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Study shows Zika could affect male fertility

A new study from scientists at the University of Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis found extensive damage to the reproductive health of male mice infected with Zika.

Everything from low sperm count to less fertile sperm was showing up in male mice used in the study.

Scientists are now ramping up research to see how Zika could affect men.

“Kind of hits home that you really can’t take these emerging diseases for granted and you really have to be vigilant,” said Dr. Scott Needle, chief medical officer of the Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida.

“Men should take a closer look at it, too. Not just looking at it as a female issue or a female problem but also looking at it as a male problem,” said James Jones of Fort Myers.

“Definitely something that I’d be keeping an eye out for,” said Brandon Gaskin of Cape Coral.

Doctors studying Zika effects in mice have found decreased sperm production and low testosterone in male animals that are infected with or are just carriers of the virus.

“It’s pretty freaky. I didn’t know that but you know, it doesn’t surprise me. We’re learning new things about it daily now. If I have been bitten, that’s one of the bad things, you know, if it does deduct sperm count, that’s scary. That can really, you know, mess up somebody who is wanting to have a family,” Gaskin said.

“It’s pretty scary. Because we just don’t know the effects, not just the short-term effects but the long-term affects,” Jones said.

Physicians believe the study’s results could change how health agencies treat the virus.

“That there may be possibly a threat to men’s fertility as well, I think just reinforces the idea that you know it’s a virus that you have to take seriously,” Needle said.

Some men in Southwest Florida say educating yourself before planning trips could make a big difference.

“We don’t know too much about the Zika virus and how that is affecting some parts of South Florida. We need to educate individuals who do travel a lot,” Jones said.

Scientists who conducted the study’s research are traveling to other countries heavily impacted by Zika to track things like sperm count and testosterone levels in men.

They want to know for sure if what they’ve seen in the male mice is happening in humans.

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The Blitz: Jimbo Fisher only one to blame for penalty

“Refereeing, officiating’s always, you know, it’s always questions and no one’s perfect. Trust me, I understand that. They have a tough job too, but I just, you gotta voice your opinion when you think it’s right. I mean, coaches, players, everybody’s accountable.  I think everybody should be, and I think they are.  I’m not saying they’re not, so they do a good job.”

Those are the words of a contrite Jimbo Fisher at his press conference Monday.

That’s a far cry from the fourth quarter Saturday night when Fisher lost his mind over a questionable call and got a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

It’s a far cry from after the came when Fisher said, “Hold the damn officials accountable. It is garbage, and then to call another penalty on the sideline is even more garbage. It’s cowardly, gutless and wrong.”

I would say cowardly, gutless and wrong are great ways to describe a coach who can’t control himself, gets his team penalized, blasts the officials – then gets his school fined $20,000 – before finally tucking his tail between his legs.

Look, Jimbo. We went over this with Urban Meyer a couple of weeks ago, and the rules apply to you, too.

Coaches who cannot control themselves and get their teams penalized only have themselves to blame.

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Burrowing owls found dead in Cape Coral

A burrowing owl nest is the site of a death investigation in Cape Coral.

Neighbors who live near Northwest 8th Terrace and Northwest 5th Place spotted dead owls Sunday and immediately called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which is now investigating.

Dani Gorddard and her mom made the discovery. They said the nest is usually extremely active with up to 10 owls living in the burrows.

“We would get so excited seeing these owls,” Gorddard said. “They were just so cute, and they had little baby birds.”

It was the perfect place for a wildlife snapshot.

“My mom is a photographer so for a while we would go out here every weekend and take pictures,” Gorddard said.

Gorddard and her mom noticed in the last week that there hadn’t been as much activity.

They stopped at the nest on Sunday to investigate and found dead owls in their burrows.

“I was really angry because I kind of knew that there wasn’t any way they could just die in their holes like that,” Gorddard said.

The discovery of dead burrowing owls is upsetting to neighbors like Shannon Martin.

“I think it’s sad,” Martin said. “I hope they figure it out.”

Martin saw FWC investigating on Sunday afternoon.

“They had two trucks over there with two guys looking in all the holes with their flashlights,” Martin said.

The owner of the property recently listed it for sale through Coldwell Banker.

In a statement, a representative for Coldwell Banker said they do not own the property.

Some owls are still living on the undeveloped parcel.

FWC will only issue a permit to develop if a nest is inactive and has no owls, eggs, or flightless chicks.

In April, FWC was investigating the deaths of three baby burrowing owls found dead in their nest off Chiquita Boulevard. In that case, someone placed a rock over the opening of the nest, suffocating the baby owls.

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Study shows Zika could affect male fertility

A new study from scientists at the University of Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis found extensive damage to the reproductive health of male mice infected with Zika.

Everything from low sperm count to less fertile sperm was showing up in male mice used in the study.

Scientists are now ramping up research to see how Zika could affect men.

“Kind of hits home that you really can’t take these emerging diseases for granted and you really have to be vigilant,” said Dr. Scott Needle, chief medical officer of the Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida.

“Men should take a closer look at it, too. Not just looking at it as a female issue or a female problem but also looking at it as a male problem,” said James Jones of Fort Myers.

“Definitely something that I’d be keeping an eye out for,” said Brandon Gaskin of Cape Coral.

Doctors studying Zika effects in mice have found decreased sperm production and low testosterone in male animals that are infected with or are just carriers of the virus.

“It’s pretty freaky. I didn’t know that but you know, it doesn’t surprise me. We’re learning new things about it daily now. If I have been bitten, that’s one of the bad things, you know, if it does deduct sperm count, that’s scary. That can really, you know, mess up somebody who is wanting to have a family,” Gaskin said.

“It’s pretty scary. Because we just don’t know the effects, not just the short-term effects but the long-term affects,” Jones said.

Physicians believe the study’s results could change how health agencies treat the virus.

“That there may be possibly a threat to men’s fertility as well, I think just reinforces the idea that you know it’s a virus that you have to take seriously,” Needle said.

Some men in Southwest Florida say educating yourself before planning trips could make a big difference.

“We don’t know too much about the Zika virus and how that is affecting some parts of South Florida. We need to educate individuals who do travel a lot,” Jones said.

Scientists who conducted the study’s research are traveling to other countries heavily impacted by Zika to track things like sperm count and testosterone levels in men.

They want to know for sure if what they’ve seen in the male mice is happening in humans.

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Youth Haven runaways found safe

Update: The four juveniles have been located and are safe, according to a Twitter post by the Collier County Sheriff’s Office. 


The Collier County Sheriff’s Office is looking for four teens who went missing from the Youth Haven facility Monday evening.

Missing are:

– Jasmine Vaughn, 17, 5’3″, 200 lbs., last seen wearing a camouflage shirt and blue jeans;
– Tiana Murphy, 16, 5’2″, 160 lbs., last seen wearing a striped sundress;
– Charles Zuza, 16, 6′, 145 lbs., last seen wearing a camo shirt and blue jeans;
– Ivanisha Bell, 15, 5’5″, 145 lbs., last seen wearing a black shirt and black tie.

All four were last seen around 7:30 p.m. headed east on foot from Youth Haven, 5867 Whitaker Rd., in East Naples.

If you see them, you’re asked to call CCSO at (239) 252-9300.

Youth Haven provides services for kids taken from their families because of abuse, and other services for homeless children and runaways.

Four boys ran away from the facility in April. Deputies said then that there had been 14 reported runaways from Youth Haven since Jan. 1.

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Weather blog: The weather’s connection to this year’s pumpkin crop

Jack-o-lantern carvers and pumpkin pie fans rejoice!  American farmers are expected to fair much better this harvest season with their pumpkin crop compared to the dismal year the industry endured in 2015.  

A major factor as to why this year’s crop is likely to perform much better is a direct result of the weather over one state: Illinois.  

Though pumpkins are grown across much of the country, no state comes close to catching the huge pumpkin crop the “Land of Lincoln” produces each year.

Last year the US Department of Agriculture says Illinois farmers produced nearly 318 million pounds of pumpkins.  That dwarfs California’s production which came in a distant second place with 146 million pounds.

But for as staggering as those pumpkin pound figures may be, last year was a down year.  In fact, it was the worst year for U.S. pumpkin production since 2000 when the USDA first began keeping nationwide records of the industry.  

Pumpkins are typically planted between late May and early June in the Midwestern US.  They grow throughout the summer months, but don’t fair well when the weather is overly rainy keeping soils saturated.  

Despite their reputation of being a cool weather and late autumn decoration, pumpkins also don’t grow well when the weather is cold for long periods of time or frost sets in at any point in the growing season.  

In 2015, the weather pattern over the US permitted spells of heavy rain to move across the Midwest, and in turn drop significant rainfall.  Most locations in Illinois average around 3 to 4″ of rain during the month of June.  Last year though ended as one of the rainiest on record with 13.14″ falling in Quincy, 10.64″ in Cahokia, 9.67″ in Lincoln and 9.14″ in Springfield.  

This deluge of rainfall, far above what’s normal for the month, severely impacted the pumpkin crop sparking the eventual shortage developing in autumn of last year.  

This year’s weather in Illinois has been drier; just 1.29″ of rain fell in Quincy during June of 2016.  1.93″ was measured this past June in Cahokia with 2.36″ in Lincoln and 1.93″ in Springfield.  

The drier weather over this past summer in Illinois has permitted better pumpkin production for this autumn.  According to businesses like Nestle which use pumpkin in their products, that’s good news for consumers. 

In a September 2016 press release Nestle said that “after a disappointing 2015, we’re happy to share that this year’s harvest forecast indicates that the national pumpkin shortage is over.” 

So as you sit down with your family this fall to carve, smash, eat or decorate with pumpkins, be sure to keep the weather’s connection to this interesting crop in mind!  

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Treating asthma at home as easy as dusting

Keep it clean.

That’s the new recommendation for parents who have children with asthma.

Doctors now say clearing dust helps reduce allergens and pollutants, and that can help lower a child’s need for asthma medicine.

Many things at home contribute to asthma symptoms and attacks.

Dust mites and mold top the list, and your bedding, as well as your carpet, collects the most.

The first step is to learn what triggers your child’s asthma through a blood or skin test.

Allergists say to avoid dust particles, you must be aggressive.

Vacuuming with a HEPA filter, encasing your child’s mattress in an allergy-proof cover and regularly washing bedding in hot water can help get rid of the dust mites.

“Dust mites are interesting because it survives off of dead skin cells of something you’re basically exposed to since birth, and it tends to be some of the first things children are allergic to,” said Dr. Larry Castillo, board certified allergist.

True Clean Tile and Carpet recommend an anti-allergen treatment about once every three months, but in between that time, vacuuming mattresses once a week and throwing stuffed animals and toys in the dryer to kill dust mites.

Not all allergies are environmental. Food allergies can be some of the most dangerous for children, and now there may be a way to treat them.

A new government-funded study shows a wearable skin patch could be the answer.

It was tested on children with peanut allergies.

Those treated with a patch that delivered small doses of the allergy-causing peanut protein were able to eat 10 times as many peanuts without a reaction than they could before getting the patch.

It works best for children under 12, but has not yet been given approval from the FDA.

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Cape mom pushes for medical marijuana for son with rare disease

A Cape Coral family wants to convince you to vote “yes” on Amendment 2, and their vigor stems from their son’s battle with a rare illness.

Nine-year-old Gavin Lawrey suffers from Mitochondrial Disease, a rare cell-illness that attacks the “powerhouse” of the cell, the mitochondria. The mitochondria produce the energy our body needs to keep itself working. Without it, the body begins to deteriorate. 

For Gavin, this means seizures, a constant need for oxygen, and a laundry list of medications his parents want to consolidate. They say they can do so with medical marijuana.

“If we can get him on a plant-based medicine and off of some of these things that have really terrible side effects, I feel like it’s a win-win,” said Brandi Lawrey, Gavin’s mom.

Opponents of medical marijuana, like the group Vote No on 2, say the amendments will only make it easier for kids to get their hands on pot.

Certain kinds of medical marijuana treatments are legal in Florida now. Gavin is set to begin one of them this Wednesday.

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Bomb threat called into GOP headquarters in Naples

Another threat was made against a local GOP office just a week before the presidential election.

Collier County deputies on Monday investigated a bomb threat at the Republican headquarters in Naples.

Last week, a caller threatened to shoot up the Republican campaign office in Fort Myers. No one was arrested in that case.

Deputies arrived at the office on Pine Ridge Road in Naples around 11:15 a.m. A bomb-sniffing dog was brought in, but businesses remained open, and people continued to go into the office.

Deputies cleared the scene around 1 p.m. after not finding anything.

A threatening voicemail was left on Sunday.

“It said we have a bomb with your name on it if you ever continue to, if you ever mention Hillary Clinton or some other things….anything about her private life. This is your last and final warning,” the 911 caller said.

Connie Collins had a salon appointment when deputies came into the store.

“They came in and said we had to evacuate the building, there was a bomb scare next door,” Collins said.

“Why do this right before the election?” Collins asked. “This is a free country; everyone is entitled to their opinion and to vote whoever they want.”

“I just came here to get a sign, and I’m not going to let a bomb threat scare me off,” said Scott Dame.

“It wasn’t really much of a panic, it was just more trying to figure out what’s going on,” said Greg Garcia, who was inside the GOP office. 

Marissa Desiano went inside to get a bumper sticker. “Everyone was very causal; no one seemed alarmed or anything.”

Many said they were angry that the election has gotten to this point.

“I think it is kind of balderdash to have sort of people wanting to threaten a political party as a whole,” Desiano said.

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What the Tech? Turn your phone into a scary experience

If you love a good scare, forget about costumes and yard decorations; the scariest thing some people will see is an app on their smartphone.

I was skeptical; I mean how scary can an app be? Turns out…pretty darn scary. Here are my picks for the top three scary apps in the App Stores:

1. Insidious 3 (iPhone | Android). This app is just a trailer for the movie that came out a year or so ago. It uses your phone’s accelerometer to give a 360-degree immersive experience. You’ll need a Google Cardboard device; the kind you slip a phone into and look through like an old ViewMaster Viewer. The app walks you up to a scary lady who’s warning you of what’s to come. She’s one creepy sounding woman who warns that you are not alone. As she’s giving you advice, weird things start happening like slamming doors and moving glasses on a table. The video only lasts a couple of minutes, but it is a frightening couple of minutes. I’ve shown the video through the player to about a dozen people and each person jumps a bit at the scary parts. Sadly, it ends far too soon.

2. Night Terrors. This app uses the camera on your phone as a viewfinder using augmented reality, similar to technique used in the app Pokemon Go. It suggests turning off the lights, wearing headphones and walking through your home. As you walk you see flickering lights,
glowing eyes and the occasional freaky spirit that jumps out of nowhere. The immersiveness of walking through your home in the dark wearing headphones with lots of scary sounds is creepy enough even without the surprise ‘boos’ and screams you hear. The videos are divided by chapters, the first is 99 cents. I was disappointed in the number of spooks I saw in the 5-7 minutes of stumbling through my dark house but I admit I’ll probably download the next chapter.

3. 11:57 is the scariest of the apps I tried. It’s in 360-degrees so you can turn your head and look up and down as things start happening around you. It also suggests wearing headphones to complete the immersive experience. This isn’t one of those apps where things just keep
popping up out of nowhere, there seems to be a story somewhere in the video (what it is I don’t know, but there’s an old man, a creepy kid, and shadows that keep moving around you). 11:57 is a free app and definitely worth the download.

What’s cool about all of these apps is being able to almost take you away from reality and the technology is still fairly new so next Halloween I anticipate even scarier apps to fill up smartphone screens.

The apps include a warning when you first open it, urging people with heart conditions or who’ve had a seizure to look no further and though anyone can download them, they are not recommended for young users.