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Spleen Chip Developed to Treat Life-Threatening Infections

iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Scientists at Harvard University's Wyss Institute created a spleen-like device on a tiny chip to filter fungi and toxins from patients' blood.

The "biospleen" is meant to treat sepsis, a life-threatening condition in which germs and bacteria enter the bloodstream and trigger inflammation throughout the body. The illness claims at least 8 million lives around the world each year, according to researchers.

"Even with the best current treatments, sepsis patients are dying in intensive care units at least 30 percent of the time," said Mike Super, Ph.D., Senior Staff Scientist at the Wyss Institute. "We need a new approach."

The device is able to clean human blood tested in the laboratory, as well as increase survival in animals with infected blood. The biospleen's test results were published Sunday in Nature Medicine.

The chip filters live and dead pathogens, along with dangerous toxins in the blood using tiny magnetic beads coated with an engineered version of a natural immune system protein, mannose binding lectin.

In their trials, scientists were able to effectly remove more than 90 percent of pathogens from human blood at a rate of about a half to one liter per hour. Researchers say many of the biospleens can be linked together to reach levels required for dialysis-like rates.

"Sepsis is a major medical threat, which is increasing because of antibiotic resistance. We're excited by the biospleen because it potentially provides a way to treat patients quickly without having to wait days to identify the source of infection, and it works equally well with antibiotic-resistant organisms," said lead scientist and Wyss Institute Founding Director Don Ingber.

"We hope to move this towards human testing to advancing to large animal studies as quickly as possible."

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Respiratory Virus Spreads to the Northeast

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Enterovirus D68, the respiratory illness suspected of hospitalizing hundreds of children across the nation, has now spread to the Northeast and is likely to hit the whole country, according to experts.

Connecticut and New York are the latest states to report cases of the rapidly spreading virus that has targeted young children, especially those with asthma, in 21 states.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health received reports "from two hospitals in different parts of the state of clusters of severe respiratory illness among young children that could be due to enterovirus D68," the agency said in a statement.

Connecticut is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to confirm the cases.

The New York State Department of Health has also confirmed more than a dozen cases of enterovirus D68 in children living in the state's capital and central regions, officials said.

The CDC has not confirmed New York's cases.

As of Saturday, enterovirus D68 had spread to 21 states across the Midwest and East Coast, with confirmed cases spanning from New Mexico to Montana to Delaware.

The virus is likely to continue spreading, ABC News' Dr. Richard Besser said Sunday morning.

"It's very hard for a virus to be limited by borders," Besser said. "I expect that it's going to hit the whole country."

Enterovirus D68 comes from a family of viruses that can cause cold-like symptoms, typically during the month of September.

Besser warned parents to watch out for symptoms of coughs and wheezing among their children, especially if their children are asthmatic.

"The best approach for prevention is what we talk about all the time for respiratory infections, colds, and flus and that's really good hand washing," Besser said.

There have been no reported cases of adults contracting the virus.

Adults may already have built an immunity towards the virus from previous infections, or may just get a milder version of the disease, Besser said.

Children who contract enterovirus D68 first suffer from what appears to be a common cold, with symptoms including a runny nose, coughing, and sneezing, according to Besser.

The symptoms then escalate to difficulty breathing. Besser said parents should look out for their children exhibiting signs of wheezing, difficulty eating or speaking, and blueness around the lips.

Doctors have found a way to treat the symptoms, helping kids breath more easily so they can get through the virus, Besser said.

"It's the same medicine that's used for children who have asthma," he said. "But when I was in the emergency room this week in St. Louis, they were giving it to children who didn't have asthma, and you could just see them turn around. Their airways would open up -- some of them could leave the emergency room. Some had to stay, but the medicine helps a lot."

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Adrian Peterson Case Brings Scrutiny to Child Spanking

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The pending child abuse case against Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson has brought spanking, a common form of child discipline used by parents, back into public scrutiny.

"By the the time they reach adolescence, 85 percent of the nation's children will have been, at one point or another, spanked," Dr. Alan Kazdin, a psychologist at Yale University told ABC News. The figure comes from a 2003 study in which Kazdin investigated the use of spanking in disciplining children.

Between 70 percent and 90 percent of Americans admit to using some form of physical force when disciplining their kids, according to Southern Methodist University psychology professor George Holden.

"Physical punishment is extremely common for young children," Holden told ABC News. "It's very common in the United States."

Kazdin's 2003 study defines spanking as "hitting a child with an open hand on the buttocks or extremities with the intent to discipline without leaving a bruise or causing physical harm."

But while spanking is prevalent, it is ineffective, Kazdin said.

"You don't need spanking to change behavior," Kazdin said. "It is not effective at all. It increases aggression in children, has emotional consequences."
The line between spanking and more serious physical abuse is often muddled by theoretical and practical definitions, Kazdin said.

His study defines physical abuse as "corporal punishment that is harsh and excessive, involves the use of objects ... is directed to other parts of the body than the extremities, and causes or has the potential to cause physical harm."

Kazdin notes that parents can sometimes use objects in what would routinely be considered a spanking.

In the case of Adrian Peterson, the NFL player used a switch, or a tree branch, to spank his son, his lawyer said in a statement to

"He used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in east Texas," the statement read. "Adrian never intended to harm his son and deeply regrets the unintentional injury."

Peterson was booked and charged with reckless or negligent injury to a child, a felony, in Montgomery County, Texas, on Saturday morning. He was released after posting $15,000 bond.

Texas law defines child abuse as "an act or omission that endangers or impairs a child's physical, mental or emotional health and development," according to Texas' Family Code.

But the state makes an exception for "reasonable discipline" by the child's parent or guardian.

"Corporal punishment is not in itself abusive under the law," according to a statement from the office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Physical discipline, like a spanking, would only become abusive if "observable and material impairment occurs as a result," according to the statement.

Parents in every state can legally hit their child as long as the force is "reasonable."

Coporal punishment is also allowed in schools in 19 states, including Texas, according to the Center for Effective Discipline.

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Lawmakers Seek Update from Obama Administration on Ebola Outbreak

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Committee leaders in Washington are seeking answers from the Obama administration regarding the global outbreak of the Ebola virus, calling for more information on preparedness and response efforts at home and abroad.

"While U.S. public health officials have offered assurances -- both publicly and during briefings with committee staff -- that the Ebola outbreak can be controlled, they are expressing increasingly dire warnings about its growth and the need for quick, decisive action," a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell reads.

Energy & Commerce Committee leaders say they are looking to understand what has led up to increased warnings and are searching for more on current screening protocols, as well as those for containment and post-recovery. Lawmakers are also requesting information on the amount of federal funds spent on the effort, along with the risk Ebola poses to the U.S.

“Congress is greatly concerned about the ongoing Ebola outbreak and monitoring the situation closely. We must be diligent in our work to protect the public health and safety of all Americans and ensure we take the steps necessary to avoid a disastrous global outbreak,” Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) said.

Other members who signed the letter included Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA), Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA), Chairman Emeritus Joe Barton (R-TX), Vice Chairman of the Health and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittees Michael C. Burgess (R-TX), and full committee Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).

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The Secret to a Lasting Marriage Is a Wife's Happiness, Study Says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers are backing up the old adage, "Happy wife, happy life," with a new study that says a wife's happiness is more crucial than the husband's in maintaining a lasting marriage.

The more content the wife is, the happier the husband will be with his life, no matter his feelings on the union, according to researchers at Rutgers University and the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.

"I think it comes down to the fact that when a wife is satisfied with the marriage she tends to do a lot more for her husband, which has a positive effect on his life," said Deborah Carr, a professor at Rutgers' Department of Sociology, School of Arts and Science.

"Men tend to be less vocal about their relationships and their level of marital unhappiness might not be translated to their wives."

The study analyzed the feelings of both spouses to determine a marriages' influence on adults' psychological well-being, asking questions on whether partners appreciates each other, gets on one another's nerves, or understand each other.

Researchers examined nearly 400 couples who participated in a national study of income, health, and disability in 2009. On average, couples were married for 39 years.

While husbands rated their marriage slightly more positive than their wives, both usually said their general life satisfaction was high. Still, researchers found that wives became less happy if their spouses were sick, while husbands' happiness levels did not change if the roles were reversed.

The study's lead authors said results showed the impact marriage quality bears on health and well-being as couples age.

"The quality of a marriage is important because it provides a buffer against the health-depleting effects of later life stressors and helps couples manage difficult decisions regarding health and medical decision making," Carr added.

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Study: Antidepressants Linked to Failure of Dental Implants

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Individuals taking common antidepressants are twice as likely to have dental implants fail compared to those not on the drugs, a new study reveals.

A team from McGill University found that antidepressants such as Celexa, Paxil, Lexapro, Prozac, and Zoloft impacted the success rates of the dental work.

Researchers found a 10.64 percent rate of failure in patients taking the drugs, while there was a 4.62 percent rate in those without.

Still, the study was based on data collected after the implants rather than through interviews, making it impossible to determine the dosages that prompted such effects. Results came from six year's worth of dental records in a Moncton, New Brunswick clinic.

Faleh Tamimi, lead author, advised for individuals on antidepressants to consult their doctors to plan the success of surgical treatments.

“Even so, we were surprised to discover that the negative effect of SSRIs [Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors] on dental implants was so strong, almost equal to that of smoking, a well-established hazard for oral health," Tamimi added.

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New York State Health Department Confirms Multiple Cases of Enterovirus 68

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The New York State Health Department announced on Friday that it has identified multiple patients who have fallen ill with the Enterovirus 68.

Based on information from various state agencies and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the total number of states in which the Enterovirus 68 may have spread could be as high 18. The CDC has confirmed the virus in at least seven states. The New York State Department of Health would also say that cases of the disease have been confirmed in the Capital Region and in Central New York.

"It is important that we follow common sense rules to prevent the spread of this virus," Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said. He urged New Yorkers to was their hands with soap and water often, avoid touching eyes, mouth or nose with unwashed hands, avoid close bodily contact with people who are sick, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and generally treating the disease as you would influenza.

Additional samples are being sent to the New York State Department of Health for testing.

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Study Reveals That Peer Pressure Is Not the Only Reason Teens Have Sex

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study said that peer pressure is not necessarily the primary reason why teens have sex, but rather, the belief that their fellow teenagers are doing so.

The review, published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review indicated that the most important factor in teenagers opting to have sex at such a young age is that they think their peers are doing so as well. The review looked at data from multiple studies including over 50,000 teens.

Researchers indicate that the data could provide "important implications" for dealing with teenage sexual behavior.

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Two Women Receive Experimental Ebola Vaccine in Trial

iStock/Thinkstock(BETHESDA, Md.) -- The first two doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine have been injected into human subjects in the National Institutes of Health’s fast-tracked clinical trial.

A 39-year-old woman was the first person to receive the vaccine, which had previously only been tested in monkeys. She received the injection Tuesday at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, agency officials said. A 27-year-old woman was given the shot Friday, officials said.

The trial will test the safety of the vaccine, which was developed by GlaxoSmithKline and the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. It was expedited by the burgeoning Ebola outbreak in West Africa, where more than 1,900 people have died from the infection, according to the World Health Organization.

The vaccine, which is designed to prevent Ebola, is different from the experimental drug ZMapp, which is designed to treat the infection.

"There is an urgent need for a protective Ebola vaccine, and it is important to establish that a vaccine is safe and spurs the immune system to react in a way necessary to protect against infection," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH, said in a statement Thursday.

Though the vaccine has "performed extremely well" in primate studies, Fauci said, this is the first time it has been tested in humans.

The phase 1 clinical trial will involve 20 men and women between the ages of 18 and 50, according to the NIH. Researchers will use the study to determine whether the vaccine is safe and see whether it prompts an immune response necessary to protect against Ebola.

No human subjects will be infected with Ebola, officials said.

A $4.7 million grant will also go toward additional Ebola vaccine trials in September at Oxford University in England, as well as centers in Gambia and Mali, according to GlaxoSmithKline. In all, 140 patients will be tested.

Though Ebola was discovered nearly 40 years ago, it was so rare that drug manufacturers weren't interested in investing in finding a vaccine for it, said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Its rarity also made it impossible for scientists to conduct field studies.

"There's always the layperson's query of 'Why don't they rush this?' 'Why don't these guys work a little later at night?'" Schaffner told ABC News in July. "It's a little more complicated than that."

GlaxoSmithKline became involved in the Ebola vaccine because it bought Swiss vaccine company Okairos AG in 2013. Okairos, originally a Merck spinoff, had been working on the vaccine with the NIH since 2011, a GlaxoSmithKline spokeswoman told ABC News.

Fauci said in July that it would take until late 2015 for a vaccine -- if successful -- to be administered to a limited number of health workers, but GlaxoSmithKline said in a statement this week that the grant will also enable it to manufacture 10,000 doses of the vaccine while the trials are ongoing. If the vaccine trials are successful, it will be able to make stocks available immediately to the World Health Organization.

The NIH said it should have initial data from the trial in late 2014.

The trial for a different vaccine is set to begin at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland. This vaccine was a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Defense and Iowa pharmaceutical company NewLink Genetics Corp.

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Oscar Pistorius' Disability Could Be Factor in Sentence, Experts Say

Jemal Countess/Getty Images(PRETORIA, South Africa) -- When the judge presiding over Oscar Pistorius' case begins sentencing hearings next month, experts said that the paralympian's disability could be a factor in whether he gets the maximum 15 years in prison or a much lighter sentence, even no prison at all.

Pistorius was cleared of murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, but convicted Friday of culpable homicide -- roughly equivalent to manslaughter -- and discharging a gun in a public area.

Judge Thokozile Masipa, who will decide on Pistorius' sentence, set Oct. 13 for the hearings to begin. The maximum sentence for culpable homicide is 15 years.

“There is no prescribed sentence for culpable homicide in South African law. The sentence can be decided at the discretion of the judge based on the weight of evidence and circumstances surrounding the incident,” veteran defense lawyer Gordon Scheepers told ABC News.

“The circumstances in this case include the fact that Pistorius is a double amputee, who, according to all indications, has a fragile mental state,” Scheepers said.

A psychiatrist who has examined Pistorius said the paralympian known as the Blade Runner was being treated for depression and that he was in danger of becoming suicidal if he couldn't continue his treatment.

If Masipa decides to send Pistorius to prison, he will not be the only disabled person to be incarcerated. Convicted rightwing killer Phil Kloppers, who is a wheelchair-bound paraplegic, was released earlier this year from the Leeuwkop Prison in Johannesburg, South Africa after spending 20 years behind bars.

Criminology professor Anni Hesselink, who regularly visits detainees in jail, told ABC News that there are several disabled prisoners in Pretoria’s Kgosi Mampuru II prison.

“One male inmate has an amputated leg and, as far as I have been able to establish, he has never complained about the treatment he has received in prison,” Hesselink said.

South Africa's prisons are notoriously overcrowded and violent places, but the nature of Pistorius' disability, and his vulnerable mental state, could afford him some extra protection.

“Pistorius's prosthetic legs could be deemed potentially dangerous weapons. His celebrity status could also could make him the target of attacks, threats or extortion,” said Hesselink, adding that “this could mean that Pistorius will likely be kept largely separate from other prisoners."

Scheepers said authorities would be careful not to be seen to be giving Pistorius special privileges, but his high-profile reputation would inevitably play a part.

“I think high-profile cases are more susceptible to special treatment because both the system itself gives them more attention and there's more scrutiny to how they're treated from outside,” he said.

Potentially difficult for an elite athlete who followed a meticulously balanced diet, Pistorius could be forced to live off prison meals made up often of little more than ground corn, stews and low-quality meat, although his disability may also mean he can request a special diet.

The Department of Correctional Services said in a statement this week that prisoners with disabilities could be entitled to separate rooms depending on the vulnerability caused by the disability.

“Inmates are accommodated in line with their type of disability. However, each case is based on its own merits,” said the department. The risk of the disabled inmate and his or her needs must be assessed within six hours of admission to prison.

Disabled prisoners are also given a chance of being granted medical parole.

Pistorius was born with fibular hemimelia, or the congenital absence of the fibula in both legs. When he was 11-months old, doctors amputated both legs below the knee.

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World Health Organization Needs More Ebola Health Workers

iStock/Thinkstock(GENEVA) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) is asking for assistance from additional health workers as the Ebola death toll rises to 2,400 people out of 4,784 cases.

During a news conference in Geneva Friday, WHO director general Margaret Chan called for an unprecedented emergency response.

Libera, Sierra Leone and Guinea have the most desperate Ebola health situations.

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Enterovirus Hits Special School for Kids with Asthma

Photodisc/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- Enterovirus 68 has been sweeping through schools in 11 states this week. But a special school in Denver for mostly asthmatic children has been battling the rare virus for weeks -- they just didn’t know what it was called.

About 20 percent of Morgridge Academy’s 84 students have contracted the respiratory illness that leaves asthmatic children wheezing, according to the school’s head nurse, Amy Schouten. Two of them were hospitalized, she said.

“That was before we had a name for the virus,” Schouten said, adding that none of the cases are confirmed, but they all seem to have the telltale symptoms of enterovirus 68.

Colorado is among nearly a dozen states to have confirmed cases of the rare enterovirus that starts out like the common cold but can quickly turn serious -- especially in children with asthma.

Morgridge Academy is a school for chronically ill children from kindergarten through eighth grade on National Jewish Health’s campus in Denver, Colorado. Most of the children have severe asthma, Schouten said.

The children returned to school on Aug. 18. And while it’s not unusual for a cold to go around at the beginning of the year, this year’s bug was especially severe, Schouten said.

“We assumed it was just a first-of-the-school-year illness,” she said. “Kids come in and start getting to know each other. They share everything. Not just crayons and pencils but germs.”

But this year, students would come into school feeling fine, but by lunchtime they would need to go home with a fever, or to the hospital with breathing problems, Schouten said. Then, they would miss between four and six days of school.

For kids already used to carrying around albuterol inhalers, enterovirus is just another hurdle to jump, Schouten said.

“We do watch them like a hawk anyway,” Schouten said, adding that school staff members are sticklers for hand-washing. “We have been constantly getting on the kids about covering their coughs and their sneezes, preferably into their elbows.”

They’ve reminded children to take their regular medication on time, and to speak up when they don’t feel well.

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Depressed People Should Not Avoid Work

iStock/Thinkstock(MELBOURNE, Australia) -- Sure, work can be depressing at times but the reasons for depression may be far more than just having a nagging boss.

And while no one wants to minimize the seriousness of this particular form of mental illness, researchers from University of Melbourne and the University of Tasmania believe one of the worst things depressed people can do is avoid going to work.

They point out that work has certain health benefits such as maintaining daily routines and receiving support from co-workers “while depression-related absence from work offers no significant improvement in employee health outcomes or quality of life.”

Employers should also be aware that depression-related absences cost them money as well, especially if they have to replace a chronically absent worker.

As a result, the researchers strongly recommend that employers institute strategies to assist those suffering from depression such as “offering flexible work-time and modification of tasks or working environment.”

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Hospitals Going Overboard on Dispensing Antibiotics

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- If one antibiotic is effective in knocking out an infection, can several at once do the job even better?

That seems to be the prevailing attitude in a lot of hospitals these days but a new first-of-its kind study warns that doctors should pull back from prescribing multiple antibiotics because they might wind up being useless overkill.

According to Dr. Arjun Srinivasan of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other researchers, about 75 percent of 500 hospitals studied kept patients on more than one antibiotic for more than two days even when additional medications are supposed to be dropped once an infection is identified.

The study also pointed to almost two dozen antibiotic combinations that should be rarely if ever used, even before doctors start them on patients.

Among the drawbacks of needless multiple antibiotics are side-effects such as diarrhea, not to mention that they all drive up hospital costs.

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Fat Shaming Has No Upsides

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Just the term “fat shaming” alone should tip people off that it’s not the right thing to do around those who are overweight or obese. Yet, some people will go ahead anyway and make those with weight problems feel bad about themselves under the mistaken impression that it will somehow motivate them to go on a diet.

Jane Wardle, director of the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Centre at University College London, says that five percent of the 3,000 participants she interviewed for her study have experienced fat shaming. In fact, some were even berated by their own physicians.

Tracking their attempts at losing weight, Wardle found that those who dealt with discrimination gained an average of two pounds over a four-year period while others who escaped harassment shed a pound-and-a-half.

Study researcher Sarah Jackson adds that fat shaming can lead to constant eating and a lack of interest in exercising due to embarrassment.

While there was no definitive cause-and-effect linking fat shaming to weight gain, a 2013 study showed that people who are discriminated against because of their girth are two-and-a-half times more likely to become obese.

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