<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Health News]]>Copyright 2018https://www.nbcchicago.com/news/health http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago https://www.nbcchicago.comen-usSun, 22 Jul 2018 08:08:40 -0500Sun, 22 Jul 2018 08:08:40 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[40 Hospitalized in Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Raw Turkey]]> Fri, 20 Jul 2018 13:38:57 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/072018CDC.jpg

Ninety people in 26 states have been infected with salmonella in the midst of an outbreak that has been connected to raw turkey products, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

There haven’t been any reported deaths, but 40 people have been hospitalized.

Salmonella cases have been reported in Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin, the CDC said in a news release.

While the outbreak hasn’t been linked to a single supplier, the salmonella strain has been found in samples of raw turkey products including pet food and live turkeys, the CDC said.

The agency hasn’t instructed retailers to stop selling raw turkey products and hasn’t told consumers to stop eating properly cooked turkey products.

To avoid being infected with salmonella, the CDC recommends frequently washing your hands, cooking raw turkey thoroughly and avoiding raw diets for pets.

“Always handle raw turkey carefully and cook it thoroughly to prevent food poisoning,” the CDC said in the release. “This outbreak is a reminder that raw turkey products can have germs that spread around food preparation areas and can make you sick.”

Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Swiss Rolls Recalled Over Salmonella Concerns]]> Thu, 19 Jul 2018 15:08:59 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/0ce6b8dd-e353-4aaa-9d35-e9e7c063a211_1.jpg

A popular snack treat is being recalled nationwide over potential salmonella concerns.

Swiss Rolls, sold under a variety of brand names including H-E-B and Great Value, are being voluntarily recalled by the manufacturer over the possible presence of salmonella in one of the treat’s ingredients.

Mrs. Freshley’s, Food Lion, H-E-B, Baker’s Treat, Market Square, and Great Value brands are all impacted by the recall nationally, and several southern states are impacted under the Captain John Derst’s Hold Fashioned Bread brand name.

Salmonella can cause serious, or even fatal, infections in young children and the elderly. No human cases have yet been reported in connection with the recall.

For a full list of brand names, UPC label numbers, and Best By Dates, you can visit the Flowers Foods website, or use this list: 

Mrs. Freshleys - 4 count/7.2 ounces 
UPC: 072250011907 
Best By Dates: Through 10/19/18 

Mrs. Freshley's - 6 count/12 ounces 
UPC: 072250903233 
Best By Dates: Through 10/14/18

Food Lion - 6 count/13 ounces
UPC: 035826092779
Best By Dates: 10/16/18

H-E-B: 6 count/12 ounces 
UPC: 041220296483
Best By Dates: 09/19/18

Baker's Treat: 6 count/13 ounces 
UPC: 041498188382
Best By Dates: 9/21/18 through 9/28/18

Market Square: 6 count/12 ounces 
UPC: 087381760556
Best By Dates: 309 8194 B

Great Value: 6 count/13 ounces 
UPC: 078742147550
Best By Dates: 9/17/18 through 9/25/18

Captain John Derst's Old Fashioned Bread
UPC: 071316001180
Best By Dates: 7/16/18 through 7/28/18

Photo Credit: Walmart]]>
<![CDATA[Deaths From Liver Disease Are Up, and Drinking Is to Blame]]> Wed, 18 Jul 2018 22:23:15 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-119707164.png

Deaths from liver disease have risen sharply in the U.S., and doctors say the biggest factor is drinking — especially among young adults.

A study published Wednesday found a 65 percent increase in deaths from cirrhosis of the liver since 1999, NBC News reported. The biggest increase is among millennials: the team found that deaths from cirrhosis are rising 10 percent a year among people aged 25 to 34.

People so young might not even realize that they can drink themselves to death so quickly, but they can, said liver specialist Dr. Haripriya Maddur of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

“Surprisingly, it only takes about 10 years of heavy drinking to actually lead to cirrhosis,” said Maddur, who was not involved in the study.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[FDA Recalls Blood Pressure, Heart Drugs Over Cancer Concerns]]> Mon, 16 Jul 2018 17:50:30 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-6837401591.jpg

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a voluntary recall of several medications used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure over concerns that an active ingredient in the drugs could be contaminated with a cancer-causing agent.

The agency reported that traces of N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), a "probable human carcinogen," was found in the active ingredient valsartan in the recalled products. The FDA noted not all products containing valsartan are contaminated and being recalled. The valsartan contained in the recall was supplied by a third-party.

Companies that have recalled valsartan products are: Major Pharmaceuticals, Solco Healthcare and Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. Additionally, Solco Healthcare and Teva Pharmaceuticals are also recalling medicines with the combination valsartan/hydrochlorothiazide.

"We have carefully assessed the valsartan-containing medications sold in the United States, and we’ve found that the valsartan sold by these specific companies does not meet our safety standards. This is why we’ve asked these companies to take immediate action to protect patients," said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

Patients are urged to look at the drug name and company name on the label of their prescription bottle to determine whether a specific product has been recalled. If the information is not on the bottle, patients should contact the pharmacy that dispensed the medicine to find out the company name.

If a patient is taking one of the recalled medicines, they should follow the recall instructions provided by the specific company, which will be available on the FDA’s website.

If a patient's medicine is included in the recall, they should contact their health care professional to discuss their treatment options, which may include another valsartan product not affected by this recall or an alternative option.

The agency encourages patients and health care professionals to report any adverse reaction to the FDA’s MedWatch program.

"The FDA’s review is ongoing and has included investigating the levels of NDMA in the recalled products, assessing the possible effect on patients who have been taking them and what measures can be taken to reduce or eliminate the impurity from future batches produced by the company," the FDA said Friday in a news release.

The presence of NDMA is "thought to be related to changes in the way the active substance was manufactured," the agency said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/Cultura RF, File]]>
<![CDATA[61 Sick in Parasite Outbreak Linked to McDonald's Salads]]> Fri, 13 Jul 2018 23:32:21 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_18193696359447.jpg

At least 61 people in seven states have been made sick in an outbreak of Cyclospora linked to McDonald’s salads, federal health officials said Friday.

The fast-food chain has stopped selling the salads, but more people may become sick, the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Salads at McDonald’s restaurants in at least 14 states may have been contaminated, the CDC and FDA said.

“We understand how important it is to quickly identify the cause of this foodborne outbreak to help reduce additional illness and we’re working closely with our colleagues at CDC and state partners to get more answers,” FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Salads Linked to Intestinal Illness: Officials]]> Thu, 12 Jul 2018 22:43:38 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_18193696359447.jpg

Nearly 100 cases of an intestinal illness connected to McDonald’s salads throughout Illinois, the state’s health department said Thursday.

Around 90 cases of cyclosporiasis, caused by the microscopic Cyclospora parasite, have been reported since mid-May, according to the Illinois Department of Health.

“The initial investigation indicates a link to consumption of McDonald’s salads produced for McDonald’s restaurants,” officials said in a statement Thursday. “Approximately one-fourth of Illinois cases reported eating salads from McDonald’s in the days before they became ill.”

The Iowa Department of Health has reported a similar increase in cases, Illinois officials said.

"Although a link has been made to salads sold in McDonald’s restaurants in some Illinois cases, public health officials continue to investigate other sources,” said Nirav D. Shah, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. “If you ate a salad from McDonald’s since mid-May and developed diarrhea and fatigue, contact a health care provider about testing and treatment.”

Officials said the fast food chain is “fully cooperating” with state health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

“McDonald’s says it is in the process of removing these salads from its restaurants and distributions centers,” officials said. “McDonald’s say it is re-supplying restaurants with salads from other suppliers.”

McDonald's confirmed to NBC 5 the company had been in contact with public health authorities from both Illinois and Iowa regarding the illnesses.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we decided to voluntarily stop selling salads at impacted restaurants until we can switch to another lettuce blend supplier," McDonald's said in a statement. "We are in the process of removing existing salad blend from identified restaurants and distribution centers – which includes approximately 3,000 of our U.S. restaurants primarily located in the Midwest."

According to Illinois health officials, people can become infected by consuming food or water contaminated with feces that contains Cyclospora. The parasite is not spread directly from one person to another.

Symptoms usually begin about a week after exposure, official said, but some people who are infected may not have any. Symptoms may include:

  • Frequent bouts of watery diarrhea (the most common symptom)
  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • Cramping, bloating, and/or increased gas
  • Nausea (vomiting is less common)
  • Fatigue
  • Low-grade fever

The infection can be treated with specific antibiotics, officials said. If not treated, the illness may last for a few days to a month or longer.

Previous cyclosporiasis cases have been linked to various types of imported fresh produce including raspberries, basil, snow peas and lettuce.

"McDonald’s is committed to the highest standards of food safety and quality control," the fast-food company said. "We are closely monitoring this situation and cooperating with state and federal public health authorities as they further investigate."

Photo Credit: Rogelio V. Solis/AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Dog Heart Disease Linked to Food, FDA Says]]> Fri, 13 Jul 2018 09:12:44 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/491435570-Dog-Food-Store.jpg

The Food and Drug Administration is warning that dogs are developing an unusual condition that can cause an enlarged heart after being fed food based on peas, lentils or potatoes, NBC News reported.

The condition, canine dilated cardiomyopathy, is turning up in breeds that don't usually get it, the FDA said, though it's not naming the breeds.

Symptoms of DCM include lethargy, weight loss and sometimes a cough, and the condition may be fatal. Hearts enlarged because of DCM can struggle to work properly and may fail.

"The FDA is investigating the potential link between DCM and these foods. We encourage pet owners and veterinarians to report DCM cases in dogs who are not predisposed to the disease," FDA Dr. Martine Hartogensis said in a statement.

Photo Credit: Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tingling in Woman's Legs Turns out to Be a Worm in Her Spine]]> Thu, 12 Jul 2018 22:21:02 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tapeworm1.jpg

A Frenchwoman whose symptoms started out as “electric shocks” in her legs got an even bigger shock when she found out that she had a tapeworm in her spine, NBC News reports.

The parasite caused enough swelling in the woman’s spine to affect her ability to walk and ride a horse, French doctors reported in Thursday’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

“A 35-year-old woman presented to the emergency department with weakness, a feeling of electric shocks in both legs, and repeated falls,” Dr. Marine Jacquier and Dr. Lionel Piroth of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Dijon wrote.

"She reported that the symptoms had been progressing, and she noted that she had had difficulty riding her horse for the preceding three months.”

Photo Credit: New England Journal of Medicine]]>
<![CDATA[Happy Couple Mulls Divorce to Pay for Daughter's Health Care]]> Wed, 11 Jul 2018 18:41:11 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tdy_news_gadi_healthcare.jpg

A couple in Texas is considering getting divorced just to be able to pay for their daughter's spiraling health care costs, "Today" reported.

Jake and Maria Grey of Sanger are happily married but his $40,000 salary means the family doesn't qualify for Medicaid, which they say is the only way they can afford treatments and care for their 6-year-old Brighton, born with the rare genetic disorder Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome.

Because of insurance limitations, the Grey's say they pay about $15,000 a year in out-of-pocket medical costs.  

"It's easier to say what they don't cover than what they do," said Jake Grey, an Army veteran.

After nine years of marriage, divorce is something they are considering. By doing so, Maria would qualify for Medicaid as a single, jobless mother of two.

"We've done everything we can do to try to keep her afloat, and we're going to reach a point where we can't do it and we won't have another option. We don't know what to do," said Jake Grey, an Army veteran.

His wife said they don't want donations, just to get the benefits from the state that they need.

Photo Credit: "Today"
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<![CDATA[Pfizer to Lower Drug Prices Following Talk With Trump]]> Wed, 11 Jul 2018 01:22:16 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/pfizerGettyImages-655297240.jpg

Following a discussion with President Donald Trump, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced Tuesday that it would roll back planned drug price increases for July, NBC News reported

The president said he met with Pfizer CEO Ian Read, as well as U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, to discuss Trump's "drug pricing blueprint" and came away with a vow from the company to roll back price increases "so American patients don’t pay more."

Pfizer in a statement said its prices would be "deferred" to levels seen 10 days ago, "as soon as technically possible, and the prices will remain in effect until the earlier of when the president’s blueprint goes into effect or the end of the year — whichever is sooner."

Trump praised the move, writing on Twitter, "We applaud Pfizer for this decision and hope other companies do the same. Great news for the American people!"

Photo Credit: Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images, File ]]>
<![CDATA[Texas Scientists Find Alzheimer's 'Big Bang': Study]]> Wed, 11 Jul 2018 00:18:51 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/vlcsnap-2016-01-22-16h52m55s32.jpg

Despite billions of dollars spent on clinical trials through the decades, Alzheimer's disease remains one of the most devastating and baffling diseases in the world, affecting more than 5 million Americans alone.

But Dallas scientists say they've made a major breakthrough in the fight.

They have discovered a "Big Bang" of Alzheimer's disease — the point at which a healthy protein becomes toxic, but has not yet formed deadly tangles in the brain.

According to a study from UT Southwestern's O'Donnell Brain Institute, scientists found the shape-shifting nature of a tau molecule just before it begins sticking to itself to form larger aggregates. 

The tau protein is believed to be the key driver of Alzheimer's disease. 

The revelation offers a new strategy to detect the devastating disease before it takes hold and has spawned an effort to develop treatments that stabilize tau proteins before they shift shape. 

Doctors involved in the research call it the biggest finding in Alzheimer's research to date.

"New treatments have failed to stop the progression of Alzheimer's. What we are hoping to do is design a treatment that would actually stop the disease before it even manifests in a person," said Dr. Marc Diamond, director for UT Southwestern's Center for Alzheimer's and Neurodegenerative Diseases.

"In the case of other diseases that are due to a shape-shift protein, it's been possible to design a drug that is approved that helps prevent that shape shift from occurring. If it's been done in other diseases, it could possibly be done in Alzheimer's," Diamond said.

Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Alzheimer's has no current cure.

Any drug resulting from the discovery of the disease origin would still be years away, Diamond said.

Taylor Parker, of Arlington, was diagnosed two years ago and is now supported by her husband Stan.

"After a while, I realized that I was slowly losing Taylor. Most days, I was okay. Some days, I was not okay. Some days, I cried," Stan Parker said.

Despite the fact that any possible drug likely won't help Taylor in time, they say they're happy that she's still able to enjoy life with as much joy as possible. Diamond's team's next steps are to develop a simple clinical test that examines a patient's blood or spinal fluid to detect the first biological signs of dementia.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Pain Patients Beg FDA for More Options, More Access to Opioids]]> Tue, 10 Jul 2018 10:13:37 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/864753692-Chronic-Pain.jpg

The Food and Drug Agency Administration, aiming to be more accommodating to chronic pain patients, held a meeting this week to hear people's stories about their pain, NBC News reported.

Several dozen people traveled to FDA headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, and the room was full of very unhappy people. One lay on the floor, another eased her back on the wall, another paced.

"Suicide is always an option for us," said Mariann Farrell, a Pittsburgh resident who says she has multiple conditions, including fibromyalgia.

The agency is considering how to account for the needs of people with chronic, intractable pain while also dealing with the opioid addiction crisis.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Southwest Is Nixing Peanuts on All Flights, Citing Allergies]]> Tue, 10 Jul 2018 09:39:40 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/southwest-airlines-peanuts.jpg

Peanuts often come to mind as the quintessential airplane snack. But no more, Southwest Airlines announced.

The Dallas-based airline is ending the tradition on all flights beginning August 1, citing the need to keep passengers with peanut allergies safe.

“Our ultimate goal is to create an environment where all customers -- including those with peanut-related allergies -- feel safe and welcome on every Southwest flight,” the airlines said in a statement, in part.

Passengers can still snag free pretzels and other snacks on longer flights.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News Southwest Airlines]]>
<![CDATA[Where Does Trump's Supreme Court Pick Stand on Abortion?]]> Tue, 10 Jul 2018 04:27:23 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/roeAP_18191096666415.jpg

Many have voiced concern over the future of legal abortion in the United States following Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, but the president's nominee to fill Kennedy's seat, Brett Kavanaugh, has a relatively thin record of public comment and legal decisions on abortion rights, NBC News reported

Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge, is a solidly conservative jurist who is unlikely to side with the court's liberal wing on social issues. But with a limited amount of comment and legal decisions regarding abortion, it's hard to tell whether he would vote to overturn the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion in 1973. 

In his confirmation hearing in 2006, however, he said he would follow Roe v. Wade "faithfully and fully" when asked by Sen. Chuck Schumer whether he considered the case to be an "abomination." When pressed by Schumer, he would not directly share his personal opinion on the case. 

Photo Credit: Cliff Owen/AP]]>
<![CDATA[What Is Dry Drowning? Recognizing the Symptoms]]> Thu, 05 Jul 2018 08:05:07 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/10AdobeStock_147011167.jpg According to health authorities, every day about 10 people in the U.S. from drowning, including the strange phenomenon known as "dry drowning."

Photo Credit: pichitstocker/Adobe Stock]]>
<![CDATA[NYC Family Tells of Firework Burning Baby in Stroller]]> Mon, 02 Jul 2018 19:44:38 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/baby+burned+fireworks+jala+smith.jpg

Thousands of people are hurt every year in fireworks-related accidents, according to the National Fire Protection Association, and as one Brooklyn family knows all too well — they don't all happen on the Fourth of July.

Jala Smith was only 1 month old when her family brought her to a block party in Brooklyn in September 2016. In a festive mood, someone at the party decided to light illegal fireworks.

"He lit the rocket. It went into the air but it didn't get all the way into the air," recalled Jala's mother, Quanisha Smith. "The wind must have shifted it because it went straight into the wall." 

The firework bounced off the wall, then screamed straight into Jala's stroller as she sat strapped inside. 

"It hit the stroller and I saw a spark," said Quanisha Smith. "The stroller is on fire with the baby in it, and it was just panic." 

Jala's legs were burnt: "They were black to a crisp," her mother said. 

Jala was rushed to Staten Island University Hospital Northwell Health, where Dr. Michael L. Cooper and his team cared for the baby at the burn unit. They also care for an average of 15 fireworks injury victims each year around the Fourth of July. 

"The dangers are there," said Cooper. "These are explosives, they can cause scars." 

"Sometimes these patients don't get back to work. Sometimes those patients will avoid going out because they're too self-conscious or emotional or traumatized by the disfigurement." 

Two years after being severely burned by the illegal firework, Jala is running around like any other toddler, smiling and laughing and telling her parents, "I love you." But not everything is normal. Jala still has pain, bears a scar, and her six brothers and sisters are also traumatized. 

"They're scared of fireworks now, so they don't even want to be around it," said Quanisha Smith. "They don't even want to hear it. When they hear it, they run and hide." 

Which is why Quanisha Smith wants to spread the message about fireworks on this July 4th holiday: "Please don't light it. Don't play with fireworks at all. Any bottle rockets, any fireworks. It is so dangerous to everyone." 

Photo Credit: News 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[Mom Warns of Hot Playgrounds After Daughter Suffers Burns]]> Mon, 02 Jul 2018 12:03:09 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/playground+equipment+kshb.png

Warning: Images below are graphic and may be disturbing to some viewers.

A Missouri mom has a warning for parents about the hidden dangers of playgrounds in the heat.

With temperatures soaring in the Midwest, Dawna Wright thought back to Memorial Day, when she took her four-year-old daughter Asia to a splash park near their home.

"She saw a bunch of children playing on the play equipment and she kept wanting to go over there," Wright said in an interview with NBC affiliate KSHB last week.

"We went to go back to the water and she ran from me and went on the slide and that's when she instantly was burned."

Wright posted photos on Facebook of the back of her daughter's legs, showing second-degree burns from the dangerously hot slide. 

"You could tell that the skin was just gone. It just completely took her skin away," Wright said.

When checked, the temperature of the plastic slide in direct sunlight was more than 150 degrees.

With signs on the playground for proper attire and a warning of hot equipment, Wright said she has faced criticism for not monitoring her daughter more - but maintained that the incident could happen to many families.

"I just assumed that it was safe because all these children were playing and they were playing just fine," she said.

"I never would have that thought about that until now, so now I will definitely be more aware," echoed Rebekah Singh, another mother at the same park last week.

With plenty of hot weather to come this summer, Wright said she hopes other families learn from her story.

"I just hope and pray that no other baby gets burned like that because it's not fun at all," she said.

Photo Credit: KSHB
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<![CDATA[Childhood Cancer Rates Highest in Northeast: New CDC Map]]> Fri, 29 Jun 2018 10:10:42 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_354132073702-pediatric-cancer.jpg

A new government cancer map shows that rates of childhood cancer are highest in the Northeast United States and lowest in the South, NBC News reported.

Rates of pediatric lymphoma and brain cancer are higher in the Northeast while leukemia is more common in the West, according to the map.

It isn't clear why the rates vary and, since pediatric cancer is so rare, it's unclear what patients and parents should take away from the data. Its main value, according to the team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that wrote the report, is in keeping doctors, hospitals and the government vigilant on pediatric cancer.

It could simply be that some areas have better systems for detecting cancer, the team said.

Photo Credit: J Pat Carter/AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[US Charges Hundreds in Health Care Fraud, Opioid Crackdown]]> Fri, 29 Jun 2018 05:48:43 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-517239628+edited.jpg

The Department of Justice on Thursday announced charges against 601 people, including doctors, for taking part in alleged health care frauds resulting in over $2 billion in losses and which, in some cases, contributed to the nation's opioid epidemic, Reuters reported

The department said the arrests are part of the the largest health care fraud takedown in U.S. history. It includes 162 doctors and other suspects charged for their alleged roles in prescribing and distributing addictive opioid painkillers. 

The fraud crackdown occurs every year, but this year, officials sought to emphasize their efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, which federal health officials say caused more than 42,000 deaths in the United States in 2016.

"Some of our most trusted medical professionals look at their patients — vulnerable people suffering from addiction — and they see dollar signs," U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said.

Photo Credit: John Moore/Getty Images, FIle ]]>
<![CDATA[Abortion Rights Advocates Sound Alarm on Kennedy Exit]]> Thu, 28 Jun 2018 06:36:25 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/062718kennedy.jpg

Upon news of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, fear for the future is spreading among abortion rights advocates, NBC News reported. At the same time, anti-abortion groups predicted a once-in-a-generation opportunity to remake the court. 

Kennedy was a swing vote who sometimes sided with the liberal wing of the court on social issues.

President Donald Trump has long vowed to nominate justices to the Supreme Court who would work to overturn Roe vs. Wade, a landmark case that legalized abortion nationwide. Now, he has his chance to nominate someone to help make that happen. 

The "right to access abortion in this country is on the line," the Planned Parenthood Federation of America said.

Kennedy's retirement "marks a pivotal moment for the fight to ensure every unborn child is welcomed and protected under the law," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony List, whose political action committee backs anti-abortion-rights candidates.

It remains unclear, though, whether opponents of abortion rights would actually have the votes to overturn Roe, regardless of Kennedy's replacement. 

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, File ]]>
<![CDATA[New, Fast-Acting Flu Drug Gets Priority FDA Review]]> Wed, 27 Jun 2018 10:41:04 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP_18040745360696-Flu-Season.jpg

A pill that is touted to help rein in flu symptoms with a single dose is getting a speedy review from the Food and Drug Administration, NBC News reported.

The pill's manufacturer, Genentech, said Tuesday that the FDA granted a priority review to baloxavir marboxil, with approval possible by the end of the year.

Flu viruses have long been resistant to the first two antiviral flu drugs, and a new flu drug hasn't hit the U.S. market in years.

This drug, already approved in Japan, helps stop viruses replicating earlier in the process than drugs like Tamiflu and is "going to be more convenient ... because it works after a single dose," Genentech vice president Mark Eisner said.

Photo Credit: David Goldman/AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Invasive Bufo Toads Pose a Deadly Threat to Pets]]> Tue, 26 Jun 2018 11:01:00 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/CTScanetoad.jpg

One of Dr. Ian Kupkee’s colleagues took her dog, Finn, out in mid-June when it suddenly sprinted into the backyard. The South Florida veterinarian’s co-worker noticed the 4-month-old Australian Shepherd was eyeing a toad and started smacking its lips.

Within minutes, the dog started showing signs of “being drugged,” Kupkee said, so she rushed it to the animal clinic. During the car ride, the pet began having seizures.

Upon arriving at Sabal Chase Animal Clinic in Kendall, Florida, the dog received fluids and three separate doses of anti-seizure medication. Ice packs helped bring the animal’s temperature down.

The incident is a common occurrence when dogs and Bufo toads interact, Kupkee said. The poisonous amphibian secretes a toxic white, gummy-like substance from glands behind its head when it feels threatened. Curious dogs intending to play with the toads may get taught a deadly lesson.

"Toads are bad news for dogs," Kupkee said. “The trick is these are not frogs. Toads look warty. Assume every toad is poisonous to your dog.”

Also known as Cane toads, the Bufo toad is not native to the U.S. The species was introduced to Florida’s sugar cane fields to control pests in 1936. Intentional and accidental releases caused them to spread. Those scattered throughout Florida’s panhandle escaped from a zoo, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Pet dealers accidentally released them in South Florida, the Florida Wildlife Extension reported.

Bufo toad sightings have been reported in Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the USGS reported. Kupkee said the toads, which flourish in warm, humid climate, are also likely to be found in Georgia and Texas.

They often emerge after heavy rainfall and lay their eggs in still or slow-moving water.

And while this invasive species of amphibians pose no major threat to humans, it presents a danger to beloved pets, Kupkee said. Exposure to the toxin it produces can cause symptoms ranging from drooling and head-shaking to loss of coordination and convulsions. It can also kill your dog.

“If you catch it early, the chances of a successful recovery are very high,” Kupkee said. “The heartbreaking truth is people who leave their dog outside all day will come home to a dog that’s no longer with us. There’s the chance of heat stroke [or] a potential toad.”

Kupkee notes that the first symptoms of a toxic toad encounter can be evident within five to 10 minutes of exposure.

He advises pet owners who suspect their dog may have been poisoned by a toxic toad to rinse the animal's mouth out with water and wipe the substance away from its lips and tongue. Dog owners should watch for panting, disorientation and dilated eyes — signs of toxicity — and get the pet to a doctor.

Pet owners, especially those living in areas where Cane toads are prevelant, should avoid low branches, long grass, letting their dog out without a leash and leaving food outside, Kupkee warned. They should also keep their dog away from objects that accumulate water, such as plant pots. He advised to keep dogs on a retractable leash, even while roaming the backyard.

"Dogs find the scent of this thing very attractive," Kupkee said. "The best preventive is don’t leave the dog unattended."

Photo Credit: Ian Waldie/ Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Baby Boom Sets Record at Texas Hospital With 42 Deliveries in 48 Hours]]> Sat, 23 Jun 2018 02:02:12 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/211*120/Photo0000411.jpg

A new record was set this week at Baylor University Medical Center Dallas when a baby boom hit Tuesday morning.

Over a 48 hour period, doctors and nurses delivered 42 babies.

“We’ve had a ton of people come in in active labor. Some come in for inductions and some come in at 10 centimeters ready to have a baby, and it’s just been crazy,” said chief-resident Shannon Miller.

Within hours, nearly all of the rooms were full. Residents kept moving, sometimes even running room to room.

“We’re like what’s going on? Everyone around here’s going into labor. Someone said, ‘Ok. We’ve got a patient here who’s seven centimeters.’ And I said, ‘Yeah. I just checked her in.’ And they said, ‘No. This is a different one,'” said first-year resident Dana Potter.

By Wednesday afternoon, more mothers were arriving. It all culminated around 4 p.m. when resident Jenny Uremovich, who was running the board, noticed nine patients were ready to deliver at one time.

“We were just passing each other in the halls, pointing to which rooms we thought were going to deliver next. Sometimes the moms have to push for a while, but it seemed like nobody, especially these nine babies, nobody even pushed for a long time. It was just like boom, boom, boom. Babies everywhere.”

Those nine babies were delivered in just 40 minutes. And by the end of the day, history had been made with 42 deliveries over 48 hours, in a hospital that averages 12 a day.

“You realize how much coordination is required among all staff members. Whether it be resident physicians, attending physicians, the nurses, the people that clean the rooms so that patients can continue to move in, it’s just a really smooth orchestra that took place in the last 48 hours,” said third-year resident Emily Spurgin.

As they got a chance to recover from the excitement and sheer exhaustion, the question of ‘why’ started to come up. What happened nine months ago to result in a baby boom?

“I don’t know. We’ve thrown out a couple of ideas amongst the residents,” said Spurgin.

“I think I’ll have to go with the natural disaster or something going on nine months ago,” said Potter.

After all, it’s been about nine months since both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria ravaged American soil.

“When there’s emotional events; when there’s news and stories like 9/11; or natural disasters and other things, then typically around 9 or 10 months later we get a baby boom. I don’t know if it’s just families looking at what’s important and reevaluating life. We’ve just kind of had that cycle for years,” said nurse manager of labor and delivery Kristine Debuty.

In Debuty’s 24-year career, she’s never seen a boom like this one. That is why she is calling this week’s newborns the Baylor 42, as they take their place in the hospital’s history.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Watch This Baby Smile When She Hears Sound for the 1st Time]]> Fri, 22 Jun 2018 22:59:50 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/BabyVideoScreenshot.jpg

One-year-old Ayla Esler burst into a smile after hearing sound for the first time Tuesday, thanks to cochlear implants installed in the toddler’s ears last month at the Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas.

The moment was caught in a Facebook video posted by the hospital and viewed at least 60,000 times. The mom, Anna Esler, is seen tearing up as she watches her daughter, who was born with profound hearing loss, react to noise in the room.

“I was really overwhelmed,” Anna told NBC. “We had waited a long time, just to see her respond. I was just so incredibly thankful. It was just beautiful to see her hear for the first time.”

The video shows the rest of the family standing by as an audiologist activated Ayla’s implants Tuesday. Ayla’s dad said the toddler was able to hear him sing for the first time the next day. 

“Wednesday morning, I put the implants on and she was fussing with the adjustment,” Will Esler said. “I started singing to her and she calmed down.”

When Ayla failed her newborn hearing test, the family went through a long process to determine the extent of her hearing loss, her father said.

“If they’re in that severe to profound range, hearing aids don’t work well,” said Dr. Lisa Christensen, an audiologist at Cook Children’s Hospital. “They need something stronger, so we move to the cochlear implant.”

During the procedure, a surgeon inserts an electrode array into the cochlea, a structure in the inner ear. An external device converts noise into electrical impulses and sends them to the electrodes. Christensen said recent advances have allowed wearers to perceive more natural-sounding speech.

Ayla is still adjusting to the implants and will continue learning how to use them in weekly therapy sessions. Her parents said they were surprised the video had spread so far and hoped it would help other parents deciding to “go the cochlear route for their kids.”

Photo Credit: Cook Children's]]>
<![CDATA[House Passes Massive Package to Address Opioid Crisis]]> Fri, 22 Jun 2018 12:27:21 -0500 https://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/974323458-Paul-Ryan-Opioid-Overdose.jpg

The House of Representatives on Friday passed the largest legislative package on opioids in recent history, NBC News reported.

The package, made up of 58 bills, would direct federal agencies to prioritize training, support recovery centers and conduct research to help combat the growing epidemic, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says killed 42,000 people in 2016.

Among the provisions: requiring medical records list a patient's addiction history, change how prescription pills are distributed and direct the National Institutes of Health to develop non-addictive painkillers.

The package passed 396-14 after months of debate and now heads to the Senate.

Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images]]>