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Father’s tattoo pays tribute to last time he held young son’s hand

Anthony DeNicola does everything he can to keep the memory of his son, Joseph, alive. 

The 7-year-old died Nov. 4, 2014, just days after going into anaphylactic shock on Halloween. DeNicola, of Staten Island, has created a nonprofit, Joseph’s Helping Hand, to raise awareness of severe food allergies, from which Joseph suffered all his life. 

He also has a tattoo on his arm that commemorates the last time he held his son’s hand. The poignant moment took place as doctors prepared to wheel Joseph into surgery to harvest his organs after the boy was declared brain dead. 

“I’m very proud of it,” DeNicola told the Staten Island Advance about his tattoo. “I look in the mirror every day, and I’m still holding my son’s hand.” 

According to Joseph’s story on the Helping Hands website, he began having problems with allergies almost immediately after his March 2007 birth. Eventually, he was diagnosed with severe allergies to milk, milk proteins, whey and hazelnuts. 

“This is where it all started,” his father wrote on the website. “We had to read the ingredients in everything we bought.”

When Joseph outgrew baby formula, he had to drink soy milk. His family also grew accustomed to carrying around an Epi-Pen and Benadryl wherever they went. 

Even smelling food that contained an ingredient he was allergic to could send Joseph into anaphylaxis, his father wrote. 

On his final Halloween, Joseph went trick-or-treating with family and friends. At a party later that night, his cousins had regular pizza in one room and Joseph had a specially-made pizza in a separate room.

Despite all the precautions, Joseph, whose asthma had been acting up that week, required a breathing treatment with his nebulizer when he got home, his father said. As his breathing worsened, two Epi-Pens failed to bring him out of the reaction, so his father and a neighbor rushed him to the hospital.

“At 5 o’clock, we were trick-or-treating, and at 7 o’clock, we were in the emergency room,” DeNicola told the Staten Island Advance shortly after Joseph’s death

Joseph suffered cardiac arrest in the emergency room, his father said. His brain was deprived of oxygen for 20 to 30 minutes and, four days later, he was declared brain dead. 

>> Read more trending news

Joseph’s doctors said his cause of death was a “one-two punch of asthma and allergies together,” DeNicola told the Advance in 2014. Though no one saw Joseph eat anything he shouldn’t the night he got sick, DeNicola said the smell of the wrong food or someone failing to wash their hands around the little boy could have triggered his fatal allergic reaction. 

After his death, his donated organs saved the lives of five other people, his website said

“Joseph was always a giving little boy,” his father wrote. “If there was a line for something, Joseph would let everyone go first and he would wait quietly for his turn. He never complained.”

The DeNicola family said that donating Joseph’s organs was one of the best things they ever did. 

“It gave us peace and comfort to know that Joseph lives on through all of the people he saved,” the website said. “In life, he was always giving. He will continue to give through his foundation, through education and research on allergies and asthma.”

Customers at Virginia Chipotle report illness, suspect norovirus

Chipotle temporarily closed one of its restaurants in Sterling, Virginia, after an unspecified amount of customers reported illnesses with symptoms consistent with norovirus after eating food at the Mexican grill, The Associated Press reported.

>> Read more trending news

According to the AP a “small number” of customers reported the illnesses. 

Chipotle said the company planned to reopen the Virginia location the same day after completing a full sanitation of the restaurant. 

Chipotle officials are working with health officials to discover the cause of the illnesses. Restaurant officials assured customers that norovirus does not come from its food supply.

>> Related: Chipotle testing queso offering

Chipotle’s shares dropped more than six percent Tuesday as investors responded to the incident with concern. 

Symptoms of norovirus include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhea. 

In 2015, Chipotle’s revenue and reputation suffered after an E. coli outbreak at restaurants in nine states and a norovirus outbreak at a Boston location. Approximately 500 customers reported illnesses.

“We may be at a higher risk for food-borne illness outbreaks than some competitors due to our use of fresh produce and meats, rather than frozen, and our reliance on employees cooking with traditional methods rather than automation,” Chipotle officials said at the time

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, restaurant workers are often the source of norovirus outbreaks, as they often touch foods such as raw fruits and vegetables with their bare hands before serving them.

In 2016, Chipotle shut down all locations for a day retrain employees on food safety.

 

Man in ICU with potentially fatal respiratory disease spread by mice

A California tour guide is in critical condition after he contracted a rare and potentially deadly respiratory disease spread by deer mice. 

Spencer Fry, 22, of Sacramento, remained on a ventilator in the intensive care unit Monday at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Roseville, where he has been since his family rushed him to the emergency room earlier this month. It was there that Fry was diagnosed with hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, a dangerous infection that comes from exposure to hantavirus-infected rodents, their urine or their droppings. 

The California Department of Public Health explained that patients become infected by breathing in air contaminated with dried rodent waste. In California, only deer mice carry the sin nombre virus, the specific hantavirus that causes the syndrome. 

About 36 percent of cases of HPS are fatal.

According to Fox 40 in Sacramento, Fry was working as a tour guide at Bodie State Historic Park, a gold-mining ghost town east of the Sierra Nevadas and about 75 miles from Lake Tahoe, and sleeping in a cabin there. 

Fry’s family told Fox 40 that they visited him over the July 4 holiday, at which time he complained of a headache each day. They grew concerned when he woke up with a fever of 104 degrees.

Fry’s sister, Chantal Todoroff, wrote on a YouCaring page set up on his behalf that the family insisted her brother return to Sacramento with them. Two hours after returning home, they were in the emergency room.

“After a couple of hours in the ER, vomiting began and his lungs began to fill with fluid,” Todoroff wrote

He was rushed to the ICU, where he was sedated and put on a ventilator because he could no longer breathe on his own.

“There is no cure or treatment for hantavirus, so the Kaiser staff is doing everything they can to keep his vitals stable and major organs functioning as they allow his body to fight the virus,” Todoroff wrote. 

She updated the page Tuesday, stating that her brother is awake and communicating with family by using a whiteboard. He remained on the ventilator and doctors continued to drain fluid from his lungs. 

“Through everything, Spencer is still maintaining his sense of humor and staying very positive,” Todoroff wrote. 

>> Read more trending news

Though the California Department of Parks and Recreation has not confirmed that Fry contracted hantavirus at Bodie, his family believes that is the case. His father, Curtis Fry, told Fox 40 that his son could hear mice running around inside the cabin where he slept. 

The news station reported that another person died after contracting hantavirus at Bodie in 2011. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there was also an outbreak of hantavirus infections among overnight visitors to Yosemite National Park in the summer of 2012. Eight of the 10 cases saw the person experience hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, and five ended up on ventilators.

Three of those infected at Yosemite died, the CDC said

Early symptoms of the illness include fever, fatigue and muscle aches, the CDC said. A sufferer may also have headaches, like Fry did, as well as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. 

The more dangerous later symptoms, which appear four to 10 days after the illness begins, include fluid in the lungs, shortness of breath and coughing. According to the CDC, one survivor described the feeling of the building fluid as “a tight band around (his) chest and a pillow over (his) face.”

Between 1993 and 2015, a total of 659 cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome were recorded. Of those cases, 235 ended in death, the CDC said. 

Do low-calorie sugar substitutes, artificial sweeteners help you lose weight?

Of the 41 percent of American adults and 25 percent of U.S. children who consume artificial sweeteners, most consume them at least once a day, according to a study published earlier this year.

» RELATED: These 9 healthy-sounding foods have more sugar than a Krispy Kreme doughnut 

And the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has said artificial sweeteners can be used to manage weight or blood sugar by limiting energy intake.

But if you’re looking for a sweet secret solution to your weight loss woes, new research warns against falling into the growing trap of artificial sweeteners or low-calorie sugar substitutes for weight management.

>> Read more trending news

In fact, according to the new study, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), artificial sweeteners (like stevia, aspartame or sucralose) may actually lead to heart disease, higher risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and long-term weight gain.

» RELATED: Exercising to lose weight? Skip these popular workouts 

To determine whether or not artificial sweeteners are associated with the negative long-term effects previous studies have cited, researchers from the University of Manitoba’s George and Fay Yee Centre for Healthcare Innovation examined more than 11,000 studies on both artificial and natural sweeteners, performed a meta-analysis of 37 studies and then divided them into randomized controlled trials (seven) and longitudinal studies (30).

» RELATED: Are artificial sweeteners safe (and how much can you have)? 

In total, scientists followed more than 400,000 people for an average of 10 years, with seven of those studies (the randomized controlled trials) involving 1,003 people for an average of six months.

Here’s what the researchers found:

  • In the short seven randomized control trials of 1,003 people, those who consumed artificial sweeteners did not lose or gain more weight or see a decrease in body mass index (BMI) or in waist circumference than the controls in that group.
  • The 30 longer, observational studies showed people who consumed those low-calorie sweeteners were actually more likely to face increased risk of type 2 diabetes (14 percent), obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and other related cardiovascular issues (32 percent higher risk for the heaviest participants compared to the lightest).
  • The longer observational studies also pointed toward an increase in BMI and waist circumference due to consumption of artificial sweeteners.

» RELATED: New study on Splenda's link to cancer sparks controversy 

“Despite the fact that millions of individuals routinely consume artificial sweeteners, relatively few patients have been included in clinical trials of these products. We found that data from clinical trials do not clearly support the intended benefits of artificial sweeteners for weight management,” Ryan Zarychanski, assistant professor at University of Manitoba and author of the study, said.

But there are some limitations to the study. For example, the way people consumed artificial sweeteners in the clinical trials may not exactly mimic how people would actually consume them.

» RELATED: Scientists say eating cheese can help weight loss 

Most of those involved in the randomized trials were on a weight-loss program, but the larger population consuming low-calorie sweeteners may not be doing so to lose weight.

It’s important to remember the study’s findings are associations, not cause and effect.

But lead author Meghan Azad, who is also an assistant professor, cautioned against the consumption of artificial sweeteners until more research is done to identify long-term health effects.

Azad and her colleagues are currently researching how such sweeteners consumed by pregnant women may impact their baby’s weight, metabolism and gut bacteria, according to Medical News Today.

In the meantime, instead of using artificial sweeteners as a healthy substitute for sugar, try to decrease your sweet tooth altogether by consuming fruit-infused water, black coffee or plain yogurt with fruit, Azad told NPR.

Read the full study at CMAJ.ca. 

Doctors remove 27 contact lenses from woman’s eye before cataract surgery 

A routine cataract surgery was abruptly halted when doctors found 17 contact lenses in a British woman’s eye, according to news reports. After finding the first clump, which they described as a “blueish mass,” they found 10 more. 

>> Read more trending news 

The 67-year-old woman from the United Kingdom had not complained of any irritation, just the normal discomfort of dry eye she thought was from old age, Optometry Today reported.

"She was quite shocked," ophthalmologist Rupal Morjaria told Optometry Today.

“It was such a large mass. All the 17 contact lenses were stuck together. We were really surprised that the patient didn’t notice it because it would cause quite a lot of irritation while it was sitting there,” Morjaria added.

Morjaria said the woman, who had been wearing monthly disposable contact lenses for approximately 35 years, according to NPR, felt a lot more comfortable during her two-week follow up after having the 27 contacts removed.

» Woman sues for $1M, claiming flea market contacts left her blind

The doctors said they wanted to publicize her case as a warning to others who wear contacts. Tips and advice are available at the Association of Optometrists.

Read more at Optometry Today.

» Headed to the eye doctor? You have a right to your prescription

Parents warn others of virus that can kill newborns from a kiss

Parents in Iowa are clinging onto hope for their newborn daughter, who contracted a deadly virus just from a simple kiss. 

"It's horrific," Nicole Sifrit told WQAD. "Within two hours she had quit breathing and all of her organs just started to fail.” 

>>Potentially deadly parasite found in 5 Florida counties

The Iowa City couple welcomed their new child, Mariana, on July 1. A week later, they noticed she wasn’t eating and would not wake up when they tried to stimulate her. 

They rushed their daughter to a hospital and learned Mariana had contracted a deadly virus called meningitis HSV-1, which doctors said she most likely got from a kiss. 

>> Read more trending news

The virus is caused by herpes and can come from someone who carries the virus but does not necessarily have an open sore on their body, according to WQAD. 

The parents tested negative for the virus, suggesting it could have come from others who visited Mariana. The Meningitis Research Foundation reports that a lot of people carry the virus without showing symptoms. 

Mariana is currently on life support and could be in the hospital for at least a month, according to WQAD. 

"She has a kidney team, a liver team, a blood team, a neurology team," Mariana’s father told WQAD. "I always thought this stuff happens and it's a shame (but) never thought it would happen to me and was not prepared at all."

Now Mariana’s parents are warning others to keep their newborn babies isolated from visitors and to constantly wash their hands. 

Read more at wqad.com.

Mobile app designed to prevent pregnancy approved in Europe

European couples that want to be dialed in about birth control now can use a cellphone app to prevent pregnancy.

>> Read more trending news

The app has been certified as a method of birth control in the European Union, NPR reported.

The app’s creator, Elina Berglund, is a particle physicist. For 10 years she relied on a hormonal birth control implant, but she wanted to start a family yet still wanted a natural way to avoid pregnancy. None of the existing apps worked for her, so she and her husband used math to create one.

“You were looking at women’s temperatures and data, which was a lot of fun,” Berglund told NPR.

Berglund and her husband launched the app, Natural Cycles, in Sweden in 2014. It relies on a woman’s daily temperature to determine fertility. When the risk of pregnancy is high, a red light flashes. A green light means the chances of getting pregnant are low.

In a clinical study of 4,000 women who used the app, the results were better than traditional fertility awareness methods, NPR reported.

Just seven out of 100 women got pregnant. compared to about 24 out of 100 using the rhythm or calendar method.

Untreatable super-gonorrhea spreading orally, WHO warns

Gonorrhea, one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the U.S., is getting harder and harder to treat, and unsafe oral sex is making the STI particularly dangerous.

>> Read more trending news 

That’s according to a warning issued Friday by experts at the World Health Organization, whose researchers examined data from patients with gonorrhea in 77 countries showing drug-resistant gonorrhea is getting harder, and sometimes impossible, to treat.

“The bacteria that cause gonorrhea are particularly smart,” WHO medical officer Teodora Wi said in a news release. “Every time we use a new class of antibiotics to treat the infection, the bacteria evolve to resist them.”

An estimated 78 million people are infected with gonorrhea each year by unprotected vaginal, oral and anal sex. It disproportionately affects women.

» RELATED: New study on STDs finds Georgia among ‘most diseased’ states 

Gonorrhea can infect the throat, genitals and rectum, but according to Wi, scientists are particularly concerned about the throat.

Wi told BBC that introducing gonorrhea bacteria into the throat through oral sex can lead to what’s referred to as super-gonorrhea, a drug-resistant strain that is often untreatable.

» RELATED: HIV epidemic afflicting Georgia, the South a ‘public health emergency’ 

This happens because antibiotics taken to treat the infection mix with the super-gonorrhea in the throat and create resistance, Wi said.

The rise in resistant gonorrhea is largely due to decreased condom use, increased urbanization and travel, poor infection detection rates and either inadequate or failed treatment, according to the WHO.

Read the full WHO news release.

Woman breaks for mental health days; boss' reply goes viral

A Michigan woman who suffers from depression emailed her team at work informing them that she would be taking days off to focus on her mental health and well-being, and her boss’ response has gained much attention online. 

>> Read more trending news 

Madalyn Parker, a web developer at Olark Live Chat, took to Twitter to post a screenshot of her email communication with her co-workers and a supervisor.

In an email titled “Where’s Madalyn?” Parker told her team she’d be taking off two days to renew her mental health. 

“Hopefully, I’ll be back next week refreshed and back to 100%,” she wrote. 

Parker was surprised and delighted by one of the responses she received. She asked the sender if she could post a screenshot of the reply, and he told her yes.

“Hey Madalyn, I just wanted to personally thank you for sending emails like this. Every time you do, I use it as a reminder of the importance of using sick days for mental health,” Ben Cogleton, the CEO of Olark wrote. “I can’t believe this is not a standard practice at all organizations.”

He continued: “You are an example to us all and help cut through the stigma so we can all bring our whole selves to work.”  

Parker’s post of the conversation garnered more than 34,000 likes on Twitter and sparked conversations about companies’ obligation to provide mental health days.

“It’s 2017. I cannot believe that it is still controversial to speak about mental health in the workplace when 1 in 6 Americans are medicated for mental health,” Cogleton wrote in a blog post. “We are in a knowledge economy. Our jobs require us to execute at peak mental performance. When an athlete is injured they sit on the bench and recover. Let’s get rid of the idea that somehow the brain is different.”

Heartburn drugs linked to higher risk of early death, study says

People taking common heartburn and indigestion medicines may face a heightened risk of premature death, according to new observational research published Monday in the British Medical Journal Open.

A team of scientists from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, found that the use of proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) — drugs commonly taken to treat both heartburn and stomach acid — led to 25 percent higher risk of early death by any cause when compared to those using H2 blockers, common acid reducers.

>> RELATED: Differences between PPIs and H2 blockers for heartburn 

To come up with the findings, the team examined medical records of 3.5 million middle-aged Americans in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs system and compared those taking PPIs and those taking H2 blockers to treat heartburn.

Researchers did not examine over-the-counter PPIs or particular brands of prescription-strength drugs. Instead, the team focused on prescription PPIs typically used at higher doses and for longer durations, CNN reported.

According to senior author Ziyad Al-Aly, for every 500 patients taking PPIs for one year, there would be one additional death that wouldn’t have occurred if the patient wasn’t using PPIs.

And with millions of people using PPIs on a daily basis to treat heartburn and stomach acid, thousands of additional deaths could result.

>> RELATED: Popular heartburn medications may increase dementia risk, study says

Al-Aly and his team also found that the longer a patient used PPIs, the higher their risk of premature death.

Though the precise biological reason for a possible link between PPIs and risk of premature death is unclear, the gene-changing effect of the drugs may contribute to the potential problem. 

Because the research is based on observational study, the team noted the findings are “far from conclusive,” meaning they do not prove cause and effect.

>> Read more trending news

But the findings “may be used to encourage and promote pharmacovigilance [monitoring the side-effects of licensed drugs],” the authors wrote, urging patients to be judicious in their use of PPIs and limit the duration of use unless there is a clear medical benefit that outweighs any potential risk.

It’s not the first time PPIs have been linked to some dangerous health trends. Previous research has also shown links between the drugs and dementia, cardiovascular disease, hip fractures and more.

Read the full study.

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