iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -– The number of heroin users has continued to increase over the past 10 years.
From 2002 to 2013, the number of heroin users has increased from 404,000 to 681,000, while the number of users undergoing treatment has increased from 277,000 to 526,000, according to a survey released Thursday by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The increase has overwhelmed some substance abuse treatment facilities, with almost one in ten of them working above capacity, according to researchers.
With over 11 million abusers of prescription pain medication, there was increasing concern that many of them would become heroin users.
While there is evidence that abusers of prescription pain medication are at greater risk for becoming heroin users compared to non-prescription drug abusers, only a small number of them actually make the transition, according to the survey’s authors.
Heroin users increase in number every year, and while treatment programs try to keep pace, researchers say it is an ongoing issue that needs to be addressed and monitored.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After a botulism outbreak following a church potluck in Ohio left a woman dead and sickened up to 28 others, health officials say canned food could be to blame.
Officials are looking into canned fruits and vegetables as well as pasta and potatoes salads and other menu items, according to Ohio Department of Health spokeswoman Shannon Libby.
So, you may be wondering how to keep your pantry safe in time for picnic season.
Here's what you need to know:
What is botulism?
Botulism is caused by a nerve toxin released by certain bacteria, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"All forms of botulism can be fatal and are considered medical emergencies," according to the CDC. "Foodborne botulism is a public health emergency because many people can be poisoned by eating a contaminated food."
Symptoms can take between 6 hours and 10 days to arise, and they include double vision or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing and muscle weakness, according to the National Institutes of Health.
How common is it?
"Botulism has virtually been eliminated in this country," said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
There are about 145 cases a year in the U.S., according to the CDC. Only 15 percent of those are foodborne. The rest are either wound-related or something called infant botulism, which involves consuming the spores.
Why is it found in canned goods?
The bacteria Clostridium botulinum releases the toxin that causes botulism as part of its natural anaerobic process, meaning it multiplies in an oxygen-free environment, like a sealed can, Schaffner said.
"Back in the day when there was a lot of home-canning, people didn't always meticulously follow protocols," Schaffner said. "The spores were not killed and given that this was now an environment in a sealed container, the bacteria could multiply and produce the toxin."
With the advent of commercial canning and better understanding of botulism to put food safety procedures in place, he said it's now rare to have a canned good-related botulism outbreak.
What can you do to stay safe?
Unless the Ohio potluck investigators find that the food that caused the illness was commercially canned, Schaffner said people have nothing to worry about. But if they see a can that is puffy or dented, discard it.
"Spoilage of one kind or another likely occurred," he said. "There's no reason to subject yourself to any kind of chance of getting sick."
iStock/Thinkstock(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Health officials said on Friday that a HIV epidemic in rural Indiana among injection drug users is still not under control, prompting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue a nationwide alert.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence announced that he is extending a state of emergency to battle the epidemic, as officials say more than 140 cases have been reported this year in one small town.
“142 positive HIV tests have now been reported in southeastern Indiana. That's 136 confirmed and six preliminary and we literally have new cases being reported every day, literally on an hourly basis,” said Indiana State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams on Friday.
Indiana Department of Health Chief Medical Consultant Joan Duwve said people are shooting up as often as 10 times a day and sharing with family and friends.
“They'll take the quarter of their oxymorphone pill, dissolve it, and inject it with whoever happens to be with them,” he said.
Duwye added that despite the agency’s efforts, new cases are being diagnosed daily.
“As of April 21st when the MSWR was written, a total of 135 persons have been diagnosed with HIV infection. The large majority of them residing in a city of only 4200 people,” Duwye said.
The CDC issued a warning on Friday to health officials nationwide over the increase in prescription drug abuse leading to a resurgence of HIV and hepatitis C.
CDC Director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Jonathan Mermin, said needle sharing is to blame to the outbreak, and behind the nationwide warning.
“We're issuing a health advisory to alert public health departments and health care providers nationwide of the increasing Hepatitis C epidemic and the possibility of current or future HIV outbreaks among people who inject drugs,” he said on Friday.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Over half of the foods in advertising directed at children were ineligible for advertising if they followed government standards, the CDC says in a new report.
The CDC looked at a list of over 400 foods approved by the industry regulated Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative and compared them against the government’s recommendations, which have limits on fat, sugar and sodium.
Researchers found that 53 percent of the CFBAI products did not meet these limits.
Sugar was the most common nutrient that exceeded government recommended limits, with 32 percent of advertised products exceeding the sugar limit.
Children on average see 10 to 13 food-related advertisements every day.
The governmental agencies involved in creating these recommendations include the CDC, FDA, Federal Trade Commission, and the US Department of Agriculture.
Blue Bell Ice Cream(NEW YORK) -- After a listeria outbreak that shut down Blue Bell Ice Cream operations and left three consumers dead, the company has announced a reboot.
Starting April 27, Blue Bell will "embark on an intensive cleaning program," the company said, and retrain employees at all four of its ice cream plants for the next week or so. The reboot will involve enhancing existing preventive measures, teaching hundreds of plant employees new cleaning techniques and making design changes to equipment. All ice cream made during that time will not be for sale to consumers.
"We just needed to set a reset button and get it right," Blue Bell spokesman Joe Robertson told ABC News, adding that they have not yet decided when to resume normal ice cream production.
The 108-year-old ice cream company expanded its earlier recalls this week to include all Blue Bell products. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also announced this week that listeria cases tied to Blue Bell Ice Cream had an illness onset date dating back as far as January 2010, after retrospectively reviewing old cases for the DNA fingerprints.
The CDC has confirmed 10 listeria cases tied to Blue Bell in four states. Three of these patients died, according to the CDC.
When the first Blue Bell products tested positive for listeria and the company issued a recall, Robertson said Blue Bell identified the piece of equipment and shut down the whole room of the plant. The company had already recalled 25 ice cream products when a batch of half-gallon chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream tested positive for listeria, too, prompting the complete recall.
"We've always worked to make the very highest quality ice cream," Blue Bell CEO and President Paul Kruse said in a statement. "We intend to make a fresh start and that begins with intensive cleaning and enhanced training. This is a paradigm shifting event at Blue Bell and we want to put in place new systems to drive continuous improvement."
Although most people who are exposed to listeria don't become sick, it can be a very serious illness, said ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser. It kills about 260 people a year, according to the CDC.
"Ice cream isn't one of those foods that we tended to worry about because of pasteurization, where you heat the milk that would kill listeria," he said. "So they’re going to be looking very hard at these factories to try to figure out what went wrong here."
Although there is a "zero tolerance" policy at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when it comes to listeria, food safety expert Sandra Eskin told ABC News that companies aren't required to test for it -- at least not until the Food Safety Modernization Act is implemented later this year.
Robertson said Blue Bell had been testing for listeria and other bacteria, but it will begin testing even more going forward.
On Thursday, another ice cream company, Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream, announced that it was recalling all products after a positive listeria test. In a statement to ABC News, the FDA said it does not believe the outbreaks are related.
The Egypt Exploration Society(CAIRO) -- You may want to keep this info handy, depending on your plans this weekend: An ancient Egyptian hangover cure has just been discovered.
Five hundred thousand papyrus texts from Oxyrhynchus, Egypt, dating back to the second century AD (1,900 years ago) were dug up by Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt from 1896 to 1907, and experts have been translating their contents ever since.
Just recently, one of the medical texts was found to contain a “drunken headache cure,” now more popularly known as a hangover cure.
The text suggests that sufferers “wear leaves of Alexandrian chamaedaphne strung together.”
“So, basically wear a necklace of these leaves,” Egypt Exploration Society office manager Hazel Grey told ABC News. “It doesn’t sound like it should work, does it?”
The Egypt Exploration Society owns the majority of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri Collection, which is housed by Oxford University’s Sackler Library.
Alexandrian chamaedaphne is a shrub available online and more commonly known as “poet’s laurel,” should you want to actually give this a try.
Facebook(NEW YORK) -- Even when doctors told Anna Moser her pregnant daughter would never wake up from her coma, she knew it wasn't true.
Sharista Giles, of Sweetwater, Tennessee, was four months pregnant when a car accident landed her in a coma in December. She woke up earlier this month to learn she'd had the baby, whom they'd called "baby L" as a placeholder until she could name him herself.
"I've had people to tell me, 'Do you think she'll ever wake up?'" Moser told ABC News affiliate WATE. "And I knew she would. I didn't know how long. A lot of the mothers I talked to, their child woke up way before her except for two that I've stayed in contact with. ...But I knew. I knew it was going to happen."
Giles, 20, had a traumatic brain injury and was unresponsive at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. At one point, she had a 108-degree fever and seemed to be taking a turn for the worse, her mother told WATE. About two months after the accident, in January, doctors had to deliver the baby.
On April 8, four months and two days after the accident, Giles, who had been moved to a rehab center, opened her eyes. She's not verbal and still has a surgically created hole in the front of her neck to help her breathe, but she follows her family members -- and photos of the baby -- with her eyes, her aunt told ABC News the day after she woke up.
"[Her father] showed her a picture of her baby, and she followed the picture," she said. "When he turned around to put it back on the bulletin board, she turned her neck, her whole head, trying to follow and find the picture again."
Still, Moser told WATE, she wasn't sure her daughter was aware.
"I said, if you can get out of that bed right now, I could take you home,' and her head came up, and she had never did that. It was plum off the bed. That's when I knew," Moser told the station. "I finally have not a doubt in my mind, and I needed that."
Baby L, whom they now call Leighton, was just released from the neonatal intensive care unit, according to WATE.
Giles hasn't met the baby in person yet because doctors don't want him to enter the rehab facility, her aunt Beverly Giles told ABC News. But if the weather is warm later on Friday, the family might take Giles outside to meet her son, she said.
Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage(NEW YORK) — How I Met Your Mother star Cobie Smulders reveals in a new interview that she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer during the show's third season, when she was 25 years old.
In the May edition of Women's Health magazine, the actress, now 33, reveals, "I had tumors on both ovaries, and the cancer had spread into my lymph nodes and surrounding tissues."
Smulders says it took multiple surgeries over the course of two years to remove the cancerous tissue, all while still shooting the popular TV series.
"I don't think I'll ever feel like I'm cancer-free," she tells the magazine. "Now that I'm five years out, I'm trying to think of it as a positive thing and what can I learn from it. And if I can create more awareness, I'll do it."
Medical experts say ovarian cancer killed about 14,000 women in 2014.
In the time since her diagnosis, Smulders has given birth to two children with husband, Saturday Night Live cast member Taran Killam. They have a five-year-old daughter and a son, born in January.
Smulders portrayed newscaster Robin Scherbatsky on How I Met Your Mother, which ended its run last May.
Smulders will next be seen reprising her role as Agent Maria Hill in The Avengers: Age of Ultron, opening nationwide May 1.
iStock/Thinkstock(KENT, Ohio) — Still trying to figure out what to do with all those CDs and DVDs that have collected in your living room and den?
If you’re so inclined, pack them up and ship them off to Mietek Jaroniec, a chemist at Kent State University, who together with fellow U.S. and Polish researchers has come up with a way to fight climate change using discarded CDs and DVDs.
Jaroniec says that disc fragments can be processed into activated carbon with large surface areas and volumes of fine pores that actually capture carbon dioxide.
Using this method, the researchers are able to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere, a key greenhouse gas.
This activated carbon from optical discs is also good for absorbing both hydrogen and the carcinogenic compound benzene.
Wavebreak/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — You’re probably not aware of it but you might be living in one of the most sex-happy cities in the U.S.
Men’s Health magazine has come up with its list of places where people are sexually active and the winner this year is the Austin, Texas, already considered one of the most liberal cities in the Lone Star State.
The metrics Men’s Health used for its sex-happy city list were sales of condoms, birth rates and even rates of sexually transmitted diseases.
ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Many mothers and daughters have intensely close relationships, but it might be difficult to be more hardcore than Kate Siegel and her mom Kim Friedman.
Siegel says her mom texts her as often as 50 times a day, with messages like, “Unless you are carrying my grandchild, go to the gym and stop eating garbage,” or “Happy birthday spawn, welcome to the wrong side of 25. The expiration date on your eggs is officially in sight. Tick tock.”
Watch the full story on ABC News' Nightline Thursday night at 12:35 a.m. ET.
Last November, the intensity and hilarity of these exchanges reached a point where Siegel decided to create the Instagram account @CrazyJewishMom. The account, where she posts texts from her mom, now has nearly half a million followers.
“I don’t get why people are interested in other people's texts to their kids. It’s like reality TV, people interested in other people's lives,” Friedman told ABC News’ Nightline.
“I want to say this also in light of this conversation. It’s a humorous Instagram account. I’m posting the most over the top wildest things that she sends,” Siegel told Nightline. “I actually cannot post everything. It’s more than would be good for the Internet.”
A photo posted by Crazy Jewish Mom (@crazyjewishmom) on Apr 11, 2015 at 7:18am PDT
One of Friedman’s primary preoccupations in the texts posted on Instagram is the fact that Siegel’s boyfriend, whom Friedman calls “SuperJew,” has not proposed after more than a year of them being together.
“I’m looking ahead to the future. I mean SuperJew, a year and a half, obviously a year and a half, it’s not going to work because she’s going to leave, or he’s going to leave,” Friedman said.
“It might work!” Siegel said.
“Either seal the deal, or move on so she can date other people,” said Friedman.
monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- On what would have been their son's first birthday, the family of the youngest organ donor in the United Kingdom are sharing the story of their son's short life to encourage others to become organ donors.
Hours after being born, Teddy Houlston became the youngest organ donor in the U.K. last year, when doctors were able to successfully transplant his kidneys and other organs. The kidneys helped save the life of a recipient, according to the National Health Service.
Teddy's parents, Jess and Mike Houlston, are now sharing their decision to designate their newborn son as an organ donor in the hopes other people will not be afraid to sign up to be organ donors.
"Following Teddy's diagnosis we had some time to acclimatise to what might happen, therefore we decided early on as a family that we would want to go ahead with the pregnancy and donate his organs if this was possible," Jess Houlston said on the NHS website.
Jess Houlston learned that Teddy had a life-threatening diagnosis when she was just 12 weeks pregnant with twin boys. She and her husband learned that due to a condition called anencephaly, Teddy would be born without parts of the brain and skull and likely only survive for a few hours to days.
Teddy's twin brother Noah did not have the same condition and was born healthy.
"When we found out he wasn’t going to survive, it was obviously crushing, soul-destroying," Jess Houlston, of Cardiff, said in a video for the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.
Jess Houlston said she had grown up hearing about the importance of being an organ donor from her mother and immediately thought about the option for Teddy.
"It was helping us that he could go on and live through someone else," said Jess Houlston. "It was the only positive thing that could have come out of here."
She said that despite the outcome, she was simply eager to meet Teddy.
"We just wanted to meet him, we wanted to meet him alive, we knew he was never going to be coming home with us," she said. "But those few minutes we had were just the most amazing few minutes that we'll ever have."
The day that Teddy was born, the family was able to bond with both Teddy and Noah in the hospital for hours. When Teddy died a few hours after being born, Jess Houlston said the family was able to cope by knowing he could end up helping others.
"There was so much sadness and so much joy as well that he had just achieved something that we didn’t think was going to happen," Jess Houlston said.
The boy's kidneys were able to be transplanted into an adult recipient, helping save that person's life, according to the NHS.
"He couldn't have done more for us," Mike Houlston told reporters. "We just couldn't have wished for any more, we had such precious two hours with him, that we couldn't ever, ever forget, that we couldn't wish for more. He was truly a hero to us."
The couple and many in the medical community are hoping that in sharing Teddy's story on what would have been his first birthday, others will be encouraged to think about signing up as an organ donor.
Dr. Paul Murphy, National Clinical Lead for Organ Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said the family was "an inspiration to us all."
"In telling Teddy’s story Mike and Jess demand that everyone, young and old, follows their example," Murphy said in a statement. "Put simply they say, 'Do it for Teddy.'"
The need for organ donors remains an issue in both the U.K. and U.S. In the U.K., there are approximately 7,000 people waiting for an organ transplant, while in the U.S. 78,566 people are on the active organ transplant waiting list.
Purestock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday approved regulations that would allow for the import of fresh apples from China.
Food advocates have argued about pollution issues in China and the potentially resultant chemical residue that could be on imported apples.
Currently, the FDA inspects less than one percent of imported fruit. All apples imported from China, however, will be required to meet U.S.-approved standards, arrive with a "phytosanitary certificate" and be declared inspected and free of quarantine pests. The apples would also feature a sticker indicating that they are from China.
Jeni's sweet corn with blackberry ice cream. (Photo by Bonnie Trafelet/Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)(NEW YORK) -- Another ice cream company has recalled all of its products over listeria.
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams recalled all of its ice creams, frozen yogurts and other products Thursday after a random sample tested positive for listeria as part of a Nebraska Department of Agriculture inspection. The news comes three days after Blue Bell Ice Cream issued an expansion of its recall to include all of its products.
Three people who consumed Blue Bell Ice Cream died, and seven more were hospitalized in four states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"If you test for it, you will find it," food safety lawyer Bill Marler said. "I think that's what you're seeing. People assume that pasteurized milk products -- which ice cream is -- don't have to worry about pathogens.
“I think the situation is we've got companies not paying attention to basic microbiology as it relates to listeria in these plants."
Listeria is a bacterium that can cause an illness called listeriosis when consumed by humans. It sickens about 1,600 people each year and kills about 260 people, according to the CDC.
Marler is representing the family of Shirlee Frey, who died in December of listeria found in tainted caramel apples, according to the wrongful death lawsuit he filed on their behalf. Although he said he has been contacted by the family of a Blue Bell listeria victim and several suspected Blue Bell listeria cases, he said it is unclear whether he will pursue legal action with any of them.
"I think all these [ice cream] companies are going to have to start thinking about it," he said of better testing.
Jeni's Splendid, which is based in Columbus, Ohio, was not immediately available for comment, but stressed in its recall announcement that the action was voluntary and no one had become ill.
"Our top priority is guaranteeing the safety of all consumers by taking every possible precaution," Jeni's CEO John Lowe said.
Sandra Eskin, a food safety expert at the Pew Charitable Trusts, said the Food and Drug Administration has a "zero tolerance" policy for listeria, but companies are not required to test for it.
"If there's no requirement to test, I'm not quite sure how you figure out whether you have listeria or not," she said, adding that many companies probably do test for it, and local inspections vary by state. In Nebraska, it's routine, state Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Christin Kamm told ABC News.
It is unclear where the Nebraska Department of Agriculture requested the sample because the company does not appear to have any shops or plants in the state.
When the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act is implemented later this year, it will require more frequent plant inspections and give the FDA authority to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to food safety, Eskin of Pew Charitable Trusts said. Right now, plants are only inspected once every 10 years, and the FDA mostly takes action when someone has gotten sick after eating a tainted product, she said.
"At this time, the FDA does not believe that the finding of Listeria in one sample of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams is related to the outbreak and recall associated with Blue Bell Ice Cream," the FDA said in a statement Thursday. "We are continuing to investigate both situations and will provide updated information to consumers as we learn more."
iStock/Thinkstock(SYDNEY) -- Australian wellness guru Belle Gibson reportedly built her career around claims she survived several different kinds of cancer with alternative medicine, but this week, she confessed that it was all a lie.
"No. None of it's true," she reportedly told The Australian Women's Weekly magazine in an issue on stands Thursday.
Gibson, 23, claimed to have had blood, brain, liver, spleen and uterus cancers, according to Mashable, which published a skeptical piece about the embattled entrepreneur last month. The Whole Pantry writer said she cured herself by shirking traditional medicine, eating whole foods and using alternative therapies instead, according to Australian Women's Weekly.
"I don't want forgiveness," the Australian Women's Weekly reported her saying. "I just think [speaking out] was the responsible thing to do. Above anything, I would like people to say, 'OK, she's human.'"
ABC News reached out to Gibson through The Whole Pantry App but did not receive a response.
In addition to blogging, Gibson founded The Whole Pantry app, published a recipe book and had hundreds of thousands of social media followers. She appears to have deleted her Instagram posts.
Earlier on Thursday, Gibson allegedly tweeted from the Whole Pantry App account, "For the record, I haven't retreated to the United States. and didn't. Media, continue to 'humiliate and condemn' - Belle."
Unfounded claims of having cancer aren't new, but this is different because Gibson was offering unproven advice to a wide audience for profit, NYU Langone bioethicist Arthur Caplan told ABC News. He said the case should serve "as a reminder that there are people out there willing to prey on the desperate and the vulnerable."
"It is beyond despicable that you would give advice to people with terminal diseases like cancer and have them forgo the only therapies that might offer some hope," Caplan said. "I admit that the therapies often are poor, but that's all there is. To talk about alternatives that don't work, claiming that they did work on you is to not only step over the ethical line, it is to throw yourself into ethics hell."