iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Increases in the rates of three major sexually transmitted diseases in Rhode Island have led local health officials to warn that high-risk behaviors could be to blame, including the use of social media to “arrange casual and often anonymous sexual encounters."
Among the statistics, HIV rates have risen 33 percent, gonorrhea cases are up 30 percent and syphilis cases are up a whopping 79 percent.
"These data send a clear signal that despite the progress we have made in reducing STDs and HIV over the years, there is more work to do," Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, director designee at the Rhode Island Department of Health, said in a statement. "This trend reminds us that we cannot become complacent."
The department, according to a written statement, found that high-risk behavior, including “using social media to arrange casual and often anonymous sexual encounters, having sex without a condom, having multiple sex partners, and having sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” as well as increased testing, was the likely cause for the spike in STDs. While the department was able to track STD rates from 2013 through 2014, national data is only available until 2013 and it’s unclear if STDs are going up nationally, as well.
At least one other county has seen a startling rise in STDs, and it is such a problem that health officials at the STD clinic for Salt Lake County, Utah, have started to ask about specific dating apps when meeting with patients.
Lynn Beltran, an epidemiologist at the clinic, said she’s not surprised to see a rise in STDs, given the rise of those dating apps and what she sees as changing attitudes on sexual relations.
“It’s been the perfect storm,” said Beltran. “Our attitude kind of shifted, where it became more acceptable to engage in casual sex ... then to find someone in a certain mile radius.”
Beltran said she and her team ask about the dating apps to understand if patients' partners could be at risk. She said that when websites were more popular, she and her staff would register as users to reach out to people who may have been exposed to STDs, including HIV. Now that apps are more popular, she said, it is more difficult to reach out and alert users of potential exposure.
“My staff would register as users on those on sites and go in and send them a message,” she told ABC News. “They would go on and say, 'Can you please call me? I have some important medical information for you.'”
In her county, she said, she has seen an uptick in syphilis and gonorrhea, and many of the newly diagnosed patients say they are sexually active through dating apps.
Some HIV experts say the dating apps likely are not to blame, but instead blame a lack of funding for education and prevention.
“Don’t blame social media -- this is about our failure to provide young people with comprehensive, effective sex education and access to condoms" and affordable medical care, said Anthony Hayes, managing director of public affairs and policy for the Gay Men's Health Crisis
He also cited lack of available medications that can help stop an HIV infection after exposure.
"Until we make these crucial investments that will save lives and money, these numbers are going to keep going up," he said.
Beltran added that the Rhode Island report does not mean people should be shamed for using dating sites, but that they should be educated on staying safe.
“I think this is the wave of the future, and we need to approach it not with a shame,” she said.
She said it will be important for health departments are able to “help people be informed and know what their risks are.”
Creatas/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Twin sisters Florence Davies and Glenys Thomas, both 103, have died within weeks of each other at their home care center in the United Kingdom.
"It was a huge privilege for all of us at Abermill to care for two such wonderful ladies," said Christine Tipper, Abermill Care Home's deputy manager. "They both made such a positive impact on the life at the home and will be hugely missed by all of us here and by their family and friends."
Thomas passed away on Thursday, April 23, just 27 days before Davies, who died on Wednesday, May 20.
The sisters, who were born on Nov. 22, 1911, had five children, 12 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren between them.
A spokesman at Abermill Care Home said that Thomas and Davies enjoyed spending time together in the communal lounge area and lived in rooms a couple of doors down from one another.
“They even built an interior door joining their two kitchens to make it even easier for them to see each other," the spokesman added.
Thomas and Davies' deaths came months after celebrating a 103rd birthday party at Abermill with their loved ones, staff and fellow residents.
WTNH(NEW YORK) -- A Connecticut woman was rushed to the hospital with intense stomach pain after she accidentally swallowed something in her hamburger.
The culprit: a bristle from a grill brush.
Cheryl Harrison went to MidState Medical Center in Meriden two days after eating the hamburger, and had to have emergency surgery earlier this month in order to remove the foreign object.
The tiny piece of metal was less than an inch long, Dr. Aziz Benbrahim, who treated Harrison, said.
“If it was in my mouth and I bit it and I knew it I wouldn’t have swallowed it,” Harrison said at a news conference following her recovery last week. “It must have been positioned in that burger just perfect, and I ingested it and swallowed it.”
A CAT scan showed the metal was stuck in her intestine, which can be very dangerous, Benbrahim said.
“You can die from it; it’s a big problem,” Benbrahim told ABC News. “It’s a flexible piece of metal so when you eat it, you don’t feel it in your mouth. It goes down to your small intestine and we have a normal kink, 90 degree kink, and that bristle can’t negotiate the turn and that’s how it made a hole in her intestine.”
Benbrahim said he was able to treat the Wallingford woman immediately because he had experience with something like this before.
“About a year ago, I had a patient who almost died from it,” he said. “He had [eaten] a bristle from a grill brush and he was sick for two weeks.”
Benbrahim said that patient had an infection that led to a blood clot in his lungs. He said Harrison, who ABC News was unable to reach, came into the hospital at the perfect time, and that’s why she was able to recover fairly quickly.
“I feel better,” Harrison said last week, “a little tender but I feel definitely better.”
Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- New versions of "The Pill" could raise the risk of serious blood clots, according to a study out Wednesday in the British Medical Journal.
The study shows that the risk of clotting nearly doubled for women taking newer oral contraceptives versus older versions.
But, as ABC News' senior medical contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton points out, the numbers are still relatively small.
"If you look at the risk of a blood clot in an average person, not on the pill, that's about 1 in 10,000. If then you look at a low dose pill, that risk goes up to 8 in 10,000. Those newer pills can go as high as 16," Ashton says.
She explains, "It's really all about the synthetic type of progestogens in these combination pills. This study confirms past data. We know this is something called a class-effect risk of blood clots with combination pills. And all pills are not created equal. So women should look for the ingredients on their pack of pills and look for those starting with the letter N or L. Those appear to have the lowest risk of clotting."
WMUR(BETHLEHEM, N.H.) -- A New Hampshire principal battling a rare cancer was brought to tears when her senior class unanimously decided to give up their senior class trip and donate nearly $8,000 to her medical care.
Courtney Vashaw, principal of the Profile school for both junior and high school students in Bethlehem, New Hampshire, was diagnosed with a rare cancer of the soft tissue earlier this month. The senior class at the school surprised Vashaw on Tuesday with the news that they would donate the funds for their senior class trip for her treatment.
"She's just very caring, very selfless, and we wanted to be selfless, too," Ian Baker, a senior at the school, told ABC News affiliate WMUR-TV.
Vashaw said she had "no idea" her seniors were planning on surprising her. They tricked her to coming by telling her it was for a senior meeting, she said. Once she arrived, the entire senior class announced that they had unanimously voted to donate their funds to Vashaw.
"I feel like this has been a beautiful experience as an educator," she told ABC News. "You work so hard to try and help cultivate not only academically astute young people but kids who care. I am just so impressed and so proud of these kids for being the embodiment of that."
After seven years at the school, Vashaw said this is just the second group of students she has seen go from middle schoolers to high school graduates. In a few weeks, she is scheduled to go to New York to get specialized treatment for her rare and aggressive form of cancer, but before that she will celebrate as her students pick up their diplomas.
"If I even make it through the graduation without being a teary, soggy mess, it’s going to be a miracle," she told ABC News.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For the second year in a row, Mississippi had the highest obesity rate in the U.S. in 2014, the latest Gallup Healthways Well Being Index shows.
The state's obesity rate was 35.2 percent last year -- nearly unchanged from 35.4 percent in 2013. That's well above the national rate of 27.7 percent.
In second place was West Virginia at 34.3 percent followed by Louisiana at 33.2 percent. Arkansas (33 percent), Oklahoma (32.6 percent), Alabama (32.1 percent), Kentucky (31.5 percent), Indiana (31.4 percent), Iowa (31.1 percent) and Missouri (30.9 percent) rounded out the top 10 states with the highest obesity rates.
On the flip side, Hawaii had the lowest rate at 19 percent. The rest of the top 10 states with the lowest obesity rates are as follows: Colorado (20.3 percent), Montana (23.5 percent), California (23.9 percent), Massachusetts (24 percent), Idaho (24.2 percent), South Dakota (24.6 percent), New York (24.7 percent), Minnesota (24.8 percent) and Connecticut (24.9 percent).
photoquest7/iStock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- Despite receding floodwaters in Texas and Oklahoma, dangers can persist as residents begin the process of cleaning up the mess left behind.
At least three people were killed in Texas and many more injured as floodwaters hit the state Monday night.
Bristel Minsker, spokeswoman for American Red Cross, said a big risk for residents is that remaining floodwater can be toxic after washing over roads and even bringing cars and other debris along.
"The Blanco River overflowed and it’s been running through the state and pushing all this debris down through the state," said Minsker, who called the water extremely toxic.
Minsker said it's important to keep young children and pets away from the water so they don't ingest any of it. For people who had to wade through dirty water to get to safety, Minsker recommends immediately showering and washing clothes to get out any toxins that were washed into the water during the flood.
Minsker said residents should only return home after officials have given the all-clear and always check for downed power lines, foundation cracks or broken gas lines before entering the home.
She also said any food that comes into contact with floodwaters, even bottled water or canned goods, needs to be thrown out.
Another unexpected hazard for those returning home: wildlife.
"We’re hearing a lot of reports of snakes getting washed on to people’s property," said Minsker, who warned that people should stay far away because the animals might be panicked or aggressive.
"They’ve been driven from their natural rural home. It’s an area they are not comfortable with," she said.
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said as residents are able to clean up more and more, there will be other issues they face including mold or dust that can exacerbate asthma or breathing problems.
"You can get mold growing up on things that you’re then trying to clear out," Schaffner said.
Minsker of the Red Cross said it's key for residents with a flooded home to add fans or dehumidifiers to try and keep the mold from growing and causing health problems.
Also, as mud dries it can turn into dust that affects the lungs, said Dr. Schaffner, who recommends wearing a surgical mask.
Schaffner said anyone who had a wound exposed to floodwaters should seek medical attention to see whether they should get a tetanus booster shot.
In addition to short-term problems, Schaffner said, there's another hazard that could last long after the floodwaters recede. He said he's concerned that standing water could mean in increase in the West Nile virus carried by mosquitoes, especially as summer approaches.
"All this floodwater is going to leave puddles and pockets of water that will be great breeding grounds of mosquitoes," Schaffner said. "If there are a lot of mosquitoes, more mosquitoes will bit birds and then bite people," spreading the virus.
The Texas Department of Health has a full list of recommendations on flood safety here.
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Jessica Alba rocks a sexy bikini on the latest cover of Shape magazine but admits her fit physique doesn't come easy.
"I’m not going to lie. Working out sucks," she told the June issue. "Which is why I love taking classes, because I’m surrounded by other people and that keeps me motivated and accountable."
The 34-year-old actress-turned-entrepreneur said she likes to mix up her workout.
"I have to break a sweat or I don’t feel like I’ve gotten anything done," she said. "These days, I do power yoga with light weights in a 105 degree room, so it’s a mix of hot yoga and strength training. I also spin. The key for me is good music, like 2 Chainz, Lil Wayne, Rihanna, Jay-Z, Beyoncé."
If she only has 30 minutes, Alba said, "I'll do a series of burpees, mountain climbers, squat jumps, planks, and a few sun salutations."
Alba's road to fitness began more than a decade ago, while filming the Dark Angel series.
"I attribute my athletic body to the martial arts, gymnastics, dance, and strength training I did while filming Dark Angel," she told Shape. "That’s made me strong and really set the bar."
But it wasn't until having her children that she felt comfortable with her body.
"I wasn’t truly confident about my body until I had my daughters, Honor, 7, and Haven, 3. I felt more comfortable in my own skin after they were born," she said. "Plus, if I want them to be happy with their bodies, I need to walk the walk."
But this active mom and Honest Company founder has also found ways to be still.
"When I need to zone out and quiet my mind, I listen to a meditation podcast from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center [marc.ucla.edu]," she said. "Each one is literally just three minutes long, so I can go into a bathroom stall or do it in my car. But I’m really intrigued by Transcendental Meditation. Everyone I know who does TM has this inner peace and a glow. I want that."
She was taken to Kaiser Permanente in Fontana, California, where she is on life support, according to KABC-TV. Hospital officials did not comment further on the case, citing privacy laws.
As Housley’s teammates rally with messages of support with the hashtag #PrayforDana, experts said that the teen’s case can help put the spotlight on this mysterious condition that affects an estimated 6 million Americans.
Experts are quick to point out that Housley’s activity on the softball team likely had no bearing on her developing a brain aneurysm or having it rupture.
“The biggest mystery is why they form,” Christine Buckley, the executive director of the Brain Aneurysm Foundation told ABC News.
Just two days after Housley’s hospitalization, a teen baseball player reportedly died after being hit by a baseball. In that case, the cause of death was not yet released, though his grandfather told a local newspaper that one cause may have been an underlying condition, including possibly an aneurysm.
Teens rarely develop aneurysms, but those that do often do not understand their symptoms including headache, eye pain and sometimes earache, Buckley said.
“Early detection is the key,” she said, noting that people should seek treatment at a hospital if they experience signs and symptoms.
An aneurysm develops when a weak spot develops on the wall of a brain artery, leading to a bulge. Should the weak spot rupture, the blood loss can lead devastating results, including stroke, brain injury or death.
Aneurysms can run in families and ruptured aneurysms are more associated with smoking, but no specific activity is associated with developing an aneurysm or having it rupture, Buckley said.
Dr. Nicholas Bambakidis, director of Cerebrovascular and Skull Base Surgery at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, said brain aneurysms in teenagers and children are rare but they do occur.
“It’s a severe tremendous headache, almost always accompanied by loss of consciousness,” Bambakidis said of brain aneurysm symptoms. "Worst headache of my life. It’s not like a tension headache or a headache after a bad day."
Bambakidis said even an outside trauma like a baseball hitting the head may not lead to rupture and that they are mostly likely to be rupture due to severe trauma that actually pierces the brain.
The biggest predictor of survival is how a patient is doing when they arrive to get treatment, he said.
“How bad was the bleeding and how much damage was done to the brain when it’s bleeding?” Bambakidis said of figuring out the likelihood of a patient surviving.
Brain aneurysms are most prevalent for people between the ages of 35 to 60, according to the Brain Aneurysm Foundation. The condition can be deadly if ruptured and approximately 15 percent of patients with a specific type of aneurysm called an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage, die before reaching the hospital.
Approximately 30,000 Americans will have a brain aneurysm rupture annually and about 40 percent of these cases are fatal.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Forget the bar. If you're looking for love, stop at the local coffee shop because apparently caffeine puts the mojo in a cup of joe.
A small field study found men who chatted up women at cafes surrounded by the pleasant aromas of coffee and pastries were more likely to walk away with a phone number.
Researchers say caffeine stimulates blood flow and social interest.
On another note, a larger scientific study found men who drink two or three cups a day can reduce their risk of erectile dysfunction by up to 42 percent. Drinking coffee even lowered the risk for obese and hypertensive men but not for diabetics.
ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Sandra Lee is home from the hospital.
The lifestyle guru, who underwent a double mastectomy last week, shared photos of herself with her partner, New York governor Andrew Cuomo, and their bird, Phoenix.
"Home after a long week in the hospital," she wrote. "So happy to be in my own backyard. There is no place like home!"
Lee, 48, revealed earlier this month that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer in March. Prior to the mastectomy, she'd had a lumpectomy. Her doctor also recommended daily radiation for six to eight weeks.
"It beats up your body, and it beats you up emotionally," she said during an appearance on Good Morning America. "[But] I wasn't going let it rob me from one day of happiness."
pyotr021/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Since 2002, doctors have used Botox to paralyze the facial muscles underneath wrinkles, but it may be doing more than simply stopping these muscle movements – it may make the skin more youthfully elastic.
Researchers backed by Allergan, the company that makes Botox, studied the effects of Botox injections on 43 women in a study published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.
The skin at the treatment site then tended to exhibit more elasticity, which wore off after two to three months, disappearing completely by four months.
Researchers say it might explain why doctors have noticed in the past that patients tend to exhibit a progressive reduction in wrinkle levels with repeated treatments.
ajkkafe/iStock/Thinkstock(CLEVELAND) -- If you’re allergic to tree and grass pollen, Memorial Day is probably not your favorite holiday.
It’s the time of year when the spring tree pollen end up overlapping with the summer grass pollen, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Dr. David Lang, an allergist at the Cleveland Clinic, said many people experience this allergy “double whammy.”
“If you’re allergic to both tree and grass – it’s kind of a double-hit. And Memorial Day is the peak of the grass pollen season,” he said.
Tree pollen is the primary allergen across the Northern Plains, Great Lakes, and New England during the month of May, while grasses typically start flowering towards the end of May in the north.
The combination of tree and grass pollen can make for a miserable Memorial Day for people with allergies.
Dr. Lang said the best defense is to have a pollen plan, which should include the combination of non-sedating antihistamine and intranasal steroids.
““Frequently we recommend that our patients use both of those – the intranasal steroids and the antihistamines, together, and that’s usually a pretty good one-two combination for reducing the level of symptoms,” Lang said.
Another tip is staying indoors with the air conditioning to provide relief, according to Lang.
Broward Sheriff's Office(PALM BEACH, Fla.) -- A Florida mother is out of jail after spending more than a week behind bars during an ongoing dispute over circumcising her son.
Heather Hironimus posted bond and was released Saturday night, according to authorities in Palm Beach County.
Hironimus, 31, had been taken into custody May 14 after she went missing for several months with her 4-year-old son, allegedly to avoid a court order to circumcise him, according to court records. She was taken to jail on charges including interference with custody, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's office.
On Friday, she signed paperwork to allow the procedure, attorney Ira Marcus, who represents the boy's father, Dennis Nebus, told ABC News.
Doing so released Horonimus from the civil pick-up order, but not interference with child custody -- a criminal charge -- so she remained in jail until Saturday night.
In May 2014, Hironimus lost a legal battle to Nebus when a Palm Beach County judge ruled that the boy should be circumcised, according to the Orlando Sun Sentinel.
In March 2015, the judge ordered Hironimus to bring the boy in to schedule the circumcision procedure, according to the newspaper. But Hironimus never showed up in court -- prompting a warrant for her arrest, the newspaper reported, also noting that she avoided being arrested because she was living in a domestic violence shelter.
Hironimus filed a federal suit against both Nebus and the judge last month, claiming that her son did not have a medical need to be circumcised. At the boy's age, Hironimus' federal suit says, there could be negative psychological effects resulting from circumcision. She expressed that he did not want to be circumcised and was afraid of the procedure.
Nebus' attorney Ira Marcus told ABC News on Sunday: "We assume the family law court will resolve the issues ... dealing with my client and the child."
Hironimus's lawyer did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment on Sunday.