<![CDATA[NBC10 Boston - Health News]]>Copyright 2018 https://www.nbcboston.com/news/health http://media.nbcboston.com/designimages/clear.gif NBC10 Boston https://www.nbcboston.com en-usSun, 18 Nov 2018 12:06:20 -0500Sun, 18 Nov 2018 12:06:20 -0500NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Second Case of Measles Diagnosed in Lowell]]> Sat, 17 Nov 2018 21:30:57 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Measles_Alert_in_NYC_and_Rockland.jpg

Officials with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) confirmed Saturday a second case of measles was diagnosed in Lowell earlier in the week.

DPH said the infected person was diagnosed Nov. 15. During the infectious period, the individual was at the Lowell Community Health Center, where another individual was diagnosed with measles on Nov. 10.

Health officials said while infected, the patient also visited the T.J. Maxx on Chelmsford Street in Chelmsford and the Walmart Supercenter on Main Street in Tewksbury.

While both diagnoses were made at Lowell Community Health Center, health officials do not know if there are links between the two cases.

"Our efforts now are to identify people who may be at risk of getting ill and to get them vaccinated," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brow. "Getting vaccinated within 3-5 days of an exposure can reduce the likelihood of getting measles."

Chelmsford Police also issued a warning after the patient visited the T.J. Maxx store on Nov. 11.

"Early symptoms are similar to having a cold," said Chelmsford Police Chief James Spinney. "If you believe you may have been exposed to this person or if you believe you may have symptoms of measles, please contact your health care provider and try to limit your exposure to others."

Health officials say people with measles may be contagious up to four days before a rash appears and for four days after the day a rash appears.

Officials say those who have already been vaccinated are not at risk, and that anyone born in the U.S. before 1957 is likely to be immune. DPH says if you don't know your immunization status, you are urged to get vaccinated with at least one dose of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

<![CDATA[FDA Announces Crackdown on Cigarettes]]> Fri, 16 Nov 2018 09:47:46 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/NC_tobacco1115_1500x845.jpg

The Food and Drug Administration is making moves against the tobacco industry in an effort to crack down on smoking in teens, saying it is working to ban menthol and mint in all cigarettes, as well as flavored cigars. The agency also announced it will limit the sales of flavored e-cigarettes to youths, both in stores and online.

<![CDATA[Harvard Project Seeks 'Exceptional Responder' Cancer Patients]]> Wed, 14 Nov 2018 00:22:38 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Medical_Miracle.jpg

There are some cancer patients given just months to live who somehow live for years. How do they defy the odds? Researchers at Harvard Medical School hope to unlock that secret in order to help other cancer patients.

No one really knows why Carol Martin is still alive. Two years ago, doctors diagnosed her with inoperable pancreatic cancer, giving her just two months to live. But days turned into months which turned into years after a long-shot experimental chemo drug worked. A year and a half after Martin was supposed to have died, she speed walked the Boston Marathon.

Dr. Isaac Kohane of Harvard Medical School is the co-founder of the Network of Enigmatic Exceptional Responders. The project will become the first national registry for rare cancer patients who beat the odds with therapies that failed others. Researchers will analyze a patient's DNA, lifestyle, religion, exercise habits, diet, social media posts and more. The program hopes to enroll a few hundred exceptional responders like Martin. So far, there are 38 participants with nine of those living in Massachusetts.

<![CDATA[Case of Measles Confirmed in Lowell, Mass.]]> Sat, 10 Nov 2018 23:27:57 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Measles_Alert_in_NYC_and_Rockland.jpg

A case of measles was identified in a pediatric patient who visited the Lowell Community Health Center in Lowell, Massachusetts on Thursday, officials announced.

The Lowell CHC is working with the Lowell Health Department and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to identify individuals who may have been exposed.

Officials warn that anyone who was in the health center's main lobby, pediatric waiting room, pharmacy, or lab between 12:53 p.m. and 5:22 p.m. on Nov. 8 might have been exposed to the disease.

The Lowell CHC is asking those who do not have confirmed immunization records and were at the health center at the above times to return to the health center to get immunized. The health center will be open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Sunday.

Officials say those who have already been vaccinated are not at risk, and that anyone born in the U.S. before 1957 is likely to be immune.

Those who were exposed but choose not to get a vaccination must exclude themselves from public activities from day five through day 21 of exposure, the Lowell CHC says.

The Lowell CHC can be reached for more information about immunization and testing at 978-937-9700.

<![CDATA[Hospital Testing Fecal Matter Pill for Allergies]]> Tue, 30 Oct 2018 22:42:41 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Hospital_Testing_Fecal_Matter_Pill_for_Allergies.jpg

Pills made from fecal matter may someday make peanut allergies a thing of the past.

<![CDATA[Side Effects of Antibiotics in Children]]> Fri, 26 Oct 2018 17:52:31 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Side_Effects_of_Antibiotics_in_Children.jpg

Antibiotics can be life-saving medicine, but nearly 70,000 children end up in the emergency room each year because of side effects

<![CDATA[Helping Teens Overcome Low Self-Esteem]]> Thu, 25 Oct 2018 16:48:22 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/Helping_Teens_Overcome_Low_Self-Esteem.jpg

Many young girls suffer from low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety which can be tough to talk about. A Massachusetts teenager created an empowerment program called MOVE to help other teens with self-confidence and positive body image.

<![CDATA[Health Care Prices Vary Widely Across US, Study Finds]]> Thu, 25 Oct 2018 13:15:17 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/emergency2.jpg

A patient receiving health care services in one part of the United States could pay twice as much as a patient living elsewhere, according to a new study.

Prices were highest in San Jose and lowest in Baltimore in 2016 for privately insured patients, the Health Care Cost Institute found.

The Washington-based nonprofit group analyzed nearly 1.8 billion health insurance claims filed between 2012 and 2016. It then calculated a nationwide average for health care prices and ranked 112 metros against that average.

Although prices generally were well above average on the West Coast and the Northeast, regional patterns broke down elsewhere.

Across the Midwest, prices were below the national average in most cities, including Chicago, Indianapolis and Cleveland. But Milwaukee and Green Bay, Wis., were the fourth and fifth most expensive areas nationwide, just behind San Francisco and ahead of San Diego.

“It reinforces this idea that all health care is local,” said Bill Johnson, a senior health researcher with the institute.

There is little logic to health care prices within regions. Metros with professional fees near the national average sometimes have very high hospital prices and vice versa.

In Los Angeles, professional fees are 5 percent below the national average while prices for inpatient (hospital) stays and outpatient services (emergency room and procedures such as colonoscopies) are 28 percent and 30 percent above the national average respectively.

Green Bay has the fifth highest health costs in the nation — 14 percent above the national average. But it’s too simple to say that health care is expensive in Green Bay. Inpatient and outpatient costs are below the national average there while professional fees are 43 percent above the national average.

Kevin Kennedy, a researcher at the institute, said that examples like this “help direct attention to what the right question is to ask.”

For example, in Dayton, Ohio (health care costs 11 percent below the national average), inpatient charges are 18 percent above average. In Boston (health care costs 3 percent above the national average), professional fees are 22 percent above average. In San Jose (health care costs 65 percent above the national average), outpatient charges are a whopping 117 percent above average.

“It seems like there’s a different reason (for high costs) for every area,” Kennedy said.

“Health care isn’t one big problem,” Johnson said. “It’s a series of little problems.”

The institute plans additional reports to see how usage and competition affect the price of health care.

The group analyzed health claims data from four major insurers — Aetna, Humana, UnitedHealthcare and Kaiser Permanente — representing more than 50 million individuals.

Photo Credit: jdoms - stock.adobe.com]]>
<![CDATA[6 Kids Dead, 12 Sick in 'Severe' Viral Outbreak at NJ Center]]> Tue, 23 Oct 2018 23:45:08 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/adenovirus+nj.png

Six children at a long-term care medical facility in New Jersey have died after a “severe outbreak” of adenovirus, a family of viruses that can cause mild illness, while 12 others have been infected, according to the state's Department of Health.

New Jersey Department of Health officials said children were recently infected with adenovirus at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Haskell, Passaic County. The medical institution houses the Pediatric Center.

The facility has been instructed not to admit any new patients until the outbreak ends and they are in full compliance, the DOH says.

Adenoviruses are common viruses that can cause a range of illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The viruses cause cold-like symptoms, sore throat, bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, and pink eye. Adenoviruses can pose serious complications to certain people, particularly those with weakened immune systems, respiratory issues and cardiac disease.

That is the case at the Wanaque Center, health officials said. 

"Unfortunately, the particular strain of adenovirus (#7) in this outbreak is affecting medically fragile children with severely compromised immune systems," the New Jersey Department of Health in a statement. "This strain has been particularly associated with disease in communal living facilities."

According to the CDC, adenoviruses are typically spread from an infected person to others through: close personal contact such touching or shaking hands; through the air by coughing and sneezing; or by touching an object or surface with adenoviruses on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.

Health investigators visited the facility over the weekend as part of their probe, officials said.

The state Department of Health further said that it is monitoring the situation “very closely” and has been in contact with the staff at the center “providing guidance on infection control and cleaning procedures.”

The Wanaque Center is a for-profit facility that, according to its website, works with "with medically fragile children" from newborn to 22 years of age. The center also serves as an adult nursing home and rehabilitation center for short- and long-term care.

A spokesperson for the Wanaque Center did not respond to repeated request for comment.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy issued a statement on the adenovirus outbreak saying that he is "heartbroken by the news that several children have lost their lives."

"I have been briefed by [Commissioner of Health] Dr. [Shereef] Elnahal, who has assured me that the Department of Health has recommended vital measures to enhance protections against the further spread of infection and will continue its active on-site surveillance," Murphy says in his statement. "I am confident that the steps being taken by state and local officials will minimize the impact to all those who remain at the facility, including patients and employees.”

The cause of the outbreak remains unclear.

Photo Credit: News 4 NY]]>
<![CDATA[CDC Probes More Cases of Polio-Like Syndrome AFM]]> Tue, 23 Oct 2018 06:56:02 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-460492806+%281%29+edited.jpg

Federal health officials now have reports of 155 possible cases of acute flaccid myelitis, a polio-like syndrome that mostly affects children and that causes muscle weakness and paralysis, federal health officials said on Monday.

The latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows no change in the number of confirmed cases — 62 cases in 22 states, NBC News reported. But state health departments have reported another 28 suspected cases.

The CDC urges parents to get kids to an emergency room quickly if a child has the following symptoms: difficulty moving the eyes or drooping eyelids, facial droop or weakness, difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech, or sudden arm or leg weakness.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[2.4M Pounds of Taquitos Recalled Over Salmonella Concern]]> Sun, 21 Oct 2018 16:46:23 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1005726022.jpg

More than 2.4 million pounds of ready-to-eat taquitos have been recalled due to possible contamination with salmonella and listeria, the Food Safety and Inspection Service announced.

The recall includes meat and poultry taquitos produced between July 1 and Oct. 10, 2018, by Ruiz Food Products, according to a Friday press release from the FSIS. The affected products are 4.5-pound cases of Go-Go Taquitos in “Beef Taco & Cheese Taquitos," “Buffalo Style Cooked Glazed Chicken Taquitos" and “Chipotle Chicken Wrapped in A Battered Flour Tortilla." The items were shipped nationwide.

There have been no confirmed reports of illness from customers eating the food. But the FSIS said people should not eat taquitos already purchased and to throw them away. The agency encouraged people to contact their healthcare providers if they are concerned.

Ruiz Food was notified on Oct. 16, 2018, that the diced onions used in the taquitos were being recalled by their supplier because of possible contamination.

Salmonella can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Diagnosing the illness requires a blood or stool sample, as other illnesses cause similar symptoms.

Listeria can cause diarrhea, fever and other similar foodborne illness symptoms.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Despite the Science, Cities Are Removing Fluoride From Water]]> Wed, 17 Oct 2018 06:36:50 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/214*120/140806786-Faucet-bathroom.jpg

Fluoride prevents cavities and tooth decay, something confirmed by numerous studies, yet a small but vocal minority has gotten dozens of cities to remove the naturally occurring compound from the water supply, NBC News reported.

"Anti-fluoridationists" blame fluoride for lower IQs and diseases, despite long-established science. The American Dental Association says that 74 cities have voted to remove fluoride from their drinking water in the last five years, and proposed bans are on the ballot in two more cities this November.

"You cannot tailor public health to the whims of a small group of people," said Dr. Johnny Johnson, a retired pediatric dentist who leads the nonprofit American Fluoridation Society. "If you are doing that, you are harming a large group of people."

While nearly 75 percent of the United States gets fluoridated water, more than 80 percent of New Jersey residents do not, and the Texas Republican Party now opposes water fluoridation as well.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto, File]]>
<![CDATA[2 Cases of Rare Polio-Like Illness Confirmed in Mass.]]> Tue, 16 Oct 2018 22:34:22 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-460492806+%281%29+edited.jpg

Health officials have confirmed two cases of a rare polio-like illness in Massachusetts and suspect four more as reports of cases of the illness rise across the country.

Department of Public Heath officials said one of the cases of acute flaccid myelitis, a serious condition with no specific treatment, was diagnosed in August.

Officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tell NBC News that 62 of the 127 cases they're investigating have come back positive for AFM.

The cause of AFM is unknown, but the CDC says it could be the result of a virus, environmental toxins and genetic disorders. A condition where the body's immune system destroys body tissue it mistakes for a foreign body may also cause AFM.

AFM materializes in patients as a sudden weakness and loss of muscle tone and reflexes in their limbs. Some patients can also experience other symptoms, including a facial droop or weakness, difficulty moving the eyes, difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech or an inability to pass urine.

Officials say that to confirm a case, a patient's MRI would have to reveal damage to his or her spinal cord, and that different muscles can become weak or paralyzed depending on which part of the spine is affected.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Texas Child Hospitalized After Venomous Caterpillar Sting]]> Sat, 13 Oct 2018 02:22:52 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/caterpiller-kid-new.jpg

Lauren Chambers didn’t know what to think when she received a call from her daughters’ daycare that 5-year-old Adrie couldn’t move her arm after getting stung by a caterpillar.

“They said that she had been stung by the most poisonous caterpillar in the United States,” said Chambers.

Daycare workers believe the woolly looking caterpillar fell from a tree above Adrie as she was playing outside.

“It was burning,” said Adrie.

After she told them it felt like it was stuck in her arm, they did a quick search to learn it was a Southern Flannel Moth Caterpillar or an asp with venomous spines buried beneath its hair.

“How does that happen? We have those here in Texas? I mean I never even heard of those before yesterday,” said Chambers.

Michael Merchant, an entomologist with Texas A&M University says they’ve received more calls about the bugs this year though they don’t know why.

“They’re common on a lot of trees and plants we have in North Texas… on oaks, yaupons, even rose bushes,” said Michael Merchant.

He said it’s a series of spines hidden below the caterpillar’s distinctive hair that are filled with venom and responsible for the painful sting that can last up to 12 hours.

“Different people react in different ways, feeling pain in different parts of the body. I had one friend who actually felt like he was having some heart trouble or something after he got stung. So it’s not a pleasant experience,” said Merchant.

Adrie’s bite led to pain, swelling and an upset stomach. But had her teachers not thought to quickly remove the spines from her arm with tape, doctors tell Chambers it could’ve been much worse.

“They said if that had not happened it could actually cause her whole body to go numb and start shutting down,” said Chambers.

According to Merchant, the caterpillars should start to disappear in the next couple of weeks as they prepare their cocoons for winter. Once they hatch as moths in the spring, he says they’re no longer have their harmful spines.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[4 New Human Cases of West Nile Virus in Mass. Announced]]> Fri, 12 Oct 2018 17:18:44 -0500 https://media.nbcboston.com/images/213*120/West_Nile_Virus_Cases_Rise_in_Mass..jpg

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced four new human cases of West Nile Virus in the state on Friday, bringing the 2018 total to 42 human cases.

According to the DPH, the cases include a woman in her 50s from Middlesex County, two men in their 60s from Middlesex County and a woman in her 60s from Plymouth County. All four of the victims were hospitalized.

A horse from Franklin County also died from West Nile, according to health officials.

In September, the DPH announced 10 new cases of the virus, bringing the total number of cases up to 24 in 2018.

Massachusetts set a record this year with 42 human cases recorded in the state, the highest ever. The previous record was set in 2012 with 33 human cases.

"Mosquito season is winding down but mosquitoes will still be active on warmer and more humid days," said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH.

She added that the mosquitoes that are still alive are older and therefore more likely to carry the virus. Bharel recommends wearing long sleeves and pants and mosquito repellent on warm and humid days.

West Nile is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Anyone can get the virus, but people over 50 are at a higher risk for severe disease.

According to the DHP, most people who are infected show no symptoms. If there are symptoms, they tend to include fever and flu-like illnesses. In rare cases, more severe illness can occur.

To learn more about how to protect yourself from the illness, visit www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito or call the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.