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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The investigation into the latest deadly school shooting is far from over, but that hasn't stopped some people from drawing conclusions about the alleged shooter's influences.Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick argued that violent video games have created young people who are "desensitized to violence.""Many [students] have lost empathy to their victims by watching hours and hours of video, violent games," Patrick said on ABC News' "This Week" Sunday, two days after 10 people died at a Santa Fe high school.There’s no evidence indicating how often the alleged shooter, a student at the school, played video games, if at all.But there’s nothing new about the line of thinking that violent video games are a causal factor in deadly shootings, prompting years of research that has resulted in a range of conclusions.Both sides of the argumentSome say there is no connection between the shooting that takes place in virtual reality and real life, while others say it can be one of any number of contributing factors.Two experts with differing opinions include Chris Ferguson, a psychology professor at Stetson University in Central Florida, and Douglas Gentile, a psychology professor at Iowa State University, who have both worked on numerous studies on the topic.An overview of many studies will show that "we really don't see evidence that early playing of violent video games are related to later criminal violence behaviors or related to serious problems like bullying or dating violence," Ferguson said.But Gentile notes that many active studies don't include criminal violence or shootings because it would be unethical to allow subjects to participate in such activity.For Ferguson, the debate is "a generational thing," as many of the people who point a finger at violent video games tend to be older and inclined to use them as a scapegoat because of a lack of understanding and familiarity with the games."We're seeing more and more skepticism" of any perceived connection between violent video games and violent offenders, he said, "and I think that's because people that were gamers 20 years ago are now in their 40s and now they are journalists and politicians and scholars. So it's kind of like rock music in the ‘80s, when people thought [heavy metal band leader] Ozzy Osborne was the end of society and now nobody thinks Ozzy Osbourne was the end of society."Iowa State’s Gentile doesn’t dismiss the connection outright, however, noting that rather than being the singular cause, exposure to media violence, which includes violence on television and in movies as well as on video games, is one of a number of contributing factors that could make someone more inclined to act aggressively."A higher consumption of media violence makes people more willing to behave aggressively when provoked," Gentile told ABC News.He pointed out that there are any number of other risk factors and protective factors -- including an individual's sex (boys are naturally more disposed to be violent than girls, he said), how they're doing in school, whether they're being bullied or whether they come from a stable home -- that play significant roles as well."Every time we have a tragedy like a school shooting, we ask the wrong question: We ask what was the cause ... we assume there was a single cause," he said."We don't do things for a single reason only, ever."Whatever the causes, the American Psychological Association (APA) passed a resolution in 2015 declaring that “scientific research has demonstrated an association between violent video game use and both increases in aggressive behavior, aggressive affect, aggressive cognitions and decreases in prosocial behavior, empathy, and moral engagement,” among other findings.As a result, the group called for further research and study in different areas of the issue and called on the rating system for video games to be refined, as well as further education for students and
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  • Creatas/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) -- Hours after tragedy struck at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1 of last year, an unlikely connection was discovered between an injured survivor and the doctor that saved his life.Philip Aurich and his girlfriend Alyson Opper were at the music festival when the barrage of bullets began raining down on them."You hear the first burst and it sounds very robotic; the second round happens and then everyone realizes what it is," Aurich told ABC affiliate KSTP-TV. "It starts again and we get down on the ground, and that's when I got shot on the left side."The couple began to make their way out of the concert venue when Aurich realized he couldn't breathe because a bullet had punctured his lung, he said. Once outside the venue gates and after several attempts to get into an ambulance, Aurich and Opper were loaded into a police officer's squad car and taken not to the closest hospital, but to University Medical Center.Aurich was in a line of gurneys in a hallway when a doctor walked by, stopped and said, "He's got to go next."The doctor, Dr. Timothy Dickhudt, had just wrapped up a 13-hour shift at the hospital when he rushed back to help with the incoming patients from the concert."He was pale, diaphoretic, confused, he just didn't look right, after seeing his vitals and then the eyeball test, I saw where he was shot and absolutely knew he needed to go to the operating room as soon as possible," Dickhudt told KSTP-TV.The bullet entered Aurich's left side, pierced his lung, diaphragm and colon, breaking two ribs and shattering his spleen before it ended up back in his chest, lodged a centimeter from his heart.After the successful surgery, Aurich and Dickhudt discovered that they actually grew up just a few miles apart from each other in a Twin Cities, Minnesota, community. The coincidences continued when Aurich told KSTP-TV that Dickhudt's dad "and my mom went to grade school together and our grandmas grew up being very, very tight-like best friends."Aurich said he is grateful to not be remembered on the memorial fence on the Las Vegas strip, calling it divine intervention. "It's a great story, I think even he will admit, it's a unique story," Aurich said."Very unique, I've never had something like this before. It's special, it was something special, there was a unique bond formed there," Dickhudt said.The two have now become much more than just patient and surgeon.
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  • Jackie Wesselman/Reily Township Fire and EMS(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- This was a rescue that emergency workers in Germantown, Ohio, won't soon forget.A horse that is more than 20 years old and blind fell backward into an 8-foot-deep well pit on containing pressure tanks and pumps on Sunday morning, Germantown Fire Chief Dan Alldred told ABC News.“When I arrived, all that was sticking out was her head and two front feet,” Alldred said.The cover of the well pit had been removed, though it wasn’t clear why, he said.With the help of an equine veterinarian, Dr. John Nenni, the owners, who have not yet been identified, had cinched some straps around the mare to prevent her from slipping further down the 3-foot-square opening and called the authorities, Alldred said.One of the responding agencies, Reily Township Fire, has special training in large animal rescue, said Lt. Roy Wesselman of the department. He said that as often as eight times a year the agency is called in on incidents such as livestock trailer accidents and animals' getting stuck in unusual spots.The veterinarian sedated the horse in the well, which allowed rescuers to strap the mare to a plastic board called a rescue glide. They then attached the rescue glide to a piece of heavy machinery known as a trackhoe that they used to lift the roughly 1,000-pound animal up and out of the well, Alldred and Wesselman confirmed.“We had to use the trackhoe to pick up the horse, along with a bunch of manpower to slide her up and out on a slide board,” Alldred said.Once she was safely out the hole, Nenni worked to reverse the effects of the sedation. About two and a half hours after authorities arrived on the scene, the mare was up and walking around, Alldred said.“She’s going to be stiff and sore. She had minor injuries, scrapes, bumps and bruises, some swelling,” Wesselman said. “But she was up eating grass and walking around when we cleared the scene.”Nenni told ABC News that this was his first time being involved in extracting an animal from a hole. The veterinarian said he relied mostly on what he had learned in a class to know what to do.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The only way to test for symptoms of stomach or esophageal cancer is to undergo an upper endoscopy, a test that can be invasive, cost thousands of dollars and has a small percentage of success in actually finding a tumor.Researchers in the U.K. wanted a diagnostic tool that would be easier and cheaper to test for these cancers so they used a noninvasive breath test to collect samples of 500cc of exhaled breath from 335 people, 172 of which they knew had those cancers, after a minimum four-hour fast.The exhaled breath was quickly analyzed for five previously identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs), known to have some association with gastric and esophageal cancers (VOCs happen with other cancers, including lung, bladder, and breast). The researchers were looking for evidence of butyric acid, pentanoic acid, hexanoic acid, butanal and decanal.The results were published in the journal JAMA Oncology.The breath test was able to accurately identify esophageal or gastric cancer about 80 percent of the time.Dr. Raja Flores, chairman of the Department of Thoracic Surgery at Mount Sinai Health System, told ABC News that endoscopy is underutilized in the U.S. Flores, who was not involved in the U.K. study, noted that the breath test is not the current standard of care.If this new diagnostic tool is proven to succeed, many doctors might want to change their approach to patients and how they screen cancer.This article was written by Chantel Strachan, MD, a second-year internal medicine resident from the University of Connecticut who works in the ABC News Medical Unit.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day, is quickly approaching. Local pools and water parks will beckon. While most people will be fine, there’s a health risk you should be aware of if you decide to take a dip in a public or hotel pool this summer.Yearly, since 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has sponsored a campaign the week before Memorial Day. They call it Healthy and Safe Swimming Week, to reduce illness related to recreational water use.Typically, recreational water is treated with chlorine, and most of the time chlorine keeps us from even knowing about all the possible bacteria and parasites that could be brewing. But chlorine isn’t effective if it’s not used properly. The CDC has specific guidelines for water temperature and acidity needed to discourage the growth of pathogens that can cause illnesses.There were over 24,000 outbreaks between 2000 and 2014, infections caused by pathogens in recreational water, most of them in hotel pools and hot tubs during the months of June, July, and August, according to the latest report from the CDC. Additionally, between 2000 and 2014, the CDC recorded 493 disease outbreaks related to treated recreational water, resulting in more than 27,000 illnesses and eight deaths.Over half of the cases were due to a parasite called Cryptosporidium, which causes gastrointestinal symptoms, like diarrhea, with the infection beginning when contaminated water is ingested (so don’t swallow pool water).However, there are some strains of Cryptosporidium that can survive in chlorinated water for over a week. Between 2000 and 2007, outbreaks related to Cryptosporidium increased by about 25 percent per year.But 30 percent of the overall outbreaks were due to two other kinds of bacterial infection: Pseudomonas, which can cause severe skin and ear infections, or Legionella, which can cause pneumonia from inhaled aerosolized water droplets.Pseudomonas, which results in swimmer’s ear or a skin condition known as “hot tub rash,” caused 47 outbreaks and 920 infections.At least six of the eight deaths between 2000 and 2014 were caused by Legionella, the CDC says.“The annual number of outbreaks caused by Legionella increased by an average of 13 percent per year," according to the CDC.Of course, you hope those who maintain your local commercial pool have read the CDC’s Model Aquatic Health Code on pool care. Yet, the mainstay of reducing outbreaks and prevention is watching your own behavior.Here are the CDC's tips:-- Stay out of the water if you or your child has had diarrhea recently.-- Don’t swallow pool water.-- Shower before entering the pool (to get any bacteria off your skin).-- Check the inspection score for the public pool.-- Test chlorine level and pH in your own pool with test strips.Once that’s done, try to forget about the bacteria and enjoy the swim!This article was written by Chantel Strachan, MD, a second-year internal medicine resident at the University of Connecticut who works in the ABC News Medical Unit.
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