<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Health News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/health http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+5-KXAS+Logo+for+Google+News.png NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth http://www.nbcdfw.com en-us Wed, 23 Apr 2014 20:21:00 -0500 Wed, 23 Apr 2014 20:21:00 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[West Nile Testing Begins Next Week in Denton]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 17:37:26 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/WNV+Trap+042314.jpg

Denton announced the city is at West Nile Risk Level 2. Local cities including Denton will begin testing for West Nile virus-infected mosquitoes, traps go out next week and testing begins the following week.

Environmental Services Director Ken Banks said the city will place its first mosquito traps of the year next week; eventually setting out as many as 20 at a time.

Samples will then start going to the state lab on May 1 to identify any positive West Nile Virus hits.

The city has moved to West Nile Risk Level 2 which is the base level for the season to alert residents that mosquitoes and the illness could be present in the area.

Banks said on an average year like 2013 Denton will spend about $30,000 on West Nile prevention.

He said residents can help keep the costs down by draining standing water and taking their own preventative measures so the city doesn’t have to do mass spraying.

Denton County confirms they, along with neighboring counties will begin trapping and sending samples the following week.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[New Surgery Offers Hope for Babies Born With Rare Disorder]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 05:48:19 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Baby+Pancreas+041714.jpg

A new surgery at Cook Children’s Medical Center is offering a cure for babies born with a rare disorder of the pancreas.

On Wednesday, 1-month-old Kylinn Scroggins, of Big Spring, was the first baby to undergo the procedure at the Fort Worth hospital.

Her mother, Ke’Arra Scroggins, said she knew something wasn’t right soon after Kylinn was born in Midland.

"They come in and tell me they can't get her sugars up,” the mother said.

A problem with Kylinn’s pancreas meant she produced too much insulin and not nearly enough sugar — the opposite of diabetes.

"It was all kinds of emotions,” Scroggins said. "It was definitely the scariest thing ever."

For two weeks, doctors weren't sure what the problem was.

When they learned it was a disorder called hyperinsulinism, they transferred her to Cook Children’s for a brand-new surgery.

"At first I was sort of leery because it is so new,” Scroggins said.

In the procedure, surgeons injected an experimental radioactive dye to highlight the part of the pancreas that wasn’t working properly.

Instead of removing the entire pancreas as they’ve had to do in the past, doctors were able to take out just the diseased part.

Removing the entire gland had meant patients faced a lifetime of challenges, including possible brain damage.

In Kylinn’s case, the operation went flawlessly.

"We knew immediately after surgery that it had worked,” said Dr. Paul Thornton, a pediatric endocrinologist. “And so when we told mom, she was so delighted."

Scroggins said doctors had warned her the surgery could take up to 10 hours but it actually lasted less than two hours.

"I was ecstatic,” she said. “I didn't even think of anything else. I was just so happy and relieved."

"She knew now that her baby could have a normal life and that would have been not the case beforehand,” he said.

Kylinn is doing so well, she and her mother could go home in just a few days.

Only one other hospital in the country — in Philadelphia — does the surgery. Thornton helped start that program before moving to Fort Worth.

He said it took four years to get the program approved here because the dye uses an experimental drug that requires permission from federal regulators.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Allergies Hitting North Texans Hard This Spring]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 05:40:37 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Allergies+041714.jpg

There's a reason why North Texas is considered one of the worst places in the country for allergies.

And those sniffling, sneezing and have their eyes watering know it better than most. It's a year round battle, but this spring some allergy sufferers are really feeling it.

"You can definitely tell as people come into the clinic that they're being hit hard," said Dr. James Haden, of the Allergy and Asthma Clinic Fort Worth.

Haden said you can blame the weather for some of this season's problems.

"As the temperature moves up and down and back and forth it can cause the pollination to stutter and start and stop," he said. "And sometimes it seems that can make it worse for people because they think they're in the clear and all of a sudden it comes back again."

A longer winter caused a bad mountain cedar season and as Thursday's pollen count showed, grasses and spring trees, maples and oaks are peaking too.

"The oaks are pollinating and usually that's one of the peak times for people especially with eye symptoms," Haden said.

Haden said one of the best things you can do to fight allergies is to start taking medications before any symptoms show up.

"It's much easier to keep the horse in the barn, then to get them back in once they're out," he said.

Thursday afternoon at the clinic those with the worst of the worst allergies got their shots to survive the spring season.

"Everything but guinea pigs and dogs," said Don Marable. "I'm literally allergic to everything. They were horrible last year and so my wife set an appointment for me and she made me come here and thank goodness I did because this year is not near as bad."

While allergy shots are for the severe effects of pollen, those suffering major or minor this spring can take solace that they're not alone.

"This time of year is bad for a lot of people," Haden said.

Haden said that if you know you have allergies, its best to avoid exposure to pollen. That means shutting windows and keeping the convertible top up even during the nicest weather of the year.

Haden said that if cooler weather persists, the spring trees could continue to bloom as late as May. And depending on how hot it gets this summer grass allergies could continue to be a problem for some.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Sniffing, Sneezing May Also Be Food Allergy]]> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:04:43 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/allergens-season.jpg Are you sneezing, sniffling or itching more than usual? Those symptoms may be related to food allergies and not seasonal allergies.]]> <![CDATA[New Video: Formerly Conjoined Twins Leave Hospital]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 18:26:08 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Ezell-Twins-041514.jpg

The conjoined twins who were separated at Medical City Children's Hospital in Dallas have left the hospital for an inpatient rehabilitation center.

"We are thrilled beyond words that we are here today," the boys' mother Jenni Ezell said Wednesday.

The boys were born in July and were connected from the chest to the belly button. They shared a liver and intestines until doctors at Medical City Dallas Hospital separated them a month later.

Owen and Emmett Ezell left the Dallas hospital eight months after their surgery and a day after turning 9-months-old.

"This is a big day we have been waiting on a long time, we have been ready to bring these boys home for months now so this is a good thing," said the boys' father Dave Ezell.

It was an emotional departure for the hospital staff, the team of doctors and nurses who have cared for them in the neonatal intensive care unit since their birth and separation surgery in August.

"I just can't thank them enough we are so happy and grateful," said Jenni Ezell. "They are like family to us. It is hard to say goodbye until later."

While at rehab, the boys' parents will learn to manage those tubes until the boys can eat on their own.

"When we first learned they were conjoined we never imagined, that we would be here but it has come and it is time now time to keep loving them and watching them develop and grow," said Dave Ezell. "We are in charge of their care, we get to take care of the babies. So it is like the beginning of this whole new world for us, where it is going to be physically exhausting, it's going to be amazing." 

The Ezells home the boys can go home for good in a month.

The family has been chronicling the boys' progress, since their separation surgery in August 2013 on The Ezell Twins blog.

The Ezells are selling T-shirts through their blog that read, "The Works of God Displayed in Them, John 9:1-3."

The funds donated go into a trust fund set up for Emmett and Owen and their direct care.

More: The Ezell Twins blog | The Ezell Twins T-Shirts | Contribute

Photo Credit: Ezell Family/Medical City Children's Hospital]]>
<![CDATA[FW, Tarrant County Slightly Adjust WNV Plan]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 09:42:14 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/WNV-Trap-041514.jpg

It is that time of year again, when the fight against the West Nile virus kicks into gear.

On Tuesday, the Fort Worth City Council was briefed on the city's 2014 plan, which features some small additions to the 2013 plan.

The city will continue its surveillance program of mosquitoes at its 42 fire stations. But the code compliance department will increase the amount of trapping it does at some popular area parks, like the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge and the Fort Worth Zoo.

The department also plans to create a "Citizen Participatory WNV Vector Control Program," per its presentation during the pre-council meeting on Tuesday.

The Nature Center averages 50,000 visitor a year, the Botanic Garden around 70,000 and the goal of the extra monitoring is both public safety and science related.

"So that we can continue to work toward having a predictability model for West Nile virus," said Code Compliance Director Brandon Bennett. "That's one of the things that everybody lacks at this point is, it (the West Nile season) going to be bad? Is it going to be average? Who knows?"

The UNT Health Sciences Center will be working on the data collected at the parks and elsewhere to help develop that possible model. 

Last year the virus saw a major drop off from 2012. In 2013, Fort Worth had only six human cases of the virus and one fatality. A year earlier 81 people were sickened and four people died. The number of positive mosquito pools also were on the decline, with 15 in 2012 and just five in 2013. It should be noted though that testing did not take place across the whole season in 2012.

"We just have to stay on course, stay focused and not allow these slower years to get us off track," Bennett said.

The West Nile virus plan calls for canvassing of neighborhoods and assessing environmental exposure concerns when a positive human case is found.

The city also assesses environmental risks when positive mosquito pool samples are found. The city also responds to citizens’ calls for concerns.

Bennett said his department is prepared to go door-to-door if needed again this year.

The city started trapping at various parks in mid-June in 2013, but will now do so year round at the Nature Center, Botanic Garden, Acadia Park, Gateway Park, Cobb Park and Rolling Hills Park.

During the testing in 2013 in the parks there were no positive mosquito pools found in the 49 samples tested.

If positive mosquito pools are found in the parks, city staff will work to mitigate the hazards. That includes finding the source of the mosquitoes and using larvicide and larvae eating fish to combat the mosquitoes. 

The best way to fight the virus the city said is through protecting yourself with the four D’s, Deet, Dress in long sleeves, stay indoors at Dusk and Dawn and Drain standing water. There is also the 5x5 program, where you check your home and five others around your neighborhood to make sure there are no mosquito pools.

The Tarrant County Public Health Department is also modifying its plan this year, but only slightly. Surveillance is year round for the county but on April 1, the seasonal surveillance program kicked off which features dozens of traps around the county in various cities.

One change this year is that the county health department will no longer call for spraying of nuisance mosquitoes. Last year the county would spray in spots due to a high abundance of mosquitoes in certain areas.

"Spraying will only be done in response to a positive mosquito sample," said Dr. Anita Kurian, assistant director of the Tarrant County Public Health Department.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Toothbrush Drill Down]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 17:14:43 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/CR+Toothbrush.jpg

For something so simple as a toothbrush, there sure are a lot of choices. Buying a toothbrush can be daunting. There are fat ones, skinny ones, brushes that surround your teeth, ones that hang up and one that sits up on the counter all by itself. And of course there are all kinds of electric toothbrushes that brush your teeth for you.

Oral-B is even promoting a Bluetooth-connected toothbrush. But Consumer Reports ShopSmart says when you buy a toothbrush most important are the basics.

You want soft bristles because hard bristles can damage your gums, and your tooth enamel. Also, angled bristles of different heights help reach spots that flat bristles can’t. And a toothbrush with a bent neck can make it easier to reach behind and around your teeth.

As for the question “electric versus manual?” ShopSmart says they both work equally well. You just have to use them twice a day, for about two minutes each time.

Far more important than which toothbrush you buy is taking the time to use it. Don’t rush your brushing. And remember to replace your toothbrushes every three months, or sooner, if you notice it’s fraying and wearing out.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on
Consumer Reports’ website.

Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[New Video: Formerly Conjoined Twins Leave Hospital]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:28:38 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Ezell-Twins-041514.jpg

The conjoined twins who were separated at Medical City Children's Hospital in Dallas have left the hospital for an inpatient rehabilitation center.

Owen and Emmett Ezell left the Dallas hospital eight months after their surgery and a day after turning 9-months-old. Video of their departure from Medical City Children's Hospital appears in the player above.

"I am so excited. I am shaking I am so excited. We have been waiting months for this and it's finally here," said the twins' mother Jenni Ezell, earlier this week.

Doctors hope that the boys can go home for good sometime this summer.

The boys were born in July and were connected from the chest to the belly button. They shared a liver and intestines until doctors at Medical City Dallas Hospital separated them a month later.

They've lived in the neonatal intensive care unit ever since and have each had multiple surgeries and setbacks. Through it all, the boys' parents never lost faith.

"Back when the struggles were the hardest and the struggles were the biggest, basically the way we would keep pressing on without losing it was to talk about having all four boys together," said the boys' father Dave Ezell. "When this is over, we're going to have 4 boys, we're going to be a family."

In the past the hospital had said the boys had to pass three major hurdles to go home -- eating and breathing on their own and fully healing from their surgical wounds.

The hospital said Monday the twins are breathing on their own through trachea breathing tubes and are no longer being fed through an IV, but they continue to be fed through tubes in their abdomens.

While at rehab, the boys' parents will learn to manage those tubes until the boys can eat on their own.

"It's been a dream. We've made it and it's been really hard. I feel like that first 9 months, it's all been emotional, it has been very difficult emotionally," said Jenni Ezell. "But from here out it's going to be very difficult physically. We are going to be exhausted taking care of these boys but it's going to be totally worth it!"

Jenni and Dave Ezell call the twins their "little miracles" and say each step has been part of a greater plan.

"They wouldn't be here if it weren't for God. It's the truth," said Jenni Ezell.

To celebrate the twins' health and success, a small celebration is being planned on Wednesday prior to their departure. Ahead of that celebration, the hospital and Ezell family released new photographs of the now 9-month-old boys on Tuesday.

The family has been chronicling the boys' progress, since their separation surgery in August 2013 on The Ezell Twins blog.

The Ezells are selling T-shirts through their blog that read, "The Works of God Displayed in Them, John 9:1-3."

The funds donated go into a trust fund set up for Emmett and Owen and their direct care.

More: The Ezell Twins blog | The Ezell Twins T-Shirts | Contribute

Photo Credit: Ezell Family/Medical City Children's Hospital]]>
<![CDATA[High Chair Danger]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 17:45:22 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/CR+High+Chairs.jpg

Feeding a hungry baby isn’t always a picnic, but it shouldn’t be dangerous. A recent study in Clinical Pediatrics reports an alarming number of children suffer injuries from high chair accidents. More than 9,400 children a year, come into the emergency room with high-chair related injuries. That’s an average of one child every hour.

Consumer Reports does extensive testing to assess high chair safety. One test uses more than 60 pounds of force to determine whether straps and buckles are strong enough to withstand a wriggling child. Another test checks the size of the leg openings to make sure a child can’t slip through.

Consumer Reports says the safest high chairs have a five-point harness. The harness attaches to the chair at 5 points –– one over each shoulder, one on either side of the waist and one between the legs.

Top rated is the $250 Peg Perego Prima Pappa Best –– which has a five-point harness and scored excellent for safety.

The Fisher-Price EZ Clean also has the 5-point harness and is very safe. At $85, it’s a Consumer Reports Best Buy.

And remember: a safe child is a buckled child.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.

Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Bedford Bans E-Cigarettes in Non-Smoking Areas ]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 15:21:18 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ecigarette+woman+smoking.jpg

The City of Bedford will be enforcing a new policy that will reduce the number of locations where the public can use e-cigarettes.

The Bedford City Council approved an ordinance that will ban the use of e-cigarettes in locations where smoking is already prohibited. Such areas include elevators, hospitals, health care facilities, movie theaters, city facilities and more, the city said in a news release.

The new ordinance will also make it illegal for a person to sell e-cigarettes, or liquid nicotine, to minors; declaring it a criminally negligent offense.

The city council said certain requirements will exist when purchasing or selling this product. A user must demonstrate proof of identification when purchasing  e-cigarettes. Self-service merchandising of e-cigarettes will not be permitted. Vendors must assist when a sale of an e-cigarette is made.

The newly adopted ordinance will be enforced within the next couple of weeks and will deal with e-cigarettes as most tobacco items, said the city in a news release.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Removing Stigma from Lung Cancer]]> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 12:24:02 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Molly-Golbon.jpg

Molly Golbon doesn't take much for granted these days.

The 39-year old married working mom of two knows life can take unexpected turns. For her, it came with a pain in her throat, tiredness, and a cough that wouldn't go away. 

"I went in for an MRI, and that's when they found there was something on the MRI," Golbon recalled. That something turned out to be lung cancer. "I think when they told me it was lung cancer, I thought it can't be. It can't be. It's probably bronchitis or pneumonia, it's not that."

Unfortunately, it was.

Until her diagnosis, Golbon, like many people, thought only smokers got lung cancer.

"The stigma for lung cancer is that it's a smoker's cancer and it's not. I've never smoked. No one in my family ever smoked," Golbon said.

Over a three week period, after going through a series of tests and scans, Golbon learned her cancer had spread into her brain, left hip and right shoulder.

"It was just too much to handle," Golbon said. "I think I had thoughts that my 4-1/2-year-old would not have any memory of me, and I just couldn't bear that thought."

Molly Golbon and her family enjoy an afternoon together at home.

Not Just a Smoker's Disease

When it comes to lung cancer, the statistics are scary. It kills more people than colon, breast, and prostate cancer combined.

While the majority of people who get lung cancer have smoked in the past, many, like Golbon, are non-smokers.

"Our estimates were about  10 percent of men in the U.S. who have never smoked get lung cancer and about 20 percent of women," said Golbon's oncologist Dr. Heather Wakelee, a nationally renowned  thoracic oncologist at Stanford University Medical Center.

"There's a lot of work being done trying to figure out how lung cancer in never smokers differ from lung cancer in smokers," Dr. Wakelee explained. "About a decade ago we were able to identify that there were gene mutations, changes in that particular gene that led to changes in the EGFR protein, and when that happened, it would develop lung cancer. It was the driving force behind lung cancer."

Treating Lung Cancer without Chemotherapy or Radiation

Dr. Wakelee suspected Golbon had this type of gene mutation and tested her for it.

"I was EGFR positive," Golbon said, which was was some of the best news she could have received. "If there was a cancer lottery, I feel like I had won it because I didn't have to go through chemotherapy, I didn't have to go through radiation, at least not yet." 

Here's why. With this type of lung cancer, doctors usually start out treating patients with oral medications. Since December, Golbon has been taking an oral drug called Tarceva, and the results have been remarkable.

Molly Golbon takes one Tarceva pill a day.

"My tumor was down 50 percent in February," she said. Not only that, the cancer that metastasized to Golbon's hip, shoulder, and brain is now almost undetectable.

This quick response to the medication isn't surprising to Dr. Wakelee.

"These drugs tend to work really quickly, they work within a week or two and people generally start to feel better, but they don't work forever," Dr. Wakelee said.

Every patient is different. Some patients stay on the medication for years, but for other people stop seeing benefits sooner.

"I can't tell someone how long they have, but I can tell them this is their step one," Dr. Wakelee said.

Golbon understands this, but for now, she's feeling healthier and is in a lot less pain.

"I'm breathing really well. I'm back to work. I'm back to yoga. I'm back to working out and to think it was one little pill."

Lung Cancer Research

Part of the reason Golbon decided to share her story was to get more funding for lung cancer research. At any given time, there's anywhere from 15 to 20 lung cancer clinical trials going on at Stanford.

"We couldn't have all these new drugs without doing the clinical trials," Dr. Wakalee said. "We all need to be working together to figure out how do we move forward to help everyone with the disease."


American Lung Association

Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation


<![CDATA[Third Pediatric Flu-Related Death in Dallas County]]> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 16:41:40 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/01-24-2014-flu.jpg

Dallas County confirmed the third pediatric flu-related death of the season on Friday.

Health officials said they received the report of the 17-year-old's death earlier in the day from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There's no word on if the child had been vaccinated or had underlying health conditions.

The flu vaccine is still available in Dallas County.

It's free for adults and children in the immunization clinics at the Dallas County Health and Human Services building at 2377 N. Stemmons Freeway. They are open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Call 214-819-2162 for vaccine availability.

<![CDATA[3 Die of Meningitis in LA]]> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 05:55:50 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/invasive+meningococcal+disease.jpg

A day after health officials said at least eight cases of the most dangerous form of meningitis hit Los Angeles County since January, officials reported that three men died from it.

The three men, between 27 and 28, who died, contracted meningitis through sexual contact with other men, officials said. They were HIV positive.

Half the confirmed eight cases were among gay men, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Of the remaining five, four have recovered. The condition of one is still unknown.

Invasive meningococcal disease, or IMD, is highly contagious and is the most severe form of meningitis, health officials said.

The health department came under fire when asked why officials hadn't reported that three men had died in the rash of cases this year.

"If people at home knew that these infections ended in fatalities, I think it would ramp up their interest, and perhaps urgency, of seeking out information about the disease," said Ged Kenslea, a spokesman for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Health officials said they were not hiding anything. They said they only wanted to urge gay and bisexual men to get the meningococcal vaccine regardless of HIV status, especially those who share cigarettes, marijuana or use illegal drugs, officials said.

Symptoms may include:

  • High fever
  • Stiff neck
  • Altered mental state
  • Skin rash
  • Severe headache
  • Low blood pressure
  • Aversion to bright lights
  • General muscle pain

Symptoms usually occur within 5 days of the exposure, but may present as many as 10 days after exposure. The disease progresses rapidly and officials urge immediate diagnosis and treatment.

People who do not have health insurance can get free vaccinations through the health department beginning Thursday.

For a listing of clinics, call the LA County Information Line at 211 or visit http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/.

<![CDATA[Chicken Recalled Due to Undeclared Allergens, Misprinting]]> Wed, 02 Apr 2014 05:57:39 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/recalled-chicken.jpg

AdvancePierre Foods is recalling approximately 8,730 pounds of frozen chicken breast products due to misprinting and undeclared allergens, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The products recalled were "Our Down Home Style Chicken Breast Fritters for Chicken Frying" with lot code 5440730403 or 5440800403, produced March 14 and 21, 2014. Only these lot codes and dates are affected.

Oklahoma-based firm said these products were distributed to food service establishments in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Virginia.
AdvancePierre Foods discovered the issue during an internal label review. The USDA said the problem occurred when AdvancePierre Foods used labels with an incorrect ingredient statement.
There have been no reports of allergic reactions.

Photo Credit: USDA]]>
<![CDATA[Plano Testing Mosquito Fish in Golf Course Ponds]]> Tue, 01 Apr 2014 19:12:53 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/web_mosquito_fish.jpg

For the City of Plano, April means the first steps of the year to prevent the West Nile virus.

On Tuesday, the city released 1,000 gambusia fish, also called mosquito fish, into the ponds at Pecan Hollow Golf Course.

“It’s a fairly economic way to control the mosquito population,” said environmental health manager Geoff Heinicke. “We’re going to let this fish grow and start trapping in the middle of the month to see what kind of impact it has.”

He adds the fish cost the city about $. 40 each.

As a natural predator to mosquito larvae, introducing the nonnative species is considered an effective and chemical-free tool to controlling the population.

Heinicke said the department is hopeful mosquito numbers will be lower this year because of a cold winter with several freezes.

In Frisco, however, Jerry Smith, owner of the Mosquito Joe franchise, a provider of “pest control” for the insects, said the mosquito season is well underway.

“They are out there — just swatted one the other day actually.”

“All it needs is 50 degrees or warmer and water,” he said, adding that his team will start spraying customers’ backyards as a way to cut down on mosquitoes within the next month.

Plano has introduced gambusia fish for at least the past two years.

The hope is the fish will continue to breed and be an effective tool for maintaining the mosquito population for years to come.

<![CDATA[Consumer Reports: Pancake Syrup Health Concerns]]> Tue, 01 Apr 2014 17:25:46 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/CR+Syrup.jpg

Consumer Reports recently reported that some kinds of caramel color in soft drinks can contain a potential carcinogen called 4-MeI. Now it’s tested several brands of pancake syrups -- Hungry Jack Original, Aunt Jemima Original and Original Lite, Mrs. Butterworth’s Original and Log Cabin Original. All contained 4-MeI.

4-MeI is found in two kinds of caramel color that are used to make syrups brown. The chemical has been shown to cause cancer in mice and is a possible human carcinogen.

While Consumer Reports’ sample size was not big enough to be able to recommend one brand over another, Consumer Reports Director of Product Safety, Dr. Urvashi Rangan, says how much and how often people eat syrup can increase their cancer risk.

The 4-MeI in syrup is less of a concern than in soft drinks because people tend to consume far less syrup. If you eat syrup twice a week, about a quarter of a cup each time, that would carry close to a negligible lifetime cancer risk. But if you eat syrup daily, as some children do, that cancer risk can increase significantly.

NBC 5 reached out to the makers of all the syrups mention in this report.  Only Quaker, which makes Aunt Jemima, responded.  The company told us:  “We abide by the regulatory guidelines everywhere we do business. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory agencies around the world consider our caramel coloring safe for use in foods.”

You can also be exposed to 4-MeI from some caramel colors in many other food products. For instance, caramel color is listed as an ingredient in some breads, cereals and barbecue sauce. If it is the type with 4-MeI, that may also increase cancer risk.

You can’t tell by looking at a food label which type of caramel coloring is used. So you don’t know if it is the type that contains 4-MeI. Consumer Reports has asked the government to regulate the chemical and set limits on how much is allowed in food.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.

Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Officials Want North Texans to Prepare for Mosquito Season]]> Tue, 01 Apr 2014 00:03:29 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Mosquito-Testing-110313.jpg

City officials across North Texans want residents to prepare for mosquito season, and protect themselves from West Nile virus, as warmer weather is on the horizon.

Many cities and counties want to get a jump start on mosquito season to keep people safe from the deadly West Nile virus. Last year, 13 people died from West Nile virus in Texas alone, and dozens were sick.

Some people are already concerned about the virus.

“I worry for my daughter," parent Akesha Epps said. "I don’t want her getting sick."

“I am very concerned with being outside a lot,” said Tommy Duwong, who now pays close attention as the weather gets warmer.

Collin, Dallas, Denton, and Tarrant counties are working on proactive efforts in the fight against West Nile virus. They want to remind residents to dress to avoid mosquito bites, wear insect repellent, and drain standing water in and around your house.

The city of Plano will be at Pecan Hollow Golf Course on Tuesday to drop 2,000 mosquito eating fish in a creek in an effort to stop mosquitoes.

“Mosquitoes will be coming out here shortly, and we just want to knock out the mosquitoes before they take flight,” said Geoff Heinicke, Environmental Health Manager.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Missed the Obamacare Deadline? Here's What You Should Know]]> Tue, 01 Apr 2014 06:31:27 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ObamaCarePic.jpg

March 31 was the day.

The last day to enroll in a health insurance plan on the federal and state Obamacare exchanges has officially past.

If you procrastinated, or if you're just wondering what happens next, here's what you need to know.

What if you didn't sign up by the deadline?

If you live in a state that uses the federal exchange and you haven't signed up by Monday night, not all is lost. An honor-system deadline extension may be available.

If you need extra time, explain that you tried to enroll during the open enrollment period but were not able to finish the process in time. (Initiating the online process before midnight or leaving your number on the phone hotline, for instance, would fulfill this requirement.) 

You can also request an extension based on qualifying life events. And some state-run exchanges have also extended the deadline further and have their own sets of rules.

But I didn't even try to sign up. What will happen to me?

If you can't say you tried to get a plan in time and didn't get health insurance by the deadline, you will have to pay a fee of $95 or 1 percent of your annual income — whichever is greater — on next year’s tax return.

I signed up for insurance. When will I be covered?

You must apply by April 15 in order to receive coverage starting in May. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the consumers who are "in line" on the exchanges will still be enrolled, though, provided they pay their first month's premium in time.

What if I can't afford insurance at all?

The penalty for not buying health insurance only applies to people who can afford insurance but don't get it. If you didn't sign up by the deadline because you can't afford health insurance, you won't be charged the fee.

If that's the case, you should call (800) 318-2596 to explore your Medicaid options. If you live in a state that is not expanding Medicaid, you will not have to pay the fee — but you probably won't receive any insurance.

What happens next year?

If you didn't sign up for an insurance plan this year, the enrollment period for next year will start Nov. 15 and continue through Feb. 15, 2015.

Photo Credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The Number of Children with Autism on the Rise]]> Mon, 31 Mar 2014 12:19:14 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/160*120/autism+puzzle+piece.jpg A startling new report finds the number of children with an autism spectrum disorder is rising. Now, there's a renewed urgency to find the cause of autism.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[North Texans Report Prolonged Cold Symptoms]]> Sat, 29 Mar 2014 00:14:58 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Sneezing.jpg

This year's cold season has had lingering effects on North Texans.

Dr. Victor Burgos at Doctors Express in Southlake has treated hundreds of people suffering from prolonged cold this season.

The typical cold can last up to two weeks, but there are a few reasons it seems many patients have been experiencing symptoms longer than that.

Dr. Burgos said it's possible, you're getting back-to-back colds - two different viruses, one right after another.

There are 200 known viruses that cause the common cold. Back-to-back colds are common in cold weather, when you’re in closer proximity with more people.

Another reason could be you don't actually have a cold. You may be suffering from allergies instead.

Experts advise that it's possible lingering colds may progress to something worse, in which case, a visit to the doctor is best. 

<![CDATA[Sex Harassment Study: Surprise Effect on Military Men]]> Fri, 28 Mar 2014 06:46:59 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/military+troops+generic.jpg

Frightening and threatening sexual harassment in the military may cause its male victims more distress than its female victims, a new study by the American Psychological Association has found.

The study analyzed Pentagon data from 2002, in which 6,304 service members who reported sexual harassment were asked to define how the incident made them feel. Fifty-two percent of women said they faced frightening and threatening sexual harassment, compared with 19 percent of men.

Although women more frequently reported frightening experiences of sexual harassment, men were more often distressed by them, according to the APA study, published this month in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

Researchers were surprised to find that men had more trouble coping with the incidents of sexual harassment and had more issues with work performance as a result than women did.

“Men may be less likely to think they’ll be sexually harassed, so it’s a particularly strong violation of their expectations and that could result in stronger negative reactions,” Dr. Isis Settles wrote in the study. “Another possibility is that men feel less able to cope with their sexual harassment than women, who know it’s a possibility and therefore are perhaps more emotionally prepared.”

Military members endure a lot while in combat, and that stress, in combination with sexual harassment, can leave long-lasting negative psychological effects, explained Dr. Carrie Bulger, who chairs the psychology department at Quinnipiac University.

“The types of effects after discharge would mostly be related to psychological health, such as depressive symptoms, anxiety, and even some physical health issues such as frequent headaches,” said Bulger, who has done extensive research on the prevalence of sexual harassment in different settings.

Bulger cautioned that the APA study's findings do not imply that experiences of sexual harassment are less negative for women, but rather suggest that the effects on men were more pronounced.

“Sexual harassment of men should be given more attention than it is in the military and in other work organizations,” Bulger said. “This is not just a women's issue. It should be something we are all concerned about for the health of our military members.”

Bulger added that although the study analyzed data from 12 years ago, its findings are still valid, because the issue of sexual harassment still persists in the military. However, now that the military's "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy has been repealed, it is possible that conditions may have changed for openly gay military members, she noted.

<![CDATA[Consumer Reports: Surviving Your Hospital Stay]]> Thu, 27 Mar 2014 15:13:39 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/CR+Hospital+Stay.jpg

You go to the hospital to get well. But far too many people die after something goes wrong. Patients get the wrong drugs, fail to get needed tests or treatments or develop infections that could have been prevented.

John James has dedicated himself to improving hospital safety. His teenage son died after what James says was a series of hospital errors. The Journal of Patient Safety published James’ analysis, which estimates 440,000 people a year die after suffering medical errors in hospitals. James says that makes it the third biggest cause of death after heart disease and cancer.

Consumer Reports has also studied hospital safety and has rated more than 2,500 hospitals on how safe they are. For its mortality ratings, Consumer Reports uses the most recent data available from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Consumer Reports Mortality Ratings are based on how likely patients are to die within 30 days of being admitted for a heart attack, heart failure or pneumonia. And they consider how often surgery patients with serious treatable complications die in the hospital.

Although this data is from people 65 and older, Consumer Reports says that it’s a good indication of a hospital’s attention to safety. And it shows that the chance of dying is much higher in some hospitals than others.

Consumer Reports hopes that by putting a spotlight on safety, hospitals will do a better job preventing hospital errors. 

In the DFW Area Baylor Medical Center at Waxahachie ranked at the top of the Consumer Reports ratings, followed by Baylor All Saints Medical Center at Fort Worth and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Allen. At the bottom of the list was Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Kaufman.

NBC 5 reached out to Texas Health Resources for reaction to Consumer Reports, this was its statement:

Texas Health Resources fully supports transparency in patient safety and quality reporting.  We welcome the opportunity to view our performance from many different perspectives, including Consumer Reports.
We support efforts to inform patients and other purchasers of health care services. In fact, our Board of Trustees recently approved creating a public patient safety and quality dashboard for all Texas Health Resources hospitals, and we plan to publish this in the near future.  The dashboard will be based on a variety of indicators, mostly clinical data, and it will be the most currently available data.
We have not had a chance to review the Consumer Reports data in detail. There are many hospital performance reports available, and some of the Consumer Reports information looks similar to other published reports. There are some differences in the various reports so we encourage people to look at a variety of information sources.
Texas Health Resources strongly believes in the use of nationally endorsed consensus indicators as the core of quality and patient safety reporting.  These indicators have been developed by national specialty organizations based on the best current medical evidence, have gone through a rigorous consensus process, and have transparent and easily understandable indicator specifications.  While there may be value in the development of proprietary indices, we believe they provide a less transparent and comparable view of performance.
We continue the hard work of continually improving our care and performance.  We welcome data and feedback which assist us in this work, and in improving the health of the people in the communities we serve.


Consumer Reports has more advice on how to find a good hospital and says your best defense against hospital errors is being an informed patient and having a friend or family member with you as much as possible.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on
Consumer Reports’ website.

Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Consumer Reports: Overuse of the Purple Pill]]> Wed, 26 Mar 2014 13:38:57 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/CR+Nexium+032614.jpg

What’s the top-selling brand-name prescription drug in America? Nexium, "the purple pill."” We spend six billion dollars a year on it. It’s one of many proton pump inhibitors, or PPI’s, and it’s often prescribed for heartburn to keep your stomach from producing too much acid.

But Consumer Reports says that unless you have gastroesphogeal reflux disease, when you have heartburn a couple times a week for several months, you actually may not need such a strong drug.

Nexium and other PPIs have drawbacks. They can take days to start working. You must take them daily. And they have been linked to side effects, including pneumonia and bone fractures.

For occasional heartburn, Consumer Reports recommends choosing an over-the-counter antacid like Tums or Rolaids. Or you might want to try a different kind of drug called an H2 blocker. These are drugs like Pepcid AC or Zantac. They generally cause fewer side effects and are less expensive than a PPI. If you’re going to eat something you know will irritate your stomach you should take an H2 blocker ahead of time.

If you and your doctor do decide a PPI is really your best option, Consumer Reports says be aware there are alternatives that are much cheaper than Nexium.

Consumer Reports’ analysis shows that these medications are equally effective, equally safe and you can shop by price. Nexium (20 milligrams) averages $240 a month. But over-the-counter PPI’s omeprazole, and lansoprazole, average just $17 a month.

Some people mistake pain from gallstones or heart disease for heartburn. So Consumer Reports cautions, before starting any heartburn drug, see a doctor to rule out other health issues.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.

<![CDATA[2nd Child Flu Death Recorded in Dallas Co.]]> Wed, 26 Mar 2014 05:56:45 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/flu5.jpg

Dallas County confirmed the second pediatric flu-related death of the season Tuesday.

County health officials said they received the report of the 10-year-old's death earlier in the afternoon.

It is not known if the child had been vaccinated or if there were underlying health conditions. Citing medical confidentiality and personal privacy reasons, further information about the patient will not be released.

"The flu vaccine is recommended for almost everyone except children younger than 6 months of age. According to CDC, the vaccine is the best means of flu prevention," Dallas County Health and Human Services said in a news release Tuesday.

"We're still seeing the flu virus circulating in Dallas county, throughout Texas and of course the nation," said Zachary Thompson, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services.

County health officials state that it's still not too late for a flu shot.

"Flu season will run until June," said Thompson. "So we still got to practice hand washing, our cough etiquette and getting a flu shot. It's still available."

With another two full months left in the season, most of the flu cases that are now getting reported are the so-called "B" strain.

"The flu vaccine covers both the A and B, but again the best precaution is to stay at home if you're sick, keep your children home if they're sick, and above all, practice cough etiquette and wash your hands," Thompson said.

County health officials said said the vaccine is free for adult and children at immunization clinics at the Dallas County Health and Human Services Building at 2377 N. Stemmons Freeway in Dallas.  They are open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Please call 214-819-2162 for vaccine availability.

NBC 5's Kevin Cokely contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Consumer Reports: Good Food Gone Bad]]> Mon, 31 Mar 2014 22:49:49 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/CR+Good+Food.jpg

There’s a growing problem in our supermarkets — good food gone bad. We’re not talking about wilted vegetables and rotten meat. These are once healthful foods that have been turned into something that’s no longer so good for you.

For example, air-popped popcorn is one of the healthiest snacks around, full of fiber and low in calories. But the minute you soup it up, with sugar, with salt, with cheese, that’s when you run into a problem. You take a healthy snack and you render it unhealthy.

Peanut butter is good-for-you food. It’s mostly peanuts and it’s loaded with protein. But Jif has come out with Hazelnut Chocolate to spread on your bread. Check the label! The leading ingredients are sugar and vegetable oil and it provides far less protein than peanut butter.

White turkey and chicken meat are some of the best sources of low-fat protein. But if you buy it packaged, like this Oscar Mayer Oven Roasted Turkey Breast, watch for added sodium. Just two ounces has 510 milligrams, that’s 21 percent of the daily limit.

Lowfat yogurt is another healthful food. But watch out if it’s topped with chocolate balls or cookie crumbles. And beware of packaged smoothies, even if they make lots of healthy claims. They can contain lots of sugar. You’re better off making your own smoothies, or topping your yogurt with fresh fruit. You can control the sugar and keep those foods that are good for you … good for you!

NBC 5 reached out to Chicago-based Müller Quaker Dairy about certain toppings that can be applied to yogurt, making it less healthy. Below is what the company said:

All Müller yogurt varieties start with reduced-fat, Grade A milk and provide the nutritional benefits of calcium and protein. All of our offerings have no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial flavors and only colors from natural sources whether the yogurt is paired with fruit or with crunchy toppings. We encourage consumers to use the ingredient information listed clearly on all of our products to make choices that are best for them and their families.

NBC 5 reached out to Naked Juice products for reaction to Consumer Reports, this was its statement:

Naked Juice products offer a wide variety of options to help people meet their daily nutrition requirements in a delicious aous beverage. In addition to offering products that help meet requirements for vegetable and fruit consumption, our product portfolio also addresses other nutrition needs. Our banana chocolate protein juice smoothie is blended to serve as a good source of protein for active individuals. With 30 grams of muscle-replenishing protein, no added sugar and no preservatives, this product offers a functional benefit to meet the needs of consumers looking for additional protein in their 

Consumer Reports says something else to be wary of at the supermarket are veggie chips. They are often made of potato flour and can have as much fat and sodium as potato chips.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.

Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Dallas Presents Mosquito Abatement Plan]]> Mon, 24 Mar 2014 12:15:37 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Mosquito-Testing-110313.jpg

The City of Dallas is preparing once again for mosquito season.

The 2014 mosquito plan was presented Monday at Dallas City Hall for the Quality of Life & Environment Committee.

The plan is very similar to last year’s plan, but there are some changes they hope will keep the number of cases of West Nile virus down.

City workers are planning on spraying for longer periods of time.

“The spraying hours will be from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. rather than 10 or 11 p.m. to 3 a.m.,” said city spokesman Jose Torres.

There will also be a quicker response time when a positive trap is located. City workers will start spraying five to seven hours after a positive trap is identified, instead of waiting 24 hours like last year.

The plan continues to rely on the public to help keep the mosquito population down.

“Mosquitoes breed in standing water,” said Torres. “The place where the standing water is very common is in backyards, tires, toys.”

Once again there will be 90 mosquito traps located throughout the city testing for West Nile virus.

They are hoping that this year’s cold winter will keep the number of West Nile deaths low and not spike like they did in 2012 when 21 people died.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Recall for Parkers Farm Products]]> Sun, 23 Mar 2014 18:10:12 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/1148953.jpg

A major recall out of Minnesota is affecting foods sold at Costco, Wal-Mart, Target, Whole Foods and more stores nationwide.

Parkers Farm Acquisition has issued a voluntary recall of certain peanut butter, cheese, salsa and spreads due to a possible Listeria contamination.

A Minnesota Department of Agriculture test first detected the bacteria.

No illnesses have been reported from the tainted food, but people who have bought the following products are encouraged to return them or throw them out:

  • 16-ounce Parkers peanut butter in square plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including creamy, crunchy, honey creamy and honey crunchy varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015
  • 34-ounce Parkers peanut butter in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including creamy and crunchy varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015
  • 12-ounce Parkers spreads in round or square plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including jalapeño and pimento varieties with a sell by date before 9/20/2014
  • 8-ounce and 16-ounce Parkers cold pack cheese in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including sharp cheddar, bacon, onion, smoked cheddar, Swiss almond, horseradish, garlic, port wine, and “Swiss & cheddar” varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015
  • 16-ounce Parkers salsa in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including hot, mild, garlic, and fire-roasted varieties with a sell by date before 7/20/2014
  • 10-ounce Parkers cheese balls or logs (plastic overwrap), including sharp cheddar, port wine, ranch, and “smokey bacon” varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015
  • 10-ounce Happy Farms cheese balls (plastic overwrap), including sharp cheddar and port wine varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015
  • 16-ounce Happy Farms cold pack cheese in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including sharp cheddar and port wine varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015
  • 8-ounce Central Markets cold pack cheese in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including sharp cheddar, port wine, horseradish, and Swiss almond varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015
  • 12-ounce and 20-ounce Hy-Top cheese spread in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including pimento and jalapeño varieties with a sell by date before 9/20/2014;
    8-ounce Amish Classic cold pack cheese in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including sharp cheddar, port wine, and Swiss almond varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015
  • 14-ounce Say Cheez beer cheese in round plastic container (tub with snap on lid), including regular and hot varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015;
    10-ounce Win Schuler original variety cheese balls or logs (plastic overwrap) with a sell by date before 3/20/2015
  • 8-ounce,12-ounce, and 14-ounce Bucky Badger cheese spreads (tub with snap-on lid) including cheddar, port wine, bacon, garlic, horseradish, jalapeño, and Swiss almond varieties with a sell by date before 3/20/2015
  • 5-pound foodservice products including cold pack cheese foods, cheese spreads and peanut butter with a sell by date before 3/20/2015.

Listeria can cause listeriosis, a disease with symptoms including fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea. The USDA says healthy people rarely contract listeriosis, but it can prove fatal to infants, elderly people and those with weak immune systems.

It can also lead to miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women.

If you have any questions about the recall, you can call Parkers Farm at 800-869-6685 or visit its website.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Girl Inspires Nationwide Support]]> Sun, 23 Mar 2014 05:56:38 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Hannahs-Law.jpg

A fundraiser is set to take place next month for a Levittown, Pa. baby girl who captured the hearts of thousands nationwide and even inspired the proposal of a state law.

JoJo’s Ice Cream & Water Ice will host an event raising money for Hannah Ginion, a 1-year-old girl suffering from a rare genetic disorder known as Krabbe Disease.

The young girl, who was born on January 15, 2013, seemed healthy at first, according to her mother Vicki Pizzullo.

"She was progressing like a normal baby," Pizzullo said. "She was perfectly healthy."

By the time Hannah turned 4-months however, the family noticed that something was wrong.

"It came on really slow," Pizzullo said. "She started crying all the time. She hated eating out of a bottle, she was choking and she was losing her swallowing ability. She would suck on a bottle and she would start choking. When we went to go feed her again, she was scared to eat."

The family then took her to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia where they learned the devastating news. On June 17, 2013, Hannah was diagnosed with Krabbe Disease, a rare degenerative disorder that affects the myelin sheath of the nervous system. Damage to the sheath slows down messages between the brain and the rest of the body, leading to problems with mental and physical development.

Krabbe Disease is so rare that it only affects 1 in 100,000 people, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Symptoms of the disease, including feeding difficulties, fever, vomiting, limb stiffness and seizures, normally begin to show when the child is between 3 to 6 months old. Infants who suffer from the disease generally have a life-expectancy of 2 years at the most. There is currently no cure.

After being told by doctors at CHOP that they weren't familiar enough with the disease to properly treat it, the family took Hannah to Dr. Maria Escolar, a specialist in the study of Neurodevelopment in rare disorders at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. By then however, it was too late to get a transplant that could have alleviated some of the symptoms.

"Once symptoms start, it's too late to go back to a transplant," Pizzullo said. "That's why it's so important to have it when they're born."

According to the family, Hannah could have received more effective treatment if doctors knew she had the disease immediately after her birth, a message that they ultimately took to Pennsylvania lawmakers.

"We went to Harrisburg in October and went in front of the House and had a press conference," she said.

The press conference led to the introduction of a bill known as Hannah’s Law, which would add Krabbe disease and five other disorders to the list of conditions Pennsylvania hospitals must screen for newborns.

House Bill 1654, introduced by State Rep. Angel Cruz, passed the state house last January. Despite this, Pizzullo says the Senate still hasn't placed it on their agenda.

"We don't think they did it intentionally," she said. "We just don't know if they know the importance of it."

That's why Pizzullo says she and her followers have worked so hard to raise greater awareness.

"We're trying to get the word out there and let them know they need to get this on the agenda as soon as possible," Pizzullo said. "We're trying to get this law passed so that all babies born in Pennsylvania will be tested for this disease as part of their screening."

Pizzullo quit her job of 15 years to be with her daughter and dedicated her life to raising awareness for the disease. Along the way, the family gained support from the community and followers nationwide, after they created a website and Facebook page as well as a support page for the bill.

"We just love all of her followers," Pizzullo said. "They're just amazing. People are so supportive, especially our community."

As Pizzullo continues the fight to bring awareness, she's also dealing with her daughter's deteriorating health.

"She's tube fed and she's on oxygen 24/7," Pizzullo said. "She should be walking around right now and living her life. She can't because she was never tested at birth. The disease deteriorates her brain, that's why she doesn't smile or laugh. She hasn't laughed in five months."

Despite her situation, Pizzullo says she takes solace in the fact that her daughter has proven to be an inspiration and major factor in a movement that could ultimately save the lives of other children.

"If we could help other families and have her name be forever known, it would just be amazing," Pizzullo said.

A fundraiser for Hannah will take place at JoJo’s Ice Cream & Water Ice on 8801 New Falls Road, in Levittown, Pa. on April 15 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The event will include a raffle and music. You can also email the family at hopeforhannahbear@gmail.com for more information.

Photo Credit: Facebook.com]]>
<![CDATA[New Technology Means Better Knee Surgeries]]> Fri, 21 Mar 2014 12:12:12 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/181*120/146275121.jpg

New digital mapping technology is allowing doctors to drastically improve the outcome of knee surgeries and improve the fit of new knees on patients' bodies.

Knee replacement surgery has become an increasingly common medical procedure for those in their 40s, 50s and 60s. But as many as 20 percent of all knee replacement recipients say they are unhappy with the results of their operation.

That may be because the pieces of their new artificial knee don’t fit as well as they should.

Dr. Jaime Hernandez, an orthopedic surgeon at Northridge Hospital, said knee replacements are usually done by feel with surgical instruments that aren’t designed for precision measurement. As a result, some of these surgeries could have more accurate results.

To solve this problem, Hernandez is using two high-tech imaging systems that create a GPS-like map of the knee and surrounding area and provide measurements within half a degree and half a millimeter.

"The idea is that, with this new technology, we can turn that 80 percent into a 90 percent or 95 and make this an almost perfect surgery," Hernandez said.

Using infrared signals and a special pointing device, the doctor first creates a virtual map of the area. He then receives real-time live measurements of the knee and its parts as he puts the new knee together. This helps to ensure that he is putting in the pieces as accurately as possible.

Another device then checks the pressure of the new knee before he puts in the final piece.

“The most important part of a knee replacement is to have the knee nice and snug and equal on both sides,” Hernandez explained. “You don’t want your knee too loose on one side and too tight on the other. You want it nice and snug all the way around.”

Los Angeles Police Department Officer Sandra Liddy tested Hernadez' surgery method and is currently recovering with hopes to get back on the streets as soon as she can.

"I'm in constant pain so I cannot put a uniform on right now," Liddy told NBC4 before her surgery. "Because I'm in pain, because I'm on medication, I can't get into a black and white (patrol car)."

"It needs to work, it has to work, because I need to go back to normal life," Liddy said.

NBC4 spoke with Liddy's doctor, and although she needs physical therapy, she is expected to be back at work with a pain-free knee.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/PhotoAlto]]>
<![CDATA[Concussion Test Not Always Reliable: UTA Researchers]]> Wed, 19 Mar 2014 18:20:54 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/concussion-study.jpg

Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington are looking into the reliability of popular concussion tests used by professional teams, colleges and high schools across the country.

"If we're using this test clinically, we want to make sure we fully understand it," said Dr. Jacob Resch, an Assistant Professor of Kinesiology at UTA.

Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing, known as ImPACT, are used to help determine if an athlete is suffering from a concussion.

"These tests are thought to measure cognitive domain such as memory, reaction time, and processing new information," said Resch who is also a member of the UTA Athletic Training staff.

He and his team of researchers studied how healthy college students performed on the test, after taking it multiple times on specific, clinically relevant dates. They found that ImPACT misclassified healthy students as impaired up to 46 percent of the time.

British med students Wesley Dean and Jack Boylan are spending time at UTA to learn more about sports medicine. They agreed to take the test for NBC 5. Both are healthy and have suffered no head trauma, and their ImPACT results reflected that.

They say, however, it's easy to see how someone not suffering from a concussion could get tripped up by the test.

"I feel like my brain has been fried now," said Dean. "I think there were a lot of points where you could make a small mistake or a silly mistake and it could affect your score."

"Trying to remember stuff at the start and getting retested on it at the end, it's amazing how much you manage to forget," said Boylan.

Resch says it's not entirely clear why so many students were misclassified, but believes outside factors such as sleep, caffeine intake, and mood can also affect scores.

"We're replicating that in studies that we're currently doing at UT Arlington in order to help figure out what are some different sources of error," said Resch.

Resch says his research is not meant to discourage athletes from using ImPACT and other tests similar to it, but to emphasize the need for multiple kinds of concussion testing -- such as balance and symptom assessments.

"Everyone is different. My concussion will be different from your concussion," said Resch. "So it's a matter of using a battery of tests in order to determine what particular decline we're seeing with an athlete."

A spokesperson for ImPACT tells NBC 5 the company does not comment on research it was not involved in – however, they fully support clinicians using multiple concussion assessments to determine the most effective and efficient way to treat patients.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>