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'Whooping' sound is heart-wrenching
October 22nd, 2010
04:49 PM ET

'Whooping' sound is heart-wrenching

The sound of a child with pertussis, or whooping cough, is one of the most heart-wrenching and horrible sounds a parent can hear. It’s a coughing fit that leaves the patient gasping for breath, which is what gives it that “whooping” sound.

Katie Kisil’s 9-year-old-daughter, Payton, is recovering from whooping cough. “It was a constant cough,” said Kisil. “At night, she wasn’t able to sleep. She was just coughing throughout the night,” she said. Payton’s cough was so violent, that she vomited.

Her pediatrician, Dr. Marie Medawar, said although many have been vaccinated, or even if we’ve already had the disease, immunity wanes and it could be contracted again. She said anyone from age 11 on, should get a tetanus/pertusis booster shot - even parents, grandparents and pregnant women, to prevent an infant from contracting the disease.

“Because that’s the highest risk,” Medawar said. “If an infant gets whooping cough, it could be fatal,” she said.

Listen to the Kisils' story:



October 22nd, 2010
02:09 PM ET

Cholera can be deadly within hours

Cholera is a bacterial illness that causes severe diarrhea and dehydration and can be lethal within hours if a person is not treated.

"This is a bacteria that actually is in the environment. It's in brackish water in the river. It can be in seacoasts and if the environmental conditions are not right, the cholera bacteria can grow up and then anyone who ingests that water or food that comes from that water or food that is prepared with that water can get ill," says Dr. William Schaffner, chair of Preventive Medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

In an epidemic, cholera can also be spread from the feces of an infected person.  Children and adults alike are vulnerable.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), three-quarters of people carrying the bacteria have no symptoms. For those who do get sick, the main symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, muscle cramps, dehydration and shock. Death can occur if treatment is not immediately administered.
While human remains don’t typically pose a health threat, the WHO notes that bodies of people who have died from cholera do pose a health risk and should be kept away from polluting sources of drinking water.

The WHO estimates  3–5 million people are sickened by cholera each year causing 100,000–120,000 deaths.

The bacteria can spread when human waste enters water systems and people drink the contaminated water or eat food that's been cooked in contaminated water.  While modern sewerage systems have almost completely eliminated cholera in industrialized countries, it can thrive in areas where war, disaster, or extreme poverty forces people to live in crowded and unsanitary conditions, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Cholera is easily treated if people can be rehydrated.  In many cases, giving patients oral rehydration salts can help relieve symtoms.  In more severe cases, IV fluids may and antibiotics are required.   According to the WHO, the fatality rate may be 30-50 percent if left untreated.   Two vaccines are available to prevent cholera, but they are not always readily available in situations where disaster and impoverishment flourish.

Improving sewerage and sanitation conditions is the best way to prevent cholera outbreaks and spread, according to the WHO.  But this is not always practical in times of disaster, where food, hygiene and public health tracking may be compromised.


A tiny life lost to whooping cough
October 22nd, 2010
01:25 PM ET

A tiny life lost to whooping cough

Whooping cough is a rather mild-sounding name for a disease that can kill a baby before it’s even diagnosed.

Ten infants in California have died since the first of the year in an outbreak of whooping cough, whose proper medical name is pertussis. Many Americans think of it as a disease of the past, but nearly 6,000 cases in California  and more nationwide suggest otherwise.

Although California has had the highest number of whooping cough cases this year, other states are seeing slight increases. And Michigan has been watching a rise since the second half of 2008, which continues, according to the CDC. By Aug. 15, Michigan had seen 610 pertussis cases, compared with 902 for all of 2009 and 315 cases in 2008.

Daryl and Felicia Dube of Lancaster, South Carolina, became all-too familiar with the disease this year. Their baby son, Carter, came down with pertussis in January.

FULL POST


October 22nd, 2010
12:10 PM ET

Fitness digest: Steve Harvey's detox, running pains, energy drink banned

Every Friday, we'll give a Web shout-out to interesting, quirky or  bizarre diet-and-fitness items. Tell us your suggestions for interesting stories, posts or websites that caught your eye.

If you want to win, suck it up.

Writing about the art of pain, New York Times’ Gina Kolata finds superathletes are able to manage and push through pain.   That mental tenacity and pain coping separates "the mortals and immortals in running.”

Several accomplished athletes told the Times they were willing to endure the worst pain and do “whatever it takes to win the race.” FULL POST


October 22nd, 2010
10:12 AM ET

Is it possible to lose 15 pounds in one month?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Friday, it's Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist.

Question asked by Jenna of Michigan

I'm 16 years old, 5 foot, and 125 pounds. I would like to lose 15 pounds in one month. Is this possible?

FULL POST


October 22nd, 2010
08:18 AM ET

Operate a computer with only your head

A teenager is working on an idea he hopes will help thousands of people with disabilities use computers better.

Gavin Ovsak, 16, designed a circuit board attached to a baseball cap that allows someone who can't move his or her hand well to operate a computer without a mouse. It essentially turns your head into a joystick, he said.

Head movements direct the cursor in the computer screen, and a bite sensor lets a user click on something on the screen. Gavin wrote a computer program that controls this device. He was also featured in this CNN.com story about achievement and motivation.

FULL POST


October 22nd, 2010
12:01 AM ET

Diabetes numbers expected to triple by 2050

One in three American adults is projected to have diabetes by 2050, according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Friday.  An aging population, diabetics living longer and the increasing number of at-risk minorities are the main factors contributing to the rise according to the report.  However the prevalence of obesity in the United States also plays a role.

“Obesity is a significant contributor to the new cases of diabetes. It is certainly a factor,” Ann Albright, director of the CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation tells CNN.

Currently 1 in 10 adults has diabetes and the CDC estimates about 23.6 million people in the United States are living with the disease. 

FULL POST


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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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