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Health Headlines - June 12

Posted Jun 12 2011 12:01am

Germany, France Pull Diabetes Drug Actos Due to Bladder Cancer Link
Sales of the popular diabetes drug Actos have been halted in Germany and France after it was linked to bladder cancer.
Health officials in those countries also pulled the pill Competact, a drug that combines Actos and the diabetes drug metformin, CBS News reported.
The action was prompted by a French government-funded study that followed diabetes patients from 2006 to 2009 and concluded that the drugs increase the risk of bladder cancer.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration began a review of Actos in September 2010 after reports that patients who took the drug for more than two years had an increased risk for bladder cancer, CBS News reported.Actos, which is meant to control blood sugar levels by making the body more sensitive to insulin, is prescribed for patients with type 2 diabetes.-----Fungal Infections Strike Some Joplin Tornado SurvivorsSome people injured during the tornado in Joplin, Mo. have developed a rare, potentially deadly fungal infection called zygomycosis, which can be caused when soil or vegetative matter becomes embedded under the skin.There have been eight reported cases of suspected zygomycosis among tornado victims who suffered multiple injuries and secondary wound infections, Jacqueline Lapine, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, told theAssociated Press.A infectious disease specialist at the Freeman Health System in Joplin said his hospital treated five tornado survivors for zygomycosis and three of them died. However, he refrained from blaming the deaths specifically on the infections."These people had multiple traumas, pneumonia, all kinds of problems. It's difficult to say how much the fungal infections contributed to their demise," Dr. Uwe Schmidt told theAP.----Doctors Perform Full Face Transplant on Woman Mauled by ChimpA full face transplant was performed late last month on a Connecticut woman who was severely mauled two years ago by a chimpanzee, doctors at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston announced this week.The surgery team also performed a double hand transplant on Charla Nash but the hands failed to thrive and were removed, the Associated Press reported.In February 2009, Nash was asked to help lure a pet chimpanzee back into a friends' house. But the 200-pound animal attacked Nash, ripping off her nose, lips, eyelids and hands before it was shot and killed by police.Hospital officials did not release the name of the donor for Nash's face transplant. It's the third full-face transplant performed at Brigham and Women's Hospital this year, the APreported.------Vegetable Sprouts Caused E. Coli Outbreak: German OfficialsVegetable sprouts grown on an organic farm in northwestern Germany caused the E. coli outbreak that's sickened nearly 3,000 people and killed 29, according to the head of the nation's national disease control center.While no tests of vegetable sprouts from the farm in Lower Saxony came back positive for the E. coli strain responsible for the outbreak, an investigation into the pattern of the outbreak yielded enough evidence to put the finger of blame on the farm, Reinhard Burger, president of the Robert Koch Institute, said at a press conference, the Associated Press reported.Authorities are lifting the warning against eating lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes, said Andreas Hensel, head of the Risk Assessment agency.The farm blamed for the outbreak was shut down last Thursday and all of its produce recalled. It's possible that all of the tainted vegetable sprouts have either been thrown away or consumed by now, but the crisis isn't over and people should not eat sprouts, Burger advised, the AP reported.-----Mail Order Hatchery Source of Salmonella Outbreak: CDCBaby chicks and ducklings from a mail order hatchery are to blame for a salmonella outbreak that sickened 39 people in 15 states between late February and late May, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.At least nine people were hospitalized but there were no deaths. People who became ill ranged from young children to seniors, but nearly half of those affected were age 5 and younger, the Associated Press reported.Ohio had the highest number of reported cases, with eight. Other states affected by the outbreak were Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin and West Virginia.The CDC did not name the hatchery that was the source of the infected birds, the APreported.-----Disabilities Affect One Billion People Worldwide: ReportThe proportion of people worldwide with disabilities has increased from 10 percent in the 1970s to a current level of 15 percent, and that percentage is expected to rise as the global population ages, according to a report released this week by the World Health Organization and the World Bank.Of the one billion people with disabilities, about one in five (nearly 200 million) have a severe disability, Agence France-Presse reported.Some nations have made progress in improving the lives of people with disabilities, but much more must be done to help them, the agencies said. For example, disabled people are three times more likely than others to be refused necessary medical care and often face exclusion from society in a number of areas, including jobs and education."We need schools, employment to be accessible to people with disabilities... rather than to be segregated," said Etienne Krug, director of the WHO's department on prevention of violence, trauma and disability, AFP reported.He added that every country should adopt a national plan for the disabled, and noted that disability affects the most vulnerable people, including women, children, the elerly and the poor.-----New Program Seeks to End HIV in NewbornsA global program to eliminate HIV among newborns by 2015 was launched this week by the United Nations and the United States government.The Countdown to Zero initiative aims to treat HIV-infected pregnant women in order to cut infection rates among their babies to less than 5 percent. It will cost an estimated $2.5 billion in order to treat 15 million women, double the number currently receiving treatment, BBC News reported."We believe that by 2015 children everywhere can be born free of HIV and that their mothers can remain healthy," UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe said. "This new global plan is realistic, it is achievable and it is driven by the most affected countries."Currently, a baby is born with HIV nearly every minute, nearly all of them in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the UN, AFP reported.
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