Zika emergency but still needs action

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared on Friday that the Zika virus and related neurological complications no longer constitute an international emergency but said that it would continue to work on the outbreak through a “robust program”.

The WHO’s Emergency Committee, which declared an international public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) in February, said in a statement that they felt that “the Zika virus and associated consequences remain a significant enduring public health challenge requiring intense action but no longer represent a PHEIC.”

“We are not downgrading the importance of Zika, by placing this as a longer program of work, we are sending the message that Zika is here to stay,” Dr. Peter Salama, Executive Director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, told a news briefing.

Thomas Powers was one of those unfortunate cases. He died in a Joliet group home for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Grieving relatives of Powers didn’t know there was evidence found of neglect, which included an instance of the 50-year-old, with the intellect of a small child, being forced to sleep on a soiled mattress on the floor in a room for storage.

Other incidents similar or worse than Powers’ experience have also been revealed.

A male group resident was beaten to death by his caregiver after being accused of stealing cookies.

Fertility tests at home

Between fertility apps that track menstrual periods and at-home kits that tell a woman if she’s ovulating and a man if he has a low sperm count, there are more options than ever before that seem to give couples hope.

One in 8 couples in the U.S. struggles to get pregnant and, by 2020, the fertility testing devices market is expected to be worth $216.8 million dollars, according to a report by Markets and Markets.

“Patients ask what can they do at home to be more engaged in their fertility treatment plan,” said Dr. Brian Levine, a board-certified OB-GYN and fertility specialist, and the New York practice director for the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine in New York City. “By offering people the ability to use at-home testing, it affords them the opportunity to be empowered.”

Optimize ovulation

Ovulation predictor kits can help women who have regular cycles optimize their timing to have sex. Although they can give a woman valuable data about her ovulation timing, some experts caution women should only use the kits under a doctor’s care.

“Ovulation predictor kits are useful if you have already established if the patient is ovulating normally,” said Dr. Thomas Price, president of the Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility.

Kits can sometimes give a false positive reading. For example, for women with PCOS, their luteinizing hormone (LH) level may always be elevated, causing the reading to show a surge without optimal ovulation, Price said.

Another challenge is that women may not read or follow the directions correctly. Plus, since they’re sensitive tests, if women use the kits at the wrong time or the wrong part of their cycles, they can be inaccurate.

“Once a patient comes in the door, I have many more effective techniques to offer them as compared to ovulation predictor kits,” said Dr. Marie Werner, a board-certified OB-GYN and high-complexity clinical laboratory director at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey in Eatontown.

There’s an app for that
“Almost every one of my patients is using some sort of a fertility app, whether it’s tracking their menstrual calendars or trying to predict the fertile window with them,” Werner said.

Finds widespread abuse

A newspaper investigation found more than a thousand cases of abuse and neglect of Illinois adults with disabilities who were placed into private group homes.

The Chicago Tribune says its investigation revealed mistreatment inside Illinois’ taxpayer-funded group homes and their day programs, with caregivers failing to provide basic care while regulators conceal harm and death with secrecy and silence.

The investigation found at least 42 deaths linked to abuse and neglect in group homes or their day programs over the last seven years. Residents have been humiliated and lost freedom, state records show.

The Chicago Tribune’s investigation also shows 1,311 cases of documented harm since July 2011 – hundreds more cases of documented harm than publicly reported by Illinois’ Department of Human Services.

Thomas Powers was one of those unfortunate cases. He died in a Joliet group home for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Grieving relatives of Powers didn’t know there was evidence found of neglect, which included an instance of the 50-year-old, with the intellect of a small child, being forced to sleep on a soiled mattress on the floor in a room for storage.

Other incidents similar or worse than Powers’ experience have also been revealed.

A male group resident was beaten to death by his caregiver after being accused of stealing cookies.

Employees at another home abused a female resident by binding her hands and ankles with duct tape, and covering her head with a blanket and leaving her on a kitchen floor for several hours.

In many of these cases, the health and safety of residents has been left to unlicensed and scantly trained employees. The death toll has risen due to caregivers failing to promptly call 911, perform CPR or respond to medical emergencies.

The department in many instances let the group homes investigate allegations of neglect and mental abuse in their own workplaces, the Chicago Tribune found.

Human Services officials retracted five years of erroneous reports after confronted with The Chicago Tribune’s findings and said the department had launched reforms to ensure accurate reporting.

The investigation results from the Chicago Tribune have prompted Human Services Secretary James Dimas to order widespread reforms to improve public accountability and streamline investigations.

Men seeking surgery

Even though Scott Kaiser had a healthy diet and stayed active with regular cardio and weight lifting, he realized he was developing a double chin, something that also seemed to plague other men in his family.

Sure, he would indulge in a glass of wine or a slice of pizza on the weekends, but “it wasn’t worth giving up some of the fun stuff to lose the weight,” Kaiser, 50, said.

Five years ago, he met with plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Burgdorf to talk about liposuction. When Burgdorf told him about Kybella, a non-invasive fat dissolving treatment that wouldn’t require him to go into hiding for a few days, Kaiser was in.

“It sounded like a much better route without having downtime,” he said.

Men feel emasculated

Since Kybella first emerged on the market in 2015, experts say they have seen an increase in men between the ages of 30 and 70 opting for the treatment.

In fact, 73 percent of people say they don’t like the extra fat under their chin and neck, according to a survey by the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery found.

Between 2000 and 2015, cosmetic minimally invasive procedures for men increased 69 percent, according to a report by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. What’s more, men underwent more than 26,902 procedures of nonsurgical fat reduction in 2015, according to a report by The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

“Men associate masculinity with sort of a chiseled jawline, a wide lower face and the absence of a double chin,” Dr. Joseph A. Russo, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Newton, Massachusetts, said.

Once that area becomes softer, men tend to feel less masculine and confident. Although being overweight is one culprit, age or genetics can cause a double chin. The extra fat can also make people look overweight even if they’re lean and fit.

Experts say sometimes men’s wives or partners persuade them to get treatment.

“Men are a little more skittish about coming into the plastic surgeon and [Kybella] is a little more of an acceptable treatment,” Burgdorf, the founder and president of Music City Plastic Surgery in Nashville, Tennessee, said.

Before Kybella became available, doctors offered liposuction or a direct incision as options for double chin improvement, but both are invasive, carry more risks and side effects and include significant downtime.

Kybella is a more benign option, though it does involve injections and possible side effects. In clinical trials, 4.3 percent of participants experienced temporary nerve paralysis as a side effect.

If the solution is injected superficially, the hair follicles can be damaged and result in bald areas, or a skin sore that will heal. Numbness can last up to six weeks.

Some patients may also feel as though they have difficulty swallowing or even breathing after the treatment, but it’s a mental perception, not a physical side effect, Russo said.

Restaurants Do to Save Money

When most people go out to eat, they expect an establishment to prepare their food in a manner that’s representative of the restaurant’s reputation and price point. If you pay $20 or $30 for a meal, you probably expect it to be prepared carefully and with quality ingredients, whereas if you pay three bucks for a meal, you may expect a few shortcuts here and there. But, at the end of the day, even if restaurants microwave nacho cheese sauce or prepare a few ingredients in advance, the meal should still be delicious (and safe) — no matter how much it costs.

But if you have any experience working in the restaurant business, you know that restaurants — as profit-generating businesses — place a great deal of effort into reducing their costs. And, some of these cost reduction tactics are not exactly, well, appetizing to say the least.

There’s no ceremony, and no reception, but some restaurants do marry ketchup bottles on a regular basis. How? Well, they take all of the old, used bottles off of the tables and they combine and refill them. Some even combine the last little bits of the bottles into a bin or some sort of funnel mechanism. Then, they pour all of this ketchup into empty bottles to make bottles that look as good as new, but they’re really not.

A lot of people wonder if marrying ketchup is against health codes. The answer to that question is, “it depends.” According to California’s health code, “Condiments shall be protected from contamination by being kept in dispensers that are designed to provide protection, protected food displays provided with the proper utensils, original containers designed for dispensing, or individual packages or portions.” But, codes vary across locations, and different restaurants have different methods of marrying ketchup — some more sanitary than others.

How can you tell if the ketchup bottle on your table has been married? Well, if you see a glass bottle, that’s a potential red flag. Several years back, Heinz began asking restaurants to stop the practice of marrying. Many restaurants agreed, and now, you’ll see a lot of red plastic (non-refillable) bottles in restaurants. Some establishments still marry the condiment, though. So, if you see a full, glass ketchup bottle that looks used, the pop seal doesn’t break when you open a full bottle, or there are air bubbles inside of the bottle, you may be using married ketchup.