<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Health News]]> Copyright 2015 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, 06 May 2015 03:29:27 -0500 Wed, 06 May 2015 03:29:27 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[A&M Vets Giving Desperate Pet Owners Hope]]> Tue, 05 May 2015 22:44:08 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/dog050515.JPG

Veterinarians at Texas A&M University in College Station are using breakthrough treatments to save pets that until recently would have had little hope of survival.

Teddy, a 6-year-old Shih Tzu with bladder cancer is one of the pets receiving special treatment.

“He had just days to live when we met him,” said Dr. Audrey Cook.

Teddy’s owner, Ben Layman, was desperate to find a way to help his best friend.

“You don’t expect to hear devastating news like that so early in a dog’s life,” Layman said.

Layman decided to turn to the experts at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

Teddy was placed in the care of a special team of veterinarians known as the Guidewire Group, which specializes in the most challenging cases.

In Teddy’s case, Cook used minimally-invasive surgical techniques common in human hospitals.

“There’s a tremendous opportunity to move technology and advances very flexibly from one side to the other,” Cook said. “If we hadn’t had these techniques available, there would have been nothing we could have offered, and we wouldn’t have Teddy with us now.”

More than a year after his diagnosis, Teddy has made dramatic improvement. Even Cook is amazed.

“I can’t believe how good he looks. He looks fabulous,” Layman said.

Teddy is still fighting cancer, but Layman is overjoyed that Teddy is still by his side.

“For me, it’s just a miracle. I’m filled with such joy every second I look at him. I love this thing more than anything."

Veterinarians with questions about unusual or difficult cases are invited to contact the Guidewire Group via email or by calling the Small Animal Hospital at 979-845-2351.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[How Safe Are Your Shrimp? ]]> Tue, 05 May 2015 17:17:24 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cr+shrimp.jpg

Americans love shrimp. We eat an average of almost four pounds per year, making it more popular than tuna.

About 94 percent of the U-S shrimp supply is imported –– and the majority of it is farmed.

The director of Consumer Reports’ Food Safety and Sustainability Center, Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., says, “Farming can be done responsibly, but when it’s not, bacteria and disease can thrive. Antibiotics may seem like a fix, but we don’t think so, and they’re illegal for use in imported shrimp.”

Consumer Reports tested 342 packages of shrimp, farmed and wild, raw and cooked. The shrimp was purchased in large chain supermarkets, big-box stores and “natural” food stores in 27 cities across the country.

Overall, 60 percent of the raw shrimp samples tested positive for bacteria, so safe preparation is very important. And 11 samples, or about five percent of imported, raw, farmed shrimp, had antibiotic residues.

Rangan says, “The antibiotic use is particularly troubling because it’s illegal, it promotes antibiotic resistance, and it just isn’t a responsible way of farming.”

The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for inspecting shrimp coming into the U.S. to make sure it doesn’t contain any drugs or chemicals that aren’t permitted.

But last year it examined less than four percent of foreign shrimp shipments and tested less than one percent.

Consumer Reports is urging the FDA to step up its inspections.

Consumer Reports recommends buying responsibly sourced wild shrimp, like those recommended by Seafood Watch or certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.

If farmed shrimp are better for your budget, Consumer Reports says look for farmed shrimp certified by Naturland, the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, or Whole Foods Market Responsibly Farmed.

It is important to handle and cook shrimp properly to reduce the risk of spreading bacteria.

You can find tips at ConsumerReports.org.

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

Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Dallas County Reports Another Flu-Related Death]]> Mon, 04 May 2015 15:49:21 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/vlcsnap-000054.jpg

Dallas County Health and Human Services reports another adult has died as a result of the flu.

The death occurred during the week ending April 25, according to the latest figures from health officials.

No further identifying information was released about the victim other than he or she was a resident of Dallas County.

There have been 10,458 total confirmed flu cases in Dallas County since Sept. 28, 2014, the health department reported, and 19 deaths.

No children have died from the flu this season.

Flu was blamed in 58 deaths in Dallas County during the 2013-2014 flu season, including three children who died in March and April 2014.

The flu season in North Texas normally lasts through the end of April.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[What Can You do to Prevent Skin Cancer?]]> Mon, 04 May 2015 10:07:25 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/NC_sunsafety0504001.jpg Summer is coming! To get ready for more time in the sun, dermatologists offer advice on skin cancer prevention.]]> <![CDATA[Tarrant Co. Resident Tests Negative for Ebola]]> Fri, 01 May 2015 22:39:28 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/216*120/perkins-ebolascare.JPG

A Tarrant County resident who recently returned home from a humanitarian trip to West Africa has tested negative for Ebola, according to Tarrant County Public Health.

Andy Perkins, founder and executive director of the non-profit group BESTWA, told NBC 5 he recently returned from a trip to Liberia but days later began to feel ill.

“The next day I started having a low-grade fever and just intestinal upset, and it just wouldn’t go away. It would go away for like a day and then come back, and so today, early this morning, was the third time it had come back,” said Perkins.

He said he went to the Veterans Administration Hospital, where he typically receives medical treatment, and was then transferred to UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

The Ebola test results came back negative within three hours, according to Perkins.

“Yeah, of course, it’s a relief knowing that that’s not the case,” said Perkins.

Neither he nor medical personnel believed he suffered from Ebola, according to Perkins, and the state health department echoed that sentiment, telling NBC 5 earlier in the day that, “based on the clinical pictures, health officials agree that the need for testing is essentially non-existent. We are not concerned that this is going to be positive result.”

Still, health officials worked out of an abundance of caution.

According to the group's website, BESTWA operates three feeding stations which provide nutritious meals to over 900 children per day.

Photo Credit: Instagram/NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Highland Park to Spray for Mosquitoes This Weekend]]> Fri, 01 May 2015 15:16:46 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mosquito-spray-truck-02.jpg

After first spraying for mosquitoes two weeks ago, the Town of Highland Park will spray for the insects town wide.

Ground spraying will begin at 10 p.m. and end at 6 a.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The Town's decision to use adulticide is based on the Centers for Disease Control's recommendations that surveillance data, when combined with established thresholds, indicates a necessity to reduce the density of adult mosquito populations quickly to lower the risk of West Nile virus.

The Town of Highland Park Parks Department and Dallas County Health and Human Services monitors several mosquito traps within the town limits. Mosquito samples from each trap are tested on a weekly basis. They test for the total number of adult mosquitoes in each trap and the presence of West Nile virus.

Currently, there has not been a positive mosquito sample for West Nile virus, but the total number of mosquitoes in specific traps has reached the treatable threshold as established by the Town's Mosquito Control Policy.

<![CDATA[Blue Bell Inspections Find Crickets, Mildew & More]]> Thu, 30 Apr 2015 11:09:17 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Blue+Bell+Brenham.jpg

State health inspectors found crickets in a storage room, dirty mop buckets and mildew at Blue Bell’s sprawling plant in Brenham, according to records obtained by NBC 5 Investigates.

The violations were among dozens noted by the Texas Department of State Health Services over the past four years, but none led to formal warning letters or fines for the creamery.

NBC 5 obtained inspection reports from January 1, 2011 to April 15, 2015 under the Texas open records law.

Blue Bell’s Brenham facility and a separate Oklahoma plant have been under scrutiny since Listeria found in ice cream contributed to several deaths in Kansas and sickened people in Texas and other states.

Just last week, Blue Bell recalled all its products nationwide after two more tests for Listeria were positive at the Brenham facility.

The reports show inspectors monitored the plant regularly and Blue Bell says any issues were promptly corrected.

Many of the inspections turned up no violations, but others raised issues about cleanliness and food safety.

On Feb. 2, 2012, inspectors wrote: “Continue to monitor raw milk storage levels – time storage limits.”

Later that year, crickets were discovered at the plant.

“Crickets shall be removed, eradicated from milk storage rooms & evaporator room,” an inspector wrote on Sept. 18, 2012.

The following year, mildew was an issue.

“Find source of mildew in 40-degree room,” an inspector noted on Nov. 20, 2013.

Other inspections found concerns about food freshness.

“Rainbow fruit freeze is now 120 hours old! Use ASAP,” according to an inspection on Dec. 18, 2013. The notation apparently refers to a frozen snack made by Blue Bell called “Rainbow Freeze Bar.”

Other inspections faulted the factory for rust on doorways, not closing lids on various food containers and not having towels available at handwash sinks.

The company is in the process of deep cleaning its plants and re-training employees.

“Blue Bell has a long history of regular state health inspections,” the company said in a statement. “Whenever inspections raised any issues at all, we have always taken prompt action to address and correct them. Blue Bell takes cleanliness in our production facilities very seriously and our top priority is always the quality and safety of our product for our customers.”

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Dalco Health Chief Says They Weren't Ready for Ebola]]> Tue, 28 Apr 2015 14:00:34 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ebola-453210018.jpg

Dallas’ head disease expert said Tuesday that the city’s health department was unequipped to handle last year’s Ebola scare on its own.

Wendy Chung, chief epidemiologist for Dallas County Health and Human Services, said her team lacked the resources it needed to track and manage the Ebola outbreak.

CLICK HERE to read more about this story from our media partners at The Dallas Morning News.

Photo Credit: FILE/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kids With Lice Do Not Need to Miss School: Doctors]]> Tue, 28 Apr 2015 17:02:28 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/lice.jpg

Children with head lice do not need to miss school, according to the country's leading group of pediatricians.

New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics state 'No-Nit' policies, which requires a child to be free of nits (eggs) before they can return to school, are unfair -- and unnecessary.

In fact, children found to have head lice can finish the school day, be treated and return the next day.

Doctors said the first choice for treatment should be over-the-counter medicines along with combing out nits.

But if they don't work, there are other options available by prescription.

If head lice are discovered on one family member, the rest of the household should be checked.

Washing pillow cases and treating brushes are good ways to prevent lice from coming back or spreading.

CLICK HERE to watch The Today Show's report.

Photo Credit: NBC News]]>
<![CDATA[Blue Bell to Begin "Intensive Cleaning" at Facilities]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 22:40:15 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/blue-bell-listeria.jpg

Blue Bell Ice Cream on Monday will begin an intensive cleaning program at all four production facilities in Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas after a number of listeria illnesses were linked to the ice cream.

The company recalled all of its products Monday after two samples of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream tested positive for listeria in March. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday the number of listeria illnesses nationwide linked to Blue Bell products has risen to 10.

At the same time they begin the intensive cleaning, the Texas-based ice cream maker will start a new training program for employees at those facilities.

"After a thorough review of operations and discussions with an expert microbiologist, it was decided this cleaning and training program will greatly benefit Blue Bell as it moves forward," the company said in a news release Thursday.

The new training, the company said, will include the following:

  • Highly aggressive cleaning techniques
  • Increased actions focused on sanitation and cleanliness
  • Strengthening of standard operating procedures
  • Enhancements to its preventive maintenance program
  • Equipment design changes 

Meanwhile the company will be producing products that will be used for testing and baseline data and not for public sale.

“We’ve always worked to make the very highest quality ice cream,” said Blue Bell CEO and President Paul Kruse. “We intend to make a fresh start and that begins with intensive cleaning and enhanced training. This is a paradigm shifting event at Blue Bell and we want to put in place new systems to drive continuous improvement.”

Company spokesman Joe Robertson said Tuesday finding the cause of the listeria contamination is a top priority.

Still, the company "cannot say with certainty" how the bacteria was introduced to its facilities, Kruse said in a statement.

Blue Bell expects to have ice cream products back on store shelves in about three weeks.

For now, outside the distribution center in Lancaster, Texas, the ice cream trucks are parked.

Grocery stores tell NBC 5 the company is aiming for Memorial Day to get the ice cream back on the shelves.

At Pokey-O’s in Dallas, owner Kathy Oszustowicz hopes its much sooner than that date.

“It’s impossible to replace a vendor like Blue Bell,” explained Oszustowicz. “Blue Bell has a corner in the market down here, they supply everyone and they do a good job at it.”

Half of her store's ice cream case is empty, where gallons of Blue Bell would normally be. It's the same situation on store shelves.

A Blue Bell representative was at the ice cream shop earlier Thursday, Oszustowicz said, asking about the most popular flavors.

“They wanted to select the top 10 flavors to start making first. They were asking local ice cream stores what the top 10 flavors were. We were telling them what our big sellers were, [and] that’s where they’re going to start,” she explained.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Ice Cream Company Recalls All Treats, Closes Shops ]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 15:21:49 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ice-cream-stock-79772399.jpg

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams is recalling treats and freezing sales across the country due to a possible listeria contamination. 

The Ohio-based company announced the voluntary recall on its website on Thursday, saying it is "ceasing all sales and closing all scoop shops until all products are ensured to be 100% safe." The recall covers all products bearing the "Jeni's" brand, including  ice creams, frozen yogurts, sorbets and ice cream sandwiches. 

The company said in a statement that it decided to issue a recall after a random sample test by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture came back positive for the bacteria, which can cause illness and even death in individuals with compromised immune systems. Jeni's said it is not aware of any sicknesses connected to its products to date. 

"Our top priority is guaranteeing the safety of all consumers by taking every possible precaution," John Lowe, CEO of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, said in a statement. "We have decided to recall everything currently on retailer shelves, and we are closing our scoop shops until we are 100% confident every item we sell is safe." 

Jeni's urges cutomers to throw out or return any products affected by the recall. More information is available at jennis.com/recall. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[North Texas Bracing for Mosquito Season]]> Thu, 23 Apr 2015 11:53:23 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/alerta-condado-los-angeles-mosquitos-virus-nilo-2.jpg

North Texas is bracing for a busy mosquito season, but all the heavy rain may hold it off for a while.

"With the warmer temperatures earlier this spring and all the rain that we're getting early, it could make for an interesting mosquito season" says Patrick Prather, president of Municipal Mosquito.

Even small puddles of stagnant water can become breeding grounds for mosquitoes that can carry West Nile or Chikungunya, but heavy rains can wash them away.

"Once the rains stop, and once we quite getting those intermittent showers, then yes, it leads to problems where these pools will remain stagnant for a period of time and this creates an area for these mosquitoes to develop" says Prather.

City workers in The Colony carry mosquito dunks to treat pools of stagnant water, and encourage residents to take action themselves.

"The most important thing is that they are looking for areas in their own backyards that are holding water, that they are draining those areas or they are treating those areas" says The Colony's Pam Nelson.

The city checks for signs of mosquitoes year-round, and will begin trapping and spraying if needed in May.

<![CDATA[Using Juicers to Make Healthy Drinks]]> Tue, 21 Apr 2015 17:20:22 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/juicer.jpg

If you want to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet, juicing is an easy option. Sales of juicers topped 1.5 million last year. Consumer Reports tested more than a dozen to find out which are worth trying and which you should forget.

In addition to juicing performance, testers pay close attention to how easy the machines are to use and to clean. If they’re really difficult, you might not take them out as often.

In general, the tests found that the very inexpensive juicers, $50 or less, tended to be lacking. They fell to the bottom of Consumer Reports’ ratings. Most don’t extract as much juice as pricier machines. And the smaller feed tube on the $40 WestBend 75500 requires extra prep work.

But some expensive juicers aren’t the best choices, either. For example, there’s the $500 KitchenAid KVJ0111OB. It rated excellent for juicing, but it comes with so many parts you’ll be cleaning a lot after you enjoy your drink.

A better, less expensive option is the Breville 800JEXL for $300. It features professional touches like stainless steel, a wide-mouth feed tube, which means less chopping, and a container for juice. It’s also very easy to clean.

For far less, Consumer Reports also recommends the $100 Juiceman JM8000S. It delivers a pulpier juice than the Breville, and while it’s not all stainless steel, it has many of the same features, like a wide mouth and a juice container.

Another option is a blender. Consumer Reports tests those, too. The very best is also very expensive at $650. It’s the Vitamix Professional Series 750. However, the $200 Dash Chef Series Digital did a good job blending icy drinks and smoothies.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Recall Roundup: Nuts, Sweet Bites and Dressing]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 18:15:56 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/537738815%281%29.jpg

Five recalls are making news Monday, three involving nuts and one involving a dressing that may be contaminated with salmonella. There's also a recall for undeclared coconut.

Whole Foods Macadamia Nuts

Whole Foods Market is recalling packaged raw macadamia nuts due to possible Salmonella contamination, according to the FDA.

The product, recalled after routine FDA testing detected the presence of the bacteria, is labeled as "Whole Foods Market Raw Macadamia Nuts" and packaged in 11 oz. plastic tubs. The recalled product, which has a best-by date of Feb. 4, 2016 and UPC code is 7695862059-1, was sold in stores in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.

The company said the bacteria causes serious and sometimes fatal infections in especially young children and the elderly, including others who have weak immune systems. Some symptoms healthy persons may experience are fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, the company said in a press release.

The Center for Disease Control estimated that there are one million Salmonella related illnesses in the United States every year, with 19,000 are hospitalizations and 380 deaths.

While no illnesses have been reported, officials are urging those who have purchased the nuts discard the container. They can also bring in their receipt for a full refund.

Hines Walnut Halves and Pieces

Hines Nut Company, Inc. in Dallas announced the voluntary recall of "Walnut Halves and Pieces" because there is a possibility the nuts may be contaminated with Salmonella, according to the FDA.

The product came from Gold State Nut Company of Biggs, Calif. and was packaged by Hines.

The company says the nuts are packaged in black foam trays with a green and gold label. The label has a lot number of 6989 and a best buy date of 12.28.15 as well a UPC 07826406516-5.

The nuts were distributed in Texas by Randalls Food Stores.

Hines Nut Company has not received any complaints concerning illness. Consumers who have purchased any of the recalled products are urged not to eat them and to contact Hines Nut Company for information regarding a full refund or for disposal information.

Consumers can contact the Company at 1 800-561-6374 for information regarding this recall.

Superior Nut & Candy Company Pine Nuts

Superior Nut & Candy Co., Inc. is recalling 4 ounce packages of Pine Nuts because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella according to the FDA.

The recalled Pine Nuts were distributed nationwide in retail stores.

The product come in a 4-ounce packages of Pine Nuts are sold in store Produce Departments with a clear package front and tan-colored label on the back. The back label list Pine Nuts as the only ingredient and has the UPC Number of 72549320016 with a Best By date between 10/22/2015 to 12/27/2015 on the back label.

Customers who have purchased any 4 ounce packages of Pine Nuts are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact Customer Relations at (630) 254-7900.

No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with the problem.

Conway Organic Dressings

Conway Import Co., Inc. is recalling "Conway Organic Sesame Ginger Dressing" and "Conway Citrus Organic Vinaigrette Dressing" because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, according to the FDA

Product was distributed in Illinois, Maryland, Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Texas through direct deliveries.

The products were packed in plastic gallon jars with the mfg. code printed on the top of the cap and the cardboard shipping container.

Conway Organic Sesame Ginger Dressing Recipe Code N-22

MFG.CODE DATE: 28814....363014....030015....051015

Conway Citrus Organic Vinaigrette Dressing Recipe Code L-18

MFG.CODE DATE: 276014....337014

Consumers call call Conway Import Co., at 847-455-5600.

There have been no illnesses reported to date.

Trader Joe's "A Dozen Sweet Bites"

Prolainat is voluntarily recalling all lots of 9.16 oz packages of Trader Joe’s "A Dozen Sweet Bites" due to undeclared coconut, according to the FDA.

People who have an allergy or sensitivity to coconut run the risk of serious or life threatening allergic reaction if they consume the product. The Trader Joe’s A Dozen Sweet Cakes is safe for consumption by those who do not have coconut allergies.

The Sweet Bites come in Chocolate & Coffee “Opéra” Cake, Raspberry “Macaron Aux Framboises” Cake, Caramel & Chocolate Cake flavors.

The recalled product was produced from January 1, 2011 to February 5, 2015 and distributed to Trader Joe's stores nationwide. The product was sold frozen and packaged in a 9.16 oz box with a photograph of the product on the front of the box and a UPC #00967679 that can be found printed the back of the package.

No allergic reactions or illnesses have been reported to date.

Customers who have purchased 9.16 oz packages of Trader Joe’s "A Dozen Sweet Bites" and have a sensitivity to coconut are urged to discard the product or return it to any Trader Joe’s for a full refund. Customers with questions may contact Trader Joe’s Customer Relations at 626-599-3817.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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<![CDATA[Whole Foods Market Recalls Macadamia Nuts]]> Mon, 20 Apr 2015 13:39:48 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/537738815%281%29.jpg

Whole Foods Market is recalling packaged raw macadamia nuts due to possible Salmonella contamination.

The product, recalled after routine FDA testing detected the presence of the bacteria, is labeled as “Whole Foods Market Raw Macadamia Nuts” and packaged in 11 oz. plastic tubs. The recalled product, which has a best-by date of Feb. 4, 2016 and UPC code is 7695862059-1, was sold in stores in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.

The company said the bacteria causes serious and sometimes fatal infections in especially young children and the elderly, including others who have weak immune systems. Some symptoms healthy persons may experience are fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, the company said in a press release.

The Center for Disease Control estimated that there are one million Salmonella related illnesses in the United States every year, with 19,000 are hospitalizations and 380 deaths.

While no illnesses have been reported, officials are urging those who have purchased the nuts discard the container. They can also bring in their receipt for a full refund.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Top Blood Pressure Monitors]]> Thu, 16 Apr 2015 17:20:48 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cr+blood+pressure.jpg

There’s a good chance that you or someone you care about has high blood pressure. One in three American adults does –– facing an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and premature death.

Consumer Reports says that beating the odds may be as simple as measuring your blood pressure at home –– with the right monitor.

Consumer Reports’ latest tests of 24 blood pressure monitors compared readings with those taken by a standard device used in a doctor’s office.

Included in the tests were four wireless monitors. Going wireless means that you can send your test results straight to your phone or tablet. The ones Consumer Reports tested, though, aren’t so accurate.

Most wrist monitors also fall short when it comes to accuracy. For a true read, you want to have the cuff at chest level. That’s difficult with a wrist monitor. The most precise blood pressure monitors that Consumer Reports tested wrap around the upper arm.

Top rated and a Consumer Reports Best Buy is the Deluxe Automatic from RiteAid for $60. It’s very accurate and comes with a handy carrying case.

Another Best Buy, for $40, is the ReliOn BP 200 from Walmart. The display is slightly smaller, but the device provides excellent accuracy.

Both come with cuffs that fit most arms. But Consumer Reports recommends that before you buy, make sure the cuff fits properly.

Every monitor has different requirements, so Consumer Reports says it’s important to ready the instructions carefully to ensure that you’re using it properly.

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[Save on Prescription Drugs]]> Tue, 14 Apr 2015 17:28:06 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cr+save+prescription+drugs.jpg

People who regularly take prescription medication spend on average more than $700 per year for drugs.

To help you keep more of that money in your pocket, Consumer Reports had its shoppers check out prices at nearly 200 pharmacies.

One simple way to save is just to ask for a lower price. It worked for Consumer Reports’ shoppers. In one case they saved $31.

Costco’s pharmacy is another good way to save. Consumer Reports priced the cost of five common generic prescription drugs at pharmacies across the country. Costco was substantially less expensive than any other chain store. And you don’t have to be a Costco member to fill your prescriptions there.

But don’t rule out local independent pharmacies. Sometimes they offer bargain prices as low as Costco’s or offer to meet a competitor’s price. But you do have to ask.

Wherever you shop, if you have insurance, don’t automatically use it. For some medications, if your drug insurance co-pay is more than $10, you might be better off not using your insurance and just paying the retail price.

Walmart, Sam’s Club, Walgreens CVS, Kmart, Target and other pharmacies offer hundreds of generic prescription drugs at deep discounts. Prices are as little as $4 per month and $10 for a three-month supply.

If you take medications over the long term, Consumer Reports says you should ask your doctor for a 90-day prescription rather than a 30-day one. If your insurance company allows it, you’ll be able to save on multiple co-pays.

Also look into the loyalty programs at many drugstore chains. They will also help you save.

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

Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Deadly Tick-Borne Virus in Conn.]]> Wed, 15 Apr 2015 14:03:41 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/dfw-generic-tick-01.jpg

A rare but potentially deadly virus has made its way to Connecticut and could soon be transferred from ticks to humans, according to state officials. Human cases of the virus have been reported in other states in the northeast, including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Maine.

Dr. Theodore Andreadis, director of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven, said researchers identified ticks carrying the Powassan virus as part of a study published in 2012.

According to Andreadis, 2 to 3 percent of ticks surveyed in North Branford and Bridgeport tested positive for the virus. By comparison, some 30-40 percent of ticks in Connecticut carry Lyme disease.

Although there are no known cases of the virus in Connecticut, Andreadis said he expects the state could be seeing human cases soon.

"It’s an emerging tick-borne disease that we’re going to be looking at more closely. Right now, we know it’s in the state," he explained. "We don’t know how widespread it is but we’re going to be doing more work to find out, and with reported cases in surrounding states, it’s quite likely we’re getting some human exposure here in Connecticut."

Although the Powassan virus is "relatively rare," it "has the potential to cause very serious disease" and can produce encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain, Andreadis said.

The virus was first identified in 1958 in Powassan, Ontario, when a child contracted the disease and died, according to Andreadis.

Andreadis said the CEAS is expanding its survey to determine the prevalence of the virus in Connecticut.

Residents should be diligent about checking for ticks when hiking or camping the woods.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends using tick repellent and wearing long sleeves and pants when spending time in wooded or bushy areas.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Avoiding Pesticides in Fruits & Vegetables]]> Sun, 12 Apr 2015 22:17:15 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/CR+Pesticides.jpg

We know that it's healthy to eat more fruits and vegetables. But a lot of produce contains pesticides. That's especially a concern for children because they're still growing and they metabolize toxins differently.

Produce samples are tested every year by the Department of Agriculture for pesticide levels. The Consumer Reports Food Safety and Sustainability Center has analyzed the data and developed a Risk Guide for almost 50 fruits and vegetables.

Its analysis found that risk levels often vary depending on where the produce is grown. For example, cantaloupes grown in Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala, and Costa Rica had a lower risk level than cantaloupes grown in the U.S.

Organic produce fell into the low or very low risk category. So Consumer Reports says that buying organic is your best option. But organic produce costs an average of 49 percent more.

Consumer Reports ranked fruits and vegetables based on when it's most important to buy organic. For fruits, there are five: peaches, tangerines, nectarines, strawberries, and cranberries. For vegetables, it's green beans, bell and hot peppers, sweet potatoes, and carrots.

The good news is that Consumer Reports did find some nonorganic fruits and vegetables that were about as safe as organic versions when it comes to pesticide residues. They include broccoli grown in the U.S. and Mexico; U.S. cherries; grapes from the U.S., Chile, Mexico, and Peru; and lettuce from the U.S. and Mexico.

Whatever produce you buy, Consumer Reports says you should wash it thoroughly. Its recommendations are for fruits and vegetables that have been rinsed and have had inedible peels and rinds removed.


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

Photo Credit: Consumer Reports
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<![CDATA[Family Fights for Bill to Help Daughter with Epilepsy]]> Fri, 10 Apr 2015 18:35:09 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/TX_Medical_Marijuana.png

Karley Davis is almost three years old, and suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a form of intractable epilepsy.

Because of that, she suffers from seizures that can't be controlled by medication. Sometimes, she can have 100 seizures a day.

Every minute, it is painful for her parents.

“Candidly we feel like we have to make terrible decisions about her treatment with our neurologist,” said Father Jeff Davis.

Some of the medications she takes can damage her liver, behavioral rage headaches, and affect her development. They are now turning to CBD oil, which he explains is an oil with small amounts of THC, and says it cannot produce a high.

Representative Stephanie Klick is their lawmaker, and one of the sponsors of the Compassionate Use Act, a bill that would allow them to get that oil here in Texas. She tells NBC 5 after meeting the Davis’ and other families, she decided to work on this bill. She explains that this would be closely regulated, and would require a neurologist prescription.

You can read the full text of the Compassionate Use act here.

The Epilepsy association says some people with epilepsy have been helped by this, and while further research is needed to see its effects on seizures,  it may be an alternative for people running out of them.

People like Karley.

The Bill has been sent to a House committee, the Committee on Public Health. It has yet to be scheduled for a hearing. Representative Myra Crownover, chairman of that committee, had this to say:


“Over 198 bills have been referred to the House Committee on Public Health. A number of these are legislative priorities this session, and the determination of what is heard each hearing is made on a week-by-week basis.


I understand the importance of this issue, especially to the parents and children directly affected, and have taken their stories into account. At this point, it is a matter of prioritizing the legislation before us by what issues are most likely to pass both chambers, the Senate and the House.”

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Dallas Company Issues Nut Recall]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 22:16:38 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/146680269.jpg

Texas Pecan Company Inc. has issued a voluntarily recall on several of its products because they may be contaminated with salmonella.

The recalled products were distributed nationwide in the Dallas-based company's retail store and through mail orders, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

The product comes in 8 ounce and 16 ounce, clear plastic bags and in gift tins identified by the name of The Executive, Junior Executive, Sweet-N-Salty and Mini Sweet-n-Salty, sold in the months of November and December 2014, with a pack date of 14320 through 14365, located on the bottom left hand corner of the label.

For a complete list of the recalled products, CLICK HERE.

To date, no illnesses have been reported in connection with this problem, but consumers are urged to discontinue use of the product.

The potential for contamination was discovered after routine sampling tests by the FDA revealed the presence of salmonella in the Macadamia Nuts in November and December 2014.

Production of the product has been suspended while the FDA and the company's supplier continue their investigation.

Consumers who have purchased the products may return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.

Consumers with questions may contact the company at 972-241-7878, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central time.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Best Deals on Glucose Meters]]> Thu, 09 Apr 2015 17:31:32 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/glucose+meter.jpg

If you’re one of the almost 10 percent of Americans with diabetes, keeping track of blood sugar levels can help keep you out of the hospital. A home glucose meter is essential.

Consumer Reports tested 29 blood glucose meters for accuracy by comparing their results to those from a glucose analyzer used in medical labs.

Another important consideration is the cost of the test strips. Those little strips are a big, ongoing expense. And the cost can vary wildly.

For example, Consumer Reports’ top-rated glucose meter, the FreeStyle is easy to use, very accurate and costs just $20. But the strips are very expensive, $2,400 per year if you test four times a day.

Compare that with the Up & Up glucose meter from Target. The same number of strips costs far less, $525. That’s an annual savings of about $2,000. And Consumer Reports found the Up & Up meter easy to use and very accurate. It costs $15.

Another good choice is the $15 ReliOn Micro from Walmart. It takes a few seconds longer to get a reading, but it’s also very accurate, and the annual cost of the strips is also $525.

Consumer Reports health experts say that anyone taking insulin should monitor their glucose levels frequently at home, as should pregnant diabetics. How often you test is a decision you should discuss with your doctor.

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

Photo Credit: Consumer Reports]]>
<![CDATA[Blue Bell Recalls Products from Okla. Plant]]> Wed, 08 Apr 2015 06:33:08 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Blue+Bell+Ice+Cream+facility.jpg

Blue Bell Creameries is expanding its recall to include banana pudding-flavored ice cream made at the company's Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, facility after the product tested positive for listeria monocytogenes on Tuesday.

The company asked retailers on Monday to remove all products produced at the Oklahoma facility between Feb. 12 and March 27.

Blue Bell products made at the Oklahoma facility can be identified by checking for the letters “O,” “P,” “Q,” “R,” “S” and “T” following the "code date" printed on the bottom of the product package, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Blue Bell is also recalling seven other products made at the Oklahoma plant, including individually-wrapped Sour Pop Green Apple Bars, Cotton Candy Bars, Almond Bars, Vanilla Stick Slices and No Sugar Added Mooo Bars.

On Friday, the company said it was temporarily closing the Oklahoma facility, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigates.

In March, the illnesses prompted the Brenham, Texas-based creamery to issue the first recall in its 108-year history. The company and health officials said a 3-ounce cup of ice cream contaminated with listeriosis was traced to the plant in Oklahoma.

Listeriosis is a life-threatening infection caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes, according to the CDC. The disease primarily affects pregnant women, newborns, older adults and people with weakened immune systems.

In addition to the Broken Arrow plant, the company has two plants in Brenham and one in Sylacauga, Alabama. Those plants will continue to operate and supply products to retail stores.

The recalled ice cream had been shipped to Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming.

For more information, contact Blue Bell at 979-836-7977, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST.

Along with the banana pudding pints, Blue Bell said the recall now includes the following products made at its Oklahoma plant:

Ice Cream Pints: UPC # 0 71899-05101 5 / Code Date:

  • Ice Cream Banana Pudding pint / 021217S
  • Ice Cream Butter Crunch pint  /  021917S
  • Ice Cream Mint Chocolate Chip pint / 022017S
  • Ice Cream Cookies 'n Cream pint / 030317S, 030617S
  • Ice Cream Homemade Vanilla pint / 030417S
  • Ice Cream Dutch Chocolate pint / 032317S
  • Ice Cream Moo-llennium Crunch pint  / 032417S, 032517S

Sherbet Pint: UPC # 0 71899-19990 8

  • Rainbow Sherbet pint / 021717S, 021817S, 022317S, 030217S

Sherbet Quarts: UPC # 0 71899-18992 3

  • Orange Sherbet quart / 032617S
  • Mixed Berry Sherbet quart / 032717S

3 ounce Tab Lid Cup: Product # 136
*institutional/ food service cup only

  • Rainbow Sherbet / 022417S, 022617S, 022717S 

Gold Rim Half Gallon: UPC # 0 71899-03720 0

  • Ice Cream Homemade Vanilla half gallon / 030917T, 031017T, 031117T, 031217T, 031617T, 031717T, 031817T

Brown Rim Half Gallon: UPC # 0 71899-83548 6

  • Ice Cream Pistachio Almond half gallon / 031317T 

Light Half Gallon: UPC # 0 71899-73501 4

  • Ice Cream Homemade Vanilla Light half gallon  / 031917T

Consumers who purchased these items should return them. For more information or questions, call 979-836-7977 or go to bluebell.com.

For More Information

Blue Bell News Release

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Arlington Program Aims to Keep People Out of Hospital]]> Tue, 07 Apr 2015 20:15:11 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/arlington+community+healthj.jpg

Paramedics with the Arlington Fire Department pulled up at Alejandra Yokley’s home Tuesday to help her mother Paula Mota. But they were in no rush to put her in an ambulance. In fact, the point of their visit was to help her stay out of the hospital.

“We’re just happy that they were able to help us,” said Yokley. “I don’t have to stress about it so much.”

Mota, who has heart problems and cancer, is the first patient in the Arlington Fire Department’s new community health program.

Paramedics visit her at her daughter’s home once a week to check in on her, take her vitals, do occasional blood work and make sure she’s following her doctor’s orders. If she’s having any problems or they notice any changes, they can notify her doctors and get her help immediately.

“The goal here is so they don’t have to continually go to the hospital and be transported to the hospital by ambulance,” said Jason Adams, a firefighter and paramedic with the Arlington Fire Department.

Adams told NBC 5 that people with conditions like Mota’s may call 911 frequently, sometimes when they don’t need to. He said often times those patients are on edge, don’t follow all of their doctors’ instructions once they leave the hospital, or may not fully understand their conditions.

When that patient calls 911, they tie up emergency resources and can end up spending a lot of money on ambulance rides. That’s what the department hopes this program prevents.

“With this program, we’re able to go out and proactively address their medical issues,” said Adams.

For now, the community health program is running as a 90-day pilot. City leaders and fire administrators are set to discuss the future of the program later this spring.

Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck, who also works in the medical field, visited with Mota and Yokley to see how the program was working. He’s optimistic it will continue.

“So far, it’s been right on,” said Cluck. “And we hope to expand it.”

Yokley credits the program for keeping her mom out of the hospital and said she’s noticed a dramatic change since the paramedics first began coming to them.

“She’s stronger now,” said Yokley. “And she’s just happier.”

She hopes the community health program is around long enough to do the same for other families.

Paramedics are currently working with 15 patients in Arlington.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Spring-Cleaning Dangers and Better Alternatives]]> Tue, 14 Apr 2015 16:33:54 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cleaning2.jpg

You may be ready to launch into spring-cleaning mode. Be careful! Consumer Reports says that some cleaning products contain dangerous ingredients.

Consumer Reports recommends avoiding antibacterials such as dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride, which may help promote antibiotic-resistant bacteria. That harsh chemical can be found in several cleaners, including Scrubbing Bubbles Heavy Duty All Purpose Cleaner and some types of Clorox Disinfecting Wipes.

Better choices include Clorox Green Works All-Purpose Cleaner, which did well in Consumer Reports’ tough mess test. Also consider Clorox Healthcare Bleach Germicidal Wipes, a good option for occasional disinfecting, like when someone has a cold or flu.

As for your bathroom, be aware that toilet-bowl cleaners can harbor some of the most dangerous chemicals in your house. Products such as Lysol Power Toilet Bowl Cleaner Complete Clean contain hydrochloric acid, which can burn your eyes and skin. For a safer option, select a cleaner without hydrochloric acid, such as Seventh Generation Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner, which did well in Consumer Reports’ tests.

Spring-cleaning also means washing windows and making glass sparkle, but be careful with ammonia. It can potentially damage your eyes or lungs. Instead, try a glass cleaner that’s ammonia-free—such as Staples’ Sustainable Earth Glass Cleaner. Another option is to dilute ammonia: Use a half-cup in 4 cups of water.

The Environmental Protection Agency is offering more help in finding safer cleaning products. It has just issued a “Safer Choice” logo, which can be found on more than 1,000 products available at stores including Home Depot, Staples, Target and Walmart.

SC Johnson, which sells Scrubbing Bubbles, issued the following statement regarding Consumer Reports' findings:

We want to address a recent Consumer Reports piece that mentions dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride. Dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride is an effective antimicrobial that has been evaluated and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA).


In addition, its use in Scrubbing Bubbles Heavy-Duty All Purpose Cleaner has been approved by the U.S. EPA for consumer use in homes per the product label.


In order for SC Johnson to sell products such as Scrubbing Bubbles Heavy-Duty All Purpose Cleaner, U.S. EPA requires extensive product testing, in terms of product ingredients, safety and efficacy. The Consumer Reports piece neglects to discuss the efficacy of the product. We can verify the product has been proven highly effective, killing 99.9% of bacteria as it cleans, including odor-causing bacteria and viruses that cause the common cold and flu.


As a family company, nothing is more important to us than the health and well-being of the families who use SC Johnson products. Our products meet or exceed the high standards and regulations set by government regulatory agencies in the United States, Canada, the European Union and other global markets in which they are sold.

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
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<![CDATA[Mother Warns of Brain-Eating Amoeba]]> Mon, 06 Apr 2015 18:21:43 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Koral-Reef-knsd.jpg

Twenty-year-old Koral Reef's life was just beginning. She said yes to the dress and married her high school sweetheart. But Reef never got the chance to enjoy her happily ever after when she contracted a rare, brain-eating amoeba that took her life.

Reef’s mother, Cybil Meister, believes a family trip to Lake Havasu in Arizona was the catalyst for the infection that killed her daughter.

“She started with the headaches, the stiff neck, the sensitivity to light and heat was bad,” Meister told NBC 7.

Around Thanksgiving of 2013, Reef's family noticed something was wrong. By January, things went downhill. In June 2014, she went to the emergency room.

Doctors were never truly able to pinpoint a cause behind Reef’s health issues.

“They said, ‘Oh, she’s having withdrawal from her birth control; It’s a migraine.’ They gave her medicine and sent her home and then she progressively got worse,” recalled her mother.

In September 2014, Reef started losing her vision.

"She went to Temecula Valley and they did an MRI. They showed us the MRI and the amoeba, which they didn't know was an amoeba, but there was a mass covering the entire right side of her brain and partial of her left,” explained Meister.

In October 2014, Reef died.

Doctors say she had a rare but extremely deadly amoeba called Balamuthia. Meister believes her daughter contracted the parasite on that trip to Lake Havasu.

“Balamuthia's mortality rate is very, very high. Only 13 percent of patients survive without any type of treatment,” explained Dr. Navaz Karanjia.

Dr. Karanjia is the Director of Neurocritical Care and the Neuro-ICU at UC San Diego's Health System. She also diagnosed Reef with the amoeba.

She said Balamuthia is inhaled and the parasite has been found in soil and dust. The symptoms of the infection are general – such as headache, fatigue, and a stiff neck – which make it hard to diagnose.

"Usually the initial tests come back negative for the usual bacteria and viruses so medical providers need to know if those test come back negative a parasitic infection could be present,” said Dr. Karanjia.

Reef’s mother is now devoted to raising awareness about the deadly, brain-eating amoeba in her daughter’s name. She has started #TeamKoralReef through Amoeba Awareness.

She's hoping to keep others from experiencing the pain of losing a loved one.

"We're reaching out to people trying to raise awareness because I don't think people understand how serious it can be. It's deadly,” she added.

Dr. Karanjia said a drug has been approved for treatment of another parasite, leishmaniasis, and that drug is being tried for amoebas as well. She said it has shown some promise in treating amoebas like the one that caused Reef's untimely death.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>