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Health Highlights: May 13, 2013

Health Highlights: May 13, 2013

05/13/13

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, BBC Newsreported.

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 Dubai.

"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 cases, the BBCsaid.

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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 reported.

The potential dangers of arsenic in food has become an issue following reports last year of substantial levels of arsenic found in rice, the Timesreported.

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 Times.

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 council estimates.

Copyright © 2013 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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