HEROLD, W.Va. (AP) — A half century after serving in Vietnam, hundreds of veterans have a new reason to believe they may be dying from a silent bullet — test results show some men may have been infected by a slow-killing parasite while fighting in the jungles of Southeast Asia.
The Department of Veterans Affairs this spring commissioned a small pilot study to look into the link between liver flukes ingested through raw or undercooked fish and a rare bile duct cancer. It can take decades for symptoms to appear. By then, patients are often in tremendous pain, with just a few months to live.
Of the 50 blood samples submitted, more than 20 percent came back positive or bordering positive for liver fluke antibodies, said Sung-Tae Hong, the tropical medicine specialist who carried out the tests at Seoul National University in South Korea.
“It was surprising,” he said, stressing the preliminary results could include false positives and that the research is ongoing.
Northport VA Medical Center spokesman Christopher Goodman confirmed the New York facility collected the samples and sent them to the lab. He would not comment on the findings, but said everyone who tested positive was notified.
Gerry Wiggins, who served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969, has already lost friends to the disease. He was among those who got the call.
“I was in a state of shock,” he said. “I didn’t think it would be me.”
The 69-year-old, who lives in Port Jefferson Station, New York, didn’t have any symptoms when he agreed to take part in the study, but hoped his participation could help save lives. He immediately scheduled further tests, discovering he had two cysts on his bile duct, which had the potential to develop into the cancer, known as cholangiocarcinoma. They have since been removed and — for now — he’s doing well.
Though rarely found in Americans, the parasites infect an estimated 25 million people worldwide, mostly in Asia.
Endemic in the rivers of Vietnam, the worms can easily be wiped out with a handful of pills early on, but left untreated they can live for decades without making their hosts sick. Over time, swelling and inflammation of the bile duct can lead to cancer. Jaundice, itchy skin, weight loss and other symptoms appear only when the disease is in its final stages.
The VA study, along with a call by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York for broader research into liver flukes and cancer-stricken veterans, began after The Associated Press raised the issue in a story last year. The reporting found that about 700 veterans with cholangiocarcinoma have been seen by the VA in the past 15 years. Less than half of them submitted claims for service-related benefits, mostly because they were not aware of a possible connection to Vietnam. The VA rejected 80 percent of the requests, but decisions often appeared to be haphazard or contradictory, depending on what desks they landed on, the AP found.
The number of claims submitted reached 60 in 2017, up from 41 last year. Nearly three out of four of those cases were also denied, even though the government posted a warning on its website this year saying veterans who ate raw or undercooked freshwater fish while in Vietnam might be at risk. It stopped short of urging them to get ultrasounds or other tests, saying there was currently no evidence the vets had higher infection rates than the general population.
“We are taking this seriously,” said Curt Cashour, a spokesman with the Department of Veterans Affairs. “But until further research, a recommendation cannot be made either way.”
Veteran Mike Baughman, 65, who was featured in the previous AP article, said his claim was granted early this year after being denied three times. He said the approval came right after his doctor wrote a letter saying his bile duct cancer was “more likely than not” caused by liver flukes from the uncooked fish he and his unit in Vietnam ate when they ran out of rations in the jungle. He now gets about $3,100 a month and says he’s relieved to know his wife will continue to receive benefits after he dies. But he remains angry that other veterans’ last days are consumed by fighting the same government they went to war for as young men.
“In the best of all worlds, if you came down with cholangiocarcinoma, just like Agent Orange, you automatically were in,” he said, referring to benefits granted to veterans exposed to the toxic defoliant sprayed in Vietnam. “You didn’t have to go fighting.”
Baughman, who is thin and weak, recently plucked out “Country Roads” on a bass during a jam session at his cabin in West Virginia. He wishes the VA would do more to raise awareness about liver flukes and to encourage Vietnam veterans to get an ultrasound that can detect inflammation.
“Personally, I got what I needed, but if you look at the bigger picture with all these other veterans, they don’t know what necessarily to do,” he said. “None of them have even heard of it before. A lot of them give me that blank stare like, ‘You’ve got what?'”
Follow Robin McDowell and Margie Mason on Twitter: @robinmcdowell and @MargieMasonAP
(NBC News) – Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Gray November…sales are now staggered throughout the holiday season, and it can be overwhelming to chase down deals.
Having a list and checking it twice can help you avoid impulse purchases.
“When you make that list find the retail price of all of those items, so that when a deal does pop up you know that its a deal,” says CNET’s Lindsey Turrentine.
To see what deals will be offered ahead of time, follow retailers on social media, sign up for email newsletters or check circulars online.
And for those hard-to-get items on your list, don’t wait.
“You’re probably going to end up paying full retail, so you might as well do that up front,” Turrentine says.
You can also install a free browser plug-in like “Honey” or “eBates” before you make a purchse. They will automatically add coupon codes, discount alerts and even offer cash back.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Pass the turkey — but maybe hold the politics. The already-fraught topic now includes allegations of sexual misconduct against politicians of various political stripes.
From GOP President Donald Trump to Democratic Sen. Al Franken, politicians past, present and aspiring stand accused of sexual misconduct and that could keep tensions high at the holiday table. More than a third of Americans dread the prospect of politics coming up over Thanksgiving, a new poll shows.
Glenn Rogers, a Republican from Los Angeles, says he asks people around the table to talk about things to celebrate from the past year. Not everyone, he knows, will be toasting the Trump presidency.
“For the most part, we get to the point where we know that we’re not going to agree with each other and it gets dropped,” says the 67-year-old manufacturing consultant, who says he voted less for Trump than against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
With a cascade of sexual misconduct scandals now echoing similar allegations against Trump during the campaign, tempers on the subject of Trump may not have cooled, says Rogers. “When you start talking about it now, there’s still some, I think, real animosity when you start talking about character.”
Rogers is among more than a third of Americans who say they dread the prospect of politics coming up over Thanksgiving, compared with just 2 in 10 who say they’re eager to talk politics, according to a new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Four in 10 don’t feel strongly either way.
Democrats are slightly more likely than Republicans to say they’re uneasy about political discussions at the table, 39 percent to 33 percent. And women are more likely than men to say they dread the thought of talking politics, 41 percent to 31 percent.
Those who do think there’s at least some possibility of politics coming up are somewhat more likely to feel optimistic about it than Americans as a whole. Among this group, 30 percent say they’d be eager to talk politics and 34 percent would dread it.
The debate over whether to talk politics at Thanksgiving is about as American as the traditional feast itself. By Christmas 2016, 39 percent of U.S. adults said their families avoided conversations about politics, according to the Pew Research Center.
But Americans are still trying to figure out how to talk about the subject in the age of Trump and amid the sexual misconduct allegations that have ignited a new debate over standards for conduct between men and women. The conversation, some analysts and respondents say, touches on identity among people who group themselves by other factors, such as family, friendship or geography.
Ten months into Trump’s difficult presidency, he remains a historically unpopular president and a deeply polarizing force in the United States. His drives to crack down on immigration in the name of national security and the economy cut right to the question of who is an American. And his defense on Tuesday of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, the former Alabama judge accused by six women of pursuing romantic relationships with them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s, comes amid a wider deluge of sexual misconduct scandals.
For any mention of Moore, who denies the accusations against him, there’s Franken of Minnesota, who has apologized or said he feels bad about the allegations against him. For every mention of the “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump could be heard bragging about touching women without their consent, there are allegations that Democratic President Bill Clinton assaulted women. Both men deny the accusations.
Trump won the 2016 election, even though more than a dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct, and roughly half of all voters said they were bothered by his treatment of women, according to exit polls. Trump called the allegations false and said he would sue the women, but that hasn’t happened.
In the past, the Emily Post Institute Inc. received Thanksgiving etiquette questions that were typically about how to handle difficult relatives, says author Daniel Post Senning.
“Now, I am hearing questions like, ‘I don’t want to go,’ or ‘I can’t imagine sitting at a table with someone who has this perspective and staying through the meal,'” he says. “My impression is that it’s still out there. … The shock of that election is a little further in the rearview mirror, but I think people still have strong feelings about it.”
Fort Worth, Texas, resident Greg McCulley saw that firsthand last year. He recalls that of a dozen adults gathered around the Thanksgiving table, all but one was celebrating Trump’s election. That was his sister-in-law, who fumed about Trump and the “Access Hollywood” tape. Tension seethed.
“It was like, you say Donald Trump was bad, then someone says Bill Clinton was bad, so that extended to Hillary Clinton,” says McCulley, 43, an Air Force retiree who voted for Trump but doesn’t dispute that Trump’s recorded remarks were troubling. He does expect politics to come up this year, probably about sexual assault.
“The conservatives have more of a bigger bone. They’ll say look at Al Franken,” says McCully, who nonetheless looks forward to the conversation. “But it may be that my sister-in-law keeps her mouth zipped and says, ‘I don’t want to wade into those waters again like last year.'”
The AP-NORC poll of 1,070 adults was conducted Nov. 15-19 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.
Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods and later interviewed online or by phone.
AP-NORC Center: http://www.apnorc.org
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – A children’s shelter director will be the next leader of a troubled state agency that’s tasked with protecting youth from abuse and neglect.
The Kansas City Star reports that financial disclosure forms show that Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer has selected Gina Meier-Hummel as secretary of the Department for Children and Families. Colyer spokesman Kendall Marr confirmed the selection and said Gov. Sam Brownback had delegated the decision to Colyer.
Meier-Hummel has been involved in Kansas’s social service system for decades and serves on a task force examining the foster care system. Before becoming the director of the Children’s Shelter in Lawrence, she served in positions within the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services and DCF.
Colyer will formally unveil his pick Wednesday. It will be subject to Senate confirmation.
TOKYO (AP) — Eight people were rescued and three remained missing after a U.S. Navy plane crashed into the western Pacific Ocean on Wednesday, the Navy said.
The C-2 “Greyhound” transport aircraft came down about 500 nautical miles (925 kilometers) southeast of Okinawa as it was bringing passengers and cargo from Japan to the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, the Navy said in a statement.
The Reagan was operating in the Philippine Sea during a joint exercise with Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force when the twin-propeller plane crashed at 2:45 p.m. Japan time. The cause of the crash was not immediately clear and the incident will be investigated, the Navy said.
Eight people were rescued about 40 minutes later. They were taken to the Reagan for medical evaluation and are in good condition, the Navy said.
U.S. and Japanese naval ships and aircraft are searching for the missing. Japan’s Defense Ministry said the crash site is about 150 kilometers (90 miles) northwest of Okinotorishima, a Japanese atoll.
The names of the crew and passengers are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
Philippine military spokesman Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla said his military alerted its ships and aircraft shortly after learning about the crash but could not provide help because of the distance from the country.
The Nov. 16-26 joint exercise in waters off Okinawa has been described by the Navy as the “premier training event” between the U.S. and Japanese navies, designed to increase defensive readiness and interoperability in air and sea operations.
The Navy’s Japan-based 7th Fleet has had two fatal accidents in Asian waters this year, leaving 17 sailors dead and prompting the removal of eight top Navy officers from their posts, including the 7th Fleet commander.
The USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker collided near Singapore in August, leaving 10 U.S. sailors dead. Seven sailors died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided off Japan.
The Navy has concluded that the collisions were avoidable and resulted from widespread failures by the crews and commanders, who didn’t quickly recognize and respond to unfolding emergencies. A Navy report recommended numerous changes to address the problems, ranging from improved training to increasing sleep and stress management for sailors.
Associated Press writers Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo and Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines, contributed to this story.
WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The Greater Wichita YMCA is holding the 40th annual We Care Dinner — the city’s biggest Thanksgiving dinner.
The community event is for adults and kids who may not otherwise receive a traditional holiday dinner.
YMCA project manager Becky Tuttle said she’s expecting thousands of people to come to the downtown YMCA.
“The Greater Wichita YMCA really has a mission to serve everyone in the community,” said Tuttle. “This is a great opportunity to pause during the holiday season and make sure those most vulnerable have what they need.”
The event not only brings area families together, but also various community organizations, such as The Lord’s Diner.
Volunteers worked at The Lord’s Diner since Sunday to prepare the food, which included nearly 300 turkeys.
Each community member with a dinner ticket will receive a hot Thanksgiving meal, two coats and other winter items.
KSN’s Amanda Aguilar spoke to a volunteer from The Lord’s Diner, who says this is a way for those in need to experience what some might take for granted.
“It’s great to be able to have a community dinner where people come together,” said Paul Cater. “They can share the common meal. They can sit down and just visit with each other, check up, see how they’re all doing.”
The We Care dinner starts at 11 a.m. at the Robert D. Love Downtown YMCA, 402 N. Market.
Tickets to the event are still available, and can be picked up at the downtown YMCA branch. It is first come, first serve.
You’re waking up and walking out the door into one of the coldest mornings you’ve had so far in Central Kansas!!
The sun will be out from start to finish today and fortunately our winds are not too strong today so the wind chills aren’t as bad as they cold be!! That sun will help to warm up you folks in W KS, but Central Kansas is going to have a slow recovery…
Today is the busiest travel day of the year and if you are hitting the road or headed to the airport you shouldn’t be facing any major weather related delay!!
Primary airport hubs across the nation aren’t looking at any major weather related issues either… A little rain in South Florida and in the Pac NW might slow you down a bit, but for the most part this is one of the best Thanksgiving travel days i can remember!