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Journalist Who Contracted Ebola Now Disease Free


Ashoka Mukpo

(OMAHA, Neb.) -- The freelance cameraman who contracted Ebola while working with NBC in Liberia is now disease free, he tweeted Tuesday.

Ashoka Mukpo was transported from Liberia to the Nebraska Medical Center's biocontainment center on Oct. 6.

The medical center announced Tuesday that he was free of the disease and would be released from the hospital on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old made the announcement himself, tweeting that he is "Ebola free and feeling so blessed."

 

Just got my results. 3 consecutive days negative. Ebola free and feeling so blessed. I fought and won, with lots of help. Amazing feeling

— ashoka (@unkyoka) October 21, 2014



Throughout his treatment he opened up via Twitter about how he still is not sure how he contracted the disease but does not regret going to Liberia to help spread the word about Ebola's impact on west Africa.

 

 

For the record - no idea how I got it. It was something fluky. My best guess is I touched a surface and didn't chlorinate fast enough.

— ashoka (@unkyoka) October 20, 2014



He wrote about the "endless debt, endless gratitude" he owes to his supporters, mentioning how the head of Doctors Without Borders' burial team took time to visit Mukpo while he was still being treated in Liberia.

 

 

I was around a lot of sick people the week before I got sick. Thought I was keeping a good distance, wish I knew exactly what went wrong.

— ashoka (@unkyoka) October 20, 2014

 

 

But I don't regret going to Liberia to cover the crisis. That country was a second home to me and I had to help raise the alarm.

— ashoka (@unkyoka) October 20, 2014

 

 

I'll have time to say more the next few weeks, but for now, I'm in awe of my good fortune. I'm a very very lucky person. #blessed

— ashoka (@unkyoka) October 20, 2014

 

 

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Family Denies Teen Was 'Scared to Death' at Haunted House


iStock/Thinkstock(MIDDLETOWN, Ohio) -- The 16-year-old girl who collapsed and died after visiting an Ohio haunted house was not “scared to death,” her family says.

Christian Faith Benge was on a family trip last week to the Land of Illusions haunted house in Middletown last week when she collapsed.

Benge’s mother, Jean Benge, said she and a paramedic performed CPR on the teen before she was taken to a local hospital. The teenager was pronounced dead after arriving at the hospital.

Benge said she has been frustrated by early news reports insinuating that her daughter was “scared to death.” Benge, however, cited a life-long congenital defect as being responsible for her daughter’s not-surprising death.

Benge said her daughter was born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia. The condition means abdominal organs move into the chest because of a hole in the diaphragm, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The defect had been fixed when Christian Faith Benge was an infant, Jean Benge explained, but there was long-term damage related to the condition, including an enlarged heart and one nonfunctional lung. She said her daughter was never told to avoid certain stressful situations, such as so-called haunted houses.

“It had enlarged four times her natural size,” Jean Benge of her daughter’s heart. “It kicked out. When she collapsed, she died instantly.”

After talking to the coroner, Benge said she believes her daughter’s heart could have given out anywhere and that they just happened to be at a haunted house.

The Warren County Coroner in Ohio will not officially release a cause of death until toxicology tests return.

Benge said she is trying to focus on her daughter’s managing to survive far longer than expected and the many friends in her school and local church. She said doctors had not been optimistic that the girl would live past infancy and even sent her home to die when they couldn’t do anything else to help her, Benge said.

"My husband named her [because] Christian faith is the reason why she lives," Benge said. "People rule out miracles in our society. She was a living proof that God still works miracles."

There are some cases where patients with cardiac conditions should avoid stressful situations, but such cases are rare, according to Dr. Sahil Parikh, a cardiologist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland.

Parikh, who did not treat Christian Faith Benge, said the most common reason for sudden death is an arrhythmia, when a heart’s electrical system malfunctions and can cause the heart to stop beating or to beat irregularly. In cases similar to the one described by Jean Benge, when the heart is enlarged, the patient can be more at risk for sudden heart failure.

“The heart gets bigger and bigger as it gets weaker and weaker,” Parikh said. “It was trying to compensate.”

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Utility Workers Indicted Over Brain-Eating Amoeba Testing


File photo. iStock/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) -- Two Louisiana utility workers have been indicted for allegedly failing to test the water supply for a brain-eating amoeba and then lying about it.

In late August, St. John the Baptist Parish officials told 13,000 people in three Louisiana towns that the deadly amoeba, called Naegleria fowleri, had been found in their water supply. The following month, state police officers began to inspect inconsistencies in the water inspection data, according to ABC New Orleans affiliate WGNO.

Utility workers Kevin Branch, 54, and Danielle Roussel, 43, were both indicted Monday on one count of failing to perform a duty required of a public employee and another count of creating and maintaining false public records, according to the indictment obtained by ABC News.

"It's unbelievable really because we trust them. We thought they were doing their jobs, and I'm kind of shocked," resident Sandra Remondet told WGNO. "I can’t believe it."

Naegleria fowleri causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, an extremely rare but almost invariably fatal brain infection, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The amoeba thrives in warm freshwater and enters the brain through the nose. This infection is not caused by drinking water contaminated by the amoeba.

A 4-year-old boy from a nearby parish died last year after contracting the amoeba while playing on a Slip 'N Slide. Afterward, New Orleans flushed its water supply with chlorine.

According to the grand jury indictment filed Monday, investigators compared the water inspection logs with data from the GPS devices on Branch's and Roussel's parish vehicles and concluded that Branch did not stop at 30 of the 48 water inspections he claimed to have done between Aug. 1 and Aug. 27. And Roussel did not stop for three of the six inspections she claimed to have completed over the same period, the indictment states.

Both Branch and Roussel were given 24 hours to surrender to the parish jail, according to a statement from the Louisiana attorney general.

There have been 132 other reported cases of Naegleria fowleri infections between 1962 and 2013, with only a handful occurring each year, according to the CDC. By comparison, about 10 people die in unintentional drownings per day, the agency said. Four of those Naegleria fowleri cases occurred in Louisiana.

In July, 9-year-old Hally Yust died after being infected with the amoeba in Kansas.

Neither Branch nor Roussel could be reached for comment. The Louisiana attorney general's office said information on their attorneys was not available.

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Study Investigates What Traits Make a Kid a Future Killer


iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- Is there any reliable way to predict whether a child will grow up to be a murderer?

Alex Piquero, a University of Texas at Dallas criminologist, says trying to figuring that out is extremely difficult.

About the only two factors that many killers have in common is that their IQ is usually lower than other criminals and they were generally exposed to extreme violence at some point in their lives.

Piquero says in studying 1,350 serious juvenile offenders who mostly committed felony crime, the average IQ of the 18 convicted of murder was 79 compared to 85 for the others. The young killers were also more apt to witness a crime such as assault or rape.

However, Piquero contends that so-called risk factors such as drug use or mental illness are not good indicators of whether a juvenile will turn into a murderer because so many young criminals also have these problems.

Murder, he concludes, is usually driven by the situation.

Piquero says the best way of dealing with the problem is by improving education and lowering neighborhood violence.

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Michael Strahan’s Trainer Reveals How to Get in “Magic Mike” Shape


ABC/Ida Mae Astute(NEW YORK) -- Want to know Michael Strahan’s secret weapon for getting into ripped, chiseled, rock solid Magic Mike-worthy shape? Meet his personal trainer, celebrity fitness guru, Latreal “La” Mitchell.

As a Pro Football Hall-of-Famer, Strahan was already pretty physically fit. But Mitchell has helped transform his body into tip-top shape, skyrocketing his confidence and muscle tone to conquer the silver screen -- shirtless.

But that trim transformation doesn’t come overnight, even if you’re a celebrity.

“The best weight-loss tip I can give is being patient,” Mitchell told ABC News. “If someone gains weight over the last 10 years, they want to lose it. All of a sudden they want to lose it now. So be patient and start eliminating things slowly, and the weight will definitely come off.”

Now Mitchell is giving our ABC's Good Morning America viewers a free personal training session live on the ABC News website, helping to continue the new workout while you watch the series called All-Access Celebrity Workout. It’s another 30-minute livestream workout that you can do right along with us from the comfort of your own home.


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Take a look at Mitchell’s extra workout tips to keep you in A-list shape:

  1. It's not important how you got to be this way, it's important that you are taking care of yourself now.
  2. Break the scale obsession and its emotional and eating roller-coaster -- instead look at how your clothes fit and how you feel.
  3. Be kind to yourself -- congratulate yourself on accomplishments and forgive your failures.
  4. Renew your commitment to taking good care of yourself every day.
  5. "Eat to live, don't live to eat."

As with any exercise routine, if you have any concerns about starting a workout regime, check with your health care professional to see whether it’s right you.

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Sugary Soda Linked to Cellular Aging


iStock/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Sugary soda seems to do more damage to the body than previously suspected.

University of California San Francisco researchers contend, “Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas might influence disease development, not only by straining the body’s metabolic control of sugars but also through accelerated cellular aging of tissues.”

In other words, the DNA of people who drink the equivalent of 20 ounces of sugary soda daily is almost five years older than those who don’t consume carbonated beverages.

Since diet soda doesn’t have the same effect on cellular aging, the researchers assume the heavy sugar content in most sodas is to blame.

If there’s an upside to the study, it’s that Americans are consuming less sugary drinks than in years past.

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There's a Secret to Eating a Healthier Bowl of Pasta


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- People love pasta but it's not exactly the healthiest thing for you. For example, the carbohydrates in pasta can cause weight gain while the glucose from the starch spikes the body's blood sugar.

However, a show called Trust Me, I'm A Doctor on Britain's BBC suggests there's an easy way to reduce some of the less beneficial effects of pasta.

The solution, according to Dr. Denise Robertson of the University of Surrey, is to let your pasta cool down before eating it and then, reheat it.

Robertson had people eat freshly made pasta, pasta that was cooled down or reheated pasta with each participant then giving a blood sample every 15 minutes for two hours.

The result was that while cold pasta reduced the blood sugar increase, reheated pasta actually cut the increase by 50 percent compared to the just cooked pasta.

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Those Who Feel Good About Aging Take Better Care of Themselves


iStock/Thinkstock(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) -- Middle-aged Americans who don’t have a problem with getting older tend to take better care of their health.

Eric Kim, a University of Michigan doctoral student, says in a study that too many people 50 and older seem resigned to the fact that a certain amount of physical and mental decay is inevitable so to them, it makes little sense to take advantage of preventative health care services.

That's why Kim says it’s important to have a positive mindset about the aging process. He explains that when people are comfortable in their own skin and hope to remain vigorous and healthy in their 50s, 60s and 70s, they get their cholesterol checked regularly and undergo colonoscopies.

For men, higher aging satisfaction also involves prostate exams while women will undergo a mammogram/X-ray or pap smears.

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CDC Issues Updated Guidelines on Ebola Treatment


Credit: James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Monday new guidance for the use of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers treating patients with Ebola.

Noting successful and safe treatment of patients at Emory University Hospital, Nebraska Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., the CDC put out "enhanced guidance" focusing on ensuring no skin is exposed when personal protective equipment is used, and that all healthcare workers are trained, practiced and competent with PPE and are supervised by a trained monitor who watches every worker put PPE on and take them off.

Hospitals are advised to have at least two options of personal protective equipment, designated areas for putting PPE on and taking it off, trained observers and disinfection of gloved hands.

Still, the CDC warns that focusing only on changes to PPE can give a "false sense of security" and that training and practice is integral.

In order to stop the spread of Ebola in healthcare settings, hospitals should also make sure they enact prompt screening and triage of potential patients, limited personnel within isolation rooms and effective environmental cleaning.

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Third Ebola Patient Treated at Emory University Hospital Released


Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- A patient who was hospitalized at Emory University Hospital last month with the Ebola virus was discharged on Sunday, the hospital said.

The patient, who was not identified, was the third Ebola patient treated at Emory University, following Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol. According to a hospital statement, the patient was discharged after being "determined to be free of virus and to pose no public health threat," and asked to remain anonymous.

A fourth patient, Amber Vinson, who contracted Ebola while treating Thomas Eric Duncan -- the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States -- at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, remains at Emory University Hospital. She arrived at Emory on Oct. 15.

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The Heartbreaking Poem a Nurse Who Cared for Thomas Eric Duncan Wrote in Tribute


Will Montgomery(DALLAS) --  The last nurse to leave the hospital room where Thomas Eric Duncan died has written a poem about the Ebola patient, penned during the sleepless days after Duncan's death, a source told ABC News.

The source provided the poem to ABC News, noting that the nurse who wrote it asked to remain anonymous. Duncan, the first person in the United States to be diagnosed with Ebola, died at the Dallas hospital on Oct. 8. Two of the nurses who cared for Duncan -- Nina Pham, 26, and Amber Vinson, 29 -- have been diagnosed with Ebola.

(Editor's note: THR refers to Texas Health Resources, the company that owns Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.)

This is the poem:

A message to you

Inspired by the THR Family

You came to us sick, frightened, confused
What happened next became international news.
We saw you so ill, with everything to lose
Our goal was to help you because that’s what we do.
Alone in a dark ICU room
We fought for your life, our team and you.
We cared for you kindly
No matter our fear
You thanked us each time that we came near.
As each day pressed on, you fought so hard
To beat the virus that dealt every card.
No matter how sick or contagious you were
We held your hand, wiped your tears, and continued our care.
Your family was close, but only in spirit
They couldn't come in; we just couldn't risk it.
Then the day came we saw you in there
We wiped tears from your eyes, knowing the end was drawing near.
Then it was time, but we never gave up
Until the good lord told us he had taken you up.
Our dear Mr. Duncan, the man that we knew
Though you lost the fight, we never gave up on you.
All of us here; at Presby and beyond
Lift our hats off to you, now that you’re gone.
You touched us in ways that no one will know
We thank you kind sir for this chance to grow.
May you find peace in heaven above
And know that we cared with nothing but love.

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Man Runs Marathon Forwards and Backwards


Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Ryan Chukuske never imagined eight years ago that he would run a marathon, let alone one twice in one day. But the Minnesota runner proved otherwise Sunday, running 52.4 consecutive miles in the Mankato Marathon. The run is 26.2 miles long.

"The slogan is, 'Go Bold for Mankato,’" he said. "So, my friend said why don't you do something bold this year. I don't usually say no to any running challenges."

Chukuske, 33, began the day at three in the morning, running the entire course backward in four hours and 10 minutes before taking his spot at the starting line at 8 a.m. when the official race began. He finished with a rank of 272nd out of 444 in 4 hours and 30 minutes.

"I'm number one in 52 [miles]," he said laughing, adding that he finished in eight hours and 40 minutes altogether.

Chukuske started running in 2006 in an attempt to lose weight. He weighed 270 pounds, about 80 to 90 pounds overweight at the time.

Now, the 180-pound runner has turned his guide for a healthier lifestyle into a passion, having written two books on the subject and run in over 30 races and marathons, including the New York City Marathon, the Chicago Marathon and the Walt Disney World Marathon.

"I'm trained to run like this all the time," he said. "I put into 80 to 100 miles a week consecutively."

He ran his best time of 3 hours and 27 minutes last year in the 2013 Mankato Marathon, compared to Dennis Kipruto Kimetto, the male with the fastest marathon record of 2 hours, 2 minutes and 57 seconds, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Kimetto achieved the record in September 2014 at the Berlin Marathon, which is the same length as Mankato.

Guinness could not confirm whether there is a record for running a marathon backward and forward, though it does have a record for running a marathon backward, held by Xu Zhenjun, who achieved it in the 2004 Beijing International Marathon in three hours, 43 minutes and 39 seconds.

Chukuske dedicated his performance this year to those who are unable to run because of physical impairments, saying that he runs "for everyone. I put in miles for people who want to but can't."

When asked whether he would consider running the 52.4 miles again, he replied, "In a heartbeat."


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Children of Ebola Specialists Shunned, Hospital Says


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Children whose parents work with Ebola patients are being disinvited from birthday parties, according to one hospital.

Dr. Mark Rupp, an infectious disease specialist at the Nebraska Medical Center, spoke at the hospital in an attempt to calm fears surrounding the Ebola virus. During his remarks he mentioned that a child belonging to a staff member in the biocontainment unit, where a freelance cameraman is being treated for Ebola, was invited to a birthday party. Later the child was disinvited once the host found out where the child’s parent worked.

Rupp said employees don’t plan on speaking to the media, but earlier on Monday the hospital tweeted about their experiences.

"Children of parents who are working in our Biocontainment Unit are being shunned. This isn't helpful or appropriate,” read one tweet.

"Having children shunned at birthday parties or soccer games because their parent works in the Bio Unit is irrational,” read another tweet.

Nebraska is one of four hospitals in the country that is fully equipped and has a staff trained in dealing with highly infectious diseases such as Ebola. The CDC has said that among the many misconceptions the public has about Ebola is that the virus can easily spread from casual contact.

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Dallas Nurses Call Colleagues Who Contracted Ebola 'Heroes'


Pham family/ Debra Barry(DALLAS) -- On Monday, nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital hailed as "heroes" their two colleagues who contracted Ebola caring for Thomas Eric Duncan -- the Liberian national who became the first person to be diagnosed with, and die of, Ebola in the United States.

Despite criticism against the Dallas hospital for mishandling the Ebola situation in recent days, chief nursing officer Cole Edmonson said the nurses were "devastated" by Duncan's death, but nevertheless "proud" of their work. His colleague, nurse Chantea Irving, called media reports "widely inaccurate," but none of the nurses elaborated on the investigations under way to determine why Duncan was initially sent home and how the nurses contracted Ebola from him.

"The men and women of this hospital worked tirelessly to save Mr. Duncan," said emergency department nurse Julie Boling. "Some things went wrong and we're proud to say [the hospital] owned those things."

Nurses Nina Pham, 26, and Amber Vinson, 29, were diagnosed with Ebola last week and are being cared for at the National Institutes of Health hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, and Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, respectively. Both women cared for Duncan between Sept. 28 and Sept. 30, before he was isolated and when he was extremely contagious because he was vomiting and having diarrhea, officials said.

Duncan arrived at Texas Health Presbyterian on Sept. 26, but was sent home with antibiotics despite telling a nurse about having recently been in Liberia. He returned two days later in an ambulance when his symptoms worsened and was diagnosed and isolated. He died on Oct. 8.

Pham tested positive for Ebola in Dallas on Oct. 12, making her the first person to contract the deadly virus in the U.S. Vinson tested positive for Ebola on Oct. 15.

Later that day, the National Nurses' Union released a statement critical of Texas Health Presbyterian's Ebola protocols. Dr. Dan Varga, the chief clinical officer of Texas Health Resources, which owns the Dallas hospital, last week told Congress that its employees never got face-to-face Ebola training.

Vinson was flown to Emory on Oct. 15, the same day she was diagnosed at Texas Health Presbyterian. Pham had initially asked to stay at the Dallas hospital where she treated Duncan and was diagnosed with Ebola, but at the hospital's request, she was flown to the NIH facility on Oct. 16.

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Ebola Quarantine Ends for Louise Troh with 'Praise to God'


ABC News(DALLAS) -- When Louise Troh, the fiancee of Ebola victim Thomas Duncan, emerged from a three week quarantine Monday she reached both hands up to heaven and said, "Praise to God."

Troh has been in quarantine since Duncan was diagnosed with the disease. She was among 43 who were released from quarantine Monday.

Troh was delighted to no longer be confined.

"Praise to God. I am free. I am so happy…All thanks to God," she said, according to a spokesperson for Troh who spoke to ABC News.

Troh was delighted to no longer be confined, but her pastor said she currently has nowhere to go. Her lease was up on Sept. 30, and she and her family were temporarily staying in a donated apartment for part of the quarantine.

"She doesn't have a permanent residence at this point," said Pastor George Mason of Wilshire Baptist Church. "She's lost everything that she owns in the apartment. She lost the man she loves."

Duncan, the Liberian national who arrived in Dallas in late September to visit family, went to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas with Ebola symptoms on Sept. 26, but was sent home with antibiotics. He returned in an ambulance two days later when his symptoms worsened and was diagnosed with Ebola and placed in isolation.

But he spent more than a week around friends and family, who have been under close observation for the last three weeks amid fears that they, too, contracted the deadly virus. But none of them have shown any Ebola symptoms, officials said. Forty-three people are no longer under active monitoring, but about 120 people are still being monitored for possible Ebola symptoms, according to the health department.

The eight children who were released from Ebola quarantine Monday were expected to return to school on Tuesday, but four of the children surprised school officials by arriving on Monday, according to a statement from the Dallas Independent School District.

"While we had planned on them coming back to school Tuesday. They were obviously eager to return back to the school environment and decided on their own to attend," said Superintendent Mike Miles. "Because they have been cleared by medical authorities and pose no health risk to any students or staff, we have no intent on sending them home. Their interest in getting back into school is encouraging."

Duncan died on Oct. 8 at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Two nurses contracted the virus from him, Nina Pham, 26, and Amber Vinson, 29. They are being treated for Ebola at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, and the NIH hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, respectively.

Troh, Duncan's fiance, released a statement last week, announcing that she'd received an apology from the hospital for failing to save him. Although members of her family said he was treated unfairly, she said, "It is my position that God is the judge of others and their actions, and vengeance is not mine to demand. God is the judge, and God will take care of me."

The last people being monitored should Ebola should be out of the 21-day incubation period on Nov. 7, according to the health department.

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