Health Highlights: May 13, 201305/13/13
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
New SARS-Like Virus May Pass Between People: WHO
A deadly new form of coronavirus that's killed 18 people in
Europe and the Middle East may pass from person to person, experts
at the World Health Organization announced on Sunday.
The new viral strain first emerged in humans in the Middle East
in 2012 and is a member of the same family of viruses as SARS, the
infection that caused hundreds of deaths worldwide in 2003. So far,
there have been 34 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus across
Europe and the Middle East,
Those cases include a newly confirmed case in France involving a
50-year-old man who had shared a hospital room with a 65-year-old
who became ill from the virus after returning to France from
"Different clusters seen in multiple countries increasingly support the hypothesis that when there is close contact this novel coronavirus can transmit from person to person," WHO said on Sunday. "This pattern of person-to-person transmission has remained limited to some small clusters and, so far, there is no evidence to suggest the virus has the capacity to sustain generalized transmission in communities."
Infection does seem to have a high fatality rate: According to
the Saudi Arabian health ministry, 15 people who became ill with
the virus in that country have died, out of a total of 24 confirmed
Elevated Levels of Arsenic Found in Chicken
U.S. researchers report that they found elevated levels of
arsenic in chicken that might lead to a slight increase in lifetime
cancer risk for humans who eat poultry, but the levels found were
still well below federal safety standards.
According to the
New York Times, the Johns Hopkins scientists believe this
additional arsenic can be traced to the use of the drug roxarsone
(Zoetis), which was once used to fight intestinal parasites and
promote growth in poultry. Sales of Zoetis were suspended by the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2011 because of public health
concerns, but the drug is still sold abroad, the newspaper
The potential dangers of arsenic in food has become an issue
following reports last year of substantial levels of arsenic found
in rice, the
Study author Keeve Nachman, a scientist at the Johns Hopkins
Center for a Livable Future, did say that the levels of arsenic
found in chickens were much lower than those found in rice, but
that they still posed a potential health risk, according to the
Study estimates suggested that if the drug were fed to all
chickens the exposure could cause an additional 124 deaths in the
United States each year from lung and bladder cancer.
However, the National Chicken Council said the Hopkins
scientists discovered "very low levels of arsenic," and the finding
was not worrisome.
In 2011, Americans ate about 83 pounds of chicken per person,
compared with about 30 pounds per person in 1965, according to
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