U.S. health officials are taking steps to prepare in case the bird flu finds its way into this country. So far, millions of chickens and nearly a dozen people in Vietnam and Thailand have been infected and at least eight people have died. Right now, the virus is only hopping from bird to person, when a person comes in contact with an infected bird's waste. The Centers for Disease Control says so far the risk in the U.S. is still very low, but the big worry is that the bird flu will change into a version that can be transmitted from person to person, which would them make it extremely difficult to contain. There are no travel alerts or warnings at this point, just advice that if you travel to Asia, avoid poultry markets where live animals are sold.
A new device developed at the University of Florida appears to help patients fighting speech problems and vocal fatigue. Researchers documented the breathing capacities of 40 high school band students and then had them train their breathing for two weeks on the Breathe EZ Device. Study results showed the students' exhalation capacity improved by as much as 50%.
"So in the future where this will have great application will be in those patients that have some dysfunction either in the larynx or in the upper airway in terms of needing to have a better pressure support in order to produce the sounds that are required for communication," explains Dr. Paul Davenport, from the University of Florida.
The device is simple, air enters it through a tube with an adjustable spring to add resistance. Researchers say students in the study said it became easier to produce a musical note and hold it longer after using the device for two weeks. Researchers say although the Breathe EZ helps strengthen muscles that boost exhalation, it will not help patients with chronic lung obstructions.