Health Highlights: March 23, 201303/23/13
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
North Dakota Measure Would Ban Abortions in the State
North Dakota is about to become the epicenter of the national
debate on abortion.
On Friday, state lawmakers adopted a resolution to let voters
decide whether the state Constitution should be changed to assert
that life begins at conception. If voters approve the measure,
which will appear on next year's ballot, it would essentially ban
abortions in the state,
The New York Timesreported.
Friday's action by lawmakers comes a week after the
Republican-controlled Legislature approved legislation outlawing
abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which could be as
early as six weeks into a pregnancy, the
Abortion-rights advocates have vowed to challenge the measure,
saying it violates the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade
decision that allows abortions until a fetus is considered viable,
typically at about 24 weeks.
"The thought that the politicians of North Dakota would put their own state through another ballot initiative that does absolutely nothing to advance the well-being of the people of that state is just unconscionable, said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
North Dakota state Senator Margaret Sitte, a Republican and a
sponsor of Friday's measure, said she hoped it would bring an end
to abortions in her state, the newspaper reported.
"I'm hoping that it will be a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade," she said.
New Lethal Meningitis Strain Affecting Gay Men: NYC
Twenty-two cases of a unique and particularly lethal strain of
bacterial meningitis that affects only men have been reported in
New York City since 2010, health officials say.
Seven men have died of the new disease, which kills one out of
three patients instead of the one out of five who die from other
strains of meningitis, and officials are growing increasingly
concerned about it,
The New York Timesreported.
Many of the men with this strain of meningitis were infected
during anonymous sexual encounters with other men they met at bars
or parties or through Internet chat rooms or digital apps. This
makes it nearly impossible to trace the path of infection,
according to authorities.
"It's been sort of marching through the community in a way that makes us very scared," said Dr. Jay Varma, the deputy commissioner for disease control at the city's health department, The Timesreported.
A health department warning issued this month recommends the
standard meningitis vaccination for "men, regardless of HIV status,
who regularly have intimate contact with other men through a
website, digital application or at a bar or party."
Georgia Compounding Pharmacy Recalls all Sterile Products
A Georgia compounding pharmacy has recalled all of its sterile
products due to concerns about possible contamination.
On Monday, Clinical Specialties Compounding Pharmacy of Augusta
recalled shipments of the cancer drug Avastin, which is used
off-label to treat an age-related eye disease called macular
That recall came after reports that five patients developed
serious eye infections after receiving injections of Avastin that
the pharmacy had repackaged into single-use syringes, from vials
labeled as sterile.
On Thursday, the pharmacy expanded the recall to include all of
its sterile products,
This is the second recall by a compounding pharmacy this week.
On Monday, concerns about mold contamination prompted Med Prep
Consulting of New Jersey to recall all products compounded at its
Late last year, a nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis was
linked to contaminated steroid injections distributed by a
compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts.
Researchers Trying to Develop Hypo-Allergenic Apple
Scientists are working to create an apple that won't cause
While apples rarely cause severe allergic reactions, they often
cause problems -- such as irritation or blistering of the tongue or
lips -- for people who are allergic to birch pollen,
Italian researchers are trying to find hypo-allergenic proteins
that exist naturally in other plants and swap them for the proteins
in apples that cause allergic reactions.
These genetic changes will have to be studied to ensure they
don't cause unintended complications, said Alessandro Botton, a
plant physiologist at the Department of Agronomy, Food, Natural
Resources, Animals and Environment in the University of Padua,
However, the use of other plant proteins means that there likely
won't be any major changes to the genetic structure of the apple,
Some 'Male Enhancement' Products Can Be Risky: FDA
They claim to be all herbal, but three "male enhancement"
products sold online contain hidden prescription drug ingredients
and could be harmful, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
The agency said the three products -- Rocket-It Man, Libido
Sexual Enhancer and Stiff Days -- contain compounds similar to the
active ingredient in the erectile dysfunction drugs Viagra and
This ingredient may interact with nitrates found in some
prescription drugs, such as nitroglycerin, and may cause blood
pressure to fall to dangerous levels, the FDA said. Nitrates are
often taken by men with diabetes, high blood pressure, high
cholesterol and heart disease.
The FDA said anyone who has these products should throw them
away, and that anyone who has suffered negative side effects after
taking the products should consult a doctor as soon as possible,
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