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Health Headlines - October 20

Posted Oct 19 2009 10:01pm

Turtle-Related Salmonella Outbreak Sickened 107 People: CDC

A new study says that 107 people became ill in the largest turtle-caused salmonella outbreak in the United States. The outbreak occurred in 2007-08. Of those patients, one-third had to be hospitalized.

The outbreak involved mostly children in 34 states, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, which noted that many parents didn't know that pet turtles can carry salmonella, theAssociated Pressreported.

The sale of small turtles as pets was banned in the United States in 1975, but millions continue to be sold illegally. The number of pet turtles nationwide increased from 950,000 in 1996 to almost two million in 2006, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

"It's very easy to think of turtles as being a very gentle and nice pet," but many are salmonella carriers and don't show any signs, said study lead author Julie Harris, theAPreported. Salmonella on turtles' shells and body can spread to people who handle them.

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FDA Approves Gardasil to Prevent Genital Warts in Males

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved use of the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil for the prevention of genital warts caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) types 6 and 11 in boys and men, ages 9 through 26.

Each year, about two out of every 1,000 men in the United States are newly diagnosed with genital warts, the FDA said.

Gardasil currently is approved for use in girls and women ages 9 through 26 for the prevention of cervical, vulvar and vaginal cancer caused by HPV types 16 and 18; precancerous lesions caused by types 6, 11, 16, and 18; and genital warts caused by types 6 and 11, the agency said.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States and most genital warts are caused by HPV infection.

Earlier Friday, drug maker GlaxoSmithKline said the FDA had appproved its cervical cancer vaccine called Cervarix. The company expects to launch the vaccine in the United States later this year.

U.S. approval of Cervarix, already sold in nearly 100 other nations, was delayed since 2007 because the FDA wanted additional data from Glaxo, theAssociated Pressreported. Merck's cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil has been available in the United States since 2006.

Both vaccines block human papilloma virus (HPV) strains 16 and 18, which cause 75 percent of cervical cancers. Cervarix is also 70 percent effective in blocking other HPV strains that can cause cancer.

The price for Cervarix in the United States has not been discussed by Glaxo, theAPreported.

In 2008, nearly 4,000 women died of cervical cancer in the United States.

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