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Disappointing Year for Flu Vaccine Effectiveness

luiscar/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — This season’s flu vac­cine may be even less effec­tive than ini­tially thought.

Health­Day News reports that the vac­cine is just 18 per­cent effec­tive against the dom­i­nant H3N2 flu strain, down from 23 per­cent ini­tially esti­mated by the U.S. Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion. Even worse, accord­ing to the CDC, the vac­cine may be just 15 per­cent effec­tive in chil­dren between the ages of 2 and 8.

Still, the vac­cine “does pre­vent lots of hos­pi­tal­iza­tions and deaths,” Dr. William Schaffner, for­mer pres­i­dent of the National Foun­da­tion for Infec­tious Dis­ease told ABC News. “We need to do the best we can with the vac­cine we have at hand.”

Schaffner did say that the flu appears to be abat­ing in all sec­tions of the United States.

As far as the dis­ap­point­ingly inef­fec­tive vac­cine, Schaffner said that it was “the worst year for the effec­tive­ness of flu vac­cine in decades. It will be bet­ter next year,” he predicted.

Chil­dren tend to get more viral ill­nesses than adults, Dr. Besser said, because they’re in phys­i­cal con­tact with each other and don’t have years of flu expo­sure built up.

The CDC also reports that the nasal-spray ver­sion of the vac­cine, which was “rec­om­mended espe­cially for young chil­dren,” Dr. Besser said, “is shown to not be effec­tive at all.”

It’s not exactly clear if it had some­thing to do with the mutated strain,” he said. “What it led to this week is the CDC voted that next year they will not rec­om­mend the nasal spray.”

It may be the end of Feb­ru­ary, but we’re still not out of the woods for flu season.

Flu sea­son is wind­ing down,” Dr. Besser said, but “there is still flu activ­ity around the country.”

We encour­age peo­ple who are sick to stay home from school and work, and cover their coughs and sneezes,” he added.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
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Researchers Identify Possible Blood Test for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

AlexRaths/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Researchers say a sim­ple blood test could help diag­nose chronic fatigue syn­drome — a chronic con­di­tion that affects one in four mil­lion Americans.

Accord­ing to the study, pub­lished in the jour­nal Sci­ence Advances, while one in four mil­lion have CFS, fewer than 20 per­cent are diag­nosed. Cur­rently, there is no test for chronic fatigue syndrome.

Researchers, how­ever, iden­ti­fied mark­ers in the blood that could help con­firm a diag­no­sis more quickly. There is even spec­u­la­tion that those same mark­ers could hold hints toward poten­tial ther­a­peu­tic tar­gets in the future.

The study’s lead­ers hope that they may have deter­mined a poten­tial bio­log­i­cal cause for CFS.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
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Health Officials: 3 New Cases of Measles Linked to Emeril's at MGM Grand in Las Vegas

7Michael/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) — The South­ern Nevada Health Dis­trict has iden­ti­fied three addi­tional cases of measles con­nected to a restau­rant on the Las Vegas Strip.  

The cases, in adults under the age of 55, are con­sid­ered to be the result of trans­mis­sion from an under-immunized staff mem­ber at Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino ear­lier in February.

The new cases are two staff mem­bers and a patron, accord­ing to health officials.

Two other cases con­nected to Emeril’s were reported ear­lier in the month, accord­ing to ABC News affil­i­ate KTNV-TV.  

An under-immunized worker was diag­nosed on Feb. 10, and an infant was diag­nosed with measles on Feb. 11. It is believed the infant spread the ill­ness to the worker.

One of the newly diag­nosed staffers was poten­tially con­ta­gious while work­ing shifts this month

The new cases bring to nine the num­ber of con­firmed measles cases in Clark County in 2015, accord­ing to health offi­cials.  These are the first con­firmed cases in  of measles in south­ern Nevada since 2011.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
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1.1 Billion Young People at Risk of Losing Their Hearing, WHO Says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — This just in from the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion: Your mother was right all along.

About 1.1 bil­lion peo­ple are at risk for los­ing their hear­ing, and half of 12– to 35-year-olds in high income coun­tries expose their ears to “unsafe” sound lev­els when they lis­ten to audio devices, the WHO announced Fri­day. And about 40 per­cent of them are exposed to “poten­tially dam­ag­ing” sound lev­els at music and enter­tain­ment venues.

As they go about their daily lives doing what they enjoy, more and more young peo­ple are plac­ing them­selves at risk of hear­ing loss,” said Dr. Eti­enne Krug, WHO Direc­tor for the Depart­ment for Man­age­ment of Non­com­mu­ni­ca­ble Dis­eases, Dis­abil­ity, Vio­lence and Injury Pre­ven­tion. “They should be aware that once you lose your hear­ing, it won’t come back. Tak­ing sim­ple pre­ven­tive actions will allow peo­ple to con­tinue to enjoy them­selves with­out putting their hear­ing at risk.”

The orga­ni­za­tion sug­gested lim­ited head­phone use to one hour a day and not spend more than 8 hours in work­places with 85 deci­bels of noise, like bars, night­clubs and sport­ing venues. Since those places nor­mally have 100 deci­bels of noise, the WHO noted that they can cause hear­ing dam­age in as lit­tle as 15 minutes.

Dr. Daniel Jethanamest, an oto­laryn­gol­o­gist at NYU Lan­gone Med­ical Cen­ter, said hear­ing dam­age hap­pens with repeated or pro­longed expo­sure to loud noises or a sud­den, intense loud noise, dam­ag­ing the tiny hairs inside the ears. Some hear­ing loss is tem­po­rary, but some is per­ma­nent. If you expe­ri­ence hear­ing loss or ring­ing, call your doc­tor, he said.

Here are some sound lev­els to keep in mind:

Head­phones can be cranked up to a vol­ume of about 110 deci­bels, accord­ing to the National Insti­tutes of Health. Though Jethanamest said there may be down­load­able cell phone apps to help you keep your vol­umes at safe levels.

Talk­ing at a con­ver­sa­tional level is 40 to 60 deci­bels, accord­ing to the NIH.

An elec­tric pen­cil sharp­ener is 71 deci­bels, accord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Prevention.

An ambu­lance siren is 120 deci­bels, accord­ing to the CDC.

Fire­crack­ers are 140 to 165 deci­bels, accord­ing to the CDC.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
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New York Couple to Turn a Combined 212 Years Old

Amalia Thomas(NEW YORK) — A New York cou­ple mar­ried for 82 years will cel­e­brate a major mile­stone Sat­ur­day when the hus­band, Dura­nord Veil­lard, turns 108.

The momen­tous occa­sion means the cou­ple will be a com­bined 212 years old. Veillard’s wife, Jeanne, is 104.

He will tell you the secret to liv­ing a long life is all God,” a fam­ily friend told ABC News of Veil­lard. “He says that God has pre­served him so well and he wishes that every­one can live a long life as he did.”

Amalia Thomas, the close friend and busi­ness liai­son for the Veil­lard fam­ily, is field­ing the flood of requests for the now high-profile cou­ple who were fea­tured in the local news­pa­per Thurs­day and have since seen their celebrity skyrocket.

They’re like, ‘Who is next? What ques­tion are you going to ask?’” Thomas said. “They’re very excited.”

The Veil­lards, who live with their daugh­ter in Spring Val­ley, New York, are able to eas­ily take in all the atten­tion because, accord­ing to Thomas, they are still very sharp.

I don’t know how they do it but he’s very alert. He remem­bers dates. He can tell you the day he got mar­ried,” Thomas said of Dura­nord. “Jeanne is a lit­tle bit more quiet and laid-back.”

The cou­ple met in Haiti and mar­ried in Novem­ber 1932. Dura­nord Veil­lard, who worked as a lawyer and judge in Haiti, moved to the United States in 1967, fol­lowed by his wife in 1979.

They have five kids, 12 grand­chil­dren and 14 great-grandchildren, Thomas said.

Though Dura­nord has trou­ble with his eye­sight and hear­ing, the cen­te­nar­ian main­tains a daily exer­cise regime.

He does daily exer­cises in his chair, every sin­gle day,” Thomas said.

Veil­lard told The Jour­nal News he wakes up at 5 a.m. and does five to seven pushups, fol­lowed by tea, oat­meal and fruit for break­fast. The rest of the day includes fish and fresh veg­eta­bles for their meals, inter­rupted by many naps, accord­ing to the newspaper.

On Sat­ur­day, the Veil­lards will mark Duranord’s 112th birth­day with a party at their home with their family.

They’re very excited,” Thomas said.

Up next is Jeanne’s birth­day cel­e­bra­tion. She will turn 105 May 1.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
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White and Gold or Black and Blue: Why People See the Dress Differently

swiked.tumblr.com(NEW YORK) — Every­body, chill.

There’s a sci­en­tific expla­na­tion for why #The­Dress looks black and blue to some peo­ple and white and gold to the others.

Although your eyes per­ceive col­ors dif­fer­ently based on color per­cep­tors in them called cones, experts say your brain is doing the leg­work to deter­mine what you’re see­ing — and it gets most of the blame for your heated debates about #TheDress.

Our brain basi­cally biases cer­tain col­ors depend­ing on what time of day it is, what the sur­round­ing light con­di­tions are,” said optometrist Thomas Stokker­mans, who directs the optom­e­try divi­sion at UH Case Med­ical Cen­ter in Cleve­land, Ohio. “So this is a fil­ter­ing process by the brain.”

Objects appear red­dish at dawn and dusk, but they appear blueish in the mid­dle of the day, Stokker­mans said.

So we can rec­og­nize the same objects in dif­fer­ent light con­di­tions, our brains tweak the way we see things, he added.

The brain is very good at adjust­ing and cal­i­brat­ing so you per­ceive light con­di­tions as con­stant even though they vary widely,” he said.

Col­ors can appear dif­fer­ent depend­ing on what they’re near and the mem­ory and past expe­ri­ences of the beholder, Dr. Lisa Lystad, a neuro-opthalmologist at Cleve­land Clinic’s Cole Eye Institute.

For instance, peo­ple who live in snow all year round above the Arc­tic Cir­cle have sev­eral names for dif­fer­ent col­ors of snow, but to most of us, snow is just snow. She said she has a turquoise purse that some of her friends swear is green and oth­ers are sure is blue.

Cataracts, col­or­blind­ness and eye dis­ease can also alter col­ors for the beholder. Monet’s famous water lily pond paint­ing is thought to have been painted when he was devel­op­ing cataracts, Lystad said.

But your per­cep­tion of the dress doesn’t mean you have an eye prob­lem, she said.

Vision just barely starts in the eye,” Lystad said. “Your brain is what gives names to the colors.”

David Calkins, a pro­fes­sor at Van­der­bilt Uni­ver­sity School of Med­i­cine and direc­tor of research at the Van­der­bilt Eye Insti­tute, said set­ting inter­na­tional color stan­dards for every­thing from wires to fruits to paint pig­ments was a huge chal­lenge before the dig­i­tal age.

There’s no way for me to ver­ify the color that your brain per­ceives ver­sus the color that my brain per­ceives,” he said. “What I call magenta, you might call vio­let. What I call bur­gundy, you might call purple.”

And now that the dig­i­tal age is here, there are sub­tle dif­fer­ences between how some­thing can appear to you on a tele­vi­sion screen ver­sus a com­puter mon­i­tor ver­sus a cell phone, Calkins said.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
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Leprosy Cases Hit Florida Counties

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Some peo­ple might think of lep­rosy as a scourge from bib­li­cal times, but it still afflicts vic­tims — and a Florida county is report­ing a rare increase in cases, with three peo­ple diag­nosed in just five months.

In the past decade, before the new cases, only one per­son in Volu­sia County, Florida, was diag­nosed with the disease.

Health offi­cials said the recent increase in cases was unex­pected, but because the incu­ba­tion period ranges from nine months to 20 years, they did not think it sig­naled a wave of new infections.

Lep­rosy, also known as Hansen’s dis­ease, is caused by a bac­te­ria called Mycobac­terium lepra. An infec­tion mainly affects the skin, periph­eral nerves, eyes and part of the upper res­pi­ra­tory tract, accord­ing to the World Health Organization.

Lep­rosy cases remain rare in the United States, with approx­i­mately 80 peo­ple report­ing infec­tions each year, accord­ing to the U.S. Cen­ters for Dis­ease Control.

Florida typ­i­cally sees just eight to 10 cases per year. Lep­rosy is more com­mon in Cal­i­for­nia, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mass­a­chu­setts, New York and Texas, accord­ing to a 2009 report from the U.S. Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices’ Health Resources and Ser­vices Administration.

In addi­tion to Volu­sia County, health offi­cials in nearby Bre­vard County, Florida, have seen a recent increase in cases, with 18 reported over the last five years. Of the eight peo­ple diag­nosed with lep­rosy in Florida last year, three were from Bre­vard County.

Barry Inman, an epi­demi­ol­o­gist for Bre­vard County Depart­ment of Health, said the num­ber of cases remained small but was much higher than pre­vi­ous decades, when they would nor­mally see around one case a year.

This is hard to track,” said Inman, who noted the dis­ease can incu­bate from nine months to 20 years.

Com­pared to past his­tory, it is sig­nif­i­cant and they are look­ing at it,” Inman said of the local health department.

Inman said some of those were infected after inter­act­ing with armadil­los, a known car­rier of the disease.

The U.S. Cen­ters of Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion rec­om­mends peo­ple avoid con­tact armadil­los to limit the pos­si­bil­ity they can con­tract the bac­te­ria that causes leprosy.

Symp­toms of lep­rosy include skin lesions that may be faded or dis­col­ored, thick, stiff or dry skin, numb­ness in affected areas, ulcers on the soles of feet or mus­cle weak­ness or paralysis.

An esti­mated one to two mil­lion peo­ple have been per­ma­nently dis­abled by the dis­ease. Today, the dis­ease can be treated with antibi­otics, although a course of treat­ment can be lengthy, last­ing between six months to two years accord­ing to the U.S. Cen­ters of Dis­ease Con­trol and Prevention.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
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Virginia Resident Released After Evaulation for Possible Ebola

Creatas/Thinkstock(ARLINGTON, Va.) — A Vir­ginia res­i­dent was released from Vir­ginia Hos­pi­tal Cen­ter on Thurs­day after being eval­u­ated for pos­si­ble Ebola.

The patient had a fever and a his­tory of recent travel from an Ebola-affected area, accord­ing to the Arling­ton County web­site. But after eval­u­a­tion, it was deter­mined that the indi­vid­ual had no known expo­sure to Ebola and that med­ical find­ings were not con­sis­tent with the disease.

The Arling­ton County Pub­lic Health Depart­ment will con­tinue to mon­i­tor the patient through the full 21 day incu­ba­tion period, under the Vir­ginia Depart­ment of Health Arriv­ing Pas­sen­ger Mon­i­tor­ing Plan.

Accord­ing to the county web­site, “Arling­ton County Pub­lic Health and Vir­ginia Hos­pi­tal Cen­ter are work­ing together — in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Vir­ginia Depart­ment of Health — and fol­lowed the rec­om­mended course of action for such case.” The county says “there is no cause for pub­lic concern.”

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