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Doctor Isolated at New York City Hospital Tests Positive for Ebola


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A preliminary Ebola test has come back positive for a doctor who recently traveled from West Africa and is being isolated at a New York City hospital, city and state officials said Thursday night.

The doctor, who has been identified as Dr. Craig Allen Spencer by New York government sources, was placed in an isolation unit Thursday at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan after reporting Ebola-like symptoms. He had a fever and gastrointestinal symptoms when he was transferred to Bellevue, said NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will confirm the positive test. CDC test results are expected by the end of the day on Friday.

Spencer, 33, was treating Ebola patients in Guinea for Doctors Without Borders, according to the officials. Guinea is one of the West African countries currently battling an Ebola outbreak.

Spencer left Guinea on October 14, said Bassett. He traveled through Brussels, Belgium, and arrived at JFK Airport on Oct. 17.

The city Health Department has already started to trace the patient's contacts, said Bassett, including four people he had contact with -- his fiancee, two friends and an Uber driver.

His fiancee is under quarantine at Bellevue Hospital while his two friends are quarantined at home, said Bassett, who added that they aren't showing Ebola symptoms. The Uber driver isn't considered to be at risk for contracting the virus.

ABC's Chief Health and Medical Editor Doctor Richard Besser said, "Whenever there's a new case of Ebola, it's possible we're going to see a few others, from people who had contact with him early on in the illness. From what we're hearing though, it sounds like he was isolated before sharing body fluids, so I think we can be hopeful that there won't be additional spread."

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed their confidence in the staff at Bellevue Hospital to treat Spencer.

"There is no reason for New Yorkers to be alarmed," said de Blasio.

While Spencer only began showing symptoms when he reported a fever Thursday morning, health officials have begun tracking his movements since his return to the U.S. Bassett said he took the A, L and 1 subway trains on Wednesday. He also went to the High Line park and a bowling alley in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, The Gutter, which was closed Thursday, "out of an abundance of caution," Bassett said.

The NYC Health Department will check the bowling alley on Friday, said Bassett.

A CDC team was en route to New York, said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. Earlier this week, a CDC team determined hospital staff had proper protocols and was prepared to treat Ebola patients.

NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center described Spencer as a "dedicated humanitarian ...who went to an area of medical crisis to help a desperately underserved population."

Spencer's apartment was sealed off after it was cleared. Since he tested positive, a team will decontaminate his apartment in the Harlem section of New York.

Spencer is the fourth patient to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national, tested positive for the virus at the end of September in Dallas, where he infected two nurses who cared for him: Nina Pham and Amber Vinson.

Duncan died on Oct. 8, shortly before the nurses tested positive for the virus.

Vinson has been declared virus-free, her family announced Wednesday. Pham's condition has been upgraded from "fair" to "good."

Health officials decided to test the New York City patient for Ebola because of the patient's work, symptoms and travel history, according to the Bellevue Hospital statement. Bellevue is the designated hospital for the diagnosis and treatment of Ebola patients in New York City.

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Ebola in America: Timeline of the Deadly Virus


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Ebola, a virus that is affecting people thousands of miles away in West Africa, is now in America with two transmissions on U.S. soil confirmed in Dallas and officials calling additional transmissions to health workers a "very real possibility."

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has sickened at least 9,936 people since March, killing at least 4,877 of them -- making it the worst outbreak of the virus in history, according to the World Health Organization.

Find out how the virus first arrived in the United States -- via U.S. missionaries flown here for treatment this summer -- and then how Ebola was unwittingly imported via Thomas Eric Duncan, who flew from Liberia to Texas with the virus and later died in Dallas.

Oct. 23, 2014: Dr. Craig Allen Spencer is diagnosed with Ebola the same day he went into isolation at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan. According to the hospital, he had a fever and gastrointestinal symptoms when he was transferred to Bellevue. Spencer recently returned from Guinea, where he was working for Doctors Without Borders. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference that Spencer only had symptoms for "a very brief period of time" and only had contact with "very few" people. He described the patient as "in good shape."

Oct. 19, 2014: The unnamed American Ebola patient is discharged from Emory University Hospital, where the patient had been undergoing care since Sept. 9. This patient had been working for the WHO in Sierra Leone and chose to remain anonymous. "Given the national focus on Ebola, particularly with the diagnosis in two health care workers, I want to share the news that I am recovering from this disease, and that I anticipate being discharged very soon, free from the Ebola virus and able to return safely to my family and to my community," the unnamed patient said in a statement released Oct. 15.

Oct. 17, 2014: Officials announce that a Dallas health worker who handled clinical specimens from Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola on American soil, is quarantined aboard a Carnival cruise ship amid concerns the worker may have been exposed to the Ebola virus.

Oct. 16, 2014: Dallas nurse Nina Pham, 26, the first person to contract Ebola in the United States, is flown from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas to the National Institutes of Health hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. Pham treated Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where she works.

Oct. 15, 2014: Amber Vinson, 29, another nurse who treated Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, is diagnosed with Ebola shortly after midnight and flown to Emory University Hospital that evening.

Oct. 14, 2014: Vinson is taken to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas with a fever.

Oct. 13, 2014: Vinson flies from Cleveland to Dallas on Frontier Airlines Flight 1143, arriving at 8:16 p.m. She has no symptoms, but her temperature was 99.5 degrees that morning, according to health officials. She notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before boarding, and no one told her not to fly.

Oct. 12, 2014: Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas says that Pham has tested positive for Ebola.

Oct. 12, 2014: An unidentified Dallas health worker who handled Duncan's clinical specimens at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital boards a cruise ship. The CDC notified the worker about active monitoring after the cruise ship left the country, according to a government statement.

Oct. 10, 2014: Vinson takes a commercial flight from Dallas to Cleveland, Ohio, to prepare for her upcoming wedding.

Oct. 9, 2014: A Dallas County sheriff's deputy who reported symptoms associated with Ebola after serving a quarantine order on the apartment where Duncan had been staying tests negative for the virus.

Oct. 8, 2014: Duncan dies at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

Oct. 6, 2014: Ashoka Mukpo, 33, a freelance American cameraman who contracted Ebola in West Africa, arrives at Nebraska Medical Center for Ebola treatment.

Oct. 6, 2014: Dr. Rick Sacra, 51, who contracted Ebola while treating patients in a Liberian maternity ward a month earlier, is released from his second hospitalization since returning to the United States. He had been hospitalized at UMass Memorial Medical Center on Worcester, Massachusetts, with what doctors initially thought was an Ebola relapse but was soon diagnosed as a respiratory infection.

Oct. 5, 2014: Sacra is hospitalized in Massachusetts with what doctors fear is an Ebola relapse. They isolate him out of what they said was an abundance of caution.

Oct. 2, 2014: Mukpo is diagnosed with Ebola in Liberia. He worked for Vice News, NBC News and other outlets.

Sept. 30, 2014: The CDC confirms that a patient who would later be identified as Duncan has been diagnosed with Ebola on U.S. soil.

Sept. 28, 2014: Duncan returns to the hospital in an ambulance and is isolated.

Sept. 26, 2014: Duncan goes to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas with a fever and tells a nurse he has been to Liberia. But he is sent home with antibiotics and Tylenol.

Sept. 25, 2014: Sacra is deemed virus-free and released from Nebraska Medical Center, where he had spent weeks in an isolation ward recovering from Ebola.

Sept. 20, 2014: Duncan arrives in the United States from Liberia to visit family.

Sept. 9, 2014: An unnamed American Ebola patient arrives at Emory University Hospital for treatment. This patient had been working for the WHO in Sierra Leone.

Sept. 5, 2014: Sacra arrives at Nebraska Medical Center for treatment. He eventually gets a blood transfusion from Dr. Kent Brantly, the American missionary who survived his bout with Ebola.

Sept. 3, 2014: Sacra was diagnosed with Ebola even though he was treating patients in the maternity ward of the ELWA Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, not Ebola patients.

Aug. 21, 2014: Dr. Kent Brantly, 33, is discharged from Emory University Hospital, where he was undergoing treatment for Ebola after contracting it in Africa. In a news conference, he hugs several members of the hospital staff.

Aug. 19, 2014: Missionary Nancy Writebol, 59, is quietly discharged from Emory University Hospital, where she was undergoing treatment for Ebola. She also contracted the virus doing aid work in Liberia.

Aug. 5, 2014: Writebol is flown from Liberia to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, for Ebola treatment in its isolation ward.

Aug. 2, 2014: Brantly is flown from Liberia to Emory for treatment. He surprises everyone by walking out of the ambulance into the hospital in his protective suit.

July 31, 2013: In Liberia, Brantly gets the first dose of an experimental drug called ZMapp, though it was unnamed at the time. Though doctors initially thought there was only enough for one person, Writebol was administered the drug as well.

July 27, 2014: Missionary groups report that two Americans are sickened with Ebola while helping patients in Monrovia, Liberia. Brantly and Writebol were working for aid groups Samaritan's Purse and SIM, respectively. Brantly later told reporters he held patients' hands as they were dying.

March 19, 2014: What would become the largest Ebola outbreak in history begins in March 2014 with 23 deaths from what is then called a "mystery" hemorrhagic fever.

1976: Ebola is first discovered in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo near the Ebola River in 1976. Thirty-two Ebola outbreaks would follow, bringing the total number of cases before this outbreak to 2,361, including 1,438 deaths, according to the WHO.

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Uber Turns From Taxis to Nurses With Home Delivery of Flu Shots


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Ride-service app Uber isn’t content sticking to the world of taxis and limousines, so they’re now working on changing public health.

In time for flu season Uber launched a pilot program Thursday called UberHEALTH. In connection with the healthcare service originally developed by Google, Vaccine Finder, the program aims to make flu prevention as easy for users as opening their front door.

On Thursday UberHEALTH temporarily launched in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. The service allowed users to have a flu prevention pack and even a flu shot delivered to their front door.

The shot is not just dropped off, but is administered by a registered nurse. During the pilot program, the cost for flu protection is free and for each shot ordered the company has offered to donate $5 to the Red Cross vaccination efforts.

Public health experts say the one-day pilot program will likely not make a measurable difference in flu shot rates this season, but that an expanded program could encourage more people to get the important flu shot.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. William Schaffner called the program “Uber-wonderful” and said anything that encourages people to get their flu shot is a good thing.

“We’re trying to reach the entire U.S. population,” said Schaffner. “There’s not going to be one solution.”

Schaffner said in recent years health officials have offered flu shots at more locations in an effort to have nearly everyone over the age of 6 months be vaccinated against the seasonal flu. Flu shots are now available at some airports, drive-thru vaccination programs and pharmacies.

By reaching people at home the UberHEALTH program could have a lasting impact, since getting the shot just one time will make people more likely to get the flu shot in following years, he added.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 41.5 percent of adults over the age of 18 were vaccinated against the seasonal flu during the 2012-2013 flu season. The rate was slightly higher at 45 percent for children over the age of 6 months during the same time period.

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Ohio College Gives Terminally Ill Lauren Hill Chance to Fulfill Her Basketball Dream


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An Ohio student whose last wish is to play in a college basketball game will see her dream come true in front of thousands of fans after the NCAA agreed to move up her team’s season opener so she would be well enough to play.

Lauren Hill, 19, was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), an inoperable brain condition, in November 2013, not long after she committed to playing college basketball at Cincinnati’s Mount St. Joseph’s University on her 18th birthday.

Last month, Hill, who was recruited as a local high school standout, got the news that her brain tumor had grown and she had only months to live.

After the diagnosis, Hill kept playing basketball, joining her Mount St. Joseph teammates for practices.

“She wanted to be a part of the team and wanted to do as much as she could,” Dan Benjamin, Mount St. Joe’s girls’ basketball coach, told ABC News. “When she came to the Mount, she told her players, ‘You guys have to be committed. You have to play hard. Just like I have to play hard,’” Benjamin said.

When Benjamin learned of the progression of Hill's tumor, he mentioned to an NCAA official and the coach of the team Mount St. Joe’s was scheduled to open their season against -- Hiram College -- that he was going to seek a waiver to move the game to an earlier date.

“By the time I got into my office that Monday morning, I not only had an email from the NCAA but a message saying, ‘Just send us the medical documents,’” Benjamin said. “They have moved fast and it’s been remarkable.”

Instead of a Nov. 15 face-off, Hill and her teammates will now play Hiram Nov. 2 at Xavier University's 10,000-seat Cintas Center.

“We typically only get 100 or 200 people per game so they’re excited to play in front of so many people,” Benjamin said of his team. “They’re more excited to help Lauren finish her mission.”

A big part of the mission for Hill, who could not be reached for comment Thursday by ABC News, has been to help raise awareness for DIPG, which, according to Benjamin, typically strikes children.

“Lauren took this upon herself to say, ‘There’s no one that can tell the story because these kids can’t talk about it,’” Benjamin said. “She said, ‘I can be the spokesperson.’”

Hill and her teammates created T-shirts to sell as a fundraiser. Proceeds from the T-shirts as well as tickets to the Nov. 2 game will go to The Cure Starts Now Foundation and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Despite all the attention Hill’s story has received – including a visit from Cincinatti Bengals player Devon Stills, whose daughter is battling pediatric cancer – her coach says she is focused on the game.

“She wants to hear the squeakiness of her tennis shoes on the floor. She wants to hear the dribbling of the ball and the roar of the crowd,” Benjamin said. “That’s all she wants.”

“She’s taught me, don’t ever give up,” he said. “There’s no reason to not roll out of bed with a smile on our face like she does.”

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Quadruplet Mom-to-Be Has Emergency Surgery to Save Babies


Tyson and Ashley Gardner(NEW YORK) -- An expectant mom getting ready to welcome two sets of identical twins -- a one in 70 million occurrence -- endured emergency surgery this week after doctors found signs of a rare condition that could affect the health of one set of twins.

This week, during Ashley Gardner’s 19th week of pregnancy, doctors found evidence of an alarming condition called twin-to-twin syndrome that occurs when there is an imbalance in the blood supply between a set of identical twins in the placenta. As nutrition and blood supply is shunted from one twin to another, both can be harmed by either too much or too little fluid.

Doctors will decide on Thursday if Gardner and her husband, both of Pleasant Grove, Utah, can leave a hospital in California after another check-up to see if all four of the fetuses survived the surgery, including the fetus that was most in distress, according to the husband, Tyson Gardner.

“The surgery was a great success, and this morning we just hope the baby is a fighter,” Tyson Gardner told ABC News. “We really hope that the ultrasound. ...We hope we see four heartbeats.”

The Gardners are expecting quadruplets after spending years in fertility treatments. While the couple only had two embryos implanted, both of the embryos split, meaning they are now having two sets of identical twins.

Tyson Gardner told ABC News that their doctor in Utah found evidence of twin-to-twin syndrome on Monday and by Tuesday they had flown to Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center to be treated by experts.

“We haven’t slept much the past few days,” he said, adding that doctors had ordered his wife on immediate bed rest after finding out her cervix had started to open.

On Wednesday, doctors performed the emergency surgery to more equally divert blood flow between one set of the Gardner twins.

“Today, we’re doing much better," he said. "The last few days have been really rough...very scary.”

The couple’s pregnancy made headlines earlier this month because of the rarity of having two sets of identical twins. The chances of two identical sets of twins is approximately one in 70 million, according to Dr. Alan Penzias, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School.

There were 276 sets of quadruplets born in the U.S. in 2012, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The couple had been undergoing fertility treatments for years after Ashley Gardner was diagnosed with endometriosis. The disorder, which involves tissue growing outside the uterus, meant she and her husband faced years of difficulty conceiving.

This year, the couple tried in-vitro fertilization and only two of the nine embryos created were viable for implantation, they said.

During their first ultrasound, the technician initially told them they were having twins. Then took another moment and looked closer at the screen.

"After about a minute of staring at the screen, she said there's four babies in here," recalled Tyson Gardner in an earlier interview. "Me and Ashley's faces went pale white."

A picture of Ashely's shocked face looking at the ultrasound screen went viral on Facebook and other social media sites. Tyson Gardner said both he and his wife came from large families and are ecstatic they will get to have a large family.

"We'll get our whole entire family here in one shot," he said.

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You Really Love Your Dog Like a Child, Study Says


iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- You love your dog, that’s a no-brainer. And with Americans expected to spend an estimated $58.51 billion on the pet industry this year, it’s clear that the emotion is deeper than ever projected.

Now, scientists have taken the unconditional love you have for your dog to the next level, confirming that it’s very similar to a mother-child connection.

“I don’t have a child but I have nieces and nephews and I could say I absolutely love my dog like a child,” says Wendy Diamond, Chief Pet Officer at animalfair.com. “My dog relies on me for absolutely everything; I would do anything for my dog.”

Just as pet parents are validating the adoration they have for their canines, research analysts at Massachusetts General Hospital concluded that the bond between pup and pet parent were very similar to maternal love, according to the 2014 study published in PLOS ONE.

Researchers recruited a group of women who had a child between 2 and 10 years old, as well as a dog that had been living in their households for at least two years.

Subjects were shown images of their dog and children, then a scanner picked up the signals of affection that were triggered in the brain.

“Mothers reported similar emotional ratings for their child and dog, which elicited greater positive emotional responses than unfamiliar children and dogs,” the study concluded.

Devin Crouch, stay-at-home tot and doggy mom as well as owner of the "carterandtoby" Instagram account, believes you can absolutely love your dog like a baby.

“We have an almost two-year-old and I refer to Toby our dog as one of my children,” says Crouch. “I think by watching Toby love our son as if it’s one of his puppies or his brother that makes the love for I have for him even greater.”

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Texas Health Workers Use Tabasco to Help Train for Ebola


iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- As Texas health workers prepare two new biocontainment units to help treat any future Ebola patients the state might have, they're are using one piece of training equipment from a neighboring state that may surprise you: Tabasco sauce.

At the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, where one of the units is being established, the staff has been practicing treating fake patients who have been sprayed at random with the peppery sauce as a stand-in for Ebola virus-laden fluids. Doctors and nurses practice dressing and undressing in their protective gear to avoid contamination, but if they feel the tingle of Tabasco on their skin, they know they've been contaminated.

"In a way, it gives feedback immediately," said Dr. Bruce Meyer, an executive vice president at the hospital, giving credit to the hospital's director of infection prevention, Doramarie Arocha, for the idea.

Tabasco sauce is made by Louisiana-based McIlhenny Co. from red peppers called Capsicum frutescens, which are made spicy by the chemical capsaicin. When skin comes in contact with this chemical, the brain's pain and temperature receptors get activated at the same time, causing that tingly, hot feeling. The hot pepper chemical has also been used in other medical settings, including dermatology and neurology for pain and itch relief.

Nurse Elizabeth Thomas, who works in the hospital's infection prevention department, said health workers were originally drilling with ketchup mixed with water when Arocha came up with the idea to use Tobasco sauce instead. When workers took off protective gear at the end of a drill, Arocha told everyone to rub their eyes and touch their lips.

"But we didn't have the burning sensation," Thomas said. "So that's how we knew we were doing the right thing."

In the aftermath of Texas being home to the first two Ebola transmissions on American soil, Gov. Rick Perry this week promised to create two biocontainment units in the state to treat any future Ebola cases that may arise.

Two nurses who treated Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan for Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas last month -- Nina Pham, 26, and Amber Vinson, 29 -- contracted the deadly virus and are being treated in isolation units at the National Institutes of Health isolation facility in Bethesda, Maryland, and Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, respectively.

Though it's not clear exactly how the nurses caught the virus, some have speculated that they may have been contaminated while taking off protective gear.

"When you have gone into contaminated gloves, masks or other things to remove those without risk of contaminated material touching you and being then on your clothes or face or skin and leading to an infection is critically important and not easy to do right," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said during a news conference the day Pham's preliminary Ebola test came back positive.

Vinson's family announced that she had been declared virus-free on Wednesday, and Pham's condition was upgraded from "fair" to "good" earlier this week.

One new Texas biocontainment unit will be at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, which is also home to a high-security biolab that is already prepared to treat Ebola in the unlikely event that one of its workers becomes infected while studying the virus in the lab setting. The other biocontainment unit will be at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, which has already spent "north of half a million dollars" retrofitting rooms and training staff to treat Ebola patients in isolation over the last several weeks, Meyer said.

Dr. W. Ian Lipkin, who directs Columbia University's Center for Infection and Immunity, called the move a "sensible investment," and said that other communities should be able to replicate centers like the ones at Emory University Hospital, Nebraska Medical Center and the NIH facility, where other Ebola patients have been treated in the United States.

"The unit itself physically isn't that complicated," said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, adding that training staff is much more crucial to the effort.

"Virtually any hospital of any size" can build one of these units, he said. And though it might not be as "elaborate" as the ones at Emory and the NIH, it should work.

The United States currently houses four facilities with biocontainment units, and they have the capacity to treat 11 patients. Texas would be adding two new facilities, and the ability to treat several more patients.

"When I heard about this, I said 'Good for them,'" Schaffner said. "They'll add to the U.S. capacity to take care of Ebola patients in these units."

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Why Stretching Is a Waste of Time for Runners


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After years of nursing a perpetual hip injury, 48-year-old Amanda Loudin finally stopped doing the one thing she always believed would help her the most: Stretching. Once she abandoned her post-run stretch session, she said her hip started feeling better.

"I always assumed stretching was part of the solution for my running injuries," said Loudin, a Baltimore writer who runs 45 to 60 miles a week. "But after doing my research, I realized I was probably doing more harm than good."

Loudin gave up stretching a few years ago but for the majority of runners, toe touches and quad stretches are still an integral part of their ritual. Most were taught in high school that reaching into a stretch and holding it for 30 seconds or so is a good way to preserve the joints and prevent injury.

The evidence, however, suggests otherwise.

Take, for example, a large analysis of multiple studies recently performed by scientists at the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. It found that runners who stretched were just as likely to be plagued with injuries as those who never bothered. Another study that looked at more than 1,500 serious male marathoners found that those who stretched on a regular basis -- whether before or after a run -- actually had 33 percent more injuries than those who didn't, even taking things like age and average weekly mileage into account.

Even worse, some studies suggest that stretching may be detrimental to performance. A 2010 Florida State University investigation found that trained distance runners who did a series of static stretches before a time trial wasted about 5 percent more energy and covered 3 percent less distance than runners who didn't stretch.

"Your tendons don't need to be that pliable for running," said Jason Karp, an exercise physiologist and running coach based in San Diego. "Most injuries are from the pounding of running, something stretching can't do much about."

Karp explained that since most common running injuries tend to occur within a muscle's normal range of motion, attempting to stretch past what a muscle can normally do offers no protection. And forcing the muscle to lengthen to the point of pain will likely cause it to tighten up rather than relax. This in turn can irritate the muscle fibers, exacerbating an injury and possibly causing it to linger, he speculated.

Karp explained that the very idea that runners should be chasing flexibility is somewhat questionable anyway.

"The only thing stretching might be good for is increasing stride length and running fluidity, something that might be helpful to older runners," he said.

But Jim Wharton, a New York-based exercise physiologist who has worked with Olympians and world record holders, said he thought runners do need to focus on flexibility -- but in a very specific way.

"If you don't have joint range of motion, you begin to fight against gravity and you start to shuffle," Wharton said, adding that part of the problem is that most exercisers stretch the wrong way.

"Because muscles work in pairs, the best way to get a muscle to relax is to first tighten the muscle on the opposite side of the joint," Wharton explained. "Instead of moving into a stretch and holding it, you gently move through a series of positions, isolating one muscle group at a time."

To stretch the hamstrings in the back of the thigh, lift your leg up in front of you 8 to 10 times without forcing it any higher than comfortable, Wharton explained. Because kicking upward causes the quadriceps in the front of the thighs to contract, the hamstrings must relax, Wharton said. To stretch out the quads, reverse and kick the leg back behind you, he said.

There is little evidence to support this "dynamic stretching" theory beyond a few small studies that suggested adding movement-oriented flexibility exercises either after a warm up or at the end of a work out does not cause injury and may improve overall running performance.

Wharton said that he's used the method successfully with thousands of runners. Karp also uses a similar technique with his clients.

Loudin for one is a believer in dynamic stretching. She now warms up with a series of swings, kicks and lunges to loosen up her muscles and get her blood flowing.

"It felt strange at first but the voice in back of my head says it's the right thing to do," she said. "In running you sometimes have to let go of your long-held beliefs."

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One College Has Unique Approach to Preventing Sexual Assaults


Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(HAMILTON, N.Y.) -- Colgate University is doing its part in the national campaign to end sexual violence on college campuses.

The idea is one that might catch on elsewhere because students who take a seminar on sexual consent can use those credits toward the school’s Phys Ed requirements.

During the class, which meets for six weeks per semester, students are assigned to read and discuss Jessica Valenti's book, Yes Means Yes!, which means that both people give conscious and voluntary consent to having sex. At the completion of the course, each student must expound on an ideal sexual climate on campus.

Although the Yes Means Yes seminar is referred to as an extracurricular program, its purpose is particularly serious.  And for Colgate students, a relatively painless way to get out of Phys Ed for one semester.

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Walnuts Might Slow Onset of Alzheimer's


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Walnuts are not everyone’s cup of tea but even those who aren’t fans of the nut can’t ignore some important findings by the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities.

After conducting experiments with mice prone to Alzheimer’s disease, researchers say that their learning skills, memory and motor skills all improved after consuming walnuts.

On top of that, the walnut-fed mice, compared to those who didn’t get the nuts, also experienced less anxiety.

It’s believed that the anti-oxidants found in walnuts protect the brain from amyloid beta, a protein that kills cells which hastens dementia.

All it took to help the mice ward off Alzheimer’s disease was the human equivalent of one to one-and-a-half ounces of walnuts daily. Of course, more tests are needed to determine if people can also capitalize on the surprise benefits of walnuts.

One caveat: the study was funded partly by the California Walnut Commission.

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Careful, Your Dishcloth Might Make You Sick


iStock/Thinkstock(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Who could have a bad word to say about a dischcloth, an essential kitchen accessory that also cuts down on the expense of buying paper towels?

Unfortunately, researchers at the University of Arizona’s Zuckerman College of Public Health feel they need to alert the public about the dangers of dishcloths.

If that sounds somewhat alarmist, the researchers contend that almost nine out of ten dishcloths, and sponges as well, are contaminated with coliform bacteria, which is present in the digestive tracts of humans and animals and found in their waste.

Meanwhile, E. coli was also present in one out of four dishcloths and sponges.

All this would probably want to make people ditch the dishcloth, considering the bacterium can be transferred to plates, utensils, kitchen counters or just about anything it touches.

The way to keep things as clean as possible, according to the researchers, is through “frequent replacement or decontamination of kitchen towels.” And the best way to decontaminate them? Soak the cloth in bleach for two minutes.

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The Antidote to College Problems May Be a Therapy Dog


iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Therapy dogs are not just for the physically disabled or the elderly anymore. In an effort to relieve the loneliness and other emotional problems felt by many students, three colleges partnered to learn if therapy dogs could also be of help on campuses.

The results, as reported by Georgia State University, Idaho State University and Savannah College of Art and Design, were that symptoms of loneliness and anxiety fell by 60 percent when students interacted with a therapy dog.

During the experiment, students showed up twice a month at a college counseling center to do whatever activity they liked with the dog for up to two hours under the supervision of a licensed mental health practitioner.

Ultimately, most said their time with the pet was the most significant part of the counseling session.

Researcher Franco Dispenza agreed that therapy animals can prove invaluable given the pressures and stress of college life these days, which can be exacerbated by problems students may have already had before entering a school.

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Nurse Who Contracted Ebola Virus-Free, Mom Says


Debra Berry(DALLAS) -- A Dallas nurse who contracted Ebola from Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan is virus-free, her mother said in a statement obtained by ABC News.

Amber Vinson became the second person to contract Ebola in the United States after she treated Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Duncan died of the virus on Oct. 8, and Vinson's fellow nurse, Nina Pham, 26, tested positive for Ebola on Oct. 11.

Vinson, 29, was diagnosed on Oct. 15 and transported to the isolation unit at Emory University Hospital for treatment.

"We are overjoyed to announce that, as of yesterday [Tuesday] evening, officials at Emory University Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control are no longer able to detect virus in her body," the family said in the statement Wednesday, adding that Vinson should be able to leave the isolation unit.

"Amber and our family are ecstatic to receive this latest report on her condition," Vinson's mother, Debra Berry, said in a statement. "We all know that further treatment will be necessary as Amber continues to regain strength, but these latest developments have truly answered prayers and bring our family one step closer to reuniting with her at home."

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Boy Battling Inoperable Brain Cancer Gets His Own Superhero Theme Song


iStock/Thinkstock(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) -- When Chad Carr fell and broke his nose, the four-year-old boy’s parents took him to a hospital. Medical staffers saw him and sent him home, but the incident had his mother thinking about all the other times her son had fallen.

“I just said I think we have to take him back to the ER, I don’t think something’s right....,” Tammi Carr, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, told ABC News.

While Carr and her husband, Jason, waited on the results of an MRI that was to have taken two hours but which took over three hours instead, Carr said she knew something was wrong.

“When the anesthesiologist came out I just knew something was really bad because she literally couldn’t look at us and she’d been crying…so it was -- she just said they found something, and then a doctor came in later and told us what it was,” Carr said.

The Carrs were told that their son -– the youngest of their three young boys –- had diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), an aggressive, inoperable tumor in his brain stem.

He was soon started on radiation and put into a clinical drug trial at the University of Michigan. Asked about his prognosis, Carr said doctors said it was “not good,” but she added that her son has been improving.

One bright spot came in the form of a text from a friend, who wrote that his family had been inspired by Chad's challenge and was writing a song about him. He sent them lyrics, and Carr said the song was “totally catchy and adorable.”

It became Chad’s own superhero theme, with rousing music and lyrics that extol the virtues of a boy who’s “stronger than the darkest night, faster than the speed of light,” with a chant in the background: "We need Chad tough." The video features appearances by Chad, his two brothers, his cousins, his father, and the basketball team of the University of Michigan.

The video, first posted to YouTube on Monday, now has over 6,000 views.

Carr said, "It’s a great song. It’s something I’m going to cherish forever."

Proceeds from the sale of the song will go for Chad’s care and treatment. A separate GoFundMe page for Chad had raised more than $9,000 of the stated $50,000 goal. That fund was started fifteen days ago.

Carr hopes the family won’t have to use the funds.

“It’s our goal that we don’t have to use that and we can do something great with it for research but if our son needs it then we’re going to do whatever we can, so it’s great to have that started. It’s a peace of mind for sure because there’s a lot coming our way. We don’t exactly know yet what it is but none of it is expensive,” she said.

Carr said Chad is being kept out of preschool while he undergoes treatment.

“We want to make sure we’re spending time with him as much as we can and, you know, God willing, he’s able to go back to school next year and, you know, get ready for kindergarten the next year,” she said.

Carr said her family also has a fund started at the University of Michigan for brain cancer research.

“I worked in raising money for 11 years to build the hospital that we’re getting treated in now,” she said, adding that the building that houses the unit where her son is treated bears her father-in-law’s name. “It’s just crazy.”

Carr is pleased that the video has caught on, not only because it’s spreading her son’s story, but also because it’s giving her the opportunity to spread the message about the importance for greater funding for childhood cancer research.

According to the National Cancer Institute, childhood cancer is the top cause of disease-related deaths among children and adolescents up to age 19 in the United States. DIPG affects between 200 and 300 children every year, and the outlook for patients is generally poor, according to information from the National Institutes of Health.

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CDC to Monitor All Travelers Coming from Ebola-Affected Countries


Stockbyte/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- All people returning to the United States from Ebola-affected countries will undergo 21-day monitoring, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Wednesday.

Travelers arriving from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where Ebola has killed more than 4,000 people since the worst outbreak of the virus in history began in March, will be given a home kit with a thermometer and Ebola information so that they can self-monitor and report to the CDC, according to the agency.

If they do not report, officials will track them down, the CDC said.

Travelers will need to take their temperature twice daily and answer several questions about their symptoms, according to the CDC.

The program will focus on the six states that see about 70 percent of the traffic from these regions: Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Some states may monitor these travelers in person.

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