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Flu kills 15-year-old Georgia high school student

A DeKalb County, Georgia, student died from the flu on Sunday, the second teenager in metro Atlanta killed by the virus.

>> Watch the news report here

School district officials are reminding students and staff to continue taking precautions as flu season may not have reached its peak.

District officials confirmed Monday afternoon that the 15-year-old Cross Keys High School student died Sunday. Principal Jason Heard sent a note Monday morning, shortly after classes started, to inform staff of Miguel Jaimes Martinez’s death.

>> Texas teacher dies from flu after spurning medicine that cost $116

Heard said counselors would be making classroom visits and students who needed immediate attention could receive it at the school’s media center.

“The entire DeKalb County School District is saddened by the news that one of our own has passed away due to illness,” Superintendent Steve Green said Monday. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the student’s family, loved ones and peers in this unfortunate and trying time.”

>> How does the flu kill healthy people?

The teen, a sophomore, is survived by his mother and three siblings.

His death is one of only a handful of confirmed flu deaths of children in metro Atlanta. Coweta County officials confirmed that 15-year-old Kira Molina died in late January of a flu-related illness. Five-year-old Elijah Snook died in late January after being hospitalized Jan. 13 with flu-like symptoms, WSB-TV reported.

At least 66 Georgians have died during this flu season, and schools have seen absences spike in recent weeks. Some districts have asked teachers to help clean common areas to limit contamination and spreading the virus.

This season’s predominant flu strain is H3N2, which causes the worst outbreaks of the two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses that are responsible for seasonal flu epidemics each year.

>> When can you go back to work or school if you have the flu?

“Of the viruses we hate, we hate H3N2 more than the other ones,” said top CDC flu expert Daniel Jernigan. “This strain, which has been around for 50 years, is able to change more quickly to get around the human body’s immune system than the other viruses targeted in this year’s seasonal flu vaccine.”

JoAnn Harris, DeKalb Schools’ lead nurse, said the district is using guidelines from the county’s health department and advising parents to keep children at home as symptoms present themselves. In the case of a fever, officials suggest keeping the student home at least a day after the fever breaks and a day after using fever-reduction medication.

The number of flu hospitalizations in Georgia surpassed 1,000, with 120 of those patients hospitalized last week alone, according to figures released Friday by the state Department of Public Health. In Georgia, flu had killed two people between ages 5 and 17; seven between 18 and 51; eight between ages 51 and 64; and 49 people 65 and older.

>> 5-year-old Georgia boy dies from flu complications

Although this year’s flu vaccine is far from perfect, experts urge people to get it if they haven’t yet. Although it’s believed to be less effective than those from other years, it can lower the severity of the flu if you do get sick.

Hospitals, swamped with flu patients, are asking people to be prudent.

Some people need to be in the emergency room, but some just need a doctor or clinic, and some need home treatment.

A group representing Georgia hospitals on Monday cautioned people to check their symptoms for real emergency signs before they drive off to the emergency room.

“Those who do not have the flu, but go to the ER, risk catching it from those who do,” the Georgia Hospital Association said in a press release Monday. “However, anyone who is concerned about a serious or life-threatening illness should go to the ER.”

>> Flu virus spread by breathing, study finds

The state Department of Public Health has been getting calls from hospitals that they’re inundated, a GHA spokeswoman said. People are crowding hospital ER’s that don’t have the warning signs for ER treatment. The hospitals, in turn, are having to spend money and work staff more to deal with the influx.

Emergency warning signs for people to go to the ER include:

• trouble breathing

• chest pain

• persistent vomiting

• flu-like symptoms that improve, but return with fever and worse cough

There is more information listed on the website of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

>> Read more trending news 

“There is, I don’t want to say panic, but extra concern out there this year,” said the spokeswoman, Erin Stewart. “Of course, always be safe. Go to the CDC website, assess your symptoms.”

If people are unsure whether they need more care, they can contact their doctor or a clinic.

“Hospitals are working diligently to make sure each patient receives timely and efficient care,” said GHA President Earl Rogers.

5-year-old Georgia boy dies from flu complications

A 5-year-old Georgia boy who died from complications of the flu was remembered on Wednesday morning.

>> Watch the news report here

Eli Snook of Marietta died Saturday at a hospital. His parents first took him to the emergency room Jan. 13 with flu-like symptoms. 

His family told WSB-TV's Chris Jose that a doctor gave the boy Tamiflu. His parents kept him home for a week then sent him back to day care on Jan. 22.

Last Thursday, Eli’s parents got a call that the boy had a 101 degree fever. His parents said they brought him back to urgent care.

>> How does the flu kill healthy people?

"We prayed for a miracle Friday night. He got an infection in the brain. His brain swelled past the point of no return, and he went brain dead," said his father, Aaron Snook.

The parents were told by doctors to take him to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Due to a weakened immune system from the flu, doctors told the parents the virus quickly attacked his body. 

"It was a shock to me. It was shock," said the boy's mother, Leota Snook. "It's the aftereffects of the flu that's killing these babies."

>> Read more trending news 

Georgia has been hit hard by the flu this season. On Wednesday, officials with Georgia Department of Public Health said at least 37 people have died from the virus.

The flu outbreak is so bad that Grady Memorial Hospital brought in a mobile emergency room unit to treat the excess number of patients visiting the hospital with flu-like symptoms. 

This is the healthiest nondairy 'milk,' study says

There are a ton of nondairy milks to choose from, but which one is the healthiest?

>> Milk in the fridge? Someone may owe you money

To find out, researchers from McGill University recently conducted an experiment, published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, to determine the nutritional value of plant-based milk beverages

To do so, they compared the health benefits of the four most popular alternative milks, including soy, almond, coconut and rice. They examined the number of calories and amount of protein, fat and carbohydrates found in each. They also looked into the vitamins and minerals the substitutes contained. 

>> Read more trending news 

While they said cow’s milk still has the most nutritional value, with 8 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat and 11.5 grams of carbs, soy is the most comparable for overall balance. It’s “a clear winner,” they wrote in a statement. It has more protein than all the other milk options analyzed, with 7 to 12 grams and 95 calories a glass. Scientists also credited soy milk for its phytonutrients, which have been linked to reducing cancer risk. 

Almond milk is low in protein and carbohydrates, but it has fewer calories, with 36 per serving. It also is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which can help with weight loss and management. Previous studies have also shown that it can reduce cholesterol.

As for coconut milk, it’s low-calorie, too, but has no protein. Plus, the calories are mostly from saturated fats. And rice milk also has few nutrients. In fact, the researchers said “consumption of rice milk as an alternative to cow’s milk without proper care can result in malnutrition, especially in the case of infants.”

>> On AJC.com: When to buy organic & when to save your money

Dairy is one of the most common allergens among infants and children, the study explained, so many parents steer away from cow’s milk. Furthermore, lactose intolerance affects up to 75 percent of all adults, and those with the condition look to other alternatives. 

Although the researchers believe their findings are strong, they said want to continue their investigations “to understand the effects of various conventional and novel processing methods on the nutritional profile, flavor and texture of these alternative milks.”

How does the flu kill healthy people?

How does the flu cause death? According to Scientific American, the way the flu kills its victims can be summed up simply: “The short and morbid answer is that in most cases the body kills itself by trying to heal itself.”

>> On MyAJC.com: Flu season to be worst in a decade: Death toll rises to 37 children

As the virus spreads in the lungs and respiratory system, the body unleashes a counterattack, in which T-cells destroy the tissues that harbor the invading virus.

“In most healthy adults this process works, and they recover within days or weeks,” the magazine reports. “But sometimes the immune system’s reaction is too strong, destroying so much tissue in the lungs that they can no longer deliver enough oxygen to the blood, resulting in hypoxia and death.”

>> On AJC.com: Do you have the flu? 17 things to know about flu symptoms, flu shot side effects and more

Sometimes the lungs, weakened by the flu, become prey to another infection, often streptococcus, and the body is felled by bacterial overload, as happened to a New Hampshire mother of four earlier this month.

Worldwide, the flu causes up to 640,000 deaths annually.

Doctors have long known that contracting influenza can be dangerous for the elderly, for infants and for those already in a weakened state. But flu can kill others as well, depending on the virulence of the particular strain that spreads during flu season.

>> Read more trending news 

This year’s strain is the most severe in a decade.

A chart from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta can help parents determine when to seek help.

4 drinks that could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts

When you're trying to lose weight, you may not give much thought to what you drink, but those calories definitely add up. These "liquid calories" can sabotage your weight-loss efforts, and you may not feel as full as if you'd eaten the same number of calories. Many drinks also provide little to no nutrients and are often loaded with sugar, which can further hamper your weight loss.

>> On AJC.com: Drink up: Black tea helps you lose weight with gut bacteria, study says

These drinks – and their calories – may add up to more than you realize, even on a single day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offered a sample list of the drinks you may choose during a day in order to total the calories. They started with a morning coffee shop run with a 16-ounce café latte made with whole milk at 265 calories. A non-diet soda with lunch had 227 calories, and an afternoon sweetened lemon iced tea from the vending machine was 180 calories. A glass of non-diet ginger ale with dinner added 124 calories for a daily total of a whopping 796 calories!

>> 5 things you're doing 'for your health' that aren't so healthy

The following four drinks are some that can sabotage your diet when you're trying to cut calories:

Juices

You may think that swapping out sugary sodas for fruit juices is good for your diet, but it may not be as good as you think. Fruit juices are concentrated sources of natural sugar, so they have more calories and don't fill you up as much as fresh, frozen or canned fruits do, according to the Mayo Clinic.

For example, a 20-ounce glass of 100 percent apple juice has 300 calories, and the same portion of 100 percent orange juice has 280, the CDC says.

>> On AJC.com: It's official: Coffee is good for you, according to new research

Coffee

A plain black cup of coffee isn't a calorie problem, according to the Mayo Clinic. It contains fewer than five calories and no fat, but most people need at least a few extras with their coffee, and these also add extra calories.

>> Read more trending news 

Although at-home add-ins like creamer and sugar raise the calorie count, a specialty coffee can make it soar. A grande (16-ounce) size of white chocolate mocha espresso at Starbucks has 360 calories. If you choose a venti (20 ounces), you'll be drinking 460 calories.

Alcohol 

A few drinks after work with your friends or a couple of beers or glasses of wine with a meal can raise your calorie count.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously took a look at some of the calories contained in popular alcoholic beverages and found that five ounces of red wine has about 106 calories, and five ounces of white wine has 100 calories. A regular Budweiser beer comes in at 143 calories, and Bud Light isn't far behind at 110 calories. Cocktails like a four-ounce margarita up the calorie count even higher at 168 calories, and a 4.5-ounce Piña colada packs 245 calories. These counts could vary somewhat depending on the alcohol and sugar content of your specific drink.

Smoothies

Smoothies have a "health halo" that leads many people to believe they're harmless, Marisa Moore, a dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told the AJC.

>> On AJC.com: 5 tips for your homemade smoothies that will help you lose weight

Serving size is important, she pointed out. For example, a 20-ounce Angel Food smoothie from Smoothie King contains 340 calories. If you order the 40-ounce mixture of strawberries, bananas, nonfat milk, vanilla and other natural flavors and turbinado sugar, you'll be getting a whopping 690 calories. You can save some calories by omitting the sugar, saving 90 calories on a 20-ounce Angel Food smoothie, but it's still fairly high in calories.

5 things you're doing 'for your health' that aren't so healthy

It seems like there are new health trends popping up all the time – some super food promising to make you live forever or some natural remedy guaranteed to make you look younger.

We may roll our eyes with skepticism, suspecting that the claims are usually too good to be true. But there are actually a lot of normal things we readily do for our health, even though there is no real scientific evidence they help at all.

Some things we simply accept as healthy choices are even potentially detrimental to our well-being. Here's a look at five such "healthy habits" that aren't really as healthy as you think.

>> Read more trending news 

1. Cleaning your ears

Who doesn't enjoy the feeling of using Q-tips to clean their ears after a warm shower? Well, the soft cotton gently removing the wax may feel good, but doctors warn against the routine activity.

In fact, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, unless ear wax is actually blocking your ear canal, you should just leave it alone.

Although about 5 percent of Americans may suffer from excessive earwax, the vast majority don't need to be concerned. Ear wax actually benefits us by transferring dead skin cells out of our ears. It's also antifungal and antibacterial, meaning it works to keep our ears healthy.

Doctors also warn that Q-tips simply push the wax deeper into our ears.

"The diameter of the Q-tip is greater than half the diameter of the ear canal," Dr. Mark Vaughan told INSIDER in 2017. "So any way you stick that in there, there's a portion of the wax that you can't get around. All you can do is push it in."

2. Flossing

Proper teeth care is hammered into us from an early age. Ideally, we should brush and floss three times per day, about 30 minutes after every meal. But that's only half true.

While brushing is definitely important, flossing actually isn't.

That's right, even though dentists have been recommending flossing for decades, there's minimal scientific evidence that it's actually beneficial. An investigative report by an AP journalist published in 2016 revealed the lack of science behind the recommendations.

The report cited a 2015 scientific review that said: "The majority of available studies fail to demonstrate that flossing is generally effective in plaque removal." Another cited study said evidence of flossing's benefits is "weak" and "inconsistent."

3. Using hand sanitizer

If you're one who constantly carries hand sanitizer or keeps a bottle on your desk, you may want to reconsider. It's not that hand sanitizer is necessarily bad to use, it's just that soap and water is so much better.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that the old-fashioned method is still the best way to fight off germs. Hand sanitizer may be better than not cleaning your hands at all, but studies suggest it isn't nearly as good at removing certain bacteria that can lead to illness.

4. Detox and cleanse diets

Next time you or a friend consider going on a detox or cleanse diet, don't waste your time. There's simply no scientific evidence that these trendy diets have any real health benefits.

Your liver and your kidneys, if functioning properly, are constantly detoxing your body

"Unless there's a blockage in one of these organs that do it day and night, there's absolutely no need to help the body get rid of toxins," Dr. Ranit Mishori of the Georgetown University School of Medicine told NPR in 2012.

5. Taking daily multi-vitamins or other supplements

If you're one of the 40 percent of Americans who take a daily multi-vitamin, you probably don't need to.

Three studies published in 2013 found no evidence that such supplements could reduce the risk of chronic conditions such as cancer and heart disease among well-nourished individuals. Essentially, if you're eating fine, you don't need to take the daily tablet.

When the studies were published, a group of doctors wrote an editorial specifically saying that there's "no substantial health benefit" to taking multi-vitamins. In fact, they could even cause harm to your health.

"Supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful," the doctors warned.

'Girther' conspiracy hits social media as critics question Trump's height, weight

On Tuesday, White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson appeared before the press to give the details of President Donald Trump’s latest physical. According to Jackson — who was appointed by former President Barack Obama — the president is in great health, but some critics wasted no time casting doubt on Jackson’s analysis.

>> On Rare.us: Steve Bannon just cut a deal with Robert Mueller, reports say — here’s what we know

Most of the results were pretty straightforward. Trump aced a cognitive exam and has benefited from not drinking or smoking his entire life, Jackson said. The doctor said he is going to try to put the president on a diet but joked that the commander-in-chief might just live to be 200. At one point in the briefing, Jackson said Trump weighs 239 pounds and stands 6-foot-3. That puts his body mass index at 29.9. (You’re considered obese if your BMI hits 30.) But not everybody bought that last statistic.

>> Read more trending news 

More than a few people pointed to a photo of Trump standing side-by-side with Obama, who is 6-foot-1, and the men appear to be the same height.

There were also dozens of people who pointed to athletes with the same dimensions as Trump.

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes even termed the doctor doubters “girthers” — a stab at the “birther” conspiracy theorists who insisted that Obama was not born in the United States.

On Wednesday morning, “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough also cast doubts on the results that Jackson gave to the press. At one point in his segment, Scarborough said, “All I can tell you is this: If that’s what 239 pounds looks like, I would weigh 170 pounds. So yes, I have great respect for people who – great respect for this doctor, but if that’s what 6-foot-3, 239 pounds looks like, that’s a shock to me.”

Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey's widow files wrongful death lawsuit against New York hospital

The widow of late Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey is suing the New York City hospital that treated her husband before his death in 2016.

According to Reuters, Cindy Frey filed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing Mount Sinai Hospital and gastroenterologist Steven Itzkowitz of negligence while treating the musician, who had ulcerative colitis, in late 2015.

>> Read more trending news 

The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that "Frey was rendered sick, sore, lame and disabled" because Itzkowitz and the hospital did not properly diagnose, treat or disclose the risks of treatment to him, Reuters reported.

Frey died Jan. 18, 2016, after suffering "complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia," the band said in a statement at the time. He was 67.

Eagles manager Irving Azoff previously told The Wrap that rheumatoid arthritis medications were partly to blame for Frey's death.

“The colitis and pneumonia were side effects from all the meds,” Azoff said

Cindy Frey is seeking "unspecified damages," Reuters reported.

Read more here.

Flu outbreak forces an entire school district in Oklahoma to cancel classes for rest of week

An entire Oklahoma school district canceled classes Wednesday through Friday after schools reported excessive flu absences among much of the staff.

>> Read more trending news 

Morris Public Schools said Monday's absences were at 20 percent, and Tuesday's were at more than 30 percent.

Basketball teams will continue competition in the county tournament.

Wrestlers will need to contact the coach about scheduled meets.

The district asks that ill students stay home when school resumes.

FDA warns against cough medicine for kids with codeine, hydrocodone

Do you reach for the cough syrup when your little one catches a cold? Make sure it doesn’t include codeine or hydrocodone, because the Food and Drug Administration says the opioid ingredients could pose some serious safety risks

» RELATED: Opioids now kill more Americans than guns or breast cancer, CDC says

The organization announced Thursday that it is now requiring manufacturers to change the labels on cough and cold medicines containing these ingredients to prevent children under 18 from using them. 

>> Read more trending news 

The FDA is also asking companies to add new safety warning labels on medicines for adults, including an expanded boxed warning, which describes the risks of taking those that include codeine and hydrocodone. 

Common side effects of opioid use include headache, vomiting, dizziness, breathing difficulties and even death. 

»RELATED: 5 ways to to talk to your young child about the opioid epidemic

“Given the epidemic of opioid addiction, we’re concerned about unnecessary exposure to opioids, especially in young children. We know that any exposure to opioid drugs can lead to future addiction. It’s become clear that the use of prescription, opioid-containing medicines to treat cough and cold in children comes with serious risks that don’t justify their use in this vulnerable population,” FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.

In September, the FDA met with the Pediatric Advisory Committee to determine the dangers associated with using opioids in children’s cough medicine. They believe the risks outweigh the benefits. And while they say some kids’ cough require treatment, symptoms usually subside on their own. 

“It’s critical that we protect children from unnecessary exposure to prescription cough medicines containing codeine or hydrocodone,” Gottlieb said. “At the same time we’re taking steps to help reassure parents that treating the common cough and cold is possible without using opioid-containing products.”

» RELATED: FDA panel: Teens risk breathing trouble from codeine cough syrup

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