Health

Fitness, well-being, disease, medical research and issues related to Seton and St. David's Healthcare, Austin Regional Clinic and other health care providers in Austin and Central Texas

A Georgetown man is being closely monitored, Williamson County health officials say, after sitting near Dallas nurse Amber Vinson on a flight from Cleveland to Dallas earlier this week.

Vinson was among those treating Thomas Eric Duncan, the man from Liberia who began exhibiting symptoms of Ebola shortly after he arrived in Dallas earlier this month. Duncan died eight days after being admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Gov. Rick Perry announced an executive order that will create a task force to handle the recent case of Ebola diagnosed in Dallas.

The 17-member Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response will enhance the state's readiness to handle pandemic disease, the governor’s office said in a press release. The head of the Texas A&M Health Science Center Dr. Brett P. Giroir will lead the task force.

“Over the past several days we have learned a lot about the unique challenges of situations like this,” Perry said. “And it’s important that we continue to adapt our responses to these realities.”

flickr.com/danielle_scott

Over 90,000 pounds of HEB ground beef products have been recalled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture after four consumers complained of metal in their ground beef, which was shipped from Sam Kane Beef Processing in Corpus Christi.

The USDA cautions consumers against four batches of ground beef:

  • Three-pound packages of “HEB Ground Chuck" with the location identification number 337.
  • Five-pound packages of “HEB Ground Beef” with 73 to 29 percent lean-to-fat ratio and the identification number 337 and a production date of Sept. 15, 2014 and a use by date of  Oct. 5, 2014.
  • 10-pound packages of “HEB Ground Beef” with 73 to 29 percent lean-to-fat ratio and the identification number 337 and a production date of Sept. 18, 2014 and a use by date of  Oct. 8, 2014.
  • 10-pound packages of pre-formed patties with the identification number 337 and a production date of Sept. 9, 2014 and a use by date of  Sept. 29, 2014.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Tuesday that the first case of Ebola has appeared in the U.S.

A man in Dallas has tested positive for the virus, the agency said. The man flew to the U.S. from Liberia, arriving on Sept. 20, NPR has learned. He wasn't sick on the flight, and had no symptoms when he arrived.

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

Ben Johnson is combing through a list of names, addresses and mental health histories in the driver seat of a Jeep Compass. He works for Austin’s Mobile Crisis Outreach Team, MCOT, a branch of Austin Travis County Integral Care comprised of 18 licensed mental health counselors who respond to mental health crises across the county.

Johnson is deciding who to visit today. Another patient has paranoia. In addition, she's having problems at home, and is in danger of losing her housing. 

Some people dream of climbing Mount Everest or riding a bicycle across the country. Mike Davidson's dream has been to create the perfect toothbrush, and now he thinks he's done it.

The saga of this brush tells a lot about the passion and persistence to take an idea and turn it into a product.

Ebola continues to spread in West Africa. The latest figures from the World Health Organization cite 1,848 cases of the disease across the region, and 1,013 deaths. Ebola's victims also include a missionary priest who died in Spain after being evacuated from Liberia last week.

The missionary, Miguel Pajares, 75, died at Madrid's Carlos III Hospital, where he was reportedly being treated with an experimental U.S.-made serum called ZMapp.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/prensa420/11875638094

Texas has one of the lowest rates of marijuana use in the country, according to a closely watched federal report. Recently released state level data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows less than five percent of Texas adults said they had used marijuana in the last month.

Among teenagers, six percent reporting having used marijuana in the last month. That rose to almost 14 percent for the 18-25 year old demographic. Only three percent of adults over 26 in Texas said they had used pot in the last month. The survey data was collected in 2010 and 2011. 

When Leanne Brown moved to New York from Canada to earn a master's in food studies at New York University, she couldn't help noticing that Americans on a tight budget were eating a lot of processed foods heavy in carbs.

"It really bothered me," she says. "The 47 million people on food stamps — and that's a big chunk of the population — don't have the same choices everyone else does."

A federal judge ruled on Monday that an Alabama law targeting doctors who perform abortions is unconstitutional, because it places an undue burden on women seeking an abortion.

If you show up at a hospital emergency department with a high fever and you just happen to have been traveling in Africa, don't be surprised if you get a lot of attention.

Hospitals are on the lookout for people with symptoms such as a high fever, vomiting and diarrhea who had been traveling in parts of West Africa affected by Ebola, following instructions from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Monday, New York's Mount Sinai Hospital announced that it was evaluating a patient who had recently been in West Africa.

When Elizabeth O'Connell was expecting her first child, she knew she wanted to breast-feed. And, she says, she sort of expected it to just happen, naturally.

That's not quite how it panned out. "I was experiencing very tremendous pain," she says.

At first she figured that was normal — but soon it became too much to handle. "I was devastated," she says. "The reality is nursing is a wonderful bonding experience, but when you're in pain, you aren't really thinking about that."

The head of the World Health Organization told leaders of the African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak that the deadly virus is "moving faster than our efforts to control it."

Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for Yahoo News

What do Latina women see when they see themselves represented in the media?

Austin-based nonprofit Latinitas and Univision Austin took to Twitter yesterday to sound off on the media’s portrayal of Latinas.

Latinitas co-founder Laura Donnelly-Gonzalez says the image of Latin American women presented in television and film is often that of a beautiful but petulant woman with little education.

“Most of the time [a Latina] is overly sexualized, she has a heavy accent and she’s put in these very dated roles,” Donnelly-Gonzalez says – an archetype not unlike Colombian actress Sofia Vergara’s character in ABC’s “Modern Family.”

flickr.com/wstryder

One challenge many homeless people face is fighting addiction. And that battle could get tougher for some, as an Austin nonprofit that helps people recover from addiction has closed its detox facility – meaning new hurdles for the homeless and uninsured who need detox services.

This month, nonprofit Austin Recovery closed its detox facility. The detox process isn't pretty – in fact, it can be rather dangerous. Patients needed to be monitored around-the-clock by highly trained medical staff, just as if they were in a hospital setting.

News about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa continues to go from bad to worse.

Last week a doctor leading the fight against the outbreak got sick in Sierra Leone. Now two American aid workers have tested positive for the virus in Liberia, and the outbreak has likely spread to a fourth country, Nigeria.

Though the vaccine against human papilloma virus is highly effective in preventing certain forms of cancer, the number of preteens getting the vaccine is still dismally low, doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.

"One of the top five reasons parents listed is that it hadn't been recommended to them by a doctor or nurse," the CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat told reporters at a press briefing.

Callie Richmond/Texas Tribune

The number of abortions in Texas decreased by about 13 percent statewide and 21 percent in the Lower Rio Grande Valley following the passage of strict abortion regulations that went into effect last November, according to a report that academic researchers released Wednesday. 

A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday dealt a significant blow to the Affordable Care Act, when it threw out an IRS regulation that governs subsidies. But before the ink dried on that decision, another three-judge panel hearing a similar case issued a decision that was completely opposite.

We often think about people spreading diseases around the world. This spring, vacationers brought chikungunya from the Caribbean to the United States. Businessmen have likely spread Ebola across international borders in West Africa. And health care workers have carried a new virus from the Middle East to Asia and Europe.

But what about (wo)man's best friend?

Despite questions raised by the Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case, women in most health plans will still be able to get their birth control covered with no out-of-pocket expenses.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT

For thousands of years, people have had an image of what life with leprosy is like. You might think it's been eradicated, but leprosy — now referred to as Hansen's disease — still affects hundreds of people in the U.S. every year. Many of those victims are in Texas but, with treatment, a life with leprosy is no longer a death sentence.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Rising summer temperatures could lead to expanded waistlines, according to a study announced today by University of Texas researchers.

Research from Paul von Hippel, an assistant professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, has shown that adults living in counties with the highest and lowest temperatures are the least active and by extension, the most obese. This especially holds true for areas with humid summers and dark winters.

Hippel and co-author Rebecca Benson, a UT doctoral student, studied each of the 3,000 counties in the United States, assessing different variables that could predict why some counties were more obese than others. Many of the counties in the Southeast account for areas with the highest rates of obesity. The mountain West, with cool, dry summers, represents the lowest proportion of obese adults.

In just 12 years, the oldest members of the huge baby-boom generation will turn 80. Many will need some kind of long-term care. A new study from AARP says that care could vary dramatically in cost and quality depending on where they live.

There were times a few years back when the emergency room at SUNY Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse looked like a scene from a zombie movie. Dr. Ross Sullivan, a physician there, recalls one afternoon when staff wheeled in a man with dilated pupils who was covered in sweat.

"The patient was screaming obscenities, and anybody he would pass, he was threatening and saying he was going to kill them," Sullivan recalls.

Police suspected the patient had taken "bath salts," the notorious synthetic stimulants that were ravaging scores of American communities at the time.

Shutterstock, KERANews.org

Update: The City of Kyle has banned the possession of e-cigarettes by minors.

The Kyle City Council voted unanimously to pass the ordinance – making it illegal for minors to use e-cigarettes and for businesses or individuals to sell or distribute them to anyone under 18.

The ordinance was researched and development by the Kyle Youth Advisory Council – made up of local high schoolers – who say they were concerned about the trend.

Those who break the rule could face a fine of up to $500 and be required to perform community service or attend a tobacco-awareness program.

patientio.com

Eat this, not that. Exercise daily – but don’t overdo it. Go easy on the salt. Limit your caffeine. Take the white pills in the morning with food and the yellow ones in the evening with water.

Wait – what?

Following the doctor’s orders isn’t always so easy – especially for people with chronic conditions, who often have multiple medical providers. Sometimes it's just plain confusing. Bur now a new app's come along to help with all that – and it could be a lifesaver.

Patient IO is being developed by Texas-based Filament Labs, a healthcare technology company headquartered in Austin. The new app promises to bridge the gap between patients and doctors. 

Laura Taylor https://flic.kr/p/4azUpY

More low-income Texas children have access to free and reduced price lunch over the summer than they did in 2012, according to a new report by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), based in Washington D.C.

FRAC says Texas added 297 "summer meal sites" across the state in 2013. Those are places at schools or non-profit organizations where children whose families make less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level can get reduced-price meals through the federal Summer Food Service Program or the National School Lunch Program. Children from families earning less than 130 percent of the federal poverty level get free meals.

Texas Pilot Program Combines Medicare, Medicaid Into One Plan

May 28, 2014
Spencer Selvidge/KUT

In Texas, about 400,000 people are on both Medicare and Medicaid. Right now, they’re on separate health plans: the state handles Medicaid, while the federal government oversees Medicare. 

But a pilot effort is underway to shed some redundancy and unnecessary cost – by folding the plans into one.  

Combining services under one plan would help people get the care they need in an appropriate facility – a nursing home instead of a hospital, for example, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Spokesperson Stephanie Goodman says it increases cost-saving incentives if one plan is not making decisions that are paid for by the other plan. "By combining it, you can get people better care in the right setting, lower costs generally, and the savings can be shared by both the state and federal government," Goodman says.

The inspector general of the Department of Veterans Affairs has affirmed that some 1,700 patients at the Phoenix VA hospital were put on unofficial wait lists and subjected to treatment delays of up to 115 days.

In an interim report released Wednesday, the inspector general's office reported it had "substantiated that significant delays in access to care negatively impacted the quality of care" at Phoenix HCS.

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