<![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 Fri, 31 Oct 2014 10:15:29 -0500 Fri, 31 Oct 2014 10:15:29 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Jenkins, Rawlings Grade Ebola Response]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 23:18:43 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/land-rawlings-jenkins-ints.JPG

Two leaders credited with keeping Dallas-Fort Worth calm during the height of the Ebola threat, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, sat down exclusively with NBC 5 to discuss the crisis, the tense moments behind closed doors and the deeply personal toll curbing the outbreak took on their own lives.

Jenkins, who leads the county's commissioners court, said he tried to lead with compassion but that he and his family were scrutinized publicly after he visited Louise Troh and her family while wearing plain clothes and no protective gear. Troh's family was quarantined at the time, having been exposed to the potentially deadly disease by her fiancee, Thomas Eric Duncan, who was staying with them in Dallas while visiting from Liberia.

Concern swelled after Jenkins then drove the Troh family to a new apartment, again without protective gear.

Duncan was, of course, the first person in the U.S. to be diagnosed with the disease. The virus killed him on Oct. 8, 11 days after he was put into isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas and two weeks after he first became symptomatic.

"I don't want to unnecessarily dress up like a space man and dehumanize this person [Troh] any further. That wasn't required and [I] just followed the science and picked her up," Jenkins said.

At some point after relocating Troh's quarantined family, Jenkins said adults yelled the word "disgusting" at his 8-year-old daughter.

Troh's family was all released from quarantine, showing no sign of having contracted Ebola, at midnight Oct. 20.

Jenkins also shared the awful moment when they had to tell Troh and her family that Duncan had passed away while they remained quarantined, wondering if they had contracted the disease.

"The youngest was afraid that he would die and so it was very difficult as a father, I had to get on the floor like a catcher because I couldn't touch him," Jenkins said. "He was saying, 'Judge, just tell me if I am going to die. Take me to the hospital if I am.' And I said, 'No, you're going to be OK.' Just trying to get him to look at me and tell him he was going to be OK."

Rawlings said his low moment came four days after nurse Nina Pham had been diagnosed with the disease, when nurse Amber Vinson was also confirmed to have contracted Ebola two days after being cleared to travel on a commercial flight.

"I will say the low moment was getting that call that Amber had come down. I felt I had failed these nurses, but also because of what's next," Rawlings said. "Ya know, it was tough for me, the first one. But Amber was tougher for me. The first one was an odd situation, that 'one off.' Suddenly you've got a trend. You've got two individuals. Who else is going to come forth?"

Rawlings said the need inform and educate the public about the deadly disease in an expedient manner proved challenging, but was not an area where they could afford to fail.

"Basically I learned two things. One is to be honest with people all the time. That's a little hard to do because we are getting real time information and some of it is wrong. We have to sort it out, we have to edit and we have to provide total transparency. Second, be clear and simple," Rawlings said.

Due to the nature of the virus, Rawlings and Jenkins learned quickly that they didn't have the luxury of time when it came to formulating a strategy or response to the Ebola threat.

"It was a strange moment, a surrealistic moment, to know that there was a lot of cities and states that it could hit. The fact that it, just through randomness, it picked Dallas, it was a bit of a kick in the gut," Rawlings said. "But you really don't have time to sit back and think that way. You have to say, 'OK, what do we have to do?"

See more of the interview with both Rawlings and Jenkins during NBC 5 News at 10 p.m. The entire half-hour interview will be available inside this article following the late news.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Some Flu Patients Could Falsely Suspect Ebola]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 23:06:25 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/little+girl+vaccine.jpg

Doctors in North Texas are reporting an uptick in flu patients showing up to their offices already this fall, and the reason could be due to a heightened awareness of the Ebola virus.

Ebola and the flu have some similar symptoms in that they both cause fevers and muscle aches. As a result, folks concerned about Ebola are not only screened for that but also for the flu.

“We are testing more often for the symptoms because of the whole Ebola screening, too,” said Dr. Roger Khetan.

Just last week there were four positive flu cases in North Texas, and each was a middle-aged, healthy adult.

“I would say the natural person is usually a little concerned about fever, especially if they travel, and so we are going to be very careful about travel screening. And I think everyone screening is because we are still unfortunately the epicenter for what was Ebola,” said Khetan.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Eric Duncan's Fiancee Talks to NBC 5]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 18:51:10 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/102614+Louise+Troh.jpg

For the first time, the fiancée of Thomas Eric Duncan sat down and spoke exclusively to NBC 5’s Johnny Archer.

Louise Troh talked about her experience dealing with the death of her fiancé who died from the Ebola virus.

The night Duncan was rushed to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas by ambulance, Troh was at work. But her daughter, who is a certified nurse’s assistant, was there taking care of him.

Her daughter says Duncan was not throwing up that night, but he did suffer from diarrhea and had a temperature of 103 degrees.

She told the paramedics that he had just traveled from a viral country in West Africa and warned them about his symptoms.

Troh reflected about how her fiancé traveled from Liberia specifically to marry her in the United States.

They had an intimate relationship when he arrived and they planned continue their lives together.

But that all changed when Duncan developed symptoms of the virus.

Troh says she is upset with Presbyterian Hospital.

She believes they didn’t do enough to save his life.

Hospital officials say they did all they could and consulted with the Centers for Disease Control and Emory University Hospital throughout the process of Duncan’s care

Despite so much loss and suffering, Troh manages to get through her days now with a smile and remains positive.

However, she says she is stressed that not one property owner where she has looked to live permanently will allow her and her family to stay there. But she is looking to move forward and start working again. She just wants to get back to a normal life.
 



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Cooler Temps Could Bring End to West Nile Season Soon]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:27:17 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tlmd_mosquito_fiebre_amarilla_california.jpg

It may be the beginning of the end for mosquito season and West Nile virus fears in 2014.

For the first time since early in the year, morning low temperatures in the 30s are forecasted for the Denton County area in the coming days.

While there’s no hard end date to the mosquito season, most experts agree the first frost of the year followed by consistent below 50 degree weather gets rid of the bugs for the season.

Although that low of a low is yet to be seen, many mosquito experts are hopeful we are seeing the weather swing that way quickly.

"I think we're very close to the end of the season,” said Highland Village Street Supervisor Bob Parton.

Parton said the cooler temperatures over the last few days and weeks lead to a decline in mosquito numbers already. He said the 60 degree range tends to readily cut down on trappings in his experience.

The city hasn’t had a positive mosquito pool testing since early October and only had six weeks during 2014 so far with positive tests.

Elsewhere in Denton County, Lewisville had 13 positive pools, Flower Mound reports nine and Denton had seven so far.

Countywide, the Health Department reports only four human cases of the illness this year; significantly down from the widespread West Nile virus outbreak North Texas experienced in 2012.

Parton attributes much of the success of lowering those numbers to the response from cities and counties; which has greatly improved in the last two years.

He said Highland Village began trapping early this year, immediately sprayed any positive test areas and got a good response from citizens reporting pooling water or large mosquito groupings to the city.

However, Parton said even when this season does die down the city will almost immediately begin planning to combat next year’s crop of mosquitoes.

The County Health Department said they will soon wrap up their mosquito surveillance on the season, as well.

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<![CDATA[Bedford Passes Restaurant Smoking Ban]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:27:34 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/171956078.jpg

The City of Bedford has passed an ordinance banning smoking in restaurants.

Bedford passed the ordinance on Sept. 9, but said that bars or businesses that derive 50 percent of their revenue from the sale of alcohol can still allow smoking.

City officials said there are currently only five places in the cit that fit that description. The ordinance also prohibits smoking within 10 feet of an entrance or open window, however, smoking will be permitted on patios provided they are separated from the establishment and far enough away from the door.

The new ordinance goes into effect Jan. 1, 2015.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Negative Stigma Linked to Ebola Virus]]> Fri, 31 Oct 2014 08:31:37 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/6PW_VO_EBOLA_MEETING_KNSD4HOQ_1200x675_313738307967.jpg

Each day that passes in Dallas County without a new case of the Ebola virus is a small victory in the battle against it spreading.

Day by day, more people are falling off the monitoring watch list.

But now, health officials are dealing with another problem, the negative stigma associated with being linked to the outbreak.

Amber Vinson and Nina Pham, two nurses who contracted the virus but are cured, now face the challenge of getting back to a normal life.

“They are deserving of being valorized,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. “Not stigmatized in anyway.”

Jenkins has been in close communication with those affected by the virus, including Louise Troh and her family.

They are all out of isolation and never showed any symptoms of the virus after having contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, who died from Ebola on October 8.

Troh and her family still can't find a permanent place to live after her apartment was decontaminated and her possessions destroyed.

“I think she’s been surprised that there has been this hesitation,” said Wilshire Baptist Church Pastor George Mason. “She continually has been disappointed in every time we thought we had a place for her to live, only that they didn't want to take a risk.”

Mason says Troh's been talking to her employer and she might be back to work soon, working part-time as a certified nurse’s assistant.

“They’ve been through literally hell and they've dealt with it with grace and love and understanding,” said Jenkins.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas has also taken a hit. Hospital visits and revenue are down.
 

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<![CDATA[Nurse Steps Out, Slams Quarantine]]> Thu, 30 Oct 2014 06:01:17 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Kaci-Hickox.jpg

Nurse Kaci Hickox, who recently returned from treating Ebola victims in West Africa and has challenged the legality of a quarantine, spoke outside of her Maine home after health officials announced they are seeking a court order to force her to stay home in quarantine for three weeks over public health concerns.

Hickox walked out of her Fort Kent home Wednesday night, defying the Maine CDC's protocol for health care workers who have treated Ebola patients.

"We have to make decisions based on science," she told reporters while standing outside with her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur. "You could hug me. You could shake my hand and not get Ebola."

The state wants people who have had direct contact with Ebola patients to remain home and avoid public contact until the virus' 21-day incubation period had passed, and it will seek court orders to force them to if they don't of their own accord, officials said at a Wednesday press conference in Augusta.

"Our true desire is for a voluntary separation from the public. We do not want to legally enforce an in-home quarantine unless absolutely necessary," Maine Commissioner of Health and Human Services Mary Mayhew said. "However, we will pursue legal authority if necessary to ensure risk is minimized for all Mainers."

Mayhew defended the state's effort to enforce what it continued to call a "voluntary" quarantine, saying it reflected a "common-sense approach" that would "guard against a public health crisis in Maine."

The court order seeking to force Hickox to remain home will ideally be filed Wednesday, Mayhew said.

Officials also said state troopers are outside of her door waiting to tail her and see who she comes into contact with if she leaves home.

Earlier on Wednesday, Hickox, a nurse who had first been quarantined in New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport over the weekend and was released after showing no symptoms, told Matt Lauer on "Today" that she wasn't abiding by Maine CDC's recommendation; the state's CDC recommendation is more strict than federal guidelines.

"I truly believe this policy is not scientifically nor constitutionally just, and so I’m not going to sit around and be bullied around by politicians and be forced to stay in my home when I am not a risk to the American public," Hickox said. 

Gov. Paul LePage said in a statement earlier on Wednesday that while he's concerned with the safety and health of Hickox and the community of Fort Kent, the state is "exploring all of our options for protecting the health and well-being" of Hickox and the community.

"While we certainly respect the rights of one individual, we must be vigilant in protecting 1.3 million Mainers, as well as anyone who visits," LePage's statement said.

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<![CDATA[Statement: Amber Vinson Speaks at Emory]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 12:54:40 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/vinson-speaks-emory.jpg

Below is a statement read by Dallas nurse Amber Vinson upon being discharged from Emory University Hospital in Dallas after she was declared Ebola-free.

I'm so grateful to be well. And first and foremost, I want to thank God. I sincerely believe, that with God all things are possible.

While the skill and dedication of the doctors, nurses and others who have taken care of me have obviously led to my recovery, it has been God's love that has truly carried my family and me through this difficult time and has played such an important role and given me hope and the strength to fight.

I also want to take a moment to publicly thank my dear grandparents, my aunt and my uncle who have been visiting me here at Emory, supporting me and making sure I knew my family was there for me throughout my illness.

And to my family who played such an important role in my recovery, by being there every minute, every day, even though you couldn't be close, Mom and Derek, I want to express my love and sincere thanks.

While this is a day for celebration and gratitude I ask that we not lose focus on the thousands of families who continue to labor under the burden of this disease in West Africa.

Thank you to Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol both of whom were successfully treated here at Emory, for your donations of plasma for me and other patients. And thank you for your leadership in hleping to educate the public about this difficult, but treatable, disease.

I want to sincerely thank the professionals who have contributed to my care here at Emory Healthcare and at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. As a nurse and now as someone who has experienced what it's like to be cared for through a life-threatening illness, I am so appreciative and grateful for your exceptional skill, warmth and care.

Finally, my family and I would like to thank many people whose prayers have helped sustain us. As we head back home to Texas, we are grateful and we respectfully ask for the privacy my family and I need at this time.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[CDC Recommends New Ebola Quarantine Guidelines]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 08:54:57 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/CDC-generic.jpg The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outline new guidelines for who should be quarantined and when concerning people coming from Africa to the United States.]]> <![CDATA["The Martha Stewart of Marijuana"]]> Tue, 28 Oct 2014 08:44:39 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/214*120/6086cece1b1849ee9e44a75c6187d8ae.jpg

Beverly Hills mom Cheryl Shuman may not look like the stereotypical stoner, but she’s hoping her new crowdfunding website will be a driving force to help bring medical marijuana to the masses.

Diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007, Shuman was given just months to live. She refused hospice and started smoking marijuana. Now, she’s known as an advocate of the drug.

"My name is Cheryl Shuman and they call me the Martha Stewart of Marijuana," Shuman, founder of the Beverly Hills Cannabis Club, said.

Shuman, who has been on TV shows and in magazines promoting her business, said she frequently hears that she doesn’t fit what people think a pot smoker should look like.

"Well you don't look like a pot smoker, you don't look like a marijuana person," is what she said people tell her. "I always say, 'What were you expecting me to look like?'"

She doesn’t have a stereotypical business model either.

She credits cannabis for saving her life, and her passion for its benefits has led to her business and a 68-acre marijuana farm in Northern California.

And now she's hoping her newest venture, crowdfunding website Canna-dabba-doo, will help other potential medical marijuana entrepreneurs.

"Medical marijuana is as close to being a miracle drug and if it were discovered in the Amazon jungle today it would be heralded around the world as a miracle drug," Shuman said.

So far, the website only has three business ideas posted and no money has been pledged. But Shuman says it's just beginning.

"It allows anyone with a small business idea and a dream to post their project on the website and all the people we generate through social media can help fund it," she said.

"This is like the 90s and the dot-com boom. This is the pot-com boom!"

But the pot business comes with critics.

"The 'green rush' is nothing more than a revitalization of drug dealing in California and the U.S.," a spokesman for the group Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana said in a statement. "With fraudulent labeling of pot as medicine, we have seen increases in drug use particularly among teens and young adults."

Spokesman Scott Chipman said in a written statement that as a society "we must beat back big marijuana just like big tobacco of 20 years ago.

"It has the potential to be much more harmful and deadly," he said.

While cannabis has been shown to alleviate side effects of cancer treatments and other effects of the disease, no clinical trials on humans have shown it to be an effective treatment for cancer, according to the National Institutes of Health. The FDA has not approved the drug for cancer treatment.

Still, Shuman points to her clientele's need for the various strains of the marijuana for medicinal purposes.

"This is a legitimate medicine, that legitimately helps people," Shuman said.

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<![CDATA[More than 31,000 Pounds of Chicken Products Recalled]]> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 09:55:42 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/bell-evans-chicken.jpg

A Pennsylvania food company over the weekend issued a recall of more than 31,000 pounds of chicken products that may contain a toxin.

The recalled products are Bell & Evans gluten free chicken breast nuggets (12 ounces) and Bell & Evans gluten free chicken breast (10.5 ounces), according to a press release from the Department of Agriculture.

The chicken products have Aug. 9, 2015, expiration dates. They were shipped to stores across the U.S.

The food may be contaminated with Staphylococcal bacteria, which may cause stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

The reported contamination was discovered by the Colorado Department of Agriculture during a retail surveillance and sampling program.



Photo Credit: BellandEvans.com]]>
<![CDATA[Nurse, UTA Grad Fights New Jersey Quarantine]]> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 10:16:36 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Kaci-Hickox1.jpg

Isolated inside a tent, Kaci Hickox remains involuntarily quarantined at a New Jersey hospital.

“We believe that the medical experts should be directing these policies not politicians,” said Hickox’s attorney, Norman Siegel.

Siegel criticized New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's new policy to impose a mandatory 21-day quarantine to any health care worker returning from West African countries with Ebola outbreaks.

That’s the situation Hickox, a 2002 University of Texas-Arlington graduate, found herself in after traveling from Sierra Leone Friday where she was a nurse for the nonprofit Doctors Without Borders.

“Quarantine measures or coercive measures against aid workers could give a superfluous sense of security while the most important thing is to tackle the epidemic at its source --- there," said Doctors Without Borders Executive Director Sophie Delaunay, on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday morning.

Hickox has tested negative and shown no symptoms of the virus.

“The medical people that we’ve talked to will be recommending there’s no reason medically to keep her quarantined,” said Siegel.

Despite harsh opposition to new the policy, Christie stands firmly by his decision.

“I understand Ms. Hickox is uncomfortable and I understand that she doesn't want to be quarantined,” said Christie. “But my responsibility, my greater responsibility is the 8.9 million people of the state of New Jersey.”

Hickox's attorneys plan to file a federal lawsuit against the state of New Jersey later this week.

*Update* The New Jersey State Health Department said Hickox was being discharged Monday and sent to Maine, per her request. She will be taken via private carrier, not by mass transit or commercial jet.

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<![CDATA[Pham's Church Continues to Pray for Her]]> Sat, 25 Oct 2014 22:37:53 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tlmd_01_obama_abrazo_nina_pham.jpg Nina Pham is in Fort Worth with her family, that's also where her church is where many members of the congregation continue to pray for her recovery.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pham's Reunion With Her Dog Delayed]]> Sat, 25 Oct 2014 22:34:54 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/pham-dog.jpg Nina Pham's reunion with her dog Bentley will have to wait until the dog clears quarantine.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[UTA Nurse Fires Back Against Ebola Quarantines]]> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 07:23:44 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ebola-quarantine.jpg A nurse with ties to North Texas is firing back against efforts to stop the spread of Ebola. The UTA grad returned from West Africa on Friday and was immediately placed in quarantine.]]> <![CDATA[Presbyterian Makes Big Changes After Treating Ebola]]> Sat, 25 Oct 2014 22:10:08 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ebola-456419212.jpg After treating the first Ebola patient in the U.S., Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas made some big changes.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Neighbors Ready for Pham to Return Home]]> Sun, 26 Oct 2014 01:21:37 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/457790040.jpg

Former Ebola patient Nina Pham made no public appearances on her first day back in Texas after her rapid recovery and release Friday from a Maryland hospital.

Pham is believed to be staying at her family's home in Fort Worth, where road cones and a police officer ensure their privacy.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who is overseeing the Dallas response to Ebola, was in touch with her family Saturday and he was at Fort Worth Meacham Airport Friday night when her chartered plane arrived.

“She bounded off that plane, jumped into her Dad’s arms, visited with some friends, even took some pictures with some people,” Jenkins said. “[She] just really seemed happy and healthy and glad to be home.”

The Presbyterian Hospital nurse became infected with the Ebola virus while treating the first Dallas Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan who died Oct. 8. She was transferred to Maryland for care on Oct. 16.

Jenkins said Pham’s plans for return to work or her Dallas apartment are not clear.

“She’s got a lot of catching up to do with her sisters, with her friends. She’s looking forward to driving her car and just being able to stretch her legs and being able to do some things,” Jenkins said.

A reunion with her dog Bentley will be delayed until the dog completes Ebola monitoring on Nov. 1. So far, Bentley has tested negative for the disease.

“There’s no risk to her to be around the dog, but the top veterinarians in the state say the regimen we have the dog on, on monitoring needs to not be interrupted,” Jenkins said.

Laura Colven, who lives down the street from Nina Pham’s “M” Streets apartment, said neighbors were alarmed when a crew wearing bio-hazard suits came to decontaminate the unit two weeks ago.

“It’s a little scary having the CDC knock on your door saying someone has Ebola on your street but we have to get past that and they informed us and everything was taken care of and there’s nothing to be scared of,” Colven said.

Laura Colven and her mom Jan walked by the unit Saturday.

“We were just talking about the picture in the paper of President Obama hugging her,” Jan Colven said. “I thought maybe that’s a message to people, ‘it’s OK. There’s no need to be scared.’”

"Good for her, very happy for her. I think a lot of people were praying for her. I know we were. I think it is really a good thing that she is well,” said neighbor, Phil Schwartz.

On Saturday, 102 possible Ebola contacts were still being monitored for possible symptoms but Jenkins said the chance of another Ebola case declines every day. All contacts will complete monitoring on Nov. 7.

“We are winning the war on Ebola in Dallas, but we must stay vigilant,” Jenkins said.

NBC 5's Julie Fine contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[First Flu Cases of the Season Reported in North Texas]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:39:12 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Nasal+flu+spray.jpg

Dallas County Health and Human Services reported three cases of the flu for the 2014-2015 flu season on Friday. Tarrant County is reporting one positive flu test so far this season.

"These early flu reports tell us that the virus is circulating in the community and citizens need to protect themselves by getting a flu vaccine," said DCHHS Director Zachary Thompson.

Fifty-eight flu-related deaths were reported in Dallas County during last year’s flu season.

“There’s a big scare with Ebola recently. The flu is actually a lot easier to contract and a lot easier to spread,” said Dr. Jonathan Clarke, with Preston Hollow 24 Hr. Emergency Room. “So this is a viral illness that can affect very large parts of the community, is very easily transmissible and is much more dangerous to public health than something like Ebola.”

Clarke said signs and symptoms of the flu are very similar to other viral illnesses that are common this time of year.

“Primarily, it’s an upper respiratory illness, so you’re going to have cough congestion, sore throat, maybe some sneezing, fever, chills, body aches,” Clarke said. “Less frequently, some people will have nausea and vomiting. That’s more prevalent in children.”

Vinny Taneja, director of Tarrant County Public Health, said getting vaccinated is your best defense.

“The flu vaccine is the best way to prevent getting the flu, however, there are things that everybody should do on an everyday basis and it will not only prevent the flu but many other diseases,” said Taneja. “Wash your hands throughout the day, and, very important, with warm soap and water. People get complacent, and they start using alcohol hand sanitizers. Alcohol hand sanitizers are great as a supplement not as a replacement for hand washing.”

Taneja also encourages anyone who is sick to stay home to help prevent the spread of flu.

NBC 5 learned this year’s flu vaccine contains a flu strain taken from Tarrant County Public Health. It’s an H3N2-like virus.

The vaccine you’ll get this year is either a trivalent or quadrivalent vaccine, meaning it will protect against three or four strains of the virus. For children 2 to 8 years of age, the CDC recommends a live attenuated influenza vaccine, which is basically a nasal spray of weakened but live flu virus.

Taneja recommends the nasal spray for adults as well and suggests it may be more effective.

“I usually use the example of practicing boxing,” Taneja said. “If you take the flu shot, it’s like practicing boxing against a punching bag so you can hone your technique. But if you actually have a live sparing opponent in you ring, then you get a better learning experience and that’s how the flu mist works. It’s a live opponent and your body tends to have a better response.”

Clarke cautions against the mist, however, for those with chronic medical conditions or those around people with chronic medical conditions. For those people, he recommends the flu shot.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Dallas Hospital Workers React to Good News for Nurse]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:45:17 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/presby-reax.jpg Texas health Presbyterian Hospital workers react to the news that nurse Nina Pham is no longer infected with the Ebola virus Friday.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Pham Free of Ebola; Returns Home Late Friday]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:59:51 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/457790040.jpg

Dallas nurse Nina Pham, who contracted Ebola treating a patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, said Friday she feels fortunate and blessed to be free of the deadly virus and is looking forward to seeing her dog Bentley.

Pham, 26, made the statements during a news conference Friday after being discharged from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Flanked by her family and a number of doctors who aided in her recovery, Pham walked out of the NIH Clinical Center to cheers Friday and read a short statement where she thanked those who prayed for her and treated her.

"I feel fortunate and blessed to be standing here today," Pham said in a brief statement. "Throughout this ordeal, I have put my trust in God and my medical team."

She was introduced to the crowd by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who said when Pham was admitted on Oct. 16 that it was their goal that she would walk out of their hospital healthy. On Friday, that goal was realized.

"Our patient Nina Pham is free of Ebola virus," Fauci said, adding that five tests showed that Pham has no more of the virus in her body.

While wearing the colors of Pham's nursing school, Texas Christian University, Fauci called her a "courageous and lovely person," saying that she also represents the nurses and health care workers who put themselves on the line caring for sick patients.

Pham took no questions and left NIH bound for the White House where she, her mother and sister would meet President Barack Obama in the Oval Office along with several of her doctors.

Pham boarded a CareFlite airplane at Baltimore-Washington International Airport Friday evening bound for Fort Worth, where her family has a home.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said Pham will be reunited with her dog Bentley, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, on Saturday.

“I’m excited to welcome her home and I know Bentley will be glad to see her. Although Bentley remains under quarantine until the end of the month, Nina will be able to visit, hold and play with him tomorrow. I know that will be good for both of them," said Jenkins in a statement Friday.

Dallas city spokeswoman Sana Syed clarified Jenkins' statement, saying Pham might be allowed to see Bentley, but won't be able to cuddle with her dog until he has cleared a 21-day quarantine. That should happen on Nov. 1. Syed said no reunion plan has been set yet.

Pham's Remarkable Recovery

Nurse Nina Pham made good progress in battling the disease at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas before being transferred to NIH. In Maryland, Pham thanked Fort Worth Dr. Kent Brantly for the "selfless act of donating plasma" as his blood may have aided in her recovery since it carries antibodies against the Ebola virus.

Before being transferred from Dallas, Pham's condition had been listed as good and she appeared lively in a video posted on YouTube. After her transfer to Maryland she was reassessed and listed in fair condition, but doctors were quick to say her condition hadn't deteriorated. On Wednesday, Pham was upgraded to good condition.

Fauci, one of the most highly-regarded immunologists in the world, said they used no experimental drugs in Pham's treatment and was not able to say with any certainty whether the donation of Brantley's plasma was instrumental in her recovery.

No matter how it happened, Pham's co-workers were overjoyed to learn of her recovery and discharge.

“The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas family is thrilled that Nina Pham is Ebola-free and on her way home. Her colleagues and friends eagerly look forward to welcoming her back. Her courage and spirit, first in treating a critically ill Ebola patient and then in winning her own battle against the disease, has truly inspired all of us,” said Texas Health Resources CEO Barclay Berdan in a statement.

After her discharge Friday, Pham expressed thanks to those who cared for her and aided in her recovery while asking for prayers for those still battling the disease, including her co-worker Amber Vinson and New York City Dr. Craig Spencer who was diagnosed with the disease Thursday.

"I believe in the power of prayer because I know so many people all over the world have been praying for me. I do not know how I can ever thank everyone enough for their prayers and their expressions of concern, hope and love. I join you in prayer now for the recovery of others including my colleague and friend Amber Vinson and Dr. Craig Spencer," Pham said.

Spencer is in stable condition and is being treated at Bellvue Hospital in New York. He is believed to have had close contact with only three people, all who are quarantined and asymptomatic.

Pham is believed to have contracted the virus, along with Vinson, while caring for patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, died from the disease on Oct. 8.

Pham, the first health care worker to contract the disease in the U.S., was treated for Ebola at Presbyterian Dallas for several days before being transferred to the NIH campus.

Vinson, the second health care worker who tested positive for the virus, was confirmed to have Ebola on Oct. 15 and was transferred to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta from Presbyterian the same day. Vinson's family reported earlier in the week that she was clear of the disease, a statement hospital officials confirmed Friday though they have not said when Vinson will be discharged.

"Amber Vinson is making good progress in her treatment for Ebola virus infection. Tests no longer detect virus in her blood. She remains within Emory's Serious Communicable Diseases Unit for continued supportive care. We do not have a discharge date at this time," the hospital said Friday.

“Nina is a real hero and a devoted nurse who represents all the brave health care workers who’ve put their lives on the line to help others. We are thankful for everyone who cared for Nina at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas and NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. "We are also happy to hear the positive prognosis for her colleague Amber Vinson and we look forward to welcoming Amber home soon too."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and hospital officials have not yet been able to determine exactly how Pham and Vinson contracted the often fatal disease.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Girl's Seizures Seemingly Subside After Medicinal Oil Trial]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 23:03:38 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Glut+1+medicinal+oil.jpg

A North Texas family is touting a "miracle oil" and praising researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas for healing their little girl, who was having chronic seizures.

Spend a day with 6-year-old Chloe Olivarez and it is hard to keep up with her. Chloe's mother, Brandi Olivarez, says she never thought she would see this day.

"I don't even know that a year ago she would have been able to," Olivarez said.

Just two years ago, Brandi Olivarez had no idea what was wrong with her daughter. Video from Children's Health in Dallas shows doctors monitoring Chloe to figure out why she was having hundreds of seizures a day.

"We were looking at buying a wheelchair and diapers, because she wasn't able to be potty trained at that point," Brandi Olivarez said.

A helmet protected Chloe's head because she fell often.

"We were watching her go down this progressive slope, and she was just continually declining," Brandi Olivarez said.

Tests revealed Chloe had Glut 1 deficiency. That is a metabolic disease that depletes the brain of needed glucose, which makes most people unresponsive and slow to develop.

"It was kind of bittersweet. Finally understanding what she actually had, what we were fighting and the next step. It doesn't have a cure," Brandi Olivarez said.

But their timing was impeccable. Dr. Juan Pascual, a professor of pediatric neurology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, had just wrapped a groundbreaking study on mice with Glut 1, using an edible oil.

Pascual enrolled Chloe in his first human clinical trial, and within hours of ingesting the oil, her seizures started to subside.

"I had never seen anything like it," Pascual said.

"Speech was the first, other than seeing the seizure activity on the EEG, you could tell. She wasn't having seizures where she was hitting the floor anymore, and then speech was the next thing. Her speech, she immediately started using sentences," Brandi Olivarez said. "So then. with prolonged use, we have increased muscle tone. She's about to run a mile without stopping now."

The medicinal oil is derived from castor beans called Triheptanoin, which is used in many cosmetics in the United States. It has no smell and no taste.

All 14 participants in the study drank the oil four times a day in varying doses, and 70 percent of them saw a significant decline in seizures and improved neuropsychological performance.

The study is published in JAMA Neurology.

"Some days are very rough and some days are very happy, and I have to say that this was one of the happiest days of my life," Pascual said.

Chloe's family says watching her progress has been remarkable.

"We owe him everything. Now, we have a very vibrant, sassy little girl and I can't express my gratitude for everything they've done for us because it's been amazing to watch her," Brandi Olivarez said.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Parkland Offers Free Mammograms Saturday]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:14:00 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mammogram+photo+for+web.jpg

The following is an unedited news release from Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.

She was only 36 when she felt something in her breast. "It was hard and slightly painful, like a bruise," recalled Jennifer Arzola, mother of four and an employee of Parkland Health & Hospital System. "My first thought was, 'could this be breast cancer?' but then I thought, 'no way, breast cancer doesn't run in my family.' Then it dawned on me - my mother-in-law was the only person in her family to have breast cancer. I knew I had to get it checked out."

Many women, like Arzola, believe they are too young to get breast cancer, or are immune to the disease because they have no family history. Those are misconceptions that Arzola wants to help correct so other women will get the life-saving care they need before it's too late. "I know there's something I'm supposed to do with my experience and I think it's to reach out and educate others about the disease."
 
Arzola volunteered to be on the planning committee of Parkland's annual "Come Together for the Cure" breast cancer awareness event scheduled for 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 25 at Light of the World Church of Christ, 7408 S. Hampton Road, Dallas, 75232. As part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the free event open to the public and co-hosted by Parkland and Susan G. Komen Dallas County aims to arm women with facts about breast cancer, dispel myths and provide potentially life-saving screening mammograms.
 
Workshops on five breast cancer topics and free mammogram screenings begin at 8 a.m. The luncheon program hosted by KRNB radio personality Lynne Haze begins at noon and will feature a panel discussion by breast cancer survivor Dr. Sheron C. Patterson, Dallas pastor, author and breast cancer awareness advocate; survivor Rev. Michael Enette; Rachel Woolridge, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; Aretha L. Fisher, PhD, Parkland clinical psychologist; and Valorie Harvey, Director of Cancer Services at Parkland. Gifts, raffle prizes and lunch are complimentary.
 
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), not counting some kinds of skin cancer, breast cancer in the U.S. is the most common cancer in women, regardless of race or ethnicity. It is the most common cause of death from cancer among Hispanic women and the second most common cause of death from cancer among Caucasian, African-American, Asian/Pacific and American Indian/Alaska Native women. In 2011, the most recent year that data is available, nearly a quarter of a million women and more than 2,000 men were diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. More than 40,000 women and 440 men died from the disease in America that year.
 
Phil Evans, MD, Parkland's Interim Medical Director, Breast Imaging and Radiology, stated that most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 or older, but about 11 percent of new breast cancers in the U.S. are found in women under age 45. "At Parkland, we have consistently recommended that women of average risk for breast cancer start getting mammograms at age 40 and continue annually thereafter. And it's important for women of all ages to know how to do a monthly breast self-examination and to see a physician if they notice any change in their breasts," he said.
 
Arzola found the lump in her breast in July 2012 and had a bilateral mastectomy soon after, followed by reconstructive breast surgery in January 2013. Fortunately, she required no chemotherapy or radiation treatment and is doing well. But despite a loving support group led by her husband, children, mother, church friends and an "amazing group of co-workers at Parkland," Arzola said the experience was life-altering.
 
"It may sound very strange, but now I'm glad that I got breast cancer because it opened my eyes to a lot of things more important in life than most of us realize. I didn't have any idea how many people have been touched by breast cancer. I saw another side of people that I wouldn't have seen if I hadn't gone through this," she said.
 
With so much to live for, Arzola maintained a positive attitude and was determined to get well. "I still wonder why I got breast cancer," she said, "but no one knows. I hope someday we can find that answer."
 
Meantime, Arzola and health care providers at Parkland hope that more women will attend events like "Come Together for the Cure" to learn how to protect themselves from the disease and get a screening mammogram, because breast cancer can be cured if detected early.
 
"There are a lot of myths and fears about breast cancer," Dr. Evans said. "Many women believe that if they don't have a family history of breast cancer, they don't need to be screened, but in fact about 80 percent of breast cancers occur in women with no family history, so screening is very important for all women. Many women also think that if they find a lump, it must be cancerous, but that is not the case. The vast majority of lumps turn out to be benign, but they must be evaluated by their medical provider either through imaging or biopsy to determine if they are malignant or not. It's extremely important for women to have an annual mammogram after age 40 and talk to their doctor about any changes in breast tissue, regardless of their age. Early detection of breast cancer saves lives."
          
To register for the free breast cancer luncheon and workshops on Oct. 25, please contact Vickie Henry at 214-266-4398 or Vickie.Henry@phhs.org. To register for a free mammogram at the event, call 214-266-3499.
 
Parkland provides screening mammograms, breast cancer education, and case management services to medically underserved women in Dallas County. Parkland's mobile mammography unit visits its Community Oriented Primary Care health centers regularly. For more information on the mobile mammography unit screening schedule, visit www.parklandhospital.com/mobile_mammography or call 214.266.3300. To learn more about Parkland's Comprehensive Breast Center, visit  www.parklandhospital.com/breast_center
 

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<![CDATA[New Task Force for Infectious Diseases Holds First Hearing]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:13:58 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ebola-task-force-hearing.jpg

The newly-formed Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response held its first public hearing in the State Capitol.

At the 9 a.m. hearing, task force members focused on medical and public health preparedness for the initial identification and isolation of patients with Ebola or similar high-consequence infectious diseases, officials said.

Officials said that Thomas Eric Duncan could have walked into any hospital, so all hospitals must be prepared to handle an Ebola patient.

Task Force members heard invited testimony from witnesses representing professions and institutions involved in infectious disease identification and response. The main issues they discussed were internal communication, enhanced diagnostic screening and training for medical staff.

Speakers thanksed nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, who tested positive for Ebola after treating Duncan. Texas Department of Health Services Dr. David Lakey, in particular, said it takes genuine bravery to care for someone with Ebola.

Texas Governor Rick Perry created the 15-member task force comprised of experts in infectious disease and public health, biodefense leaders and other state agency professionals Oct. 6. The group is charged with development of recommendations and a comprehensive state plan to ensure that Texas is prepared for the potential of emerging infectious diseases, such as the Ebola virus, and can provide the rapid response needed to effectively protect the safety and well-being of citizens.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Demand Up for Gear to Protect Health Care Workers]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 18:36:35 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Hazmat+manufacturing+DFW.jpg

A North Texas company that makes protective gear in the fight against Ebola and other communicable diseases is working to keep up with the ever-increasing demand.

Prestige Ameritech in North Richland Hills produces face shields, respirators, surgical masks and other items worn by health care workers who treat patients with Ebola.

Demand has spiked for the products, said the company's executive vice president Mike Bowen.

"Orders on the face shields are up somewhere between 400 and 500 percent,” said Bowen.

Bowen said right now, employees are working two shifts five days a week to keep up with the demand, and they are considering staffing around the clock.

"We are considering working 24/7 which gives us a lot more capacity, plus we figure out a way to speed up the machinery," Bowen said.

The company has also developed what is called an impervious gown. That means it is resistant to fluids, and they expect the demand to be large for that as well.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines this week for how health care workers should protect themselves against the spread of disease.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Monitored Health Care Workers Hit Milestone]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:49:00 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ebola-mike-rawlings_1200x675_336331843767.jpg

Dallas city leaders are celebrating another milestone Wednesday as health care workers who treated Thomas Eric Duncan are now two weeks into their monitoring period.

The medical team that treated Duncan started watching for signs and symptoms of Ebola on Oct. 8, the same day Duncan died from Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said making it to two weeks without any signs or symptoms is a good sign. At this point, the chance of getting the virus decreases every day.

“If the health care workers who were taking care of Mr. Duncan get through the next seven days, we might be out of the woods,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said.

The next date to look for is 21 days after the last contact with the Ebola patient. The monitoring period continues for a total of 21 days out of an abundance of caution.

At that point, the health care workers can return to a normal life.

The World Health Organization declares the a case over after 42 days.

Not all of the people still being monitored are at two weeks. Some of them, like the medical staff taking care of nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, are at a week or less.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Mothers Continue to Deliver at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:02:07 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Presby+baby+newborn+Dallas.jpg

Despite the recent Ebola threat mothers are continuing to have their babies at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, but some say they've been met with questions.

Two mothers who delivered babies within the past 48 hours volunteered to talk about their experiences to NBC 5.

Sara Larkin, of Richardson, delivered son Wesley on Monday morning. He is the second child she has delivered at Presbyterian Hospital.

She said when she learned Ebola was spread at the hospital, she was "nervous at first" and relied on reassurances from her doctor.

"I trust my doctor completely. She was incredibly supportive through our first pregnancy and our first child. I felt like coming to her would make us calm," said Larkin. "I can't imagine changing when we were so close to having our baby boy."

Larkin said her doctor explained to her the unit dedicated to labor, delivery and postpartum care is in a different building than where Thomas Eric Duncan was being treated for Ebola. She also said people criticized her decision to proceed with her planned delivery at the North Dallas hospital.

"That was hard, because it makes you feel like you're a bad mom, and I know I'm not," said Larkin.

J.J. Aubrey, who is recuperating from a Cesarean section in the room next to Larkin's, expressed that she received the same sentiments from some family members.

"Some of them trusted what I had to say and were OK with it Some of them still just thought I should transfer," said Aubrey.

Both mothers feel they made the right decisions. They also feel sympathy for hospital staff dealing with the Ebola situation.

"Things are going to happen, and when you're treating a virus with this magnitude and you are provided with equipment that you have on hand, you do the best you can," said Larkin. "I don't blame the hospital. I feel strongly that they did the best they could with what they had at the time."

Dr. John Bertrand, who's been in obstetrics and gynecology for more than 30 years, said 12 to 15 percent of his patients ultimately elected to be treated at the hospital's sister facility in Plano.

"There are some that are just not comfortable, and we understand. We would like to retain those patients and not send them elsewhere. We'd like to continue to serve them, and it's been nice to have a sister facility we could do that in," said Bertrand. "This is a safe building. It's safe to have your baby here."

"This is a great hospital, and people need to understand that this is a great place. It's not their fault that what happened has happened," said Aubrey.

"Our fears are just fears. We're not going to get Ebola just by coming to the same hospital," Larkin added.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[New Flu Shots, Mist Give Extra Protection]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 09:00:10 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Flu+mist+nasal+vaccine.jpg

It's that time again to get the flu shot, but this year pediatricians are recommending the flu mist instead of the shot for children.

This year's flu vaccines are more effective than ever, protecting against all four strains of the virus, compared with just three last year, according to Dr. Ray Tsai, medical director at Children's Health Pediatric Group.

The new flu mist vaccine, a nasal spray, is especially effective for younger children, Tsai said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the spray for children between the ages of 2 and 8.

"It does appear to show some increased efficacy compared to the flu shot [for younger children]," Tsai said.

Children as young as six months can get flu shots, which doctors recommend not just to protect individuals, but also to keep the flu from spreading.

Monica Jaramillo, 12, got the flu vaccine at her North Texas doctor's office Tuesday.

“I feel really safe because they give me the flu shot," she said. "I recommend to everybody to come."



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Fliers Distributed Where Family Quarantined]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 22:45:15 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Ebola+flier++Dallas+neighborhood.jpg

The Dallas Police Department's Office of Community Affairs distributed fliers to neighbors of the Catholic Conference Center in Oak Cliff Tuesday.

The fliers alerted residents that Louise Troh and her family had been staying at the center as a guest of the Catholic Diocese as they were monitored for symptoms of the Ebola virus.

Troh's fiance, Thomas Eric Duncan, was the first person in the U.S. diagnosed with the disease. He died Oct. 8 at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas after spending several nights in her family's apartment.

On the fliers, Dallas city leaders said Troh and her children had been monitored for 21 days and showed no sign of having contracted the potentially deadly disease.

Troh and her children may remain in Oak Cliff for the next couple of weeks while the city of Dallas and local churches assist the family in finding a new home.

The Troh family is now looking for a new home," the city said. "We thank you for your understanding and for providing privacy and dignity to this family."

In addition to that flier, officials also distributed a second with information about the Ebola virus and what to do if you believe you have symptoms.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[PDF: City of Dallas' Flier on Ebola, Symptoms]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 16:45:24 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tlmd_ebola14.jpg

On Tuesday, city leaders in Dallas distributed to the following flier to those who live around the Catholic Conference Center at 901 Madison Avenue in Oak Cliff.

That document appears below.


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<![CDATA[107 Remain on Watch for Ebola Symptoms]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 15:59:12 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/zachary-thompson.jpg *Update: New numbers from the Dallas County Health Department say 107 people are monitoring for symptoms of the Ebola virus.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[UTSW to Staff Ebola Containment Facility (Raw Video)]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 15:56:46 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/rick-perr-utsw.jpg Texas is creating two new biocontainment facilities for treating possible future Ebola patients, one in Richardson and the other in Galveston.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[107 Remain on Watch for Ebola Symptoms]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:42:07 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Zach+Thompson+DCHHS+063014.jpg

More and more people on the 21-day Ebola monitoring list are being given the “all clear” this afternoon, a positive step that Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says is proof that Dallas is now “winning the fight against Ebola.”

At a Dallas County Health and Human Services briefing before the County Commission meeting Tuesday morning, DCHHS Director Zachary Thompson said 51 people had been removed from the monitoring list as of 10:30 a.m. — a slight increase from Monday’s number.

But an hour later, the CDC gave a new number — 60 contacts have completed surveillance and no longer pose a risk to catch Ebola.

Dallas County Medical Director Dr. Christopher Perkins said the number is “fluid” and will continue to change.

A few days ago Dallas County became one of the only county health departments in America with the ability to test for the Ebola virus, making it possible to test for the virus at the state lab in Austin or the Dallas County HHS office near Downtown Dallas.

Thompson said they’ve already had to perform two Ebola tests, both of which were negative. Still, it gave his staff key experience in testing for the deadly virus.

It’s called a “Preliminary Chain Reaction" (PCR) test, and it takes 4-6 hours to complete. But, Thompson said by being able to test for Ebola within Dallas County gives patients peace of mind more quickly and can save taxpayer dollars.

"It's a big deal because Dallas County is only county in the state that can do the test. The turnaround time is key. The quicker we can get the results the quicker we can get the information to patients. And so right now the two tests we've performed have been negative," Thompson said.

Earlier this month, epidemiologists had to drive the Ebola samples to the state lab in Austin. Dr. Perkins said it’s a 400 mile round trip and takes about four hours. He estimated the cost of gathering the sample; packaging and preparing it for the drive; plus gas and expenses at around $500.

“Considering that the Ebola situation occurred here initially, we need to be in the right position to address the position locally, rather than deal with a 3- to 4-hour drive to Austin,” Perkins said.

Thompson said Ebola can hit any hospital, in any county, in any state in the country. If needed, he said he’s willing to send his epidemiologists to help contain an outbreak somewhere else.

“Hopefully that will never happen,” he said. “But we stand ready to assist any state or any county in their response. We want to use our expertise,” he said. “But let’s hope that we have the funding, we have the PPE, we have the CDC Guidance, so if this happens again we can hit the ground running on day one."

Both Perkins and Thompson said they had no advanced knowledge that Amber Vinson requested permission to fly to Ohio while on the Ebola watch list, and they both said they never personally spoke to her about the trip. They would not comment further about the county health worker who may have spoken with Vinson and told her it was OK to travel on a plane out of state.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Ebola Treatment, Containment Facility to be Built in North Texas]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:31:20 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/rick-perry-ebola-456469138.jpg Gov. Rick Perry today announced the creation of a state-of-the-art Ebola treatment and infectious disease bio containment facility in North Texas.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Your Ebola Questions: Is 21 Days Enough?]]> Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:36:02 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Dr.-Seema-Yasmin-101414.jpg Dr. Seema Yasmin, public health expert for The Dallas Morning News, answers viewers' questions including is a 21-day watch enough to be sure people won't catch or spread Ebola.]]>