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Lightning Strike Feels Like Being Cooked in a Microwave, Survivor Says


iStock/Thinkstock(SENECA, S.C.) -- A South Carolina man who says he's been struck by lightning ten times compares the feeling to being zapped inside a microwave.

"When it hits you, it's like being hit by a freight train. It knocks you out, knocks you down," Melvin Roberts of Seneca, South Carolina, told ABC News Monday. "You can tell what's around, you just don't have any control over your body."

"It's like grabbing an electrical cord," he added. "You don't feel the burns until it's over with. It cooks you from the inside out like being in a microwave. And you've got a hurting in your bones."

Roberts made headlines in 2011 when he was struck by lightning for the sixth time, and his wife says he's been struck four more times since then. If her count is correct, that would make him the world record-holder for most lighting strikes survived, although Guinness World Records still lists Roy C. Sullivan as the record holder.

Sullivan, a park ranger who died in 1983, was struck by lightning seven times. Guinness World Records did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Roberts, a retired heavy equipment operator, can barely remember all the times he's been struck. There were a couple times when he was on his lawnmower, another time when he was trying to cover the mower up before the rain came, and yet another time when he was helping his aunt hang a tarp on her porch.

"It's like a big syringe in the sky and when it hits you it puts all this different stuff in your body," he said. "It turns your insides completely around."

But it doesn't hurt -- at least not at first, Roberts recalled.

"You're in shock," he explained. "Now, when you come to, that's a different thing. You've got big old blisters on you. It takes a long time to get over it."

As a result, he said he suffers from memory loss, headaches, speech problems and has nerve damage in his hands and left leg because of the strikes. Roberts also can't hear well, so he doesn't always know when there's thunder -- that might be a reason he appears to be such a target for lightning, he said.

But John Jensenius, the National Weather Service's lightning expert, says it's a myth that once someone is struck, they're more likely than anyone else to be struck again. He noted that people who work outdoors are more vulnerable.

"Nothing attracts lightning," he said. "It generally does strike the tallest thing, like trees."

He recommends people seek shelter if they hear thunder and stay away from tall trees, doors, windows and anything that conducts electricity.

People struck by lightning can suffer neurological damage, burns, memory loss, headaches and changes in personality, and the strike could also stop their heart, Jensenius said.

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Doctors Battling Ebola Are Met with Fear, Mistrust


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Doctors battling Ebola in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia say a mistrust of Western medicine is hampering efforts to contain the outbreak.

At least 1,201 people having contracted the virus and 672 people have died in what health officials are calling the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

Dr. Michel Van Herp of the medical charity Doctors Without Borders said his organization has even been accused of "bringing the disease" into certain villages. He also said Ebola has been mystified by villagers, who fear that "to say 'Ebola' aloud is to make it appear."

"They believe that, but the reverse is also believed to be true," said Van Herp. "Denying that Ebola exists would mean that it won't be able to affect you."

Van Herp and his colleague, Dr. Hilde de Clerck, have been on the front lines of six past Ebola outbreaks, according to Doctors Without Borders.

"To control the chain of disease transmission it seems we have to earn the trust of nearly every individual in an affected family," said de Clerck, noting that 20 villages in Guinea near the Sierra Leone and Liberian borders still deny access to their medical team.

Medical personnel must wear full-body plastic protective gear, which De Clerck said is uncomfortable and difficult to bear in the region's high temperatures.

De Clerck said the work also takes an emotional toll, as up to 90% of those who contract the virus die a painful and terrifying death.

"We are the last people to touch them and many of them ask us to hold their hands," she said.

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Fist Bumps Spread Fewer Germs than Shaking Hands


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Fist bumps may be the safest greeting during cold and flu season: a new study shows the popular fist bump spreads fewer germs than shaking hands.

Research conducted in Wales found that fist bumps spread only 5% the amount of bacteria that shaking hands does, and high fives pass along about 50% the germs handshakes do.

Results of the study were published online in the American Journal of Infection Control.

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Report: Aspirin May Increase Heart Attack Risk for Some Women


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Women taking daily doses of aspirin may be increasing their risk of suffering a heart attack.

A new study reports that nearly 23% of women carry a gene that -- when combined with aspirin -- makes them twice as likely to suffer a heart attack.

According to ABC's Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser, "There may be genetic tests that identify people who will benefit from aspirin and people who will not benefit from aspirin."

"That's important because aspirin has side-effects," Dr. Besser added. "So before you start taking aspirin, talk to your doctor, understand what is your own personal risk of heart disease, and whether aspirin is right for you."

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Watch the Inspiring Trailer for "Batkid Begins"


Trisha Leeper/WireImage(SAN DIEGO) -- Now, more than ever, the world could use a superhero. In November, the city of San Francisco got one. His name is Miles Scott and he had yet to start kindergarten.

Thanks to the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the participation of thousands of enthusiastic locals, 5-year-old Miles, who had recently completed chemotherapy treatment for leukemia, spent that fall day racing through city streets to rescue damsels in distress, disarm explosives and defeat his arch-nemeses.

Over 7,000 onlookers came out to cheer Miles on as he patrolled San Francisco in a pint-sized Batman outfit. More than 400,000 people participated in the unprecedented phenomenon on Twitter.

But while the raw footage captivated the nation, filmmaker Dana Nachman wanted to go behind the scenes to find out more. Nachman has been working on a documentary since January.

On Sunday, she premiered the trailer for Batkid Begins at Comic-Con.

"There's a lot of reasons not to do things that are crazy and big," Nachman told ABC News. "But here were a lot of people who said, 'Let's not be safe for a day. Let's go crazy and be a little absurd.'"

Nachman cited the spirit of creativity that is characteristic of the City by the Bay as a possible explanation for the reaction that the spectacle prompted.

"It was this big fantasy for everybody," Nachman said. "It was as much a fantasy for everybody on the ground as it was for Miles."

The project has launched an Indiegogo campaign on July 15 to help finance the feature film. Over the next three weeks, it hopes to raise $100,000. Nachman plans to finish a rough cut of the movie in time to coincide with the anniversary of the event.

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Equinox Gym Chain Adds to Its Growing Empire


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Equinox, the upscale gym chain, is acquiring another trendy fitness company to add to its growing exercise empire.

Equinox, based in New York, already operates 73 clubs in cities that include New York, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and London. The company announced that it is acquiring six Sports Club/LA and Reebok Sports Club locations from Boston-based Millennium Partners Sports Club Management.

Equinox said its "long-term vision" is leveraging a portfolio of "complementary fitness brands." Monthly dues for its various fitness brands range from $25 to around $200 a month.

Equinox was established in 1991 and is known for its racy advertisements with scantily clad models.

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How Ebola Virus Spreads from Sick Animals and Among Humans


Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The largest-known outbreak of the Ebola virus is currently underway but because so many questions remain about the true source of the disease, it is difficult to understand the timeline of the deadly infection.

There are five different strains of the disease, four of which can spread to humans while the fifth only affects primates. Experts at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention believe that the four strands that effect humans spread largely due to exposure to the blood or bodily secretions of an infected individual.

The Ebola virus was first identified in 1976 in Africa, but how the initial case came to be remains a mystery. The World Health Organization notes that some infected individuals reported having had contact with chimpanzees, gorillas, porcupines or fruit bats that were ill -- animals that were later determined to be infected with the Ebola virus.

People now caring for infected individuals -- including friends and relatives who may be taking care of infected persons at home or doctors treating the ill in hospitals -- are among the most commonly infected. Another major moment of infection, according to WHO, is burial ceremonies if mourners directly contact the corpse.

Symptoms appear anytime between two days and 21 days after infection, meaning that the possible circle of infected bystanders could include a large number of people if the individual doesn't even know that they are a carrier.

Muscle aches, fevers, headaches, diarrhea, vomiting and overall stomach pain are among the most common symptoms, but some patients also noticed a rash, red eyes, and difficulty breathing or swallowing. Once the infection is in the bloodstream, excessive internal bleeding and the ensuing loss of blood leads to death in the majority of cases. Fatality rates vary by strand and area, but ranges largely between 50 percent to 90 percent mortality rates.

A number of these symptoms overlap with malaria and cholera, which doctors reportedly guess when first treating the patients, creating a serious delay in the proper treatment.

Reston Ebola virus, the fifth strand of the disease, was recorded in Virginia where it spread aerially in a primate research facility in 1990. Researchers were investigating an outbreak of a Simian hemorrhagic fever in monkeys and they discovered the Ebola strand in the primates, but the human handlers did not develop symptoms.

The disease was named after the Ebola River in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where researchers believe has connections to the roots of the disease.

All of the known cases involving human infection have been limited to Africa, with reported infections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Liberia, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Gabon and the Ivory Coast. South Africa has only been connected as a result of the disease being imported and there were laboratory contamination cases in England and Russia.

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Study Finds College Athletes Less Apt to Party than Other Students


iStock/Thinkstock(INDIANAPOLIS) -- College is a time for experimentation as has been well documented, but unfortunately, it often involves underage drinking and illegal drug use. While most who attend an institution of higher learning are intelligent enough to understand the risks involved, it seems that athletes are more cognizant about the dangers of alcohol and drugs.

At least that seems to be the upshot of a study released this month by the NCAA. From the statistics gathered by researchers over a nine-year period, those who play sports are less inclined to drink and take drugs than the general student body.

When it comes to smoking marijuana, about 32 percent of the student population admits to trying it as opposed to 21.9 percent of NCAA athletes.

It's not a huge disparity when it comes to alcohol, however. The student average is 81.4 percent compared to 80.4 percent of those who compete in sports.

The numbers for athletes in Division I are better with 78 percent having used alcohol and 16 percent who smoked pot.

Researchers believes that athletes are more health-conscious, which explains why they're less apt to abuse booze or drugs.
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Estrogen May Make Some Women More Judgmental About Other Women


iStock/Thinkstock(TRIESTE, Italy) -- The hormone estrogen contained in birth control pills seems to have a curious, albeit, pretty harmless side-effect.

Researcher Valentina Piccoli of the University of Trieste in Italy says a small study she undertook with 42 women who used birth control suggests that the quantity of estrogen in the contraceptive may affect the way they view other women.

In other words, the more estrogen in the birth control they used, the more they viewed other women's looks as important to them by looking at a series of photographs.

While not establishing a direct cause-and-effect relationship, Piccoli speculated that an increase in estrogen levels might make women more guarded about potential female competitors.

More study with a bigger group may be necessary to verify the findings. Piccoli's research did not use a control group that took a placebo rather than birth control pills.

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When Leisure Activities Feel Worse than Work


iStock/Thinkstock(MAINZ, Germany) -- There's nothing like "maxing and relaxing" after a hard day of work. For many, that involves plopping down in front of a TV or computer screen.

However, there's a dark side to these seemingly harmless leisure activities, according to researchers at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany and the VU University Amsterdam in the Netherlands .

Apparently, a lot of people who turn off their minds when they turn on the TV or play video games feel like they're failures because they're not doing anything constructive.

In interviews with 471 people who talked about what they do to decompress after work, the researchers discovered that rather than delivering enjoyment, TV and other electronic devices wind up as a "burden and a stressor rather than a recovery resource."

Dr. Leonard Reinecke went on to explain that the findings demonstrate "that in the real life, the relationship between media use and well-being is complicated and that the use of media may conflict with other, less pleasurable but more important duties and goals in everyday life."

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American Doctor in Liberia Tests Positive for Ebola


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MONROVIA, Liberia) -- An American doctor working with an international relief organization in Liberia tested positive for the Ebola virus.

Dr. Kent Brantly had been working as the medical director for Samaritan's Purse, an organization working to provide aid to those affected by the spread of Ebola. Brantly is undergoing treatment in an isolation center and was reported to be sitting up in his isolated hospital bed and working on his computer after he contracted the deadly virus this week.

Samaritan's Purse released a statement saying that it was "committed to doing everything possible to help Dr. Brantly during this time of crisis."

Later on Sunday, the organization announced another American contracted the disease. Nancy Writebol is employed by SIM in Liberia and was helping the joint SIM/Samaritan's Purse team that is treating Ebola patients at the Case Management Center in Monrovia.

SIM manages ELWA Hospital in Morovia, and the two organizations have been working closely to combat Ebola since the current outbreak began in Liberia in March.

Writebol is married with two children.

Also on Sunday, the disease took the life of a high-profile African doctor, Samuel Brisbane.

Ebola, a contagious and deadly disease, is spreading in part because of trade across the borders of three countries: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, health officials said. The World Health Organization reported at least 930 cases of Ebola in the three countries, with the virus causing over 580 deaths.

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Can a Jolting Wearable-Fitness Tracker Get You to Work Out?


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  If you need a little incentive to get up off the couch, a new wearable device could give you just the jolt you need to get you to the gym.

The Pavlok device isn't on the market just yet, but its creator Maneesh Sethi said the device will have features to incentivize working out -- including a small zap for when you miss a workout.

While Sethi says the device will encourage people in a way normal fitness trackers can't, some workout professionals are apprehensive at the idea of having a painful incentive forcing people to work out.

However, Sethi stresses that the device is programmed by the user and the incentives are incrementally built. First a user will get a subtle vibration as a reminder to head to the gym. If the user still doesn't go, the alert turns into a loud beep.

Finally if the user doesn't make it to their pre-programmed workout at the gym, running trial, etc., then there is the option to get a nice sized shock, ranging from 30 to 340 volts, according to Sethi.

"It's nothing that's going to hurt you," Sethi said. "It's not pleasant but that's the point, to break you of these bad habits."

Sethi also said that because users can program the device, they set all the rules. If they just want a reminder, they can set the device to vibrate. They can also specify how often they plan to go to the gym or other workout center.

The device will also go past just workouts. If people want to set it up to keep them off the Internet, they can have their Pavlok monitor their time online.

For the hardcore users, Sethi said they can pre-program a Facebook message that tells their friends when they missed the gym and allow the friends to send in shocks of encouragement.

At least some workout professionals are concerned about the device or others like it. Jessica Smith, a wellness coach and fitness instructor who contributes to SHAPE magazine, said she found a shocking device as a "bullying" approach to fitness.

"As a wellness coach I've seen the best long-term success with health and weight loss come when clients initiate healthy lifestyle changes themselves, not because a mean boot camp instructor, spouse (or, in this case, a shocking wristband) made them do it," Smith told ABC News.

But Sethi said the Pavlok has some carrots and is not "all sticks." The Pavlok company is working on creating an online component, where users could win points for going to the gym (and lose them for missing a workout). If they get enough points, Sethi said, they could get gift cards or other rewards.

"It's really about the habits," Sethi said. "It's making your brain automatically do what it should be doing."

The Pavlok device will be available to pre-order later this year.

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Boy Battling Cancer Turns Six with 'Close to 100,000' Birthday Cards


Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Danny Nickerson celebrated his 6th birthday with the one birthday present he had been hoping for: tens of thousands of birthday cards.

The 6-year-old is fighting an inoperable brain tumor and his mother made an appeal on social media to have strangers send him cards. On Friday, Danny visited the post office where close to 100,000 cards had been sent, according to a Facebook post from Danny's mother Carley Nickerson.

There were so many boxes, Danny was able to climb and play on boxes upon boxes of cards.

But Danny's birthday wasn't all about the cards. Earlier in the day, the family went to Legoland before meeting the owner of the New England Patriots, Bob Kraft, who gave Danny birthday presents.

The Massachusetts boy was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor known as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma in October, one of the most chemotherapy-resistant cancers. Danny has since stopped going to kindergarten.

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American Red Cross Issues Urgent Call for Blood Donations


Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The American Red Cross issued a call for blood donations this week, saying that donations are down eight percent in the last 11 weeks, creating thee risk of a shortfall of blood.

The Red Cross says that because Independence Day fell on a Friday, many sponsors did not host blood drives in early July, as people took long weekends off. An average summer week features about 4,400 Red Cross blood drives, compared to just 3,450 on the week of Independence Day this year.

In particular, the Red Cross says donors with blood types O negative, B negative and A negative are "especially needed."

Since May, the organization has received 80,000 fewer donations than expected. As donations continue to decline, the Red Cross is concerned that it could experience an "emergency situation" within weeks.

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Playing Hard to Get May Not Work for Women, Study Says


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When it comes to dating, some may tell women play it coy, but new research shows that more responsive females are successful in the mating game.

In a report published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers simulated an early dating experience with two strangers.

A man and woman sat in the same room together, during which half the time the male would discuss a negative event from the day before and the female was told to respond in her normal behavior. The other half of the time, researchers reversed the roles.

Participants were also asked to complete a survey on their partners receptiveness, how well they were categorized into gender norms, and their level of attraction.

The study found that men perceived more receptive women as more feminine and attractive, and that the same individuals would make better long-term mates.

Women, however, did not care as much about how receptive their partners were.

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