Tag Archive: Nashville

Swapping chicken pox-infected lollipops illegal


NASHVILLE (Reuters) – A federal prosecutor is warning parents against trading chicken pox-laced lollipops by mail in what authorities describe as misguided attempts to expose their children to the virus to build immunity later in life.

The warning came after media reports surfaced about a multi-state ring of parents, wary of vaccinations that prevent the disease, who were swapping lollipops licked by a sick child in a modern day incarnation of a chicken pox party.

In those so-called parties, parents purposely put sick children together with healthy children in order to spread the ailment and build immunity without having the children vaccinated. This new form of party shares the disease anonymously and long-distance.

“Sending a virus or disease through the U.S. mail (and private carriers) is illegal. It doesn’t matter if it crosses state lines,” said David Boling, public information officer for the Attorney in Nashville.

“Also, it is against federal law to adulterate or tamper with consumer products, such as candy.”

Boling said the issue came to light after a television “news report out of Phoenix that involved a Nashville woman that was shipping and receiving adulterated products.”

Sending chicken pox-infected lollipops, swabs or vials of saliva to parents who want to infect their children and avoid vaccinations is not only illegal, it can be lethal, said Dr. Tim Jones, Tennessee’s state epidemiologist.

“They are putting at risk the people around them,” said Jones, commenting on a controversy that has sparked anger in both the medical and legal communities.

An epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta agrees. “It’s an incredibly bad idea for a variety of reasons,” said Dr. Rafael Harpaz, of the CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases.

The transport and sale of contaminated items has been linked to a Facebook group called “Find a Pox Party in Your Area,” which helps people anonymously arrange for the swapping and sale of contaminated items.

“There are a substantial number of people involved in it,” Boling said, referring to the ring.

Nashville-based U.S. Attorney Jerry Martin has been outspoken on the matter because he wants to warn “folks that want to continue to engage in this kind of activity that they are certainly exposing themselves to criminal prosecution,” said Boling, who would “neither confirm (nor) deny existence of an investigation.”


Jones said old-fashioned “pox parties” were bad enough, but shipping items to infect children “is utterly inexcusable. In this case, these are people who are buying and selling infected or contaminated body fluids from complete strangers.”

“There are a bunch of things wrong with this,” he said, adding that parents could also be inadvertently giving their children items contaminated with influenza or hepatitis, in addition to chicken pox.

CDC’s Harpaz said one major issue is that giving children the chicken pox instead of a vaccine could be a fatal mistake.

“Before the vaccine was licensed, there were in the order of 100 kids (in the U.S.) who died of chicken pox per year. Now there are very few among vaccinated children… It’s kind of like playing Russian roulette with your child.”

In addition to exposing children to chicken pox, those who have it are more susceptible to getting shingles later in life than are vaccinated children, Harpaz said.

“The idea that it’s safer to give your kid the infection than it is to immunize them is just wrong, completely misguided and puts your child at unnecessary risk,” said Tennessee epidemiologist Jones.

First of all, he said, the vaccine is safe, while those who give the children the disease “are putting at risk people around them. There may be people they could infect that don’t have a choice, who can’t take the vaccine.”

The CDC’s Harpaz said symptoms of chicken pox aren’t noticeable for “10 days to 21 days when you are exposed.” But that doesn’t mean children aren’t contagious.

Children taking chemotherapy or other medications that affect the immune system are among those who can’t take the vaccine and would be at risk if exposed to infected children.

“You could infect them and kill them,” said Jones. “That’s murder.”

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Jerry Norton)


Coast Guard closes stretch of Mississippi

An electronic bill board warns drivers the reason Mississippi Highway 465 is closed to Eagle Lake is because of flood waters from the Yazoo River, neahttp://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110506/ap_on_bi_ge/us_severe_weather_flooding

By ADRIAN SAINZ and CAIN BURDEAU, Associated Press Adrian Sainz And Cain Burdeau, Associated Press 1 hr 7 mins ago

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Coast Guard closed a stretch of the swollen Mississippi to barge traffic Friday in a move that could cause a backup along the mighty river, while police farther south in Memphis went door to door, warning thousands of people to leave before they get swamped.

Emergency workers in Memphis handed out bright yellow fliers in English and Spanish that read, “Evacuate!!! Your property is in danger right now.”

All the way south into the Mississippi Delta, people faced the question of whether to stay or go as high water rolled down the Big Muddy and backed up along its tributaries, breaking flood records that have stood since the Depression.

Because of levees and other flood defenses built over the years, engineers said it is unlikely any major metropolitan areas will be inundated as the water pushes downstream over the next week or two, but farms, small towns and even some urban areas could see extensive flooding.

“It’s going to be nasty,” said Bob Bea, a civil engineer at the University of California-Berkeley who investigated levee failures in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. How bad it gets depends on how well the flood protection systems have been built and maintained, he said.

The Coast Guard closed a five-mile stretch of the Mississippi to protect Caruthersville, Mo., and said barges could be banned for up to eight days. The fear was that the wake from big boats would push water over a floodwall and into the town of 6,700.

Barges regularly move coal, grain, ore, gravel, auto parts and other vital products down the Mississippi. A single barge can carry as much material as 70 tractor-trailers, and some towboats can move 45 barges at once.

Lynn Muench, a vice president of the American Waterways Operators, an industry group, said the eight-day shutdown would have a multimillion-dollar effect on the barge industry and slow the movement of many products.

“It’s just like if you took out every bridge going over the Mississippi what that would mean to railroad and vehicle traffic,” Muench said. “You’re shutting down a major thoroughfare.” She added: “The last thing we want is a levee to go, but we also want to keep moving.”

In Tennessee, local authorities were uncertain whether they had legal authority to order evacuations, and hoped the fliers would persuade people to leave. Bob Nations, director of emergency management for Shelby County, which includes Memphis, said there was still time to get out. The river is not expected to crest until Wednesday.

“This does not mean that water is at your doorstep,” Nations said of the door-to-door effort. “This means you are in a high-impact area.”

About 950 households in Memphis and about 135 other homes in Shelby County were getting the notices, Shelby County Division Fire Chief Joseph Rike said. Shelters were opened, and the fliers include a phone number to arrange transportation for people who need it.

Jeanette Twilley of south Memphis came home to find one of the yellow notices on her door. Her house is roughly 75 yards from Nonconnah Creek, which has overflowed its banks and flooded three houses on her street.

“Amazed. Amazed. I just can’t believe this,” said Twilley, who is retired and rents her home. She planned to leave in the afternoon and stay with friends or relatives. “There’s not going to be anybody here,” she said of the neighborhood, a working-class area in one of the poorer sections of Memphis.

In a section of south Memphis outside the evacuation zone, Billy Burke stood in his backyard, where water from a creek has been rising for days. About 20 feet away, a fish jumped out of a pool of standing brown water.

“I’m going to stay as long as I can,” Burke said. “But if the water goes up another 10 feet, I’m out of here.”

Graceland, Elvis Presley’s home and one of the city’s best-known landmarks, is about a 20-minute drive from the river and in no danger of flooding, spokesman Kevin Kern said. “We’re on a hill, high and dry and open for business, and will stay open,” Kern said.

Water pooled at the lowest end of Beale Street, the thoroughfare synonymous with Mississippi blues, but it was about a half-mile from the street’s world-famous nightspots.

The main Memphis airport was not threatened, nor was FedEx, which has a sorting hub at the airport that handles up to 2 million packages per day.

In Missouri, dozens of National Guardsmen and Highway Patrol members who had been rescuing people from floodwaters had to be rescued themselves after six boats got stuck in low water. Half were rescued before dark, and the others spent the night on a levee, relying on provisions dropped to them by the Guard.

Farther south, parts of the Mississippi Delta began to flood, sending white-tail deer and wild pigs swimming to dry land, submerging yacht clubs and closing floating casinos.

“We’re getting our momma and daddy out,” said Ken Gelston, who helped pack furniture, photos and other belongings into pickup trucks in Greenville, Miss. “We could have five feet of water in there,” Gelston said, nodding at the house. “That’s what they’re telling us.”

Bea, the civil engineer, said he is concerned because some levees across the U.S. have been built with inferior dirt, or even sand, and have been poorly designed.

“The standards we use to build these things are on the horribly low side if you judge them by world criteria and conditions,” he said. “The breaches, as we learned in New Orleans, are the killers.”

How long the high water lingers, and how much damage it does to the earthen walls of the levees as it goes down, are crucial factors.

“The whole summer will have to be watched,” said J. David Rogers, a civil engineer at the Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Since the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, a disaster that killed hundreds, Congress has made protecting the cities on the lower Mississippi a priority. The Army Corps of Engineers has spent $13 billion to fortify cities with floodwalls and carve out overflow basins and ponds — a departure from the “levees-only” strategy that led to the 1927 calamity.

The Corps also straightened out sections of the river that used to meander and pool perilously. As a result, the Mississippi flows into the Gulf of Mexico faster, and water presses against the levees for shorter periods.


Burdeau reported from Greenville, Miss. Jim Salter in St. Louis and Travis Loller in Nashville, Tenn., contributed to this report.


Mike Fisher spent the first 11 years of his NHL career in the Canadian capital of Ottawa where the hometown Senators are scrutinized and second-guessed more than members of Parliament. But now that he’s married to country music star Carrie Underwood, it’s not just hockey fans paying attention to his every move.

Underwood, for instance, recently needled him on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” for gobbling up their closet space. “He’s not a hoarder but he’s close,” she said.

In an exclusive interview with ThePostGame.com, Fisher laughs and defends himself: “I’m not that big of a hoarder,” he says. “I do have lots of clothes. But she has me beat in the clothes department.”

Such is life when your wife’s star wattage is even bigger than your own. When the Senators traded Fisher to Nashville in February, the headline in The Tennessean said: “Predators acquire Carrie Underwood’s husband.”

Fisher doesn’t mind the second-fiddle status. “I’m used to it,” he says. “Being in Nashville, I can fly under the radar a bit more. It’s nice to be not recognized as much. Nobody really does, unless I’m with her, obviously. That has been good.”

The trade was a double perk for Fisher. He went from a last-place team to one in the thick of the playoff race, and he went to the city where he and Underwood had planned to settle long term. Underwood and Fisher, who were introduced to each other by a mutual friend, got married in July. But between her music commitments and his hockey schedule, they hadn’t spent much time together before the trade.

“To come from a team that’s been out of it since November to a contender was definitely great,” he says “This was the most frustrating season I’ve had, ever, until I got traded. I get to find out what married life is like and get to live with her. That was the biggest bonus for sure. It definitely simplified things — less travel, our schedule, being organized, stuff like that. That made the transition easy. I’m familiar with the city and have friends in Nashville too. That made it perfect.”

The hockey part of the equation has also worked out well. The Predators have been a perennial playoff team with six appearances in the past seven seasons, but they’ve yet to win a series. They’ve lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champions in their past two appearances, including last year when they had the Blackhawks on the ropes.

Acquiring a center like Fisher, known for his playoff prowess, was a big part of their plan to finally turn that corner. The Predators paid a fairly steep price to Ottawa, giving up a 2011 first-round pick, plus a conditional pick in 2012 that can be as high as a second-rounder if Nashville wins more than one series this year. That cost, along with the $7 million owed to him in the next two seasons, placed significant pressure on him to deliver in the post-season.

“I try not to think about that,” Fisher says. “I just want to go out and play and contribute.”

So far, so good. The Predators are halfway toward winning their first playoff series, after beating the Ducks on Sunday to take a 2-1 lead. Fisher has been hot from the get-go. He had two goals and an assist in Game 1, a 4-1 win for the Preds in Anaheim, and another assist in Game 2.

Then in Game 3 at Nashville — with Underwood in the stands — Fisher picked up a fighting major against Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf in the second period, then bagged the winning goal midway through the third.

“It’s been an easy transition to fit in with this group of guys and the organization,” Fisher says. “It’s been definitely different playing in this kind of market. I’ve enjoyed maybe a little less media attention.”

But if he continues to click at this rate and lead the Predators to their first playoff series win, he figures to have more interviews heaped on his plate, and some of them might even focus 100 percent on pucks.

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