TIME ebola

Health Worker in Texas Tests Positive for Ebola

The worker reportedly wore full protective gear while caring for an Ebola patient who died Wednesday

Updated 7:10 a.m. E.T. on Oct. 13

A Texas health worker has tested positive for Ebola after caring for an Ebola patient who died this week, officials said Sunday, marking the second diagnosis of the deadly disease in the United States.

“We don’t know what occurred, but at some point there was a breach in protocol,” Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) director Tom Frieden said at a news conference, noting that “there is a need to enhance the protocol to make sure that they are followed.”

Following the announcement of the preliminary diagnosis by theTexas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS), the CDC later confirmed Sunday that the patient is in fact battling Ebola. The health worker is the first known case of someone contracting the deadly Ebola virus in the U.S.

The patient reported a fever on Friday after following the CDC’s self-monitoring procedures, which include twice daily temperature checks. The patient was admitted into isolation within 90 minutes of the temperature check.

“We knew a second case could be a reality, and we’ve been preparing for this possibility,” Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the TDSHS, said in a statement. “We are broadening our team in Dallas and working with extreme diligence to prevent further spread.”

The worker, who is in stable condition and whose identity has not been made public, reportedly wore protective gear while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, according to chief clinical officer Dr. Daniel Varga, the Associated Press reports. Duncan, the first individual in the U.S. to be diagnosed with Ebola, died on Wednesday.

Varga said the hospital is “very concerned” about the spread of the virus despite the worker’s safety precautions, which he said included “gown, glove, mask and shield.”

Frieden said that treatment of Ebola “can be done safely but it’s hard to do safely. Even a single inadvertent slip can result in contamination.”

The White House said in a statement Sunday afternoon that President Obama had been briefed on the new patient’s condition, and had directed that the CDC’s breach investigation move quickly and that “federal authorities take immediate additional steps to ensure hospitals and health care providers nationwide are prepared to follow protocols should they encounter an Ebola patient.”

Because of staffing limitations, the emergency department at the hospital is currently on “diversion” and is not allowing ambulances to deliver patients to the emergency room, the hospital said in a statement. Texas Health Resources is also monitoring all staff who cared for Duncan and “triple checking” its safety measures and compliance with CDC guidelines.

“Breaking the links in the chains of transmission is the key to preventing further spread,” Frieden said.

— With additional reporting by Zeke Miller

TIME Diet/Nutrition

The Salty Food That’s Shockingly Healthy

Pickles
Brian Summers—Getty Images/First Light

Pop quiz: What do pickles, vinegar, tempeh, chocolate and wine have in common? Yes, they’re all delicious—and they’re all fermented. And that means they all have major health perks.

Cultures around the world have enjoyed fermented foods for millennia; they devour kimchi in Korea, sauerkraut in Germany and cheese—everywhere. Now fermenting is appealing to consumers eager to return to naturally healthy ways of eating. Top chefs are embracing it too; Momofuku’s David Chang has a culinary lab dedicated to food science, including fermentation, which he calls the “machinery of flavor.” Fermentation is what happens “when rotten goes right,” Chang says. It may sound kind of gross, but fermentation involves “good” micro-organisms breaking down or partially digesting food, which makes nutrients easier for your body to absorb. Research suggests that fermented foods can also strengthen immunity.

HEALTH.COM: 12 Foods That Control Your Appetite

Fermentation helps extend shelf life (think how much longer a block of Cheddar lasts than a carton of milk) and can make food safer, since foodborne pathogens are less likely to survive in the acidic environment fermentation creates.

You’re probably already enjoying many of these foods. Here are some of my favorites.

Miso
This paste, made from fermented soybeans, is the essential ingredient in the Japanese soup of the same name. The darker the miso, the longer it has been fermented, and the saltier and stronger the flavor will be. I keep a container in my fridge and use it in marinades and glazes for chicken or fish. I also make salad dressing out of it: I mix 1 tablespoon of miso with a little chopped garlic and ginger, 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar and 1 or 2 teaspoons of honey. Then I whisk in 2 to 4 tablespoons of a neutral oil, like grapeseed.

HEALTH.COM: 11 Foods that Make You Hungrier

Sourdough bread
It’s lower on the glycemic index, so it’s less likely to wreak havoc on your blood sugar and leave you hungry and craving more carbs. Try it as French toast, croutons, bread crumbs and stuffing.

Pickles
Be sure the label says “fermented.” Commercially made pickles and capers aren’t always made using good bacteria; often they’re just soaked in brine.

Wine and beer
They’re both fermented (yay!). You don’t need me to tell you how to enjoy them.

HEALTH.COM: The 18 Best Snacks for Weight Loss

Other delicious ideas: Swap tempeh for tofu in a stir-fry, pile sauerkraut on a turkey sandwich or marinate chicken in buttermilk overnight. With so many great choices, you’ll be in a pickle in no time (but in a good way).

Snack On This: If you love sriracha, the super flavorful Southeast Asian hot sauce, like I do, grab a bag of Indiana Sriracha Popcorn ($4 for a 6-oz. bag; at Whole Foods Market). Seasoned with red chili pepper, it brings the heat. And studies suggest that chiles boost metabolism.

Gotta Have It: When I see something I don’t recognize on a food label, I turn to the Chemical Cuisine app (free; iTunes and Google Play) from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Search the alphabetical list of 130-plus food additives; color-coded icons indicate whether the ingredient you’re curious about is safe, OK for some people or to be avoided completely.

HEALTH.COM: 16 Ways to Lose Weight Fast

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME ebola

Texas Healthcare Worker Tests Positive for Ebola

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas Ebola
LM Otero—AP A sign points to the entrance to the emergency room at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, where U.S. Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan was being treated, Oct. 8, 2014 in Dallas.

DALLAS — A Texas health care worker who provided hospital care for an Ebola patient who later died has tested positive for the virus, health officials said Sunday in a statement. If the preliminary diagnosis is confirmed, it would be the first known case of the disease being contracted or transmitted in the U.S.

A statement posted on the Texas Department of State Health Service’s website said “confirmatory testing will be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.”

Officials said the health care worker reported a low grade fever Friday night and was isolated and referred for testing. Preliminary test results were received late Saturday.

Hospital and state health officials did not identify the health care worker or provide their job description.

“We knew a second case could be a reality, and we’ve been preparing for this possibility,” said Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services. “We are broadening our team in Dallas and working with extreme diligence to prevent further spread.”

Health officials have interviewed the patient and are identifying any contacts or potential exposures. They said people who had contact with the health care worker after symptoms emerged will be monitored based on the nature of their interactions and the potential they were exposed to the virus.

Ebola spreads through close contact with a symptomatic person’s bodily fluids, such as blood, sweat, vomit, feces, urine, saliva or semen. Those fluids must have an entry point, like a cut or scrape or someone touching the nose, mouth or eyes with contaminated hands, or being splashed. The World Health Organization says blood, feces and vomit are the most infectious fluids, while the virus is found in saliva mostly once patients are severely ill and the whole live virus has never been culled from sweat.

Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., died Wednesday in Dallas. Duncan, 42, grew up next to a leper colony in Liberia and fled years of war before later returning to his country to find it ravaged by the disease that ultimately took his life.

Duncan arrived in Dallas in late September, realizing a long-held ambition to join relatives. He came to attend the high-school graduation of his son, who was born in a refugee camp in Ivory Coast and was brought to the U.S. as a toddler when the boy’s mother successfully applied for resettlement.

The trip was the culmination of decades of effort, friends and family members said. But when Duncan arrived in Dallas, though he showed no symptoms, he had already been exposed to Ebola. His neighbors in Liberia believe Duncan become infected when he helped a pregnant neighbor who later died from it. It was unclear if he knew about her diagnosis before traveling.

Duncan had arrived at a friend’s Dallas apartment on Sept. 20 — less than a week after helping his sick neighbor. For the nine days before he was taken to a hospital in an ambulance, Duncan shared the apartment with several people.

 

TIME Research

Fecal Transplants May Soon Be Available in a Pill

When you have Clostridium difficile (C. difficile), a potentially life-endangering infection characterized by diarrhea, you’ll try anything to cure it—even a fecal transplant, which studies have shown to be 90% effective against the infection. But once you get over the initial ickiness of infusing someone else’s poop-derived gut bacteria into your own disturbed microbial colonies, you still have the procedure to stomach. These days, fecal transplants are done either by colonoscopy or by a tube that runs through the nose into the stomach, but a new study published in JAMA shows that there may be a less unsavory—but equally effective—route by way of a pill.

In the study, 20 patients with c. difficile were given a series of pills filled with frozen fecal material from healthy donors. The pills were made by blending up stool with saline, straining the solution, extracting the bacteria, using a pipette to put the material into pills and freezing them. Each patient swallowed 30 capsules of the stuff over two days—after which, 90% of the patients’ diarrhea was cured.

Using frozen fecal material might also have some safety advantages to fresh donations. Researchers can retest donors for potential incubating infections before using their frozen material, the study says. And using capsules cuts down on risks associated with the two more traditional (and invasive) procedures, colonoscopy and nasogastric tube, Youngster says. “Both of these things are very unpleasant and have potential for complications.”

The team isn’t the first to work on developing a pill made of poop; in 2013, a group put the fecal bacteria into capsules, too. But this is one of the first rigorous tests that shows how effective oral fecal transplants can be, says study author Ilan Youngster, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. “It’s just a much easier and less invasive way of doing it,” he says.

TIME ebola

JFK Begins Screening Airline Passengers for Ebola

But more needs to be done to combat the disease in West Africa to ensure it doesn't spread to the West, say some

Enhanced Ebola screenings began Saturday at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport as authorities moved to ensure passengers potentially carrying the virus don’t make it into the United States.

Anyone traveling from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone will be singled out by Customs and Border Protection, who will take their temperature with a non-contact thermometer and ask them a series of questions, the New York Times reports.

Kennedy is the first of five American airports planning to tighten screening protocols in an effort to protect the U.S. from the disease’s possible spread. But health officials warned that the only way to stop Ebola is to defeat it in West Africa.

Still, experts say the state of medical care in the U.S. and the current precautions mean that the likelihood of widespread infection here is very low.

“The chances of seeing anything like the calamity in western Africa is profoundly remote,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University and a special adviser to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

[NYT]

TIME vaccines

How Words Can Kill in the Vaccine Fight

Farrow: Right ideas, wrong words
NBC/Getty Images Farrow: Right ideas, wrong words

To own the argument you've got to own the language. At the moment, the dangerous anti-vaxxers are winning that war

Chances are you wouldn’t sit down to a plate of sautéed thymus glands, to say nothing of a poached patagonian tooth fish; and the odds are you’d be reluctant to tuck into a monkey peach too. But sweetbreads, Chilean sea bass and kiwifruit? They’re a different matter—except they’re not. All of those scrumptious foods once went by those less scrumptious names—but few people went near them until there was something pleasant to call them. Words have that kind of power.

That’s true in advertising, in politics and in business too. And it’s true when it comes to vaccines as well—but in this case those words can have a lethal power. The bad news is that in the vaccine word game, the good guys (they would be the ones who know that vaccines are safe, effective and save from two to three million lives per year) are being caught flat-footed by the bad guys (those would be the ones whose beliefs are precisely opposite—and therefore precisely wrong).

The battle plays out on Twitter, with the handy—and uninformed—handle #CDCWhistleBlower repeatedly invoked by virtually every fevered anti-vax tweet like a solemn incantation. The term refers to Dr. William Thompson of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who supposedly blew the lid off of the great vaccine conspiracy by confessing to irregularities in a 2004 study that deliberately excluded data suggesting a higher rate of autism in African-American boys who had been vaccinated. Scary stuff alright, except that the study was poorly conducted, the data was left out for purely statistical and methodological reasons, and the paper itself has now been withdrawn. But the hashtag stain remains all the same—with the usually noble whistleblower label being put to low purpose.

Something similar is true with the widely cited Vaccine Injury Court, another frightening term, except that no such thing exists—at least not by that name. It’s true there is an Office of Special Masters which, under a smart 1986 law, hears the claims of parents who believe their children have been injured by vaccines. The panel was created to provide no-fault compensation in all such cases, since drugs that are as vital and are administered as widely as vaccines could never be manufactured or sold affordably if the companies themselves had to pour millions and even billions of dollars into defending themselves against claims.

It’s true too that the court has paid out about $2.8 billion to parents and families since 1989, but those awards are overwhelmingly for relatively minor side effects that are fully disclosed by the ostensibly secretive CDC for any parents caring to look on the agency’s website. And to put that $2.8 billion in perspective: The money went to 3,727 claimants over an approximate generation-long period during which 78 million American children were safely vaccinated, preventing an estimated 322 million illnesses and 732,000 deaths. If you’re crunching the numbers (and it’s not hard to do) that factors out to a .0048% risk of developing what is overwhelmingly likely to be a transient problem—in exchange for a lifetime of immunity from multiple lethal diseases.

But brace for more anyway because October is, yes, Vaccine Injury Awareness Month. Because really, what does a dangerous campaign of misinformation need more than 31 catchily named days devoted to itself?

Still, there’s no denying that catchiness works, and on this one the doctors and other smart folks are going to have to get off the dime. MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow—who either is or isn’t to your liking depending in part on whether MSNBC itself is—has emerged as a smart, persuasive, often brilliantly cutting advocate for the vaccine cause. And on his Oct. 10 show he deftly filleted the arguments of a vocal anti-vax mother whose child is undeniably suffering from a number of illnesses, but who wrong-headedly blames them on vaccines. In this show as in others he invites his audience to learn the truth about vaccines and to connect with him and one another via the handle #VaccineDebate.

And right there he tripped up. For the billionth time (as Farrow knows) there is no debate. Just as there is no climate change debate. Just as there is no moon-landings-were-faked debate. And just as there was nothing to the tobacco company’s disingenuous invention of a “cigarette controversy,” a fallback position they assumed when even they knew that cigarettes were killers and that they couldn’t straight-facedly say otherwise, so the best they could do was sow doubt and hope people stayed hooked.

Little more than 30 seconds spent listening to Farrow talk about vaccines makes it unmistakably clear where he stands—but the very fact that we now live in a hashtag culture means that it’s by no means certain he’s going to get that 30 seconds. So step up your game, smart people. You want to get the vaccine message out, do it in a way that works in the 21st century. And if that means a hashtag, why not #VaccinesWork or #VaccinesAreSafe or #VaccinesSaveLives. Of course, there’s also the more thorough and satisfying #AntivaxxersDon’tKnowWhatThey’reTalkingAboutSoPleaseStopListeningToThem, but that gets you exactly halfway to your 140-character limit. So keep it brief folks—and make it stick.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

5 Fascinating Things You Didn’t Know About Mushrooms

Mushrooms
Annabelle Breakey—Getty Images

Fall is here, so now’s a good time to get your palate adjusted from the sweet tastes of summer to foods a little more savory. One hearty treat you don’t want to miss: mushrooms. Not only are they low in sodium, you can add them to just about any dish, from hamburgers to pasta. Check out the other reasons why mushrooms make sense for a healthy diet:

They have a unique flavor profile

You’re familiar by now with the four primary tastes: salty, sweet, bitter, and sour. But there’s another one you may not know as well called umami (pronounced oo-MAH-mee). It’s actually the fifth basic taste thanks to certain chemicals like glutamate and guanylate that occur naturally in food, according to the Umami Information Council. Mushrooms happen to be one of those lucky foods that take on a broth-like or meaty flavor. The taste also comes in handy for preparing healthy dishes. “Because umami flavor is so robust, it allows you to use less salt when cooking,” says Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Health‘s contributing nutrition editor.

A recent study in the Journal of Food Science, which was funded by the Mushroom Council, found that using mushrooms to replace 80% of the beef in a taco mix allowed researchers to reduce sodium by 25% without compromising the flavor. While the researchers used crimini (also known as baby bella) and white button mushrooms, Sass says shitake and enokitake mushrooms are thought to have the strongest umami flavor.

RELATED: 13 Foods That Are Saltier Than You Realize

They’re one of the few plant sources of vitamin D

Vitamin D is just as important for bone health as calcium. If you’re running low, the calcium you get from food won’t get absorbed properly, leading to thin and brittle bones. The main source of vitamin D is sunlight hitting your skin, but you can find it in some foods. Mushrooms naturally contain small amounts of vitamin D, and some manufacturers boost the vitamin D by exposing their mushrooms to ultraviolet light.

“When we’re exposed to the sun’s UV rays our bodies produce vitamin D–mushrooms do the same,” Sass says.

For example, a cup of diced raw portabella mushrooms contains 9 IU of vitamin D sans light exposure, according to the USDA, but this shoots up to 313 IU with UV light. (The recommended vitamin D intake is 600 IU a day). Check the label on your mushrooms to find out if they contain vitamin D.

RELATED: 14 Foods That Fight Inflammation

They might help manage weight

If you’re looking to keep off the pounds, adding mushrooms to your diet could help. The fungi are actually considered a low-energy-density food, meaning you’ll get fewer calories in a bigger portion of food, according to the Mayo Clinic. A study in the journal Appetite, which was funded by the Mushroom Council and the Australian Mushroom Growers Association, had one group of obese adults replace the red meat in their diets with mushrooms for a year. At the end of the trial, the ones on the mushroom diet reported less fat intake, shed more pounds, and achieved a lower body mass index than those on the standard diet. Though there are advantages to keeping some meat in your eating plan, like getting more protein and iron, swapping in mushrooms is a simple way to reduce calorie and fat intake.

RELATED: 25 Surprising Ways to Lose Weight

They’re a good source of B vitamins

In mushrooms, you’ll find riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid–all B vitamins essential for your nervous system. “The main role of B vitamins is help us turn calories into usable energy,” Sass says. And certain B vitamins have their own special functions. According to the National Institutes of Health, riboflavin aids red blood cell production, niacin helps the digestive system and skin, and pantothenic acid is key for growth. The problem is that all of these are water-soluble, meaning your body can’t hold on to extra stores. So you’ll need to get your fill everyday by eating foods like mushrooms. Other great sources of niacin and riboflavin include peanuts and fortified cereals.

RELATED: 11 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Belly Fat

They could help regulate cholesterol

Mushrooms also contain a type of fiber called beta-glucan, studied by researchers for the good it can do your blood vessels. It’s thought that beta-glucans play a role in fat metabolism and help lower overall cholesterol content in the blood. In a small 2007 Bangladesh study, participants ate oyster mushrooms on and off for 24 days. Consuming the mushrooms was associated with a drop in total cholesterol and triglycerides, but levels went back up as soon as they stopped eating them. Good thing you can incorporate mushrooms into a few different recipes.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME medicine

FDA Approves Combined Hepatitis Drug

Harvoni
Gilead Sciences Harvoni, the first single medication to treat hepatitis C, was recently approved by the FDA.

Harvoni is the third hepatitis C drug approved in the past year

The Food and Drug Administration approved the first single medication to treat hepatitis C on Friday, green-lighting one pill in the place of multiple treatments. The new drug, Harvoni, is the third hepatitis C drug approved in the past year.

“With the development and approval of new treatments for hepatitis C virus, we are changing the treatment paradigm for Americans living with the disease,” said FDA official Edward Cox.

Harvoni, developed by Gilead Sciences, will be the first hepatitis drug to require a pill only once daily. A full 12-week treatment will cost $94,500, less than existing treatments, Reuters reports.

TIME ebola

Why One Airline Flies To West Africa Despite Ebola

"It is our humanitarian duty to operate there"

Several major airlines including British Airways and Emirates have suspended service to Ebola-stricken regions of West Africa in response to a rapidly worsening Ebola outbreak, and Americans seem to agree with the service halts: 58% of people polled in a recent survey from NBC News want to ban all incoming flights from West African countries with Ebola.

But two airlines—Brussels and Royal Air Maroc, Morocco’s largest airline—have continued serving Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

Brussels Airlines says it has no plans to stop flying into Guinea, Sierra Leone or Liberia in the immediate future. “It is our humanitarian duty to operate there,” said Geert Sciot, a vice president at Brussels Airlines. “Without our fights it would become almost impossible for medical staff to reach the country.”

In recent days, health and governmental officials have warned that a shortage of flights limits the ability to get aid to the region and ultimately could worsen the global Ebola crisis.

Sciot, who said that the airline has made flights to Africa a focus of their service for decades, said that the World Health Organization and other health groups had directly asked senior airline leadership to continue service to West Africa. Health groups also partnered with Brussels Airlines to implement measures to ensure safety for the passengers and crew.

All passengers leaving the region have their temperatures taken and are screened with a questionnaire; patients with Ebola symptoms are not allowed to fly. Airline crew are not permitted to spend the night in at-risk locations, so they travel on a Brussels flight to Senegal when they need to stay overnight in West Africa.

“It’s absolutely safe for us as an airline, for our passengers and for our crew, to operate these flights,” said Sciot.

Despite conducting what he described as a public service, Sciot acknowledged the potential fallout from people who are concerned that flying to West Africa may help spread Ebola.

Part of that attention undoubtedly surrounded the death of Thomas Eric Duncan, the only person to die of Ebola on American soil. Duncan flew on Brussels Airlines from Liberia en route the United States before exhibiting symptoms of the disease.

Sciot said that compared to last year, about the same number of people fly on the route and revenue is comparable, though there is a wait list for cargo space.

“For our image, I don’t think we benefit from this at all,” he said. “We get a lot media requests linked to a disease.”

TIME Research

How Pre-Schoolers Can Predict Disease Outbreaks

Sick Child with tissue
Getty Images

Pre-schoolers might be the key to identifying the next big disease outbreak, finds a new study soon to be presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics national conference.

The idea is simple—the researchers created an online disease surveillance system that allows child care staff to log symptoms, like fever or stomach flu, that they see in the young kids they care for. Nearby public health departments have access to the real-time data, which helps them quickly spot emerging trends. Health officials can then loop back to the child care staffers about a spreading illness, along with instructions on how to handle it, so that the caretakers can prepare for it and alert parents.

A zeroed-in system like this can help catch outbreaks early, since diseases like the flu often strike kids first. Children, who lack the robust immune systems and hygiene habits of adults, are among the most vulnerable populations. According to study co-author Dr. Andrew N. Hashikawa, an assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics at University of Michigan, when children get infected, they tend to pass disease onto the next most at-risk group—their grandparents or the elderly. It then tends to strike parents and adults, followed by school-aged children.

“Illnesses identified in child care can be an indicator of what’s going on in a community,” says Hashikawa. And the surveillance system works, according to the four early-learning centers in Michigan that tested it.

Every day, staff would report ill kids with symptoms like fever, flu, pink eye, stomach illness, cold or respiratory issues, ear infections and rash. The data showed that between Dec. 2013 to March 2014, pre-schoolers got sick the most, followed by toddlers and infants. Stomach flu was the most common illness, and it was so well-documented that they were able to correlate a rise in stomach flu with a nationwide spike in schools three weeks later.

“People tend to focus on absenteeism in schools as a disease indicator, but no one looks at child care,” says Hashikawa. “By the time public health departments get this kind of data, it’s about three weeks later before reports are out, and at that point it’s late.”

MORE: What You Should Know About Enterovirus D68

A system like this might even help identify an outbreak like enterovirus D68, the respiratory virus dominating flu season this year and striking children the most.

The virus appeared to emerge in grade school age kids first, Hashikawa says, but he saw a rise of another viral illness in the same family—hand, foot and mouth disease—a couple months earlier. Hand, foot and mouth is more common among infants and young kids, so an online symptom-tracking system might help spot a wider outbreak even before it starts.

Read next: Here’s How to Protect Yourself From Enterovirus

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