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Utah VA clinic launches probe after vet's dad tweets about 'unsanitary' room

After the father of a U.S. Army veteran tweeted photographs of what he called “an unsanitary and disrespectful” exam room at a Veterans Affairs clinic in Utah, an administrator said the facility is conducting an investigation, KSL reported.

>> Read more trending news

Stephen Wilson, whose son Christopher Wilson was being treated for an ankle injury he suffered in Iraq, took photographs at the clinic in Salt Lake City on April 5 and posted them Friday on Twitter.

The tweeted photos show a counter cluttered with medical supplies, an overflowing garbage can and dirty bowls in a sink.

“I figured they would say, 'Oh, this room's not clean' and take me somewhere else, but they just kind of blew past it, didn't acknowledge it,” Christopher Wilson, who spent six years in the Army and was deployed to Iraq twice, told KSL. “They're doctors, right? So I figure one of them was going to say ‘Let's go somewhere else’ or ‘Give us a minute to clean it,’ but nothing.”

Stephen Wilson’s Twitter post has been retweeted more than 16,000 times and there are more than 2,300 comments.

Dr. Karen Gribbin, chief of staff at the George E. Wahlen Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center, said she “was taken aback by the condition of the room” when she saw the photographs on Twitter.

“Mr. Wilson should not have been placed in the room in that condition,” Gribbin told KSL. “The room should be cleaned, supplies and trash removed, before the next patient is placed in there. We are beginning our investigation into seeing exactly how this happened."

Christopher Wilson said he was in the room to get 18 injections in his ankle and surrounding area. He said the room “felt unsanitary.”

“When you think medical (office), you think sanitary,” Christopher Wilson told KSL. “I've never experienced anything like that.”

Gribbin said the photos of the room indicate "it might have been taken in one of our clinics that does casting procedures for patients." 

"My understanding was that strictly these casts are applied in this room but there (are) not other types of debridement or surgical removal of tissue or anything like that that occurs (in the room), so I do not believe Mr. Wilson was exposed to any dangerous body fluids or blood,” Gribbin told KSL. “But regardless, the room should have been cleaned before he was placed in it.”

British toddler Alfie Evans, at center of legal battle, dies

Alfie Evans, the 23-month-old boy who was at the center of a legal battle in the United Kingdom, died Saturday, the BBC reported.

>> Read more trending news

The parents of Alfie, who had a degenerative brain condition, lost legal challenges that allowed the hospital to take the boy off life support on Monday.

Thomas Evans, the boy’s father, wrote on Facebook that “My gladiator lay down his shield and gained his wings. … absolutely heartbroken.”

Evans and Alfie's mother, Kate James, clashed with doctors over the child’s treatment, the BBC reported.

Alfie was first admitted to Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool in December 2016 after suffering seizures. His parents wanted to fly the toddler to a hospital in Italy, but their request was rejected by doctors who said continuing treatment was “not in Alfie's best interests,” the BBC reported.

The hospital said scans showed “catastrophic degradation of his brain tissue” and that further treatment was futile and also “unkind and inhumane.”

Alfie’s parents fought the hospital’s medical staff in court for four months, but lost when the High Court ruled in favor of the hospital on Feb. 20. The decision was upheld on appeal.

Alfie was granted Italian citizenship Monday, but judges upheld a ruling preventing the boy from traveling abroad after his life support was withdrawn, the BBC reported.

Thousands of balloons were released in his memory.

Georgia doctor arrested after threatening to 'slit' employees' throats

A doctor in south Georgia is facing felony charges after allegedly making threats to employees at her medical practice, WTXL reported.

>> Read more trending news

Marian Antoinette Patterson turned herself in to authorities in Lowndes County on Thursday. She is charged with three counts of terroristic threats and one count of false imprisonment, WTXL reported. 

In February, Patterson allegedly yelled expletives at employees and threatened to “slit their throats,” according to a license suspension order from the Georgia Composite Medical Board. 

According to the order, Patterson allegedly told another employee she was going to cut her from “her throat to her private parts.” She also allegedly threatened to cut another employee’s head off, “roll it down a hallway,” and “call the employee's children so that they could see it." 

At one point, Patterson grabbed an employee by the arm and refused to allow the employee to leave.

The board suspended Patterson’s license on March 5, writing that her practice "poses a threat to the public health, safety, and welfare, and imperatively requires emergency action," WTXL reported.

Patterson has been licensed to practice since 1996, and board records show no disciplinary actions have been taken against her in the past, WTXL reported.

20-year-old bear attack survivor bitten by shark while surfing

Dylan McWilliams loves nature, but nature doesn’t always love him back.

The 20-year-old Grand Junction, Colorado, resident was surfing off the Kauai coastline in Hawaii Thursday morning when he suddenly felt searing pain in his calf. He told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that he looked down to see what appeared to be a tiger shark between 6 and 8 feet long.

“At first, I panicked,” McWilliams told the newspaper. “I didn’t know if I lost half my leg or what.”

The panic gave way to his survival instinct, and he kicked the shark away as hard as he could. He began desperately swimming for shore, which he said was the scariest part of the ordeal.

“I didn’t know where the shark was, and I didn’t know if he would come after me again,” McWilliams said

A woman who heard his cries for help called 911 once he reached shore and took him to an urgent care facility, where seven stitches were used to close the deep gashes in his leg. 

McWilliams, who has worked as a tree trimmer, ranch hand and survival training instructor, shared the gory images on Facebook. Click here to see his post

“First time in the water in Kauai and get tagged by a shark,” he said. 

McWilliams’ friends were shocked by the encounter, in part because it is not the first time in the past year he has been attacked by a wild animal. CBS Denver reported that McWilliams, then 19, was camping at Glacier View Ranch near Boulder in July when he was attacked by a 300-pound black bear. 

“Are you kidding me?” one Facebook friend asked. “Dude, why do you always have animals wanting to eat you?”

>> Read more trending news

McWilliams relived his summer ordeal, which began when the bear grabbed him as he slept, following Thursday’s shark attack. 

“The bear grabbed the back of my head and started pulling me and I was fighting back as best as I could,” McWilliams told Hawaii News Now. “It dropped me and stomped on me a little bit, and I was able to get back to the group and they scared it away.”

McWilliams said he was lucky to have survived not only the bear and the shark, but also to have survived a rattlesnake bite during a 2015 hike in Utah, the Star-Advertiser reported. The bite was a “dry bite,” which only delivered enough venom to make him ill for a couple of days. 

National Geographic reported that the odds of one person being bitten by a shark, a bear and a rattlesnake are 893.35 quadrillion to one. An average American has a one in 11.5 million chance of being bitten by a shark.

A person is more likely to be attacked by a bear, with odds of one in 2.1 million, the magazine reported. 

The odds of being bitten by a poisonous snake in the U.S. are one in 37,500. 

Some commenters on Facebook called McWilliams a “legend” for all he’s survived, while others chastised him for getting in the water when much of the island was under a “brown water advisory,” meaning that bad storms had turned much of the coastal waters brown.

Murky water is known to bring in sharks, who prowl the coastline looking for an easy meal. 

“Can tell he’s not from around here or he would have known that,” one person wrote. 

“I guess no one told you that murky water attracts sharks, huh?” another man wrote. 

“It was actually mostly clear where I was,” McWilliams responded.

“‘Mostly’ is a key word in this situation,” the man wrote back. “But it looks like the island gods were ‘mostly’ looking out for you. Speedy recovery, broheem.”

McWilliams told Hawaii News Now that he does not plan on letting his encounter with the tiger shark keep him down.

“I’m just mad that I can’t get back in the water for a couple days,” he said. 

Healing process after breast cancer surgery could cause cancer to spread in mice, study says

While mastectomies and lumpectomies are common treatments used to remove cancer cells, the disease could return within months. Doctors may now understand why, according to a new report

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducted a study, published in Science Translational Medicine on Tuesday, to explore factors that may contribute to cancer recurrence post-surgery. 

>> Read more trending news 

To do so, they created a mouse model that mirrored patients with tumor cells in the breast. They found that the tumor incidence and size drastically increased, the authors wrote

For further analysis, the scientists explored the immune system’s response during the healing process. It works to cure surgical scars by triggering cells throughout the body to help with the repair. However, in doing so, it may also recognize and rouse undetected tumor cells, causing cancerous ones to roam free and multiply.

Preeti Subhedar, breast oncology surgeon at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the findings were interesting.

“The exact mechanism of why some tumors metastasize and others don't is still not well understood, but this study adds some fascinating detail to the understanding of tumor dormancy,” said Subhedar, who was not a part of the experiment.

Related: Breast cancer patients may help boost survival chances by building muscle, study says

Subhedar stressed that the implementation of the sponge or any foreign object in animals is not the same as an actual tumor in humans. 

“We don’t know if the immune response to a foreign object is the same as that to a tumor,” Subhedar said. “This study shows that there could be an association between the immune response and cancer spread, but an association is not causation.”

For the second part of the study, MIT researchers tested the effects of anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, as other studies have shown these medicines may help reduce the risk of other cancers, like colon cancer. Their method worked, and the mice developed “significantly smaller tumors than wounded, untreated mice,” they said. In fact, the tumors often completely disappeared, and the medicine did not impede the mice’s wound healing.

Although there is no definitive data on the relationship between anti-inflammatory drugs and cancer for humans, researchers are hopeful about the results. 

“We have a lot more research to determine if and how surgery can influence cancer spread,” Subhedar said. “I hope that the public understands that these kinds of studies may provide interesting findings, but surgery still remains an important curative part of breast cancer treatment.”

Study says older adults can still grow new brain cells

A new study debunks the idea that old age causes people to lose the ability to grow new brain cells, New Scientist reported. Healthy people in their 70s seem to generate just as many new neurons as teenagers, the study reveals.

>> Read more trending news

The new findings give a positive snapshot of the healthy aging brain, researchers said.

"It's good news that these cells are there in older adults' brains," lead researcher Dr. Maura Boldrini, an associate professor at Columbia University in New York City, told CBS News.

The study was published online April 5 in the journal “Cell Stem Cell.”

It's not clear if new brain cells would function the same way as younger adult brain cells do, said Dr. Ezriel Kornel, an assistant clinical professor of neurosurgery at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

Kornel, who was not involved in the study, told CBS News the findings offer a "hopeful" message.

"Even as we age," he said, "we still have the capability of producing new neurons."

Boldrini’s team examined brain tissue from 28 people between the ages of 14 and 79 who had died suddenly, but had previously been healthy, CBS News reported. 

According to the study, older and younger brains had similar numbers of "intermediate" progenitor cells and "immature" neurons -- a sign that older people had the same ability to generate new cells as young people, CBS News reported.

Infants given antibiotics, antacids may have increased allergy, asthma risk

A study has found that babies administered antacids or antibiotics during their first six months are more likely to develop childhood allergies, asthma, hay fever or other allergic diseases.

The findings come from a new investigation published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, for which researchers examined health records of nearly 800,000 children born between 2001 and 2013 and covered by insurance program Tricare.

>> Read more trending news 

Researchers found that over four years, children who received an antacid like Pepcid or Zantac during their first six months were twice as likely to develop a food allergy and had 50 percent higher chances of developing anaphylaxis -- a severe allergic reaction -- or hay fever.

Those who received antibiotics were twice as likely to develop asthma, and their chances of developing hay fever and anaphylaxis were at least 50 percent higher.

About 9 percent of the babies studied had received antacids during their first six months of life.

“One reason that infants are prone to reflux is the immature anatomy of the infant,” study co-author Cade Nylund told HealthDay. “Another is they have to eat so many calories per body weight. If an adult were to have to take in the same volume as an infant, it would be like drinking roughly two quarts every four hours. If I did that, I would be spitting up, too.”

Related: Is this pill the answer to severe peanut allergies?

Both antibiotics and acid-suppressive medications can disrupt the normal human microbiome, ultimately influencing the likelihood of allergy.

Acid suppression in animal studies, researchers said, has also been shown to increase immunoglobulin E production, which is associated with allergic and inflammatory diseases. So some of these reactions in the immune system resulting from altered microbiomes may show up as an allergy, lead researcher Edward Mitre, of the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland, told The Associated Press.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergic diseases are on the rise. In fact, allergies are the sixth-leading cause of chronic illness in the United States. 

Related: Common allergy meds linked to infertility in men, study finds

The authors of the latest research acknowledged that it’s possible that antacids or antibiotics were given to infants who already had allergies and were misdiagnosed. And while their findings don’t prove the medications cause allergy, Mitre said the links are significant.

“These medicines are considered generally harmless and something to try with fussy babies who spit up a lot,” he said. “We should be a little more cautious prescribing these medicines.”

The full study can be read at the JAMA Network website.

Rise of medical marijuana eases abuse of opioids, study says

The rise of medical marijuana usage apparently has helped ease the abuse of opioids, according to two studies published Monday.

>> Read more trending news

The research suggests that some people choose marijuana to treat their pain when available, thus avoiding more dangerous and addictive drugs, National Public Radio reported.

The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reported that there is good evidence that marijuana can be effective for treating pain in some instances. 

"We do know that cannabis is much less risky than opiates, as far as likelihood of dependency," W. David Bradford, a professor of public policy at the University of Georgia, told NPR. "And certainly there's no mortality risk" from the drug itself.

Bradford and three colleagues — including his daughter, who is a scientist — conducted a study to see whether people who have easy access to medical marijuana are less likely to get prescription opioids. The answer, they reported in JAMA Internal Medicine, is yes.

"There are substantial reductions in opiate use" in states that have initiated dispensaries for medical marijuana, Bradford said.

Heifi Wen at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health was lead author on another study in the same JAMA journal and reached similar conclusions, NPR reported. Wen, with Jason Hockenberry at Emory University, used Medicaid data in the study. 

The authors found that laws that permit both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana for adults "have the potential to reduce opioid prescribing for Medicaid enrollees, a segment of population with disproportionately high risk for chronic pain, opioid use disorder and opioid overdose. Nevertheless, marijuana liberalization alone cannot solve the opioid epidemic.”

Police: Mom says she fed kids PCP after mistaking it for vanilla extract

Police in Kansas are investigating a woman who says she accidentally fed her children PCP after mistaking it for vanilla extract.

Fox4 in Kansas City reported that the woman told police investigators she made French toast Tuesday morning for the children. The kids became ill after eating breakfast, detectives said. 

The mother and all three children -- a 16-year-old and two children under a year old -- had to be hospitalized, but are in stable condition, the news station reported. The woman told investigators that a family member’s ex-boyfriend used to live at the home and that the PCP may have come from him.

>> Read more trending news

Investigators told Fox4 that PCP users often put the drug in vanilla extract bottles because of the dark color of the bottles. 

According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, PCP, or phencyclidine, was developed in the 1950s as an IV painkiller, but its use was halted when it was determined that it could make patients agitated, irrational and delusional. Those who abuse the drug today do so for its mind-altering properties, including hallucinations.

A bitter, white powder, PCP is easily dissolved in water or alcohol, the agency’s website said. The powder can be snorted or ingested and in liquid form, some users dip tobacco or marijuana cigarettes in it. 

Dr. Tama Sawyer, managing director of the University of Kansas Medical Center’s Poison Control Center, told Fox4 that the family in Kansas City is lucky. Not only can PCP make a person very violent, but overdoses can be deadly.

Sawyer said she has never seen a report of a child under the age of 1 having ingested the drug.

“In severe overdoses, it can actually lead to coma and death, and it tends to shut down body organs,” Sawyer told the news station

Detectives continue to investigate the case to determine if the poisoning was accidental. 

Groundbreaking 'cancer vaccine' set for human trials by the end of the year

Human trials of a “cancer vaccine” found to have eliminated tumors in nearly all treated mice are expected to start before the end of the year, according to a report.

>> Read more trending news

Researchers at Stanford University’s School of Medicine published a study earlier this year in the academic journal Science Translational Medicine that claimed to have developed a strategy to treat cancer through immunotherapy, a treatment that uses the body’s immune system to fight a disease. Researchers injected small amounts of two immune-stimulating agents directly into solid tumors in about 90 mice. The technique obliterated cancerous cells in 87 of the mice.

>> Related: New cancer 'vaccine' completely wipes out tumors in mice -- human trials are on way

Stanford University oncology professor Dr. Ronald Levy, who led the study published in January, told SFGate that Stanford plans to run a pair of trials of the treatment with about 35 test subjects by the end of the year. He said researchers are looking for subjects with low-grade lymphoma.

"Getting the immune system to fight cancer is one of the most recent developments in cancer," Levy told SFGate. "People need to know that this is in its early days and we are still looking for safety and looking to make this as good as it can be."

Levy said the drugs used in the treatment have already been proven safe for people and that the side effects known thus far include fever and soreness at the injection site, but not vomiting.

“It’s the combination (of the drugs) that we are testing,” Levy told SFGate.

He added that he doesn’t expect the Federal Drug Administration to give the treatment final approval until a year or two from now, if the treatment is cleared.

Levy is considered a leader in the field of cancer immunotherapy. His research previously led to the development of rituximab, a groundbreaking anticancer treatment for humans.

"All of these immunotherapy advances are changing medical practice," Levy said in January. "I don't think there's a limit to the type of tumor we could potentially treat, as long as it has been infiltrated by the immune system.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this report.

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