iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There are 846 doctors and dentists in 43 states who have been named by the U.S. Department of Education on a public list in a desperate effort to get them to repay their defaulted student loans.
And because the loans were federally guaranteed, it's taxpayers who are left with the bill.
"Physicians have a higher calling in the community. They have a higher responsibility," Tom Schatz of Citizens Against Government Waste told ABC News’ 20/20. “The Hippocratic Oath says, ‘Do no harm.’ Why should they be doing harm to taxpayers?”
Many of the doctors appear to be living lives of luxury and operate practices in high rent places, including Malibu, California, or Key Biscayne, Florida. But the doctors on the list have collectively defaulted on over $100 million in student loans.
Congress created the federally guaranteed loan program for aspiring doctors in the 1970s, but because of the high default rate, it pulled the plug on the program in the 1990s.
That’s when the government decided to publicize the list to shame doctors into paying up. The government has also seized doctors’ tax refunds, prevented the doctors from participating in Medicare, filed lawsuits and even garnished bank accounts.
"They were more likely to pay the money back because it’s embarrassing to them professionally," Schatz said.
ABC's New York station WABC launched its own investigation and tracked down several doctors on the list, including Brooklyn dentist Sammy Saadia, who owes $156,000, and Montclair, New Jersey, podiatrist Demi Turner, who owes almost $700,000, according to the Department of Education.
"They continue to practice medicine. They make money, and there’s absolutely no legitimate reason not to pay that money back," Schatz said.
Dentist Mladen Kralj is one of the doctors on the list. He runs a dental practice in the penthouse of an office building in Chicago’s Gold Coast section. Kralj owes the government over $394,107, yet he had the money to buy two condos in a renovated loft building in downtown Chicago.
“I’m actually in repayment form with them. I’ve had some issues here,” Kralj said when confronted by 20/20.
Kralj’s loans date back over 23 years. He was sued by the Justice Department and was ordered to pay back the money.
But as of today, Kralj's outstanding debt is bigger than ever because of principle and interest. Kralj told 20/20 that he went through tough times after losing an investor in his business. He said he hasn’t been paid in nine months.
“There’s circumstances in my life that are very sensitive that happened during this part, that I've never been able to catch up on,” Kralj said. “I’m trying to take responsibility for all of this simply because it’s caught up. And the thing is, trying to maintain a practice and trying to pay off loans and trying to get ahead, it’s difficult.”
Over the years, being on the public list has largely worked. Many doctors and dentists on the list have paid back thousands of dollars, leaving only the stalwart holdouts, like leading podiatrist and sports medicine specialist Dr. Scott Kantro.
Kantro, who also made a name for himself as a medical inventor, lives in an upscale home on five acres of property in New York. But according to the list, he currently owes $287,819 for loans he took out in 1979.
While he refused to speak to 20/20 on camera, Kantro claimed he had actually paid his debt off 30 years ago and that it was all a mistake. But when 20/20 asked for his permission to check out his story with the government, he refused.
“There’s some level of sympathy, perhaps, at this point, but not over this long period of time.” Schatz said. “It means that resources have been spent by the government to even get to this point. Thirty percent of these people have been on since 1995. That’s a really long time to keep fighting and not paying.”
Click here to find out if your doctor or dentist is on the list. Then tune in for the full story on ABC News' 20/20 Friday at 10 p.m. ET.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Craig Spencer/LinkedIn(NEW YORK) -- There's a reason Dr. Craig Allen Spencer, who has tested positive for Ebola, didn't quarantine himself when he returned to New York after treating Ebola patients in Guinea.
He didn't have to.
According to Doctors Without Borders guidelines, doctors who have treated Ebola patients in West Africa are required to self-monitor for the 21-day incubation period, but they are not required to self-quarantine.
"Self-quarantine is neither warranted nor recommended when a person is not displaying Ebola-like symptoms," the organization said Thursday in a statement. "However, returned staff members are discouraged from returning to work during the 21-day period."
Spencer, 33, had been treating Ebola patients in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders until Oct. 12, New York City Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said on Friday. Spencer left Guinea on Oct. 14 and arrived in New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport on Oct. 17 following a stopover Brussels, Belgium.
Doctors Without Borders Guidelines requires doctors like Spencer to take their temperature twice a day and to stay within four hours of a hospital for the 21-day incubation period. They are also supposed to contact Doctors Without Borders if they develop any symptoms.
In the days before Spencer was diagnosed with Ebola, he traveled to Manhattan's Highline Park and a popular restaurant called The Meatball Shop on Tuesday. The next day, he took a 3-mile run along Riverside Park and traveled on the subway to Brooklyn, where he went bowling. He was fatigued, but had no fever, officials said.
On Thursday morning, Spencer recorded a temperature of 100.3 and called Doctors Without Borders, who contacted New York authorities. Emergency responders arrived at his northern Manhattan apartment in full protective gear and took him to Bellevue Hospital, where he was placed in isolation and later diagnosed with Ebola, according to officials.
“Extremely strict procedures are in place for staff dispatched to Ebola affected countries before, during, and after their assignments,” said Sophie Delaunay, executive director of Doctors Without Borders. “Despite the strict protocols, risk cannot be completely eliminated. However, close post-assignment monitoring allows for early detection of cases and for swift isolation and medical management.”
Spencer's fiancee was placed in quarantine, but she has shown no symptoms so far, officials said.
"Until today, out of more than 700 expatriate staff deployed so far to West Africa, no MSF [Doctors Without Borders] staff person has developed confirmed Ebola symptoms after returning to their home country," Doctors Without Borders said in a statement.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Workout enthusiasts have likely seen it offered in some form at their local gym -- the trampoline workout. But the demand for this type of fitness is so high, one fitness instructor has opened an entire studio dedicated to the workout craze.
Going to a class at JumpLife in New York City, it’s a bit like the Jane Fonda workout on steroids goes clubbing on a trampoline. The low-impact, high-intensity, 45-minute workout is done on individual trampolines primarily in the dark under disco lights and is set to club music.
Owner Montserrat Markou said the classes are so popular there are plans to open more studios next year. Why?
“The fun,” Markou said. "They [the participants] said they’re actually working out, but having such a great time. I mean, people actually leave with smiles on their face because they feel like not only did they workout, sweating coming out all sweaty, but they also feel like a kid again.”
The studio also offers classes tailored for kids as young as 5 years old. But adults -- even those who have suffered injuries -- are the ones getting the most out of class.
“It’s low impact so a lot of people who have existing injuries like knee problems, like back problems come,” Markou said. "It’s a very comfortable way of working out and getting their fitness back.”
There are three types of adults classes offered: JumpDance (the class mentioned earlier with the low lighting and club music); JumpFitness, which uses weights and focuses on strength and toning; and JumpFusion, which is 60 minutes and fuses yoga, Pilates and rebounding at a slower pace than the other JumpLife classes.
Markou said jumpers can burn up to 600 calories in just one session.
Markou got the idea for the class after her own neck injury inspired her to become a licensed acupuncturist and massage therapist. Her clients at her Long Island practice began asking her how to get back in shape without aggravating their injuries.
Walking by a store one day, she saw a trampoline in the window and instantly knew the answer.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Brad Barket/Getty Images for NYCWFF(NEW YORK) -- There's a reason why Sunny Anderson isn't keen on eating vegetables and it has nothing to do with personal taste.
The Food Network star revealed that for the past 20 years, she's suffered from ulcerative colitis, a chronic disease that affects the large intestine and doesn't allow her body to absorb nutrients as it should. Unfortunately, greens, along with vegetable and fruit skins, can trigger flare-ups.
"I can’t just have a big salad because my body doesn't break it down," she explained to ABC News. "If you get my cookbook, there are only four vegetable recipes. Everything else is meat and potatoes!"
Anderson, 39, has since teamed up with the the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America to raise awareness of the disease and develop recipes (available on getyourfullcourse.com) to help others who have it. For the chef, her diagnosis came at age 19, after suffering from cramps "worse than that time of the month" and bloody stools for a month.
"I was thinking it was stress or the food [I'd been eating in Korea]...but luckily my dad is a doctor and I felt comfortable talking to him," she said.
"Sometimes people think it's something they ate or stress," she added, "I can't tell you how many times I cried. Thank goodness [for my father] who was a doctor and we were raised in an open family, but going through a battery of tests was really, really tough."
Now, she's encouraging others who have noticed symptoms to see their doctors, though she admitted discussing stools and other symptoms can be "embarrassing."
Still, a colitis diagnosis doesn't necessarily mean those who have the disease need to change their diets completely -- they just need to be more mindful of what they're eating.
"A wedge salad is one of my favorites. Argula is one of my favorites. Sometimes, you know what you're doing to yourself and you pay for it," she said. "But it's important to know what it is, and what the symptoms are."
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Ebola continues to dominate the news with the latest diagnosis of a patient in New York City, leaving many Americans on edge, especially New Yorkers, who awoke this morning to learn that the patient had take three subway lines before he was diagnosed.
So, what are the odds of catching Ebola on the subway? Here are a few Ebola facts to calm your nerves:
"There are fundamental things we do know about Ebola and it's those things that can make most people in America rest very well at night that they don't have a risk of contracting this disease,” said ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser during a recent ABC News Ebola town hall event.
What If I Stand Next to Someone with Ebola on a Subway?
You probably won't catch it in that situation, Dr. Jay Varma, New York City’s deputy commissioner for disease control, said during the town hall event.
"Casual contact like you would have somebody pass you on the bus or on the subway, I’m not worried about it for myself and I’m not worried about it for my wife and kids," Varma said.
When Does Ebola Become Contagious?
Ebola is contagious when someone is symptomatic, Besser said. A fever is the first symptom of Ebola, which means the virus is beginning to multiply in the patient’s blood when a fever sets in.
As an Ebola patient gets sicker and sicker, the amount of virus in his or her blood multiplies, making them even more contagious.
How Is Ebola Spread?
Ebola is spread through close contact with an infected person, and it’s not airborne, Besser said.
“We also know from the studies in Africa that it’s a hard disease to get,” Besser said. “If this disease was spread through the air or was spread easily -- that you could get it from someone you’re standing next to in the market or sitting next to on a plane -- this outbreak would be far larger than it is today.”
People who contract Ebola usually do so because they've cared for someone who was infected in a hospital setting or at home, Besser noted, or they've touched the body of a person who died of Ebola.
Can It Become Airborne?
“The majority of scientists say that while it’s possible, it’s highly unlikely,” Besser said, explaining that the virus would have to mutate significantly.
What If Someone with Ebola Sneezes on Me?
Sneezing is not a symptom of Ebola, Besser said. Neither is coughing until the very late stages of the disease, when the person is clearly sick and near death. On top of that, the disease is not airborne.
How Long Can the Virus Survive on Surfaces Like Tabletops and Doorknobs?
“This is one of these areas where we don’t really know enough,” Varma said. “We do know that these viruses can survive on surfaces for a few hours.”
He said how long it can survive depends on the surface and the environment.
Should You Take Precautions Before Taking Public Transportation?
“We think this is not a disease that you can get from simply being next to somebody,” Varma said. “Absolutely if somebody vomits on you or you get their body fluids on you, of course you can be at risk, but we think that airplane travel, traveling on subways -- all of that -- is the type of contact where this is not a disease that's transmitted.”
He said he’s more worried about getting the flu on public transportation than Ebola.
Can I Get Ebola From Someone’s Sweat?
There’s very little data on how much of the virus is in a sick person’s sweat, Besser said.
He added that carrying a person who is sick with Ebola can be a “risky situation.” He said one man who had Ebola on a plane didn't spread it to fellow passengers but inadvertently gave it to the people who helped carry him once he got off the plane.
“Touching the skin -- whether he had other body fluids or sweat on his skin at that point -- was a risk,” Besser said.
Can Ebola Be Spread Through the Water Supply?
Ebola is not a water-borne disease, according to researchers at the Water Research Foundation. Therefore, it cannot spread through the water supply.
“Once in water, the host cell will take in water in an attempt to equalize the osmotic pressure, causing the cell to swell and burst, thus killing the virus,” the foundation noted in a statement.
Bodily fluids flushed by an infected person would not contaminate the water supply, the statement went on to say, because the virus is so fragile. Once separated from its host it is neutralized within minutes.
Can Ebola Be Used as a Terrorist Weapon?
Ebola could theoretically be used by terrorists but it is unlikely, Varma said.
Studies suggest that Ebola could in theory be delivered in mist form by spraying it out of an aerosol can. However, since the virus is not known to take an airborne route, this would likely be ineffective.
It is also possible that a terrorist willing to be infected with the virus could walk among the general population. However, since the virus has a long incubation period and is not highly contagious until the later stages of the disease, most experts say this would be impractical.
Can Ebola Be Spread by Mosquitoes?
Neither mosquitoes nor rats can spread Ebola, Besser said. "Not all viruses are adapted to survival and transmission through every vector," he noted.
Only mammals such as humans, bats, monkeys and apes have shown the ability to spread and become infected with the Ebola virus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Other studies have shown that dogs and pigs can be infected with the virus but they don't show symptoms and there are no known cases of these animals passing the virus along to humans.
Is There a Vaccine Coming?
There are two vaccines being tested in clinical trials now, Besser said.
“There’s a lot of efforts underway to try and move a vaccine forward but vaccine development takes a long time,” he said, adding that one of the companies working on one has said it won’t know whether it works until 2015.
Even if it does work, it will take more time to manufacture.
What About Other Drugs?
Ebola patients in the United States are receiving experimental drugs, but it’s not yet clear whether they've helped, hurt or made no difference in those patients’ outcomes, Besser said.
Why Don't We Just Close Our Borders to West Africa?
Keeping people from leaving the Ebola-affected countries would be a "major mistake," Besser said, noting that he saw aid workers, journalists and family members aboard his plane on his two trips to Liberia in the last few months, and that letting them in and out is important.
"You want to make sure that people who leave that area are being monitored and doing it safely," he said. "You want to encourage people to go there who have expertise and can help these governments, these health workers, control this disease. That will save lives there and will also improve the health and protection of Americans right here."
Varma said the biggest concern in America should be containing the outbreak in Africa. Until that happens, he said "we will always be at risk."
"You can't just wrap a wall around these countries and not expect people to get out," he said.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- What’s up, Doc? Certainly not Americans’ trust in physicians, according to an analysis by the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
Co-author Robert Blendon says that faith in doctors has eroded significantly over the past half-century. In 1966, three out of four people had “great confidence in the leaders of the medical profession.”
As of 2012, just 34 percent expressing a great deal of confidence in physicians.
In a separate poll that covered 29 nations, respondents were asked if they agreed with the statement: “Doctors in your country can be trusted.” The U.S. ranked 24th with 58 percent agreeing.
So what happened over time to make Americans less trusting of those they trust with their care? For one thing, many believe doctors are self-serving, compared to other countries where medical professionals advocate for public health.
There’s also the problem of too many major physician specialty groups, which fail to call for ways to benefit patients, such as reducing health care costs.
However, the news for doctors is not all gloom and doom. Blendon says that the U.S. is third behind just Switzerland and Denmark when it comes to people being satisfied with their own personal physicians. That means that trust is far higher on an individual scale rather than a collective basis.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
iStock/Thinkstock(ORANGE, Calif.) -- Land of the free…home of the brave? Not, if a new survey from Chapman University can be believed.
Researchers conducted a poll of 1,500 people on what Americans are scared of and judging by the results, our fears are many and cover a lot of ground.
For instance, when asked what they feared most, Americans listed in this order:
- Walking alone at night
- Becoming the victim of identity theft
- Safety on the Internet
- Being the victim of a mass/random shooting
- Public speaking
Perhaps not as intense as genuine fear, next came things people are most worried or concerned about:
- Having identity stolen on the Internet
- Corporate surveillance of Internet activity
- Running out of money in the future
- Government surveillance of Internet activity
- Becoming ill/sick
Then, of course, there are things completely out of our hands, such as natural disasters. The most feared are:
- Pandemic or major epidemic
- Power outage
Meanwhile, everyone’s worried about crime and a majority believe that things have grown worse over the last 20 years even though FBI and police statistics show most crime categories have declined over the past two decades.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Digital Vision/Thinkstock(BRISBANE, Australia) -- Moms know how it goes: no matter if their toddler has a belly full of food, they’ll still be able to stuff their face with a treat if one’s at hand.
Nutrition researcher Holly Harris at Queensland University of Technology in Australia says this seems to be the case with all children, all the way down to age three.
Harris conducted a study with 37 kids ages three and four and every single one of them went for a high-energy treat even though they weren’t hungry. In fact, eight of ten admitted to being really full just 15 minutes prior to getting the snack.
Meanwhile, boys and girls had different reasons for eating a treat in the absence of hunger. Apparently, when boys are pressured by moms to finish their meals, it seems to fuel their desire to have a snack when they don’t really crave one. Meanwhile, the same kind of pressure did not compel girls to continue eating although they couldn’t resist having a treat either.
According to Harris, people are born with the innate ability to control their feeding practices. However, “as we grow older, we become increasingly aware of the abundance and rewarding value of food, and in turn, our ability to respond appropriately to our appetite may diminish,” she added.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A preliminary Ebola test has come back positive for a doctor who recently traveled from West Africa and is being isolated at a New York City hospital, city and state officials said Thursday night.
The doctor, who has been identified as Dr. Craig Allen Spencer by New York government sources, was placed in an isolation unit Thursday at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan after reporting Ebola-like symptoms. He had a fever and gastrointestinal symptoms when he was transferred to Bellevue, said NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will confirm the positive test. CDC test results are expected by the end of the day on Friday.
Spencer, 33, was treating Ebola patients in Guinea for Doctors Without Borders, according to the officials. Guinea is one of the West African countries currently battling an Ebola outbreak.
Spencer left Guinea on October 14, said Bassett. He traveled through Brussels, Belgium, and arrived at JFK Airport on Oct. 17.
The city Health Department has already started to trace the patient's contacts, said Bassett, including four people he had contact with -- his fiancee, two friends and an Uber driver.
His fiancee is under quarantine at Bellevue Hospital while his two friends are quarantined at home, said Bassett, who added that they aren't showing Ebola symptoms. The Uber driver isn't considered to be at risk for contracting the virus.
ABC's Chief Health and Medical Editor Doctor Richard Besser said, "Whenever there's a new case of Ebola, it's possible we're going to see a few others, from people who had contact with him early on in the illness. From what we're hearing though, it sounds like he was isolated before sharing body fluids, so I think we can be hopeful that there won't be additional spread."
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed their confidence in the staff at Bellevue Hospital to treat Spencer.
"There is no reason for New Yorkers to be alarmed," said de Blasio.
While Spencer only began showing symptoms when he reported a fever Thursday morning, health officials have begun tracking his movements since his return to the U.S. Bassett said he took the A, L and 1 subway trains on Wednesday. He also went to the High Line park and a bowling alley in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, The Gutter, which was closed Thursday, "out of an abundance of caution," Bassett said.
The NYC Health Department will check the bowling alley on Friday, said Bassett.
A CDC team was en route to New York, said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. Earlier this week, a CDC team determined hospital staff had proper protocols and was prepared to treat Ebola patients.
NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center described Spencer as a "dedicated humanitarian ...who went to an area of medical crisis to help a desperately underserved population."
Spencer's apartment was sealed off after it was cleared. Since he tested positive, a team will decontaminate his apartment in the Harlem section of New York.
Spencer is the fourth patient to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national, tested positive for the virus at the end of September in Dallas, where he infected two nurses who cared for him: Nina Pham and Amber Vinson.
Duncan died on Oct. 8, shortly before the nurses tested positive for the virus.
Vinson has been declared virus-free, her family announced Wednesday. Pham's condition has been upgraded from "fair" to "good."
Health officials decided to test the New York City patient for Ebola because of the patient's work, symptoms and travel history, according to the Bellevue Hospital statement. Bellevue is the designated hospital for the diagnosis and treatment of Ebola patients in New York City.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Ebola, a virus that is affecting people thousands of miles away in West Africa, is now in America with two transmissions on U.S. soil confirmed in Dallas and officials calling additional transmissions to health workers a "very real possibility."
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has sickened at least 9,936 people since March, killing at least 4,877 of them -- making it the worst outbreak of the virus in history, according to the World Health Organization.
Find out how the virus first arrived in the United States -- via U.S. missionaries flown here for treatment this summer -- and then how Ebola was unwittingly imported via Thomas Eric Duncan, who flew from Liberia to Texas with the virus and later died in Dallas.
Oct. 23, 2014: Dr. Craig Allen Spencer is diagnosed with Ebola the same day he went into isolation at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan. According to the hospital, he had a fever and gastrointestinal symptoms when he was transferred to Bellevue. Spencer recently returned from Guinea, where he was working for Doctors Without Borders. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference that Spencer only had symptoms for "a very brief period of time" and only had contact with "very few" people. He described the patient as "in good shape."
Oct. 19, 2014: The unnamed American Ebola patient is discharged from Emory University Hospital, where the patient had been undergoing care since Sept. 9. This patient had been working for the WHO in Sierra Leone and chose to remain anonymous. "Given the national focus on Ebola, particularly with the diagnosis in two health care workers, I want to share the news that I am recovering from this disease, and that I anticipate being discharged very soon, free from the Ebola virus and able to return safely to my family and to my community," the unnamed patient said in a statement released Oct. 15.
Oct. 17, 2014: Officials announce that a Dallas health worker who handled clinical specimens from Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola on American soil, is quarantined aboard a Carnival cruise ship amid concerns the worker may have been exposed to the Ebola virus.
Oct. 16, 2014: Dallas nurse Nina Pham, 26, the first person to contract Ebola in the United States, is flown from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas to the National Institutes of Health hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. Pham treated Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where she works.
Oct. 15, 2014: Amber Vinson, 29, another nurse who treated Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, is diagnosed with Ebola shortly after midnight and flown to Emory University Hospital that evening.
Oct. 14, 2014: Vinson is taken to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas with a fever.
Oct. 13, 2014: Vinson flies from Cleveland to Dallas on Frontier Airlines Flight 1143, arriving at 8:16 p.m. She has no symptoms, but her temperature was 99.5 degrees that morning, according to health officials. She notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before boarding, and no one told her not to fly.
Oct. 12, 2014: Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas says that Pham has tested positive for Ebola.
Oct. 12, 2014: An unidentified Dallas health worker who handled Duncan's clinical specimens at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital boards a cruise ship. The CDC notified the worker about active monitoring after the cruise ship left the country, according to a government statement.
Oct. 10, 2014: Vinson takes a commercial flight from Dallas to Cleveland, Ohio, to prepare for her upcoming wedding.
Oct. 9, 2014: A Dallas County sheriff's deputy who reported symptoms associated with Ebola after serving a quarantine order on the apartment where Duncan had been staying tests negative for the virus.
Oct. 8, 2014: Duncan dies at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
Oct. 6, 2014: Ashoka Mukpo, 33, a freelance American cameraman who contracted Ebola in West Africa, arrives at Nebraska Medical Center for Ebola treatment.
Oct. 6, 2014: Dr. Rick Sacra, 51, who contracted Ebola while treating patients in a Liberian maternity ward a month earlier, is released from his second hospitalization since returning to the United States. He had been hospitalized at UMass Memorial Medical Center on Worcester, Massachusetts, with what doctors initially thought was an Ebola relapse but was soon diagnosed as a respiratory infection.
Oct. 5, 2014: Sacra is hospitalized in Massachusetts with what doctors fear is an Ebola relapse. They isolate him out of what they said was an abundance of caution.
Oct. 2, 2014: Mukpo is diagnosed with Ebola in Liberia. He worked for Vice News, NBC News and other outlets.
Sept. 30, 2014: The CDC confirms that a patient who would later be identified as Duncan has been diagnosed with Ebola on U.S. soil.
Sept. 28, 2014: Duncan returns to the hospital in an ambulance and is isolated.
Sept. 26, 2014: Duncan goes to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas with a fever and tells a nurse he has been to Liberia. But he is sent home with antibiotics and Tylenol.
Sept. 25, 2014: Sacra is deemed virus-free and released from Nebraska Medical Center, where he had spent weeks in an isolation ward recovering from Ebola.
Sept. 20, 2014: Duncan arrives in the United States from Liberia to visit family.
Sept. 9, 2014: An unnamed American Ebola patient arrives at Emory University Hospital for treatment. This patient had been working for the WHO in Sierra Leone.
Sept. 5, 2014: Sacra arrives at Nebraska Medical Center for treatment. He eventually gets a blood transfusion from Dr. Kent Brantly, the American missionary who survived his bout with Ebola.
Sept. 3, 2014: Sacra was diagnosed with Ebola even though he was treating patients in the maternity ward of the ELWA Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, not Ebola patients.
Aug. 21, 2014: Dr. Kent Brantly, 33, is discharged from Emory University Hospital, where he was undergoing treatment for Ebola after contracting it in Africa. In a news conference, he hugs several members of the hospital staff.
Aug. 19, 2014: Missionary Nancy Writebol, 59, is quietly discharged from Emory University Hospital, where she was undergoing treatment for Ebola. She also contracted the virus doing aid work in Liberia.
Aug. 5, 2014: Writebol is flown from Liberia to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, for Ebola treatment in its isolation ward.
Aug. 2, 2014: Brantly is flown from Liberia to Emory for treatment. He surprises everyone by walking out of the ambulance into the hospital in his protective suit.
July 31, 2013: In Liberia, Brantly gets the first dose of an experimental drug called ZMapp, though it was unnamed at the time. Though doctors initially thought there was only enough for one person, Writebol was administered the drug as well.
July 27, 2014: Missionary groups report that two Americans are sickened with Ebola while helping patients in Monrovia, Liberia. Brantly and Writebol were working for aid groups Samaritan's Purse and SIM, respectively. Brantly later told reporters he held patients' hands as they were dying.
March 19, 2014: What would become the largest Ebola outbreak in history begins in March 2014 with 23 deaths from what is then called a "mystery" hemorrhagic fever.
1976: Ebola is first discovered in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo near the Ebola River in 1976. Thirty-two Ebola outbreaks would follow, bringing the total number of cases before this outbreak to 2,361, including 1,438 deaths, according to the WHO.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Ride-service app Uber isn’t content sticking to the world of taxis and limousines, so they’re now working on changing public health.
In time for flu season Uber launched a pilot program Thursday called UberHEALTH. In connection with the healthcare service originally developed by Google, Vaccine Finder, the program aims to make flu prevention as easy for users as opening their front door.
On Thursday UberHEALTH temporarily launched in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. The service allowed users to have a flu prevention pack and even a flu shot delivered to their front door.
The shot is not just dropped off, but is administered by a registered nurse. During the pilot program, the cost for flu protection is free and for each shot ordered the company has offered to donate $5 to the Red Cross vaccination efforts.
Public health experts say the one-day pilot program will likely not make a measurable difference in flu shot rates this season, but that an expanded program could encourage more people to get the important flu shot.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. William Schaffner called the program “Uber-wonderful” and said anything that encourages people to get their flu shot is a good thing.
“We’re trying to reach the entire U.S. population,” said Schaffner. “There’s not going to be one solution.”
Schaffner said in recent years health officials have offered flu shots at more locations in an effort to have nearly everyone over the age of 6 months be vaccinated against the seasonal flu. Flu shots are now available at some airports, drive-thru vaccination programs and pharmacies.
By reaching people at home the UberHEALTH program could have a lasting impact, since getting the shot just one time will make people more likely to get the flu shot in following years, he added.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 41.5 percent of adults over the age of 18 were vaccinated against the seasonal flu during the 2012-2013 flu season. The rate was slightly higher at 45 percent for children over the age of 6 months during the same time period.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An Ohio student whose last wish is to play in a college basketball game will see her dream come true in front of thousands of fans after the NCAA agreed to move up her team’s season opener so she would be well enough to play.
Lauren Hill, 19, was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), an inoperable brain condition, in November 2013, not long after she committed to playing college basketball at Cincinnati’s Mount St. Joseph’s University on her 18th birthday.
Last month, Hill, who was recruited as a local high school standout, got the news that her brain tumor had grown and she had only months to live.
After the diagnosis, Hill kept playing basketball, joining her Mount St. Joseph teammates for practices.
“She wanted to be a part of the team and wanted to do as much as she could,” Dan Benjamin, Mount St. Joe’s girls’ basketball coach, told ABC News. “When she came to the Mount, she told her players, ‘You guys have to be committed. You have to play hard. Just like I have to play hard,’” Benjamin said.
When Benjamin learned of the progression of Hill's tumor, he mentioned to an NCAA official and the coach of the team Mount St. Joe’s was scheduled to open their season against -- Hiram College -- that he was going to seek a waiver to move the game to an earlier date.
“By the time I got into my office that Monday morning, I not only had an email from the NCAA but a message saying, ‘Just send us the medical documents,’” Benjamin said. “They have moved fast and it’s been remarkable.”
Instead of a Nov. 15 face-off, Hill and her teammates will now play Hiram Nov. 2 at Xavier University's 10,000-seat Cintas Center.
“We typically only get 100 or 200 people per game so they’re excited to play in front of so many people,” Benjamin said of his team. “They’re more excited to help Lauren finish her mission.”
A big part of the mission for Hill, who could not be reached for comment Thursday by ABC News, has been to help raise awareness for DIPG, which, according to Benjamin, typically strikes children.
“Lauren took this upon herself to say, ‘There’s no one that can tell the story because these kids can’t talk about it,’” Benjamin said. “She said, ‘I can be the spokesperson.’”
Hill and her teammates created T-shirts to sell as a fundraiser. Proceeds from the T-shirts as well as tickets to the Nov. 2 game will go to The Cure Starts Now Foundation and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
Despite all the attention Hill’s story has received – including a visit from Cincinatti Bengals player Devon Stills, whose daughter is battling pediatric cancer – her coach says she is focused on the game.
“She wants to hear the squeakiness of her tennis shoes on the floor. She wants to hear the dribbling of the ball and the roar of the crowd,” Benjamin said. “That’s all she wants.”
“She’s taught me, don’t ever give up,” he said. “There’s no reason to not roll out of bed with a smile on our face like she does.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Tyson and Ashley Gardner(NEW YORK) -- An expectant mom getting ready to welcome two sets of identical twins -- a one in 70 million occurrence -- endured emergency surgery this week after doctors found signs of a rare condition that could affect the health of one set of twins.
This week, during Ashley Gardner’s 19th week of pregnancy, doctors found evidence of an alarming condition called twin-to-twin syndrome that occurs when there is an imbalance in the blood supply between a set of identical twins in the placenta. As nutrition and blood supply is shunted from one twin to another, both can be harmed by either too much or too little fluid.
Doctors will decide on Thursday if Gardner and her husband, both of Pleasant Grove, Utah, can leave a hospital in California after another check-up to see if all four of the fetuses survived the surgery, including the fetus that was most in distress, according to the husband, Tyson Gardner.
“The surgery was a great success, and this morning we just hope the baby is a fighter,” Tyson Gardner told ABC News. “We really hope that the ultrasound. ...We hope we see four heartbeats.”
The Gardners are expecting quadruplets after spending years in fertility treatments. While the couple only had two embryos implanted, both of the embryos split, meaning they are now having two sets of identical twins.
Tyson Gardner told ABC News that their doctor in Utah found evidence of twin-to-twin syndrome on Monday and by Tuesday they had flown to Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center to be treated by experts.
“We haven’t slept much the past few days,” he said, adding that doctors had ordered his wife on immediate bed rest after finding out her cervix had started to open.
On Wednesday, doctors performed the emergency surgery to more equally divert blood flow between one set of the Gardner twins.
“Today, we’re doing much better," he said. "The last few days have been really rough...very scary.”
The couple’s pregnancy made headlines earlier this month because of the rarity of having two sets of identical twins. The chances of two identical sets of twins is approximately one in 70 million, according to Dr. Alan Penzias, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School.
There were 276 sets of quadruplets born in the U.S. in 2012, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The couple had been undergoing fertility treatments for years after Ashley Gardner was diagnosed with endometriosis. The disorder, which involves tissue growing outside the uterus, meant she and her husband faced years of difficulty conceiving.
This year, the couple tried in-vitro fertilization and only two of the nine embryos created were viable for implantation, they said.
During their first ultrasound, the technician initially told them they were having twins. Then took another moment and looked closer at the screen.
"After about a minute of staring at the screen, she said there's four babies in here," recalled Tyson Gardner in an earlier interview. "Me and Ashley's faces went pale white."
A picture of Ashely's shocked face looking at the ultrasound screen went viral on Facebook and other social media sites. Tyson Gardner said both he and his wife came from large families and are ecstatic they will get to have a large family.
"We'll get our whole entire family here in one shot," he said.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- You love your dog, that’s a no-brainer. And with Americans expected to spend an estimated $58.51 billion on the pet industry this year, it’s clear that the emotion is deeper than ever projected.
Now, scientists have taken the unconditional love you have for your dog to the next level, confirming that it’s very similar to a mother-child connection.
“I don’t have a child but I have nieces and nephews and I could say I absolutely love my dog like a child,” says Wendy Diamond, Chief Pet Officer at animalfair.com. “My dog relies on me for absolutely everything; I would do anything for my dog.”
Just as pet parents are validating the adoration they have for their canines, research analysts at Massachusetts General Hospital concluded that the bond between pup and pet parent were very similar to maternal love, according to the 2014 study published in PLOS ONE.
Researchers recruited a group of women who had a child between 2 and 10 years old, as well as a dog that had been living in their households for at least two years.
Subjects were shown images of their dog and children, then a scanner picked up the signals of affection that were triggered in the brain.
“Mothers reported similar emotional ratings for their child and dog, which elicited greater positive emotional responses than unfamiliar children and dogs,” the study concluded.
Devin Crouch, stay-at-home tot and doggy mom as well as owner of the "carterandtoby" Instagram account, believes you can absolutely love your dog like a baby.
“We have an almost two-year-old and I refer to Toby our dog as one of my children,” says Crouch. “I think by watching Toby love our son as if it’s one of his puppies or his brother that makes the love for I have for him even greater.”
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- As Texas health workers prepare two new biocontainment units to help treat any future Ebola patients the state might have, they're are using one piece of training equipment from a neighboring state that may surprise you: Tabasco sauce.
At the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where one of the units is being established, the staff has been practicing treating fake patients who have been sprayed at random with the peppery sauce as a stand-in for Ebola virus-laden fluids. Doctors and nurses practice dressing and undressing in their protective gear to avoid contamination, but if they feel the tingle of Tabasco on their skin, they know they've been contaminated.
"In a way, it gives feedback immediately," said Dr. Bruce Meyer, an executive vice president at the hospital, giving credit to the hospital's director of infection prevention, Doramarie Arocha, for the idea.
Tabasco sauce is made by Louisiana-based McIlhenny Co. from red peppers called Capsicum frutescens, which are made spicy by the chemical capsaicin. When skin comes in contact with this chemical, the brain's pain and temperature receptors get activated at the same time, causing that tingly, hot feeling. The hot pepper chemical has also been used in other medical settings, including dermatology and neurology for pain and itch relief.
Nurse Elizabeth Thomas, who works in the hospital's infection prevention department, said health workers were originally drilling with ketchup mixed with water when Arocha came up with the idea to use Tobasco sauce instead. When workers took off protective gear at the end of a drill, Arocha told everyone to rub their eyes and touch their lips.
"But we didn't have the burning sensation," Thomas said. "So that's how we knew we were doing the right thing."
In the aftermath of Texas being home to the first two Ebola transmissions on American soil, Gov. Rick Perry this week promised to create two biocontainment units in the state to treat any future Ebola cases that may arise.
Two nurses who treated Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan for Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas last month -- Nina Pham, 26, and Amber Vinson, 29 -- contracted the deadly virus and are being treated in isolation units at the National Institutes of Health isolation facility in Bethesda, Maryland, and Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, respectively.
Though it's not clear exactly how the nurses caught the virus, some have speculated that they may have been contaminated while taking off protective gear.
"When you have gone into contaminated gloves, masks or other things to remove those without risk of contaminated material touching you and being then on your clothes or face or skin and leading to an infection is critically important and not easy to do right," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said during a news conference the day Pham's preliminary Ebola test came back positive.
Vinson's family announced that she had been declared virus-free on Wednesday, and Pham's condition was upgraded from "fair" to "good" earlier this week.
One new Texas biocontainment unit will be at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, which is also home to a high-security biolab that is already prepared to treat Ebola in the unlikely event that one of its workers becomes infected while studying the virus in the lab setting. The other biocontainment unit will be at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, which has already spent "north of half a million dollars" retrofitting rooms and training staff to treat Ebola patients in isolation over the last several weeks, Meyer said.
Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, who directs Columbia University's Center for Infection and Immunity, called the move a "sensible investment," and said that other communities should be able to replicate centers like the ones at Emory University Hospital, Nebraska Medical Center and the NIH facility, where other Ebola patients have been treated in the United States.
"The unit itself physically isn't that complicated," said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, adding that training staff is much more crucial to the effort.
"Virtually any hospital of any size" can build one of these units, he said. And though it might not be as "elaborate" as the ones at Emory and the NIH, it should work.
The United States currently houses four facilities with biocontainment units, and they have the capacity to treat 11 patients. Texas would be adding two new facilities, and the ability to treat several more patients.
"When I heard about this, I said 'Good for them,'" Schaffner said. "They'll add to the U.S. capacity to take care of Ebola patients in these units."
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
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