Health Highlights: Aug. 15, 2018
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Ancient Gene Protects Elephants From Cancer
An ancient gene that protects elephants against cancer has been pinpointed by researchers and could lead to new ways to treat cancer in people.
The gene destroys cells with damaged DNA, something that can trigger cancer, The New York Times reported.
The findings "might tell us something fundamental about cancer as a process. And if we're lucky, it might tell us something about how to treat human disease," study co-author Vincent Lynch, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago, told The Times.
Due to their size, elephants should be at high risk for tumors, and the lack of cancer in these animals has long intrigued researchers.
In recent years, scientists have started delving into the genes and cells of elephants to find new ways to fight cancer, The Times reported.
The latest findings were published Tuesday in the journal Cell Reports.
Zika, West Nile Cases Reported in Alabama
They noted that Zika hasn't been transmitted locally, the New York Post reported.
"To date in Alabama, the Zika virus has only been identified in individuals known to have traveled to areas where Zika is known to be endemic. There has been no local transmission," the state's health agency said in a news release issued Monday.
People can get Zika virus from mosquito bites, sex and blood transfusions, and a pregnant woman can pass it to her baby, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Infection with the Zika virus causes only mild symptoms in the majority of the cases, but the biggest risk is to pregnant women," Alabama health officials explained. "Zika is now known to cause birth defects and other poor pregnancy-related outcomes if infection occurs during pregnancy."
West Nile is spread by mosquitoes. Most people who are infected have mild or no symptoms and fully recover, but about 1 in 5 develop a fever and may also have headaches, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea, or a rash, and about 1 in 150 develop serious illness such as inflammation of the spinal cord or brain, the CDC says.
You can protect yourself from mosquito bites by using insect repellents and wearing loose, long sleeve shirts and long pants, the Post reported.
Parasite-Caused Illnesses Linked to McDonald's Salads Hits 436: CDC
The number of confirmed cases of a parasite-caused illness linked to McDonald's salads is now 436 in 15 states, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
The number of cases in the update provided late last week was 41 higher than the previous week, United Press International reported.
Most of the cases of the parasite infection called Cyclospora have been traced to McDonald's locations in the Midwest, with 219 cases in Illinois alone. Patients in Connecticut, Tennessee, and Virginia purchased salads while traveling in Illinois, according to the CDC.
The parasite can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, bloating, nausea, fatigue and flu-like symptoms. Infected people who don't receive treatment may take more than a month to recover, UPI reported.
At least 20 people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported, according to the CDC.
"Epidemiologic evidence indicates that salads purchased from McDonald's restaurants are one likely source of these infections," the CDC said. "The investigation is ongoing, and FDA is working to determine the sources of the ingredients that were in common to the salads served at McDonald's."
The CDC noted that Cyclospora-related illnesses are usually reported within six weeks, so there may be more cases that began after June 21.
"At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that this cluster of illnesses is related to the Cyclospora outbreak linked to Del Monte fresh produce vegetable trays," the CDC said.
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Posted: August 2018