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USCG(NEW YORK) --  A 75-year-old woman experiencing diabetic shock was airlifted by the U.S. Coast Guard Saturday morning from a cruise ship located approximately 100 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

The Coast Guard said its 5th District Command Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, was notified at about 9:55 a.m. that a passenger in distress was on board the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Anthem of the Seas.

 Coast Guard Lt. Courtney Wolf, the command duty officer for the case, said, "Cases like this highlight the importance of cooperation between the Coast Guard, cruise ship personnel and local hospital staff. Today's hoist went seamlessly due to the coordination between all involved parties, and as a result we were able to transport this individual quickly and safely."

Diabetic shock -- or diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) -- is a diabetes complication that can lead to unconsciousness, during which the individual has dangerously high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) or dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

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Barry Page(ATLANTA) -- One Atlanta couple had a novel way to reveal that they were expecting their first child.

Erika and Kareem Hall pretended to take photographs of their family, and instead of yelling, "Cheese!" they yelled, "New baby girl due in March!"

While some family members immediately understood what the couple was trying to say, for others it took a while for the news to sink in.

In the heartwarming video shared Friday on Facebook, one family member asks, "You hear that? Did you hear that?" while another exclaims, "We're having a what?"

Erika Hall, 31, told ABC News that they decided to tell their family this way in order to "get their authentic reaction."

"We knew we wanted to do something exciting because it was our first," she said. "We did not tell our family that we were pregnant until we were three months pregnant, so we had been keeping a secret in for a while."

Kareem Hall, 33, added that their reveal was perfect because "we were able to capture their actual, genuine response without them knowing it. So that was fun."

The couple, who have been married for five years, will welcome their first child, a baby girl, next month. Before then, however, they're looking forward to becoming parents.

"I am most looking forward to making her smile ... and dancing with her, and just really trying to make every day special for her in some way," Kareem Hall said.

"I’m looking forward to teaching her new things, teaching her about the world and ... introducing her to life," Erika Hall said. "That'll be exciting."

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Image Source/Thinkstock(BEIJING) -- China is experiencing a surge in H7N9 "bird flu" infections.

According to the New York Times, on Friday, officials have confirmed eight deaths and 77 new diagnoses in February.  

Authorities have closed live poultry markets across the  country in an attempt to slow down the spread of the deadly virus.

The ban was implemented after a woman in her twneties and her young daughter both died after coming in contact with live poultry, the New York Times reported.

Experts fear that the virus could mutate into one that can easily pass between people.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Officials at a Washington D.C. public health lab confirmed to ABC News that they are retesting hundreds of samples from people in the area for Zika virus over concerns about the accuracy of the original test results.

Already, samples taken from two pregnant women, who originally tested negative for the virus, have now tested positive for likely Zika infection.

The District of Columbia Department of Forensic Sciences Public Health Laboratory has tested hundreds of people, mainly pregnant women, for the Zika virus since last year.

Yesterday, officials from the lab announced that after identifying "technical issues" with the Zika tests in December and a subsequent review of the tests, they would be retesting hundreds of specimens for signs of the virus collected during the second half of last year.

A spokesperson for the lab clarified to ABC News that "calculation and formulation errors" led to officials stopping and reviewing the Zika tests.

In total, 409 specimens that originally tested negative, including 294 from pregnant women, have been sent for retesting. The specimens from pregnant women were sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and those from men and non-pregnant women were sent to public health labs approved by the CDC. It often takes two to three weeks to receive test results that could indicate a likely Zika infection. Currently, two of 62 samples that were sent to the CDC for additional testing, and then further confirmation testing, were positive for antibodies that would indicate a possible Zika infection.

The test looks for antibodies that indicate a current or past infection from a flavivirus, a family of viruses that includes Zika. The CDC is treating the patients who tested positive as though they tested positive for the Zika virus out of caution and for monitoring.

Currently, only specimens obtained between July 14, 2016 and December 14, 2016 will be reexamined, since those collected before that date were already tested by the CDC.

Dr. Christopher Zahn, vice president of practice activities for The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), called the testing issue a "very unfortunate situation" and said it is critical that patients get updated results quickly in case they need to get extra prenatal or post-partum care.

"The CDC has prioritized these lab retests and, as they are completed, it is critical that patients are informed of the updated results so they can follow-up appropriately based on current clinical recommendations," Zahn said in a statement. "ACOG and the CDC have been in contact and continue to consult and collaborate and will issue any additional necessary information."

The issue should serve as a reminder that "Zika is still a very serious public health crisis," he said, and that the public, as well as doctors and health officials, should remain vigilant.

"ACOG will continue to work closely with obstetric providers and offer the most up-to-date clinical guidance," he added.

Lab officials said they expect to have all retested sample results back in the next four weeks.

Zika infection in adults often has mild symptoms such as fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, according to the CDC, and approximately one in five people infected with the virus shows symptoms. Severe complications from Zika that require hospitalization are rare, and most people are over the worst of the symptoms after a week, according to the CDC.

In pregnant women, the virus has been found to be associated with fetal development issues and can cause birth defects including microcephaly, which is characterized by an abnormally small head.

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Amber Travaglio | Ashlyn Richardson(CLEVELAND) -- A grieving mother has met the child whose life was saved thanks to the donation of her little girl's heart.

Mothers Amber Travaglio and Ashlyn Richardson embraced in a tearful first meeting Feb. 8, one year after the heart of Travaglio's late daughter, Melody Kashawlic, 7, was donated to Peyton Richardson, 5.

"It was an overwhelming sense of peace, which may sound strange," Travaglio told ABC News of meeting Richardson and Peyton. "There's so much emotional turmoil in losing a child and curiosity in organ donation. Who has a piece of my child? What is the family like? Is their life better because of this?"

"Getting to see how much Ashlyn loves Peyton and seeing how she'll do anything for her child brought me some peace. There's never a complete closure in something like this; there's a shadow of sadness but for one moment in time. I got to feel like my child was there because I know a part of Melody lives on in Peyton," Travaglio said.

Travaglio of Cleveland, Ohio, said Melody was a vibrant little girl with an old soul who enjoyed fostering pets and knitting hats for babies in the neonatal intensive care unit.

"She had an innate desire to help people," Travaglio said. "[I'll miss] cooking and baking together; we'd always make up silly songs and sing and play. We called her a little Punky Brewster with her purposely mismatched clothes. Thankfully, we built a lot of memories."

But one particularly painful memory is from June 7, 2015, when after Melody woke up to use the bathroom, Travaglio said she heard a "bang" and found her daughter collapsed on the floor. Her daughter, who had a minor case of asthma, had suffered an unexplained asphyxic asthma attack, Travaglio said.

Travaglio, a nurse at the time, administered CPR and called 911. Melody was transferred to University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland where her lungs failed and she died.

Seven hundred miles away in Conyers, Georgia, and five months earlier, on Jan. 15, 2015, Richardson was getting Peyton, then 3, ready for school.

Richardson, a mom of two, noticed Peyton had a fever and took her to a hospital emergency room, where she was diagnosed with a stomach virus and sent home with anti-nausea medication.

Richardson said her mother, a nurse, kept Peyton with her that night. "I wanted her to stay with her in case something happened,” she said.

When Peyton's health didn't improve, Richardson's mother, Theresa Rainey, brought her to another hospital, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston.

Richardson was on her way to work when she learned her daughter's heart stopped at the hospital.

“We had no idea that she had heart issues at all," Richardson said. "They performed CPR on her for approximately 45 minutes to an hour, which brought her back.”

Peyton was hooked up to a machine to support her heart's function and days later doctors told Richardson that her daughter would need a brand new heart.

"They told us that it had to be a child around her age, size and blood type, which was so devastating because I knew for a transplant to happen, a child had to die. I know I wanted my child to recover, but I didn't want another child to have to pass away in order for that to happen," Richardson said.

Peyton had dilated cardiomyopathy, said one of her cardiologists, William Mahle, M.D., who is co-chief of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Sibley Heart Center. Dilated cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle that usually starts in the heart's main pumping chamber, or the left ventricle, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Peyton Richardson turned 4 on the day that Melody Kashawlic died, June 9, 2015.

All of Melody's organs were donated with the exception of her lungs, which were sent to medical research, her mother, Travaglio, said. She said she hopes her daughter's story will inspire others to be open to organ donation.

Patti DePompei, president of the Cleveland hospital where Melody died, said, "The profound generosity and compassion of Melody’s mother during such a painful time is an inspiring reminder of the importance of organ donation. Melody’s legacy endures as her heart continues to beat and provide life in Peyton."

Three days after Melody's death, Peyton received her heart through a transplant.

"Everything went very, very well," Richardson said of the surgery. "She did not reject the heart at all. They said that everything looks perfect."

Afterward, Richardson said she was given a pamphlet explaining she could write a letter to the donor's family but would have to wait six months to allow the family to grieve. But at the beginning of January 2016, she got a letter from Travaglio. The letter, sent through an organ-donation service, omitted last names to protect the identities of both families.

But Travaglio found Richardson on Facebook, and the mothers corresponded, Richardson said.

The two families finally met in Georgia earlier this month where Travaglio could see for herself the child who got her daughter's heart. Peyton is now in kindergarten and thriving.

Before their meeting, Richardson gave Travaglio a stuffed lamb which has inside it a recording of the heartbeat that both girls shared.

"I was so happy to be able to put my arms around the person who allowed my daughter a second chance at life," Richardson said of Travaglio. "It was a dream to be able to meet them."


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Leave No Paws Behind(NEW YORK) -- What would have been a routine visit to her local animal shelter turned into an emotional experience for Elaine Seamans.

A stray cat that had recently been brought to the shelter stopped Seamans in her tracks as she walked past his cage.

"I saw about four dogs who needed help, and then I saw him," Seamans, who runs the At-Choo Foundation, a nonprofit that provides dogs with medical care, told ABC News. "We don't normally help cats but there's no way I could walk past him."

The emaciated cat somehow managed to muster a "meow" and turn toward Seamans.

"He reached out and so I picked him up," she said. "He was so thin and he was so weak and he just put his little head on my shoulder."

What Seamans didn't know at the time was that the cat was suffering from a highly contagious sarcoptic mange, a condition that requires handlers to wear protective gloves. She said she doesn't regret the risk she took that day.

"There was no way I could leave him here to not get help," Seamans said.

Seamans knew the cat, named Valentino, was in bad shape. She texted her friend Toby Wisneski, CEO of Leave No Paws Behind, a nonprofit that specializes in extreme medical cases and terminally-ill animals.

Wisneski immediately responded and arrived at the shelter shortly after. She promised Valentino would receive the best care possible.

"I heard his tiny little meow and that sealed the deal," Wisneski told ABC News.

Thanks to these women, Valentino is now recovering under 24-hour care. In addition to the sarcoptic mange, Valentino was suffering from low glucose levels, infections that left his eyes swollen shut, dehydration and possible gastrointestinal bleeding. However, Dr. Michelle Dulake, a veterinarian at The Pet Doctors of Sherman Oaks who has been overseeing Valentino's care, said he is on the road to recovery.

"I do think we are optimistic, and as long as his glucose goes up and his bacterial infections go away, I think he'll have a really good life," Dulake told ABC News. "He's the sweetest, sweetest cat. I think it was a really great find for Leave No Paws Behind. They did a great job finding a cat that has the potential to live a long and happy life."

The support Valentino has received from the public after she began sharing his story has been overwhelming, Wisneski said.

"The people have been just amazing," she remarked. "We've received donations from people in Sweden, Australia, Austria. Who knew? We were just doing what we normally do — help those that can't help themselves and the ones that nobody wants."

She continues to post updates on Valentino's status on her foundation's Facebook page, garnering even more support.

"He's the sweetest little guy," Wisneski, who named the cat in honor Valentine's Day, said. "He's an internet sensation, he's got a fanbase that is unbelievable, and we're taking it one day at a time."

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ABC News(NEW YORK) — A woman who suffered from severe acrophobia conquered her fear of heights by facing her anxieties head-on as part of a new Good Morning America campaign that launched Friday called "Face Your Fears."

Jane Fisher, 35, of Atlanta, climbed a 21-foot ladder live on GMA before anxiously stepping onto a trapeze platform to go flying high through the air.

“I’m ready to fly,” Fisher proudly said moments before taking the leap at Fearless Flyers Academy in Mystic, Connecticut.

And with that courageous attitude, she pulled it off.

Psychologist Ellen Koch, a professor at Eastern Michigan University who specializes in "one-session exposure therapy,” has been helping Fisher train to get to this point.

“For Jane, she was very motivated to overcome her fear and that was really helpful for her,” Koch said. “And it was really important for her to learn about the anxiety process and that it was important for her to confront her fear, and let the anxiety come down and that she’ll be fine with that, as opposed to trying to fight it or avoid it like she had done in the past.”

Once Fisher climbed down from the net that caught her brave jump, she told GMA that she was “feeling awesome.”

“I feel fearless,” she added. “Well, not fearless, but I just feel good.”

She said the hardest part of the entire ordeal was getting from the ladder to the platform 21-feet in the air, “and just trying to reassure yourself there’s a net underneath, and then from there it helps the anxiety go down,” she explained.

To help her build up to this experience, GMA sent Fisher to the Trapeze School New York to help her face her fears head-on by working with Koch.

"I freeze, I get sweaty palms," Fisher said at the time. "I'm getting sweaty palms thinking about it."

Koch’s "one-session exposure therapy” is based on the premise that if you repeatedly flee from your anxieties, you actually reinforce that fear. But if you stay put and face the fear a little at a time, the anxiety will eventually subside.

"We'll have her take one step at a time," Koch said of Fisher at the start of her treatment. "We'll let her sort of pace treatment and so when she's ready, she'll take the next step up the ladder and we'll go one step at a time until she gets to the top."

Koch added that she believes such therapy is so effective that Fisher’s lifelong fear of heights could be cured in three hours.

And Friday on GMA, Fisher proved to herself that it worked.

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iStock/Thinkstock(WATERBORO, Maine) — Three good Samaritans rescued a teenage girl after she was thrown off a snowmobile into a frozen lake in Waterboro, Maine.

The three rescuers — Brandon Jackson, Bill Rodgers and Taylor Dion — were fishing and snowmobiling near Little Ossipee Lake Feb. 4 when they saw someone struggling in the frozen water.

Jackson, Rodgers and Dion threw a thick rope out to the victim in the water, who turned out to be a 16-year-old girl, and yelled instructions to her, saying, "Hold on tight. Get both hands. Kick your feet really hard."

"All three of us pretty much decided, 'Hey let's get out there,'" Jackson said, adding he and the other rescuers were there at the "right place and the right time."

"We were there and we helped and we had what we needed to get the job done and it worked out very well."

Jackson, who captured the video on his helmet camera, Rodgers and Dion were able to pull the victim, who was not named, safely to shore.

The teen's dramatic rescue demonstrates the dangers that can come with riding snowmobiles on ice.

Snowmobiles can reach top speeds of over 90 mph and weigh over 600 pounds. Ice needs to be at least 5 inches thick in order to support the weight of the snowmobile, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Individual drivers' own decisions, not the machines, may be responsible for a portion of the 14,000 reported injuries that occur on snowmobiles each year, according to the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association.

"Snowmobile safety is the responsibility of all snowmobilers to conduct themselves in a safe manner and follow the snowmobiling laws and regulations," association president Ed Klim said in a statement to ABC News.

Individuals who fall into frozen water, whether caused by a snowmobile accident or other things, should try to control their breathing, remain calm and focus on putting their arms on top of the ice and kicking their legs to pull themselves back onto the ice.

The teen who was rescued in Maine also made a potentially lifesaving decision to remove her boots while in the water so they would not wear her down, according to police.

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iStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- A Texas woman is hoping to raise awareness about heart disease after she survived two near-fatal heart attacks, underwent a heart transplant and lost her mother to a heart attack
in a single year.

Kristen Patton, 41, suffered her first heart attack with no warning on Christmas Eve 2015. She had just brought home her fourth child after giving birth two days prior and the family enjoyed a
normal Christmas Eve. She first noticed something was wrong when she was feeding her infant daughter.

"I had this horrible pain in my jaw ... it felt like it was drilling into my jawbone," Patton, of Austin, Texas, said. She instantly knew something was wrong and put her child back in the bassinet
before calling for her husband.

"He came into the room to find me unresponsive and called 911," Patton said. By the time paramedics arrived she no longer had a heartbeat and they had to use a defibrillator to get her heart
started again.

Once she was at the hospital, the doctors were able to stabilize her heartbeat but they remained mystified to why her heartbeat had been dangerously irregular.

Days later, after multiple tests and no clear answer, they planned to let her leave the hospital with a defibrillator vest that could shock her heart if she had another heart attack. But before
they could prep her for that device, Patton had a second heart attack.

"It was the same exact pain and progression," Patton recalled. "But I felt like I was drowning and I could not get a breath."

During the second heart attack doctors realized that Patton had a rare heart condition called spontaneous coronary artery dissection. The layered walls in her artery had partially torn, cutting off
desperately needed oxygen to portions of the heart muscle, effectively killing the heart tissue.

Dr. Mary Beth Cishek, a cardiologist at Seton Heart Institute in Austin Texas, treated Patton and said the heart was so damaged doctors knew she would need a transplant in the future.

"It was so extensive and damage to her heart was so great ... it was no longer able to support her body," Cishek said.

To save her life doctors performed a triple bypass and attached Patton to a machine that can oxygenate blood called an ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation.)

After the surgery, Patton remained unconscious at the hospital for weeks on life support. She could not be put on the transplant list because her kidneys started to fail and her heart could no
longer effectively pump her blood. The ECMO machine and later a similar more portable device called an LVAD (left ventricular assist device) used to pump blood were the only way she could stay
alive.

After her diagnosis, Patton's doctors realized that her pregnancy, with the accompanying rise and fall in hormones, was the likely cause of the rare and dangerous heart condition.

"It's thought that the shifting hormones in a way may kind of loosen the cell to cell connections," Cishek explained.

In late January, weeks after arriving in the hospital, Patton finally woke up, but was unable to speak due to a tracheotomy.

"It was a really horrible feeling to not be able to communicate effectively with the people around me," she said. "I also just felt pretty horrible ... I had lost all strength in my arms and legs."

Slowly she was able to recover to the point that she could get into a rehab facility as she gained her strength. The LVAD meant she had to be connected to a battery 24 hours every day to keep her
blood pumping through her body.

Over the course of 2016 Patton continued to get stronger and was even able to return home where she went on a hike with her family and started to get back to her normal life. In November, her
doctors were able to put her on the wait list for a heart transplant, giving her hope that a new heart could mean no longer relying on the LVAD to stay alive.

"You walk around with your cellphone in your hand waiting for your call," Patton said, explaining that every call from an unknown number was exciting. "You think, 'Is this a telemarketer or a
heart?'"

Eventually, on her 41st birthday, Patton got the call that a heart was available.

"I got the call on my birthday, it was really beautiful," Patton recalled, explaining she was with her husband at the time. "We both just hugged each other and cried."

Patton successfully underwent the transplant surgery in November, approximately 11 months after her first heart attack. When she woke up, she said she could feel her heart beat for the first time
in nearly a year after being put on the ECMO machine.

"It [felt] like horses galloping through my chest because the heart beat was strong," she said. Now nearly three months after her transplant, she continues to get better and more active with her
children.

"I do feel so good now it is hard to fathom that all of this could possibly happen, sometimes it feels like another person's story," Patton said.

She is hoping that sharing her story she can raise awareness about the need for people to be proactive about their heart health. While she knows her condition is rare, she also lost her mother to a
heart attack last February. The cause was atherosclerosis -- a build-up of plaque in the arteries that is a common cause of heart attacks.

"Heart attacks are devastating and my hope is to raise awareness so that people go get their heart screened," Patton said.


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Lauren Walker/Facebook(THE WOODLANDS, Texas) -- One Texas couple is finally expecting not just one, but two babies, after struggling with infertility for two years.

Lauren Walker shared her story, with a moving photo featuring two onesies and 452 needles used for her In-Vitro Fertilization treatments in a photo that has since gone viral on Facebook.

"We prayed for 953 days...452 Needles, 1000's of tears, 1 corrective surgery, 4 clomid/letrozole attempts, 2 IVF rounds, 3 failed transfers and & 1 Amazing GOD," the yoga instructor wrote as a
caption before explaining her inspirational journey.

Walker, 28, had been trying to have a child with her high school sweetheart, Garyt, since 2014.

"When we started, we knew off the bat that I was having issues," Walker told ABC News, "which I guess is a blessing."

So Walker decided to undergo IVF treatments at Houston Fertility Institute "and we expected it to work." Still, she miscarried two embryos on Sept. 10, 2014. After another round of treatment,
Walker miscarried two more embryos three months later.

"It's every mother's job to be able to protect their children and keep them safe," Walker said through tears. "And every time they kept putting them inside me I couldn't do it."

The couple had one embryo left and decided to "give it one more shot," Walker said. But two days before Christmas in 2014, they discovered they still weren't pregnant.

After two years of struggling with infertility, Lauren and Garyt Walker are welcoming twins in August.

Walker said she made her husband take the call from her fertility nurse because she was too afraid to hear any more bad news.

"He went into the bedroom to take the call. He came out and just looked at me and he started to tear up [and said,] 'I'm so sorry, sweetie,'" Walker recalled. "We just held each other and I let out
this blood curdling scream. I was completely broken."

It didn't help that, by then, they had spent approximately $30,000 on treatments. Thankfully, their marriage was still in tact.

"We have heard stories of how going through infertility can really cause wear and tear in a marriage," Walker said. "[We decided] we come first. We need to make sure we are always taking care of
each other first and foremost."

After two years of struggling with infertility, Lauren and Garyt Walker are welcoming twins in August.

The couple credits the strength of their marriage and their faith in God for giving them the courage to try to have a baby again.

They moved to The Woodlands, Texas, from Houston, in May 2016. After taking out a $14,000 loan, they began treatments again last October.

This time, they decided not to tell family and friends they were trying again to have a baby.

Instead, they surprised their family with the news that Walker was indeed pregnant -- with twins -- just a week before Christmas by handing them the pregnancy test wrapped in a bow.

Walker said that despite her long journey, she wouldn't want it any other way.

After two years of struggling with infertility, Lauren and Garyt Walker are welcoming twins in August.

"Life happens the way that it's supposed to happen," she said. "Had this all happened the way I wanted to back in 2014, we would have different children and we would have a different life, and I
know that these babies right now are meant to be here."

"The reason why we were waiting so long is that we were waiting for them," she gushed.

Walker is due in August and she said she's looking forward to introducing her twins, that she's named Duke and Diana Walker, to her 6-year-old goldendoodle, Fenway -- and of course they rest of
their family.

"They're the first grandchildren," Walker said. "Everyone's just so excited."

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DigitalVision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you've been spending flu season living in fear of getting sick every time someone near you coughs or sneezes, researchers have good news about the flu vaccine.

The current seasonal influenza vaccine has been found to be 48 percent effective in preventing flu-related medical visits, according to a preliminary report in the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The researchers looked at data between late November to early February from the 3,144 children and adults, 1,650 of whom were vaccinated, to see who sought medical treatment for flu-like symptoms.

While the vaccine was found to be 48 percent effective in preventing flu-related medical visits for all ages, it provided slightly better protection for young children between the ages of 6 months to 8 years and older adults between the ages of 50 to 64, according to the report. The vaccine was found to be 53 percent effective in preventing flu-related medical visits for the young children and 58 percent effective for the older adults.

Meanwhile, it was found to be less effective in children between the ages of 9 to 17 years old (32 percent effective), those 18 to 49 (19 percent effective) and those over the age of 65 (46 percent effective).

"We know that influenza vaccine is a good but not perfect vaccine," Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told ABC News.

Schaffner pointed out that it is especially important that the elderly, and those who will be around the elderly, get the vaccine, since the dominant flu strain A(H3N2) spreading across the country is more likely to cause severe complications among the elderly.

The current flu vaccine has been found to protect against the A(H3N2) strain 43 percent of the time, and it can also lessen the chances of an infected person developing serious symptoms, according to the MMWR report.

"It disproportionately affects older people and makes them sicker," Schaffner explained of the A(H3N2) flu virus strain. "There is a perfect match between that strain and what is in the vaccine."

The flu vaccine is developed every year to try and match the virus strains that are expected to be most common during flu season in the U.S. Currently, the U.S. is in the middle of a flu epidemic, which occurs almost every year. The CDC report found that high levels of flu activity is likely to continue for the next few weeks.

Flu can cause symptoms of headache, fever, joint pain and cough. The seasonal flu generally spreads across the U.S. from November through March, with the peak number of cases often occurring in February. The number of people affected every year can vary widely, but generally, the CDC reports that "millions of people are sickened, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu every year."

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Handout via WLS(CHICAGO) — Three children have died from gun violence in Chicago this week, a city that has seen a record number of shootings and homicides in the last year.

There were 762 homicides and 4,367 shootings in Chicago in 2016, police said. Of those shot, 76 where children younger than 15 years old, according to data from the Chicago Tribune.

Since Jan. 1, 2017, shootings are up 8 percent in the city, and nine children younger than 15 years old have been shot, the Tribune reported.

The recent killings have taken a toll on the community, and even the most hardened of law enforcement officers.

"When this violence touches the innocent or the young, that is when it is no longer just a part of your job," Chicago police superintendent Eddie Johnson said at a news conference on Wednesday. "It becomes personal."

Johnson announced the arrest of a suspect in one of the three shootings. He said that Antwan Jones, 19, was charged with first-degree murder in the killing of 11-year-old Takiya Holmes, who was struck in the head by a stray bullet on Saturday while sitting in the back seat of a car. She died in a hospital on Tuesday.

Just less than 30 minutes before Holmes was shot, a 12-year-old girl named Kanari Bowers was caught in a crossfire, according to authorities. Kanari had been playing basketball outside at an elementary school when a stray bullet struck her in the head. She died in the hospital on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, a 2-year-old boy named Lavontay White was fatally shot in the head in a gang-related incident that was streamed in part on Facebook Live, according to police.

The deaths this week are a window into the violence many young kids in Chicago face on a regular basis.

For those who do survive — and for those who have to live with the pain of losing a friend or classmate, or witnessing a violent incident — the road to recovery and healing can be a long and difficult one, according to child trauma experts.

"We think that the incident is over after their bullet wounds recover, but really, this is just the beginning of their suffering," said clinical psychologist and Loyola University Chicago criminology professor Arthur Lurigio of children who survive gun violence.

"When the physical wound is repaired, there's still another wound -- one that can be lifelong," Lurigio told ABC News. "Once a child has been shot, their illusion of safety is completely and utterly shattered."

That shaken sense of safety can lead to a wide array of symptoms, including many that are a part of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Maryam Kia-Keating, an associate professor of clinical psychology at the University of California Santa Barbara.

"They may be struggling with distressing memories of what happened, such as having nightmares and flashbacks, and this can make it difficult to concentrate and pay attention," Kia-Keating told ABC News. "They can experience hyper-arousal, which is when you are more likely to have a startled response or be very frightened in situations where you are not necessarily facing the same threat, but you feel like that same threat is there."

Other symptoms include trouble eating and sleeping and experiencing aches and pains that aren't related to an acute illness, Kia-Keating said.

Both Kia-Keating and Lurigio emphasized that trauma almost always extends beyond the child who has survived being shot.

"It's important to view trauma as happening to an entire community," Lurigio said. "Classmates and friends of a child who was shot can also feel traumatized ... so it's also important that schools have the necessary resources to help kids cope with these kinds of tragic incidents."

Moreover, adults who are parents of a child who survived a shooting can also be affected.

"It's important for parents, teachers and caregivers to know that if they're not taking care of themselves first, they will be compromised in their ability to take care of children," Kia-Keating said. "These incidents can be just as frightening and disconcerting for adults as well, and sometimes adults can even struggle more with them."

First responders and law enforcement officers, who often witness extreme levels of violence on a daily basis, may experience second-hand trauma and burn-out, Kia-Keating pointed out.

Despite the challenges that surround the road to recovery for children and their loved ones affected by gun violence, "there is hope," according to Robin Gurwitch, a professor of psychology at Duke University Medical Center.

"Unlike a broken arm, we can't say everything will be hunky-dory within six to eight weeks," Gurwitch told ABC News. "Recovering from psychological trauma doesn't have that kind of a clock or time frame, but we do know that healing is possible."

Gurwitch said that there a variety of "very, very effective treatments out there" for children who have been exposed to trauma, and the "dissemination of those kinds of treatments is growing."

"Of course, they aren't as widespread as we'd like them to be, but they're growing, and there's been a huge leap of awareness about trauma and how it affects children and what can be done to help," she said. Gurwitch added that many types of therapies are "relatively short," such as parent-child interaction therapy, which is generally completed within 20 sessions.

"The biggest roadblock in the way to treatment is the continued stigma that surrounds mental health services," she said. "A lot of times, parents may think getting mental health treatment for themselves or their children is a sign of weakness or that 'something's wrong.'"

But, Gurwitch said, seeking help and mental health services is actually "such a huge sign of strength."

"If you have a cold, you go to the doctor, and likewise, if you've been exposed to trauma, it's important to go seek treatment for that too," she said. "There are great resources out there, and it takes great strength to seek them."

Anyone seeking help or resources for a child dealing with traumatic stress can visit the National Child Traumatic Stress Network's website here.

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iStock/ThinkstockDR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

The only thing that’s predictable about the flu is that we will have a flu season every year.

January through March tends to be peak flu season, so if you haven’t already gotten the vaccine, it’s not too late. It takes about two weeks for it to do its work, so the sooner the better.

And there’s good news: This year, the particular strain that we’re seeing is included in the new vaccine.  

There are so many myths about the flu and the flu shot, but I want you to know the facts:

  • The vaccine cannot give you the flu virus because it doesn’t contain live virus.
  • While it’s only about 65 percent effective in preventing the flu, the vaccine can decrease symptoms and severity if you do get sick.
  • If you do get the flu, you could miss weeks of work and infect others, so I recommend you take this seriously.

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Ugreen/iStock/Thinkstock(NEWARK, N.J.) -- For decades, Lisa Salberg, 48, has grappled with complications from a dangerous form of heart disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. She had a stroke at 21 and multiple
operations over the years to try and preserve her heart.

After her heart began to fail, her doctors decided she need a transplant. She was placed on the organ donor list last November. Earlier this month, Salberg was matched to a new heart and underwent
the life-saving transplant surgery.

But, before she went into the operating room she had an unusual request for her surgeon: save the damaged heart.

Salberg has been an activist for heart disease research and started the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association after her sister died from the same heart disease she was diagnosed with at 12 years
old. In total, five of her family members have been diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart muscles enlarge and cause the ventricles to thicken.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, between 600,000 and 1.5 million people are afflicted with the disorder in the U.S., or one in 500 people.

Salberg said she wanted her damaged heart to become a tool to raise awareness of the condition and educate others.

"We were friends for 48 years," Salberg said about her heart.

Her transplant surgeon at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Dr. Margarita Camacho, said she was surprised by the request.

"I've never had anybody ask that, the first thing I thought was how wonderful she wanted to do that," Camacho told ABC News.

Four days after her surgery, Salberg's husband and Camacho presented Salberg with her original heart, which had been preserved by freezing. After nearly a lifetime of hearing her heart beat extra
loudly in her chest, she said she was surprised to see what the damaged organ looked like in person.

"I was struck by the density and the weight to it," Salberg said. "It was really, really heavy."

While Salberg said she initially greeted her damaged heart with a profanity, she also felt grateful that it had been functional long enough to get her through until her transplant.

"I said, 'Thank you, you worked hard for 48 years,'" Salberg told ABC News. "It [was] with me every moment of the day of my life, it was nice to be able to say goodbye."

Salberg said that, after the transplant, she instantly felt a difference in her energy and overall well-being. The renewed energy has pushed her to focus on the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy
Association and help others who are afflicted with the same conditions she has.

"The reality clicked in I have an entire community of people who feel badly," Salberg said, referring to other people who have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. "I have an entire life ahead of me to
find ways to improve their health and I'm doubling down. You ain't seen nothing yet."

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A rare bacterial outbreak in New York City linked to rats has infected three people, one of whom died, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The cluster of three people in one city block of the Bronx borough were diagnosed with leptospirosis after becoming severely ill within the last two months, the department reported Tuesday. One of the infected people, a man in his 30s, died.

"The Health Department has identified a cluster of three cases of leptospirosis on one block in the Concourse area of the Bronx," officials from the New York City Health Department said in a statement Tuesday. "Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that is most commonly spread by contact with rat urine and is very rarely spread from person to person. This illness can be serious, but is treatable with readily available antibiotics."

Two of the patients were diagnosed in December and one was diagnosed in February, the department said, after they were hospitalized with acute liver and kidney failure.

Leptospirosis is a disease caused by the bacteria Leptospira interrogans, which is found in nature. The bacteria can cause infection if they enter the body through the eyes, nose, mouth or through open wounds or cuts in the skin. It is often spread by rat or other animal urine and can cause fever, headache, chills, vomiting or diarrhea. In rare cases, the disease causes severe complications in the kidney or liver that can result in organ failure and death.

New York City had 26 cases of leptospirosis between 2006 and 2016, averaging between one to three cases per year, the department added. All but one were men.

The World Health Organization estimates that 5 to 15 percent "of untreated cases can progress to a more severe and potentially fatal stage." Normally the entire city sees just one to three cases in a year, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Health department officials said they were working with the New York City Housing Preservation and Development and the Buildings Departments to lower the rat population in the area and educate residents about the disease.

City officials advise concerned residents to avoid contact with rats or places where rats may have urinated, wash hands thoroughly with soap and water, use a solution of one part bleach to 10 parts water to clean possibly affected areas and wear shoes and protective gear in rat-prone locations.

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