Health Highlights: May 20, 201305/20/13
Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Great Britain in Throes of Measles Outbreak
British health officials are struggling with an unprecedented
measles outbreak that health officials blame on a controversial and
now-discredited study that linked the measles vaccine to
The United Kingdom has recorded more than 1,200 cases of the
potentially fatal disease so far this year, after a record number
of nearly 2,000 cases last year. Britain once reported only several
dozen cases every year, but now has the unwanted distinction of
ranking second in Europe, behind only Romania, the
"This is the legacy of the Wakefield scare," said Dr. David Elliman, a spokesman for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, referring to a paper published in 1998 by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues that has been widely rejected by scientists and retracted by the journal that originally published it.
Wakefield's study suggested a link between autism and the
combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine -- called the MMR.
Britain's top medical board banned Wakefield from practicing
medicine in the country, ruling that he and two of his colleagues
showed a "callous disregard" for the children in the study, the
Following publication of the study, rates of MMR immunization
fell drastically across Great Britain as many worried parents chose
not to have their children vaccinated. Rates plunged from more than
90 percent to 54 percent, the
Now, almost 15 years after the MMR/autism controversy began,
there's "this group of older children who have never been immunized
who are a large pool of infections," Elliman said. The majority of
those now getting sick -- including many older children and teens
-- have never been vaccinated, the
The outbreak has been centered in Wales. Immunization drives are
under way there and in other parts of the country with a goal of
immunizing 1 million children aged 10 to 16, the
Since the introduction of the measles vaccine in the 1960s,
worldwide deaths from the disease have plunged about 70 percent.
However, it's still one of the leading causes of death in children
under 5, and it kills more than 150,000 people every year, mostly
in developing countries, the
In Britain, about 90 percent of children under 5 have been
vaccinated against the rash-causing disease, which is very
contagious. But for children now aged 10 to 16, the vaccination
rate is below 50 percent in some parts of the country, the
In the United States, most states require children to be
vaccinated against measles before starting school. Last year, there
were 55 reported cases of measles in the United States, where the
vaccination rate is above 90 percent, the news service
Victim of Flesh-Eating Bacteria Demonstrates Bionic Hands
Aimee Copeland, the young woman who lost her hands, a leg and a
foot to necrotizing fasciitis (the "flesh-eating" bacteria) last
year, is now using high-tech bionic hands to do everyday chores,
Copeland, a University of West Georgia graduate student,
contracted the bacterial infection after she suffered a gash to her
leg in a zip-lining accident on May 1, 2012. Doctors were forced to
perform multiple amputations to save her life.
Demonstrating the new bionic hands for media, Copeland told
CNNshe is most looking forward to cleaning her house on her
own again, and cooking.
"I really want to be able to get back in the kitchen and start cooking some delicious vegetarian meals for myself," she said. The new hand "mimics so well a natural hand that it really just reminds me of before the accident, how I would have done things," Copeland added. "I never thought I would actually be able to hold a knife and cut something. That's just incredible."
The bionic hands do carry a hefty price tag, costing over
$120,000 each. Copeland is set to receive a prosthetic leg later
CNNsaid, and she is working to complete her Master's degree
by the end of the year.
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