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How hospital mold can cause 6 patients to die

iStock(SEATTLE) -- New details have emerged about patient deaths from infections linked to mold in Seattle Children's Hospital operating rooms.

Mold-linked infections over nearly two decades led to six deaths previously thought to be isolated events. An investigation this year found they were likely connected, the hospital announced last week.

"We now believe that these infections were likely caused by the air handling systems that serve our operating rooms," Dr. Jeff Sperring, the hospital's CEO, said in a statement.


The infections were triggered by Aspergillus, a "pretty ubiquitous" fungus, according to Dr. Liise-anne Pirofski, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Mold is a broad category, Pirofski explained. Unlike the household molds commonly found in wet kitchens or bathrooms, Aspergillus tends to be associated with building renovations or new construction.

While Aspergillus shouldn't be in a hospital operating room, it's also not something that could be completely eliminated from the hospital environment.

In Seattle, the majority of the hospital's operating rooms are now closed until the hospital can install a new air-filtration system.

Most people who come in contact with Aspergillus wouldn't experience health problems, but for people with impaired immunity or an open wound, each of which is more common in an operating room, exposure carries greater risk.

Skin, a barrier immunity, "is very, very important for preventing infectious diseases and mold infections," Pirofski said.

Since children tend to be more vulnerable to disease than adults, the patient population at Seattle Children's Hospital may have been an additional risk factor.

In the hospital's case, an immunocompromised population and Aspergillus combined to create deadly conditions.

"Two bad things have to happen in order for infections like this to occur," Pirofski said.

"Looking back, we should have recognized these connections sooner," Sperring said. "My job as CEO is to make this right and fix the problem so we can get back to taking care of the children who need us."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


More than 97,000 pounds of salad recalled over E.coli fears amid multi-state outbreak

whitemay/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- More than 97,000 pounds of salad products were recalled due to a possible E. coli contamination in the lettuce, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Tuesday.

Missa Bay, LLC, a New Jersey company, issued the recall for 97,272 pounds of salad products containing meat or poultry, the USDA said in a statement.

The USDA classified the health risk as "high" and said the department will "likely update the poundage" of affected products as more information becomes available.

A full list of recalled products is available here.

The recall comes amid a multi-state outbreak of E.coli infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A total of 17 people from 8 states have reported being infected with E.coli, the CDC said in a statement. Of those infected, 7 people were hospitalized.

There have been no fatalities, according to the CDC.

The Maryland Department of Health identified E.coli in an unopened package of Ready Pac Foods Bistro Chicken Caesar Salad that was collected from a sick person’s home in Maryland.

All products from the same lot of lettuce are included in the Missa Bay recall.

The recalled products were made from Oct. 14, through Oct. 16, and shipped throughout the country to Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Calls to Missa Bay were not immediately returned.

Investigators are determining if the sample of E.coli found in the Ready Pac salads are closely related to the strain, identified as E.coli 0157:H7, found in people infected in the outbreak, according to the CDC.

Most people infected with that strain of E.coli can experience diarrhea, which is often bloody, and vomiting. Many of those infected recover within a week, but, in rare cases, a person can develop a severe infection.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


More than 40 Colorado schools close after virus outbreak

jarun011/iStock(MESA COUNTY, Colo.) -- A school district in Colorado closed more than 40 schools this week after a virus quickly spread among students and staff.

It’s the first time the school district has ever closed due to illness.

“We are taking this highly unusual action because this virus is extremely contagious and spreading quickly across our schools,” Tanya Marvin, the district’s nursing coordinator, said in a statement.

Local health officials haven’t pinpointed the exact illness but said, “it acts a lot like norovirus,” and lasts between 12 and 24 hours.

Norovirus, which is also known as the stomach bug (not to be confused with influenza), is highly contagious. Symptoms can include rapid onset of vomiting and diarrhea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Colorado, there were “several incidences of vomiting in public areas of the schools,” the Mesa County Public Health Department said.

The students will remain out of school until after the Thanksgiving break.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Everything you need to know to treat and prevent urinary tract infections

Hailshadow/iStock(NEW YORK) -- If you’re reading this, there's a good chance you’ve experienced a urinary tract infection.

A UTI occurs when bacteria enters the bladder from the urethra. It can affect any part of your urinary tract, but bladder infections are the most common.

As many as 60% of women will experience a UTI during their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Symptoms of UTI’s vary and can be highly unpleasant due to symptoms like constant peeing or urges to pee, even when your bladder is empty, and pain or burning while peeing.

All genders can get a UTI, but women are more susceptible because of anatomy: Women have shorter urethras that are closer to the rectum than men, making it easier for bacteria to infect the urinary tract.

“We see them in every age group,” said ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton. “Sometimes they're isolated for a woman or teenage girl and sometimes they can be chronic or recurrent.”

Pregnancy, sexual activity, menopause and a previous UTI can increase your risk of getting one, and babies and postmenopausal women are more likely than other age group to get them.

I think I have a UTI. What should I do?

First, drink plenty of water. This helps flush out any bacteria adhering to the wall of the bladder. If you really want to hydrate, several studies have found that drinking cranberry juice can help prevent UTIs by protecting against bacteria buildup in the bladder.

If possible, ask your health care provider for a urine culture. A urine culture tests for bacteria in your pee, which helps your doctor identify the antibiotic that’s best to treat it.

“It is so important to try to get that urine culture because if your symptoms disappear and then come back, and you have to be treated again, we really need to know what that bacteria was that was causing the infection,” Dr. Ashton said.

Results of urine cultures can take a few days, so if that’s not logistically possible, ask for a urine microscopy. This test quickly checks for blood, glucose, pH and byproducts of bacteria in the urine as potential indicators of a UTI. It can even be found at the drugstore if you want to test yourself.

Do I need antibiotics?

Then comes what Ashton calls "the fork in the road": Do you get a prescription for antibiotics or leave the UTI untreated?

In some cases, it’s safe or even best not to take antibiotics. About 40% to 50% of UTIs will disappear on their own without any antibiotic treatment. What’s more, frequent exposure to antibiotics can actually make bacteria resistant to the drugs, a problem commonly associated with treating UTIs.

"Not every time that bacteria is found in the urine is treatment with antibiotics necessary," Ashton said. "It's important for people to know that if they are having symptoms, they don't have to be frightened that not taking a prescription of antibiotics will endanger their health."

Over-the-counter Pyridium and cranberry juice can provide relief as you power through symptoms.

A health care provider can help you decide if treatment is necessary and, if so, what the right treatment is. Not every antibiotic is appropriate for a urinary tract infection, which is caused by E. coli nearly 90% of the time.

"We prescribe certain antibiotics based on what bacteria we think is most likely to be causing the given infection," Ashton said.

Nitrofurantoin and bactrim are best for treating a UTI, according to the Infectious Disease Society of America.

Other antibiotics often used to treat UTIs, such as ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin, can have serious side effects. Ciprofloxacin, in rare cases, can be associated with tendon ruptures and psychiatric issues.

"You want to make sure, if you're being treated, that you're taking the right antibiotic, the right dose, for the right length of time and not just automatically take what's been handed to you," Ashton said.

How do I prevent future UTIs?

The best way to prevent a possible infection is to stay hydrated.

"We have a saying in medicine and surgery," Ashton said. "The secret to pollution is dilution."

When flooded, bacteria have a harder time surviving. That means guzzling water, not sugary drinks, which can actually irritate your bladder.

Peeing before and after sex, and taking showers after sex will also ensure that bacteria is pushed out.

"This is not suggesting that people are dirty," Ashton said. “But we have to remember when you talk about bacteria, you're oftentimes talking about things that are microscopic."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


New technology may protect military working dogs from hearing loss

U.S. Army via Zeteo Tech(NEW YORK) -- New technology has been developed to protect U.S. military working dogs from temporary and permanent hearing loss that can arise from high-decibel noise in training, transport and operations.

An Army small business innovation program provided a grant to Zeteo Tech, Inc., a Maryland-based company, to develop the Canine Auditory Protections System (CAPS) to prevent hearing loss in military working dogs, according to a press release from Army Combat Capabilities Development Command's Army Research Laboratory.

Military working dogs were thrust into the spotlight late last month when a team of U.S. special operators conducted a raid on the compound of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in western Syria. A Belgian Malinois chased Baghdadi into a dead-end tunnel where he ultimately detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and two young children as well as injuring the dog. That canine, later identified as Conan, was heralded by the White House and the Pentagon as a hero.

The technology has already been successful in tests with military and federal law enforcement working dogs, providing a "significant reduction in short-term hearing loss" for the canines, the Army said.

"Even a short helicopter flight can affect a dog's hearing, resulting in impaired performance and inability to hear the handler's commands, which can hinder the mission," said Dr. Stephen Lee, senior scientist at Army Research Office. "This new technology protects the canine while on missions and can extend the dog's working life."

Current hearing protection for canines was described by the Army as "rigid, cumbersome and hard to put on the dog, with limited effectiveness in testing for the protection of canine hearing."

In contrast, CAPS uses lightweight, high-quality absorption materials to block noise. The final product is also flexible enough to conform to a dog's head, ensuring "proper sealing around the ear and maximum sound reduction."

"The snood-style headgear, resembling a close-fitting hood, uniformly distributes the pressure required to hold the hearing protection in place, while avoiding challenges associated with straps," the Army said. "At a little more than an inch thick, the device's low profile will not be a hindrance for dogs working in tight spaces. It is also compatible with other gear used by working dogs, such as goggles."

Zeteo partnered with Pete Scheifele M.D., Ph.D., a retired Navy lieutenant commander, professor at the University of Cincinnati and leading animal audiology expert, according to the Army.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Flu season, with activity in 30 states, gets earliest start in a decade

iStock(NEW YORK) -- The flu has come early this year, with at least 30 states are already seeing flu activity, including widespread activity in California, Louisiana and Maryland, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It's unclear how severe this year's flu strain will be, or how long flu season will last, but it's the earliest start in a decade.

"Flu is off to a vigorous start," said Dr. William Schaffner, medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. "[It's] earlier than in any of the previous recent years."

Although people often brush off the prospect of contracting the flu, the infectious disease is deadlier than many realize. Nearly 80,000 Americans died and 96,000 were hospitalized during the 2017-2018 flu season, the CDC reported.

The best defense against the flu is an annual vaccine, which experts recommend getting earlier in the season because it takes about two weeks to kick in.

"So far, there is a good match between the circulating flu viruses and the vaccine," Schaffner said. But if past years' trends are any indication of what will happen this year, about half of Americans will ignore health experts' advice on flu vaccines. Only 40% of U.S. adults got vaccinated during the 2017-2018 flu season, according to the CDC.

On Wednesday, during a House hearing on the flu vaccine, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, addressed one of the driving forces behind flu vaccine hesitancy.

"It's because of this so-called misperception that it really doesn’t work," he said. "I think we need to emphasize that even though it isn't 100% effective, even a modestly effective vaccine will prevent you from getting infected."

Ultimately, the agency's goal is not only to improve the seasonal flu vaccine, but to work toward a universal flu vaccine that Americans could receive once and be protected in future years.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Three baby feeding tips from baby expert duo on Instagram

LightFieldStudios/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Ever struggled with feeding a baby?

For many parents it can be a frustrating and messy event during every meal, but Megan McNamee and Judy Delaware are teaching other parents how simple it can be.

They’re the founders and experts behind “Feeding Littles,” a website where they provide online courses for parents who are trying to learn how to feed their infants or toddlers.

“I think so many parents have this kind of expectation that when they have a child they’re going to serve them every kind of food, and they’re gonna eat every kind of food, and sometimes that just doesn’t happen,” said McNamee. “We realize that can be more complicated than we think.”

For five years, the duo has been helping parents become more comfortable with feeding their kids through different techniques that either introduce them to new foods, re-introduce foods they once loved, how to get them to feed themselves and even some proper eating etiquettes at the dining table to make mealtimes more peaceful.

The duo started their program about five years ago when McNamee was teaching infant feeding classes as a dietician nutritionist in the Phoenix, Arizona area. She was introduced to Delaware, an occupational therapist and feeding specialist, by a mutual friend when she was struggling to teach those infants who became toddlers how to eat food.

With each of their skills, and mothers themselves, they wanted to do more to help other parents and began their program to provide support for parents around mealtimes.

“We had a mission that we wanted to accomplish,” Delaware told ABC News' Good Morning America. “We knew what we were gonna do within the first phone call.”

Since 2014, their business has grown and they now have nearly half a million followers on Instagram.

Here are a few of Judy and Megan’s tips for feeding babies:

1. Let babies feed themselves

To introduce new foods to babies, Megan and Judy teach a methodology where they encourage parents to have their babies feed themselves from the start.

“We’re talking about longer strips of food that the baby can hold onto, and grab with their hand, and bring to their mouth,” said Megan who suggested starting with foods that are accessible like avocados, sweet potatoes and bananas.

By introducing foods as early as possible, parents will be able to detect food allergies sooner rather than later.

“In the past, we used to wait to be able to introduce those foods,” said Judy. “The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending to start those foods at a much younger age before a child is actually nine months.”

2. Teach intuitive eating

Judy and Megan say how you feed your baby is just as important as what you feed them.

“Intuitive eating is essentially trusting our body’s innate signals of hunger and fullness to know when to start eating, when to stop and what foods feel best in our bodies,” said Megan, who mentioned that it’s a skill that many adults don’t have.

Although babies can’t overfeed themselves, parents can apply intuitive eating to mealtimes by getting their babies to feed themselves.

“We’re trying to keep them in kind of this safe sphere where they know that they’ll get food when they’re hungry, at a regular interval, not necessarily all day long so they’re grazing, but more regular meals and snacks where they can tell when they’re full,” said Megan.

3. Reintroduce foods

Sometimes, babies may start off liking a certain food and then rejecting them. Judy and Megan say it’s completely normal developmentally for this to happen. Their solution? Simply, don’t give up and don’t change your eating routine.

“Keep doing what you’re doing,” said Judy. “Continue to offer meals at the same time. Be the best role model that you can be with your child.”

Judy and Megan suggest turning the food into something else like a puree or a mash and try 20 or even 30 times if they keep rejecting the food.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


South Dakota launches 'Meth. We're On It.' anti-drugs campaign

RapidEye/iStock(PIERRE, S.D.) -- South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem launched a new anti-drugs campaign aimed at tackling methamphetamine use in the state which she described as “growing at an alarming rate.”

The campaign, branded “Meth. We’re on it.” will comprise public service announcements, commercials, billboards and social media ads featuring the “I’m on meth” tagline.

Gov. Noem said the campaign sought to tackle a meth “epidemic” in South Dakota in a Facebook Live appearance to promote the launch of the campaign.

She said that 13 people in South Dakota died last year from meth overdoses and that there were 3,000 arrests tied to meth and its use in the state during the same period.

Noem added that the number of 9th grade-age children in the state who had tried meth was double the national average.

She also said what the campaign tagline was referring to was “that each one of us, no matter who we are, that we’re on the case of meth.”

The campaign however, attracted some comment on social media suggesting users believed the tagline was ambiguous.

“So South Dakota paid $449,000 to a msp marketing agency to tell everyone they’re on meth. not sure about this one,” user @laurenarnold20 wrote on Twitter.

 

so south dakota paid $449,000 to a msp marketing agency to tell everyone they’re on meth. not sure about this one. pic.twitter.com/8Pwc3dhT4m

— soarin’ lauren (@LaurenArnold20) November 18, 2019

 

Another user suggested the campaign sounded more like an advertisement for the drug.

 

Is South Dakota trying to advertise meth? pic.twitter.com/KOTESkbaip

— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) November 18, 2019

 

Gov. Noem addressed the controversy in a tweet herself, saying “the whole point of this ad campaign is to raise awareness.”

 

Hey Twitter, the whole point of this ad campaign is to raise awareness. So I think that’s working... #thanks #MethWeAreOnIt

⬇️⬇️⬇️https://t.co/hopPjqa95w

— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) November 18, 2019

 

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Three tips from baby whisperer to help newborns fall asleep

monkeybusinessimages/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Peaceful nights are hard to come by for new parents.

It is often an impossible task to soothe restless, crying newborns, but it’s a piece of cake for Cara Dumaplin, the founder and resident nurse of Taking Cara Babies.

After helping parents who were struggling to get their babies to sleep, Dumaplin started Taking Cara Babies in 2013 when she realized that she wanted to help parents on a bigger scale.

As a mother of four herself, Dumaplin also struggled to get her firstborn to sleep as an infant.

"I was exhausted," Dumaplin told ABC News' Good Morning America. "My baby was cranky and my husband was at the end of his rope. And that got me started on this journey to infant sleep. I just wasn’t the mom that I knew I could be."

After months of sleepless nights, Dumaplin was on a mission to find the answers to getting her baby to sleep. She started using evidence-based scientific research and applied them to her daughter’s sleep schedule, and it worked.

Taking Cara Babies has a team of 16 professionals who work to empower parents and families worldwide to get their little ones to sleep with resources like online classes, phone consults, email support, blogs and even social media.

With over 500,000 followers on Instagram, Dumaplin’s baby-sleeping tips online aren’t just helpful for more than half a million parents, they’re changing lives.

Here are some of Dumaplin’s tips for well-rested sleep with a newborn baby:

1. Give your baby a sleep space

Dumaplin’s top tip is to start teaching your baby early to fall asleep on their own. In a safe sleep space, lay your baby in a bassinet or crib with nothing in it. If there’s any loose bedding, toys, stuffed animals or bumpers, get rid of it. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nothing should be in the crib before the age of 12 months.

2. Create a cozy and familiar environment

While adults are most comfortable falling asleep in their own beds, Dumaplin points out that newborn babies were most comfortable when they were in the womb. In order to get them sleeping peacefully, she says to create a familiar environment similar to the womb to remind them of that safe, secure place.

"Think about how nice and secure a womb is -- it’s snug in there," she said. "So that’s why we swaddle babies in the first few weeks and months of life."

Dumaplin also says a sound machine can help replicate the sounds that a baby remembers when they were in the womb.

3. Learn a baby’s sleepy cues

Dumaplin says that in order to get on the same page as your baby, you have to learn their language, and that’s through sleepy cues. She says that when babies start staring off into space or when their eyebrows turn red, it’s a sign that they’re tired.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Marie Kondo's five tips for tidying up with kids

kate_sept2004/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Since Marie Kondo released her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, many have followed her KonMari method in the pursuit of a clean home and items that "spark joy."

Now, the queen of tidying up is out with a new children’s book to show others that tidying up is not just an important life skill for adults, but for kids too.

In her new book, Kiki and Jax: The Life-Changing Magic of Friendship, Jax teaches Kiki how to tidy up just like Kondo has taught others in her book and Netflix series.

Similar to how Kondo has taught adults, the characters in her new book dump out all their toys and see which ones "spark joy," then categorize and organize them.

While teaching kids the KonMari method -- let alone how to clean -- may sound daunting, kids will find tidying up enjoyable if parents also find it fun.

"I think a very important part of that is how enjoyable the parents seem to be as they’re folding and tidying up," said Kondo. "That’s a big part of how the children are gonna perceive it."

Here are some of Marie Kondo’s tips for tidying up with kids:

1. Set an example

Children learn by example, so first make sure you have completed your own tidying! If you discover something that no longer sparks joy for you, include your children in the process of thanking the item and letting it go.

2. Narrate as you tidy

As you tidy, explain to your children what you’re doing so they can learn from you. Try to convey that tidying up is part of maintaining a comfortable home. If they see their parents tidying regularly with a smile, children will think of tidying as a positive everyday activity.

3. Give everything a home

Children’s toys seem to multiply and quickly become scattered throughout the house. Make sure your children understand where their toys belong. By returning items to their homes, children develop an awareness -- and ultimately, an appreciation -- of what they already possess. Then they can assist you with putting away their own toys.

4. Make tidying playful

Show your children that tidying and playing go together. When children are about 1 year old and begin to walk, encourage them to put their belongings away after play.

5. Respect spatial limitations

Recognizing that space is limited will keep your home from being overtaken by your children’s belongings. Don't get upset with yourself if things don't always look how you want them to.

Courtesy of KonMari Media, Inc.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Mom whose son died three hours after birth donates milk she pumped in his honor

Sierra Stragheld(NEW YORK) -- In a time of tremendous grief, one woman chose to help the babies of other moms to honor the one she lost. Sierra Strangfeld made the selfless decision to pump breast milk for donation, even though her baby was gone.

Strangfeld had oped to breastfeed her baby boy, Samuel. But a little more than halfway through her pregnancy, she found out her baby had Trisomy 18, a rare genetic condition that affects about 1 in 6,000 live births.

When it became clear Samuel was not going to survive much longer in utero, Strangfeld had an emergency c-section. He lived for three hours.

"His hands were clenched, his feet were clubbed, he was small," she told ABC News' Good Morning America. "But he was so perfect. He fought so hard to be able to meet us. Our baby boy was put on this Earth for a reason."

Since Strangfeld's daughter was fed from donor milk supplied by her sister-in-law, so she wanted to help other moms now.

"I've always wanted to be able to help another mom in need. Samuel would have had a hefty NICU stay had he survived, so I know we would have had to use donated milk to a point. Now I can be the one helping others," she said.

Strangfeld donated 500 ounces of pumped breast milk.

In a Facebook post, she wrote in part, "And today, his due date, I donated my milk to the NICU milk banks for the first and last time. Walking through the hallways of the hospital was just another step in healing. And I know, (because I felt him), that Samuel was there with me."

The Neillsville, Wisconsin, mom told GMA that "Although some days were terrible, and it would have been easier to just quit, Samuel's the reason I had milk to give. It was one thing physically connecting me to him here on Earth."

Strangfeld and her husband, Lee, hope to one day establish a foundation in their son's name. Right now, "Smiling for Samuel" has a T-shirt campaign to raise awareness of Trisomy 18 and there's a scholarship in his name.

"Pumping is not for the faint of heart. It's hard. Mentally and physically. And it's even harder when you don't actually have a baby," she wrote in her post. "I couldn't save Samuel's life, but maybe I could save another baby's life."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Teenage athlete suddenly dies of mono after playing in a hockey game

Adam_Lazar/iStock(CHICAGO) -- A teenage hockey player died suddenly after playing in a game from complications with mononucleosis – an infection he was not even aware that he had.

Gabe Remy’s teammates on the Chicago Fury said that they could see signs he wasn’t feeling well last week but just figured that it was symptoms of the flu or perhaps something similar.

"[He was] hunched over a lot. Feeling really tired, said his stomach was bugging him," teammate Joseph D'Alessandro told ABC News’ Chicago station WLS-TV. "You could tell he was in a lot of pain. He said there was pain in his shoulder blade, he was throwing up out in the locker room."

Remy insisted, however, that he would persevere through the pain and sickness even if he wasn’t feeling well.

"He was excited to play. We love our guys to be aggressive and to go out there and compete hard, and he never had a problem competing," said Al Dorich, head coach of the Chicago Fury.

According to D’Allesandro, Remy played well in his last game. "If it was your first time watching him you wouldn't have known the difference," he said.

Remy took a turn for the worse after the game and reportedly barely made it home. By early Sunday morning he was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery to treat a ruptured spleen. He died later that day.

Doctors said his cause of death was complications of mono which neither Remy nor his teammates even knew he had.

Remy had only just graduated from high school this past June and had hopes of trying to pursue a professional hockey career but his sudden death has left his team devastated.

"I kind of, like, expected to come to the rink today and have him here, so. I'm kind of in shock still," said Zack Zeidel, teammate.

"I couldn't even walk toward my stuff," said D'Alessandro. “I kind of just sat there … I think it would have brought him some kind of comfort that he fought through that last game with all the guys that love him, and he loved.”

Dying from mono is extremely rare but complications can happen and lead to an enlarged spleen or massive enlargement of the tonsils and adenoids which can, but very seldomly, lead to death.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Navy researchers working on PFAS-free firefighting foams that don't pose a health risk

(U.S. Navy) PFAS-free firefighting foam was tested in late October at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C.(WASHINGTON) -- Testing is still at a small scale, but U.S. Navy researchers are encouraged by their work to develop new firefighting foams that do not contain the "forever chemicals" known as PFAS, that at high levels have been linked to increased health risks, including cancer.

PFAS, which stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl, is known as a "forever chemical" because it never degrades and will remain in the soil permanently.

While found in a variety of household products and non-stick surfaces, PFAS compounds are found in large concentrations in the firefighting foams first developed by the U.S. military more than 50 years ago to put out jet-fuel fires at military bases and aboard warships.

Over time, the PFAS in the foam enters the groundwater surrounding some military bases, which affects drinking water.

The Pentagon has made tackling the risks of PFAS contamination at military bases and surrounding communities a top priority.

Part of that effort includes developing a firefighting foam that is PFAS-free but maintains the ability to put out jet fuel fires quickly.

"We have two goals. One is to eliminate PFAS, so we're working with completely fluorine-free materials" Dr. Ramagopal Ananth, a Navy Research Laboratory chemical engineer and principal investigator, told ABC News. The other goal is to "provide the same level of protection to the warfighter."

For the past two years, Ananth and other researchers have been working with silicon as a potential replacement for PFAS in the foams.

"We believe that there are certain aspects of silicon that behave like fluorine, but maybe reduce the toxicity or eliminate it," Ananth said. "And we can maybe get the same results."

The silicon is not only bio-degradable but is also "cannot make any PFAS at all," according to Ananth.

Current foams, known formally as AAAF aqueous film-forming foams, work by covering a burning liquid's film layer preventing fuel vapors from continuing to fuel the fire.

"The foam layer is the key part that we want to mimic," Ananth said.

"Past efforts have really focused on the film-forming aspect of AAAF," Katherine Hinnant, an NRL chemical engineer, told ABC News. "We think that the foam plays a bigger role in this process. So we're choosing to focus on the foam layer and not just the film layer."

"We're very excited to work with different molecules and make different molecules that might incorporate silicon," Hinnant said.

Promising results of the new foam in the test lab led to a larger test in late October at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C.

In that test, a six-foot-wide pool of fuel was set ablaze so a trained firefighter could spray the new foam to see whether it could extinguish the fire.

Video of that test showed that the fires were extinguished completely, though at various timeframes.

Researchers have partnered with universities to study if there are any long-term environmental or health impacts from the use of silicon in the new foams.

Other researchers with military services and commercial partners are also working on other alternatives to PFAS in the firefighting foams.

For now, Navy researchers are encouraged by their results, but they acknowledge a lot more work remains.

"We don't want to be forced into finding an alternative that might be bad for the environment," Hinnant said. "So at this time, we're really just doing the basic research that needs to be done to ensure that the molecules that we're putting out, the things that we say are going to benefit the warfighter are really things that we have data to back up."



"It takes time, but we're very encouraged by it and know that the work that we're doing is really important," she added.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Proposed Trump administration policy pushes for transparency in health care costs

Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour(WASHINGTON) -- The Trump administration announced a plan Friday that would require hospitals to disclose negotiated rates with insurance companies in an effort to increase transparency for consumers.

"This will have a tremendous impact on prices," President Donald Trump said Friday.

Under the final rule, hospitals also would be required to publicly show the cost and description of a specific item or service online in an "easily accessible" way.

"Our goal was to give patients the knowledge they need about the real price of health care services. They’ll be able to check them, compare them, go to different locations so they can shop for the highest quality care at the lowest cost," Trump said.

The policy put forth by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, "will require hospitals to provide patients with clear, accessible information about their ‘standard charges’ for the items and services they provide, including through the use of standardized data elements, making it easier to shop and compare across hospitals, as well as mitigating surprises," HHS said in its announcement.

The rule is set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021, according to HHS, so hospitals have time to comply with the new policies. And if hospitals fail to comply, they could ultimately face fines.

"President Trump has promised American patients 'A ' healthcare transparency, but right now our system probably deserves an F on transparency," Alex Azar, Health and Human Services secretary, said in a statement.

Calling the policy "revolutionary" for the healthcare system, Azar also said Friday’s announcement "may be a more significant change to American healthcare markets than any other single thing we've done, by shining light on the costs of our shadowy system and finally putting the American patient in control."

The administration also announced a proposed rule on Friday that "would require most employer-based group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group and individual coverage to disclose price and cost-sharing information to participants, beneficiaries and enrollees upfront."

HHS said this proposed rule would allow consumers to compare prices by offering "real-time, personalized access to cost-sharing information."

Additionally, as part of the proposed rule, health care plans would be required to put the "negotiated rates for in-network providers and allowed amounts paid for out-of-network providers" on a public website.

However, opponents of the rules argue they could confuse consumers and ultimately drive up costs.

"Unfortunately, the rules the administration released today will not help consumers better understand what health services will cost them and may not advance the broader goal of lowering health care costs," said Blue Cross Blue Shield Association President and CEO Scott Serota.

Serota added in his statement that "clinicians and medical facilities could see in the negotiated payments a roadmap to bidding up prices rather than lowering rates."

The Trump administration previously pushed to increase transparency in the healthcare industry – in May when HHS also announced that drug makers would be required to disclose their list prices in television advertisements.

"Under the status quo, healthcare prices are about as clear as mud to patients," said Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma in a statement.

She later added: "This final rule and the proposed rule will bring forward the transparency we need to finally begin reducing the overall healthcare costs. Today's rules usher in a new era that upends the status quo to empower patients and put them first."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Mom makes plea to lawmakers after daughter's death from Toxic Shock Syndrome

Dawn Massabni(NEW YORK) -- It was late March in 2017 when Madalyn Massabni flew home from college to spend her 19th birthday with her mother.

Dawn Massabni, a mom of two from Rumson, New Jersey, said she was looking forward to celebrating with Maddy, whose smile could light up a room.

At the time, Maddy was studying fashion at Lynn University in Florida and had dreams of working backstage at runway shows.

"She dressed how she wanted and didn't fear judgement. She did a little modeling and she loved it," Massabni told ABC News' Good Morning America. "She was on the cover of a magazine. And her favorite thing to do was be at the beach -- even in the winter, she'd bundle up.

"She had this contagious laugh, so when she walked in, people would say, 'Oh, Maddy is here,'" Massabni said.

'I miss hearing, "I love you, Mommy"'

On March 27, Maddy's birthday, she and her mother went out to dinner. Massabni said Maddy wasn't feeling well when the two got home. Maddy got sick, but rested in hopes she'd improve.

"I said, 'We'll go to the doctor first thing in the morning,'" Massabni recalled. "The next morning she could hardly respond to me and she couldn't speak. I don't even know if she knew who I was and I called 911 right away."

Massabni said first responders arrived to her home, but at that point, Maddy had experienced a seizure.

"I was holding her and she looked at me and closed her eyes ... I was yelling, 'I love you so much. Please don't leave me,'" Massabni said. "She had a heart attack in my arms and stopped breathing."

Maddy was brought to the hospital, and doctors tried to revive her. The following day, the teen's health took a turn for the worst. Her family made the decision to take off ventilators, and she died on March 30, three days after her 19th birthday.

A tearful Massabni said life hasn't been the same for her and her son, Georgie, since losing Maddy.

"The three of us were very close, extremely close. She would talk to Georgie several times a day. They did everything together," Massabni said. "He had to say goodbye to his sister. I don't know how he graduated, but he did. He went on to grad school and when I asked him, 'Why?' He said, 'I want to make Maddy proud.'"

"It's been torture and hell since the day she left me," she added. "I miss her so much. I miss hearing, 'I love you, Mommy.'"

Maddy had her period over the course of her sudden illness and was using tampons. Her official cause of death was Toxic Shock Syndrome, Massabni said.

What is Toxic Shock Syndrome?

Toxic Shock Syndrome is a rare but serious illness caused by some types of staphylococcus bacteria. Not all TSS cases are linked to tampons, but women who use them are at greater risk. Women who are not menstruating, men and children also may contract TSS due to infections associated with skin or surgical wounds, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists told GMA that leaving a tampon in your vagina for too long is a risk factor linked to TSS. In some cases, TSS can result in the amputations of fingers or toes or limbs, or even death.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, cases of menstrual and non-menstrual TSS are estimated to be around 0.8 to 3.4 per 100,000 people in the United States. If left untreated, it can be fatal.

"While the mortality rates have decreased over the past two decades, they still vary from 1.8 [to] 12%," the NCBI states on its website. "For those patients who are misdiagnosed or the treatment is delayed, the mortality can exceed 50%. For this reason, healthcare workers should be aware of the disorder and even if they do not manage it, should be able to make a prompt referral."

The ACOG recommends that women should change tampons every four to eight hours.

Dr. Jacques Moritz, medical director of Tia Women's Health Clinic in New York, told GMA that it's also important for women to learn early signs and symptoms of TSS to recognize it as soon as possible.

"The culprit seems to be these super absorbent tampons and it seems to be time-related, meaning the longer it’s in, the more of a chance it happens," said Moritz, adding that there aren't enough reliable studies on TSS in association with tampons. "Bacteria causes it. [If] super absorbent ones are going to stay in longer, the longer you can forget that it is in. And if you don't have leak-throughs, women could forget."

Here are potential symptoms of TSS, according to Moritz and to the ACOG:

• Low blood pressure
• Fever
• A rash on the palms, soles or any place on the body that looks like a sunburn
• Body aches
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Confusion

'It's a horrible death that can be prevented'

Since Maddy's death, Massabni has made it her mission to educate women and girls on TSS and safe tampon use by speaking at schools and universities.

Her 501C3 foundation, Don't Shock Me, was created in honor of Maddy to spread awareness on the infection.

On Nov. 14, Massabni had a meeting with the Food and Drug Administration, to discuss potentially new regulations for tampon manufacturers.

Currently, the FDA's code of federal regulations on user labeling for menstrual tampons states that if TSS risks, warning signs and information on when to seek medical attention is "included in the package insert," then the following alert should appear legibly on the package label:

"Attention: Tampons are associated with Toxic Shock Syndrome. TSS is a rare but serious disease that may cause death. Read and save the enclosed information."

Massabni's asking the FDA to include a bigger, bolder warning on every box, along with signs and symptoms of TSS on the inside flap -- not just on the paper insert, which girls probably are tossing in the trash, she said.

"There are [bold] warnings for things like cigarettes, alcohol and drugs -- we want tampons to have those same type of warnings," Massabni said. "It's a horrible death that can be prevented. Families don't recover from this. I want her back."

While there are no specific guidelines, Moritz agrees the following could help prevent TSS while using tampons:

1. Use tampons with lower absorbency
2. When your flow is heavier, change your tampon more often
3. Alternate with menstrual pads
4. Never be ashamed to go to your doctor, emergency room or urgent care center if you're experiencing symptoms, or forgot to remove your tampon, Moritz said.

Massabni is also fighting to have "Maddy's Law" passed in her county, which would mandate students in fifth grade, and higher grades, have information sessions on TSS. She's asking for anyone who's experienced TSS to reach out on dontshockme.org or via email at dontshockme19@aol.com.

"I know Maddy would be really grateful for lives saved," Massabni said. "If she had made it through this, she would've been doing exactly what I'm doing."

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