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Health Highlights: Aug. 29, 2007

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

Fresh Spinach Recalled for Possible Salmonella Contamination

Bags of fresh spinach sold throughout the continental United States and Canada are being recalled for possible contamination with salmonella bacteria, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

There were no immediate reports of illness from the spinach, distributed by Metz Fresh LLC of King City, Calif. While the recall includes 8,118 cases of spinach, the company said it had withheld more than 90 percent of the affected product from distribution.

The recall includes 10- and 16-ounce bags, 4-pound cartons, and cartons that contain four 2.5-pound bags. The following tracking codes are affected: 12208114, 12208214 and 12208314.

The recall was announced nearly a year after an outbreak of E. coli bacteria in fresh spinach led to the deaths of three people and made 200 others sick, the AP reported. That outbreak was traced to spinach from Natural Selection Foods LLC, a company in San Juan Bautista, Calif.

To learn more about the latest recall, contact Metz Fresh at 831-386-1018.


1 in 8 Ground Zero Workers Has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

One in eight workers who toiled at the World Trade Center site after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said Wednesday.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, come from the World Trade Center Health Registry's initial survey of nearly 30,000 workers, the department said in a statement. Respondents ranged from police officers and firefighters to clergy and construction workers.

The incidence of PTSD was greatest among workers who were at the site for three months or longer, suggesting that shortening work periods after future emergencies might reduce workers' risk of acquiring the disorder, the department said.

For reasons that aren't well understood, firefighters developed PTSD at nearly twice the rate of police officers.

Symptoms of PTSD include intense fear, hopelessness, and horror, and reliving the triggering event when reminded of it. Common triggers include war, terrorism, and personal assault.


Waits for Botox Are Shorter Than for Skin Cancer Exams

The typical wait to see a dermatologist for a Botox injection is shorter than the average wait for a skin cancer examination, a new study finds.

A survey of dermatologists in 12 cities found that the typical wait is eight days for an injection of Botox for wrinkles, compared to an average of 26 days to evaluate moles for possible skin cancer, according to researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

The study appears in the current online issue of The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

According to an account of the study by The New York Times, the average wait in Boston for a Botox visit was 13 days, versus 68 days for a mole exam. In Seattle, the average Botox wait was 7.5 days, compared to 35 days for a mole appointment.

"The difference in wait times between medical dermatology and cosmetic dermatology patients is clearly real," said Dr. Jack Resneck, Jr., a UCSF assistant dermatology professor and the study's lead author. "We need to look further and figure out what is leading to shorter wait times for cosmetic patients."


FDA Approves West Nile Test for Donated Blood and Organs

A new test to detect the West Nile virus in donated blood and organs has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Roche's cobas TaqScreen WVN test uses nucleic acid technology to detect the virus even before the donor's body begins to produce antibodies or show symptoms of infection, the agency said in a statement. The test is not intended to diagnose West Nile in non-donors.

Most people with West Nile show no symptoms, but in rare cases serious symptoms may develop including brain inflammation, headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. People with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to the more serious infections with West Nile.

The virus is most often transmitted by infected mosquitoes, but it can also be passed from person to person by blood transfusion or organ transplant.

Since the virus first appeared in the United States in 1999, as many as 3 million cases have been reported to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Pictures of Diseased Lungs to Appear on U.K. Cigarette Packs

Smokers in Britain who light up next year are in for a graphic look at what the habit can do to the human body.

Beginning in the second half of 2008, U.K. cigarette packs will be required to show graphic photos including a diseased lung, an open chest before heart surgery, and a large tumor on a man's neck, the Associated Press reported.

The bid to scare Britons into quitting coincides with a rise in the legal age to buy tobacco products from 16 to 18.

Britain is the first European Commission nation to require such images on cigarette packs, a government health official said.


Married Men More Lax on Housework: Study

New research supports the notion that many married men don't do enough around the house.

Married men say they do less housework than their spouses, and also do fewer household chores than men who cohabit with women, according to results of a study of more than 17,000 men and women in 28 countries.

Women who cohabit also do less housework than women who are married, according to the researchers, from Virginia's George Mason University and North Carolina State University. The findings are published in the September edition of the Journal of Family Issues.

Marriage seems to traditionalize the idea that women do more housework, even if the married partners view each other as equals, according to the study's lead author Shannon Davis.

"Beliefs about this egalitarian notion of women and men sharing equal responsibility for paid work and household tasks matter differently for cohabitating men than ... for married men," Davis, an assistant professor of sociology at George Mason, told USA Today.

The average age was 44 among the 9,517 women surveyed and 48 for the 8,119 men who were polled.

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Posted: August 2007