<![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 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 02:38:30 -0600 Tue, 27 Jan 2015 02:38:30 -0600 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[How to Keep Your Diet While Out]]> Mon, 26 Jan 2015 08:59:04 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/4PT_PKG_SALK_TRICK_DIET_KNSD5K7M_1200x675_380802627563.jpg Health and lifestyle expert Stephanie Mansour shares tips on how to eat healthy and stay on your diet while eating outside your home.]]> <![CDATA[Researchers identify genetic cause of Sturge-Weber syndrome]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 10:24:32 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NC_birthmarks0122001_1500x845.jpg Researchers identify genetic cause of Sturge-Weber syndrome, often associated with facial birthmarks, which means new trials and new hope for sufferers.]]> <![CDATA[Schaumburg-Based Company Recalls Jewel-Branded Rolls, Buns]]> Thu, 22 Jan 2015 13:23:56 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/gonnella-sub-buns-1.jpg

A Schaumburg-based company on Thursday issued a recall of certain baking items because they could pose a food safety concern for people allergic to milk.

Gourmet Sandwich Rolls and Sub Buns sold under the Jewel brand and sold between Dec. 9, 2014 and Jan. 17, 2015 should be returned to the place of purchase for a full refund.

The items are produced by Gonnella Baking Company and carry the product codes 11563 and 15840, the company said in a news release. Both products were sold in 20-ounce, clear plastic bags and have "best buy" dates through Jan. 25, 2015 and were distributed to retail grocery stores in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.

Gonnella Baking Company said the baked goods fail to list whey, which is derived from milk, as an ingredient. 

While people who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products, no illnesses had been reported as of Thursday, the company said.

Consumers with additional questions should call 800-262-3442, extension 1134 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.

Photo Credit: gonnella.com]]>
<![CDATA[Measles Exposure at OC School]]> Tue, 20 Jan 2015 11:17:47 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/web_measles_vara_90_1200x675_386439747568.jpg

Twenty students who have not been vaccinated against the measles are not be allowed on the campus of Huntington Beach High School for three weeks after a possible exposure to the virus, officials confirmed Monday.

A student with measles was on the Orange County campus in early January, and could have potentially spread the highly contagious disease according to a letter sent to parents.

Students who have been exposed and do not have the necessary vaccination to guard against the disease were sent home for three weeks, according to county health officials. They will not be allowed to attend school until Jan. 29, according to the Orange County Department of Education.

Some parents said the district was going overboard.

"I'm not a doctor so I can't say, but that seems extreme to me," one parent said. "I mean, I had the measles and I think I was out for three days."

However Orange County Department of Education Health and Wellness Coordinator Pamela Kahn  told NBC4 Tuesday that keeping the students away from school is the only thing they could do to prevent the disease from spreading further.

As carriers are contagious both four days before and four days after developing a rash, and as students could be at school for as long as 21 days before a rash develops, it is essential to keep unvaccinated pupils away from school for that period to minimize the exposure of other students from the disease.

The county has confirmed 16 cases of the disease, among 46 confirmed cases in California.

In late December an outbreak was reported among people who had visited Disneyland, but health officials in San Diego and Orange county have now confirmed the outbreak has spread beyond the initial cases.

Measles is spread through the air or contact with an infected person and is highly contagious.

It is characterized by fever, rash, cough and red, watery eyes.

Doctors advise that anyone who thinks they may be infected call their doctor immediately.

Michael Larkin and Annette Arreola contributed to this report

<![CDATA[5 Myths About the Flu Debunked]]> Fri, 23 Jan 2015 21:58:16 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/denver-FLU-460977406.jpg

Flu is widespread across the United States, in a season made even more severe by a disappointing vaccine that's not very effective at battling the predominant strain that's now making people sick.

This year's vaccine is only 23 percent effective because the H3N2 strain of influenza A, a different strain from the one the vaccine protects against, began circulating just after the vaccine was created. When H3N2 is the dominant strain, it can cause more serious illness than other types of flu.

With several weeks of flu season left, here are some myths about the flu, and what you should know about them.

This year’s vaccine isn’t effective, so there’s no point in my getting it now.

Not so, medical professionals say. Even a less effective vaccine can still prevent hospitalizations and deaths, particularly among older people and young children. And it still might protect against strains that are not yet circulating.

I don’t need a flu shot year after year.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that you get a vaccine every year even when the viruses the vaccine protects against have not changed. Your immune protection from the vaccination will decline over time.

I’m afraid the flu shot will give me the flu.

A flu shot will not cause the flu because the viruses either have been inactivated and are no longer infectious or were made with no viruses at all. The nasal spray vaccine also won’t give you the flu because the viruses have been weakened.

Even if I do get the flu, it won’t kill me.

Flu can be a serious illness, particularly for young children, senior citizens and those with such chronic conditions as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. On average thousands die each year from the flu, a number that can fluctuate depending on which strain is circulating. The CDC has estimated from a low of 3,000 deaths to a high of 49,000 between the 1976-1977 and 2006-2007 seasons.

There are no effective treatments against the flu.

There are three antiviral drugs approved for treatment: Tamiflu, Relenza and Rapivab.

Source: The Centers for Disease Control

Photo Credit: Denver Post via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Wendy's Drops Soda from Kids Meal]]> Fri, 16 Jan 2015 16:35:11 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/SodaBan.jpg

Wendy's has won praise from children's advocacy groups for its recent move to stop displaying soda on its children's menus.

Groups such as MomsRising.org, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and the Center for Science in the Public Interest have long urged Wendy's and other fast-food chains to take soda off the children's menu as part of a push to get the restaurants to offer more nutritional meal options.

Last fall, Wendy's decided to make the change, the chain's spokesman confirmed in an email. The menu boards both in stores and online now show only low-fat white or chocolate milk, bottled water and 100 percent juice drinks, said spokesman Bob Bertini, who added that soda was never the default drink choice for the meal. 

The groups calling for the changes argue that soda is not an appropriate beverage choice for children, citing “reputational” health problems and risks that sugary drinks cause like diabetes, heart disease, obesity and tooth decay.

"While parents bear most of the responsibility for feeding their children well, restaurant chains also need to do their part," Jessica Almy, CSPI senior nutrition policy counsel, said in a statement. "Restaurants should not be setting parents up for a fight by bundling soda with meal options designed for kids.”

Almay added that Wendy's move is a “responsible step” that aims to improve the health of children and for parents to make healthier food choices for them. She hopes other food-chains including Burger King, Applebee's and IHOP will follow suit.

In 2013, McDonald's agreed to drop soda from its Happy Meal menus. That policy goes into effect this year. The moves by Wendy’s and McDonald's leaves Burger King as the only one of the top three fast-food chain to still include soda in meals for children, according to CSPI.

The groups said that next step Wendy's should take is to offer more nutritious menu options for both children and adults. This, they said, should include whole grain rolls, fruits and vegetables, and also reducing sodium across the menus. Frostys, the fast-food chain’s signature frozen dessert that is made from Grade A milk and rich cream, should also be dropped from the children's menu, the groups said.

Bertini signaled more changes could come, saying Wendy's does "intend to continue working to enhance our Kids’ Meal offerings to provide even more nutritious, great-tasting products that children enjoy and that parents feel good about serving."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[75 Year Old Man with Advanced Parkinson's Set To Stair Climb Aon Building]]> Fri, 16 Jan 2015 03:23:02 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/LARRY+PIROVANO.png Larry Pirovano is Making A Difference. He will be participating in the 80 floor climb to the top of the Aon Building . This event is a fundraiser for the patients and famillies of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital. NBC 5's Art Norman reports.]]> <![CDATA[Boy Finally Breathing on His Own After 65 Surgeries]]> Fri, 16 Jan 2015 10:22:50 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NC_batteryboy0112001_700x394.jpg

After 4 years and 65 surgeries, an Arizona boy who swallowed a button battery is finally able to talk and breathe on his own.

When Emmett Rauch, of Peoria, was 1-year-old, he swallowed the nickel-sized, lithium battery from a DVD remote, NBC Affiliate AZCentral reported. It burned his esophagus and closed off his airway after becoming lodged in his throat.

In one of the major surgeries Emmett, who is now 5, underwent to correct the damage, surgeons used half his stomach to recreate his esophagus, his mother Karla Rauch wrote in an article published on "Today." However, the “tissue was so damaged it didn’t hold up.”

But with additional surgeries and recovery, Emmett had his tracheostomy tube removed in December  and now he is breathing on his own, AZCentral reported.

"I mean he can go and be a little boy and not have this thing sticking out of his neck," Karla Rauch told AZCentral. She also wrote that he "is relearning how to swallow and can almost eat a whole piece of pizza.”

Now, Emmett’s parents have made it her mission to spread awareness about the dangers of button, coin and cell batteries. They have helped start a campaign with Safe Kids and National Poison Control to support the cause.

“I am grateful that there is some sort of silver lining and that is helping to save other children from suffering and possibly losing their lives,” Karla wrote to “Today.”

<![CDATA[Quinn Punts Medical Marijuana Licensing to Rauner]]> Mon, 12 Jan 2015 20:37:06 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000010548101_1200x675_383420995583.jpg

Gov. Quinn took one parting shot before turning out the lights and leaving his Thompson Center office Monday, enacting a series of changes on the state’s new medical marijuana law, and recommending even more.

But he failed to do what proponents of medical marijuana have been begging him to do: issue the licenses for state cultivators and dispensaries. And with the new administration casting a very jaundiced eye toward the program, that left those supporters hopping mad.

“I’m real ticked off,” said state Rep. Louis Lang, the Skokie Democrat who authored the law. “The governor would not complete the job. The agencies did. The state agencies were ready. These licenses were ready to be issued. The governor chose to not put his final stamp of approval on them.”

Quinn spokesman Brooke Anderson disputed that, insisting that the only reason he balked in the waning hours of his administration was that the heavy lifting on vetting the applicants was not complete.

“There was more work to do,” she said. “Agency officials were rushing to get the work completed.”

With Quinn failing to act, the license process is now punted to the new administration. Rauner is known to not be a fan of the program, and said during the campaign he would have vetoed the bill.

It isn’t clear exactly how Rauner will proceed. But thousands of patients, and hundreds of applicants hoped it would not be left for the new governor to decide.

“My biggest fear is that we do a redo,” says Janet Sameh, one of the 214 applicants for a dispensary license. “It’s extraordinarily disappointing if we find that all of our work has gone for naught!”

At best, Rauner says, the licenses should have been auctioned off. But Sameh argues that would give the richest applicants an unfair advantage.

“It might go to folks who have deep pockets, but not necessarily those who have expertise, or the compassion,” she said.

Under terms of Quinn’s Monday actions, the Department of Agriculture is given more latitude over cultivation centers suspected of violating the program’s stringent rules. Currently, the only option available is revocation of a license. Now, the department will also have authority to issue formal reprimands or suspensions.

In addition to the amendatory actions taken at the Department of Agriculture, Quinn’s action today made a technical fix, clarifying the vehicle code to make clear that those who drive while impaired under the influence of medical marijuana are subject to arrest.

“Implementing this Pilot Program is nothing less than developing an entirely new supply chain and distribution system for a type of pharmaceutical,” Quinn wrote. “The Pilot Program involves at least four separate agencies of state government, numerous private parties, and thousands of patients and physicians.”

Quinn recommended further changes:

1) Prohibit requiring patients to be subjected to criminal background checks. “This requirement has proven to be a barrier for justice for patients that committed crimes many years ago,” he wrote. “Patients that have paid their debt to society for prior offenses should not be denied access to treatment that could relieve pain and suffering.”

2) Extend the current sunset for the pilot program of December 31, 2017 for two years to December 31, 2019. “This additional time will ensure that that the legislature has the necessary information to make a sound judgment about whether to continue this program.”

3) Clarify the ambiguity in the current statute by explicitly confirming that all 22 cultivation centers contemplated by the Act can be licensed in 21 Illinois State Police Districts.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Flu Concerns Continue in Chicago Area]]> Wed, 31 Dec 2014 18:02:51 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000010371896_1200x675_378764355993.jpg Officials said flu deaths have reached an epidemic level, and in the Chicago area health officials are sounding off about the need to get a flu vaccine. Nesita Kwan reports.]]> <![CDATA[Flu Deaths in U.S. Reach Epidemic Level: CDC]]> Tue, 30 Dec 2014 16:33:53 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/104718836.jpg

Fifteen children have died from flu complications, prompting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to formally declare the latest rise in the virus as an epidemic.

Of all deaths reported in a survey of 122 cities this flu season, 6.8 percent were linked to pneumonia and influenza.

Since the agency's last weekly report, the number of states that have reported escalating illnesses has also risen from 13 to 22.

“The United States experiences epidemics of seasonal flu each year and right now, all of CDC’s influenza surveillance systems are showing elevated activity,” CDC spokeswoman Darlene M. Foote said in an email. These surveillance systems monitor the numbers of virus detections, hospitalizations, and deaths across the U.S.

The report also specifically pointed to the H3N2 strain of the virus as the culprit in the latest outbreak.

This year’s flu vaccine protects against three to four strains of flu, H3N2 being one of them. However, the strain of H3N2 causing many to get sick has mutated and only about half of cases match the vaccine, the CDC has said.

“At this point, CDC is still recommending that unvaccinated people get their flu vaccines,” Foote wrote. “While some of the viruses spreading this season are different from what is in the vaccine, vaccination can still provide protection and might reduce severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death.”

Although an average of 24,000 Americans die each flu season, the CDC prefers to use a range to convey how variable the flu can be. It estimates that from the 1976-1977 flu season to the 2006-2007 season, flu-related deaths in America ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.

The latest report of illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths follow a typical pattern for a flu season, the CDC said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Analysis: Eateries With Most Failed Inspections]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 12:07:19 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Trinity-Bar-chicago-1.jpg

More than 50 licensed Chicago restaurants failed inspections at least three times each this year, a review of city data shows.

Six of the eateries -- Trinity Bar, Taj Mahal, Hana Restaurant, Fischman's Wagyu Wagon, Nueovo Leon Restaurant, and Lawndale Food Market -- each failed four separate health inspections.

While the information is readily searchable on the City of Chicago Data Portal, it was Brandon Harris, a graduate student at the University of Chicago, who analyzed the information to come up with the easy-to-read comparison.

The number of fails doesn't necessarily mean a restaurant will be forced to close. Harris said his analysis revealed "a lot of missing and duplicated values." Additionally, a restaurant can fail an inspection for not being open when an inspector pays a visit.

Still, the data can give potential diners an idea of how well an eatery operates.

For example, Trinity Bar, on the 2700 block of North Halsted Street, failed an initial annual inspection on March 6, the data shows. The problems at that time included "excessive food debris" in the cooler and food that was stored at potentially unsafe temperatures.

That failed inspection triggered follow-up visits on March 13, March 14, and March 20. Those visits also resulted in failed results. Trinity Bar finally received a passing grade during a March 21 visit.

A man at Trinity Bar said "no comment" when asked about the inspection information on Friday morning.

Harris' analysis also easily determined which restaurants were the most frequently inspected and which had two or more failures within one mile of the University of Chicago's Gleacher Center.

Photo Credit: Regina Waldroup
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Patient Being Monitored for Ebola Discharged]]> Sat, 20 Dec 2014 13:36:19 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/117452510.jpg

Medical personnel at the University of Chicago Medical Center who were monitoring a child to rule out an Ebola diagnosis say the child has been discharged.

The child, who was coming from West Africa, had one of the classic symptoms of Ebola, a fever, during screening at the international terminal at O'Hare International Airport.

Officials said the child was not displaying any other symptoms of the virus, but the child was taken to Comer Children's hospital on Friday for extra monitoring to be done to rule out the disease.

A fever alone does not trigger such a response. While a fever is often the first indicator, the extra precautions are taken when it's coupled with exposure that's considered high risk -- contact with fluids from an infected person or animal or contaminated objects -- or the person resided in or traveled to a country with widespread Ebola transmission.

A statement from the University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences said tests for the Ebola virus in the child were negative, and the child was discharged

It can take up to 72 hours for officials to get accurate results, Northwestern Memorial Hospital's global health expert Dr. Robert Murphy says, because viral loads are slow to show up.

"The first three days symptomatic tests can be negative unfortunately," Murphy said, adding that any testing being done on Friday was preliminary. "Because we don't know the kid's history. We know nothing."

There have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in Chicago.

The World Health Organization last month said the recent outbreak has killed nearly 7,000 people in Western Africa. More than 16,000 people have been diagnosed with Ebola since the outbreak was confirmed in Guinea in March.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Science Photo Libra
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Great Foods You Aren't Eating]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 12:10:52 -0600 New York Times, there are 11 key foods that are good for us, but few of us eat. Topping the list is beets, a folate-rich vegetable.]]> New York Times, there are 11 key foods that are good for us, but few of us eat. Topping the list is beets, a folate-rich vegetable.]]> http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/16814158.jpg These great health foods are hiding in plain site. Start eating more of them for a healthy boost.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nurse: I Was Suspended for Refusing Flu Shot]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 01:29:17 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/flu+shot+generic.jpg

A Chicago nurse says he was suspended from his job for refusing to get a flu shot.

Officials estimate that roughly half of all Americans get the flu shot, and Marek Piszczatowski, a nurse at John H. Stroger Jr., Hospital of Cook County, says it’s a good idea.

“I don't have any problem with vaccinations,” he said. “I had them as a child.”

What Piszczatowski says is a bad idea, however, is a mandate requiring employees of the Cook County health system where he works to get a flu shot

“You’re practically being blackmailed,” he said. “You either comply with that or get fired.”

After getting a notice that he needed to get a flu shot, Piszczatowski said he refused. Then came another letter, and this week he and a union representative went to a hearing that could result in the loss of his job, he said.

“I should be able to choose,” he said.

Piszczatowski is not alone. Across the country healthcare workers, with nurses in the lead, are mobilizing against mandatory flu vaccinations. Some who have already lost their jobs have filed suit.

Last year, a pregnant nurse who refused to get a flu shot due to her fear of miscarrying was fired from her job with a health care company.

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an advisory to doctors that this season’s flu shot may not be as effective as it should be.

Federal officials say the flu causes about 200,000 hospitalizations annually. Last year, the CDC reported 46 percent of people were vaccinated.

In some healthcare settings, there are usually religious and medical exemptions, and several hospitals require those who choose to not get vaccinated to wear a mask.

In a statement the Cook County Health and Hospitals System said to knowingly put “patients and coworkers at risk when we know that risk can be reduced by a safe, effective vaccine is irresponsible.”

It also said the mandatory flu vaccine policy “follows the recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Piszczatowski said frequent hand washing and a mask already protects patients, and patients themselves could get the flu vaccine if they haven’t already.

He claims he has since been suspended and is using his vacation time while he waits for a decision on his future with the health system.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Arrests Made in Deadly Meningitis Outbreak]]> Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:19:15 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/barry-cadden-2012-hearing-FILE-getty-156385872.jpg

In the biggest criminal case ever brought in the U.S. over contaminated medicine, 14 former owners or employees of New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Massachusetts, were charged Wednesday in connection with a 2012 meningitis outbreak that killed 64 people.

US attorney Carmen Ortiz in Boston obtained a grand jury indictment alleging that under the laws of 7 states, 25 of those deaths amount to second-degree murder because pharmacy owner Barry Cadden and supervising pharmacist Glenn Adam Chin acted in "extreme indifference to human life" in allowing the contaminated steroid pain medicine to be shipped out. Beyond the 64 who died beginning in the late summer of 2012, another 687 were sickened.

"That indictment charges 14 individuals with offenses ranging from RICO murder to conspiracy to defraud the government to other charges as well," Ortiz said. "Production and profits were prioritized over safety."

Attorneys for Cadden, of Wrentham, Massachusetts, and Chin, of Canton, Massachusetts, said they were stunned by the second-degree murder racketeering charges and stressed the men have fully cooperated with the probe.

Cadden's attorney Stephen Weymouth said, "I certainly didn't expect racketeering in connection with second degree murder and mail fraud. My client's charged with, I couldn't even count that high, 77 counts or something like that? Yes, I was totally shocked by this indictment."

"He's pleading not guilty. He will be proven not guilty of that and the other charges," Chin's attorney, Bruce Singal, added.

Additionally, 12 other people from the pharmacy are facing multiple other charges, including pharmacy co-owners Doug and Carla Conigliaro of Dedham, Massachusetts, being indicted on charges of "structuring" or in effect seeking to hide $33 million in assets from the bankruptcy court now overseeing the liquidation of NECC.

Earlier this month lawyers announced a $135 million fund from NECC assets to pay victims and their families in the case.

Attorney Kim Dougherty of Janet, Jenner & Suggs, who represents 100 victims of the pharmacy's contaminated steroids, said, "The charges are serious because what's happened to them is very serious. The suffering is very serious."

Dougherty said she hopes the new indictments may yield additional relief money beyond the $135 million. "What we're also hoping through the criminal trial is that the government will also set up a victim compensation fund so that they will further receive compensation for their suffering," Dougherty said.

Ortiz was asked why it had taken more than two years after the first fungal meningitis outbreaks tied to the contaminated back pain steroid medications for comprehensive indictments to be brought.

"In many ways, I've been frustrated by how long it's taken, because we've been anxious to get to this point, but we wanted to be sure we got it right," Ortiz said. "We wanted to be thorough. We wanted to be careful. We did not want to rush to judgement. There have been tens of thousands of documents that our team has been reviewing. There have been hundreds and hundreds of potential victims. ... It's not the kind of investigation where you just snap your fingers and it's done."

In all, the tainted medication was shipped to and used on patients in 20 states. According to Centers for Disease Control data released by Ortiz's office, Michigan had the most people affected with 264, followed by 153 in Tennessee, 93 in Indiana, 54 in Virginia and 51 in New Jersey. The only New England states reporting cases of fungal meningitis caused by the NECC medication were New Hampshire (14) and Rhode Island (3).

The 14 individuals charged in the indictment are Barry J. Cadden, 48, of Wrentham, Massachusetts; Glenn A. Chin, 46, of Canton, Massachusetts; Gene Svirskiy, 33, of Ashland, Massachusetts; Christopher M. Leary, 30, of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts; Joseph M. Evanosky, 42, of Westford, Massachusetts; Scott M. Connolly, 42, of East Greenwich, Rhode Island; Sharon P. Carter, 50, of Hopkinton, Massachusetts; Alla V. Stepanets, 34, of Framingham, Massachusetts; Gregory A. Conigliaro, 49 of Southborough, Massachusetts; Robert A. Ronzio, 40, of North Providence, Rhode Island; Kathy Chin, 42, of Canton, Massachusetts; Michelle Thomas, 31 of Cumberland, Rhode Island; Carla Conigliaro, 51, of Dedham, Massachusetts and Douglas A. Conigliaro, 53, of Dedham, Massachusetts.

Photo Credit: Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call via Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Flu Outbreak Keeps Students and Staff Out Of Class]]> Tue, 16 Dec 2014 18:21:17 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/151262805.jpg

For a second day about 10 percent of the students in Oak Park School District 97 have called in sick and school officials say the flu isn't the only disease to blame.

“We’ve got cases of strep throat, we've got some kids who have upper respiratory conditions and some that are coming down with just the common cold so it's unfortunately a perfect storm,” said Chris Jasculca, Oak Park Elementary School’s senior director of policy, planning and communications.

To combat the spreading viruses cleaning crews have been working overtime and the district has been sending out a steady stream of cold and flu information to parents. Students said they have been getting a lot of reminders as well.

“The teachers have been telling us to wash our hands and to not get that close to each other,” said seventh-grader Griffin Weisman.

In response to the outbreak, public health officials conceded that this year’s flu shots have been less effective. What they don't know is how this flu season will pan out.

"Every influenza season is unpredictible, we're getting an esrly start this year but that doesn't mean it's going to be more severe or it's going to last longer," said Dr. Julie Morita, chief medical officer Chicago's Department of Public Health. "We just don't know."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Healthy Foods That May Harm Your Teeth]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 12:11:30 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*160/105539843328093768751101411372522n.jpg While a healthy diet is good for the body, some health foods may be harming teeth during consumption. Some raw and uncooked foods can cause mouth damage by chipping teeth or sticking between the teeth, which may lead to serious gum problems.

Photo Credit: ramblephl/Instagram]]>
<![CDATA[10 Percent of School District Absent with Cold, Flu]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 22:15:59 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/2806690%281%29.jpg

Nearly 600 students and staff members of a suburban school district were absent on Monday due to illness, prompting school officials to take extra measures in flu prevention.

Oak Park Elementary School District 97 reported the absence of about 10 percent of their students and staff citing an outbreak in cold and flu illnesses as the cause. The custodial staff was scheduled to deep clean the school Monday night in the hopes of preventing the illnesses from spreading the rest of the week.

None of the schools were closed due to the outbreak, but school officials said they would monitor the situation closely in the next few days.

In the meantime, school officials encouraged sick students to stay home until their fevers and other flu symptoms are gone for at least 24 hours before they return.

This year's flu season has been particularly brutal because the vaccines being administered aren't as effective due to a mutation in one of the strains.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Celebrates Birthday by Giving To Others]]> Fri, 12 Dec 2014 10:12:03 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NADIA+HOWSE.png Nadia Howse decided to celebrate her 16th birthday by Making A Difference. She delivered educational gifts and a check to the institution that saved her life 13 years ago, Rush University Medical Center. NBC 5's Art Norman reports.]]> <![CDATA[Girl With Cancer Asks for Birthday Cards]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 14:34:03 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NC-cards-for-Kali.jpg A young girl battling cancer made a public plea for birthday cards, and people she doesn't even know really came through. Keith Garvin from NBC station KPRC in Houston reports.]]> <![CDATA[New Hospital Gowns Offer Better Cover-Up]]> Wed, 10 Dec 2014 14:32:22 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NC-hospital-gown.jpg A new hospital gown developed by the Henry Ford Innovation Institute strives to take patient care and decency to an all new high. Dr. Frank McGeorge from NBC station WDIV in Detroit reports.]]> <![CDATA[Suburban School Closes Due to Flu Outbreak]]> Tue, 09 Dec 2014 16:47:25 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Prepping+a+Flu+Shot+010714.jpg

After the CDC warned of a potentially severe flu season, it seems to have hit the Chicago area Monday morning. A quarter of the student body at Nazareth Academy in La Grange Park called in sick with the flu. By lunchtime, they were sending everyone home.

Dr. Terry Mason, the head of the Cook County Department of Public Health, says their weekly reports show the flu has hit harder and earlier than in the past two years.

Classes at Nazareth Academy were also cancelled Tuesday and Wednesday so the administration could deep clean the school and give the students a chance to recover before next week's final exams.

"Anywhere you have people that are congregated together, there's a higher likelihood that you're going to spread any disease. Flu is one of them," Dr. Mason said.

Public health authorities say there's another cause for worry this year concerning the effectiveness of the flu vaccine.

One of the influenza virus strains in this year's vaccine underwent a mutation, making the vaccine less effective, said Michael Vernon, the director of communicable disease control at the Cook County Department of Public Health. But the vaccine still offers some protection, he said.

"The flu is very unpredictable," Vernon said. "There's no way of telling how soon this will peak and start going down or what the rest of the season is likely to look like."

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Doctors Risk Lives in ISIS War Zone Hospitals]]> Tue, 09 Dec 2014 16:06:58 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/investigates+syria.jpg

They operate in the bleakest of conditions – often without electricity, proper medical supplies, and no anesthesia – as barrel bombs fall from the sky and missiles shake the ground. Many of the doctors in Syria have already fled the war-ravaged country, but a group of Chicago-area doctors are risking their own lives to cross battle lines and save lives.

"Every day was a bad day," said Dr. Samer Attar, an orthopedic surgeon with Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "I saw a lot of innocent people die, just good innocent people."

Attar has made multiple trips into Syria to fill a desperate need for surgeons.

"There would be some days after a bomb attack or missile strike that so many people would flood through the door that there would be no place else to put them except on the floor," said Attar. "With all the operating rooms full you would have to operate on people on the stretchers in hallway. We treated families crushed by airstrikes, children missing limbs, children with bullet wounds to the head, just innocent people trying to go about their lives, trying to do their best to survive."

Struggling to survive because they are being attacked simply because they live in Syria, a country entangled in a nearly four-year-old civil war and over-run by the Islamic State, a terrorist group known for public beheadings and mass executions.

"Most of the injuries are either from bullets, shrapnel, and crush injuries form the debris that would fall on people," said Attar. "The injuries were rather severe, barrel bombs and shrapnel, mortar blasts cause a lot of damage to limbs. Most of the operations we did were fractures, amputations, burns, a lot of amputations; more amputations than I ever care to do again."

While the medical community’s mission is to save lives, NBC 5 investigates has found that doctors, nurses and healthcare workers are being targeted in unprecedented numbers, unlike any prior conflict.

"It is probably the worst country in the world for practicing medicine right now," said Dr. Zaher Sahloul, a Chicago-area Critical Care Specialist. "If you are a doctor or a nurse in Syria and trying to save lives then you are risking your life every minute."

It's a risk that Sahloul and other Chicago doctors say they're willing to take. Sahloul heads the Syrian American Medical Society – a multi-million-dollar humanitarian group which sends medicine and supplies to war ravaged countries, like Syria. Some of the medical supplies which are stored in a warehouse outside of Chicago will be smuggled across battle lines.

"You have hospitals that are in need of everything," said Sahloul. "We need gloves. We need gowns and we need surgical sets. We need external fixators for fractures. We need X-ray machines. We need CT scans because there is not an operating CT scan in the whole city of Aleppo … And we also need body bags."

The Syrian conflict has killed more than 191,000 people and created one of the largest refugee crises of the century, with three million fleeing the country and 6.5 million being displaced within Syria. Every medical mission could be the last for these doctors.

"You can be detained. You can be kidnapped and you can be killed," explained Sahloul. "We are talking about physicians being killed because they are trying to save lives. This is a huge war crime."

A war crime – these doctors say – which is largely ignored by the international community. According to the organization Physicians for Human Rights, 560 medical workers have been killed in Syria in the last three years and 155 medical facilities attacked.

"I went to three hospitals and one of them was at the front line, leaving a lot of victims from the war as casualties and the regime made sure to bomb this hospital," said Adeed Alshahrour, a Chicago-area OBGYN. "(That) hospital was bombed four times."

As a result many hospitals have gone underground – both literally and figuratively.

"These hospitals are run by generators," said Alshahrour. "Electricity was cut to the city one year ago. They hardly could get clean water. I had to engage in surgical operations that in the middle of the operation I do not have electricity and I had to continue my surgery with a flashlight."

Most Syrian doctors have already fled the country. And many of the people left behind working in these underground hospitals have no prior medical training. They are farmers, teenagers, normal people -trying to save lives.

The Syrian people who refuse to leave and the doctors who remain, dodge bombs and missiles on a daily basis.

"I’ll never forget this day," said one doctor based in the city of Aleppo, who we are not identifying for his own safety. "There were two barrel bombs dropped close to our hospital. We have 80 patients dead so you can imagine how many casualties. That day we received more than 200 casualties."

The children haunt him most.

Each doctor has his own reason for risking his life and each has a story about an injured child that he will not soon forget.

"He said my name is Abdullah," critical care specialist Sahloul. "They were trying to insert a chest tube without painkillers. He started to scream. He was telling the doctor to please stop. And then he said I want my mother. And then I started crying."

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>