoil prematurely, and it could lead to food-borne illness. However, Kraft said no one has reported getting sick.

Kraft spokesman Russ Dyer said the company issued a nationwide recall, but he can't specifically cite a city or state that received the potentially problematic cheese.

"We can tell you that very little product was shipped, so there is a limited amount of product, if any, on shelf," Dyer said.

Kraft said you can return the cheese to the store you purchased it at for a refund. Customers can also call Kraft at 800-396-5512.

Below is a list of package codes associated with the recall.

  • 0 21000 60464 7
  • 0 21000 61526 1
  • 0 21000 61526 1
  • 0 21000 63360 9



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Evergreen Park Mayor Tells of West Nile Virus Survival]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 20:35:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mayor+sexton.jpg

Two years ago, Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton got flu-like systems that wouldn't go away. He continued to get weaker and his fever kept going up.

It turned out to be a severe case of West Nile virus that landed him in intensive care for two weeks.

"Severe weakness, a lot of confusion and fever," Sexton said. "The swelling of the brain was mid-week, and it didn't look good at that point, but the hospital did a wonderful job and got it under control." 

Sexton survived and now he and his family tell the story in two videos produced by the Cook County Health Department.

As Labor Day approaches, Sexton's story serves as a reminder to be on the lookout for symptoms.

In the Chicago area, most infections happen around this time of year. There's a two-week incubation period, and most people don't know when or where they were bitten.

"It lets people know this is real," he said, "that it happened to somebody. It could happen to you."

Sexton said it was a slow road to recovery, but he's glad to be back, to his family and his constituents.

"I can't believe that you could lose all those functions that quickly," he said, "because I needed help out of the bed, to the bathroom, into the wheelchair." 

Dr. Terry Mason at the Cook County Department of Public Health warns that little tubs of water, like bird baths and plastic swimming pools, are a feeding ground for mosquitoes.

Mason encourages residents to repair screen doors to make certain bugs can't get through holes.

And the big thing: "Make certain you put on a repellant that contains DEET."



Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com]]>
<![CDATA[Why Did Ice Bucket Challenge Take Off?]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 12:54:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP908350358790.jpg 08/28/14: Maryilene Blondell from the Greater Chicago Chapter of the ALS Association talks about why donations have been pouring in.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Boston Marathon Dream Wedding]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 12:27:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/edt-KJWedding1.jpg If something good could come out of the Boston Marathon bombing, James Costello and Krista D'Agostino seem to have found it.

Photo Credit: Prudente Photography]]>
<![CDATA[Oak Lawn Woman is Cook County's First Case of West Nile]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 11:46:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/West-Nile-Virus-P4.jpg

The season’s first human case of West Nile virus in Cook County is a woman in her 40s from the southwest suburbs, health officials announced Wednesday.

The Oak Lawn resident became ill earlier this month but did not require hospitalization, according to the Cook County Department of Public Health. She is recovering at home.

"I can’t stress enough the importance of prevention during West Nile virus season," Cook County Department of Public Health COO Dr. Terry Mason said in a statement. "Every year, the virus circulates throughout suburban Cook County and while we can’t eliminate those mosquitoes, we all have the ability to take basic prevention measures to protect against human transmission."

Department officials said mosquito pools in 61 communities, as well as three dead birds, have tested positive for the virus.

Health officials said most people infected by the virus show no symptoms, but people over 50 or suffering a chronic disease are "at-risk for serious complications," according to CCDPH.

The most effective way to prevent against becoming infected with WNV is to follow the 3 Rs, officials said. They are: 

  • Remove standing water around your home in pet bowls, flower pots, old tires, baby pools and toys. Water that is allowed to stagnate for three or four days become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
  • Repel mosquitoes when outdoors between dusk and dawn by applying insect repellent with DEET and wear light, lose fitting clothing.
  • Repair or replace torn screens on doors and windows



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Sam's Club Caesar Salads Recalled]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 13:28:39 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/sams_club1.jpg

A California firm is recalling chicken Caesar salad kits sold at Sam's Clubs nationwide for possible listeria contamination.

APPA Fine Foods is recalling more than 92,500 pounds of fully-cooked chicken Caesar salad kit products, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Thursday.

The salad kits were shipped nationwide and sold at Sam's Clubs' in-store cafes according to the USDA.

The following products are subject to recall were in 11oz. clear plastic containers and 6.5-lb. boxes labeled, "APPA Fine Foods/Sam’s Club Daily Chef CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD KIT" with case codes 141851, 141922, 141951, 141991, 142021, 142201 or 142131 with use by dates of 8/14/14, 8/21/14, 8/27/14, 9/1/14, 9/3/14 or 9/17/14. The kits were produced on July 4, July 11, July 14, July 18, July 21, July 25, Aug. 1 and Aug. 8, 2014.

The USDA's FSIS and the company said there have been no reports of illnesses, but anyone concerned about an illness should contact a healthcare provider.

Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. The invasive infection can spread beyond the gastrointestinal tract. In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn. In addition, serious and sometimes fatal infections in older adults and persons with weakened immune systems.

Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics.

More: California Firm Recalls Chicken Caesar Salad Kits For Possible Listeria Contamination



Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Whole Foods Pulls Yogurt Over Sugar]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 13:35:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/whole+foods+yogurt+allegations.JPG

Organic supermarket giant Whole Foods has removed a version of its store-brand yogurt from shelves after lawsuits were filed in local courts over the dairy product's sugar content.

A company spokesperson tells NBC10.com Friday that the Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt is not being sold as they investigate how much sugar is in each serving.

Two class-action lawsuits were filed earlier this month on behalf of Pennsylvania and New Jersey shoppers.

The suits were brought forth after testing by Consumer Reports found yogurt samples to contain six times the sugar content that was displayed on the nutrition label. The label said 2 grams of sugar was in one container of the product, but the group's analysis found 11.4 grams per serving.

The lawsuit alleges the supermarket knew the label was wrong, but continued to sell the product.

Whole Foods has declined to comment on the specifics of the case, but the spokesperson previously said they were working to determine the discrepancy between their test results and what Consumer Reports found.

Attorneys for the lawsuits are seeking $100 per plaintiff and could represent some 35,000 people. Should they win, the supermarket chain could be forced to pay $3.5 million.

The company spokesperson said several other Greek yogurt options remain stocked for customers in the meantime.

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<![CDATA[Sacramento Patient Tests Negative for Ebola]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 16:32:13 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_ebola.jpg

Health officials said Thursday a patient who was being tested for Ebola in Sacramento has tested negative for the virus.

There are currently no confirmed cases of the Ebola virus in California.

"We are pleased with the negative outcome of the Ebola test and wish the patient a speedy recovery," Dr. Ron Chapman, California Department of Public Health Director and state health officer, said in a statement. "The case in Sacramento County demonstrates that the system is working. This patient was quickly identified, appropriate infection control procedures were implemented, and public health authorities were notified."

State and federal officials earlier in the week said they will not divulge which West African country the patient traveled to or from in order to protect the individual's privacy.

Officials also said they will not be releasing the patient's identity, gender or whether the patient is an adult or minor.

On Tuesday, health officials announced that the patient who was admitted to a South Sacramento hospital may have been exposed to the Ebola virus. The Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center worked with the Sacramento County Division of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test blood samples from the patient.

For more information about Ebola, please visit the CDPH home page's "Other Hot Topics" and the CDC's page on information and updates.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SoCal Man Shares ALS Reality]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:42:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ALSchallenge.JPG

It starts off hilarious: A jocular guy in a bikini challenging Ellen DeGeneres and Miley Cyrus to the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Then, it gets personal, real and heartbreaking.

Anthony Carbajal, a Murrieta native and owner of a Temecula wedding photography business, shares in a new YouTube video about a family history of ALS and how he was diagnosed with the debilitating disease earlier this year at age 26.

“I hate talking about it. That’s probably why no one talks it. Because it’s so challenging to watch,” Carbajal says in the video. “No one wants to talk about it. They don’t want it to ruin their day.”

His YouTube video has reached more than 4 million views in just three days and has been spotlighted by Time, BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post, among other media outlets.

The video is a challenge to naysayers of the ubiquitous ALS Ice Bucket Challenge — those who express annoyance that the craze is filling up their Facebook newsfeeds.

“I promise your newsfeed will go back to cat videos and ‘Let It Go’ covers,” he says. “But now, for once, the ALS community has the main spotlight. And for once in my entire life, I’ve seen it in the forefront.”

“Eventually I won’t be able to walk, talk and breathe on my own,” he says. “And that’s the real truth of what ALS is.”

Since the Ice Bucket Challenge took over the Internet, the ALS Association has received $41.8 million in donations from July 29 to Thursday. That's compared to $2.1 million in the same time period last year.

You can watch the video here. (Warning: It contains some profanity.)
 

His YouTube video also drew the attention of Ellen DeGeneres, who accepted his challenged and tweeted this morning:



Photo Credit: YouTube]]>
<![CDATA[Groups Team Up to Help Fight Hunger]]> Wed, 20 Aug 2014 15:56:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000008452368_1200x675_319342659506.jpg The Greater Chicago Food Depository and The Growing Initiative are Making a Difference. They are growing fresh produce that will feed families that are battling going hungry at night. NBC 5's Allison Rosati reports.]]> <![CDATA[Almond, Peanut Butter Recalled]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 15:04:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/100308-peanut-butter-attack.jpg

A unit of Hain Celestial Group Inc. is recalling some peanut and almond butter because of possible salmonella contamination.

The company said Tuesday that there have been reports of four illnesses that may be related to the nut butters.

They were sold under the brand names Arrowhead Mills peanut butters and MaraNatha almond butters and peanut butters. Also being recalled were some lots of private label almond butter from grocers Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Kroger and Safeway. A total of 45 production lots are affected.

They were sold in Canada, the Dominican Republic, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates as well as the U.S.

The Lake Success, New York, company said it learned of the contamination risk after routine FDA testing.

The Food and Drug Administration said it did not know how many jars of nut butters were recalled. The company would not comment.

Typical symptoms of salmonella infection are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. These symptoms generally develop within one to three days of exposure to the bacterium and may last for up to a week.  While anyone can become ill from exposure to salmonella, health officials say the risk of infection is particularly high for children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

There have been several major salmonella outbreaks in recent years, including infected peanuts that sickened more than 700 people in 2008 and 2009 and Foster Farms chicken that is linked to a strain of salmonella that has made more than 500 people sick over the last year and a half.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this Associated Press report incorrectly identified some of the nut butters recalled.  The error has been corrected in the above report.  We regret the error.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Conn. Man With ALS Takes Challenge]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 20:45:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/David+McClain+Edited.jpg

A New Haven resident who suffers from ALS and just took took the Ice Bucket Challenge has called on all his Facebook friends to complete the challenge and donate, whether or not they choose to dump ice water over their heads.

David McClain's challenge is unique amid countless Ice Bucket Challenge videos nationwide — not just because he's passing it on to every Facebook friend, or because the Texas native used ice cubes shaped like his home state.

For McClain, who has been living with ALS for 12 years, the cause is personal.

"I am paralyzed from my shoulders down. I cannot speak, nor can I eat or drink. I am fed through a feeding tube. I cannot breath without assistance of a ventilator. But as bad as that sounds, I am able to keep a positive attitude with the help of my family, my friends and the good Lord today," he said with the help of an eye-scan machine on his ALS Ice Bucket Challenge video.

"I want to nominate all of my friends who I have on Facebook. Here is my challenge to each of you. Not only do I challenge you to take the ice bucket plunge, I also challenge you to make a donation of whatever you can to the ALS Association. With your help, we can find a cure for this horrible disease. There is always hope," he said.

McClain is paralyzed from the shoulders down and requires 24-hour care. Family members say he has defied the odds.

"The average lifespan when you're diagnosed is 3 to 5 years, and he's going on his 12th year of living with it," said McClain's wife, Donna.

After his diagnosis, no one expected him to walk his daughter down the aisle, but he gave her away and stole the show.

His daughter-in-law, Ashley, said that despite his struggles and deteriorating condition, her father-in-law never complains.

"He is the most positive individual I have ever met. Although he might have limitations, David will never once ask for pity from anyone he meets," Ashley McClain wrote in an email to NBC Connecticut. "He just wants to share his inspirational words."

She said that David McClain participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness and to encourage the public to show support by donating to the cause.

"Obviously, we didn't choose ALS for my dad. We didn't want that," she explained. "But you can choose your attitude, and his attitude toward it has blessed so many people."

More information on ALS and the Ice Bucket Challenge is available on the ALS Association Web site. You can help support David McClain by donating to his GoFundMe page.



Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ashley McClain]]>
<![CDATA[Whole Foods Lied About Sugar in Yogurt: Lawsuit]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 02:39:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/whole_foods.JPG

Whole Foods Market knowingly sold its store brand yogurt containing a sugar content that was nearly six times the amount stated on the product's nutritional label, according to two class-action lawsuits filed this month.

The Austin, Texas-based supermarket chain advertised its Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Plain Greek Yogurt as having only 2 grams of sugar per serving. But a Consumer Reports analysis published in July revealed the food item had an average of 11.4 grams of sugar per serving.

"No yogurt on the market actually has only [two] grams of sugar per serving," court documents read. "The lowest sugar content of any Greek yogurt for sale is 5 grams per serving."

Even though the specialty supermarket was aware of Consumer Reports' findings, it failed to remove the mislabeled yogurt from store shelves and continued to sell the product in 12 locations in New Jersey and 10 others in Pennsylvania, the lawsuits allege.

Both class-action suits -- filed on behalf of Mark Bilder in New Jersey and Carmine Clemente and Samantha Kilgallen in Pennsylvania -- could represent as many as 35,000 plantiffs who purchased the mislabled product in the Garden State between Aug. 6, 2008 and present and in the Keystone State from Aug. 11, 2008 to present, according to estimates provided in the lawsuit.

The attorney is calling for a $100 penalty per plantiff -- totaling a possible $3.5 million.

A Whole Foods spokeswoman declined to comment on the pending litigation citing company policy. However, she said the supermarket is working to determine why its test results differed from those reported by Consumer Reports.

The suit also alleges Whole Foods officials were fully aware the labels underreported the greek yogurt's sugar content since nutrition labels on all of its store brand products -- sold under the motto "Health Starts Here" -- are evaluated for correctness.

"Whole Foods Market's website brags to consumers about how thoroughly [it] checks the accuracy of the labels of its store brands, telling consumers: 'Our Private Label registered dietician reviews each nutrition label for accuracy and completeness before the label is printed," court records show.

The inaccurate label gave Whole Foods, which specializes in natural and organic food, a competitive advantage and justified the higher prices the specialty market charges consumers, the suit alleges.

The yogurt in-question typically retails for $1.29.

"It was [the] defendant's conscious intent to induce consumers to purchase 'Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Plain Greek Yogurt' by falsely stating that the sugar content per serving was only [two] grams," court documents show



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[MRSA Breaks Out Among Firefighter Trainees in New York]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 06:10:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/randalls+island+mrsa.jpg

A handful of the more than 300 FDNY probationary firefighters training on Randall's Island have contracted the antibiotic-resistant bacteria MRSA, officials confirm.

A type of staph infection, MRSA can spread quickly in highly populated environments like schools, gyms and hospitals. At medical facilities, MRSA can cause life-threatening bloodstream infections, pneumonia and surgical site infections.

The FDNY would not say exactly how many trainees were infected on Randall's Island, but says those infected are being treated and extra precaution is being taken for them to continue to train.

The department said in a statement, "We take this issue very seriously and we are acting aggressively to combat this problem by increasing our schedule of cleaning and disinfecting of facilities and equipment and educating our Instructors and Probies at the Fire Academy about how to prevent open wounds and the spread of MRSA."

Anyone can get MRSA through direct contact with an infected wound or by sharing items such as towels or razors that have touched infected skin.

Dr. Stephen Morse of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University says while staph is very common and that many people carry it in their nasal passages, MRSA is less common and harder to treat.

The probationary firefighters "should be watchful if their condition changes or if they get worse," he said. "It can be very nasty."

The doctor said infected facilities should be cleaned thoroughly with typical household detergents or disinfectants in case of outbreaks.

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<![CDATA[Georgia Firm Recalls 15K Pounds of Chicken Nuggets]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 14:40:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ApplegateRecall.jpg

A Georgia-based meat company is recalling over 15,000 pounds of frozen chicken nuggets after reports surfaced that consumers found small pieces of plastic in the meat.

Perdue Farms and the USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service said they have not received any reports of injury from the consumption of the 8 ounce box of "Applegate Naturals Chicken Nuggets" with the establishment number P2617.

The product was produced on Feb. 5, 2014 with a sell by date of Feb. 5, 2015, according to a press release from the FSIS.

Applegate withdrew the frozen chicken from markets on Aug. 8, 2014, but consumers may still have the product in their possession since it is a frozen item, the statement said.

Consumers with questions about the recall should contact Gerry Clarkson, Applegate Consumer Relations Specialist at (800) 587-5858.



Photo Credit: USDA.gov]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Resources for Suicide Prevention]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 14:54:03 -0500

Use these resources if you or someone you know is in need of help.  

Community Counseling Centers of Chicago

Phone 773-769-0205

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Email: illinois@afsp.org

Phone: 312-890-2377

Mental Health Association of Greater Chicago

Suicide prevention hotline

1-800-248-7475

Elyssa's Mission

Resources for youth suicide prevention

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

No matter what problems you are dealing with, we want to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.

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<![CDATA[Task Force Sounds Alarm About Heroin Use by Young People]]> Mon, 11 Aug 2014 19:20:46 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/heroin+genericEDIT.jpg

In an effort to fight heroin abuse, state lawmakers will urge more education, particularly aimed at high school students, and will push to get unused prescription drugs out of people's homes, according to a draft of a report obtained Monday by NBC Chicago.

Rep. Sam Yingling (D-Round Lake Beach) chairs the Young Adult Heroin Task Force, which published the report that aimed to get a better understanding of heroin use and abuse among young people.

"This is definitely an epidemic," he said. "You can snort it. You can smoke it. You can, in some cases, ingest it, so kids don't feel this is a dangerous type of drug."

But it is dangerous. Today's heroin is potent, highly addictive, and deadly.

According to the report, heroin-related deaths in DuPage County increased from 26 to 42 between 2011 and 2012. In Will County, deaths increased from 30 to 53 during the same time period. McHenry County saw 16 deaths, up from 9, and Kane County saw 27 deaths, up from nine.

"Instantly, one hit could kill a kid, and it is much problematic than what we see from alcohol abuse and other drug abuse because it is so addictive and it is so deadly," said Yingling.

The report said many young people begin their drug abuse using leftover medications. They become dependent and then seek additional medication. Many move on to heroin, which is readily available and inexpensive, the report said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Chicago

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<![CDATA[School Lunches Around the World]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 10:54:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/LunchPakistan2.jpg Photographers captured the lunch fare for students in several countries earlier this month, showing a range of foods, customs, and nutritional standards.

Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS]]>
<![CDATA[Ebola Researcher Confident in Drug]]> Sat, 09 Aug 2014 11:26:33 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/inside-Ebola-lab-san-diego.jpg

A La Jolla lab is on the front lines of the fight against the Ebola Virus.

The outbreak in West Africa has killed at least 961 people and prompted the World Health Organization to declare an international public health emergency.

On the other side of the world from ground zero, researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla are looking at how the Ebola virus attaches to parts of the body and how it multiplies and replicates.

Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire is part of the team spanning 25 labs across the globe that is making images of how the virus works.

Their work that has led to a medicine taken by two Americans infected with Ebola. The Sorrento Valley lab Mapp Bio used the images created at Scripps to come up with the experimental medicine called Z-Mapp.

Saphire works as director with the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium, a global partnership with labs at Tulane University, Harvard and on the ground in Sierra Leone. She spoke to NBC 7 Thursday about the virus she’s worked on for 10 years.

Saphire says the cocktail of antibodies and proteins worked in mice and primates but wasn't supposed to be tested on humans until 2015.

"I know exactly what’s in it, how it works. I would take it myself in a heartbeat," she said.

While ZMapp provides hope, the director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the federal government is looking "very carefully" at experimental Ebola treatments. It's too early to tell whether they are helpful or even safe.

Even so, Mapp Bio is ramping up production, Saphire said, and they’re working with all the regulatory agencies involved.

“The logistics of making more are straightforward and solvable,” Saphire said.

The antibodies are made using tobacco leaves that are then put into a giant juicer. Scientists then strain the antibodies from the juice.

“That whole process would take about two or three months,” she said, adding that researchers need “time and the funds to do it and are expediting the process. You can believe it’s a priority.”

The antibodies in Z-Mapp were developed by Mapp Bio, the U.S. Army and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Mapp Bio has been operating for 11 years. In all, there are nine employees.

ZMapp is not FDA-approved. Its use was granted under the FDA's "compassionate use" clause, only given in extraordinary circumstances, and there are only a handful of doses of it available.

The two American aid workers who were flown to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta and received doses of ZMapp – Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol – are said to be getting a little better every day after their treatment.

The current outbreak in West Africa is the largest and longest ever recorded of Ebola, which has a death rate of about 50 percent and has so far killed at least 961 people.

The WHO declared similar emergencies for the swine flu pandemic in 2009 and for polio in May.

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<![CDATA[9 Questions You Should Ask About the Drug "Molly"]]> Fri, 08 Aug 2014 11:00:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/shutterstock_191826866.jpg

Just a week ago, two young men -- a 17-year-old and a college student -- died after attending a music festival in Columbia, Maryland. As friends and families grieved, authorities said the two may have overdosed on a drug called "Molly."

It's one of the most popular party drugs in circulation at the moment, but what is it? Is it a new danger or old news? There's a lot of misinformation out there, so we talked to an expert to find out what you need to know -- especially as the summer music festival season remains in full swing, and students prep to head back to campus.

1. What is Molly? Is it the same thing as ecstasy?

Molly is a slang term for MDMA, an illegal drug that is classified as both hallucinogen and a stimulant. It's generally accepted that the name Molly is derived from "molecule."

MDMA is a synthetic drug with the full title "3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine," but it's also commonly referred to as ecstasy. However, Molly may be a little different than ecstasy -- it depends on whom you ask.

Molly is usually a white powder inside a capsule, whereas ecstasy is usually a pill (tablet). Both drugs contain MDMA, but Molly is considered by some users to be "purer" than ecstasy because it is in powdered form.

2. So is Molly "purer" than ecstasy?

Confusion about the drug's purity is what makes MDMA especially dangerous, said Dr. Joni Rutter, the director of Basic Neuroscience and Behavioral Research at The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

"Even in its purest form, it can cause fatalities," she said. "It's still a drug and we don't know a lot about its effects."

The assumption that Molly is purer is controversial. Both drugs can be mixed with ("cut with") other substances, which can be extremely dangerous. Ecstasy can be harder to tamper with once it is in pill form -- but as a powder, Molly can be mixed with many other substances.

Some experts suggest that due to Molly's popularity, it is now also just as likely to be cut with other substances as ecstasy.

3. What does Molly do?

MDMA is a popular drug at parties because of the euphoric effects it has on the user. It has become an increasingly common concern for concert promoters, campus police and local officials in the last few years.

Dr. Rutter said that party-goers favor MDMA because it will make them feel "energetic and euphoric."

"It wreaks a bit of havoc on the brain," she said.

The effects can be different for different people, but MDMA works by increasing the activity of three neurotransmitters in the brain.

"Users have overall good feelings towards others," Rutter said. "The hormones that are released make people feel more social."

But with the good feelings come some nasty side effects. Rutter said users often report feeling anxious and confused. She also said that some people lose their grip on the passage of time. More information on the effects of MDMA is available from NIDA's website.

The drug is addictive, but different people will experience differing sensitivity to its effects.

4. Is Molly new?

No. Molly appeared as an alternate form of MDMA in the 1990s, but it gained popularity in the last decade.

It was considered an "it" drug about a year ago and The New York Times documented MDMA's popularity with adults in New York, as a supposedly "clean" drug.

5. Then why have I heard about Molly a lot lately?

MDMA has been linked to a spate of recent deaths that may have been caused by the drug.

Two people, ages 17 and 20, recently died in Maryland, after being taken from the Mad Decent Block Party at Merriweather Post Pavilion in early August. Police said they thought both victims had used MDMA, but were awaiting toxicology tests. Twenty other people were also taken to hospital for apparent drug-related problems from the music festival.

These incidents followed several other deaths that may have been linked to MDMA abuse. A man reportedly overdosed on MDMA at the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, and police in Canada are currently investigating whether two deaths at the Veld music festival in Toronto were related to MDMA.

USA Today reported in January that Molly was increasing in popularity among young people. Some celebrities, including Miley Cyrus during her Bangerz tour, have been accused of glamorizing the use of Molly and other drugs in recent months.

There have also been studies this year that suggest MDMA may have some therapeutic uses, such as in the treatment of PTSD.

6. Who uses Molly?

MDMA is popular with many different kinds of people because of its energizing effects, but it is most often found at music festivals and parties.

Molly is especially popular on the EDM (electronic dance music) festival scene due to its reputation as a party drug. Concert organizers for the upcoming Electric Zoo festival in New York are even requiring attendees to watch a brief PSA about the dangers of Molly.

A recent study by the University of Michigan, funded by NIDA, also suggests that the use of MDMA may be on the rise among 10th through 12th graders.

7. How dangerous is Molly?

Molly can be extremely dangerous, especially if it is mixed with other drugs.

NIDA's Dr. Rutter said that the biggest risk to users will be hyperthermia, or extreme overheating, probably caused by blood vessels failing to dilate enough.

Rutter said that this was especially an issue in a club or festival environment, where users are exposed to high temperatures and enclosed environments.

One of the other big dangers with taking Molly is that some do it consider it a safer, purer form of ecstasy, which might not be true -- especially if it's been mixed with other substances, unknown to the user.

"Drug interactions are a big problem," Rutter said. "We're seeing drugs cut with lots of other things, even so-called 'bath salts'."

Another risk with MDMA is that due to the euphoric feelings and reduced anxiety that users might experience, they may make poor choices, such as practicing unsafe sex.

8. What are the long-term effects of Molly?

The effects of using Molly or ecstasy can last for days. The most common include anxiety and depression. But Rutter said there are more insidious effects that people should know about.

"One of the big problems is disrupted sleep," she said. "The long-term effect that this has on the brain can make it even harder to recover from the MDMA's effects. It might even prompt the cycle of drug addiction and cravings."

Rutter said that some other effects on users can be memory loss and a decline in serotonin transporters, which can lead to longer-term depression.

"Basically a little bit of fun now can lead to a lot of trouble down the line," she said.

9. What are the legal implications of using Molly?

MDMA is a schedule 1 illegal drug. Information about federal trafficking penalties is available from the DEA's website.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Cancer Patient's One Direction Wish]]> Thu, 07 Aug 2014 10:21:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/6yo+cancer+patient.jpg

Six-year-old Madison Bergstrom of Stoughton, Massachusetts, is like any other girl her age, dancing and lip syncing to One Direction and dressing up like a princess.

But Madi has been battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia off and on since she was 19 months old.

"She’s been through a lot for her age and she still has about two years of treatment to go," said her mother, Shauna McLaughlin.

McLaughlin has been through a lot, too, as a single parent and primary caregiver fighting this battle right alongside her pint-sized hero.

"It’s hard, it’s scary but she is resilient, and inspiring and that’s what helps – she makes me strong," she said.

So when some friends bought Madi One Direction tickets for her and her mom to go see the band at Gillette Stadium this Saturday, they were thrilled.

In home video from earlier this year Shauna asked Madi, "How much do you love One Direction?"

"Like to the moon!" Madi said.

"And how much do you want to go to their concert?" Shauna asked.

"I’ll ride to there as fast as I can!" said Madi.

"You want to go so bad?" asked Shauna asked.

"Yes!" exclaimed Madi.

"We are totally going!" Shauna said.

But sadly, Madi ended up back in the ICU this week at Dana-Farber Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center and she won’t be able to go to the concert.

Madi’s focused on the positives, such as ice cream sundaes in her hospital bed. But her mom was bummed, and posted a message on Facebook asking if anyone wanted to buy the tickets, figuring she could use the money to do something special with Madi once she feels better.

That post has led to another page with thousands of "likes" asking "One Direction" to visit Madi in the hospital.

"To see that there’s so much good in so many people and that they care, Madison has an army of people behind her," Shauna said.

Shauna says while it would be awesome to see the sparkle in her daughter’s eye from meeting her favorite band, she has much bigger hopes and dreams for her little princess.

"I want to see her grow up to be normal and I’m sorry," said Shauna tearing up, "I just want to see her be -- the range of normal – there is no range and this is our normal, but I want her to grow healthy, I want her to grow happy."



Photo Credit: Shauna McLaughlin]]>
<![CDATA[Scientists Closer to Ebola Vaccine]]> Wed, 06 Aug 2014 21:23:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NIH+Scientists+Ebola+Vaccine+080614.jpg

Doctors say just one plane ride can bring the Ebola virus to the United States. In Bethesda, Maryland, scientists are studying blood samples and measuring antibodies as they work on a vaccine.

"Someone can get infected in one of these West African countries, feel reasonably well, get on a plane, get off and then all of a sudden get sick here,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. “That's feasible, and I don’t think anybody can deny that."

But the U.S. is much better equipped to prevent the spread of the virus, health officials say.

"Extraordinarily unlikely that it will be an outbreak at all because of the way we take care of people, how we have the capability of isolating them, how we understand what one needs to do to protect the health care providers and the kinds of health care facilities we have," Fauci said.

With no effective treatments available, one of the best ways to stop the spread of Ebola is prevention in the form of a vaccine.

National Institutes of Health scientists have been working for more than a decade on an Ebola vaccine. As the latest outbreak continues to grow, so does the pressure to create a vaccine to prevent a disease that can kill up to 90 percent of its victims.

It's a complicated process of finding the right combination of genes from the virus that's effective with few side effects, but they are closer than ever, Fauci said.

"Vaccine has been tried in monkey models, and it seems to be really quite promising," he said.

The vaccine is made with genetic material from the virus, meaning there's no live virus involved.

"You don’t inject the entire virus of Ebola because that would be dangerous, so what you do is you get a very small component of the virus, which is a protein that coats the outside of the virus," Fauci said.

Scientists hope to be testing the vaccine on humans as early as the end of September, Fauci said. If it proves to be safe and effective, they hope to make it available by 2015. The first group to get it would be health care workers.

"It's difficult to vaccinate an entire population because you don’t know who's going to be at risk because you don’t know where an outbreak is going to be,” Fauci said. “But when you have health care workers who are putting themselves in clear and present danger of getting infected, those are the ones you want to protect."



Photo Credit: NBCWashington.com]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Hospitals Ready for Ebola Virus]]> Wed, 06 Aug 2014 00:27:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/91e22e8c4dc1430bbdf0d26d3ff84c4a.jpg 8/5/2014: The ebola virus has not infiltrated Chicago, but local hospitals say the same precautions already in place would already work. NBC 5's Nesita Kwan reports. ]]> <![CDATA[Safety Study: Dangers of Texting and Walking ]]> Tue, 05 Aug 2014 12:56:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP080729033573.jpg Researchers discovered teenagers are more at risk of getting hit by cars while distracted than any other demographic they have studied in the past.]]>