Category Archives: Medicine

Illinois confirms student case of meningitis

The university said in a news release on Saturday that the student was admitted to an Urbana hospital last Tuesday and was receiving treatment. Friends and roommates of the student were contacted to identify any others potentially at-risk of infection.

Dr. Robert Woodward is the medical director of McKinley Health Center on campus and says others aren’t in danger unless they’ve had intimate or prolonged contact.

Meningococcal meningitis is caused by a bacteria and is often severe with the potential to turn deadly. Infections could affect the lining of the brain, spinal cord or bloodstream. It’s often spread through living in close quarters or respiratory and throat secretions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even if you’ve received the available vaccinations, you could potentially contract the disease.

Symptoms include onset of fever, headache and stiff neck, or others that can mimic the flu.

Students at the University of Illinois received a warning on Monday after a classmate was diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis. The student is a resident in Leonard Hall on campus, reported.

“Cancer diagnosis is not straightforward, and doctors won’t always assume that’s what it is. This is why it’s so important to get a second opinion! Stage 0 cancer is still cancer. Be proactive in your exams and health, don’t wait to get something checked out. Green liquid is not supposed to leak from your nipple, as I learned the hard way.” —Megan H., Ridgecrest, CA

What surprised them most about their diagnosis

“After my breast-cancer diagnosis, I ended up needing to have both breasts removed and implants put in. My biggest and best surprise was never needing to wear a bra again. I have to admit I rub it in a little when my girlfriends complain about underwire and poorly-fitting bras.” —Mary S., Lodi, CA

There is such a thing as stage 0 cancer

“Cancer diagnosis is not straightforward, and doctors won’t always assume that’s what it is. This is why it’s so important to get a second opinion! Stage 0 cancer is still cancer. Be proactive in your exams and health, don’t wait to get something checked out. Green liquid is not supposed to leak from your nipple, as I learned the hard way.” —Megan H., Ridgecrest, CA


Doctors can be in denial too

“As hard as it was for me to hear that I had breast cancer, it was also really hard for my doctor to say it. It devastates doctors to tell young people (because let’s not forget that breast cancer is not just a women’s disease) that it’s cancer because, like you, they had desperately hoped it wasn’t.” —Megan H.

Chemo can make you crave junk food and gain weight

“Before breast cancer I had no idea how many different kinds of chemo are out there. It’s not like how you see in the movies where they are puking, losing weight, and all their hair falls out. In fact, some types of chemo do not cause nausea. So many people, including me, gained weight during chemo—mainly because the only taste buds that are left are for sweets, plus they administer steroids that stimulate the appetite. I hated how much I craved junk food when that is completely the opposite of my normal eating habits and tastes.” —Garian V., Boulder, CO

Everybody has a breast cancer story to tell you

“When I was first diagnosed, I was surprised at how many people had an experience with a friend, sister, mom, or co-worker having cancer. Unfortunately, they always wanted to tell me things like ‘She had stage 1 and died!’ or ‘She only had six months to live but she’s still hanging in there a year later!’ Every cancer, like every person, is different and having your cancer compared to someone else’s sucks. Hearing how someone had a 99 percent chance of survival and didn’t make it is not what we want to hear right now. Hearing how someone is a 10-year survivor after a terminal diagnosis, while uplifting and inspirational to you, usually is just depressing to someone who’s been told they have six months to live.” —Jen E., Suffolk, VA

Artificial hip joint turned out to be caused by an extremely rare

The 77-year-old man’s right artificial hip joint was infected with the bacterium Francisella tularensis, which is responsible for a disease called tularemia, according to the case report, published Oct. 11 in the journal BMJ Case Reports.

Tularemia is also known as “rabbit fever” or “deer fly fever,” because the bacterium can be spread by handling an infected rabbit or being bitten by a deer fly. It can also be spread by tick bites. But in the man’s case, it’s not entirely clear how he picked up the infection.

“We did not find any ticks attached to his skin, although it’s possible he may have had a tick bite or exposure in another form,” said lead author Dr. Harsh Rawal, an internal medicine resident at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Urbana-Champaign. Rawal was one of the doctors who treated the man.


The man didn’t remember being bitten by a tick, and he had no pets that may have carried one into his home, according to the report. He also had no contact with any animals that could have transmitted the infection to him.

The man did tell the doctors that he had been a hunter about 50 years ago — some people may get the disease by handling or skinning infected rabbits, muskrats, prairie dogs and other rodents, according to the CDC — but, given his long absence from hunting, this wouldn’t explain how he acquired the infection five decades later.


A pain in the hip

After having severe pain in his right hip for about a week, the man went to the emergency room, according to the report. At the time, he said he was concerned because 25 years earlier, he had a total hip replacement done on this hip and an artificial hip joint was inserted.

His doctors decided he needed surgery to repair his artificial hip joint and drain fluid from the area, but they found no evidence of any infection.

But one week after leaving the hospital, the man returned to the emergency room with right hip pain and a fever of 100.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

It was then that the doctors noticed a bulbous skin lesion on one of his shins, according to the report, so they sent the man for blood tests and lab cultures once again.

This time, the tests revealed that the man was infected with F. tularensis.

Thank you note to the pediatric nurses

A mother’s thank you note to the pediatric nurses caring for her 2-year-old daughter who is battling cancer has gone viral, receiving more than 51,000 reactions and nearly 28,000 shares since it was posted earlier this month.

Shelby Skiles, whose daughter Sophie was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma in May, said she felt moved to thank the ambulance drivers, the nurses and the technicians who go beyond providing basic care to patients, and aim to make their stay a little easier.

“Dear Peds Nurses, (And incredible nurse techs!),” Skiles began her Oct. 3 post on the “Sophie The Brave” Facebook page. “I see you. I sit on this couch all day long and, I see you. You try so hard to be unnoticed by me and my child. I see your face drop a little when she sees you and cries. You try so many ways to ease her fears and win her over. I see you hesitate to stick her or pull bandaids (SIC) off. You say ‘No owies’ and ‘I’m sorry’ more times in one day than most people say ‘thank you.’”


Sophie, who had a softball-sized mass in her chest at the time of diagnosis, has been receiving treatment at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.

“I see all of those rubber bracelets on your arms and wrapped around your stethoscope, each one for a child that you’ve cared for and loved,” Skiles wrote to the nurses. “I see you carrying arm loads of medicine and supplies into one child’s room all while your phone is ringing in your pocket from the room of another. I see you put on gloves and a mask and try not to make too much noise at night. I see you sorting piles of beads so you can give them to your patient to add to their ever growing milestone necklace. I see you stroke her little bald head and tuck her covers around her tightly. I see you holding the crying mom that got bad news. I see you trying to chart on the computer while holding the baby whose mom can’t-or won’t be at the hospital with her.”

“You put aside what’s happening in your life for 12 hours straight to care for very sick and something’s (SIC) dying children. You go into each room with a smile no matter what’s happening in there,” she wrote. “You see Sophie’s name on the schedule and come to check on us even when she isn’t your patient. You call the doctor, blood bank, and pharmacy as many times as necessary to get my child what she needs in a timely manner. You check on me as often as you check on her. You sit and listen to me ramble for 10 minutes even though your phone is buzzing and your to do list is a mile long.”

Opioid addiction works as well as daily medication

The study is believed to be the first to directly compare Vivitrol — administered as a monthly shot — with a combination drug treatment sold under the brand name Suboxone. In the U.S. and many other countries, Suboxone or methadone have been the standard medical treatment for people with an opioid use disorder.

Researchers in Norway found the two treatments were similar in terms of safety and efficacy in helping opioid-dependent people refrain from illicit drug use during a three-month period.

The results may provide a boost to Vivitrol manufacturer Alkermes Inc., which has been aggressively promoting the medication following its 2010 approval as a treatment for opioid-dependence relapse.

Many addiction specialists, however, are waiting for more research before considering Vivitrol as a treatment option. A larger study comparing Vivitrol and Suboxone, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is expected to be released in December. That study also tracks subjects for a longer period of time. Several other studies are also underway.

The two treatments work in different ways. Vivitrol, which is a version of the drug naltrexone, blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of opioids. Suboxone is an opioid — comprised of buprenorphine and a small amount of naloxone — that produces less of an euphoric effect than other opioids like heroin. Suboxone and methadone have been well-studied and shown to be effective in keeping people in treatment and reducing illicit opioid use.

Study suggests know your dead after you die

Driven by ambition and curiosity to learn what lies on the other side of death, five medical students deliberately stop their hearts in order to experience “the afterlife” in the new thriller “Flatliners” (Sony Pictures), which opened in U.S. theaters on Sept. 29.

They quickly discover that there are unexpected and terrible consequences of dallying with death — but not everything they experience after “dying” is in the realm of science fiction. A growing body of research is charting the processes that occur after death, suggesting that human consciousness doesn’t immediately wink out after the heart stops, experts say.

But what really happens in the body and brain in the moments after cardiac arrest?

The terms “cardiac arrest” and “heart attack” are frequently used interchangeably, but they are not identical conditions, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). During a heart attack, a blocked artery prevents blood from reaching a portion of the heart, which can cause that section to die — though the heart continues to beat, the AHA explained.


During cardiac arrest, the electrical signals driving the heart’s pumping action are disrupted, the heart ceases beating and death shortly follows, the AHA said.

In the vast majority of terminal cases, physicians medically define death based on when the heart no longer beats, said Dr. Sam Parnia, director of critical care and resuscitation research at NYU Langone School of Medicine in New York City.

“Technically speaking, that’s how you get the time of death — it’s all based on the moment when the heart stops,” he told Live Science.

Once that happens, blood no longer circulates to the brain, which means brain function halts “almost instantaneously,” Parnia said. “You lose all your brain stem reflexes — your gag reflex, your pupil reflex, all that is gone.”


A trajectory of cell death

The brain’s cerebral cortex — the so-called “thinking part” of the brain — also slows down instantly, and flatlines, meaning that no brainwaves are visible on an electric monitor, within 2 to 20 seconds. This initiates a chain reaction of cellular processes that eventually result in the death of brain cells, but that can take hours after the heart has stopped, Parnia said.

Performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) does send some blood to the brain — about 15 percent of what it requires to function normally, according to Parnia. This is enough to slow the brain cells’ death trajectory, but it isn’t enough to kick-start the brain into working again, which is why reflexes don’t resume during CPR, he said.

“If you manage to restart the heart, which is what CPR attempts to do, you’ll gradually start to get the brain functioning again. The longer you’re doing CPR, those brain cell death pathways are still happening — they’re just happening at a slightly slower rate,” he told Live Science.

Recent studies have shown that animals experience a surge in brain activity in the minutes after death. And people in the first phase of death may still experience some form of consciousness, Parnia said. Substantial anecdotal evidence reveals that people whose hearts stopped and then restarted were able to describe accurate, verified accounts of what was going on around them, he added.

“They’ll describe watching doctors and nurses working; they’ll describe having awareness of full conversations, of visual things that were going on, that would otherwise not be known to them,” he explained. According to Parnia, these recollections were then verified by medical and nursing staff who were present at the time and were stunned to hear that their patients, who were technically dead, could remember all those details.

Search of kidney donor for wife

Winters said he came up with the idea after his wife, Deanne, was diagnosed with stage 5 kidney failure and he was at a loss of how to help.

“I didn’t know what to do,” he told the news outlet. “I felt like I needed to do something.”


He saw a similar story on the news about a man in search of an organ donor for his wife, and made his own sign before heading out. Nothing that rush hour is his favorite time to walk, Winters said that on his first day, a driver stopped to tell him he would get tested to see if he was a match.

“I say ‘Deanne, I think we have a good chance of getting you a kidney,’” he told Fox 13 Now.

But until it’s confirmed, Winters said he’ll keep walking with his sign. One side of his board brings attention to his wife’s case, but the reverse side notes the thousands of others who could benefit from organ donation.

“After I get a kidney I will have my wife back the way she was, normal, helping people, loving people,” Winters told Fox 13 Now. “She likes to serve other people.”

The terms “cardiac arrest” and “heart attack” are frequently used interchangeably, but they are not identical conditions, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). During a heart attack, a blocked artery prevents blood from reaching a portion of the heart, which can cause that section to die — though the heart continues to beat, the AHA explained.

The many epicenters of opioid epidemic

At the local level, the ravages of the crisis are even more shocking than the horrific and ever-increasing numbers. In many cities, addiction drama has jumped out of screens and news outlets and taken over familiar streets, neighborhoods, homes we know.

Manchester, New Hampshire is one of the places where opioid abuse has changed the landscape. Nearly everyone in this small city has a family member or friend who OD’d or knows someone who does.

First responders have seen their call volume rise dramatically, but firefighters, for example, aren’t chasing more fires. They’re getting multiple calls a day for an “unresponsive person,” which is code for someone deep in the clutches of an overdose.

“Last month was our highest month with overdoses,” Fire Chief Dan Goonan told Fox News. ”We had 118 and we had 11 deaths. … It’s not really getting better. I think we’re trying to tread some water here and do the best we can with the resources we have.”

Fox News visited with Goonan one year ago to take an in-depth look at the opioid crisis. In the fall of 2016, in the late swirl of the presidential campaign, Manchester was already in the throes of an epidemic.

Local police were teaming up with the Drug Enforcement Agency to try and track drugs from the buyers to the suppliers and get them off the streets.

So far, the strategy hasn’t shown significant results and the workload has gotten heavier.

“We’ve formed a strike force here and we’re pushing cases down to the source — the folks who are actually the command and control. The ones who are making decisions that are really affecting life in New Hampshire … that’s who we’re targeting,” said the DEA’s Jon DeLena, assistant special agent in charge of Northern New England.

Overdoses are now common on the streets of Manchester, even in the light of day.

Lawmakers who didn’t appreciate President Donald Trump calling the state “a drug-infested den” are forced to admit they need federal help and complain it’s not coming fast enough.

This week, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu announced $150,000 in state funds would be funneled to two local rehab programs: Safe Station, run by the fire department, and Serenity Place, which not only treats addicts but employs some of those in recovery.

“A bunch of bureaucrats and the governor aren’t going to solve the drug crisis,” Sununu told Fox News, “but folks on the frontlines of this, folks in recovery actually telling their stories and giving examples of what works and doesn’t work — that’s how you really start making a difference.”

The executive director of Serenity Place, Stephanie Bergeron, said New Hampshire has been hard hit and a lot of promises were made. But, she said, “I don’t think we’re seeing much and if anything is happening we’re just not aware of it yet.”

“Really, right now if it weren’t for private donors we certainly wouldn’t be doing Safe Station, I’m pretty certain of that,” Goonan added.

Spike in salmonella cases

More than 1,100 people have contracted salmonella poisoning from chickens and ducks so far this year, with health officials pointing to an increase in backyard coops as the cause. At least one of the cases has resulted in death, with nearly 250 others requiring hospital care.

The cases span across 48 states, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates the number to be far higher than what’s been reported.

“For one salmonella case we know of in an outbreak, there are up to 30 others that we don’t know about,” CDC veterinarian Megin Nichols said.

Nichols said many people raising chickens don’t understand the potential danger, and treat the birds like pets allowing close contact and access to the family home. But poultry can carry salmonella bacteria in their intestines that can be shed in their feces, which could attach to feathers and dust and brush off on shoes or clothing.


While salmonella can be prevented with thorough handwashing and discarding shoes used in chicken coops outside, some have taken to snuggling or kissing the birds. Nichols said they view the uptick in cases as a preventable health problem, and that the best way to protect against infection is to assume all birds carry the bacteria.

Salmonella infection is more widely-known as a food-borne illness, with more than 1 million cases and 300 deaths due to contaminated food recorded each year.

There are no firm figures on how many households in the U.S. have backyard chickens, but a Department of Agriculture report in 2013 found a growing number of residents in Denver, Los Angeles, Miami and New York City expressed interest in getting them. Coops are now seen in even the smallest yards and densest urban neighborhoods.


“I think it’s really important to know where your food comes from, but I do think they need to be educated on how to do it safely,” Dr. Stacene Maroushek, a pediatric infectious disease physician in Minneapolis, told the Associated Press. “There are things growing up as a farm kid you know instinctively, but city people don’t know.”

Salmonella can cause flu-like symptoms, including diarrhea, and can pose a more serious risk in children, pregnant women, elderly people and those with compromised immune systems.

“It gets into their blood and it can get into organs,” Maroushek said. “It can be much more significant in people with underlying health problems.”

Dangers amid spike in abuse calls

Part of his purchases included a brand called “Pure Evil,” which caused him to vomit blood and suffer five grand mal seizures that landed him in the hospital. Donovan was placed in a coma for five days and had no recollection of the events, Fox 9 reported.

“It’s been the worst experience I’ve ever had,” he told the news outlet. “Worst experience I’ve had in my whole life.”


Donovan was told his kidneys stopped working, and he required physical therapy for his legs due to weakness.

“Think twice,” he told Fox 9. “Think about your family. You can very easily die from it. It’s not something to mess around with.”

His warning comes as the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office reported 50 K2 overdose calls in a span of less than two weeks.


“Fortunately we have not experienced any deaths due to this recent series of K2 overdoses,” Sheriff Rich Stanek told Eden Prairie News. “The quick actions of first responders and proper medical care at area hospitals has no doubt played a role in making sure these victims are OK. Last year we experienced 153 opioid-related deaths in the county, so it is pretty frightening when you think about more than 50 overdoses occurring in less than two weeks.”

Synthetic marijuana, often marketed as K2, is a hallucinogen that can raise a person’s blood pressure and cause reduced blood supply to the heart. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says the chemical can cause kidney damage and seizures.