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Latest from Sabrina Cupit

    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.'  
  • Sabrina Cupit

    Midday Anchor/ Health Reporter

    Sabrina is WSB's midday news anchor, a position she's held since 2000. She also serves as the station's Health Reporter, and has produced award-winning series on Defiibrillators and Elderly Drivers. For the past 5 years, Sabrina has been the CDC correspondant for WSB and CBS Network. You may also recognize Sabrina as one of the familiar Georgia Lottery hosts on WSB-TV. Sabrina joined Cox Radio in 1995, anchoring the news on the morning shows for B98.5-FM, WJZF Jazz Flavors, and WCNN. Around that same time, she served as an anchor for CNN Headline News and CNN Airport News. She's also a recognizable face in infomercials which air in markets including New York and California. Before entering the news business, Sabrina got her start in country music radio, at different times performing stints as morning show host and afternoon drive jock at WNGC in Athens; she also served as the station's Program Director. She spent several years with WDUN in Gainesville as a midday talk show host.

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  • Declaring an end to what he's called 'the war on coal,' President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday that eliminates numerous restrictions on fossil fuel production, breaking with leaders across the globe who have embraced cleaner energy sources. The order makes good on Trump's campaign pledge to unravel former President Barack Obama's efforts to curb global warming, eliminating nearly a dozen measures in an effort to boost domestic energy production, especially oil, natural gas and coal. Environmental activists, including former Vice President Al Gore, denounced the plan. But Trump said the effort would spark 'a new energy revolution' and lead to 'unbelievable' American prosperity. 'That is what this is all about: bringing back our jobs, bringing back our dreams and making America wealthy again,' Trump said during a signing ceremony at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters, where he was flanked on stage by more than a dozen coal miners. Throughout the election, Trump accused the former president of waging 'a war' against coal as he campaigned in economically depressed swaths of states like West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. The miners 'told me about the efforts to shut down their mines, their communities and their very way of life. I made them this promise: We will put our miners back to work,' the president said. 'My administration is putting an end to the war on coal.' But Trump's promise runs counter to market forces, including U.S. utilities converting coal-fired power plants to cheaper, cleaner-burning natural gas. And Democrats, environmental groups and scientists said the executive order ignores the realities of climate change. 'There is much our nation can do to address the risks that climate change poses to human health and safety, but disregarding scientific evidence puts our communities in danger,' said Rush Holt, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the nation's largest general scientific society. California Gov. Jerry Brown was more blunt. 'Gutting the Clean Power Plan is a colossal mistake and defies science itself. Erasing climate change may take place in Donald Trump's mind, but nowhere else,' Brown said. While Republicans have blamed Obama-era environmental regulations for the loss of coal jobs, federal data shows that U.S. mines have been shedding jobs for decades under presidents from both parties as a result of increasing automation and competition from natural gas. Another factor is the plummeting cost of solar panels and wind turbines, which now can produce emissions-free electricity cheaper than burning coal. According to an Energy Department analysis released in January, coal mining now accounts for fewer than 75,000 U.S. jobs. By contrast, renewable energy — including wind, solar and biofuels — now accounts for more than 650,000 U.S. jobs. Trump's order initiates a review of the Clean Power Plan, which restricts greenhouse gas emissions at coal-fired power plants. The regulation — Obama's signature effort to curb carbon emissions — has been the subject of long-running legal challenges by Republican-led states and those who profit from burning oil, coal and gas. The order also lifts a 14-month-old moratorium on new coal leases on federal lands. The Obama administration had imposed a three-year moratorium on new federal coal leases in January 2016, arguing that the $1 billion-a-year program must be modernized to ensure a fair financial return to taxpayers and address climate change. The order covers a range of other Obama-era rules, including repeal of measures to consider the 'social cost' of carbon emissions in all regulatory actions and crack down on methane emissions at oil and gas wells. The rule also eliminates an Obama-era rule restricting fracking on public lands and a separate rule that requires energy companies to provide data on methane emissions at oil and gas operations. In all cases, business groups had complained to Trump — a self-celebrated business tycoon — that the rules were overly burdensome and expensive. The American Petroleum Institute, the chief lobbying arm of the oil and gas industry, said Trump's new 'common-sense' regulations will help continue a domestic energy boom that 'benefits American consumers, workers and the environment.' Rewriting the Clean Power Plan and other regulations is likely to take years to complete and will face legal challenges from environmental groups and Democratic-leaning states such as California and New York. A coalition of 16 states and the District of Columbia said they will oppose any effort by the Trump administration to withdraw the Clean Power Plan or seek dismissal of a pending legal case before a federal appeals court in Washington. Brown said in an interview he is confident the Obama-era rule will be upheld in court. 'Climate change is real and is a great threat that cannot be ignored,' Brown said. The Trump administration has yet to decide whether it intends to withdraw from the international climate agreement signed in Paris, which sets ambitious goals to reduce carbon pollution. Trump's order could make it more difficult, though not impossible, for the U.S. to achieve its carbon reduction goals. The order does not withdraw a 2009 finding by the EPA that greenhouse gases endanger the public health and welfare. The finding, along with a 2007 Supreme Court ruling, forms the basis of the Clean Power Plan. Some conservative groups have pushed to withdraw the so-called endangerment finding, but Trump's EPA chief, Scott Pruitt, has said the finding 'needs to be enforced and respected.' Trump has called global warming a 'hoax' invented by the Chinese, and insisted he would protect clean air and water while boosting energy jobs. Pruitt alarmed environmental groups and scientists earlier this month when he said he does not believe carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming. The overwhelming majority of peer-reviewed studies and climate scientists agree the planet is warming, mostly due to man-made sources, including carbon dioxide, methane, halocarbons and nitrogen oxide. Gore blasted Trump's action as 'a misguided step away from a sustainable, carbon-free future for ourselves and generations to come.' But he said no one — not even Trump — 'can stop the encouraging and escalating momentum we are experiencing in the fight to protect our planet.' ___ Associated Press writer Michael Biesecker contributed to this report. ___ Follow Daly and Colvin on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MatthewDalyWDC and https://twitter.com/colvinj
  • The Latest on House Republicans and health care, tax cuts and other issues (all times local): 2:35 p.m. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says 'Obamacare' will stay in place after House Republicans failed to pass an alternative last week. McConnell indicated there are no plans in the Senate take up the issue. The Kentucky Republican told reporters Tuesday that 'It's pretty obvious we were not able in the House to pass a replacement. Our Democratic friends ought to be pretty happy about that because we have the existing law in place and I think we're just going to have to see how that works out.' House Speaker Paul Ryan insisted earlier that they would still try to repeal 'Obamacare.' But McConnell said: 'I want to thank the president and the speaker, they went all-out to try to pass repeal and replacement, sorry that didn't work.' __ 11:30 a.m. Speaker Paul Ryan says next month's governmentwide funding bill should not get ensnared with a fight over taking federal money away from Planned Parenthood. The Wisconsin Republican says 'defunding' Planned Parenthood belongs on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act. That legislation failed in the House last week but Ryan says it's more suitable since it addresses the organization's eligibility for Medicaid reimbursements. The idea to attach Planned Parenthood funding to the larger bill and risk a government shutdown has been the subject of media speculation but no GOP leader had displayed any enthusiasm for it. ___ 11:10 a.m. House Speaker Paul Ryan says his chamber will take another crack at a health care overhaul. But he's offering no timeline, and no details about how leaders would overcome GOP divisions that sunk their bill Friday. That retreat was a humiliating setback for President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans. Ryan spoke Tuesday after House Republicans met for the first time since he sidetracked his party's health care legislation just before a scheduled House vote. The measure was destined for defeat because of GOP opposition. Republican lawmakers say there's a consensus to keep working on health care. Conservatives say it didn't repeal enough of President Barack Obama's 2010 law. Moderates say it takes coverage away from too many people. Ryan says Republicans would try working out their differences over the measure. ___ 10:25 a.m. A member of the House Freedom Caucus says he will force the House to vote on a full repeal of former President Barack Obama's health care law in a month if the chamber hasn't acted to roll back the statute. Alabama Republican Mo Brooks also said Speaker Paul Ryan indicated the House would revisit the issue and that it would be 'fairly immediate.' Brooks spoke after divided House Republicans met to discuss strategy. Four days ago, Ryan abruptly canceled a vote on a GOP bill annulling much of Obama's law. That bill faced certain defeat due to Republican opponents, including the conservative Freedom Caucus. Brooks wants a vote on a measure that goes further in repealing Obama's overhaul. Ryan's move was a jolting setback for himself and President Donald Trump. __ 3:30 a.m. Congressional Republicans want to pivot to tax cuts and other issues following last week's House health care debacle. But the party remains riven into factions. And they're all over the map about how and when to return to their marquee pledge to eviscerate former President Barack Obama's 2010 health overhaul. House Republicans are scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss their agenda. It's their first gathering since House Speaker Paul Ryan suddenly abandoned plans last Friday for a vote on the GOP legislation. The retreat on the party's top legislative priority was a jarring defeat for President Donald Trump and Republican leaders. It also raised questions about whether the GOP could muster the unity needed on other issues. Republicans have issued mixed messages on what comes next on health care.
  • A woman was paying for parking in Midtown Sunday afternoon when a man slashed her throat and grabbed her handbag, Atlanta police said. Marla Franks was at a pay station at Juniper and 5th streets when the man tried to take her purse off her shoulder, according to an Atlanta police incident report. She resisted and held onto the bag.  “I will hurt you,” police said the man told Franks. She continued holding her purse. 'The man then took a knife and cut her throat about 5 to 6 inches,' Officer Stephanie Brown told Channel 2 Action News. He grabbed the purse and took off running, according to the police report. Fernando Bispo, who witnessed the attack, told police he ran after the man and got him to drop the handbag. Bispo stopped when the man turned the knife on him.  Another witness told police she saw a man jump the back fence of Kindred Hospital and offered to help him when he fell. She later learned about the robbery victim, according to the report. Police have not made any arrests in the incident. Bispo wasn’t injured in the encounter.  Franks had to get 17 stitches but was expected to recover. In other news:
  • Two men have been charged with murder in an October shooting outside a Pappadeaux in Marietta that began with a piece of costume jewelry and ended with a dead husband. Cobb police investigators filed the paperwork on Thursday against Dylan Marquis Ledbetter and Demarious Greene, both of whom were already in custody. The men are connected to violent crimes throughout Cobb and Cherokee counties. Ledbetter is also wanted in Florida on an attempted murder charge. Sentenced: Cobb man paid Filipino girls to perform online sex acts The Cobb murder charges stem from an Oct. 7 shooting. Cynthia and Anthony Welch were heading to their car after a birthday dinner at the Windy Hill Road restaurant when they were stopped in the parking lot. Cynthia Welch previously explained that a man shot her husband of 25 years and snatched the $5 costume necklace off her neck before shooting her and running away. The warrant doesn’t specify who police think pulled the trigger. Cobb man indicted in double murder of his mother and Buckhead teacher  Ledbetter was 22 when he was indicted in January for allegedly trying to run over officers with a car. A week after the Pappadeaux slaying, cops were trying to stop Ledbetter because the car he was driving matched the description of a vehicle connected to the shooting. Officers shot Ledbetter in his arm and leg as they said he sped toward them. Lab results in the Pappadeaux shooting were recently returned from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, and Cobb police were able to file charges in the case. Man facing death in Craigslist slaying of Marietta couple appears in court  Ledbetter has been in jail since Oct. 18. Two days before that, 21-year-old Green was booked into Cherokee County jail on charges of robbery, aggravated assault and other counts. Those Cherokee charges are from an Oct. 12 incident when the men allegedly stole a man’s necklace at gunpoint outside the Outlet Shoppes at Atlanta. Like Cobb County News Now on Facebook | Follow us on Twitter and Instagram.  Ledbetter has also been accused of a similar necklace-snatching crime in Sandy Springs. A woman told police she was holding her 1 year old and just getting home when a man snatched a gold chain off of her and the child. The men are awaiting indictment on the Pappadeaux charges. Authorities have not discussed how they will handle the pending charges in other jurisdictions.