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Itchy? Here are 10 ways to soothe poison oak, sumac, ivy

While it’s the right time of year to be playing and working outside, it’s also the time of year when you might run into some nasty plants, such as poison ivy, oak and sumac.

>> Read more trending news

Here are 10 tips on dealing with the itchy results:

1. Immediately wash

All three plants have a chemical in their sap called urushiol. That’s what causes the rash on your skin.

If you think you may have run into any of these plants, quickly wash off the affected area with water and soap before it seeps into your skin.

2. Coffee

If it’s too late and the itchy, rashy places have already started popping up on your skin, there are numerous treatments you can try to help relieve that itch.

One is cold coffee – pour that over the rash to help sooth your skin.

RELATED: Don’t throw away your coffee grounds — you can use them in so many ways

3. Baking soda

Making a paste out of baking soda and water and applying it to the affected area can help. Or, you can take a lukewarm bath and add a cup of baking soda to the bath water.

4. Turmeric

Another paste application involves the spice turmeric. Make a paste out of it and lemon juice or rubbing alcohol. Apply to the affected area for 15 minutes and wipe off. Beware: It will turn your skin yellow.

RELATED: This homemade turmeric face mask can reduce acne scars and zap facial hair

5. Cucumber

While cucumber slices are usually associated with salons, they can also help relieve these itches.

You can apply the slices on directly, or mash them into a paste and apply the cooling effect that way.

6. Oatmeal

It’s not just for breakfast -- oatmeal can also help relieve these itches. Blend two cups uncooked oatmeal into a powder. Then add to a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes.

7. Epsom salts

Another bath-administered relief are Epsom salts. Adding two cups of Epsom salt to a warm bath and then soaking for 20 minutes is both relaxing and itch-relieving.

8. Aloe vera

Aloe vera has many benefits, including improving the condition of your hair, reducing dandruff, and repairing skin cells.

To reduce itchiness, rub the flesh of the plant directly onto the affected area.

9. Watermelon

Watermelons are great sources of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium. The rind, which is often thrown away, is also edible and has healthy properties.

If you don’t eat it, putting the rind on your itchy spots can help cool them down.

RELATED: Add this ingredient to your summer watermelon to make it even more irresistible

10. Vodka

If you come in contact with poison ivy, oak or sumac, pouring vodka over the area can help wash away the urushiol oil that causes the itch. It’s been said that the higher the proof of the alcohol, the better.

51 treated for heroin overdoses in 48 hours at 2 Pennsylvania hospitals

In just 48 hours, more than 50 patients were treated at two neighboring Pennsylvania hospitals for heroin overdoses.

According to PennLive, Williamsport Regional Medical Center and Soldiers and Sailors Hospital in Wellsboro saw 51 patients in two days who had overdosed on heroin. One person died.

>> Read more trending news

Williamsport Police Chief David Young told PennLive that a bad batch of heroin could have sparked the rash of overdoses.

“It’s tough to put a finger on it, since we don’t know what it is or where it came from,” he said.

“Hopefully this batch is out of here.”

The rash of overdoses in the Williamsport area is in line with a drug epidemic that has swept the nation. Opiate-related deaths have risen nearly every year in the last 15 years, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse.

Teen birth rates in U.S. hit all-time low, CDC says

Over the past two decades, teen birth rates have declined by nearly 65 percent, according to new data released by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) on Friday.

But last year, the teen birth rate for U.S. women ages 15-19 hit a record low after it fell nine percent since 2015.

To come up with the numbers, researchers at the NCHS obtained birth certificates for 2016. According to the study, the birth certificates represent 99.96 percent of all births in the country as of Feb. 16, 2017.

The researchers found that for every 1,000 women aged 15-19 in 2016, there were 20.3 births — a 51 percent fall from 2007, when there were 41.5 births for every 1,000 women in that age group.

>> On AJC.com: Opinion: Celebrate declines in teen pregnancy

Since 1991, the rate among all teens has plummeted by two-thirds.

"Data [from previous years] really suggests it is access to contraceptives and use of contraceptives that has really led to these kind of changes," Elise Berlan, a physician specializing in adolescent medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, told CNN.

Berlan said most teens are using some form of birth control: condoms, withdrawal and the pill.

Unlike teens, however, the birth rate for women between the ages 30-34 increased last year and women ages 35-39 had their highest birth rate since 1962.

>> Read more trending news

But overall, U.S. fertility rates still hit a historic low in 2016, the CDC and NCHS study found, largely due to fewer young women (teens and 20-somethings) giving birth.

And demographers are debating whether or not these declining fertility rates are leading the country toward a “national emergency,” as some demographers have described, according to the Washington Post.

But some are still optimistic, citing lower fertility rates in other developed countries that have leveled off.

And, as the Washington Post points out, “as fertility treatments have extended the age of childbearing, the birthrates among women who are age 40 to 44 are also rising.”

Read the full CDC and NCHS study.

ABC reaches settlement in 'pink slime' meat products case

Remember the controversy and resulting multibillion-dollar libel and defamation lawsuit over Lean Finely Textured Beef being dubbed “pink slime” by ABC News?

An undisclosed settlement has been reached, the parties said Wednesday. The South Dakota-based manufacturer of the meat product, Beef Products Inc. sued after ABC referred to the product as “pink slime” hundreds of times in news reports in 2012.

Beef Products Inc. and the Roth family issued this statement about the settlement of the case against ABC and reporter Jim Avila:

>> Read more trending news

“We are extraordinarily pleased to have reached a settlement of our lawsuit against ABC and Jim Avila. While this has not been an easy road to travel, it was necessary to begin rectifying the harm we suffered as a result of what we believed to be biased and baseless reporting in 2012. Through this process, we have again established what we all know to be true about Lean Finely Textured Beef: It is beef, and it is safe, wholesome and nutritious.”

“This agreement provides us with a strong foundation on which to grow the business while allowing us to remain focused on achieving the vision of the Roth and BPI family,” the statement read.

In a statement Wednesday morning, ABC said: “ABC has reached an amicable resolution of its dispute with the makers of ‘lean finely textured beef.’ Throughout this case, we have maintained that our reports accurately presented the facts and views of knowledgeable people about this product. Although we have concluded that continued litigation of this case is not in the Company’s interests, we remain committed to the vigorous pursuit of truth and the consumer’s right to know about the products they purchase.”

The settlement follows a trial that began on June 5. If BPI had won, it could have received a verdict of as much as $5.9 billion, according to published reports.

After the news reports, consumers were turned off by the term. At the time of the broadcasts, the product consisting of beef trimmings treated with ammonia was being used in 70 percent of ground beef. Demand fell, and BPI had to close three plants and lay off 700 workers.

Click here to read more about the meat product.

Narcan may be no match for 2 new fentanyl strains

Two new strains of fentanyl are so deadly that they may be immune to naloxone, also known as Narcan, the drug used to save those who have overdosed, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Tuesday in a news release. 

>> Watch the news report here

>> Police say Narcan prevented them from charging man with DUI

Acrylfentanyl and tetrahydrofuran fentanyl were not identified by the GBI until March, when the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office submitted the drugs as part of forensic evidence. A month later, officials investigated four overdoses that killed two people in the county. At the time, authorities thought the overdoses were caused by a bad batch of deadly drugs such as heroin or fentanyl.

>> Mom who lost son to opioid overdose shares heartbreaking photo

Officials have not said if the two new strains are connected to the overdoses. 

“It is not known how the human body will react to both drugs since they are not intended for human or veterinary use,” GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said. “The drugs can be absorbed through the skin and are considered highly dangerous.”

>> Police officer overdoses after accidental contact with fentanyl on traffic stop

One of the drugs – acrylfentanyl – was banned in Georgia in April, she said, and has been on the GBI watch list for months. 

“It’s a very potent drug and there’s a high potential it has already killed people in Georgia,” Miles told WSB-TV. “There are multiple reports that (the drugs are) showing resistance to naloxone.” 

>> Mass overdose kills four, a dozen more hospitalized in Georgia

The new strains come three weeks after four people were killed and dozens suffered from overdoses in a two-day span in Middle Georgia. The chief medical officer at Navicent Health in Macon told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that a new drug in the area was being sold as Percocet. It’s possible the drug could be homemade. 

7 things to know about the human plague, symptoms and how to protect yourself

Two new cases of the human plague have been confirmed in New Mexico Tuesday, according to health officials.

» RELATED: Possible plague case in Georgia 

This year, New Mexico has seen three cases of the plague, the first of which was reported in early June.

>> Read more trending news 

All three cases required hospitalization, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

Here are seven things to know about the plague:

What is it?

According to Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, plague is a disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis that affects humans and other mammals.

» RELATED: Stray cat's plague death prompts 'fever watch' 

What is the history of plague?

Historians and scientists have recorded three major plague pandemics, according to the CDC.

The first, called the Justinian Plague (after 6th century Byzantine emperor Justinian I), began in A.D. 541 in central Africa and spread to Egypt and the Mediterranean.

The “Great Plague” or “Black Death” originated in China in 1334 and eventually spread to Europe, where approximately 60 percent of the population died of the disease.

» RELATED: The 'Black Death': Are gerbils, not rats, to blame for plague? 

Lastly, the 1860s “Modern Plague,” which also began in China, spread to port cities around the world by rats on steamships, according to the CDC.

In 1894, French bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin discovered the causative bacterium, Yersinia pestis.

Ten million deaths resulted from the last pandemic, which eventually affected mammals in the Americas, Africa and Asia.

It was during this last pandemic that scientists identified infectious flea bites as the culprit in the spread of the disease.

More about the history of plague.

Where in the U.S. is human plague most common?

Human plague usually occurs after an outbreak in which several susceptible rodents die, infected fleas leave the dead rodents and seek blood from other hosts.

These outbreaks usually occur in southwestern states, particularly in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico, according to the CDC.

» RELATED: Lyme disease risks could increase after mouse plague, experts warn 

According to the World Health Organization, an average of five to 15 cases occur annually in the U.S.

Since 1900, more than 80 percent of those cases have been in the bubonic form.

Worldwide, there are approximately 1,000-3,000 cases of naturally occurring plague reported every year.

More about plague in the U.S.

How do humans and other animals get plague?

Usually, humans get plague after a bite from a rodent flea carrying the bacterium.

Humans can also get plague after handling (touching or skinning) an animal (like squirrels, prairie dogs, rats or rabbits) infected with plague.

According to the CDC, inhaling droplets from the cough of an infected human or mammal (sick cats, in particular) can also lead to plague.

» RELATED: Rare tick-borne illness worries some medical professionals 

What are the types of plague and their symptoms?

Bubonic plague (most common)

  • Tender, warm and swollen nymph nodes in the groin, armpit or neck usually develop within a week after an infected flea bite.
  • Signs and symptoms include sudden fever and chills, headache, fatigue, muscle aches.
  • If bubonic plague is not treated, it can spread to other areas of body and lead to septicemic or pneumonic plague.

Septicemic plague

  • Occurs when bacteria multiply in the bloodstream.
  • Signs and symptoms include fever and chills; abdominal pain; diarrhea; vomiting; extreme fatigue and light-headedness; bleeding from mouth, nose, rectum, under skin; shock; gangrene (blackening, tissue death) in fingers, toes and nose.
  • Septicemic plague can quickly lead to organ failure.

Pneumonic plague (least common)

  • Pneumonic plague, which affects the lungs, is the most dangerous plague and is easily spread person-to-person through cough droplets.
  • Signs and symptoms (within a few hours after infection) include bloody cough, difficulty breathing, high fever, nausea, vomiting, headache, weakness.
  • If it is not treated quickly, pneumonic plague is almost always fatal.

» RELATED: What is Lyme disease and how to avoid it 

How is plague treated?

Immediately see a doctor if you develop symptoms of plague and have been in an area where the disease is known to occur.Your doctor will likely give you strong antibiotics (streptomycin, gentamicin or others) to combat the disease.

If there are serious complications like organ failure or bleeding abnormalities, doctors will administer intravenous fluids, respiratory support and give patients oxygen.

How to protect yourself, your family and your pets against plague

You and your family

The CDC warns against picking up or touching dead animals and letting pets sleep in the bed with you.

Experts also recommend eliminating any nesting places for rodents such as sheds, garages or rock piles, brush, trash and excess firewood.

Other ways to protect yourself and your family include wearing gloves if handling dead or sick animals, using an insect repellent with DEET to prevent flea bites and reporting sick or dead animals to your local health department or to law enforcement officials.

» RELATED: Ticks the season: How to prevent, find and get rid of ticks this summer 

Pets

Flea medicine should be administered regular for both dogs and cats.

Keep your pet’s food in rodent-proof containers and don’t let them hunt or roam in rodent habitats.

If your pet becomes ill, see a veterinarian as soon as possible.

More about plague at CDC.gov.

Woman's photo of son's hospital bill goes viral

A New Jersey mother wants parents and other Americans to know the cost of health care in the country. 

>> Read more trending news 

In a now-viral tweet, Alison Chandra posted a photo of her son's latest hospital bill. Chandra’s son, Ethan, was born with heterotaxy syndrome, a rare genetic disorder in which organs form on the wrong side of the body, CNN reported. 

"Ethan was born with nine congenital heart defects and he has two left lungs. Five or so spleens of dubious function. His liver and his gallbladder are down the middle of his body along with his heart, and then his stomach is on the right instead of the left side," Chandra told CNN.

On Friday, Chandra tweeted a hospital bill for services received from Boston’s Children’s Hospital earlier this year.

"It seems fitting that, with the #TrumpCare debate raging, I got this bill in the mail today from Ethan's most recent open heart surgery," she wrote. “Without insurance we would owe $231,115 for 10 hours in the OR, 1 week in the CICU and 1 week on the cardiac floor.”

Chandra’s tweet has been liked more than 80,000 times and retweeted more than 53,000 times.

"That is why I like to tell our story. Maybe you hadn't thought of this side before. You don't picture a 3-year-old with all these fees,” she said. 

Chandra, who said she didn’t follow politics until November, said she was “shocked at how loudly each side yells about their specific talking points.” 

“It paints these issues as black and white when they are anything but that,” she told CNN. “My fear is that this bill comes into play and suddenly essential health benefits are no longer covered, like hospitalization, prescription medications. (Ethan) will rely on prescription medications for the rest of his life. He is functionally asplenic and will need to take prophylactic antibiotics the rest of his life to prevent and protect against sepsis, a huge risk of death for our kids in the heterotaxy community.

“As a mother with a kid who has disorder you feel alone ... We just want him to be a kid.”

Read more at CNN.

Shocking Facebook Live video shows aftermath of apparent drug overdose

A frightening Facebook Live video from Massachusetts shows the life-and-death struggle that follows an apparent drug overdose.

WARNING: The video and details that follow are graphic. Viewer discretion is advised. Click to see the entire seven-minute video.

Posted just before 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Dorchester area of Boston, a man confronts a couple in a car about using drugs in his neighborhood.

A needle is visible, lying in the woman’s lap.

>> Watch the news report here (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised)

The woman wakes up as the resident confronts her, but the man in the passenger seat does not.

The couple in the video carry their own Narcan, according to the woman, and she retrieves it from the trunk. She then starts doing CPR.

>> Read more trending news

The man who confronted them keeps filming and tries to help.

“Do you have a pulse? ... The police are coming,” he can be heard saying.

The woman asks the man how long they had been sitting in the car.

“Ya’ll had been sitting here for a while, and we could tell what ya’ll were up to,” he responded.

>> Doctor charged with murder in patients’ opioid deaths

The woman, still performing CPR, thanks him.

A Boston police officer arrives and shortly after the man begins to move, and then vomits.

“I’m glad you came back, man,” said the man filming the video.

The video has been shared more than 20,000 times and has more than 2 million views, capturing people’s attention from around the country.

>> Police officer overdoses after accidental contact with fentanyl on traffic stop

While it might be shocking to see, emergency workers said these scenes are an everyday occurrence.

“I'll say almost once a shift now we're doing overdoses," said Debra Johnson with Brewster Ambulance.

In Boston so far this year, EMTs have responded to more than 1,300 overdose calls, which is on par with 2016. That’s about 7.5 calls a day.

The number of fatalities, however, has doubled from last year.

“A lot of the people that we find deceased that we refer to the Medical Examiner are somebody who maybe used alone,” said Chief Jim Hooley, a Boston EMT.

U.S. suspends Brazilian beef imports over safety concerns

All imports of fresh beef from Brazil have been halted because of recurring concerns about the safety of the products intended for the American market, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said Thursday.

The suspension of shipments will remain in place until the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture takes corrective action which the USDA finds satisfactory.

The action comes three months after a major scandal erupted in Brazil over allegedly corrupt inspectors at slaughter and processing facilities. Brazilian officials said then that meat companies paid inspectors to overlook violations and certify tainted or rotten meat or not make inspections at all.

>> Read more trending news

However, before the crackdown, rotten meat was distributed in Brazil and exported to Europe.

Since March, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has been inspecting 100 percent of all meat products arriving in the United States from Brazil. FSIS has refused entry to 11 percent of Brazilian fresh beef products.

That figure is substantially higher than the rejection rate of one percent of shipments from the rest of the world. Since the implementation of the increased inspection, FSIS has refused entry to 106 lots (approximately 1.9 million pounds) of Brazilian beef products due to public health concerns, sanitary conditions, and animal health issues. It is important to note that none of the rejected lots made it into the U.S. market.

The Brazilian government had pledged to address those concerns, including by self-suspending five facilities from shipping beef to the United States. Today’s action to suspend all fresh beef shipments from Brazil supersedes the self-suspension.

Secretary Perdue issued the following statement:

“Ensuring the safety of our nation’s food supply is one of our critical missions, and it’s one we undertake with great seriousness. Although international trade is an important part of what we do at USDA, and Brazil has long been one of our partners, my first priority is to protect American consumers. That’s what we’ve done by halting the import of Brazilian fresh beef. I commend the work of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service for painstakingly safeguarding the food we serve our families.”

>> Read the full news release here

The U.S. is not a major importer of beef from Brazil because the U.S. produces more beef and veal than Brazil does. This year, U.S. beef and veal production are expected to grow 5 percent to more than 12 million tons, reaching a nine-year high, according to USDA reports.

In 2016, the U.S. exported $6.3 billion in beef and beef products globally. The major importers of beef to the U.S. are Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Mexico, with Brazil ranking fifth.

In May, Brazil re-opened its doors to U.S. fresh beef exports after a 13-year hiatus, the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service reported.

In 2003, Brazil closed its market fresh beef imports from the U.S. over concerns about bone spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease.

The Washington, D.C.-based National Farmers Union applauded the decision to suspend the importation of Brazilian beef and said it has long had concerns about the importation of fresh beef from Brazil.

“Since the 2015 repeal of Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL), food safety scandals can undermine consumer confidence in the entire beef industry, harming American producers’ bottom line. This incident underscores the importance of COOL to protect American beef producers and consumers alike,” NFU officials said in a statement.

Monday, several cattle-ranching groups sued the USDA in Spokane, asking that it overturn its decision to not require country-of-origin labeling on meat imports. Without the labeling, imported meat can be sold as a U.S. product.

Connecticut educator teaches students life lessons after being diagnosed with ALS

Nearly 11 months after being diagnosed with Asymotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Connecticut educator Andrew Niblock is using his diagnosis to teach students about life.

>> Read more trending news

Niblock, the head of the elementary school at Greenwich Country Day School in Connecticut, said he wanted to continue working after being diagnosed with the disease so that he could teach his students a lesson about life and be an example for them.

“I want children to understand curve balls,” the father of two told ABC News. “No matter what is thrown your way […] if a kid powers through or makes the most of something later because of knowing me, that’d be great.”

>> RELATED: Neighborhood kids use lemonade stand to raise a surprising amount of money for disabled veteran

ALS, a rare and incurable progressive neurodegenerative disease, affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord and causes the brain to be unable to initiate and control muscle movement, according to the ALS Association. As a result, people may lose the ability to speak, eat, move and breathe, with some patients ending up completely paralyzed in the later stages of the disease.

>> RELATED: Mass. teacher battling ALS fired months before earning pension

Instead of hiding the changes occurring to his speech and mobility, Niblock is working with the school’s headmaster to create age-appropriate videos with the goal of teaching students about ALS and spreading awareness about it.

By being open about his battle with the disease, Niblock said he hopes to convey to the students that hope is resilient.

“Hope can drive you forward,” he said. “And I hope […] that the kids see that, and run with it.”

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