<![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 Sun, 26 Apr 2015 03:21:44 -0500 Sun, 26 Apr 2015 03:21:44 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Girl Battling Cancer Has Block Named in Her Honor]]> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 21:11:54 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Emily-Beazley-street-2.JPG

A block in Chicago's Mt. Greenwood neighborhood on Friday became Honorary Emily Beazley Avenue in honor of a 12-year-old cancer fighter who lives just steps away. 

Beazley was just eight years old when she was diagnosed with the most aggressive form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. She was in remission for a while, but then the cancer came back. And earlier this week the family made the painful decision to stop chemotherapy after doctors said it was no long helping. 

"She puts her hand on my face and says, 'Don't worry about me, mom. I will be just fine,'" her mother, Nadia Beazley, recalled. "She's a positive little girl."

That positivity has inspired an entire neighborhood, which is now covered in purple and lime green. The purple is Emily's favorite color. The green signifies her fight against lymphoma. The colored ribbons line streets and fences. Signs of support are in living room windows. And if there's a business with a marquee, there's a good chance it says, "Light it up for Emily."

"It's just amazing the amoung of people supporting me," Emily said Friday.

Among those offering support is Gov. Bruce Rauner, who on April 9 made her Governor for a Day

While South Homan Avenue between West 107th and 108th streets now bears her name, Beazley said she's got one big wish she'd still like to see realized: a meeting with singer Taylor Swift.

"We would be here all day if I told you why I liked her," the girl said. 

Photo Credit: NBC Chicago]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Ice Cream Shop Closes, Recalls Products]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 18:28:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/219*120/jeni%27s+ice+cream+sign.jpg

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams has closed their North Side Chicago shop and recalled all of their products after a listeria contamination was found, the company announced Thursday.

The recall includes all products bearing the “Jeni’s” brand name including ice creams, frozen yogurts, sorbets, and ice cream sandwiches for all flavors and containers across all shops and retailers nationwide. Jeni’s scoop shops nationwide have also been closed.

The contamination of listeria monocytogene was discovered in a sample randomly collected by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

“We have decided to recall everything currently on retailer shelves, and we are closing our scoop shops until we are 100 percent confident every item we sell is safe,” Jeni’s CEO John Lowe said in a statement. “We have called in experts to help us find the root cause.”

Lowe said they plan to working with the company’s suppliers to determine if the bacteria was introduced by one of the ingredients used in their production.

“We will not reopen the kitchen until we can ensure the safety of our customers,” he added.

The company asks those who have purchased any of their products to dispose of them or return them for a full refund. For more information, visit jenis.com/recall.

Photo Credit: NBCChicago]]>
<![CDATA[Ice Cream Company Recalls All Treats, Closes Shops ]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 15:21:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ice-cream-stock-79772399.jpg

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams is recalling treats and freezing sales across the country due to a possible listeria contamination. 

The Ohio-based company announced the voluntary recall on its website on Thursday, saying it is "ceasing all sales and closing all scoop shops until all products are ensured to be 100% safe." The recall covers all products bearing the "Jeni's" brand, including  ice creams, frozen yogurts, sorbets and ice cream sandwiches. 

The company said in a statement that it decided to issue a recall after a random sample test by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture came back positive for the bacteria, which can cause illness and even death in individuals with compromised immune systems. Jeni's said it is not aware of any sicknesses connected to its products to date. 

"Our top priority is guaranteeing the safety of all consumers by taking every possible precaution," John Lowe, CEO of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, said in a statement. "We have decided to recall everything currently on retailer shelves, and we are closing our scoop shops until we are 100% confident every item we sell is safe." 

Jeni's urges cutomers to throw out or return any products affected by the recall. More information is available at jennis.com/recall. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mom Pushes for Legalization of Marijuana Extract]]> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 23:44:11 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/176*120/980499621.jpg

A Chicago-area mother is among those pushing for a change in federal law that would decriminalize a key ingredient in cannabis.

Lisa Weiss is a member of the organization "Coalition for Access Now" which wants to legalize cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD. The chemical has shown promise in studies to help treat people who live with epilepsy.

CBD is legal in Illinois, but like medical marijuana, patients can't get it just yet. Even when they can, there will still be limitations because it isn't legal under federal law. And that poses a problem for Weiss and her 9-year-old daughter, Sophie, who has roughly 200 seizures each day. 

"I could go and get the CBD that I so desperately need for her, but then if I want to go travel to Disney for a vacation or to Indiana or any other state, as soon as I cross state lines I'm a drug trafficker," Weiss explained.

Illinois Rep. Bob Dold is among 18 members of Congress who support changing federal law. 

"CBD oil has the potential to relieve the pain of suffering families and save thousands of lives," Dold said. "No family should be forced to suffer the loss of a child when life-saving relief has already been found. This bill will ensure that not even one more kid suffers because the government is blocking access to this life-changing seizure prevention.”

<![CDATA[Whole Foods Market Recalls Macadamia Nuts]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 13:39:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/537738815%281%29.jpg

Whole Foods Market is recalling packaged raw macadamia nuts due to possible Salmonella contamination.

The product, recalled after routine FDA testing detected the presence of the bacteria, is labeled as “Whole Foods Market Raw Macadamia Nuts” and packaged in 11 oz. plastic tubs. The recalled product, which has a best-by date of Feb. 4, 2016 and UPC code is 7695862059-1, was sold in stores in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.

The company said the bacteria causes serious and sometimes fatal infections in especially young children and the elderly, including others who have weak immune systems. Some symptoms healthy persons may experience are fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, the company said in a press release.

The Center for Disease Control estimated that there are one million Salmonella related illnesses in the United States every year, with 19,000 are hospitalizations and 380 deaths.

While no illnesses have been reported, officials are urging those who have purchased the nuts discard the container. They can also bring in their receipt for a full refund.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[#100DaysOfKenneth Bodybuilding Challenge]]> Sat, 18 Apr 2015 17:01:48 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Kenneth+and+Dusten+-+before.jpg

A Chicago man on the cusp of his 40th birthday has taken on an extreme physical challenge with the goal of making a complete transformation.

Kenneth Yoder is a 39-year-old freelance filmmaker who wants to make a change in his life. Yoder admits he is -- or was -- out of shape. That's why he decided to challenge himself to become a competitive bodybuilder in just four months.

He also made the decision for health reasons. "I felt like I was on the verge of tipping into poor health," Yoder said.

The end goal is for Yoder is to compete in the World Beauty Fitness and Fashion Inc. bodybuilding competition July 18 at the Harris Theater in Chicago.

Yoder also thought the local bodybuilding scene might make for an interesting documentary. Instead of profiling someone else, however, the filmmaker decided to turn the camera on himself after looking in the mirror.

"I was rocking a pretty solid 'S' curve. That's belly, you know what I mean?" Yoder said.

Yoder's trainer, Dusten Nelson, is a friend of his who also happens to train bodybuilders for competition and is the president of the Core Store. Under Nelson's grueling diet and workout plans, Yoder has already made strides in his 100-day transformation, which began almost a month ago.

Nelson has pushed Yoder to muscle failure a painful number of times in their workouts, but that's why they are seeing quick results. In fact, Nelson pointed out that Yoder is already showing abs.

"We're trying to push to failure," Nelson said. "And we're trying to push the edge of what he's capable of every time, because that's where the progress is made." 

The work doesn't end when Yoder leaves the gym, however.

He must also adhere to a strict protein-packed diet. He eats six meals a day, spaced out every three hours. Between all those meals, he consumes nearly three pounds of meat each day. Despite the significant amount of food he eats, Yoder continues to build muscle and drop weight.

In 28 days, Yoder's body fat dropped from 21.4 percent to 17.6 percent. At this pace, he will be under 8 percent the day of the competition, but he's careful not to look that far ahead. He still has a long way to go.

One thing he does allow himself to think about is getting his body waxed and spray-tanned before the big day.

"That is the comedy portion of our project," Yoder said, laughing. "Ready or not, I'm stepping on stage!"

Keep up with Yoder's journey on NBC Chicago's Stride blog, which will feature regular updates and posts about healthy exercise and diet. If you want to share Yoder's story on social media, use the hashtag #100DaysOfKenneth.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[Chicago Company Issues Pine Nut Recall]]> Thu, 16 Apr 2015 12:43:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/228*120/pinenuts.jpg

A Chicago-based company has issued a pine nut recall due to potential Salmonella contamination.

Superior Nut & Candy Co. and Hannaford recalled 4-ounce packages of pine nuts.

The pine nut packages are sold in store produce departments with a clearly packaged front and tan-colored label on the back. The back label lists "Pine Nuts" as the only ingredient and has the UPC number 72543920016 with a "best by" date of Nov. 17, 2015.

So far, Superior Nut & Candy has not received any illness complaints related to the recalled products, officials said.

As a result of the recall, these items have been removed from the shelves at Hannaford stores. Customers who have purchased this item are urged not to eat it and to return the item to a Hannaford store for a full refund.

Customers with questions can contact Superior Nut & Candy customer relations at 730-254-7900 Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Hannaford, based in Scarborough, Maine, has more than 180 stores in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont. Superior Nut & Candy is based in Chicago. 

<![CDATA[Study Ranks Healthiest Counties in Illinois]]> Thu, 16 Apr 2015 06:45:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/2015+Health+Outcomes+-+Illinois.jpg

Is the county you live in shortening your life span? A new study suggests that the Illinois county you live in could have an affect on your health.

The 2015 County Health Rankings compares the health of residents in every county across the nation and evaluates measures that affect the future health of communities, including education, environmental hazards, health behaviors, employment and more. The study, which ultimately determines a county’s residents’ length of life and quality of life, aims to help identify and garner support for local health improvement initiatives.

In Illinois, the healthiest counties include Woodford, Kendall, DuPage, Clinton and Kane. The least healthiest include Franklin, Pulaski, Mason, Pope and Massac counties.

Cook County ranked at no. 64 on the list, an improvement from last year when the county sat at no. 75 out of 102.

In Cook County, an average of 6,794 people die before the age of 75, according to the study. The average in Illinois is 6,349. In addition, at least 17 percent of Cook County residents have poor or fair health. In comparison, premature deaths in DuPage County average 4,195 while 12 percent of residents live in poor or fair health.

The healthiest counties in the nation averaged 10 percent of residents living in poor or fair health with 5,200 premature deaths, according to the data.  

The study showed that people living in the least healthy counties were twice as likely to die prematurely than those in the nation's healthiest counties. 

See the full list here.

Photo Credit: County Health Rankings & Roadmaps]]>
<![CDATA[Deadly Tick-Borne Virus in Conn.]]> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 14:03:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/dfw-generic-tick-01.jpg

A rare but potentially deadly virus has made its way to Connecticut and could soon be transferred from ticks to humans, according to state officials. Human cases of the virus have been reported in other states in the northeast, including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maine.

Dr. Theodore Andreadis, director of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven, said researchers identified ticks carrying the Powassan virus as part of a study published in 2012.

According to Andreadis, 2 to 3 percent of ticks surveyed in North Branford and Bridgeport tested positive for the virus. By comparison, some 30-40 percent of ticks in Connecticut carry Lyme disease.

Although there are no known cases of the virus in Connecticut, Andreadis said he expects the state could be seeing human cases soon.

"It’s an emerging tick-borne disease that we’re going to be looking at more closely. Right now, we know it’s in the state," he explained. "We don’t know how widespread it is but we’re going to be doing more work to find out, and with reported cases in surrounding states, it’s quite likely we’re getting some human exposure here in Connecticut."

Although the Powassan virus is "relatively rare," it "has the potential to cause very serious disease" and can produce encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, Andreadis said.

The virus was first identified in 1958 in Powassan, Ontario, when a child contracted the disease and died, according to Andreadis.

Andreadis said the CEAS is expanding its survey to determine the prevalence of the virus in Connecticut.

Residents should be diligent about checking for ticks when hiking or camping the woods.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends using tick repellent and wearing long sleeves and pants when spending time in wooded or bushy areas.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Blue Bell Expands Recall]]> Wed, 08 Apr 2015 06:33:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Blue+Bell+Ice+Cream+facility.jpg

Blue Bell Creameries is expanding its recall to include banana pudding-flavored ice cream made at the company's Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, facility after the product tested positive for listeria monocytogenes on Tuesday.

The company asked retailers on Monday to remove all products produced at the Oklahoma facility between Feb. 12 and March 27.

Blue Bell products made at the Oklahoma facility can be identified by checking for the letters “O,” “P,” “Q,” “R,” “S” and “T” following the "code date" printed on the bottom of the product package, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Blue Bell is also recalling seven other products made at the Oklahoma plant, including individually-wrapped Sour Pop Green Apple Bars, Cotton Candy Bars, Almond Bars, Vanilla Stick Slices and No Sugar Added Mooo Bars.

On Friday, the company said it was temporarily closing the Oklahoma facility, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigates.

In March, the illnesses prompted the Brenham, Texas-based creamery to issue the first recall in its 108-year history. The company and health officials said a 3-ounce cup of ice cream contaminated with listeriosis was traced to the plant in Oklahoma.

Listeriosis is a life-threatening infection caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes, according to the CDC. The disease primarily affects pregnant women, newborns, older adults and people with weakened immune systems.

In addition to the Broken Arrow plant, the company has two plants in Brenham and one in Sylacauga, Alabama. Those plants will continue to operate and supply products to retail stores.

The recalled ice cream had been shipped to Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming.

For more information, contact Blue Bell at 979-836-7977, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST.

Along with the banana pudding pints, Blue Bell said the recall now includes the following products made at its Oklahoma plant:

Ice Cream Pints: UPC # 0 71899-05101 5 / Code Date:

  • Ice Cream Banana Pudding pint / 021217S
  • Ice Cream Butter Crunch pint  /  021917S
  • Ice Cream Mint Chocolate Chip pint / 022017S
  • Ice Cream Cookies 'n Cream pint / 030317S, 030617S
  • Ice Cream Homemade Vanilla pint / 030417S
  • Ice Cream Dutch Chocolate pint / 032317S
  • Ice Cream Moo-llennium Crunch pint  / 032417S, 032517S

Sherbet Pint: UPC # 0 71899-19990 8

  • Rainbow Sherbet pint / 021717S, 021817S, 022317S, 030217S

Sherbet Quarts: UPC # 0 71899-18992 3

  • Orange Sherbet quart / 032617S
  • Mixed Berry Sherbet quart / 032717S

3 ounce Tab Lid Cup: Product # 136
*institutional/ food service cup only

  • Rainbow Sherbet / 022417S, 022617S, 022717S 

Gold Rim Half Gallon: UPC # 0 71899-03720 0

  • Ice Cream Homemade Vanilla half gallon / 030917T, 031017T, 031117T, 031217T, 031617T, 031717T, 031817T

Brown Rim Half Gallon: UPC # 0 71899-83548 6

  • Ice Cream Pistachio Almond half gallon / 031317T 

Light Half Gallon: UPC # 0 71899-73501 4

  • Ice Cream Homemade Vanilla Light half gallon  / 031917T

Consumers who purchased these items should return them. For more information or questions, call 979-836-7977 or go to bluebell.com.

For More Information

Blue Bell News Release

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Mother Warns of Brain-Eating Amoeba]]> Mon, 06 Apr 2015 18:21:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Koral-Reef-knsd.jpg

Twenty-year-old Koral Reef's life was just beginning. She said yes to the dress and married her high school sweetheart. But Reef never got the chance to enjoy her happily ever after when she contracted a rare, brain-eating amoeba that took her life.

Reef’s mother, Cybil Meister, believes a family trip to Lake Havasu in Arizona was the catalyst for the infection that killed her daughter.

“She started with the headaches, the stiff neck, the sensitivity to light and heat was bad,” Meister told NBC 7.

Around Thanksgiving of 2013, Reef's family noticed something was wrong. By January, things went downhill. In June 2014, she went to the emergency room.

Doctors were never truly able to pinpoint a cause behind Reef’s health issues.

“They said, ‘Oh, she’s having withdrawal from her birth control; It’s a migraine.’ They gave her medicine and sent her home and then she progressively got worse,” recalled her mother.

In September 2014, Reef started losing her vision.

"She went to Temecula Valley and they did an MRI. They showed us the MRI and the amoeba, which they didn't know was an amoeba, but there was a mass covering the entire right side of her brain and partial of her left,” explained Meister.

In October 2014, Reef died.

Doctors say she had a rare but extremely deadly amoeba called Balamuthia. Meister believes her daughter contracted the parasite on that trip to Lake Havasu.

“Balamuthia's mortality rate is very, very high. Only 13 percent of patients survive without any type of treatment,” explained Dr. Navaz Karanjia.

Dr. Karanjia is the Director of Neurocritical Care and the Neuro-ICU at UC San Diego's Health System. She also diagnosed Reef with the amoeba.

She said Balamuthia is inhaled and the parasite has been found in soil and dust. The symptoms of the infection are general – such as headache, fatigue, and a stiff neck – which make it hard to diagnose.

"Usually the initial tests come back negative for the usual bacteria and viruses so medical providers need to know if those test come back negative a parasitic infection could be present,” said Dr. Karanjia.

Reef’s mother is now devoted to raising awareness about the deadly, brain-eating amoeba in her daughter’s name. She has started #TeamKoralReef through Amoeba Awareness.

She's hoping to keep others from experiencing the pain of losing a loved one.

"We're reaching out to people trying to raise awareness because I don't think people understand how serious it can be. It's deadly,” she added.

Dr. Karanjia said a drug has been approved for treatment of another parasite, leishmaniasis, and that drug is being tried for amoebas as well. She said it has shown some promise in treating amoebas like the one that caused Reef's untimely death.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Woman Gives Birth in LA Courthouse ]]> Fri, 03 Apr 2015 07:16:00 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/196*120/4-2-15-baby+born+downtown+la+courthouse.JPG

A woman who stopped inside a downtown Los Angeles courthouse to pay a bill left with a little bit more than a receipt: a newborn baby boy.

When the pregnant mom-to-be walked down the hall of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse just before noon Thursday, she suddenly felt labor pain. Onlookers watched and sprung into action.

"She goes down on the floor, she's leaning on the chair, she's like, 'No, the baby's coming right now!" LA County Sheriff's Deputy M. Oliver told NBC4. "And I'm like, 'No wait,' and she's like, 'I can't wait, the baby is coming right now."

About a dozen people scrambled to help the woman as Oliver went to get some towels and gloves.

"When we laid on the floor, on her back, she pulled her trousers down, and then I look and I see ... that's the baby's head!" Oliver said. "So I go down on my knees, cradle the baby's head, and the baby slides right into my hand, a healthy baby boy."

The sheriff's department tweeted a photo right after the birth and said "Mom & baby fine!"

Witnesses said the woman barely had to push and it took her just five minutes.

"I'm still surprised and shocked," the mother told NBC4 from the hospital as she held her newborn son, Malachi. "And it's actually hilarious ... When he was born everybody cheered."

Photo Credit: LASD Special Enforcement Bureau]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: New Heat-Sensitive Socks for Diabetics]]> Thu, 02 Apr 2015 09:50:04 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/DiabetesSocks2.jpg Remember mood rings? Researchers have developed heat-sensitive socks that change color to monitor circulation in people with diabetes. ]]> <![CDATA[Tips for Coping With Spring's "Intense" Allergy Season]]> Wed, 01 Apr 2015 13:04:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/allergy-season-168997935.jpg

While people across much of the country are looking forward to milder spring temps following a winter that saw record cold and snow, experts warn the seasonal shift could bring bad news for allergy sufferers.

Allergists say the majority of the country can expect higher pollen this year thanks to the bitter winter, leading to an uptick in allergy-related symptoms.

A delayed pollination season nationwide has prompted the prediction.

In the Midwest, trees that were supposed to pollinate during January to mid February, during sporadic periods of warmth, were just starting that process in March, according to Warren Filley, a board-certified allergist/immunologist at Oklahoma Allergy and Asthma Clinic. The result, Filley said, is an increase in pollen being released at once. A similar trend is being seen in the snow-battered Northeast.

“We’re looking at a compressed spring pollination season,"  Aidan Long, director of Allergy and Immunology at Massachusetts General Hospital, said. "It should be very intense but pass quickly.”

Here are some tips on how to cope with pollen-related allergies in the spring:

  • First, make sure that you take you take your allergy medication before your symptoms start. As Filley put it, "There’s an Oklahoma saying, ‘Don’t close the barn door after the horse is gone."
  • Avoid being outside during peak hours of pollen — from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m., and a second surge after 4 p.m. — recommends Donald Dvorin, a board-certified allergist and pollen counter from the National Allergy Bureau and partner at the Asthma Center.
  • When in the car, make sure to turn your air conditioner on and avoid rolling down your windows, in order to allow for better ventilation. Cabin filters should be maintained to reduce exposure.
  • Take your shoes off before you go into your house, to make sure you don’t track pollen in. After you come inside, make sure to wash your clothes and take a shower. Wash your hair, too, as it can hold a lot of pollen, according to Dr. Jim Sublett of president of American Association. Let someone who is not allergic to pollen vacuum the house, and let the dust settle for 30 minutes before coming back into the house, as Filley warns.
  • When mowing the lawn or working in the garden, wear a mask, gloves, and goggles. Try to avoid gardening on windy days.

To track pollen levels in your area click here

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[WATCH: New Anti-Smoking Ads Highlight Pain, Suffering]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 12:51:57 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/smoking-stock-generic-73160938.jpg

Smokers are once again sharing their gruesome stories of pain and suffering to motivate cigarette-puffing peers to quit.

“If I’d had a crystal ball many years ago, I would never have put that first cigarette in my mouth," one woman who is losing vision due to macular degeneration says in a new video from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The cautionary tales are part of a national tobacco education campaign from the CDC, Tips From Former Smokers, which first launched in March 2012. The often cringe-worthy advertisements, on television, radio, billboards, online and in theaters, magazines and newspapers, feature former smokers sharing their painful stories of smoking-related illnesses, the agency said in a release.

In one video, a woman lies on her hospital bed, and in raspy voice, says how she developed throat cancer at the age of 40. In another, a man, with a hole in his neck, informs viewers to stand away from the showerhead. And another woman, sitting at her kitchen table, advises to suction out her tube before eating.

The ads will also highlight how quitting smoking can benefit loved ones, and the importance of quitting completely, not just cutting down on smoking.

“These former smokers are helping save tens of thousands of lives by sharing their powerful stories of how smoking has affected them,” CDC Director Tom Frieden, said in a statement. “These new real-life ads will help smokers quit, adding years to their lives and life to their years.”

Since 2012, Tips has helped millions of smokers try to quit, the CDC reports. When the CDC’s 2014 campaign aired, nearly 80 percent more people called the national quitline, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, for free help. Over 500,000 additional calls to the toll-free hotline have been made since 2012.

“All the Tips ad participants are heroes,” said Tim McAfee, senior medical officer in CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “By courageously sharing their painful personal stories, they’re inspiring millions of Americans to make the life-saving decision to quit smoking.”

Smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans each year, the CDC reports, and remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the country. For every American who dies from smoking-related illnesses, nearly 30 more suffer from at least one smoking-related illness.

Photo Credit: FILE/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Level of Risk Not Yet Clear in Kraft Recall: FDA]]> Wed, 18 Mar 2015 17:43:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/kraft-macaroni-120331317-%281%29.jpg

One day after a major Kraft Macaroni and Cheese recall, the federal agency in charge of much of the nation’s food supply says it still has not determined the level of risk to consumers.

A spokesperson for the agency told NBC5 Investigates, “The FDA has not yet classified the Kraft recall as the agency is still gathering information.”

On Tuesday, Kraft Foods recalled about 6.5 million boxes of original flavor Kraft Macaroni & Cheese because some boxes contain small pieces of metal.

The boxes have "best when used by" dates ranging from Sept. 18, 2015 through Oct. 11, 2015 and are marked with the code "C2." They were sold throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico, and in some countries in the Caribbean and South America.

FDA recalls are designated one of three levels. A Class I recall is the most serious, described as “a situation in which there is a reasonable probability that the use of or exposure to a violative product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.” Class II is a situation that may involve temporary or reversible medical consequences. The least serious is Class III, which is not likely to cause health consequences.

In a statement to NBC5 Investigates, Kraft referred questions back to FDA.

“Only FDA has the ability to classify recalls,” the company said. “Based on past recalls of FDA-regulated products, we believe the recall is likely to be designated a Class 2.”

A spokesperson also added that of eight incidents connected to this recall, no injuries have been reported.

Trying to gauge the level of risk posed to consumers in a food recall isn’t easy. Federal regulations allow manufacturers to be mum on certain details, regardless of whether the risk is high or low.

It’s a question NBC5 Investigates took on years ago, and not much has changed since.

In 2000, another popular Kraft product, Easy Mac, was pulled from store shelves in a voluntary recall. Parents told NBC5 they couldn’t find any answers about what was wrong with the product--so NBC5 investigated. A suburban family gave us two packets of the affected batch, and we took them to a lab for testing. The results: small amounts of a silicone oil comparable to the product WD-40 appeared in the food product.

Our report revealed what is still the case today -- When it comes to details of products involved in some FDA food recalls, consumers are often in the dark about the possible risk.

Photo Credit: FILE/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Poison Center Calls About Kids Hit 1.3 Million: Report]]> Wed, 18 Mar 2015 13:56:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/medicine-cabinet.jpg

Poison centers across the country get more than 1,100 calls a day that relate to children sickened by medicine, according to a new report.

In all, there were 1.3 million poison center calls about children 19 and under in 2013, the report by Safe Kids Worldwide found. The vast majority of those calls, 53 percent, involved 1 and two year-olds and medicine, a number that the organization Safe Kids Worldwide called “alarming” and “most surprising”

Older children are also at risk for unintentional medicine poisoning, the report found, sometimes experiencing far more serious outcomes. Teens 15 to 19 were six times more likely to experience "moderate or major effects" from unintentional ingestion than children 1 to 4 years old.

The report, “Medicine Safety for Children: An In-Depth Look at Calls to Poison Centers,” analyzed data from 547,042 calls made to poison centers across the country in 2013. It found that 81 percent of the children were given the wrong medicine, while the remaining got too much. More than 10,000 emergency room visits are made each year for over-the-counter medicine overdoses by adolescents, the report said.

The most common accidentally ingested items for children under age 4, according to the report, are ibuprofen, multivitamins and diaper care and rash products. Nearly half of the emergency room visits were connected to the consumption of those products, which the report said can fall into kids' hands after being found on the ground, a nightstand or in a purse.

For teens, the top medicine mistakes were related to forgetting to take drug and then doubling up, taking two medicines with the same ingredient and taking the wrong medicine.

<![CDATA[Mom Fights MS With Body Building]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 11:27:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/web-vod-bodybuilding-mom-ms.jpg A diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis isn't slowing down Wendy Bordewisch. Megan Pringle from NBC station WBAL in Baltimore reports.

Photo Credit: WBAL]]>
<![CDATA[Many On-Campus Residents Lack Measles Vaccination Records]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 11:21:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/176*120/491404053.jpg

More than a third of Illinois’ colleges and universities allow a large number of students who have no proof of being vaccinated for measles to live on their campuses, a long-standing pattern NBC 5 Investigates has discovered. In 2015 alone, more than half of Illinois’ higher-education campuses allow non-immunized students at rates considered risky by most health officials.

With 15 people diagnosed with measles this year in the Chicago area – including a student at Elgin Community College – NBC 5 Investigates examined the vaccination rates for the group of people who are probably closest to one another all day (and all night as well): Full-time, residential students at the 36 public and private colleges and universities in Illinois where students can live on campus.

The risks can be real when it comes to immunizations. Nine students came down with the mumps at the University of Illinois last year. In previous years there were similar outbreaks at college campuses in California, Virginia, and Maryland. At Princeton University in New Jersey, six students contracted bacterial meningitis in 2013.

But currently, on 13 Illinois campuses, state records show that five-percent or more of the students currently living there have not been vaccinated for measles, a similarly contagious virus. At five additional schools, the rate jumps to more than 10 percent. And at two universities – Concordia and The School of the Art Institute – more than one in every four students who live on campus are not protected from measles, according to state records.

Illinois law says that all residential college students are supposed to provide proof of immunity against a variety of diseases – measles, mumps, rubella, and whooping cough – in order to enroll in school. As an alternative, they can apply for an exemption on either medical or religious grounds. The law says everyone else "shall be precluded from enrolling at that institution in a subsequent term." The law also says every college must report their immunization figures to the state, every year.

NBC 5 Investigates analyzed the yearly college immunization reports for measles that were filed with the Illinois Department of Public Health for the past six years. As a rule, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says a school should keep the number of non-immunized students below 10 percent. But many doctors point to the "herd immunity" threshold for measles – about 95 percent – as the rate of people who need to be vaccinated in order to protect those who can’t be [usually because of medical conditions – especially during an outbreak. That would keep the rate of non-immunized students below 5 percent.

Many Illinois schools make sure their students are immunized. Lake Forest College, for example, has kept its level of non-vaccinated students below two percent for most of the last six years. Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington consistently keeps its non-protected students at three percent or below.

But fourteen colleges and universities have a pattern of reporting high rates of students who have not been immunized for measles – 10 percent or more – for most, if not all, of the past six years.

Take Concordia University in west-suburban River Forest: It consistently reports to the IDPH that anywhere from 23 percent to 31 percent of its on-campus students are not protected from measles. Lombard-based National University of Health Sciences’ annual rate of students who are vulnerable to measles has ranged from 19 percent all the way up to 51 percent. The School of The Art Institute, Dominican University, and The University of Illinois at Springfield have also reported high rates of unprotected students, every year.

In a statement, a spokeswoman at the School of The Art Institute told NBC 5: "It is our belief that most students have received their immunization and simply have not submitted their immunization records." She said the school has taken steps to provide free vaccinations, and that they’ve removed 300 students from their non-immunized lists since the state report was filed.

The University of Illinois at Springfield has a high number of transfer and graduate students, according a spokesman there, though he adds that they would need to investigate more to see if that’s a cause of their higher rate of unprotected students.

None of the other schools with high rates of non-vaccinated students responded to NBC 5 Investigates’ request for comment.

Two schools – Columbia College and (again) the University of Illinois at Springfield – have not reported their current vaccination figures to the state, in apparent violation of state rules.

The UIS spokesman said their omission may be due to a database conversion, and they’re looking into it. At Columbia, a spokesman said their immunization report was delayed "because of circumstances beyond our control," but said they take the report seriously and do plan on filing it.

It is important to remember that these reports just reflect pure numbers. Because of privacy laws, there is no way for a student to find out if his or her roommates have gotten vaccinated for measles (or any other disease) unless they volunteer that fact.

<![CDATA[Youth in Rural Areas Have Higher Suicide Rate, Study Says]]> Sat, 14 Mar 2015 14:10:01 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ambulance19.jpg

A new Ohio State University study has found that adolescents and young adults living in rural areas are more likely to commit suicide than those in cities.

The study analyzed suicides among people ages 10 to 24 between 1996 and 2010. Results show the adolescent and young adult suicide rate was almost twice as high in rural settings than in urban areas, and the gap appears be widening.

Cynthia Fontanella is clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral health at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center. She cites less access to health care, geographic isolation and stigma associated with mental illness as potential reasons for the disparities.

The researchers say the findings suggest there is an urgent need to improve access to mental health care in rural areas.

SUICIDE PREVENTION: If you know someone who needs help, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

<![CDATA[Blue Bell Recalls Ice Cream Treats]]> Sun, 15 Mar 2015 23:04:06 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ice-cream-stock-79772399.jpg

The FDA issued a consumer advisory about some Texas-made Blue Bell ice cream products Friday, after three patients who had eaten the ice cream in a Kansas hospital died of a foodborne illness.

The illnesses prompted the Brenham, Texas-based creamery to issue the first recall in its 108-year history. Blue Bell has stopped production and distribution of ice cream products from that line and has removed them from stores and any other retail outlets.

The problem was discovered about a month ago, Blue Bell CEO Paul Kruse told NBC 5. He said the company picked up the affected products approximately three weeks ago from hospitals and stores.

The contaminated products were traced back to one machine, which has been shut down, Kruse said.

This is the first time in 108 years the company has experienced this type of problem, he added.

The affected products include the following novelty items made on the line:

  • Chocolate Chip Country Cookie
  • Great Divide Bar
  • Sour Pop Green Apple Bar
  • Cotton Candy Bar
  • Scoops
  • Vanilla Stick Slices
  • Almond Bar
  • No Sugar Added Mooo Bar (regular Mooo Bars are not included)

Consumers should not eat these items and should discard any of these products they may have in their freezers.

The advisory does not include Blue Bell cups, pints or half gallons.

Recent laboratory tests of three ice cream products from the Brenham production line — Country Cookie, Great Divide and Scoops — indicated the presence of Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that can cause severe illness.

The company is calling back additional ice cream items because they were made on the same production line.

No Texas cases have been reported in connection to any Blue Bell products.

Five people in all developed listeriosis and three of them died at Via Christi St. Francis Hospital in Wichita after eating products from the one production line at the Brenham creamery between December 2013 and January 2015, hospital officials say.

The patients who fell ill with listeriosis during their hospital stays had all initially been hospitalized for unrelated causes, hospital spokeswoman Maria Loving said.

The hospital was unaware that some items produced on one of the 25 production lines at Blue Bell's Central Texas creamery had been contaminated with listeria bacteria, Loving said.

She said all Blue Bell Creameries products were immediately removed from all Via Christi Health facilities in Kansas and Oklahoma once the risk was discovered.

"If you're worried about some sort of potential source of infection, and two weeks have gone by and nothing's happened to you, you're going to be fine," said Dr. Cedric Spak with Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.

Spak said symptoms include vomiting, nausea and muscle ache, and they can appear suddenly.

He said those that are most at risk are those with compromised immune systems.

NBC 5's Holley Ford and Ray Villeda contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA["We're Related": 8-Way Kidney Swap]]> Fri, 13 Mar 2015 09:40:24 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Kidney_Transplant_CT.jpg

Donors and recipients involved in a groundbreaking eight-way kidney swap in Connecticut came face to face for the first time Thursday, greeting each other with hugs, tears and laughter.

Four women donated kidneys to four men during a series of hours-long procedures at the Yale-New Haven Transplantation Center on March 3. The group included three sets of husbands and wives.

NBC Connecticut gained exclusive access to the surgeries, and our cameras were rolling during the life-saving procedures, which began at 7:30 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m. that day.

"All eight surgeries occurred on the same day and all procedures were deemed a success," said Dr. David Mulligan, director of the Yale-New Haven Transplantation Center and professor of surgery at the Yale School of Medicine, noting that the procedure "represents the largest internal kidney transplant exchange performed in Connecticut."

It started with "altruistic donor" Patricia Menno-Coveney, 61, of Mystic, Connecticut, who said she was inspired to donate by a woman at her church who gave one of her kidneys.

What she didn't know is that she would initiate an eight-person kidney chain, including three sets of husbands and wives.

Since the husbands didn't match their respective wives, doctors used computers to pair up the donors and recipients.

Menno-Coveney was matched to Shelton resident David Rennie, whose wife, Margaret Rennie, donated a kidney to Raymond Murphy, of Old Saybrook.

In turn, Murphy's wife, Sylvie Murphy, gave a kidney to Mario Garcia, of New Haven, and Garcia's wife, Hilary Grant, donated her kidney to Stamford resident Edward Brakoniecki.

Without the swap, the men would have endured years of waiting and dialysis. Brakoniecki had already waited five years for a transplant from a deceased donor.

But the generosity of one woman from Mystic sparked a chain that quite likely saved four lives. Nine days later, everyone is in good spirits.

"Look at me," said donor Hillary Grant. "This is a week and two days later. I feel absolutely normal."

Dr. Peter Schulam, professor and chair of urology at Yale-New Haven Hospital and the Yale School of Medicine, explained that the donors and recipients seem to be well on their way to recovery.

"They're usually in the hospital one or two nights," Schulam said. "They're able to return to work in two to four weeks depending on what their occupation is."

The donors and recipients met in person for the first time Thursday ahead of a news conference at Yale-New Haven Hospital. They hugged, cried, swapped contact information and promised to stay in touch.

"I was the lucky recipient in an eight-person kidney swap," David Rennie told NBC Connecticut during an exclusive interview. "It's kind of surreal, kind of like we're related now."