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Woman Monitored for Ebola Dead; NYC Department of Health Investigating

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A woman in New York City who was being mon­i­tored for pos­si­ble expo­sure to Ebola has died, and her cause of death is being inves­ti­gated by the city’s Depart­ment of Health.

The woman had recently arrived from Guinea, one of three coun­tries that have been des­ig­nated for spe­cial atten­tion to trav­el­ers because of out­breaks of the lethal virus. Liberia and Sierra Leone are the other two countries.

The New York City Health Depart­ment said that the last time the woman was checked, she did not have symp­toms of Ebola. Peo­ple who are being mon­i­tored are checked daily.

There are about 350 peo­ple on the city’s list of peo­ple being mon­i­tored for Ebola.

A New York City offi­cial briefed on the woman’s death told ABC News, “Ear­lier today, an indi­vid­ual who came to the U.S. from one of the three Ebola-impacted nations in West Africa within last three weeks died of an appar­ent non-Ebola condition.

This indi­vid­ual at no time showed any symp­toms of Ebola. How­ever, due to travel his­tory and an abun­dance of cau­tion, an Ebola test will be per­formed on this individual’s remains. Test results are expected later tonight or early tomor­row morning.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio

 

Great Dane Gives Birth to 19 Puppies

ABC News(YORK COUNTY, Pa.) — A great Dane in York County, Penn­syl­va­nia gave birth to 19 puppies.

Bran­don and Aimie Terry knew their dog – named Snowy – was preg­nant, but they never expected this many puppies.

We had made an appoint­ment to take her into the vet, and they did an X-ray, and found out there were 15 spines in the X-ray,” Bran­don Terry told ABC affil­i­ate WHTM.

Great Dane lit­ters usu­ally con­tain about eight puppies.

The pup­pies were born three weeks ago – ear­lier than the fam­ily expected. Bran­don Terry was doing yard work when he kept hear­ing a noise, sim­i­lar to a kitten’s mew­ing. When he looked, he saw the first puppy. Six more of the pup­pies were born at the house, with the rest born at an ani­mal hospital.

It’s a shocker, but I’m glad that they’re all here,” Bran­don Terry told WHTM.

The pup­pies recently opened their eyes.

Right now they’re into explor­ing and play­ing, fight­ing with each other,” Aimie Terry said.

The pup­pies are small and cud­dly now, but they’ll even­tu­ally grow to nearly three feet in height. The fam­ily is hop­ing to find new homes for the dogs.

The largest known lit­ter of pup­pies is 24, born in 2004 to a Neapoli­tan mas­tiff in Cam­bridgeshire, Eng­land, accord­ing to Guin­ness World Records.

More ABC US news | ABC World News

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio

 

Hand Dryers in Public Restrooms May Not Be as Hygienic as You Think

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — New research finds that hand dry­ers in pub­lic restrooms may not be very hygienic.

Hand dry­ers may be sim­ple and fast, but sci­en­tists at the Uni­ver­sity of Leeds in Eng­land say they found that the dry­ers spread bac­te­ria into the air, onto users, and onto those nearby.

They also deter­mined that the germs remains present in the air for a con­sid­er­able time after the dryer has stopped.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio

 

Brittany Maynard's Mom Defends Her Daughter's Choice to Die

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The mother of the young woman who chose to end her life after bat­tling can­cer is defend­ing her daughter’s right to die, say­ing crit­ics have no place to com­ment while her fam­ily grieves.

Deb­bie Ziegler, whose daugh­ter Brit­tany May­nard died ear­lier this month, also addressed the Vat­i­can offi­cial who recently blasted her daughter’s deci­sion as mis­guided suicide.

My 29-year-old daughter’s choice to die gen­tly rather than suf­fer phys­i­cal and men­tal degra­da­tion and intense pain does not deserve to be labelled as rep­re­hen­si­ble by strangers a con­ti­nent away who do not know her or the par­tic­u­lars of her sit­u­a­tion,” Ziegler wrote in a letter.

May­nard, who had been diag­nosed with brain can­cer, died on Nov. 1 after tak­ing lethal med­ica­tion pre­scribed by her doctor.

She and her fam­ily had pre­vi­ously moved from Cal­i­for­nia to Ore­gon to take advan­tage of the state’s right to die laws.

Her mother said the crit­i­cism “is more than a slap in the face.”

It is like kick­ing us as we strug­gle to draw a breath,” she said in the let­ter, express­ing shock that any­one could have neg­a­tive things to say about her daugh­ter, espe­cially at such a dif­fi­cult time.

Death is not nec­es­sar­ily the enemy in all cases,” Ziegler added. “Some­times a gen­tle pass­ing is a gift. Mis­guided doc­tors caught up in an aspi­ra­tional belief that they must extend life, what­ever the cost, cause indi­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies unnec­es­sary suf­fer­ing. Brit­tany stood up to bul­lies. She never thought any­one else had the right to tell her how long she should suf­fer. The right to die for the ter­mi­nally ill is a human rights issue. Plain and simple.”

May­nard had become the face of the death with dig­nity move­ment in recent months through her work with the group Com­pas­sion & Choices, and chron­i­cled her final days online, tick­ing items off a bucket list like a trip to the Grand Canyon.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio

 

New Dating App Vows to Eliminate Creepy Users

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new iPhone dat­ing app claims to be the first of its kind to pun­ish users who mis­be­have or seem more like spec­ta­tors than real-world daters.

My female friends were receiv­ing any­thing from graphic images to down­right hos­tile com­ments for absolutely no rea­son,” said Cliff Lerner, CEO of the com­pany behind The Grade. “I thought to myself, there’s got to be a way to build a prod­uct where users are account­able for their actions.”

The Grade, which launched Mon­day, allows a user to swipe to “like” a pro­file. If you find a match, then you can start messaging.

The dif­fer­ence from the com­pe­ti­tion, Lerner said, is that users’ inter­ac­tions are mon­i­tored so the site can assess grades.

We use a sophis­ti­cated algo­rithm that scans mes­sages for inap­pro­pri­ate con­tent,” Lerner said. “Users are then graded based on pop­u­lar­ity, com­pelling mes­sages and fre­quency of response.”

Grades are vis­i­ble to all users. Daters with D grades receive warn­ings. Daters with Fs can be booted from the app alto­gether. New users get a grade of pend­ing until a pro­file is cre­ated and they become active.

Those with poor grades have one to two weeks to improve their per­for­mance. Oth­er­wise, the pro­file is removed and the user can appeal to the app operators.

We believe we are the first to ever offer this func­tion,” Lerner said. “Our ulti­mate goal is to cre­ate a com­mu­nity of high-quality, artic­u­late daters. We’re com­mit­ted to expelling low-quality users, not just because some­one is offen­sive, but based on how respon­sive they are to others.”

Fre­quent dat­ing app user Chris­tiana Padovano, 22, of New York City, said she’s will­ing to give it a try.

When I go on, I’m look­ing to meet a decent per­son — some­one that I can have a good time with,” she said.

In the past, prospec­tive daters have bom­barded Padovano with inap­pro­pri­ate sex­ual com­ments, to the point where she decided to unplug for a while.

I deleted my app for three months because I couldn’t deal with the obnox­ious mes­sages any­more,” said Padovano. “Now, you’ll find out before­hand so you won’t waste your time.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio

 

Why E-Smokers Are Rejoicing over 2014 Word of the Year

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — “Vape” is the Oxford Eng­lish Dictionary’s word of the year.

If you’re a lit­tle hazy on the mean­ing, it means to inhale and exhale the vapor pro­duced by an elec­tronic cig­a­rette device, which are them­selves also some­times known as vapes. The word was coined as a way of dis­tanc­ing the act of e-smoking from the act of smok­ing com­bustible tobacco cig­a­rettes, the OED said in a state­ment Tuesday.

Vapers — the peo­ple who puff away on e-smokes — are feel­ing pretty good about their pas­time offi­cially enter­ing the lex­i­con. They’ve taken to Twit­ter and other social media sites to celebrate.

Word of the year hon­ors were a long time com­ing for vape. Though the word was just added to the OED’s online site this year, elec­tronic cig­a­rettes have been around since the 1960s and the term first came into use around 1980.

Vap­ing, the activ­ity, didn’t really catch on until a decade or so ago but now there are more than 250 brands of “e-cigarettes” avail­able in a vari­ety of fla­vors, includ­ing water­melon, pink bub­ble gum and java.

The Tobacco Vapor Elec­tronic Cig­a­rette Asso­ci­a­tion esti­mates that about four mil­lion Amer­i­cans now use battery-powered cig­a­rettes. They project sales of the devices to cross the one bil­lion mark by the end of this year.

Vape beat out words such as “bae,” a term of endear­ment for a roman­tic part­ner, and “slack­tivism,” which describes get­ting involved in social causes with­out expend­ing too much effort.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio

 

Toddlers Who Were Preemies Have Special Picnic

iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) — It’s hard to believe the tod­dlers walk­ing around the park on tiny, wob­bly feat were born at 36 weeks, 33 weeks, 24 weeks.

These chil­dren were born too early, but on the day of Bay­lor Uni­ver­sity Med­ical Center’s pre­emie reunion, they were doing just fine.

It’s always a joy just to watch the chil­dren color at the reunion after hav­ing seen them when they weighed only one or two pounds at birth, said Dr. Vijay Nama, med­ical direc­tor of the Neona­tal Inten­sive Care Unit at Bay­lor Uni­ver­sity Med­ical Cen­ter at Dallas.

Fam­i­lies spend weeks or months in the hos­pi­tal depend­ing on how early their chil­dren were born, and as a result, they form a spe­cial bond with the nurses and doc­tors who took care of their newborns.

It’s almost like you don’t just meet them in the hos­pi­tal,” Nama said. “You know them as a family.”

These tod­dlers are among the 1 in 9 chil­dren in the United States who are born pre­ma­ture, accord­ing to March of Dimes.

The reunion is tied to World Pre­ma­tu­rity Day, which, accord­ing to March of Dimes, is a day to raise aware­ness about the 15 mil­lion babies a year who are born before their due dates around the globe.

Nama said babies born ear­lier than 37 weeks ges­ta­tion are con­sid­ered pre­ma­ture. The tini­est babies, born between 23 and 27 weeks, have the most dif­fi­cult road ahead. Like most pre­ma­ture babies, their lungs aren’t fully devel­oped. The ear­lier a baby is born, the less devel­oped it is. As a result, these babies need to be given res­pi­ra­tory sup­port until their lungs can work on their own.

After 27 weeks, the pre­emies’ road is a lit­tle eas­ier, Nama said, but on aver­age, they still stay in the hos­pi­tal until what would have been their due dates.

He said the hos­pi­tal staff hears from for­mer patients long after they leave the hos­pi­tal — either on the phone or through Face­book. And the moth­ers form their own sup­port groups while they wait for their babies to be healthy enough to leave the hospital.

Pre­ma­tu­rity can be caused by a num­ber of fac­tors, includ­ing hav­ing twins or triplets, an infec­tion in the womb, pregnancy-induced hyper­ten­sion or a sep­a­ra­tion of the pla­centa from the uterus wall. But some­times, the uterus can begin con­tract­ing for no rea­son at all, Nama said.

Although tech­nol­ogy has made advance­ments for pre­emies over the years, Nama said the biggest tool doc­tors have learned to use is the moth­ers them­selves. Breast milk and skin-to-skin con­tact are just as good as or bet­ter than much of the med­i­cine in his arsenal.

The biggest advance­ment we’ve made is really the involve­ment of the fam­ily,” he said.

Although he couldn’t make it to the reunion this year, he usu­ally attends to see the fam­i­lies whose chil­dren are only a few months old or up to 6 years old.

It’s fun to watch them,” he said. “Really when you see them weigh­ing one or two pounds, and now they’re try­ing to do paint­ing. …Imag­ine when you first see them when they’re born.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio

 

UCLA Researchers Announce Gene Therapy Cure for 18 ‘Bubble Baby’ Patients

Cour­tesy Padilla-Vacarro fam­ily(LOS ANGELES) — Researchers at UCLA announced Tues­day that they had cured 18 chil­dren who were born with the so-called Bub­ble Baby dis­ease, a genetic dis­or­der that leaves the young suf­fer­ers with­out a work­ing immune sys­tem, putting them at risk of death from infec­tions, even the com­mon cold.

A team led by Dr. Don­ald Kohn, a stem cell researcher at the university’s Eli and Edythe Broad Cen­ter of Regen­er­a­tive Med­i­cine and Stem Cell Research in Los Ange­les, devel­oped the break­through that cured 18 chil­dren who had adeno­sine deam­i­nase (ADA)-deficient severe com­bined immun­od­e­fi­ciency (SCID).

All of the chil­dren with SCID that I have treated in these stem cell clin­i­cal tri­als would have died in a year or less with­out this gene ther­apy, instead they are all thriv­ing with fully func­tion­ing immune sys­tems,” Kohn, a pro­fes­sor of pedi­atrics and of micro­bi­ol­ogy, immunol­ogy and mol­e­c­u­lar genet­ics in the life sci­ences at UCLA, said in a statement.

There are sev­eral forms of SCID. About 15 per­cent of all SCID patients are ADA-deficient.

Kohn spent more than 30 years of research on find­ing the cure, UCLA said Tues­day when it announced the cure. Kohn and his team tested two ther­apy reg­i­mens on the chil­dren over the course of two multi-year clin­i­cal tri­als since 2009, UCLA said.

Dur­ing the tri­als, the children’s blood stem cells were removed from their bone mar­row and genet­i­cally mod­i­fied to cor­rect the defect. All of the 18 patients — who ranged in age from 3 months to 4 years at the time of treat­ment — were cured with­out any side effects, UCLA said.

The break­through has meant a cure for Evan­gelina Padilla-Vaccaro, who was born with the con­di­tion in 2012. Evangelina’s fra­ter­nal twin, Annabella, was not affected.

The girls’ mother, Alysia Padilla-Vaccaro, of Corona, Calif., said she had a strong sense that some­thing was wrong with Evan­gelina just a week after giv­ing birth.

Despite hav­ing been told that she was expe­ri­enc­ing the stress of being a new mother, Padilla-Vaccaro persisted.

I just knew some­thing was wrong with my Evan­gelina,” she told ABC News.

Her fear was later con­firmed. The twins’ father, Chris­t­ian Vac­caro, said he and his wife were dev­as­tated to get the diag­no­sis when Evan­gelina was just six weeks old.

Evan­gelina had to be kept in iso­la­tion at home. Only imme­di­ate fam­ily could come into con­tact with her, and they had to shower imme­di­ately prior and wear a mask and gown to hold her.

Kohn said the con­di­tion is rare and the affected chil­dren “look fine at birth” despite not hav­ing a func­tion­ing immune system.

Patients born with ADA-deficient SCID must be kept in iso­la­tion to pro­tect them from germs. If left untreated, the con­di­tion could be fatal within the first year of life, accord­ing to UCLA.

The stan­dard treat­ment for this con­di­tion is a bone mar­row trans­plant, but Angelina wasn’t a match for her sis­ter. Evan­gelina qual­i­fied for a clin­i­cal trial that used the gene therapy.

It’s their own cells so it’s a per­fect match,” Kohn told ABC News. “And when it works…they grow a whole immune sys­tem, and can lead nor­mal lives.”

UCLA said Evangelina’s new immune sys­tem devel­oped soon after she under­went the treat­ment, which included chemother­apy. The process took about seven weeks from begin­ning to end, Padilla-Vaccaro said.

The lit­tle girl is now able to live a nor­mal life. Her par­ents can take her to the store, the beach and to the play­ground, and they are grateful.

To finally kiss your child on the lips, to hold her, it’s impos­si­ble to describe what a gift that is,” Padilla-Vacarro said. “I gave birth to my daugh­ter, but Dr. Kohn gave my baby life.”

Accord­ing to the NLM, ADA-deficient SCID occurs in an esti­mated 1 in 200,000 to 1 mil­lion new­borns worldwide.

The next step is to seek FDA approval for the gene ther­apy, UCLA said.

The research also lays the ground­work for a clin­i­cal test of gene ther­apy in the treat­ment of sickle cell dis­ease. UCLA says tri­als are set to start next year.

We’ve been work­ing for the last five years to take the suc­cess we’ve had with this stem cell gene ther­apy for SCID to sickle cell,” said Kohn. “We now have the poten­tial to take the gene that blocks sick­ling and get it into enough of a patient’s stem cells to block the disease.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio