Health Highlights: Feb. 7, 2011

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

Cholera Confirmed in NYC Residents

Three New York City residents contracted cholera when they went to the Dominican Republic last month for a wedding, say health officials.

All three people have since recovered from the disease, a medical epidemiologist for the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene told The New York Times on the weekend, the Associated Press reported.

Typically, New York city averages about one cholera case per year, said Dr. Sharon Butler.

The Dominican Republic is next to Haiti, where thousands of people have died in a cholera outbreak, the AP reported. Only three cholera deaths have been reported in the Dominican Republic.

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Winter a Downer for Many: Survey

Weather affects the mood of about 40 percent of Americans and winter is the season most likely to make them feel blue, according to a new survey.

Respondents in the Midwest (83 percent) and the Northeast (76 percent) were most likely to say winter gets them down, found the Associated Press-Weather Underground online poll of 1,125 adults.

Only 15 percent of respondents said they had more sex than usual when they stayed inside due to cold weather, two-thirds said their sex lives didn't change, and 15 percent said they had less sex than normal.

But winter seemed to be a good time for beginning a romance. Among respondents who were in serious, committed relationships but not married, 29 percent began dating in winter, 26 percent in fall, 26 percent in spring and 19 percent in summer, the AP reported.

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New Clue About Cause of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

A clue to the cause of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may help lead to a cure for one of the leading causes of blindness, according to an international team of scientists.

They discovered that an enzyme called DICER1 is less active in the retina of patients with the more common "dry" form of AMD. In experiments with mice, the team found that turning off the gene that makes DICER1 resulted in damage to retina cells, BBC News reported.

Further investigation showed that DICER1 is needed to destroy small pieces of genetic material called Alu RNA. Accumulation of this material leads to the destruction of the retina.

The study appears in the journal Nature.

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Posted: February 2011


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