Legionnaires Disease Spreads in NYC through Cooling Towers, Over 80 Affected

Legionnaires Disease

The citizens of New York City are perplexed at the moment because the area is facing one of the largest disease outbreaks in the recent history, which is the Legionnaires Disease.

The mayor of NYC held a press conference recently to assure people that things are under control and necessary steps are being taken to ensure that it doesn’t spread further. According to the latest reports, over 86 people have been diagnosed of carrying legionnaire bacteria, which they have acquired through contaminated water. However, the disease doesn’t spread when someone drinks the water, but when a person inhales the bacteria.

After thorough research, it was identified that the cooling towers in the city were the major cause of this outbreak. Five of them were identified to be using water contaminated by the said bacteria and they have been decontaminated, reported officials from the New York Health Department. The team spent hours removing the water, clean and flush it multiple times before allowing the towers to be used again. The disease can also spread through showers, pools and fountains.

The team confirmed that they are analyzing water samples sourced from various locations in the city, especially those located around the Bronx. If a positive infection is identified, it will either be decontaminated or temporarily stalled to avoid legionnaire from becoming an epidemic.

The health officials also confirmed that the eight people who have died due to the disease were affected by various other diseases and were old citizens. No deaths have been reported so far and over 50 people have been hospitalized for further treatment in special units, while 26 people have been treated and allowed to go home.

The New York Health Department assured the people in the Bronx and NYC that they have been taking necessary steps to ensure that the legionnaires disease doesn’t spread further. They have been spending a majority of their time talking to health experts, doctors and communities to cut down the disease from its source.

Discussing about the outbreak, an infectious disease experts Dr. William Schaffner and Dr. Stephen Morse said that while the government officials and health experts are focusing on contaminated water, the disease could also spread through air and emerge in unexpected locations.

“While it is obvious that the bacteria thrive in moist locations, including air conditioners, pools and cooling towers, they originally emerge from the environment and spread through water. It might be surprising, but soon they will find it in locations where people never reported in sick despite the bacteria’s presence”, said Morse.

Ebola Vaccine Test Successful on Over 7,600 People in Guinea

An epidemic situation is tough to control and when it spread in three under privileged countries in the world, the issue became far worse than imagined.

There has never been such a chaotic situation in human history because despite the sincere attempts from the World Health Organization, among other communities, it was impossible to contain the situation. All because Ebola didn’t have an actual vaccine and developing one when the epidemic is still at large is next to impossible.

In almost every region, the epidemic strikes at the most unexpected moment and when they do so, they spread at a rapid pace. When dealing with a disease such as Ebola, scientists are helpless, because vaccination cannot be prescribed unless it has been tested to be positive on multiple subjects. Besides, the vaccine takes years to be developed, tested and distributed to those who got affected. Every common notion has been shattered this time because an Ebola vaccine is officially available.

After testing it on over 7,600 people, the team which pioneered the idea confirmed that there were no repeated occurrences of the virus again. It’s a 100 percent successful venture for which the entire population in Liberia and Sierra Leone are thankful for. The test study was conducted on communities of people who were already affected by the deadly disease in Guinea.

Apart from mild effects, the patients didn’t show any signs of infection and could tolerate the vaccination which is a medical miracle. A year ago, things were not so good without any hope in sight. The research team which was organized by the Wellcome Trust was skeptical about being able to come up with a vaccine for an epidemic that is still in progress. The team achieved the unbelievable with support from NGOs, governments and health organizations which funded their research with utmost hope.

According to recent reports, the vaccination is being moved to Sierra Leone and Liberia so that those living in these regions can be injected as well. The test subjects were injected with the vaccine titled rVSV-ZEBOV in batches so that the symptoms in the preliminary batch could be taken note of while others were kept under observation.

When Ebola showed no signs of return on the first batch of people, it was prescribed for the entire test community which increased the number to thousands of victims who turned into hale and healthy humans. Data gathering continues as the organizations are working to acquire a license to distribute it as a public safety measure.

Doctors Sign Petition to Control Increasing Cost of Cancer Drugs

The annual expenditure made to purchase cancer drugs has been increasing regularly and has been estimated at a colossal $100 billion in 2014.

Both medical experts and doctors are working together to find a solution to this ever growing treatment costs. Because of the expensive cancer drugs, a lot of insurance companies refuse to support the patients during times of crisis. The doctors who treat them opine that the cost of drugs should be controlled before it reaches a level where only the super rich could afford them.

The forecasted estimates of the cost of cancer drugs are at $114 billion in the next two years. If manufacturers increase prices even higher, it might touch a new high of $147 billion within 24 months which will make it unreachable for most patients worldwide. The financial assistance program that some drug manufacturers offer to cover treatment costs require a lot of processing which makes it virtually inaccessible to everyone, commented Richard Stone, a director at a Cancer institute in Boston.

The doctors have already started exploring possible options to decrease the cost of drugs. Some medical institutes, based on the suggestion of the practitioners, have started permitting patients to import cancer drugs from countries where they are much cheaper. A large share of the patients has benefitted by doing so from countries like Canada, where quality is uncompromised but helps keep their medical expenses under control.

From another perspective, drug companies which have been consistently supporting scientists in finding new and better ways to treat cancer claims reducing costs will hinder innovation. The companies are also against importing drugs because it voids patent rights and decreases their revenue, when many patients choose to use this alternative route to reduce costs.

In a situation like this, doctors and drug manufacturers are trying to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution. Cancer patients are the sufferers in this scenario because they are already struggling with a life threatening disease and imposing huge costs on them further complicates the situation.

Supporting the increasing costs, an industry expert said, “If a new policy is introduced, it might be the end of innovation which will also lead to lots of lives lost due to lack of medicine. But, at the same time, drug manufacturers should understand that in order to sustain in the industry and acquire funds for research, they have to keep costs in control so that patients could actually buy the required medicines.”

New Website Prompts People to Indulge in Weight Loss Programs and Earn Cash

Losing weight has always been a difficult task for every person in the world. People tend to start a weight loss program, try to stick to a rigorous diet but within a few days, they get back to their regular lifestyle.

Jamie Rosen, the CEO of a website named DietBet.com wanted to change the way things are. The important thing that people miss is the motivation to keep going and there’s no better way to motivate them than using something that they love dearly.

DietBet is now a popular website which offers to pay you cash for losing those extra pounds. A new member has to sign up by providing their personal information along with their credit card details. Once you sign up, you start by committing to a new goal and pledging a small sum to it.

Anyone can sign up and pledge anywhere between $10 and $100. The ultimate goal is to make you stick to your schedule and lose the pounds without backing off. If you win the game, you will be paid extra. A person who failed to lose the proposed weight at the end of the term will receive a part of the sum but the rest will be shared with those who won.

“Being the mother of three children, it’s not easy to be on a diet, workout and spend time to tone my body. After giving birth to my third child, I just couldn’t lose those excessive pounds even though I ate healthy food all the time,” said Holly Smith who has managed to lose 20 pounds with DietBet’s weight loss program.

Speaking about the website and its unique “lose weight to get paid” program, Rosen said, “You can never get rich by shedding pounds every month. That’s not the idea we had for DietBet. Instead, it acts as a motivator to help keep you on track. We also use money to make people participate in the program and give it a shot. When they bet real cash on the line, many of them workout to get back what they have invested and more.”

Rosen adds that most people managed to lose weight not because they pledged money but because of the supportive community on their website.

Smith has earned about $60 after successfully completing her program. A similar app is already available on the iPhone that pays your money back only when you lose the proposed weight. However, DietBet has reached a lot of people after Holly Smith was featured in the KENS 5 channel news.

Study Concludes Drinking Before Dinner May Increase Appetite

A new study has concluded that having a drink before dinner may actually make some people eat more. apparently a reaction in the brain in particular, the hypothalamus, and that helps people to focus more on food aromas versus other types of orders.

“The joke is, every restaurant knows that if they give you a drink first, you’ll eat more,” said one of the study’s authors, Robert Considine, a professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine, in Indianapolis

The hypothalamus produces hormones that help govern various body functions, including hunger. And alcohol, Considine said, “seemed to direct the hypothalamus to pay more attention to food.”

All this doesn’t mean that people watching their weight can’t enjoy a glass of wine or an alcoholic beverage with dinner.

Martin Binks, an obesity researcher who wasn’t involved in the study, pointed to several reasons: most of the time, alcohol increased study participants’ food intake by only a small amount; one-third actually ate less; and the whole study group was in the normal-weight range.

“We know that in people who are obese, the brain tends to respond differently [to food], versus non-obese people,” said Binks, an associate professor of nutritional sciences at Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, Texas.

For the study researchers had 35 healthy women visit the lab over the course of two days. On one day the women received an infusion of alcohol and on the other an infusion of plain sailine.

Overall, the researchers found, the women showed less brain activity in response to non-food odors after they’d received an alcohol infusion. Instead, the hypothalamus appeared more interested in food scents.

“We think we’d see similar results in men, but we don’t know that yet,” he said.

More Young Women Opting for “Light Smoking”

A new study  concluded fewer Americans are smoking. In fact, teens smoking hit a new low last year, in part due to the popularity of electronic cigarettes. The decline in cigarette smoking “is very dramatic and very encouraging,” said Robin Koval, president of Legacy, an anti-smoking organization. Besides cigarettes, the report found continuing declines in the use of cigars, chewing tobacco and snuff among high school students

However one group in the study,  young women are opting for very light smoking. Very light and intermittent smoking, using cigarettes on some days but not others, was common among the women.

Researchers looked at data from nearly 9,800 women ages 18 to 25 who took part in a federal government survey in 2011.

One expert said young women shouldn’t fool themselves into thinking light smoking is harmless. Another anti-smoking expert said very light smokers might not even consider themselves smokers at all.

“Even light smoking can triple the lifetime risk of heart disease,” said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “More efforts need to be directed at this cohort of emerging young women who smoke lightly,” he added.

as you might expect light smoking or daily smokers often end up smoking more over time and become heavy smokers.  While some people may be able to handle the light smoking habit, the tolerance for nicotine builds up over time and will likely require more more tobacco use as time goes on.

Food Study: Home Cooking Healthier than Restaurant Food, Fast Food

The new study  revealed that home cooking is still the best way to control nutrition, calories, fat, sugar and other nutrients that Americans consume.  Researchers found that eating food from restaurants whether those be fast food restaurants or “better  restaurants led to an increase in caloric intake, fat and sodium compared to those meals that were made at home.

Ruopeng An, a professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, noted that people have previously equated fast food with junk food.

“But, people don’t know much about the food provided by full-service restaurants and if it is better or healthier compared to fast food or compared to food prepared and consumed at home,” said An.

More than 18,000 adults took part in the study and answered questions about what kinds of food they had eaten over a two-day period. A third of the participants reported eating fast food on one or both days and another 25% of those reported eating full-service restaurant food on at least one day.

Compared to participants who ate home cooked meals, those who visited fast food restaurants consumed an average of 190 more calories per day, 11 grams more fat, 3.5 g more saturated fat, 10 mg extra cholesterol and 300 mg additional sodium.

Lori Rosenthal, a dietitian at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, was not surprised by the findings.

“When we prepare our own meals we know exactly what the foods we are eating contain,” said Rosenthal.

Now might be the time to conduct a study on  why we needed a study to tell us what common sense would’ve told us.  Home cooking is best, it’s healthiest, and it’s not close.

FDA Delays Calorie Count Rule For Chain Restaurants

The Food and Drug Administration has announced that it will be delaying the implementation of a rule that would have chain restaurants displaying the calorie counts of their foods on their menus. The rule was created as part of the Affordable Care Act to help consumers get difficult to find nutritional information about the foods they purchase from chain restaurants. Studies have shown that consumers consistently underestimate the number of calories in fast food and chain restaurant meals by a considerable amount.

Some of the chain restaurant and fast food meals intended for a single customer have more than the recommended daily amount of calories in them. Theoretically, a person that eats one of these meals would not need to eat anything else for the entire day. However, taking this route would deprive the person of many of the vitamins and minerals needed for healthy body development.

The FDA first proposed the rules for posting calorie counts back in 2011. The implementation of the rules have been stalled by disagreements between regulators and businesses that would be affected by the rules. The rule is mandated by law for businesses that have more than 20 locations. Under the rules as currently written, businesses that do not comply with the rules by 2016 could be subject to a variety of penalties.

The prepared foods section in grocery stores would be subject to the same rules as the chain restaurants. The major grocery store chains estimate that it will cost them nearly $1 billion in additional costs to label their prepared foods in compliance with the law. The effect of readily available calorie counts on consumer behaviors is questionable. A Stanford study conducted in 2010 researching the habits of Starbucks customers found that patrons consumed six percent fewer calories on average when presented with calorie count information.

Opponents of the rule say that there are already numerous ways for consumers to find the information if they really want it. Many chain restaurants have posted nutritional information about its meals on their corporate websites. There are also numerous apps for smartphones that provide this type of information. Opponents of the rule say that this access to the information makes it unnecessary for the restaurants to post the information on their menus.

Scientists Studying Link Between Smoking, Schizophrenia

Scientists have discovered that there may be a link between smoking and the development of psychological conditions such as schizophrenia. A new study recently published in The Lancet Psychiatry showed that there appeared to be an association between smoking and the development of schizophrenia. It remains to be seen whether the link is casual or not. Researchers will continue to study the link between the two to glean more information.

The link between smoking and schizophrenia was discovered a while ago, but many researchers chalked up the link to people with schizophrenia simply self-medicating their symptoms by using nicotine for stress relief. However, the authors of the new study decided to carry out a meta-analysis to see whether there might be a link in which smoking actually increases the odds of the development of schizophrenia.

The team reviewed more than sixty previous studies that included nearly 290,000 participants, including almost 15,000 tobacco users and 273,000 non-users. Using this data, they ran statistical analyses to determine connections between the likelihood of having or developing schizophrenia and smoking. The researchers discovered that daily smokers were twice as likely to develop schizophrenia than non-smokers. They also found that daily smokers would develop psychosis about a year earlier than non-smokers.

For some, the finding is not surprising. Researchers have long known that nicotine affects the brain in a variety of negative ways. It has been said that quitting smoking is one of the hardest addictions to kick. The effects of nicotine on the dopamine in the brain may explain the link. According to study author Sir Robin Murray, “Excess dopamine is the best biological explanation we have for psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia. It is possible that nicotine exposure, by increasing the release of dopamine, causes psychosis to develop.”

This offers opponents of smoking yet another reason to encourage smokers to quit. Schizophrenia is a severe psychiatric disorder that affects around one in 100 people. The condition typically begins in early adulthood and sufferers generally experience disruptions in thinking and perception as well as psychotic experiences. More studies will be needed to understand how nicotine affects the risk of various brain diseases.

Legionnaires Disease: Officials Investigating Cause in Florida Hotel

An investigation continues after three confirmed cases of Legionnaires disease was documented at in Altamonte Springs, Florida hotel. Health officials began investigating the SpringHill Suites Hotel Altamonte Springs after being notified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“During early May, two cases of Legionnaires’ were reported to us from the CDC,” Florida Department of health official spokeswoman, Mirna Chamorro said.

“They both stayed at the same hotel.”

Officials sent letters to all guests who stayed there between March 25 and April 24, said Chamorro.

Chamorro said the hotel is safe for guests to stay in the and spa and hotel were reopened days after inspection.

Meanwhile in Lacey, Washington a motel that closed voluntarily after three cases of Legionnaires disease has reopened. Thurston County says the Super 8 Motel reopened after completing water treatment recommendations issued by county health officials.

Symptoms of Legionnaires disease are similar to pneumonia and include fever, tiredness, aches and pains,  cough, chest pain and diarrhea and usually last between two and 10 days.

Fish Oil Benefits Brought into Question

Americans spend about $1.2 billion annually for fish oil pills and related supplements, even though research indicates that it provides no evidence of a health benefit.

The benefits of using fish oil supplements is widely discussed in the health industry. The National Institutes of Health seems to be conflicted on its own website. One article on the website endorses taking fish oil supplements, saying they are likely effective for heart disease, because they contain the ‘‘beneficial’’ fatty acids known as omega-3, while another suggests that, in fact, the fish oil pills seem useless: ‘‘Omega-3s in supplement form have not been shown to protect against heart disease.’’

‘Unfortunately, it’s a common situation,’’ said John Ioannidis, a professor at Stanford University who has critiqued the methods and findings in nutritional research.”

So who is the public to believe?

The American Heart Association recommends that some people with heart disease ‘‘may want to talk to their doctor about [omega-3] supplements.’’ But when the association was asked for an expert to explain the recommendation, that expert, former AHA president Robert Eckel, said that the recommendation needs to be revised.

‘‘AHA guideline committees are always reviewing guidelines and assessing whether updates are needed,’’ an AHA spokesperson said.

  • According to WebMD, findings show omega-3 fatty acids may help to:
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce triglycerides
  • Slow the development of plaque in the arteries
  • Reduce the chance of abnormal heart rhythm
  • Reduce the likelihood of heart attack and stroke
  • Lessen the chance of sudden cardiac death in people with heart disease

There seems to be some disagreement