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Flu Widespread in 29 States

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Flu sea­son is gain­ing steam.

The Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion is report­ing wide­spread flu activ­ity in 29 states–twice as many states as last week.

Hos­pi­tal­iza­tions are increas­ing and 11 chil­dren have died from the virus.

Mary­land State Health Sec­re­tary Dr. Joshua Sharf­stein, whose state is one of those impacted, says, “It hap­pens every year. There’s always a point where enough peo­ple get it and the virus is very infec­tious and it can be trans­mit­ted from per­son to per­son before the ill­ness starts.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio

 

Child With Symptoms of Ebola Under Quarantine in Chicago

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — A child with symp­toms of Ebola is under quar­an­tine in Chicago.

The child, whose age and gen­der have not been released, was admit­ted to Uni­ver­sity of Chicago Med­ical Cen­ter Fri­day after hav­ing a fever dur­ing an Ebola screen­ing at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

Hos­pi­tal offi­cials say the child is sta­ble and is under obser­va­tion as a way to rule out Ebola.

The hos­pi­tal says there is no threat to the pub­lic, patients, or staff.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio

 

App Shows What 200 Calories of Holiday Treats Look Like

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — This sea­son there’s plenty of hol­i­day cheer, but also hol­i­day treats and good­ies that can wreak havoc on any diet.

To help those try­ing to stay healthy while enjoy­ing sea­sonal treats, the app Calorific has cre­ated a handy guide that shows what 200 calo­ries of hol­i­day treats look like. The weight-loss app dis­plays pic­tures of a sin­gle food in the amount that would equal 200 calories.

Appar­ently it takes a whole plate of Brus­sels sprouts to equal 200 calo­ries, but just a sin­gle glass of mulled wine.

We saw some apps that showed how many calo­ries are in a meal but we thought it would be use­ful to show the indi­vid­ual foods,” Nic Mul­vaney, the British graphic designer who designed the app, told ABC News in a Novem­ber interview.

The app is free with 30 images pre­loaded to but to unlock all the holiday-themed foods, you’ve got to pay $2.99.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio

 

Conjoined Twin Babies Undergo First Step Toward Separation

XiXinXing/iStock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) — Elysse Mata leaned over her 8-month-old con­joined twins, kiss­ing their faces as tears streamed down her face and she whis­pered “I love you.”

The babies were about to undergo a skin-stretching surgery, the first step in their even­tual sep­a­ra­tion at Texas Children’s Hos­pi­tal in Hous­ton. They share a chest wall, diaphragm, intestines, lungs, lin­ing of the heart and pelvis.

Five hours later, it was over.

In recov­ery, the Mata fam­ily leaned over groggy Kna­talye and Ade­line, smooth­ing their hair back and kiss­ing them in the recov­ery room.

We are so thank­ful for the sup­port and thoughts and prayers for our girls as they con­tinue to grow, recover and pre­pare for the next step in their jour­ney,” Mata said in a statement.

The twins will spend the next six to eight weeks recov­er­ing as a team of sur­geons span­ning six depart­ments plans their sep­a­ra­tion, which is expected to take place early next year.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio

 

Caramel Apples Linked to Four Deaths in Multi-State Listeria Outbreak

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — Health offi­cials are warn­ing con­sumers to avoid eat­ing caramel apples after link­ing the fall treats to a multi-state lis­te­ria out­break that has been linked to at least four deaths.

Offi­cials from the U.S. Cen­ters of Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion reported Fri­day that at least 28 peo­ple from 10 states, includ­ing Min­nesota, Ari­zona and Texas, have been infected with Lis­te­rio­sis due to Lis­te­ria mono­cy­to­genes, a bac­te­ria that can cause life-threatening illness.

Of those infected, five died and Lis­te­rio­sis def­i­nitely con­tributed to at least four deaths, accord­ing to the CDC.

Out of an abun­dance of cau­tion, the CDC warned all con­sumers to avoid eat­ing prepack­aged caramel apples while they inves­ti­gate the out­break along­side the U.S. Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion and state health organizations.

The out­break reported on Fri­day has infected peo­ple across a wide swath of the U.S. from North Car­olina to Cal­i­for­nia and across a large age range, from ages 7 to 92, accord­ing to the CDC.

Lis­te­rio­sis is usu­ally caused when a per­son ingests lis­te­ria mono­cy­to­genes bac­te­ria and it can cause par­tic­u­lar harm among the elderly peo­ple, preg­nant women or any­one with a com­pro­mised immune sys­tem. Symp­toms can include gas­troin­testi­nal dis­tress, fever and mus­cle aches.

In severe cases, peo­ple can develop encephali­tis, swelling of the brain, or bac­te­r­ial menin­gi­tis, inflam­ma­tion of the mem­brane sur­round­ing the brain and spinal cord.

Of the 28 infected, three were chil­dren between the ages of 5 and 15 who devel­oped severe menin­gi­tis symp­toms, and nine cases involved either a preg­nant women or a new­born infant, accord­ing to the CDC.

Fif­teen of 18 sick­ened peo­ple who were inter­viewed by the CDC told inves­ti­ga­tors they ate prepack­aged caramel apples before they were sickened.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infec­tious dis­ease expert from the Van­der­bilt Uni­ver­sity School of Med­i­cine, said the out­break is par­tic­u­larly trou­bling because Lis­te­rio­sis can have a long incu­ba­tion period from three to 70 days.

We can antic­i­pate that more ill­nesses will occur over time,” said Schaffner. “Even [if] the prod­uct is removed from the mar­ket a lot of these [caramel] apples have been consumed.”

Bill Mar­ler, a food safety lawyer based in Seat­tle, said lis­te­ria can be a par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult bac­te­ria to con­trol because its growth is not inhib­ited by refrigeration.

I can see caramel apples sit­ting in your refrig­er­a­tor for a long time,” he said. “Lis­te­ria has evolved and it has evolved to grow really well at refrig­er­ated temperatures.”

The CDC reported the caramel apples can have a shelf life longer than a month and offi­cials from the Min­nesota Depart­ment of Health said they were con­cerned peo­ple may eat tainted apples left over from the fall.

The out­break was first reported by the Min­nesota Depart­ment of Health, which found four peo­ple between the ages of 59 and 90 had been infected. The four patients had eaten caramel apples dur­ing the months of Octo­ber and Novem­ber and all four were hos­pi­tal­ized. Two sub­se­quently died after being infected.

Those sick­ened in Min­nesota bought caramel apples from Cub Foods, Kwik Trip and Mike’s Dis­count Foods, which car­ried the Car­ni­val and Kitchen Crav­ings brand of caramel apples, accord­ing to the Min­nesota Depart­ment of Health.

The apples are no longer being car­ried in stores because they are a sea­sonal item.

Dr. Jay Elling­son, the cor­po­rate direc­tor of food safety and qual­ity assur­ance for Kwik Trip stores, said the pre-packaged caramel apples have been off the shelves for weeks and the com­pany has been work­ing with state and fed­eral author­i­ties “to make sure pub­lic health is protected.”

A spokesper­son from H. Brooks and Com­pany, which released the Car­ni­val brand caramel apples, told ABC News the com­pany was aware of the sit­u­a­tion and work­ing with local health offi­cials dur­ing the investigation.

Offi­cials at Cub Foods and Mike’s Dis­count Foods could not imme­di­ately be reached for com­ment. A num­ber for the Kitchen Crav­ings brand of apples could not imme­di­ately be found.

Lis­te­rio­sis was linked to one of the worst food-borne out­breaks in recent years when 147 peo­ple became infected after eat­ing tainted can­taloupe in 2011. Of those infected, at least 33 died.

In 2013, the CDC esti­mated approx­i­mately 1,600 ill­nesses and 260 deaths caused by Lis­te­rio­sis occur annu­ally in the United States.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio

 

The Science Behind Nailing Your New Year's Resolution

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — New Year’s res­o­lu­tions seem so full of promise on Jan. 1, but by the mid­dle of the week, many peo­ple have already skipped the gym, eaten the stacked burger and been a jerk to their in-laws.

No one said goal-setting would be easy.

Fewer than one in five adults who made health-related New Year’s res­o­lu­tions were able to make any sig­nif­i­cant strides in weight loss, health­ier eat­ing, exer­cise or stress reduc­tion by March, accord­ing to a 2010 poll by the Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal Association.

Still, psy­chol­o­gists say there’s no time like the present to give your goals a try. And if you want to be a bet­ter ver­sion of your­self in 2015, there’s a sci­ence to con­quer­ing your resolutions.

Read on to find out how to stack the deck in your favor and do your New Year’s res­o­lu­tions right this year:

Choose Your Goal Wisely

The key to accom­plish­ing your goal is to make it con­crete and easy to break down into pieces, said Jeff Janata, chief of psy­chol­ogy at UH Case Med­ical Cen­ter in Cleve­land. Weight loss is actu­ally an exam­ple of a res­o­lu­tion that sets you up to fail.

Weight loss really isn’t in our con­trol,” Janata said, explain­ing that no mat­ter how rigid the diet and exer­cise, weight loss nat­u­rally plateaus. “That’s one of the rea­sons peo­ple fail at weight loss. They focus on ‘I need to lose a cer­tain num­ber pounds per week.’”

Instead, cut­ting out fried foods or decid­ing to work out a few days a week are bet­ter goals, he said.

Don’t start off with these grand res­o­lu­tions,” said psy­chol­o­gist Joe Tar­avella, the super­vi­sor of pedi­atric psy­chol­ogy at NYU Langone’s Rusk Reha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­ter who also spe­cial­izes in mar­i­tal and fam­ily psychology.

Don’t Beat Your­self Up If You Mess Up

No mat­ter how per­fect the goal is, Janata said peo­ple are going to slip. But that doesn’t mean they should give up completely.

Re-adjust the goal accord­ing to how dif­fi­cult it is for you,” Janata said.

He advised tak­ing 2015 goals week by week or day by day.

I remind peo­ple that we’re human and we’re not per­fect,” Tar­avella said. “We’re going to mess up through­out our entire lives.”

He said one bad day “doesn’t mean we’re total fail­ures and all progress we made isn’t meaningful.”

Reward Your­self

Build­ing in days off is an impor­tant part of goal-setting, Tar­avella said.

Being totally rigid 24/7 is not sus­tain­able over the long haul,” Tar­avella said.

Go Pub­lic

Want to make sure you nail your 2015 res­o­lu­tions? Make them pub­lic, psy­chol­o­gists advised.

Talk to peo­ple about what you’re doing, so you can be account­able,” Tar­avella said, explain­ing that you’ll be moti­vated to suc­ceed because you won’t want to fail in front of your friends.

Make Sure You’re Doing It for the Right Reasons

Tack­ling a goal because some­one told you to or because you sim­ply think you “should” might back­fire, Janata said. Some­times, tak­ing on a goal because of out­side pres­sure just makes peo­ple want to rebel, he said.

There’s an impor­tant dis­tinc­tion to be drawn between goals that we feel that we should accom­plish and those we believe we truly want to accom­plish,” he said. “Rarely do we attain goals unless we truly embrace the goal.”

So make sure you’re only pick­ing goals because you’re ready and eager to ful­fill them.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio

 

School Takes Away Blind Boy's Cane as Punishment for Acting Up

iStock/Thinkstock(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) — A school took away an 8-year-old blind boy’s cane as pun­ish­ment for act­ing up and replaced it with a pool noo­dle, his father told ABC News on Thursday.

Dakota Nafzinger, who was born with no eyes, was lis­ten­ing to his music on the school bus when the dri­ver took it away from him, his father, Don­ald Nafzinger said. Dakota often taps his cane to the music, but this time, his father said he threw it in the air. Nafzinger said school offi­cials told him they thought Dakota was get­ting violent.

Then they gave Dakota a foam pool noo­dle in its place and sent him home with it, Nafzinger said.

It is his eyes,” Nafzinger, 35, told ABC News. “He said he was upset because that’s some­thing he needs to get around with.”

Dakota was born with a rare con­di­tion called bilat­eral anoph­thalmia. Nafzinger said Dakota’s mother chose to call the local news media because she feared that “there weren’t car­ing peo­ple left in this world.”

They shouldn’t treat my kid any dif­fer­ent than the kids that have eyes,” said Nafzinger, who works in Kansas City, Mis­souri, as a stage hand. “My kid is nor­mal except he doesn’t have eyes.”

The school dis­trict, North Kansas City Schools, admit­ted to the mis­take and has since given Dakota his cane back. Nafzinger said not only was that a good out­come, but shar­ing the story has shown his fam­ily how many sup­port­ers they have.

The Dis­trict has reviewed the sit­u­a­tion,” North Kansas City Schools wrote in a state­ment. “We regret that a mis­take was made in mak­ing sure the stu­dent was in pos­ses­sion of his cane when he boarded the bus Mon­day evening. The Dis­trict has apol­o­gized to the fam­ily and is work­ing to rec­tify the sit­u­a­tion. When we were made aware of the mis­take, cor­rec­tions were made. It is always the District’s pol­icy when we become aware of sit­u­a­tions like this, we thor­oughly and imme­di­ately inves­ti­gate to ensure a safe learn­ing envi­ron­ment for all students.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio

 

Plus-Size Blogger Asks Beauty Editors to Transform Her Photo

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — When blog­ger Marie Southard Ospina sent a photo of her­self with no makeup and no clothes to photo edi­tors in 21 coun­tries around the world and asked them to Pho­to­shop her, she said she was sur­prised by one thing most of the experts did not do to her image.

I was sur­prised that only three out of 21 altered my weight and my bone struc­ture,” Ospina told ABC News’ Juju Chang. “So that was nice to see.”

[I thought] that the major­ity of the edi­tors would slim me down and just make a very obvi­ously air­brushed minia­ture ver­sion of me,” Ospina said.

The Man­ches­ter, U.K.- and New York City-based writer gave the beauty edi­tors the instruc­tions to sim­ply “make me beautiful.”

That was the tagline of the whole exper­i­ment,” said Ospina, who wrote about it on Bustle.com.

Ospina was inspired to do the exper­i­ment after see­ing another jour­nal­ist, Esther Honig, do some­thing sim­i­lar ear­lier this year. Honig sent her selfie to 25 coun­tries around the world, ask­ing peo­ple to make her beau­ti­ful using Photoshop.

I was just fas­ci­nated by just how much peo­ple actu­ally changed her bone struc­ture and her weight, and she was already quite a slen­der woman,” Ospina said.

When it came to Ospina’s exper­i­ment, the results var­ied widely accord­ing to each coun­try. Canada gave her a new hairdo while Jamaica gave her a darker tan.

Ospina said her favorite result came from Italy, where the edi­tor glammed her up with some heav­ily Pho­to­shopped makeup.

I think, through these images, what I most saw is that beauty isn’t defin­able,” Ospina said. “It varies so much, not just from nation to nation but from per­son to person.”

The biggest point of the exper­i­ment was to see and prove that people’s per­cep­tion of beauty is very indi­vid­ual rather than just one basic norm,” she said.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio