<![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 Mon, 22 Dec 2014 04:36:36 -0600 Mon, 22 Dec 2014 04:36:36 -0600 NBC Owned Television Stations <![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
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<![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
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<![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."

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<![CDATA[Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain]]> Sat, 06 Dec 2014 11:44:32 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/holiday+eating.jpg

The holiday season fosters a love-hate relationship with many people. They love the food and time spent with family but hate the ensuing pounds they gain from holiday feasts.

If you're looking for a way to enjoy the season while keeping the pounds off, Sandy Goldberg, PhD., has some tips to keep you confident when facing the scale in the New Year:

- Use numbers to your advantage. Try to be vigilant 80 percent of the time and allow yourself to stretch the parameters the other 20 percent of the time, for example.

- Do not go to social functions hungry. Instead, eat something healthy beforehand, and plan on light snacking at the party.

- Stay hydrated. Holiday recipes usually require a more-than-average amount of salt, so don't fall behind on your daily water intake.

- Outsmart the food pushers. Instead of succumbing to continuous offers for bigger portions, ask for seconds and serve yourself. This way, you control your own portions while also pleasing the host.

- Edit your diet. Instead of feverishly counting calories, decide before the meal or social function what you will eat more of and what you will eat less of. Edits to your diet can be made on a day-by-day basis to adjust for special occasions.

- Lastly, remember that nothing is black and white. Use these tips as guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules. If you stick to the guidelines throughout the holiday season, you'll still be able to enjoy yourself while also staving off the fear of the scale on Jan. 1.

Photo Credit: Roc Media Pr]]>
<![CDATA[Pot-Growing Enterprise a Costly Endeavor]]> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 13:39:46 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/marijuana-leaf1.jpg

Think you’d like to try your hand as a grower in the state’s budding medical marijuana business?

Better bring a boatload of money.

Any day now, the State of Illinois is expected to award the licenses for growers and dispensaries in the state’s new medical marijuana program which will officially begin serving patients next year. Out of more than 150 applicants, 21 licenses will be granted to growers.

"There is a financial risk that you take with any business that you have," said Garrett Bruns, an applicant from downstate Onarga. "We don’t know what the market will be."

Bruns and the five others in his investment group hope the market will be substantial. They have already invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in his would-be enterprise. And if they win the licensing lottery and are awarded a growing franchise, their investment will run into the millions.

"It’s a learning process, just like everything else," Bruns said. "Something completely different that intrigues us."

So far, Bruns’ group has spent $250,000 on the application alone (it runs 713 pages). If he gets a license, he will immediately have to pony up an additional $2.2 million in the first two weeks, part of which is a $200,000 license fee. The rest of the money goes into escrow, with $500,000 returned each year of the state’s pilot program.

And the marijuana? It will have to be grown indoors in either a warehouse or greenhouse to guarantee security and provide healthy plants during Illinois’ tough winters. Bruns’ cost? About $7 million.

"Everyone in life has to take chances," he said. "And this is one of the chances we’re willing to take."

After the regulatory disasters some states have encountered with almost comically lax programs, Illinois officials insist this medical marijuana system will be airtight. Growers are required to provide intense security. All packaging must be childproof, smellproof, resealable and bar-coded. Chains of custody are required for every plant, proving how it is harvested and where the pot went.

"I think if anyone knew the true numbers of how astounding it is financially to get this started and follow it to the end, with no understanding of how many patients are going to be there, we have a huge opportunity for loss," Bruns said. "Before an opportunity for gain."

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<![CDATA[CDC: Flu Shots Less Effective]]> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 03:27:22 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Flu+Shot+immunization.jpg

Your flu shot may not be as effective as it should be this flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An advisory issued to doctors Wednesday noted that less than half of the flu samples tested by the CDC from Oct. 1 through Nov. 22 were a good match for the current strain of the influenza, a component in the flu shots developed for the current flu season, according to a report by the Reuters news agency.

That could result in people getting sick with the flu even though they have already been given the flu shot.

The staff at Doctors Express Urgent Care in Southlake is already seeing sick people who shouldn't be.

"We're getting a lot of false-negative results. I'm not gonna say that they don't have the flu. But they definitely have the symptoms," said nurse Tiffanie Hurst. "Which means if they did get the flu shot there's a possibility in there that it wasn't 100-percent effective."

The chief concern of Dr. Seema Yasmin, medical expert for The Dallas Morning News, is that people will opt to not get a flu shot now.

"That would be a disaster," Yasmin said.

"You should definitely get the flu shot," Hurst added. "It will definitely still work for your immune system and build it up to par in case you do come into contact with [the flu]."

The CDC is stressing that doctors should be prepared to use antiviral medications when needed.

These include Roche's Tamiflu and GlaxoSmithKline's Relenza, Reuters noted.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Pot Dispensary Applicants Spend Thousands on a Gamble]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 10:28:34 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/medical-marijuana1.jpg One of the more than 200 applicants trying to get a dispensary license said she's already spent more than $150,000. Phil Rogers reports. ]]> <![CDATA[Applications Flood in to Dispense Medical Marijuana]]> Wed, 03 Dec 2014 09:09:16 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/mainPic.png

The clock is ticking on the state’s first decisions concerning the licensing of medical marijuana in Illinois.

“We’re a locomotive moving down the tracks and nothing is going to stop us,” says Marla Levi, who has submitted an application for a patient card. “I can’t wait!”

Levi suffers from multiple sclerosis, one of 40 debilitating illnesses that are eligible for medical marijuana treatment. She says marijuana, which she consumes in brownies, has done far more to alleviate her symptoms than other prescription treatments.

“It relaxes the whole body,” she says. “It alleviated my pain, lets me sleep better, and pain is part of the MS.”

Only licensed physicians can write a prescription for medical marijuana, and under terms of the Illinois law, any pot must be consumed in the patient’s home. A total of 60 dispensaries will be licensed to fill prescriptions statewide. So far, 211 have applied.

It isn’t clear how many dispensaries will be located in the City of Chicago.

“With the passage of this legislation, we are in a position to help people have relief from chronic conditions,” says Janet Sameh, one of over 200 applicants for a dispensary license. “If we were just money driven, we would make different choices that were a lot less expensive.”

And it is expensive. Sameh and her 12 associates have already spent thousands of dollars on what is admittedly a gamble that they might not even be approved.

“There’s been consultant fees, there’s been attorneys,” she said. “I’m going to guess we invest $150,000 before we even know one way or another.”

Applicants who are granted a dispensary license face what the state hopes are airtight regulations. No building can be located within a thousand feet of a school or day care center. All must be outfitted with high tech security systems to protect not only the pot but what is expected to be large volumes of cash.

No matter how progressive the state believes it has become, marijuana is still considered a controlled substance in the United States. Thus, banks and credit card companies will not be a part of the process. That means the Illinois medical marijuana program will be cash-only.

“We’re going to be lucky if we break even (in the first year)," Sameh said. “We don’t even know if it’s going to get renewed by the legislature. So it’s a gamble on our part!”

Skeptics see a nudge-nudge world where thousands of so-called “patients” will start developing new maladies, descending on dispensaries with custom prescriptions from feel-good doctors. Sameh insists that isn’t going to happen. 

“Dispensaries are going to have the responsibility to make sure the cards are valid and the patient is authorized to purchase,” she said. “They are also going to have to have a relationship with the doctor. They can’t just walk in and say, ‘Hi, I want a referral!’”

Some 8,000 patients have already applied for marijuana cards in Illinois. 

“The world has opened up for patients, and I’m excited,” Levi said. “I hope that it can be the best that it can be.”

<![CDATA[Drug Overdose Deaths in U.S. Double: CDC]]> Tue, 02 Dec 2014 14:16:46 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/185590966.jpg

Drug overdose deaths more than doubled over the past decade, U.S. health officials announced in a report released Tuesday. Heroin-related deaths, in particular, more than tripled.

Deaths from drug poisoning linked to opioid analgesics (such as morphine, oxycodone and methadon) and heroin have jumped to 41,502 in 2012 from 16,849 back in 1999, according to the report compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heroin-related deaths grew to 5,925 in 2012 from 1,960 in 1999.

The report also stated that of the 2012 drug-related deaths, 16,007 involved opioid analgesics. 

By comparison, there were 27,762 alcohol-related deaths in 2012, according to the report.

Another 40,600 people died from suicide, 36,415 from motor vehicle accidents, 33,563 from firearms and 16,688 from assaults. The biggest killer by far was heart disease at 599,711 deaths.

Between 1999 and 2012, the age-adjusted drug-poisoning death rate nationwide also increased, from 6.1 per 100,000 population in 1999 to 13.1 in 2012.

There were also 14 states that had age-adjusted drug-poisoning death rates above the national average, according to the report. The states with the highest rates per 100,000 population were West Virginia (32.0), Kentucky (25.0), New Mexico (24.7), Utah (23.1), and Nevada (21.0).  

Click here to see the full report

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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<![CDATA[Heartbeat of Man Killed in Fire Lives On]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 13:01:17 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/heartbeat-3.jpg The family of an organ donor hears their son's heart beating in the chest of the transplant recipient that it saved. Adrienne Broaddus from NBC station KARE in Minneapolis reports.]]> <![CDATA[Officials Warn of Spike in Influenza-Like Illness in Cook County]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 16:15:30 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Sick-Flu_generic.jpg

Cook County officials warned residents Tuesday about a spike in reports of influenza-like illness in the area.

The county has seen a 32 percent increase over the last week in people seeking care for an influenza-like illness in emergency departments and an even higher number of schools reporting absences over the past two weeks due to the illness, according to Cook County Department of Public Health Chief Operating Officer Terry Mason.

Mason recommended that everyone six months of age or older get a flu vaccine and said anyone with flu symptoms should stay home for 24 hours after the fever is gone to help curb the spread of the virus.

Influenza and influenza-like illnesses are viruses that affect the respiratory system and are easily spread from person to person, most often when an infected person coughs or sneezes, health officials said.

Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches and fatigue.

According to the Cook County Department of Public Health, the 2014-15 flu vaccine will protect against three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during this season, including the influenza A (H1N1) virus, influenza A (H3N2) virus and influenza B virus.

On Monday, a school in Northwest Indiana was closed after two students were diagnosed with H1N1.

Earlier this month, a Schaumburg school reported more than 90 students were out ill with flu-like symptoms. A Lyons elementary school was also closed after health officials said a norovirus outbreak sickened dozens of children.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.]]>
<![CDATA[3-D Printing Gives Chance to Little Girl Born With Heart Defect ]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 08:31:49 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/195*120/11-24-14_Heart-Defect-Surgery-Hensel.JPG

Esther Perez was born with heart defects that could have taken her young life, but thanks to a series of breakthrough procedures at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the now-14-month-old little girl is thriving.

Using a series of conventional MRIs, 3-D MRIs and an incredible printer that reconstructed a model of the girl’s heart, doctors were able to plan her surgery, practice it and reduce her risks and increase her chances of survival.

That was the first miracle for her mother, Martha Perez, who found about her daughter's medical problem while she was still in the womb.

"I stop the pregnancy, or continue. Maybe the baby will be born for just five, 10 minutes, and then the baby maybe will be dying," she recalled, near tears.

Perez credits her faith with helping her to make it through the pregnancy, but when Esther was born, things looked bleak.

Her cardiologist said the baby just wasn’t getting enough oxygen to her body.

An early surgery provided a temporary fix, but as time went on it became clear a second, much more serious operation was needed.

Doctors decided the innovations could help, including creating a life-size model of Esther’s heart.

The paper-and-plastic model was an exact replica of Esther’s heart, so doctors could explore and strategize before the actual surgery.

"As soon as we opened the heart, it was exactly as I had seen before, so making the patch and doing the connections were quite straightforward," said Dr. Richard Kim, the cardiothoracic surgeon who operated on Esther.

Similar heart surgeries were done long before the 3-D technology was available, but doctors said it has helped increase the effectiveness and safety of similar operations.

Dr. Kim said Esther now stands a very good chance of having a healthy, normal life.

Perez said she’s grateful for the chance her daughter has been given.

"It’s a miracle," she said.

<![CDATA[Kid, 9, Bikes Cross-Country to Fight Cancer]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:27:00 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/C.J.+Burford.jpg A 4th grader from North Carolina is riding for a reason. C.J. Burford is doing what he says he was called to do: ride across America for sick children. Laura Caso from NBC station WTLV reports.]]> <![CDATA[Man Survives "Internal Decapitation"]]> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 11:21:39 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NC-Internal-Decapitation.jpg John Boyer was thrown from a vehicle and left with an injury that leaves most of its victims dead. Jonathan Gonzalez from NBC station KUSA in Denver reports.]]> <![CDATA[More Than 90 Students Fall Ill at Northwest Suburban School]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 15:42:53 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/classroom-lock-generic.jpeg

A northwest suburban junior high school is warning parents after more than 90 students were reported sick Tuesday morning.

A letter sent to parents Tuesday afternoon from the Principal of Frost Junior High School in Schaumburg reported “an increase in student absenteeism, mostly due to fever, sore throat and cough.”

The Cook County Department of Public Health recommends that children with those symptoms seek medical attention, according to school officials.

“As you may know, flu can easily spread from person to person,” the letter from Principal M. Scott Ross read.

The letter also details preventative measures parents can take to avoid the spread of respiratory illness.

Those measures include:

  • Teaching children to wash their hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing.
  • Teaching children not to share personal items like drinks, food or unwashed utensils.
  • Teaching children to cover their coughs and sneezes with tissues or to cough into their elbows, arms or sleeves when tissues aren’t available.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of the flu, including fever, cough, sore throat, a runny or stuff nose, body aches, headache and feeling tired. Some people may also vomit or have diarrhea.
  • Keep sick children at home for at least 24 hours after they no longer have a fever or do not have signs of a fever without using fever-reducing drugs.
  • Do not send kids to school if they’re sick.
  • Get vaccinated.

Earlier this month, an elementary school in Lyons was closed after dozens of students fell ill from what was believed to have been norovirus.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hospital Fights Drug-Resistant Bugs]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 21:08:33 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000009721189_1200x675_360032323618.jpg Lurie Children's Hospital is fighting antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Its plan involves tracking and limiting the use of antibiotics among its patients. Nesita Kwan reports.]]> <![CDATA[Illinois Nurses Demand Tougher Ebola Safety Precautions]]> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 18:03:16 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/illinois+nurses+ebola.jpg

From Hines VA Hospital in Maywood to Stroger Hospital in Chicago, registered nurses in Illinois demanded tougher Ebola safety precautions in the nation's hospitals.

"We feel as though there hasn't been enough training," Stroger nurse Elizabeth Lalasz said.

Illinois was one of 16 states where nurses picketed Wednesday. Hospital officials responded in a statement saying more than 500 employees of the Cook County health system have been trained and that drills are ongoing.

Officials also said an appropriate treatment space has been identified and a team of health care providers were "thoroughly trained" to care for possible Ebola patients.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issues guidelines on precautions but no enforcement.

Jan Rodolfo of National Nurses United said nurses across the nation are worried the lack of enforcement gives hospitals too much leeway about who gets trained, how much training they get and when they get it.

The Chicago area has a group of hospitals designated to manage Ebola, including Rush University Medical Center, which spent almost $1 million to build a bio-containment unit. But the union believes that safety net hospitals like Stroger also are likely to see a patient with Ebola symptoms.

Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com]]>
<![CDATA[See the World's Smallest Pacemaker]]> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 13:11:13 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NC-tiny-pacemaker.jpg Pacemakers until now have required wires to connect to the heart, but with the the Micra there are no wires.]]> <![CDATA[12 People Monitored For Ebola in Illinois]]> Tue, 11 Nov 2014 08:09:10 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_ebola13.jpg

Twelve people are being monitored for Ebola symptoms in Illinois, the state's Department of Public Health confirmed Monday.

The cases are considered low-risk, Dr. Lamar Hasbrouck said at a public hearing, though two of the men are in voluntary quarantine after arriving at O'Hare International Airport Saturday from Liberia where they built quarantine centers for a Franciscan Works mission. 

Hasbrouck said all 12 have to monitor and report their symptoms but are allowed to leave their homes and go into non-crowded areas. They cannot take public transportation.

The information was provided Monday to legislators during the first hearing where experts from Illinois health departments, hospitals, health centers and other public health entities gathered to give a state Ebola update.

"We learned from what other states have done and not done so well," Rep. Greg Harris said.

Dr. Julie Morita of the Chicago Department of Public Health said the city has a system in place for monitoring cases. For the 12 being monitored, that means educating them on what symptoms to look out for and how to report them.

Also, local health departments are aware of anyone arriving from three affected countries, Morita said, and will be monitored twice a day via phone, text and email.

What's happening in West Africa has prompted a closer look at state facilities that most people wouldn't think about, including the only lab in Illinois that does Ebola testing.

Tom Hughes of the Illinois Public Health Association toured the facility, which he said processes about two million specimens every year, and said the decades-old building has problems that aren't acceptable.

He pointed to eyewash stations that are no longer working and the inability to maintain temperatures, jeopardizing specimens and lab results.

In January, Springfield legislators may have to vote on whether or not to build a new lab at a cost of over $100 million.

<![CDATA[Officials Blame Norovirus After Dozens of Students Fell Ill]]> Fri, 07 Nov 2014 19:25:48 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/norovirus+generic.jpg

Cook County health officials say dozens of students at a suburban elementary school who became ill after what was believed to have been a flu outbreak, may not have been sickened by the flu at all.

With many students at Robinson Elementary in Lyons calling in sick after experiencing symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, school officials decided to cancel classes Thursday, citing “a large number of absences due to flu.”

According to a statement on the school’s Facebook page, "School will be closed so that the custodial staff can conduct a deep cleaning of the entire school."

On Friday, the Cook County Department of Public Health said the flu virus wasn’t to blame for the illnesses, instead attributing the sicknesses to the norovirus.

Norovirus is a different bug entirely and officials say it is easily spread because it can live on surfaces for up to 12 days.

“This is a very hardy virus, it is very highly contagious,” said Terry Mason with the Cook County Department of Public Health.

Over the weekend, school officials plan to take extra precautions, even cleaning another area school.

“What we’ll be doing over the weekend is giving the George Washington Middle School a cleaning with the bleach and water as well,” said Lyons District 103 Superintendent Mary Jo Vladika.

Health authorities say what’s being done at schools is what parents need to do at home as well, because it’s the season for the norovirus.

“Make sure you use a solution that contains bleach to clean the surfaces of your house,” Mason said.

While the norovirus is often mistaken for the stomach flu, officials say it is a different virus for which there is no vaccine.

Health authorities advise those with the virus to stay home until all symptoms are gone for at least a day or two.

Photo Credit: NBC Local Media]]>
<![CDATA[Record Number of Booster Seats Are "Best Bets": IIHS]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 14:44:06 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/185*120/%5BNECN%5DB16x9N_PY-08MO_NS_HEALTH_MINUTE_BOOSTER_SEATS_CNNWS_NECN1500kMP4_640x416_2191472863.jpg

A record number of booster seats have earned the highest rating for safety belt fit from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Out of the 41 models the agency tested, 27 earned the "best bet" designation while three were deemed "good bets."

The evaluations are based on how three-point lap and shoulder belts fit a child-size test dummy under various conditions. Crash tests were not a part of the review. The recommended seats position your child so that the seat belt is snug and safe for them in almost every car.

Booster seats that fell into the "check fit" category may provide a good belt fit for some children in some vehicles, but not as many as the boosters that earned a higher ranking, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says.

The following booster seats were named "best bets" for safety belt fit for 2014:

  • Baby Trend Hybrid 3-in-1 (backless mode)
  • Baby Trend Hybrid No Back (backless)
  • Britax Frontier 90 (highback)
  • Britax Pinnacle 90 (highback)
  • Britax Pioneer 70 (highback)
  • BubbleBum Neon (backless)
  • Cybex Solution X-Fix (highback)
  • Diono Solana (backless)
  • Dream On Me Turbo Booster (highback mode)
  • Eddie Bauer Deluxe Belt-Positioning Booster (highback mode)
  • Eddie Bauer Deluxe Highback 65 (highback)
  • Evenflo Chase (highback)
  • Evenflo Symphony 65 (highback)
  • Graco Argos 80 Elite 3-in-1 (backless mode)
  • Graco Argos 80 Elite 3-in-1 (highback mode)
  • Graco 4Ever All-in-1 (backless mode)
  • Graco 4Ever All-in-1 (highback mode)
  • Graco Milestone All-in-1 (highback)
  • Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 with Safety Surround (highback mode)
  • Kids Embrace Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (highback)
  • Maxi-Cosi Rodi AP (highback mode)
  • Maxi-Cosi RodiFix (highback)
  • Peg Perego Viaggio HBB 120 (highback mode)
  • Recaro Performance Booster (highback)Safety 1st Store ’n Go (highback mode)
  • Safety 1st Store ’n Go No-Back (backless)
  • Safety 1st Summit 65 (highback)

The IIHS says the following booster seats are "good bets:"

  • Baby Trend Hybrid 3-in-1 (highback mode)
  • Cybex Solution Q-Fix (highback)
  • Diono Rainier (highback)

Eight booster seats fell into the "check fit" category:

  • Dream On Me Coupe Booster (backless)
  • Dream On Me Turbo Booster (backless mode)
  • Eddie Bauer Deluxe Belt-Positioning Booster (backless mode)
  • Graco Nautilus 3-in-1 with Safety Surround (backless mode)
  • Harmony Folding Travel Booster (highback)
  • Maxi-Cosi Rodi AP (backless mode)
  • Peg Perego Viaggio HBB 120 (backless mode)
  • Safety 1st Store ’n Go (backless mode)

Three booster seats were not recommended by the IIHS:

  • Diono Olympia (highback)
  • Diono Pacifica (highback)
  • Kids Embrace Batman No Back Booster (backless)

<![CDATA[Flu Outbreak Closes Lyons Elementary School]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 18:48:30 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/flu5.jpg

A flu outbreak canceled classes Thursday at an elementary school in Lyons, west of Chicago.

Robinson Elementary, at 4431 Gage Ave., was closed due to "a large number of absences due to flu,"  according to a statement posted on the Lyons School District 103 website.

Classes were expected to resume at Robinson on Friday, according to the statement. All others District 103 schools were open Thursday.

According to a statement on the school’s Facebook page, "School will be closed so that the custodial staff can conduct a deep cleaning of the entire school."

Students were encouraged to "practice good health habits" such a washing their hands, not sharing drinks or food, and covering their faces when sneezing and coughing.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[UofC Doctors Recount Fighting Ebola in Nigeria]]> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 19:27:47 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000009550611_1200x675_353289283963.jpg Two doctors from the University of Chicago traveled to the front lines of the Ebola epidemic in Nigeria -- where the virus was eradicated. They share their take on what Nigeria did right, and what still needs to be done. Nesita Kwan reports.]]> <![CDATA[Study: Too Frequent Baths Could Be Bad for Babies' Skin]]> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 06:08:33 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/baby-bath-eczema.jpg

Could keeping your baby squeaky clean cause skin problems?

A new study suggests too many baths — coupled with not enough moisturizing — could had adverse effects on young children.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, researchers say full-body emollient therapy and fewer baths for newborn children can prevent the disease eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis.

Eczema tends to appear on the face and scalp of babies and in elbows and backs of knees in older children. According to the study, the use of emollients daily drastically reduced the average incidence of the disease. Prescribed ointments can moderate the itching and redness but there is no cure for the disease. According to The American Academy of Dermatology, an estimated 10 percent to 20 percent of children get eczema, rising up from only 3 percent in 1960.

Scientists say that the number of baths given to babies is too high, and advise people to bathe their babies no more than two or three times weekly. A recent report found that baby wash and shampoo products were used at least five times per week per household.

“People are bathing their babies too much,” said Dr. Eric Simpson, who conducted the study with a team of researchers, “If you expose skin to water and let it air dry, that leads to dryness—like the bottom of a river bed that cracks open when it dries.”

Baby soaps and shampoos, especially fragranced ones that contain sodium lauryl sulfate, are factors in the development of the disease.

In a trial conducted in the U.S. and United Kingdom, 124 newborn children who were at high risk of atopic dermatitis were studied for months. Some parents were ordered to apply full-body emollient therapy on their babies at least once a day after three weeks of birth, while other parents were ordered not to use emollients.

According to the study, emollients, like fragrance-free moisturizers and ointments, provide a safe and effective method of skin barrier improvement because they retain the skin with a source of exogenous lipids, which strengthens the skin’s barrier properties.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Experts Encourage Flu Shots, Despite Recent Shortage]]> Mon, 03 Nov 2014 20:21:31 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Walmart+Flu+Shot+012214.jpg

Health officials are starting to ramp up their efforts to get people in for flu shots, but a recent shortage in the vaccine is causing longer waits for some.

“Flu is starting to creep in now,” said Dr. Scott Goldstein with Northwestern’s Children Practice.

Goldstein, who holds regular clinics, says his practice has received enough vaccine to manage his patients, but other practices in the Chicago area have had to reschedule patients due to “manufacturing issues delaying production in some types of flu vaccines.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it expects everyone who wants a flu shot will ultimately be able to get one and are encouraging people to get the shot to help with concerns over Ebola.

As of mid-October, seven influenza vaccine manufacturers are projecting that as many as 151 million to 156 million doses of influenza vaccine will be available for use in the United States during the 2014-2015 influenza season, according to the CDC.

Roughly half of Americans say they don’t get their flu shot, citing a variety of reasons, but experts say Ebola fears might be another reason to get the shot this year.

The symptoms of both diseases are very similar at the start and public health experts hope that more flu vaccinations will reduce the chances that a bad case of the flu could create a false alarm over Ebola.

While vaccinated people can still get the flu, they are far less likely to suffer complications such as pneumonia and ear infections, doctors say.

Last January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ruled the proportion of deaths from pneumonia and influenza was enough to reach the epidemic threshold.

That means the number of deaths from pneumonia and flu across the country exceeded the numbers that were expected.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Meet The Biggest Loser's New Trainer]]> Mon, 03 Nov 2014 12:42:36 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000009515737_1200x675_351903299889.jpg Jennifer Widerstrom shares her training and fitness philosophy with NBC Chicago's Marion Brooks.]]> <![CDATA[Male Breast Cancer Continues to Rise]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 10:05:48 -0600 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000009467411_1200x675_349920835970.jpg Although it is still rare, the incidence of male breast cancer continues to increase. For the families and the men affected they'll tell you maybe we need to re-think pink.]]>