3 Baby Deaths Show Staph Germ Is Strengthening: Report
A baby and two toddlers in the Chicago area have died from a superbug they caught in the community, not in hospital, which is where the germ is usually found, case reports released Thursday reveal.
The cases show that the staph germ, known as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, has become even more dangerous by acquiring the ability to cause a deadly illness similar to toxic shock syndrome, the Associated Press reported.
In the cases, reported in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine, the three children who died were otherwise healthy before they were separately admitted to a Chicago hospital with pneumonia-like symptoms between 2000 and 2004. The babies, a 9-month-old girl, a 15-month-old girl, and a 17-month-old boy died within a week of being hospitalized. Autopsies showed they suffered from shock and bleeding in the adrenal gland. The infections were caused by MRSA, which is usually not associated with the syndrome. Doctors believe the children probably inhaled the germ, the AP
Health officials do not yet know how the staph infection causes this new syndrome, but it appears to be rare, according to Dr. Clifford McDonald, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, doctors should be on the lookout for shock-like cases caused by MRSA, said Dr. Robert Daum, a pediatrician at the University of Chicago who co-authored the study.
In April, the journal had reported strong signs of the staph infection moving out of hospitals into communities.
FDA Gives Conditional Approval to 2nd Silicone Breast Implant
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that it has granted a second manufacturer of silicone gel-filled breast implants a "conditional approval," taking the company a step closer to returning the controversial implants to the market, the Associated Press reported.
The FDA told Inamed Corp., of Santa Barbara, Calif., that its implants can be approved under certain conditions, but the agency did not spell out those conditions.
In July, the agency gave a similar, conditional approval to manufacturer Mentor Corp., also of Santa Barbara, after an FDA advisory panel voted to recommend approval of the company's application to sell the implants, the AP said.
But the panel at the time recommended against Inamed's implants, citing safety concerns. The FDA said Wednesday that Inamed has subsequently provided additional information to address those concerns.
Silicone gel implants went on sale in 1962 in the United States. Thirty years later, the FDA banned all but those used for breast cancer reconstruction, amid fears that leaks might be responsible for autoimmune diseases and even cancer. Other problems included the fact that many women needed repeat operations to deal with painful scar tissue.
By 1998, more than 170,000 lawsuits had been filed against implant manufacturers by women claiming their silicone implants had caused immune system disorders and chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus. Four companies paid out millions of dollars in settlements to the women, and one of them, Dow Corning, filed for bankruptcy to pay $3.2 billion to settle its claims.
However, studies by the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Medical School and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) panel from the National Academy of Sciences subsequently found no evidence that leaked silicone from gel implants caused systemic disease.
Proponents of silicone implants say they look and feel more natural than saline implants.
FDA Rejects Liquid Cox-2 Painkiller
Pfizer Inc.'s application for an injectable liquid form of a cox-2 painkiller was rejected by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Associated Press reported.
The FDA issued a "non-approvable" letter for the drug parecoxib sodium, which is marketed as Dynastat in the European Union and other parts of the world. The reasons behind the refusal were not disclosed, the AP reported.
Pfizer said it plans to meet with the FDA to discuss the rejection of the drug. The company contends that Dynastat, the only injectable cox-2 inhibitor, reduces the need to use opioids to control post-surgical pain.
Cox-2 inhibitors have been linked to increased risk of heart problems. Vioxx and Bextra have been removed from the market, and Celebrex now contains a warning label.
This is the second recent FDA rejection of a Pfizer application. Less than a week ago, the agency denied a Pfizer application for an osteoporosis drug, the AP reported.
Personalized Drug Treatment Still Years Away: Report
Despite much hype, individually tailored drug treatments based on a person's genes are still at least 15 to 20 years away, says a report by the Royal Society in Great Britain.
"Personalized medicines show promise but they have undoubtedly been over-hyped. With the human genome sequenced, some people are expecting personalized medicines within a few years, but the reality is still many years away," noted Royal Society working group chairman Sir David Weatherall.
"There are some examples around today, but the complex multiple causes of diseases mean it will be at least 15 to 20 years before a patient's genetic make-up is a major factor in determining which drugs they are prescribed," he said.
The report said more funding and research are required to further the development of individually tailored drugs, BBC News reported.
Health Tip: Quitting Smoking
Ex-smokers will tell you that quitting was one of the hardest things they've ever done. The physical and psychological withdrawal can be intense.
If you're thinking of "butting out," the U.S. Surgeon General offers these tips to help you handle the cravings:
Drink lots of liquids, especially water. Avoid sugar and fatty foods, and don't skip meals. Exercise regularly and moderately. Get more sleep. Take deep breaths when cravings hit. Change your habits. For example, eat breakfast in a different place, or take a different route to work. Do something to reduce your stress. Take a hot bath, read a book, or exercise.
Health Tip: Before You Start an Aspirin Regimen
Before you start a daily dose of aspirin to lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke, you should speak to your doctor, advises the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
While aspirin can help prevent a heart attack or clot-related stroke by lowering the clotting action of the blood's platelets, it can also cause unwanted side effects. These include stomach bleeding, bleeding in the brain, and kidney failure.
Aspirin can also mix badly with other medicines, vitamins and herbal or dietary supplements.
If your doctor has recommended you take a daily dose of aspirin, discuss any potentially dangerous side effects first.