TIME Infectious Disease

What to Know About Legionnaires’ Disease

Four people in New York City have died from Legionnaires’ disease. Here's everything to know about the outbreak:

How serious is this outbreak?
The latest numbers suggest there are now around 65 cases of the disease reported in the South Bronx area of New York City, and four fatalities.

What is Legionnaires disease and how does it spread?
Legionnaires’ disease is a bacterial ailment classified as a type of pneumonia. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Legionnaires’ can be contracted by breathing in water mist that contains the bacteria but does not spread person-to-person.

The New York City Department of Health says the disease is generally traced to plumbing systems like hot tubs, humidifiers, cooling towers and large air conditioning systems. In this case, authorities have determined the disease has spread via five local cooling towers.

How common is it?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 8,000 to 18,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized with Legionnaires’ disease each year. Those most at risk of infection are men and women over age 50, smokers, people with chronic lung disease and those with weak immune systems, according to the NIH. The New York Times reports that cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the city increased to 225 in 2014 compared to 73 cases reported in 2004.

Can it be treated?
Yes. Most people recover with antibiotics, but the disease can be severe, and in some cases, fatal. The fatality rate for the disease can be as high as 30% depending on the outbreak, according to the CDC.

What’s it like to have Legionnaires’ disease?
Most people who are infected will not get sick, but those who do can experience respiratory issues like fever, cough and chills. Symptoms of the infection usually do not emerge until two to 10 days after exposure. The Health Department has warned New Yorkers who experience these symptoms to seek medical attention.

How can I protect myself?
Be wary of sources of water vapor. Hot tubs are one of the more common carriers of Legionnaires’ bacteria, and the CDC recommends hot tub owners be especially diligent about disinfecting their tub’s water. The Times reports many New Yorkers in the affected area are drinking bottled water, though the city has said tap water is safe.

TIME tom selleck

Tom Selleck Just Paid $21,000 to Settle a California Water Dispute

PowerWomen 2013 Awards
Stephen Lovekin—Getty Images Actor Tom Selleck.

A private investigator was hired

Tom Selleck has paid $21,000 to settle a lawsuit that alleged he took water that didn’t belong to him from a Southern California water district.

The New York Post reported that Selleck, star of the TV show “Magnum, P.I.,” wrongly took water to use for his 60-acre ranch. A private investigator had reportedly found that there was a tanker truck with water from a fire hydrant from a neighboring district heading to the ranch. Selleck had been accused of stealing water as far back as 2013, according to Time.

“Underpinning these laws is the concept of basic fairness,” said Thomas Slosson, who is president of the Calleguas Municipal Water District, after a vote accepting the $21,000 settlement. “That is, residents and businesses within the district – the rightful users of district water — paid for the construction, maintenance and operation of the public works necessary to meet their water needs, not those of other landowners outside Calleguas’ legal boundaries.”

The $21,000 covers the money spent for the private investigator.

The news comes as California is continuing to weather a severe drought.

TIME celebrities

Tom Selleck Reaches Settlement Over Claims He Stole Water

Actor Tom Selleck attends the PowerWomen 2013 awards at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York, NY on Nov. 14, 2013.
Anthony Behar—Sipa USA Actor Tom Selleck attends the PowerWomen 2013 awards at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York, NY on Nov. 14, 2013.

The Blue Bloods actor and his wife allegedly stole water from hydrant to use on ranch

Actor Tom Selleck has reached an agreement with the California water district that accused the Blue Bloods star of pilfering water.

Officials from the Calleguas Municipal Water District filed a complaint against Selleck and his wife on Monday, saying the actor had illegally taken water from hydrant outside of their district for use on their ranch. According to KTLA, the couple is accused of stealing water on multiple occasions, dating back to 2013. On Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reports, the two parties reached a settlement.

The details, however, are unclear. The settlement will remain confidential until after district water board meeting next Wednesday where it will have to be approved. The Calleguas district resource manager told the Times they’re “happy’ about the settlement.

“It’s good news,” he said.

[LA Times]

TIME Environment

The Burning River That Sparked a Revolution

Cuyahoga River
AP Images A fire tug fights flames on the Cuyahoga River near downtown Cleveland on June 25, 1952.

June 22, 1969: The Cuyahoga River catches fire in Cleveland, drawing national attention and helping the passage of the Clean Water Act

It was the disaster that ignited an environmental revolution. On this day, June 22, in 1969, the Cuyahoga River burst into flames in Cleveland when sparks from a passing train set fire to oil-soaked debris floating on the water’s surface.

When TIME published dramatic photos of the burning river — so saturated with sewage and industrial waste that it “oozes rather than flows,” per the story — concern erupted nationwide. The flaming Cuyahoga became a figurehead for America’s mounting environmental issues and sparked wide-ranging reforms, including the passage of the Clean Water Act and the creation of federal and state environmental protection agencies.

But the episode itself did not quite live up to its billing. It was not the first fire, or even the worst, on the Cuyahoga, which had lit up at least a dozen other times before, according to the Washington Post. Flare-ups on the river were so common that this particular fire, which was extinguished in half an hour and did relatively little damage, barely made headlines in the local papers.

And industrial dumping was already improving by the time of the 1969 blaze. As the Post points out, “The reality is that the 1969 Cuyahoga fire was not a symbol of how bad conditions on the nation’s rivers could become, but how bad they had once been. The 1969 fire was not the first time an industrial river in the United States had caught on fire, but the last.”

In fact, TIME’s dramatic photos were not even from the 1969 fire, which was put out before anyone thought to take a picture. The magazine instead published archival photos from a much bigger fire on the same river 17 years earlier, in 1952.

The story’s points were valid, however, and even more shocking than the photo spread. Aside from the Cuyahoga, in which there were no signs of visible life — “not even low forms such as leeches and sludge worms that usually thrive on wastes” — unregulated dumping befouled nearly every river that passed through a major metropolitan area. The Potomac, TIME noted, left Washington “stinking from the 240 million gallons of wastes that are flushed into it daily” while “Omaha’s meatpackers fill the Missouri River with animal grease balls as big as oranges.”

While the Clean Water Act might not have prevented any more river fires, which were already on their way out, per the Post, it did force cities to clean up their act, and their water, in other ways.

By 1989, the Cuyahoga was not quite pristine — but it was fireproof, according to the New York Times. Some signs of life had reappeared, including insects and mollusks. And Cleveland’s water pollution control commissioner averred that the Cuyahoga no longer oozed, but “often gleam[ed] and sparkle[d].” Almost like, well, a river.

Read more, from 1969, in the TIME Vault: The Price of Optimism

TIME Food & Drink

The Low-Tech Way to Vacuum-Seal Your Food

Transform a bowl of water into a DIY vacuum-sealer

 

Vacuum-sealing food before freezing really does make it last longer. But unless you have a serious Costco habit, it’s hard to justify buying an expensive, bulky countertop sealer. Luckily, F&W Test Kitchen superman Justin Chapple has an easy hack. Watch this episode of Mad Genius Tips to see how he transforms a bowl of water into a DIY vacuum sealer.

This article originally appeared on FWx.

More from FWx:

TIME Arkansas

Dangerous Levels of E. Coli Found in Arkansas Lakes

Some swimming areas have been shut down

Dangerous levels of E. coli have been found in some Arkansas lakes, leading the state Department of Health to close swimming areas.

According to the Arkansas Health Department, 11 beaches have been closed in the state.

Kerry Krell with the Arkansas Department of Health explained the high bacteria levels to THV11: “The high amount of rainfall is a large factor in these closures; runoff from the land surrounding the swim beaches picks up more bacteria (E. coli) that is naturally present in the waste of nearly all animals.”

The EPA safety threshold for E. coli in water is 126 parts for every 100 milliliters of water, but according to THV11, a sample from the Choctaw swim area was almost four times that much. The Department would have to receive two consecutive clean samples of lake water before reopening the beaches.

Certain strains of E. coli can cause diarrhea, nausea or vomiting.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

12 Reasons Why Dehydration Is Bad for Your Body

Being dehydrated can take a toll on your body and even your mind

It doesn’t take much to become dehydrated. Lose just 1.5% of the water in your body (the human body is usually about 60% H2O), and you’ve reached the tipping point of mild dehydration. It can be brought on by many things—and it can do much more to your body than just make you feel thirsty. Dehydration also brings on health effects ranging from fatigue and smelly breath to more dangerous consequences like distracted driving.

It gives you bad breath

It’s easy to forget to drink water during a busy workday, but at the end of the day you may find people standing unusually far from you when you open your mouth. “Dehydration can give you bad breath,” says Marshall Young, DDS, a dentist in Newport Beach, Calif. “Saliva has important antibacterial properties. When dehydrated, the decreased saliva in the mouth allows bacteria to thrive, resulting in bad breath.” So drink up for your own sake, and for those around you as well.

It makes you crave sugar

Dehydration can mask itself as hunger, particularly sugar cravings. This may happen particularly if you’ve been exercising, says Amy Goodson, RD, sports dietitian for the Dallas Cowboys. “When you exercise in a dehydrated state, you use glycogen (stored carbohydrate) at a faster rate, thus diminishing your stores more quickly.” So once you finish exercising, you will likely crave carbs to help you replenish those glycogen levels and get you ready for your next exercise bout.

It wrecks your workout

Even being slightly dehydrated affects your ability to put effort into your workout. “A 2% dehydration level in your body causes a 10% decrease in athletic performance,” says Goodson. “And the more dehydrated you become, the worse performance gets.” Measured by “perceived exertion,” how hard you feel you’re exercising, you might be working at a 6 but you feel like you are working at an 8, says Goodson.

It dries your skin out

Keeping skin healthy and glowing requires drinking enough water, says Anne Marie Tremain, MD, a dermatologist with Laser Skin Care Center Dermatology Associates in Long Beach, Calif. “It’s best to hydrate from the inside out,” she says. “Depending on your lifestyle you may need to adjust your water intake.” If you work out every day or are a caffeine fiend, for instance, then you’ll need to drink more., because workouts make you sweat and caffeine is a diuretic, which can dehydrate you. For smooth, moisturized skin, Dr. Tremain also suggests keeping showers short (less than five minutes) and using only lukewarm water as hot water can dry your skin out even more.

It may affect your ability to drive safely

Few things are more uncomfortable than being stuck in traffic or on a long drive when you need to use the restroom. Logically, it makes sense to simply not drink water before hitting the road. But new research published in Physiology and Behavior shows that the number of driving errors doubled during a two-hour drive when drivers were dehydrated versus hydrated—an effect similar to driving while drunk (defined by most states as .08% blood alcohol). Since often people purposely avoid drinking prior to a long road trip to prevent bathroom stops, dehydration could increase the risk of traffic accidents.

It makes you tired

A mid-afternoon slump may have more to do with hydration than you think. “When you’re dehydrated your blood pressure drops, heart rate increases, blood flow to the brain slows – all of which can make you tired,” says Luga Podesta, MD, sports medicine specialist at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles, Calif. A lack of water to muscles also makes physical tasks feel more difficult and tiring.

It sours your mood

Cranky much? Drink a glass of water and your mood may change. “Neurological effects of dehydration can cause irritability,” says Dr. Podesta. A small study published in the Journal of Nutrition tested mood and concentration in 25 young women who were either given enough fluids to remain properly hydrated, or who became mildly dehydrated by taking diuretics and exercising. The dehydrated women—who were at a level that was just 1% lower than optimal—reported headaches, loss of focus, and irritability.

It can give you the chills

It may seem counterintuitive, but dehydration can bring on chills. “This occurs because your body starts to limit blood flow to the skin,” says Dr. Podesta. In addition, water holds heat, so if you become hydrated it can be more difficult to regulate your body temperature, which can make you become chilled faster, even when you’re not in a cold environment.

It can cause muscle cramps

A lack of water causes less blood circulation, which can make muscles cramp up, says Ray Casciari, MD, medical director of the La Amistad Family Health Center in Orange, Calif. “The body will protect its vital organs, so it shifts fluid away from muscles and anything that’s not vital,” he says. Muscle cramps can be extremely painful, making muscles feel harder than normal to the touch. Changes in sodium and potassium through sweat loss can also contribute to cramping.

It makes you feel dizzy and foggy

Along with muscles, your brain also gets less blood circulation when you’re low on water, which can make you dizzy, says Dr. Casciari. Additionally, mild dehydration may affect your ability to take on mental tasks and cause you to feel foggy headed, according to a study from the British Journal of Nutrition. Interestingly, a study that appeared in the Journal of Nutrition showed greater mood changes in women than in men, both at rest and during exercise.

It can give you a headache

Dehydration can cause headaches in a couple of different ways. “Lack of water affects your body’s serotonin levels, which can give you headaches,” says Dr. Casciari. In addition, small blood vessels in the brain respond quickly to hydration levels (which is also behind hangover headaches), leading to dull aches and even full-blown migraines. Try downing a glass or two of water the next time you have a headache and you may discover it disappears. You could also eat fruit, which contains a high percentage of water, Dr. Casciari suggests.

It constipates you

Your body needs water to keep things moving through your colon. When you’re not getting enough H2O, your body compensates by withdrawing more fluid from stool, making it harder and more difficult to pass. That said, it’s worth noting that drinking more water when you’re already properly hydrated won’t necessarily relieve constipation caused by other factors, like the medications you’re taking, medical conditions, or a lack of fiber in your diet.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

Read next: 12 Mental Tricks to Beat Cravings and Lose Weight

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TIME Innovation

Why Doubling the Value of Food Stamps Helps Families Eat Better

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Want to help poor families get healthy food? Double the value of food stamps.

By Jay Cassano in Fast Co.Exist

2. How training service dogs is giving veterans a reason to live.

By Chris Peak in Time

3. Can saltwater quench our growing thirst?

By Brian Bienkowski in Ensia

4. High school sets up autistic kids to fail when they reach college. Here’s how to fix the problem.

By Noel Murray in Vox

5. The next big idea for ending poverty is thinking small.

By Jacob Lief in Huffington Post

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Crowdsourcing

World’s First ‘Crowdsourced Country’ Campaign Aims to Solve World Hunger

Jeremiah Heaton hopes to establish an agricultural research center on a slice of unclaimed land to help solve the world's food shortages

A U.S. farmer who professes to have established the “Kingdom of North Sudan” so his daughter could be a princess launched the world’s first “crowdsourced country” campaign Tuesday to nail down his claim.

Virginia resident Jeremiah Heaton is hoping to found a state-of-the-art agricultural research center on some 800 sq. mi. of ostensibly unclaimed land between Egypt and Sudan known as Bir Tawil.

The Kingdom of North Sudan, he says on the Indiegogo crowdfunding page, will be “a nation fully dedicated to researching and developing solutions for our current global food shortages and impending food crisis.”

Through the campaign, Heaton intends to fund some of the world’s top scientists to conduct research at the center and develop sustainable agriculture methods focusing on ways to improve food production using less water.

He’s even offering a range of incentives to garner donations for the project, which he estimates will cost $505.5 million over five years. For $25 you could have an honorary title in the new kingdom, or a knighthood for $300. Meanwhile, $1.5 million will give you naming rights for a future international airport or the capital city for $1.7 million.

You can even donate $2,500 to the campaign to “torment the king” by subjecting him to 48 hours of continuous Justin Bieber music.

Heaton began his wildly ambitious campaign after his 6-year-old daughter asked to be a real-life princess. Taking his daughter’s wish literally, he began searching for terra nullius, or unclaimed land, and found Bir Tawil in East Africa. On June 16, 2014, he visited the area and planted a homemade flag for his new country.

But to go any further with his plan, Heaton must receive legal recognition from Egypt and Sudan, the U.N. and other world bodies, which could prove tricky.

“There’s no way either Egypt or Sudan would let it happen,” Professor Paul Nugent, a former director of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh, told al-Jazeera.

MONEY Food & Drink

Starbucks’ Bottled Water Comes From Thirsty California

A report from Mother Jones found that Starbucks' Ethos water comes from some of the areas hit hardest by California's drought.

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