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Ebola Outbreak Enters Sixth Month with No End in Sight

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Though two American aid workers have recovered from Ebola, the outbreak continues to spread in West Africa with no end in sight.

At last count, the virus had killed at least 1,427 people and sickened 1,188 more -- numbers thought to “vastly underestimate” the outbreak’s true toll, according to the World Health Organization.

The outbreak emerged in March and quickly became the deadliest on record. An estimated 46.5 percent of all Ebola deaths recorded since the virus's discovery in 1976 have occurred in the last five months, according to WHO data.

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Toxic Tea Victim Continues to Improve

iStock/Thinkstock(SALT LAKE CITY) --  The Utah woman who burned her mouth and throat drinking iced tea made with a toxic cleaning agent is improving.

Jan Harding, 67, is slowly recovering at a Utah hospital, now able to speak, less than two weeks after nearly dying from a simple sip of ice tea, unknowingly laced with toxic industrial cleaner.

Now, Harding's attorney Paxton Guymon is claiming this wasn't the first such incident, alleging an employee at the Utah restaurant, Dickie's Barbeque Pit, also burned her tongue a month earlier on the same substance, a degreaser made up of sodium hydroxide or lye.

Guymon says the company could be held accountable, saying, "To me it means that the company was on notice that there was a hazardous substance that wasn't properly labeled, that wasn't properly controlled."

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Walgreen's Prescription Database Back Up After Temporarily Glitch

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Walgreen's pharmacies nationwide were unable to fill prescriptions for part of the day Friday due to a technical problem.

A spokesman says Walgreen's was performing a maintenance update of the prescription database when they encountered a technical problem.   

They were forced bring the retail pharmacy system offline, impacting all 8,200 pharmacies nationwide.

The company didn't say how many customers were impacted while the problem was being fixed.  

The Illinois-based drug store announced after 1pm CT that all the pharmacies were back up and running.

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Does Eating Breakfast Really Help Weight Loss?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Is breakfast still the most important meal of the day?

A recent study found eating or not eating breakfast made no difference in terms of weight loss among 300 participants over a period of 4 months.

But registered dietitian Keri Glassman says focusing on that first meal starts your day with more energy and focus and may stop you from overeating later in the day.

"When you don't eat breakfast your hunger hormone, ghrelin, doesn't have a chance to decrease. So when you eat breakfast, even if it's a small tiny, like a really little breakfast, a little bit of calories in the morning tell your hunger hormone to pause," Glassman said.

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Man Hands Foul Ball Catch to Terminally-Ill Mom

iStock/Thinkstock(DETROIT) -- John Oberg was amazed to catch a foul ball a Detroit Tigers game last week, and promptly handed it to his mother.

Though the catch was great, what was most surprising was that he was at a game with his mom at all. He didn’t expect her to live through the winter.

In January, Karen Oberg was given less than three months to live with stage IV lung cancer. But she was determined to fight it. So when her insurance company stopped covering her chemotherapy mid-treatment, her son launched a petition.

The confusion was eventually resolved, but John Oberg was terrified that the lapse in his mother’s care would cause the cancer to worsen.

“To just hear the doctor say the words, ‘Your results look great,’ just filled my heart with joy,” John Oberg said of his mother’s recent CT scan.

Karen Oberg, 59, had “no evidence of disease” at her August scan, according to her son. Doctors expect her stage IV lung cancer to come back eventually, but for now, the pair are enjoying their time together.

The Tigers game was the first baseball game the two had attended in the last two years, John Oberg said. Though there were more than 4,000 people in the stands, the foul ball came hurtling toward the 27-year-old, who stretched out his gloved hand and caught it.

“I handed it off to my mom immediately because I knew it would mean a lot to her,” he said.

Karen Oberg did a little wave for the cameras, and the sweet moment was declared the official “play of the game,” John Oberg said.

“I did not think that we’d be where we are now and I’m so overjoyed that we are,” he said.

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Why American Ebola Survivor Got So Many Hugs

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Hugging took center stage at Emory University Hospital on Thursday as officials announced that American Ebola patient Dr. Kent Brantly would be discharged after spending three weeks in the isolation ward.

Far from fearing that they would catch the deadly virus, dozens of hospital staff members wrapped their arms around Brantly and held onto him for several seconds before letting him move on to the next person. And that’s exactly what experts say was needed to remind Americans that Ebola survivors are no threat to the general public.

"There was not a tentative hug in the group. They all went cheek-to-cheek," said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. "It was exactly the right thing to do. It was wonderful."

Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News chief health and medical editor, agreed.

"The image of Dr. Kent Brantly hugging the medical staff will do much more than words in dispelling fear of contagion in the community," Besser said.

Brantly was among two American aid workers who caught Ebola while working in Liberia. He and missionary Nancy Writebol were given doses of an experimental Ebola drug and flown to Emory earlier this month for supportive care.

Writebol was released on Tuesday. Brantly was discharged on Thursday.

"I will not forget you and all that you have done for me," Brantly said, turning behind him to look at a gaggle of medical staff members in scrubs and white coats.

Though more than half of the 2,473 people who’ve become ill with Ebola in West Africa since March have died, those that have survived have been shunned and feared.

But Schaffner said those who have recovered from the virus are not contagious. Though Ebola virus lingers in semen and vaginal fluid for a few extra weeks, survivors are not a threat to the general public.

Still, it may take more than words to convince the public of this, he said.

"I'm reminded of Princess Diana hugging HIV-infected children," Schaffner told ABC News. "That’s what you need. You need other validating people to grasp Kent Brantly by the hand, say, 'Welcome home,' and then put their arms around him."

And that's just what they did.

When asked about the hugs during the press conference after Brantly left, Dr. Bruce Ribner, who oversees Emory's isolation unit, told reporters, "If the hugging translates that we don't think it's contagious, that’s accurate."

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Breast Enhancement Now Available in 20-Minute Procedure

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With laser treatments, manicures and professional makeup jobs all available in half an hour or less, there’s no shortage of instant glamour these days. And now, there are instant breast enlargements.

Kali Goodwin, 27, recently got the new procedure, known as the Insta Breast.

Goodwin, who lives in the New York City area, said the occasion was her fifth anniversary with her boyfriend.

"I got this really great dress and I'm kind of hoping that, at year five, it will be a bigger night than most," she told ABC News.

Instead of a push-up bra, Goodwin chose the 20-minute procedure that involves having saline solution injected into one's breasts. The instant lift effect lasts for 24 hours.

"The saline gets absorbed by the body," said Dr. Norman Rowe, a Manhattan-based plastic surgeon who performs the procedure. "It's for the women who don't have time for implants."

Each procedure costs between $2,500 and $3,500, he said.

Celebrity image consultant Amanda Sanders said she has had the procedure done twice.

"I wish I could do it every day, truthfully," Sanders told ABC News. "Once I did them for an event and the second time was for a vacation."

The procedure may be quick, but it’s not without risk, experts said.

According to ABC News’ Dr. Jen Ashton, any time a break is made in the skin, “whether it’s with a needle or a scalpel,” there are risks for infection, nerve damage or a hematoma, in which a blood vessel breaks and blood pools in tissue or muscle.

Rowe told ABC News the only side effect he has seen among his patients is bruising.

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Adequate Sleep at College Is a Precious Commodity

iStock/Thinkstock(TUSCALOOSA, Ala.) -- College is a time for classes, studying and socializing, which obviously doesn’t leave much time for snoozing.

In fact, a University of Alabama survey of sleep behaviors and attitudes found that 60 percent of college students aren't getting enough sleep, compared to a third of the general population, which makes the same claim.

Unlike the rest of America, Dr. Adam Knowlden says that it’s not medical problems that keep most students up, but stress and a lack of time. Meanwhile, the majority don’t consider the health benefits of adequate sleep in their decision to burn the candle at both ends while at school.

Knowlden chalks it up to the feeling of independence young adults experience when they’re away from home. Of course, this makes it more difficult to find the right “balance between juggling classes, finances, social lives, athletics, volunteer work, parental expectations and employment.”

If they want to improve their sleep behaviors, according to Knowlden, students need to reduce stress, which can be done by learning how to better manage time and money.

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Botox May Stop Spread of Stomach Cancer

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Botox is largely considered a vanity drug because it solves non-life-threatening problems, such as wrinkles on the forehead or crow’s feet. However, Botox could one day be a lifesaver when it comes to fighting at least one form of cancer.

Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, reports on a new study that involved injecting mice with Botox to stop the spread of stomach cancer.

What researchers found was that by paralyzing nerves that connect to tumors, Botox appears to stop the spread and progression of tumors while improving the odds of surviving the cancer.

Lichtenfeld admits that the results are only preliminary and it will take some time before researchers know whether Botox will produce the same results in humans.

Cases of stomach cancer have been rising in recent years due to obesity and reflux diseases. Unfortunately, they’re often not diagnosed until after the cancer is advanced, requiring either chemotherapy or surgery.

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Switzerland: The World Leader in Suicide Tourism

iStock/Thinkstock(ZURICH) -- Most people take vacations to get some rest.  But in some cases, it's for eternal rest.

Apparently, Switzerland is a popular destination to end one's life, according to University of Zurich researchers.

One of the chief reasons is that there are six right-to-die organizations, four of which permit foreigners to use their services.

After examining data, the researchers learned that 611 tourists made Switzerland their last-ever destination vacation between 2008 and 2012.

Germany led the way with 268 suicides committed by people from that country, followed by Britain with 126 people who took advantage of so-called "suicide tourism."

Rounding out the top five were France, Italy and the U.S., with 21 nationals who ended their own lives in Switzerland.

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Experimental Ebola Drug's Role in Americans' Recoveries Remains Unclear

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- American Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly credited doctors, God and an experimental drug for his recovery Thursday. But experts say it’s unclear whether the drug, known as ZMapp, helped or hindered his recovery.

Brantly and fellow American aid worker Nancy Writebol contracted the virus while working in Liberia with the missionary groups Samaritan’s Purse and SIM. They received ZMapp -- a cocktail of three antibodies that attack the virus -- and were evacuated from the growing outbreak zone to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where they were isolated for at least two weeks.

"Today is a miraculous day," Brantly said Thursday as he was released from the hospital. "Through the care of the Samaritan’s Purse and SIM missionary team in Liberia, the use of an experimental drug, and the expertise and resources of the health care team at Emory University Hospital, God saved my life -- a direct answer to thousands and thousands of prayers."

Brantly was the first human to receive ZMapp, which until recently had only been tested in monkeys. His condition improved within an hour, according to the aid group Samaritan’s Purse. But Dr. Bruce Ribner, director of Emory’s infectious disease unit, said drug’s role in his and Writebol’s survival is unclear.

"Frankly we do not know if it helped them, made any difference, or even delayed their recovery," he said.

Out of six people known to have received ZMapp, two have recovered, three have shown improvement and one has died, according to the World Health Organization. Even the drug's manufacturer, California-based Mapp Pharmaceuticals, acknowledges the lack of evidence that the drug actually works against the Ebola virus.

"We don’t know," the company's website reads, stressing that larger trials are needed to determine the drug's safety and effectiveness.

But those studies might have to wait. Mapp Pharmaceuticals said it has run out of ZMapp after complying with "every request for ZMapp that had the necessary legal/regulatory authorization," adding that the drug was "provided at no cost in all cases." The company is currently working with the U.S. government to accelerate scaled up production, it said in a statement.

"The work to date has been funded by grants and contracts that were only sufficient to produce doses for animal safety and efficacy testing," the company's website reads. "The present epidemic has changed the picture dramatically, and additional resources are being brought to bear on scaling up."

Ebola continues to spread through West Africa, where nearly 2,500 people have contracted the virus. Roughly 47 percent those infected have survived, according to WHO, making it difficult to understand the role of any experimental treatments.

In addition to ZMapp, Samaritan's Purse said Brantly also received a blood transfusion from a 14-year-old Ebola survivor -- another unproven treatment with unknown results.

"We have no idea how that might have affected his outcome," Ribner said, adding that "there is a crying need for research" into experimental Ebola treatments.

A group of 100 doctors, researchers, ethicists and drug developers is scheduled to meet in early September to discuss "the most promising experimental therapies and vaccines and their role in containing the Ebola outbreak in West Africa," WHO announced Thursday, adding that "ways to ramp up production of the most promising products" will be explored.

More than 20 experts from West Africa are expected to attend, the agency said.

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How Ebola Survivors Have Fought the Stigma

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The recovery and release of two American Ebola patients has spotlighted a lingering side effect of the deadly disease: stigma.

Dr. Kent Brantly and missionary Nancy Writebol contracted the virus while working in Liberia. They received an experimental drug and were evacuated from the growing outbreak zone to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where they were isolated for at least two weeks.

Brantly was released from the hospital on Thursday. Writebol was released on Tuesday.

In West Africa, where the virus has at least 1,350 of the 2,473 people infected, survivors are feared in their communities.

Ebola spreads through contact with bodily fluids. Though it is not known why some people survive and others do not, blood tests can determine when the patient has recovered, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"I think there’s been enough study of previous patients such that once individuals have recovered, their ability to transmit Ebola to someone else is virtually nil," said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

The virus only tends to linger in semen and vaginal fluid for a few extra weeks, Schaffner added.

"That doesn’t imperil any of their neighbors the people who sit next to them at restaurants, the folks that they meet at church and any other casual person," Schaffner said. "From a public health point of view, they’re of no risk to anybody else. That’s really, really well established or else they would not be releasing these people into the general population."

Still, Schaffner said the general public may be anxious anyway. Words from “people in white coats” alone aren’t enough to change minds, he said, likening the situation to people’s initial fear of AIDS and HIV patients despite scientific proof that they were no danger to the general public.

“I’m reminded of Princess Diana hugging HIV-infected children,” he said. “That’s what you need. You need other validating people to grasp Kent Brantly by the hand, say, ‘Welcome home,’ and then put their arms around him.”

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Gymnastics Skills Help Colorado Man Survive 100-Foot Plunge

iStock/Thinkstock(CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo.) -- A Colorado man plunged 100 feet while hiking but managed an improbable landing, using his gymnastics skills to help keep him alive.

Dylan Schuetz, 21, fell last week at St. Mary’s Glacier, a popular spot for hikers.

He tumbled head-first over the ledge, with death almost certain. But just as he has done at the gym countless times, Schuetz flipped mid-air to land on his feet. That move stunned his friend Cody Tengler.

“He spots his landing and then kind of does a flip, a front flip over himself,” Tengler recalled.

Schuetz broke both of his legs and ankles in the fall. He also punctured a lung. His frightened friends tried desperately to keep him conscious until help arrived.

“We just kept talking to him, do everything that you can to keep him alive and going, and just have hope,” Matthew Campbell, Schuetz’s friend, told ABC News.

Schuetz is recovering at Colorado Hospital, with another surgery scheduled for Friday.

His mother, Stacey Dale-Schuetz, says her son plans to never hike again. But he vows to return to the sport he loves, the one that may have saved his life.

“The doctor said, ‘Do you want to do gymnastics again, Dylan?’ And he said, ‘Yeah!’ He said, ‘Well then, we’ll get you there,'" his mother recalled. “Anything he wants to do, I know he’ll accomplish.”

His family has set up a fundraising page -- “Dylan Schuetz Road to Recovery.” Click here to learn more.

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Woman Credits Hypnosis for 140-Pound Weight Loss

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Is the secret to weight loss simply tricking your mind into thinking you had gastric bypass surgery? That’s what happened to Julie Evans, an overwhelmed mom of two small children, who at her biggest weighed 287 pounds.

Evans claims hypnosis helped her begin craving healthy foods instead of junk.

“All I wanted was spinach,” Evans, 35, told ABC News. “I wanted salad. It was the creepiest feeling in the whole wide world.”

She admits it sounds crazy, but says hypnosis was her trick to shedding 140 pounds and actually keeping it off.

“I was the biggest skeptic ever,” she explained. “I haven’t had fast food since. I don’t even crave it.”

Back in 2006, however, Evans ate fast food and junk food every day. It wasn’t until a vacation to Hawaii that she realized she was too embarrassed to show her body in a bathing suit and decided it was time for a change.

“I was at that point where this was holding me back from living,” she said.

Evans’ mom convinced her to try hypnosis and, although skeptical, she went to a seminar featuring hypnotherapist Rena Greenberg.

“We have a lot of old patterns that are bombarding the mind and what we’re doing is sort of rewriting the script,” Greenberg said of her tactics.

Greenberg says she has her clients visualize pushing the plate away because you’re no longer hungry or going to the gym instead of binging on cookies. And after only one session, Evans says it changed the way she ate.

“I would pause and think about what I’m putting inside of me,” she recalled.   

Still, critics say it won’t work for everyone.

“It’s unproven,” Rebecca Solomon, a dietician and nutritionist, explained. “It doesn’t work for all and the studies do show you have to believe it’s going to work for it to work.”

For Evans however, she’s going to the gym for the first time in her life and listens to her hypnosis CDs when she feels like she’s getting off track. She has successfully kept the weight off for seven years and tells the skeptics not to judge until they’ve tried it.

“It worked for me,” she said. “But I do think you have to have an open mind and be willing to listen.”

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School Year Set to Kick Off with Relaxed Lice Policies

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- School nurse Mary Beierle is unfazed by flocks of head lice in a young student’s hair. She simply sends the student back to class, she said.

“I alert the parents, but we allow the child to finish out the school day,” said Beierle, district nurse for the Palos Heights School District in Illinois, who thinks back-to-school head lice checks are a waste of time. Kids are usually back to school the next day.

Beierle’s “live and let lice” attitude may surprise any parent whose lice-infested child has been banished from school until the last nit has died off. But this more relaxed policy has the support of top health organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics and National Association of School Nurses.

“They’re not dangerous and it’s more important for kids to go to school,” said Dr. Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

There are as many as 12 million head lice infestations each year among American kids, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the bugs -- while a nuisance -- are essentially harmless. The sesame seed-sized critters and their nits, or eggs, can cause itching and discomfort, but they don’t spread disease. They aren’t even particularly contagious, Shu said.

“Just being in same classroom is not going to give you lice,” she said. “You need close head-to-head contact.”

Shu recommends children avoid sharing hats, combs or brushes and steer clear of huddle situations with touching heads. Coats and personal belongings are better-off stored in a personal locker or a bag rather than mingled together on hooks, she added.

Treatment for lice usually involves saturating the hair with an over-the-counter rinse or paying upwards of $100 an hour for a lice removal service. If the bugs survive and continue to move on the head, you need to repeat the treatment or consider a prescription-strength medication, Shu said.

By the time a school has seen a head or two of lice, the critters are already spreading, Shu said. At that point, removing a child from school does little to stop them from making the rounds.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and National Association of School Nurse support the end of “no nit” policies that ban children from school until they’re completely nit-free. And the CDC says that nits remaining after treatment are typically too far from the scalp to hatch into crawling lice.

Many leftover nits are empty shells, known as casings, according to the CDC.

“Getting kids back into class sooner is less traumatic for the child and they don’t miss out on so much class time like they used to in the past,” Beierle said. “It cuts back on the stigma of lice, too.”

Beierle said her school district’s relaxed policy on lice worried some parents at first. But after an intensive campaign that involved meetings and pamphlets, she said she’s seen less pushback.

“Once they get past their misconceptions about lice, most parents understand and agree with the policy,” she said.

And despite the more laissez-faire rules, Beierle’s district sees only a couple cases of lice a year, she said -- a number on par with rates from the zero-tolerance era.

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