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Early Flu Season Grips U.S.; Prostitutes Prepare For World Cup; Panetta, Karzai Discuss War At Pentagon; Update: NYC Ferry Crash Injured 85; An Astronaut's View; Helen Hunt Gets Oscar Nod

Aired January 10, 2013 - 14:30   ET


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Bottom of the hour. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

The death toll is creeping up with the earliest flu season in over a decade. Putting a strain on hospitals really across the country. You have these patient numbers soaring with the season's official peak still more than a month away. CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is here.

It's tough when you look at the numbers. I know you've been going through this. Twenty-two people have died in Pennsylvania and South Carolina. And Boston hit hard. Eighteen people have died. You listen to the mayor there declaring this public health emergency.


BALDWIN: Which, can we just clear that up? What does that mean?

GUPTA: It basically -- it's not a sort of state of emergency, the way that people typically think about it in situations of conflict and war, but more that, look, we have to harness the resources that we have. All the reserves that's in the health care system put toward the flu. And part of it is, you know, just getting those resources in play, so if more patients come in, they can take care of those patients.

But I think a large part of it, talking to some of the folks there, is sort of sending a message. You know, last year was a pretty mild flu season. People may have been complacent about this. They may not have gotten a flu shot. I think when you declare a flu emergency or public health emergency like this.

It sends a pretty strong message. So I think part of this is frankly optics and part of this is actually saying if we have extra beds in hospitals, we have extra places for patients, let's make sure we know where patients need to go if, you know, more patients are sick.

BALDWIN: You mentioned the flu shot and I only imagine I have had yours. You had the people out there who said I got my flu shot and still got the flu.

GUPTA: Right. So this is why the most common question I think I get as a medical reporter. It's really interesting. With the flu shot, it's a dead virus. You cannot get the flu from a flu shot. So we can say that at the onset. But I will tell you a couple of things. One is that when you get the flu shot, it takes a couple of weeks for it to work. You don't get protection immediately afterwards. So people get --

BALDWIN: There is a window.

GUPTA: It's about two weeks. If you get the flu after that, you could be getting the regular flu. Also it's not 100 percent effective, about 60 percent effective so there will be people who still get the flu.

Finally, you know, when you get a flu shot, Brooke, the whole point is that you are ramping up your body's immune system to fight the flu virus if ever seize it again. So when that ramping up of the immune system, you may feel cruddy, you may get some soreness arm.

You may get some muscle aches. That is what supposed to happen. Let me say one other thing, if you get the shot and still get the flu, they may be milder symptoms than you otherwise would have had.

BALDWIN: So it could have been way worse.

GUPTA: It could have been way worse.

BALDWIN: Thank goodness you got the shot.

GUPTA: Right. So it's not binary. Either you have the flu or you don't have the flu. It can be the degree of severity.

BALDWIN: You know, I keep thinking about these hospitals and doctors. We're showing pictures just yesterday at some of these tents outside of a hospital in Pennsylvania. It was sort of this patient overflow area because of the demand right now. If somebody is coming down with what they think might be the flu, how do you know -- OK, I'm at the point I need to go to the ER.

GUPTA: Right. The vast majority of people and this is the good news probably just need to self isolate meaning stay at home.

BALDWIN: Stay at home, don't come to work.

GUPTA: Right. I have been telling people around the office here even the same thing. The old adages apply, plenty of rest and plenty of fluids. There are a couple of red flags, which I think are really important and keep in mind the flu can come on very suddenly and some of the red flags can come on suddenly as well.

So sudden dizziness for example that would be a concern, sudden difficulty breathing, you know, this often affects the upper part of your respiratory track. But if it affects your lungs, that can be a concern, chest tightness and the last one, really important.

Let's say you get completely recovered from the flu. You're doing fine, two days later, your fever comes back. That's a red flag, a really important one, because what happened or what could have happened is that your body got weakened from the flu and now you have another infection, a bacterial infection that needs to be treated. That's the way the vast majority of young people die from the flu by a secondary infection.

BALDWIN: OK, Dr. Gupta, thank you. We are all washing our hands.

GUPTA: Sing happy birthday twice when you wash.

BALDWIN: All right, Sanjay, thank you. Of course, he will have much more on the flu outbreak over the weekend. Watch his show, "SANJAY GUPTA MD" airs Saturday at 4:30 a.m. Eastern and Sunday at 7:30 a.m. right here on CNN.

A shocking discovery here by the team of scientist who is analyze the brain tissue of one of the NFL's all time great players. Former linebacker Junior Seau took his own life last May and now doctors believe 20 years of taking hit after hit to his head likely led to a brain disease called CTE.

Next hour, Dr. Gupta will be back. We'll ask if this brain disease could have led to Seau's suicide. So we'll have that conversation next hour. Sanjay, thank you so much.

Excitement builds as Brazil is preparing to host the 2014 Soccer World Cup, but you heard about this today. It's not just the sport fans getting ready. The city's prostitutes are also preparing, but not in the way you may be thinking. Details are next.


BALDWIN: In Brazil in the city north of Sao Paulo, excitement is already building for the biggest event of 2014, the Soccer World Cup. But it isn't just the sports fans getting ready. No, no, no, prostitutes there, they are brushing up on English skills, of course, taking free classes to make communicating with their English-speaking johns a tad easier.

Joining me now CNN's Alejandra Oraa, anchor at CNN in Espanol. Welcome. What a story we have for you today. Yes, you're welcome.

ALEJANDRA ORAA, CNN EN ESPANOL ANCHOR: Especially because it's my second language, right?

BALDWIN: OK, there you go. So first of all, I didn't realize there was a prostitution association. I learned something new today and that's the group offering these women and perhaps men English classes.

ORAA: Absolutely.

BALDWIN: Tell me more.

ORAA: It's pretty interesting because although they are offering mostly English classes, they are also trying to teach Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Italian because some of the prostitutes are not from Brazil.

BALDWIN: Multilingual. ORAA: Exactly. Most of the people going to World Cup are not Americans or British. However, most of the tourists that actually go to Brazil speak English. So they need to know the language to work out a financial deal and use the vocabulary for, let's say, their line of work. They need to know what they will say while they are working and most importantly they need defend themselves in case something happens.

BALDWIN: Now here's something our viewers may not realize. Prostitution in Brazil is legal. So this is just a case of what, catering to what will certainly be a huge influx of tourists.

ORAA: I think it's part of the tourism for men. Let's be honest. The World Cup is watched mostly by men and the same is going to happen with the World Cup in 2016 because Brazil in the next five years is going to have a lot of publicity.

We have the World Cup in 2014. We have the Olympics in 2016 and the Confederations Cup on this coming June. So they will probably have a lot of work. It has to do with men. We are talking about sports.

We're talking about men that like to party and especially men that a lot of times we are talking about sports they tend to have some sort of discussions when it comes to sex and drinking. We know that Brazil is pretty good at having a good party.

BALDWIN: I'm going to leave that one there. The city is likely to be picked as one of the host cities and the country has the Olympics as you mentioned in 2016. Might other cities take a lesson from Brazil?

ORAA: The organization is trying to do the same thing for the cities of Brazil, yes.

BALDWIN: Just curious, is this organization based in Brazil or is it global thing?

ORAA: It's only in Brazil. It's actually created by one of the prostitutes in Sao Paulo. It has the name of the person or the founder.

BALDWIN: Alejandra Oraa, you have educated us. Thank you very much.

Coming up next here, the new details on the commuter bus that collided with a school bus, we are getting this video here. Back in 2 minutes.


BALDWIN: Some of the hottest stories in a flash. Rapid fire, roll them.

Hamid Karzai paying a visit to America and today the Pentagon, the Afghan president meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Listen.


LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We have sacrificed together. That has created a bond that will not be broken in the future.


BALDWIN: Two men there discussing the war in Afghanistan. It comes as the Obama administration considers taking all U.S. troops out of the country after next year.

It's turning into a pretty rough week for people trying to get to work in New York City. A commuter bus headed to Wall Street collided with a small school bus this morning.

This is old bridge in New Jersey. At least 17 people on board the commuter bus were injured. Two are reported in critical condition. The school bus flipped on its side there fortunately not carrying any children. The driver was taken to the hospital.

That bus crash comes this one day after rush hour ferry slammed into a pier in Lower Manhattan. There were more than 300 people on board, 85 were injured, one critically.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of a sudden the boat went from going however fast it is going to zero. So everybody went this way and then you went this way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It felt like you were in a car that ran into a tree.


BALDWIN: No immediate word on the cause of the crash. Federal safety officials are investigating that one.

Eleven killer whales that were trapped by ice in a Canadian bay are apparently free now. Take a look here. These are the orcas desperately surfacing for oxygen in this 10-foot hole in the ice.

Now a group sent to break up the ice said there is no longer a sign of them. They think a change in the weather conditions has actually cracked the ice, allowing them to swim free into the open waters.

When Don Wright was diagnosed with cancer he had run his very first marathon. Instead of giving up on running, he set a goal to run a marathon in all 50 states. Dr. Sanjay Gupta has his remarkable story in this week's "Human Factor."


GUPTA (voice-over): Don Wright's career spanned engineering, being a company vice president, and the law. And at age 62, he discovered a new passion -- marathons. Nine years ago, just days after running his first 26-mile race, though, he got some devastating news.

DON WRIGHT, MARATHON RUNNER: I'd gone to the doctor a couple times for pain in my back. It was multiple myeloma. GUPTA: This is a cancer of the blood where the white blood cells invade the bone marrow causing pain, usually in the back or the rib, and patients are rarely cured. But Wright refused to let that slow him down, even qualifying for the Boston marathon.

WRIGHT: I got this devastating diagnosis and we just -- my family and I, we just kept on going. You know, there wasn't any reason to stop and be sorry, you know. We kept running marathons.

GUPTA: On December 9th under a hot Hawaiian sun, Wright now 71 reached his seemingly impossible goal, running a marathon in all 50 states.

WRIGHT: It feels wonderful. I tell you a philosophy in life that I have is live one day at a time and make it a masterpiece. And that was a masterpiece.

GUPTA: Wright wasn't sure he could fulfill his dream because the median survival for his cancer is just five years, but prognosis does vary depending on age and stage of the disease.

He's had a number of treatments that have failed, but for the last four and a half years, Wright's taken an experimental drug. It's just one pill at night that's worked and it's kept the cancer at bay.

WRIGHT: It doesn't cure the cancer, but it keeps it stable so it's not hurting me, and I can still run. And I can still enjoy life, and I'm riding that for all it's worth.

GUPTA: He has advice to others facing what seemed like insurmountable odds. Take charge of your own destiny and never give up hope. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting.



BALDWIN: Look at the photos tweeted from space by an astronaut. These are amazing. We wanted to share them with you. The photos which have gone viral show the stunning views from the coast of Italy to Chicago to the Sahara desert and beyond.

I want to bring in Chad Meyers as I know you have been speaking out over his Twitter page. By the way, it's cmdr_hadfield.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The pictures are just tremendous. I always wanted to be a weather man, but I also wanted to work on satellites a lot. This is a lower satellite because the resolution is so good because the ISS is not as high as the big satellites up there. It's 22,000 miles in space. This is only a couple hundred miles.

So he has this fantastic camera. You can go to Chris Hadfield and search that or Commander Hadfield, search that, you can find him on the Twitter feed. There volcanoes there. He is sending them back one after another. Just love the color of that water. I want to be in that water or on that beach. It goes on and on. He has shown the wildfires too. There is the Twitter page and just a couple of weeks ago, he 30,000 followers like you.

BALDWIN: Now, I'm almost at 100,000, thank you very much.

MYERS: He far surpassed you at 161,000 Twitter followers.

BALDWIN: He had something like 20,000 when he launched in December and it's because of his presence on Twitter.

MYERS: The pictures right there of the fires and tops of thunderstorms, islands in the Pacific.

BALDWIN: The wildfires in Australia.

MYERS: That's one right there. It's not just anything. He has taken cool pictures of the desert and the more wildfires and the smoke everywhere and some of this stuff I can't get over the pictures from space. We are going to talk about this in the next couple of days. They are taking applications to go to the Mars colony.

BALDWIN: We will talk about that some other day. We are very interested in space, you and I, Chad. I did always want to be an astronaut and when I took physics, journalism was my forte. We will keep that conversation going. Chad Myers, thank you very much.

Coming up next, we have been talking and you heard about these Oscar nominations by now. What you haven't heard is the real story behind Helen Hunt's nomination in this film. She plays this sex surrogate, someone who has sex with clients to help them. You are about to hear from the real woman, the real woman. Don't miss it.


BALDWIN: Drum roll please. Reaction pouring in on the Oscar nominations, we will get to all of the surprises and the snubs in a minute. First let's talk about Helen Hunt who got an Oscar nod for best supporting actress for her controversial role as a sex surrogate.

This film is called "The Sessions" and in it Hunt plays a woman who is hired to help this man with an iron lung lose his virginity. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to ask you basic questions, OK?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Explain to me so that I really understand exactly what the iron lung is for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For breathing. I spend a few hours outside with my portable respirator depending on how I feel. I work and sleep in the iron lung. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you feel right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Out of my league.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I meant your breathing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fine, in fact better than usual.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's great. Shall we get undressed?


BALDWIN: "The Sessions" is based on a true story. I spoke with the real life sex surrogate, Cheryl Cohen Greene around this time after the Sundance Film Festival.


CHERYL COHEN GREENE, SEX SURROGATE: My job is to help a person who is not sick or broken, just like all of us, myself included, to have a better understanding of their sexuality. We don't get a lot of good training and conversation when we are growing up about it and a lot of people come to their sexual feelings and desires from a sense of shame and embarrassment.

BALDWIN: For some viewers, I have to ask what is the difference between what you do and the oldest profession?

GREENE: Well, my intention is very different. My intention is to not have clients come back. It's an education process that can be a lot of fun and it can be anxiety-provoking, which is good because we work with the therapist around the anxiety that might be happening during our sessions. The focus is to help a person go out into the world feeling much better about who they are so they can share that with another person.

BALDWIN: I want to talk about the film. We mentioned the film based on your experience counselling this one man in particular. This poet, Mark O'Brien who got polio with a child and spent his live n an iron lung and you helped him lose his virginity at age 36.

GREENE: He said he had never been touched in any way, but to wash him or do a procedure. The first time I touched his to find out where he was sensitive, as I was coming down his chest, I felt like I wanted to kiss him there. It was vulnerable and he was very slim.

It just came into my mind as I wanted to do that and I did and when I looked up he had tears in his eyes and it makes me feel like crying when I remember it. He was such a good person. He told me how much it meant to him to have that part of his body touched because he was self conscious about it and didn't think anybody would do that.


BALDWIN: We will have much more on the Oscar nominations including Jane Lynch from Glee. She is going to talk to me live here and talk about her role in the movie "Wreck It Ralph."