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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers have found that the chickenpox virus may actually be a seasonal disease, with more cases reported in the spring, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

To identify chickenpox rates, the researchers turned to an unconventional source: Google Trends. The search engine has actually successfully been used by researchers before to estimate and examine influenza rates. For this study, researchers wanted to see if chickenpox was a seasonal disease in the same way the common cold or the flu is.

They looked at Google search data from 36 countries over an 11-year period and then validated that data with information from published clinical cases. Researchers found that the virus appears to peak in the spring globally, though in countries where vaccines are used the association was much weaker.

The results of the study were somewhat limited since the only countries that were studied were in temperate regions where there was internet access and the population had enough education and literacy to search for information about the disease online.

However, Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center who was not involved in this study, said the findings may be especially useful in countries where the chickenpox vaccine is not common and where the rate of the disease is not tracked.

"Data can instruct a ministry of health, where they don’t have any idea about chickenpox [rates]," Schaffner told ABC News. He said it was also interesting to see how chickenpox searches were different in countries where vaccines were readily available.

"In countries where we immunize routinely, the seasonality is much more muted and the inquiries themselves aren’t about disease and symptoms and treatment [but] about vaccines," he said, noting that those people doing online searches may have heard about a chickenpox infection in their community and become concerned their child was exposed.

Kevin Bakker, lead author of the study and a graduate student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan, explained that he wanted to use the Google data after seeing how google searches appeared to match known seasonal peaks for childhood infectious diseases.

"I think digital epidemiology, which is using Google trends or Twitter trends ... is a complement to clinical data," said Bakker, explaining the drawback of getting traditional reported clinical data is that it takes a long time until it reaches the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"You take your child to the doctor and the doctor sends the case report to state health officials and the CDC compiles it all," Bakker said. "If I go to Google Trends you can see the top trends in data anywhere in the world."

He emphasized Google data is being used as a supplement to traditional clinical data, which he and his co-authors used to verify the Google data.

Dr. Amy Edwards, pediatric infectious disease specialist at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, said more research is needed to verify the findings but that Google data may become extremely helpful in the future as medical officials plan where to allocate resources during an outbreak of a particular disease.

"It has the potential to be extremely interesting particularly in unreported and under-reported diseases," Edwards said, explaining that information about the start of a flu outbreak can help medical staff start to screen people earlier for the virus and take protective measures.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


WRIC-TV(RICHMOND, Va.) -- A Virginia man celebrated Sunday after crossing the finish line to a race he started 50 days earlier.

Bill Hughes participated in the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K last month, but never made it to the finish line after going into cardiac arrest about halfway through the race, according to ABC affiliate WRIC-TV.

The 60-year-old runner was immediately given CPR first from his daughter and then from bystanders.

“I feel like he grabbed my arm and then he hit the floor, hit the ground, face planted,” Hughes' daughter, Bethany Gordon, told WRIC-TV of his cardiac arrest.

In spite of the severity of his condition, Hughes survived after being rushed to the hospital. But rather than just give up on the 10K, Hughes said he didn't want to give up on completing the race.

“When I start to do something I want to finish it and I just felt bad that I hadn’t finished,” Hughes told WRIC-TV.

This weekend, Hughes decided to finish the race while drawing attention to the importance of learning CPR. He took to the same 10K course along with his daughter and others who helped him during his cardiac arrest. This time, Hughes finished to cheers and was even given a finisher medal.

Members of the Richmond Ambulance Authority joined in the run to encourage everyone to learn CPR and become a potential life-saver.

Hughes said he was motivated not just by his own story but by the death of his brother.

“I think back to five years ago when my brother died from a heart attack,” Hughes said. “If more people had of known how to do CPR back then, could he have been rescued?”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Debbie Savage said she struggled to lose weight for 15 years, dating back to middle school, before she went to five different doctors to finally get the diagnosis that would change her life.

Savage, of Maryland, played sports in middle school but still continued to gain weight. She said she kept active as she aged and maintained a healthy diet but still could not shed the pounds.

“I would go to the doctor once a year and every year he would tell me, ‘Your weight has gone up,’” Savage said in an interview that aired Monday on Good Morning America. “And I would tell him, ‘I am trying,’ and he’d say, ‘Oh, you’re just not trying hard enough.’”

Savage said it took visits to five doctors before she finally got a diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome.

“I was so frustrated that years had gone by and this went unnoticed, but at the same time I felt so refreshed that I had an answer to what it was,” Savage said.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an imbalance of a woman's sex hormones, according to the National Institutes of Health. Symptoms of PCOS are diverse but may include infertility, irregular or absent periods, excess facial hair, acne and obesity.

“The exact cause may not be known,” said Dr. Neil Horlick, the obstetrician-gynecologist who definitively diagnosed Savage.

He added: "Women certainly could go undiagnosed for many years ... we think that there is some genetic component."

Savage switched to a Paleo diet after her diagnosis and was prescribed medication to help with insulin resistance, a symptom of PCOS.

Savage said that after her diagnosis, she lost 50 pounds within six months.

“Our lives are so much fuller now because I have an answer and I'm so thankful for that,” she said.

Savage said the diagnosis also resolved her struggle with infertility.

“I was able to get pregnant [and] my husband and I now have twins, that was a surprise,” she said. “We wouldn't have these two precious boys if it weren't for that.”

Savage hopes sharing her story can help others who are going through a similar struggle to recognize the symptoms, in the event that they, too, could have PCOS but may not have received a diagnosis.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Ever since Kylie Jenner came on the scene with noticeably fuller lips, enviers everywhere started looking for anything to get that trademark lip plump.

But some methods proved to not be the safest.

Jenner's supposed trick for temporarily puffing your lips involved sucking the air out of a glass until the vacuum effect swells your mouth. This became an unfortunate Internet trend in 2015, and videos have shown that this method can lead to serious injuries.

According to statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2015 was also the biggest year ever for lip augmentation procedures and buttock lifts.

Now, while I firmly defend our right to change our appearance if we wish, remember that trends come and go. Always go to a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon if you're considering any cosmetic procedure, and remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


iStock/Thinkstock(NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla.) -- Some swimmers saw their worst fear come true during the holiday weekend at the beach.

A boy likely between 11 and 13 years old suffered "severe" lacerations when he was bitten by a shark in Neptune Beach, Florida, Sunday, officials said.

The boy was in water about waist-high -- roughly 2.5 feet -- when he was bitten in the lower right leg by a shark that was 5 to 6 feet long, Neptune Beach Police Sgt. Liam Toal said.

"Nothing appeared to be life-threatening," Toal said, but he said the boy suffered two or three "severe" lacerations, potentially all the way to the bone.

Witness Lou DeMark said when the boy was carried out of the water "he had a huge gash in his calf."

"It was pretty shocking," he said.

The boy was stable and taken to the hospital, Toal said.

Police said lifeguards pulled all beach-goers out of the water for about 30 to 45 minutes after the incident.

There was also news of a possible shark attack on Sunday in Newport Beach, California, where officials reported a woman suffered from "possible animal bite wounds."

"We don't know what kind of animal. We have sea lions. We have sharks obviously. We don't have any inclination of what type of animal at this point and time," lifeguard Rob Williams told ABC News.

In 2015, the U.S. saw a record 98 shark attacks, which included six deaths. Experts are predicting there will be another hike in shark attacks this summer as well.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.





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