Health Highlights: Jan. 31, 2014

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

Another Cruise Ship Hit by Illness Outbreak

Another cruise ship voyage has ended early due to an illness outbreak, the second such incident in a week, and the third this year.

The Caribbean Princess is returning to Houston a day early after a confirmed outbreak of norovirus. At least 165 passengers and 11 crew members on the vessel became ill, according to Princess Cruises and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NBC News reported.

On Wednesday, the Royal Caribbean ship Explorer of the Sea returned early to New Jersey after nearly 700 people were sickened by a stomach bug.

Earlier this month, the Norwegian Star cruise ship had an outbreak that sickened 130 passengers and 12 crew members, NBC News reported.

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Merck Ends Chimp Research

Drug maker Merck & Co. says it will no longer use chimpanzees for research.

The drug maker joins two dozen other pharmaceutical companies and contract laboratories in promising not to use chimps for research, a trend that could lead to about 1,000 chimps in the U.S. being sent to sanctuaries by 2020, the Associated Press reported.

For several years, the Humane Society of the United States has been pushing for an end to chimp research.

"It's been a long road in trying to end the use of chimpanzees in research, and we're now at a turning point," Kathleen Conlee the group's vice president of animal research issues, told the AP. "We're going to keep on (advocating) until the chimpanzees in laboratories are all in sanctuaries."

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Gynecology Board Says Members Can Treat Men

The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology has reversed a previous decision and now says that its members are allowed to treat men.

The ban on treating men was announced in September 2013 and caused an uproar. That led to a series of partial concessions by the board in November and December, The New York Times reported.

Board members did not grant interviews about the complete reversal of the decision, but the group issued a statement from executive director Dr. Larry Gilstrap.

It said: "This change recognizes that in a few rare instances board certified diplomates were being called upon to treat men for certain conditions and to participate in research. This issue became a distraction from our mission to ensure that women receive high-quality and safe health care from certified obstetricians and gynecologists," The Times reported.

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Posted: January 2014


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