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    It has been just over a year since we first started hearing about Zika and its link to serious birth defects.   The Emergency Operations Center at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta was activated to respond to Zika on January 22, 2016. Now the EOC is gearing up for the start of another mosquito season.   Over the past fifteen months the CDC has learned more about the mosquito borne disease. Experts have learned that 11 percent of babies born to mothers with Zika are born with birth defects.  Microcephaly is the main birth defect that is seen. It causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads. Microcephaly is also associated with incomplete brain development.   Dr. Denise Jamieson is chief of the Women’s Health and Fertility Branch at the CDC. She says, “Zika is not over, Zika will be here with us until we have an effective vaccine and all pregnant women are vaccinated.'  She says microcephaly is just the beginning. Zika is also linked to other brain abnormalities, eye defects or central nervous system problems.  “I think it's critical that people understand that we have to continue to be vigilant in our efforts to fight Zika,' Jamieson says.  Zika virus is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These are the same mosquitoes that spread dengue and chikungunya viruses. They are very hard to control. Some experts call them 'the cockroach' of mosquitos.  Zika can also spread through sex from a person who has Zika to his or her partners.  It can be passed through sex, even if the infected person does not have symptoms at the time. Zika can be passed on from mothers to babies in the womb – which leads to babies being born with severe birth defects.  One of the best ways to prevent catching Zika is to prevent being bitten by a mosquito.  As we head into mosquito season the CDC is urging everyone to take steps to protect themselves by wearing insect repellent, long-sleeved shirts and trousers, and avoid travel to areas where the virus is spreading.
  •  That aerosol from e-cigarettes in not harmless, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.   According to new government data, about one in four middle school and high school students say they have been exposed to second hand aerosol from e-cigarettes at least once in the past month. That includes about 4.4 million students who are not currently e-cigarette users.   Overall just over 24 percent of teens reported exposure to aerosol from e-smokes. More girls than boys reported being exposed.  “We know that secondhand e-cigarette aerosol is not harmless,” said Brian King, Ph.D., M.P.H., deputy director for research translation in CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health and a co-author of the study.   “It’s critical to protect our nation’s youth from this preventable health risk.”  The CDC says exposure is avoidable and is calling on more states and communities to consider e-cigarettes in smoke free policies. 
  • A deadly fungal infection is now being reported here in the United States.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 30 people in five states have been diagnosed with the fungus.  It's a strain of a kind of yeast known as Candida auris. Unlike the usual variety of yeast infections, this one causes serious bloodstream infections and it spreads easily from person to person.  There have been cases reported in Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Maryland and Massachusetts.   Tom Chiller with the CDC says, 'So far the patients who are infected with this organism are the sickest of the sick.'  He says because it's a bloodstream infection the patients come down with severe symptoms, like fever, low blood pressure and the organism can invade organs. Most are in hospitals or long term care facilities.  'It is certainly here, but I think it is still very rare,' says Chiller. He adds that they are aggressively working to contain the spread of this nasty invasive yeast. He says the microbe is among a group of newly emerging drug resistant threats we are facing.   The CDC issued an alert about the deadly fungus last June. Since then the government has provided additional funding and experts to help state and regional labs and hospitals identify the organism.
  • Researchers at the University of Georgia have developed a new non-invasive test to evaluate muscle health. It will be beneficial for people with multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries and other severe nerve damage. Before, the only way to test muscle health was by using expensive equipment, such as MRI. By using this new accelerometer placed on the skin, much like the popular wearable fitness devices, and using low level electronic pulses to mimic brain signals, researchers can measure increases in muscle endurance. The test is already showing results in patients with MS. “If we’re giving them therapy, we’re using this to tease out the mechanism of why it’s working,” Researcher Brad Willingham says. “We strongly believe that some benefits of therapy are related to muscle plasticity, or the ability of the muscle to adapt to exercise, and that’s essentially what this test is showing.” The researchers have partnered with the Shepherd Center in Atlanta to further investigate ways to keep patients active, no matter how serious their nerve damage. The development of this non-invasive test is one more tool that can be used to help patients remain independent longer.
  • Having health insurance does not ensure that people will get preventive screenings for things like cancer and heart disease, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics.  Most insurance plans are now required to cover specific services without co-payments. The study finds two-thirds of insured adults aged 50-75 were screened for colorectal cancer as recommended. More than 90 percent of women ages 30-39 were more likely than their older peers to be screened for cervical cancer. Seventy-three percent of insured women ages 50-74 had a mammogram in the past two years. More than 8 in 10 insured adults aged 18 and over had their blood pressure checked by a doctor, nurse, or other health professional in the past 12 months.  Anjel Vahratian, Ph.D with NCHS says women are better overall at getting the recommended screenings than men. “The reason for that may be due in part to the fact that women are more likely to access and utilize healthcare earlier for reproductive health services,” Vahratian explains. She also says many people may not be aware of the recommendations for screenings.
  • Arthritis is so severe for about 24 million adults in the United States that it limits their daily activities, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.  The percentage of adults with arthritis who have activity limitations grew from 35.9 percent in 2002 to 42.8 percent in 2014 – an increase of 20 percent.  “Arthritis symptoms keep millions of Americans from going about their daily routines,” CDC Acting Director Anne Schuchat, M.D. says. “Doctors and loved ones can help people with arthritis by encouraging them to be as physically active as they can be. “Physical activity is a proven strategy to ease pain and reduce symptoms among people with arthritis.” The everyday activities that these adults can't do range from holding a coffee cup, walking to their car or carrying groceries.  “It’s extremely important for primary care providers to encourage their patients with arthritis to be physically active,” CDC epidemiologist Kamil Barbour, Ph.D., Division of Population Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion says.  Barbour adds, “It is just as important for them to motivate their patients to attend workshops to learn how to better manage their arthritis.”    Almost 60 percent, or about 32 million Americans, with arthritis are 18 to 64 years old.
  • A Federal Trade Commission study finds that 23 percent of funeral homes don't provide price lists, even though it is required by law.  The FTC's Funeral Rule requires funeral homes to give customers an itemized price list. Undercover investigators visited funeral home across the country to see if they are meeting the standards.  In Georgia, investigators visited several funeral homes in the Atlanta, Smyrna and Marietta area and found that ten percent of of the funeral homes they visited were out of compliance. In one example, when asked about the price of a service where the body is cremated, the funeral home did not include the actual cost of the cremation.    WSB Consumer expert Clark Howard says the funeral homes can take advantage consumers during a time of grief, and that a funeral doesn't have to cost a fortune. One way to save is to buy the casket some place else other than the funeral home. Clark advises that consumers plan ahead and compare prices for bereavement packages at multiple locations.          3/6/2017 15:06
  • Pregnant women in the United States infected with the Zika virus last year were 20 times as likely to give birth to babies with birth defects as mothers who gave birth two years before the epidemic, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study. The types of birth defects reported include brain abnormalities and/or microcephaley, neural tube defects and other brain malformations, eye defects and other central nervous system problems. About three out of every 1,000 babies born in 2013-2014 had birth defects. In 2016, it went up to nearly 60 out of every 1,000 completed pregnancies with Zika infections. The CDC continues to recommend that pregnant women not travel to areas with Zika. About 80 percent of Zika infections do not cause symptoms, so it is hard to know if you have been infected.  'This study shows the importance of keeping a birth defect registry,' says Dr. Peggy Honein, Epidemiologist at the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, CDC. She reiterated that Zika is extremely dangerous to fetuses.  A pregnant woman, even one without symptoms, can pass Zika to her developing fetus. The Zika virus primarily spreads when a mosquito infected with Zika bites you. It can spread through sex with a man or woman who has been infected. Zika can pass through sex even if the person does not have symptoms at the time. For tips on Zika prevention, click HERE.
  • A growing number of American workers are leaving their current jobs in search of more money.   According to the Atlanta Fed's wage tracker, which monitors wages of continuously employed workers, Americans who are willing to change jobs do benefit.   It shows those who switched jobs in July earned 4.3 percent more than a year earlier. People who stayed in the same job only got a three percent increase.   The quit rate, when people voluntarily leave a job, has almost recovered to levels seen before the recession of 2007.  Experts say job switching is a good sign for the economy. “There’s a clear indicator that pay rates are going up,” WSB Consumer Expert Clark Howard says. “And it’s because people have the guts now to quit their job.” Howard adds, “What economists refer to as the ‘quit rate’ has gone up to levels we haven’t seen in a long time in the United States.” He also says people most people get bigger paychecks, “not from the employer they work for, but the employer they go get a job from. “So if you’ve been at the same place a long time, you think you’re being rewarded for your loyalty – you’re actually being punished in the paycheck.” Howard says, “If you want to try to boost your pay, you’ve got to go check and see out there what somebody else thinks you’re worth and often that could lead to a big booster shot in what you take home.” He adds, “People perceive now that if they quit a job, they’re going to be able to find another one. And they’re not worried that they’ll quit and then be unemployed for an extended period of time. “Once people have that courage – that leads to employers having to boost paychecks.
  • Dekalb County has been selected to take part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a government survey that has been conducted for more than 50 years. “We’re so excited that Dekalb County is one of the 15 counties this year that’s in the sample,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tells WSB Radio. Dekalb is one of 15 counties that was selected this year. This is the first time since 2007 that Georgia has been included in the survey.  Five-hundred randomly selected households in Dunwoody are taking part in the survey. “This is really the nation’s checkup,” Schuchat explains, “how we know how we’re doing and where we need to go in the future.” Schuchat adds, “So this really helps us plan, know the resources that we need to keep the country healthy and make sure that our strategies are working.” The first part of the survey is a lengthy questionnaire. The second part has participants undergoing comprehensive exams in a high tech mobile examination center. The mobile center is made up of four semi-trucks put together by one hall way. Inside, the center houses rooms for interviews about topics including diet, exercise, and blood tests. About 365 people will take part in the survey that is underway now and runs through March.  Jane Eklund, the study’s manager, tells WSB Radio the survey includes a blood pressure analysis and dietary recall.   The aim of this national survey is to provide important data on health conditions and concerns in the country. It also gives a clearer picture of the nation's attitudes, beliefs, health and cultural backgrounds and how they influence health outcomes. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES) gives researchers important information about health issues and causes of disease, which can help lead to cures.   The information collected is used by a number of institutions including the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, and American Dental Association. Eklund says, “When you hear or read articles about what America eats, if you look in the fine print, most of the time you’ll see the NHANES data has been used.'  

News

  • Pickens County deputies are searching for an armed fugitive.  Authorities are looking for Nicholas Bishop in the area of Priest Circle in Talking Rock.  Bishop is believed to be armed with a handgun and on foot after he abandoned a stolen vehicle around 2 p.m.  If you see him, call 911 immediately. Officials say do not attempt to approach him. - Please return for updates.
  • One more time, Doris Payne, the 86-year-old infamous international jewel thief, has pleaded guilty to the usual crime. She admitted Wednesday to stealing a necklace from Von Maur at Perimeter Mall last year, the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office said. Payne, who recently said she’s been dealing with a possibly cancerous tumor, was sentenced to 120 days of house arrest and three years of probation.  She was also banned from all Von Maur locations and every mall in DeKalb County. Payne, who’d been free on bond, was arrested last month for missing a court date. Shortly after the would-be appearance, she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution she wasn’t medically able to attend. “I ain’t runnin’,” she said in a phone interview. “I’ve never in my life been late for court. Last month, Payne was deemed too ill to stand trial by the judge presiding over a Fulton County case stemming from a missing set of earrings at Phipps Plaza. Payne has been open about her habits of theft, which she detailed in a documentary called, “The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne.” RELATED: Huge DeKalb center with (at least) 8 popular chains is opening soon RELATED: Cop helps elderly woman who got kicked out of dentist office in DeKalb RELATED: A DeKalb family’s tale of two dead bodies and a crying baby girl Like DeKalb County News Now on Facebook | Follow on Twitter and Instagram
  • A drunken driver destroyed a row of headstones at a historic Carrollton cemetery, causing tens of thousands of dollars' worth of damage, police said. According to police, the driver was coming down Martin Luther King Street on March 19, ran a stop sign, jumped a curb and crashed into the city-owned cemetery. The broken headstones range in date from the late 1800s to 1950. 'And what we discussed is, if one is damaged beyond repair, we'll put something back that's respectful. It's hard to replace it with the exact same item. The families aren't around anymore, so the city will take on the responsibility,' city manager Tim Grizzard said. TRENDING STORIES: Thousands of Georgians could lose food stamps next week 16-year-old in custody after hoax call about school gunman Food prices at SunTrust Park vs. Mercedes-Benz Stadium: What's the difference? The 35-year-old driver, Ray Antonio Baker, was arrested and charged with DUI. City officials said they will ask his insurance carrier to pay for the damage. 'Our plan is to go after the individual's insurance to pay for repairs. If that doesn't pay for everything, the city will certainly pick up the tab,' Grizzard said. Officials said this isn't the first time a driver has damaged headstones, but it's not a big enough problem to put up a wall. 'It's not something that has happened often enough that we need to put up a barrier. If it was a recurrent spot, we would do something,' Grizzard said. City officials said it could take weeks to repair the damage.
  • Their hug was silent, their smiles broad. After more than six weeks in custody, a Mexican man who had been arrested despite his participation in a program designed to prevent the deportation of those brought to the U.S. illegally as children was freed Wednesday pending deportation proceedings. Daniel Ramirez Medina, 24, greeted his brother — also a participant in the program — in the lobby of the Federal Detention Center in Tacoma, surrounded by lockers and metal detectors. 'He's free to go,' a guard told them, and after conferring with one of his lawyers, Ramirez stepped into the sunshine and hugged his brother again for a crowd of news cameras waiting just beyond the chain link-and-barbed wire fence. He spoke to reporters briefly in Spanish, thanking his supporters, and later issued a written statement in English through his lawyers. 'I'm so happy to be reunited with my family today and can't wait to see my son,' it said. 'This has been a long and hard 46 days, but I'm so thankful for the support that I've gotten from everyone who helped me and for the opportunity to live in such an amazing country. I know that this isn't over, but I'm hopeful for the future, for me and for the hundreds of thousands of other Dreamers who love this country like I do.' Judge John Odell in Tacoma approved freeing the 24-year-old Ramirez on $15,000 bond until his next immigration court hearing. Immigration agents arrested him last month in suburban Seattle, saying he acknowledged affiliating with gangs. Officials then revoked his protected status. Ramirez adamantly denies any gang ties or making any such admission. He spent 40 minutes answering questions from prosecutors during a two-hour hearing Tuesday, repeatedly denying any gang connections, his attorney, Mark Rosenbaum, said. 'He answered every question the government put to him,' Rosenbaum said. 'He stayed true, and the government had no evidence whatsoever.' U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a statement Wednesday noting that Ramirez's own attorneys had twice declined to have their client participate in bond hearings that could have resulted in his earlier release — something his lawyers said was designed to keep his case in federal court, rather than immigration court. Immigration agents arrested Ramirez on Feb. 10 at an apartment complex where they had gone to arrest his father, a previously deported felon. Ramirez, who came to the U.S. at 7, has no criminal record and twice passed background checks to participate in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children to stay in the country and work. Immigration officials have started deportation proceedings against him. His legal team, which includes the Los Angeles based pro-bono firm Public Counsel as well as Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe, have pressed claims in federal court that the arrest and detention violated Ramirez's constitutional rights. They sought to keep the case out of immigration court, saying U.S. District Court was better suited to handle those claims. A federal magistrate judge in Seattle agreed to hear the constitutional claims, but declined to release him in the meantime. U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez upheld the decision not to release him last week, saying he instead should challenge his detention in immigration court. Martinez nevertheless said 'many questions remain regarding the appropriateness of the government's conduct' in arresting him. Among those questions, his lawyers have said, is whether U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents misinterpreted a tattoo on his forearm when they described it as a 'gang tattoo' in an arrest report. The lawyers say the tattoo, which says 'La Paz BCS,' pays homage to the city of La Paz in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur, where he was born. Ramirez's case is one of several recent arrests that have left immigration activists fearing an erosion of protections under the DACA program instituted by President Barack Obama in 2012. ICE agents in Portland, Oregon, on Sunday arrested Francisco J. Rodriguez Dominguez, a DACA participant who was brought to the U.S. from Morelia, in Mexico's Michoacan state, at age 5. Last December, he entered a diversion program following a drunken driving arrest and had attended all his court dates and required meetings, the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon said in a statement. The agency said Monday that it targeted Rodriguez Dominguez because of the DUI and that he would be released on bond pending deportation proceedings. About 750,000 immigrants have enrolled in the DACA program since it began.