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Health Headlines - August 27

Posted Oct 23 2008 2:22pm

Two Dry Dog Food Brands Recalled After Salmonella Discovered

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has has issued another alert for a pet food recall, this time because salmonella bacterium was found in test samples.

Two brands of dry dog food are involved. The first is sold in five pound bags in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania under the name Krasdale Gravy dry dog food. The second is sold in 50 pound bags in Pennsylvania under the name Red Flannel Large Breed Adult Formula.

Both brands have been recalled by their maker, Mars Petcare US of Franklin, Tenn., the FDA says, because of tests that revealed the presence of Salmonella Schwarzengrund, a type of salmonella that can be resistant to traditional antibiotic treatment.

The FDA did not indicate that this recall had anything to do with a massive recall of scores of pet food brands in March. Those recalls were prompted by reports of illnesses in dogs and cats, possibly by their eating foods that contained melamine, a chemical used to make plastics.

Salmonella, which can cause fever and diarrhea in humans and can be particularly dangerous to the elderly and small children, could be acquired by humans handling contaminated pet food, the FDA says in a news release.

So far this year, 64 human cases of Salmonella Schwarzengrund have been reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention according to the FDA, but none of them has been connected to the two recalled pet foods.

The coding information on the pet food bags is UPC Code: 7513062596 with the Best By Dates of July 16 and July 17, 2008. Consumers can call Mars Petcare US, Inc. at 866-298-8332 for more information.

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Avian Flu Reported on Farm in Bavaria

The deadly strain of avian flu that has caused the deaths of millions of birds worldwide has re-emerged in Europe, this time in Germany.

According to the Associated Press, tests on ducklings at a farm in northern Bavaria found the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu, and about 160,000 birds were being slaughtered to keep the virus from spreading.

This is the first case of a flock of German farm poultry contracting bird flu, the wire service reports, although several cases of the virus were found in wild birds in Germany this year.

Health officials remain alert to the possibility that the avian flu virus could mutate and cause it to be transmitted from human to human. Although the World Health Organization puts the number of human deaths from avian flu at 190, none of them is ascribed to contagion between humans, the A.P. reports.

Since it first began its worldwide spread in 2004, the H5N1 avian flu virus has caused the deaths of millions of birds in Asia, Europe, the South Pacific and Africa.

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U.S. Maternal Childbirth Death Rate Climbing

It's difficult to believe, but the rate of women who die from giving birth in the United States is rising, according to recent government statistics.

The U.S. government's National Center for Health Statistics gave a report last week showing that The U.S. maternal mortality rate rose to 13 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2004, up one death per 100,000 from 2003. Statistically, that figure is significant, the Associated Press reports. What's even more alarming is that the 2003 figure was the first to exceed 10 deaths per 100,000 since 1977, according to the A.P.

The reasons for the hike? Obesity, increasing use of Caesarean sections and new reporting systems all are contributing factors, health experts told the wire service.

"There's an inherent risk to C-sections," Dr. Elliott Main, who reviews obstetrics care in California, told the wire service. "As you do thousands and thousands of them, there's going to be a price."

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Obese Man Undergoes Weight Loss Surgery in Attempt to Win Adoption Case

A 558-pound man who was claims he was denied the right to adopt a child because of his obesity underwent gastric bypass surgery in Dallas Friday in hopes that the procedure would spur the weight loss necessary to increase his chances.

According to the Associated Press, 34-year-old Gary Stocklaufer and his wife had taken baby Max into their home since he was a week old. The infant, now 4 months, is related to the Stocklaufers, who live in Independence, Mo., the wire service said.

When it came time to proceed with the adoption, Max was given to another family, and the Stocklaufers told the A.P. they believe it is because of Gary's obesity, a charge on which Missouri officials declined comment. The Jackson County Mo. court is required "to consider the welfare and best interests of the child" which is a "complicated determination," court spokeswoman Kelley Carpenter said in an e-mail to the wire service.

"They have legally kidnapped this child," the A.P quotes Cindy Stocklaufer as saying Friday after her husband's surgery. "There's no guarantee losing the weight will change anything, but we have to try."

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Fatty Diet Linked to Infertility

In mice, a high-fat diet damages eggs in the ovaries and prevents them from becoming healthy embryos, a finding that may help explain infertility problems in obese women, say researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia.

They discovered that the main cause of diet-induced infertility in mice is a protein called peroxisome proliferator-activated gamma -- found in cells that nourish eggs, Agence France-Presse reported.

"The behavior of this protein helps to determine the way in which the ovaries sense and respond to fats," said researcher Cadence Minge. "Being able to control this protein will be very important in the quest to reverse fertility caused by poor diets."

She and her colleagues found that the anti-diabetes drug rosglitazone helped counter the effects of this protein in mice, resulting in better rates of fetal survival and higher birth weights. However, due to potential side effects, this drug can't be used as a "quick fix" for infertile obese women, AFP reported.

Weight loss is the most effective way for obese women to restore fertility, Minge said.

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Baby Carrots Recalled for Bacteria Contamination

Sweet baby carrots sold in 12 states are being recalled because they may be contaminated with Shigella bacteria, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

Infection with the bacteria -- especially among the very young, elderly, or people with compromised immune systems -- can trigger symptoms including diarrhea, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Illness usually lasts four to 14 days, the agency said in a statement on its Web site.

The product was sold in packages with two labels. The first was branded "Los Angeles Salad Genuine Sweet Baby Carrots" and distributed by retail stores including Kroger, King Sooper, and Publix in Colorado, California, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, South Carolina, and Florida. Affected 7- and 8-oz. plastic bags had a sell-by date up to and including Aug. 16, 2007.

The second label was "Trader Joe's Genuine Sweet Baby Carrots," distributed by Trader Joe's stores in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Affected 7-oz. bags had a sell-by date up to and including Aug. 8, 2007.

The carrots were produced by the Los Angeles Salad Co. At least four people who ate the carrots were sickened in Canada between Aug. 4 and Aug. 6, the FDA said, although none was hospitalized. The source of the contamination is under investigation.

To learn more, contact Los Angeles Salads at 626-322-9017.

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