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iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. scientists will begin testing an Ebola vaccine in humans next week, health officials announced Thursday. But it could take 11 months to learn whether the vaccine is safe as the virus’ toll in West Africa continues to rise.

More than 3,000 people have contracted Ebola since March, a number projected to swell to 20,000 in the next six months, according to the World Health Organization.

The virus has killed at least 1,500 people in Ebola Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

The experimental vaccine, co-developed by the National Institutes of Health and GlaxoSmithKline, “performed extremely well in protecting nonhuman primates from Ebola infection,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH’s infectious disease branch, said.

Now it will be tested in 20 healthy adults to make sure it’s safe and effective in mounting an immune response.

“A vaccine will ultimately be an important tool in the prevention effort,” Fauci said in a statement, adding that the phase 1 study is “the first step in a long process.”

The 20 subjects will be followed for 48 weeks but initial safety results are expected later this year, according to an NIH statement.

The vaccine works by delivering fragments of genetic material from two Ebola strains into a healthy person’s cells. The cells then transform that genetic material into a protein found on the virus, and that protein triggers an immune response that should fend off the infection.

“It is important to know that the Ebola genetic material contained in the investigational vaccine cannot cause a vaccinated individual to become infected with Ebola,” the NIH said in a statement.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


iStock/Thinkstock(BUFFALO, N.Y.) -- A controversial new study suggests that married couples who get high on marijuana are less inclined to be involved in domestic violence than people who eschew the drug.

University of Buffalo researchers came to that conclusion after interviewing 600 couples about their lifestyle habits, which included marijuana use.

In fact, couples who smoked grass more frequently than others reported the lowest rates of domestic violence.

Study researcher Kenneth Leonard explains, “It is possible, for example, that -- similar to a drinking partnership -- couples who use marijuana together may share similar values and social circles, and it is this similarity that is responsible for reducing the likelihood of conflict.”

However, Leonard also stressed that the study was not endorsing marijuana use as a way to achieve marital bliss and asserted that researchers would like to expand it beyond heterosexual couples who had only been married once.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


iStock/Thinkstock(AMES, Iowa) -- If parents leave it up to schools to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to educating their kids, then they’re not doing all they can to help their children succeed academically, according to an Iowa State University study.

Study author Kimberly Greder says there are numerous things parents should be doing to give their youngsters as much as an advantage as possible in an increasingly competitive world with the school year having started or about to begin.

Among other things, parents should create a good learning environment at home, according to Greder, while setting reasonable expectations for their children.

Involvement in a child’s education also includes regularly asking them what happened at school and taking an interest in their homework. Visiting teachers and counselors to talk about a student’s progress is also on Greder’s list.

While all youngsters will benefit from such parental involvement, Greder says taking these steps is especially important for those kids at the greatest risk of dropping out.

These children typically come from homes in low income neighborhoods with minority populations where the parents may have struggled during their school years.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- One of the big complaints about social media is that people seem all too willing to share every opinion they have with the world.

But a new Pew Research Center poll in conjunction with Rutgers University challenges that view, at least when it comes to controversial political issues.

In a survey of 1,800 adults, Facebook and Twitter users more times than not won’t express an opinion on matters that come up on talk radio or cable TV.

Pew researchers think these social media sites inadvertently encourage people to exercise self-censorship unless they're pretty sure that most who read their opinions agree with them.

Therefore, talking about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is pretty safe, compared to expressing views on abortion or immigration.

While Pew found that 86 percent of Facebook or Twitter users would be willing to discuss an issue such as government surveillance at a town hall meeting or at some other event with friends, less than half that number would feel comfortable talking about it on social media.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


iStock/Thinkstock(BATON ROUGE, La.) -- Louisiana officials have cautioned residents to be careful after a deadly brain-eating amoeba was found in a parish water supply.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals announced that the Naegleria fowleri amoeba was found in the water system of St. John the Baptist Parish.

The microscopic amoeba can be deadly if contaminated water travels through the nose to the brain. The microscopic pathogen can cause a deadly form of meningitis that or a swelling of the brain and surrounding tissues.

The amoeba cannot be contracted from drinking contaminated water, officials said.

The water system where the amoeba was found serves 12,577 people in three Louisiana towns.

While the source of the contamination was not found, officials said that they found the water supply did not have the required level of chlorine disinfectant and was vulnerable to contamination from Naegleria fowleri.

There have been no reports of infections from the amoeba in the area.

To kill the dangerous pathogens the department will flush the system with extra high levels of the chlorine for 60 days to kill any lingering amoebas in the system. The water will still be safe to drink.

While the amoeba is extremely rare, the pathogen was responsible for at least three deaths in Louisiana parishes since 2011. Last year a 4-year-old boy from St. Bernard Parish was killed after contracting the infection from using a slip-in-slide.

This summer a 9-year-old girl from Kansas died after being infected with the amoeba.

"Families can take simple steps to protect themselves from exposure to this ameba, the most important being to avoid allowing water to go up your nose while bathing or swimming in a pool," said Louisiana State Health Officer Jimmy Guidry. "It is important to remember that the water is safe to drink; the ameba cannot infect an individual through the stomach."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control the symptoms of an infection from Naegleria fowleri include headache, fever and nausea. As the disease progresses, infected people can have seizures, altered mental status, hallucinations and slip into a coma.

The disease is almost always fatal. In the U.S. between 1963 and 2013, just three people out of 132 managed to survive the infection, according to the CDC.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio





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