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Why more adults are getting "kids' diseases"

 

By DENNIS THOMPSON

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Chickenpox befell Angelina Jolie this week, preventing the actress-turned-director from attending the premiere of her new film.

Meanwhile, an outbreak of mumps has hit the National Hockey League, sidelining more than a dozen players and two referees.

These are considered kids' diseases. Most adults have vivid, fretful childhood memories of standing in line to get vaccinations that they expected to provide lifetime protection.

Why, then, are these prominent adults -- and scores of others -- coming down with these infections?

Mainly, it comes down to two factors, experts say.

Vaccination rates have declined among children in some parts of the United States, increasing everyone's risk of exposure to virulent diseases like chickenpox, measles, mumps and whooping cough, said Dr. Aaron Glatt, a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

"These vaccines are not perfect," said Glatt, who's also executive vice president of Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre, N.Y. "If you don't have a perfect vaccine and you couple that with a less-than-ideal number of people getting it, then if one person gets it then it's more likely to spread to others."

On top of that, even adults who got their shots as kids are at risk of contracting these diseases once exposed to them, because the protection provided by childhood vaccinations can fade over time.

"You can be vaccinated for something and have antibodies that wane over time or disappear entirely," said Dr. Len Horovitz, an internist and lung specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "You can have intermittent immunity, or no immunity."

America's public health defense against infectious diseases is built on a concept called "herd immunity," Glatt explained. If enough people are vaccinated against diseases like chickenpox, influenza, mumps and whooping cough, then even those who aren't vaccinated benefit because those who are immune can't spread the disease.

Skepticism over the effectiveness and safety of vaccines has caused vaccine rates to decline in some parts of the country, Horovitz and Glatt said. In those locations, adults with waning or imperfect immunity could fall prey to childhood infectious diseases, particularly if there's an outbreak.

"There is less vaccination going on than there was previously," Glatt said. "These childhood diseases have not gone away, and there is a strong anti-vaccine lobby that plays a role in people's decision to have their children vaccinated."

Since the early 1980s, there has been an overall increasing trend of whooping cough in the United States, said Angela Jiles, a spokeswoman for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Between Jan. 1 and Aug. 16 of this year, the CDC received reports of 17,325 cases of whooping cough, a 30 percent increase from the same time period in 2013 and the most cases seen in six decades, Jiles said.

California is experiencing its worst outbreak of whooping cough in seven decades.

There also have been more reported mumps cases in the United States this year, due to some larger outbreaks, according to the CDC. A reported 1,078 people have contracted mumps in 2014, compared with 438 the year before. In 2006 -- the worst year in recent history -- there were 6,584 cases of mumps, largely due to outbreaks on college campuses, according to the CDC.

No one has said how Jolie might have contracted chickenpox, but many of the NHL players appear to have gotten mumps from each other, despite efforts by the hockey league to get players vaccinated.

A single dose of mumps vaccine is about 80 percent effective, and two doses is about 90 percent effective, Amy Parker Fiebelkorn, an epidemiologist with the CDC's measles, mumps, rubella and polio team, told The New York Times.

"There is no vaccine that's 100 percent effective," Fiebelkorn said. "There is some margin for fully vaccinated individuals to still be infected with mumps if they're exposed to the virus."

Unfortunately, adults who contract these diseases are in for a rougher ride than children. They are more likely to develop serious complications, and are at higher risk of death, Glatt and Horovitz said.

These viruses also can increase a person's risk of future illness. For example, chickenpox patients like Jolie have a lifetime risk of shingles, a disease that can cause terrible rashes and intense nerve pain. The chickenpox virus hides in deep reservoirs inside the human body, and then emerges later in life to cause shingles.

Concerned adults can ask their doctor for a blood test that will check their antibodies and see if they remain immune to these infectious diseases, Horovitz said.

"It's something that could be done in the course of your annual exam. It takes no more than an extra tube or two of blood," the same as regular checks for blood sugar and cholesterol, he said. "It would be particularly important for people with chronic medical conditions or who do a lot of foreign travel where these diseases are running rampant."

People also can talk with their doctor about vaccinations that are recommended for adults. For example, the CDC recommends that adults get a booster shot every 10 years for tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough, as well as an annual flu shot.

Source: www.cbsnews.com

Thumbs-up for mind-controlled robotic arm

 

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A paralysed woman who controlled a robotic arm using just her thoughts has taken another step towards restoring her natural movements by controlling the arm with a range of complex hand movements.

Thanks to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, Jan Scheuermann, who has longstanding quadriplegia and has been taking part in the study for over two years, has gone from giving "high fives" to the "thumbs-up" after increasing the manoeuvrability of the robotic arm from seven dimensions (7D) to 10 dimensions (10D).

The extra dimensions come from four hand movements--finger abduction, a scoop, thumb extension and a pinch--and have enabled Jan to pick up, grasp and move a range of objects much more precisely than with the previous 7D control.

It is hoped that these latest results, which have been published today, 17 December, in IOP Publishing's Journal of Neural Engineering, can build on previous demonstrations and eventually allow robotic arms to restore natural arm and hand movements in people with upper limb paralysis.

Jan Scheuermann, 55, from Pittsburgh, PA had been paralysed from the neck down since 2003 due to a neurodegenerative condition. After her eligibility for a research study was confirmed in 2012, Jan underwent surgery to be fitted with two quarter-inch electrode grids, each fitted with 96 tiny contact points, in the regions of Jan's brain that were responsible for right arm and hand movements.

After the electrode grids in Jan's brain were connected to a computer, creating a brain-machine interface (BMI), the 96 individual contact points picked up pulses of electricity that were fired between the neurons in Jan's brain.

Computer algorithms were used to decode these firing signals and identify the patterns associated with a particular arm movement, such as raising the arm or turning the wrist.

By simply thinking of controlling her arm movements, Jan was then able to make the robotic arm reach out to objects, as well as move it in a number of directions and flex and rotate the wrist. It also enabled Jan to "high five" the researchers and feed herself dark chocolate.

Two years on from the initial results, the researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have now shown that Jan can successfully manoeuvre the robotic arm in a further four dimensions through a number of hand movements, allowing for more detailed interaction with objects.

The researchers used a virtual reality computer program to calibrate Jan's control over the robotic arm, and discovered that it is crucial to include virtual objects in this training period in order to allow reliable, real-time interaction with objects.

Co-author of the study Dr Jennifer Collinger said: "10D control allowed Jan to interact with objects in different ways, just as people use their hands to pick up objects depending on their shapes and what they intend to do with them. We hope to repeat this level of control with additional participants and to make the system more robust, so that people who might benefit from it will one day be able to use brain-machine interfaces in daily life.

"We also plan to study whether the incorporation of sensory feedback, such as the touch and feel of an object, can improve neuroprosthetic control."

Commenting on the latest results, Jan Scheuermann said: ""This has been a fantastic, thrilling, wild ride, and I am so glad I've done this."

"This study has enriched my life, given me new friends and co-workers, helped me contribute to research and taken my breath away. For the rest of my life, I will thank God every day for getting to be part of this team."

Source: www.sciencedaily.com

Delayed cord clamping results in better immediate newborn outcomes

 

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At birth, a newborn baby is still attached to its mother through the umbilical cord, which is either cut very early - within the first 60 seconds - or later, with some women opting to wait until after the cord has stopped pulsating. Though the right timing for cutting the cord - also referred to as clamping - is widely debated, a new study suggests delaying cord clamping by 2 minutes results in better development for the newborn during the first days of life.

What do you think about it? Do you think the 2 minutes makes a difference? Perhaps you can share a personal and/or professional experience about this.

The research, carried out by scientists from the University of Granada and the San Cecilio Clinical Hospital in Spain, is published in the journal Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the reason that cord clamping timing is so controversial is that a previous series of studies into blood volume changes after birth concluded that in healthy term infants, more than 90% of blood volume was attained within the first few breaths he or she took after birth.

As a result of these findings, as well as a lack of other recommendations regarding optimal timing, the amount of time between birth and umbilical cord clamping was widely shortened; in most cases, cord clamping occurs within 15-20 seconds after birth.

However, before these studies, in the mid-1950s, cord clamping within 1 minute of birth was defined as "early clamping," and "late clamping" was defined as more than 5 minutes after birth. And the ACOG have stated that "the ideal timing for umbilical cord clamping has yet to be established."

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) advocate for late cord clamping (between 1-3 minutes after birth), as it "allows blood flow between the placenta and neonate to continue, which may improve iron status in the infant for up to 6 months after birth."

Waiting 2 minutes increased antioxidant capacity

To provide further evidence in the debate of early versus late cord clamping, the researchers from this latest study, led by Prof. Julio José Ochoa Herrera of the University of Granada, assessed newborn outcomes for infants born to 64 healthy pregnant women to determine the impact of clamping timing on oxidative stress and the inflammatory signal produced during delivery.

All of these women had a normal pregnancy and spontaneous vaginal delivery. However, half of the women's newborns had their umbilical cord cut 10 seconds after delivery and half had it cut after 2 minutes.

Results revealed beneficial effects of late cord clamping; there was an increase in antioxidant capacity and moderation of inflammatory effects in the newborns.

Commenting further, Prof. Ochoa says:


"Our study demonstrates that late clamping of the umbilical cord has a beneficial effect upon the antioxidant capacity and reduces the inflammatory signal induced during labor, which could improve the development of the newborn during his or her first days of life."

He adds that umbilical cord clamping is one of the most frequent surgical interventions practiced in humans, with proof of the practice dating back centuries. 

Early clamping 'not advised unless newborn needs resuscitation'

With evidence of benefits for delayed cord clamping, however, why are most newborns separated from the placenta within 15-20 seconds after birth? According to the ACOG, there are concerns over universally adopting delayed clamping because it could "jeopardize timely resuscitation efforts, if needed, especially in preterm infants."

"However," the organization states, "because the placenta continues to perform gas exchange after delivery, sick and preterm infants are likely to benefit most from additional blood volume derived from a delay in umbilical cord clamping."

There are also other concerns regarding delayed cord clamping, including an increased potential for "excessive placental transfusion, which can lead to neonatal polycythemia" - an abnormally high level of red blood cells. This is especially of concern in the presence of risk factors including maternal diabetes, intrauterine grown restriction and high altitude.

Another concern stated by the ACOG is that delayed umbilical cord clamping "may be technically difficult in some circumstances."

Still, the WHO say late cord clamping is recommended for all births, and the improved iron status associated with it "may be particularly relevant for infants living in low-resource settings with reduced access to iron-rich foods."

The organization clearly states that early cord clamping - less than 1 minute after birth - is not advised unless the newborn is asphyxiated and needs to be moved for resuscitation.

Source: www.medicalnewstoday.com

Boy Struck by Lightning Leaves Hospital in Time for Christmas

 

By SYDNEY LUPKIN

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What does a 9-year-old want after being struck by lightning and forced to spend three months in the hospital? He wants to cuddle his dog and set up his family's Christmas tree.

"He made me do it the first day I was home on Friday," the boy's father, Roger Hermann, told ABC News. "He can't move his legs, but he was directing some of the ornament placement."

Alex Hermann was on a soccer field in Austin, Texas, on Aug. 26, when a bolt of lightning struck him and stopped his heart. He suffered burn wounds and hypoxia, which is when the brain can't get enough oxygen.

Over the next three months, Alex underwent skin-grafting and wound-closure surgeries, as well as cardiac ablation, which corrects heart arrhythmias, at Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas. He still has a "number of issues" to address over time, but he's improving.

Although the hospital staff was great, Hermann said, Alex became homesick. Hermann added that he and Alex's mother promised that if he worked hard in therapy, they would try to get him home for Christmas.

Alex was also reunited with his beloved dog, a Catahoula Australian shepherd named Spice, who seemed pleased to have her buddy back.

"She sleeps on the bed with him," Hermann said. "She’s been guarding him."

Source: http://abcnews.go.com

The debilitating outbreak sweeping the Americas

 

By Meera Senthilingam

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Its name means "bending over in pain." It has no treatment or vaccine. Its symptoms resemble Dengue fever. And it has infected more than 1 million people -- 155 of them fatally -- since spreading to the Americas one year ago.

The mosquito-borne Chikungunya virus has long been diagnosed in travelers returning from countries in Asia and Africa, where the disease is widespread. But in December 2013, the first people infected by mosquitoes local to the region were reported on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin.

This was the first outbreak of the debilitating disease in the Western hemisphere, health officials said.

All countries in Central America have now reported local transmission of Chikungunya [pronounced chik-un-GOON-ya], and the United States had 11 confirmed cases of local infection this year as of December 12, all in the state of Florida. There also have been 1,900 imported cases across the U.S. in returning travelers.

"It wasn't until 2013 that unfortunately a traveler resulted in local transmission of Chikungunya," said Erin Staples of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), referring to the people infected in Saint Martin.

Those infected carry the virus in their bloodstream; it can then be picked up by mosquitoes as they bite, making them carriers. The virus has since spread rapidly and shows no signs of leaving, as ecological conditions are perfect for the disease to flourish.

"We knew it would spread," said Staples, a medical epidemiologist.

The big question perplexing officials: Why now?

Two mosquito species primed to the temperatures of Central and South America carry Chikungunya. The species -- Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus -- also carry the virus behind Dengue fever.

"Given the level of Dengue in the region, we knew there could be the same levels of Chikungunya," Staples said. Both diseases can cause joint pain and inflammation, headaches, rashes and fever, and can lead to death in rare cases.

But this tropical disease with an exotic name (which originates from the African Makonde dialect) causes more intense joint pain and inflammation. For some people the pain can last for months or years, resulting in additional psychological strain.

The lack of immunity among people living in the Americas provided a blank canvas for Chikungunya to spread throughout the population this year. As of December 12, more than 1.03 million people have been infected, in addition to the 155 who died, according to the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO). Almost all of the fatalities occurred in the Caribbean island countries of Guadaloupe and Martinique.

"Where we saw the biggest jump was after it reached the Spanish-speaking countries in the region," said Staples, referring to the weakened infrastructures and health systems of countries such as the Dominican Republic, which has reported more than 520,000 cases -- more than half of the overall outbreak and 5% of the island country's population.

As South American countries approach their summer, numbers are expected to rise there as the mosquitoes flourish in the heat.

"Brazil, Peru, Paraguay are coming into their summer months and reporting their first local transmission," Staples said. Already, more than 2,000 people have been infected in Brazil.

Is there cause for concern?

Because infection with Chikungunya is rarely fatal, the issue of most concern to officials is the burden on health services and the impact of the debilitating symptoms on the economy.

"The high number of cases can overload health services," says Dr. Pilar Ramon-Pardo, regional adviser for PAHO, the regional office of the World Health Organization. Until recently, monitoring for Chikungunya was not part of routine surveillance in the region.

"Clinicians have to be ready to diagnose," she said

About 20% to 30% of cases are expected to become chronic, with symptoms such as arthritis and other rheumatic manifestations leading to physical disabilities, Ramon-Pardo said. Further long-term effects are psychological as people become more depressed and tired.

All of this can result in missed work and lower school attendance, she said, hurting local economies.

Is it here to stay?

The warm climate of the region offers potential for Chikungunya levels to be maintained for years to come, just like Dengue fever. But areas of most concern are the tropics.

"The areas which have year-round favorable climate for the mosquito are at the greatest risk," says Dr. Laith Yakob of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which is monitoring the spread of the outbreak.

While the climate and mosquitos have long been present, Ramon-Pardo said, "we don't know why this is happening now." She said globalization is likely to blame, with increased population movement from one country to another. This offers more opportunities for local mosquitos to bite infected humans.

The CDC's Staples said she is temporarily at ease regarding numbers in the U.S. "We're moving into fall and winter periods, which should see activity decrease," she said. Cold temperatures reduce mosquito survival rates.

The rapid spread of Chikungunya this year also could help minimize future infections. "Chikungunya will go through a region quite rapidly and create a level of population immunity which helps mitigate large outbreaks of the disease," Staples said. Unlike Dengue, infection with Chikungunya results in lifelong immunity.

Like many other infections, Chikungunya could, however, remain in the background through animals capable of carrying the virus in their bloodstream and acting as so-called reservoirs of the disease.

"In Asia and Africa there is a transmission cycle in small mammals and monkeys," Ramon-Pardo said, meaning these animals keep the virus present within the population. "In the Americas ... we don't know yet."

Those words -- "we don't know" -- resonate throughout the community of scientists and government officials trying to control the outbreak.

The future risk of spread, levels of future immunity, risk from animal reservoirs, why this is only happening now, and the total economic impact are all unknown.

"Mathematical models are under construction by numerous research groups around the world to improve confidence over projections of future spread," said Yakob, whose team is modeling the disease. As they work, control efforts continue.

Getting it under control

When it comes to controlling Chikungunya, there are two main strategies -- reduce the likelihood of bites and remove the ever-biting mosquito. Prevention is the priority.

Unlike the mosquitoes behind malaria, which bite at night, the species behind Chikungunya bite any time, day or night. Those living in affected areas are asked to use repellent, sleep under bed nets and wear long clothing to avoid getting bitten. The air conditioned and indoor environments of people living in the U.S. mean numbers are likely to stay low there.

But mosquito control is at the heart of it all. Mass spraying of insecticides and removal of any sources of shallow water in which mosquitoes can breed are taking place across the continents. According to the CDC's Staples, Florida has been highly aggressive with its approach to control. "We're only at 11 (cases) due to such proactive measures," Staples said. For now, prevention is all they have as officials wait and see how the outbreak pans out.

"There is no vaccine currently and no good antivirals, so we are trying to control the spread of the disease," Staples said. "There are a lot of questions and only time will tell what we'll see for Chikungunya in the future."

Source: www.cnn.com

Toddler giggles when implant lets him hear mom's voice for the first time

 

By Terri Peters

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When 2-year-old Ryan Aprea had cochlear implant surgery in November, his mom, Jennifer, says she wasn’t sure what to expect when the device was activated a month later.

Aprea shared the moment last week in a video that has now gone viral. In the clip, the Huntington Beach, California, mom says, “Hi, Buddy,” to her son, and is rewarded with a reaction she calls “amazing” — a fit of giggles from her little boy.

Born as a micro preemie at only 25 weeks gestation, Aprea says Ryan began his life with a seven-month stay in the neonatal intensive care unit, where she and her husband learned that he was deaf shortly before his discharge.

But a cochlear implant offered hope.



 

“We went into the appointment not knowing if he would respond at all. Throughout this process, they had informed us that while sound would enter his brain, every child has a different response. We weren’t sure if his brain would process the sound, but we wanted to give him a chance to hear us and communicate because he is also visually impaired,” said Aprea.

Aprea, who has posted frequently about the cochlear implant process on the Facebook page of her cloth diaper supply company, tells TODAY Parents that since the activation, Ryan has been doing great — exploring toys that make sounds for the first time and taking in his surroundings with his newfound ability to hear.

“He’s been interacting with us and giving us more intentional eye contact just in the few days since he’s had it turned on. My heart melts every single time he looks at me,” said Aprea.

As for future plans for Ryan’s treatment, Aprea says she and her family are taking things one day at a time. The mother of two says she’s looking forward to taking her son for a drive to look at holiday lights while listening to Christmas music — a tradition her family shares every year, but one that will have new meaning this season.

Aprea says she is shocked that her video has gone viral, adding that she looks forward to seeing more people learn about cochlear implants as videos and articles about stories like Ryan’s become more prevalent.

She’s heard a lot of strong opinions about cochlear implants from online commenters — including some negative ones — and offers some advice to parents dealing with big decisions about their child’s health care.

“You know your child better than anyone — I learned that one in the NICU. You need to do what’s best for him or her and give them every opportunity available to succeed in life. I would say, do a lot of research, talk to people who have been through it with their own kids, and then go with your heart,” she said.

Source: www.today.com

'Bald' Cinderella Shows Girl With Leukemia You Can Be 'Perfect' With Or Without Hair

 

By Kimberly Yam

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This little girl received a boost of confidence from a Disney princess that made her feel like she was in a fairy tale.

Isabella Harvey, 5, of Staten Island, New York, was first diagnosed with leukemia in January 2013, and while she went into remission for over a year, she relapsed this September and needed aggressive chemotherapy. The 5-year-old's hair began falling out, making her upset at her appearance.

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"She was embarrassed," Isabella's mother, Pina told The Huffington Post in an email. "When her hair fell out the first time she was 3 so she really didn't understand. But now she is 5 and was having a hard time dealing with it."

In an effort to get Isabella to see herself in a more positive light, Pina reached out to Gianna Nicole’s Heart of Hope, an organization which helps families whose children are battling cancer. The charity teamed up with Bella Princess LLC, a princess party company to set up a photo shoot late last month for Isabella -- complete with special guest, Cinderella. The model who dressed as the Disney princess donned a bald cap, and showed the young cancer patient that she had nothing to be insecure about.

"After all she went through ... it was such an amazing feeling seeing her so happy," Pina told HuffPost.

Before finding out that Cinderella would be attending her special day, Isabella, who was accompanied by her siblings, was hesitant to participate in the photo shoot, uncomfortable with showing her head.

"At first she didn't want to go. Then, she said she would go with a hat on, and when we got there she still refused to take off her hat," Pina said about of her daughter's uneasiness.

It all changed, however, when Cinderella walked in, confident even without hair.

"She said, "she looks just like me!'" Alana Hubbard, the photographer behind Mother Hubbard Photography who shot the images, told HuffPost.

Pina added, "Her face lit up and seemed to relax a little. Isabella took off her hat. She was so happy and seemed more at ease taking pictures."

The photo shoot ended up having quite an effect on the 5-year-old, who recently saw the pictures for the first time.

"It re-enforces what I tell her every day -- that she is beautiful. That photo shoot just made her realize everyone feels the same way as [I do]," Pina told HuffPost.

Hubbard says she's ecstatic to hear about Isabella's newfound confidence, and hopes that the pictures will provide others going through the same thing with some comfort.

"We're really hoping that it shows other little girls who may be going through cancer too, that you can be a perfect princess with or without hair," Hubbard said.

Source: www.huffingtonpost.com

A Friend Gave Her An Antibiotic; Now She's Fighting For Her Life

 

By Tony Marco and Catherine E. Shoichet

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 It started with a sore throat on Thanksgiving and an antibiotic from a friend who wanted to help.

Now 19-year-old Yaasmeen Castanada is fighting for her life inside a California hospital's burn unit, suffering from an allergic reaction that's so severe she has large open wounds all over her body.

"It is heartbreaking, every day is a different look. Every day, she's like, shedding away. ... Overnight, it's a whole different person that you're looking at," Martha Hughes, Castanada's aunt, told CNN affiliate KABC.

Doctors diagnosed Castanada with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a rare disease that can be triggered by antibiotics or other medications.

"When she took the medication, she started having a hard time breathing, and she told her mom that her lips were burning, her throat, her eyes, they got so red that she couldn't talk. So she rushed her to the ER, and that's when they diagnosed her with the disease. And from there it has just spiraled to a nightmare," Hughes said.

Now Castanada, the mother of a 4-month-old, is in critical condition at the University of California, Irvine, burn center.

Her prognosis is good, even though the disease has a high mortality rate, according to Dr. Victor Joe, the center's director.

But the situation, Castanada's family says, has been devastating.

"Just unreal, just watching your daughter burn in front of you, literally, burn in front of you," her mother, Laura Corona, told KABC. "Every day, a new blister, a new burn, a new scar. And she's just, 'Mommy, I want to go home.' And I can't take her home. I can't put water on her lips."

Mom: 'Don't share medication'

On a website created to raise funds for Castanada's care, her mother said the harrowing ordeal began soon after her daughter took the medicine.

"A friend offered her an antibiotic pill that she had from a previous illness," Corona wrote. "She was thinking that it would help her. This would be the biggest mistake of her life."

Now, Corona says she's hoping to spread the word so others don't make the same mistake.

"Don't share medication. Don't give someone else your medication. Don't offer medication," she said.

She also advises parents to find out what their children are allergic to -- before it's too late.

Doctor: Reaction causing skin to separate

At first, doctors diagnosed Castanada with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, which refers to a condition where between 10% and 30% of the skin on the body is affected, Joe said. Now she's experiencing Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis, the diagnosis when more than 30% of the body is affected. Joe estimates that 65% of Castaneda's skin and mucus membranes have been affected.

The allergic reaction is causing layers of Castaneda's skin to separate, Joe said, creating lesions that grow into large open wounds.

"Patients can experience problems with taste, swallowing, eyesight and sexual functions can be affected. In Yaasmeen's case, we are particularly concerned because her eyes have been affected. This can cause scarring of the corneas, which could lead to permanent blindness," he said. "We are trying to prevent that from happening."

Photos on the fundraising website show Castanada lying in a hospital bed, with openings for her eyes cut from the bandages that cover her.

As part of her treatment for the disease, doctors have wrapped her body in a special dressing, Joe said.

"We have chosen to place a dressing that adheres to the open wound, which allows her skin to heal without having to remove the bandages to wash the wounds," he said.

Mortality for those suffering from Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis can be as high as 25% in adults, but tends to be lower with early treatment, according to the Merck Manual.

Though it's uncommon, Joe said his hospital has treated around six cases in the past year, because the burn center has experience treating open wounds.

"This is very sobering. The fact that you can get a life-threatening situation from taking a medication. It can happen, and most people don't think twice about taking pills for things," Joe said. "In fact, most of the time you do have some sort of side reaction to medication, just not this severe."

After recovering from Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, patients usually only have minor issues with their skin, such as dryness, Joe said.

"Hopefully new skin will come in," Corona told KABC. "I'm just there watching. All I can tell her is, "Hang on, hang on. It's almost over.'"

Source: www.cnn.com

Woman Who Saved Relatives From Ebola Coming To U.S. For Nursing School

 

By Jen Christensen and Elizabeth Cohen

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A young Liberian woman who saved three of her relatives by nursing them back to health after they contracted the Ebola virus is coming to the United States to finish her nursing degree.

The news comes as Time magazine announced Wednesday that its "Person of the Year" honors go to the Ebola fighters, the "unprecedented numbers" of doctors and nurses who responded when Ebola overtook an already-weak public health infrastructure this year in West Africa.

Fatu Kekula is not named in the article, but she definitely holds a place among those being honored.

The 22-year-old, who was in her final year of nursing school earlier this year, single-handedly took care of her father, mother, sister and cousin when they became ill with Ebola beginning in July.

And she did so with remarkable success. Three out of her four patients survived. That's a 25% death rate -- considerably better than the estimated Ebola death rate of 70%.

Kekula stayed healthy, which is noteworthy considering that hundreds of health care workers have become infected with Ebola, and she didn't even have personal protection equipment -- those white space suits and goggles used in Ebola treatment units.

Instead, Kekula invented her own equipment. International aid workers heard about her "trash bag method" and taught it to other West Africans who can't get into hospitals and don't have protective gear of their own.

Every day, several times a day for about two weeks, Kekula put trash bags over her socks and tied them in a knot over her calves. Then she put on a pair of rubber boots and then another set of trash bags over the boots.

She wrapped her hair in a pair of stockings and over that a trash bag. Next she donned a raincoat and four pairs of gloves on each hand, followed by a mask.

It was an arduous and time-consuming process, but she was religious about it, never cutting corners.

UNICEF Spokeswoman Sarah Crowe said Kekula is amazing.

"Essentially this is a tale of how communities are doing things for themselves," Crowe said. "Our approach is to listen and work with communities and help them do the best they can with what they have."

She emphasized, of course, that it would be better for patients to be in real hospitals with doctors and nurses in protective gear -- it's just that those things aren't available to many West Africans.

No one knows that better than Kekula.

Her Ebola nightmare started July 27, when her father, Moses, had a spike in blood pressure. She took him to a hospital in their home city of Kakata.

A bed was free because a patient had just passed away. What no one realized at the time was that the patient had died of Ebola.

Moses, 52, developed a fever, vomiting and diarrhea. Then the hospital closed down because nurses started dying of Ebola.

Kekula took her father to Monrovia, the capital city, about a 90-minute drive via difficult roads. Three hospitals turned him away because they were full.

She took him back to another hospital in Kakata. They said he had typhoid fever and did little for him, so Kekula took him home, where he infected three other family members: Kekula's mother, Victoria, 57; Kekula's sister, Vivian, 28, and their 14-year-old cousin who was living with them, Alfred Winnie.

While operating her one-woman Ebola hospital for two weeks, Kekula consulted with their family doctor, who would talk to her on the phone, but wouldn't come to the house. She gave them medicines she obtained from the local clinic and fluids through intravenous lines that she started.

At times, her patients' blood pressure plummeted so low she feared they would die.

"I cried many times," she said. "I said 'God, you want to tell me I'm going to lose my entire family?' "

But her father, mother, and sister rallied and were well on their way to recovery when space became available at JFK Medical Center on August 17. Alfred never recovered, though, and passed away at the hospital the next day.

"I'm very, very proud," Kekula's father said. "She saved my life through the almighty God."

Her father immediately began working to find a scholarship for Kekula, so she could finish her final year of nursing school. But the Ebola epidemic shut down many of Liberia's schools, including hers.

After a story about Kekula ran on CNN in September, many people wanted to help her.

A non-profit group called iamprojects.org also got involved.

With some help, Kekula applied to Emory University in Atlanta, the campus with the hospital that has successfully cared for American Ebola patients. Emory accepted the young woman so that she could complete her nursing degree starting this winter semester.

In order to attend, iamprojects will have to raise $40,000 to pay for her reduced tuition rate, living expenses, books and her travel and visa so that she can travel between Africa and the United States.

Kekula's father has no doubt that his daughter will go on to save many more people during her lifetime.

"I'm sure she'll be a great giant of Liberia," he said.

Source: www.cnn.com

Toilet-Trained Therapy Horse Entertains Seniors in Retirement Homes

 

therapy horse entertains seniors BBCvideo resized 600

A nine-year-old horse has become a surprise hit at care homes across England.

Do you think this type of therapy will be used in America's future?

Rupert is a regular visitor to residential homes, where he entertains and interacts with aging residents.

Equine therapy has been shown to reduce stress and improve hand-eye coordination.

 Source: www.goodnewsnetwork.org

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