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Seasonal allergies could be affecting your pets

The weather in some parts of the country is not helping people with allergies, and your pets could also be feeling the effects of the high pollen (and other allergens) count. 

>> Read more trending news 

Pets are often sniffling grass, other pets and the ground. They are also much closer to where the allergens can sit, so they could be more exposed to more allergens, such as pollen. 

>> On WFTV.com: More weather facts and hacks

Just like humans, dogs and cats can sneeze, get watery eyes and runny noses. Allergies can make these symptoms worse. According to the Humane Society, dogs often express pollen allergy symptoms by itching. The pollen gets on their fur, makes its way down to their skin and irritates it. 

>> On WFTV.com: Interactive: Common medications used to treat your cough

Here are some ways to help your pet cope with seasonal allergies:

  • Consult your veterinarian to make sure the irritation on the skin is not something worse. Your veterinarian can prescribe allergy medicine if needed. 
  • Try to limit activities outdoors, especially in the morning, when pollen levels are the highest.
  • After a walk, wash or wipe your pet's face and paws a wet towel. Just like in humans, the pollen can be washed out. 
  • When you bathe your pets, use warm water when applying shampoo and cool water to wash it off. Cold water helps with the itching. 

Google’s new AI can look into your eyes and predict heart attack risk

Researchers from Google and sibling company Verily Life Sciences have developed a new algorithm using artificial intelligence to predict the risk of heart attack, stroke and other major cardiovascular events.

How does it work? Through the eyes.

» RELATED: Google launches 10,000-person study to predict how and when people get sick

Scientists studied data from 284,335 patients and found the “deep-learning” AI algorithm could identify risk factors based on age, blood pressure, gender, smoking status and others just by scanning the individuals’ retinas.

“The rear interior wall of the eye (the fundus) is chock-full of blood vessels that reflect the body’s overall health,” the Verge reported. “By studying their appearance with camera and microscope, doctors can infer things like an individual’s blood pressure, age, and whether or not they smoke, which are all important predictors of cardiovascular health.”

» RELATED: Google's AI push comes with plenty of people problems

Google’s AI was able to differentiate patients who suffered a major cardiac event in the following five years and those who didn’t with a 70 percent accuracy

>> Read more trending news 

"While doctors can typically distinguish between the retinal images of patients with severe high blood pressure and normal patients, our algorithm could go further to predict the systolic blood pressure within 11 mmHg on average for patients overall, including those with and without high blood pressure," lead author Lily Peng wrote in a Google blog.

» RELATED: Bullied, abused children and teens at higher risk of heart disease, study says

Medical algorithms are traditionally created to redesign experiments to test hypotheses made from observations. But this algorithm found new ways to analyze existing medical data.

“With enough data, it’s hoped that artificial intelligence can then create entirely new medical insight without human direction,” the Verge reported.

» RELATED: Just one cigarette can up your chance for heart disease and stroke, study says

This technology would make it more efficient for doctors to analyze cardiac risk without a blood test, which typically predicts events with 72 percent accuracy. But more tests are necessary before the AI can be used in a clinical setting.

“We look forward to developing and testing our algorithm on larger and more comprehensive datasets. To make this useful for patients, we will be seeking to understand the effects of interventions such as lifestyle changes or medications on our risk predictions and we will be generating new hypotheses and theories to test,” Peng wrote.

The research was published Monday in the journal “Biomedical Engineering.”

Women may be mistaking ovarian cancer symptoms for bloating, study says

According to a new research, women may be suffering from ovarian cancer without even knowing it.

>> On Rare.us: Jury hands down record award in lawsuit linking talcum powder use and ovarian cancer

A study completed by Target Ovarian Cancer (TOC) shared Monday found that instead of visiting a physician after feeling symptoms including bloating and fullness, women are more likely to simply change their diets. By just switching to eating probiotic yogurts or leaving out gluten from their diets, women are putting themselves at risk, because persistent bloating can be a sign of ovarian cancer. According to TOC, ovarian cancer symptoms include a bloated stomach, more frequent urination, continued feelings of fullness and stomach pain.

>> Read more trending news 

The research, which took place in the United Kingdom, found that 50 percent of women opted to change their diets, while only 34 percent would see their doctors over concerns about bloating. Additionally, women over age 55, who have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer, were more likely to look up their symptoms online instead of seeing a professional.

After TOC published the findings online, one woman responded with a story of her own mother, who had believed her symptoms of ovarian cancer were caused by Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) or urinary tract infections.

>> On Rare.us: Julia Louis-Dreyfus has defiant message for cancer in post-surgery Instagram photo

The newly released report is meant to raise awareness for the disease, which, according to the American Cancer Society, is the fifth-ranking cause of death among women. Women have a 1 in 79 chance of developing ovarian cancer and a 1 in 108 risk of dying as a result, although the rate of women being diagnosed with it has fallen over the past two decades.

Woman has 14 tiny, wriggling worms pulled from her eye

This is definitely not for the squeamish, but a woman in Oregon has become the focus of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report for having 14 tiny, wriggling worms removed from her eye.

Abby Beckley said that she thought her eye was irritated by an eyelash back in 2016, but instead of a piece of hair, she pulled out a small, clear worm that was about a half an inch long and moving, CNN reported.

Despite it being nearly two years later, Beckley’s story is just coming to light after the CDC used her infection as a case study published Monday.

The CDC said that Beckley is only the 11th person documented to get an eye worm infection, and it was a new species of cattle worm that has never been seen to infect a person.

At first she thought it was a salmon worm, since she had been working on a commercial salmon fishing boat in Alaska. The symptoms started a couple of weeks after she started her job. 

>> Read more trending news 

“My left eye just got really irritated and red, and my eyelid was droopy. I was getting migraines too, and I was like, ‘What is going on?’” Beckley told CNN.

Her case was so rare that doctors were not only surprised, but also had to figure out how to remove them. 

“I just kept pulling the worms out of my eye at home, but when I went into the office, they would flush, and nothing would come out,” Beckley told CNN.

She also was wondering what would happen to her health: Could the worms lead to a brain infection, cause paralysis or affect her vision?

But doctors tried to put her at ease, explaining that the worms were only on the surface of her eye.

The worms are introduced to an animal’s eye when an infected fly lands near an eye and transmit larvae which live between the eye and eyelid. As they reproduce, the new larvae leave the host via tears, which the flies ingest, completing the circle and spreading the larvae, CNN reported

Beckley said she doesn’t remember if a fly landed near her eye.

But doctors believe she was infected not in Alaska, but rather she contracted the worms near home, before she traveled north. Doctors also were not able to treat her with anti-parasitic drugs because they were afraid one would die and stay in her eye causing scarring. So for 20 days, she pulled live worms out of her eye. Since the last one was removed, she said she has not had any medical complications from the infection, The Associated Press reported.

Flu kills 15-year-old Georgia high school student

A DeKalb County, Georgia, student died from the flu on Sunday, the second teenager in metro Atlanta killed by the virus.

>> Watch the news report here

School district officials are reminding students and staff to continue taking precautions as flu season may not have reached its peak.

District officials confirmed Monday afternoon that the 15-year-old Cross Keys High School student died Sunday. Principal Jason Heard sent a note Monday morning, shortly after classes started, to inform staff of Miguel Jaimes Martinez’s death.

>> Texas teacher dies from flu after spurning medicine that cost $116

Heard said counselors would be making classroom visits and students who needed immediate attention could receive it at the school’s media center.

“The entire DeKalb County School District is saddened by the news that one of our own has passed away due to illness,” Superintendent Steve Green said Monday. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the student’s family, loved ones and peers in this unfortunate and trying time.”

>> How does the flu kill healthy people?

The teen, a sophomore, is survived by his mother and three siblings.

His death is one of only a handful of confirmed flu deaths of children in metro Atlanta. Coweta County officials confirmed that 15-year-old Kira Molina died in late January of a flu-related illness. Five-year-old Elijah Snook died in late January after being hospitalized Jan. 13 with flu-like symptoms, WSB-TV reported.

At least 66 Georgians have died during this flu season, and schools have seen absences spike in recent weeks. Some districts have asked teachers to help clean common areas to limit contamination and spreading the virus.

This season’s predominant flu strain is H3N2, which causes the worst outbreaks of the two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses that are responsible for seasonal flu epidemics each year.

>> When can you go back to work or school if you have the flu?

“Of the viruses we hate, we hate H3N2 more than the other ones,” said top CDC flu expert Daniel Jernigan. “This strain, which has been around for 50 years, is able to change more quickly to get around the human body’s immune system than the other viruses targeted in this year’s seasonal flu vaccine.”

JoAnn Harris, DeKalb Schools’ lead nurse, said the district is using guidelines from the county’s health department and advising parents to keep children at home as symptoms present themselves. In the case of a fever, officials suggest keeping the student home at least a day after the fever breaks and a day after using fever-reduction medication.

The number of flu hospitalizations in Georgia surpassed 1,000, with 120 of those patients hospitalized last week alone, according to figures released Friday by the state Department of Public Health. In Georgia, flu had killed two people between ages 5 and 17; seven between 18 and 51; eight between ages 51 and 64; and 49 people 65 and older.

>> 5-year-old Georgia boy dies from flu complications

Although this year’s flu vaccine is far from perfect, experts urge people to get it if they haven’t yet. Although it’s believed to be less effective than those from other years, it can lower the severity of the flu if you do get sick.

Hospitals, swamped with flu patients, are asking people to be prudent.

Some people need to be in the emergency room, but some just need a doctor or clinic, and some need home treatment.

A group representing Georgia hospitals on Monday cautioned people to check their symptoms for real emergency signs before they drive off to the emergency room.

“Those who do not have the flu, but go to the ER, risk catching it from those who do,” the Georgia Hospital Association said in a press release Monday. “However, anyone who is concerned about a serious or life-threatening illness should go to the ER.”

>> Flu virus spread by breathing, study finds

The state Department of Public Health has been getting calls from hospitals that they’re inundated, a GHA spokeswoman said. People are crowding hospital ER’s that don’t have the warning signs for ER treatment. The hospitals, in turn, are having to spend money and work staff more to deal with the influx.

Emergency warning signs for people to go to the ER include:

• trouble breathing

• chest pain

• persistent vomiting

• flu-like symptoms that improve, but return with fever and worse cough

There is more information listed on the website of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

>> Read more trending news 

“There is, I don’t want to say panic, but extra concern out there this year,” said the spokeswoman, Erin Stewart. “Of course, always be safe. Go to the CDC website, assess your symptoms.”

If people are unsure whether they need more care, they can contact their doctor or a clinic.

“Hospitals are working diligently to make sure each patient receives timely and efficient care,” said GHA President Earl Rogers.

People with depression are more likely to use certain words — here’s how they express themselves

How a person talks and types can tell you a lot about their mental health.

» RELATED: 5 signs you should ask your doctor about depression

According to new research published in the journal “Clinical Psychological Science,” certain language may help identify whether someone is suffering from depression.

For their study, the researchers conducted a computerized text analysis of 63 internet forums including more than 6,400 members in total.

>> Read more trending news 

They hypothesized that individuals in “anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation” forums would have a “more black and white view of the world,” study author Mohammed Al-Mosaiwi wrote in an academic article. The researchers believed this view of the world would manifest itself in absolutist language, using words such as "always," “nothing” or “completely.”

» RELATED: When love isn’t enough: A daughter’s suicide leaves a grieving father searching for answers

When compared to 19 control forums, Al-Mosaiwi wrote that that the prevalence of such absolutist words was approximately 50 percent greater in anxiety and depression forums, and approximately 80 percent greater for suicidal ideation forums.

In addition to absolutist language, the scientists found that those with symptoms of depression used significantly more first person singular pronouns, such as “me,” “myself” and “I.” They used significantly fewer second and third person pronouns − “they,” “them” or “she.”

» RELATED: The suicide rate for teen girls is the highest it’s been in 40 years — Is social media to blame? 

“This pattern of pronoun use suggests people with depression are more focused on themselves, and less connected with others,” Al-Mosaiwi wrote. “Researchers have reported that pronouns are actually more reliable in identifying depression than negative emotion words.”

That doesn’t mean everyone who uses the language associated with depression is actually depressed. Researchers note it’s how you feel over time that determines whether you are suffering.

But the new findings are a testament to using machine learning to help identify mental health problems. According to Al-Mosaiwi, researchers have already started using computerization to study specific subcategories of perfectionism, self-esteem issues and social anxiety.

» RELATED: Perfectionism is a major issue for millennials and their mental health, study says 

According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression, and it’s the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Additionally, approximately 800,000 people die of suicide each year −that’s one person every 40 seconds. In the U.S., between 1999 and 2014, the suicide rate rose by 24 percent. And according to recent data released Thursday by Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates among 15- to 19-year-old girls doubled between 2007 and 2015, reaching a 40-year high.

More resources:

Suicide prevention resources for parents, guardians and families

Suicide prevention resources for teens

Suicide prevention resources for survivors of suicide loss

More resources and programs at the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

Atlanta Mood Support: DBSA Metro Atlanta

When can you go back to work or school if you have the flu?

While battling the flu, your body needs couch time to rest and recover. After a few days, maybe you are getting very bored with daytime TV and eager to get back into your routine.

But colds and the flu are very contagious and it’s important not to rush going back to school and work.

This year is a particularly harsh flu season. 

Here’s some guidelines on how long you should stay home:

How long to stay to home 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to get medical care or other necessities. Your fever should be gone for at least 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, such as Tylenol. You should stay home from work, school, travel, shopping, social events, and public gatherings.

Check with your child's daycare or school before sending your child back. Many have rules and it’s generally at least a full day after they don't have any fever without medication.

How long is a person with the flu contagious?

In general, about a week. People with the flu may be able to infect others from 1 day before getting sick to 5 to 7 days after. However, children and people with weakened immune systems can infect others for longer periods of time, especially if they still have symptoms.

What should you do while while sick: 

Stay away from others as much as possible to keep from infecting them. If you must leave home, for example to get medical care, wear a face mask if you have one, or cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Wash your hands often to keep from spreading flu to others.

MORE: How to protect your family from the flu at school, work

MORE: Have the flu? Atlanta archbishop advises ill Catholics to skip Mass

MORE: 8 things you need to know about this year’s really bad flu season   

READ: The agony of ER waits: Flu season is making them worse 

READ: Father of Coweta teen who died of flu asks, “Why?”

5-year-old Georgia boy dies from flu complications

A 5-year-old Georgia boy who died from complications of the flu was remembered on Wednesday morning.

>> Watch the news report here

Eli Snook of Marietta died Saturday at a hospital. His parents first took him to the emergency room Jan. 13 with flu-like symptoms. 

His family told WSB-TV's Chris Jose that a doctor gave the boy Tamiflu. His parents kept him home for a week then sent him back to day care on Jan. 22.

Last Thursday, Eli’s parents got a call that the boy had a 101 degree fever. His parents said they brought him back to urgent care.

>> How does the flu kill healthy people?

"We prayed for a miracle Friday night. He got an infection in the brain. His brain swelled past the point of no return, and he went brain dead," said his father, Aaron Snook.

The parents were told by doctors to take him to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Due to a weakened immune system from the flu, doctors told the parents the virus quickly attacked his body. 

"It was a shock to me. It was shock," said the boy's mother, Leota Snook. "It's the aftereffects of the flu that's killing these babies."

>> Read more trending news 

Georgia has been hit hard by the flu this season. On Wednesday, officials with Georgia Department of Public Health said at least 37 people have died from the virus.

The flu outbreak is so bad that Grady Memorial Hospital brought in a mobile emergency room unit to treat the excess number of patients visiting the hospital with flu-like symptoms. 

This is the healthiest nondairy 'milk,' study says

There are a ton of nondairy milks to choose from, but which one is the healthiest?

>> Milk in the fridge? Someone may owe you money

To find out, researchers from McGill University recently conducted an experiment, published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, to determine the nutritional value of plant-based milk beverages

To do so, they compared the health benefits of the four most popular alternative milks, including soy, almond, coconut and rice. They examined the number of calories and amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates found in each. They also looked into the vitamins and minerals the substitutes contained. 

>> Read more trending news 

While they said cow’s milk still has the most nutritional value, with 8 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat and 11.5 grams of carbs, soy is the most comparable for overall balance. It’s “a clear winner,” they wrote in a statement. It has more protein than all the other milk options analyzed, with 7 to 12 grams and 95 calories a glass. Scientists also credited soy milk for its phytonutrients, which have been linked to reducing cancer risk. 

Almond milk is low in protein and carbohydrates, but it has fewer calories, with 36 per serving. It also is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which can help with weight loss and management. Previous studies have also shown that it can reduce cholesterol.

As for coconut milk, it’s low-calorie, too, but has no protein. Plus, the calories are mostly from saturated fats. And rice milk also has few nutrients. In fact, the researchers said “consumption of rice milk as an alternative to cow’s milk without proper care can result in malnutrition, especially in the case of infants.”

>> On AJC.com: When to buy organic & when to save your money

Dairy is one of the most common allergens among infants and children, the study explained, so many parents steer away from cow’s milk. Furthermore, lactose intolerance affects up to 75 percent of all adults, and those with the condition look to other alternatives. 

Although the researchers believe their findings are strong, they said want to continue their investigations “to understand the effects of various conventional and novel processing methods on the nutritional profile, flavor and texture of these alternative milks.”

How does the flu kill healthy people?

How does the flu cause death? According to Scientific American, the way the flu kills its victims can be summed up simply: “The short and morbid answer is that in most cases the body kills itself by trying to heal itself.”

>> On MyAJC.com: Flu season to be worst in a decade: Death toll rises to 37 children

As the virus spreads in the lungs and respiratory system, the body unleashes a counterattack, in which T-cells destroy the tissues that harbor the invading virus.

“In most healthy adults this process works, and they recover within days or weeks,” the magazine reports. “But sometimes the immune system’s reaction is too strong, destroying so much tissue in the lungs that they can no longer deliver enough oxygen to the blood, resulting in hypoxia and death.”

>> On AJC.com: Do you have the flu? 17 things to know about flu symptoms, flu shot side effects and more

Sometimes the lungs, weakened by the flu, become prey to another infection, often streptococcus, and the body is felled by bacterial overload, as happened to a New Hampshire mother of four earlier this month.

Worldwide, the flu causes up to 640,000 deaths annually.

Doctors have long known that contracting influenza can be dangerous for the elderly, for infants and for those already in a weakened state. But flu can kill others as well, depending on the virulence of the particular strain that spreads during flu season.

>> Read more trending news 

This year’s strain is the most severe in a decade.

A chart from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta can help parents determine when to seek help.

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