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How the CDC Will Make Sure Ebola Doesn't Spread in US


Credit: James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(DALLAS) -- To stop the deadly Ebola virus from spreading in the U.S., health officials said they have already started tracking anyone involved with the first Ebola patient to be diagnosed here.

Officials from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control confirmed Tuesday that the first Ebola patient has been diagnosed in the U.S., after arriving from Liberia. In a press conference in Dallas, CDC director Tom Frieden said local health department officials were prepared and had already started tracking people who had come into contact with the unidentified Ebola patient now being treated in Dallas.

“I have no doubt that we will control this case of Ebola so that it does not spread widely in this country,” said Frieden, who confirmed a CDC team was also en route to help track anyone connected to the infected patient.

To track any potential exposures and stop the outbreak, Frieden said medical officials will first interview the patient and then family members. From there officials will outline and investigate all of the patient's movements after the symptoms appeared and he was contagious.

They will build “concentric circles,” with one circle representing everyone the patient could have exposed and then a second including all the other people those initial contacts have interacted with.

“With that we put together a map essentially that identifies the time, the place, the level of the contact,” said Frieden. “Then we use a concentric circle approach to identify those contacts, who might have had the highest risk of exposure, those with intermediate risk.”

Those at risk of being infected will be monitored for at least 21 days, which is the duration of the Ebola incubation period.

“This is core public health and it is what we do day in and day out and what we will be doing here to identify any possible spread and to ensure there aren't further chains of transmission,” said Frieden.

Frieden confirmed the unidentified man arrived from Liberia on September 20 and was staying with family when he started to exhibit symptoms. Frieden repeated the unidentified patient did not have symptoms on his flight to the U.S., and that patients are not contagious until they exhibit symptoms.

The patient did not show symptoms until September 24, four days after arriving in the U.S. He sought medical care on September 26 and was admitted and placed in isolation on September 28.

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Researchers Consider Link Between Adolescent Obesity and Colorectal Cancer


AlexRaths/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Adolescents who are obese may face an increased risk of colorectal cancer later on in life, researchers say.

According to a study presented at the American Association of Cancer Research Conference, researchers looked at data from 240,000 Swedish men and found that those who were obese as teenagers were 2.37 times as likely to develop colorectal cancer compared to those who they deemed "normal weight."

The link between obesity and colorectal cancer has been seen in previous research, but the study is the first to find that risk begins at an earlier age.

Of note, the study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, and their restrictions for the categorization of "obese" are not clear.

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First Ebola Case Diagnosed in US Confirmed by CDC


Will Montgomery (ATLANTA) -- The first Ebola case has been diagnosed in the United States, but a top health official said there is "no doubt... we will stop it here."

Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Tuesday the patient left Liberia on Sept. 19 and arrived in the U.S. on Sept. 20. The patient sought medical help on Sept. 26 and was put in isolation on Sept. 28, Frieden said.

Tests confirming the Ebola diagnosis came back on Tuesday.

Frieden stressed that the patient was not sick on departure from Liberia or upon arrival in the U.S., and the disease can only be contracted by someone exhibiting symptoms of the disease.

Frieden said he was confident there would not be an Ebola outbreak in the U.S.

"There is no doubt in my mind we will stop it here," he said.

Frieden declined to identify the patient other than to say, "The individual was here to visit family who live in this country." Frieden later indicated the patient was male when he modified the comment to say, "He was visiting family members and staying with family members who live in this country."

Health officials are tracking down the patient's close contacts to determine whether they contracted the virus, Frieden said.

Although American Ebola patients have been treated in the United States prior to this diagnosis, they all contracted Ebola in West Africa.

Dr. Edward Goodman, head epidemiologist at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, said he could not reveal information about the patient’s symptoms or treatment, but said that “he is ill and he is under intensive care.”

Frieden said possible experimental therapies are being discussed with the family and may be announced later.

Ebola has killed 2,917 people and infected 3,346 others since the outbreak began in March.

The patient arrived at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas Sunday with possible Ebola symptoms "days" after returning from West Africa, according to the Texas state health department. The patient was placed in isolation until the CDC could confirm the diagnosis.

Ebola is spread via contact with bodily fluids, such as blood and urine, but it is not contagious unless Ebola symptoms are present, the state health department said. Symptoms can take between two and 21 days to appear after exposure to the virus, according to the CDC.

This has been the worst Ebola outbreak since the virus was discovered in 1976. More people have died from Ebola since March than in every other Ebola outbreak to date combined, according to data from the World Health Organization.

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Thousands of West African Children Orphaned by Ebola


Bumbasor/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Nearly 4,000 children in West Africa have lost one or both parents to the ongoing Ebola outbreak, a staggering figure reported by the United Nations Children's Fund on Tuesday.

"Thousands of children are living through the deaths of their mother, father or family members from Ebola," UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa Manuel Fontaine said in a statement. "These children urgently need special attention and support; yet many of them feel unwanted and even abandoned."

UNICEF's report suggests that the number of children orphaned by the disease has "spiked" in the last few weeks and "is likely to double by mid-October."

The organization is hoping to train 400 more mental health and social workers in Liberia to help support and provide care for those who "have been rejected by their communities or whose families have died." An additional 2,500 Ebola survivors -- now immune to the disease -- will be given training in Sierra Leone in the next six months in the hope of providing care to quarantined children in treatment centers.

UNICEF will also provide "psychosocial support" to about 60,000 vulnerable children and families in Guinea.

"Ebola is turning a basic human reaction like comforting a sick child into a potential death sentence," Fontaine said. "We cannot respond to a crisis of this nature and this scale in the usual ways. We need more courage, more creativity and far far more resources."

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Face-to-Face with Patients in the Ebola Ward


ABC NewsREPORTER'S NOTEBOOK By ABC News' Dr. Richard Besser

(MONROVIA, Liberia) -- "Before we enter the Ebola ward, we pray," Dr. Jerry Brown tells me as we stand just outside the second-oldest Ebola treatment unit in Monrovia, clad in layer after layer of protective gear.

I’m about to become the first journalist allowed inside. My head tells me we’re safe, but my heart is pounding.

A few minutes earlier, three people watched and made adjustments as I put on scrubs, boots, a pair of gloves, foot covers, a full-body Tyvek suit, a second pair of gloves, a respirator mask, a second hood, goggles, a third pair of gloves and a heavy, yellow apron. Not a speck of skin is exposed to the air. After just five minutes in this cocoon, I am saturated in sweat.

My producer hands me two GoPro cameras, and I follow Brown inside to see his patients. Although the ward was designed to hold 40 people, I’m told there are 60 patients here today.

“When you leave the clinic and see people lying on the ground, sick with Ebola and wanting help, how can you say no?” a doctor who works with Brown told me. “We make room.”

Our first stop is the area designated for suspected Ebola cases. These people have symptoms consistent with Ebola and exposure to a known Ebola patient, but they have not yet been tested.

Children mix in with adults. Some of the patients are in individual patient bays divided by canvas walls. Others are in the main room, an open area containing no more than 10 cots. I notice one major infection control issue: there is only one toilet, and everyone shares it. This is problematic because Ebola is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids. But it’s all they have to work with.

Brown makes his rounds, asking everyone how they are doing. If I saw some of these patients in my office, I wouldn't think they were sick. Others look near death.

Loud music blares over the radio. "I want them to have some entertainment," Brown explains.

I am struck by how frightening it must be for these patients, especially the children. To them, we are coming toward them in space suits with only our eyes visible to show we’re human. I focus on trying to smile with my eyes for each child I see.

We round a corner and move into the area with confirmed Ebola patients. The first two are out in the corridor under an awning. One man looks deathly ill. Dehydration from the diarrhea, Brown tells me.

Inside the main ward, there are more than a dozen patients. In a corner, I see 10-year-old Richmond, wearing an American shirt with “Wisconsin” written across the front. I catch myself before I ask him if he's ever been there. Contaminated clothes are taken away from each patient when they enter the ward. He got that shirt as a replacement when he arrived.

I ask how he's doing. He looks good.

"Fine," he says. "My chest hurts."

His mother tells us that he coughed up blood that morning, a very bad sign for someone with Ebola. Brown will keep a close eye on him.

Next, we stop by a single room no bigger than a closet to check on a 26-year-old man. He says he caught Ebola sharing a room with a man who had a fever. The man was tested for malaria and then typhoid fever. By the time he was tested for Ebola, he had infected his roommate.

"Brown, you gave me life!" he beamed as he reached down to touch Dr. Brown's feet in a sign of respect.

Brown jumped back. "No touching!"

"But you are God!" he countered.

"I am not God,” Brown said. “I'm so glad you are feeling better."

As we move into the main common room, I’m caught off guard. A flat screen TV hangs on the wall and 15 or so Ebola patients sit watching it, clearly no longer ill. Since the ward won’t release patients until they undergo two negative Ebola tests administered at least 10 days apart, patients need something to do as they get better. This room reminds me more of a community center than a ward for the deadliest disease on the planet.

Down the hall, I see many rooms with sicker patients: a nurse who'd been bleeding, a young man with anemia. Brown said he gave them blood transfusions.

"We can't match blood types here so we give everyone O-positive." He said, adding that the blood came from Ebola survivors -- the same treatment given to Dr. Rick Sacra, the American Ebola patient treated in Nebraska. The blood had been tested to make sure it didn't have HIV or hepatitis B.

Then, Brown explains one of the most amazing things about the unit. There were many health workers treated there, so as they started to improve, he put them to work. They became his monitoring system.

He gave instructions to a recovering nurse as we entered the room.

"I've just started blood transfusions on two patients,” he said. “Keep an eye on them. Look at their skin. If you see a rash, borrow a cell phone and call me."

"Do I touch the skin?" the nurse asked.

"No, just look and let me know."

What a wonderful idea, making use of the skills of the patients in the unit. It's so hard to stay in the unit in protective gear. After 30 minutes, I was already worried that I was getting dehydrated. But putting recovering patients and those who have already had the virus to work solves that problem because they don’t need to wear the cumbersome gear.

After 40 minutes, I tell Brown that I should probably leave. He administers a couple IV medicines to patients, gives a big goodbye to the ward before leading me toward the exit.

Getting out of the protective suit takes even longer thank it took to put it on. Between every layer I take off, a hygienist sprays me down with bleach. Another layer, more bleach.

Stepping out into the sunlight, I feel a weight lifting off my chest. I know the feeling is more than just relief to be leaving the ward. What I saw filled me with hope. Each patient was a person first.

The unit was doing everything it could to save each life and, at least for some, it was succeeding.

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After Autistic Girl Finds Success in Art World, Parents Shield Her from Spotlight


Courtesy Arabella Carter-Johnson(NEW YORK) -- When Iris Grace Halmshaw's parents introduced her to painting, they were hoping the activity would be a fun diversion and a way to get their autistic child to express herself.

But as soon as Iris picked up a brush, her parents were blown away by how she approached the painting. She shied away from doing simple paintings of houses or smiling stick figures and, instead, created colorful abstract pieces that appeared to express deep emotion.

“It was on her first painting I noticed a difference in her painting compared with how you would normally expect a child to paint,” Iris’ mom, Arabella Carter-Johnson, wrote to ABC News in an email. "She filled the page with colour but with thought and consideration. ...We didn't think [too] much of it at the time, we were just so happy to have found an activity that brought her so much joy."

When her parents shared her artwork online, people started to contact them and ask to purchase prints. When the parents started to sell her work online, Iris' name and work grabbed headlines and high prices.

Last summer, several of Iris’ paintings were sold individually for as much as 1,500 pounds and the pint-size painter has nearly 90,000 likes on Facebook.

But as Iris’ work grabbed the spotlight, the family also focused on protecting her and keeping her day-to-day life stable.

“We are trying to keep our lives as normal as possible for Iris, so our same routine continues,” wrote Carter-Johnson. "I am educating her at home and this week we have been concentrating on animals, so nothing has changed in Iris's world."

While Iris’ parents say her autism likely helped her to create incredible artwork, it can also make her anxious around new people and she had trouble speaking until recently. While her art has been a way to express herself, her parents are careful not to overwhelm the 5-year-old.

“She has a fantastic concentration span but as her parent and educator I have to keep an eye on that and help her move onto other things,” said Carter-Johnson. “I can see nature in her paintings, water, trees, flowers, and also we can see Thula her cat in many of them.”

The family decided to sell Iris’ paintings both as a way to fund her private therapists and to raise awareness about her condition. According to the family, all the profits from Iris’ work will go to pay for her art materials and her ongoing private therapists. The money also goes to a savings account for Iris and to fund a club for autistic children run out of the Halmshaw home called the Little Explorers Activity Club.

After Iris was introduced to art, Carter-Johnson said, her daughter can now express herself in other ways besides speech or words. Iris’ mother said Iris can get lost in her work and spend as long as two hours painting her abstract pieces.

“She has an understanding of colours and how they interact with each other,” wrote Iris’ parents on a website dedicated to her work. “She beams with excitement and joy when I get out the paints, it lifts her mood everytime.”

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How This Enterovirus Outbreak Could Affect Adults


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There's one silver lining in the ominous news about the mysterious respiratory virus that has sickened children in 46 states since August, even causing paralysis in some: It does not seem to be spreading into adults.

But experts aren't sure why.

"Everyone is scratching their heads on this one," said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of the department of medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

One possible theory is that the current pathogen, enterovirus 68, or a virus very similar to it has circulated undetected in the past, Schaffner said. That means adults may have already been exposed to it and have built up immunity.

However, Schaffner said it's more likely that adults aren't being infected because enteroviruses are so common.

"Older family members may have built up some antibodies to enteroviruses in general that are providing some cross-protection," he said.

Dr. Michael Tosi, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, said he doesn't expect to see many adult cases if any at all.

"In general we see enteroviruses more in children than adults anyway," Tosi said. "When they do get them they are often asymptomatic or have less serious reactions that don't require hospitalization."

Schaffner agreed it's unlikely there will be mass outbreak in older people. The virus has been around since the summer and children have been exposing their families to it for months, he said. If it was going to spread to adults, it probably would have already.

However, he noted that enterovirus 68 is a bit of a rogue.

"Many enteroviruses are transmitted and live in intestinal tract but this virus is spread by a respiratory route, more like how winter flus are spread," he explained. "We'll definitely have to watch it and see how it behaves."

Enterovirus 68 is similar to the common cold, but symptoms can be more serious, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It causes wheezing and in some instances, neurological symptoms and temporary paralysis. How it spreads is unclear, though most enteroviruses spread through contact with respiratory secretions like saliva and mucous, as well as feces.

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Dove Ad Highlights a MotherÂ’s Impact on DaughterÂ’s Self-Esteem


BananaStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Dove’s buzzy new short film titled “Legacy” asks women to share how they feel about their bodies, but then poses the same question to their daughters.

“My number one hate on my body is… ,” one mother begins reading in the advertisement. “My eyes are wonky,” another finishes. “My bigger arms” or “I have very big legs,” two other women say.

The powerful ad shows mothers just how much their behavior can leave a lasting impact on their daughter’s lives.

“Oh, she said her thighs too, didn’t she?,” one mom reacted after hearing her little girl’s similar response.

“I don’t like my arms and she doesn’t like her arms either,” realized another.

“She really picks up a lot of my ways. She really does,” one more noted, shocked by her daughter’s similarities to her own insecurities.

It’s an issue Babble.com blogger Jeannette Kaplun, of Aventura, Florida, experienced first-hand.

The naturally curly-haired mother says she straightens her hair for special occasions -- a simple act that, just like in the Dove film, has made her young daughter, Sofia, question her own beauty.

“My daughter actually told me, ‘Straight hair is beautiful, curly hair isn’t,’” Kaplun told ABC News of her daughter’s remarks. “'Anytime you want to look extra pretty, you straighten out your hair.’”

It wasn’t the only lifestyle decision that appeared to rub off on 9-year-old Sofia. She also picked up on Kaplun’s efforts to lose a few pounds.

“I don’t want her to be obsessed by her weight,” said Kaplun.

Now she says she is more careful about the comments she makes about her appearance.

“I realized I’m not doing a great job as a mom if she is thinking these contradictions and it’s making her doubt her own beauty,” Kaplun explained.

The mothers featured in Dove’s film had the same surprised reaction.

“Looking at it, she really picks up a lot of my ways. She really does,” one noticed.

“How I feel about myself really affects how she feels about herself,” another added.

The advertisement closes with the remarks, “The way a girl feels about her beauty starts with how you feel about yours. What’s your beauty legacy?”

For these moms, it has opened their eyes to thinking twice before they open their mouths to say something negative about their bodies, especially in front of their young daughters.

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Deep-Fried Candy Bars May Be Hazardous to Your Health


iStock/Thinkstock(GLASGOW, Scotland) -- Candy is dandy but deep-fried candy bars are really tasty.

The problem, according to a report in the Scottish Medical Journal, is that these sugary and fatty confections normally sold at state fairs could put you in serious medical jeopardy.

In fact, the researchers from Glasgow say that a deep-fried Mars bar may increase the risk of a sudden stroke by slowing blood flow to the brain.

Their small study of 24 participants found that men with narrow arteries may be playing Russian roulette if they consume a deep-fried candy bar as blood flow was found to "moderately" decrease in as little as an hour-and-a-half.

However, women didn't seem to have the same reaction after they ate one.

The researchers say a lot more research is needed to confirm the possible dangers of deep-fried candy bars.

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Antibiotics in Young Children May Be Linked to Higher Obesity Risk


Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study indicates that antibiotics, used in children under the age of 2, may be linked to childhood obesity.

Researchers at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia looked at data from 65,000 infants and found that infants under the age of 2 who received more frequent doses of wide-spectrum antibiotics were more likely to be obese than those who received less frequent doses.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, found that children younger than three months are given the strongest selection of antibiotics for a short period of time, which has been proven to save lives. However, researchers say children over the age of three months may be more prudently treated with a more narrow spectrum of antibiotics.

Researchers say that the cumulative exposure to antibiotics, as well as the early age of antibiotic exposure, was linked to a higher risk of obesity later on.

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Pediatric Group Recommends IUDs over Birth Control Pill for Teens


JackF/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Doctors from the American Academy of Pediatrics say that long-acting reversible contraceptive methods should be used for teenagers before the birth control pill.

LARC methods, such as intra-uterine devices and subdermal implants, have been found to be safe for use in teenagers, according to the academy, and may actually be more effective at preventing pregnancy than the pill. This, experts say, is because many teens fail to take the pill regularly.

Additionally, experts say, doctors shouldn't rely solely on abstinence counseling, instead recommending that comprehensive sexual health information be provided to all adolescents.

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Researchers: Choosing Soda Could Be Bad for Kids' Bone Health


Aleksandar-Pal Sakala/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers say soda may cause problems for children's bone health, particularly if it leads to children drinking less milk.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, points to the importance of calcium in children, and notes that choosing soda over beverages containing calcium is one route that could lead to poor bone health. Past research has also noted that the phosphate in sodas can bind with calcium, preventing its use in strengthening bones.

The researchers say that nearly 25 percent of high school students drink some kind of soda daily. That drink selection can put children at risk of weaker bones as they age.

The American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines, recommending that children avoid carbonated beverages.

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What You Need to Know About Enterovirus 68


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There's a new mystery surrounding a respiratory virus suspected of sickening children in 45 states since August: temporary paralysis.

The virus, called enterovirus 68, can start out like the common cold but can quickly turn serious and send children to the hospital with breathing problems. And now, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is investigating whether the virus led to temporary limb paralysis in nine children in Colorado.

The virus is similar to the rhinovirus that causes the common cold, according to the CDC. But unlike a cold, the infection can lead to severe respiratory symptoms such as wheezing.

"It's the wheezing you have to watch out for," said ABC News' chief health and medical editor, Dr. Richard Besser, referring to the whistling sound generated when air moves through narrowed breathing tubes.

Here are six things you should know about the outbreak:

The CDC is investigating the link between enterovirus 68 and paralysis


Nine children in Denver have reported neurological symptoms after having a respiratory virus, according to the CDC, which says it is now investigating a link between enterovirus 68 and paralysis. The patients are all 18 years old and younger, and four of them have tested positive for enterovirus 68.

"It is a spectrum of arm or leg weakness that can be as mild as weakness or as severe as paralysis," said Dr. Larry Wolk, the chief medical officer and executive director for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. "What ties them all together though are findings of spots or lesions in the grey matter of the spinal cord on MRI scans."

This isn’t the first enterovirus 68 outbreak in the U.S.

Georgia and Pennsylvania reported clusters of enterovirus 68 almost exactly five years ago in September 2009, according to a 2011 CDC report. Arizona had a small cluster of cases in August and September 2010, according to the same report.

No one knows how it started.

While this isn't the first time enterovirus 68 has popped up in the U.S., health officials are still trying to figure out why the virus has re-emerged.

"This is a very common time for outbreaks. Kids come back to school, they like to share things, they bring them home to their little brothers and sisters," said Besser, adding that most enterovirus outbreaks occur in the summer. "But this one, this particular enterovirus is very rare, and they have no idea why it showed up this year."

No one knows how it spreads.

Studies on enterovirus 68 are limited, and so is knowledge about how the virus spreads.

Most enteroviruses spread through contact with respiratory secretions like saliva and mucous as well as feces, according to the CDC.

The Department of Health and Senior Services in Missouri, where hundreds of suspected cases have been reported, recommends washing hands thoroughly and often, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces and staying home when feeling sick.

There’s no specific treatment.


There are no anti-viral medications for enterovirus 68, and no vaccines to prevent the infection, according to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. Instead, health care providers are tasked with treating the symptoms of the infection -- a task that may require hospitalization.

"The important thing is to recognize the signs of respiratory distress," said Besser, describing how difficulty talking, audible wheezing and bluish lip color can signal distress. "There are treatments to improve respiration."

Some people may be more vulnerable than others.


Young children and people with asthma may be particularly vulnerable to enterovirus 68, health officials say.

Dr. Raju Meyappan, a pediatric critical care physician at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver, said he's seen multiple asthmatic children end up on breathing tubes in the intensive care unit after contracting the virus.

"As a pediatric ICU doctor, we try our best not to intubate kids with asthma at any point in time," Meyappan said. "They all needed it. The onset [of the virus] is severe."

Children also appear to be more susceptible than adults, according to a CDC report released earlier this month about cases in Missouri and Illinois. The ages of those infected ranged from 6 weeks to 16 years, with most of the illnesses occurring in children aged 4 and 5.

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Debbie Gibson Opens Up About the Lows of Lyme Disease


ABC/Kelsey McNeal(NEW YORK) -- Singer Debbie Gibson admits that she is just now starting to feel like herself again after struggling from Lyme disease for the past year.

"This is my first pain-free month," she told People magazine. "My strength has really come back. I've put back on about 12-15 lbs. Before, I couldn't ride my bike. I could hardly walk. Now I can. I went to yoga for the first time a month ago. I'm someone who has spent my life dancing and working out, and I wasn't able to do it with this disease."

Indeed, things got so bad that Gibson, 44, said she "became a shell of myself."

"I couldn't lift my head sometimes," she continued. "My boyfriend said I was mixing up words in my texts. It really got into my cognitive skills. I took crazy amounts of antibiotics, including doxycycline. It killed so much stuff in my body."

The "Lost in Your Eyes" singer is happy to be taking fewer pills for her disease.

"I'm on zero medications and two supplements. Isn't that crazy? It's all about getting my own body back online," she said. "My food sensitivities have gone away -- I was able to eat airplane food yesterday and didn't have a major episode!"

Even though things are better, she's not looking "too far ahead."

"I'm taking things day by day,” she added. “I get into trouble when I look too far ahead and worry about the future. I'm now grateful for each day.”

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What America's Richest Man Thinks We Should Do About Ebola


JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- America's richest man has a plan to fight Ebola, and he isn't shy about trumpeting its greatest benefactor: the United States.

In his first interview since donating $50 million to counter the quickly-expanding threat of Ebola in West Africa, Bill Gates outlined the obligations America has in shaping the institutions that will curb the crisis.

He told an intimate audience at the Bank of America building in Washington, D.C., on Monday that the Ebola outbreak is "a great example of where the world needs to come together."

The $50 million pledge through his foundation is intended to "scale up" the fight, letting the money be released in "flexible funds" to United Nations agencies and global organizations that can purchase medical supplies and support facilities treating the outbreak.

Gates also cited the expertise of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as being evidence of America's responsibility to step in and help. He referred to America's ability to counteract health crises as being "the best in the world."

"The U.S. is the leader in being able to move into areas like this," he said.

After President Obama told the U.N. last Thursday that the crisis is "a marathon, but you have to run it like a sprint," Gates echoed the urgency, telling the audience that "the next few months will be really tense." To effectively stop the spread, Gates said he believes the appropriate infrastructure must be in place within the next month.

"What happens when you have people panic is that the entire health system shuts down," he said.

Politico, which hosted the highly-choreographed event, inadvertently caused a clumsy exchange about a key issue in the Ebola emergency: the success and timeliness of the global reaction to the outbreak.

Politico's White House correspondent Mike Allen, who moderated the event with Politico editor Susan Glasser, promoted a new article on the website that details the criticisms of the response to the calamity. But Gates was unconvinced.

"Unless you have an algorithm for the future...I'm pretty impressed with how quickly people have stepped up on this," he said.

Though he said he believes the epidemic "would have been caught a month or two before it was" had the sufficient systems been in place, Gates nevertheless praised Congress' generosity: at least $175 million has been committed by the U.S. government, and the U.S. military is looking to give $500 million in "humanitarian assistance" that would be redirected from its budget. Almost 3,000 American troops have been mobilized to offer support to field hospitals and training facilities for health employees.

"There's an overall approach now," Gates said. "And the U.S. as usual on world problems [is] stepping up both in terms of the science, the understanding, and now the U.S. military's logistic ability to get supplies in and create field hospitals that are critical."

"If we can stop Ebola when it's just these three countries [Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Guinea]...building back up primary health care should be pretty straightforward," he added.

The eventual goal should be to not just rely on American and global institutions, but to encourage a kind of grassroots support for bearing the burden, Gates said.

"Getting as many Americans out in action to see this ..that’s our best tool," he said.

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