Friday, June 01, 2007
Fit Buddies update
A running theme throughout our time as Fit Buddies has been balancing health and fitness with a busy work life. Like many of you, Ed Lavandera, Stacia Deshishku and I all have jobs that are unpredictable, and this week has been especially busy. For the last four days, each of us has been involved in covering the story of Andrew Speaker, the man who traveled to Europe for his wedding while carrying a rare form of tuberculosis. (Full Story)

Needless to say, getting to the gym, eating well and blogging are all difficult during breaking news. So, how have we all fared?

Stacia has had to miss her workouts this week - one of which we had planned to videotape for an updated piece about our success. (Watch Video) She promises Robert, though, that she'll be headed to his studio directly after work today!

Yesterday Ed had a slice of the pizza that was delivered to the CNN satellite truck in Denver, but he also managed to fit in a workout! (Sound familiar? I did the same thing at Virginia Tech, minus the workout.)

I missed my workouts as well, and most likely will miss tonight too. Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is headed to Denver tonight to anchor a one-hour special edition of Anderson Cooper 360 from National Jewish hospital. That means I'll be here in the office until the show is over at 11 p.m. ET.

Maybe Sanjay and Ed can talk fitness over tonight's pizza delivery?
Thursday, May 31, 2007
TB: bigger questions raised
As I have been covering the story of tuberculosis, specifically XDR - TB, several things have occurred to me. So, I thought I would just muse for a few lines and get a sense of what you are thinking as well.

I think, after looking at the science and talking to most people involved, the likelihood of anyone getting infected is incredibly small. Even the TB patient's wife, who was just on a honeymoon with him, has tested negative so far. That's the good news. The bad news is that a lot of people on those flights have been incredibly confused, and a little angry. I spoke to a few of them this morning.

First off, they were first contacted by CNN, not the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - even though they had sat in the same exact row as the infected man. They were tested after seeing news reports on television. One man was immediately placed into a temporary quarantine and asked to wear a mask at his local hospital. The doctors had no idea how to deal with this problem. Many others who were not in the nearby two rows were told to get tested only if they were concerned. Well, what does that mean? Shouldn't everyone be concerned?

Now, the latest CDC advisory simply says everyone who flew on those planes should get tested. That's the confusing part. The anger part: the passengers seemed to think that this infected man was not malicious or out to hurt anyone in particular, but that he was selfish and unnecessarily put many people at risk and created anxiety and worry.

More than anything, I think this one case reflects deeper failings in our public health system. What if there were ten cases, instead of just the one? What if it were smallpox or a bioterrorism attack? Are we ready?
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
TB mystery
The story of the patient with XDR-TB - an "extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis" that's rarely seen - is unfolding much like a mystery novel in reverse. It seems we have the end. Patient has XDR-TB and is under a federal quarantine order.

But who is he? Why does he have an armed guard outside is hospital room? Why did he leave in the first place, when health officials told him not to travel? (According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, he left because he was getting married and health officials knew his plans to leave and could not forbid his leaving.)

Public health officials aren't releasing his name because it would violate his personal privacy and because he's complying now. Some may argue that the information should be released to notify people who may have come in contact with him. Public health officials tell us this is a dilemma they face all the time. And in this case - because he is not very contagious - the risk of infection for anyone who came in contact with him is very low.

So there are lots of questions that many reporters including ours are trying to answer.
Do you think he should have left the country even though health officials told him not to? When do you think public health overrides personal privacy issues?
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Heeding contact solution warnings
We covered a story this morning that provides an interesting look into the psychology of the average consumer. The story is about contact lens solution and the fact that a certain brand is linked to a devastating eye infection. The solution is called Complete MoisturePlus and is made by Advanced Medical Optics. The concern is that users of this solution have seven times the risk of getting the infection, caused by acanthamoeba, a parasite. Ick. This parasite is found in fresh water and salt water, and as it turns out, can even get into contact lens solution.

Admittedly, the numbers are very, very small. There were 39 cases of this infection (out of more than 30 million contact lens users in the United States) and 21 of those people used this solution. You literally have a 1 in a million chance of contracting the infection, which is slightly higher if you use this product. According to the CDC, improper storage, handling and disinfection of contact lenses, as well as swimming or showering while wearing contact lenses contribute to these kinds of infections.

If you do get the infection, you could go blind. In fact, nine of those 39 will require a corneal transplant with no guarantee of their vision returning.

So, what do you do? Obviously, the recommendation is to throw away the solution, the contact lenses and the carrying case. That costs money and aggravation. Do you think the average consumer goes through the steps to ensure that they aren't the one in a million or do they ignore the warnings - confident that it won't happen to them? What would you do?
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, 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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