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The Free Press WV

►  Mom Paralyzed After Eating Gas Station Nacho Cheese

Lavinia Kelly went from being a busy, happy mother of three to a partially paralyzed hospital patient after putting nacho cheese on her Doritos at a gas station, family members say. The Sacramento resident, who turned 33 on Wednesday, is one of at least five confirmed cases of botulism involving people who had eaten at Valley Oak Food and Fuel in Walnut Grove, with another four probable or suspected cases, the Sacramento Bee reports. All nine are still being treated at area hospitals. According to a lawsuit filed this week, Kelly, who became ill within hours of eating the cheese on April 21, remains in the hospital in intensive care, unable to speak or even open her eyes on her own, Food Safety News reports.

Relatives say Kelly’s symptoms started with fatigue and progressed to double vision, vomiting, and difficulty breathing. “We just don’t understand why this happened over a bag of chips and nacho cheese,“ partner Ricky Torres tells the Bee. “Really? How does that happen?” Bruce Clark, an attorney specializing in food safety cases, is handling the family’s negligence lawsuit. He says “only human mistakes create the environment for botulinum toxin to form,“ and those mistakes are thankfully rare: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent botulism report, only 15 of the 161 US botulism cases in 2014 were food-borne.


►  As Doctor’s Age Climbs, So Does Patient Death Rate

Having a more experienced doctor might not be best. That’s the message from a Harvard Medical School study published in the British Medical Journal that appears to show patient mortality rate increases with the age of a doctor. The increase is small but significant: In a study of more than 735,000 elderly patients (65 and older) admitted to the hospital between 2011 and 2014—in which researchers accounted for such variables as the severity of patients’ conditions—the 30-day mortality rate was 12.1% when doctors were 60 and older, 11.3% with doctors 50 to 59, 11.1% with doctors 40 to 49, and 10.8% with doctors under 40, reports Ars Technica. That means doctors 60 and above—whose care was more expensive— would encounter one additional death per 77 patients than doctors 40 and younger, per a release.

That’s “comparable to the difference in death rates observed between patients at high risk for heart disease who are treated with proper heart medications and those who receive none,“ and therefore “clinically important,“ study co-author Anupam Jena explains. However, older doctors who saw lots of patients weren’t associated with a boost in mortality rates. The higher caseloads of these doctors may help them maintain their clinical skills, whereas younger doctors, although likely to be up to date on the latest methods and treatments, may see hands-on skills fade if they don’t see lots of patients, researchers explain. They conclude the “continuing medical education of physicians could be important.“


►  We Are Most Attracted to the Faces Around Us

All parents know their kids are the most mind-bogglingly beautiful creatures they’ve ever seen. But this bias for beauty appears to extend beyond one’s offspring to the faces of those we see the most. Researchers report in the journal Human Nature that people tend to prefer choosing mates whose characteristics most closely resemble those of the people they’re surrounded by. “In a world where it is said that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,‘ it might actually be that ‘beauty is in the faces of those we behold,‘ since we grow to like those around us,“ the lead researcher says.

To test this, the team asked both male and female participants to pick out which men and women they found most attractive from digitally manipulated face pairs. They then had a second set of people in another country rate the photos of the original participants, reports Medical Xpress. Sure enough, people were most drawn to the facial characteristics most common in their own populations. For example, both men and women in rural areas of El Salvador and Malaysia, where faces were rated to be heavier-looking than those in urban areas, preferred the heavier-looking female faces in the study. Other factors are, of course, at play. Another study finds that people prefer the faces of those who are well rested, reports the BBC, which is a sign of better health.

In Living….

The Free Press WV

►  Not Sleeping Well? People May Avoid You

Beauty sleep is no myth. A new study out of Stockholm University published in the Royal Society Open Science journal finds a lack of sleep makes a person look “significantly” less attractive, per the BBC. And that’s not all. Swollen eyelids and dark circles around the eyes might also prevent people from hanging out with you, say researchers, who photographed 25 volunteers without makeup after two consecutive nights of about 7.5 hours of sleep and again after two consecutive nights of slightly less than 4.5 hours of sleep, reports the Los Angeles Times. The scientists then showed the photos to 122 strangers in Sweden, who were asked to rate the subject’s attractiveness, health, sleepiness, and trustworthiness, then decide if they’d be likely to socialize with that person, per the Telegraph.

A person’s trustworthiness was rated about the same no matter which photo participants were viewing. But participants were generally less likely to socialize with subjects suffering from a lack of sleep, whom they considered less attractive, less healthy, and more sleepy than subjects who’d gotten a good night’s sleep, according to the study. Researchers have a clear theory on this: They suggest humans inherently avoid those who look tired or ill as a means of steering clear of disease. A tired person might also be viewed as a risk—perhaps they’ll slip up in their drowsiness—whereas people who look more energetic are probably viewed as being better company, researchers say.


►  ‘Odd Retching’ Noise, Then a Mom’s Panic

Fidget spinners, the hottest toy on the market, may also pose a serious choking risk. So says a mother in a Facebook post that’s gone viral with more than 710,000 shares after her 10-year-old daughter swallowed one of the toy’s weighted bearings. Kelly Rose Joniec, a Houston-area mom, had been driving home from a swim meet Saturday when her daughter Britton started to make “an odd retching noise in the back seat,“ she writes. When Joniec saw Britton’s red face and drool in her mirror, she pulled over. After futile attempts to dislodge the piece, Joniec rushed her daughter to an urgent-care facility, which then helped arrange for an ambulance to a children’s hospital, reports the New York Daily News.

Fidget spinners boast nearly silent operation, but their weighted bearings, roughly the size of a quarter, must be cleaned on occasion, reports HuffPost. Britton had popped one in her mouth and it ended up lodged in her esophagus; she had to have it surgically removed on Monday, per the New York Post, but she’s now doing fine. While some claim the toys help students with attention disorders, others are skeptical or at the very least annoyed, and the Daily News notes that some schools have banned them at lunch and in some classrooms. Still, versions of the toy fill the top 20 spots on the list of best-selling toys on Amazon.


►  The 5 Most, Least Obese States

At least one in five Americans are considered obese, but some of them are clustered together geographically. And if you want to avoid a bulging waistline, you’d do well to steer clear of Paula Deen and the South and head West, notes 24/7 Wall St. in compiling its list of the pudgiest states. The worst states, with their obesity rates:

  1. Louisiana, 36.2%
  2. Alabama, 35.6%
  3. Mississippi, 35.6%
  4. West Virginia, 35.6%
  5. Kentucky, 34.6%

And the most svelte states, with their obesity rates:

  1. Colorado, 20.2%
  2. Hawaii, 22.7%
  3. Montana, 23.6%
  4. California, 24.2%
  5. Massachussetts, 24.3%
Find where your state ranks HERE .

In Living….

The Free Press WV

►  He Fought AIDS by Convincing World It Was Security Threat

No one person turned the tide in the fight against HIV/AIDS, but Richard Holbrooke—former US ambassador to the UN and president of the Security Council—was an instrumental part of saving millions of lives from the disease. In 2000, Holbrooke—having visited places like Cambodia and Namibia—was convinced the AIDS epidemic was not just a health crisis but an international security risk, Mosaic reports. This was an outrageous claim to many—no epidemic in modern history had ever been classified as a security matter before—but Holbrooke pushed on. In mid-2010, he got a UN Security Council resolution passed that mandated more AIDS prevention training for peacekeeping forces and asked countries to work together to fight the disease.

While the move was unprecedented, there was certainly reason to treat HIV/AIDS as a threat to—as Holbrooke put it—“the security, the stability of countries.“ By 2002, AIDS had killed more people than any other disease outbreak in history. If left unchecked, experts said it would drop life expectancy in some African countries by more than 20 years and kill 25% of all adults in Sub-Saharan Africa. With higher rates among reproductive-age adults and the military, AIDS could “hollow out” countries, allowing extremists with child soldiers to take over. Treating HIV/AIDS like a security threat convinced governments to fund research and spurred cooperation between countries. This cooperation and funding likely saved tens of millions of lives. Read the full story HERE .


►  ‘Roadkill’ cookbook author publishes again 25 years later

After a quarter-century absence, a West Virginia author has published another tongue-in-cheek book on roadkill cooking.

Jeff Eberbaugh of Elizabeth self-published “Volume III Hillbilly Style Roadkill Cooking - ‘It’s Not for Breakfast Anymore’” in April.

Much of the book includes humorous poems written by Eberbaugh, who doesn’t eat roadkill and doesn’t suggest anyone does. The book does include more than two dozen wild game recipes.

His first roadkill book was published in 1991. He released a second book a year later. He says more than 275,000 copies of his books have been sold.

Eberbaugh says his schedule as a registered nurse allows him time to distribute and market the book. He says he’s attended outdoor shows and other venues across the country.


►  A Nasty Custody Fight May Rewrite Definition of ‘Parent’

The New Yorker is devoting a great deal of space to a custody dispute, but the reason becomes clear soon enough. As the headline on Ian Parker’s piece puts it, the outcome just might “redefine the legal meaning of family.“ The case pits Circe Hamilton, in her mid-40s, against ex-partner Kelly Gunn, in her early 50s. When they were still a couple in 2009, they began the process of trying to adopt an overseas child, and Hamilton kept the process going on her own when the two split up. In 2011, she adopted a toddler from Ethiopia named Abush, and Gunn became his godmother. Abush and Gunn would develop a “strong bond,“ writes Parker. Flash forward to 2016, when Hamilton, a freelance photographer, decided to move back to her native England with Abush. On the eve of her departure, Gunn stunned Hamilton by declaring herself a co-parent and going to court to stop the trip. It worked.

The story details not only the intricacies of the relationships between the two women and Abush, but the still-murky case law surrounding such cases. In April, a judge ruled against Gunn, deciding that Hamilton had proven that their plan to be adopt a child together had been terminated before Abush came along. The case is now going to appellate court, however, meaning that Hamilton and Abush remain in New York City. (The court has the boy’s passports.) “This guy doesn’t get to tell me I’m not Abush’s parent,“ says Gunn of the judge. Hamilton, meanwhile, is incredulous. “It’s as if you gave me the keys to your apartment and, suddenly, I’m saying, ‘The apartment is mine,’” she said at one point. “What the f—-? Where does it end?” Click to read the full story, which has background on the other cases that have a bearing on this one.


►  Potentially Record-Setting Cat Has a Taste for Kangaroo

What’s it take for a cat to grow so long it’s in contention for a Guinness World Record? Good genes, a good home, and lots of raw kangaroo meat, apparently. “It’s the only meat we could find that he actually wants to eat,“ Stephy Hirst tells the BBC. The Australian woman is the owner of a 3-foot-11-inch-long Maine Coon named Omar. The Melbourne resident created an Instagram account for Omar a few weeks ago, and one of his photos was shared 270,000 times on Cats of Instagram. Then Guinness came calling. Now, Hirst is waiting to hear if she’s officially the owner of the world’s longest cat, beating the record from another Maine Coon that measures 3 feet 10.5 inches. (According to the Independent, the myth about Maine Coons and their size is they are the result of semi-wild cats breeding with raccoons.)

Hirst tells Perth Now the 31-pound Omar likes to “laze around.“ “You don’t make it to 14 kilograms climbing trees and jumping fences,“ she says. The laid-back cat is having a hard time dealing with his newfound fame—TV and newspaper interviews and even an offer to be a water company’s spokescat, the Herald Sun reports. Hirst tells the BBC Omar “had a little bit of a meltdown.“ That’s why she’s not worried about whether he actually sets the Guinness record. But owning a massive cat isn’t all world records and internet fame. “He does take up a bit too much room on the bed,“ Hirst says. The famously large kitty sleeps on the couch.

In Living….

The Free Press WV

►  Study: Mail-Order Abortions 95% Effective

Medical abortions done at home with online help and pills sent in the mail appear to be just as safe as those done at a clinic, according to a new study. The research tracked the outcomes of 1,000 women in Ireland and Northern Ireland, who used a website run by a group called Women on Web to get abortion pills. The Netherlands-based nonprofit provides advice and pills to women seeking an early abortion in more than 140 countries where access to abortion is restricted. To use the service, women complete an online form, which is reviewed by a doctor. They are sent two drugs in the mail—mifepristone and misoprostol—and given instructions on how to take the pills.

About 95% of the women in the study reported successfully ending their pregnancy; nearly all were less than nine weeks pregnant. The researchers said less than 1% reported side effects like nausea and fever, comparable to the rates for women who seek medical abortions at clinics where abortion is legal. Seven women needed a blood transfusion and 26 received antibiotics. No deaths were reported. Follow-up information was missing for about one-third of the 1,500 women who were sent pills over three years, so some complications may have been missed. Women on Web provided the data and the patient feedback for the study.


►  10 States With the Biggest Drug Problems

The United States as a whole is battling an opioid epidemic, but certain states are harder hit by drugs than others. Colorado, for example, has the highest percentage of teenagers and adults who use illicit drugs, while West Virginia has the most overdose deaths per capita, reports WalletHub. The site ranked the 50 states and the District of Columbia on these factors and others, including drug arrests and opioid prescriptions, to find the states with the biggest drug problems. The top 10:

  1. District of Columbia
  2. Vermont
  3. Colorado
  4. Delaware
  5. Rhode Island
  6. Oregon
  7. Connecticut
  8. Arizona
  9. Massachusetts
  10. Michigan

Click for the FULL LIST.


►  They Just Met Last Week. She’s Giving Him a Kidney

When Wisconsin police officer Lindsey Bittorf saw a Facebook post from a nearby mother begging for a kidney donor for her 8-year-old son, she knew she needed to try to help—even though she’d never met the family. The 30-year-old got tested to see if she was a match, and says doctors were “shocked” she was such a good one, considering she’s not related to the boy, Jackson Arneson. “This is seriously, like, meant to be,“ she tells WISN. “It’s going to be me.“ Last week, Bittorf showed up at Jackson’s home to surprise his family with the good news, ABC News reports. She told Jackson’s mom, Kristi Goll, it was an “early Mother’s Day gift,“ GazetteXtra reports.

“I took an oath to serve and protect our community, and now my kidney’s going to serve and protect you,“ she told Jackson, who was born with a kidney condition known as Posterior Urethral Valves. Goll went on Facebook after family and friends got tested and none turned out to be a match. “I always knew these days would come, it’s just so hard when they are here,“ she said in her December post explaining that Jackson’s kidney function was decreasing and he was in need of a donor. Bittorf, who is also a mom, says simply, “I would hope that someone would save my child’s life” if needed. The transplant surgery is scheduled for June 22.

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