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Texas Newborns Potentially Exposed to TB Awaiting Test Results

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Health officials began screening more than 700 infants who may potentially have been exposed to tuberculosis at an El Paso hospital over the past year by an employee recently diagnosed with the illness, officials said Monday.

Jessica Martinez, whose son Sebastian was born at Providence Memorial Hospital in October 2013, arrived at the clinic early Monday morning. She told ABC News that she received a letter last week from the El Paso Department of Health asking the family to bring their son in for testing. But she said she had already made an appointment based on information she'd read on Facebook.

"I looked into it myself and found out he was on the list even before I got the official letter," she said.

Infants born between September 2013 and Aug. 25 of this year, when the unnamed female nurse was put on leave after testing positive for tuberculosis, were directed to undergo the screenings. They are being offered for free at a clinic set up at the El Paso Department of Health.

TB infection is spread through coughs and sneezes of an infected individual, health officials said. The disease can lay dormant for years before becoming active.

Martinez said her son had already received a skin test and blood test and was scheduled to undergo a chest X-ray later in the day. She said the testing was pretty fast and medical personnel were cordial but that they didn't provide a lot of answers.

According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, newborns exposed to tuberculosis should be tested as soon as possible since they are at greater-than-average risk to progress quickly to TB disease, including severe forms of TB such as TB meningitis. They are often given a course of medication as a safety measure even if they don't test positive for the disease.

Martinez said her son has been healthy so far but she finds the circumstances frightening.

"The fact that he was just minutes old and we were not able to protect him....There is nothing I can do at this point except pray," she said.

Brittany Ochoh said she had not received a letter but she had "checked the dates" and her son, Carlos Ochoh, Jr., fell into the time period of possible infection. She said she called the department of health on Friday to make an appointment for the 8-month-old and then waited two days over the weekend for a Monday appointment.

"I'm not too happy about the fact where it's been over a year and it's just now being brought to the attention of everybody," she told ABC News, adding that her son had no symptoms but she worried because he has had breathing problems and a heart murmur in the past.

Like Martinez, Ochoh said hospital workers refused to answer any of her questions but told her that it will take an additional two to three days to get test results back.

Health officials confirmed to ABC News that they will have test numbers on Wednesday at the earliest. They said there have been no positive tests as of yet. They declined any further on the situation but said there will be a news conference later this week.

"You always think it could never happen to me and then it does," Martinez said.

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Are You Living in the Best Small City in the US?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The results are in for the best small city in America.

The annual ranking of the 50 most livable small cities in the United States — based on more than 50 factors, including housing, property taxes, schools and safety — has been released by Money magazine, and the top spot goes to McKinney, Texas, for its Southern charm.

Rounding out the top 5 were Maple Grove, Minnesota; Carmel, Indiana; Castle Rock, Colorado; and Kirkland, Washington.

Below are the top 10:

  •     McKinney, Texas
  •     Maple Grove, Minnesota
  •     Carmel, Indiana
  •     Castle Rock, Colorado
  •     Kirkland, Washington
  •     Columbia and Ellicott City, Maryland
  •     Clarkstown, New York
  •     Ames, Iowa
  •     Rochester Hills, Michigan
  •     Reston, Virginia

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Cuddlr App Lets You Hug a Stranger

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There are apps that link people up for dates, and others that guarantee meet-ups for more than that. But a new app called Cuddlr promises users something between the two: a hug.

Charlie Williams, a veteran of the music-finding app Shazam, developed the new app, which promises something different from other sites.

"Many features, such as chat, photo albums, shared interests and likes, can keep users from actually meeting: they just chat for months, or swipe left-or-right, or send photos. On Cuddlr, you get together straight away, have a little cuddle, and then part ways," Cuddlr's website says.

The site sends you a hug request from a willing participant, and it's up to you to accept. If things go well, the site says, it's on you.

"If you want to hang out again, you can exchange information then and there -- but you already know what kind of cuddles they give," the site reads.

The site acknowledges meeting a total stranger online for some affection -- even a seemingly innocuous gesture such as a hug -- is a risky proposition, so the site suggests meeting in public for a squeeze. Further than that, Cuddlr allows a ratings system to try to tamp down the creep factor.

"Users with a substantial proportion of [negative] reports are unlikely to have their requests accepted, and we ban anyone who is consistently using it improperly," the site insists.

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Danica McKellar Dishes on Her Fitness and Diet Routines

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images via ABC(LOS ANGELES) -- Danica McKellar couldn't be happier as she prepares for a wedding she says "perhaps" could happen later this year.

The Dancing with the Stars and Wonder Years star, 39, told ABC News that after getting engaged to Scott Sveslosky in July, she wants a small, intimate affair to celebrate their love.

McKellar added that her son Draco, 4, from her first marriage, would be involved, but she didn't say how.

McKellar says wedding dress shopping has been "easier 'cause everything looks good," after doing a show like Dancing with the Stars.

"Getting in the best shape of your life at 39 is amazing. I've been keeping it up pretty well," she said after the show ended earlier this year.

She's also "been doing Pilates twice a week with a trainer, which I've never done before and I love it."

"It's also diet, I eat really well. I eat really, really healthy food," she said. "I don't drink soda, I don't drink coffee. I barely drink alcohol, I only drink water. I'm very paleo, very little processed food, I try to eat a lot of raw stuff. I'm not a vegetarian, but I eat very clean meat. I don't eat sugar and white bread ... like anything else, you are what you eat."

McKellar spoke to ABC News on behalf of Colgate's "Smile for Picture Day," something dear to her heart, especially as she raises a son and teaches him proper dental hygiene.

McKellar shared her tips on getting the best photos -- including visiting the dentist twice a year and even bringing a little toy or stuffed animal to the dentist so your child has fun, brushing together with your child, playing games and apps that help to "trick" your child into enjoying brushing his or her teeth, and practicing taking pictures before the actual day.

"Sit them down and act like you are taking a school picture," she said of practice. "[Also] give them something funny to think about when the photographer takes their picture."

She continued, "Everything educational can be a game ... it should be fun, should all be games. You want to make sure they develop a love of learning ... why not make things fun for your entire life...teaches him addition, math with games."

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How New STD App Might Change Safe Sex Practices

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When it comes to sex with a new partner, safety can be a huge concern-- but what if proving you're free of sexually transmitted diseases could be as easy as showing your partner your results on a smartphone?

California-based company Healthvana's goal is for people to have easy access to their own health records, including their STD results. They partnered with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation to create a service that sends patients' results from the laboratory right to your smartphone, via their website or an app.

"It's no different if you went to the doctor and got a printout and showed [your partner] that," Healthvana founder Ramin Bastani told ABC News.

The problem is that getting that hard copy from the doctor isn't so easy, Bastani said.

"If I want to go back and get my record, it is such a nightmare," he said. "It's hard to get someone on the phone. And if I go back to the clinic, I wait in line for an hour-plus, just like everyone else, just to see someone and maybe get the records. And the whole time I am anxious and nervous."

And many times when people get tested for STDs, they're told they will only hear back if the news is bad.

"We want to eradicate that idea that no news is good news," Bastani said.

Whitney Engeran, the head of public health at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, told ABC News that the app, which delivers chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and HIV results, helps both patients and their doctors.

"It allows us to move faster with our patients and gives them a lot of quick information," he said. "Because right now if they're negative, we don't necessarily call them –- because we see so many people, we really only call them if they’re positive."

He says the app complies with patient privacy regulations known as HIPAA because users must enter into a secure portal through the app before receiving their results, and no private information is sent through email. Patient records are "located in a secure data center" and only a limited number of Healthvana employees have access to the information, Engeran said.

The Healthvana app launched earlier this summer without the instant record feature. That's being tested in three locations in Florida, through the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Engeran said the foundation wants to roll out the updated app nationwide within the next two months.

Bastani estimates that a few thousand people are already using the instant record feature.

Through the app, users will also be able to easily share their medical records with new doctors, or they can share their results electronically with a potential sex partner who also downloads the app.

Michael Kaplan, president of the charity AIDS United, told ABC News he thinks any app that helps people share their STD results is a great idea.

"What I can tell you as someone who tested HIV-positive back in 1992, with clarity that I wanted my past partners to know, is that my only option back then was calling them -- it wasn't even Facebook or social media," he said.

But he cautions that the app will have to be secure.

"There's always a concern, with credit cards, with other apps, of data getting out," Kaplan said.

Art Caplan, head of the medical ethics department at New York University, said he agrees privacy concerns are an issue, and also worries the app could lead to careless decisions.

"You don't want something like this to make people feel like they don't have anything to be worried about," Caplan said, pointing out that lab results aren't always 100% accurate, and users have no way of knowing what someone has been up to since their last test.

Bastani says he knows the app can't definitively prove a user is "clean," as it will only reveal the results of your most recent test. But, he said, it does show a potential sex partner that you care about your sexual health.

The app is free and does not have ads. It is funded by investors. Healthvana sells the platform to health care providers like the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

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Report: Chris Christie Has Lost 85 Pounds Since Surgery

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is continuing to shed pounds after having weight loss surgery.

The New York Times reports the governor told conservative donors behind closed doors last Friday that he has lost 85 pounds since undergoing lap-band stomach surgery in February 2013.

While the meeting at the Manhattan apartment was off limits to the press, someone in attendance told the newspaper Christie was pressed by donors about his health.

"He did not reveal his current weight, although he said he understood he had to slim down if he wanted to move beyond Trenton," the Times reports.

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TB Testing for Families of over 700 Babies Begins at Texas Hospital

iStock/Thinkstock(EL PASO, Texas) -- Testing for Tuberculosis (TB) begins Monday for the families of more than 700 infants born at Providence Memorial Hospital in El Paso, Texas.

The babies' parents were informed their children may have been exposed to the highly infectious bacterial disease after an employee in the hospital's nursery tested positive last month during a routine annual screening.

The El Paso Department of Public Health will conduct the free testing, according to the El Paso Times. Sierra Providence Memorial Hospital will test more than 40 employees believed to have been exposed.

TB can be a serious risk for infants too young to be vaccinated. It generally requires close contact over an extended period of time for spreading, and can remain dormant for months or years before symptoms appear.

"This is an unfortunate incident that we're going to get through and we're going to help these babies and their moms and dads," El Paso Public Health Director Robert Resendes said.

Chief Medical Officer at Sierra Providence, Dr. Enrique Martinez said it's difficult to say that every hospital employee will be free of any communicable disease, but "we do the best that is out there in terms of recommendations."

The infected employee no longer works at the hospital and is receiving treatment, say officials.

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Homework Time Is a Stressful Time for Many Families

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- Many kids are back at school, and for a lot of families that means Mom and Dad are hitting the books as well.

A new survey by the National Center for Families Learning reveals that more than 60 percent of parents with children in kindergarten through grade eight admit they have trouble helping with their children's homework. That’s up from 49.1 percent in 2013.

For 41 percent of the parents, pushback from their kids is the main reason, while over 33 percent cite difficulty understanding the subject matter. More than 25 percent admit the main reason is they’re too busy, up from just over 20 percent in 2013.

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Children of Marijuana Users Are Three Times More Likely to Use It Themselves

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Are you a parent who smokes marijuana? 

Well, according to a new nationwide survey of young adults ages 18 to 25, children of parents who smoke weed are more than three times more likely to use it themselves.

The survey of 1,051 young adults was commissioned by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation's Center for Public Advocacy.

Among children who reported their moms and dads have used or currently use marijuana, 72 percent indicated they have used it as well. Conversely, 19.7 percent of children whose parents have never used marijuana reported having used marijuana themselves.

Among the youth who smoke weed, just over 15 percent said they started using it before the age of 14.  Almost 35 percent reported using it between ages 14 and 16, and 36.3 percent started using between ages 17 and 19.

Additional findings:

  • Among young adults overall -– both users and non-users -- 40.2 percent think marijuana is not addictive and 36.3 percent think it is not damaging to the brain.
  • Close to 34 percent think edible marijuana is safer than smoking marijuana.
  • Among the respondents who indicated they have used marijuana, 33.1 percent said they have driven while high, while 35.1 percent reported they have been high at school.  Just over 23 percent said they have been high at work.
  • One in five young adults surveyed reported using marijuana daily. Nearly 10 percent use marijuana weekly and another 10 percent use marijuana monthly.
  • Despite the recent legalization of the sale of recreational marijuana in Colorado, young adult respondents in the state do not show much difference in marijuana use and attitudes: 48.7 percent of youth surveyed in Colorado admitted they have used marijuana compared to 40.7 percent in the rest of the country.

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Texas Hospital Investigates Tuberculosis Exposure in Newborn Area

Fuse/Thinkstock(EL PASO, Texas) -- The City of El Paso's Department of Public Health is investigating a tuberculosis exposure at a local hospital affecting more than 700 patients and 40 employees.

Individuals were exposed to a hospital worker with an active case of the disease in the post-partum and newborn nursery area of Providence Memorial Hospital, officials announced Friday. The incident occurred between September 2013 and August 2014.

Health workers are reviewing records to determine which infants and employees were exposed, and the families of patients are being contacted with instructions for free follow-ups and screening.

The employee involved is no longer working at the hospital and is receiving treatment, officials in a statement.

"The health and well-being of our employees and patients is our top priority," hospital representatives added.

While tuberculosis is not highly contagious and generally requires close contact over an extended period of time for spreading, the bacteria can remain dormant for months or years before becoming active.Follow @ABCNewsRadio
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Doctor Explains Why Death at 75 is Right for Him

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Citing the increased chance of Alzheimer's disease among other quality of life factors, one doctor says he wants to die at 75.

Though he makes it clear he does not believe in euthanasia, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, director of the Clinical Bioethics Department at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, raised some eyebrows when The Atlantic published an article written by him discussing the issue.

“I look at the data on disability, I look at the data on Alzheimer’s disease, I look at the data on loss of creativity. And 75 seems to be the right moment where the chance of disability, physical disability is low, you're still not in the high Alzheimer's risk of 30% or 50% and creativity has sort of come to an end,” Emanuel, who also serves as Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania, told ABC’s Dr. Richard Besser during an interview for This Week.

“I coined this term called 'American immortals,' people want to do everything crazily to live as long as possible. Take these protein concoctions, change their diet, exercise like mad, that’s trying to put it off, that’s trying to say I am going to live as long as possible,” he said.

“I am trying to say alright you’re going to live in this amount of time. What are you going to do in that amount of time that is meaningful to you, meaningful to your family, meaningful to your community? That’s what I want people to think about,” Emanuel added.

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Officials Warn Virus Could Sicken, Kill Dogs

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Health officials are warning dog owners to be on the lookout for a deadly canine virus that could sicken or kill their pets.

Dozens of dogs have been killed by the canine parvovirus in New Jersey, according to ABC News affiliate WPVI-TV in Philadelphia.

The American Veterinary Medical Association says the virus is highly contagious and can affect all dogs, although puppies and unvaccinated pets are most at risk.

The virus affects a dog's gastrointestinal tract and symptoms can include lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, vomiting and bloody diarrhea.

The virus is spread though dog-to-dog contact or from contaminated surfaces or items.

Trenton Health Officer Jim Brownlee told WPVI-TV that the virus can spread extremely easily in puppies.

"It's not easy to clean up, it's not easy to pick up and so you're stepping in it, animals are stepping in it and that is exactly the way it's transmitted," Brownlee said.

In worst-case scnearios some dogs have been so sick, that owners have reportedly asked that the animals be euthanized.

"They end up signing their dog over to us as a release and because the dog is very sick we end up having to euthanize the animal," Elaine Thaxton, manager of the Trenton Animal Shelter, told WPVI-TV.

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Swedish Man Acquitted of Rape Due to 'Sexomnia'

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(SUNDSVALL, Sweden) -- A Swedish man who was convicted of rape had his charges overturned after an appeals court found the man could have been asleep during the attack and cited "sexomnia" as a reason he should be released.

Mikael Halvarsson was acquitted of rape this month after experts said he was asleep during the attack and had no memory of the incident, according to a translated court ruling from the Sundsvall appeals court in Sweden.

Halvarsson was accused after the victim woke up as Halvarsson allegedly assaulted her on April 2, 2014. They had been sleeping in the same bed, but they each had their own blanket, according to the translated court documents, which also noted that she called the police the next morning, and they found Halvarsson still asleep in her bed when they arrived.

In the appeal, Halvarsson's previous girlfriend testified that he had previously tried once to have sex with her when she was sleeping. When she stopped him, he then acted confused and asked what had happened.

His mother also confirmed that he had disturbed sleeping patterns before.

While the term sexomnia may seem made up for the purposes of getting away with a crime, Dr. Kingman Strohl, a professor of medicine and director of research at the Sleep Center at Case Medical Center in Cleveland, confirmed it's an actual medical diagnosis that includes unintentional sexual behaviors during sleep.

Strohl, who has no connection to the case in Sweden, said that sexomnia is one kind of parasomnia or undesirable behavior or experience during sleep. More common parasomnias can include sleepwalking or sleep talking.

“Usually people are very scared and also quite confused as to what's going on," Strohl said of patients who report sexomnia. "We look for signs,” of the behavior in the patient’s past, he said. That it has “gone on before and occurs in context of sleep walking and sleep talking."

Strohl said in cases of parasomnias, a person isn't usually dreaming but instead they are undertaking an automatic action, such as walking across a room, drawing a bath, or even driving around the block. According to Strohl, these kinds of sleep behaviors are more common if a person is very tired or has taken sleep aids.

Even though sexomnia is rare, Strohl said there are clear questions and diagnosis tools to figure out if a person suffers from the sleep disorder.

If a person is on trial and wants to claim they were asleep when they allegedly committed a crime, Strohl said doctors had to be particularly careful that people aren't trying to lie about their symptoms.

"You want to know how people react to it. You want to know what the people look like and want to know how each partner reacts to it," said Strohl of diagnosing a sexomnia incident. "You don't want to encourage unwanted sexual advances."

A person who is actually asleep will not have very refined actions or be responsive to their surroundings, Strohl said. For example, a sleepwalker will start walking into a chair and make no move to get around it.

Red flags that could signal a person is faking symptoms would include actions that are more refined and responsive, Strohl said. For example, a person might try to bake a cake in their sleep, but they won't finish baking the cake and then ice it if they are asleep.

Dr. Mark Eric Dyken, a professor of neurology and director of the sleep disorder clinic at the University of Iowa, said he's seen people who attempted to blame parasomnia for their actions.

Dyken said doctors have to be careful to remember that while sexomnia is a real and studied sleep disorder, it is also very rare.

"There are bad people and there are sociopaths," said Dyken, who was also not involved with the case in Sweden. "You worry about people utilizing this diagnosis."

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Insurance Coverage Could Be Obstacle to Genetic Testing That Could Warn of Breast Cancer Risk

monkeybusinessimages/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers say that poor insurance coverage may mean a lack of genetic testing to warn women of their risk of breast cancer.

When breast cancer runs in families, mutations in the BRCA gene puts women at much higher risk of developing the disease. If those mutations are found, steps can be taken to prevent those cancers from developing. However, researchers say, health insurance may be an obstacle for some women.

Looking at data from 11,000 people, the vast majority of them women, from a study done at the University of Michigan, researchers found 2,671 people with cancer who did not receive BRCA testing. About 29 percent said that health insurance coverage was the main reason -- leading researchers to believe that lesser insurance could be a barrier to important genetic testing.

The study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

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Researchers Call for Improved End-of-Life Care

drpnncpp/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers at the Institute of Medicine released a report on Wednesday calling for improved end-of-life care.

"For patients and their loved ones, no care decisions are more profound than those made near the end of life," the study reads. Researchers point out that factors including barriers to access for certain groups, a mismatch between services needed and available, inadequate palliative care and a fragmented delivery system leave significant room for improvement.

The IOM calls for "a person-centered, family-oriented approach, that honors individual preferences and promotes quality of life through the end of life." The need for such changes, researchers say, "should be a national priority."

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