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Honduras sees 1.5 mln at risk from Chagas disease

InfectionsMay 21 05

The deadly Chagas disease has infected 300,000 Hondurans and could spread to 1.5 million more without measures to halt it, a health official said on Thursday.

Chagas, which is transmitted mainly by blood-sucking insects known as kissing bugs, kills up to a third of its victims and disproportionately affects the rural poor in Latin America.

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J&J says FDA rejects Risperdal as autism treatment

Psychiatry / PsychologyMay 21 05

Johnson & Johnson said on Friday U.S. regulators rejected its application to market antipsychotic drug Risperdal for patients with autism.

Johnson & Johnson’s Pharmaceutical Research & Development unit said it received a “not-approvable” letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on its petition for an additional use of the drug, which currently is used as a treatment for schizophrenia.

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Rifaximin protects against Montezuma’s revenge

Bowel ProblemsMay 21 05

The antibiotic rifaximin seems to be effective for preventing Traveler’s Diarrhea, not just for treating the problem, according to a new report.

Rifaximin, sold under the brand name Xifaxan (and possibly others), is not absorbed into the bloodstream so it’s useful for treating intestinal infections. It has proven to be an effective treatment for travelers’ diarrhea, and was recently approved for this purpose in the US.

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Bird flu virus mutating, posing bigger threat-WHO

Public HealthMay 19 05

The spate of human bird flu cases in Vietnam this year suggests the deadly virus may be mutating in ways that are making it more capable of being passed between humans, according to a World Health Organization report.

The finding points to the greatest fear of health experts that the H5N1 virus could unleash a pandemic and kill millions around the globe if ever it gained the ability to be transmitted among humans efficiently.

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Happy marriage may do a woman’s heart good

HeartMay 19 05

Wedded bliss may provide women some protection against Heart disease and Stroke, new study findings suggest.

The study, which followed 413 middle-aged women over a dozen years, found that those who were happy in their marriages were less likely than their dissatisfied peers to develop metabolic syndrome.

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Vitamin E may protect against Parkinson’s -study

NeurologyMay 19 05

Eating food rich in vitamin E may help protect against Parkinson’s disease, scientists said on Thursday.

A review of eight studies that looked into whether vitamins C and E and beta carotene had an impact on the odds of developing the progressive brain disease showed that a moderate intake of vitamin E lowered the risk.

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Green laser pointers can damage eyes

Eye / Vision ProblemsMay 19 05

A woman damaged her eye after spending only seconds looking directly at a green laser pointer, suggesting that these lasers can be more dangerous in green than in red, experts say.

After the woman looked directly at the green laser for different periods of time, including as little as 60 seconds, researchers saw that portions of her retina had changed color, a sign of damage. The woman never experienced any loss of vision, and by 3 weeks, the damage was healing.

The lead author suggested that if the woman had spent longer looking at the laser, her eyesight might have suffered as a result.

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Study shows worrying trend of child abuse in China

Public HealthMay 18 05

A landmark survey on violence against children in China shows abuse is more widespread than previously believed and has a lasting effect on mental health.

China has implemented an urban one-child policy for the past quarter of a century, leading to a popular perception that an only child is more likely to be indulged than abused.

But the survey of more than 3,500 adolescents undertaken by the All-China Women’s Federation, Peking University and UNICEF showed more than 50 percent of males taking part and one-third of females had been hit or kicked as children.

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US pro sports resist steroid bill

Public HealthMay 18 05

The commissioners of professional baseball, basketball, soccer and hockey on Wednesday told the U.S. Congress the leagues would prefer to police themselves rather than have a law governing drug testing in sports.

But members of a panel examining the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs said the problem required a more unified approach, greater transparency and significant third-party involvement for players, management and fans to be confident their game was clean.

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WHO confirms Ebola outbreak in Congo, nine dead

Public HealthMay 18 05

Ebola has returned to the Republic of Congo, killing nine people since the end of April, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Wednesday after tests confirmed the presence of the deadly virus.

“The results (of laboratory tests) came in yesterday… It is indeed a case of Ebola,” said Adamou Yada, WHO’s representative in Congo, which has faced serious outbreaks of the disease in the past. Nearly 150 people died in 2003.

“Since the beginning (of the outbreak), we have registered 11 cases, including nine deaths,” Yada said in the capital Brazzaville.

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Indonesia plans to re-test worker for bird flu

FluMay 18 05

Indonesia is trying to find a poultry worker in the east of the country to test him for bird flu for the second time after the first test was inconclusive, a health ministry official said on Wednesday.

Authorities are testing specimens from workers at poultry farms as part of a monitoring programme put in place after the potentially deadly disease emerged in Indonesia in late 2003.

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U.S. witness calls for $130 bln stop-smoking plan

Tobacco & MarijuanaMay 18 05

Cigarette makers should be forced to fund a 25-year, $130 billion program to help smokers who want to quit, a witness testified on Tuesday in the U.S. government’s racketeering case against the tobacco industry.

Smoking cessation expert Michael Fiore told a federal judge the expensive, long-running campaign would be needed to get counseling and medication to the 32.1 million people out of 47 million U.S. smokers who say they want to quit.

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Being well-liked in school a double-edged sword

Children's HealthMay 18 05

The most well-liked seventh- and eight-graders are more likely to be well-adjusted—and to adopt risky behaviors such as drinking, smoking marijuana, and shoplifting, new study findings suggest.

The study also suggests, however, that well-liked students who are surrounded by friends who stay away from drinking and other dangerous behaviors are not more likely to engage in them, suggesting that a popular kid’s crowd has a big influence,  said the study’s lead author.

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Europe follows U.S. lead on child medicine testing

Drug NewsMay 18 05

Europe is following the U.S. lead with proposals requiring medicine testing on children, in a move welcomed by many doctors, patients and research-based companies but criticised by makers of cheap generic drugs.

More than half of medicines currently used to treat children in the European Union have not been specifically tested in youngsters.

As a result, clinicians lack clear guidelines on the best drug to use and often have to guess at the correct dose, since many products are not formulated properly for younger patients.

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Fear of falling keeps some middle-agers inactive

Psychiatry / PsychologyMay 17 05

Not just the elderly, but also a good number of middle-aged adults are apparently afraid of falling. Nearly one-third of middle-aged African Americans say they are, and many curtail their activity as a result, new survey findings show.

Some people “who had never fallen, yet had a fear of falling, voluntarily restricted their activity due to this fear,” said study author Dr. Margaret-Mary Wilson.

Wilson, who is based at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine in Missouri, said that although falls can cause injuries, these risks are far outweighed by the benefits of being active in middle age.

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