Chautauqua Rehabilitation & Nursing Center(DEFUNIAK SPRINGS, Fla.) -- A 20-year-old is one of the slowest at a nursing home in Florida.
Shelly -- an African spur thigh tortoise -- has roamed the halls of the Chautauqua Rehabilitation & Nursing Center in DeFuniak Springs, Florida, for the past two years.
“He’s quite the anomaly here. He’ll always make himself known and do anything he can to get his neck scratched,” occupational therapist Brandy Meredith told ABC News Tuesday.
“We joke that when our residents can outrun Shelly, then they can move out,” she added.
Shelly was rescued four years ago when a passerby noticed him walking down the road, presumably after he got too large for his owner to take care of him. He was taken in as a rescue and Meredith said the nursing home began fostering him two years later.
Shelly lives in a temperature-controlled hut on the patio and is a constant therapy animal for all the residents at the 180-bed nursing center.
“We’ll have therapy dogs come in, but they go home at the end of the day. Shelly is our full-time therapy pet and will be there come rain or shine,” she said.
Meredith -- who is the nursing home’s unofficial “tortoise wrangler” -- said Shelly helps especially when resident’s grandchildren or preschoolers come to visit and are uncomfortable with being at the nursing home. Shelly bridges the gap between the generations and makes the young visitors more comfortable.
“He’s a visual stimulant and he’s very engaging for everyone that spends time with him,” Meredith said. “It truly takes a village to raise a tortoise.”
Found Woman with Amnesia-Help Find Her Family/Facebook(SAN DIEGO) — An amnesiac woman is turning to the Internet in the hopes that someone can identify her after a large tumor left her with no memory of her family or friends.
Called "Sam," the woman was found in Southern California by firefighters in February and immediately taken to a local hospital, where she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, according to a Facebook page created to help her find her family. Doctors told her a volleyball-sized ovarian tumor may have left her with few memories of her earlier life, according to the page.
"Sam" was found in Carlsbad, California, and appears to be in her 50s, according to Interpol, which also noted that she speaks both English and French. A spokesman for the FBI confirmed to ABC News day that agents at the local San Diego office were assisting law enforcement authorities in the search for Sam's family. It was unclear what she was doing at the time she was found by firefighters.
After Sam was taken to the hospital, doctors found the large ovarian tumor and determined she needed immediate treatment.
"The amnesia I have is called retro amnesia and doctors have seen this before with the kind of antibodies that were found on the volleyball sized tumor that was on my ovary," Sam said on her Facebook page. “The doctors said it could have been growing for 5 years causing me to be forgetful of things."
The woman had to have emergency surgery to remove the tumor and some surrounding organs to help save her life, according to the Facebook page. Authorities are concentrating on contacts in Australia, since Sam appears to have an Australian accent and says she dreamed of the country.
“All of my initial dreams had to do with a lap pool swimming in a salt water pool in Perth, then Icebergs in New South Wales and in Cairns in Queensland and Byron Bay,” she wrote on Facebook. “I also had many dreams of Hawaii living in a contemporary home there. Both Australia and Hawaii are extremely familiar to me.”
She also wrote that she had memories of being aboard a boat for months, explaining it was “not a cruise ship but smaller boat with a crew.”
Dr. Alan Lerner, director of the Brain Health and Memory Center at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, said ovarian tumors have been known in rare cases to cause memory loss or psychiatric problems for patients due to anti-bodies or proteins produced by the tumor.
“[Proteins] can bind to the cells in the brain in areas that are important in memory,” he explained to ABC News.
Lerner, who did not treat the woman, said even after treatment the proteins can leave behind lasting damage.
Sam wrote that she has been out of the hospital for three weeks and is now receiving continued treatments to fight her cancer.
“I have been getting chemotherapy treatments and have lost all of my hair,” she said on Facebook. “My prognosis is not good and I pray my family will be found soon.”
Sam said she is thankful for the medical staff and others who have stepped up to help her in the last few months.
“She has had an amazing positive influence upon many she has encountered during her lengthy stay in the hospital as a cancer patient,” a chaplain from the unidentified hospital wrote on Sam’s Facebook page.
Sam is described as being 5-foot 7-inches tall with white hair and brown eyes. She was found in a navy blue T-shirt with the words "Annapolis Harbor," blue shorts and Sperry boat shoes.
Wavebreak Media/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor
The percentage of Americans who smoke has decreased from 23 percent in 2000 to 18 percent in 2012. But the bad news is that there's still a staggering number of deaths from smoking each and every year.
Researchers have looked at 12 types of cancer that are associated with smoking. They found that almost half of cancer deaths can be attributed to the effects of smoking.
All told, we’re talking 170,000 preventable deaths every year.
So if you smoke, please stop. And remember, it takes the average smoker about seven times before they successfully kick the habit -- so don’t give up!
Courtesy The Duncan Family(INDIANAPOLIS) — Aidan Duncan is happiest when he’s playing sports on a field or court.
But the 12-year-old boy from Indianapolis, Indiana, is different from the other children on his teams. He was born with a partially formed left arm.
“We found out that his left arm was not developing. It could have been because of his umbilical cord wrapping around his arm, they’re not quite sure,” his mother, Mona Mulvany, told ABC’s Good Morning America. “They never did have an exact answer as to why this happened.”
A specialist told Aidan's parents that their son would have balance issues and that running would be difficult for him, but Aidan has defied those predictions by dominating the field in football, soccer — his favorite sport, basketball and baseball.
“For the All-Star team, I’m probably tied for first with the house league team, I’m probably the fastest player on the team,” Aidan said, adding that he also likes to swim “for fun.”
While he acknowledged that it “takes probably more effort,” Aidan, who has been playing sports since he was about 5 years old, said it “hasn’t been as rough as people think.”
“It takes a lot of hard work and effort. And you can’t really give up. You’ve got to keep your head up and not give up,” he said, echoing a lesson taught to him by his parents.
His parents have also "really kind of ignored the fact that I have one arm. They just treat me the same, as anyone else … it made it easier for me, made me feel more normal and stuff,” he said, adding that he hasn’t been bullied by his peers.
“A lot of kids are curious but never bullied me,” he said.
Like every 12-year-old, Aidan has his own sports hero: Matt Carpenter, the third baseman with the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.
When Aidan’s story made headlines in the Indianapolis Star, the boy got a surprise from Carpenter in the form of a video message in which Carpenter congratulated Aidan on his skills and invited him to a Cardinals game.
Aidan was at the game this weekend, and got to meet Carpenter in person and have a bat signed by the pro player.
Aidan's parents say they don't treat him any differently from his two siblings.
“Aidan doesn’t complain and he just goes through life — this isn’t an issue for him at all. And I want other kids to know that," Mulvany said. "And I want other people to know that when they see someone like Aidan, don’t think of disabled. Don’t think handicapped. He is incredibly able and can do anything that others can do."
Joe Duncan is an assistant coach on his son's baseball team, the First Baptist Athletics All-Star team.
“We refer to his arm as his little arm," Duncan added. "And it becomes a little bit more challenging for him. But for the most part, it just takes him a little bit longer to tie his shoes. But he can do that and do it well.”
Aidan has some advice for other children who may face challenges that are similar to his own.
“I would probably say that you can just — got to go through, never like ask why it happened or why you’re like this, you’ve just got to ignore that fact and keep your head up and if something goes wrong, just keep looking forward,” he said. “Look to the future and never look back.”
iStock/Thinkstock(BRISBANE, Australia) — There is such a thing as being "too sexy"…for fruit flies, that is.
Excess male sexual attention is harmful to females, found a new Australian and Canadian fruit fly study, reports Science Daily.
The attractive fruit fly females, those with “superior” genes, tend to gain too much male sexual attention, which inhibits their genes and their ability to adapt to new environments. This disruption prevents these “superior” genes from being passed down to future generations, a threat to the population.
"We hadn’t realized there may be a large number of genes fueling the interactions, or that these types of genes hamper a species’ ability to adapt to new conditions,” says Steve Chenoweth, associate professor at the University of Queensland's School of Biological Sciences.
The researchers mimicked this scenario in their experiment, isolating females with different numbers of males to control the “harassment rate.” After sequencing their DNA, the results showed certain genes to be more common in females surrounded by fewer males, but rare in those exposed to more males. Chenoweth concluded that female flies spend so much time fending off males that it detracts from the time they spend laying eggs.
The study will further investigate the exact roles genes play and aim to better understand the effects of male-female interactions on the evolution of other species.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — This takes sex education to a whole new level.
Three teenagers recently developed a condom that changes color when in contact with sexually transmitted infections (STI), reports the U.K.’s The Independent. The 'S.T.EYE' comes with a built-in monitor to detect infections such as chlamydia and syphilis.
The colorful condom earned Daanyaal Ali, 14, Chirag Shah, 14, and Muaz Nawaz, 13, from Isaac Newton Academy in Ilford, Essex, the TeenTech gong award for best health innovation.
"We wanted to make something that made detecting harmful STIs safer than ever before, so that people can take immediate action in the privacy of their own homes without the invasive procedures at the doctor’s,” said Ali.
The trio is headed to Buckingham Palace for the TeenTech Awards, given to up-and-coming innovators. There, they will come face-to-face with industry leaders, where TeenTech CEO Maggie Philbin said they can realize the "potential of their ideas."
allanswart/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After two New York inmates allegedly traded sex with a female prison employee for help in getting tools they used to break out, questions about relationships between inmates and prison employees were raised.
Such relations are far from infrequent, federal statistics show.
The U.S. Department of Justice‘s Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report in January 2014 reviewing data collected on sexual victimization in prisons from 2009 to 2011.
Almost half -- 48% -- of substantiated incidents of sexual victimization involved guards and inmates, while the other 52% involved only inmates.
The majority of the 48 percent of staff sexual misconduct cases involved female staffers, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported.
Gender appeared to play some kind of role in the nature of the banned relationships, as 84 percent of the relationships that female staffers had with inmates "appeared to be willing," whereas only 37 percent of the relationships between male guards and inmates qualified as such.
Along the same lines, only one percent of relationships between female staffers and inmates featured threats of physical force or abuse of power, whereas it was true with 20 percent of male staffers’ relations.
ABC News' calls to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the National Correctional Employees Union for comment were not returned.
Joyce Mitchell was allegedly involved with inmates David Sweat and Richard Matt, who were, respectively, caught and killed over the weekend after three weeks on the lam.
mactrunk/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Nearly forty percent of American youths under the age of 17 have experienced a physical assault within the last year, a new study indicates.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics used data from the National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence to determine that 37.3 percent of those under 18 reported being physically assaulted within the 12 months prior to the survey. Nearly 10 percent suffered an injury related to those assaults.
The survey also found that two percent of girls under the age of 18 suffered sexual assault or abuse within the prior 12 months -- jumping to 4.6 percent for girls between the ages of 14 and 17.
Researchers say that 15.2 percent of children reported experiencing maltreatment by a caregiver, while 5.8 percent witnessed an assault between their parents.
Children, the study says, are exposed to violence, abuse and crime "in varied and extensive ways." Researchers believe that the exposure to violence warrants monitoring and prevention efforts.
luiscar/iStock/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- The California state Senate passed a bill on Monday that would institute one of the strictest vaccination mandates for school children in the nation.
Dr. Richard Pan, a state Senator representing Sacramento, posted to his Twitter account on Monday saying that the bill had passed 24-14 and would now be sent to Governor Jerry Brown's office for a signature. Brown has not yet said whether he will sign or veto the legislation.
The bill, if adopted, would eliminate exemptions based on parents' personal beliefs. The debate on vaccines have heated up in recent months as 92 cases of measles have been reported across California. Many of those cases were linked to visitors or employees at Anaheim's Disneyland.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is recommending that the prevention of childhood obesity should start before the age of 2.
In their updated recommendations, presented as part of a report on parents' impact on obesity prevention, the nation’s top pediatricians’ group advises mothers to keep a healthy weight during pregnancy, avoid smoking even before pregnancy and to breastfeed.
After birth, recommendations include transitioning children to healthy foods, adequate sleep, active play and eliminating sedentary entertainment like watching TV. The AAP already recommends no TVs in children’s bedrooms at any age.
The AAP points to the best evidence to date, which suggests that “fetal life and the first two years of life may be critical for the programming of obesity and related behaviors.”
Also, early habits might have long-term consequences for later preferences of activities and foods, which contribute to obesity development.
Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Before you hit the beach this week, the Red Cross would like you to donate some blood.
A recent survey of its regular blood and platelet donors found that more than 40 percent of Red Cross supporters plan to be away over the next two weeks in celebration of the 4th of July holiday. That, combined with fewer blood drives being scheduled due to planned vacations, could potentially contribute to a summer shortage, according to the organization.
"Adding blood or platelet donation to a vacation to-do list can mean so much to patients and their families," Donna M. Morrissey, director of national partnerships at American Red Cross Biomedical Services said in a statement. "It's a simple act, taking as little as an hour, but can touch many lives."
In addition to helping one's community, donors who schedule an appointment between July 2 and July 6 will receive a Red Cross embroidered baseball cap, while supplies last.
More information is available via the free Blood Donor App, redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Francois Durand/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Singer Avril Lavigne said she’s seeing progress in her treatment for Lyme disease, which struck her last year while she was on tour.
Her treatment regimen has included multiple antibiotics and ample rest.
“I'm about halfway through my treatment,” the Canadian singer said in an interview with ABC News’ Jesse Palmer. "I'm doing a lot better. Seeing a lot of progress. ... I'm just really grateful to know that, like, I will make [a] 100 percent recovery."
Lavigne, 30, said trying to get a diagnosis was the worst time of her life.
“I literally became bedridden last October,” the “Complicated” singer said, adding that she saw multiple specialists who failed to get to the root of the problem. “They would pull up their computer and be like, ‘Chronic fatigue syndrome.’ Or, ‘Why don't you try to get out of bed, Avril, and just go play the piano?’ It's like, ‘Are you depressed?’”
Lavigne said she would wake up with night sweats and felt as though she had the flu.
“This went on and off for a month,” she said. "And I saw my doctor right away, got blood tests, got swabbed, and they didn't really know what was wrong with me."
It wasn’t until two months into the symptoms that she said she suspected Lyme disease.
“I started going to other doctors and, like, specifically telling them and asking, like, ‘I have Lyme disease. I know I do. Can you check me?’” she said. "Then I finally figured out, 'Find a Lyme specialist.'"
"And the thing is, when you're a specialist, you also really know the disease inside and out and you can diagnose their symptoms," Lavigne said.
After getting the diagnosis of Lyme disease, which Lavigne believes she got from a tick bite last spring, the singer was bedridden for five months in her Ontario home.
Lavigne, who is married to Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger, said her family and fans have helped her through her ordeal.
Many fans, she said, made videos and sent her letters and posters and other items to show their support.
“I sat there in my bed and I watched the videos and, like, did exactly what I'm doing now. I cried through the whole thing,” she said, laughing. “Honestly, I felt very, very loved. And it sounds silly saying it, but I really truly did feel my fans through the process.”
She took the opportunity to share encouragement to others with Lyme disease.
“There is hope. Lyme disease does exist. And you can get better,” she said.
She called this period her “second shot at life,” adding: “I really just want to go out there and truly do what I love. So I'm so excited for life after this.”
Lavigne is set to perform her song, “Fly,” on July 25 at the opening ceremonies of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games next month in Los Angeles.
iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) — Police in Dallas have yanked a phony dentist and an alleged female accomplice off the street, after one of Mario Sabillon-Mejia's alleged "patients" tipped off the authorities.
ABC News station WFAA-TV reports the bust came after Erika Martinez told authorities she was hospitalized for infections following a house call the suspects made to her home.
She claimed she had been suffering from toothaches, and found Sabillion-Mejia through a Facebook friend, thinking he was an actual dentist.
Martinez reportedly paid 500 dollars for an initial exam at her home, and agreed to pay him additional thousand more -- 500 for five extractions, and another 500 bucks for a follow-up examination.
The woman claims Sabillion-Mejia gave her some kind of drug, then pulled her teeth out "by force," holding her down on her couch against her will, and leaving her bleeding profusely and in pain.
The 33-year-old fake dentist, and his 41-year-old female associate, Tiffany Gonzalez, were arrested Wednesday afternoon, and slapped with multiple charges of practicing medicine without a license and possessing dangerous drugs.
Cops believe the Honduran -- who is being held on an immigration hold -- likely "practiced" on dozens of other victims who have yet to come forward.
ElizabethHoffmann/iStock/ThinkStock(VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.) -- A string of shark bites off the coasts of the Carolinas recently have beach town officials across the country trying to figure out the best ways to prevent shark attacks.
Sharks are looking for food, but they're not looking to humans as a food source, according to Beth Firchau of the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center.
Experts recommend swimming in groups and going in the water during the time lifeguards are on duty. "Try and avoid dawn and dusk, those are what I call sort of the ocean's rush hour where critters are looking for their dinners, their breakfasts," says Firchau.
Firchau also points out, "when we go into the ocean it's not like going into your neighbor's or your grandma's swimming pool. It takes a lot of respect to go into the ocean because you are going into a wild environment."