U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/YouTube(NEW YORK) -- Turns out even Muppets aren't immune to the need for vaccinations.
In a new video released by the U.S. Health and Human Services, Elmo of Sesame Street joined forces with the U.S. Surgeon General to encourage all children to be up to date on their vaccinations.
"I explained to him that, as Surgeon General, it is my job to help everyone stay healthy," U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy said in a statement. "Specifically, Elmo and I talked about the importance of vaccines and making sure that all children are protected from easily preventable diseases."
While a shot may not be fun for a Muppet, even Elmo says he's ready. "Come on everybody get vaccinated with Elmo!" he said in the video.
The video was released the same day that the California State Department of Health declared the end of a recent measles outbreak that infected 147 people in the United States, with 131 people sickened in California alone.
A bill is pending in the California state legislature that would stop parents from seeking personal or religious belief exemptions that would allow their children to attend school without being vaccinated.
While nationwide the rate of vaccination remains high, pockets of unvaccinated people have led to recent outbreaks of diseases formerly thought of as eliminated or extremely rare.
Vaccines helped stop 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths of children in the United States from 1994 to 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
WABC-TV(NEW YORK) -- A New York woman faces a possible seven-year prison sentence for allegedly posing as a dentist named "Dr. Val" and performing dental procedures on patients without a license.
Valbona Yzeiraj of White Plains, New York, faces multiple charges including felony assault, attempted grand larceny, unauthorized practice and reckless endangerment for allegedly performing root canals and other procedures, according to Bronx County District Attorney Robert Johnson.
The alleged botched procedures resulted in continued pain for the patients, according to prosecutors. One of the patients ended up with an infection after a root canal and another still has pain two years after undergoing the procedure, according to prosecutors.
When reached by phone Friday afternoon, Yzeiraj’s attorney, Corey Sokoler, declined to comment on the case. Yzieraj has pleaded not guilty and was released on $20,000 bond or $10,000 bond cash after appearing in court Thursday, prosecutors said.
Yzeiraj, 45, is accused of performing the procedures while working as an office manager in the Bronx office of Dr. Jeffrey Schoengold, a dentist who also works in White Plains. The woman, who was arrested and arraigned Thursday, saw patients under the name "Dr. Val" during periods when Schoengold was out of the office in late 2012 and summer 2013, prosecutors said.
Yzeiraj told prosecutors she had dental training in her native Albania, but they say she had no training or license to practice in the United States. Among the patients affected was a pregnant woman and people without dental insurance, according to ABC News affiliate WABC-TV in New York.
Prosecutors said when Schoengold learned what happened, he immediately fired Yzieraj, but she then allegedly attempted to take $20,000 money from the practice. Schoengold did not immediately respond to ABC News for comment.
Prosecutors said law enforcement became involved in the case after Schoengold fired Yzeiraj and that the licensed dentist is not under investigation by police.
ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine has turned down U.S. Sen. Robert Casey, Jr.’s request for the results of internal review of the renowned medical center’s controversial radiology program, which for years read X-rays of coal miners on behalf of coal companies and rarely found those miners to have serious black lung disease.
“John Hopkins’ decision not to release the black lung report is troubling,” Casey told ABC News. “What’s needed is a full accounting of what occurred in John Hopkins’ black lung program so the families have the answers they deserve.”
Hopkins launched the internal review in 2013, two days after the broadcast of a joint investigation by ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity that looked at more than 1,700 cases Hopkins physicians took up on behalf of coal companies over a decade.
In those cases, Hopkins’ leading black lung expert, Dr. Paul S. Wheeler, never concluded, even once, that a miner had severe black lung.
The ABC News-CPI investigation found Hopkins was paid millions of dollars to have doctors from the renowned hospital render their expert opinions in black lung benefits cases. Scores of those medical readings were used by coal company attorneys to thwart claims from coal miners who believed they were entitled federal financial relief because they had been stricken with black lung disease while working underground.
After the broadcast, Johns Hopkins suspended the program, pending the outcome of the internal review.
Nearly a year-and-a-half later, the school has completed its review, but has not released any results.
Casey demanded to see the findings of the internal review in March in a letter to Johns Hopkins Medicine CEO Dr. Paul Rothman, saying it should be published “in the interest of full disclosure and transparency.”
Rothman wrote in a response dated April 6 that the internal review was conducted by “outside counsel” and was considered to be confidential. Rothman shared that Johns Hopkins doctors have not resumed reading lung X-rays for the coal industry.
He said the Baltimore-based medical institution supports “efforts to better understand the important public health issues surrounding coal mining and to ensure, including through implementation of appropriate safeguards, that the black lung benefits claims process is fair and just for all parties involved.”
A Casey spokesman said the senator was not satisfied. The senator said “the contents of this report are about much more than the internal workings of John Hopkins -- they’re about the lives of coal miners who may have had their black lung claims wrongly denied.”
“John Hopkins’ decision not to restart its black lung program is further validation of the concerns raised by former coal miners, their families and reporters from ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity,” Casey said.
In his initial letter to Rothman, Casey wrote, “There are still many questions left unanswered following the revelation that since 2000 Dr. Wheeler had not found one case of complicated pneumoconiosis in over 1,500 black lung claims and in more than 3,400 x-ray readings.”
Wheeler has told ABC News that his medical opinions were justified, and based on years of training. A Hopkins spokeswoman told ABC News earlier in March that “decisions coming out of the review are being deliberated.”
Courtesy Sharon Sunderman(NEW YORK) -- Ben Sunderman watched the mailbox for days to find out whether he got his internship, and when it finally arrived, his reaction was priceless.
His mother had her camera on as Ben Sunderman, who is 19 and has Down syndrome, opened the envelope and read the acceptance letter aloud until he got to the very end.
"What does that mean, Ben?" Sharon Sunderman asks. "Did you get it?"
He freezes, his face breaking into a smile.
"I get it!" he shouts, throwing both hands into the air. "I get a job!"
He hugs his father and goes in for a few double high-fives as his parents congratulate him.
Sharon Sunderman told ABC News that her son had applied for a job at the Embassy Suites hotel in Frisco, Texas, through Project Search. Project Search helps children with disabilities transition from high school into the working world.
She said she couldn't go with him on his job interview, but she learned that he told the interviewers that he had three goals: "to get a job, to build his muscles and to find a girlfriend."
Starting in August, Ben Sunderman will take public transportation from their home in Mckinney, Texas, to the hotel and work at his internship for eight hours, Sharon Sunderman said.
"Set your expectations high," Sharon Sunderman said to other parents of children with disabilities. "We just always encouraged him to do everything he could do. He does his laundry like his siblings, makes his bed like his siblings. There is joy."
Last year, Ben Sunderman even won the title of prom king by a landslide, she said.
"Everyone sees him as Ben and loves him for who he is, which is great," she said, adding that things have really changed since she was growing up. "Adults with disabilities can really add value. Just the joy that Ben has at the fact that he is able to get a job and be part of the community. That's what every parent wants for their kid."
iStock/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- The measles outbreak that began in Disneyland last year and spread across the country was declared over in California Friday.
The outbreak, which began in December 2014, infected 131 people in the Golden State. No new cases have been reported there in 42 days.
“We are pleased this outbreak is over, but caution that measles can be reintroduced in California at any time when an infected person brings it to the state,” Dr. Karen Smith, the director of the California Department of Public Health, said in a statement. “The best defense for protection against the highly infectious measles is vaccination.”
The outbreak began in Anaheim and spread nationwide among mostly those who were unvaccinated. In its wake, state lawmakers are trying to pass a controversial bill that would require parents to immunize their children.
WLOS(ASHEVILLE, N.C.) -- A rescued pit bull has become a "tap dancer," in the words of his owner, after having reconstructive surgery to fix a rare deformity that left him only able to crawl.
Roscoe, a pitbull, was born with a deformity that left his front legs partially bent backwards under his wrists, according to ABC News affiliate WLOS-TV in Asheville, North Carolina. As a result, he was forced to walk on his wrists, with the front part of his legs bent backward like "flippers."
Dr. David Crouch, a vet from Asheville, was able to help Roscoe walk by performing surgery to fix the deformation.
He was "trying to walk on the tops of his wrists and created bloody sores," Crouch told WLOS-TV.
To pay for the surgery, the Asheville Humane Society in North Carolina raised more than $3,000 for the pup.
After the surgery, Roscoe quickly transitioned from "baby steps" to a more elegant gait with his casts.
"For the first couple of days he was really wobbly on his stilts," Roscoe's foster parent, Laurel York told WLOS-TV. "He's managing to walk around on his little stilts."
Crouch told WLOS-TV he's heartened that Roscoe has made a huge improvement in such a short period of time. He pointed out that by walking on his toes in his casts, Roscoe looks and sounds a bit like a tap dancer as he heals.
"You kind of tap dance like Fred Astaire right now," Crouch told the pup.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — For many men, everything is a competition.
Researchers in the U.K. studied donation patterns on over 2,000 online fundraising pages and found that guys will give four times more money to a fundraiser when the organizer is an attractive female and when another man has given a large donation.
The researchers have labeled this response “competitive helping.”
Women did not show any changes in donation patterns if a male fundraiser was attractive or if large donations were made by other women.
The researchers suggest the male behavior is likely subconscious, and may be due to an evolutionary psychology that motivates men to compete in the presence of an attractive woman, even if it’s a competition in charity.
The report is published in the journal Current Biology.
Eugenio Marongiu/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A few years ago, if you met your date on the Internet, you may have hid it from your friends and family.
Today, it's practically the norm.
And it seems to be working. According to a recent Pew survey, the number of Americans who say they met their current partner online has doubled in the last eight years.
Even with these statistics, finding true love online can feel more difficult than winning the lottery, and sometimes feel very superficial: swipe right if you like, swipe left if you don’t.
“Your profile photo is really important," said Kelly Steckelberg, the Chief Executive Officer of Zoosk and one of the only female CEO's of a major dating company, told ABC News.
"Having a gallery of photos makes a big difference and we’ve seen that users that have a full body profile shot somewhere in their gallery get 200 percent more responses to their messages,” Steckelberg added.
One of the major criticisms of online dating is people don't always look the same in pictures as they do in person.
To tackle this problem, Zoosk launched a new feature called photo verification.
How does it work? You uploaded a short video of yourself to your page and other users can verify if your profile photo really looks like you in the video.
"Our members that verify their photos get 20 percent greater inbound messages," explained Steckelberg.
But it’s not all about looks: What’s equality important is transparency.
“When you are honest, you can have a very favorable response rate,” Steckelberg agreed.
You could be the best looking person online, but if you start lying about a recent divorce or how many children you have, you are paving the way for failure in the future. This rule should apply no matter where you meet your next potential mate, but fear that your not good enough sometimes forces your hand to fabricate who you really are online. If you are looking for lasting love, this person is going to love being with you no matter what exists in your past.
Another tip to attract your soulmate, rather than a one time date, build a rapport online before meeting in person.
“We also encourage our users just spend a little time chatting online before they meet up in person,” said Steckelberg.
Here are three simple mistakes that could be preventing “The One” from clicking on your profile:
1. Use Spell Check
Sounds simple right? Steckelberg says, “Take a quick moment and proof read your profile and your messages. A typo can really decrease your attractiveness to certain people.”
2. Delete the Emoticons!
According to Zoosk data, there is a 60 percent decrease in response rate when those little smiley faces are in your profile.
3. Ditch Your Pet and Your Ex!
It's acceptable to post a photo of your pet in your gallery, but your profile photo should only showcase the best photo of you. That means no cats, no dogs, no birds and especially no ex-boyfriends, according to Steckelberg.
“When it has other people in it, or your pets, it really decreases the response rates that you get,” said Steckelberg.
nito100/iSTock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Companies sell e-cigarettes as a bridge to quitting tobacco, but according to a new study, smokers who have used e-cigarettes are less likely to quit smoking or decrease their cigarette consumption.
Cigarette smokers who had “ever” used e-cigarettes were significantly less likely to quit smoking for more than a month, and also much less likely to decrease cigarette consumption than those who had never tried them, according to researchers.
Even after taking other factors into account, such as intention to quit smoking or level of nicotine dependence, the study results held true, researchers said.
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Emergency medical service personnel who provided aid in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks suffer from a higher burden of health conditions than peers who did not work there, according to a new study.
Nicole Monzietti(NEW YORK) -- At 8 months old, Abbey Monzietti looks almost like any other infant as she attempts to take a few unsteady steps and calls out for her "mama." But the girl has made a major recovery after being born with a life-threatening tumor that required surgery three days after she was born.
Abbey's tumor was pressing on vital organs and was so large that her mother, Nicole Monzietti, said she could see it as soon as the infant was born.
"[A visible bump] was the size of golf ball or a little bit smaller, they took her to sonogram maybe that day," Monzietti said, though the entire tumor turned out to be larger.
After doctors found the tumor, the infant underwent a battery of tests before doctors determined it needed to be removed immediately.
"Literally my worst nightmare came true. Throughout my whole pregnancy I was so worried, 'Oh, my God, what if something happened?'" the Long Island, New York, woman, told ABC News. "I said, 'I can’t believe this is happening.' I had to start crying."
The tumor was about 650 grams, nearly 1.5 pounds, which is equivalent to a 60-pound tumor in an adult, Dr. Nitsana Spigland of New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center said.
Monzietti said, "It was pressing on all of her vital organs. Most of it was in her abdomen, a little bigger than a grapefruit."
In order to stop the tumor from developing again, doctors had to remove the tumor entirely intact.
"The stakes are very high with this surgery," Dr. Spigland told ABC News affiliate WABC-TV in New York. "Hemorrhage or bleeding is the most serious complication. And in a little baby like this, if you develop hemorrhage, it could be life-threatening. Potentially you could lose the baby on the operating table."
Three days after undergoing a Caesarean section, Monzietti pulled herself into the waiting room as doctors operated on her daughter.
Monzietti waited for seven hours in the waiting room as Spigland performed the delicate operation.
"I came down with all the things attached to me with socks on," Monzietti said. "Everyone was looking at me like I was crazy....I had the nurses come down to bring me pain medicine."
After the operation, Monzietti said, she could finally breathe again when the tumor was found to be benign. But Abbey still wasn't out of the woods.
"They kept her sedated," Monzietti said. "I didn’t see any kind of movement and action from her at all for two weeks."
Eventually, Abbey woke up and started her road to recovery. Monzietti said her daughter has managed to avoid any major complications. While the girl still has to get scans to ensure the tumor has not grown back, she now acts almost like any other happy baby.
She's "extremely happy, smiling, she’s almost walking already," Monzietti said. "She’s always happy, she’s climbing right now, like a little monkey."
scyther5/iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When blogger January Harshe started posting on Instagram with the hashtag #postpartum just before the birth of her sixth child, she realized quickly it wasn't at all what she thought it was.
"There was all this spam, lots of advertisements about getting rid of stretchmarks," the Texas mom said. "It had nothing to do with the fourth trimester," a term used to describe the months immediately following the birth of a baby.
A photo posted by Gabrielle Calhoun (@gabrielle_calhoun) on Apr 16, 2015 at 8:37am PDT
Harshe is pretty savvy when it comes to social media, and isn't surprised by the incredible response the account is receiving. "But I am in some ways in awe," she said. "Women are insecure about their bodies, about motherhood, and the second you give a voice to that, other women face their insecurities and fears and become stronger themselves."
She's not ready to rest though. Harshe's next movement? #Dontforgetdads.
iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- The number of middle and high school students who say they've used e-cigarettes has tripled in just one year, according to new research that underscores health experts' fears about the growing popularity of these nicotine delivery devices among adolescents.
About 660,000 high school students reported using e-cigarettes in 2013, but in 2014, that number increased to about two million, according to a study published Thursday as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
And in middle school students, that number went from 120,000 to 450,000, the report said.
"This level of increase in such a short time period is alarming and unprecedented," study co-author Dr. Brian King told ABC News.
King is the deputy director of research translation for the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health.
"There is currently a wild, wild west in the manufacturing of e-cigarettes, with no standard for the manufacturing, sale or distribution of these products," he said.
King, along with researchers at the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, drew their conclusions by analyzing data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey, which is administered annually to middle and high school students across the country.
They also found that between 2011 and 2014, one in four high school students and one in 13 middle school students used a "tobacco product," which includes e-cigarettes, cigarettes, cigars and hookahs, the authors wrote. E-cigarettes were the most commonly used, they said.
The popularity of e-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, has spawned a multibillion-dollar industry and these devices are now the most commonly used nicotine product among middle and high schoolers, according to King's study.
E-cigarettes work by vaporizing liquid nicotine into an inhalable form. The liquid nicotine in e-cigarettes still contains carcinogenic materials, but in lower amounts than cigarettes, according to a 2013 study published in the British Medical Journal.
No federal restriction of e-cigarette sales to minors currently exists. The FDA proposed a rule last year which would open the door to such regulation, but this rule has not been finalized. Currently, there are eight states that still permit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.
In response to Thursday's CDC report, Thomas Kiklas, of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, said the e-cigarette industry supports restricting minors' access to the devices. Kiklas further noted that "there are no sales or marketing of products to minors of any tobacco products."
The products have, however, enjoyed advertisement on television and radio, as well as celebrity endorsements -- a fact that Dr. Edwin Salsitz, a chemical dependency expert at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, said may be responsible for the growing popularity among adolescents.
"Becoming physically dependent on nicotine is not benign for anyone but certainly not benign for an adolescent developing brain," Salsitz said.
Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- Dan Price, the CEO of Gravity Payments in Seattle, has touched off a national debate over his plan to pay all of his workers a yearly salary of at least $70,000. But where did that figure come from and what's behind it?
The number, the CEO said, comes from a 2010 Princeton University study by economist Angus Deaton and Nobel-prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In the study, the researchers analyzed the answers to questions about income and well-being from more than 450,000 Americans polled by Gallup and Healthways.
Money does indeed buy happiness but only up to a point, the researchers found. The less someone made below $75,000, the unhappier they reported feeling. But making above that income threshold did not lead to increasing happiness.
It’s actually a bit more complicated than that, said study author Kahneman, who is now retired. As he explained it, there are two types of happiness: day-to-day mood and long-term well-being.
“Making a higher income doesn’t appear to affect your daily happiness after a point but making more and more money does continue to improve your outlook on life indefinitely,” he explained.
In other words, an annual paycheck higher than $70,000 won’t leave you feeling any less grumpy on a daily basis, but the larger your salary, the more successful and secure you feel.
Their research did not detect the limit where burgeoning wages stopped providing a sense of satisfaction, Kahneman said. Additionally, the same percent increase in pay -- whether you make a lot or a little -- added to a greater sense of satisfaction with life.
Their study didn’t reveal why $70,000 to $75,000 a year appeared to be the cut off for escalating happiness, Kahneman said, adding that he had no clue why that was the magic number. The number probably only applies to large, expensive cities and not places where the cost of living is cheaper, he said.
The number should be revisited from time to time to adjust for inflation, he said. And the link between money and happiness should probably be interpreted as having less money leading to misery rather than more money bringing joy.
Kahneman also said he really can’t comment on Price’s grand experiment which calls for everyone in the 120-person credit card payment company to earn a minimum of $70,000 by December 2017. However, he doubted the CEO’s gesture will catch on in a big way.
“It’s not viable for every company,” he said. “There is not a general lesson to be learned from this case.”