San Jose Police Crack Down On Violence

The San Jose Police Department is cracking down on violent crime after the city's 25th homicide this year.

KQED Launches Affordable Care Act Guide

Are you confused about Obamacare? KQED and The California Report created a guide to help answer your questions about the Affordable Care Act.

First Ebola Patient Diagnosed in U.S. Dies

Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., died in Dallas Wednesday. As Ebola continues to spread in West Africa, where more than 3,400 people have died of the disease, five of the busiest US international airports will begin enhanced screening measures to find travelers infected with Ebola. Forum will discuss how prepared the Bay Area is for a possible Ebola outbreak and what the U.S., and the world, can do to contain the disease.

UC Riverside Aims to Keep New Doctors Working in Inland Empire

When UC Riverside opened its medical school two years ago, it was the first new medical school in the UC system since 1967. It now has 100 students. But it doesn't just want to turn out more doctors -- part of the school's mission involves working to keep them in the area. That's because the Inland Empire has among the lowest number of doctors in California.

PBS NewsHour

Paralyzed man walks after transplanted cells repair his spine

Step Forward MAN PARALYZED walik monitor

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GWEN IFILL: A man paralyzed from the chest down is now able to walk again, thanks to a pioneering transplant using cells from his nose. The 38-year-old was treated by surgeons in Poland and is the first known patient to ever recover from a complete severing of the spinal nerves.

Alex Thomson of Independent Television News has the story.

ALEX THOMSON: Seeing is believing. Two years on from surgery in Poland, Darek Fidyka is walking. His spinal cord severed in a knife attack, he had been paralyzed from the arms down. The London medical team behind this breakthrough say just one man. But the implications, if they can replicate it, are huge for all mankind.

GEOFFREY RAISMAN, University College London: I still think, myself, that this is a bigger thing than landing a man on the moon. Gradually, he could move his thigh. Now he can move his knee. It’s not great movement, but, to him, it’s — it’s being reborn.

ALEX THOMSON: Darek was paralyzed from the chest down by a knife attack in 2010. A Polish team working with Professor Raisman took cells from the top of Darek’s nasal cavity. These olfactory ensheathing cells help us smell. When they’re damaged in the nose, they’re replaced by new nerve fibers within the nasal cavity.

The team hoped that the cell would do the same when transplanted into the spine. So, they injected strips of cells into an 8-millimeter gap in Darek’s spine with strips of implanted ankle issue to bridge the gap. These slowly restored the nerve fiber, closing the gap, allowing the brain signals to get through again.

GEOFFREY RAISMAN: What we have found could be of enormous benefit to mankind. But it will only be so if we can carry out the next steps and prove it, and if we can take this initial observation and turn it into something that will work for everyone. So I’m not looking back at where we have got to. I’m a — at what lies ahead.

ALEX THOMSON: The 11-year road to discovery began on a beach in Sydney, Australia, in 2003 and an-18-year old on his gap year paralyzed in a diving accident.

His father vowed then he would walk again. And from that day, David Nicholls has been searching for a breakthrough for his son, Daniel. Now he believes three medical firsts have been achieved.

DAVID NICHOLLS, Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation: Nobody in the chronic state of paralysis. This — Darek, the patient, is paralyzed for 15 months, flatlined, so no movement, no sensation. And that has been reversed. And it’s evidentially reversed.

The other significant first is nobody has ever reconnected two ends of a broken cord. We have done that. And the third issue is that the patient has been reclassified from completely paralyzed to not incompletely paralyzed. Well, you don’t do that. If you’re complete, it’s finite, it’s over.

ALEX THOMSON: At London’s Royal National Orthopedic Hospital, caution and excitement evenly balanced at today’s news.

DR. KIA REZAJOOI, Royal National Orthopedic Hospital: Clearly, it’s exciting if the actual claims are definitive and that these patients are improving neurologically, with functional improvement.

But this has to be replicated. This to be repeated in multi centers, and it has to be a randomized — high-level evidence, randomized trial.

ALEX THOMSON: Two-and-a-half million people globally are paralyzed as a result of spinal cord trauma. So, when David Nicholls told his son Daniel suddenly there was hope, it was a game changer.

Darek Fidyka, though, is one man. They need 10 million pounds now to fund 10 more patients for the treatment. As Professor Raisman put it today, we may possibly be the Wright brothers, but what we want is a 747.

The post Paralyzed man walks after transplanted cells repair his spine appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

CDC sets new protocols for healthcare workers and airport screenings


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GWEN IFILL: Now to an update on the Ebola crisis.

As more potentially infected individuals have emerged from quarantine and treatment in the U.S., in recent days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a new set of protocols designed to reduce risk for health care workers. And the Department of Homeland Security announced today it will allow travelers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to enter the country only through five airports equipped for additional screening.

This evening, I spoke with Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the CDC.

Dr. Frieden, thank you for joining us again.

We have had some interesting news the past few days, the news of the end of the Ebola epidemic in Nigeria at least, the release of people from quarantine in Dallas, and just this afternoon we were hearing the upgraded condition of one of the nurses who was infected in Dallas.

Now I’m wondering whether it’s too soon to be getting optimistic about the course of this infection.

DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: We have to keep our guard up.

There are still thousands of cases in West Africa. The epidemic is still increasing in Sierra Leone and parts of Guinea. And there’s — there’s no time for complacency. We absolutely need to keep our guard up.

GWEN IFILL: Can we talk about the new protocols you announced last night about — for health care workers and what difference they will make?

DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: What we’re doing is being more protective, adding a margin of safety, and doing that in three fundamental ways, first, ensuring that health care workers know what to do to put on and take of protective gear, so there’s training and practice over and over again, so that it’s done well.

Second, the gear that we’re recommending now has no skin exposed to have that extra margin of safety. And, third, a trained observer watches and checks off each and every step putting on and taking off the gear. That’s critically important to protect health care workers, because even a single infection is one infection too many.

GWEN IFILL: But these protocols are voluntary, are they not?

DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: We find that the hospital generally follows CDC guideline. CDC is not a regulatory agency, but other parts of the federal government and states can impose regulations.

GWEN IFILL: Do these hospitals where this training is going to take effect, do they have even enough beds, enough isolation units for people?

DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: The physical space is not the hardest part, though there are hard parts about that, because you need an anteroom or separate area to put on and take off the protective gear.

And it doesn’t require special rooms. What it does require is special training, special equipment for protection and rigorous monitoring and oversight. This, we found in Africa and here. You need someone there full-time watching and checking to make sure that there are no missteps.

GWEN IFILL: But you don’t need to have isolation areas, isolated rooms, isolated beds?

DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: You do need a separate area to take care of patients with Ebola.

And there are a lot of complicated aspects of creating that. You need a clean area and a dirty area. You need an anteroom. You need a separate place for putting on and taking off the protective gear. With this new guideline, it becomes much more challenging and it requires a much more specialized approach for hospitals.

But every hospital, every emergency department in the country needs to think Ebola. For anyone with fever or other signs of infection, ask about travel history. Have you been to Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone in the past 21 days? And if they have, stop, isolate, assess, call for help.

GWEN IFILL: You talk about travel experience. Today, we heard from the Department of Homeland Security that they’re going to limit the egress, I guess, the entrance to the United States to five airports from any of these three affected countries.

That would affect maybe nine people a day? What effect does that have?

DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: That’s actually very helpful for us, because at CDC what we have done is, working closely with Homeland Security and Border Protection, we’re at each of these five airports with a team 24/7.

And what we do is ensure that every person coming in, they’re initially screened by customs. And if they either have a fever or they have had contact with Ebola, they have come to us for tertiary screening. If we find anyone who has any symptoms — and we know we will pick up people with flu or cold or people who vomited on the plane because they felt bad. But if there’s any suspicion of Ebola, then we will take them to a hospital that’s prepared to deal with Ebola.

GWEN IFILL: There’s been much conversation here in Washington about the appointment of what some people call an Ebola czar, what the White House calls an Ebola coordinator.

Two questions. Is that something which is needed? Is that helpful to you? And why aren’t you the Ebola czar?

DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: I’m delighted that there’s an Ebola coordinator.

I’m looking forward to his visit to Atlanta next week. I have spoken with him already. And it’s really important that we have coordination across the whole government. We can do the public health part at CDC, but there are so many aspects of this response that require a whole-of-government approach for accountability, coordination, liaison functions, troubleshooting.

There’s been — everyone has been doing their part, but a coordinator allows us to do that more efficiently and effectively.

GWEN IFILL: And, finally, I want to ask you about the way the public has been reacting to all of this. There’s a Gallup poll which says it’s among the top 10 issues Americans worry about.

And there’s a Pew poll that shows 41 percent say they worry that they or someone they know, some family member will be infected. Do they have reason to worry?

DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: You know, it’s hard to gauge risk sometimes, but, realistically, if you’re a health care worker caring for one of the two patients with Ebola being cared for, three patients with Ebola being cared for in the U.S. today, you should be very careful.

If you are an emergency room doctor or nurse treating people with fever, you should think about Ebola. But, for everyone else, the risk of Ebola is really extraordinarily remote. But we can’t let our guard down. As long as the outbreak continues in Africa, the risk of another traveler coming in of someone, responder going and back and getting it is there.

So it won’t be zero until we stop the outbreak at the source in Africa.

GWEN IFILL: Thomas Frieden, executive director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, thank you very much for joining us again.


The post CDC sets new protocols for healthcare workers and airport screenings appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Why Ebola runs a different course in different people

Philippine health workers assist a colleague to don a hazmat suit during a media tour displaying the government's
         measures in preparing against Ebola. Photo by Erik De Castro/Reuters

Philippine health workers assist a colleague to don a hazmat suit during a media tour displaying the government’s measures in preparing against Ebola. Photo by Erik De Castro/Reuters

WASHINGTON — People who shared an apartment with the country’s first Ebola patient are emerging from quarantine healthy. And while Thomas Eric Duncan died and two U.S. nurses were infected caring for him, there are successes, too: A nurse infected in Spain has recovered, as have four American aid workers infected in West Africa. Even there, not everyone dies.

So why do some people escape Ebola, and not others?

The end of quarantine for 43 people in Dallas who had contact with Duncan “simply supports what most of us who know something about the disease have been saying all along: It’s not that easily spread,” said Dr. Joseph McCormick of the University of Texas School of Public Health. Formerly with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, McCormick worked on the first known Ebola outbreak in 1976 and numerous other outbreaks of Ebola and related hemorrhagic viruses.

Ebola spreads by contact with bodily fluids, such as through a break in the skin or someone with contaminated hands touching the eyes or nose. Once inside the body, Ebola establishes a foothold by targeting the immune system’s first line of defense, essentially disabling its alarms. The virus rapidly reproduces, infecting multiple kinds of cells before the immune system recognizes the threat and starts to fight back.

Only after enough virus is produced do symptoms appear, starting with fever, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. And only then is someone contagious.

It’s not clear why Ebola runs a different course in different people. But how rapidly symptoms appear depends partly on how much virus a patient was initially exposed to, McCormick said.

The World Health Organization has made clear that there’s far more virus in blood, vomit and feces than in other bodily fluids.

There is no specific treatment for Ebola but specialists say basic supportive care — providing intravenous fluids and nutrients, and maintaining blood pressure — is crucial to give the body time to fight off the virus.

Profuse vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration. Worse, in the most severe cases, patients’ blood vessels start to leak, causing blood pressure to drop to dangerous levels and fluid to build up in the lungs.

“The key issue is balance between keeping their blood pressure up by giving them fluids, and not pushing them into pulmonary edema where they’re literally going to drown,” McCormick said.

Death usually is due to shock and organ failure.

“We depend on the body’s defenses to control the virus,” said Dr. Bruce Ribner, who runs the infectious disease unit at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital, which successfully treated three aid workers with Ebola and now is treating one of the Dallas nurses.

“We just have to keep the patient alive long enough in order for the body to control this infection,” he said.

What about experimental treatments? Doctors at Emory and Nebraska Medical Center, which successfully treated another aid worker and now is treating a video journalist infected in West Africa, say there’s no way to know if those treatments really helped. Options include a plasma transfusion, donated by Ebola survivors who have antibodies in their blood able to fight Ebola, or a handful of experimental drugs that are in short supply.

But survival also can depend on how rapidly someone gets care. It also may be affected by factors beyond anyone’s control: McCormick’s research suggests it partly depends on how the immune system reacts early on — whether too many white blood cells die before they can fight the virus. Other research has linked genetic immune factors to increased survival.

Lauren Neergaard is an Associated Press reporter.

The post Why Ebola runs a different course in different people appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Is that lavender soap really ‘organic’?

A shop of organic cosmetics and soap. Photo by Flickr user rosipaw

A shop of organic cosmetics and soap. Photo by Flickr user rosipaw

WASHINGTON — There’s a strict set of standards for organic foods. But the rules are looser for household cleaners, textiles, cosmetics and the organic dry cleaners down the street.

Wander through the grocery store and check out the shelves where some detergents, hand lotions and clothing proclaim organic bona fides.

Absent an Agriculture Department seal or certification, there are few ways to tell if those organic claims are bogus.

A shopper’s only recourse is to do his or her own research.

“The consumer should not need a law degree to read a label,” says Laura Batcha, president of the Organic Trade Association, the industry’s main trade group. Concerned about the image of organics, the association is pressuring the government to better investigate organic claims on nonfood items.


According to the Organic Trade Association, sales of those nonfood organic products were about $2.8 billion last year, a small share of the overall organic market but growing rapidly. Among the most popular items: household cleaners, cosmetics, gardening products, clothing, sheets and mattresses.

USDA doesn’t regulate any of those items, though, unless they’re made entirely from food or agriculture products overseen by its National Organic Program. That’s when they can carry the familiar “USDA organic” seal or other official USDA certification.

The rules are murkier when the items have ingredients that aren’t regulated by USDA, like chemicals in soaps or makeup. The department doesn’t police the use of the word organic for nonfood items, as it does with food.

Some examples:

  • Personal care products. Companies can brand any personal care product as organic with little USDA oversight as long as they don’t use the USDA organic seal or certification. Some retailers like Whole Foods Market have stepped in with their own standards requiring organic body care items sold at their stores to be certified. There’s also a private certification called NSF/ANSI 305, but most consumers don’t know to look for that label.
  • Clothing, sheets and mattresses made from organic cotton or other organic fibers. Some items are certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard, a third-party verification organization that reviews how the products are manufactured. Like body care, most consumers don’t know about it.
  • Gardening products. Some gardening products may be approved by USDA for use in organic agriculture, but not be certified organic themselves.

There are clear standards for items within the scope of USDA’s regulation, says Miles McEvoy, the head of department’s National Organic Program. “The areas that are outside of our scope could cause some confusion.”


The Federal Trade Commission normally investigates deceptive claims. But the agency demurred in its “Green Guides” published in 2012, saying enforcement of organic claims on nonfood products could duplicate USDA duties.

A claim is only deceptive if it misleads consumers, the agency says. So, it will study consumer perceptions of the word organic. But officials weren’t able to say when such a study might begin.

The Organic Trade Association’s Batcha says the lack of enforcement could erode confidence in the organic industry as a whole. The industry has similarly been fighting overuse of the word “natural,” which has no legal meaning at all.

Ken Cook, head of the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy group that publishes online consumer databases on cosmetics and cleaning, is blunt: “Companies are chasing the consumers and the government is in the rear-view mirror.”


Some dry cleaners promote “organic” on their windows and in their stores, but there is no legal definition for that practice.

Mary Scalco, CEO of the industry group Drycleaning and Laundry Institute, said some of those businesses may actually be using petroleum-based solutions, which are not generally perceived as organic by the general public.

“The difficult part is the scientific meaning of organic and the consumer perception of the word,” she says.

Scalco says she is telling member companies to make sure their customers know what organic means.

“Because there is no real regulation on this right now, you want to make sure you don’t mislead the public,” she says.


So what’s a consumer to do, especially when organic products are often more expensive and the market is continuing to grow?

Right now, retailers are the first line of defense.

Four years ago, Whole Foods Market announced strict standards for labeling in the store’s well-stocked cosmetics, home cleaning and clothing aisles. The retailer also requires all products to list ingredients.

“In areas where there isn’t a government regulation, we have stepped up to create our own,” says Joe Dickson, global quality standards coordinator for the Austin, Texas-based chain.

David Bronner, the president of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, has fought for years to get the USDA to expand its powers on organics to include personal care products. He says Whole Foods’ standards have helped clean up the market, but there are still less scrupulous companies that stretch the meaning of the word organic to include petroleum-based oils and nonorganic palm and coconut oils that make up the base of many personal care products. Some grocery stores, spas and online retailers have no standards at all.

Bronner advises shoppers to read labels carefully and scan lists of ingredients. If you find several unpronounceable ingredients that sound like chemicals, “it’s probably not organic,” he says.

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