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Health Highlights: April 5, 2011

Health Highlights: April 5, 2011

04/05/11

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Radiation Standards for Fish Announced by Japanese Government

The first radiation standards for fish were announced Tuesday by the Japanese government just hours after it was disclosed that radiation levels in seawater near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were several million times the legal limit.

The new rule for fish allows up to 2,000 becquerels of iodine 131 per kilogram, the same standard used for vegetables in Japan, The New York Times reported.

A fish caught last week off the coast halfway between the plant and Tokyo was found to have 4,080 becquerels of iodine 131 per kilogram and 526 becquerels per kilogram of cesium 137, which decays much more slowly than iodine 131.

"Clearly the fish are consuming highly radioactive food," Paul Falkowski, a professor of marine, earth and planetary sciences at Rutgers University, told The Times. However, he added that the health threat in Japan or far away is low because fishing is restricted in Japan and the high levels of radiation are not likely to extend far beyond the area of the crippled nuclear facility.

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Human Gene Patents Subject of Appeals Court Hearing

A legal case that could affect the patenting of human gene sequencing is being heard by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington.

The case involves Myriad Genetics Inc. patents for identifying people's risk for breast and ovarian cancer. The patents make the company the exclusive U.S. provider of genetic screening tests for the diseases, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Last year, a federal judge invalidated Myriad's patient claims after the American Civil Liberties Union launched a lawsuit challenging the patenting of gene sequences.

A decision by the appeals court is expected in the coming months, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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Updated Guidelines to Prevent Bloodstream Infections

Health care worker education/training and cleaning a patient's skin with an antibacterial scrub are among the major recommendations included in updated guidelines to protect American hospital patients from bloodstream infections.

The use of maximal sterile barrier precautions and avoiding routine replacement of certain catheters are also among the main areas of emphasis in the health care provider guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee.

The guidelines were created by a working group led by clinical scientists from the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center Critical Care Medicine Department, along with 14 other professional organizations.

"Preventing these infections is an excellent example of how hospitals and other health care facilities can improve patient care and save lives, all while reducing excess medical costs," CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden said in a CDC news release.

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Copyright © 2011 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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